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, April 9, 2008

VDGIF is an agency of the Virginia Secretariat of Natural Resources
In this edition:
  • Spring Gobbler Forecast "Warm and Sunny"
    • Where to go? Click on Find Game
    • Plan your hunt, hunt your plan!
  • Hunting With Hounds Informal Survey Now Available
  • People and Partners in the News
    • Local Trout Anglers Benefit from Virginia State University Research
    • Waynesboro Hosts Fly Fishing Festival April 19-20
    • Lake Country Wildlife Art Festival and Decoy Competition April 19-20
    • Kid's Fishing Day Events Provide Family Fun - View New Web Video!
    • Wheelin' Sportsmen Provide Hunting and Fishing Opportunities for Disabled Sportsmen
    • State Agencies Gear Up For Potential Fish Health Issues
    • Virginia Chapter NWTF Receives National Recognition
  • Be Safe... Have Fun!
    • Make Your Spring Gobbler Hunt a Safe One!
  • Hunting News Your Can Use
    • Hunters - Did You Remember To...
    • Switzerland Strutters Chapter Hosts JAKES Youth Skills Event April 20
    • Is It a Gobbler or a Hen? The Beard Is Not the Best Clue
  • Habitat Improvement Tips
    • Butterfly Bonanza
    • Bluebirds Are Back!
  • Fishin' Report
    • Catfish Stocked in Urban Fishing Lakes
    • Shad Update
    • Link to Trout Stocking Schedule
    • Sarah White's Notebook
      • New Lake and River Reports Added
      • Potomac Bassmasters Host Kid's Fishing Derby June 8
  • Virginia Conservation Police Notebook
    • Opportunities for Conservation Police Officer Recruits Now Available
    • Field Reports From Officers Protecting Natural Resources and People Pursuing Outdoor Recreation
  • In Case You Missed It...
    • Links to Recent Articles of Ongoing Interest

Spring Gobbler Forecast "Warm and Sunny"

Warm and sunny? Well that's the weather forecast for the first two weeks of the 2008 Spring Gobbler Season that starts this Saturday, April 12, and goes for five weeks to May 17. With little snow and few periods of frigid temperatures last winter, wild turkey flocks have come through in good shape with reports statewide of early sightings of plenty of the wary birds in the fields and forests. VDGIF Habitat and Upland Game Bird Project Leader, Gary Norman, reports that, "Last year spring gobbler hunters harvested 14,090 birds. We expect little change in the upcoming spring harvest, mainly because the turkey population has stabilized in recent years due to below-average recruitment."

Reproductive success is monitored annually by examining the ratio of juvenile birds per adult female in the fall harvest. These data come from feathers that are collected at game check stations. This is one of the reasons why hunters cannot telecheck fall turkeys. The 1-866-GOT-GAME telecheck, or the Internet can be used for spring turkeys. Biologists use the feathers collected in the fall to determine age and sex ratios. For the 2005 season, the reproduction index was 1.9 juveniles per adult female. In 2006 the ratio was 1.8. Over the past five years the ratio has averaged 2.1 juveniles per adult female. Birds that are two years old make up a significant part of the annual harvest and therefore those birds hatched in 2006 will likely be an important component of this year's total harvest. Given that the 2006 season was marked with below-average production, the likelihood of an increase in this year's total harvest is low.

Turkey populations are still very good and hunters can expect hunting conditions similar to last year, but short of record setting seasons. So be sure and get out and enjoy one of the warm and sunny days this spring pursuing the elusive gobbler. And take a youngster with you to share some great memories and continue our rich hunting heritage. You may be surprised to learn something from a child's perspective and curiosity.

Where to go for gobblers? Click on Find Game

Virginia's National Forests offer great hunting opportunities and last year nearly 900 birds were harvested on these federal properties. State Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) also offer some excellent hunting opportunities including: Gathright, Goshen-Little North Mountain, Clinch Mountain, Fairystone and White Oak Mountain WMAs. Visit Find Game, VDGIF's Internet-based mapping and hunting land information system to check on turkey hunting quality and other detailed information on 115 public access properties, covering nearly 3.5 million acres throughout the state. The site contains data on Virginia's public hunting lands managed by state and federal agencies, military installations and private landowner cooperators.

Plan your hunt, hunt your plan!

To make your hunt successful and safe, hunters need to take some basic precautions to protect themselves and protect others. Always let someone know where you are hunting and when you plan to return. Know where others may be hunting in your vicinity and never assume you are "the only one hunting there." Hunt "defensively" and make sure of your target and beyond before pulling the trigger. Safety and courtesy are FREE, use them generously. Review the special safety tips for spring gobbler hunting in the Be Safe... Have Fun and the Hunting News You Can Use sections below. Bring home that gobbler safely.

Hunting With Hounds Informal Survey Now Available

The purpose of the Hunting With Hounds Informal Survey is to identify and compare the experiences of stakeholders on issues and events related to hunting with hounds in Virginia. This public input opportunity should not be construed as a chance to vote for or against hunting with hounds in Virginia; rather, it is another way relevant information can be passed to the Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC), Virginia Tech, VDGIF and their Board, and other decision makers about issues related to hound hunting in the Commonwealth. All issues relevant to hound hunting, whether perceived to be positive or negative, are being addressed in the informal survey.

The informal survey is available to anyone who wants to take it. Although it is a valuable tool, a survey conducted in this open manner cannot provide statistically accurate estimates of public opinion on such complicated issues. For this reason, results will be summarized and considered as yet another type of public input, similar to the focus group meetings, content analysis of letters and emails, and comments received during public meetings. This is only one of many opportunities for interested citizens to contribute to the public input process for the Hunting with Hounds in Virginia: A Way Forward study. For information about additional opportunities for public input, please visit the Public Participation page on the Department's site.

For directions on taking the online Survey or taking a paper version of the Survey, visit the Department's Web site. To have a paper copy of the informal survey sent to you, please call Sarah Kozlowski at (540) 231-0961 or send an email to with your mailing address. Paper versions of the survey will be available for pick-up at VDGIF Headquarters in Richmond or any of the Regional Offices. For office locations and hours, please see the VDGIF offices page. Completed paper versions of the informal survey should be returned by May 18, 2008.

People and Partners in the News

Local Trout Anglers Benefit from Virginia State University Research

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) quickly "scooped up" an offer from Virginia State University (VSU) aquaculture researchers to take 1,200 rainbow and brown trout to stock into two local Richmond area lakes. The trout were used as part of a study at the VSU Agricultural Research Station. According to VSU researchers Drs. Wondi Mersi and Scott Newton, brown trout growth was compared with rainbow trout for caged production during winter months in farm ponds.

VDGIF stocked the trout into the lake at Dorey Park in Henrico County and Shields Lake in Byrd Park in the City of Richmond on Friday morning, April 4, 2008. Both lakes are part of the VDGIF Urban Fishing Program, which provides anglers the opportunity to fish for stocked trout without having to travel to the western trout areas in the state. "Normally, these waters get three stockings during the November - March time frame. This is a bonus stocking," says VDGIF Assistant Director of Fisheries Ron Southwick, "and should be well received by local anglers."

The urban trout program has been very popular with local anglers since its inception in 1993. Currently, there are seven lakes in the program from Northern Virginia to Tidewater. These include: Lake Cook (Alexandria), Locust Shade Park (Prince William County), Old Cossey Pond (Fredericksburg), Shields Lake (Richmond), Dorey Park (Henrico County), Lake Biggins (Newport News), and Northwest River Park (Chesapeake).

Anglers are reminded that a Virginia Fishing License is required for anyone 16 years and older, and a separate trout license is also needed to fish for stocked trout. For additional information, go to the VDGIF Web site at

Waynesboro Hosts Fly Fishing Festival April 19-20

Want to get started in fly fishing but don't know where to begin? The Virginia Fly Fishing Festival is the ideal place to get your feet wet in the sport. Are you an avid fly angler looking to take your skills to the next level? The festival is your one-stop shop for gear, expert advice and even instruction. The Virginia Fly Fishing Festival is held outside each spring on the banks of the South River in Waynesboro, Virginia. On April 19-20 2008, the 8th annual Virginia Fly Fishing Festival will draw anglers from across the Mid-Atlantic with nonstop free lectures and tips on where, when and how to fly fish in the Old Dominion and across the globe as well as wine-tasting and live music. Be a part of the largest fly angling event in the Old Dominion!

Lake Country Wildlife Art Festival and Decoy Competition April 19-20

The Lake Country Detachment 1085 of the Marine Corps League is sponsoring the Second Annual Lake Country Wildlife Art Festival and Decoy Competition in South Hill April 19-20, 2008. The show is held at the Dixie Warehouse Complex and is expanding this year to include not only decoy carving, but fishing seminars, duck, goose and turkey calling. The Virginia Waterfowlers Association will provide the VDGIF Hunting Simulator for youth to practice their marksmanship and safe firearms handling. This is a family oriented event to raise funds for the Marine Corps League's many community service activities. Sporting goods vendors will be demonstrating their latest gear and artists and carvers will be exhibiting their craftsmanship. The carving contests are sanctioned by the International Wildfowl Carvers Association. For information contact: Ron Seward, Chairman, (434) 636-3138, or email

Kid's Fishing Day Events Provide Family Fun

More than 30 Kids Fishing Days are being planned statewide by various organizations in partnership with VDGIF. These events are an enjoyable time for the family and a great opportunity to introduce kids to fishing in a fun atmosphere. There are events every weekend state wide through June. For detailed information on dates, locations, times and contacts, see the Kids Fishing Days schedule to find one near you! Catch the fun! Take a kid fishin'.

For details, check the Kids Fishing Days calendar (PDF) on our Web site.

Wheelin' Sportsmen Provide Hunting and Fishing Opportunities for Disabled Sportsmen

The NWTF Virginia Wheelin' Sportsmen program is scheduling turkey hunts and trout fishing events throughout the spring. Application deadline is April 15, 2008, for the fishing events. Volunteers to assist are always welcome. Additional information and event applications are available online at SIGN UP NOW!!!

State Agencies Gear Up For Potential Fish Health Issues

The Department of Environmental Quality and the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries are directing numerous scientific studies and surveillance programs this spring in the western portion of Virginia in preparation for potential fish kills. Unexplained fish kills and episodes of fish with sores and lesions have occurred during each of the last four springs in the Shenandoah River system. In 2007, similar events also occurred in the upper James and Cowpasture Rivers.

The fish kills since 2004 have been unusual, affecting mainly adult smallmouth bass and sunfish. Slow fish die-offs have begun in early April and continued through May. Despite the efforts of many fish health and water chemistry experts, the causes of the fish kills remain unknown. Fish health findings suggest that multiple stressors may be involved, because the symptoms do not clearly indicate any single cause. Fish health and disease experts with the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Cornell University and Virginia Tech have found gill, liver and kidney damage; large numbers of parasites; and signs of bacterial infection. Viral studies have ruled out the likely fish viruses. Additional studies are being conducted by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and James Madison University.

If any fish kills are observed this year, the public is encouraged to provide information on the location, number and type of fish found dead or sick in the Shenandoah, Cowpasture and James River systems. Distressed fish are found mainly in eddies and shallow areas away from the main current. Anyone with information is asked to call the DEQ regional office in Harrisonburg at (540) 574-7800, or toll-free in Virginia at 1-800-592-5482. Information also can be emailed to

Volunteers Receive National Recognition from NWTF

The volunteer Coordinator for the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) Wheelin' Sportsmen Program in Virginia, Robin Clark of Charlottesville, was named one of the 2007 Wheelin' Sportsmen NWTF Volunteer of the Year for his dedication to helping others. The award to honor his efforts was presented at the National Wild Turkey Federation's 32nd Annual Convention and Sport Show held February 21-24 in Atlanta. An accident more than 30 years ago left Clark disabled physically, yet empowered to help and encourage others to be active in the outdoors. Clark helps coordinate over 20 events a year in Virginia that offer people with disabilities a chance to hunt, fish and experience the outdoors. He has served as the state's volunteer Wheelin' Sportsmen Coordinator and as a member of the state chapter board for more than seven years. Clark also participates in numerous cooperative programs with VDGIF, including helping develop the popular Find Game Internet mapping and hunting lands information program.

Virginia Chapter President, Ronnie Lambrich, accepted the NWTF L.A. Dixon Award recognizing Virginia as the Best State Chapter in the nation with fewer than 10,000 members. The Virginia State Chapter also was runner-up for Most Wheelin' Sportsmen Events Nationwide. The Franklin County Longbeards Chapter won Best Xtreme Jakes Event, and Henry County Longbeards Chapter won for Best Jakes Event. VDGIF Executive Director, Bob Duncan, noted that, "The Virginia Chapter is most deserving of this national recognition for their outstanding service and accomplishments. The many NWTF volunteers serve all the sportsmen of Virginia as a great partner with VDGIF in providing opportunities for youth, women and persons with disabilities to have opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. They also promote safety and ethics and support research and conservation of the wild turkey and all wildlife for the benefit of future generations." For more information on NWTF programs visit

Need a Warm Sweatshirt for Cool Spring Weather?

Visit the Virginia Wildlife Outdoor Catalog! Virginia Wildlife sweatshirts clearance priced! Get yours today!

Be Safe... Have Fun!

Make Your Spring Gobbler Hunt a Safe One!

Virginia sportsmen are fortunate to have good populations of wild turkeys and five weeks of "prime time" spring hunting opportunities. Enthusiastic turkey hunters in pursuit of these elusive game birds must use a great deal of strategy to coax a gobbler into range. The large birds have highly sensitive eyesight and hearing, and are quick to flee from any unusual movement or sound. A gobbler on the strut is a magnificent sight but it takes a lot of preparation to create that situation. Spring gobbler hunting is unique with the use of camouflage, calling, decoys and tactics that require common sense safety precautions. Add to the mix the thrill and heart-pounding excitement of a gobbler answering your call and safety may be compromised. To ensure a safe and enjoyable day afield during the upcoming Spring Gobbler season, VDGIF recommends the following guidelines for a safe Spring Gobbler hunting experience for young and old, novice and experienced alike:

  • Because a gobbler's head is distinguished by its bold white, blue and red colors, NEVER wear white, blue or red clothing - not even socks or undershirts - because a flash of white could be mistaken for a turkey. Even a red bandana or blue snack food wrapper could be misread in the woods during turkey season.
  • Never shoot at a sound or movement. Wait until you have a good, clean shot at a legal bird.
  • Never move, wave or make turkey sounds to alert another hunter of your presence. Instead, call out in a loud voice and remain hidden, until the other hunter acknowledges your presence.
  • Tie a strip of blaze orange to a tree near your calling position to alert others of your presence.
  • When choosing a calling position, don't hide so well that you cannot see what is going on around you. Select a calling position with a good view of your surroundings and where the sun does not distort what you are seeing.
  • If you use a pop-up tent blind, have a blaze orange strip visible from 360 degrees near the blind.
  • When you harvest a gobbler, carry it out of the woods draped in blaze orange. Otherwise, another hunter might just see the bird and not you.

Get more tips on how to stay safe during your Spring Gobbler hunt! »

Hunting News You Can Use!

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

Hunters - Did You Remember To...

Check the UPCOMING EVENTS calendar for numerous outdoor skills training workshops around the state sponsored by youth oriented organizations like NWTF JAKES, 4-H Shooting Sports Clubs and others dedicated to continuing our rich hunting heritage to a new generation. Also make a small "investment" in the future of our rich hunting heritage by attending a local fundraising event by one of many sportsman conservation organizations. These events are carried out by fellow sportsmen in your community and most of the funds raised go to local projects to improve habitat, teach children outdoor skills, ethics, and safety. The events are family oriented and you will have a great time and meet new friends- you may even win a shotgun or find a new place to hunt or fish.

Switzerland Strutters Chapter hosts JAKES Youth Skills Event April 20

The NWTF Switzerland Strutters Chapter in Highland County is hosting a JAKES Youth Fishing event designed for youth 15 years of age and younger on Saturday April 20, 2008. This event will offer opportunities for youth to participate in fishing, archery, hunting safety, basic survival and a BB gun live fire range. The event begins at 1:00 p.m. on the McCray Farm. For more information, contact Michael Hillbert at (540) 468-3884.

Is it a Gobbler or a Hen? The Beard is Not the Best Clue!

Although commonly called Spring "Gobbler" Season, the legal description allows that "bearded turkeys only" may be harvested. This is because 10-20 percent of hens may grow beards and could be mistaken for a bearded gobbler. Even though it is legal to harvest a bearded hen, take a good look and determine if your quarry is truly a gobbler. Hens have a fuzzy, blue-gray head - a gobbler's head is red and white. Gobblers will appear black in color while hens will be more brownish due to the buff color tips on the breast feathers. Although harder to see at a distance, only gobblers have leg spurs. Many sportsmen will pass up the hen with a beard to help the population grow a little. Remember as you take youngsters afield with you, always set a good example for safety and ethics. Teaching these hunting heritage traditions to the next generation are the most important lessons we as sportsmen and sportswomen can make.

Habitat Improvement Tips

This month is the third habitat article by Donna Cottingham, a free-lance writer for many years who is currently a Master Naturalist volunteer from the Riverine Chapter. The Master Naturalist program is a statewide volunteer network dedicated to providing education, outreach and service for the benefit of Virginia's natural resources. For more information, go to

Butterfly Bonanza

Butterflies are the haute couture of the insect world, with their dazzling designs and brilliant colors. These delicate wonders bring joy to people of all ages, but especially children. A butterfly garden can be a great way to introduce a child to the natural world. With a little planning and knowledge, anyone can plant a garden that will attract a magnificent array of butterflies throughout the summer months. Having your own butterfly garden is an excellent way to observe wildlife up close, take beautiful photographs, and at the same time contribute to butterfly conservation.

Bluebirds are Back!

If you haven't already put up your bluebird house, time is of the essence. Male bluebirds have scouted their territories and females are arriving; nesting will begin soon...

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.

Catfish Stocked In Urban Fishing Lakes

The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries stocked 7,250 harvestable-size channel catfish in five (5) urban lakes on March 26 and 27, 2008. The five lakes and numbers stocked are as follows: Cook Lake, Alexandria, 1,000; Dorey Park Lake, Henrico County, 1,750; Shields Lake, Richmond, 1,750; Locust Shade Park Lake, Prince William County, 2,000; and Old Cossey Pond, Fredericksburg, 750. These stockings are part of VDGIF's efforts to continue the Urban Fishing Program; channel catfish stockings are designed to provide additional fishing opportunity during the warmer months, following the winter trout stocking portion of the program. All of the stocked channel catfish were farm-raised in Arkansas and should be excellent table fare.

Anglers are reminded that anyone 16 years of age and older will still need a trout license through April 30, in addition to a general fishing license, anglers can only use one rod/reel during the November through April trout stocking period, and the urban program daily creel (harvest) limit for trout is four (4) per day and catfish is four (4) per day; anglers under the age of 16 need no license. For more information about the Urban Fishing Program, call the Fisheries Division at 540-899-4169, and visit our Web site for more on VDGIF's warmwater fish stocking programs.

New Regulations for Anadromous Fish in Southern Tidewater

New regulations went into effect January 1, 2008, for blueback herring and alewives on the North Carolina drainages in Virginia according to VDGIF Tidewater Region Fisheries Biologist, Eric Brittle. The new regulations are in effect on the North Landing, Northwest, Nottoway, Blackwater (Chowan Drainage), and Meherrin Rivers and Back and their tributaries. For more information call (757) 465-6829, or email

Shad Update

The Shad Are Back! Spring is upon us and the annual run of shad is in full swing, as they make their way into our freshwater rivers to spawn. Many anglers have been rediscovering these fine silvery jewels from the sea, as increasing numbers of hickory and American shad are providing exciting, spring angling opportunities. For more information view these links to Shad Cam, the American Shad Restoration Project and Fish passage, and Boshers Dam fishway.

Trout Stocking Schedule

For the current trout stocking schedule (updated daily), see the Department's Web site.

Reporter's Notes... Sarah White

We welcome seven new reporters this spring for Chickahominy Lake, Briery Creek Lake, Potomac, Occoquan River, Occoquan Reservoir, Burke Lake and Lake Anna that met Sarah at the Richmond Fishing Expo and signed up to send us these reports. They are a great addition to the Fishin' Report and we appreciate all our reporter's up- to- date information. There are now over 25 river sections and lakes featured for your convenience each edition.

Now go take a kid fishing, catch some whoppers and even greater memories!

Region 1 - Tidewater

Beaverdam Swamp: Chuck Hyde reports that "fishing is slowly picking up throughout the lake." Bass and crappie anglers are getting lucky again. A few cats have been landed. Anglers are finding cats and bass around floating docks. Some yellow perch are being caught. On April 12th, there will be a crappie tournament that is open to the public. Register at the ranger station, and do it soon as space is limited. Fred Seminario from Hampton brought in a 2 lb 8oz crappie and a 1 lb 3oz yellow perch. The water is in the high 50's and clear.

Chickahominy River: Charlie Brown of River's Rest tells us that the herring and shad have arrived and can be brought in with nets and small jigs. The cats have been active, with some in the 30 and 40 pound range. These big guys respond to cut bait, especially eels and herring. Bass are going for crankbaits. Crappie are hitting minnows. The water is 49 degrees and clear.

Little Creek Reservoir: Walter Elliot says that while some largemouths are to be found in shallower water most "are holding in the deeper ledges and drop offs." These can be coaxed up with spinners, crankbaits, jigs and minnows. Surprisingly, shellcrackers have shown up early this year. They like red wigglers and night crawlers. Yellow perch and crappie are both going for minnows, small beetle spins and jigs, and can be found around "old stump holes in 5 to 12 feet of water." Some largemouth anglers have been surprised to find a striper or two on the end of their line. Chain pickerel are going for plastic worms, minnows, and spinner baits in shallow waters. Stacy McLamb of Mathews County brought in a 12¼ inch white perch on a minnow. Hal Hampton of Mechanicsville brought 15 shellcrackers to boat. David Stacey of Henrico County landed a 26 inch chain pickerel on a minnow. The waters are 55 degrees and stained.

Norfolk Lakes: Drew Dixon of Dashell's Show Room told me that the bass are on their beds and need to be "aggravated"; then they will strike jigs. Local crappie are going for minnows. In the Nottoway area perch are attacking minnows and red wigglers. Shad have arrived and can be landed with shad darts and spoon combos. Rockfish are attracted to minnows and Rebel lures. The waters are in the 60's and clear.

North Landing River and Back Bay: Dewey Mullins of West Neck Marina reports that white perch are going for night crawlers, beetle spins and small spinners. Local bass are in their spring pattern and are thus harder to attract, spinners are your bet for these tough times. Crappie are coming in infrequently, but those that are coming in are quality and usually fooled by minnows. Crappie fishing will improve as water warms. Cats are still not plentiful, but they are still attracted to cut bait and night crawlers. The Bluegill haven't arrived yet, but should show up as the waters get warmer. At present the water is in the mid to high 50's and clear. Note the new regulations for anadromous fish for this river system featured above.

Nottoway: Jeff Turner reports that hickory shad are hitting well on shad spoons. Big white perch are going for worms and small minnows. The water is warming and clear. Note the new regulations for anadromous fish for this river system featured above.

Region 2 - Southside

James at Lynchburg: Tom Reisdorf of Angler's Lane tells us that fishing in general is good. Smallmouth are going for crayfish imitations. Cats are there, but are being stubborn The water is warming and a bit muddy depending on rains.

Kerr Reservoir: Bobby Whitlow of Bob Cat's Lake Country Store says that anglers should pick their days by looking at the weather forecasts and choosing warmer times to fish. On good days, Bobby says, "everything" is hitting well. This includes stripers, white bass, largemouth, catfish and crappie. Crappie are spawning and will go for minnows and jigs. White bass attack small crankbaits, Roostertails, swimbaits and inline spinners. Stripers are being fooled by live bait, especially fresh shad. At dusk and dawn try top water lures like the pencil popper. Largemouth are attracted to spinnerbaits, crankbaits and soft plastics. Cats like fresh cut bait. The water is in the mid 50's and warming, clear and 2 feet over full pond.

Smith Mountain Lake: Mike Snead of the Virginia Outdoorsman's store reports that crappie fishing is excellent on the lake. Crappie are going for minnows and small headed jigs, and can be found in the creeks and shoreline structure. Stripers are also hitting live bait behind freelines and planer boards. As for lures, stripers like flukes, bucktails and lipless crankbaits. Mike takes note of a new lure: the "soft swimbaits". These are "like a ‘souped up sassy shad'", and very lifelike. These new lures take some time to rig, but can be bought pre-rigged and really fool the fish. Bass anglers are having "mixed" results for their efforts. The bass are chasing shad right now so go to the "back of coves and guts" and try chatterbaits, spinners and swimming jigs. If the water is colored, use something with some chartreuse . The water is 52 degrees and somewhat stained. To get more info on fishing Smith Mountain Lake, go to or call (540) 721-4867.

Region 3 - Southwest

Claytor Lake: Wyatt Blevins of Rock House Marina says that some spotted bass are starting to come up. These fish, along with smallmouth and stripers like jerkbaits and crankbaits right now. Stripers are attacking live bait on planer boards. Crappie still going for minnows and crappie jigs, but fishing has been spotty. Cats are biting, and a 14 lb channel cat was brought in on live bait. The water is in the 50's and clear.

New River and Claytor Lake: Victor Billings of Sportsman's Supply reports that local smallmouth are going for crankbaits, especially Rapala. Striper anglers are doing well with live bait, bucktails and swimbaits. Crappie fishing is picking up, especially with minnows and small crappie jigs. Walleye are still slow. Some striper anglers have been surprised by bringing in small muskies. The water is 49 and clear.

Lower New River: John Zienius tells us that the river is rising and the smallmouth are doing well on crankbaits and jerkbaits. Crappie fishing is good. Some walleye have been brought to boat, but none above legal limits. Muskie fishing is also moderate. The water is clear and warming.

Region 4 - Mountain and Shenandoah Valley

Lake Robertson: No one at the lake has been there more than a few days, but Gloria Clemmer tells me that the lake is "full and fishable." Anglers this season should find walleye, bluegill, crappie, largemouth and catfish. The water is clear and warming.

Shenandoah: Harry Murray reports that the bass fishing in the North and South forks of the river in the Valley is doing better. The water is somewhat high, but can be fished by floating and wading in shallow areas. Water temperature is in the mid 40's and clear. The stocked trout streams in valley are especially good for rainbows. These streams are 45 degrees and clear. Mountain trout streams are still cold. The best way to fish them is to start at the stream heads around the Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway. The water is 40 to 44 degrees and clear.

Region 5 - Northern Piedmont

Fall Line of the James: Mike Ostrander says that cats and stripers are responding well. Blue cats are going for fresh cut bait, especially shad and gizzard shad. Stripers like cut herring. The water is in the high 50's and slowly warming. Clarity varies according to rain.

Fall Line of the James: Russ Cress, who vows to fish for nothing but shad for a while, reports that at the Interstate 95 bridge the shad and herring are "hitting like crazy". They really attack almost anything chartreuse. The water is warming and rising. Again, clarity depends on the weather report.

Lake Anna: Jim Henby reports that fishing is great. Crappie are going nuts and are offering up their best time of year. They are so easy to catch that they are a good species to start young anglers on, as they are almost sure to catch fish and get really stoked. The best places to find crappie on the lake are: around shallow docks, beaver huts, shallow brush and rock piles, stumps and shoreline grass beds, Try using small tube jigs on 1/16 oz heads and minnows. Bass are "roaming the shallows looking to fatten up prior to the spawn. This makes for some good fishing. Look for 30 degree gently sloping banks with sand or gravel bottoms and stumps scattered about. The bass are striking Carolina rigged lizards, unweighted worms and tube baits. Stripers are also looking for food nowadays and can be found "all over the lake" on shallow flats and points. Jim warns anglers that: "contrary to what many anglers believe or read, all the stripers in the lake do not run up lake to spawn into the current at the third dike." As said before, they can be found all over the lake. Stripers are attacking herring and gizzard shad on planer boards and freelines. They also like jumbo minnows, topwater Spooks, walking Redfins, popping Chuggars and Berkley's Power Mullet 5" in the Silver Mullet color. The water is in the 60's and clear. Conservationists, a group most anglers belong to, do ask that you release any fish you catch on the spawning beds - it makes for better fishing in the long run.

Lake Anna: C.C. McCotter reports that crappie are hanging around the docks waiting to be caught. When working off the bank, try trolling small jigs. When fishing from a dock try the new Berkley Atomic Teaser jig. Stripers are plentiful in the lake. Sidepleners from the back yield good results as do crankbaits, jerkbats and swimbaits - all three should look like shad. Largemouths in the downlake area like Wacky Worms and Shaky Worms. In the midlake area Shaky Worms are really getting them. Uplake the big ones are biting the Lake Anna Special Tiger Shad spinnerbait and Bandit 200 crankbaits. The water is clear and warming.

Lake Anna: Scott Hammer reports good tidings about crappie - a citation was landed from a big brushpile midlake. He also says that stripers like SPRO Aruku Shad 15 with feathered trebles. Watermelon Senkos will also get the job done. The water is warming and clear.

Potomac Region: Charles Oman says that at Claude Moore Ponds, youngsters are landing bluegill 3 to 6 inches long with the classic red worm and hook setup. Some big cats have also showed up. The water is warming and muddy. At Bles Park Broad Run and Potomac, low water makes fishing a challenge. Fishing is also hard going at Kephat Bridge Landing Goose Creek, but a few cats have been brought to boat. Charles reminds us that "most of these areas have a time limit of sunrise to sunset or a posted closing time."

Potomac Region
by local guide Charlie Taylor:

Overview: Given the rainy weather this week, the bass have pulled back from the shallow spawning areas to the nearest deeper water. Remember, deep is relative. It may mean 14 feet, but it also may mean 4 feet. They are still anxious to nest and a couple of warm days will put them right back in the mood. This weekend should see lots of bass looking for nesting sites. Check out shallow sandy or gravel bottoms in direct sunlight in coves or backs of creeks for bedding bass. Grass beds are also good bedding spots. Rat-L-Traps, plastics and jig 'n pig are the preferred baits, although a well cast and worked Rapala will also take some big fish.

Potomac River - D.C.: The herring, hickory shad, white perch and striped bass are present in the waters above Key Bridge, although the water is high and muddy. Anglers at Fletcher's Boathouse are catching shad, stripers and catfish, along with the herring and white perch, when they can get out. Smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, channel catfish and carp are also actively foraging throughout the area. Call 202-244-9461 for latest fishing report. Slow-rolled spinnerbaits, rattling crankbaits and plastics are taking good numbers of bass throughout the city. Most of the bass are located in weedbeds or on shallow, rock or gravel points and banks, adjacent to deeper water. As the sun warms the water, the bass come into the shallows to feed. Better areas for bass are Columbia Island Lagoon, Blue Plains, Oxon Cove, Washington Channel, Washington Sailing Marina and the Spoils. White perch may be taken on bloodworms or nightcrawlers throughout the city. Cut herring is the bait of choice for catfish. Crappie are available around any shallow brush or boat docks.

Potomac River - Below Woodrow Wilson Bridge: Most of the bass are to be found on points on the main river which contain rocks. Fish the shallow water during the high incoming tides and the dropoffs during the outgoing tides. The creeks are holding their share of bass. Concentrate on shallow gravel banks, dropping off into deeper water and on lily pad fields on creek bends. Main river grass beds are also holding lots of bass. Small plastic baits and topwaters will take the fish. Better fish are holding in deeper water, on isolated clumps of grass, off the main grass beds. Rattling crankbaits and spinnerbaits are the better choice here. Better areas are Wades Bay, Blue Banks, the mouths of Aquia and Potomac Creeks, behind Chopawamsic Island and Chickamuxen Creek.

Occoquan River: Spring fishing at it's finest. Herring have invaded the river, bringing with them the white perch, hickory shad, and stripers. These, combined with the resident channel catfish, crappie and largemouth bass, are providing good action for anglers in the river. White perch anglers are filling coolers on bloodworms and nightcrawlers. Bass are taking plastic worms, jigs and crankbaits and crappie are being caught on small minnows and jigs. Catfish still like cut herring.

Dogue Creek: Persistant reports have anglers catching Northern Snakehead around the shallow docks in Dogue Creek. Just about anything put in the water will draw a strike from the aggressive fish. Remember, when it comes to snakeheads, KILL YOUR CATCH, and then notify the VDGIF at 800-770-4951.

Occoquan Reservoir: With the warmer temperatures this weekend, expect the weekend fishing to pick up, with crappie and bass biting well. Bass are being caught on flats in the back ends of coves uplake. The most productive baits are spinnerbaits and crankbaits. Downlake, fish main lake points with spinnerbaits, crankbaits and plastic worms. Crappie are found suspended over points on the main lake and around the brushpiles under the fishing pier. The area around the mouth of Sandy Run is producing a few bass, but the ones caught are good size. Catfish are still biting well on cut baits fished on the bottom.

Burke Lake: Big bass are being caught daily. Bass are located in shallow water, just off the grass beds, late in the afternoon. Topwater baits are the key, with Rapalas being very successful. Crappie, to 1.5 pounds, are suspended over the brushpiles and beaver lodges in 6-15 feet of water. Shellcrackers are taking nightcrawlers.

Potomac River - Upper: Smallmouth action should pick up quickly with the current warm weather. That is, as soon as the water levels moderate. Conditions are not quite right for the bronzebacks to start spawning, but it is very close. Small chartreuse and shad colored crankbaits and spinners will take these brawny battlers, when fished below riffles in deeper pools. Crappie are still present in creek mouths and catfish are willing to take live minnows and cut bait anywhere in the river. Bluegills are holding close to the weedbeds, just downstream, out of the current. Small flyrod poppers, spinners and grubs will fill any stringer with good-sized sunfish.

Potomac Bassmasters Host Kid's Fishing Derby June 8

Potomac Bassmasters of Virginia (PBV) will hold its Annual Youth Fishing Derby on Sunday, June 8, 2008, between 9:00 a.m. and 12 noon at Burke Lake Park, Fairfax County, Virginia. For more than 30 years Potomac Bassmasters of Virginia (PBV) has sponsored an annual fishing derby for the children of the greater D.C. metropolitan area. The tournament goal is to have fun and introduce children to the wonderful experience of fishing and being outdoors. Rods and reels are provided for children who do not have fishing gear and PBV members are available to share their angling expertise. Admission is free and bait is provided at no charge. Prizes are awarded at the end of the tournament and each child will be given a small take-away gift.

Get your kids hooked on fishing!

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!

Virginia Conservation Police Notebook

Opportunities for Conservation Police Officer Recruits Now Available

Individuals who are interested in a law enforcement career could easily find themselves migrating into the field of natural resources where exciting opportunities await them as Conservation Police Officers. Once known as Game Wardens, these public safety professionals dedicate their lives to the protection of our natural resources by enforcing laws and regulations that regulate the activities of sportsmen and women who participate in outdoor recreation.

Conservation police officers, originally called game wardens, have been serving in law enforcement in Virginia since 1903, when the Virginia General Assembly established a statewide system of game wardens to enforce wildlife laws. The title "game warden" was officially changed to "conservation police officer" by the Virginia General Assembly in 2007.

In today's more urban Virginia, conservation police officer's work often intersects with mainstream law enforcement. In the course of performing duties related to the agency mission - enforcing wildlife, fisheries and boating laws - conservation police are now dealing with situations requiring immediate police intervention, such as drivers under the influence, reckless drivers, drug and gang activities, homeland security issues and frequent assistance to other law enforcement agencies.

For more information on VDGIF and conservation police officers, visit the Department's Web site at

To increase awareness of the activities of our dedicated Conservation Police Officers, previously called game wardens, the "Virginia Conservation Police Notebook" provides 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.

Region 3 - Southwest

On March 11, Conservation Police Officer Jason Harris received a request for some assistance from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service on a wildfowl poisoning complaint in Wythe County. Officer Harris, along with USFWS Senior Agent French, talked with citizens in the area where the dead migratory birds had been located. After further investigation, Officer Harris and Agent French went to a nearby farm in an attempt to talk with employees of the farm. While attempting to locate an employee, Officer Harris and Agent French observed two containers of Warbex and a five gallon bucket of corn . Officer Harris secured a search warrant and returned to the premises and executed it. The warrant was executed and the evidence seized along with an interview of the farm employee. Further investigation is being conducted by Officer Harris and USFWS Senior Agent French. For more information contact Lt. Rex Hill (276) 783-4860.

Be careful with the use of any pesticides and always follow label directions for application and use to protect wildlife and pets from accidental poisoning.

Region 4 - Mountain & Shenandoah Valley

Virginia Conservation Police Senior Officer William Herndon began an investigation into the poaching of illegal deer along the Page and Rockingham County lines in July of 2007. These violations were occurring both on private and National Forest lands. After a period of gathering intelligence, Officer Herndon made contact with the VDGIF Covert section and met with a special agent in August of that same year. Officer Herndon provided the special agent with the information needed to begin the operation. The agent was able to make contact with several suspects, infiltrate and witness illegal activities. Throughout the next six months the covert agent documented the illegal activities that included the illegal killing of deer by use of a spotlight, killing deer during the closed season, discharging a firearm from vehicle and shooting from a roadway. In addition, the agent gathered and witnessed numerous narcotic violations including possession of marijuana, the manufacture marijuana, possession of methamphetamine, the distribution of methamphetamine and the distribution of methadone. He also witnessed the possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, conspiracy to violate code sections found in Virginia criminal code 29.1 and providing a firearm to a convicted felon.

During the months of February and March of 2008, 13 felony indictments were issued for six individuals. These six individuals along with five others will also face approximately 150 misdemeanor wildlife and drug charges. Two employees of The Shenandoah National Park are also being investigated for participating with several of these individuals in illegal activities on SNP lands with includes the Skyline Drive. For a list of individuals charged with felonies and more details, view the news release. For more information contact Lt. Kevin Clarke (540) 248-9360.

Region 5 - Northern Piedmont

VDGIF Regional Fish Biologist, Steve Owens, and Conservation Police Officer Ryan Shuler, organized the first annual Kid's Trout Fishing event at Old Cossey Pond in Fredericksburg. Old Cossey Pond is part of the VDGIF Urban Fishing Program, which receives catchable trout from November through April. Channel Catfish are stocked to provide quality fishing during the warmer months. Kid's 15 and under were allowed to participate in this event from 8 a.m. till 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 15, 2008. The weather was beautiful and the fish were cooperating for the 126 kids that were in attendance. Special thanks was extended to Senior Conservation Police Officer Joe Dedrick and Joyce O'Donnell of the Region 5 office, Falmouth Flats Flyfishers and the Weekend Basser's Fishing clubs for helping throughout the event. Wal-Mart along with one private citizen donated a number of rod/reel combos and tackle boxes to be handed out as door prizes.

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!

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:

  • Shad Tagging Study
  • Merrimac Farms WMA Dedication
  • Women in the Outdoors Events
Barking Tree Frog. Artwork copyright Spike Knuth.

Barking Tree Frog
(Hyla gratiosa)
by Spike Knuth

The barking tree frog is the largest of our tree frogs, the family Hyla, ranging in size from 2 to 2-3/4 inches. It is a stocky frog with thick, leathery, rough skin, covered with little bumps like a football. Its head is relatively large and its "hands" are large with big disks on its fingers for gripping. The outer fingers are slightly webbed while its feet are webbed to the fourth toe.

Barking tree frogs range in colors from a bright yellow-green to dark green or brown of varying shades and usually spotted or marked with brown edged in a darker color and with scattered spots of white or yellow. They can change their colors and a frog that is a bright yellow-green can change its color to dark green in a short time. The legs and arms are banded and its lighter undersides are edged in dark brown.

With the arrival of warm weather groups of barking tree frogs, called "choruses," of about 20-25 individuals gather at ponds, streams or other water sources to breed. Usually it is a permanent body of water beneath open forest canopies. Their mating call is uttered from high in the tree tops and is described as a single "doonk" or "toonk," repeated at intervals of a second or two. From a distance the combined calls are likened to the distant barking or baying of dogs.

Breeding takes place from March to August, usually after a heavy rain. The females lay about 2,000 eggs which are deposited individually over the bottom of a pond. The resultant tadpoles, like the adults, are the largest of all the family Hyla found in the United States, measuring 34-50 mm.

Barking tree frogs inhabit the tree tops near water during the warm months, but in dry weather and in winter they burrow in the ground under roots of trees or shrubs, clumps of grass or other vegetation. They are mainly nocturnal, usually sleeping in cool, shaded spots during the day. Presumably they feed on insects of various types.

They are widely distributed from southeast Virginia to southern Florida and Louisiana, with isolated populations in the northern parts of the Gulf States as well as Kentucky and Tennessee. While it is known to be common in most parts of its range, it is rare in Virginia and is classified as a species of special concern. It occurs on the Coastal Plain and Piedmont with specimens having been observed only in Chesterfield, Isle of Wight, Mathews and Surry counties.

Its favored habitat in southeast Virginia also contains valuable timberlands of native pine, and alteration of these habitats through logging as well as other human land development have been the primary threat to this species.

·    ·    ·

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.

April 2008

Check the Kids Fishing Days Calendar for Events Scheduled in April! (PDF)

13 Wildlife Center of Virginia Open House, Waynesboro.
19 Butch Trinca Memorial Turkey Hunt for Disabled Sportsmen, Central Virginia Chapter NWTF, Albemarle pre-registration required,
19-20 Lake Country Wildlife Art Festival and Decoy Competition, Marine Corps League, South Hill. Contact Ron Seward at (434) 636-3138 or
19-20 8th Annual Virginia Fly Fishing Festival, South River, Waynesboro.
20 JAKES Event, NWTF Little Switzerland Strutters Chapter, Highland County. Contact Michael Hillbert at (540) 468-3884.
27 Wildlife Center of Virginia Open House, Waynesboro.
May 2008

Check the Kids Fishing Days Calendar for Events Scheduled in May! (PDF)

3 Canoe Fishing Workshop, Gloucester.
10 NWTF Women in the Outdoors Event. Women's Turkey Hunt, Charles City Chapter. Bass Pro Hampton. Contact Priscilla Page at (410) 378-2064.

NWTF Women in the Outdoors Event. Rockbridge Chapter. Lexington. Contact Priscilla Page at (410) 378-2064.

17 Outdoor Beach Women Event, Virginia Beach. Contact Jimmy Mootz at
31 Family Fishing Day at Franklin Park, Loudoun County. Contact Mike Hall at
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 April for the more popular species. For a complete list and regulations consult the 2007-08 Hunting & Trapping Regulations and Information.

Coyote, groundhog, & skunk: Continuous open season on private land only.
Beginning in April 2008
Turkey: Spring Gobbler (bearded turkeys only)

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.

Security Reminder: VDGIF will never ask for personal information through unsolicited e-mail.


Editor: David Coffman

Web Production: David Murr, Tim Tassitano

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

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

The electronic Outdoor Report is sent free via e-mail to more than 15,000 subscribers the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month.

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries' mission is:
  • To manage Virginia's wildlife and inland fish to maintain optimum populations of all species to serve the needs of the Commonwealth;
  • To provide opportunity for all to enjoy wildlife, inland fish, boating and related outdoor recreation and to work diligently to safeguard the rights of the people to hunt, fish and harvest game as provided for in the Constitution of Virginia;
  • To promote safety for persons and property in connection with boating, hunting and fishing;
  • To provide educational outreach programs and materials that foster an awareness of and appreciation for Virginia's fish and wildlife resources, their habitats, and hunting, fishing, and boating opportunities.


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 -