March 21st Riverkeeper Patrol

25 Mar
March 25, 2013

Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 21st through the 23rd on the Nottoway below Courtland. The water was fast and high at 10ft on the USGS gauge and 47 degrees. Air temps ranged from a nose biting 23 degrees to 42 and it SNOWED nearly all the first day. Trash was pretty bad. The logjams were full and I could only reach about half of what was there. I picked up one fat bagful and had to leave a giant tire and rim I could not get out of the water. If I would have had my new winch WARN 885005 PullzAll 24V Cordless Electric Pulling Tool I might could have got it out of the water. Maybe during Clean Rivers Day on the 20th next month one of the teams can get it. Moonpie wanted to get on it and float downriver. I told her that would be fine but I was wondering how she intended to get back upriver to camp. She told me that would not be an issue as she had special “upriver” floating skills these days.

The fishing on this trip was…okay. I only caught only 4 shad but talked to some crazy guys that were out there in the snow with me and they had done well with the shad at the shad hole. I could not believe there was other people out there on the river in the snow. Its nice to know there are people who are just as crazy as I am…I think! There was also a young fellow at the boat landing fishing, though he was smart and was sitting in his car through the blizzard tending his rods. He told me he had caught a walleye. He stated he had released it so I could not verify his claim. A yellow perch looks similar, so…. . Back in the 70’s the state released some into the river but I have only seen one in my entire life and have never caught one.

Anyway I managed to scrap up hodgepodge of a mess of fish catching 2 small largemouth, 4 speckle, 1 yellow perch, 1 shell-cracker and 2 striped bass and 1 blackfish. I had to throw the striped bass back because they did not measure up to the 18-inch minimum requirement. That really blows too because one of them was hooked so deep it died, but I still had to throw it back. What a waste! I also think that regulation is just plain backwards. Let us keep the small tasty fish and throw back the larger fish that produce the most eggs. That would seem to make the most sense. I also disagree with the herring moratorium. I understand doing away with dipping, netting etc, but let fishermen keep some they catch on rod and reel. It would make enforcements job easier and be better for fishermen also if the rule would be you can keep 10 per day any combination of shad or herring. Meaning you can keep 10 shad or 10 herring, or a mix. Sometimes smaller shad look a lot like herring and vice versa and people get tickets by misidentifying the fish.

Most folks are not fishery biologist; the state needs to make it easy for people to enjoy catching and keeping a few fish without constant fear of being in violation. Letting us keep the shad/herring combination would help. And look, if the herring species is so bad off a few can’t be taken by rod and reel with a 10 count daily limit, then I dare say the species is doomed anyway.

One of the biggest goals of this patrol was to check on the eagle-nesting site upriver of Courtland. I like to go each spring to document if the eagles are there and nesting. I’m happy to report that they are and I believe the babies have hatched. I only saw one adult female (I think), and as always was quite a sight to behold. I took a few quick pictures (see attached) and then moved on, as she was flying over and around Moonpie and I and giving us the serious “stink-eye”. In the coming weeks I will try to update ya’ll on their progress and eventually will know how many eaglets they had this year or at least how many survived. It’s one of my favorite things I do on the two rivers we call the Nottoway and Blackwater.

1 reply
  1. elaineherring says:

    So happy to hear you spotted the eagles & the nest, that is awesome! Good pictures! Can’t wait for you to report how many eaglets you see. Sorry trash was bad…I guess all the rain we have been having contributes to a lot being washed out of ditches, etc. I am so ready for the weather to warm & sunny really miss going out on the river, miss being in the open and looking at nature. Keep everybody posted on the eagles and stay safe : )”

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