Published 1:00 pm Monday, June 10, 2024

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Whispering Bear and I spent May the 30th through June the 1st on the Nottoway below Hercules. This was the first pontoon trip of the year. The water was 69 degrees, cloudy, fast and a little high. Air temps ranged from 48 to 81 degrees. We ducked a storm barely the first night at about 12 midnight, and the second night was too cold to be on the pontoon boat. Forty-eight degrees was a new record low for the pontoon boat, at least in modern times. I remember going once by myself in the ’80s, and it frosted that night, but that was before I started keeping records. Anyway, trash was light, and I did not see any water quality issues. We did see one dead catfish floating. I also removed two derelict limb lines and one jugline. 

The fishing on this trip was pretty good. We caught a total of five catfish at night. Although the largest was only 4 pounds, it was still fun watching the big bobber jug take hits. It really gets your blood going when you see a gallon milk jug take off. We had some very large hits, two on the down rigger right under the boat. Twice I saw the rod tip nearly touch the water, but the fish never got steel. It’s kinda hard to believe a fish can hold that bait in its mouth strong enough to pull a 7-foot catfish rod double without being hooked, but obviously they can. I also caught so many bass casting for chain pickerel during both days that I lost count. Most were caught on a #3 Mepps spinner and a stick bait. The largest was a nice 3-pounder I caught on a homemade topwater lure I made out of an old Heddon River Runt diver. I never put a chain pickerel in the boat either day. My friend Ernie was out there, and he caught a cat that was over 25 pounds. So, there are some larger cats that survived the past two years of blue cat kill off that has occurred in both rivers. 

We also saw a lot of wildlife this trip. I can’t believe how many snapping turtles we saw. I think this was the most I have ever seen on either river in one trip. I don’t know if there has been a population explosion or it’s just snapping turtle baby-making time! We also watched a beaver munching lily pads and saw a couple of owls and hawks fly by. What was really cool was we saw a bald eagle two or three times. Pretty sure it was the same eagle each time near Round Gut. Probably the same eagle Ernie saw snatch a duck out of the river right in front of him the first day we were out there. We missed seeing that by 10 minutes. Oh well, such is the way that works sometimes 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.