Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 14th through the 16th on the Blackwater below Franklin. The water was clear, fast, 34 degrees and 7.27 on the USGS gauge.
Air temps ranged from 24 to 55 degrees. Trash on this trip was light and I did not even collect a whole bag. The Franklin stormwater ditch that runs to the river was really muddy and I guess that is from the construction on College drive. There was lots of ice on the river this trip making cruising the river pretty hazardous. I even busted out a half acre piece of ice from a cove so I could get in it to fish. I do not recommend doing this unless your boat is equipped with ice runners and you have experience breaking ice with a boat. Ice can easily puncture a boat especially if you back into it. The cove is a popular fishing spot this time of year so I had company both fishing days in our little fishing hole. Fishermen generally do not like fishing right on top of one another but there was not much choice in this case. I liked it personally and thought it was nice chatting away about fishing and telling fish stories while we all sat there jigging away. Alas however the fishing was not very good there for my ice encumbered friends. A couple of speckle and yellow perch were caught but that was about it. Remarkably though the icy waters were giving up the blackfish, which of course was what I was after. I guess I caught 25 the two days I fished with the largest going about 6 pounds. I caught a really strange looking fish also. I thought it was a carp at first. However with its turned down face I believe this creature (see photo) is a red horse sucker. I have only caught one or two in my life and I think I thought they were carp back then also. Moonpie just sat and stared in disbelief at the ugliness of this nearly frozen denizen of the ice hole cove and urged me not to tarry in taking pictures and releasing it. She kept on calling it Mr. Limpet. This creature and the blackfish of course were caught on a ½ oz silver blade bait jigged vertically off the bottom in 28 to 31 ft of water. One of the coolest things I saw on this trip was an immature bald eagle. These young birds are certainly not as pretty as the adult. This bird had no white head but was a motly collage of brown, black and white. It was a very large bird though and was very interested in all the ducks on the river. It even half-heartedly went after a set of wood ducks that took off from the river as I was cruising through the ice flows the first day. I guess I foiled that effort, as the attack seemed to break off when we got on the scene. Moonpie said, durn, I sure would like to see that eagle grab something and fly off with it, that would be so cool. Yep, I replied but Moonpie lightweights like you better be careful what you ask for out here on the two rivers we call the Blackwater and Nottoway.