Fishing the Nottoway: A Clean Water Blessing

This is a guest post by Jeff Turner, Blackwater/Nottoway Riverkeeper

My Dad and I were fishing the Nottoway River in Virginia a few years ago, a river I grew up on and now protect as a Riverkeeper. We had fished all morning and caught a few fish, but were about one fish short of having enough for the whole family. We could not fish any longer as my Dad and I both had obligations that afternoon.

Disappointed, we were not going to have enough fish to eat later that night, I said: “Well, we came close to getting enough to eat, but I guess we’ll have to let these go barring a miracle from above.”

An osprey clutches its prey. Flickr photo by Bill Weaver.

Just as I was reaching into the live well to grab the first fish to throw back, there was a large splash beside the boat only four feet away. My dad, startled, said “WOW, what was that?!” I looked and there was a nice eating-size largemouth bass floating beside us. We then heard this big SWOOSH SWOOSH sound and looked up to see an osprey (which you don’t see often on my rivers) gaining altitude straight over our heads. I looked at my dad in disbelief and said, “That osprey just nearly dropped that fish right in the boat.” We dipped up the fish and it was still fresh and in one piece; it was the perfect fish to fill out our catch so we could feed the family.

“Well,” my Dad said, “there is your miracle from above.”

I now have a tattoo on my arm (my only tattoo) of an osprey, and the local Nottoway Indians call me Fish Hawk and say that the Great Spirit blessed us with that fish that day for looking after the river that bears their name, the River we call Nottoway.

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Jeff Turner was born and raised in the Southampton County area and has lived there all his life. Turner has camped and fished on the Blackwater & Nottoway Rivers all his life. Jeff works with state and local agencies to protect and enhance the watershed and is often sought out by these agencies for his intimate knowledge of the rivers. He currently sits on the Virginia Mercury Advisory Board, The Chowan Basin Flood Study Committee, the Albemarle Pamlico National Estuary Program (APNEP) CAC committee and the International Paper CAC committee. In 2008 Jeff he won national recognition by winning runner-up in the Volvo Hometown Hero’s Volvo For Life Award winning $25,000 for the Blackwater Nottoway Riverkeeper Program.