Bobbing along the Nottoway

Published 9:26 pm Monday, March 27, 2023

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Spirit of Moonpie and I spent March the 21st through the 23rd on the Nottoway below Courtland. The river was clear, 53 degrees and 5.33 on the USGS River Gauge at Sebrell. Air temps ranged from 39 to 77 degrees. It rained a couple hours the second day, driving me under the 58 bypass bridge… I took a nap, hhaaaa!

I still managed to pick up one fat bag of trash even after cleaning up a lot recently on that part of the river. There were a couple of jams I had avoided previously because of the water velocity, but I was able to more safely get in them this trip as the river level had gone down. Since the year 2000, when I became Virginia’s first Riverkeeper, I’ve kept the plastic fishing bobbers I’ve found when I’ve been picking up trash. In 23 years, I have accumulated hundreds upon hundreds. So, I was amazed on this trip to find a bag of bobbers in one of the logjams. There were like 15 new red-and-white bobbers of assorted sizes, all unused, all nice and clean. So that is going in the books as one of the weirdest things I have picked up just because of the irony. 

The fishing on this trip was spectacular for shad. That second morning I eventually started catching right many once I figured out that they wanted a LARGE pink or green spoon. But then the rain chased me downriver to the bridge to seek shelter. The fish were not there, so like I said earlier, I laid down in the bottom of the boat and took a nap. It was pretty cold under that bridge so I just wrapped up like an enchilada and actually fell asleep with the sound of tractor-trailers growling overhead. When I awoke, the sun was out and it had pretty much stopped raining, so I headed back upriver. Once I got there and got settled, the shad blitz was on. I reckon I caught 50 or so. While they were hitting like that, I changed lures many times to see if it mattered. I didn’t think it would, but it certainly did. I mean I could catch an occasional fish on some of the other things like the twisty tails etc., but it was the large pink or green spoons that were what they wanted. Of course, it was still shad fishing, meaning they came in waves. There were stretches I was catching shad every cast, then there would be no fish for 10 minutes. Then it would pick up again. I caught fish right up till dark and they were still biting when I headed to base camp. 

It’s times like that, when the shad are hitting like gangbusters, that it’s like fishing nirvana and certainly a blast bobbing down 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.