The Blackwater originates as a coastal plain swamp in Prince George County. It flows east through braided channels of bald cypress and tupelo in Surry County. The river then turns south into Southampton County where several boat ramps are accessible for anglers, hunters and boaters alike. The Blackwater then joins with the Nottoway to form the Chowan at the Virginia-North Carolina state line. Floating the Blackwater River is best done with a canoe or small jon boat. There is very little or no flow much of the time, so be prepared when traveling between access points. Don't let this deter you if you are a traditional canoeist, the Blackwater boasts some gorgeous float trips through ancient tree lined wetlands. On any one trip you can see whitetail deer, numerous waterfowl, raccoons, squirrels and many unique reptile and amphibian species, not to mention a healthy fish population swimming under the water's surface.
The dark, tannin stained waters of the Blackwater River host runs of striped bass, river herring (alewives and blueback), American and hickory shad in the spring. Angling for redbreast sunfish ("red throats" or "red robins") is also quite good in the spring. The river also hosts largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, flier, and chain pickerel populations. Bowfin and gar are common in the lower main stem. Angling for bowfin provides a great opportunity to catch many hard-fighting fish in a short amount of time. The possibility also exists to land a trophy bowfin over ten pounds.