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, September 26, 2007

VDGIF is an agency of the Virginia Secretariat of Natural Resources
In this edition:
  • Hunting Run Reservoir Opens for Fishing September 29
  • Turkey Hunting Forecast Varies by Region
  • What To Do With Nuisance Wildlife
  • People and Partners in the News
    • Hawk Migration Approaching Peak
    • Five Forestry & Wildlife Bus Tours Scheduled for October
    • Ready for the 2007 Big Sit?
    • VA Waterfowlers Sponsor Duck/Goose Calling Contest
    • Reminder: Application Deadline October 1 for Deer Hunting Events for Disabled Persons
  • Habitat at Home©
    • Fall is Best Time to Establish Wildlife Plantings
  • Virginia Conservation Police Notebook
    • Field reports from officers protecting natural resources and people pursuing outdoor recreation
  • Be Safe... Have Fun!
    • Rabies - Be Aware - Be Cautious
    • Fish Consumption Advisories Updated
  • Virginia Wildlife Collector's Edition Knife
  • Fishin' Report
  • In Case You Missed It...
    • Links to recent articles of on-going interest

Hunting Run Reservoir Opens for Fishing September 29

Hunting Run Reservoir is a 450 acre reservoir owned and operated by Spotsylvania County. The reservoir has been stocked by VDGIF. Game and food fish populations include largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, black crappie and channel catfish. VDGIF District Fisheries biologist John Odenkirk notes, "This reservoir has one of the best largemouth bass populations in the region." When Phase One opens September 29, 2007, there will be primitive access for personal boats and a small bank fishing area. A pier, concession facility and other amenities are planned as Phase Two. State fishing regulations will apply for the remainder of this year, but largemouth bass regulations are subject to change in 2008.

Turkey Hunting Forecast Varies by Region

"Turkey reproduction appears to be at or above average in most regions of the state.  Reports from the Central and Northern Mountain Regions are perhaps the most promising," reports VDGIF Turkey, Furbearer, and Small Game Program Manager Gary Norman.  He adds, "Jim Clay of Winchester reports seeing record numbers of young birds in the Frederick County area near Winchester. Brood reports are also very high in the counties of Giles, Montgomery, and Craig.  Further southwest, fewer broods have been reported, so brood production appears below average in that area.  In the Piedmont Region, southern counties including Bedford, are also reporting good numbers of young birds."

In addition to the hatch, mast conditions play an important role in turkey hunting strategies and success rates. In many western counties the early summer drought resulted in poor soft mast conditions. It also may lead to an early drop in some acorns. In general, the white oak and red oak acorn production appears to be spotty. Hunters will need to scout out these pockets of acorns, particularly the white oaks. Turkeys will eat any acorn, but generally select smaller acorns. In areas where the soft and hard mast crops have failed, birds may be found in and around fields, clearings and old home sites in search of grasses, insects, and other seeds.

For the past 3 years the Department has been conducting a survival study of wild turkey gobblers. Last year survival rates of gobblers was the highest of any year in the study. Harvest rates during the spring gobbler season were the lowest of any year. We think the inclement weather during the early part of the spring season contributed to the low harvest rate and high survival rate. In conclusion, we carried-over a good population of 2 and 3+ year old birds. This along with a good crop of jakes from this year should lead to improved spring gobbler populations in 2008. But, like last year, good gobbling and good hunting conditions require good weather.

Hunters interested in participating in our spring gobbler season survey can contact Gary Norman at (540) 248-9389 or

The VDGIF needs cooperators for our annual survey of ruffed grouse hunters. Cooperating grouse hunters are provided survey forms to submit information on their hunting effort and success. Additionally, we ask hunters to provide tail and wing feathers so age and sex of harvested birds can be determined. Avid grouse hunters that are interested can contact Gary Norman at (540) 248-9389 or A copy of the 2006-07 grouse status report should be available soon on the Department's Web site.

What To Do With Nuisance Wildlife

Let's face facts...those cute and cuddly critters we see in the wild can also be a nuisance if they decide to move in with you or overstay their welcome. Vance Shearin, who staffs the Information Desk at the VDGIF Headquarters in Richmond, hears that complaint a lot. He notes, "We get a lot of calls on nuisance animals and nuisance furbearers especially in the spring and fall. Someone calls in and may have a fox in the yard, raccoon in the attic, squirrel in the garage, or beavers cutting down trees or flooding a road with their dam. Many of the callers are under the false impression that we will come and remove the wildlife for free as a public service. They are often unaware that they may have to pay a private trapper if they don't want to dispatch the animal themselves."

VDGIF Furbearer Biologist Mike Fies advises, "Nuisance wildlife laws and regulations are complex. Most of the complexity is due to the different Code [of Virginia] Sections that pertain to various wildlife situations. Landowners are permitted to trap and shoot some species of nuisance wildlife at any time. However, you should check with the VDGIF to make sure you are complying with all laws and regulations before taking action. The VDGIF provides assistance by instructing people how to handle their own problem depending on the circumstances, or putting them in contact with private individuals who can provide trapping services for a fee." Property owners need to be aware that it is illegal to capture and relocate most nuisance animals. There are some exceptions, but usually you are simply moving your problem to someone else. A list of trappers who handle nuisance animals is available on the VDGIF Web site. For information on non-lethal alternatives for nuisance wildlife problems visit The Center for Human-Wildlife Conflict Resolution.

The Code that is enforced by VDGIF states, "A landowner may shoot fur-bearing animals except muskrat and raccoons, upon his own lands during closed season. When beaver are damaging crops or lands, the owner of the premises, his agent, or tenant, may kill the animals, or have them killed. A landowner and members of his immediate family may kill rabbits or squirrels for their own use during the closed season. Fur-bearing animals include beaver, bobcat, fox, mink, muskrat, opossum, otter, raccoon, skunk, and weasel." Animals that are a threat to public safety, like a potentially rabid fox, or aggressive coyote should be reported immediately to the local animal control officer, police or VDGIF. See the article on rabies in the Be Safe... Have Fun section of this edition of the Outdoor Report.

For more details on how to handle nuisance wildlife read When Wildlife Overstays its Welcome by VDGIF Habitat at Home Coordinator Carol Heiser.

People and Partners in the News

Hawk Migration Approaching Peak

The annual fall hawk migration is once again upon us. The migration begins in early September and lasts through November with peak numbers from late September to mid-October. During this time, thousands of raptors leave their breeding grounds and make their way south to their wintering grounds. Most follow geographical features such as mountain ranges and coastlines. "Through use of updrafts along mountain ranges and thermals which are created by the sun's uneven heating of the earth's surface thus providing areas of rising hot air, raptors are able to travel great distances with limited energy expenditure," according to VDGIF Wildlife Biologist Assistant Josh Felch. Hawk watch sites are set up throughout the Commonwealth to view and count the migrating raptors. Raptor species that can be viewed from these platforms include Sharp-shinned Hawks, Cooper's Hawks, Northern Goshawks, Red-tailed Hawks, Red-shouldered Hawks, Broad-winged Hawks, Rough-legged Hawks, American Kestrels, Merlins, Peregrine Falcons, Northern Harriers, Osprey, Bald Eagles, and Golden Eagles. Black and Turkey Vultures are usually counted at these sites as well.

Five Forestry & Wildlife Bus Tours Scheduled for October

Virginia Cooperative Extension and the Virginia Forest Landowner Education Program, in cooperation with VDGIF and other natural resource agencies, companies, and associations, will be holding their 31st Annual Fall Forestry and Wildlife Field Tour Programs starting Oct. 5. The tours promote wise resource management on private forestlands and will focus on science-based forestry and wildlife management practices, public and private sources of technical and financial management assistance, and networking among landowners and natural resource professionals. The field trips feature demonstration stops on private, industry, and public lands that center on multiple-use management opportunities and practices. Pre-registration is encouraged, as space is limited on a first-come, first-served basis. For dates, locations and registration information, visit or contact Jennifer Gagnon at

Ready for the 2007 Big Sit October 14?

The Big Sit is an annual birding event held all over the world. Participants observe all the birds seen and heard from within a 17-foot diameter circle over a 24 hour period. VDGIF Watchable Wildlife Coordinator Jeff Trollinger describes this non-competitive event as a "birding tailgate party." Originally, this event was founded by the New Haven Bird Club as a fund raiser and is sponsored by Birder Watcher's Digest®. Now in its 13th year, this year's event will happen on Sunday, October 14, 2007. Virginia "sitters" regularly rank among the top ten sites in the world - a solid representation of the amazing diversity of Virginia's bird life. Consider starting a circle at a Virginia Birding & Wildlife Trail site!

This free event is open to everyone. For more information check out the event's Web site.

VA Waterfowlers Association Sponsors Duck/Goose Calling Contest October 13-14

The Virginia Waterfowlers Association (VAWFA) in partnership with sponsor Bass Pro Shops, is hosting a sanctioned duck/goose calling contest in Hampton, October 13-14, 2007. Visit VAWFA's Web site for details.

Reminder: Application Deadline October 1 for Deer Hunting Events for Disabled Persons

Virginia Wheelin' Sportsmen in cooperation with VDGIF and volunteers from numerous sportsmen's organizations is offering twelve exciting hunts this fall in all areas of the state. These special hunts are open to all physically challenged individuals and are free of charge. A lot of planning and logistics goes into scheduling these special events and we hope to fill each one with participants. Pass this information along to anyone with a disability. If you would like to participate in any of these hunts either as a hunter, or volunteer to assist disabled hunters, please complete the application form found at All applications must be e-mailed or postmarked by October 1, 2007.

Habitat at Home©

Fall is Best Time to Establish Wildlife Plantings

Thinking about establishing a Backyard Habitat for Wildlife? "Your timing is excellent," advises VDGIF Habitat Education Coordinator Lou Verner. "Fall is absolutely the best time to establish new plants, whether you're considering trees or shrubs, wildflowers, or if you have the space, a wildflower meadow. Remember to seek out those species that are native to your region of the state." Fall planting (September through early November) gives trees and shrubs 6-8 months to establish their root system under cool, moist conditions. This will greatly increase their odds of surviving their first hot, often dry, summer. One of the more common mistakes made in planting trees or shrubs is digging the hole too deep and not digging out two to three times the diameter of the root ball. Directions for properly planting trees and shrubs can be found on the Virginia Department of Forestry's Web site: How to Plant a Seedling. A list of native species and their benefits for wildlife habitat, erosion control and other benefits can be found on the VDGIF Web site.

Fall seeding of native wildflowers imitates natural reseeding. Changes occur to the seed and seed coat (stratification) during winter that enhances germination. Spring annuals may germinate and lie dormant through the winter, while most perennials and warm season grasses will germinate in the spring. Properly preparing the seedbed this fall will help develop a successful wildflower garden next spring.

One final thing to put on your fall "to NOT do" list: do NOT deadhead all your wildflower seed heads! Rudbeckia and Echinacea species (Black-eyed and brown-eyed Susans, many species of coneflowers) are especially valued seed resources used by many of our over wintering finches. Happy fall gardening!

For more information on the Habitat at Home© program, see the Department's Web site.

Virginia Conservation Police Notebook

To increase awareness of the activities of our dedicated Conservation Police Officers, previously called game wardens, we are adding a new section to the Outdoor Report, the "Virginia Conservation Police Notebook." These Notebook entries provide an overview of the variety of activities encountered by our officers who protect natural resources and people pursuing outdoor recreation in the fields, woods and waters of Virginia. The Notebook entries are listed by Region.

Region 1 - Tidewater

Rockfish Poachers Caught 'Red-handed'... Due to information of rockfish being taken out of season at a ramp in Essex County, Officer Michael Morris worked a plain clothes operation on a Friday evening. He arrived at 10:00 p.m. and began fishing next to four other people. Throughout the night his neighbors talked about catching and hiding rockfish under the seats of their SUV and in coolers inside the vehicle. Just after midnight one subject caught a rockfish and called it a catfish and promptly put it in a cooler in their SUV. At 1:30 p.m. another subject caught a rockfish and put the fish in the same cooler. Officer Morris approached the subjects when they began to clean the fish. Summonses were issued for possessing two rockfish during the closed season. One subject was given a summons for fishing without a saltwater license about three weeks prior to this arrest.

Region 2 - South Piedmont

Spotlighter Nabbed by Neighbor's Tip... In September, Officers James Slaughter and Brandon Edwards were contacted by a Franklin County landowner stating that his neighbor was spotlighting deer. The officers went to the area of the complaint and set up a surveillance operation. While the officers were there, they heard a gun shot and then immediately observed a white pickup fitting the description given to them by the complainant come into view and drive slowly up the road. The pickup truck then turned around and came slowly back down the road. The officers got behind the truck and followed it back to a residence. The truck was stopped at the residence and the driver was confronted about the shot which was fired. The man finally admitted that he was spotlighting and had shot at a deer. Charges were placed against the man for hunting during the closed season, spotlighting, hunting after legal hours, and hunting from a vehicle. The prudent actions of a concerned citizen, combined with the quick response and tenacity of the two officers, led to the timely capture of this poaching suspect.

Region 3 - Southwest

Night Vision Gear Aids in Arrest... Officers Frank Gough and Wes Billings were conducting a late night boat patrol on Claytor Lake in August. There were two fishing tournaments taking place and boat traffic was busier than usual. Night vision equipment was being utilized during the patrol to locate boaters violating light requirements. With the aid of the night vision equipment, Officer Billings located two kayaks that were not displaying the required lights 150 yards from the shoreline. He also observed a bass boat quickly approaching the kayaks. At the last second the bass boat swerved to avoid a collision with the kayaks. The officers approached the kayaks, which were occupied by two young males, and loaded the kayaks and the operators into the patrol boat and transported them to the state boat ramp. Summonses were issued for failure to display proper lights, underage possession of alcohol and purchasing alcohol for an underage person.

Region 4 - Mountain & Valley

Felons Nabbed With Good Detective Work... One Sunday evening in September, Conservation Police Officer F.G. Mundy was at his residence when he heard shots coming from an area nearby. Officer Mundy was aware that an individual who lived in the area of the shots and others who frequented the location were rumored to be involved with illegal hunting and other violations. Officer Mundy went to the scene and observed two men standing by a pickup truck. There was fresh blood in the bed of the truck and on one of the men's camouflage pants and boots. Mundy called the Rockingham County Sheriff's Office for assistance as one of the suspects was a known felon. During his search of the property, two doe deer carcasses were found hidden in one of the outbuildings and two stolen firearms were recovered. The two suspects were then placed under arrest and transported to the Rockingham County Jail with the assistance of Conservation Police Officer E. W. Herndon.

Felony charges were placed for possession of a firearm while being a convicted felon, possession of stolen property and numerous misdemeanors, including Reckless Handling of a Firearm, Taking Deer During the Closed Season, Hunting on Sunday, Trespassing to Hunt on Posted Property and Transporting Illegal Deer. Officer Mundy contacted the rightful owner of the stolen property as part of his investigation to confirm the identity of the firearms. The owner expressed his gratitude for Officer Mundy's diligence and is eagerly awaiting the return of his firearms after the cases are adjudicated.

Region 5 - Northern Piedmont

Volunteers Host Fun Day for Wounded Warriors... On September 7, 2007, Virginia Conservation Police Officers and Volunteer Hunter Education Instructors assisted with a Wounded Warrior event at the Shady Grove Sporting Clays Course in Remington. Twenty-one disabled veterans from Walter Reed Hospital were given the opportunity to shoot on the sporting clays course, with skilled coaching by police officers and volunteers from the VDGIF. The event was organized in part by Steve Rogers and Delegate Scott Lingamfelter, with assistance from the Virginia State Police Officers Association, the National Rifle Association, Smith Tractor, and others. Conservation Police Hunter Education Specialists Philip Townley and Robert Riggs (himself a veteran of the Iraq war) led the group of Volunteer Hunter Education Instructors, who included Al Killion, Emmet Pilkington, Bud Hitchcock, Sharon Townley, and Rob Zepp. This group maintained safety on the range and helped everyone to succeed in hitting the fast-moving clay targets.

Be Safe... Have Fun!

Rabies - Be Aware - Be Cautious

Rabies in wild animals is common in Virginia, so you should act with caution around any wild animal. VDGIF Veterinarian Dr. Jonathan Sleeman advises, "To prevent exposure to rabies, enjoy wildlife from a distance; don't approach, or pick up any wild animal that appears friendly or sick. Symptoms of rabies in wild animals vary, but can include very aggressive behavior, exceptionally tame behavior, or disoriented movement. It is important to remember, as well, that wild animals may be shedding the rabies virus without appearing sick at all, so it's important to avoid direct contact with any wild animal. Never keep wildlife as pets; it's not only dangerous, but illegal."

If you encounter an animal you suspect may be rabid, do not attempt to capture or kill the animal. Get indoors or away from the animal and call your local animal control, or 911 emergency to note the location. Be aware that if your pet dog or cat is exposed to a wild mammal, you should contact your local health department to discuss the situation to see what might be the best course of action. The health department may recommend that your dog or cat receive a rabies booster and/or that the wild mammal be tested for rabies. Local authorities can also tell you how to handle a dead wild animal safely in case it should be secured until testing can be performed.

The virus is carried in saliva and while the most efficient way to be exposed to this virus is via a bite, you should also alert your local health department to other types of exposures like wet saliva contact in open wounds, eyes or mouth. If you think you have been exposed to rabies it is critical that you get medical treatment immediately. If untreated with the vaccine, exposure to the rabies virus is almost always fatal once clinical signs develop. For more information visit the following sites:

Fish Consumption Advisories Updated

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has modified several existing fish consumption advisories and added three new advisories due to mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) contamination. Recent test results show mercury and PCBs levels exceed the amount considered safe for long term human consumption. Mercury Advisories have been added or modified for the following water bodies:

  • Rappahannock River Basin- Motts Run Reservoir and Chandlers Mill Pond (both new)
  • Chowan and Dismal Swamp River Basin- Nottoway River (new), Blackwater River
  • Roanoke River Basin- Roanoke (Staunton) River, Kerr Reservoir and Dan River

For complete details on these new or expanded advisories, including affected water body boundaries and localities, type of contaminant and species advisories visit the VDH fish consumption advisory page.

2007 Limited Edition Virginia Wildlife Collector's Knife

Our 2007 Collector's knife has been customized by Buck Knives. This classic model 110 folding knife is 8-½" long when fully opened and has a distinctive, natural woodgrain handle with gold lettering. Each knife is individually serial numbered and has a mirror polished blade engraved with a fox. Our custom knife comes in a solid cherry box with a collage of foxes engraved on the box cover.

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 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.

Reporter's Notes...

Norman Maclean concludes his story, A River Runs through It, with these words:

"Eventually all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters."

It's easy to dismiss Maclean as an old fisherman waxing philosophic about his favorite fishing spot; but true anglers know better. The true angler is haunted by waters; by his favorite places to cast his line. He has come to these places so many dawns, so many dusks. Has seen the water grabbing at the moon with a thousand hands and seen it cut into dancing pieces by the sun. He has spent much time thinking there, and much time simply being. The fishing place becomes a real friend. And the true angler is a good friend; he is active in water and the conservation of watery places. After all, he wants someday to introduce his granddaughter to his old, old friend.

Region 1 - Tidewater

Beaverdam Swamp Reservoir: Chuck Hyde reports that bass are moving around in the cooling nights. Crappie are also stirring and appearing around the dock. Cut bait or shrimp will likely land you a cat. New Orleans angler Michael Raboteau landed a 7.5 lb. bass. The water is clear and the temperature at the dock is 74 degrees.

Chickahominy Lake: Mike Elfwick told me that fishing is good at the lake. Largemouth bass are hitting well as are chain pickerel. Bowfin and cats are also biting, as are gar, shellcrackers and bream. The most successful lures are live bait, especially night crawlers and red wigglers. During the last two day Bass Classic the winning weight was 25.60 lb. brought in by Havier Smith and Richard Sweeney. The water is clear at 74 degrees.

Chickahominy River: Charlie Brown says that there is not much action in his area. The cats are doing fairly well, responding to fresh and cut bait, also shad and eel. Charlie jokes that the crabbing is also good as the local crabs like the same baits. One lucky angler landed a 33 lb. blue cat. The water is clear and 75 degrees.

Little Creek Reservoir: Walter Elliot tells us that Largemouth can be had at 15 - 25 feet of water. For these fish it is best to use top water baits early in the morning. After that time it's best to use soft plastic worms and deep diving crank bait. Yellow perch are going for night crawlers and red wigglers as are shellcrackers. Hasten McCoy of Prince George County landed 20 shellcrackers up to 11 inches long. Chain pickerel are responding to minnows and plastic worms; Rocky Sylvester of Hopewell came in with one that was 11 inches long. Also biting on minnows are stripers, which can be found in 15 - 30 feet of water. The reservoir is clear with temperatures in the low 80's.

Portsmouth Lakes: Mike Gazara reports that largemouth bass are attacking minnows and rubber worms. Crappie are going for small minnows and chain pickerel are going for big minnows. The water is clear and the temperature 74 degrees.

Region 2 - Southside

James River (at Lynchburg): Tom Reisdorf at Angler's Lane tells us that the smallmouth bass are going for sub-surface imitation minnows and imitation crayfish. Later in the day, use top water lures. The trout streams in the area are "dangerously low," making it hard for the fish to survive. Most anglers are humane enough to leave this overly stressed population alone until better times. The water in all areas is clear and cooling.

Kerr Reservoir: Bobby Whitlow of Bob Cat's Lake Country Store reports that fishing is "tough." Largemouth bass are somewhat catchable early morning and late evening on deep diving crankbaits near deep structures. Crappie can be found on the main lake, 12 - 25 feet deep, near rock points and deep ledges. The water is clear, 6 feet below normal with temperatures in the low 80's.

Leesville Reservoir: Fred Tannehill at Tri County Marina says that crappie are doing well on small minnows. Bream are going for live worms. Cats are attacking live worms and dead minnows. The water is dingy and at 65 degrees.

Philpott Reservoir: Shawn Perdue at Franklin Outdoors let me know that stripers are doing well on live bait and bucktails. The crappie are biting minnows and jigs. Other than that, things are quiet. The water is clear and cooling down.

Smith Mountain Lake: Mike Snead of the Virginia Outdoorsman reminds boaters that the water level is still low and that they should check ahead of time the conditions at the ramp they plan to use. Schools of baitfish are bringing largemouth and striped bass to the surface, especially "in the backs of creeks in the morning." Stripers and largemouth can also be caught in many places in the lower lake. Trolling umbrella rigs and Sutton spoons works well in these areas. Stripers are also attacking live bait such as shad or shiners. Cooler, more beautiful weather is coming to the area, so get out there and have an amazing time!

Region 3 - Southwest

Claytor Lake: Greg Osborne at Rock House Marina reports that smallmouth bass fishing in the area is picking up. Local stripers are going for shad, shiners and night crawlers. Cats are responding to live bait, especially shad. The water is murky and at 76 degrees.

Flannagan Reservoir: Rodney Fleming of Primetime Sports says that smallmouth bass and hybrids can be caught with top water lures like Sammie's Lucky Craft. Walleyes are hitting fairly well on Long A's. The water is clear and in the 70's.

Lower New River: John Zienius of Big Z's tells us that stripers are doing fairly well. The waters are low, but waders are catching fish using some senkos, crankbaits and flukes. The water is clear and cooling down.

Lower New River - Giles County to West Virginia line: Alert readers Paul and Alisa Moody report that the area is "still producing nice (3 - 4 lb.) Smallmouth Bass." Baitfish are crowding around the grass beds and the bass are coming after them. In the morning use top water walking lures. Later in the day, "focus on tail end on the mid-stream weed beds."

North Fork of the Holston River: Ricky Nutter reports that both smallmouth bass and redeyes are going for jitterbugs. The water is very low and clear, and is cooling down.

New River and Claytor Lake: Joe Richardson says that smallmouth bass are "pretty good in the river, not in the lake." For this fishing, use top water lures, flukes, soft plastics and surface baits. With Fall come the Muskies. The water is clear and low, with temperatures in the low 70's.

Region 4 - Mountain & Valley

Lake Moomaw: Larry Andrews at The Bait Place told me that both largemouth and smallmouth bass are "steady." Both kinds of fish are going for plastic worms, jigs and crankbaits. The cats are coming in at around 8 - 10 lb. Yellow perch are doing "so-so." The trout are slowing down. The water is down 16 feet below normal, and is clear at 75 degrees.

Lake Robertson: Barbara Steinbrenner didn't have much to say, but she did tell me that some big cats have been caught on chicken livers. The water is clear and at 75 degrees.

Shenandoah River, North Fork: Harry Murray reports that on both the north and the south fork of the river, fishing is good. The best fishing to the north is around Edinburg. The best to the south is from Luray to Front Royal. At 68 - 75 degrees, it is too cold to wet wade comfortably. The best flies for these areas are the Shenandoah Sunfish Slider 6, and the Shenandoah Blue Popper 6 on top water; underwater use Murray's Hellgrammite 6 and the Pearl Marauder 6. The water in the mountain streams is very low and clear, but still fishable with a cautious approach and small flies. The temperature is 54 - 58 degrees. The best flies to use are Murray's Flying Beetle 16, Mr. Rappidan Dry Fly 18, and McMurray's Black Ant 16 & 18.

Region 5 - Northern Piedmont

James River (fall line): Captain Russ Cress told me that the water had been too low to get his boat in, and thus he had not fished. The area is "hurtin' for water" at 3 - 4 feet below normal.

Lake Anna: Jim Henby of Lake Anna Striper Guide Service says that "all species of fish are moving to the banks, up lake and the backs of the creeks, following the baitfish." Most fish "are being caught on points, humps and flats in 15 feet or less." Stripers are going for Gizzard Shad on free lines. Bass are attacking crankbaits, and crappie are 2 -3 inch tube baits or minnows. Cats are hitting on live and Stink Baits. The water is low and clear with the main lake at 80 degrees and up lake and the backs of creeks at 75 degrees.

James River: Mike Ostrander reports that the water is very low. Smallmouth bass are going for grubs and top water spoons. Cats are attacking live bait. The water is clear and in the high 70's.

Got Tips?
Got Tricks?
Adventure Stories?
The one that got away?
The one that didn't?

email your material to
and it might get used in the Fishin' Report!

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..."

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!

In upcoming editions of the Outdoor Report, look for:

  • Big Game Contest Results
  • Hunting Education Milestone
  • Deer Season Forecast
Snowshoe hare. Artwork copyright Spike Knuth.

Snowshoe Hare
(Lepus americanus)
by Spike Knuth

The snowshoe hare is also known as the "varying hare" because of its varying colors. It is basically patchy brown and white - mostly brown above and white below in summer, and tends to be mainly white in winter.

The shortening daylight hours trigger changes in the hare's pituitary gland. The hare becomes less active and its system stops or reduces the production of pigment, and its hair turns white - perfect camouflage for living in the snow. Also, stiffer, longer hairs begin to grow on its big hind feet, enabling it to run over soft snow, working much like snowshoes, hence the name. Lengthening days in spring reverses the process and it returns to being the varying hare.

These "rare hares" weigh 4 to 5 pounds, considerably larger than the cottontail rabbit. They don't burrow, but form a hollow under vegetation, logs and other natural debris.

During courtship, males get a little aggressive and in a fighting mood - apparently that's where the term, "Mad as a March hare" comes from. They have two or three litters per year, producing four to six young each time. The young are born with fur while cottontail young are naked.

Snowshoe hare populations are very cyclical. Only a small portion of Virginia has snowshoe hares - that's in the Laurel Fork area of Highland County - which resembles a peninsula surrounded by West Virginia in the George Washington National Forest adjacent to the Monongahela National Forest.

·    ·    ·

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!

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.

September 2007
27 State Fair of Virginia, opens through October 7
28-30 J.A.K.E.S. Event, Rockbridge Chapter National Wild Turkey Federation/VDGIF, Lexington., (540) 463-5410
29 Women in the Outdoors (PDF), Leesburg
October 2007
5 Forestry and Wildlife Bus Tours, Virginia Cooperative Extension and VDGIF, Patrick County, (276)-694-3341
5-7 Eastern Shore Birding & Wildlife Festival, Cape Charles
8 Columbus Day Holiday
12 Forestry and Wildlife Bus Tours, Virginia Cooperative Extension and VDGIF, Albemarle County, (434) 872-4580
19 Forestry and Wildlife Bus Tours, Virginia Cooperative Extension and VDGIF, Prince George/Surry County, (757) 657-6450
20 Outdoor Beach Women (PDF), Virginia Beach
20-21 Range Sight-in Days, Fairfax Rod & Gun Club, (703) 368-6333
25 Forestry and Wildlife Bus Tours, Virginia Cooperative Extension and VDGIF, Frederick County, (540) 665-5699
November 2007
12 Veterans Day Holiday
22 Thanksgiving
We have opportunities for the public to join us as volunteers in our Complementary Work Force Program. If you are interested in devoting your time and talents, apply here.

Opportunities will be posted regularly providing descriptions of available volunteer positions.

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.


The following is a partial list of upcoming seasons starting in September and October for the more popular species. For a complete list and regulations consult the 2007-08 Hunting & Trapping Regulations and Information.

September 2007
Crow: through March 15 Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday only.
Squirrel: Sept. 1 - Jan. 31
Dove: Sept. 1 - 29 noon to sunset.
September Canada Goose: Sept. 1 - 25
Rail: Sept. 10 - Nov. 17
September Teal: Sept. 17 - 26 East of Interstate 95 only.
October 2007
Bobcat: Oct. 6-31
Deer: Oct. 6 - Nov. 16
Turkey: Oct. 6 - Nov. 10
Bear: Oct. 13 - Nov. 10
Snipe: Oct. 4 - 8 and Oct. 22 - Jan. 31
Duck, Merganser, Coot, Gallinules, & Moorhen: Oct. 4 - 8
Dove: Oct. 5 - 27
Opossum: Oct. 15 - Mar. 10
Raccoon: Oct. 15 - Mar. 10
Grouse: Oct. 27 - Feb. 9 West of Interstate 95 only.
Turkey: Oct. 27 - Nov. 9 in most counties, check regulations for details.
Woodcock: Oct. 27 - Nov. 10
Please contribute 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 conservation police officer 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, visit the Department's Web site, call 1-800-710-9369, or mail a check payable to "Treasurer of Virginia" and send it to Virginia Wildlife Magazine, P.O. Box 11104, Richmond, VA 23230-1104. 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.


The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries shall afford to all persons an equal access to Department Programs and facilities without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, disability, sex or age. If you believe that you have been discriminated against in any program, activity or facility, please write to: The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, 4010 West Broad Street, P.O. Box 11104, Richmond, VA 23230-1104.

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