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Our Story


Clear Living Waters was created by long-time friends Sherwood Jones and Julien Mordecai, who attended North Carolina State University together and have remained friends since. 


Sherwood Jones was a wildlife major and fisherman, and he built his business doing pond management. After running his business successfully for 20 years, Sherwood moved to Edenton in 2019, shortly before Covid began. When he moved to Edenton, Sherwood ended up living in the Edenton Marina, where his bedroom happened to be the original Albemarle Boats manufacturers office. 


Julien Mordecai also has a long-time passion for water, especially the Albemarle Sound. As such, his great grandfather Edward Wood made his living by managing fishing operations in this area in the 1800s. Wood had 13 fisheries along the Albemarle Sound and the Chowan River.

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As you might imagine, Julien has some strong family connections to this local water and the resources it provided. The people of Edenton used to live off of the sound and the massive amounts of fish that it produced (See our page on historical fisheries for more information). Therefore, when Julien and Sherwood first came up with the idea of trying to bring more local attention to the quality of our water in and around the Albemarle Sound, they were first motivated by the stark reality of the emptiness of the Sound as it is today. The teeming of fish described that supported the area in the 1800s that can no longer be seen made Julien wonder if he could do anything to help the sound get back to what it was.


Not only did there used to be an amazing quantity of fish, but the sound used to be clear! If you have seen the Albemarle Sound, the idea of it being clear probably sounds far-fetched. However, the waters were once described as being as clear as the Caribbean. In fact, Julien and Sherwood have been inspired by the images painted by John White of the Algonquin natives fishing with spear gigs in clear waters teeming with fish, the likes of which no living soul has likely ever seen. It used to be that fish were easy to come by, now it is more like a hunt to catch fish in the sound.

When the pandemic hit, Sherwood and Julien took on fishing together. As a retreat during quarantine, they bought a boat and would go fly-fishing. One day, they were driving around some of the creeks, as one does in Chowan County, and they began discussing the challenges with the fishery. They asked themselves the question: “Why aren’t the fish thriving?” As a pond manager, Sherwood is especially interested in putting fish in a pond and doing what it takes to make those fish thrive. Having healthy fish in the body of water you live by ensures you can enjoy and appreciate your water.

Populations of fish in the Chowan River and Albemarle Sound have dwindled in recent decades for several reasons. These reasons include overfishing, poor recruitment of juvenile fish, low abundance of large females, and water flow problems. As for water flow issues, fertilized fish eggs must float downriver as they mature into small fry. Flooding events in recent years have disrupted this essential process. 

Their concern for the health of the Albemarle Sound was an important factor in the creation of Clear Living Waters, but their faith was the ultimate impetus. Sherwood and Julien both believe that the stewardship of the land, town, one’s relationships, and the Sound are their responsibility. The Lord asks for this stewardship in the Old Testament, but in the New Testament, the holy spirit is referred to as living waters. Therefore, “Clear Living Waters” is a double entendre for both the life and health of the Albemarle Sound as well as a symbol for the holy spirit, who guides us in the relationships we foster with our water. 

The Rock Fish Festival



The Albemarle Rock Fish Festival is a creation of Clear Living Waters LLC, which is a non-partisan North Carolina LLC created primarily to manage the annual festival.


Coupled with their concern for the health of the sound and the fish populations, Julien and Sherwood also wanted a way that they could enjoy music.


Having lost several good friends in recent years, the two felt it was important to find a way to share time with loved ones. Since you never truly know when the last time you will see someone will be, they wanted a way to get people together to share time. Please look at our memorial page and take time to appreciate some of those whom we have lost who helped inspire the festival.


Sherwood had noticed that there was a rockfish festival being held in Weldon, but nothing similar in Edenton. Both having a love for music and lamenting the shadow Covid had caused, they decided to create the Albemarle Rock Fish Festival as a way to celebrate and benefit the water with which we have been blessed. The goal of the event was to bring old friends and family together and give their musician friends a chance to play some music in front of a crowd. With the COVID threat weighing heavy, so many opportunities to enjoy good music and spend time with loved ones had been lost. Above all, the festival is an opportunity to encourage the stakeholders of the issue of the health of the Albemarle Sound to help contribute to making a difference. 


Clear Living Waters and the Albemarle Rock Fish Festival were created in order to raise awareness for the health of the Albemarle Sound through enjoying music, seeing loved ones, and promoting good stewardship of our waters. The big-picture goal of CLW is to bring the waters back to what they were like in 1585 when they were first cataloged by John White, and bring the fish population back to what it was when the water paintings were made depicting spearfishing in our clear water. 


We will work towards that goal by hiring an Albemarle Sound river keeper. 

Sound Keepers

and why do we need one?

Proceeds go towards an Albemarle Sound riverkeeper. Unlike other areas of North Carolina, the Albemarle Sound does not have its own Soundkeeper. We plan to change that and have our very own with the primary mission of advocating for clean water. The keeper will do this by patrolling waterways to find point pollution sources, create awareness, and educate watershed residents. Water quality sampling and monitoring play an important role in the effort along with coordinating with local environmental groups, concerned citizens, local businesses, and industry to implement water quality protection and restoration. Basin-wide, the soundkeeper/riverkeeper will help current and future generations of stakeholders have clean healthy water for drinking, fishing, swimming, boating, and all additional recreational opportunities. Our wonderful waterways will be monitored, protected, and restored. Additionally, policies will be implemented to safeguard healthy and clean water, promote civic engagement, preserve fisheries, and enact policies to ensure clean and clear water for the future.


Subscribe to the newsletter to gain monthly insights regarding our key drivers:  
1. Cleaning up the Albemarle Sound and returning the health of the fisheries to that of our earliest recorded measurements.
2. Bringing a riverkeeper to the Albemarle sound.
3. Sharing in fellowship and love, the love of Christ, and bringing old friends down east.
4. Maintaining a bipartisan or politically agnostic approach to our efforts in hopes of keeping folks from both sides working towards a solution.
5. Honoring the efforts and commitment of our wonderful local musicians and artists who have played their hearts out for us during the festival.


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