February 6th Through The 9th Nottoway Trip

11 Feb
February 11, 2009

Moonpie and I spent the 6th through the 9th on the Nottoway below the VDGIF ramp at Delaware. The water was 38 degrees and air temps ranged from 23 to 70 degrees.

The water was cloudy looking, fast and low. It was a cold first night but I actually saw a mosquito on the last night. Trash was light and I saw no water quality issues. The fishing was tough, at least for me. I caught 6 channel cats to 6 pounds, a red-eye, a bass and a couple of blackfish the whole 4 days. The cats I caught on limb-lines using blackfish for bait. I saw a couple of guys mopping up on speckle but they knew what they were doing and I did not it would seem. I was told a couple of stripers have been caught and that a white perch was seen, so it will not be long now before the river is full of migratory fish and fishermen. Because it was so cold the morning we got to the river, we nearly had a catastrophe putting in at the boat landing. The boat ramp at this landing is really steep and long. It also has a natural spring that runs down it all year long. However in the winter time that causes a sheet of ice to sometimes form on it. That was the case this trip. I inspected the ramp before we launched that day and from my vantage point the ice did not look too bad. So we started backing down the steep incline towards the river. Halfway down I heard the sickening sound of tires slipping and the next thing I knew we were skating our way down the ramp out of control. Moonpie screamed, “were going in the drink” as I desperately fought to keep the rig from jack-knifing on the ramp. I knew when we hit the water we would stop as ice does not form underwater. Sure enough we splashed down and finally came to a stop at the edge of the river. I looked at Moonpie and she was completely white from fright, well, old age also but soon recovered and we launched the boat with great difficulty. The ice was treacherous and I was worried we would not get back up the ramp. The new Riverkeeper truck though saved the day and with the flip of a switch I put the truck into 4-wheel drive. I was very surprised the truck pulled up the ramp, but it did with only a few instances where we had to burn through the ice by spinning tires. After all that we still had to get back down the ramp after parking the rig so we could get into the boat. Moonpie and I walked down the ramp until we got to the ice sheet that was about 40 ft long. What now I said looking for a safe way down. Moonpie thought a minute and said, I got it. Since falling is what your afraid of just do it now. What? I said looking at her like she was a nut. Get on your butt she exclaimed with your legs out in front like runners on a sled and I’ll get in your lap and ride you down to the boat. I said, you mean you want me to be the sled? Yes she said, and I’ll be the sled dog, I know you’ve heard of them before, it’s done all the time. I don’t think that’s what a sled dog is I stated, but actually I do not know how else we are going to get to the boat. So sure enough I got on my behind, Moonpie jumped in my lap and I shoved us off. Weeeee Moonpie shrilled as we flew down the ramp. I forgot to ask I screamed at Moonpie about your plan for stopping. Same thing as before she hollered back, when we hit the water we will stop. I looked up in terror at the river that was now coming at us about 50 mph and before I could faint my boots hit the water, dug into the sand and snapped me up into a standing position catapulting Moonpie right into the boat into her seat. Moonpie smirked and said now who’s completely white with fear, or oh yes, it that old age? Now as I do every year let me share some important rules to remember during this busy time of the year on the river. Boat ramps are made for the purpose of loading and unloading boats. They are not a fishing spot for people to set up lawn chairs and sand spikes. Boat ramps are for loading and unloading boats, they are not parking lots where you stop on the ramp and tidy up and secure your boat. That is what the parking lot was designed for. With so many people wanting to either launch a boat or get out of the river you are holding up the process if you stop on the ramp and if you do it in front of me I’m going to tell you about it. While waiting in your boat in the river for others to get out, do not ride back and forth throwing wake. It is aggravating trying to get a boat on a trailer with waves upsetting the boat. It is also state law within 50 ft of a ramp to be at no-wake speed even if there are no marker buoys. A lot of people fish for white perch anchored in the middle of the river. They have that right in our rivers, as there is no commercial traffic. Boats coming around blind curves of the river at high speeds are in danger of causing a serious accident with someone anchored fishing. Use common sense when navigating the rivers during this busy time of the year. Slow down and be courteous to others. I see so many illegal practices this time of the year like people riding in seats on the front deck of boats or sitting on the bow, stupid stuff that gets people killed. Everyone should review the boating rules and regs each year to see what has changed and what is new. Telling a state Conservation Police Officer (Game Warden) you did not know about a new law will not get you out of a ticket. Last but not least, wear your PFD and make everybody in the boat wear one. Putting on a life preserver is such a simple thing to do and is what it says it is, a life preserver. Even if you do not have sense enough to wear one, if you take children out please take the care to make sure they are safe. Boating safety and etiquette are no brainers. Think about what your doing when you’re out there and have a safe trip on the two rivers we call the Blackwater and Nottoway Rivers.

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