In this edition:

New Look This Edition for the Outdoor Report!

The signs are all falling into place...

Yes, summer has arrived. With this new season inviting us to get going and enjoy the great outdoors, the Outdoor Report has a new look and features many new opportunities for adventure fishing, boating, camping, squirrel and varmint hunting, planting food plots or a butterfly garden - you get the idea.

Reading this email, you're probably wondering at this point, where's the rest of the Outdoor Report? In response to reader requests, and to enhance readability, starting with this edition, only this email linking you to the full Outdoor Report has been sent direct to you. The entire newsletter is still available online only to subscribers. When you click the link to the full newsletter, there is a new scrolling feature that readers have been asking for. Once you have opened the entire Outdoor Report through the link, you have the option to click on an individual Section listed on the "In this edition" menu and that section will display. Of course, you can still scroll through the entire layout of articles and sidebar items, including the Upcoming Events Calendar, hunting season dates and other program information.

We hope you will like this new format and more importantly use the information to enjoy your summer in Virginia's bountiful outdoors!

David Coffman, Editor

Get Hooked on Fishing for Free June 5-7

VDGIF and Virginia Marine Resources Commission have established June 5-7, 2009 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 website.

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

Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss

Summer Angling Education Workshops Scheduled

Summer is near and now is the time to register for VDGIF Angling Education events. Register now online, don't delay, these workshops fill up fast!

June 3 - Kayak Fishing Workshop - Pocahontas State Park, Swift Creek Lake in Chesterfield.

Receive kayak instruction and lessons on freshwater fishing at Pocahontas State Park. Instructional sessions will be followed by lunch and kayak fishing on Swift Creek Lake. Kayaking is fun, but add fishing to it and it just doubles the enjoyment. This workshop is designed for beginners and those who are new to kayaking. Get more details and register online.

June 16 - Smallmouth Workshop - New River, Bisset Park in Radford.

Enjoy canoeing and fishing on a world-class Smallmouth fishery, the New River, and receive instruction on basics and techniques for catching smallmouth bass. Get more details and register online.

June 30 - Float Fishing the James Workshop - James River State Park in Buckingham County.

Experience float fishing the historic James River by canoe and receive instruction on basics and techniques for fishing the "middle" James River. Get more details and register online.

July 28 & Aug. 25 - Flat Out Catfish Workshop I & II - James River at Pony Pasture in Richmond

Come out and wade for big Flathead Catfish on the James River at Pony Pasture in the City of Richmond with professional guide, Mike Ostrander of the James River Fishing School. This workshop is for adults 18 and over. Get more details and register online for Flat Out Catfish Workshop I and Flat Out Catfish Workshop II.

Two Outdoors Woman Workshops Scheduled in June

The Virginia Outdoors Woman event Saturday, June 06, 2009, at Dorey Park in Henrico County, will offer workshops in archery, bird watching, fly casting, GPS and geocaching, Habitat at Home, Hiking and Backpacking 101, kayaking, and outdoor cooking. Workshop fee is $25 and includes instruction in all sessions, program materials, use of demonstration equipment, and lunch. Registration deadline is May 29, 2009! View a printable registration form (PDF) with descriptions of the sessions.

The Virginia Outdoors Woman event Saturday, June 27, 2009, on Virginia's Eastern Shore will offer workshops in Archery, Bird Watching, Basic Firearms, Fly Casting, Fishing Essentials, Hiking, Kayaking, Outdoor Cooking, and Wilderness Survival. Workshop fee is $25 and includes instruction in all sessions, program materials, use of demonstration equipment, and lunch. Registration deadline is June 19, 2009! View a printable registration form (PDF) with descriptions of the sessions.

Race for Open Space 3K Run/Walk June 6 in Salem

This 3K (yes, 3K!) run/walk at beautiful Green Hill Park in Salem, June 6, will benefit the land preservation programs of the Western Virginia Land Trust. Expect fast times on this course along the Roanoke River and through the Green Hill trails. For more information, contact David C. Perry, Project Manager, Western Virginia Land Trust at (540) 985-0000. Entry fee is $20 ($25 day of) and includes t-shirt; children under 12 are free (no shirt). Awards will be given to the top 3 males and females. Please, no strollers due to the narrow trail sections.

Birding Festival Held in Buchanan in June

The Buchanan and Russell County Bird Clubs will lead bird walks during the wildlife Coalfield Folk Life Festival in Buchanan County, June 5-7. VDGIF will have an exhibit and information on local trails and nature areas at the Festival.

Bass Pro Hosts Backpacker Training June 11 in Hampton

Join outdoor pros Sheri and Randy Propster – Backpacker's all-star Get Out More team – for an engaging 60-minute seminar full of trail-tested tips and outdoor gear. The seminar is Thursday, June 11, at 6:00 p.m. at the Bass Pro Shops in Hampton. From packs and poles to apparel and sleeping bags, Sheri and Randy Propster provide trail-tested information about the gear and the skills you need to GET OUT MORE.

Visit for more event information.

Ladies' Day Handgun or Shotgun Clinics June 13

The Cavalier Rifle and Pistol Club in Hanover is hosting a choice of handgun or shotgun clinics from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m., Saturday, June 13. Clinics are taught by certified instructors and includes safety instruction, base marksmanship, comfort, familiarity with firearms, handguns, shotguns, ear and eye protection, and targets. Reservations are required and clinic size is limited to eight shooters per clinic. For more information, contact Henry Baskerville at (804) 370-7565 or

Yuchi Tribal Homecoming Gathering at Saltville Museum June 12-14

The Remnant Yuchi Nation of Kingsport, Tennessee, and the Museum of the Middle Appalachians announce that a Yuchi Tribal homecoming gathering will be held in Saltville, Virginia, from Friday June 12 to Sunday June 14. Yuchi Indians have lived in Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee for over 800 years. The homecoming gathering will open to the public at noon on Friday and continue through 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. The event will reenact a Yuchi hunting and gathering camp dated to the period 1750-1850. Tribe members will demonstrate Indian activities such as storytelling, dancing, hide preparation, the cooking of traditional foods, uses of traditional plants and herbs, American Indian weapons and their uses and the building of traditional Indian lean-to's. Events open for public participation will include a model tipi building contest, a women's skillet throwing contest, and friendship dancing. On Saturday the tribe will conduct a traditional "tradeblanket" event in which all persons are invited to offer for trade items such as hand crafts, pocket knives, knickknacks, etc. The Remnant Yuchi Nation is very active in educational activities. The tribe works actively in both Tennessee and Virginia to educate fourth grade students about American Indian history and traditions.

Kids Fishing Day Events Provide Family Fun

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

For details, check the Kids Fishing Days calendar on our website.

People and Partners in the News

Dominion Names Dan Genest Volunteer of The Year

Dominion Virginia Power has named Dan Genest one of 15 employee Volunteers of the Year, recognizing his leadership role in Project Healing Waters, which uses fly fishing as way to help wounded soldiers recover from their injuries. Genest is a senior Corporate Communications Representative in the company. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Virginia Outdoor Writers Association, Inc. Genest is a past president of the Fly Fishers of Virginia, the sponsor of Project Healing Waters at the McGuire Veterans Administration Hospital in Richmond and Fort Lee in Petersburg. Project Healing Waters helps soldiers deal with the trauma of their injuries by improving dexterity, increasing eye-hand coordination, instilling confidence, and providing physical therapy in a nontraditional manner. Genest also volunteers with VDGIF and other partner conservation organizations to teach flyfishing to youngsters and novice anglers. Along with the award, Dominion will contribute $1,000 to Project Healing Waters, Genest's designated charity.

Online Woodland Options Short Course for Landowners Begins June 1

The Virginia Forest Landowner Education Program announces an online short course that private woodlot landowners, of any acreage, can take in the comfort of their own home. The 12-week "Online Woodland Options for Landowners" short course begins Monday, June 1 and runs through August 14. This course is not intended for woodlot owners who have substantial experience working alone, or with natural resource professionals in the management of their woods. However, veteran landowners are welcome to enroll and may take the course as a refresher on basic management. Registration is now open on-line at the Virginia's LEAF Program website or Virginia Tech's Virginia Forest Landowner Education Program. Cost is $25 per family. Textbooks and instructional DVDs are included. For computer requirements and other information about the course, please contact: Jennifer Gagnon, VFLEP coordinator (540) 231-6391

Wildlife Center to Hold Rehabilitation Classes in June

Amanda Nicholson, Outreach Coordinator and Rehabilitation Supervisor for the Wildlife Center of Virginia, announces upcoming "On the Road" wildlife rehabilitation classes:

More details can be found at the Wildlife Center of Virginia's website.

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 on WMAs June 6-20

The third year of a statewide squirrel season will be available for sportsmen June 6-22, 2009, on specific VDGIF Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) as listed on the VDGIF website. 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.

Apprentice Hunting License: A New Way To Get Involved in Hunting

Because school will be out during most of the June squirrel season, it is a wonderful opportunity to introduce a youngster to hunting. There are very few other hunting opportunities available at the start of the summer. This time provides a youngster 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. If they do not have their hunter education class completed, an Apprentice License can be purchased by a new hunter. 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.

Summer Squirrel Hunting Safety Tips

If you're planning to go squirrel hunting this June during the new season 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. 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 website.

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

Reports From Successful Hunters

Amy's "Last Day" Gobbler

Freddy McGuire sent us this story about his wife's successful hunt for a "last day gobbler."

Amy had only hunted three mornings before the last day and was in on the two birds I had bagged earlier in the season. She had a miss so she had had a good season, but hadn't bagged one for herself yet. We headed out for the last day and were invited to hunt a gobbler that a buddy had been fooling with. He gobbled well on the roost, but when he flew down he totally shut up and 'game over'. We headed off and literally checked all of my places that were within reasonable driving distance, but couldn't get on anything else.

We got back to the house about 10 a.m. to take a break and get some food before heading back out. I stepped out of the truck and a turkey free gobbled across the driveway and I immediately got back in the truck and drove over to the field. After several series of crow calls and getting some real crows fired up he finally gobbles again. We make our way along the woods edge and get setup in a familiar spot. My first call is answered enthusiastically and I'm thinking good things! Within a minute two hens pop up in the edge of the cow pasture and start heading right for us, but the gobbler is still in the woods and not really with the hens. One of the hens drops into the woods with the gobbler, but in just a minute later comes back out and continues our way. At that point we're all excited! Sure enough the gobbler pops out of the woods at 40 yards and is staring down the pair of hens that are closing in on us. One of the hens finally got too close and got nervous and putted and headed back toward the gobbler. I told Amy it was now or never and she leaned out around another tree and made a great shot on the gobbler just as he was turning to go back in the woods.

He was a beautiful gobbler with 2 beards... 9 inches and 10.5 inches and weighed 19 lbs. Spurs were about 1 inch. What a great way to end the season! Congratulations Amy on your persistence and a trophy gobbler.

Linda's Royal Slam

Congratulations to Linda Layser from Augusta County for completing her Royal Slam with the harvest of this Merriam turkey she bagged the last hour of the last day of her trip to Wyoming this spring. Linda serves hundreds of hours as a volunteer with several National Wild Turkey Federation programs including Virginia Coordinator for the Women in the Outdoors, and assists with Wheelin' Sportsmen, JAKES youth programs and serves as Editor of the state chapter newsletter, Gobbler Tracks - and she loves to turkey hunt!

Gary's Amherst Gobbler

Gary Mulder, from Sunbury, Ohio, took this turkey on private property in Amherst County on April 17. It weighed 23 pounds and had a 9 inch beard.

With the Spring Gobbler Season coming to an end, we want to know: How did you do? Send stories and photos to If we use your story that includes a youth or first time hunter, you'll receive a complementary Virginia Wildlife hat!

Be Safe... Have Fun!

On-the-Water Towboat Company Expands to Lake Anna

Capt. Peter Merrick, owner of TowBoatU.S. Ingram Bay in Kilmarnock, Va., has opened a second location, TowBoatU.S. Lake Anna. The on-the-water towing and assistance company gives recreational boaters a reliable way to summon on-the-water assistance day or night. Battery jump starts, fuel drop offs, ungrounding services and tows back to a launch ramp are some common requests. "Boaters and anglers have been asking us for a long time when we would open up on the lake," said Capt. Merrick. "Since we have professional captains and all the right equipment, they know it's a lot easier to call us rather than have to ask a friend to find them and safely get them back to the dock or launch ramp," he added. TowBoatU.S. Lake Anna is located at Anna Point Marina near the Route 208 bridge. It is operational 24-hours a day, seven days a week from May 1 to September 13. Off-season service is also available. The new port joins a nationwide BoatU.S. towing fleet of over 600 towing assistance vessels.

Visit for more information.

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!

Spring in Virginia, Time for 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.

During the months of April and May bears have left their dens and are ending their winter fast. Bears do not eat, drink, urinate, or defecate while they are in dens. Additionally, while denning, female bears may give birth to cubs. Cubs are born weighing less than a pound and are reliant on their mother's milk. As new spring growth emerges, so do bears, and they are following their stomachs in search of food.

Bears are highly adaptable and intelligent animals and can learn to associate human dwellings with food. The best way to encourage a bear to move on is to remove the food source that is attracting it. For tips on handling potential food sources read more.

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. 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. Even the inadvertent feeding of nuisance bears is illegal.

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 your Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Regional Office. Phone numbers for the regional offices can be found by visiting the Department's website or by calling 804-367-1000 during regular business hours.

For more information view Living with Bears in Virginia, a video produced by VDGIF.

"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.

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! This year celebrates the 40 anniversary of the popular 'Virginia is for Lovers' slogan.

To help plan your Virginia adventure, visit, a website 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."

Notes for Young Nature Explorers

This new section features articles and tips of interest to youngsters to encourage them to get outdoors and explore nature. With school out for the summer break, learning can go on with the types of experiences that cannot be found in books, the internet, or video games. Observing and exploring the natural environment can be exciting, interesting, and fun. The Virginia Wildlife calendar lists natural events that can serve as a "lesson plan" to get students outdoors exploring, observing, and having fun while learning about the woods, fields and streams and the fascinating plants and animals that share these habitats with us. Each edition we will bring you ideas on topics, natural occurrences, and events to spark your interests in exploring nature. Make it a family affair!

Nature Observations from the Byrd Nest by Marika Byrd

Common Catalpa (Catalpa bignoniaceae)

Catalpa is a Cherokee name for this tree that is found throughout the Eastern United States. Its bean-like fruit led to names like "catawba," "cigar tree", and "Indian bean". Catalpas have a faint aromatic odor, are fast growing, short trunked, and broad canopied to 50 feet. The thick bark has reddish-brown scales and shallow ridges. The yellow-brown, stout twigs have small side buds, which appear hidden in the bark. In early June, these large ornamentals have huge displays of showy two-inch branch-clustered, five petal flowers 10 inches long with yellow, orange, and purple spots. Loads of very long brownish-green 15 inches long and ½ inch wide hanging beans are filled with many seeds that have long white hairs on both ends-not the edible beans for the family table. The pods turn brown in the autumn, and the fruit may remain on the branch tips into winter. The dinner-sized plate, velvet, heart-shaped, pairs-of-three leaves are smooth above and hairy beneath, providing a large canopy to help cool the environment beneath it-from spring into fall it serves as Mother Nature's air conditioning. Beware that these leaves have a slight foul odor when crushed.

Large, black-marked caterpillars, also known as tomato hornworm, eat over the tree defoliating it, or losing its leaves. In early summer the tree provides a free, useful supply of the black-yellow and white caterpillars for the serious angler, but you have to capture them from its vast heights. Sphinx moths metamorphosed from these caterpillars.

Catalpa trees do better in deep loamy soil in a sunny and sheltered placement; air pollution does not affect them. This tree provides a wonderful environment for wildlife bird nests and small game. The rot-resistant wood made it useful for early settlers to build fences, railroad ties, and telegraph poles. They served as windbreakers and shelterbelts on the treeless plains.

David Coffman, VDGIF Outdoor Report Editor says, "I vividly remember the catalpa trees along the street in my home town of Woodstock near the courthouse and how beautiful they were when blooming in early summer and the loud buzz of the zillions of bees around the flowers. Also many a youngster has been prodded by prankster peers to try and smoke the 'cigars'-sort of like going snipe hunting!!" Chances are you have seen catalpas as you drive down shaded streets or the countryside farmland. Venture out and locate the blooming catalpa; enjoy sitting under the abundance of shade, and see what wildlife has taken residence among its bountiful display. Take pad and pen to make notes on what you discover in nature.

For more information search the Dendrology Database »

Box Turtle Monitoring Workshops Offered for Teachers

VDGIF is offering three workshops for educators interested to helping to monitoring Box Turtle populations. Participants will learn field methods and protocols, including setting up a census plot and conducting a visual survey, equipment use and maintenance, collection of morphometric data, radio telemetry, and other tracking techniques. The workshops will be held:

For more information, contact Suzie Gilley, Wildlife Education Coordinator at (804) 367-0188 or

Habitat Improvement Tips

Small Woodland Owners Workshops Scheduled in Southside

The Woods in Your Backyard is a program to help landowners make informed decisions that impact water, wildlife populations, recreational opportunities, and forest health. The manual and workbook are designed for owners of 1-10 acres of land and show landowners how to manage their woodlot or landscape as both a sustainable and healthy ecosystem. In Virginia, 64% of our forestlands are privately owned and in the Mid-Atlantic region, at least two-thirds of forest landowners own 10 acres or less. As land is divided into smaller parcels, forests become fragmented making them a challenge to manage. In addition, corridors providing safe travel for wildlife are eliminated. Therefore, is it increasingly important that small forestland owners create and follow a land management plan that provides for sustainable forestry and wildlife management without restricting other forms of land use.

You can influence what happens in your natural area by better understanding what you have, what you want and available tools to help you accomplish your goals. For example, did you know that by selecting certain trees for firewood, you can improve wildlife habitat, scenic values and regenerate young trees, all at the same time? Two seven-hour workshops are being offered by Virginia Cooperative Extension, with assistance from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and Virginia Department of Forestry to equip small woodlot owners to learn how to manage existing natural areas and or create new natural areas.

Attendance is limited and pre-registration is required.

June 25 – 6:30pm – 8:30pm and June 27 – 9:00am – 3:00pm; Nottoway County. VA Tech Southern Piedmont Center.

To register contact Jason Fisher at (434) 476-2147 or

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.

State Record Fish Committee Reviewing First Freshwater Fish Over 100 Pounds
Blue catfish from James River breaks 100-pound mark for first time in Virginia history

The State Record Fish Committee of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) is reviewing the certification of a potential new state record blue catfish that will be the first confirmed freshwater fish over 100 pounds in the Commonwealth. The fish weighed in at 102 pounds, 4 ounces, and measured 52 ¾ inches in length with a girth of 41 ½ inches. Certification is estimated to be completed in the next couple of weeks.

The big cat was caught by Tim Wilson of Natural Bridge. Wilson came to the metro Richmond area along with his buddy Danny Ayers for the catfishing trip of their lives. Wilson, with significant help from Ayers, caught the blue catfish with cut shad as bait on 30-pound test line below Dutch Gap, a public boat landing on the James River south of the City of Richmond on May 20, 2009. The fish was so large it took both men to land it.

The previous state record blue catfish (95 pounds, 11 ounces) was also caught in the lower James River by Archie Gold of Jetersville, Virginia, on June 15, 2006.

For a complete listing of Virginia state record freshwater fish, visit the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries website.

June 5-7, 2009, have been designated as Free Fishing Days in Virginia. No fishing license of any kind will be required for rod and reel fishing in freshwater or saltwater, except in designated stocked trout waters, on these days.

Who knows? You might catch the next state record fish.

Got Pictures of Your Catch? Share Them With Us on Flickr!

How was your last fishing trip? Did you take pictures of your catch? Send them to us and share it with the world! Here's how:

  1. Email your photos to us and we'll post them on our "Virginia Fishing" group on the photo-sharing website, Flickr.
  2. Or, if you already have an account on Flickr, join the group and submit your photos. It's easy!

No matter how you send in your pictures, please remember to include the species, date, and location of your catch. If you know the length and weight, please include it.

Rules for submitting photos to the group:

  1. Photos must be of fish caught in Virginia.
  2. Photos must not depict unsafe practices.
  3. Please do not publish personal information (last names, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, etc.).
  4. Please do include the species, location, and date of catch!
  5. Only submit photos for which you have permission to post online. For example, any minor pictured must have documented permission from his or her parent or guardian in order to appear in the group. By submitting a photograph of your child, you are giving VDGIF permission to post the photo on the Flickr "Virginia Fishing" group.

Smallmouth Bass River Report Available From Biologists

Virginia has some of the premier smallmouth bass rivers in the country, and VDGIF fisheries biologists have been studying these rivers for many years. Over the years, we have learned a great deal about how these rivers and their fishy inhabitants function. There is still much we need to discover, but we do have a basic understanding of how smallmouth bass populations work in our rivers. We formed a Smallmouth Bass River Technical Committee years ago to coordinate research and management on these rivers. One of the products of this committee is the newly released Smallmouth Bass River Report (PDF). This report compares various aspects of smallmouth bass populations (and a few other species as well) among 16 different rivers (or river segments in a couple of cases). For example, anglers can compare fish populations between the Jackson River and the James River, or between the Shenandoah River and the Staunton River. In addition to numbers of fish, the report provides information regarding sizes and growth rates of smallmouth bass. It also has information on smallmouth bass survival rates and trends in spawning success. In short, we have put together a wealth of information regarding smallmouth bass rivers in Virginia. Anglers can use this to plan future adventures, or just to learn more about the rivers they fish most.

Virginia Investigators Prepare For Possible Fish Kills

The Virginia Departments of Environmental Quality and Game and Inland Fisheries are directing ongoing scientific studies this year in preparation for potential fish kills. Spring 2009 investigations will focus on weekly observations, continued fish health evaluations and in-depth study of possible bacterial causes of the kills. Since 2004, unexplained fish kills have occurred in the Shenandoah River basin. During 2007 and 2008 similar events took place in the upper James and Cowpasture rivers. No kills have been observed in these rivers in 2009, though April and May are the most likely time for occurrences.

The kills are most severe among smallmouth bass and sunfish. Many of these fish develop skin lesions before dying. The fish kills have begun in the spring when water temperatures rise above the mid-50s. A detailed summary of findings through the 2008 fish kill season is available on the DEQ website. Scientists will continue to collect water and fish samples this spring from the Shenandoah and upper James rivers before, during, and after any disease or fish kill outbreaks.

Researchers have credited the public with providing significant assistance in the investigation. Many of the outbreaks were reported by fishermen, landowners and other river users. Knowing the timing and location of these events allows scientists to concentrate on the areas where fish kills are active. DEQ and DGIF ask the public to continue to report observations of diseased or dead fish. Key information includes types and numbers of fish, location, and any unusual circumstances. Digital photographs are particularly helpful. Anyone with information on dead or dying fish is encouraged to contact the DEQ regional office in Harrisonburg at (540) 574-7800 or toll-free in Virginia at 1-800-592-5482. Information and photos also can be emailed to DEQ at

Kids Fishing Day Events Provide Family Fun

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

For details, check the Kids Fishing Days calendar on our website.

Picture the Excitement in the Kids 'n Fishing Photo Contest!

It certainly isn't hard to "picture it," kids 'n fishing that is - smiles, laughs, looks of anticipation, and excitement. So, join in on the fun, catch the excitement of your child on film while fishing, and enter his or her picture in the annual Kids 'n Fishing Photo Contest sponsored by Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, 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. Winning pictures will also be posted on the VDGIF website, the Outdoor Report, and may be used in a variety of VDGIF publications. There is no need to be a professional photographer. Any snapshot will do. For rules and entry information visit our website.

Life Jackets Required

Virginia's life jacket laws require that there must be one wearable (Type I, II, III, or V) USCG approved life jacket of the appropriate size for each person on the boat. All boats, except for personal watercraft, canoes, kayaks, and inflatable rafts, must carry one USCG approved Type IV throwable ring or seat cushion. In addition, if you are boating on federal waters where the USCG has jurisdiction, children under the age of 13 must wear a life jacket unless below deck or in an enclosed cabin.

For more information on boating water safety and the BoatU.S. Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water go to For details on Virginia's laws or to take a boating safety course, check out the DGIF boating website.

Sara White's Notebook - Regional River and Lake Reports on Fishing Conditions

Region 1 - Tidewater

Lower Potomac: J.G. Sports (571) 436-7521. Joe Hawkins says that bass are "fighting well", and moving to summer patterns; hiding in milfoil grass. Dark colored plastics are your best bet. Local crappie are going for minnows. No word on cats. Bluegill are guarding their beds. Some bass anglers are landing yellow perch. Joe himself got 3 citation yellow perch this week. The water is clearing and 68 degrees.

Virginia Beach: Captain Jim Brincefiled (443) 336-8756. Captain Jim tells us that croakers are biting in the York and James. They like peeled crab and squid. Flounder can be had at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, where they are going for bull minnows and squid. Stripers are in season and can be found around the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel, where they attack live spot and cast lures. The waters are clear and 63 degrees.

Chickahominy River: River's Rest (804) 829-2753. Things have slowed down Charlie Brown's way, with little word on bass and perch. Cat angling is "holding its own". The water is clear and 76 degrees.

North Landing River and Back Bay: West Neck Marina (757) 426-6735. Dewey Mullins says that there are plenty of bass for the taking; spinners and dark plastics are your best bet. Crappie are few and far between, but good sized. White perch are plentiful and going for small spinners and beetle spins. Cats seem to be wary, and those landed, small. The water is clear and in the 60s.

Norfolk Lakes: Dasheill's Show Room (757) 539-7857. Drew Dixon reports that there is no word on bass. Crappie are going for the usual minnows and jigs. Lots of cats can be had on the James and Nansemond. Bluegill are biting very well on crickets and beetle spins. The water is clear and in the low 70s.

Blackwater/Nottoway Rivers: By Riverkeeper Jeff Turner I was on the Blackwater this past week and let me tell you, the largemouth bass fishing was "unbelievable." I caught over 20 fish, with one going close to 5 lbs. The fish had spawned out obviously because it was really poor. All the fish were caught on a Smithwick Rogue casting to running water coming hard out of swamps. That was the pattern. I also caught three stripers that were right about 18 in. the same way on the same lure. Bream fishing right now is really good on the fly-rod, with some good stringers of fat slab-slides coming out of both rivers. Folks are also still catching some nice blue cats. So before it gets too darn hot if you want to get a good peaceful day of fishing in and catch some nice fish, you ought to visit one of the two rivers we call the Blackwater and Nottoway.

Tidal James: By local guide Joe Hecht (804) 221-1951 Fat Cat Guide Service. The blue catfish are spawning right now but you are still able to catch small fish between 5 and 20 lbs. Also you can still catch larger fish but they are not as abundant. The stripers are still in the river and are producing fish up to 25 lbs. The small mouth bite is picking up and with river conditions improving we should see some large fish being caught on minnows and artificial spinning baits.

Region 2 - Southside

Ft. Pickett Reservoir: By Willard Mayes our man in the boat. On May 15, I went to Ft. Pickett Reservoir hoping to be able to use a fly rod but the wind was blowing from 10 to 15 mph. I did manage to catch a bunch of bluegill in the areas that the trees blocked the wind. I put 28 bluegill in the boat about hand size and threw back 40 from 2 finger to 4 finger size. The smaller ones had roe in them. The water has warmed up a lot and is clear to about 3 feet there. I switched over to the spinning rod and put 23 crappie between 8 and 10 in. in the live well.

James at Lynchburg: Angler's Lane (434) 385-0200. According to Doug Lane, fishing is good. Bass are plentiful and are attacking Bow River Buggers, size 4 and 6. Crappie are also there for the taking and go for kreel – ex, size 6. Clarity is good and the temperature is in the low to mid 60s.

James at Scottsville: Local Guide L.E. Rhodes (434) 286-3366. Fishing on the James is still off. The river is still high and muddy. Hopefully it will calm down within 10 days to 2 weeks, depending on the weather. I have been able to get on a couple of the tributaries though. Danielle Dean of Palmyra had a super day with me as she boated smallmouth over 17 inches. Fish were taking soft plastics(grubs-tubes and flukes). Huskey Jerks also accounted for fish. Fly anglers had success throwing baitfish and crayfish patterns. Fly anglers boated fish up to 16 inches.

Kerr Reservoir: Bob Cat's Lake Country Store (434) 374-8381. Bobby Whitlow told me that bass fishing is good. For shallow bass angling, toss plastics; for topwater, use poppers or buzzbaits. Crappie are in a summer pattern, and can be found in brushpiles and also deeper – in 12 to 25 ft. of water. As always they respond to minnows and jigs. Big cats are being landed – up to 61 lbs. Use cut bait and live shad. The water is over full pool, clear and in the 70s.

Lake Gaston: Holly Grove Marina (434) 636-3455. Craig Karpinski reports that bass are spawning and a few are hitting soft plastics in dark colors. Crappie are moving off the beds and congregating near structures. They are attacking minnows. Cat angling is going "really well" with cut bait being your best bet. Bluegill are being fooled by little jigs. The water is fairly clear, 60 degrees and warming.

Smith Mountain Lake: Virginia Outdoorsman (540) 721-4867. The alewives are coming up on the shoreline at night in their annual spawning ritual and that means the spring "night bite" is in full swing. Anglers fishing at night continue to find black bass and stripers as well as the occasional flathead catfish up near the shoreline feeding on the spawning alewives. The alewives have been moving up under lights on docks and flipping near the bank early in the evening. The bass and stripers usually show up later. While some feeding bass have been found near the shoreline chasing the alewives as early as 10 p.m. Most reports indicate that stripers haven't been showing up much before 11:30 p.m. Some nights it has been after 1:30 a.m. before the striped bass made their way up to feed. To learn more about fishing for bass and stripers at night, check on attending one of our "Night Fishing" workshops beginning Wednesday June 3. For information or to reserve a seat check our website.

Sixteen teams competed in last weeks Foxport Saturday night tournament. Dennis "Chicken" Holland and Paul Perrault won the event with a total weight of 17.20 pounds. They also caught the lunker weighing 5.25 pounds. For more results visit the website

Crappie: Best bait continues to be caught using small crappie minnows rigged on light 1/32-ounce jigheads and gold thin wire hooks. Small split shot crimped about 15 inches above the gold hook and below a lightweight, sliding crappie bobber with bobber stops complete the rig. Jigheads with plastic trailers are also producing nice fish, especially when “slingshot” into hard to reach places around docks and allowed to sink to the depth where the crappie are suspending.

Tight lines and please be safe while on the water. Clarity is good and the temperature is 72 degrees.

Region 3 - Southwest

Claytor Lake: Rock House Marina (540) 980-1488. Mike Burchett told me that lots of bass are off the beds and have moved to shallow water. Your best bets are worms in dark colors or flukes in white and chartreuse. Crappie have been hard to find. Cats are reluctant to strike too, but a few have been fooled by live bait. Stripers can be found late and early. The water is clearing and in the low 70s.

Lower New River: Big Z'S (540) 639-1651. John Zienius said that the river is high, but very fishable. Bass are going for the tubes, especially the Gitzit in the t4 color. Crappie are hard to find on the lake, but if you can find them, there are some lunkers. No word on cats. The water is slightly stained and warming.

Flanagan Reservoir: Local angler Freddie Surratt reports that things have been great on Flanagan. Bass are biting day and night on cranks and spinners, also jerkbaits. Crappie are good and are responding to flies with minnows attached. Cats are going for chicken livers. Hybrids are attacking topwater baits, particularly the Long A in pearl white. Walleyes are good early and late in the day, and go for topwater lures. Bluegill are being fooled by crickets. The water is clear and warming.

Region 4 - Mountain and Shenandoah Valley

North Fork of the Shenandoah: Murray's Fly Shop (540) 984-4212. Water conditions in the North and South forks of the Shenandoah are clear, fishable, and 70 degrees. The streams are more full than normal, so they can be floated safely; be careful, however, when wading. Good flies are the Olive Marauder, size 8; the Murray's Chub, size 6; and the Shenk White Streamer, size 6. The trout streams in the Valley have ideal water levels and the fishing is good. Good flies are the Murray Crane fly Larva, sizes 12 and 14; the Casual Dress sizes 10 and 12; and the Betsy Streamer, sizes10 and 12. The water is clear and 68 degrees. The mountain trout streams are in excellent shape and the fishing is great. There have been good hatchings of mayflies and stoneflies. Good flies are the Murray's Professor, sizes 14 and 16; the Yellow Drake, sizes 14 and 16; and the Mr. Rapidan Parachute Dry, sizes 14 and 16. The waters are clear and 54 degrees.

Lake Moomaw: Local Guide Mike Puffenburger (540) 468-2682. Mike says that largemouth bass are doing very well, while smallmouths are tapering off. For both, try crankbaits and live bait. Crappie are "about done" and hard to find. Some yellow perch can be fooled with live bait. Cat angling is just starting to pick up. As the lake warms, bluegill and sunfish angling will pick up too. The upper portion of the lake is stained, with lower and mid portions being clear. The temperature is in the 70s.

Region 5 - Northern Piedmont

Local Blogger Steve Moore ( reports that the major rivers in the area (Rappahannock, Rivanna, Rapidan) are all still running high and cloudy from the recent heavy rains. They are clearing fast and should be fishable by the coming weekend. Exercise caution since the rivers may remain marginal for wading. Large numbers of canoeists and kayakers have begun launching from Ely's Ford on the Rapidan so be prepared for heavy traffic that could disrupt your fishing. The Shad season is over. At least one angler reported catching some stripers on May 20 near Old Mill Park in Fredericksburg. The North and South Forks of the Moormans were recently stocked and there should be fish there through this weekend. Sugar Hollow Reservoir is alive with panfish and bass action. Anglers are catching bluegills up to 8 inches and bass in the 2-3 lb range on worms, jerk baits and plastic lizards. Chopawamsic Creek at Quantico is done for the season with only a few straggling stocked trout being caught on bait and gold spinners. On the positive side, the east slope of the Blue Ridge is on fire. The recent heavy rain sparked intense brookie action with the best fishing off the trails. On the Hughes River, anglers report fantastic brook trout fishing starting 1.5 miles in from the Old Rag Mountain trailhead to a mile below Corbin Cabin. In the back pools accessible only with brutal bushwhacking, the brookies slash at anything floating by with vicious, splashing attacks. "You could tie a hook to a stick and catch a fish" was the quote of the day. For those who prefer traditional fly gear over twigs, Mr. Rapidan, mosquito, attractors and ants are all top producers in size 12 - 16.

Lake Anna: C.C. McCotter. Excellent fishing for largemouth bass and striper is available on Lake Anna. Crappie fishing is fair while the sunfish have begun to spawn. Water temperatures in the lower 70s mean fish are active and predictable.

Largemouth Bass: The post spawn topwater bite has begun. From the dam to the headwater you can tie on a top water popper and catch fish in the early morning now. Other good lures include a Fish Herman Wacky Worm, a Berkley Jerkshad, and a Berkley hollow body swimbait. Schools of bass are also on spawning herring and shad. Pods of 5 to 10 fish are cruising the shallows early in the morning and they are hungry. Mid-lake region is the best now.

Striper: Dike III action has slowed while the mid-lake and lower up lake region is coming on strong. Fish around the first two bridges in the North Anna and Pamunkey Branch early in the morning and you'll find the fish. Many are moving into The Splits region and the 208 area as we head into June. Live herring on free lines and downlines are great if you like to watch rod tips. Opt for a swimbait, Toothache spoon, or walking topwater, and enjoy some of the best lure action of the year. Fish are on shallow flats early and in large schools nearby in open water as the sun clears the tree line.

Crappie: Only fair as these fish are gathering back up on off shore brush and bridge pilings. Find them now and you can stay on them all summer, though. Fish 10 to 20 ft. depths in the lower, up-lake region or the up-lake sections.

Sunfish: Bluegill, redbreast and shellcrackers are now spawning. Fly fishing is excellent in protected pockets in the mid and lower lake region. Use poppers for all and wooly worms for the shellcrackers when you find them.

Mid Potomac: Warbird Outdoors (804) 878-3111. Terry Olinger reports that the bass have the "post spawn blues" and are slowing down. Crappie are hanging around brush piles and docks and are going for minnows and jigs. Cat fishing is good and picking up, with large minnows being the bait of choice. Bluegill are spawning and going for crickets. The water is stained up river and clear mid and down. The temperature is 68 to 70 degrees.

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 »

Lake Orange: Darrell Kennedy, Angler's Landing (540) 672-3997. The water is clear with temperatures in the upper 60s, around 68 degrees. On warmer days, the temperature creeps up into the 70s. A few largemouth bass and crappie are still spawning on the banks. But, a majority of the bass and crappie are post spawn. They have pulled off shore in 8 to 10 ft. of water. Bass are hitting topwater, soft plastics, and live baits. Post spawn crappie are congregating around fish attractors and the fishing pier being lured by small minnows and jigs. Glen and Henry Knight of Orange came to the scales with 4 walleyes weighing 12 ½ lbs. combined along with 11 crappie weighing 5 lbs. using live bait. Catfishing is strong throughout the lake on night crawlers and chicken livers. Bluegills and shellcrackers are moving into the shallows preparing to spawn, which should produce some good pan fishing by the weekend.

Get your kids hooked on fishing!

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Virginia Conservation Police Notebook

To increase awareness of the activities of our dedicated Conservation Police Officers, previously called game wardens, the "Virginia Conservation Police Notebook" provides an overview of the variety of activities encountered by our officers who protect natural resources and people pursuing outdoor recreation in the fields, woods and waters of Virginia.

Region 3 - Southwest

Flea Market vendor arrested for selling deer antlers... On May 23,2009, Senior Officer V. R. Hurst, Special Agent R. J. Dowdy, Jr., and Sgt. R. J. Cox investigated a complaint of the illegal selling of wildlife parts at the Hundley Memorial Day Flea Market in Hillsville. Special Agent Dowdy had previously received information of the illegal selling of deer antlers and other wildlife parts at this flea market. He made contact with an individual from Ohio who had deer antlers displayed on a table for sale. Special Agent Dowdy purchased 8 sets of deer antlers and a bear skull for $250.00. Officer Hurst and Sgt. Cox were notified upon the completion of the sale. Both officers arrived on the scene and obtained a statement from the seller. The subject was arrested for feloniously selling wildlife parts and transported to a magistrate in Carroll County. The individual was formally charged and placed under a $1000 secured bond. For more information contact Captain Clark Greene at (276) 783-4860.

Region 4 - Mountain & Shenandoah Valley

Officers swim the extra mile to make arrests on spear fishermen... On May 23, 2009, Virginia Conservation Police Officer K.G. Bilwin received a report from Richmond dispatch about a group using a spear gun to catch fish and keeping over their limit. The caller stated he observed this group keep everything, including undersized fish and exceed their limit. The complainant stated that this activity happens every weekend, but more so during holiday weekends. Officer Bilwin, Officer Billhimer and Master Officer Martin decided to work the complaint undercover. Officer Martin launched a canoe from a nearby boat ramp and floated down to the other officer's position. Together, officers observed as nearly 25 subjects were fishing from the banks of the river using hand lines. While taking notes of the descriptions of the subjects fishing, Bilwin and Billhimer noticed two males out in the middle of the river acting suspiciously. One of the males had underwater goggles and a snorkel and rarely came above the water and when he did, he did not bring his hands above the water. The other male was acting like a "lookout"; he was not fishing but just kept looking all around while the other male stayed under water. Officer Bilwin then boarded the canoe Officer Martin was utilizing. Billhimer joined them in a kayak and began to develop a plan of action.

Officer Billhimer drifted close to the two males in the middle of the river and notified Bilwin and Martin that he saw a string tied to the ankle of the male that was spending most of the time underwater. Officers Bilwin and Martin approached the two males and identified themselves. The males dropped everything they had and stated they were not fishing, but were looking for crawfish. CPOs Bilwin, Martin and Billhimer rounded up all the people they could identify as the ones that were fishing. None of the people that were seen fishing had fishing licenses. Officers Bilwin, Billhimer and Martin began issuing summons for the fishing license violations and confronted the two males suspected of using a spear gun. The two males denied fishing or using a spear gun. Officer Bilwin and Billhimer then swam out to the area where the two males were last seen and tried to locate a spear gun. Underwater goggles were utilized and within 30 minutes a stringer full of fish was located at the bottom of the river. The stringer had one catfish, eight bass and eight bluegill. Four of the bass were within the illegal slot limit. Shortly after locating the stringer a spear gun was found at the bottom of the river. Officer Bilwin then confronted the subjects about the spear gun and fish. One of the males admitted to using the spear gun to shoot the fish. The spear gun, along with the fish, were seized. Overall there were 11 summons and one written warning issued from this undercover operation. For more information contact Captain Kevin Clarke (540) 248-9360.

Region 5 - Northern Piedmont

Drugs, drinking and illegal fish gets three strikes for underage offenders... On May 20, 2009, Sgt. Jim Croft, Sr. Officer Valasek, and Officers Weller and Mecadon did a special operation on Belles Island area on the James River in Richmond City to check for illegal rockfish fishing activity and alcohol and narcotics use in the area. Numerous persons were apprehended for underage drinking, possession of illegal fish, and possession of narcotics such as marijuana and oxycontin. During one drug arrest two suspects fled on foot after being confronted by officers. After a brief foot chase both suspects were apprehended and a bag of marijuana was seized. For more information contact Captain Joe Pajic (540) 899-4169.

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!

Winning Outdoor Adventure Stories from Young Writers

As the June 5-7 Free Fishing Days are just a week away, it is a great time to take a new angler to catch their first fish. As Michelle Agtuca describes in her story, catching her first fish was a real thrill that she never imagined would be so much fun. Michelle submitted her story while a sophomore at Ocean Lakes High School in Virginia Beach. This story is one of the Top 25 Entries in 2007-08 Virginia Outdoor Writers Association High School Youth Writing Contest.

My First Fish

By Michelle Agtuca

Last summer, my dad developed a fondness for fishing. Every morning he'd leave at six o'clock in the morning. One weekend he invited me to come to the beach with him so I could get out of the house. I laid my towel and beach bag down and started reading my summer novel as he left for the pier with all of his fishing supplies. After being distracted from all of the tourists and commotion surrounding me, I lost interest in my summer read and decided to see what my dad was up to.

Walking up on the pier felt awkward for me. I didn't seem like the kind to fish and it was true. There were people with enormous coolers full of dead fish, hooks hanging on strings, men all sweaty from cutting up fish in the sun all day, and a wretched smell drifting in the air. Why would I want to fish anyways? As I searched for my dad, I glanced at the people swimming and surfing by the shore with the waves crashing. I didn't know why I left.

When I found my dad, I watched him fish for a bit. He had already made some friends to fish with. They were laughing and comparing how much bigger their fish were compared to the others. What could you find appealing in a fish? They were slimy and always trying to wiggle out of your hands. Oh, and pulling off the hook from a fish was the worst! I would cover my eyes and give a squeal as my dad took his glory for another catch. I mean the whole thing was nonsense.

My dad tried to prove me wrong as he offered me to try to catch a fish myself. I was hesitant at first but along with his buddies, they persuaded me to try. I flicked the fishing contraption so that the fishing line would go far and I laid my arms down on the fence-like siding. Soon, there was a tugging feeling on the end of the line. My dad rushed over and took over the fishing pole. I became excited. It felt like sort of an accomplishment for me that I began bragging about it. I called my mom and my sister telling them about my glorious victory.

My dad couldn't get me off of the fishing pole. I started catching doubles as our cooler started piling up with fish. Never in my life would I imagine myself fishing, but actually doing it. I guess that saying about not judging a book by its cover really proved to me that things don't always look like what it seems especially when you are stubborn about it.

Top 25 Entry 2007-08 Virginia Outdoor Writers Association High School Youth Writing Contest by Michelle Agtuca, a sophomore at Ocean Lakes High School in Virginia Beach

For information on the VOWA High School Youth Writing Contest or the Collegiate Undergraduate Contest visit the VOWA website:, or contact VOWA Writing Contest Chairman:

David Coffman, Editor, Outdoor Report
VA Department of Game & Inland Fisheries
POB 11104 Richmond, VA 23230
Telephone: (434) 589-9535, Email:

In upcoming editions of the Outdoor Report, look for: