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 28, 2008

VDGIF is an agency of the Virginia Secretariat of Natural Resources
In this edition:
  • Get Hooked on Fishing for Free June 6-8
  • Kid's Fishing Day Events Provide Family Fun
  • We're on a Mission!
  • People and Partners in the News
    • Special Fishing Olympics Great Success at Elk Creek
    • Teen Archers Compete in Statewide Tournament
    • Charity Hill Team Wins Virginia Clay Target Championship
    • Attention Boaters - Proposed New EPA Permit Program Heading for Congressional Vote
    • Field Days Scheduled for Shenandoah Valley Woodlot Owners
    • Local NWTF Chapters to Host Women in the Outdoors Events
  • "Green Tips" for Outdoor Enthusiasts
    • Save Time, Money and Gas - Plan Your Summer Vacation for Virginia
    • State Agencies Conduct Research on Potential Fish Health Issues
    • For Newcomers to the Outdoors...
  • Hunting News You Can Use
    • June Squirrel Season on Specific WMAs June 7-21
    • It's Never Too Early or Too Late To Begin Turkey Hunting
  • Be Safe... Have Fun!
    • Summer Squirrel Hunting Safety Tips
    • Stay Safe on the Water - Boat Smart and Sober!
  • Habitat Improvement Tips
    • Do Not Feed the Bears
  • Fishin' Report
    • Virginia Tidal Rivers Boast Trophy Class Blue Catfish
    • Powhatan Lakes Restored
    • Boat Safe and Sober
    • Sarah White's Notebook
      • Kid's Fishing Photo Contest
      • Updates on Events, Workshops
  • 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

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.

Kid's Fishing Day Events Provide Family Fun

Join the fun at one of the dozen Kids Fishing Days scheduled for June 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 (PDF) to find one near you! Catch the fun! Take a kid fishin'.

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. The winning pictures are those that best capture the theme "kids enjoying fishing." Any snapshot will do. Children in the first through third place photographs of each category will receive a variety of fishing-related prizes. Photos must be postmarked on or before June 21, 2008. For complete rules and Contest entry information, visit www.huntfishva.com/kidsnfishing/.

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.

We're on a Mission!

VDGIF Executive Director Bob Duncan, in his Director's Column for the June Virginia Wildlife magazine noted that, "The Agency's mission statement was recently expanded, but in truth, it merely reflects what we have been doing all along. Two new points highlighted are: your constitutional right to hunt, fish and harvest game, and our mandate to provide education and outreach. Both of these items are actually provided for - and spelled out very clearly - in the Code of Virginia, our statutory compass. The mission statement serves as an important reminder of the foundation of our work and efforts. It represents the written touchstone of all that we build upon - day by day and week by week. We are calling your attention to these additions because, yes, we're on a mission! The four points of our mission statement represent the most fundamental tenets of what we do and what we are all about."

Director Duncan continued, "The mission statement guides our staff in the decisions they make every day. I hope that it also might provide you with clear insight into those decisions and the balance we aim to achieve."

  • 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; and
  • 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.

To become a regular subscriber to the award winning Virginia Wildlife magazine, visit the Department's Web site, or call 1-800-710-9369. A one-year subscription of 12 issues is only $12.95.

People and Partners in the News

Special Fishing Olympics Great Success at Elk Creek

Everyone caught their limit of trout, fun and excitement at the Sixth Annual Special Needs Kids Fishing Olympics held May 10 at Elk Creek in Grayson County. The designated trout stream provided 35 children and 37 adults with a spectacular trout fishing day. The participants in the event were from Grayson, Carroll, and Wythe Counties. Sidney Harvey of Elk Creek, the founder and coordinator of the event, noted that fellowship with the participants was always the highlight of the day.

Rainbow and brown trout were stocked in the stream on May 9 by the Marion Fish Hatchery and assisted by Conservation Police Officer Jason Harris. The event was primarily supported by donations from Grayson, Wythe, and Carroll Counties. A hardy lunch was served to all participants and volunteers.

Recognition and awards were given at the end of the event. Bill Kittrell - Fish Program Supervisor, Conservation Police Officers George Shupe and Jason Harris from VDGIF were recognized for their support and assistance with supplying and stocking of the trout as well as law enforcement efforts prior to the event. Grayson County Sheriff Richard Vaughn, deputies and numerous volunteers from Grayson, Carroll, and Wythe Counties provided great support for the event.

For the first time since the event was established, all 72 participants caught their limit of six trout. Trophies were presented to all participants of the event as well as medals for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd biggest fish and first fish by male and female. The event was a great success for both the participants and the community.

Teen Archers Compete in Statewide Tournament

The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Outdoor Education staff conducted the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) State Archery Tournament with several schools participating in a "virtual" tournament. The interest for participating in a culminating archery event was spread out state-wide and the interested schools' transportation and funding were limited. The "virtual" tournament allowed schools to conduct a qualifying archery shoot on their school's grounds and even compete with a school in their locality. Team scores had to be turned in by April 21.

First Place High School was awarded to Warwick High School from Newport News, with a high score of 3093. The school coach is Michael Cooke. Second Place High School was Hidden Valley High School from Roanoke, with a score of 2732. The School coach is Lisa Sink-Morris. First Place Middle school was Northside Middle School from Roanoke, with a score of 2803. The school coach is Bob Shelton. These three schools plan to attend the National Tournament in Louisville, KY.

Qualifying scores to attend the National NASP Tournament are as follows: Elementary is 2500 points, Middle School is 2,600 points and High School is 2,700 points. Each school team can have 16 - 24 archers, with at least 5 archers of the opposite gender. We congratulate these teams and wish them the best in this first year when Virginia will be represented at the National NASP tournament.

Presently Virginia has 148 schools participating in NASP, and conducting archery as part of their school curriculum statewide. DGIF has trained and certified 398 teachers located in 50 of the 99 counties of the Commonwealth and the NASP program reaches over 90,000 students a year with a positive archery experience. NASP is a joint venture between state departments of education and wildlife. Several archery equipment manufacturers and organizations are also partners. Funding for the Virginia program comes from federal grants, Camp-Younts Foundation, and the Virginia Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation. The main goal of NASP training program is to make enjoyable and safe archery experiences available to more people than ever before. The program utilizes time-proven and state-of-the-art training techniques, philosophies and educational methods to provide a foundation to support a lifetime of archery enjoyment. For more information, visit the NASP Web site.

How Teachers Can Get Involved - School teachers who want to teach the NASP curriculum to their students during their physical education classes can complete the Basic Archery Instructor training provided by VDGIF education staff and certified volunteer trainers. Schools can "host" the eight hour training for their teachers and invite surrounding school educators. Training is conducted in the school's gym. Training equipment and supplies are provided by VDGIF. Schools interested in bringing archery into their curriculum can contact Karen Holson, VDGIF Outdoor Education Supervisor and Virginia NASP State Coordinator, at 804-367-6355 or email Karen.Holson@dgif.virginia.gov

Charity Hill Team Wins Virginia Clay Target Championship

The Charity Hill "Claybusters" and "Clay Angels" earned the state title to represent Virginia at the Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP) Nationals this July in Sparta, Illinois. The state competition was held May 24-25 at Richmond Gun Club for skeet and at Old Forge Sporting Clays in Providence Forge. In the varsity division grades (9-12) the Charity Hill Claybusters were victorious in skeet with a team score of 293 out of 300 on Saturday. The team competed Sunday in sporting clays winning first place with a team score of 264 out of 300. There were eight teams shooting it out to claim the Virginia Title.

The varsity team members are Daniel Foster from Drakes Branch, Christopher Smith from Ruther Glen and Jacob Lawson from Skipwith. In the junior varsity division, grades 9-12, the Charity Hill "Clay Angels" were state runner-up in skeet on Saturday. The Clay Angels then competed on Sunday in sporting clays winning as state champions with a team score of 220 out of 300. The "Clay Angels" team members are Kendal Smith from Ruther Glen, Lauren Priddy from Unionville and Taylor Trice from Woodford. This is the first all ladies team ever to shoot SCTP in Virginia. The team's head coach is Jeff Atkins, a Hunter Education Instructor from Farmville, and assistant coaches are Clive Watson, Travis Barrett and Janet Lawson.

SCTP, for youths in grades 12 and under, is a program of the National Shooting Sports Foundation managed in partnership with the national governing bodies for shooting sports: USA Shooting, Amateur Trapshooting Association, National Skeet Shooting Association and National Sporting Clays Association. With remarkable growth over the past eight years, the program is considered "the Little League of shooting sports." Some 8,000 to 9,000 students from over 45 states are expected to compete this year. The best of these young shooters could be selected to attend an Olympic development camp in Colorado Springs, and some will go on to compete at the collegiate level. Click here for more information.

Attention Boaters - Proposed New EPA Permit Program Heading for Congressional Vote

According to BoatU.S., if you are one of the 18 million recreational boat owners, you need to be aware of legislation working through Congress that would create a new, onerous and potentially costly EPA permit program to be in place by September 30 of this year. Recreational boaters and anglers have only a short time to encourage their Senators and Representatives in Congress to support the "Clean Boating Act of 2008." The bill would retain a 35-year-old exemption under the Clean Water Act of 1972 for "normal operational" discharges from recreational boats, such as deck run-off from rain or engine cooling water.

The EPA has been required to develop the permit program as a result of a lawsuit originally intended to prevent the spread of invasive species from abroad by targeting ocean-going commercial vessels carrying ballast water. The proposed Clean Boating Act of 2008 does not weaken any existing environmental laws that restrict the overboard discharge of oil, fuel, garbage, or sewage.

BoatU.S. is the nation's leading advocate for recreational boaters with over 650,000 members. BoatU.S. Vice President of Government Affairs Margaret Podlich advises that," With only nine weeks left in the Congressional session before September, we are facing a tight timeline. Everyone who enjoys boating needs to ask their legislators for their support when it comes to a floor vote. We need constituents to speak up now - even if they have done so in the past year." To easily contact your federal legislators or learn more about the issue, go to www.BoatBlue.org or www.BoatUS.com

Field Days Scheduled for Shenandoah Valley Woodlot Owners

Workshops scheduled for June and July will provide landowners with hands-on training and information about ways to manage their woods for enjoyment and profit, while maintaining the health and beauty of their woods. Virginia Cooperative Extension, in association with Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF), will offer opportunities to learn about small-scale woods-tending techniques that individuals can do to maximize the benefits they receive from their woods.

The first, "Making Something of your Woods: Portable Sawmilling", will offer landowners a chance to learn about using a portable sawmill to produce lumber for sale or for personal use. Participants will learn how to determine which trees to harvest based on the current health of the woods, safely fell a tree, and extract trees with a farm tractor. This workshop will be held June 12-13 at Shenandoah Valley Agriculture Research and Extension Center in Steele's Tavern, just off I-81, Exit 205.

The second workshop will invite woodlot owners to the 173 acre Paul State Forest in Ottobine just west of Harrisonburg, for a field day on July 25. The VDOF manages this forest for hardwood research and demonstration, timber production, hiking, and wildlife habitat protection. The field day will showcase innovative woodlot management techniques used to promote wildlife habitat, enhance water quality, aesthetics, and timber production.

Call your local Extension office or the VA Cooperative Extension Natural Resources Program, based in Rockingham County at (540) 564-3080 for registration information. You may also email Yancey@vt.edu for info.

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

"Green Tips" For Outdoor Enthusiasts

This new section in the Outdoor Report provides tips and articles on ways you, as an outdoor enthusiast, can join with others to do simple things in your outdoor pursuits that can make a big difference in keeping Virginia "green" to benefit us all.

Save Time, Money and Gas - Plan Your Summer Vacation for Virginia

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!

To help plan your Virginia adventure, visit VirginiaGreenTravel.org, a new Web site dedicated to environmentally friendly travel in Virginia. 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."

State Agencies Conducting Investigations on 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.

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 fishreports@deq.virginia.gov.

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. In addition to making new friends and learning new skills, you will experience conservation, outdoor ethics, environmentally friendly practices and safety tips in action.

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.

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.

It's Never Too Early or Too Late to Begin Turkey Hunting

The spring gobbler season made for some great memories for hunters of all ages and experience levels. We have received several stories we wanted to share with you.

Pat Stewart proudly displays the spring gobbler she bagged May 10 in James City County. The turkey weighed 19 lbs., 10-1/2" beard and 1-1/8" spurs. Pat, a spry 75 years, has been hunting with her husband Buck for quite some time and he noted this is not her first turkey, but is probably the largest. As you can see she is really excited, deservedly so!

Last Call! My hunting buddy Nathaniel Fisher from Fluvanna makes the final call at the end of his "rookie" spring gobbler season. Although we did not harvest a gobbler over several days of trying hard, when ask how the season went, this avid outdoorsman at eleven years old showed he had a winning attitude commenting, "I think we had a great time hearing gobblers and learning to use my box call, crow call and owl hooter. We saw hawks, whistled at quail, barked at squirrels and best of all scouted new deer trails for fall. I know just where I want to put my deer stand now." He is already a good deer hunter - he can thank his Dad for that. I can't wait for fall myself! -- DC, Editor

Be Safe... Have Fun!

Summer Squirrel Hunting Safety Tips

If you're planning to go squirrel hunting this June on selected VDGIF Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs), you need to keep a few things in mind to ensure you have a pleasant and safe experience. If you're wearing camouflage, it should be lightweight. You'll also want to put on some bug repellent to ward off ticks, chiggers, gnats and mosquitoes. Learn to identify poison ivy (leaflets three let it be!) and avoid contact with the shiny green leaves and hairy vines. Note that you can also get a rash from handling clothes that have come in contact with this abundant woods plant. If you have walked through a patch of poison ivy, wash those clothes to remove the oils which cause the itchy rash. Snakes are also out and about with the warmer temperatures, so be alert. If it is a very warm day, it would be a good idea to field dress your harvested game as soon as possible and bring along a cooler with ice and plastic bags to store them.

As always, practice basic firearm safety. Treat every firearm as if it were loaded, only point at what you intend to shoot, and clearly identify your game and what is beyond. This June will be a great time to take youngsters squirrel hunting. They'll be out of school and there's very little other hunting opportunity available at the start of summer. It is a great time to introduce a youngster to actual in the field hunting without some of the distractions, or pressures of fall deer or turkey hunting like more hunters in the woods, cold and windy weather, or more elusive game. So, spray on a little bug juice and take a youngster squirrel hunting on one of the VDGIF's WMAs. You can locate them at the VDGIF map information system on our Find Game Web site.

Stay Safe on the Water - Boat Smart and Sober!

The upcoming summer boating season is right around the corner, and VDGIF reminds all boaters to boat smart, boat sober, and boat safe while out on our waterways. All boaters should:

Remember safety and courtesy are free, share them generously!

Habitat Improvement Tips

Do Not Feed the Bears

From the Tidewater region to the Alleghany Mountains, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) personnel are already receiving numerous calls regarding bear sightings. With a healthy and growing black bear population, bear sightings during the spring and summer months are becoming the norm in Virginia. While the highest concentration of bears occurs in the Blue Ridge and Alleghany Mountains and around the Great Dismal Swamp, bears are likely to be seen just about anywhere in Virginia.

Bears are highly adaptable and intelligent animals and can learn to associate human dwellings with food. In their search for food, bears are attracted to residential areas by the smell of food around homes. The most common food attractants are bird feeders, garbage, and pet food. Additionally outdoor grills, livestock food, compost, fruit trees, and beehives can also attract bears. The best way to encourage a bear to move on is to remove the food source that is attracting it. Do not store household trash, or anything that smells like food, in vehicles, on porches or decks. If you have a trash collection service, put your trash out the morning of the pickup, not the night before. Take down your birdfeeder temporarily until the bear moves on. After you remove the food source on or around your property, the bear may remain for a short time, but after a few failed attempts to find food, it will leave your property.

Bears generally avoid humans, but in their search for food, they may wander into suburban areas. So, what should you do if you see a bear? The most important response is to keep a respectful distance. Black bears have a natural fear of humans, and in most cases would rather flee than have an encounter with people. If a bear is up a tree on or near your property, give it space. Do not approach or gather around the base of the tree. By bringing your pets inside and leaving the immediate area, you give the bear a clear path to leave your property.

If you see a bear cub in an area do not try to remove it from the area or "save it". Female bears will wander to find food usually with her cubs in tow. If she feels nervous she will typically send her cubs up a tree and can leave the area. The mother bear will leave the cubs there until she returns and calls for them. Bear cubs left where they are will almost always be retrieved by their mother as long as there are no people or pets around.

Always remember that a bear is a wild animal, and that it is detrimental to the bear, as well as illegal in Virginia, to feed a bear under any circumstances. If you do see a bear in your area, enjoy watching it from a distance. If you experience a bear problem after taking appropriate steps of prevention, please notify the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries at 804-367-1258.

Living with Bears in Virginia, a video produced by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, is available on the Department's Web site and provides tips for peacefully coexisting with bears.

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.

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 dams failed in June 2004 when a severe storm event dumped as much as five inches of rain within a two-hour period causing overtopping and the eventual chain-reaction breaching of both the upper and lower dams. 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).

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.

Stay Safe on the Water - Boat Smart and Sober!

The upcoming summer boating season is right around the corner, and VDGIF reminds all boaters to boat smart, boat sober, and boat safe while out on our waterways. According to Charlie Sledd, the Department's Boating Safety Director and Boating Law Administrator, "Our safety message to all boaters is to wear your life jacket, do not mix alcohol and boating, and take a boating safety course."

Boaters are required by law to equip their vessels with a life jacket for each person on board and to have the life jackets readily accessible. Life jackets must also be in good condition and of the proper size for the intended wearer. "With the recent designs in inflatable life jackets, they are really comfortable, easy to wear, and most importantly, easy to use," said Sledd. "So we always emphasize that a major part of boating safely involves life jacket use." Nearly all boating-related fatalities are the result of drowning and it is estimated that about 80% of fatalities could have been prevented if a life jacket was worn. Personal watercraft (PWC) operators, passengers, and skiers are reminded that they are required by state law to wear a life jacket at all times while the PWC is underway.

Also important to a safe day on the water is to boat sober. Just like driving under the influence, Virginia boating law states that a person is considered to be boating under the influence (BUI) if the blood alcohol concentration is .08 percent or higher. The penalties for BUI are substantial and the risk to yourself, as well as many others on the water, of consuming alcohol is significant.

Boaters are also strongly encouraged to take a boating safety course. Whether it's the new boater wanting to learn the rules of the waterway or the seasoned boater just wanting to update their knowledge, taking a course better prepares boaters for a safe day on the water.

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.

Sara White's Notebook

With the great weather Memorial Day weekend, everyone's busy fishing, so we gave our reporters a well deserved week off. The regional reports will resume in the next edition June 11.

Here are reminders of some great programs coming in June-July…

Picture the Excitement! Enter the Kid's '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 www.huntfishva.com/kidsnfishing/

Flat Out Catfishing Workshop X2 - Registration Deadline June 10

Back by Popular demand! There are two dates this year to choose from: July 8th and August 5th. These educational workshops are designed for individuals who are interested in learning about fishing for flathead catfish. Workshops are designed for adults 18 years and over. Participants will wade for big flathead catfish with professional guide and instructor Mike Ostrander from the James River Fishing School. Participants are required to have a current Virginia freshwater fishing license. Lunch and tackle will be provided. Workshop fee is $35. Please Register by June 10th for the July 8th workshop and register by July 15th for the August 5th workshop. Space is limited and this educational workshop fills quickly! For more information, contact Chris Dunnavant at 804-367-6778 or chris.dunnavant@dgif.virginia.gov.

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.

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 »

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
fishing_report@hotmail.com
and it might get used in the Fishin' Report!

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

Car parked at boat ramp with no boat raises suspicions…On May 14, 2008 while patrolling the Allisonia area of Claytor Lake, Officer Rolland Cox observed a motorcycle and Ford Mustang parked at the Allisonia VDGIF boat ramp. Officer Cox walked up the New River trail and observed two male subjects standing near the vehicles. Approximately 15 minutes later both subjects entered the Mustang and one produced a pill bottle from his pocket. Officer Cox watched as the passenger placed a pill into a grinder, placed the powder on a CD case, roll a 5 dollar bill into a tube, and ingest the powder into his nose. Officer Cox approached the vehicle on foot and removed the subjects from the vehicle. He seized the CD case and the passenger handed him the pill bottle/grinder and advised it contained Oxycontin commonly know as OCs. Both subjects were charged with trespassing on a VDGIF boat ramp and the one subject faces drug charges pending laboratory analysis of the pills. For more information contact Lt. Rex Hill at (276) 783-4860.

Region 4 - Mountain & Shenandoah Valley

Officers assist with investigation of fatality in submerged vehicle… On May 16, 2008 at approximately 0430 hours, Conservation Police Officer Kevin Bilwin was called by VDGIF dispatch about a water rescue operation that Page County Sheriff's Office and county rescue was conducting at the VDGIF's Massanutten Boat Landing. Officer Bilwin arrived on the scene at approximately 0500 hours and was informed of the situation by the first deputy on the scene. Upon Officer Bilwin's arrival, he observed numerous fire fighters, EMS personnel, deputies and state troopers from Page County already on scene. Apparently, a female occupant was trapped in a vehicle that was submerged about 30 feet into the water from the end of the boat ramp. The vehicle was extracted from the water at approximately 0730 hours and there was one female occupant that was pronounced dead at the scene. Officer Bilwin assisted the State Police investigation by conducting interviews, assisting with vehicle extraction and assisting the State Police Crime Scene. The investigation continues to determine the cause of the accident. For more information contact Lt. Kevin Clarke (540) 248-9360.

Region 5 - Northern Piedmont

"No show" by "friends" leads to arrest of felon with a dead deer and muzzleloader... On November 9, 2007 while working spotlight patrol, Officer Lenny Anderson was requested to assist Louisa Deputies with a domestic call where a deer and a rifle were found in a barn. When Officer Anderson arrived on scene he saw in plain view, a deer and a muzzleloader in a barn near the residence. While interviewing the tenant of the property it was learned that he is a convicted felon. The suspect denied possessing the firearm or killing the deer. He stated that his friend "Dave" had killed the deer and it was his gun that he had left in the barn. The suspect said that Dave would be back in the morning to get his gun and that Dave had given him the deer. Officer Anderson told the suspect that he was going to send the firearm off to the lab to check for fingerprints and asked the suspect if his prints would be found on the firearm. The suspect said maybe, and that he had moved it out of his way. The suspect voluntarily submitted to a GSR test and that sample was sent to the State lab for analysis along with the muzzleloader. The suspect would not provide any further information. Officer Anderson returned the next day to see if "Dave" would appear which he did not.

On November 13, 2007, Officer Anderson was contacted by citizen requesting information about the case because the suspect was a friend of his. Officer Anderson told the citizen he could not discuss the case with him unless he was involved in it and could provide further information. The citizen told Officer Anderson that he had given the suspect the Muzzleloader and that he knew he was a felon when he gave him the Muzzleloader. On November 14, 2007 Officer Anderson met with the citizen and obtained a written confession from him. On April 29, 2008 Officer Anderson received the analysis from the State Lab on the firearm and the GSR test. The firearm came back negative, the GSR was positive. After consulting with the Commonwealths Attorney in Louisa, warrants were obtained for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and unlawful possession of a deer. Charges against the citizen are pending. For more information contact Lt. John Cobb at (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:

  • Summer Outdoor Safety Tips
  • Living with Snakes
  • Creating a Water Garden
Shenandoah Salamander. Artwork copyright Spike Knuth.
 
BE WILD, VIRGINIA!

Shenandoah Salamander
Plethodon Shenandoah
by Spike Knuth

The Shenandoah salamander is a totally terrestrial amphibian, and a member of a group of lungless salamanders that breathe through their skin. It is found only in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia in Page and Madison counties on three peaks; The Pinnacles, Stony Man, and Hawksbill located in the Shenandoah National Park. Here it inhabits the northwest facing talus slopes at elevations over 2,950 feet. It lives mainly in the soil pockets and humus between the rocks.

Measuring 3 to 4-3/8 inches long, there are two color phases. Both are basically black or dark brown with one having a red back stripe with brassy flecking on the sides. The other phase has a yellow back stripe with spots or flecks on its side. There are other variations that are almost all black with flecks and/or red spots. A similar species is the red backed salamander which inhabits the moist woodlands around the rocky slopes. The red back has a wider red stripe and is a bit smaller in size.

Information on their breeding habits is scarce. Being completely terrestrial, the Shenandoah does not go through an aquatic larvae stage. Females become mature at age three or four and breed every two years, usually in late spring or summer. Their egg clutches vary from 4 to 18 eggs which are fertilized internally, then laid in moss, moist crevices or in damp logs. Incubation lasts one to three months and the young develop within the egg.

Shenandoah salamanders feed on small invertebrates, like insect larvae, mites, flies, beetles, and springtails. While they are long-lived, their habitat is declining due to natural woodland succession encroaching on the talus slopes, and their restricted habitat needs make them vulnerable.

For more information on endangered or species of special concern in Virginia, refer to the book, Virginia's Endangered Species by Karen Terwilliger, sponsored by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, and published by McDonald and Woodward Publishing Company, Blacksburg, VA 24062.  

·    ·    ·

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.

UPCOMING EVENTS
May 2008

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

31 Family Fishing Day at Franklin Park, Loudoun County. Contact Mike Hall at mikehallfishing.com.
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 johnz563@yahoo.com
6-8 Free Fishing Days, statewide.
6

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

8

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

14

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, Radford
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.
28 Great American Backyard Campout - Richmond, to register call (804) 359-2475.
July 2008

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

4 Independence Day Holiday
8 Flat out Catfishing Workshop, Richmond, visit DGIF web events
22 Saltwater Fishing Workshop, Smith Point Marina, Northumberland, visit DGIF web events
26

NWTF Women in the Outdoors Event. Bland County Many Beards Chapter. Outdoors day at Camp Roland in Bastian. Visit DGIF web events

August 2008
5 Flat out Catfishing Workshop, Richmond, visit DGIF web events
8-10 Virginia Outdoor Sportsmen's Show, The Showplace, Richmond, visit www.sportsmanshow.com
22-24 Mother Daughter Outdoors, Holiday Lake 4-H Center, Appomattox, visit DGIF web events
VOLUNTEERS NEEDED!
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.

MAKE IT A FAMILY ADVENTURE!
The Department offers numerous hunting, fishing, and outdoor education programs designed for families, women, beginners and seasoned outdoor enthusiasts.
LOOKING FOR A PLACE TO HUNT OR FISH?
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.

QUICK GLANCE
AT HUNTING SEASONS

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 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.
REPORT
WILDLIFE VIOLATIONS
To report a wildlife violation, call 1-800-237-5712, or email WildCrime@dgif.virginia.gov.

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!

SUBSCRIBE TO VIRGINIA WILDLIFE MAGAZINE!
  • 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.
VIRGINIA WILDLIFE CATALOG

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

OUTDOOR REPORT
EDITORIAL TEAM

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.

ABOUT VDGIF
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.

Privacy Policy | {UNSUBSCRIBEHYPERLINK}

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 - www.dgif.virginia.gov