RIVERGUARD REPORT: 102 camping days in 2023

Published 4:48 pm Thursday, December 28, 2023

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Spirit of Moonpie and I spent December the 22nd through the 24th on the Blackwater above Burdette. Thank the Lord I met my new camping record, breaking the 100 camping days mark with 102 in the record book. It was pretty challenging actually to make it. That’s a lot of camping on the river and a lot of work! The water was very high at 8.52 on the USGS gauge at Burdette and cold at 40 degrees. I made the right decision to go upriver during all this high water so I would be riding the river down instead of up if I had gone downriver. Air temps ranged from 30 to 62 degrees. I did not see any water quality issues, and trash was not too bad.

The fishing on this trip was pretty much useless with the water this high. It was so high in fact that I saw some chain pickerel run some wood ducks out of their treehouse in the swamp! I did catch a few small speckle, one was nice size. I also caught/snagged two gar, one was about 10 pounds. I rigged up a strange-looking double umbrella rig in an attempt to catch the gar. I found a bunch of them stacked up in a creek, and since the other fish were swimming in the woods, I decided to mess around experimenting with different rigs to catch the gar. Amazingly I caught the speckle on the same rig that featured two blade baits. It seems speckle like a school of minnows more so than a single minnow. I snagged several other gar, but they got off. I did see an otter catch a fish and eat it… right in front of me. They seem to like to do that as if they were saying, “See, this ain’t too hard to do.” It’s not the first time I’ve seen that behavior.

Sooo, I made my record, and it’s a good thing because I’m getting way too decrepit to do this. Going forward I’ll be scaling back on these land-based camping trips in the future. I can’t take the cold anymore, and it’s just too darn dangerous for me. I’ve been blessed I have been able to even do what I do over the years and not get terribly hurt. It’s a lot of work hauling all that camping gear out there and setting up and breaking down. That’s the part that is so dangerous for me. I guess I’m going to have to look into getting a truck camper or something and see about joining the Bronco Club maybe in the future. Anyway, I have truly enjoyed it, and I’m going to miss it for sure. Oh, I’m sure I’ll still go some, but I’m just going to have to be more weather-selective from now on out there on the two rivers we call the Blackwater and Nottoway.

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.