Published 11:19 am Saturday, October 22, 2022
Spirit of Moonpie and I spent October the 9th through the 11th on the Blackwater below Franklin. The water was still stagnant from lack of rain and 64 degrees. Air temps ranged from 45 to 73 degrees. Trash was actually not too bad. I thought it would have been terrible from that last rain, but thankfully it was not. The only other issue I saw was the alligator weed. Unfortunately, because of the drought, the alligator weed has really flourished. That’s because when there is no flushing of the river, the nutrient load in the river increases. That, in turn, is food for this very aggressive aquatic invasive species. There is much more now than there was last year or even before I was attempting to eradicate it.
The fishing on this trip was awful as far as casting goes. I had a right hard time even catching bait. However, the catfishing was phenomenal. I had nine limb lines out and on the first night caught eight cats. The second night was not as good, with only three fish being caught, but one was 27 pounds. Fresh cut bait was the ticket. Once again, I caught enough catfish on one trip to keep me in catfish stew for the next year. It didn’t used to be like that hardly ever. But since we now have these big blue catfish, the amount of meat one can catch in one night is crazy.
Well once again I had an experience that was just plain wild. On the way in the last day, I came across three baby raccoons and the momma swimming across the river. So, I turned around and started filming. The momma cut the other way and swam to the opposite shore. The little noisy critters were kinda struggling, it looked like, especially two of them. One baby was just about riding on the back of the other one, and that was causing some swimming issues.
So, I was filming and filming, and when they got to the boat, they followed it around all the way to the back of the boat, so I turned off the motor. I saw one make it to shore and figured the other two also had done the same.
So, I was sitting there reviewing my coon footage when I started hearing baby coon sounds again. About that time Moonpie woke up and said, “Daddy, you’re not gonna believe what just crawled into this boat.” Sure enough, I turned around, and there on the transom were two very wet baby raccoons! I just sat there for a moment, taking in the situation when I heard another splash. I looked, and Moonpie had abandoned ship. I said, “What in the doggone heck are you doing?” I heard her say back, “This one’s on you, Daddy-O,” and with that she disappeared down the river. So, I had all this camping stuff in the boat, and I mean I have A LOT of camping stuff. Well it took me a few minutes to fight my way to the back of the boat. When I got back there, I could not find the two hitchhikers. So, I crawled my way back to the front (where I drive from) and fired up the motor, figuring the two coons had swam onto shore. As soon as I started the motor, I heard baby coon noises again. Sooo, I clawed my way back to the back of the boat again. I looked and looked, but no coons. I finally looked over the side of the transom and saw a tail. I had jacked the motor way up so I could get close to the shore, and them rascals had crawled up under the outboard bracket where the trim and tilt mechanism is for the outboard. I sure am glad I hadn’t trimmed the motor back down before I started it or I’d have had smushed baby coons!
Now I had a fine mess indeed. I wasn’t about to reach under there, so I took a tent pole and started trying to pry the little buggers out of there. Well you’d think I was fighting a bear. They put up one heck of a fight, snarlin’ and a-bitin’ that pole. After 10 minutes of that, I finally pried the two now very pissed off coons out from under the motor. They easily swam the three feet to the shore to join the other sibling, who was in a tree watching this whole commotion.
I was already beat from breaking camp and cleaning catfish that morning, then climbing over that mountain of camping gear, THEN fighting two mutant baby beast coons. I just laid there on top of all that now horribly misplaced gear and just thanked the Lord that was over with, the coons not getting hurt nor me losing an arm to them.
So finally, I was off and headed onward to the boat ramp again. When I got there Moonpie was sitting on the pier eating a Hardee’s burger. She said, “I don’t see any bandages or anything, so you must have got the job done.” “Yes, no thanks to your sorry tail,” I replied.
I’ll tell y’all this for real, from now on when filming coons, I’m keeping a wide berth between them and me on the two rivers we call the Blackwater and Nottoway… oh, and I made hamburger breath ride in the back of the pickup on the way home!
Jeff Turner is the Blackwater Nottoway RiverGuard. To contact him about river issues, send him an email at email@example.com. He can also be followed on the Blackwater Nottoway RiverGuard Facebook page. Just type in “Blackwater Nottoway RiverGuard” in the search field on Facebook.