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, March 11, 2009

VDGIF is an agency of the Virginia Secretariat of Natural Resources
In this edition:
  • Smallmouth Bass River Fishing Forecast Available From Biologists
  • General Assembly Legislation of Interest to You
  • Looking Back, Moving Forward: Our Continuing Mission
  • Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss
    • 3rd Annual Mid-Atlantic Kayak Fishing Symposium in VA Beach March 14
    • Trappers Annual State Fur Auction Set for March 14 in Fishersville
    • Page Valley Sportsman's Club Hosts Youth Turkey Hunting Seminar March 28
    • Ruffed Grouse Chapter to Celebrate Arbor Day at Kane Gap Project
    • Wildlife Center Offers Rehabilitation Classes
    • Appalachian Highlands Chapter Ruffed Grouse Society Hosts Habitat Fundraiser
    • Master Naturalists to Host Training Classes March 24
    • Trout Heritage Day Celebrated April 4
    • Fly Fishing Festival April 18-19 in Waynesboro Biggest Ever!
    • Blackwater Nottoway Riverkeepers Host River Clean-up April 18
    • Holiday Lake 4-H Center Offers Bow Building Workshop
  • People and Partners in the News
    • VDGIF Hosts First National Archery in the Schools Tournament
    • Hunting & Trapping Proposed Regulation Public Input Meetings Scheduled Statewide March 23-April 1
    • Cale L. Godfrey Named Assistant Chief of Wildlife Division
    • Bald Eagle Released at Dick Cross Wildlife Management Area
    • Teen Angler Club Hosts Sportsman's Show in Orange
    • Wildlife Center of Virginia Announces Spring Open-House Schedule
  • Hunting News You Can Use
    • My Daughter's and Son's First Deer
    • Hunters Have Record Bear and Deer Harvests in 2008-09
    • Is it a Gobbler or a Hen? The Beard is Not the Best Clue!
    • Late Antlerless-Only Firearms Deer Season January 5-March 28, 2009
    • Urban Archery Season Runs Through March 28, 2009
    • Reports and Photos From Young Hunters
    • Apprentice Hunting License is a Great Way to Begin the New Year!
  • Be Safe... Have Fun!
    • No Burning Before 4 PM Until April 30
  • "Green Tips" for Outdoor Enthusiasts
    • Virginia Investigating Possible Cases of White-Nose Syndrome in Bats
    • Is Your Woodland Home at Risk From Wildfire?!
  • Habitat Improvement Tips
    • Board of Game and Inland Fisheries Takes Quail Under its Wing
    • Hummingbirds Returning Soon
    • Tree Seedlings Selling Fast; Order Yours Before They're Gone
  • Fishin' Report
    • Fishing Regulations, Where to Fish, Trout Stocking Plan and Much More; the 2009 Freshwater Fishing in Virginia Book is Now Available!
    • Sarah White's Notebook
      • Regional River and Lake Reports on Fishing Conditions
  • Virginia Conservation Police Notebook
    • Field Reports From Officers Protecting Natural Resources and People Pursuing Outdoor Recreation

Smallmouth Bass River Fishing Forecast Available From Biologists

Virginia has some of the premier smallmouth bass rivers in the country and things are looking up for 2009. VDGIF Fisheries Biologists are also continuing to lead the nation in research to learn more about how fish populations in these rivers work and how to better manage the fisheries to improve angling opportunity. Scott Smith, Fisheries Biologist in south-central Virginia and the Chairman of the VDGIF Smallmouth Bass River Technical Committee, has worked with other river biologists around the state to come up with their latest forecast of what anglers will encounter as they hit the smallmouth bass rivers this year. Scott wants anglers to know that VDGIF biologists are working hard on a number of issues facing smallmouth bass fisheries, like the fish kills on the Shenandoahs and Upper James, but overall anglers should continue to see increasing numbers of smallmouth to pursue. Any smallmouth angler will want to check out the 2009 Smallmouth Bass River Fishing Forecast as they plan their river fishing outings.

General Assembly Legislation of Interest to You

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

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

Looking Back, Moving Forward: Our Continuing Mission Video

The VDGIF is nearing its 100 year anniversary. Since the agency was founded in 1916, much of Virginia's great outdoors has been captured on film or in photographs in Virginia Wildlife Magazine and other agency publications. The Information and Education staff has been organizing and digitizing many of the archival photos, preserving them for the future. VDGIF Videographer Ron Messina also uncovered some dusty film reels and has put together a video tribute to the men and women of the Department, both past and present, whose hard work and important mission continues to this day. Some of the photos and video in this clip have not been viewed for decades.

Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss

3rd Annual Mid-Atlantic Kayak Fishing Symposium in VA Beach March 14

The 3rd Annual Mid-Atlantic Kayak Fishing Symposium, co-sponsored by Wild River Outfitters and the Virginia Beach Department of Parks and Recreation, will be held in Virginia Beach on March 14 from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. For information contact Lillie Gilbert, (757) 431-8566.

Trappers Annual State Fur Auction Set for March 14 in Fishersville

Trappers from all over the state will gather at the Augusta Expo in Fishersville on Saturday, March 14, for the Virginia Trappers Annual Fur Sale. This event is held each spring to give fur trappers an opportunity to market the fur they have caught and processed during the trapping season recently ended. Buyers from several states will be there to participate in the auction format where each seller offers his fur "on the block" and chooses whether to accept the price offered or ship his fur to an auction house on consignment, or just to take it home and wait for a better price should he/she so desire.

It is anticipated there will be about 60-75 sellers and about six buyers along with two shipping agents there Saturday. Last year over $100,000 worth of fur passed through this and a second smaller, regional sale held in southwest Virginia.

Virginia Trappers Association Past President, Ed Crebbs advises, "Those interested in learning more about marketing fur should attend this event. Many trappers will be on hand to assist beginners with any information they can provide." For information on the Fur Sale contact Glen Mabe (540) 743-2436, or visit the VTA website.

Page Valley Sportsman's Club Hosts Youth Turkey Hunting Seminar March 28

The Page Valley Sportsman's Club will host a Youth Turkey Hunting Seminar, Saturday, March 28 in Luray. This educational class will involve all aspects of turkey hunting including: safety, history and indentification, turkey calls and calling, equipment and shotgun selection, turkey hunting strategies and shotgun patterning. All students are requested to bring their own shotgun and ammunition to use for patterning their shotgun during the afternoon range exercise. Class size is limited, all participants must pre-register. Adults must bring a youth (under age 16) to attend seminar. Pre-registration is required. Contact Art Kasson for information and to register for this free seminar at 540-622-6103, or email: artkasson@yahoo.com.

Ruffed Grouse Chapter to Celebrate Arbor Day at Kane Gap Project

On Saturday, March 21, Girl Scout Troop 401 from Stickleyville, Ruffed Grouse Society Appalachian Highlands Chapter volunteers and U. S. Forest Service Biologist Lois Boggs will be at the Kane Gap Habitat Project site on the Jefferson National Forest to plant several thousand soft mast seedlings as well as other tree and shrub species to benefit wildlife. The project area is located in Lee County, near the community of Jasper. The area consists of 1200 acres broken into different projects containing temporary roads, clearings and timber harvest by logging contractors. The Ruffed Grouse Society will provide 500 tree fertilizer tablets to enhance growth of the mast seedlings for the first two years. Call Mike Giles cell phone at (276) 219-7302 for information and directions to the site.

Appalachian Highlands Chapter Ruffed Grouse Society Hosts Habitat Fundraiser

The Appalachian Highlands Chapter of the Ruffed Grouse Society Chapter will hold its 14th Annual Sportsman's Banquet at Holiday Inn in Johnson City, TN on Saturday March 28, at 5:00 p.m. There will be dinner, live auctions and raffles of fine shotguns, wildlife art and jewelry. Proceeds from this event will be dedicated to promoting conditions suitable for the grouse, woodcock and related wildlife to sustain our sport-hunting tradition and outdoor heritage. Tickets for the event are $45 for annual membership and dinner. Contact Donna Vance at (423) 357-1735 after 5 p.m. or email donna.vance@generalshale.com for additional information.

Wildlife Center Offers Rehabilitation Classes

The Wildlife Center of Virginia Outreach Coordinator and Rehabilitation Supervisor, Amanda Nicholson, announces upcoming classes for those interested in becoming trained and certified wildlife rehabilitators.

March 21: Wildlife Center of Virginia's "On the Road" classes at Bridgewater College

  • Intro to Wildlife Rehabilitation: 10:00 a.m. to noon
  • Intro to Raising Orphaned Mammals: 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

March 28: Wildlife Center of Virginia's "On the Road" classes at VDGIF Headquarters in Richmond

  • Intro to Wildlife Rehabilitation: 10:00 a.m. to noon
  • Intro to Raising Orphaned Mammals: 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

For more information, email outreach@wildlifecenter.org or visit the Wildlife Center of Virginia website.

Master Naturalists to Host Training Classes March 24

The Blue Ridge Foothills and Lakes Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalists announces the start of their 3rd training classes beginning March 24. Click here for more details.

Trout Heritage Day Celebrated April 4

On Saturday, April 4, VDGIF will host its annual Trout Heritage Day. A group of 16 waters will be freshly stocked with trout to allow trout anglers and communities to plan activities around a known stocking date. This program was added several years ago for those anglers who enjoyed and missed the old opening day. Selected waters are stocked for the first Saturday in April to create an announced stocking event. The Department has worked with the U.S. Forest Service, local communities and private landowners to provide this opportunity. During the previous Trout Heritage Days, anglers reported success on most waters and were pleased with the angling opportunity provided. The fee fishing areas are closed to angling from March 30-April 3. Heritage Waters are closed on April 3. On April 4 fishing can begin at 9:00 a.m.

Fly Fishing Festival April 18-19 in Waynesboro Biggest Ever!

Attention, fly anglers: the 9th Annual Virginia Fly Fishing Festival will be held on the banks of the South River in Waynesboro, April 18-19. This is the largest fly fishing event in the state and draws anglers from across the Mid-Atlantic. Here's where you can learn all the latest techniques and gear and then walk right over to the river and try them for yourself. Festival sponsors include The City of Waynesboro, Dominion Power, SunTrust Bank, Orvis, Brookside Flies, Water Skeeter, Virginia Sportsman, Red Fish Roy, Virginia Living, Appomattox River Company, Mid Valley Press, Garden and Gun, Temple Fork Outfitters and Waynesboro Downtown Development Inc.

Noted fly anglers from across the Mid-Atlantic will speak and demonstrate fly casting at the 2009 event, including Bob Clouser, King Montgomery, Dusty Wissmath, Capt. Brian Shumaker, Mike Smith, Eric Stroup, Gordon English, Colby and Brian Trow, Tom Brtalik, Bryan Kelly and festival artist Alan Folger. Also Beau Beasley, author of "Fly Fishing Virginia: A No Nonsense Guide to Top Waters" will be speaking and autographing copies of his book. Multiple fly tyers will also be on hand including Captain Tommy Mattioli and Walt Cary. Kayak expert Captain Cory Routh, will be on hand autographing copies of his first book, "Kayak Fishing, The Complete Guide", and giving demos riverside. This lively event features over $10,000 worth of raffle prizes, wine tasting, live riverside music and kids activities.

Daily admission to the festival is $15 per person, and the festival runs from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Click here for more information about the festival.

Blackwater Nottoway Riverkeepers Host River Clean-up April 18

The Blackwater Nottoway Riverkeepers (BNRP) will hold its annual "Clean Rivers Day" April 18. The clean-up encompasses the Blackwater/Nottoway watershed. Teams or individuals wanting to help can pick a spot they would like to clean up or have one designated. The event is staged from the city of Franklin, but you do not have to travel to Franklin to participate. Jeff Turner, BNRP Riverkeeper notes that this will be the Riverkeepers ninth clean-up, which to date has removed 53,000 pounds of trash from the watershed. BNRP is a non-profit environmental organization dedicated to protecting and preserving the Blackwater and Nottoway Rivers. For more information call: (757) 562-5173.

Holiday Lake 4-H Center Offers Bow Building Workshop

Are you interested in making your own primitive bow? Nate Mahanes, Program Director for the Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center advises that this is a unique opportunity for any archery buff to learn the skills developed by native tribes centuries ago and handcraft your own bow. Early registration is encouraged as class size is limited. For details visit the Holiday Lake 4-H website, or contact by email: nmahanes@vt.edu, or call (434) 248-5444 Fax: (434) 248-6749

People and Partners in the News

VDGIF Hosts First National Archery in the Schools Tournament

VDGIF conducted the First Annual National Archery in the Schools Program Tournament on February 28, at the Augusta Expoland in Fishersville. The tournament was held in cooperation with the Western Virginia Sport Show which attracted more than 15,000 sportsmen families. This was the first year student teams competed at the same location. This tournament was the "culminating event" for Virginia schools participating in the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP). Last year, more than 90,000 Virginia students at more than 160 schools participated in NASP. The program is coordinated by the VDGIF Outdoor Education staff. According to Outdoor Education Supervisor Karen Holson, "I'm not sure who was more excited about the archery competition, the students or the teachers. We had a fantastic turnout for our first NASP State Tournament, and these students are already planning for next year's event."

Overall State Individual Champions determined by Shoot-off
Girl Boy
Sarah Leser
Warwick High School
Wayne Veldsman
Hidden Valley High School
Overall Virginia State Champion Team
Hidden Valley High School, Roanoke, Virginia

The complete list of winners of the 2009 Virginia State NASP Tournament in 14 categories can be viewed on the VDGIF website.

Hunting & Trapping Proposed Regulation Public Input Meetings Scheduled Statewide March 23-April 1

The VDGIF Wildlife Division will hold a series of Hunting and Trapping Proposed Regulation Public Input Meetings statewide to present the proposed regulation amendments and solicit public comments presented at the February 27, 2009 Board of game and Inland Fisheries meeting in Richmond. Click here for the dates, locations and directions for the 12 meetings scheduled March 23-April 1, 2009. This Public Comment Period in which the department solicits and receives comment on the Board-Proposed Hunting and Trapping Regulation Amendments will continue till May 11. The VDGIF website online comment system will solicit, accept and transparently display citizens' comments on the Board-proposed regulation amendments, but will not be structured to solicit and display citizens' recommendations for additional regulatory actions other than those proposed by the Board.

Cale L. Godfrey Named Assistant Chief of Wildlife Division

Cale L. Godfrey has been named assistant director of the VDGIF Wildlife Division filling the vacancy created when Bob Ellis was named Wildlife Division Director. Cale Godfrey earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Science from Penn State University, then earned a Master of Science in Wildlife Sciences from Virginia Tech, where he conducted research on the Department's Cooperative Allegheny Bear Study.

Godfrey joined the VDGIF in May 1997 as a Wildlife Research Associate and worked in that position until November 1997 when he was promoted to Forest Stewardship Biologist. He worked as Forest Stewardship Biologist for VDGIF from November 1997 to June 1999. In 1999, he then moved to the position of District Wildlife Biologist for the Department. In that capacity he supervised personnel assigned to three wildlife management areas: Amelia WMA, Featherfin WMA, and Horsepen WMA. He also provided technical assistance on wildlife population and habitat management to private and public landowners. Godfrey has extensive knowledge and experience in management of farm, forest and wetland habitats. He served in the District Wildlife Biologist position until being promoted to Assistant Director of Wildlife. Godfrey is a member of The Virginia Chapter of The Wildlife Society.

Bald Eagle Released at Dick Cross Wildlife Management Area

The Wildlife Center of Virginia, a leading teaching and research hospital for native wildlife, released an adult Bald Eagle on March 9 at the VDGIF Dick Cross Wildlife Management Area near South Hill. Participating in the release was Ed Clark, President and co-founder of the Wildlife Center and staff from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries [VDGIF] who helped in the rescue of this eagle, including Conservation Police Officer Sergeant Robbie Everidge. The eagle was hit by a truck at milepost 17 on I-95 on February 16, at about 7:30 a.m. Sergeant Everidge was called to the scene and found the bird, alive, on the side of the road. The eagle escaped capture by flying off a bridge and into the Otter Dam swamp. Sergeant Everidge developed a plan to rescue the eagle and returned to the site with a cage borrowed from the Greensville County Animal Control and, with an assist from volunteer transporter Clarke Brady, transported the eagle to the Center's clinic in Waynesboro.

"This eagle is a case study of what can be achieved through the cooperation of concerned citizens, state officials and a non-profit organization, speedy action probably helped save this eagle's life," according to Clark. "In animal medicine, as is true for humans, time is of the essence – quick medical intervention can make a huge difference," Clark said. "If this bird had spent much time on the ground – likely in some state of shock, unable to fly well and with open wounds – its chances of survival would have decreased greatly. Our thanks to the timely and determined help of the VDGIF law enforcement officers." In 1977, there were fewer than 50 bald eagle nests in Virginia. Today, the bald eagle population in Virginia is on the rebound. There are now more than 500 active bald eagle nests in the Commonwealth.

For details of the rescue read "the rest of the story" in the Conservation Police Officers Notebook.

The Dick Cross Wildlife Management Area, operated by VDGIF, is located in Mecklenburg County, along the north side of the Roanoke River. The area's 1,400 acres include nearly 300 acres of broad flood plain, or bottomland, with numerous wetland impoundments, totaling about 165 acres, managed for waterfowl. A number of Bald Eagles winter in and around the Wildlife Management Area (WMA). The WMA is named for the late Dick Cross – former VDGIF Executive Director and wildlife biologist and a friend of the Wildlife Center. For more information contact: Randy Huwa, WCV Information at (540) 942-9453 rhuwa@wildlifecenter.org.

Wildlife Center of Virginia Announces Spring Open-House Schedule

The Wildlife Center of Virginia, the nation's leading teaching and research hospital for native wildlife, has scheduled five open houses for Spring 2009. These are rare opportunities to see the inner workings of the nation's premier wildlife hospital, as well as meet some of the wildlife that serve as the Center's education ambassadors. All the open houses will be held on Sundays: March 15 and 29 and April 5 and 19.

There is no charge to participate in an open house; however, reservations are required (540) 942-9453 or wildlife@wildlifecenter.org. A limited number of spaces are available for each session.

Teen Angler Club Hosts Sportsman's Show in Orange March 7-8

The 5th Annual Orange County Fishing and Sportsman Show was held March 7-8 at the Hornet Sports Center in Orange. This unique show is sponsored by the "Nation's Outstanding Junior B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Chapter", the Orange County High School 4-H and B.A.S.S. Angler's Club. There were exhibits featuring hunting and fishing guides, gear, artwork, taxidermy, boats and more. Teen club members showed younger kids fishing techniques in the trout fishing pond for kids. Young anglers also participated in an official ESPN BASS Casting Kids Competition. The Virginia Trappers Association promoted Project Healing Waters which provides rehabilitative fishing opportunities for wounded veterans, cancer survivors and others with disabilities. VDGIF and other conservation organizations provided information on the great fishing and skill building workshop opportunities statewide. There were seminars on all kinds of fishing and VDGIF Volunteer Boating Education Instructors conducted boater safety classes throughout the weekend. For information on how you can start a Teen Angler's club in your school, contact Becky Gore, Youth Advisor OCHS Anglers, at (540) 661-4300 ext 1154. There are currently similar Clubs in Frederick County, Warrenton and Broad Run High School in Loudoun. Get your kids hooked on fishing!

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.

Thanks for Sharing... We received a great response from our readers with inspiring stories of new hunters- both young and old, that we want to share with you . Congratulations to the dads and moms and sons and daughters for discovering the passion for the outdoors and mentoring novice hunters resulting in wonderful experiences and memories to last a lifetime.

David Coffman, Editor

Travis Jones from Warrenton sent us two great stories of hunts with his daughter and son...

Since my nine year-old daughter Erin did not have any luck for her first year of deer hunting last season during general firearms, we decided to increase her odds by getting her out during early muzzleloader season this year. My Dad, Hunter Education Instructor Mike Jones, built her a special cut down stock .45 cal. Thompson Center Arms muzzleloader… not 20 minutes after first light I was getting Erin up from a semi-sleep state still and up to the gun while the buck was walking behind a log with growth. The buck stopped just past the growth in the open and right before she pulled the trigger he started moving again about 20 yards away and I had to grunt to stop him. Now he was looking right at us. I said, "You still see him in the scope?" and she says "no!" So I think quick and reach up and dial the scope from 4x to 2x. She says, I need to move the gun, I'm like oh my..., she moves it slightly and in the mean time she's doing what her father did many years ago for his first buck....she goes to look through scope and says "oh crud!", its fogged up (from breathing so hard getting excited). Her little fingers start wiping the scope and my heart is pounding thinking this buck isn't going to stand there forever. She keeps her composure and gets the scope back on the buck. I say do you see him and she says yeah. I said now take good aim, but you need to shoot as soon as you can....boom! I jump up to see the seven point buck running tail tucked. He didn't run far- good shot Erin!

Attached is a photo of the proud grandfather Michael Jones and his granddaughter Erin with the special gun and trophy!

My son three weeks later got his first deer this year also.

Erin's younger brother of 8 got his first deer, a big doe, from the same stand as his sister. It was the best! Ryan being a boy is a lot harder to keep focused, not fidget, or get bored compared to his sister. After an hour and a half and not one deer sighting I had promised we could get out of the stand and walk some, at 8 a.m. At 8 a.m. I said let's give it 15 more minutes and he agreed since we had just been sitting there telling knock-knock jokes and generally just laughing and enjoying the time together. Within two minutes we had three deer show up and 10 minutes of watching and doe bleating it ended with an incredible well placed 35 yard shot with his Remington 870 Express Jr in 20 gauge shooting 3 inch # 3 buck. When the gun boomed the doe dropped in her tracks. I was then greeted with a turn of the head and a grin a mile wide saying oh my gosh I got a deer! High fives and hugs followed.

Hunters Have Record Bear and Deer Harvests in 2008-09

Wildlife biologists with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) have compiled preliminary figures for bear, deer and turkey harvests for the 2008-09 fall seasons. Wildlife Division Director Robert Ellis commented, "Notable results of the 2008-09 seasons include record black bear and white-tailed deer harvests. While the fall turkey harvest was down, clearly there is good hunting to be had in the Commonwealth."

Black Bear -- A record number of 2,204 bears were harvested during the 2008-09 Virginia bear seasons. The figure represents the combined kill from archery, muzzleloader and firearms. Bear Project Leader Jaime Sajecki, noted, "This year's record harvest was 35% higher than the previous record of 1,633 bears set in the 2006-07 bear seasons." The harvest in 2007-08 was 1,517 bears. West Virginia also had a record bear harvest this year. Read more »

White-tailed Deer -- During the 2008-09 deer season, a total of 253,678 deer were harvested by hunters in Virginia. Deer Project Leader Matt Knox, announced, "This new record represents a 4% increase from the 242,792 deer reported killed last year. The harvest is also 16% higher than the last 10 year average of 212,780 deer killed by hunters." Read more »

Fall Wild Turkey -- Fall turkey hunters harvested 3,505 birds in the 2008-09 season. This was 26% below last year's reported kill (4,759 wild turkeys). Small Game Furbearer Program Manager Gary Norman indicated the harvest decline was a result of several factors including poor reproduction, good mast conditions, and fall season regulation changes. Read more »

The Department would like to thank those hunters and game check stations for providing the wing feather samples so reproduction can be monitored. These data help the Department gain a better understanding of turkey population trends and harvests.

For more information about Black Bear, White-tailed Deer, and Wild Turkeys, visit the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries website. The website also contains information about wildlife management, hunting regulations, and hunting opportunities within the Commonwealth.

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

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

Deer Hunting Opportunities Still Available

Late Antlerless-Only Firearms Deer Season January 5 - March 28, 2009

Hunters are reminded of the special late antlerless-only firearms deer season January 5 - March 28, 2009, in the counties (including the cities and towns within) of Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun, and Prince William, except on Department-owned lands.

  • To firearms deer hunt on private lands in Fairfax County a special landowner permit is required. Contact the Div. of Animal Control, 4500 West Ox Road, Fairfax, VA 22030 for details. No special police permit is required for archery deer hunting.

Urban Archery Season Runs Through March 28, 2009

Don't hang up your bow just yet—opportunities still exist for archery deer hunting across Virginia. To assist towns and cities with urban deer management issues, the Department established an urban archery season in 2002. This year, the season extends until March 28, 2009, in 21 localities. Due to these areas being more developed, there may be additional restrictions for safety measures that hunters must follow.

According to Deer Project Coordinator Nelson Lafon, "The Urban Archery season plays an important role in managing human-deer conflicts. It allows participating towns, cities and counties to address the problems of too many deer while offering sportsmen a chance to hunt in these areas."

To find which of the 21 participating localities is near you, visit the Department's website.

Reports and Photos From Young Hunters

How did you do? Send stories and photos to dgifweb@dgif.virginia.gov. If we use your story that includes a youth or first time hunter, you'll receive a complementary Virginia Wildlife hat!

Apprentice Hunting License is a Great Way to Begin the New Year!

With the upcoming Spring Gobbler season, it's a great time to introduce a youngster or new adult hunter to the sport by getting an Apprentice Hunting License. Also, the special Youth Spring Turkey Hunt Day scheduled for April 4, 2009, is only three weeks away. An apprentice license can be purchased by a new hunter before successfully completing the Department's hunter education course. However, apprentice hunters are reminded they still have to comply with this education requirement before legally purchasing a state resident or nonresident basic hunting license. Be sure to check out the new Apprentice Hunting License video VDGIF has posted to its website. The video is an overview of how the new Apprentice Hunter program works. Watch the video and consider becoming a mentor to a friend or family member who's always wanted to try hunting.

What are you waiting for? Call toll-free 1-866-721-6911 for more information.

Be Safe... Have Fun!

No Burning Before 4 PM Until April 30

All outdoorsmen are reminded that the "4 PM Burn Law" is in effect from February 15 until April 30 to help prevent forest fires. The law bans all open air burning, including campfires, before 4 PM if your fire is within 300 feet of the woods, brush, or dry grass which can carry the fire to the woods. You are allowed to burn debris or have campfires between 4 PM and midnight, as long as you take proper care and precaution and attend your fire at all times. Read the Virginia Department of Forestry's Frequently Asked Questions: Can I Burn? to learn more.

"This law is one of the most effective tools we have in the prevention of wildfires," advised John Miller, director of resource protection at the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF). "Each late winter and early spring, downed trees, branches and leaves become 'forest fuels' that increase the danger of a forest fire. By adhering to the law, people are less likely to start a fire that threatens them, their property and the forests of Virginia."

"Green Tips" For Outdoor Enthusiasts

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

Virginia Investigating Possible Cases of White-Nose Syndrome in Bats
Asking Cavers, Owners of Caves to Help by Reducing Cave Traffic

VDGIF is investigating two recent potential occurrences of white-nose syndrome (WNS) in bats in Virginia. While conducting winter surveys of caves where bats hibernate, known as hibernacula, biologists and volunteers from VDGIF, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Virginia Speleological Survey discovered bats that showed signs of WNS in Breathing Cave in Bath County. Soon after, similar symptoms were found in bats in Clover Hollow Cave in Giles County. Specimens were collected and sent to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wisconsin, for analysis. It will take from two to three weeks for results to be available.

Little is known about WNS, but one common symptom in these cases is the presence of this newly-identified fungus. How the fungus affects bats remains unclear. WNS depletes fat reserves during hibernation and is almost always fatal to affected bats. No known human health issues have been identified. During the summer and early fall in Virginia, bats feed on insects and build body fat reserves critical for successful hibernation and survival through the winter months. Bat colonies consume thousands of insects in a single night, including mosquitoes and beetles. During hibernation, the metabolism of bats slows dramatically, virtually shutting down, to conserve fat reserves. Bats emerge in the spring ready to consume insects, give birth, raise their young pups, and continue their life cycle.

Asking Cavers, Owners of Caves to Help by Reducing Cave Traffic

Due to concerns about spread of WNS, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries has closed the caves on its wildlife management areas until more is known about the transport of the syndrome. The Department will be asking private landowners with caves on their properties to consider closing their caves temporarily. Caving groups and individuals who enjoy caving are being asked to respect this temporary closure of Virginia caves and to suspend recreational and research caving activities until more information about the cause and spread of WNS can be determined.

Is Your Woodland Home at Risk From Wildfire?!

Last weekend Virginia experienced conditions to create the "perfect firestorm"... dry woodland fuels, low humidity and strong, gusting winds. Add a careless act like tossing a cigarette, or burning trash and a hot ember can quickly become a raging inferno destroying property and putting lives at risk. Many people don't realize that they face serious wildfire danger. If you live in or near forests or other wildland fuels, you are at risk. Visit the Virginia Department of Forestry website for 25 Firewise Tips and actions you need to take to create a Wildfire-Defensible Space to protect your home and property from wildfires.

Habitat Improvement Tips

Board of Game and Inland Fisheries Takes Quail Under its Wing
Board makes Quail Action Plan a priority for Department of Game and Inland Fisheries

"Bob-white, Bob-white" was a frequent bird call heard across Virginia some forty years ago. Today, with the loss of habitat, Northern Bobwhite Quail numbers have fallen off and are heard far less frequently. Virginia has not only seen a decline in these great birds but also a decline in the hunters devoted to pursuing them. Fewer quail hunters translates into lost hunting revenue for some of the Commonwealth's most rural areas. According to data in the Virginia Quail Action Plan, "In 1991, the direct contribution of quail hunters to the Virginia economy was estimated to be nearly $26 million and the total economic impact approached $50 million…The total loss to the Virginia economy was more than $23 million from declining quail hunter expenditures between 1991 and 2004."

At its meeting on Friday, February 27, 2009, the Board of Game and Inland Fisheries made a bold statement by declaring quail restoration work to be one of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) highest priorities. The Board, comprised of 11 representatives from across the state, reviewed the Virginia Quail Action Plan presented by staff and committed to funding the plan for the next five years. Past plans had failed to meet goals because they were not fully funded and staffed. The current Board made it clear that they do not want the bobwhite quail to take a backseat to other species any longer.

Large-scale habitat restoration and education will be needed. Despite a tightening budget, VDGIF Director Bob Duncan commented, "I am optimistic we will find a way to fund this important work." Duncan added, "We would welcome financial support from partners and other interested quail enthusiasts to carry this forward." A that same meeting Wildlife Division Director Bob Ellis recognized the contributions of the Virginia Quail Council, a group of conservation organizations actively supporting the Virginia Quail Action Plan through the promotion and application of land management practices and programs that increase the quality and quantity of quail habitat on agricultural and forested landscapes. Many have already signed a Memorandum of Understanding supporting the Virginia Quail Action Plan.

A copy of the Virginia Quail Action Plan and Virginia Quail Council members can be viewed on the Department's website.

Hummingbirds Returning Soon

Get ready to hang out your hummingbird feeder — the ruby-throats are making their annual spring comeback. These fast-flying acrobats of the air are steadily moving their way up the East Coast and have already been documented in some Tidewater areas and other parts of Virginia (you can view a map of the 2009 migration route at hummingbirds.net). Check the VDGIF website's "Hummingbird Tidbits" for some great pictures and tips about welcoming back these charming nectar seekers.

Tree Seedlings Selling Fast; Order Yours Before They're Gone

Each year, the Virginia Department of Forestry grows and sells more than 33 million tree seedlings. And every year, many of the 45 species sell out before the harvest season ends in April. If you are looking to plant tree seedlings or reforest your land this year, you still have a few weeks remaining to order your seedlings. But don't wait too much longer as several species, including Black Cherry, Red Maple, Sycamore, Crab Apple and Yellow Poplar, have already sold out. Landowners may still purchase seed mixes, shrubs and quality bare-root tree seedlings in specialty packets for wildlife habitat enhancement, water shed protection, fall and spring colors and timber management. For product information, pricing and ordering go to the Virginia Department of Forestry's website.

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) website.

Fishing Regulations, Where to Fish, Trout Stocking Plan, and Much More; the 2009 Freshwater Fishing in Virginia Book is Now Available!

The new 2009 Freshwater Fishing in Virginia (Fishing Regulations) book has been published and a copy can be obtained at all license agents and Department offices. VDGIF Fisheries Division Director, Gary Martel, notes, "This publication not only contains the fishing regulations, but an extensive "Let's Go Fishing" section, with information about major sport fish, public fishing lakes, major fishing rivers, and the trout stocking program. Also, you can find information about fish citations, state records, angling education programs, exotic species, and more." The Freshwater Fishing Regulations section and the complete Trout Guide on our website have also been updated for 2009.

Sara White's Notebook

Fishing With Your Computer

You know what noodleing is? That's where you stick your hand under the edge of the lake or stream bank and grab whatever catfish or turtle that you feel…then count your fingers. There is another way to find fish that's almost as fun, Googling. Just bring google up on your computer and type in the fish that you want to know about. Caution! There is no standard for accuracy on the internet, so don't necessarily believe everything you read. Let's try it: Shellcracker...

Shellcracker - Red Ear Sunfish (Lepomis microlophus) are a favorite of fishermen. They grow big and fight hard, and taste great when fried. They are also known as chinquapin, stump knocker and yellow bream.

  • Shellcracker Description - Light green to brown on the back with darker spots, fading to gray or silver sides. Belly from head to tail is light yellow to white. The head is mottled with brown to dark orange spots. The ear flap has a red or orange spot which gives it the name Red Ear Sunfish.
  • Shellcracker Size - World record is 5 pounds, 7 ounces. Most will run from 8 to 11 inches long as adults and weigh ¾ to 1 pound.
  • Shellcracker Distribution - Native to the US Gulf states from Texas to Florida and north to Indiana and North Carolina. Transplants have expended their range to the West Coast and north to the Great Lakes. Can be found in brackish waters, too.
  • What Shellcracker Eat - Freshwater mussels, snails, worms, shrimp, insects and grubs.

Now you know more about shell crackers; so give it a try it with your favorite fish!

Region 1 - Tidewater

Mid Point of the Potomac: Warbird Outdoors (703) 878-3111. Terry Olinger reports that bass are starting to bite pretty good, especially down 30 to 40 feet on spinners and jigs. Crappie are also responding well around docks and brush piles. Large cats are still being brought to boat; one angler landed a 73 pounder. Reports of a good yellow perch catches are beginning to surface. No word on bream or bluegill. The water is stained and 43 degrees.

Beaverdam Swamp Reservoir: Park ranger Eddie Hester has great news for local anglers. The weather this past weekend was as good as it gets with temperatures on Saturday being around 78 degree and on Sunday in the 80s. The Park was full of visitors enjoying the nice weather. Anglers also took advantage of the great weather to try their luck. Last week Charles Blum of Newport News caught a bass weighting 7 pounds 14 ounces and three other nice bass using a crankbait . Mark Chalkley of Aylett, caught a 15 inch crappie that weighed 1 pound 6 ounces. Ron Phillips of Dewitt, also caught a crappie that was 16 inches and weighed 2 pounds 2 ounces, and a 25 inch chain pickerel. When the water temperature reaches the mid 50s fishing will be red hot. Beaverdam will hold its first bass tournament of the year on March 21, and with the improving weather conditions, should expect to see some really nice bass at the weigh in. The tournament will start at 6:00 a.m. and the weigh in will be held at 3:00 p.m. Limited spots for the March 21 tournament are still available. Water temperature is 48 degrees, slightly stained and at full pool.

Virginia Beach: Captain Jim Brincefiled (443) 336-8756. The trusty captain tells us that a few rockfish are still hanging around Cape Henry. Remember that at this time of year, you must release any rockfish you bring up and always check for the most current regulations before heading out. As the weather warms up around the end of the month, look for the croaker and tauttog action to pick up. For more information about fishing the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, Captain Jim recommends checking out www.tidalfish.com. The water is clear and around 40 degrees.

Blackwater/Nottoway Rivers: Jeff Turner reports that shad, stripers and white perch are still not biting great yet. Jeff tried them on the 7th, but the Nottoway was high and muddy and the water temps were around the 40 degrees. With warmer weather on its way the chances are good for an improved bite from these species later in week. However, I did really great with largemouth bass catching 7 up to 5 pounds 2 ounces, with one also going close to 5 pounds. All were caught in the warmer back end of creeks using a 4 inch AC Shiner. Blackwater Nottoway Riverkeeper is a non-profit environmental organization dedicated to protecting and preserving the Blackwater & Nottoway Rivers.

Chickahominy River: River's Rest (804) 829-2753. Things have been slow, Charlie Brown says. The cold weather has kept anglers away. A few anglers have braved the weather as temperatures begin to warm and have been rewarded with some good catches, but nothing earthshaking in size or numbers. The water is clear and in the 40s.

North Landing River and Back Bay: Dewey Mullins reports that bass fishing has been slow. Cats are biting well on cut bait and night crawlers. White perch are going for small spinners, beetle spins and night crawlers. Crappie should be out soon, as will bluegill as water temps begin to warm. No word on stripers. In a week or so Dewey says things should be "in full swing". The water is dingy and in the 50s.

Norfolk Lakes: Dashiell's Show Room (757) 539-7854. Drew Dixon says that fishing has been slow due to the cold weather. No word on bass, cats or bluegill. One lucky angler did land a limit of crappie on minnows. The water is clear and around 40 degrees. Our man in the boat, Willard A. Mayes reports that he went to Nottoway Falls and landed 15 bluegill on a fly rod and 2 bass on popping bugs. A trip to Picket Reservoir with friends resulted in 53 crappies, from 8 to 12 inches long. Talk about good eating!

Region 2 - Southside

Smith Mountain Lake: Mike Snead (540) 721-4867. Big lakes produce big reports. Anglers will find things are warming up in southwest Virginia. This past weekend the temperatures around Smith Mountain Lake reached 70 degrees and that melted the remainder of the snow that fell earlier in the week. Lake surface water temperatures have increased about five degrees since the first of the month. The sea gull population is thinning out as the "threadfin die off" we experienced this winter winds down, no longer providing the gulls easy meals. As is typical this time of year there is fairly a wide range in surface temperatures around the lake, but they are up everywhere. The water will be warmer in the afternoon, on shallow water flats, windblown shorelines and in the backs of shallow water coves and guts, especially on days when the sun is overhead. High daytime temperatures will be in the 60s and 70s through midweek and then will drop into the upper 40-degree range as a cool front moves into our area on Thursday. The high temperature should be back up above 50 degrees by this weekend and is expected to stay there for most of the following week. The lows at night will be in the 50s through Wednesday before dropping with the cool front, but they are not expected to fall much below 35 degrees. We expect to see several periods of precipitation over the next couple of weeks and we will have plenty of moonlight at night with a full moon this Wednesday the 11th and a last quarter moon on March 18th.

Fishing continues to be mixed and patterns continue to change as the water warms and the days become progressively longer. Some bass are already starting to move up and while catching good numbers of quality fish has proven to be challenging for many, a number of anglers have been catching nice fish, especially when they locate several that are holding in the same area. Spinner baits (Pulsator, Terminator) and swimjigs are working on points and warmer rocky windblown banks. Several anglers report catching bass within a foot of the bank. Bass in deeper water are being caught on Carolina rigs and football head jigs with plastic trailers by companies including Deep Creek Lures, Netbait and ZOOM. Another family of lures that have been working are crankbaits. These include medium and deep diving traditional crankbaits by Strike King, Bomber and others as well as the lipless baits like the Bill Lewis Rat-L-Trap, One Knocker and Xcalibur Rattle Bait. Suspended fish continue to be caught on jigging spoons including the Luhr Jensen Smashflash, Hopkins Shorty and Kastmaster. The jigging spoon bite for both bass and stripers has reportedly improved quite a bit now that the threadfin "die off" appears to be ending.

Bass continue to be caught on shaky head jigs rigged with small, floating, finesse worms and crawfish imitating plastics under docks. The crawfish I am catching at my dock in about five feet of water continue to be brown in color with just a hint of green. We just added the "Cheeseburger Jigs" made famous by local angler Steve Roberts in the shop. He has a brown colored jig called "Gold" that looks good. We also had Bill Easterly stop by the shop last week. Bill made a number of his new camo colored jigs. These jigs have great early spring crawfish colors and as is the case with all of Bill's lures are made with the finest materials available.

Another species that is becoming more active is the crappie. Crappies are being caught in fairly deep water on traditional live bait rigs using small "crappie" minnows. Many anglers report the bite is still extremely light and that minnows are out fishing artificials by a huge margin. One of the more popular hooks for crappie is the Eagle Claw gold, thin wire, straight shank hook in a size #4 or #6. Most anglers use light line and gently pinch a couple of small or medium split shot on the line 15 to 20 inches above the hook. The minnow can be hooked either through the lips (from the bottom to the top) or through the top of the back behind the dorsal fin. While the crappies are generally still deep, they are being located at different depths depending on the section of the lake, water temperature, water clarity and the available structure. Many crappie are being reported in the top of submerged brush and trees from 12 to 20 feet below the surface. As the water warms, they will move up in the water column.

Striper fishing is improving, especially for those who like to cast and retrieve bucktails, flukes and plugs and to fish with live bait. Stripers are being caught using live bait and this past weekend several were reported caught by anglers pulling bait behind planer boards on shallow points, humps and flats. Fishermen using live bait are also having success on "downlines" to fish that are from 21 to 60 feet deep. Alewives and small gizzard shad have been the bait of choice. Stripers are also being caught using jigging spoons and flukes rigged on ½ and ¾ ounce jigheads. This bite virtually disappea

red when the threadfin started dying, but appears to be on the rebound. Casting and retrieving bucktails and flukes on 1/4 and 3/8 ounce jigheads is also working. This bite is particularly good late in the day just before sunset and often better off the sides of points and humps. Casting and retrieving topwater plugs and shallow divers with rattles on long points are also working well early, late and at night. Trolling is still producing an occasional striper. Umbrella rigs are out producing the conventional three-way rigs with Swimshad and Sutton spoons and the slower the trolling speed the better.

James River at Lynchburg: Angler's Lane (434) 385-0200. Doug Lane tells us that smallmouth bass in the area are responding well to the Kreel Claw fly, sizes 2 through 6. Brook trout are going for the Caddis Fly or the Flashback Hare's Ear, each in sizes 10 through 14. No word on cats. The water is clear and 45 degrees in the river and 42 in the nearby mountains.

Kerr Reservoir: Bob Cat's Lake Country Store. According to the folks at Bob Cat's, stripers are biting at the mouths of creeks, especially for anglers who troll with jumbo shiners and other live bait. Cats are being landed

around Clarksville, 10 to 20 feet down on cut bait and shiners. Bass action has been slow, but will begin to pick up as the weather warms. Your best bet is to look around red clay or rocky points. Try suspended jerk bait. The water is stained and around 50 degrees.

Lake Gaston: Holly Grove Marina (434) 636-3455. Craig Karpinski let me know that bass angling is picking up, especially when rattletraps and suspended baits are used. Crappie are slow, but a few nice size ones are starting to respond to small minnows and jigs. Cats are slow bite, but some can be had with fresh cut bait. Bluegill are somewhat active for small minnows. Perch have been slow. The water is cloudy and in the mid to high 40s.

Region 3 - Southwest

Claytor Lake: Rock House Marina Mike Burchett reports that bass have been "phenomenal" with Lucky Craft jerkbaits in chartreuse shad and American shad color. Ima Flips are also doing well. No word on crappie, but Mike says it's "about time" for them to start hitting big. Yellow perch are biting "extremely well" on small jigging spoons and small jigs. Stripers are just starting to go for live bait or trolling umbrella rigs 30 to 40 feet down. No word on cats or bluegill. The water is clear, in the low to mid 40s and is rapidly rising.

Region 4 - Mountain and Shenandoah Valley

North Fork of the Shenandoah: Murray's Fly Shop. Harry told me that smallmouth bass streams are warming quickly. Fish deep with nymphs and streamers, such as Murray's Heavy Hellgrammite Black size 6 and Murray's Strymph Olive size 6. Water is very clear and 49 degrees. Stocked trout streams have good water levels and the water is very clear. Good fishing can be had at Big Stony Creek west of Edinburg and in the Jackson River. Try a Black Strymph size 10 or a Pearl Marauder sizes 10 and 12. In the delay harvest streams the aforementioned flies can be used. As warmer weather approaches and hatches should be more prominent, dry fly fishing should begin to pick up. A Royal Wolf or Mr. Rapidan dry fly size 18 could be just the ticket. Water levels are good due to heavy snow and very clear. Don't forget to check Harry's website on Friday for a more complete stream report.

Region 5 - Northern Piedmont

Lake Anna: Wayne Olsen (540) 894-8333. Wayne reports that bass are being "moody" down lake and not responding well, but that this should improve as the weather does. Mid and up lake, bass are biting well, especially on spinners, jerkbaits and crankbaits. Crappie are still in schools and are just about ready to "bust out". Give the weather a little time to improve and then look for crappie around the brush piles, beaver huts and good docks. No word on cats or bluegill. Up lake the water is 51 degrees and stained; mid lake it's 48 degrees and clear and down lake it's 53 degrees and clear.

NOTICE: All anglers are reminded to acquaint themselves with a good description of the northern snakehead fish. 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.

Injured Eagle Rescued by Conservation Officers... The Wildlife Center of Virginia, a leading teaching and research hospital for native wildlife, released an adult Bald Eagle on March 9 at the Dick Cross Wildlife Management Area near South Hill. Ed Clark, President and co-founder of the Wildlife Center noted, "This eagle is a case study of what can be achieved through the cooperation of concerned citizens, state wildlife officers, and a non-profit organization." According to Clark speedy action by VDGIF Conservation Police Officers (CPO) helped save this eagle's life.

On February 16, at about 7:30 a.m., the Bald Eagle was hit by a truck at milepost 17 on I-95. CPO Sergeant Robert Everidge was called to the scene and found the bird, alive, on the side of the road. The eagle escaped capture by flying off a bridge and into the Otter Dam swamp. Sergeant Everidge returned to the site at about 4:30 p.m. and saw that the eagle was close to the same spot in the swamp. He contacted CPOs John Rush and Brandon Woodruff and planned a rescue effort for the next morning. On February 17, Sergeant Everidge and CPOs Rush and Woodruff entered the swamp and successfully captured the eagle. They borrowed a cage from the Greensville County Animal Control and, with an assist from volunteer transporter Clarke Brady, transported the eagle to the Center's clinic in Waynesboro by shortly after noon.

At the Center, the eagle received medication and treatment for its injuries and elevated lead levels in its blood. The eagle responded well to treatment and was moved to a small outdoor pen and later after rehabilitation, moved to one of the Center's 100-foot flight pens, where it demonstrated that it was able to fly. "In animal medicine, as is true for humans, time is of the essence – quick medical intervention can make a huge difference," Clark said. "If this bird had spent much time on the ground – likely in some state of shock, unable to fly well, and with open wounds – its chances of survival would have decreased greatly. Our thanks to the timely and determined help of the VDGIF law enforcement officers to rescue this magnificent bird."

The eagle was released at the Dick Cross Wildlife Management Area, operated by VDGIF in Mecklenburg County along the north side of the Roanoke River. The area's 1,400 acres include nearly 300 acres of broad flood plain, or bottomland, with numerous wetland impoundments, totaling about 165 acres, managed for waterfowl. A number of Bald Eagles winter in and around the Management Area. The Area is named for the late Dick Cross – former VDGIF Executive Director and wildlife biologist and a friend of the Wildlife Center. It was a fitting place to release this fully rehabilitated eagle back to the wild given the circumstances of its rescue by VDGIF officers.

Fishing trespass complaint leads to marijuana grower... On Wednesday, February 11, Senior Officer Greg Funkhouser and Officer John Koloda received information concerning a trespass to fish complaint on a private section of Barbour's Creek in Craig County. Acting on information gathered from the complainant, officers went to a residence on Blacksburg Road in Roanoke County to interview one of the suspects. Upon arrival at the suspect's residence at approximately 1915 hours, the suspect walked out onto the porch and then quickly run back into the house when he saw the officers. After a few minutes the suspect came back to the front door and spoke with the officers. While speaking with the officers, the suspect had to be reminded several times to keep his hands out of his pockets for officer safety reasons. As the suspect took his hands out of his pockets on one occasion, officers detected a small baggy of marijuana in one of his pockets. After seizing the marijuana, officers gained consent to search the residence. While searching the residence, officers located additional marijuana, numerous devices used for smoking methamphetamine, 3 firearms, and an active marijuana grow room with 45 marijuana plants. The suspect was taken into custody and charged with trespassing to fish, possession of marijuana, unlawfully manufacturing marijuana, possession of methamphetamine, and possession of firearms while manufacturing marijuana.

To learn more about Virginia conservation police officers visit the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries website.

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 upcoming editions of the Outdoor Report, look for:

  • Virginia Bird Conservation Initiative (VABCI) Website Now Online
  • Spring Gobbler Hunting Tips
  • Kid's Fishing Days
  • Trout Heritage Days
Artwork copyright Spike Knuth.
 
VDGIF INVESTIGATING POSSIBLE CASES OF WHITE-NOSE SYNDROME IN BATS

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is investigating a potential occurrence of white-nose syndrome (WNS) in bats in Virginia. We have found bats exhibiting symptoms similar to WNS cases in other states. We are sending bats to be tested. As soon as we have the results back, which could take as much as two to three weeks, we will provide more information. At this time, we are working with other state and federal agencies. Read more »

The "Be Wild! Live Wild! Grow Wild!" section will not be included in the March 2009 Special Photography Contest edition of Virginia Wildlife Magazine since the entire edition is dedicated to the photography contest winners.

One of the winning photographs in the March 2009 Special Photography Contest edition of Virginia Wildlife magazine features a stunning photo by Roddy Addington of spelunkers in Wildcat Saltpeter cave in Big Stone Gap. When you think cave, you also think bats! With the attention to White nose syndrome in bats detailed in the "Green Tips" For Outdoor Enthusiasts Section of the Outdoor Report, we are featuring an endangered species, the Gray Bat.

Gray Bat
(Myotis grisescens)

by Spike Knuth

The gray bat is a medium sized, short-eared bat with short, soft , russet and gray-brown fur that is distinctive by being uniform in color. The attachment of their wings is also unique to this breed. They weigh 1/4 to 3/8 ounces and have a total length of 3-4 inches. This species mates in the fall after their arrival at hibernating caves but the single young is not born till June in maternity colony caves. They disperse to summer caves in late July after weaning. They are carried by the mother for several days, then left clinging to the ceiling of the cave. When disturbed many lose their grip or drop from the mother and perish on the floor, which is why it is so important not to disturb these caves. This species migrates between winter and summer caves in large flocks, a distance up to 300 miles. This species is insectivorous. They consume newly hatched aquatic insects and in late summer when they become rare, beetles and oak weevils become their principal foods.

There are only half a dozen caves that are used for these hibernating sites and none are protected, hence why this bat is on the federal endangered species list. This species is limited by human disturbance, siltation, impoundments and cave flooding. They forage nightly over rivers and trees along banks. The gray bat has been known to live up to 12 years. This species was reported from Scott County and Lee County in August 1977. A summer colony of about 3000 gray bats was discovered in Washington County in 1988. Only summer roosts have been found.

For more information on gray bats, please visit the Virginia Fish & Wildlife Information Service.

·    ·    ·

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 "Be Wild! Live Wild! Grow Wild!" section of each issue of Virginia Wildlife magazine highlighted here in the Outdoor Report each edition, features one of the 925 animals that have been identified in Virginia's Wildlife Action Plan whose existence is at risk.

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.

·    ·    ·

The March 2009 edition of Virginia Wildlife Magazine contains the following photo contest categories:

Scenic Seasons

Cold and Clammy Critters

The Sporting Life

Marvelous Mammals

A Bug's Life

Birds of a Feather

Fantastic Flowers

Kids and Cameras

Not a subscriber? Purchase a copy of the March 2009 issue for just $4!

If you would like to become a regular subscriber to Virginia Wildlife magazine, visit the Department's website, 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.

  • UPCOMING EVENTS
    February 2009
    General Assembly In Session Through March More »
    27-Mar 15 Bass Pro Shops Spring Fishing Classic, Ashland
    March 2009
    1, 15 and 29 and April 5 and 19 Wildlife Center of Virginia Spring Open-House, Waynesboro reservations are required (540) 942-9453 or wildlife@wildlifecenter.org.
    11 Western Virginia Land Trust Conservation Easement Workshop - Patrick Henry Community College, Martinsville. For details call (540) 985-0000 or email.
    12 Western Virginia Land Trust Conservation Easement Workshop - Gereau Center, Rocky Mount. For details call (540) 985-0000 or email.
    13-15 Wilderness Survival & Outdoor Skills Weekend, Appomattox. Click here for PDF
    14 Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Fundraiser, Richmond. For more information: Contact Wayne Martin at (804) 737-1594
    14 Virginia Trappers Association Annual Fur Sale ExpoLand, Fishersville
    14 3rd Annual Mid-Atlantic Kayak Fishing Symposium VA Beach contact Lillie Gilbert, (757) 431-8566
    16 Western Virginia Land Trust Conservation Easement Workshop - Bedford Central Library, Bedford. For details call (540) 985-0000 or email.
    19 Western Virginia Land Trust Conservation Easement Workshop - Patrick County Library, Stuart. For details call (540) 985-0000 or email.
    20-22 Joint Annual Conference Virginia and Mason-Dixon Outdoor Writers Associations, Hampton, registration required, for info visit www.vowa.org
    21 Ruffed Grouse Chapter to Celebrate Arbor Day at Kane Gap Project Call Mike Giles' cell phone at (276) 219-7302 for information and directions to the site.
    23 Hunting & Trapping Proposed Regulation Public Input Meetings, 7:00-9:00 PM. Taylor Middle School, Warrenton. Directions.
    23 Hunting & Trapping Proposed Regulation Public Input Meetings, 7:00-9:00 PM. Board of Supervisors Meeting Room, Woodstock. Directions.
    24 Hunting & Trapping Proposed Regulation Public Input Meetings, 7:00-9:00 PM. VDGIF Board Meeting Room, Richmond City. Directions.
    24 Hunting & Trapping Proposed Regulation Public Input Meetings, 7:00-9:00 PM. Prince Edward County High School, Farmville.
    24 Hunting & Trapping Proposed Regulation Public Input Meetings, 7:00-9:00 PM. Abingdon High School, Abingdon.
    24 Blue Ridge Foothills and Lakes Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalists 3rd Training Classes. For more details contact Lee Borgman: www.brfal.org
    24 Western Virginia Land Trust Conservation Easement Workshop - Carroll County Library, Hillsville. For details call (540) 985-0000 or email.
    25 Hunting & Trapping Proposed Regulation Public Input Meetings, 7:00-9:00 PM. Paul D. Camp Comm. College, Franklin. Directions.
    26 Hunting & Trapping Proposed Regulation Public Input Meetings, 7:00-9:00 PM. Buffalo Gap High School, Augusta County. Directions.
    26 Hunting & Trapping Proposed Regulation Public Input Meetings, 7:00-9:00 PM. Glenvar Middle School, Salem. Directions.
    26 Hunting & Trapping Proposed Regulation Public Input Meetings, 7:00-9:00 PM. Warsaw Campus, Warsaw. Directions.
    26 Western Virginia Land Trust Conservation Easement Workshop - Floyd Country Store, Floyd. For details call (540) 985-0000 or email.
    28 Appalachian Highlands Chapter Ruffed Grouse Society 14th Annual Sportsman's Banquet Johnson City, TN Contact Donna Vance (423) 357-1735 or email for additional information.
    28 Youth Turkey Hunting Seminar Page Valley Sportsman's Club Pre-registration is required. Call Art Kasson to register for this free seminar at (540) 622-6103 or email: artkasson@yahoo.com.
    31 Western Virginia Land Trust Conservation Easement Workshop - Meadowbrook Public Library, Shawsville. For details call (540) 985-0000 or email.
    April 2009
    1 Hunting & Trapping Proposed Regulation Public Input Meetings, 7:00-9:00 PM. Chatham High School, Chatham.
    4 Trout Heritage Day 9:00 AM. See Regulations for details.
    5-8 Primitive Bow Making Workshop, Appomattox.
    18 Blackwater Nottoway Riverkeepers Host River Clean-up For more information call: (757) 562-5173
    18-19 9th Annual Virginia Fly Fishing Festival, South River in Waynesboro.
    24-26 Virginia Search and Rescue Council State Conference, Holiday Lake 4-H Center, Appomattox. For information/registration contact Nathan Brown vasar2009@yahoo.com
    NATURE OBSERVATIONS FROM THE BYRD NEST

    by Marika Byrd

    Pull out the fishing gear and prepare to get a good winter workout. Let the white sucker "lure you in" on a crispy spring day. Take a kid or two fishing—make sure you all are dressed to endure the temperatures this time of year, all have their age-appropriate licenses with them and, most importantly, everyone has a size-appropriate personal flotation device (PFD).

    White Sucker, Catostomus commersoni, has various names, including brook sucker, black mullet, or even carp. This fish prefers cool streams, lakes and, sometimes, brackish waters. According to Ron Southwick, VDGIF Assistant Fisheries Division Director, "the white sucker is found from the Piedmont and more so in the western mountain waters. Fishing for this species can also be a challenge as they are finicky eaters. However, suckers and redhorses, as a whole, are found in all areas of the state and many are caught by hook and line." This is a good species to catch and release.

    The white sucker has an olive color or black on the back, sides of silvery yellow and white ventral fin. The cylindrical body has moderate-size smooth scales and a blunt snout. Look for a forked tail, protruding mouth, toothless jawed, throat with teeth (for crushing food) and no scales on the head. The lower fins often are tinged with yellow or orange and are dusky. Weights are about 2-3 pounds and 20 inches is the typical size for an adult.

    The danger for this fish species is the predatory animals lurking above "hunting" for their next meal.

    Now that you know what to look for, where to go, gather a group of friends/kids and "go fishing." Remember the Boy Scout motto: "Be Prepared." "Whether accidentally falling in the water from the bank or from the boat, your PFD will keep you afloat; so be prepared until rescued from danger".

    BOATERS ARE YOU ON BOARD WITH COMPLIANCE?
    • Virginia Boating Safety Education Requirement
    • In 2007, the Virginia General Assembly enacted a law establishing requirements for boating safety education. This requirement will be phased in over several years.
    • Virginia Boating Safety Education Compliance Requirement
      Phase-in Schedule
      Operators must meet the requirements as follows:
    • Personal Watercraft (PWC) "Jet-Ski"
      PWC, age 20 or younger, July 1, 2009
      PWC, age 35 or younger, July 1, 2010
      PWC, age 50 or younger, July 1, 2011
      PWC, ALL ages by July 1, 2012
    • Motorboat (MB) 10hp and greater
      MB, age 20 or younger, July 1, 2011
      MB, age 30 or younger, July 1, 2012
      MB, age 40 or younger, July 1, 2013
      MB, age 45 or younger, July 1, 2014
      MB, age 50 or younger, July 1, 2015
      MB, ALL ages, July 1, 2016
    • For more information visit:
      Boating Education classes
    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 website.

    MOON PHASES
    March 2009
    4 First Quarter
    10 Full Moon
    18 Last Quarter
    26 New Moon
    April 2009
    2 First Quarter
    9 Full Moon
    17 Last Quarter
    24 New Moon
    QUICK GLANCE
    AT HUNTING SEASONS

    The following is a partial list of upcoming seasons starting in October for the more popular species. For a complete list and regulations consult the 2008-09 Hunting & Trapping Regulations and Information.

    Coyote, groundhog, & skunk: Continuous open season on private land only.
    Archery
    • Urban Archery Deer: Jan. 5-Mar. 28
    Firearms
    • Deer: Late Antlerless Jan. 5-Mar 28, Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun, Prince William except on Department-owned lands.
    • Turkey: Spring Gobbler, Apr. 11-May 2, ½ hr before sunrise until noon; May 4-May 16, ½ hr before sunrise until sunset
    • Squirrel: Spring Season, June 6-20, some Wildlife Management Area only, See regulations.

    All hunters (whether licensed or exempt from being licensed) who plan to hunt doves, waterfowl, rails, woodcock, snipe, coots, gallinules or moorhens in Virginia must be registered with the Virginia Harvest Information Program (HIP). HIP is required each year and a new registration number is needed for the 2008-2009 hunting season. To register for HIP, visit VAHIP.com or call 1-888-788-9772.

    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!

    VIRGINIA WILDLIFE CATALOG

    Security Reminder: VDGIF will never ask for personal information through unsolicited email.

    OUTDOOR REPORT
    EDITORIAL TEAM

    Editor: David Coffman

    Contributing Editors: Marika Byrd, Julia Dixon, Ron Messina, Lee Walker

    Staff Photographers: David Coffman, Ron Messina, Tim Tassitano, Lee Walker

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

    Executive Director: Bob Duncan

    The electronic Outdoor Report is sent free via email to more than 22,000 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