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, May 14, 2008

VDGIF is an agency of the Virginia Secretariat of Natural Resources
In this edition:
  • Have You Purchased Your Fishing License Yet?
  • Get Hooked on Fishing for Free June 6-8
  • Powhatan Lakes Repaired and Restored
  • Laurel Bed Lake Being Drained
  • People and Partners in the News
    • Hunter Education Challenge Recognizes Youth Champions
    • Mountain Lake Migratory Bird Festival May 16-18
    • Marc Puckett Named Small Game Project Leader
    • Kid's Fishing Day Events Provide Family Fun
    • Picture the Excitement! Enter the Kids n' Fishing Photo Contest
    • Local NWTF Chapters to Host Women in the Outdoors Events
    • New Website Connects the Green Dots for Eco-Conscious Travelers
    • 'Step Outside' Kicks Off Fifth Season on Outdoor Channel
    • Hunting with Hounds Informal Survey Now Available
  • Hunting News Your Can Use
    • It's Never Too Early or Too Late To Begin Turkey Hunting
    • June Squirrel Season on Specific WMAs June 7-21
  • Be Safe... Have Fun!
    • National Safe Boating Week Kicks Off 2008 Boating Season
  • Habitat Improvement Tips
    • Creating A Woodland Habitat Garden
  • Fishin' Report
    • Virginia Tidal Rivers Boast Trophy Class Blue Catfish
    • State Agencies Continuing Investigations on Fish Kills
    • Angling Workshops Scheduled in June
    • Sarah White's Notebook
      • One That Got Away - At First!
      • Lake and River Activity Reports
  • Virginia Conservation Police Notebook
    • Field Reports From Officers Protecting Natural Resources and People Pursuing Outdoor Recreation
  • In Case You Missed It...
    • Links to Recent Articles of Ongoing Interest

Have You Purchased Your Fishing License Yet?

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) has joined forces with the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) in a unique direct mailing marketing program in an effort to increase fishing license sales.

The Lapsed Angler Recruitment Program was designed by RBFF to increase participation in boating and fishing and to generate awareness of the connection between fishing license sales and conservation efforts. Over the next year, 30 states nationwide, including Virginia, will reach out to lapsed anglers to encourage them to get back out on the water. The VDGIF recently launched the program with a postcard mailing to over 75,000 lapsed anglers throughout Virginia. A "lapsed angler" for the purposes of this program is defined as an individual who had previously purchased a fishing license, but have not purchased one in the last 13 months. A follow up mailing of another 75,000 postcards asking folks to purchase a fishing license will be mailed during the last week in May.

VDGIF Acting Information and Education Manager Lee Walker advised, "If you have already received a postcard, or heard from various family members or friends from this first mailing, we hope that this gentle reminder will help generate some interest on your behalf, and that of other Virginians to purchase your license and get back on the water. This simple, and inexpensive effort not only shows your support for the important work being done by VDGIF, but also instills a sense of responsibility and stewardship for our wildlife and natural resources." Licenses can be purchased online, or at hundreds of license agents throughout the Commonwealth.

Get Hooked on Fishing for Free June 6-8

VDGIF and Virginia Marine Resources Commission have established June 6-8, 2008 as Free Fishing Days in Virginia. No fishing license of any kind will be required for rod and reel fishing in saltwater or freshwater except in designated stocked trout waters on these days.

Please keep in mind that all fishing regulations - such as size, season, catch limits and gear restrictions - will remain in effect. Fishing is one of the best bargains around. "We have some of the best river, lake and stream fishing in the country and we would love it if the non-fishing public would give it a try. It's fun and rewarding,'' said Bob Duncan, Executive Director of VDGIF, which regulates freshwater fishing.

To purchase a freshwater fishing license online - and for freshwater fishing regulations and information on lakes, rivers, boating access and more visit the Department's Web site.

For license, size, season and catch limits of saltwater species, go to the Virginia Marine Resources Commission.

Powhatan Lakes Repaired and Restored

After nearly four years and $2 million, the Powhatan Lakes are back. At a rededication ceremony April 24, 2008, VDGIF announced the completion of the work to rebuild the 66-acre lakes. The General Assembly approved a $2 million interest-free loan that will be repaid by VDGIF with the insurance money from the Department of Treasury Risk Management Division. The dams were insured at the time they failed in June 2004. A severe storm event caused overtopping and the eventual chain-reaction breaching of both the upper and lower dams. Local news sources indicated that as much as five inches of rain may have fallen within a two-hour period. The dams had been there for 150 years, having been constructed in the 1850s. The lakes were acquired by VDGIF in 1954. Today they are part of the Powhatan Wildlife Management Area (WMA) but initially the acquisition was only for the lakes. The surrounding property was purchased later.

VDGIF Capital Programs Director James Adams, proudly noted that, "Improvements completed during the restoration include two new fishing piers, two boat launch facilities (no gasoline powered motors allowed) and new trails and platforms for wildlife viewing and fishing are planned to be completed this fall." VDGIF Fisheries Division Director Gary Martel, announced that, "Fish population restoration work will take place over the next three years with the first stocking of bluegills this summer and later catfish and bass will be stocked. People are welcome to come out and fish, however, only catch and release will be allowed."

To learn more about fishing and boating in Virginia, including where to fish, how to identify fish species, guides to lakes and rivers, fishing and boating regulations and much more, visit the Department's Web site.

Laurel Bed Lake Being Drained

VDGIF has found it necessary to drain Laurel Bed Lake in Russell County. Extensive monitoring identified two areas where water is seeping through the lake's dam. Engineers have determined that lowering the lake level is necessary until the Department can find sufficient funds to complete a Laurel Bed Dam Renovation project. The lake is expected to be completely drained by mid to late July.

VDGIF personnel have been in contact with local legislators and other authorities in preparation for the lake being drained. Water levels in the lake were drawn down by 10 feet in fall 2007. A siphon system was installed earlier this year to help lower the lake and maintain the level during storm events. The water level has already dropped to the point that anglers can not use the concrete boat ramp, so only hand launching of boats is recommended. VDGIF Fisheries Biologist Tom Hampton advises, "Because the lake is being drained, VDGIF has decided to remove the catch and release regulation on smallmouth bass and allow harvest of this species. Anglers will be allowed to harvest up to five smallmouth bass per day with no size restriction; six trout per day with a 7-inch minimum size limit; and rock bass without size or creel limit."

VDGIF Fisheries Division Director Gary Martel, noted that, "The Department has every intention to repair the dam and to re-establish the fishery as soon as adequate funds can be set aside for this renovation project. Laurel Bed Dam is the highest priority on the current list of Department dams requiring repairs." VDGIF is a special fund Agency, funded primarily from fishing, hunting, and boating fees, and there are not enough funds, at this time, to make the necessary repairs and improvements to the Department's dams.

People and Partners in the News

Hunter Education Challenge Recognizes Youth Champions

The Annual Virginia Hunter Education Challenge was conducted at Holiday Lake 4-H Center in Appomattox May 2-4, 2008. One hundred and nineteen youth on 22 teams from across the Commonwealth competed in shotgun, rifle, archery, a skills trail incorporating "shoot/don't shoot" scenarios, and a comprehensive test encompassing knowledge of wildlife behavior and wildlife identification. The participants were divided into two groups. The Junior Division consisted of participants up to age 14. Seniors were 15 to 19 years old. The following individuals and teams finished at the top:

Overall Individual

Jr 3rd Place Overall - Culpeper - T. R. Whetzel

Jr 2nd Place Overall - Powhatan - Anthony Schaapman

Jr 1st Place Overall - Nottoway - Brandon Shorter

Sr 3rd Place Overall - Nottoway - Scooter Cogar

Sr 2nd Place Overall - Powhatan - Dalton Kropp

Sr 1st Place Overall - Bedford - Davy Black

Overall Champions

Jr Team Champions 3rd Place - Nottoway

Jr Team Champions 2nd Place - Shenandoah

Jr Team Champions 1st Place - Powhatan

Sr Team Champions 3rd Place - Nottoway

Sr Team Champions 2nd Place - Bedford

Sr Team Champions 1st Place - Powhatan

Sgt. David Dodson, Hunter Education Coordinator, expressed appreciation for the outstanding efforts by the participants, team coaches, Hunter Education Volunteer Instructors and VDGIF staff for their tireless efforts in making this annual event one of the most successful and efficiently operated events of its kind conducted in the past 20 years.

Click here to view a video from the Hunter Education Challenge at the Holiday Lake 4-H CenterCapt. Bobby Mawyer, Hunter Education Program Manager, commented that the volunteer hunter education instructors provide thousands of hours of invaluable service to sportsmen and sportswomen in numerous events in addition to their classes. The ten-hour Hunter Education Class is mandatory in Virginia for new hunters age 12 and over to obtain a hunting license. Last year, 380 classes were conducted for over 14,100 students by more than 750 certified volunteer instructors.

Mountain Lake Migratory Bird Festival May 16-18

The Mountain Lake Migratory Bird Festival offers a variety of activities this weekend, May 16-18, 2008. The fresh fragrances and sounds of spring in the mountains provide a great kick off to the birding year. VDGIF Watchable Wildlife Program Manager Jeff Trollinger, notes that Mountain Lake's location in Giles County high up in the southwest mountains offers some unique birding opportunities as well as the site of one of only two natural occurring lakes in Virginia. The event provides experienced and novice birders alike interesting workshops and educational activities during the three day festival. For more information on Virginia's Birding and Wildlife Trail or the Mountain Lake Festival visit:

Marc Puckett Named Small Game Project Leader

Earlier this year, Marc Puckett was named Small Game Project Leader for VDGIF. Marc stated that he will approach his new position by looking at what the Department can do to support small game hunting across the board, by dividing the job into what we can do immediately, what we can do over the short term and what can we expect to do over the long haul. He hopes to approach the job from an educational and management oriented position, using research where appropriate to further management efforts and increase small game hunting participation and provide practical answers for landowners interested in managing for small game. Marc will also serve as the Project Coordinator for initiatives outlined in the recently adopted Quail Action Plan to restore quail populations and improve habitat.

Marc has been working with small game management since his college days. He received his Bachelor's of Science in wildlife management from Virginia Tech and Masters of Science in wildlife management from North Carolina State University. The focus of his Masters work was bobwhite quail management techniques in large scale agricultural settings with emphasis on developing methods that might prove useful in USDA programs.

Marc was initially hired by VDGIF in 1996 part time as a field crew leader on the Northern Bobwhite Quail research project and was subsequently hired full time as the farm habitat specialist. He served in that position for seven years. Marc's knowledge and experience in early success ional habitat management was invaluable as the Department implemented the Northern Bobwhite Quail Management plan in the late 90's. After that, he served as the Region II district wildlife biologist with duties that included managing three wildlife management areas. Marc replaced Patrick Cook who left that position to move to Alabama late last fall.

Prior to joining the Department, Marc served in the Army as an infantry paratrooper with two different airborne brigades. Marc is an active member of The Wildlife Society and has served as president of the Virginia Chapter. Marc is married and has a three year old daughter. He is an avid hunter who enjoys many types of hunting but if given a choice will first pursue quail and grouse with his three bird dogs. Outside of hunting Marc also likes to wet a line once in a while.

Kid's Fishing Day Events Provide Family Fun

More than 15 Kids Fishing Days are scheduled for May through July statewide hosted 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. 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 and view a video clip from the Kid's Trout Heritage Day at Graves Mountain Lodge in Madison County!

Picture The Excitement! Enter The Kids 'n Fishing Photo Contest

Catch the fun and excitement of your child on film while fishing and enter his or her picture in the annual Kids 'n Fishing Photo Contest sponsored by VDGIF, Green Top Sporting Goods, and Shakespeare Tackle Company… celebrate National Fishing Week! The winning pictures are those that best capture the theme "kids enjoying fishing." Children in the first through third place photographs of each category will receive a variety of fishing-related prizes. There is no need to be a professional photographer. Any snapshot will do. Winner's photos are displayed on the VDGIF Web site and are often used in publications. Photos must be postmarked on or before June 21, 2008. For complete rules and Contest entry information, visit

Local NWTF Chapters To Host Women In The Outdoors Events

More and more women are learning to hunt, fish, camp and participate in outdoor adventures by participating in the National Wild Turkey Federation's (NWTF) popular Women in the Outdoors (WITO) program. WITO events can provide activities at a very reasonable cost, thanks to a combination of state and local NWTF chapter support and many generous corporate and wildlife agency partners such as VDGIF. Recently some events were re-scheduled and new ones added. The current schedule of events includes:

  • June 14 Gander Mountain, Ashland
  • June18 Rockbridge Chapter WITO, Lexington
  • June 21 Chesapeake Fishing Charter, Hampton
  • June 28 Bass Pro World WITO, Hampton
  • July 19 Augusta County WITO, Raphine
  • July 26 Bland County Many Beards WITO, Bastian
  • Aug 23 Henry County Longbeards WITO, Collinsville

For registration and event information contact: Priscilla Page,NWTF Women in the Outdoors Regional Coordinator at telephone (410) 378-2064 or on the Web:

New Website Connects the Green Dots for Eco-Conscious Travelers

Virginia's state tourism office has launched, a new Web site dedicated to environmentally friendly travel in Virginia. The new travel site supports Virginia Green, a partnership between the Virginia Tourism Corporation and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) that promotes environmentally friendly practices in Virginia's tourism industry. The new site has convenient links to Virginia state parks, outdoor adventure programs, the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail, eco-friendly events, 140 green lodging facilities, restaurants, attractions and travel tips. "Virginia Green is a new and important focus for our tourism industry, as we work to educate ourselves and improve upon how we treat the natural habitat that helps make Virginia a top travel destination," said Alisa Bailey, president and CEO of the Virginia Tourism Corporation. "It's smart business sense for Virginia and will help preserve and protect our natural heritage for future generations of citizens and tourists."

With rising gas prices this summer, consider visiting Virginia on your vacation this year. There is a good reason why our Commonwealth is a top tourist destination - there are thousands of attractions, outdoor adventure opportunities and natural and cultural history opportunities to explore- right here at home! - Rediscover why Virginia is for Lovers!

'Step Outside' Kicks Off Fifth Season on Outdoor Channel

Outdoor Channel's "Step Outside" television program has kicked off its fifth season with 13 new episodes tracking the adventures of newcomers to the outdoors. "Step Outside" takes viewers along as shooters, hunters, anglers and archers invite newcomers to the outdoors for the first time. The show is hosted by National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) President Doug Painter and new arrival Kelly Gotch, who also hosts Michigan Out-of-Doors. The show airs Tuesday mornings at 7 a.m. and on Wednesdays at 9 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. (All times Eastern). For more information, visit

For Newcomers to the Outdoors, check the many outdoor skills building workshops and events on the VDGIF Web site and listed in the Upcoming Events calendar in this Outdoor Report offered by the VDGIF Outdoor Education Program and numerous partner organizations and volunteers.

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.

The informal survey is available in both on-line and paper formats. However, the on-line version has been password protected to prevent mass submissions. To take the on-line version, visit the Department's Web site and follow the instructions provided on how to obtain a unique password and access the survey.

Paper versions of the informal survey are available for those without access to the Internet and/or email. Paper versions can be picked up at VDGIF headquarters in Richmond or by calling (540) 231-0961. Completed paper versions can be returned to those same offices or mailed to Sarah Kozlowski, 111 Cheatham Hall, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24060-0321. Responses to both the on-line and paper versions of the survey will be accepted until May 23, 2008.

For more information on the other public input opportunities during the Hunting with Hounds in Virginia: A Way Forward project, please visit

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.

It's Never Too Late to Begin Turkey Hunting

The spring gobbler season ends this Saturday May 17, 2008. With the recent heavy rains, storms and cold weather, hunters are hoping the gobblers will heat up for the last week of the season. We have received several stories we wanted to share with you to show that spring gobbler hunting is a great experience for all ages, genders and skill levels.

Don't Wait Too Long… Harold Ford at the age of 79 went turkey hunting for the first time April 26 as a participant in the Third Annual James River Chapter NWTF Wheelin' Sportsmen hunt in Bedford and took his first gobbler. A Navy veteran, Harold had deer hunted with the group the past couple of seasons. He remarked last year that he would like to hunt for turkeys. So Wheelin' Sportsmen volunteer Barry Arrington loaned him his trusty old Remington 1100 and had a scope mounted on it to accommodate Harold's experience with scoped rifles for deer hunting and helped guide for the event. The whole story can be found on the Virginia NWTF Web site. Harold commented that he wished he had started this years ago!

Great Shot for Beginner… On just her second turkey hunt, Sonja Horton of Hampton harvested this nice Prince George gobbler. The turkey weighed in at 17 lbs. 2 oz. and was sporting a 10 1/2 inch beard with 7/8 inch spurs. Sonja was participating in a novice hunt and sponsor appreciation event hosted by the Virginia Waterfowlers Association (VWFA). Volunteer VWFA member Brad Puryear, assisted Sonja as a caller on the hunt. This was her first hunting harvest ever.

Great Way to Start the Season! Proud Dad, Donnie Goodman, shared this photo of his 10 year old son, Mitchell, with his first spring gobbler taken on opening day this year.

Patience is Rewarded… On April 5th, after hunting hard for several hours, Dakota Hogge of New Kent harvested this huge gobbler in Prince George. Dakota is a member of the Virginia Waterfowlers Association and won this "lottery style hunt" with Brad Puryear. Brad is the regional pro-staff director for Buck Gardner calls and Dakota is the junior staffer. The bird weighed in at 22 lbs and 15 oz with a 10 inch beard and 1 1/4 spurs. This was just Dakota's second gobbler taken.

Kate's First Hunt With Grandpa… Charles Maddox sent us this recount of introducing his grand daughter to spring turkey hunting. "This past Saturday April 26, I took my five year old grand daughter Kate Dudley on her first turkey hunt on the Rapidan WMA. A week earlier I had been successful in harvesting a nice gobbler sporting a nine inch beard, so Kate and her family drove down from Maryland to share the meal. Her Mom had told the story about Kate pulling out her hunting vest and wearing it for 2 days around the house. Earlier I had given Kate one of my extra box calls so she could practice. So I invited her on a hunt with me and she came with caller in hand. The birds were not talking on the roost as they had been earlier in the season, but we did find a bird off in the distance. The look on her face when she heard the sound of her first wild turkey gobble was priceless. She pulled out her box call and started working. It was not long before the bird had moved closer and closer and was answering her calls with booming gobbles. I would like to say we left with the bird in hand, but I think the smile and glow on her face was so bright that it sent the bird in the opposite direction. We both left knowing we will be doing this again soon!"

June Squirrel Season WMAs June 7-21

The second year of a statewide squirrel season will be available for sportsmen June 7-21, 2008, on specific VDGIF Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) as listed on the VDGIF Web site. Fox squirrels may only be harvested on Big Survey, Goshen, Havens, Phelps and Thompson WMAs. Hunting squirrels with dogs is not allowed during the June season.

Virginia joins seven other states that currently allow hunters to harvest squirrels in the spring/summer. Although it may be a foreign idea to many sportsmen, a June season is biologically justified. Squirrels have two peak reproductive periods - one during February-March and another during July-August. Therefore, hunters can harvest squirrels during the June season without impacting populations. Because school will be out during most of the season, the June squirrel season is a wonderful opportunity to introduce a youngster to hunting.

Be Safe... Have Fun!

National Safe Boating Week kicks off 2008 Boating Season

The annual recognition of National Safe Boating Week will take place this year from May 17 - 23, and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) takes this opportunity to pass along a few safety tips that will help all boaters to have a safe and enjoyable 2008 boating season.

One of the most important safety reminders is for boaters to always wear their life jackets. Boaters are required by law to equip their vessels with a wearable life jacket for each person on board and to have the life jackets readily accessible. Inflatable life jackets that are now out on the market provide a lot of comfort and are easy to wear. A tip offered by VDGIF is for parents to let their children pick out their own life jackets from the many designs available. This increases the child's enthusiasm for wearing it and ensures a proper fit. Boaters are also reminded that a Type IV throwable device, such as a ring buoy or seat cushion, is required on all boats (except canoes, kayaks, personal watercraft, and inflatable rafts) regardless of the length of the boat.

The Department also reminds boaters that they should boat sober. If boaters choose to include alcohol in their day, they should have a designated operator who does not drink. The penalties for Boating Under the Influence (BUI) include fines up to $2,500; imprisonment up to 12 months; and revocation of privilege to operate a watercraft on the waters of the state up to a three-year period; and enrollment in The Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program. Since July 1, 2005, boaters who are operating under the influence and cause the death of another can be charged with manslaughter.

Boaters are also strongly encouraged to take a boating safety education course. Virginia now has over 250,000 registered motorboats, and taking a course better prepares boaters for emergency situations and increases their knowledge about safety equipment requirements. New boaters can learn the basic rules of the waterway and the more seasoned boaters will get a refresher on boating safely. Safe and enjoyable boating really begins with a boating safety education course.

To find out about boating safety education and Virginia's boating laws, visit the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Web site.

Habitat Improvement Tips

Each month we feature a habitat article by Ginger Glen-Calvert, a free-lance writer 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

Creating A Woodland Habitat Garden

Many people have memories of a leafy glade "somewhere," a special place where sitting in the shade and communing with nature takes on an almost sacred "otherness" found nowhere else. And then you're faced with your own back garden: it's hot as "old nick" without a tree in sight, or the trees that are there have blocked so much sun that absolutely nothing will grow. How does one create a beautiful place to sit and appreciate nature, your very own woodland garden?

Fishin' Report

Anglers throughout Virginia and neighboring states want to know "how are the fish bitin'?" To provide some answers, more than 25 license agents, marinas, fishing guides and bait shops have volunteered to serve as contacts for information on recent fishing conditions for primary rivers and lakes throughout the state. Sarah White, outdoor writer and regular contributor to Virginia Wildlife magazine, prepares this Fishin' Report from interviews with these contacts the week prior to publication of the Outdoor Report.

The Fishin' Report is only available as part of your free subscription to the Outdoor Report.

The rivers and lakes featured in the Fishin' Report are listed by VDGIF Administrative Regions so you can quickly locate the area in which you are most interested. Consult the regional location map to find the major river or lake you want to know about.

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

Virginia Tidal Rivers Boast Trophy Class Blue Catfish

While several of Virginia's tidal rivers such as the Rappahannock, Pamunkey, and Mattaponi offer good opportunities to catch blue catfish, the James River is recognized nationally for trophy blue catfish. Articles highlighting the world-class status of this fishery have appeared on Web-sites and in publications such as In-Fisherman. As a result, people from around the country are traveling to Virginia for guided James River Blue Cat fishing trips. What draws these anglers is the opportunity to catch fish which regularly weigh-in in the 40 - 60 pound range. The current state record blue catfish, caught in the James River, weighed over 95 pounds, and was released back into the river. More information about the blue catfish in Virginia's tidal rivers can be found in the latest Tidal River Blue Catfish report and for fishing and access information check out the various rivers web pages.

State Agencies Continuing Investigations on Fish Kills

The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) and the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) continue to direct the investigation into unexplained fish kills that have occurred in the Shenandoah River since 2004 and Cowpasture and upper James River since 2007. Research and monitoring being conducted in Spring 2008 includes: 1) Fish health examinations from affected rivers and non-fish kill rivers; 2) Comprehensive bacterial screening of fish from the affected rivers; 3) Measurement of heavy metals and organic contaminants in river water during runoff events and base flow from fish kill and non-fish kill rivers.

Reports of fish kills in the Shenandoah, Cowpasture, and upper James River this spring to date have been light. The majority of the reports have come from the Cowpasture and upper James River and have involved low numbers of smallmouth bass, white suckers, rock bass, redbreast sunfish, fallfish and river chubs. A few reports from anglers have also come in from the South Fork Shenandoah River. Biologists have been out on the rivers collecting fish for research purposes and verified a few dead fish or low number of fish showing signs of stress. The incidence of dead fish or fish showing signs of stress has been extremely low, to date, as compared to previous kill years. Anglers have been reporting decent catch rates when the river conditions have been favorable this spring on both the upper James River and the North and South Forks of the Shenandoah River.

As fish kills are observed this year, VDGIF encourages the public 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 VDGIF in Forest (434) 525-7522 or in Verona (540) 248-9360, 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

For a detailed update on the impacts to fish populations, 2007 findings, 2008 planned studies, and more go to these links:

Angling Workshops Scheduled in June

VDGIF Angling Education Coordinator, Chris Dunnavant, announces that the VDGIF Outdoor Education Program has many exciting and educational angling workshops coming up this fishing season! The first is a Fly Fishing Workshop on Friday, June 6, 6-9 p.m. in Dinwiddie. This is a great opportunity to get started fly fishing with sessions on Fly Casting, Techniques and Gear/Equipment. A Smallmouth Bass Workshop is scheduled for Tuesday, June 24, on the New River near Radford. Learn how to catch Smallmouth on the New River and then float/fish the New from a canoe. For more information and registration forms for these workshops visit:

Interested in hosting a fishing workshop? The VDGIF provides educational materials for educational fishing events. Just print out a Materials Request Form found on the VDGIF Web site and mail or fax it in at least 30 days prior to your event and the materials will be shipped to you. We also have a Tackle Loaner Program with locations throughout the state to provide rods, reels and tackle for your educational fishing event. Click here for both the Materials Request Form and Tackle Loaner locations.

Sara White's Notebook

I hope you pick up a few tips and enjoy this fishin' tale emailed to us by local angler Lynn Walker.

The One That Got Away - At First!

My wife and I were on fishing date at Hungry Mother State Park Lake this past Saturday night when the action proved a bit more exciting than just another evening catch of channel cats.

A few prior evenings of fishing had resulted in enough fish for a catfish fry for this family and I was hoping the late evening hours would bring another cat to the net. We set several poles along the shoreline with a bait of nightcrawlers on the medium action rods. Propping the rods atop a few piles of big rocks, we settled back into the folding chairs on shore... As the sun slid beneath the mountains behind us, one of the rods bounced off the rock and onto the ground. My wife, Lynn, pinned the rod butt to the ground and lifted the rod tip to set the hook. However, after a short battle, the fish shook the hook and escaped. (She actually "set the hook" when she saved the rod from going in the water by stopping the pole with her foot atop the handle.) I complemented her on her quick reflexes. We set the pole back atop the rocks and considered placing a rock atop the handle, this time, to prevent another episode. We decided against it. And about that time one of the other rods jumped.

This rod escaped the pile of rocks and the ground. It headed out across the top of the water! My wife watched as I cleared the earth and jumped toward the water-skiing outfit. Although I captured the tackle, the fish kept going and snapped the line. I climbed up the bank and shared my thoughts with Lynn. "Big walleye or big cat ", I predicted, and before she could agree, another rod jumped! Dropping the one rod in her left hand, she grabbed the other pole just in time as the fish made for deeper water. This fish snapped the 8 pound test, just as the other had done. My wife and her drowned rat-looking husband returned home. I dreamed of the line breaking walleye or channel cat. Our tackle had been too light!

On Sunday evening I returned to the scene of the fishing crime - with some bigger equipment. This time I propped all the rods heavy rocks on the handles. Two hours later, after landing a couple of small channel cats on oversized equipment, I was packing up to leave when the big pole bent double! The rocks held the fishing pole as ran over to the spot. The fish was hooked pretty good and fish stripped line from the outfit. The fish headed into deeper water and bowed the rod in my hand. Ten minutes later he was coming toward the shore. Without a net, it was a struggle to get the fish to the bank. I believed I had the "line snapper" from the previous evening's fishing date!

I'll admit I was disappointed to see the big lips, but I had to show my family the big fish. I woke the boys to show them the carp that measured 31 inches and weighed 17 pounds on the bathroom scales. I took him back over to the lake released him into the water. Yes, I have a photo.

Then, as I was recounting my tale to my wife, Lynn asked, "So, how many broken lines were in his mouth"? In all the excitement I had failed to look for evidence of a previous encounter when I took the hook from his lips!

Region 1 - Tidewater

Beaverdam Swamp: Chuck Hyde reports that fishing on the lake this weekend has been "great" with crappie congregating around the pier, banks, flats and drop-offs. Rudy Michaud landed an over 22 inch bass; while Roy Moon of Gloucester brought in another citation bass. On May 17th Beaverdam Park will host a big qualifying tournament. A valid Virginia license will be necessary. The water is warming and slightly stained.

Chickahominy River: Alton Williams of River's Rest let me know that fish are biting, but mostly small ones. Small cats are going for eel. Little bass and stripers are coming to boat also. Not to worry, though, as the waters clear and warm up there will be good fishing to be had. The waters now are slowly warming up and slightly stained.

Little Creek Reservoir: Walter Elliot says that largemouth are responding off points and in the back of coves in shallow water. Live bait gets the job done well, but spinners and super flukes are also responsible for some heavy hitters. Chain Pickerel have been harvested from shallow to fairly deep waters. Minnows, crankbaits and spinners have brought in lunkers over 21 inches. Shellcracker are attacking night crawlers and red wigglers off points in shallow water. Crappie and yellow perch remain elusive and only a few anglers have brought any to boat. The water is around 70 degrees and stained.

Among the winners at Little Creek are:

Brooking Henshaw of Richmond who landed a 4.06 pound largemouth

Mike Martinez of Lanexa brought in 2 largemouth over 5 pounds

Walter Elliott of Lanexa got 2 largemouth over 5 pounds on a spinnerbait

Craig Eckenrode of James City County landed 1 largemouth over 7 pounds and a striper over 8 pounds on live herring

Jim Pendo came in with 21 inch chain pickerel caught on a fluke.

Wade Cole of Mechanicville landed a largemouth over 6 pounds on a minnow

Hal Hampton, also of Mechanicsville came in with 15 shellcrackers with minnows.

North Landing River and Back Bay: Dewy Mullins at West Neck Marina reports a good run on stripers, cats and bass. The channel cats seem to like live bait, such as shiners or eel. Stripers seem to like the same set up. During the dawn and dusk hours the bass like top water lures. During the midday hours, they respond to soft plastics, spinners and crankbaits. Crappie fishing has been slow for some unknown reason. White perch however are abundant and go for both live bait and small lures, particularly spinners. Bluegill are going for crickets and red worms. The water is clear and in the 60's.

Blackwater River: Local Angler Jeff Turner says that small stripers are easy to fool, using topwater lures, jigging or trolling. White perch are also quite cooperative. Largemouth are hitting big, biting almost anything you can throw at them; however, they seem to be especially fond of imitation minnow crankbaits that look like small shad. Cats are attacking cut shad. The water is clear and 67 degrees.

Region 2 - Southside

Smith Mountain Lake by Local Guide, Mike Snead

Water Temp: 66 degrees, Water Clarity: Good

Overall, the weather will be favorable this week with highs in the 70's and lows in the upper 50's. On Friday a cold front will move through the area pushing night time temperatures into the 40's with daytime highs in the mid-60's. Scattered thunderstorms and showers may precede the cold front, continuing through Friday. The rest of the week we can expect sunny to partly cloudy skies. With a new moon this past Monday, May 5th, it will be nice and dark on the lake at night.

The new moon should bring another wave of spawning bass up onto beds this week. Bass have been spawning for a month or so around the lake, and anglers have caught good numbers sight fishing. Many of the bedding fish can be observed in shallow water several feet deep. Other bass are spawning on beds in slightly deeper water (4-7 feet). When bedding bass are deeper and harder to see, you can use a locator lure to attract the guarding bass. Searching for deep water bedding fish? Try a variety of different flukes and swimbaits such as ZOOM Salty Super Fluke, Strike King Zulu, YUM Money Minnow or Berkley Hollow Belly. This specially weighted jig is used to present worms wacky style to bass holding in deep water.

Bass are also being caught at night using floating jerkbaits that are cast and retrieved slowly near the shoreline. The most recent Saturday night tournament was won by the team of Albert Johnson and Jake Collins with a total weight of 18.05 pounds. They also had the big fish weighing 5.65 pounds. Austin Hicks and his dad Randy won the SMLBass Sunday morning tournament this week with a total weight of 9.4 pounds, also capturing the tournament "big fish". Dan Jessee had the second best total weight in the Sunday SMLBass tournament. The Tuesday night tournament will resume this week.

The Cave Spring Optimists held their 40th Annual Spring Fishing Tournament this past weekend. The Bill Cochran Youth Tournament big fish category was won by Allen Yopp with a 10.90 pound carp. Second place went to local angler Isaiah Phillips who brought in a nice fish that weighed 5.10 pounds. Hunter Altice took third place with a 4.36 pound fish. Hunter also had the lightest fish in the youth class weighing .44 pounds. Hunter Clark brought a fish to the scales weighing .46 pounds and Dalton Matney had one weighing .56 pounds. On the adult side, Ricky Cowden set a new tournament record with a catfish weighing 35.12 pounds and had the largest crappie weighing 2.38 pounds. Any striper had to measure at least 37 inches in length to be entered. Although none made it to the scale this year, several fell short by less that a quarter inch. Larry Horne caught the heaviest smallmouth bass weighing 4.18 pounds to take first place in that class. H. Ayers brought in the best largemouth weighing 6.48 pounds. Second place in the largemouth category went to Robert Mills and third place to Randy Sayers both with bass weighing 6.40 pounds.

Striper fishing is still mixed. Anglers are catching stripers using live bait on freelines and split-shot lines. Planer boards and floats continue to be used to spread out the bait and get it up close to the shoreline. Occasionally stripers are being marked in deeper water and downlines are being used to catch them. Stripers continue to be caught at night as they come to the bank to look for spawning alewives, but that bite has been spotty.

Although crappies continue to hit small, live minnows, small jigs and tubes, many have pulled back into deeper water.

Catfishing has really picked up over the last two weeks as anglers target large flatheads using live shad, shiners and cut bait. We recently had several fishermen report they caught flatheads on flukes and floating jerkbaits. Many of the catfish being caught weigh 20 pounds or more.

Good luck and great fishing.

James at Lynchburg: Tom Reisdorf of Angler's Lane tells us that anglers hitting the mountain streams with flies are landing some good trout. With the water warming fishing should improve greatly. The water is clear and warming.

Kerr Reservoir: Bobby Whitlow of Big Cat's Lake Country Store reports that crappie fishing has slowed down. Some bass are on their beds and some are still lurking in the bushes where they will go for soft plastics and spinners. Flathead cats are really coming to boat near the river. The fishing in general is warming up, and should only get better as time goes by. The water is warming and muddy due to recent rains upstream.

Lake Philpott: Local source Bill Coe says that those going for largemouth would be wise to try grubs, spinners, crankbaits and top water baits. Smallmouth will be fooled by the same tackle. For local carp look for the backs of coves and try some bread or canned corn. Cats at Philpot love the smelliest bait you can find at your local tackle store. Walleye can be had by trolling jigs and bottom bouncers. The best times for this are early morning and late afternoon. Bream are very plentiful and easy for youngsters to catch and create and angler for life. The water is clear and somewhat stained.

Region 3 - Southwest

Claytor Lake: Wyatt Blevins of Rock House Marina reports that bass are on their beds and will go for plastic worms, but make sure it is a color the fish can see. At night, try plugs and thundersticks and see if you don't land a good striper. Crappie are doing well and are hiding in bushy areas, but can be coaxed out with minnows and small jigs. The perch aren't hitting yet. The water is in the low 60's and clear.

Lower New River and Claytor Lake: John Zienius of Big Z's tells us that stripers and hybrids on the lake are responding to thundersticks. Other bass are still on their beds, and will respond to tubes and small jerkbaits. Some crappie are coming in, but only for the old die hards who know where the fish are hiding. The cats, however are coming in big. The muskies in the river are at tacking big jerkbaits. The water is 66 degrees and clear.

Region 4 - Mountain & Shenandoah Valley

Lake Moomaw: The cold weather up there has discouraged a lot of anglers. The fishing is "fair", with some decent trout and yellow perch being brought in. Some bass have also been landed. For trout try trolling with Needlefish, Crocodiles and Super Duper lures. The water is 62 degrees and somewhat stained.

Lake Robertson: John Martin says things have been slow. Local cats are going for chicken liver. Bream and bluegill are responding to night crawlers. The water is 66 degrees and clear.

Shenandoah: Fly fishing guru Harry Murray reports that the North and South Forks of the river in the Valley are too discolored to be fishable. The water is 66 degrees and should be clear enough to fish in a week or so. The mountain streams are full but fishable; the best flies to use are Murray's Flying Beetle 14 or 16 or the Mr. Rapidan Dry Fly 14 or 16. In the large stocked streams on the valley floor trout are biting. The flies Harry recommends are small streamers and nymphs; such as Murray's Black Marauder 10 or 12 and Murray's Dark Stonefly 12 or 14.

Region 5 - Northern Piedmont

Lake Orange: Darrell Kennedy of Angler's Landing says that both bass and crappie are still in stages of spawning. Largemouth are really going for soft plastics, but crankbaits and spinners aren't bad bets either. Shellcrakers and bluegills are starting to spawn, making the bluegill aggressive biters. Walleye are also responding well as the cats, who are attacking chicken livers. The water is in the 60's and clear.

Lake Anna: Local guide C.C. McCotter reports tremendous largemouth fishing lately. Docks and stumps, coves and on the beds are good places to look. Willow grass is also a fruitful location. Wacky rigged worms, soft plastic jerkbaits and drop shot rigs are all good ideas. Concentrate on shallow water. Stripers are spawning and can be found in the S-turns of the Pamunkey and the North Anna above the last bridge. Live herring and shad should get you a hit. Crappie can be found in the willow grass in the uplake region, the best places having pea gravel bottoms with lots of stumps. Try the Berkley Atomic Tube or small minnows. The water is warming and clear.

Lake Anna: Local guide Scott Hammer says that the bass are hitting well, with some really big ones out there. Soft plastics are a good lure to try. Also look for creek where there are baitfish. Crappie are moving to shallow waters. Stripers and yellow perch can also be found. The water is 69 degrees and clear.

Potomac Region by local guide Charlie Taylor

Overview - All public water throughout the state are high and muddy, with swift currents in both rivers and reservoirs. Floating debris is everywhere, making boating treacherous. Please be careful and wear your PFD at all times.

Kids Fishing Derby: Potomac Bassmasters of Virginia (PBV) will hold its annual youth fishing derby on Sunday, June 8, between 9:00 a.m. and 12 noon at Burke Lake Park, Fairfax County, Virginia. For more than 30 years 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. Click here for information.

Potomac River - D.C. - Main river and shallow creek weed beds are producing nice tidal river bass on worms, grubs and jig 'n pig. Occasionally, the largemouth will take a top-water bait worked slowly along the edge of weed beds. Deep-diving crankbaits, plastic worms and spinnerbaits are working well for largemouth along dropoffs adjacent to sandy or gravel banks. Crappie are schooled along creek channels and around flooded brush. Sunfish are beginning to hit well on nightcrawlers, tiny grubs, beetlespins and flyrod poppers. Catfish are slamming cut herring baits and clam snouts. Herring and shad are still available in the channel and cove at Fletcher's Boathouse, when the swift current allows boating. The white perch are still available, but in smaller sizes and numbers. Striped bass are being caught on bucktails, cut bait and crab baits throughout the city waters.

NOTICE: All anglers are reminded to acquaint themselves with a good description of the northern snakehead. If you should manage to catch one of these exotic imports, please kill it immediately and report the catch to either the Virginia Department of Game And Inland Fisheries or the Maryland Department Of Natural Resources.

View video about the snakehead »

Potomac River - Below Woodrow Wilson Bridge: Bass are still foraging in the milfoil and emerging hydrilla beds in the main river. Some of the better beds are located in Mattawoman and Chickamuxen Creeks and on the main river, below Mattawoman Creek on the Maryland shoreline. Mallows Bay is also producing well. Some bass have already spawned. Seek out shallow, sandy or gravel banks with good tidal movement, and fish Carolina-rigged lizards, slowly, on the deep end of the drop. White and yellow perch are seeking food in the grass. Berkley Power Worms, Zoom lizards and rattling crankbaits are the preferred baits, although topwater baits are attracting strikes in the early morning. A few pickerel are available in the backs of the lower tidal creeks. Spinnerbaits and plastic baits, fished in the lily pad edges are taking these fish. Catfish are taking cut herring and clam snouts. Fish flats adjacent to main river channels. Use stout tackle when fishing the channel itself, as trophy size fish are resident here.

Occoquan River: A few bass are being taken from the north shore of the river. Rattling crankbaits, plastic worms, grubs and spinnerbaits are the better baits. Crappie are taking small minnows around boat docks and brushpiles. Catfish action is hot on clam snouts, cut bait and nightcrawlers. Stripers are present in the back of the river.

Occoquan Reservoir: Bass action is good, with most of the fish coming from main lake points and dropoffs. Spinnerbaits, plastic worms and crankbaits are the better choice for baits. Soft plastic baits, fished on the bottom at Ryan's Dam should do well as the current stages the bass on the old dam debris. Catfish anglers are catching some fish on cut bait and clam snouts. Crappie anglers are catching good numbers of fish, using live minnows, 10-12 feet deep over the old river channel. Submerged brushpiles in 10+ feet of water are also holding the fish.

Burke Lake: Bass action has improved, with plastic worms on dropoffs, being the most consistent pattern. Crappie are taking small minnows and tiny jigs around submerged brush. Shellcrackers are biting well, with some fish over a pound being caught. Live crickets and red wigglers are the better baits. Catfish are taking clam snouts and nightcrawlers on the bottom. Muskie are not active.

Lake Brittle: Lots of crappie and bluegill are being caught, along with a few bass in the 3-5 pound class. Crappie are being caught off the pier and around the dam, while the bluegill are being taken off the spawning beds on nightcrawlers and small Panther-Martin spinners. Occasional walleye, to 3 pounds, are being caught.

Farm Ponds: Action is picking up in local ponds. Bass are attacking almost anything thrown in the water. Spawning is taking place in the shallows and small plastic baits, worked into the beds, will take the fish. Catfish action is excellent on chicken livers, clam snouts and nightcrawlers. Sunfish are feeding heavily, with red wigglers, nightcrawlers and Berkley Power Baits being excellent choices for bait.

Potomac River - Upper: Water is high and muddy and should flow well out of it's banks by the weekend. Smallmouth bass are biting well, with most of the fish taking four inch Kalin or Yamamoto grubs, Berkley Power Grubs, spinners, minnows, and crankbaits. Fish the banks early and late in the day, and the middle of the river during the afternoon. Deeper pools and riffles are producing the larger fish. Bluegills are taking small spinners and Beetlespins throughout the river. Catfish are suckers for cut bait, nightcrawlers and live minnows. Carp are spawning and are taking cut corn, doughballs, and sugared cereal.

Potomac Region: Local Angler Charles Oman reports that Claude Moore ponds are a good lively spot to take the kids on their first fishing trip, with plenty of small fish biting. Novice fly fishermen will also find it a good place to practice. Broad Run and Goose Creek are finally settling down and should provide Potomac Region good angling in the future weeks.

Get your kids hooked on fishing!

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email your material to
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Virginia Conservation Police Notebook

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

Bass Tourney Cheaters Caught and Reeled In…On April 25, 2008 Officers Jeff Pease and Roland Cox received a request to contact a Claytor Lake bass fisherman who wanted to report finding a bass tied by string to the bank. After meeting with the complainant the officers and complainant went to the cove where the bass was reported to be tethered. Upon arrival the complainant could not find the bass he had called about. Officers Pease and Cox then began to search along the sides of the cove in the attempt to locate other tethered bass. The officers eventually found four bass that had been tethered to the bank at the very back of the cove. The officers were aware there was a major bass tournament schedule for the next day April 26, and it was decided to leave the bass where they were and to place them under surveillance the next day. Officer Cox fin clipped each bass to assist in identification and returned them to the water.

On April 26, Officers Billings and Cox arrived at the cove by vehicle at 0600 and placed the area where the bass were located under surveillance. At approximately 0740 a bass boat entered the area and two subjects began to fish toward the back of the cove. When the subjects got to the rear of the cove they waited until all other boats had left the area and motored to where the bass were tied. One subject began to retrieve the tied bass by hand and as he pulled them from the water he cut the lines near the tie off points, placed the fish in a live well, cut the fish from the line and through the lines back into the water. Officer Billings video taped the subjects retrieving two bass and place them in the live well as well as return two fish that had died overnight back into the water. After the boat had cleared the area the officers retrieved and photographed the two dead bass, as well as took the remainder of the strings used to tether the bass as evidence. Officers Billings and Cox ran the boat number through dispatch and found it was registered to a man from Dickenson County. The officers then begin to check local boat ramps and found a vehicle registered to the boat owner at the VDGIF Hidden Valley boat ramp. The officers also found several other vehicles from Dickenson County at the ramp and suspected that a bass club from that area was holding a club tournament on the lake. Officers Cox and Billings launched a patrol boat and checked fisherman until they located two from Dickenson County and learned they were participating in a club tournament and the weigh in was scheduled for 3:00 p.m. at the Hidden Valley ramp.

Officers Billings, Cox, and Wensel arrived at the ramp as the boats were taking off and videoed the weigh in. After the suspects weighed their 10 bass limit, the officers approached and questioned the fishermen about the tethered bass. Both admitted to catching the bass the day before and to retrieving the fish on the morning of the tournament. Inspecting the fish, two were found to be among those Officer Cox had marked the previous day. Officer Billings then asked if there were any more fish on board and the suspect answer "I don't think so". Further investigation revealed an additional bass located in a forward live well, making a total of 11 bass on board the boat, an additional bass still tied to the bank in the cove for a total of 13 bass in their possession. The younger subject will be charged with possessing over the limit of bass and littering. The older subject will be charged with exceeding the daily limit on bass. More severe charges will not be placed because this tournament was not for money or trophies. For more information contact Lt. Rex Hill at (276) 783-4860.

Region 4- Mountain & Shenandoah Valley

Police Officers Team-Up for Successful Kid's Fishing Day… On May 03, 2008 Virginia Conservation Police Officer E. W. Herndon attended the Grottoes' Police Department's "Chief Charlie's Kid's Fishing Day" in Rockingham County. Approximately 300 kids were there to enjoy the nice trout that were stocked by the VDGIF Fisheries Division. A special thanks goes to Coursey Springs Trout Hatchery Manager Eric Wooding, for taking time out on a Saturday to bring an extra load of trout so that the kids could see the trout being stocked. That was the highlight of the day for a lot of the kids and for some of the parent, too! There were several special events for the kids including the landing of the Air Care helicopter, horse rides, clowns and other activities. Special drawings for prizes such as gifts for the smallest fish, the biggest fish and catching the daily limit were also included in the days events. This was the 14th year of Chief Charlie's Kid's Fishing Day. For more information contact Lt. Kevin Clarke (540) 248-9360.

Region 5 - Northern Piedmont

Officers prompt follow-up on suspected DUI, saves a life… On April 17, 2008, Senior CPO Steve Ferguson was traveling on Barracks Road in Albemarle County. He observed several vehicles parked on the highway. Thinking it was an accident, he stopped to give assistance. Instead, he found the vehicles had encountered what they believed was a drunk driver. A vehicle had run them off the road and had almost caused an accident. Taking a vehicle description, Officer Ferguson proceeded in the direction given looking for the suspect vehicle. Several miles down the road, he recognized a vehicle parked near the road and stopped to investigate. He found the driver sitting in the car, acting stuperous and drunken. Smelling no alcohol, he interviewed the suspect and determined that the man was diabetic. The gentlemen was mentally unable to even locate his glucose pills on the seat beside him. Officer Ferguson assisted the man in taking his pills and summoned the rescue squad. He then bought the ill man a soft drink, knowing he needed sugar. The gentleman recovered almost fully by the time rescue arrived. Had Officer Ferguson not followed up and acted promptly, the likelihood of coma and eventually death was very probable for the operator of the vehicle and possible injuries to others. 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!

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:

  • June Squirrel Season Hunting Tips
  • Summer Outdoor Safety Tips
  • Do Not Feed the Bears!
Eastern Meadowlark. Artwork copyright Spike Knuth.

Eastern Meadowlark
by Spike Knuth

The eastern meadowlark is a bird of the fields and is often called the "field lark." It's a song heard early on in spring in the farmlands and it sings it from atop a post, stump or tree with head up and pointing skyward. Actually the meadowlark is placed in the blackbird family.

It's a stocky, short-tailed bird with a longish bill. The meadowlark is about 10-1/2 inches long and is best identified by its lemon yellow breast with a distinctive black vee on its chest, and its striped head. It has a chicken-like walk with a habit of flicking and fanning its tail and shows white outer tail feathers when it flies.

Meadowlarks prefer open country to nest and live in. Their nests are grassy structures built in slight depressions in older flattened vegetation amid dense clumps of grasses and are covered by arching growths of taller grasses.

Five eggs are a normal clutch and the female tends to sit very tight on the nest to the point that you have to almost step on her before she'll flush. The parent birds don't fly directly to or away from the nest in order to hide its location. In some cases after some time they leave a matted down trail to the nest due to their many comings and goings.

Meadowlarks feed on grasshoppers and other field insects, turning to small seeds in winter. Here in Virginia many meadowlarks winter on the coastal plain around the lower James River, in Northern Neck, south of Virginia Beach, and Eastern Shore.

Meadowlark populations, both the eastern and western subspecies are declining due to the changes in farming and in land use. 

·    ·    ·

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.

May 2008

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

17 Outdoor Beach Women Event, Virginia Beach. Contact Jimmy Mootz at
23 DEADLINE for Return of Hunting with Hounds Informal Survey, for details contact Sara Kozlowski, (540) 231-0961, or email
31 Family Fishing Day at Franklin Park, Loudoun County. Contact Mike Hall at
June 2008

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

3 Board of Game and Inland Fisheries 9:00 AM, Richmond
4 Virginia Native Plant Society Wildflower Walk, Thompson WMA: contact
6-8 Free Fishing Days, statewide.

Fly Fishing Workshop, Petersburg. Contact Dinwiddie Parks and Recreation at (804) 732-1100


Kids Fishing Derby Potomac Bassmasters of Virginia, Burke Lake Park, Fairfax County


NWTF Women in the Outdoors Event. Gander Mountain, Ashland. Contact Priscilla Page at (410) 378-2064.

21 Chesapeake Bay Fishing Charter, NWTF Women in the Outdoors Event, Hampton Chapter. Contact Priscilla Page (410) 378-2064
24 Smallmouth Bass Workshop, statewide.
28 NWTF Women in the Outdoors Event. BASS PRO World, Hampton. Contact Priscilla Page at (410) 378-2064.
28 NWTF Women in the Outdoors Event. Rockbridge Chapter, Lexington. Contact Priscilla Page at (410) 378-2064.
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)

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

Beginning in June 2008
June 7 to 21: Spring Squirrel Season on certain VDGIF Wildlife Management Areas - see Regulations Digest page 41 or DGIF website
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.
  • For great bargains on Virginia Wildlife gear, apparel and gifts, visit our online catalog!
  • Hooks & Horns - The Ultimate Hunting Video Game

  • Match wits against the king of upland game birds, the spring gobbler, and test your hunting skills with the magnificent white-tailed deer. Hooks & Horns has it all: stunning graphics, beautiful scenery, and the realistic depiction of animals. And for the first time in any hunting video game, sound recognition technology. That's right, connect a microphone to your computer and grab your favorite game calls. Yelp in that old tom or grunt in that elusive trophy white-tailed deer. Hooks & Horns creates an exhilarating experience that you will never forget. The Department encourages everyone who experiences the fun and excitement of Hooks & Horns to then move up to the next level. Take a Hunter Education Course, purchase a hunting license, and face the ultimate challenge - a hunting adventure in Virginia's great outdoors.

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, Ginger Glen-Calvert, 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 -