Dead fish on the Nottoway

Published 6:42 pm Friday, July 29, 2022

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By Jeff Turner

RiverGuard Report

Spirit of Moonpie, Whispering Bear and I spent July 11-13 on the Nottoway below Delaware. The water was murky, stinky, a little low and 76 degrees. Air temps ranged from 68 to 91 degrees.

The river reeked with the smell of dead fish. We did see six dead blue catfish on this trip. I believe most succumbed to low dissolved oxygen. We did not see any dead clams this time. Trash was light, and I did not see any man-made water quality issues.

The fishing on this trip was OK, not great, and definitely not great for big catfish. We were skunked the first night, and on night No. 2, we caught only one 10-pounder. I did not fish much casting, but caught five decent bass when I did and one jack. Fish were mostly caught on a No. 2 white tail Mepps.

The Moonpie Critter Patrol, however, was busy, busy. We possibly saw four bald eagles, though they might have been repeat sightings. There was also an unusually great number of blue herons.

All the dead fish might have had something to do with the eagles and herons being so busy. We also saw a lot of buzzards all up in the woods and staring at the water’s edge at the dead catfish. Buzzards seem to not like to get their feet wet, so they will just stand on the shore and stare at the dead fish in the water. We also got a lot of great pics of beavers munching down on lily pad flowers. Man, were they chowing down on them buds!

It certainly was great fun on this trip to have some close encounters with the eagles. What was really fun, though, was playing with this particular beaver we came upon. I’m pretty sure it’s the same one we followed around last trip out. So, this time after catching up to Mr. Beaver, I just started following it along the shoreline with the electric motor. At first it was sort of a hide-and-seek game. But once the big aquatic rodent got acclimated to us, we really didn’t seem to bother him too much. We could get the 24-foot pontoon boat within 10 feet of him, and he just sat there inhaling lily pad buds. Every now and then he would pause and give us the stink eye, but all in all we both had a pretty good understanding of the protocol for mutual gawking.

We gawked at each other for probably the best part of an hour. It’s that kind of gawking time spent that I love so much 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 He can also be followed on the Blackwater Nottoway RiverGuard Facebook page. Just type in “Blackwater Nottoway RiverGuard” in the search field on Facebook.