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, June 13, 2007

VDGIF is an agency of the Virginia Secretariat of Natural Resources
In this issue:
  • VDGIF Dedicates New Office at VCU Rice Center
  • Shenandoah, Cowpasture, and Upper James Rivers - Fish Kill Update
  • People and Partners in the News
    • Virginia Wildlife Action Plan Television Special/Fairfax County
    • Outdoor Writers Meeting in Roanoke June 16-19
    • Harrisonburg High School Team Wins State Envirothon
    • Applications Due June 30 for Virginia Naturally School Recognition
    • Big Apple Archery Tournament June 29-July 1 at Buggs Island
  • Be Safe... Have Fun!
    • Do Not Feed the Bears!
  • In Case You Missed It...
    • Women in the Outdoors Event July 13 in Hampton
    • Smallmouth Bass Workshop on the New River July 17
    • If You Find a Fawn, Leave it Alone
    • Virginia Migratory Waterfowl Conservation Stamp Grant Application Period Open
  • Fishin' Report

VDGIF Dedicates New Office at VCU Rice Center

The Department officially dedicated its new Region I office at the VCU Rice Center on June 4, 2007. The facility, located at 3801 John Tyler Memorial Highway (Route 5) in Charles City County, houses VDGIF law enforcement, wildlife and fisheries personnel who work in a region that covers 29 counties and major cities.

In his remarks at the ceremony, Secretary of Natural Resources L. Preston Bryant cited Governor Tim Kaine's Executive Order 48 that directs state agencies and institutions to reduce energy consumption and cost in state government operations. The "green" building was designed with a number of sustainable or energy-conserving measures.

At the dedication ceremony, VDGIF Board Chairman John Montgomery and VDGIF Director J. Carlton Courter, III both emphasized the importance of the facility in providing support to Department work in the region.

Read more

Shenandoah, Cowpasture, and James Rivers - Fish Kill Update

VDGIF fisheries biologists continue to be very involved with field collections and studies that are part of ongoing efforts to investigate the Shenandoah River fish kills and the recent outbreaks of similar sick and dying fish in the Cowpasture River and upper James River. For a full update, information about how anglers can help and report their observations, and a Frequently Asked Questions section, read the Shenandoah, Cowpasture, and James River Fish Kills Update on the Department's Web site.

How Are the Fish Bitin'?

Anglers across the state can get answers on fishing conditions for many of their favorite rivers and lakes by reading the Fishin' Report, included 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.

Got your fishing license yet? Purchase your license online!

People and Partners in the News

Virginia Wildlife Action Plan featured on Communicating Today

Television viewers in the Northern Virginia/Fairfax area will have an opportunity to learn more about the Virginia Wildlife Action Plan during the Communicating Today Show, on Fairfax Public Access Channel 10. John Monsul, host of Communicating Today was joined by David K. Whitehurst, VDGIF Wildlife Diversity Director, and VDGIF board members Thomas A. Stroup of Fairfax, and James W. Hazel of Oakton. The show will air Wednesday, July 13, at 8:30 p.m., Friday, July 15, at 6:30 a.m. and Sunday, July 17, at 3:30 p.m. For a listing of air times visit

Outdoor Writers Meeting in Roanoke June 16-19

Smile - you may be on camera, or the subject of an interview as 450 journalists representing the nation's top outdoor oriented writers, photographers, editors, videographers, radio, TV and film makers meet in Roanoke June 16-19. Virginia natural resource agencies, Roanoke Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Virginia Tourism Corporation are hosting the 80th Annual Conference of The Outdoor Writers Association of America (OWAA). OWAA is one of the largest professional outdoor communicator organizations with over 1200 members. In addition to journalists, outdoor product businesses, travel industry, conservation organizations and agency information and education professionals also prominently participate in this annual event. The Virginia Outdoor Writers Association (VOWA) is also holding their annual meeting in conjunction with the national group. During the conference members will be recognized for excellence in their fields of writing and photography and winners of the VOWA Youth Writing Contest will be recognized. For information on the award winners visit the VOWA Web site at VDGIF is an active supporting member of both of these professional communication organizations. Be on the lookout in your favorite outdoor publications and television shows for stories on the abundant outdoor adventures these writers will experience while visiting Virginia. You may learn of a new place to cast a line, see an eagle soar, or discover the perfect gear for your next outdoor adventure!

Harrisonburg High School Team Wins State Envirothon

The Harrisonburg High School Team was awarded the State Championship at the Virginia (State) Envirothon held May 20-21, 2007, at the W.E. Skelton 4H Education Center in Wirtz. Seventeen teams competed in the day-long contest that featured "in-the-field" test stations on soils, wildlife, aquatics and forestry. Teams also presented an oral presentation to a panel of judges consisting of industry and natural resource professionals proposing a management solution for a current environmental issue. "The intense study required for this contest helps prepare students for college entrance exams, as well as possible careers in fields associated with natural resources," said Ricky Rash, president of the Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts.

Envirothon is sponsored by the Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts and Virginia's 47 Soil and Water Conservation Districts. VDGIF staff assisted with training for teams and setting up and judging the regional and state contests.

If you can help, or would like to know more about starting an Envirothon team at your high school through 4-H, FFA, Ecology Club or home school group, contact Dana Roberts at the Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts at (804) 559-0324 or

Applications Due June 30 for Virginia Naturally School Recognition

Schools are invited to apply for recognition of their efforts in environmental stewardship. Virginia Naturally Schools is the official environmental education school recognition program of the Commonwealth, administered by the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries with support from the Department of Education, Department of Environmental Quality and other resource agencies. This program recognizes the wonderful efforts of many Virginia schools to increase the environmental awareness and stewardship of our youngest citizens.

Suzie Gilley, VDGIF Wildlife Education Coordinator, explained that, "Virginia Naturally Schools work to promote civic pride through knowledge of the community history in the area in which they reside. Virginia Naturally Schools must meet specific requirements which increase with each successive year a school achieves this recognition."

All schools meeting first year requirements as a Virginia Naturally School have qualified in four areas: administrative support, staff development and curricular integration, resource conservation efforts, and school/community based projects. Schools entering the program for the first year receive a plaque, while schools continuing their efforts receive a pennant imprinted with a symbol of our Commonwealth.

Applications are due by June 30, 2007, and can be found on the VDGIF Web site along with a list of previously recognized schools.

Big Apple Archery Tournament June 29-July 1 at Buggs Island

The Buggs Island Archers Chapter of the Virginia Bowhunters Association is hosting the Big Apple Archery Tournament June 29, 30 and July 1, 2007at the Buggs Island Fish and Wildlife Club in Clarksville. Camping with hookups, showers, good food, music and prizes will be available. The Annual event features family fun, skills competition including archery, horseshows and a flying coon shoot. For more information on the event contact: For information of the Virginia Bowhunters Association and their events and programs visit their Web site:

Be Safe... Have Fun

Do Not Feed the Bears!

With a healthy and growing black bear population, bear sightings during the spring and summer months are not unusual in Virginia. However, bears showing up in areas where they are not commonly seen can cause quite a stir. Summer is the breeding season for the black bear, a time of year when bears are naturally on the move. Adult males may roam well beyond their normal range searching for mates.

Bears are highly adaptable and intelligent animals and can learn to associate human dwellings with food. In their search for food, bears are attracted to residential areas by the smell of food around homes. The most common food attractants are bird feeders, garbage and pet food. Outdoor grills, livestock food, compost, fruit trees and beehives can also attract bears. Keep your full or empty trash containers secured in a garage, shed or basement. If you have a trash collection service, put your trash out the morning of the pickup, not the night before. Take down your birdfeeder temporarily until the bear moves on.

Bears generally avoid humans, but in their search for food, they may wander into suburban areas. So, what should you do if you see a bear? The most important response is to keep a respectful distance. Black bears have a natural fear of humans and, in most cases, would rather flee than have an encounter with people. If a bear is up a tree on or near your property, give it space. Do not approach or gather around the base of the tree. By bringing your pets inside and leaving the immediate area, you give the bear a clear path to leave your property.

Always remember that a bear is a wild animal and that it is detrimental, as well as illegal in Virginia, to feed a bear under any circumstances. Even the inadvertent feeding of nuisance bears is illegal. When bears lose their fear of people, property damage may occur. Bears habituated to humans may cause safety concerns and often times need to be destroyed.

If you do see a bear in your area, enjoy watching it from a distance. If you experience a bear problem after taking appropriate steps of prevention, please notify the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries at (804) 367-1258.

If you have questions about bears or bear behavior, please visit the bear section of the Department's Web site.

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.

For regulations and conditions on saltwater fishing, visit the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) Web site.

Region 1 - Tidewater

Little Creek Reservoir: Michael White says look for pickerel, shellcrackers and smallmouths to take your bait. Alonso Bristol brought in several nice shellcrackers. Richmonder Ryan Foster caught his limit of 25 fish. At 77 degrees the water is clear. Michael says for the next week or so, the stripers and shellcrackers should hit well.

Chickahominy: Charlie Brown tells us that the bass catfish and crappie are doing well. Catfish up to 40 lbs. have been brought in. Water is clear and in the 70s.

Portsmouth: Mike Gizara from Meade Bait and Tackle talks about bream, shellcrackers, crappie, bigmouth bass, stripers and chain pickerel are all doing well for anglers. Wes Bradshaw of Suffolk brought in a 1 lb. 3oz. shellcracker. Water is clear at 77 degrees.

Region 2 - Southside

Kerr Reservoir: Bobby Whitlow from Bob Cat's Lake Country Store tells us that the bigmouth bass are hitting well. Cats are snagging the bait in Staunton River and the stripers are coming back to the lake. The cool water is slightly stained.

Philpott Reservoir: Great fishing at Philpott for largemouth and smallmouth bass as well as stripers and crappie says Shawn Purdue of Franklin Outdoors. Some walleye action to be had also. If you want big trout try the Pigg River. One angler came in with a brown over 8 pounds. Clear water, good fishin'!

Susan T. Martin, Park Ranger USACE Philpott Lake Visitor Assistance Center, along with help from local angler Bill Coe offers a special springtime report for Philpott Reservoir:

Largemouth bass at Philpott had a great spawn this year which lasted from the end of March to the last week in May. This spawn will keep Philpott as an excellent largemouth fishery for many years. Largemouth have now moved back to the creek mouths and into open water. They can be caught early in the morning on top-water or by using plastic baits in around rocky bluffs and points. On a scale of 1-10 compared with other Virginia lakes (such as Smith Mountain and Buggs Island) Philpott largemouth fishing rates a 7 plus.

The smallmouth bass spawn was not as widespread. Smallmouth have also moved back to the creek mouths and into open water and can be caught the same as largemouth or by drop shot rigging with small plastic baits not larger than 4". Five years ago a smallmouth in the range of 3-5 lbs were not unusual. Today it is a trophy at Philpott. On the scale of 1-10 smallmouth fishing at Philpott rates a 5.

The smaller members of the sunfish family began spawning the middle of May and as of this report are still on their beds. The beds can be found in the backs of creeks where sandy bottom exists. Just look for dark circles under the water about 3 to 5 feet deep and 18" to 24" in diameter. They are spawning in abundance and can be caught very easily with a tiny spinner bait or jig. Sunfish fishing is a great way to let the kids have a blast! All shallow waters around Philpott are loaded with bluegill and pumpkinseed. They can be caught with any in-line spinner baits such as Rooster Tails. If you really want to have a great day on the water take a kid fishing.

Catfish can be caught at night using worms, store bought catfish bait, and chicken liver. There are some diehard catfish fisher-folks who fish Philpott and do excellent. Best areas are pockets where the water is still and no more than 25 feet deep. Best hours are after midnight to daylight.

Walleye fishing is also good right now but their population seems to also be diminishing. VDGIF has placed an 18" limit on catches so please obey. They can be caught with bottom bouncers rigged with night crawlers, small spinner baits in line with Berkley Power Worms and such during the day by trolling very slowly in 20'-30' of water. After dark they can be caught by throwing a large floating crankbait and slow winding (just making a little V wake) back to the boat. Please practice catch-and-release when catching them or take only what you know you will eat.

And finally carp are on prowl in all of the red bank areas no deeper than 10 feet and can be caught very easily by just taking a piece of sandwich bread and rolling it between your fingers into a marble size ball. Use a couple of sinkers and size 2 to 4 hook. Toss it out and let it sit and sooner or later they will take it. There are numerous carp in excess of 20 pounds and very few people fish for them. They can also be caught with night crawlers. I would consider Philpott an 8-9 for carp fishing and yes we old-timers do like to catch 'em every now and then, but we would deny saying we do.

If you have never been to Philpott Reservoir you owe yourself a treat to visit one of the prettiest places in the state.

Leesville Lake: Fred Tannehill at Tri County Marina reports crappie, catfish, largemouth bass and some white bass are showing up. Crappies are best on small minnows and the white bass are eating minnows and small worms. Bill Wiborne from North Carolina brought in a 3 lb. crappie. Water is clear and warm.

James River at Lynchburg: Doug Laine at Angler's Lane says crankbaits are taking smallmouths. Low water has slowed the trout fishing. In lower Lynchburg the fishing is good and following the spawning pattern. Good water quality here with warming temperatures.

Region 3 - Southwest

Flannagan Lake: Michael Mullins of Flannagan's Marina says that the bass are hitting during daylight hours on floating worms, flukes and shiners. At night, buzzbaits and pig-and-jigs are bringing them in. Catfish have also been biting; but walleye are not cooperating. When they do bite, it is usually on long A Bombers. The water quality is clear and around 79 degrees.

Rodney Fleming of Prime Time Sports tells us that largemouth bass are going after Texas rig floating worms. The walleye are slow, but will sometimes hit a long A Bomber. Bluegill are falling for crickets. The water quality is clear to slightly stained and is in the lower 70s. For the next few weeks look for Texas rigs to work on bass in the daytime and jigs at night.

North Fork Holston River: Not much going on this week, according to Jamie Lamie. A few smallmouth are taking the hook as are some redeyes. The water is low, clear and warm.

Claytor Lake: Things have slowed down some says Mike Buchett. The bass are guarding their fry. Schools of fry are where to cast your top-water lures and floating worms. Bluegills are spawning on their beds, making fishing "fun for youngsters." Jason Adams and Chris Lewis won last week's tournament with five fish that weighed 8 lbs. together. Water is clear and in the upper 70s. Mike predicts that night fishing will pick up and ThunderSticks will bring in the stripers.

Victor Billings at Sportsman's Supply says stripers are hitting top-water bait at night. At the Delton area of Claytor Lake alewives and gizzard shad are plentiful. James Conneley from Wythville took three stripers over 18 lbs. Water is clear and 79 degrees. Vic says cats should pick up over the next several weeks.

Lower New River: Big Z's John Zienius says that the night fishing for bass is good for anglers using little worms. Stripers and hybrids are playing hard to get. The river is shallow and clear.

South Holston: Sportsman's Marina's Bill Faber says walleye and bass have slowed down but bass are still good at night. The bass are taking root beer colored pig-and-jigs. Good clear water with some algae which makes for good fishing. Temp is about 76.

Region 4 - Mountain & Valley

Lake Moomaw: Larry Andrews at the Bait Place reports the trout in the Jackson River are hitting well. Kevin Moore of Salem brought in a 4.38 lb. brown trout. A 5.39 lb. brown trout was taken from the Jackson by Steven Nicely of Covington. Lake water is good with bass, perch and trout all coming to the bait. Anglers are having the best luck trolling. Moomaw is full, clear and running 72 degrees.

North Fork of the Shenandoah: Harry Murray of Murray's Fly Shop in Edinburg says the North Fork water level is ideal for fishing for smallmouth bass, sunfish and fall fish. Best flys for these fish are: Shenandoah Blue Popper, Murray's Black Hellgrammite and the Pearl Marauder. Trout streams in the Blue Ridge are in good shape with the best flys being: Mr. Rapidan dry fly, Murray's Flying Beatle size 14 to 16 and an H large size 18. Big Stony Creek west of Edinburg is a good spot for trout as are Back Creek and the Jackson River. Water is excellent with the Shenandoah at 74 degrees and the streams running 59 degrees.

Region 5 - Northern Piedmont

James Above Richmond: Russ Cress indicates that fishing has been slow with only a few bream taking the bait. The water is mostly clear and warm.

James River Park Area (City of Richmond): Mike Ostrander tells us smallmouth bass, sunfish and flathead cats are coming to the bait. Water in the James is low and clear and according to Mike the fishing is getting "better and better."

Lake Anna: Anna Point Marina's Ken Kirk reports that small stripers are hitting on spoons and the black bass are hanging around deep-water brush and stumps. Not much crappie action, but shellcrackers and bream are still on the beds and the fishing is good. Water is stained but clearing, temperature is in the low 70s. The bass should be returning to their summer pattern soon, and respond well to buzzbaits in the morning.

Now go catch a whopper!

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

  • Hunting & Trapping Regulations 2007-08
  • What to do about Nuisance Wildlife
  • New rules at Chickahominy Shooting Range
Eastern Box Turtle. Artwork copyright Spike Knuth.

Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene Carolina)
by Spike Knuth

A common sight in late spring and early summer, is that of a slow-moving eastern box turtle crossing a highway. Unfortunately road kills and fragmentation of its habitats, in both urban and rural areas, is threatening the existence of the eastern box turtle.

Box turtles are diurnal and normally seen in the morning or after a good rain. They are medium-sized turtles with a high-domed carapace. This shell is variable in pattern and color, usually a combination of browns, yellows, and olive, along with darker markings. The bottom shell, or plastron, is more yellow or orange.

Box turtles live in moist woodlands and wet meadows. They nest in May and June, laying 3-8 eggs, which are elliptical and thin-shelled. The nest cavity is dug out by the female in soft ground, about 3-4 inches deep, and is narrow at the top. Incubation takes anywhere from 2-1/2 to 3 months. Hatchlings appear in August and September.

Box turtles feed mainly on earthworms, slugs, wild strawberries, fungi, and carrion. With the coming of the hot weather, box turtles look for mud holes, swamps, or ponds for relief. Even though they are mainly a dry land species, they take to the water readily.

A box turtle may never need an area much larger than 100 yards square to live in, if not disturbed, and they are long-lived. Some specimens have been known to live over 100 years! In winter they bury themselves in the forest humus or under a log. They will go into a state of hibernation if it gets very cold, but in mild winters it may get active on warm days.


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!

June 2007
16-19 Outdoor Writers Association of America 80th Annual Conference, Roanoke
18-23 Holiday Lake Forestry Camp, Appomattox
23 JAKES Event, Luray
26 Float Fishing the James, Buckingham
29-July 1 Big Apple Archery Tournament, VA Bowhunters Association, Buggs Island
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
21 Kids Fishing Derby (PDF), Lake Fairfax Park, Reston
24 The Woods in Your Backyard Workshop, Warrenton
26 The Woods in Your Backyard Workshop, Madison
30 The Woods in Your Backyard Workshop, Fredericksburg
31 The Woods in Your Backyard Workshop, Warrenton
August 2007
2 The Woods in Your Backyard Workshop, Madison
6 The Woods in Your Backyard Workshop, Fredericksburg
7 Flat Out Catfishing Workshop (PDF), Richmond
10-12 Virginia Outdoor Sportsman Show, VA Deer Hunters Association, Richmond
24-26 Mother Daughter Outdoors (PDF), Appomattox
The Department offers numerous hunting, fishing, and outdoor education programs designed for families, women, beginners and seasoned outdoor enthusiasts.
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.

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.
June 2007

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.
To report a wildlife violation, call 1-800-237-5712, or email

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!

  • 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 payable 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.


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