Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF)
Outdoor Report

Managing and Conserving Our Wildlife and Natural Resources

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

VDGIF is an agency of the Virginia Secretariat of Natural Resources
In this issue:
  • "Game Warden" Name Changing to "Conservation Police Officer"
  • New June Squirrel Season on Specific WMAs, June 2-23, 2007
  • Fishin' Report Returns
  • People and Partners in the News
    • Shad Stocked in Rivanna River
    • Women in the Outdoors Event, May 26
    • 2007 Chesapeake Bay and River Sojourns Scheduled
  • Be Safe... Have Fun!
    • Stay Safe on the Water - Boat Smart and Sober!
  • In Case You Missed It...
    • Kids Fishing Days Scheduled Statewide
    • Free Fishing Days
    • View the Shad Cam Located at Bosher's Dam
    • "Learn to Fly Fish" Workshop May 12 in Harrisonburg
    • Great Dismal Swamp Birding Festival, May 11-13
    • "Golden Chase" Seeks Eagle Nesting Documentation, May 19
    • Shenandoah Fishing Festival Memorial Day Weekend
    • Float Fishing the James Workshop, June 26
    • If You Find a Fawn, Leave it Alone!
    • Report Dead Fish in Shenandoah
    • Hunting and Fishing Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities
  • Fishin' Report

"Game Warden" Name Changing to "Conservation Police Officer"

Effective July 1, 2007, Virginia's game wardens will have a new name. The sworn officers in the Law Enforcement Division of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) will be called "conservation police officers." The Virginia General Assembly approved the change at their recent session. The name change is intended to clarify the authority of these officers who have full police powers and statewide jurisdiction.

In today's more urban Virginia, game warden work often intersects with mainstream law enforcement. In the course of performing duties related to the agency mission -- enforcing wildlife, fisheries and boating laws -- game wardens are now dealing with situations requiring immediate police intervention, such as drivers under the influence, reckless drivers, drug and gang activities, homeland security issues and frequent assistance to other law enforcement agencies. VDGIF's law enforcement personnel patrol the Commonwealth every day. They are on the waters, in the woods, and on the roadways, encountering all the same public safety issues as other police officers do. According to Colonel Mike Bise, Chief of the Law Enforcement Division, "This name change is so folks who don't know who we are will better understand our law enforcement role. It does not mean we are changing our mission focus."

Read more in the news release

New June Squirrel Season on Specific WMAs, June 2-23, 2007

A new statewide squirrel season will be available for sportsmen June 2-23, 2007, on specific VDGIF Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) as listed on the VDGIF Web site. Fox squirrels may only be harvested on Big Survey, Goshen, Havens, Phelps and Thompson WMAs. Hunting squirrels with dogs is not allowed during the June season.

Virginia joins seven other states that currently allow hunters to harvest squirrels in the spring/summer. Although it may be a foreign idea to many sportsmen, a June season is biologically justified. Squirrels have two peak reproductive periods one during February-March and another during July-August. Therefore, hunters can harvest squirrels during the June season without impacting populations. Because school will be out during most of the season, the June squirrel season is a wonderful opportunity to introduce a youngster to hunting.

Fishin' Report Returns in this Edition

How are the fish bitin'? Anglers across the state can get answers to this and other fishing related questions for many of their favorite rivers and lakes in this and future issues of the Outdoor Report. License agents, marinas, fishing guides and bait shops have volunteered to serve as contacts for information on recent fishing conditions for primary rivers and lakes throughout the state. Sarah White, outdoor writer and regular contributor to Virginia Wildlife magazine, prepares the Fishin' Report from interviews with contacts the week prior to publication of the Outdoor Report. The Fishin' Report will only be available as part of your free subscription to the Outdoor Report.

People and Partners in the News

Shad Stocked in Rivanna River

Recently 750,000 American shad fry were stocked into the Rivanna River at Darden Towe Park, just a few miles upstream of Woolen Mills Dam in Charlottesville. Middle school children from Albemarle County assisted VDGIF biologists with the release, and took the opportunity to learn about the shad restoration efforts. The VDGIF American Shad Restoration Program has released 1.5 million American shad fry in the Rivannna since 2005.

VDGIF Fish Passage Coordinator Alan Weaver has been working closely with the Rivanna River Conservation Society to improve conditions on the river for shad. One of the key initiatives that is planned, is the scheduled removal of the Woolen Mills Dam, which has been an impediment for the migrating fish. Removal of the dam will restore fish passage, allow for safe boating access, and benefit the overall ecology of the Rivanna River.

It is hoped that the shad fry will imprint on the James River Watershed and return to spawn in 4-6 years. Removal of 75% of the Dam is scheduled for this summer.

Women in the Outdoors Event May 26

A special opportunity to introduce women to outdoor adventures is being co-sponsored by VDGIF and the Women in the Outdoors Program of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) at Primland Resort near Meadows of Dan. This event is designed for women 14 years of age and over. The one-day workshop will include educational sessions to cover fly fishing, shotgun skills and archery, hiking, ATV riding, wild game grilling and making a turkey call. Registration fee is $50 per participant. Overnight accommodations are available. Registration deadline is May 19, 2007. See Web site for details (PDF) and early bird discount fees. For more information, contact Chastidy Heath at (276) 251-8012, or cheath@primland.com.

2007 Chesapeake Bay and River Sojourns Scheduled

The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay 2007 River Sojourns will include multi-day expeditions down the James, Patuxent, Potomac and the Susquehanna Rivers. Come paddle the beautiful rivers of the Chesapeake watershed! The James River Sojourn will take place on June 16-23, 2007. The kickoff is scheduled for Saturday, June 16 at Columbia, Virginia, followed by a paddle from Columbia to Richmond on June 17-22. After a paddle/walk through Richmond on June 22, the sojourn will conclude in the tidewater James below Richmond on June 23 at Henricus Park/Dutch Gap. For more information contact: mail@acb-online.org or call (410) 377-6270.

Be Safe... Have Fun

Stay Safe on the Water - Boat Smart and Sober!

The upcoming Memorial Day weekend is right around the corner, and VDGIF reminds all boaters to boat smart, boat sober, and boat safe while out on our waterways.

According to Charlie Sledd, the Department's Boating Safety Director and Boating Law Administrator, "Our safety message to all boaters is to wear your life jacket, do not mix alcohol and boating, and take a boating safety course."

Boaters are required by law to equip their vessels with a life jacket for each person on board and to have the life jackets readily accessible. Life jackets must also be in good condition and of the proper size for the intended wearer. "With the recent designs in inflatable life jackets, they are really comfortable, easy to wear, and most importantly, easy to use," said Sledd. "So we always emphasize that a major part of boating safely involves life jacket use." Nearly all boating-related fatalities are the result of drowning and it is estimated that about 80% of fatalities could have been prevented if a life jacket was worn. Personal watercraft (PWC) operators, passengers, and skiers are reminded that they are required by state law to wear a life jacket at all times while the PWC is underway.

Also important to a safe day on the water is to boat sober. Just like driving under the influence, Virginia boating law states that a person is considered to be boating under the influence (BUI) if the blood alcohol concentration is .08 percent or higher. The penalties for BUI are substantial and the risk to yourself, as well as many others on the water, of consuming alcohol is significant.

Boaters are also strongly encouraged to take a boating safety course. Whether it's the new boater wanting to learn the rules of the waterway or the seasoned boater just wanting to update their knowledge, taking a course better prepares boaters for a safe day on the water.

In Case You Missed It...

Editor's note: With numerous new subscribers each issue, we realize that some of the seasonal features are important and timely enough to bear repeating. So readers can easily review these seasonal items, we have retained the headlines and information links in this section "In case you missed it..."

Help Spread the News!

We hope you enjoy the new, electronic Outdoor Report and invite you to share this information with your friends and colleagues. Simply visit the Department's Web site and click on the Outdoor Report link to subscribe. New editions are sent directly to your email address every two weeks. Stay informed on issues and opportunities about Virginia's outdoors!

Fishin' Report

Anglers throughout Virginia and neighboring states want to know "how are the fish bitin'?" To provide some answers, more than 25 license agents, marinas, fishing guides and bait shops have volunteered to serve as contacts for information on recent fishing conditions for primary rivers and lakes throughout the state. Sarah White, outdoor writer and regular contributor to Virginia Wildlife magazine, prepares this Fishin' Report from interviews with these contacts the week prior to publication of the Outdoor Report.

The Fishin' Report is only available as part of your free subscription to the Outdoor Report.
The rivers and lakes featured in the Fishin' Report are listed by VDGIF Administrative Regions so you can quickly locate the area in which you are most interested. Consult the Regional location map below to find the major river or lake you want to know about.

If you catch a big one or want to relay some information about your experience to our readers, report in at the contacts we have noted here.

Region 1 - Tidewater

Little Creek Reservoir: Charles Brittman at the local park tells us that the largemouth bass and shellcrackers are giving anglers plenty of sport. Pete Cheesman of Newport News brought in two 5 lb. bass. Hal Hampton of Mechanicsville landed some 1 lb. shellcrackers; and local fisherman Tom Buttler came in with a 4 lb. bass. Water quality is clear with temperatures around 63 degrees. The fishing should continue to be good for the next few weeks.

Chickahominy River: Charlie Brown (yes that's his real name) at River's Rest says that the big bass and catfish are being weighed in. He has had customers with catfish well over 30 lbs. The water quality has been good, with temperatures in the high 50s and low 60s. Catfish should continue to be active in the weeks ahead.

Tidewater/Suffolk Lakes: Bobby Kinsey at Dashiell's Hunting and Fishing in Suffolk reports it's been a busy couple of weeks in the area as far as the fishing goes. Weather has been beautiful and a good number of bass are finally beginning to wrap up their spawning rituals. The spawn has been incredible this year (as good as I've ever seen). In just about every tournament on the lakes, it's taken 5 bass that weighed at least 20 lbs to win. The last two open tournaments on Western Branch and Lake Cohoon have produced winning stringers of 25 lbs and 25.10 lbs respectively. That's world class fishing there. Most anglers are using various soft plastics and jigs on the bedding fish, and catching some of the post spawn fish on floating worms and flukes. For the next 2 or 3 weeks, concentrate all your efforts in water that is 5 foot or less. Top-water action should be just around the corner in the next 2 or 3 weeks if the weather turns warm as it usually does in mid to late May. Notable bass catches in the last couple of weeks: Bobby Kinsey, 8.8 lbs. largemouth, Lake Cohoon; Brad Web, 9.02 lbs. largemouth, Lake Cohoon; Rick Williams and Bubba Driscoll, 5 largemouth totaling 25.00 lbs, Western Branch; Bobby Kinsey and Randy Broughman, 5 largemouth, totaling 25.10 lbs Lake Cohoon; Bootleg Tournament Trail, (10) 5 fish limits over 20 lbs Western Branch and Bootleg Tournament Trail, (10) 5 fish limits over 18 lbs Lake Cohoon. For more information on the local bass scene, check out www.bassjons.com. As far as panfishing goes in the lakes, crappie are done spawning and should be headed back to deep water. Catches have been sporadic at best. Shellcrackers should be spawning as this is written and some big catches should be coming in as soon as we pass by the full moon. Bluegill will hit the bank and begin spawning this month. Fly rod action should be hot and they'll always eat all the crickets and worms you can feed them. For more up-to-date info, don't hesitate to give us a call at (757) 539-7854.

Region 2 - Southside

Smith Mountain Lake: Mike Snead at the Virginia Outdoorsman's Store reports that stripers are hitting well at night as they seek alewife, which are coming to the banks to spawn. The stripers are going for jointed ThunderSticks and Redfins as well as large Rapala original floating minnows. They are also hitting on free lines using live bait behind planer boards and split shot lines. In the lower lake stripers are biting trolling umbrella rigs. Mike also says that the largemouth and smallmouth bass are still spawning. Sight fishing has produced good results with these fish, especially with bright colored worms (white, bubble gum and chartreuse) and tube baits. Spinner baits and jigs are also working well. Flathead catfish are very interested in live shad and cut bait. Crappie are biting live minnows, small tubes and crappie jigs. The water temperature should go to 70 degrees or above in the next few weeks, which should make the present fishing pattern hold.

Philpott Reservoir: Shawn Purdue of Franklins Outdoors tells us that the crappie, stripers and stocked trout are all cooperating. For stripers, ThunderSticks are their undoing during the night, while live bait gets them in daylight hours. The largemouth bass are going for spinners and plastic worms. Shawn says folks are weighing in big trout. Water conditions and temperatures have been normal for this time of year. Look for the walleye to start hitting in the weeks ahead.

Kerr Reservoir: From Bob Cat's Lake Country Store, Bobby Whitlow let us know that the crappie are active. Rockfish are hitting on the rivers and flathead catfish and bluegills are also being caught. J.R. Wallace from Bluestone brought in a 2.88 lb. crappie and Brian Triggs landed a 54 lb. blue catfish. Water quality has been good, with water temperatures in or around 70. In the next few weeks look for the stripers to come back to the main lake. Towards the end of the month, the crappie should gather around deep brush piles and bridge pylons.

James River: Tom Risedorf says water levels have been perfect for fishing with good clarity and temperatures around 53 degrees. Smallmouth bass action is heating up as the water warms. Tub jigs and crankbaits are producing well. Tom also says for people heading to the mountain streams, good brook trout and smallmouth bass action is heating up. An increase in insect activity and breeding should lead to easy fishing for brookies.

Region 3 - Southwest

Flannagan Reservoir: Michael Mullins of Flannagan Marina in Clintwood says that largemouth bass, bluegill and catfish are biting well. He also says that lots of anglers are getting lucky at night with crappies. The bluegill seem to be hitting best on crickets, while the crappies are crowding around sunken trees and banks and going for small minnows. Junior Fleming of Clintwood brought in a 5 lb. bass last week. The area has been having good spring weather with clear water with the water temperature staying around 60 degrees. Next week look for more activity with walleye and striped bass moving to the forefront.

Claytor Lake: According to Mike Buchett, largemouth bass are hitting "big-time" as their spawning brings them towards the banks. Stripers are being caught at night using shad or trolling with umbrella rigs, Redfins and ThunderSticks. Oscar Jarrel landed a 6.13 lb. walleye and Charles Harper brought in a catfish that weighed over 12 lbs. The weather at Claytor Lake has been somewhat hotter than usual, but cooler weather this past week will levels things of a bit. The water clarity has been good. Look for excellent striper, bass and shad fishing in the next couple weeks.

Lower New River: John Zienius of Big Z's shop tells us that stripers and hybrids are really going for Redfins and ThunderSticks. Crankbaits are working well for smallmouth bass fishing. Scottie Witten caught over 40 fish in one day and Scott Meyerhoffer caught a citation smallmouth. The water quality has been good, with water temperatures in the 60s. Look for top-water action to really take off next week.

Region 4 - Mountain & Valley

Lake Moomaw: Larry Andrews at the Bait Place tells us that folks have been coming in with crappie weighing well over 2 lbs. Anglers have also been showing up with brown trout, some over 16 inches. He says the bass fishing has been "super good." Ray Diesater brought in a 2.5 lb. crappie and another weighing 2.24 lbs. Relative Raymond Diesater caught one weighing 2.09 lbs. The Hoffman family from Tracville had great luck - father John brought in a 22-inch brown trout, while his son Chris got a 4.2 lb smallmouth and brother Eddie a 14-inch yellow perch. Water quality has been somewhat cloudy with temperatures in the low 60s. The whole month of May should bring great fishing, with crappie, yellow perch, trout and bass hitting very well.

North Fork of the Shenandoah: Harry Murray of Murray's Fly Shop in Edinburg reports that small and largemouth bass, sunfish and rock bass have been hitting in his area. The South Fork, however, is too high for really good fishing. Trout streams in the Blue Ridge are in excellent condition for angling. If an angler will park on the Parkway or Skyline Drive, and hike up to the head of any of the streams, he will not be disappointed. Small dry flies, size 14-16, are best for these locations. Browns and rainbows are biting in the stocked streams in the Valley, especially Passage Creek and Big Stony Creek, near Edinburg. Marauder flies, size 10-12, seem to work best for these creeks. In fact, a detailed weekly report of the local stream conditions can be found at www.murraysflyshop.com. The water temperatures should be in the mid 50s in the mountains and low 60s in the river. For the next few weeks the outlook for trout remains very good.

Lake Robertson: According to Rockbridge County Park employee Barbara Steinbrenner bluegill have been cooperating with local anglers who court them with worms. In fact, Carolyn Bane of Lexington brought in several lunkers. Barbara wants to remind everyone that the park is open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. in May.

Region 5 - Northern Piedmont

Lake Anna: Ken Kirk at Anna Point Marina has let us know that both largemouth bass and crappie are hitting well. Robbie Mauck of Winchester landed a 1.25 lb. crappie. Stuart Smith from Chester brought in three largemouth bass totaling over 18 lbs. that he had caught on soft plastics in the grass. D.W. Armstrong from Mineral came in with an 8.8 lb. largemouth. Stripers are also hitting on jumbo minnows down by the dam and midlake. The weather has been windy, which has caused the fish to concentrate and the water quality to become somewhat stained from recent rains. The water temperature has been around 64-67 degrees. Ken expects a slow period in the next few weeks, as the post spawn season begins.

Fall Line at the James: Local fishing guide Capt. Russ Cress tells us that the shad are still rising well to the bait. For a fly rod, Capt. Cress recommends a Crystal Chenille fly in bright chartreuse. For a spinning rod, go with a 1- inch curly tail chartreuse grub. The water clarity and temperatures on this part of the James have been good for this time of year. For the next few weeks look for white perch, herring and stripers to hit well.

Potomac River: According to Mike Hazard at Gander Mountain Spotsylvania Store, the bass are hitting well on the Potomac. They're really responding to spinner baits, plastic worms, lizards and chatter baits. Catfish are spawning around the shipwrecks and are also biting. Ring perch are another species that are cooperating with local anglers. The water quality in the river is slightly stained with temperatures around 68 to 70 degrees. Look for the same patterns to continue for the next few weeks. Smallmouth bass action on the upper Rappahannock is picking up as the water warms, while shad are still entertaining anglers in the Fredericksburg area.

Now go catch a whopper!

In upcoming issues of the new Outdoor Report, look for:

  • What to do about nuisance wildlife
  • Effective and safe insect repellants
  • New Fishin' Report expanded
Northern Flying Squirrel. Artwork copyright Spike Knuth.
BE WILD, VIRGINIA!

Northern Flying Squirrel
by Spike Knuth

While it is common and widely distributed across northern North America, only small populations of northern flying squirrels remain in portions of the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia and North Carolina. Historically it was more numerous, but changing temperatures and conditions over hundreds of years isolated them in the spruce and fir highlands of the Appalachians, even before the European settlers arrived.

Settlement of course brought logging, forest fires, and other human disturbances of the habitat which added to its demise. In addition the more aggressive southern flying squirrel has been displacing the northerns. The northern flying squirrels commonly inhabited higher elevations often above 5,000 feet. Now the southern is moving into those locales, plus it carries a parasitic nematode, a small worm, to which it is immune, but the northerns are not.

Northern flying squirrels are larger in size and darker in color. Their upperparts are brownish and its belly fur is gray while the smaller southern flying squirrel has a clean white belly. Northerns prefer spruce-fir forests or mixed conifer and northern type hardwood forests. They both are nocturnal and active year round, the northerns being so even in the cold climates of the boreal forests.

Northerns also have a more varied diet of lichens, fungi, acorns, beechnuts, conifer seeds, buds, fruits, insects and animal flesh, while the southern subsists mainly on seeds, nuts and fruits. Otherwise their natural history is similar. They nest in tree cavities or old woodpecker holes, making nests of tree bark, moss, grasses and leaves. Litters average 1 to 3, and are fully furred, mobile and well-developed physically in about a month. The northern flying squirrel is designated as endangered in Virginia.

       

This section of each issue of the Outdoor Report features one of the 925 animals that have been identified in Virginia's Wildlife Action Plan whose existence is at risk.

Think you can't make a difference? You can! Be wild and work with your local officials and in your local communities to conserve Virginia's wildlife resources. Find out how you can help and join our team!

UPCOMING EVENTS
May 2007

Check the Kids Fishing Days calendar for events scheduled in May!

11-13 Great Dismal Swamp Birding Festival (PDF). Call (757) 986-3705.
12 New Kent Forestry Center Spring Gobbler Hunt II, Providence Forge
18-20 Mountain Lake Migratory Birding Festival
25-26 Free Fishing Tournaments for Youth, Town of Shenandoah. kirko3@hotmail.com.
26 Women in the Outdoors Event (PDF), Primeland, Meadows of Dan
June 2007

Check the Kids Fishing Days calendar for events scheduled in June!

1-3 Free Freshwater Fishing Days
5 Board of Game and Inland Fisheries Meeting, Richmond
16-19 Outdoor Writers Association of America 80th Annual Conference, Roanoke
18-23 Holiday Lake Forestry Camp, Appomattox
23 JAKES Event, Luray.
July 2007
14 Women in the Outdoors Event (PDF), Hampton.
17 Smallmouth Bass Workshop on the New River (PDF), Radford.
20-22 Virginia Trappers Association (VTA) Convention and Sportsman Show, Page County Fairgrounds, Luray.
MAKE IT A FAMILY ADVENTURE!
The Department offers numerous hunting, fishing, and outdoor education programs designed for families, women, beginners and seasoned outdoor enthusiasts.
LOOKING FOR A PLACE TO HUNT OR FISH?
Visit Find Game, the Department's award-winning online public hunting lands locator!

For persons with disabilities: a calendar of hunting, fishing, and skill-building events, as well as areas designed for access to persons with disabilities can be found on the Department's online events calendar, accessible fishing areas page, as well as the VANWTF site.

Find out where to fish, fishing access, and much more at the Department's Web site.

QUICK GLANCE
AT HUNTING SEASONS
For a quick reference to the season dates for hunting and trapping for all game species visit our online quick reference or refer to page 77 of the 2006-07 Hunting & Trapping Regulations Digest.
May 2007
7-19 Spring Gobbler Season (Hours: one-half hour before sunrise to sunset)
June 2007
2-23

New Squirrel Season on selected VDGIF Wildlife Management Areas

Please consider contributing to Hunters for the Hungry through the $2 check-off when purchasing a license, or at any time through our online Outdoor Catalog.
REPORT
WILDLIFE VIOLATIONS
To report a wildlife violation, call 1-800-237-5712, or email WildCrime@dgif.virginia.gov.

FOR AN EMERGENCY SITUATION, contact the local game warden immediately through the local sheriff's office or police department.

Don't allow the actions of a few to tarnish the reputation of Virginia's sportsmen and sportswomen!

SUBSCRIBE TO VIRGINIA WILDLIFE MAGAZINE!
  • If you would like to become a regular subscriber to Virginia Wildlife magazine call 1-800-710-9369, visit the Department's Web site, or mail a check made out to "Treasurer of Virginia" and send it to Virginia Wildlife Magazine, 4010 W. Broad St., Richmond, VA 23230. A one-year subscription or 12 issues is only $12.95. Let Virginia Wildlife magazine be your guide to the best in hunting, fishing, boating and wildlife information.
2007 WILDLIFE AND BOATING REGULATION REVIEW & AMENDMENT PROCESS
  • In 2007 the Board of Game and Inland Fisheries is conducting its Periodic Regulation Review and Amendment Process, in which it addresses all regulations administered by VDGIF. The Preliminary Recommendations Public Discussion Period opened April 10 and runs through June 15. Key dates in the process can be found on the Department's Web site.
  • VDGIF solicits the public's participation in the regulation review process; channels for submitting comments are:
  • Online through the Department's Web site.
    Email sent to RegComments@dgif.virginia.gov.
    Mailed letters sent to: Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries, Attn: Policy Analyst and Regulatory Coordinator, 4016 West Broad Street, Richmond VA 23230.

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Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
4010 West Broad Street, Richmond, Virginia 23230
(804) 367-1000 - www.dgif.virginia.gov