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, July 11, 2007

VDGIF is an agency of the Virginia Secretariat of Natural Resources
In this issue:
  • Federal Delisting of Eagles Effective July 28, Still Protected at State Level
  • People and Partners in the News
    • Quail Unlimited Hosting Habitat Cost Share Meeting July 16
    • New Program Seeks Volunteers
    • Buck Reservoir on New River Scheduled for August Drawdown
    • Long-Standing Musky Record Broken
  • Be Safe... Have Fun!
    • Basic Boating Safety Tips
  • In Case You Missed It...
    • Women in the Outdoors Events: July 14 in Hampton, July 21 in Raphine
    • Virginia Wildlife Action Plan Featured on Communicating Today
    • "The Woods in Your Backyard" Workshops Coming in July
    • Teens Learn Outdoor Skills Through Xtreme JAKES Event
    • VDGIF Basic Law Enforcement Academy Graduates 3rd Class
    • 2007-08 Hunting & Trapping Regulations Digest Now Available
    • Shenandoah, Cowpasture, and James Rivers - Fish Kills Update
  • Fishin' Report

Federal Delisting of Eagles Effective July 28, Still Protected at State Level

After four decades of protection under the federal Endangered Species Act and its predecessor, The Endangered Species Protection Act of 1966, the bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) has officially been removed from the federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. The change will go into effect July 28, 2007.

Bald eagles will remain federally protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, and under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. They also remain protected as a State Threatened Species under Virginia law and VDGIF regulations. VDGIF, in the context of having state authority to manage eagles as a nongame species, will consider whether the eagle's current status in the Commonwealth, coupled with the new federal management guidelines and protocols as implemented, provides adequate protection to warrant removal of bald eagles from Virginia's Endangered and Threatened Species list.

The success story of the recovery of bald eagles, our Nation's symbol, is one that every American can appreciate and be proud of, but protecting these birds will be an ongoing responsibility.

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 is 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

Quail Unlimited Hosting Habitat Cost Share Meeting July 16

The Central Virginia Chapter of Quail Unlimited (CVCQU) is hosting a special meeting to review the state and federal cost share programs that are currently available to landowners for wildlife habitat improvement. The meeting is Monday, July 16, 2007 at 7:00 p.m. at the VDGIF headquarters located at 4000 West Broad Street in Richmond. Guest speakers include Steve Capel, retired farm game biologist from the VDGIF and Dana Bayless, District Conservationist with the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). Cost share programs such as EQIP, CREP, and CP-33 will be highlighted.

Quail Unlimited members work to build partnerships with other local conservation organizations, agencies and individuals that have a keen interest in sound wildlife habitat management and stewardship. For more information on this informational meeting or CVCQU, email Lanny Woolfolk at, or call (804) 651-4922.

New Program Seeks Volunteers

VDGIF has started a new volunteer initiative called the Complementary Work Force program. This program will provide citizens with an opportunity to work alongside our dedicated law enforcement officers, biologists, technicians and staff to conserve and protect this state's valuable natural resources, and provide safe recreational opportunities for those engaged in hunting, fishing, boating and other outdoor pursuits. If you like the idea of being a part of what we do, consider joining VDGIF as a volunteer. There are lots of great opportunities for individuals and groups to help. Check out the Web site for more details and to sign up.

Buck Reservoir on New River Scheduled for August Drawdown

Appalachian Power will lower the normal water level of the Buck Hydroelectric Project's reservoir on the New River in Carroll County, starting August 1, 2007. This "drawdown" of the reservoir will allow needed repairs to be made to the spillway. The drawdown will take place at a rate of about two feet per day over a one-week period. The reservoir elevation will be lowered a total of 9 feet by Monday morning, August 6th. Work on the spillway is scheduled to be completed by August 31, 2007 and the reservoir will begin to refill at that time. This schedule may be affected by unexpected weather conditions or other circumstances. For information regarding the drawdown and reservoir elevations, go to AEP's Web site.

Long-Standing Musky Record Broken

The State Record Fish Committee of the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) has certified a new state record musky. On June 1, 2007, Shannon Hill, of Christiansburg, Virginia, caught a 45 pound, 8 ounce musky from the New River. That topped the existing record of 45 pounds set in 1989 by R. A. Underwood, a fish that was also caught in the New River. Mr. Hill's huge musky measured 53 inches long and had a girth of 24.5 inches. For more information about the record freshwater fish program and to see a complete list of the current State Record Freshwater Fish, visit the VDGIF Web site's Trophy Fish section. Fisheries biologists in the VDGIF Regional Office in Marion (276-783-4860) can provide detailed information on where and how to catch musky in Virginia.

Sportsman's Show Features New Opportunities for the Whole Family August 10-12

The 24th Annual Virginia Outdoor Sportsman's Show features fun and exciting new exhibits for everyone in the family. Experienced and novice sportsmen and sportswomen can try the latest in new equipment and learn about new places to enjoy Virginia's great outdoors. The three day show is held at The Showplace in Richmond August 10-12, 2007. You can purchase your new Hunting License and Wildlife Calendar from the VDGIF booth and also subscribe to Virginia Wildlife magazine and the Outdoor Report at the Show. Biologists, game wardens (now, officially conservation police officers), and Hunter Education Instructors will be on hand to answer your questions. This is your chance to see the biggest bucks harvested in Virginia. Deer hunters throughout Virginia will bring their mounts to this prestigious contest organized by the Virginia Deer Hunters Association (VDHA). Certified judges from the VDHA and VDGIF will be awarding ribbons and trophies in four antler classes. The Virginia Open Turkey Calling Championship will be held on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. sanctioned by the National Wild Turkey Federation. There are $5000 in cash and prizes with the first place winners in three Divisions eligible to go to the National Calling Contest. Featured this year are seminars for persons with disabilities to learn about specialized equipment and partnership programs with sportsmen's organizations that provide hunting and fishing opportunities. Check the Show's Web site ( for information on numerous other seminars, exhibits, demonstrations and contests.

Be Safe... Have Fun!

Basic Boating Safety Tips

To make sure you have a safe and enjoyable experience on the water, remember these three simple precautions:

Wearing a Life Jacket is a Life Saver

Each year about 80% of our boating fatalities in Virginia likely would have been prevented if the individuals had been wearing their life jackets. Recent advances in the design of life jackets, especially the inflatables that are lightweight, comfortable and can be worn around the waist, make wearing this critical piece of safety equipment easy.

Alcohol & Boating Don't Mix!

Contrary to popular belief, most boaters do not take alcohol with them. But if you allow the use of alcohol on your boat, always make sure you have someone designated as your non-drinking operator.

Take a Boating Safety Course

With nearly a quarter of a million powerboats and tens of thousands of non-motorized boats like canoes, kayaks, and rafts on Virginia's waterways, we all need to be speaking the same nautical language. A boating safety course provides a good foundation for safe boating, helps to prevent you from getting a summons for violations, and prepares boaters for emergencies. Experienced boaters will find that the course will keep them up-to-date on boating regulations and refresh their skills. Courses are offered statewide and can be taken in the classroom, over the Internet, or through home study.

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

Chickahominy River: Charlie Brown doesn’t have much to tell us this week. Only that the cats and bass continue to hit fairly well and that the water is stained and warm.

North Landing River and Back Bay: Dewey Mullins tells us that fishing is "right decent" nowadays; with lots of bass, white perch and bluegill hitting the lines. A few pickerel have also cooperated with local anglers. The water has been high and somewhat tainted with temperatures in the high 70's.

Portsmouth: Allen Wills reports that lots of bass are coming in. Also bream and speckled perch are being caught. They are responding to crickets and worms. Jeff Baley of Elberun, VA brought in a shellcracker weighing 1 lb., 8 oz. Britton Harris from Smithfield landed a 1 lb., 1oz. shell cracker. The water quality is clear, warm and low.

Region 2 - Southside

James at Lynchburg: Tom Reisdorf from Angler's Lane said that the water has been low lately. The smallmouth bass are lively, hitting surface poppers in yellow and Carolina blue. The bluegills are also taking poppers, but smaller ones. Crappies are attacking white flies. The water level is clear and warm.

Leesville Reservoir: Leigh Gables at Tri County Marina tells us that things are pretty much as usual there. Crappie, bass and bream are all hitting at normal summer levels. The water is clear in the middle of the lake and muddy at the shores. The temperature is warm.

Philpott Reservoir: Sean Perdue at Franklin Outdoors reports that walleye, stripers and bass are giving local anglers good luck. Crappies, however, have been leery. Stripers are biting at night on ThunderSticks and Red Tails. The water has been clear and around 84 degrees.

Smith Mountain Lake: Mike Snead of the Virginia Sportsman’s store let me know that crappie are biting at a depth of around 12-22 feet near the tops of submerged trees and timber. Bass are biting around docks, responding best to tubes, wacky rigged yamasenko worms, shakey-head-jigs, and drop shots with floating worms and imitation shiners. Stripers are active at mid depth and like live bait on trolling umbrella rigs. Channel cats are, as always, going for stinkbaits. The water is clear and around 80-83, unusually cool for this time of year.

Lower New River: John Zienius of Big Z's says that hybrids in the lake are hitting in the daytime. The river is good for smallmouth bass and muskies. The water is clear and 77 in the river and 80 or more in the lake.

Region 3 - Southwest

North Fork of the Holston: Jamie Lame of the Sportsmen's Den reports that water levels are low and the smallmouth bass are picking up. Redeye and bluegill are also giving local anglers a good time, hitting on dark colored tubes and other soft plastics. The water level is low, clear and warm. Laurel Bed Lake has plenty of feisty smallmouth bass that are hitting on live bait. Bluegill and redeye are also doing well.

South Holston Reservoir: Bill Faber at Sportsman's Marina tells us that the crappie are good at night, but that other fishing is poor due to the hot weather and low water. The water is clear and around 82 degrees.

New River and Claytor Lake: Victor Billings of Sportsman's Supply says that nighttime fishing is good on the river. Smallmouth bass are responding to black jitterbugs and black jolt spinner baits. Mud and channel cats are also being cooperative. There have also been a few muskies to come in; 3 by Jodie Umberger from Wytheville. Sophia Billings of Hillsville brought in an 8 lb. walleye.

Region 4 - Mountain & Valley

Lake Moomaw: Lana White from the Bait Place told me that the lake trout have been slow to respond, but that the smallmouth bass are doing well. In fact, there is a bass tournament every Friday. Water quality is warm and clear.

Lake Robertson: Gloria Clemmer reports that things are oddly quiet at the lake with the local fish, "not doing much." The weather has been hot in the daytime and cool at night. Water is clear and in the 70's.

North Fork of the Shenandoah: Harry Murray, local fly expert and entrepreneur, lets us know that rainbows are showing up at large streams in the Shenandoah Valley in areas such as Big Stoney Creek and Jackson River. The rainbows are hitting pearl marauders and Murry's Betsy streamer. Mountain streams are low and the fish are stressed so many conscientious anglers are avoiding stressing the fish. The water is excellent and clear with temperatures running at the low 70's and 80's at the river and the low 60's in the mountain streams.

Region 5 - Northern Piedmont

James River Parks System: Flathead, blue and channel cats have all been jumping to the bait in the park system. Also biting are smallmouths and sunfish and bluegill. The level is 4 feet with the fairly clear water hovering between 81-85 degrees.

Now go catch a whopper!

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

  • New Virginia Migratory Waterfowl Stamp
  • Opportunities for persons with disabilities featured at August Sportsman's Show in Richmond
  • Meet the Game Warden of the Year
Bald Eagle. Artwork copyright Spike Knuth.

Bald Eagle
by Spike Knuth

This large raptor, with the long broad wings, is a bird of coastlines, lakeshores, large rivers and tidal rivers. They rely on the diverse food supply that waterways offer, especially fish. While they are mainly carrion eaters, they will occasionally pluck their own fish meal from the surface.

An early nester, nests are usually located high in a loblolly pine or cypress, sometimes over 100 feet up! They use the same nests year after year, adding new sticks, vines and aquatic vegetation. Some nests are about 15 feet deep, and 9 feet across. They only use the shallow platform atop the huge nest, which may weigh thousands of pounds!

Eagles mate for life but will find a new mate if one dies. Two eggs are normally laid in mid-January to March, and in 30 to 38 days the young hatch. They acquire full plumage, and fledge in 9 to 14 weeks. It takes three years for the young birds to reach adult plumage.

The first and second year young are mostly dirty brown and gray in color. Adult birds have the distinctive white heads and tails, dark brown bodies, and a yellow bill and feet. Females are larger than the males, but the young are often larger than the adults with wingspans a foot or so longer!

Eagles are nearly non-migratory. Northern breeders move south only when the waters freeze over, shutting off their food supply. Southern breeders may actually move north for the summer after breeding season.

The artwork used to enhance this publication is produced by award-winning Virginia artist Carl "Spike" Knuth. He is currently retired from VDGIF and continues to be active in numerous activities contributing to wildlife conservation, information and education through his artwork and writing. We appreciate his continued service and support through his exceptional talent for both illustrations and writing. Spike's artwork can be seen at the Jager Gallery, 6939 Lakeside Avenue, in Richmond.

·    ·    ·

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!

July 2007
7 Xtreme JAKES Event, Fairfield,
14 Women in the Outdoors Event (PDF), Hampton
16 Quail Unlimited Habitat Meeting, Richmond,
20-22 Virginia Trappers Association (VTA) Convention and Sportsman Show, Page County Fairgrounds, Luray
21 Kids Fishing Derby (PDF), Lake Fairfax Park, Reston
21 Women in the Outdoors Event (PDF), Raphine
24 The Woods in Your Backyard Workshop (PDF), Warrenton
26 The Woods in Your Backyard Workshop (PDF), Madison
30 The Woods in Your Backyard Workshop (PDF), Fredericksburg
31 The Woods in Your Backyard Workshop (PDF), Warrenton
August 2007
2 The Woods in Your Backyard Workshop (PDF), Madison
6 The Woods in Your Backyard Workshop (PDF), Fredericksburg
10-12 Virginia Outdoor Sportsman Show, VA Deer Hunters Association, Richmond
24-26 Mother Daughter Outdoors (PDF), Appomattox
September 2007
8 Western Big Game Contest, Harrisonburg
22 Eastern Big Game Contest, Suffolk
22 National Hunting and Fishing Day
22 Central Virginia Quail Unlimited "Youth Appreciation Day," Louisa,
29 Women in the Outdoors (PDF), Leesburg
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.

With summer closed to most hunting seasons, now is a good time to go to a range and sight in your firearms or archery equipment so you are ready when the fall seasons begin.
Groundhogs have a continuous open season on private lands only.
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 -