Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 5th through the 7th on the Blackwater above Joyners Bridge. The water was high at 9ft. on the USGS Gauge, clear, fast and 34 degrees, which is really cold.
JanyAir temps ranged from a bone chillin’ 17 degrees to 40 on the last day, which felt like a heat wave, compared to the previous two days. I’m telling ya it was COLD and I’ll tell you just how cold it was later. I did not see any water quality issues and found no trash at all on the river. I did find one deer carcass some idiot threw in the river which is something I see a lot of this time of year. I’m confident though that at least one person who has recently done that will be caught thanks to a cooperative effort with the State Conservation Police (Game Warden) and myself. The fishing on this trip was actually pretty amazing given the conditions. I caught over 50 blackfish with one of them qualifying as a State Trophy at 11.9 lbs. and 31 inches. I also caught 8 white catfish with one of them going 5.1 lbs., which is big considering the State record is 7.6lbs. All fish were caught on a ½ oz. blade bait vertically jigged in 38 to 42 ft of water. The big blackfish took me 12 minutes to land which does not sound like a long time but believe me it is when using ultra-light tackle. All the swamps were frozen this trip and something occurred out there I had never seen before. As the river level dropped so of course did the swamp level. As it did there would become a void under the ice and the ice would collapse. Well around some trees the ice would break in a circular pattern around the tree leaving what looked like a table attached to the tree. Also you cannot believe how loud the sound of tons of ice can make when it would crash in. It sounded like an 18-wheeler crashing into a glass shop. This happened day and night and I’ll tell you what, I did not get much sleep either night with all that going on all around me. I never knew if it was ice or something big like a bear coming through the woods. Okay, so how cold was it? It was so cold that:
Sand was frozen at the campsite and I had to hammer in my tent pegs.
My fishing pliers were frozen shut and I had to sit on them to keep them working.
My jug of Wet-Ones handi-wipes was frozen into a solid unusable block.
Moonpie sat on the sand and her butt stuck to it. I had to chisel a little circle to get her loose, which caused her some bathroom issues for awhile.
And finally it was so cold the last night that when I poured water on the campfire to put it out at the end of the night, the fire froze in place. I had to use my hatchet to break it into little pieces to knock it down. Even the smoke was frozen!
Yes this was a hard trip so, I think it will be a long time or maybe never before I go out again when its that cold on either of the two rivers we call the Blackwater and Nottoway.