In this edition:

New Look for the Outdoor Report!

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.

Here are some of the new features we've added to the Outdoor Report: in response to reader requests, and to enhance readability, only the email you received linking to the full Outdoor Report has been sent directly to you. The entire newsletter is still available online only to subscribers. 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. This new format also allows for more streaming videos.

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

Increased BUI Enforcement - June 26-28, 2009 - Operation Dry Water

Boating Under the Influence is dangerous. Nationwide over 20% of boating-related fatalities are a result of alcohol use. Sun, wind, noise, vibration and motion intensify the effects of alcohol, drugs and some medications. They can slow reaction times, impair vision and lead to boating accidents. Also, operating a boat with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher is illegal. Penalties may include fines, jail, impoundment of boats, and loss of boating privileges.

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 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.

Outdoors Woman Workshops Scheduled on the Eastern Shore June 27

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.

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

CPO Sprinkle Recognized for Planning Youth Hunts

On April 7, 2009, before the Board of Game and Inland Fisheries, Conservation Police Officer Dewayne Sprinkle, was recognized by Virginia Hunter Education Association (VHEA) President, Vernie Kennedy, for his outstanding efforts in planning two successful youth deer hunts held last fall in Bedford. Officer Sprinkle was instrumental in the ongoing discussions with Bedford County officials, VHEA representatives and hunter education instructors to coordinate the use of county property solely for a youth hunt. His unwavering dedication in patrolling the property during the hunt resulted in the apprehension of several violators who could have otherwise dampened the spirits of the lawful participants.

Quail Unlimited Supports VDGIF Quail Action Plan

The Central Virginia Chapter of Quail Unlimited has provided support for the VDGIF's Quail Action Plan by donating $5,000 in equipment purchases and contractual habitat work. The Chapter purchased several all terrain vehicle attachable spin seeders and herbicide spray rigs for use on the Department's Wildlife Management Area Quail Habitat Demonstration projects. In addition, they helped fund a substantial section of forestry mulching on the Powhatan WMA Quail Demonstration site. Forestry mulching is a relatively new process for setting back plant succession to the early stages required by quail and many other species. In addition, the State Council of Quail Unlimited helped fund the attendance of two VDGIF biologists to the Southeast Quail Study Group (now, National Bobwhite Technical Committee) meeting in Columbia, South Carolina. This was a critical meeting conducted in partnership with Southeastern Partners in Flight. Visit the website for updates on the Quail Action Plan.

Wildlife Center to Hold Rehabilitation Classes in June - July

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

June 27 - Lynchburg Parks & Recreation

July 18 - Sandy Bottom Nature Park, Hampton

July 25 - Lord Fairfax Community College, Middletown

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

High Bridge Trail State Park Hosts National Trails Day Event

High Bridge Trail State Park celebrated opening 12 miles of trail and National Trails Day® with a morning-long festival Saturday, June 6, at Riverfront Park on Main Street in Farmville. Governor Timothy M. Kaine was the featured speaker for the event. High Bridge Trail State Park is a 34 mile hiking, biking and bridle trail that runs through three counties and five towns in Central Virginia. Its centerpiece is the majestic High Bridge, which is more than 2,400 feet long and 160 feet above the Appomattox River. In addition to the 12 miles being opened in June, work continues on the remainder of the state park, including High Bridge, which remains closed until it is decked for trail use.

National Trails Day® was created in 1993 by the American Hiking Society. Since then, it has inspired thousands of people to enjoy trails on the same day nationwide, taking part in hikes, bike and horse rides, trail maintenance, and other activities. The 2009 National Trails Day® slogan, Take in the Outdoors, is an open invitation to all Americans to get outside and connect with local hiking clubs, state, national and federal parks, local parks and recreation departments to experience everything the great outdoors has to offer. The Virginia Birding & Wildlife Trail system offers excellent opportunities for hikers to view wildlife. For more information on High Bridge Trail and other state parks contact

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.

Proposed Regulation Amendments for 2009 - 2010 Hunting & Trapping Seasons

Final Board Action

On February 27, 2009, the Virginia Board of Game and Inland Fisheries proposed amendments to 37 of the Commonwealth's hunting and trapping regulations for the 2009 and 2010 hunting and trapping seasons. During the period of March 11, 2009 - May 11, 2009, the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries received more than 2,200 public comments on the proposed regulation amendments. Final action on the proposed regulation amendments took place at the Virginia Board of Game and Inland Fisheries meeting held on June 2, 2009. The following is a summary of the Board's action on the proposed regulation amendments. The 29 proposed regulation amendments approved by the Board will take effect on August 1, 2009. For specific details on the approved regulations, refer to the Hunting and Trapping in Virginia digest which will be available in late July. Details of the regulation changes will be featured in the July 8th and 22nd editions of the Outdoor Report.

June Squirrel Season on WMAs June 6-20

The third year of a statewide squirrel season will be available for sportsmen June 6-20, 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.

Gobbler Hunt is Way to Say Thank You to Wounded Warriors

Photos by Cindy Zepp

Editors note: A group of wounded warriors were hosted for a spring gobbler hunt on the Suffolk farm of Rob and Cindy Zepp on the opening day of spring gobbler season, April 11. This was the second year for the wounded warrior event and this one attracted over 150 hunters, volunteers and supporters. J.C. Gaitley III, is a survival specialist and instructor who volunteers to assist VDGIF in outdoor education training. He also volunteered to help with arrangements for the wounded warrior hunt, even though he knew he would be unable to attend the actual event. J.C. sent us a touching letter about this event. The letter expresses the importance of volunteers in hosting a hunting event to show appreciation to those brave veterans who serve in the military and sacrifice so much for all of us. We wanted to share the following excerpts with you from his 'thank you' letter...

The Zepp's organized the event so that each of the 11 hunters would have a place to hunt, a turkey caller of the highest caliber and a videographer to record all that happened. Area landowners welcomed the use of their properties and Coleman Boyce, President of Somerton Hunt Club, offered services of their members and several thousand acres for the vets to hunt on.

The sponsors of the hunt were: Virginia Hunter Education Association, Food Lion, Jim Crumley's Outfitter Tuff, Carts Unlimited, Hunters for the Hungry, Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Nansemond River Baptist Church, Brown Building Corp., Buck Gardner Calls, Bass Pro, Ashland Farms, Safari Land, Hunter Specialties, Somerton Hunt Club, and Borderline Hunt Club. Landowners that contributed the use of the land were: Somerton Hunt Club, Borderline Hunt Club, Allen Winslow, Clarence Riddick, Franklin Marzullo, Rob Zepp, Coleman Boyce, Brad Byrd, Richard Gwaltney, and Bill Schieber. These supporters ran the gamut from national companies to individuals wanting to also say thank you to our veterans for their service to our country. All the vendors gave from their hearts even in the midst of economic stress. The hunt itself was very successful with two gobblers harvested and all having a great day afield. The rest of the story is a valuable reminder of the importance to say thank you to our defenders of freedom in uniform.

J.C. missed the actual day of the hunt as he was waiting in an airport for a flight to Texas, however he had the rare privilege to have breakfast with four active servicemen on their way home from Iraq and Afghanistan. J.C. notes in his letter, "We talked about home and I thanked them for their service to our country. I told them about the wounded warrior hunt that was going on that day in Suffolk. The sense of pride they felt and the gratitude to a group of strangers who thought enough of others to devote opening day and countless hours beforehand to say thank you to someone they didn't know was overwhelming. As I started to leave to catch my flight, after shaking hands, and mutual compliments for jobs well done and wishing safe journeys, I turned back to see the four men still talking about hunting and waving back to me. I realized at that moment thanking our men and women in uniform should be daily, not just in an airport, or by hosting a hunt."

"I hope we all will take the time out of busy lives to say thank you. They are two simple words but they mean so much to both the giver and receiver. I know I will never say or hear those words again without thinking of the new friends I have made and how a simple phrase can mean so much. Thank You!" J.C. Gaitley III

Be Safe... Have Fun!

Snakes - Splendor in the Grass!

Snakes have been the focal point of folklore for centuries. From the "legendary" hoop snake that sticks its tail into its mouth and rolls after you, to snakes that hypnotize their prey. No other group of animals has suffered more from negative misinformation than snakes. In fact, snakes are some of the most fascinating and beneficial creatures on the planet. The benefits range from the thrill of a chance encounter while on a walk in the woods, to the consumption of thousands of rodents that may potentially cause millions of dollars in agricultural damage every year. Their benefits to us and the ecosystem they inhabit are some of the reasons it is illegal in Virginia to intentionally kill snakes.

Generally speaking, snakes are very reclusive and timid. Many species of snakes will not even attempt to bite when handled. Of the 30 species in Virginia, only 3 are venomous: copperhead, cottonmouth and timber rattlesnake. All three of which are considered docile, unless provoked. Copperhead bites are by far the most common venomous snake bite in Virginia. However, in the 30 years that the Virginia Department of Health has been keeping records on venomous snake bites, no one has ever died from a copperhead bite. Copperhead bites often only result in mild inflammation and discomfort.

If you do encounter a snake in the woods, simply leave it alone, it'll get out of your way or you can walk around it. SNAKES DO NOT CHASE PEOPLE. Here are a few tips to avoid the possibility of being bitten when hiking in the woods:

  1. Stay on the trail.
  2. Watch where you place your hands and feet, and where you sit down.
  3. Do not attempt to capture snakes.

If you are bitten by a venomous snake, stay calm and seek immediate medical attention. None of Virginia's venomous snakes are considered to be highly lethal, but medical attention is necessary for all venomous snake bites.

If you are lucky enough to encounter a snake while enjoying the outdoors; step back and watch a moment. Notice the way the sunlight reflects off the scales and the incredible way a snake can glide off into the leaves barely making a sound. Unless cornered, the snake is going to slip away as quickly as it can.

A Guide to the Snakes of Virginia, one of the Department's most popular publications since its 2001 release, has been reprinted and is again available. This 32-page full-color booklet, co-authored and illustrated by Mike Pinder, our Region 3 Wildlife Diversity Manager, presents all of Virginia's 30 species of snakes in an attractive and educational "field-guide" format. It also includes snakebite information, provides answers to frequently asked questions about snakes, and suggests what you can do to protect or control snakes in your yard and home. Finally, it summarizes snake conservation and management issues, and offers ways you can help protect these fascinating animals. Single copies of the guide can be picked up free of charge at the Department's regional offices; or copies may be purchased online through the Department's Outdoor Catalogue for $5.00 each, or in cases of 60 copies for $150 per case.

Prairie Dogs Are Illegal As Pets

West Nile Virus, Avian Influenza, Lyme Disease, Monkeypox, and now Swine Flu are all diseases that have been transmitted from animals to humans. Nationally, wildlife agencies, doctors, veterinarians, wildlife rehabilitators, and others are grappling with inter-species diseases. Prairie dogs are known carriers of the Plague as well as Monkeypox and as non-native wildlife could have a detrimental impact on native wildlife if introduced into the wild. As a result it has been illegal to possess prairie dogs in Virginia since 1998 without a special permit. The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is responsible for maintaining the health and welfare of wildlife in the Commonwealth.

Conservation Police Officers are working an active investigation into the illegal importation, possession, and sale of prairie dogs that has resulted in the confiscation of numerous animals. We have learned that prairie dogs have been sold to individuals in Virginia who may not be aware that it is unlawful to possess them as pets. Anyone who has one in their possession or is aware of one in someone's possession should immediately contact the Department at (804) 367-1258. A key concern of wildlife officials is that these animals not be released into the wild, which is illegal.

We understand the emotional factor when dealing with animals and pets, and we have been exploring options to place these animals with facilities that are permitted to possess them. So far, the facilities which can handle a large number of prairie dogs have not been willing to expose their animals to potential disease from animals of unknown origin, and we have had to make arrangements to have some animals put down. We have one facility that we are currently talking with about potentially holding the animals in quarantine. Fifteen animals have been confiscated so far. Seven have been put down. Additional animals will be confiscated as part of the investigation.

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries strongly discourages people from keeping wild or exotic animals as pets. Many people do not fully appreciate the care requirements of wild and exotic animals. Even the best-prepared owner is no substitute for an animal's natural habitat.

Stay Safe on the Water - Boat Smart and Sober!

With the summer boating season upon us, 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!

"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 continue 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!

Outdoor Blogs Provide Nature Adventure Info For Kids

Just in time for this edition of the Outdoor Report, while browsing the June 10 posting of the Women's Outdoor Wire, was a headline that caught my eye. For excellent information on getting youngsters interested in exploring and learning about nature read The Outdoor Scene blog from Tammy Sapp.

Kids Discover Nature

When Tammy Sapp was a kid, all it took was the threat of housework to have her dashing outside in search of backyard adventure. Today, parents have a wonderful new resource to introduce their children to the outdoors. Outdoor expert and blogger Jodi Valenta shares her tips to help connect kids to nature. For more:

For additional information, view the latest Virginia Naturally newsletter.

Nature Observations from the Byrd Nest by Marika Byrd

Nature Photography Day June 15

"A picture shows me at a glance what it takes dozens of pages of a book to expound." ~ John Mason Neale 1818--1866

Photographs help me vividly see and feel in my "mind's eye" exactly that moment in time; for example, my photo shoot at Chief Charlie's Kids Fishing Day in Grottoes on May 3, 2008, captured the youngster's pure joy and excitement upon pulling many trout from the pond and eagerly doing a "show and tell." Nature Photography Day is June 15—an ideal time to start your nature photograph album as you, family, and friends seek outdoor adventures while being good stewards of our natural resources. Years later, a review of your photos will take you vividly back to that special event, also known as nostalgia.

Photography teaches patience as you move about, find a subject in good light, see the image in the "camera's eye," and wait for that right moment to click the shutter. Seeing the flora and fauna around us, the sunshine, or that freshly caught fish—they all are subjects for even the most amateur "camera bug" among us, regardless of age. Imagine standing or sitting still to capture a bullfrog by that local pond; a deer; a fawn; the lovely sunset or the sunrise with the mist hovering over a lake or stream; the blanket of pure white, just-fallen snow as creatures of Mother Nature play in it. "Flowers, trees, and sunsets can be calmer subjects for beginners to snag in their lenses than a spooked deer or an owl high in a tree," according to Marie Majarov, award-winning, professional nature photographer.

Now with the lower priced small, auto-focus digital cameras, also known as a "point and shoot", it is cost-effective to practice away to get the hang of picture taking. Have the proper tools and learn all the features available on your equipment as you prepare for your adventure outdoors. A recommended beginner book is 101 Essential Tips - Photography, DK Publishing, Inc.,, ISBN 0-7894-0174-6. On the internet, go to and in the advanced search type: "beginner nature photography." The more pictures you take the more experience you will gain. "Professionals always shoot many images to capture their subject just right," notes Majarov.

As you improve your work exhibit it or submit the outcomes to a photography contest—like the Virginia Wildlife magazine's annual March issue, the Outdoor Report, or enter the Kids 'n Fishing Photo Contest at VDGIF. Now start your nature album by venturing afield to see what images you can capture for your nostalgia album.

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

Agencies Cooperate to Reclaim Quail Habitat in Coal Fields

On May 21, representatives from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy, the U.S. Office of Surface Mining, and Virginia Tech, met to begin planning potential management and research projects for quail and early-succession species on reclaimed coal surface mined lands in Virginia, including portions of the Powell River Project in Wise County and Public Access Lands for Sportsmen (PALS) in Dickenson County. The meeting was organized around a day long field tour of sites in the area that demonstrate the relatively new Forest Reclamation Approach, highlighting efforts of the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative. Marc Puckett, VDGIF Small Game Project Leader notes, "While reforestation and early-succession species management may seem to be unlikely partners, in the setting of surface mine reclamation, the processes are highly compatible. Great potential exists for research into long term wildlife benefits from the application of the Forest Reclamation Approach to surface mined lands. Positive effects could potentially be realized on thousands of acres throughout Virginia, Kentucky, West Virginia, and other states with mine reclamation needs." Visit our website for updates on the VDGIF Quail Action plan.

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 Certifies 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) has certified a new state record blue catfish that is 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. 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 nearly an hour to land it.

Thinking they might have a record in their hands, they transported the fish to the Castaway Tackle Shop in Chester, only minutes from the boat ramp. Owner Wayne Andrews was on-hand to help them weigh the fish. This preliminary weigh-in confirmed that this was likely to be a record fish. Mr. Wilson, not wanting to kill the fish, held it in a live well borrowed from Castaway until fisheries biologists from VDGIF arrived with a larger live well. The fish was then transported to Green Top Sporting Goods in Ashland where it was weighed on a large Department of Agriculture certified scale. Although it's impossible to know the fish's age without looking at its ear bone, previous studies of James River blue catfish suggest that this fish is probably somewhere between 12 and 16 years old. Thanks to Mr. Wilson's desire to release the fish alive, it will have the opportunity to grow even older; although, many anglers will be prowling the James River in the hopes of catching this fish again at an even larger size. Congratulations Mr. Wilson on this record and a special "way to go" for releasing the monster cat back to the river!

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.

If you haven't gotten your fishing license yet this summer what are you waiting for? Who knows? You might catch the next state record fish.

New Record Hybrid Striped Bass Caught In Claytor Lake

The new record hybrid striped bass weighing 13 pounds, was caught in Claytor Lake on May 13, 2009 by Robert Rakes. This is the first-ever entry for this category; it had to meet a minimum qualifying weight of ten pounds.

Northern Virginia Reservoirs Ranked For Largemouth Bass

VDGIF District fisheries biologists sampled major reservoirs in Northern Virginia in spring 2005-2009. The samples were conducted during daytime with boat electrofishing gear targeting largemouth bass and were conducted in a manner that allows several comparisons to be made concerning these fish populations. Since many anglers seek largemouth bass, and fish considered over 15 inches are considered "preferred" nationwide; the following summary contains information about bass over the 15 inches (preferred size).

The term "RSD-P" (below) stands for "relative stock density of preferred fish" – which is the proportion of bass in a population over eight inches (stock size or "recruits") that are also at least 15 inches. Thus, this index describes the size structure of the population . . . the higher the number – the larger the percentage of the population is composed of big fish. The index "CPE-P" stands for "catch per effort of preferred fish." This is a measure of how many bass over 15 inches are collected by biologists during a set unit of effort (in this case, 1-hour of electrofishing). Thus, the higher the number, the more abundant big bass were during the sample.

Several factors can bias the data (e.g., weather conditions, fish behavior), but samples were conducted with efforts to minimize these biases. The following is a summary of these data with lakes ranked by CPE-P:

Reservoir Rank Year Size (AC) County CPE-P RSD-P
Occoquan 1 2007 2100 Fairfax 39 52
Burke 2 2006 218 Fairfax 38 55
Mountain Run 3 2005 75 Culpeper 37 21
Motts 4 2008 160 Spotsylvania 32 35
Beaverdam Cr. 5 2008 350 Loudoun 28 47
Anna 6 2009 9600 Spotsylvania 28 42
Pelham 7 2005 255 Culpeper 28 41
Germantown 8 2008 109 Fauquier 23 17
Fairfax 9 2008 28 Fairfax 22 31
Brittle 10 2006 77 Fauquier 21 26
Abel 11 2009 185 Stafford 14 20
Orange 12 2008 124 Orange 14 12
Ni 13 2007 411 Spotsylvania 13 30
Breckinridge 14 2006 47 Stafford 12 9
Lunga 15 2005 477 Stafford 11 13
Hunting Run 16 2009 420 Spotsylvania 8 8
Curtis 17 2009 91 Stafford 6 8
Smith 18 2007 250 Stafford 5 7
Accotink 19 2009 90 Fairfax 2 10

All of these lakes are considered "small impoundments" except Lakes Anna and Occoquan; and Lake Anna is, by far, the largest. Therefore, it is not entirely appropriate to compare them all "head-to-head", as catch rates at large reservoirs are usually lower than in small impoundments. This makes Lake Anna's rise in the standings that much more impressive – most bass indices at Anna were at or near all-time record levels.

John Odenkirk, fisheries biologist, noted many of the best district lakes (for big bass per hour) were consistent producers year-after-year such as Burke and Occoquan. Hunting Run, a new reservoir with great potential, continued a skid in the rankings due to a stockpile of sub 15 inch fish - anglers need to harvest sub slot (<16 in.) fish to relieve this predator-heavy stunting. Threadfin shad stockings and a full pool water level (for the first time) should also help correct the bass population at Hunting Run. For more information, contact VDGIF Fisheries Division in Fredericksburg Regional Office (540) 899-4169.

Miklandric Earns "Angler of the Year" Honors

The well known quote from American humorist, Will Rogers, "It ain't braggin' if you done it!", certainly applies to Virginia angler Stephen Miklandric, who has put together a resume of accomplishments that would lead you to conclude he is one of the best anglers in the state.

Stephen's dedication and tenacity to mastering his angling skills has earned him many citations in just about every species category in the VDGIF Angler Recognition awards and fish citation program.

Some of Steven's lifetime fishing accomplishments include:

Steven's goal for this year is to get two more citations to make Level IV Master Angler. He is targeting striped bass and muskies. Good luck and keep us posted on your success.

Read more of Steven's remarkable story in The Richmond Times Dispatch article Sunday, May 31, by Andy Thompson.

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.

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.

Anglers Be on the Lookout for Fish Kills

With the warmer summer temperatures, fish kills are possible with the most severe die-offs among smallmouth bass and sunfish. Many of these fish develop skin lesions before dying. Scientists continue to collect water and fish samples this season 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 their investigations. 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 A detailed summary of findings through the 2008 fish kill season is available on the DEQ 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

Virginia Beach: Captain Jim Brincefiled (443) 336-8756. Capt. Jim notes that the spadefish have arrived around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, along the pilings and rocks. They are going for clams. Cobia have also arrived and seem to like crabs. Croaker and flounder are in the James and York rivers; attacking peeled crab and squid. Speckled trout are in the Lynnhaven Inlet going for artificial grubs. The water is very clear and 67 degrees.

Chickahominy River: River's Rest (804) 829-2753. Charlie Brown says a wet week has really cut down on angling. Some fisherfolk have landed a string of "eating sized" cats, and a few bass have been brought in, but that is it. The water is somewhat stained and in the 60s.

North Landing River and Back Bay: West Neck Marina (757) 426-6735. Dewey Mullins reports that bass fishing is "fine". Try topwater lures till sunrise, then spinners and cranks during the day. At night, return to topwaters. Lots of crappie are being landed with nightcrawlers and small spinners. Bluegill are being fooled by worms, small beetlespins, and crickets. No word on cats. White perch are plentiful and go for small spinners and nightcrawlers. The water is clear and in the 60s.

Norfolk Lakes: Dasheill's Show Room (757) 539-7857. Drew Dixon told me that there have been lots of successful bass tournaments lately; with soft plastics and cranks bringing home the bacon. Several big crappie have been landed on minnows and jigs. Lots of cat have been fooled by cut bait. Shellcrackers are going for red wigglers. The bluegill are on their beds and biting crickets. The water is clear and in the low to mid 70s.

Blackwater/Nottoway Rivers: By Riverkeeper Jeff Turner Largemouth bass continue to do well in the rivers. I was on the Nottoway first of the week. I caught dozens of bream and red throats, though most were really small. They were caught on the smallest Snagless Sally ever made. That tiny model is no longer produced so no need to go looking for one. The bass fishing this trip was phenomenal. I caught around 30 largemouth and two stripers to 2 pounds. The deal was the swamps were full of shad or herring or some kind of fry, tiny baby fish about an inch long. The bass were just tearing these vast fry schools up. I would rip a baby Tiny Torpedo through the schools and the bass would just crunch it. I also used a very small Rapala about two inches long to nab a few.

Region 2 - Southside

Nottoway Falls: Our man in the boat, Willard Mayes: Thought it was time to see if the fish were hungry at Nottoway Falls, so my friend and I headed there on June 1. We found the water clear to about 3 ft. with a brown tint and a good temp for this time of year. My partner does not think he is fishing unless he is using worms or crickets so he put out his worms and corks while I tried the fly rod. He did not catch anything with the worms from the dock towards the dam and I only picked up one small 3 finger size bluegill. I thought this was a good sign and headed for the flats where I found the bluegill waiting. Caught a dozen or so, about as fast as the popping bug hit the water before I put it up and switched over to the spinning rod and my favorite twister tail. The fish were still not that fond of the worms and preferred my plastic ones over the real thing. I think I ended up throwing back over 40 bluegill and a few Crappie and keeping 28 bluegill and 23 crappie. My friend kept 12 bluegill and 12 crappie. The bluegill were not that large with the largest being in the 6 to 7 inch rang and the crappie up to 9 inches. Did not catch any bass but did manage to catch one mud cat about 3 pounds. The cat looked like he had fought every fish in the lake or run amuck of several grab hooks.

James at Scottsville: Local Guide L.E. Rhodes (434) 286-3366. I think that I'm beginning to sound like a broken record. It seems the only report I can give is "high and muddy." Hopefully by weeks end we will be going full force making up for lost days. The tributaries do clear up quicker allowing us the chance at some good fishing. Soft plastics (flukes and grubs) have been producing some quality fish. Fly anglers have had success using streamers and crayfish patterns. Although a few fish have been taken on top we are still a couple weeks from the top water bite.

Kerr Reservoir: Bob Cat's Lake Country Store (434) 374-8381. Bobby Whitlow told me that bass angling is "excellent", as the fish are schooling up. Topwater lures are effective as is trolling with a Carolina Rigged soft plastic (green pumpkin is a good color). Crappie are on the brushpiles, 12 ft. to 25 ft. down. Minnows and jigs are a good bet, as always. Cats are responding well, with some up to 60 lbs. being landed. Stripers are being found around the Grassy Creek area; try shad or shiners. The water is clear, but Bobby says it will get muddy and rise. The temperature is in the 70s.

Lake Gaston: Holly Grove Marina (434) 636-3455. Craig Karpinski let me know that bass are really biting down on the lake. Some have spawned, some are being landed with eggs intact. They are hitting whatever is thrown at them, from topwaters to Carolina Rigs. Crappie fishing has tapered off, but minnows and jigs may land you one. Cats are being fooled by cut bait and live shad. The water is slightly stained and around 60 degrees.

Smith Mountain Lake: Virginia Outdoorsman (540) 721-4867. The warm temperatures seen last week brought the surface water temperature up over 75 degrees in most sections of the lake. Surface temperatures as high as 78 degrees have been reported in the backs of some creeks. This weeks forecast calls for a continuation of this warm weather pattern. Daytime high temperatures are expected to be in the upper 70s and 80s and the low temperature at night in the 60s. The lake water level is near full pond and all Department of Game and Inland Fisheries public boat ramps are open. There is plenty of moonlight at night with the recent full moon last Sunday, June 7.

Bass and stripers: Best lures are topwater lures at night as the alewives continue to come near the shoreline to spawn. Lures producing good "night bite" results this past week include the Cotton Cordel Redfin, Storm Jointed Thunderstick, Rapala X-Rap, Sebile "Magic Swimmer", Spro Bronzeye Frog and Popper. The alewives have been coming to the bank later in the evening and several evenings were not observed until 11:30 p.m. The active bass and striper bite has been getting later as well and has not been lasting as long as it did several weeks ago.

Striped bass: Catches are results of using live alewives, gizzard shad, and shiners rigged behind planer boards, floats, and shot lines. Many of the stripers being caught are hitting when the live bait is being pulled across shallow points, flats, and humps. Down-lines and bottom-rigs are also accounting for stripers, especially in the lower lake along the face of the mountain and in front of the dam. Umbrella rigs (U-rigs) are also starting to produce stripers, but most fish being caught on U-rigs are coming on those pulled in the top ten feet of the water column. Good striper areas include the lower lake and near the mouths of the major creeks and the Roanoke and Blackwater Rivers.

Black bass: First thing in the morning use buzz baits, spinner baits, top-water poppers, and flukes rigged on EWG worm and weighted Falcon hooks. Once the sun gets up the bass are moving deeper in the water column or into water where there is a good amount of shade. One of the popular bass patterns this time of year is "fish suspended on vertical structure". Among the most plentiful and productive are the pilings on docks built in deep water. Yamamoto Senko worms wacky rigged with "Gamakatsu finesse wide gap hooks" and Owner weighted weedless hooks are good choices for these suspending bass. Deep-water dock pilings, ladders, channel markers, and deep water next to rock bluffs are good places to use Senko worms. Some bass are also being caught in the shade under docks in 3 to 5 feet of water. Light shaky head jigs rigged with finesse worms (ZOOM), floating worms (Deep Creek, Gambler, Roboworm), and floating craws (Berkley, Netbait, YUM) are working and are at times being hit as they descend under the dock.

Flathead catfish: Use topwater lures at night as well as live shad, large store purchased shiners, and small bluegill during the day. Channel cats are being caught on stinkbaits and nightcrawlers.

Carp: Cast along the shoreline in many areas around the lake. Good, quality "canned corn" on a small octopus circle hook and bottom rig is proving to be a good choice.

Crappie: Use small minnows rigged on gold, thin wire hooks. Small lightweight jigheads with plastic minnow and grub shaped trailers are also working on crappies found under docks. Water is a warm 76 degrees and fairly clear.

There were 20 teams that competed in last weeks Foxport Saturday night tournament. The event was won by the team of Jake Collins and Milton Smith with a total weight of 19.85 pounds. Buster Smith and his wife Pam caught the big fish weighing 5.60 pounds Saturday night. For more results visit my website. Over 60 boats competed in the Conrad Brothers USABassin event this past Sunday. Results will be posted soon on the website.

Tight lines and please be safe while on the water.

Region 3 - Southwest

Claytor Lake: Rock House Marina (540) 980-1488. Mike Burchett says that the bass are off their beds and guarding the fry. Try a trick worm in yellow, orange or white. No word on crappie. Cats are picking up at night on live shad. Bluegill are on their beds and going for nightcrawlers. Stripers have slowed down; try trolling an umbrella rig 40 ft. to 50 ft. down. The water is slightly stained and in the upper 70s.

Lower New River: Big Z'S (540) 639-1651. John Zienius reports that the river is too high to fish. It is also too high to wade or play in. In few days, however, it should be okay again.

Region 4 - Mountain and Shenandoah Valley

North Fork of the Shenandoah: Murray's Fly Shop (540) 984-4212. Master of all things fly, Harry Murray, said that the smallmouth streams in the Valley are too high and muddy to fish, but should clear up soon. The mountain trout streams are carrying full water levels, but are fishable. Your best bet is to come in from the head of the stream near the Blue Ridge Parkway or Skyline Drive. Good flies are the Murray's Flying Beetle, size 14; and Murray's Sulphur Dry Fly, Size 16. The water is clear and 57 degrees. Large stocked trout streams also have full levels. Nypmphs and Streamers are good bets, such as the Casual Dress, sizes 10 and 12; and Mr. Rapidan Streamer, size 8. The waters are clear and 68 degrees.

Lake Moomaw: Local Guide Mike Puffenburger (540) 468-2682. Mike reports that bass angling is fair to good, with dark plastics and crankbaits being effective. Yellow perch are picking up now, and like alewives. Trout fishing is good early and late with alewives and small spoons.

Region 5 - Northern Piedmont

Local Blogger Steve Moore ( and author of a newly released eBook on fishing the North Branch of the Potomac reports that the major rivers in the area are still blown out and stained as a result of the recent rain.

The Rapidan is up over 2 feet and the Rappahannock is almost 4 feet above normal. While great for the canoeists and kayakers, the current water levels are a recipe for disaster for anyone on foot. Keep a close eye on the USGS gages to ensure that the levels drop into the safe range before attempting to wade. On the other hand, if you have a boat or can fish from the shore, the smallmouth action is starting to pick up with most found near the banks.

While the rivers are generally bad, the lakes are good. Lake Frederick is crystal clear with bass hanging near the weed beds that line the shore. The good weather last weekend caused a spike fishing pressure at the lake with plenty of boats and anglers working the banks. The Thompson WMA Lake was under similar pressure with late season trout anglers in hot pursuit of the remaining stocked trout. The trout are still there and holding in the deeper water at the upper end of the lake around the small island. Use bait, small spinners or dry flies at this point in the season to catch them. The mountain streams on the east slope of the Blue Ridge continue to be productive. The late-season cold snap and increased water levels extended the fishing season for brook trout. They continue to hit on any dry fly in the 12 to 16 size range with Mr. Rapidan, mosquitoes and terrestrial patterns coming into their own. Hare's ear and Copper John nymphs are also catching fish. For those who prefer streamers, size 8 black or olive buggers are perfect to use in the fast water. In particular, the upper Conway River and Devil's Ditch are producing well for those who will hike in from the road. Mountain Run Lake in Culpeper is another hot spot with plenty of action on plastics and small crank baits around the western shoreline. The Occoquan Reservoir is seeing increasing action with bass starting to take anything you throw at them. Crankbaits, six-inch dark-colored worms and even top water plugs worked along the shoreline seem to be the favorites.

Lake Anna: C.C. McCotter. Lots of rain has cooled Anna and extended the post spawn feeding frenzy. Shad and herring continue to school and spawn and the gamefish are on them.

Largemouth bass: Topwater fishing in the morning and worm fishing when the sun shines is the pattern throughout the lake. You can do both in all three sections of the lake now. The top lure in the morning has been a soft plastic jerkbait like the Berkley Jerkshad. Shakey head worms on offshore structure and docks have been good during the day.

Striped bass: Many schools of fish are now in the section from The Splits down to the power plant. You'll find them in 30 to 40 feet willing to take live bait and the Toothache spoon. They will pull up on shallow flats and humps in the morning and on a cloudy day where swimbaits and topwater will catch them.

Crappie: The best fishing is occurring in the up lake section around bridge pilings, old roads, brush piles and rocky channel bends. The fishing mid-lake is tough.

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 »

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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 (repeated from the May 27, 2009 edition)

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.

Editor's Note: We received several inquiries about this story from readers on the details on the legal sale of wildlife parts like antlers, mounts, and feathers. Then Law Enforcement Division provided the following explanation.

Any commercialization of Virginia's native wildlife is prohibited by law with very few exceptions. However, many other states do not have similar prohibitions. With the exception of tools or implements fashioned from deer antlers (knives, forks, spoons, etc.) white-tailed deer antler sales are prohibited by state law, including antlers which have undergone the taxidermy process. There are couple of notable exceptions to selling a deer mount. We strongly encourage anyone who wishes to purchase or sell any wildlife parts or mounts, contact their local VDGIF Regional office and speak with a Conservation Police Officer.

Region 1 - Tidewater

Reckless PWC operator nabbed for numerous violations... On Sunday, May 24, 2009, Conservation Police Sgt. Rich Goszka and Conservation Police Officers Ken Williams and Josh Jackson were conducting a boat patrol in the Great Wicomico River in Northumberland County. The officers observed a PWC operating in a reckless manner by spraying the occupants of a boat. The officers moved towards the PWC to initiate a boarding. Upon seeing the marked VDGIF police vessel, the operator began to flee. The officers activated their vessel's emergency lights and siren and the PWC gained speed towards the shoreline. The PWC launched 15 yards onto the beach and the operator fled on foot. The officers conducted an investigation and were able to identify the operator. The operator's brother was arrested for obstruction of justice and drunk in public. The operator of the PWC surrendered himself to Officer Williams on the next Monday, May 25, 2009. The operator was charged with two counts of reckless operation of a PWC, eluding law enforcement, violation of the 50 foot rule, and operating a vessel with an expired registration. For more information contact Lt. Scott Naff at (804) 829-6580.

Region 2 - Southside

Long time turkey poacher caught through tenacious investigation and tip... On May 30, 2009, District 25 Officer Daniel Ross obtained 60 warrants on two individuals related to the illegal killing of wild turkeys in Charlotte County. Officer Ross' investigation began as a result of information provided to him for the past several years. Officer Ross had previous knowledge that one individual was known to give the turkeys he killed to a man that lived in another town close by. During the course of the investigation, Officer Ross determined the unknown man was recently seen with the known violator looking at a harvested turkey. Officer Ross traveled to the home of the man who he thought might have been given the turkey. Officer Ross was able to retrieve a total of seven turkeys from the man's freezer that he said were all brought to him last fall from the violator. He also obtained a statement from the man that the violator had brought him an additional three turkeys this spring. This brought the total to 10 turkeys for the license year. At this time, Officer Ross received a call from the sheriff's office advising him that the violator was at the sheriff's office waiting to talk to him. Officer Ross began an interview which culminated with the man admitting to killing 12 turkeys this license year and to many illegal turkeys that he had killed in the past. One season the man recounted that he and his turkey dog had killed 15 turkeys in one fall. He told Officer Ross that he would not believe the lengths that he had gone to over the years to not get caught. For more information contact Lt. Tony Fisher at (434) 525-7522.

Region 4 - Mountain & Shenandoah Valley

Sheriff's Department and CPO cooperation lead to return of stolen boat... On May 25, 2009, Virginia Conservation Police Officer Crider recovered a 12 foot jonboat that had been reported stolen while conducting a boat patrol on the Shenandoah River in Clarke County. The Clarke County Sheriff's Department took the call and had entered the boat in the system as stolen. A deputy left Officer Crider a message advising him of the report. Officer Crider observed the boat pulled up in tall weeds and obscured from visibility from the road. Officer Crider verified the registration numbers with the county dispatch. The owner was notified and arrived within one hour to pick the boat up. He was a happy boat owner. For more information contact Lt. Ronnie Warren at (540) 248-9360.

Region 5 - Northern Piedmont

Agencies coordinate efforts to keep boaters safe and nab violators... Over the Memorial Day weekend, District 52 officers worked in concert with USCG personnel from Milford Haven in Mathews Co. and Spotsylvania Sheriff's office marine patrol on Lake Anna. Three checkpoints were planned over the weekend. Just prior to the first checkpoint on Friday May 23rd, Officer Lenny Anderson observed a bow rider and stopped the watercraft. The operator was arrested for boating under the influence. Sixty-five watercraft were checked during the 2 hour checkpoint finding most operators in compliance. On May 24th, a 2nd checkpoint was held on another section of Lake Anna. A total of 22 watercraft were inspected. Within 20 minutes of the start of this checkpoint, Officer Anderson made his second boating under the influence arrest of the weekend. For more information contact Captain Joe Pajic at (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 rivers warm with June sunshine, canoeist, kayakers and boaters head to the rivers to enjoy the adventure of floating, wading, and fishing in the thousands of miles of flowing waters throughout the state. Remember your life jacket and sunscreen as you get together on the river with some friends. As Andrew Adamshick describes in his story, his summer float on a nearby river not only provided adventure, but a "spiritual and physical refuge" as well. Adam submitted his story while a senior at Centreville High School in Clifton. This story is one of the Top 10 Entries in 2007-08 Virginia Outdoor Writers Association High School Youth Writing Contest with the theme - "My Most Memorable Outdoor Experience"

The River

By Andrew Adamshick

The sudden heat and illumination of our makeshift torches made the daunting spiders scurry away with uncanny haste. Having just entered a concrete channel under Route 66, my friend and I were hoping to enliven an otherwise dull summer day. Barely visible was an opening of light at the other end, which seemed so distant through the dark and ominous path which lay ahead. The deep rumbling of passing cars did not cover up our rain boots sloshing through the thin layer of water that crept along the middle of the floor. Directly beneath the water, slippery algae threw us off-balance with each precarious step. Toward the end of the tunnel, the water deepened so much that our shorts were lightly skimming the surface. Upon our exit, the harsh sunlight blinded us, but also revealed that the stream had grown into a slightly larger creek, ensuring our continuation.

This was an entirely new world to me, where my previous notion of "nearby" had come to an abrupt halt. The dense forest did not have a path to follow, so we made regular leaps from rock to rock, following the center of the creek. After a while of this, my spirit was dampened and my mind was filled with doubt over the increasing distance from what I considered "home." Yet I had to continue. We pressed onward for those last hundred feet to see the forest cut off and the thirty-foot wide river begin.

Any amount of struggling or soreness leading up to that point in the day was obsolete, because I knew this river would serve as a spiritual and physical refuge for me without end. Huge boulders were scattered alongside the river, from which someone could fish, read, or just think. These rocks of varying sizes were also the main mode of transportation, with enough space between them to serve as huge stepping stones to follow the river in either direction. My biggest decisions were made at the river, where I was not afraid to traverse the seemingly huge steps in life. The water itself was clear enough to see every passing fish, and wide enough to float along without fear of hitting any sharp protrusion. My favorite thing to do still remains finding a comfortable spot, and just embracing the blissful and unparalleled atmosphere that the river creates for me.

At the river, I look around and see everything with a new perspective, where the beauty in nature is highlighted and nothing is out of place. I listen for the sounds of the river, where the rushing water is accompanied by the slight but significant noise that is natural to a forest. This river relaxes my mind in the same way that heaven should, where everything is perfect and I feel no unwilling obligation to change myself or the world around me. Sometimes I feel immortal, and sometimes I feel less significant than the boulder on which I am sitting. This is the true beauty of the river.

Top 10 Entry 2007-08 Virginia Outdoor Writers Association High School Youth Writing Contest by Andrew Adamshick, a senior at Centreville High School in Clifton.

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: