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, January 23, 2008

VDGIF is an agency of the Virginia Secretariat of Natural Resources
In this edition:
  • 2008 Freshwater Fishing in Virginia Regulations Book is Now Available
  • General Assembly Legislation of Interest to You
  • Hunters - Did You Remember To...
    • Rabbit Season Extended Two Weeks Through February 29
    • Clean Your Muzzleloader - Now!
    • Hunting License Sales Increase Nationally in 2006
  • People and Partners in the News
    • New Fishing Expo in Richmond January 25-27
    • Four February Sportsmen's Shows Offer Something for Everyone
    • Hound Hunting Study Focus Groups Identify Issues and Concerns
    • Walleye and Tidal River Bass Fishing Forecasts "Great in 2008"
    • Walleye Tagging Study Slated for 2008
    • Educational Rabbit Hunting Workshops for Youth February 2 & 16
    • Annual Wildlife Forever State-Fish Art Contest Open to Virginia Students
  • Be Safe... Have Fun!
    • Preventing Frostbite and Hypothermia
  • Habitat Improvement Tips
    • Web Sites Provide Winter Bird Feeding Tips
  • Virginia Conservation Police Notebook
    • Field reports from officers protecting natural resources and people pursuing outdoor recreation
  • Fishin' Report
    • See You at Richmond Fishing Expo
    • Winter Fishing Tips
    • Striper Record Shattered!
  • In Case You Missed It...
    • Links to recent articles of on-going interest

2008 Freshwater Fishing in Virginia Regulations Book is Now Available!

The new 2008 Freshwater Fishing in Virginia (Regulations) Book has been published and a copy can be obtained at all license agents and VDGIF offices. VDGIF Fisheries Division Director, Gary Martel, notes, "This informative publication not only contains the fishing regulations, but an extensive 'Let's Go Fishing' section, with information about major sport fish, public fishing lakes, major fishing rivers, and the 2008 Trout Guide. Also, you can find information about fish citations, state records, handicap accessible fishing piers, angling education programs, exotic species, and more."

The Freshwater Fishing Regulations section on our Web site has also been updated for 2008.

General Assembly Legislation of Interest to You

There is a lot of legislative action scheduled this year on issues that may affect you as an outdoor enthusiast, landowner or concerned citizen.

The most appropriate way to express your opinion about these bills, or any other legislation, is through your local delegate and/or senator. For more information about your legislators and how to contact them, please visit the Virginia General Assembly Web site. You may also contact the Virginia General Assembly's Constituent Viewpoint Comment line toll-free at 1-800-889-0229 (804-698-1990 in Richmond).

Hunters - Did You Remember To...

The following notes are quick reminders of things you may have overlooked getting ready for hunting season, or reports from numerous calls we received recently at our information desk, or experienced afield.

Rabbit Season Extended Two Weeks Through February 29

Rabbit hunters are reminded that there is more opportunity to hunt cottontails this year. We are hearing from a lot of rabbit hunters who are unaware that the Board of Game and Inland Fisheries extended the rabbit season an additional two weeks to the last day of February 2008. This change was made at the October 2007 Board meeting after the 2007-08 Hunting Regulation booklets had already been printed, so we are putting out these reminders. This is a great opportunity to take a young hunter out to enjoy a day afield with a good dog and fellow sportsmen. Note the details below on two youth rabbit hunting workshops on February 2 in Culpeper and February 16 in Albemarle.

Clean Your Muzzleloader - Now!

With the growing popularity of hunting with a muzzleloader and the advances with the new in-line models, there are a lot of you out there new to shooting black powder. I am one of them. Fortunately with the mentoring of a good hunting buddy, who has been shooting black powder for many years, I had a great "first season" shooting my new smokepole. Norman McLaughlin from Augusta County, has been a volunteer with VDGIF and active in several sportsmen's organizations. I have learned a lot from Norman's experience while turkey hunting, target shooting and from his companionship during our hunting trips. To get me started right with my new gun, first we spent several sessions shooting the gun to "season" it, orient me to the differences from the more familiar rim-fire rifle shooting and sighting it in. Also practice, practice, and more practice target shooting in field conditions and learning the re-loading sequence all paid off when the early November opening came. I harvested three nice deer this season with the reliable new muzzleloader, proud and appreciative that my preparation and guidance by an experienced friend made the numerous hunting trips most enjoyable. Once a shooting session or the hunting season was over, Norman was most insistent about one thing - clean your muzzleloader thoroughly!

Regardless of what type of propellant you use, without proper cleaning, corrosion and rust will quickly pit the barrel, jam the firing mechanism, or foul the nipple shut. Even black powder substitutes like Pyrodex and Triple 7 can foul up your gun. After cleaning thoroughly following the owner's manual directions, and tips from an experienced shooter like Norman, store your gun muzzle-down, particularly if you've used petroleum-based gun oil. This prevents the lubricant from gravitating down to those parts that could jam up. Clean and store your muzzleloader properly and it will remain reliable for you next season and for many seasons to come. Put off cleaning or cut corners and you may end up with a firearm that doesn't fire at all.

OK, full confession, I didn't completely listen to Norman's advice. After our last sighting-in session a week before the Muzzleloading Opening Day, I thoroughly cleaned and oiled my muzzleloader and set it in the gun case stock down… opening day, 7:00 a.m., a 4-pointer stepped out in the open field 70 yards from my tree stand - a classic shot. As I squeezed the trigger in eager anticipation of my first deer with my muzzleloader, the next sound was the ‘pop' of the cap going off - no fire! The cleaning oil had settled during storage and blocked the firing port. Also I had not shot off a "cleaning cap" before loading and heading out for the tree stand as Norman had advised. Learned my lesson! Beginners luck was with me though. Being early in the season, the curious buck wasn't spooked by the cap "pop." Norman had also advised to keep an extra cap handy in case of a misfire- this tip I had heeded and quickly put in another cap and fired... thanks Norman for all the good advice! I got to "notch my tag" for my first buck with my new muzzleloader. This was the beginning of a great hunting season with many good days afield with family and friends. After all that's what it's all about!

- David Coffman, Editor

Hunting License Sales Increase Nationally in 2006

The National Shooting Sports Foundation has noted in the latest National Hunting License Report released from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, that there was a slight increase in the number of paid hunting license holders, from 14.57 million in 2005 to 14.62 million in 2006. Encouragingly, seven states that passed youth and apprentice friendly hunting laws between 2004 and 2006 saw increases - Kansas, Minnesota, Florida, Kentucky, Michigan, Tennessee and Utah. The report also shows a 4.1 percent increase in gross dollars reported for the purchase of hunting licenses, tags, permits and stamps, from $723.71 million in 2005 to $753.57 million in 2006.

The VDGIF has implemented several youth friendly changes in hunting regulations the past several years including: special youth early opening for spring gobbler season, youth may harvest doe as first deer any time during season, non-resident youth license only $12-$15, increased doe tags, Saturday openings for most hunting seasons and more managed hunts and skill workshops, many done in cooperation with other sportsmen's conservation organization partners at the local level. VDGIF is exploring mentoring and apprentice programs for possible implementation based on the success experienced in other states.

People and Partners in the News

New Fishing Expo in Richmond January 25-27

The Richmond Fishing Expo is coming to the Richmond Raceway Complex January 25-27, 2008. The family oriented show is geared to be a fun and educational experience for all who attend. Whether you are a fly fishing enthusiast, a bass fisher, saltwater, lake or river angler, this show has something for everyone in the family. There will be conservation organizations represented and an incredible selection of outfitters, fishing charters, boating suppliers and seminar presenters. Numerous nationally known speakers will hold seminars to teach skills and share some great stories of their adventures and experiences. VDGIF staff will be on hand in the Commonwealth Building to answer questions on agency programs, special training events and opportunities to enjoy Virginia's great outdoors. You can purchase your 2008 Fishing License at the show as well as the new 2008 Virginia Wildlife Calendar, loaded with fishing related information. The Outdoor Report will also have an exhibit in the Exhibition Hall featuring Fishin' Report Contributing Editor, Sarah White answering your questions on where to get the latest "how are they bitin'" info on more that 25 primary lakes and rivers statewide. Volunteers from the new VDGIF Complementary Work Force will be on hand describing opportunities for volunteers to assist in carrying out a variety of agency programs. For information visit the Show Web site:

Four February Sportsmen's Shows Offer Something for Everyone

The four regional outdoor sportsman's shows scheduled for February feature seminars, exhibits, demonstrations and contests promising fun and exciting new activities for everyone in the family. Experienced and novice sportsmen can try the latest in new equipment and learn about new places to enjoy Virginia's great outdoors. All the shows feature activities for kids to spark their interest in outdoor adventures. See the latest in specialized equipment and partnership programs offered by sportsmen's organizations. VDGIF staff will be on hand to provide information on hunting and fishing opportunities and agency programs to manage fish and wildlife resources. Each show offers something different, so check each show's Web site for all the details.

Hound Hunting Study Focus Groups Identify Issues and Concerns

Editors note: In the January 9, 2008 edition of the Outdoor Report, we inaccurately reported that the December Focus Group Meeting Summary Reports were posted on the VDGIF Web site. The reports were still being drafted and were not ready by posting time and we apologize for this error. The reports from the Focus Groups are being prepared by scientists at Virginia Tech and are scheduled to be posted on the VDGIF Web site when completed. Also there were 16, not six, focus groups.

The sixteen planned focus group meetings for the Hound Hunting Study were completed as scheduled. VDGIF Wildlife Division Assistant Director and Chair of the Technical Committee, Rick Busch, reports that the focus group meetings were designed to identify the issues and concerns related to hunting with hounds in Virginia. Eight of the focus groups have been made up of deer, bear, fox and coon hound hunters, and the remaining eight represent landowners, still hunters, outdoor enthusiasts and others with an interest in this project. VDGIF staff will now work closely with Virginia Tech scientists to identify appropriate members of the Hound Study Advisory committee.

For background and detailed information, or to receive email updates on the study, visit the Department's Web site.

Walleye and Tidal River Bass Fishing Forecasts "Great in 2008"

Getting anxious to go fishing? Ready to try out that new fishing gear? Well, fishing for a number of freshwater species will be picking up soon and we can all look forward to fishing being "Great in 2008." To help you get started, VDGIF fisheries biologists have just completed two major forecast reports. The 2008 Walleye Fishing Forecast, prepared by VDGIF regional fisheries biologist for Southwest Virginia, Tom Hampton and the 2008 Tidal River Largemouth Bass Outlook, completed by VDGIF regional fisheries biologist for Tidewater, Bob Greenlee are available on the VDGIF Web site. These forecasts are a "must see" for anyone in pursuit of walleye or tidal river largemouth bass. These comprehensive reports will help you decide where, when, and how to pursue these popular fish species. Look for the smallmouth bass river forecast in the next edition. View the Walleye Forecast or Tidal Bass Outlook (PDF).

Walleye Tagging Study Slated for 2008

The VDGIF will be tagging walleyes at several locations across the Commonwealth this spring to learn more about angler catch rates and harvest. Tagging is planned for Lake Whitehurst, Leesville Lake, Hungry Mother Lake, South Holston Reservoir, Lake Brittle and the New River.

Anglers who catch a tagged fish and return the tag will receive a cash reward. The tag will be located near the fish's dorsal fin. Anglers can remove the tag by cutting through the plastic attachment with scissors or a knife. The fish can then be released or harvested (minimum length limits apply at South Holston Reservoir and the New River). Successful anglers can return the tag and catch information to the address printed on the tag. Important catch data include the contact information of the angler and the answers to a few simple questions. What were the date, time and general location of the catch? Was the fish harvested or released? Were you fishing for walleyes? Finally, did you catch other walleyes? VDGIF regional fisheries biologist for Southwest Virginia, Tom Hampton, noted, "The information gathered from successful anglers will help VDGIF biologists make important decisions about managing walleye fisheries. This tagging study is part of the ongoing efforts to improve walleye fishing opportunities in Virginia."

Educational Rabbit Hunting Workshops for Youth February 2 & 16

Are you interested in learning how to rabbit hunt? VDGIF is conducting two Rabbit Hunting Workshops for youth on February 2 and 16, 2008. The first event is scheduled for Saturday, February 2, 2008, in Culpeper and is open to youth 10-16 years of age. VDGIF and Cedar Mountain Youth, Inc. are sponsoring this educational workshop which features information on rabbit hunting techniques, habitat, and rabbit biology. Participants will have the opportunity to participate in a rabbit hunt on February 9, 2008. Youths 10-16 will need to be accompanied by a responsible adult and have successfully completed a Basic Hunter Education Course. Participants 12 and above will need to have a current Virginia hunting license. For more information and registration contact John W. Dodson at (540) 543-2070.

A second workshop is scheduled on Saturday, February 16, 2008 at Fulfillment Farms in Albemarle County. The workshop program includes educational sessions on firearm safety, biology, habitat, and an opportunity to hunt rabbits. This educational workshop is great for new, novice or inexperienced hunters who are under 18 years of age. Participants must have completed the Basic Hunter Education Course and meet licensing requirements. This workshop is hosted by the Wildlife Foundation of Virginia. For more information, contact Jimmy Mootz at (804) 367-0656 or

Annual Wildlife Forever State-Fish Art Contest Open to Virginia Students

Students across the United States have the opportunity to win recognition and prizes while learning about state-fish species, aquatic habitats, and conservation. The State-Fish Art Contest uses art to catch the imagination of youth while teaching fisheries conservation. Entries must be postmarked by March 31, 2008. Winners will be announced May 1, 2008. The 10th Annual Wildlife Forever State-Fish Art Contest is open to all students in grades 4 through 12. To enter, young artists nationwide must create an illustration of their chosen state-fish. A written composition on its behavior, habitat, and conservation is also required.

Winning contestants from each state are honored in three grade categories, 4-6, 7-9 and 10-12. All contest winners will receive a gift certificate for art supplies, fishing tackle and many other great prizes. Two talented artists in grades 10-12 will be selected as the national "Best of Show" winner and runner-up and will receive a portion of tuition scholarships totaling $3,500 to attend The Art Institutes International Minnesota. Winning designs will also be featured on the official State-Fish Art Web site.

Educators and Parents: visit the State-Fish Art Web site for complete details and to download the free lesson plan.

Be Safe... Have Fun!

Preventing Frostbite and Hypothermia

Prolonged exposure to low temperatures, wind or moisture - whether it be on a ski slope or in a stranded car - can result in cold-related illnesses such as frostbite and hypothermia. The National Safety Council offers this information to help you spot and put a halt to these winter hazards.

Frostbite is the most common injury resulting from exposure to severe cold. Superficial frostbite is characterized by white, waxy or grayish-yellow patches on the affected areas. The skin feels cold and numb. The skin surface feels stiff but underlying tissue feels soft and pliable when depressed. Treat superficial frostbite by taking the victim inside immediately. Remove any constrictive clothing items that could impair circulation. If you notice signs of frostbite, immediately seek medical attention. Re-warming usually takes 20 to 40 minutes or until tissues soften.

Hypothermia occurs when the body's temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Symptoms of this condition include change in mental status, uncontrollable shivering, cool abdomen and a low core body temperature. Severe hypothermia may produce rigid muscles, dark and puffy skin, irregular heart and respiratory rates, and unconsciousness.

Treat hypothermia by protecting the victim from further heat loss and calling for immediate medical attention. Get the victim out of the cold. Add insulation such as blankets, pillows, towels or newspapers beneath and around the victim. Be sure to cover the victim's head. Replace wet clothing with dry clothing. Handle the victim gently because rough handling can cause cardiac arrest. Keep the victim in a horizontal (flat) position. Give artificial respiration or CPR (if you are trained) as necessary.

How to prevent cold-related illnesses

Avoid frostbite and hypothermia when you are exposed to cold temperatures by wearing layered clothing, eating a well-balanced diet, and drinking warm, non-alcoholic, caffeine-free liquids to maintain fluid levels. Avoid becoming wet, as wet clothing loses 90 percent of its insulating value.

Permission to reprint granted by the National Safety Council, a membership organization dedicated to protecting life and promoting health. Learn more from the National Safety Council.

Habitat Improvement Tips

Web Sites Provide Winter Bird Feeding Tips

VDGIF Habitat Education Coordinator, Carol Heiser, reminds us that brisk temperatures and heavy snow can pose challenges to local birds that winter in your area. She notes that information is available from the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) with tips on helping local birds survive the cold. Teachers are encouraged to have their students hang bird feeders outside their classroom windows and monitor the number and species of birds that visit. Bird Watchers' Digest has a great Web resource for the types of feed to use. This is valuable information for your home or office location. In addition, NEEF has added a new section on birds to its Curricula Library that teachers can use to supplement their classroom activities. The VDGIF Web site also has information on feeding birds (PDF).

Virginia Conservation Police Notebook

The "Virginia Conservation Police Notebook" provides an overview of the variety of activities encountered by our officers, previously called game wardens, 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

Lawful Hunters Harassed by Anti-Hunter's Unlawful Antics... On October 6, 2007 while hunting, two waterfowl hunters were confronted by an irate adjacent landowner in James City County. Whenever ducks flew over the hunting location, the landowner would make noise and wave a kayak paddle in the air or slap it on the water. As a result of a complaint from the hunters, Officer Krista Myers got the details of the incident and obtained a warrant for the charge of "impeding a lawful hunt." A combination of case preparation by Officer Myers, rational testimony by the hunters and supportive prosecution by the Commonwealth Attorney lead to the conviction of the landowner on January 8, 2008, in General District Court. For more information contact Lt. Ken Conger (804) 829-6580.

Region 2 - Southside

Bear Poacher Caught in Deception... Conservation Police Officer Richard Howald received information that a hunter had illegally taken a black bear on January 5, 2008, the last day of the firearms deer season in Appomattox County. Since the bear season was closed in Appomattox County at the time of the harvest, the offending hunter took the bear to Amherst County and unlawfully checked it in there since the bear season was open in Amherst County on January 5. After traveling to the Appomattox farm where the bear was killed and developing a suspect, Officer Howald met and interviewed a Campbell County resident about the illegal kill. Officer Howald obtained a confession and subsequently seized the bear hide from the suspect's brother. Multiple charges are pending in Appomattox County. For more information contact Lt. Tony Fisher (434) 525-7522.

Region 3 - Southwest

Tip Leads to Multiple Convictions of "Repeat-Offender" Felon... Senior Conservation Officer Jeff Pease recently concluded a case that began in December of 2006 with a citizen complaint of numerous shots being fired on the last day of hunting season. The caller also found several fresh deer carcasses on his posted property in Wythe County. Officer Pease spent several weeks investigating the complaint and ultimately developing a suspect. The suspect, a Wythe County man was also a convicted felon. Further investigation revealed that the man had checked in two deer at a local check station on the day of the initial complaint. The check cards indicated that the deer had been killed with a shotgun. A search warrant was executed and a large quantity of marijuana was located in the residence, along with a handgun and ammunition. The suspect was recently convicted in Wythe County Circuit Court of Wanton Waste, Exceeding the Bag Limit of Deer, Littering, Trespassing on Posted Property and Attempting to Possess a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. He received a suspended 5 year prison sentence and over $3,400 in fines and costs. For more information contact Lt. Rex Hill (276) 783-4860.

Region 4 - Mountain & Valley

Officer "First Responder" for Heart Attack Victim... On January 3, 2008, Officer Billy Angle was ready to end his shift when he heard an EMS call on his Alleghany County radio involving a male subject unresponsive on the floor of a local residence. This residence was not far from Officer Angle's home, so he responded to assist. Officer Angle was the first responder on the scene. He took his Automated External Defibrillator (AED) and first aid kit from his vehicle and entered the victim's house. He immediately realized that the patient was in cardiac arrest. Officer Angle began to treat the victim and initiated CPR. He then connected the subject to the AED and delivered a total of three shocks to the victim in a matter of a few minutes. A heartbeat was detected after the third shock. Local rescue members arrived and Officer Angle assisted in treatment on the scene. Angle is a certified Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and assisted the local rescue squad in transporting the victim to the hospital as well. Unfortunately the subject lost all signs of life again during transport to the hospital and was unable to be revived and was pronounced deceased by an emergency room physician.

VDGIF Conservation Police Officers carry Automated External Defibrillator (AED) units in their patrol vehicles. VDGIF purchased 103 of these life saving units through a $133,000 grant in 2003 from the Office of Emergency Medical Services. The grant dollars originated from the Health Resources and Services Administration's Rural Access to Emergency Devices Grant Program. The AEDs were allocated to rural counties to enhance emergency response efforts. VDGIF was a great fit for this effort because of their statewide law enforcement coverage, the ability to operate in remote areas, and enhanced mobility. Conservation Police Officers can go anywhere at anytime to assist with any situation requiring AED usage in rural Virginia. For more information contact Lt. Kevin Clarke (540) 248-9360.

Region 5 - Northern Piedmont

Investigation of Shooting Into Dwelling Leads to Convicted Felon... Officer Wayne Weller and Sgt. Jim Croft were contacted by the complainant to follow up in an investigation involving a shooting into a dwelling in Henrico County that had originally been investigated by the county police. It was felt that the bullet may have come from a hunter shooting in the area. The complainant's house had a single .50 caliber round enter the rear wall of the house where it passed over a child's highchair and crossed the room and struck the refrigerator. Both Officers canvassed the area checking hunters who provided information as to the area and possible locations that are hunted and locations where shots had been heard. During a lengthy investigation by Officer's Weller, Thomas Mecadon and Sgt. Croft, a suspect was developed who had reportedly been hunting illegally on property near the residence. The investigation yielded that one party was a convicted felon/sex offender who hunted the area to the rear of the house on several occasions. In addition, the subject had taken two deer in different counties during muzzleloader season and did not check in any of the game. Sgt. Croft obtained a search warrant for the felon's residence and located the muzzleloader and venison and obtained a written confession regarding the purchase, possession and hunting with the firearm. Officer Weller obtained warrants for two counts of Possession of Firearm by a Convicted Felon and Summonses for failing to check game in both Hanover and Henrico Counties. Additional charges may be forthcoming. The suspect's muzzle loader and bullet recovered from the complainant's house were submitted to the crime lab for analysis. For more information contact Lt. John Cobb (540) 899-4169

If you suspect or witness a violation, report it to the Wildlife Crimeline at 1-800-237-5712.

Don't let the actions of a few outlaws tarnish the reputation of Virginia's sportsmen!

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.

Want more information on the lakes and rivers listed below? Visit the Lakes and Rivers pages on the Department's Web site!

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

Reporter's Notes...

Come see me and other VDGIF fishing experts at the Richmond Fishing Expo this weekend January 25-27... yes, three days and three buildings at the Raceway Complex full of fishing fun! I will be there all three days in the Outdoor Report booth #58 in the main Exhibition Hall and look forward to talking to all of you. Can't wait to see you and hear your fishing tales and get "tips" from you on how to improve the Fishin' Report! If you have any fishing buddies that don't subscribe to this Report, they can sign-up right there at the show!

Cold weather fishing has its positive and negative sides. For example; no pleasure boaters rip roaring around distracting fish and getting on your nerves. On the other hand, there are no pleasure boaters to help pull you out should you fall in.

The best way to enjoy winter fishing is to plan thoroughly. Leave a return time with a spouse or friend- if you have not contacted them by the time, they should call the local authorities. Check your boat and make sure there is nothing that would prevent it from performing well in cold water. Dress in warm clothing, and remember that wool or synthetics are much better insulators when wet than cotton. Also remember that clothes insulate best in layers. Most important is to always wear a Coast Guard approved life jacket (PFD). Finally, bring a hot beverage and high calorie food.

As for the fish themselves, a good attractant can help sluggish fish get excited about your lure. Line conditioners such as Reel Magic, will de-ice lines. When you are done fishing, carefully care for your boat, making sure it is clean and dry.

If you keep all these things in mind, you should have a fine winter angling season. For more winter fishing and safe boating tips, visit the Boat US Web site.

- Sarah White

Region 1 - Tidewater

Beaverdam Swamp Reservoir: Chuck Hyde reports that anglers have been few on the lake due to the weather. However, if you have experience on the lake, you can do very well. For example, Dennis Murray from Gloucester landed 10 bass on one trip. To go for bass it is best to stay 10 – 15 feet down jigging. Crankbaits are also good. The lake is near full pool, clear and 43 degrees.

Chickahominy River: Charlie Brown of River's Rest tells us that things have been very slow. Cats have been cooperating, but the rest of their watery brethren have not. The water is clear and 38 degrees.

Little Creek Reservoir: The second peninsula and boat ramp are closed for the winter, but the first peninsula and trail are open from sunrise to sunset.

North Landing River and Back Bay: Dewey Mullins says that while things have been slow, if you will come to West Neck Marina for one of their homemade lures, you will stand a better chance. One angler brought in 5 largemouth bass caught on suspended jerk bait. The stripers are also starting to rise to the bait, preferably shaky and spinner baits. The crappie are not doing well. The water is clear and cold.

Region 2 - Southside

James at Lynchburg: Tom Reisdorf of Angler's Lane reports that the river is at a good level due to the recent rain. This results in better trout fishing, preferably sub surface fishing with nymphs. Not a lot of bass are being landed, but those that are, are big. The crappie are hitting near Buggs Island. The water is clear and cold.

Kerr Reservoir: Bobby Whitlow of Bob Cat's Lake Country Store told me that things are pretty good. The stripers and largemouth bass are doing well. Crappie are really hitting minnows used in trolling and jigging. A customer brought in a 3.13 lb and a 2.87 lb crappie just this week. Barry Roher, another customer, landed a 46 lb blue cat with cut bait. The water is clear and 47 degrees.

Philpott Lake: Shawn Perdue of Franklin Outdoors says that the cold weather has been keeping all but die-hards away. Minnows, used deep, are bringing in crappie. Walleye are playing hard to get. Lots of large and smallmouth bass are going for jigs. The water is cold and clear.

Smith Mountain Lake: Mike Snead of the Virginia Outdoorsman tells us that crappie have been cooperating, especially on small minnows. Cranks, flukes and jigging spoons continue to attract good bass, but cold weather should slow bass fishing. Striper fishing is touch and go, with the fish responding to belly-weighted hooks and jigheads. For schooled stripers, use a jigging spoon. Cats are going for cut bait. The water is clear and 46 degrrees. For more details try

Region 3 - Southwest

Claytor Lake: Mike Buchett of Rock House Marina reports that things are very slow. Some stripers are going for umbrella rigs trolled around 30 feet. The water is clear and very cold, frozen in some shallow creeks.

Lower New River: John Zienius of Big Z's told me that the river is cold but fishable. Stripers are going for umbrella rigs and slowly trolled cut bait. Muskie are attacking live bait. Spooning for cats has met with some success. The water is clear and around 43 degrees.

North Fork of the Holston: Jamie Lamie of the Sportsman's Den says that smallmouth fishing is down due to cold water, but some are still catchable, especially on black and black & watermelon tubes, and on black jigs. The key is fishing slowly on the bottom. The stocked trout streams are still lucky sites. The water is cold with a greenish tint.

New River, Claytor Lake and nearby waters: Victor Billings of Sportsman's Supply tells us that the local trout streams are good. The walleyes are hitting green and white Mr. Twisters and live bait on a slow troll. The stripers in Claytor are going for crankbaits. The bass are very slow. The water is clear and 46 degrees.

Region 4 - Mountain & Valley

Lake Moomaw: Larry Andrews of the Bait Place reports that the lake has not seen much action lately. This being said, a lucky angler brought in a 24- inch trout. The lake should be at full pool soon, and this is sure to improve fishing. Bass are responding well to silver buddies. The water is 38 degrees and clear.

Shenandoah North Fork: Harry Murray let me know that most of the small streams are too cold to fish. The large streams in the Shenandoah are still good, especially with nymphs and small streamers. The best action is in deep pools and below springs entering rivers. The delayed harvest trout streams are good with midges and olive mayflies, when there are patches of these insects above the water, if not, it is better to use small nymphs and streamers. The mountain streams are too cold to fish. The waters are clear with the mountain streams at 35 degrees, the delayed harvest streams at 38 – 40 degrees and the larger streams at 38 – 40 degrees.

Region 5 - Northern Piedmont

James: Guide Mike Ostrander says that the cats are doing well on cut shad. A recent client landed a 40 lb flathead. Mike told me they are coming in up to 60lbs. The water is cold and stained.

Striper Record Shattered

Winter fishing is indeed slow, so here is an inspirational tale:

While most of us were overdoing it at the holiday feasts, others were out on the water, catching what seems to most of us, to be catches that are somewhere beyond fantasy and science fiction.

In Virginia, Jim Sheffield of Richmond pulled off a feat that is not only noteworthy, it may be a world record. Sheffield was fishing alone out of Kiptopeke on the southern end of the Eastern Shore in hopes of landing a striped bass in the 22 pound range before the season closed on December 31.
So why that weight?

He was fishing with two-pound line, trying to set a world record for a stripe taken on the ultra light tackle.

Sometimes, as they say, a plan comes together.

This time, Sheffield's plan came together in a way he admits he never expected.

Sheffield didn't land a 22 pound striped bass, he landed a monster that International Game Fish Association officials say won't just break the record, it will completely obliterate it.

After an hour long battle, the Virginia Angler's Club member landed a striped bass that weighed 50 pounds, 9 ounces, more than double the current two pound test world record.

Dr. Julie Ball, IGFA representative for the Virginia Beach area, says Sheffield's catch wasn't without its moments of doubt. In addition to being down to nearly no line remaining on his reel, Sheffield also wrapped the line around the trim tabs and lower unit of his engine and had a drifting Wal-Mart bag snarl up his drifting two-pound line. Dr. Ball has begun the process of certification of Sheffield's catch with the IGFA.

Courtesy of The Fishing Wire, January 4, 2008, Jim Sheppard

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

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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 the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month. Stay informed on issues and opportunities about Virginia's outdoors!

In upcoming editions of the Outdoor Report, look for:

  • Smallmouth Bass Fishing Forecast
  • General Assembly Updates
  • Hunting with Hounds Study Update
Shrew. Artwork copyright Spike Knuth.

Dismal Swamp Shrew
(Sorex longirostris fisherii)
by Spike Knuth

The Dismal Swamp shrew is a small, dull brownish mammal with a long, narrow snout. It is what is called a geographical variant of the common southeastern shrew (Sorex longirostris longirostris). The Dismal Swamp subspecies is a bit larger on average than the southeastern; about 3 to 5-1/2 inches long. They are a duller reddish brown with more brownish gray, rather than gray underparts.

These mouse-like creatures are the smallest mammals in North America. Their metabolism is so fast that they are required to eat constantly, sometimes twice their weight in food each day. A shrew's heart may beat as many as 700 times a minute; 1,200 when stressed. They have poor eyesight, but excellent hearing and a good sense of smell and touch.

Like other shrews, the Dismal Swamp shrew has a long, pointed nose, tiny ears, small beady eyes, and dense, plush fur. They inhabit the edges of canebrakes, thickets of blackberry, honeysuckle, poison ivy and holly, around old logs and under leaves, grasses, and other ground humus.

Shrews are active both day and night, feeding on spiders, crickets, worms, slugs, snails, salamanders and even mice and voles much larger than themselves. Shrews nest in burrows of their own making or of other mammals, under or in logs or stumps. The nest is built of shredded plant material: leaves, grasses, and stems. Females bear two litters annually with from one to six young.

Shrews live life in the fast lane. Their constant search for food makes them vulnerable to predators and they rarely live past one year. Owls, snakes, cats and dogs and other carnivores are their main predators. However, they have musk glands that probably give them a bad taste and may deter predation by other mammals.

Dismal Swamp shrews are classified as a threatened species. Their small, scattered populations are widely distributed throughout suitable coastal plain habitat from southeastern Virginia into northeastern North Carolina with Dismal Swamp being the center of their range.

·    ·    ·

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.

January 2008
25-26 Fishing Expo, Richmond Raceway Complex
February 2008
2 Educational Pheasant Hunting Workshop for Women, Remington. Contact Jimmy Mootz or Todd McCullough at (804) 367-0656.
2 Educational Youth Rabbit Hunting Workshop, Culpeper. Contact John W. Dodson at (540) 543-2070.
8-10 Third Annual Fredericksburg Outdoor Show. Sponsored by Woods & Waters Magazine.
15-April 30 Virginia 4:00 PM Burning Law in effect, burning outdoor burning before 4 PM
15-17 21st Annual Western Virginia Sports Show, Waynesboro.
15-17 2nd Annual Greater Virginia Sports & Big Game Show, Harrisonburg.
16 6th Annual Woods & Wildlife Conference, Charlottesville. Contact Adam Downing.
16 Educational Youth Rabbit Hunting Workshop, Albemarle. Contact Jimmy Mootz.
22-25 National Wild Turkey Federation Convention and Sports Show, Atlanta, GA (visit the many Virginia-based vendors)
22-24 VA Outdoor Sportsmen's Classic, Roanoke Civic Center
March 2008
1 Basic Fly Fishing Workshop, Chesapeake. Contact Bill Campbell at (757) 635-6522 or
19 Virginia Outdoor Writers Association Annual Meeting, Charlottesville. Contact David Coffman.
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.

Beginning in September 2007
Crow: through March 15 Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday only.
Coyote, groundhog, and skunk: Sept. 1 to Mar. 10 on public land, continuous open season on private land.
Squirrel: Sept. 1 - Jan. 31
Beginning in October 2007
Snipe: Oct. 22 - Jan. 31
Opossum: Oct. 15 - Mar. 10
Raccoon: Oct. 15 - Mar. 10
Grouse: Oct. 27 - Feb. 9 West of Interstate 95 only.
Beginning in November 2007
Bobcat: Nov. 1 - Feb. 29
Fox: Nov. 1 - Feb. 29 certain counties, see regulations
Rabbit: Nov. 3 - Feb. 29 (new regulation enacted by Board of Game & Inland Fisheries)
Quail & Pheasant: Nov. 10 - Jan. 31
Beginning in January 2008
Deer: Jan. 7 - Feb. 2, 2008 in the counties (including the cities and towns within) of Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William.
Deer: Urban Archery - January 7 to March 29 in certain incorporated cities, towns, and counties. Go to the Department's Web site for local restrictions and other urban archery information.
Beginning in April 2008
Turkey: Spring Gobbler (bearded turkeys only)

April 5: Special Youth Spring Turkey Hunt

April 12 to May 3: 1/2 hour before sunrise until 12 noon each day statewide.

May 5 to May 17: 1/2 hour before sunrise until sunset statewide.

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.

Editor: David Coffman

Web Production: David Murr

Contributing Editors:
Julia Dixon, Carol Kushlak, Ron Messina, Lee Walker

Special Feature Contributors:
Rick Busch, Carol Heiser, Fred Leckie, Spike Knuth, Steve Pike, Vance Shearin, Jeff Trollinger, Sarah White

Wildlife Diversity and Information & Education Division Director: David Whitehurst

The electronic Outdoor Report is sent free via e-mail to more than 14,000 subscribers the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month.


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 -