RIVERGUARD REPORT: I see dead catfish

Published 2:56 pm Wednesday, July 5, 2023

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Spirit of Moonpie, Whispering Bear and I spent June the 28th through the 30th on Nottoway below Delaware. The water was high at 1.78 on the Riverdale gauge, 74 degrees, very fast and slightly cloudy. Air temps ranged from 65 to 90 degrees. It was also really hazy from the Canadian wildfires, and the river reeked of dead fish.

The fishing on this trip was not all that great. I caught several small bass, but the bite was slow. The catfishing for giant cats was terrible once again. “Skunked” is actually the key word here. I don’t know if all the monster blues have been killed by the low dissolved oxygen issues or they are just not active right now because of the low DO, but I kinda doubt all the monsters are dead. I’m betting once the water balances out, things will get better.

Trash was not bad, and I saw no visible water quality issues. There were quite a few dead blue catfish on the river. It’s hard to tell how many blues died in this fish kill. I was also told there was a large blue cat kill on the Chowan between Tunis and Holiday Island. It is my opinion the kill was a result of low dissolved oxygen, the cause being from the rapid influx of all that water from upriver washing high biological oxygen demand stuff into the river and lowering the DO levels. Evidently since the blue cats are not a native species to the river, they cannot take low DO values as well as the native species, and that is why we saw no other species dead. It’s kinda funny that when the blue cats first invaded our rivers, the biologists were saying kill all you can because the blues were going to negatively impact some native species. The largest I saw dead was in the 15-pound class. That didn’t work, but now Mother Nature is stepping in to at least help with the balance of fish power in the river. The Blackwater did not have a blue cat kill, and that supports my theory of low DO from the fast influx of high water, because the Blackwater did not have that quick-water influx. As always, time will tell, and it will shake out in the end.

Godspeed, Mother Nature, 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 blknotkpr@earthlink.net. He can also be followed on the Blackwater Nottoway RiverGuard Facebook page. Just type in “Blackwater Nottoway RiverGuard” in the search field on Facebook.