Stripers are stripping line

Published 8:13 pm Tuesday, January 24, 2023

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Spirit of Moonpie and I spent January the 18th through the 20th on the Nottoway below Round Gut. The water was a little high, little muddy, moving good and 43 degrees. Air temps ranged from 41 to a balmy 70 degrees. Temps were nice, but the wind was pretty darn rough. I saw no water quality issues, and there was no trash to pick up worth mentioning.

The fishing on this trip was pretty good. I finally got into a few stripers. The first one I got right to the boat and knocked it off with the net. My poor weak arm just couldn’t handle it. That fish looked to be 20 pounds to me. However, I decided to knock it down to 17 just for a margin of error. Then, I looked at a striper chart, and it said a 17-pound striper should be 32 inches long. I didn’t think that fish was that long taking into consideration my net is 19 inches. I guessed there was 8 inches of fish hanging out of the net because that’s how I knocked the fish off. So, the chart said that fish should weigh 11 pounds. I still think that fish was bigger than 11 pounds, but that is what I will have to go by… darn it. At least I got to see it. I’ll tell you one thing, when that fish took off, it was stripping line like it was gonna burn that old reel up. It took me about 10 minutes to get it to the boat on that little green rod and reel. I also caught three others, the next biggest being 20 inches and 4.6 pounds according to my scales. Which lined up pretty good actually with that chart. All were caught on the blade bait and all were… released… one way or the other, hhaaaa. I fished for raccoon perch also but caught nary a one. I saw some friends of mine who were tearing the speckle up, but I did not try for any of those. 

On the Moonpie Critter Patrol, we saw our first snake of the year… right in my base camp! The poor snake was so cold that chilly morning it could hardly move. It was also so thin it was concave-looking underneath its belly. It was very, very empty, I guess. We also saw three eagles near the Bronco Club. Two were together, and the third I saw the next day was most likely one of the same eagles I saw the day before. I’m pretty sure there is a nest around there somewhere but have not been able to find it yet. There was a lot of logging going on all around; I hope they don’t cut down the tree these eagles are nesting in. We also saw an unusually heavy amount of beaver activity. The river was littered with beaver sticks. I found a beaver hotel up in the gut upriver from the Bronco Club in that deep curve. Those beavers evidently like to fish, as I found a fishing rod on the hut!

Well the stripers are in the river, so that means the shad will not be far behind. Which means the river and boat landings will be full of people going nuts trying to catch them. It’s what I call the “Crazy Season,” so get ready for that, be safe and prepare to practice defensive boating on the two rivers we call the Nottoway and Blackwater.

Jeff Turner is the Blackwater Nottoway RiverGuard. To contact him about river issues, send him an email at He can also be followed on the Blackwater Nottoway RiverGuard Facebook page. Just type in “Blackwater Nottoway RiverGuard” in the search field on Facebook.