In this edition:
- It's Showtime!
- Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss
- Summer Angling Education Workshops Scheduled
- Outdoor Classic Sportsman's Show, Returns to Roanoke July 31-August 2
- Kayak Instruction at Holliday Lake August 1, 8 & 22
- Waterfowlers' Association Hosts Hunting Workshops August 1
- Sportsman's Show Features New Opportunities for the Whole Family August 7-9
- Mother & Daughter Outdoors Weekend August 14-16
- Kid's Fishing Day Events Provide Family Fun
- People and Partners in the News
- Sgt. David Dodson Wins Prestigious Award
- TU Names Paul Bugas Conservationist of the Year for Virginia
- Matt Koch Hired as Chief Operating Officer at VDGIF
- Hunters for the Hungry Conducts Fund Raising Activities
- Wildlife Center to Hold Rehabilitation Classes in July
- Hunting News You Can Use
- "What's New" for 2009-2010 Posted on Website
- Application Period Now Open for Quota Hunts
- Floating Blind Licenses Now Available from License Agents and Online
- 2009 Virginia Migratory Waterfowl Conservation Stamp Available July 1
- Remember to get your HIP Number
- Information on New Regs Featured at Sportsman Show August 7-9
- Special Seminar Scheduled at Showplace to Review New Regulations and Opportunities
- New Video Available: Squirrel Skinning Quick and Easy and Panfish Preparation and Filleting
- Apprentice Hunting License: A New Way To Get Involved in Hunting
- Be Safe... Have Fun!
- The Eastern Cottonmouth: Separating Fact from Fiction
- Life Jackets Required
- Stay Safe on the Water - Boat Smart and Sober!
- "Green Tips" for Outdoor Enthusiasts
- Family Forestland Shortcourse: Transferring Land to Generation "NEXT"August 12 & 19
- Save Time, Money and Gas - Plan Your Summer Vacation for Virginia
- Notes for Young Nature Explorers
- Outdoor Blogs Provide Nature Adventure Info for Kids
- Nature Observations from The Byrd Nest - Archery 101
- Habitat Improvement Tips
- New Habitat DVD Available
- Fishin' Report
- Got Pictures of Your Catch? Share Them With Us on Flickr!
- New Video Available: Squirrel Skinning Quick and Easy and Panfish Preparation and Filleting
- Effective July 1 Boating Education Required for PWC Operators Age 14-20
- Kid's Fishing Day Events Provide Family Fun
- Anglers Be on the Lookout for Fish Kills
- Life Jackets Required
- Sarah White's Notebook
- Regional River and Lake Reports on Fishing Conditions
- Virginia Conservation Police Notebook
- Field Reports From Officers Protecting Natural Resources and People Pursuing Outdoor Recreation
- Winning Outdoor Adventure Stories from Young Writers
- Student articles from the Virginia Outdoor Writers Association annual writing contests
- "Final Night" by Jennifer Huffman
Sportsman showtime that is. As we quickly approach August and the dog days of summer, this is a friendly reminder that there are only 65 days till the beginning of deer season! This year deer season begins with a special Youth Deer Hunting Day on Saturday September 26th. This is also National Hunting & Fishing Day. How appropriate to celebrate our great hunting traditions and values with a special hunting day established to provide youngsters a unique opportunity to participate in deer hunting.
To properly prepare for hunting season there are dozens of quality sportsmen shows and events scheduled throughout August and September in every region of the state. These events all feature numerous exhibits, demonstrations, hands-on activities and seminars - something for everyone in the family. Experienced and novice sportsmen and sportswomen can try the latest in new, innovative equipment and learn from the experts about new places and proven techniques to enjoy Virginia's great outdoors. Detailed information and website links for each of these events is listed in this edition. All the events are unique and offer something different of interest to hunters of all skill levels. They range from one day hands-on workshops to three day shows with over 300 exhibits and demonstrations. Locate several of these events near you and take your family and friends and get ready for a safe and rewarding hunting season. I hope to see you all at the show!
David Coffman, Editor
Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss
Summer Angling Education Workshops Scheduled
Summer is here and now is the time to register for VDGIF Angling Education events. Register now online, don't delay, these workshops fill up fast!
July 28 & August 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.
Outdoor Classic Sportsman's Show, Returns to Roanoke July 31-August 2
Southwest Virginia's largest hunting and fishing expo is back and bigger than ever. The Outdoor Classic (formerly the Virginia Outdoor Sportsmen's Classic) will be at the Roanoke Civic Center July 31 through August 2, 2009. Event Manager, Waynette Anderson, says, "The Outdoor Classic will feature hunting and fishing guides, outfitters, and product vendors. This year we're bringing in businesses that have never been seen here before. Hunters will be able to find all of the products they'll need for hunting season later this year. For the fishing enthusiasts, there will be more fishing products and services at the show than ever before. You'll be able to book fishing trips from all over the east coast and get all the products you'll need while you're fishing." The Outdoor Classic will also feature a big buck contest and lots of entertainment included in the low weekend ticket price. Visit the Outdoor Classic website for details.
Kayak Instruction at Holliday Lake August 1, 8 & 22
Discover the joys of recreational kayaking by taking one of several courses at the Holliday Lake State Park near Appomattox! The course will be offered on three different Saturday dates: August 1, 8, and 22. This course covers kayak safety and launching techniques, followed by on the water instruction. You will learn how to maneuver kayaks forward, backwards, sideways, and practice these skills through an obstacle course! The course fee is $16 and includes all necessary course equipment. Advanced registration is required. This educational experience is in partnership with VDGIF and Holliday Lake State Park. To register for this course or for more information, contact Robert Chapman at the State Park office at 434-248-6308, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Waterfowlers' Association Hosts Hunting Workshops August 1
On August 1, there will be a Waterfowl Hunting Workshops event hosted by VDGIF and the Virginia Waterfowler's Association. This event will be held from 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., at Sussex Shooting Sports located west of Waverly. All participants will be required to pre-register by July 24, 2009. A fee of $10 and official registration form will be due at the REGISTRATION TABLE by 10:20 a.m. on the date of the event. These workshops are limited to 30 participants and will provide the opportunity to learn and/or improve their basic fundamentals of waterfowling. There will be three one-hour clinics and a complimentary lunch included. Participants must be 18 years or older. Those under 16 must be accompanied by a registered adult.
The event will consist of three workshops:
- Duck & Goose Calling
- Waterfowl Identification & Waterfowl Game Laws
Workshop will be held outdoors rain or shine. To pre-register, email your name, email address to Todd Cocker at email@example.com.
Sportsman's Show Features New Opportunities for the Whole Family August 7-9
The 26th Annual Virginia Outdoor Sportsman's Show features over 300 fun and exciting new exhibits, demonstrations and seminars - something for everyone in the family. Experienced and novice sportsmen and sportswomen can try the latest in new equipment and learn about new places and techniques to enjoy Virginia's great outdoors. The three-day show is held at The Showplace in Richmond August 7-9, 2009. You can purchase your new Hunting and Fishing Licenses, the new 2010 Virginia Wildlife calendar, or the Pan Fishing and Squirrel Skinning DVD from the VDGIF booth and also subscribe to Virginia Wildlife magazine and the Outdoor Report at the Show. Biologists, conservation police officers, Complementary Work Force volunteers, and Hunter Education Instructors will be on hand to answer your questions. Get your free copy of the new 2009-2010 Hunting & Trapping Regulations and Information booklet featuring descriptions of new regulations and opportunities to enhance your hunting experience. The booklet also gives details on popular programs like the Apprentice License, Earn-A-Buck, expanded muzzleloading seasons, telecheck, and special youth fall turkey and deer seasons. VDGIF officials will host a special seminar on Saturday August 8 at 11 a.m. to review "New Opportunities and Regulations for Hunters".
This is your chance to see the biggest bucks harvested in Virginia. Deer hunters throughout Virginia will bring their mounts to this prestigious contest, organized by the Virginia Deer Hunters Association (VDHA). Certified judges from the VDHA and VDGIF will be awarding ribbons and trophies in four antler classes. The Virginia Open Turkey Calling Championship will be held on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. sanctioned by the National Wild Turkey Federation. There are cash and prize awards with the first place winners in four Divisions eligible to go to the National Calling Contest. Check the Show's website for information on numerous seminars, exhibits, demonstrations, sportsmen celebrities, and contests.
Take a Friend, Make a Hunter... This is the perfect event to bring a friend that is interested in the Apprentice Hunting License to talk with experienced sportsmen about the many opportunities for hunting and try out the latest gear to enhance your experience. Purchase an Apprentice Hunting License and sign up a new subscriber for the Outdoor Report at the Show and we will give you a useful VDGIF camo carabiner and a free 2009 Hunting & Fishing Virginia Wildlife Calendar!
Mother & Daughter Outdoors Weekend August 14-16
This event is designed primarily for women. It is an excellent opportunity for anyone nine years of age and above to learn the outdoor skills usually associated with hunting and fishing, but useful in a variety of outdoor pursuits. This event is for you if: you would like to get your family involved in outdoor activities and need a place to start, you have never tried these activities but have hoped for an opportunity to learn, or you are a beginner who hopes to improve your skills. Registration fee is $90 per person; the registration deadline is 5:00 PM on July 24, 2009. See registration form for more information (PDF).
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 October. 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
Sgt. David Dodson Wins Prestigious Award
International Hunter Education Association Names Dodson Professional of the Year
Sergeant David Dodson, statewide VDGIF Hunter Education coordinator, has been named Professional of the Year by the International Hunter Education Association (IHEA). The award is presented to the full-time employee of a state, province, or jurisdiction who has performed an outstanding service to the agency, state, province, or jurisdiction in Hunter Education or any facet of hunting.
Dodson was recognized for his contributions to Hunter Education over his 24-year career with VDGIF. He has been a Hunter Education instructor since he was a field officer and has continued to teach Hunter Education despite moving up the ranks to his current administrative position of statewide Hunter Education Coordinator. In 1998, he became a Master Instructor and has taught more than 1,800 students and worked more than 23,000 hours in his Hunter Education efforts. Innovations he has overseen include implementation of the internet aspect of the Alternative Delivery course, an internet-based class with on-site, hands-on testing, which is now taught in every region of the state. He has worked on the development of a contemporary class manual to keep pace with today's changing demographics and conservation-related activities. Sgt. Dodson has developed a specialized cadre of expert instructors to train Hunter Education instructors on treestand safety. He oversees the training and instruction carried out by nearly 900 volunteer instructors.
In addition, Sgt. Dodson promoted public hunting events such as youth rabbit and youth deer hunts. He is active in the Cedar Mountain shooting sports team in Culpeper, where he instructs young people in firearm safety, ethical hunting practices, and hunting laws. When the Virginia Hunter Education Volunteer Instructors Association was founded in 2007, Sgt. Dodson was instrumental in working with the charter members advising them on legal issues, their mission statement, goals, and objectives. Sgt. David Dodson is known to be an officer of unquestionable integrity. He is a police officer as well as an educator who had dedicated his professional life to hunter safety and hunter education. For that reason, the International Hunter Education Association has selected him to be their Professional of the Year.
TU Names Paul Bugas Conservationist of the Year for Virginia
VDGIF Senior Fisheries Biologist Paul Bugas was recently recognized by Trout Unlimited, a national conservation organization, as their Conservationist of Year Award recipient for Virginia.
Paul Bugas has worked for VDGIF for 32 years and currently works out of the Department's regional office in Verona. Over the course of his career, he was involved in the original effort to classify all of Virginia's trout streams and more recently has fisheries responsibility for a five-county district that includes Allegheny, Augusta, Bath, Highland, and Rockbridge Counties.
Trout Unlimited recognized him for his extensive work on trout resources including management and monitoring of wild trout populations, developing numerous special regulation trout streams, and development of the Lake Moomaw and Jackson River trout fisheries.
Paul Bugas is also well know for his aquatic educational efforts and was recognized specifically for his assistance with Trout Unlimited's Trout in the Classroom program and for providing educational support for TU's youth conservation camp.
Matt Koch Hired as Chief Operating Officer at VDGIF
Matthew "Matt" Koch (pronounced "Cook") has been hired as the VDGIF chief operating officer. In that capacity, Matt will work in the executive director's office overseeing day-to-day operations and administration. "Matt Koch is an impressive individual who brings to the Department tremendous skills and experience in evaluating and developing operational processes; in human resources; budgeting; and financial and productivity analysis. We are fortunate to have him join our leadership team and we look forward to working with him," said VDGIF Executive Director Bob Duncan.
Prior to joining the VDGIF, Matt worked as president of Productive Knowledge, LLC, a company he founded that provides expertise to help organizations overcome productivity challenges, get control of their information, and accelerate their business processes. Before leaving to launch his own company, Matt Koch worked for Capital One from 1999 to 2008 as director of Human Resources Operations and as director of Productivity and Knowledge Management.
He joined Capital One after a highly successful career with the U.S. Navy. From 1985 to 1999 he served as an officer and a pilot with an impressive career that included flight duty in San Diego and three deployments to the Persian Gulf. He led flight operations for a 13-aircraft squadron with 72 flight personnel, coordinated overseas operations with multi-national military forces, and managed multi-million dollar budgets to the dollar. For five years he worked in the Pentagon providing support to several senior staffs including the White House, the Secretary of the Navy, and the Joint Staff.
Hunters for the Hungry Conducts Fund Raising Activities
The Hunters for the Hungry (H4H) program annually conducts numerous fund raising events to help cover costs of providing thousands of pounds of high protein, low fat venison to those in need, Although the venison is donated by sportsmen, the costs of processing the meat by qualified meat processors must be raised through donations. Several businesses have donated items for a really nice raffle package again this year that includes a new Arctic Cat 400 cc ATV and a Holmes drive-on trailer. The package is valued at $7,300. H4H Program Director Gary Arrington notes that, "We are giving the ATV away in August. Each $5.00 ticket will allow us to process and distribute 25 four ounce servings to needy Virginians. In these difficult economic conditions the need is greater than ever, and this is a great way to promote our hunting heritage in a positive way." Drawing for the winner will be held at the conclusion of the Virginia Outdoor Sportsman Show August 9 in Richmond. Visit the H4H exhibit at the Show for information on their statewide accomplishments and to show your support through their fund raising activities.
To find out how you can help, contact H4H at 1-800-352-4868, or visit their website.
Wildlife Center to Hold Rehabilitation Classes in July
Amanda Nicholson, Outreach Coordinator and Rehabilitation Supervisor for the Wildlife Center of Virginia, announces upcoming "On the Road" wildlife rehabilitation classes:
July 25 - Lord Fairfax Community College, Middletown
- Introduction to Wildlife Rehabilitation
- Wildlife Capture, Restraint, Handling, & Transport
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.
"What's New" for 2009-2010 Posted on Website
The printing presses are rolling to produce your free copy of the new 2009-2010 Hunting and Trapping in Virginia - Regulations digest, which features many new hunter friendly regulations and expanded opportunities this season. The booklet is increasingly user-friendly with color-coded page tabs for the different sections including: What's New, Licenses, Regulations, Hunting Lands, Bear, Deer Turkey, Small Game, Trapping and an Index. One date change new this year is the Regulations go into effect on August 1, 2009, rather than the traditional July 1 date of past seasons. This date change was necessary due to the change in the regulatory review and approval schedule now running into June. The printed editions will be available by the end of July from VDGIF offices, license agents, and at the various upcoming sportsmen's shows.
So as the presses roll on, you can access the new regulations booklet on the VDGIF website along with feature articles on the topics listed in the digest. There is an entire page listing new regulations, expanded seasons and other hunter friendly changes this year entitled "What's New". We will be featuring details of these new opportunities in each of the next editions of the Outdoor Report through September.
Application Period Now Open for Quota Hunts
The application period for 2009-2010 Quota Hunts opened on July 1, 2009. Hunting opportunities are available for waterfowl, white-tailed deer, dove, rabbits, quail, black bear, and spring turkeys. Several hunts offer multiple species during the hunt segments.
New Quota Hunts:
North Landing River Deer Hunts in the City of Virginia Beach (See Series # 203)
Late Season Feral Hog Hunts at False Cape State Park in Virginia Beach (See Series # 604)
Lone Star Lakes Deer Hunts in the City of Suffolk (See Series 212 and 213)
Hunters may apply by mail: Virginia Quota Hunts, c/o CyberData, Inc. P.O. Box 9009, Hicksville, New York 11802, telephone (1-877-824-8687) or through the Department's website.
New Application Deadlines:
- New Kent Forestry Center Dove Hunts, Series # 601 Applications due July 28, 2009, only by telephone or online.
- Radford Army Ammunition Plant Deer Hunts, Series # 211 Applications due August 14, 2009.
New for the 2009-2010 Quota Hunt Season:
- Hunters applying for some hunts may receive additional hunt dates as a bonus if the series applied for does not fill to capacity.
- The Hog Island Wildlife Management Area muzzleloader and firearms hunts have been consolidated into one hunt. Hunters may choose to hunt with either shotgun or muzzleloaders during this hunt.
- The Hog Island Wildlife Management Area Waterfowl Hunt has changed. The hunt days have increased to Wednesdays and Saturdays. Five parties will be drawn for each day. Stand-by drawings will no longer be conducted.
VDGIF would like to thank the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Virginia State Parks, Virginia Department of Forestry, City of Suffolk, Chesterfield County, U. S. Army Radford Ammunition Plant, and The Nature Conservancy for providing the many quota hunting opportunities this coming year.
Floating Blind Licenses Now Available from License Agents and Online
To streamline the purchase of Waterfowl Floating Blind licenses, VDGIF will be selling the licenses through the same point of sale system used to sell hunting and fishing licenses. Previously, waterfowl hunters who wished to purchase a floating blind licenses had to buy one from specific license agents who handled duck blind licenses. Now, waterfowl hunters can purchase this license at any license agent or online.
A floating blind license is required if hunting waterfowl from a floating device that uses a means of concealment other than the device's paint or coloration and is used in the public waters of Virginia for the purpose of hunting east of Interstate 95, except in Accomack and Northampton counties where a float blind license is not required. The float blind license includes a plate with an annual decal that must be attached to the floating blind. The decal and plate (if needed) will be mailed after the point-of-sale purchase to the address on the license application. Because delivery of the plate and/or decal can take some time, hunters are strongly encouraged to purchase their floating blind licenses well in advance of their planned hunt. For more information about waterfowl hunting, about hunting licenses, and hunting regulations in Virginia, visit the Department's website.
2009 Virginia Migratory Waterfowl Conservation Stamp Available July 1
Effective July 1, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) began selling its 2009 Virginia State Migratory Waterfowl Conservation Stamp. The artwork for the stamp, painted by John Obolewicz from Powhatan, is entitled "Ring-Necked Duck" and depicts a ring-neck duck arching up with outspread wings on the water.
Last year, 22,622 duck stamps were sold bringing in $203,598. The funds generated from all sales of the Virginia State Migratory Waterfowl Conservation Stamp are placed in the Department's Game Protection Fund and are accounted for under a separate fund designated as the Virginia Migratory Waterfowl Conservation Stamp Fund and is used to contract with appropriate nonprofit organizations for cooperative waterfowl habitat improvement projects; to protect, preserve, restore, enhance and develop waterfowl habitat in Virginia through the department's waterfowl program; and to offset the administrative costs associated with production, issuance of, and accounting for the Stamp.
Remember to get a new HIP number... All hunters (whether licensed or exempt from being licensed) who plan to hunt doves, waterfowl, rails, woodcock, snipe, coots, gallinules or moorhens in Virginia must be registered with the Virginia Harvest Information Program (HIP). HIP is required each year and a new registration number is needed for the 2009-2010 hunting season. To register for HIP, visit VAHIP.com or call 1-888-788-9772.
For more information on waterfowl hunting in Virginia, visit the Department's website.
Information on New Regs Featured at Sportsman Show August 7-9
Be sure and visit the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries booths at the 26th Annual Virginia Outdoor Sportsman's Show held at The Showplace in Richmond August 7-9, featuring over 300 fun and exciting new exhibits, demonstrations, and seminars - something for everyone in the family. Conservation police officers and wildlife biologists will be on hand to answer all your hunting, fishing, and wildlife information questions. It's also a great time to purchase your hunting and fishing licenses, the new 2010 Virginia Wildlife Calendar, or the Pan Fishing and Squirrel Skinning DVD. Get your free copy of the new 2009-2010 Hunting & Trapping Regulations and Information booklet featuring descriptions of new regulations and opportunities to enhance your hunting experience.
With record deer and bear harvests last year, there are bountiful opportunities for pursuing big game, small game, waterfowl, and trapping. Sportsmen and landowners can get information on habitat improvement and the new quail restoration program. Hunter Education Instructors will have demonstrations on safe firearms handling, tree stand use, and safety reminders for all hunters. Complementary Work Force volunteers will show opportunities for volunteers to work side by side with professional staff in a variety of projects. The Department and partner organizations will have displays featuring specialized, innovative equipment, and opportunities for persons with disabilities and training in outdoor skills. Visit www.HuntFishVA.com for more information on Department programs and hunting opportunities.
Special Seminar Scheduled at Showplace to Review New Regulations and Opportunities
On Saturday August 7 at 11 a.m. VDGIF will host a seminar during the Virginia Outdoor Sportsman Show to review the new regulations and expanded opportunities for hunters being introduced this season. This seminar is especially focused on two new laws which allow for special complementary licenses for organized hunts sponsored by sportsmen's groups for disabled veterans and youth. There is a special permit application and approval process that will be explained during the seminar. Any sportsmen groups who have hosted hunting and fishing events for disabled veterans, or youth in past seasons, or are interested in sponsoring such rewarding events should plan to attend this seminar. If you cannot attend the seminar, information will be available at the VDGIF exhibit throughout the three-day show. Visit www.HuntFishVA.com for more information on Department programs and hunting opportunities.
Pan Fishing and Squirrel Skinning DVD
New Video Available:
Squirrel Skinning Quick and Easy and Panfish Preparation and Filleting
Another great DVD is now being offered at the VDGIF store, this one a double-feature: Squirrel Skinning Quick and Easy and Panfish Preparation and Filleting. With squirrel season starting September 5, this video will show you one of the best methods we've seen for skinning squirrels, former Game Warden John Berry teaches it in detail on the first video. This video has been extremely popular to walk-in customers at VDGIF headquarters, and is now available for ordering on-line for the first time. In the second video, VDGIF Outdoor Education Instructor Jenny West demonstrates various ways to prepare tasty panfish, including scaling, dressing, and filleting. Get both "how to" videos on one DVD for $8.00, shipping included. The DVD makes a great gift for sporting enthusiasts young and old.
Apprentice Hunting License: A New Way To Get Involved in Hunting
New regulations recently passed by the Board provide for numerous opportunities this upcoming fall season to take a new or novice hunter in the field to experience the many benefits hunting offers. There are now both a Youth Deer Hunting Day on September 26, 2009, and a Youth Turkey Hunting Day on October 17, 2009. 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.
Be Safe... Have Fun!
The Eastern Cottonmouth: Separating Fact from Fiction
There is probably no other snake native to Virginia that is more misidentified and cloaked in folklore than the eastern cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus piscivorus). Their aggressiveness has been well over-exaggerated. So if the cottonmouth, or water moccasin, is usually not aggressive, where do these stories come from? As with most folklore, there is a small bit of truth behind the story. Unlike most other snakes that choose to crawl away when threatened, the cottonmouth will often stand its ground with an impressive mouth-gaping display warning the attacker to "leave me alone." Only if the threat persists will the cottonmouth choose to strike. Although death from a cottonmouth bite is very rare and one has never been recorded in Virginia, it should be taken seriously and appropriate medical attention received.
Attacking boats is a famous myth. A boat may appear to a cottonmouth as simply a place to get out of the water and sun itself. Stories of cottonmouths falling into boats are also folklore. Because cottonmouths are a heavy bodied snake, they tend not to climb and bask primarily on logs and the river bank. The snake most commonly seen basking in overhanging trees and bushes is the very common and harmless northern watersnake (Nerodia sipidon sipidon), which occurs throughout Virginia and is often misidentified as a cottonmouth.
For most people, any snake in the water is a cottonmouth. So how can you tell the difference between a harmless watersnake and a cottonmouth? The cottonmouth has a heavy body and large triangular shaped head. One way that is easy and safe is when they are swimming. While watersnakes will swim with most of its body underwater and only its head held out, a cottonmouth's entire body will float on the surface. It is worth noting that a hognose snake, also a harmless snake, will float just like a cottonmouth. Trying to identify them by their elliptical pupils is difficult and puts you dangerously close to the snake. Remember, all snakes have teeth and a nonvenomous watersnake can still inflict a painful bite.
The cottonmouth feeds primarily on fish, frogs and other small vertebrates. In the southeastern Coastal Plain, it reaches the northern limits of its range in southeastern Virginia with only one population occurring north of the James River along the Newport News/York County line. Although numerous stories exist of cottonmouths in the Chickahominy River and other more northern rivers, these reports are unsupported.
Like any other animal, cottonmouths have their place in nature. And as a true Virginian and outdoors person, learn to respect them by leaving them alone and admiring them from a safe distance. Because animals like the cottonmouth are what makes Virginia such a fascinating biological wonderland.
Editor's note: This article was prepared by John (J.D.) Kleopfer, VDGIF Wildlife Diversity Biologist and Herpetologist for the Tidewater Region, with collaboration by Jeff Turner, avid outdoorsman and Riverkeeper with the Blackwater Nottoway Riverkeeper Program. Their combined decades of experience with cottonmouths and other snakes in the region provide outdoor enthusiasts some important observations and facts about these fascinating reptiles. For additional information and photos, check out the Virginia Herpetological Society website.
Another resource worth getting is A Guide to the Snakes of Virginia, one of VDGIF's most popular publications. This 32-page full-color booklet 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. 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.
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.
Borrow a kid's life jacket: If you're expecting young guests aboard and have a temporary need for the right-sized lifejacket, the BoatU.S. Foundation has over 500 Kids Life Jacket Loaner Program locations across the country where you can borrow one for free.
For more information on boating water safety and the BoatU.S. Foundation services for Boating Safety and Clean Water go to BoatUS.com. For details on Virginia's laws or to take a boating safety course, check out the DGIF boating website.
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:
- wear your life jacket
- do not mix alcohol and boating
- take a boating safety course
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.
Family Forestland Shortcourse: Transferring Land to Generation "NEXT"August 12 & 19
You value your forest and/or farmland for multiple reasons such as wildlife, privacy, recreation, timber, hunting or the scenic qualities. Are you prepared to pass the environmental and heirloom values rooted in your forest to the next generation? Without breaking it up? The cost of not planning is "priceless" and future tax burdens may put your land's ownership in jeopardy. If you don't plan, the State will plan for you. By researching and choosing what you want ahead of time, you can ensure your wishes are met and minimize the cost of professional advisors!
Virginia Cooperative Extension is offering a hands-on workshop with "free legal advice" from professionals experienced in intergenerational land transfer and landowner testimonials of estate planning steps & strategies they have used. The two-day workshop is scheduled on August 12 & 19, from 12:30-7:00 p.m. at the Elks Lodge on Route 20 in Charlottesville. There is a $50 Registration/Application fee. For more information, contact the Northern District Forestry & Natural Resources Extension Program at (540) 948-6881 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Download a PDF application form (second page).
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 VirginiaGreenTravel.org, 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 and Websites Provide Nature Adventure Info For Kids
For excellent information on getting youngsters interested in exploring and learning about nature there are several blogs and websites to review: EE Week and the school year may be behind us, but there are opportunities throughout the summer to engage students in environmental learning as well as take advantage of the time to reflect and deepen our own connection to nature and commitment environmental education. Read below for upcoming programs and opportunities for educators and students.
- National Environmental Education Foundation website provides information and activities to encourage you to experience the outdoors and inspire the young people in your life to do the same. Access Environmental Education Week's online Nature Center Map and Nature Journaling Blog for some ideas to get kids outdoors.
- Kids Discover Nature by Jodi Valenta
- Virginia Naturally newsletter
Nature Observations from The Byrd Nest by Marika Byrd
Archery is the sport of shooting bows and arrows, has been around for thousands of years, and in 1927 it became an Olympic event. Archer or bowman/bowwoman is a term for a person who practices the art of archery. Propelling an arrow from a bow has developed into a great family recreational activity, and it is one you can practice and use for a lifetime.
Individuals of varying ages, challenges, abilities, and fitness develop strength and flexibility in the arms and upper body through archery. It is good for hand-eye coordination, and is a relatively quiet sport. Other benefits are the increase in confidence as your skills develop, and the increase in focus as you pay close attention to aim, breath control, and increase your steadiness as you sight in and shoot at the distant target. Even at my considerable age, it was exciting on my first attempt to shoot archery; even though I did send arrows crashing into the bales of straw. With a good instructor, improved upper body strength, and practice I could learn to hit that target.
Karen Holson, VDGIF Outdoor Education Supervisor and Virginia NASP State Coordinator, says, "The bow has draw weights as light as eight pounds and styles have vastly improved over the years. It is a growing team sport, offered in over 200 Virginia high, middle, and elementary schools in 2007-2009 as the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP). VDGIF, Virginia Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, and The Archery Trade Association have sponsored NASP. Check to see if NASP is coming to your school in the near future. Now, imagine using your math and English skills to figure the target distance and arc, known as trajectory, of the arrow sailing towards the target, or being able to figure the score using your math skills, and then write an essay about your archery experience for a class assignment.
Go on-line, or you and the family visit a large sporting goods store to see and ask questions about their archery equipment. Check the December 2006 issue of Virginia Wildlife in your school library; read the Outdoor Report and the VDGIF website for training events in archery skills development. Experience this quiet sport.
- VDGIF Video: National Archery in the Schools Program on Capitol Hill »
- The National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) »
Habitat Improvement Tips
Habitat at Home© DVD Now Available
The summer months are a great time to be outside and see wildlife around you. Songbirds are nesting, mammals are on the move, and amphibians keep cool in the shade next to a pond. What's the habitat like around your home? Does your yard have a diversity of native plants, plenty of food and cover, and a variety of water sources? The new Habitat at Home© DVD features the yards of four homeowners in different parts of the state who have removed invasive plants, reduced their amount of lawn, added water features, and planted flowering perennials and shrubs.
- Visit our website to get your own copy of the 40-minute DVD!
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.
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:
- Email your photos to us and we'll post them on our "Virginia Fishing" group on the photo-sharing website, Flickr.
- 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:
- Photos must be of fish caught in Virginia.
- Photos must not depict unsafe practices.
- Please do not publish personal information (last names, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, etc.).
- Please do include the species, location, and date of catch!
- 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.
Pan Fishing and Squirrel Skinning DVD
New Video Available:
Squirrel Skinning Quick and Easy and Panfish Preparation and Filleting
Another great DVD is now being offered at the VDGIF store, this one a double-feature: Squirrel Skinning Quick and Easy and Panfish Preparation and Filleting. If you want to learn one of the best methods we've seen for Skinning Squirrels, former Game Warden John Berry teaches it in detail on the first video. This video has been extremely popular to walk-in customers at VDGIF headquarters, and is now available for ordering on-line for the first time. In the second video, VDGIF Outdoor Education Instructor Jenny West demonstrates various ways to prepare tasty panfish, including scaling, dressing, and filleting. Get both "how to" videos on one DVD for $8.00, shipping included. The DVD makes a great gift for sporting enthusiasts young & old.
Effective July 1 Boating Education Required for PWC Operators Age 14-20
Attention boaters, VDGIF has begun to phase in Virginia's boating safety education requirement and wants to remind boaters that as of July 1, all operators of personal watercraft (PWC), including Jet Skis, Sea Doos, and other PWCs, age 14 to 20 will need to have proof of boating safety course completion onboard while operating the vessel. PWC operators must be at least 14 years old. It is unlawful in Virginia for anyone under the age of 14 to operate a personal watercraft. To find out more about the boating safety requirement, the rest of the phase-in for Virginia boaters, or to find a boating safety course, visit the Department's website
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.
Anglers Be on the Lookout for Fish Kills
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 email@example.com. 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 BoatUS.com. 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
Beaverdam Swamp Reservoir: Contributed by Park Manager, C. Blair Evans. The warmer summer days have slowed the bass fishing down. However, anglers are still reporting good fishing in deeper sections of the lake using plastic worms. There have been very few reports of anglers catching crappie. Anglers are beginning to report that the catfishing is getting better in deep holes of the reservoir. Chicken livers have been the favorite bait for catfish. The water is slightly stained, 82 degrees at the fishing pier and 8 in. below full pool. Beaverdam's last open bass Tournament will be held on the September 19.
Virginia Beach: Captain Jim Brincefiled (443) 336-8756. According to the Captain, spot fishing has really improved in the mouths of the James and York rivers. The fish are going for blood worms and fish bites. Croaker are hanging around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, waiting for a lucky angler bearing squid. Spadefish and triggerfish are going for clams around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel or any structure. Sheepshead can also be found around structures and also like clams. The water is clear and 78 degrees.
Chickahominy River: River's Rest (804) 829-2753. According to Button Garnett, fishing has been hit or miss; with no word on anything but cats, which are going for cut bait. The water is stained and warming.
North Landing River and Back Bay: West Neck Marina (757) 426-6735. Bass are plentiful up Dewey Mullins way. These abundant fish are attacking poppers and buzzbaits early and late. When the sun gets high, try plastics, cranks, spinners, and chatterbaits. Crappie are scattered and going deep. They like minnows, jigs, and small spinners. Lots of cats have been brought to boat, but they have been on the small side. Cut bait and nightcrawlers are the preferred bait. Some good sized white perch have come in, and some perch anglers have brought up stripers by mistake! To get a perch, try nightcrawlers and small spinners. The water is clear and in the 80s.
Norfolk Lakes: Dasheill's Show Room (757) 539-7854. Drew Dixon says that local bass tournaments have been doing well. For good luck with bass, try topwaters early and late; plastics and cranks once the sun is high. No word on crappie. Lots of cats are out there in the Nansemond. Several lunkers have been fooled by cut bait. Several citation sized shellcrackers have been brought in on red wigglers. The water is clear and in the low 80s.
Blackwater and Nottoway: By Riverkeeper Jeff Turner www.blackwaternottoway.com. As of today's date 7/16/09 the fishing in the Blackwater and Nottoway continues to be poor. Low rainfall and near stagnant water conditions are hampering the best of efforts to catch fish. VDGIF Biologist Eric Brittle told me they even had poor results shocking for catfish in the river the on the 14th & 15th. However fellow fisherman Jim Pope told me on the 11th he and his party did pretty well on the Nottoway above Courtland. However, he stated, they had to do a lot of boat dragging because the river was so low. If you're going to try either river, the upper Nottoway is the place to go as there will be flow in some places because of the low water and where that faster water is, the fish will be there. Dissolved oxygen levels are hovering around 2.25 ppm and that's terrible. Hopefully we will get rain this week.
I have seen fishermen carrying guns in order to kill cottonmouths - remember that it is illegal to kill snakes and many other watersnakes resemble the cottonmouth. See the article by J.D. Kleopfer, VDGIF Wildlife Diversity Biologist and Herpetologist for the Tidewater Region, on "The Eastern Cottonmouth: Separating Fact from Fiction" in this edition of the Outdoor Report.
Little Creek Reservoir: Contributed by Robert "Doc" Eveland, Park Supervisor, Little Creek Reservoir. Water level of the lake is down 9 in. Fish continue to suspend in 12 to 20 ft. of water off the points. No reports of bait fish over 2 to 3 in. in length. Anglers are more abundant in the morning, as fish become scarce when the heat arrives. Notable catches this week:
- Thom, Henry & Kim Moore, Mechanicsville - 13.5 in. yellow perch, along with 3 bass and 3 crappie
- Clark Eveland, Jr., Norco, CA 11 in. shellcracker
- Mike Fowler, Williamsburg 7.5 lb. striper and 2 bass
Region 2 - Southside
Great Creek Watershed Lake: Contributed by our man in the boat Willard A. Mayes. The 'Cricket and Worm Man' and I took the trip to Brunswick County Park at Great Creek, or Great Creek water shed for short today. We had the boat in the water by 9:00 a.m. and were ready to fish. Found the water on the warm side and clear to at least 6 ft. with a slight brown tint. I fished along the left bank from the dam all the way to the flats. I used the fly rod until the wind got so bad I had to put it down, and my partner used his worms and crickets. I only picked up a few small bluegill and some largemouth bass; until we hit the flats in front and beside the house. It was a different story in those areas. The grass is about 2 ft. below the water surface and not a problem for the fly rod or too much problem for the spinning rod. We only caught 1 bluegill over 10 in. and 'Cricket Man' caught that. 'Cricket Man' ended up with 14 bluegill, 4 crappie, 4 bass and 1 mill pond roach. Fly rod did much better with top water size10 popping bug since I put 65 bluegill, and 30 largemouth bass in the boat and only kept 19 of the bluegill.The bluegills were between 4 in. and 8 in. and the bass between 5 in. and 14 in. Oh yeah, I also caught 4 warmouth. Now you know why Great creek is not one of my favorite lakes, just too many bass!
James at Scottsville: Local Guide L.E. Rhodes www.hatchmatcherguideservice.com. These past two weeks have seen the fishing on fire. The smallmouth seem to have finally settled down and have been found in their summer lies. Fly fishermen have had super days fishing top water bugs. Some days the fish want the biggest bug you have and others they want a smaller presentation.The better casters have had tremendous success by putting their bugs tight to the bank. The fish midstream have been taken on crawdads(tan-brown and olive), baitfish (white-olive) have been the best streamer pattern.
Conventional anglers throwing soft plastics (Flukes-Senkos and grubs) have seen fish up to four lbs. landed. Top water action is best when using Zorro Spooks-Tiny Torps-CrippleKillers. Fish these as close to the bank as possible- right at the water's edge.
Kerr Reservoir: Bob Cat's Lake Country Store (434) 374-8381.
Bass: Fishing has remained steady as we enter the dog days of summer. Fishing is well into the summer patterns. Fishermen are fishing main lake points, close to the deep water using Carolina rigs, monster worms, football jigs, and deep running crankbaits. Most fish are ranging 2 to 3 lbs. and bigger fish are hard to come by.
Crappie: Fishing has been excellent. Fish are being caught on deep brush and bridge pilings 15 to 25 ft. down. Some are being caught with white bucktails, plastic baits, and live minnows.
Cats: Good blues are scattered out from Clarksville all the way up both the Staunton and Dan rivers. Fish can be caught on live shad and bream, and also on cut shad and crappie. The bigger flatheads are still mostly in the rivers, but should be beginning to work back towards the lake. Live bream is still the bait of choice, but you can also use stink bait, chicken livers, nightcrawlers, etc.
Striper: Fishermen are reporting good fishing in and around Nutbush, from the dam to Satterwhite Point. Most anglers are using downriggers and lead core line, trolling bucktails and Sutton spoons. Fishermen are also using heavy jigging spoons in the 3 to 4 oz. size and they are fishing vertical in the 30 to 45 ft. range. Average fish are running 4 to 8 lbs. and the limit June 1 through September 30 is 4 fish per person and no size limit.
James at Lynchburg: Angler's Lane, (434) 385-0200. According to Tom Reisdorf, smallmouths in the James are responding to popping bugs. No word on crappie or cats. Some big carp, up to 20 lbs. have been landed. The water is clear and warming, but still cooler than normal.
Lake Gaston: Holly Grove Marina (434) 636-3455. Craig Karpinski reports that bass are biting "pretty good" with buzzbaits and topwaters being good bets. If you want to throw plastic, try a lizard. Crappie are hanging around deep drop-offs and going for minnows. Cats are hitting well and like the usual cut bait, stinkbaits, and chicken livers. Bluegill are plentiful and attacking worms. The water is slightly stained and around 80 degrees.
Smith Mountain Lake: Virginia Outdoorsman (540) 721-4867. Overall, the fishing continues to be good, although the cooler than usual water temperature has pushed traditional fishing patterns back several weeks. Alewives continue to move close to the shoreline to spawn at night and the black bass and stripers are still following them up and feeding on them. Anglers are using plastic worms and crankbaits to catch bass at night. The night worm bite continues to be good for those using larger plastic worms in dark colors.
There continues to be an early topwater bite for bass using a variety of hard lures and soft baits including flukes and swimbaits. Buzzbaits and spinnerbaits are also working early and late in the day. Once the sun moves overhead, most fish head for deeper water or the cover afforded by deep water docks.
Striped bass are feeding on live bait near the surface as well as in deeper water during the daytime. Anglers are catching good numbers of stripers using both alewives and gizzard shad on freelines and shotlines behind in-line planer boards as well as on downlines. Some stripers continue to be caught inside major creeks in the early morning, but most are being found in the main channel near the mouths of most major creeks once the sun moves overhead. The best striper fishing is currently in the mid lake area of both the Roanoke and Blackwater rivers.
Catfishing continues to improve. Shad, small bluegill and large "store bought" shiners are good baits for flathead catfish. Live nightcrawler worms, shad and prepared stinkbaits continue to work for channel cats. Live bait should be fished on downlines or bottom rigs in deep water during the day. At night live bait can also be placed under a float or bobber and allowed to swim along the shoreline and points near deep water. Water temperature is 79 degrees and is somewhat stained. The lake water level is near full pond and all ramps are operational.
The Saturday Night Foxport Marina Tournament had a field of 25 boats this week. The team of Damon Perdue and Sean Rice won the Saturday event with a total weight of 16.35 lbs. They also took big fish honors with a largemouth weighing 5.70 lbs. Johnny Martin and Jeff Tuck took first place honors at the Friday Night State Park Tournament with a combined weight of 15.14 lbs. This week's Limit 5 Tuesday Night Tournament was won by Dale Wilson and John Gaylord with 16.25 lbs.
Buggs Island: Local guide Tim Wilson, (434) 374-0674. Tim says that the bass have gone deep, down to 12 to 25 ft. They can be had however, with Carolina rigged plastics (green pumpkin and blackberry being the preferred colors). Crappie are hanging around the deep brush on the main lake. Try minnows and jigs. Cats can be found near Goats Island to the rivers. Try live shad or bluegill or cut bait. Stripers are between Ivy Hill and the dam. Try trolling bucktails, jigs, and live shad. The water ranges from stained to clear, depending on the location and is in the low 80s.
Region 3 - Southwest
Big Bass Caught in Rural Retreat Lake
Norma Catron sent us this picture of a largemouth bass she caught on June 27th at Rural Retreat Lake in Wythe County. She used a grub worm to entice the big bass which was 23 ins. long, weighed 6 lbs. 8 oz. and was 16 inches in girth. Norma noted , "This was the largest fish she had caught in her 62 years! My husband Paul helped me land it and he gets credit for taking me fishing in the first place. It was great fun - what a wonderful day!" Congratulations Norma on a fabulous fish - go catch some more.
Claytor Lake: Rock House Marina (540) 980-1488. Glendon Jones reports that there has not been a lot of bass action, but a drop shot with a Senko might do the trick. Chatter baits may also work. No word on crappie. Cats are going for nightcrawlers or cut bait around the Lighthouse Bridge or the New River. For stripers try live bait down low - 20 to 30 ft. towards the dam. The water is slightly stained, around 82 degrees and full pool.
Lower New River: Big Z'S (540) 639-1651. John Zineius has been on vacation (lucky dog!) for the past 10 days and so knows nothing about the bite. Ignorance is bliss!
Region 4 - Mountain and Shenandoah Valley
North and South Forks of the Shenandoah: Harry Murray (540) 984-4212 www.murraysflyshop.com. Harry says that fishing for smallmouths in the both the North and South forks of the Shenandoah is excellent. In the South Fork, try the action near Luray; in the North Fork, try Edinburg. For both spots, good flies are: Murray's Roadkill Olive Nymph, size 6; Shenk's White Streamer, size 6; Shenandoah Blue Popper, size 6 and Shenandoah Grey Chuggar, size 6. The waters are clear and 80 degrees. The stocked streams in the Valley are starting to get low, but there is still some good fishing. Good flies are: Mr. Rapidan Bead Head Nymph, sizes 12 to 14, and Murray's Cranefly Larva, sizes 12 to 14. The waters are clear and 76 degrees. The mountain trout streams are starting to get low, so use a cautious approach and 6x leaders. Good flies are: Murray's Flying Beetle, sizes 16 and 18; and the Standard Little Yellow Stonefly, size 16.
For more info and up to date reports try Harry's website, as he puts out a new stream report every Friday.
Lake Moomaw: Local Guide Mike Puffenburger (540) 468-2682 www.mapletreeoutdoors.com. Due to shortened deadline we were unable to contact Mike directly. Visit his website for latest on Lake Moomaw action - it's cool up in mountains!
Region 5 - Northern Piedmont
Piedmont Rivers: Local blogger and author Steve Moore, SwitchFisher.com / Fishing the North Branch of the Potomac. Smallies are hitting hard! The Upper Potomac is wadeable with caution in many sections (wear PFD). Anglers are having good days catching fish on 3 inch Powerbait grubs and crankbaits. Bump the grubs along the bottom using a 1/8 oz. weight. The entire river between Seneca Breaks and Point of Rocks is producing. The Rapidan and Rappahannock are well within range for wading and are below the recommended minimums for canoes and kayaks according to American Whitewater. This means that you will no longer have to contend with a huge number of boaters floating through the hot hole you just started to work. As a general rule, the Rapidan is good for wading when the river gage is at 1.4 ft. or below; the Rappahannock is okay at 2.4 ft. The fish are hitting on top water - especially poppers in size 4 and 6 with blue being a critical color. Rapalas and the normal mix of plastic worms are good choices for spin fisherman. Spinners (Mepps, Panther Martins, etc.) have not been productive. For fly anglers who prefer an underwater approach, hellgrammites, Murray's Strymph, or anything with a bunch of legs seems to work. The flow in the mountain trout streams dropped significantly over what it was two weeks ago and is rapidly approaching the normal summer low levels. Based on that, I recommend you not fish in the Park to avoid stressing the wild trout population as the water level lowers and warms at the same time.
Upper and Lower Tidal James: Local Guide, Captain Mike Hoke, Life's Revenge Guide Service, (804) 357-8518. According to Mike, bass are biting on a 6 in. purple Firetail worm. Early and late they will take a PopR. No word on crappie. Cats are hitting during the day on live and cut bait. Some lunkers have been brought to boat, including a 41 lb. blue cat and a flathead that weighed 12 lbs. Bream have been plentiful and easily had with worms and crickets. Bream make good bait for cats. The water is stained and warming.
Lake Orange: Angler's Landing (540) 672-3997. Darell Kennedy reports that fishing overall is going well on the lake. Bass are going for soft plastics. Crappie are around the docks and fish attractors and seem to like small minnows. Cats are attacking chicken livers and nightcrawlers. Panfish are biting worms. The water is stained and around 80 degrees.
Mid Point Potomac: Warbird Outdoors (703) 878-3111. Terry Olinger reports that local bass angling is good, with plastic frogs being the favored lure. Crappie are also biting around bridge pilings and docks; try minnows and jigs. Cats are doing well especially with live shad or cut bait. The water is clear, at a normal level and 83 degrees.
Lake Anna: Due to shortened deadlines we were unable to talk with our Lake Anna reporters- they are really busy now as fishing in general is real good... Outdoor Report Editor, David Coffman got to fish Lake Anna last week with his hunting buddy Doug Badenhop. No details on their luck, but David emailed in that they set out at 6 p.m. and planned to fish till midnight - with a cool, moonlit, calm water evening they stayed out till 4 a.m. with steady fish action and several nice cats in the live well. This was the first time David had been big lake' fishing in a long time and confides that going with someone that knows what they're doing and having the right tackle and equipment made for a great trip- can't wait to go back after stripers!
To get the latest updates for this week contact the experts:
C.C. McCotter (540) 894-596 www.mccotterslakeanna.com.
Jim Hemby (540) 967-3313 Lake Anna Striper Guide Service.
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.
Get your kids hooked on fishing!
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The one that didn't?
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and it might get used in the Fishin' Report!
Virginia Conservation Police Notebook
|To increase awareness of the activities of our dedicated Conservation Police Officers, previously called game wardens, the "Virginia Conservation Police Notebook" provides an overview of the variety of activities encountered by our officers who protect natural resources and people pursuing outdoor recreation in the fields, woods and waters of Virginia.|
Region 1 - Tidewater
Farmer caught violating kill permit... On July 13, 2009, Conservation Police Officer Ken Williams received a report of a trophy buck illegally killed in Lancaster County. The location of the kill was a soybean field listed on a deer kill permit. Officer Williams gathered evidence from the scene and contacted the permit holder and advised him of the illegal kill. The landowner advised Officer Williams that no one had used the permit yet. Officer Williams advised the farmer that he needed to contact each of his designees listed on the permit. The farmer then confessed that he killed the trophy buck on a Sunday. The subject was charged with hunting on Sunday and killing a deer during the closed season. For more information contact Lt. Scott Naff at (804) 829-6580.
Region 2 - Southside
Snorkel-fisherman nabbed using illegal spear gun... On June 25 2009, Officer Roy Morris was patrolling the Amelia WMA. While checking the ranges, Officer Morris found a vehicle parked by the kiosk. He checked the lake and noticed a person in the water by the dam. While watching him with binoculars, Officer Morris saw the man lift a spear gun out of the water. Officer Morris made contact with the individual who was wearing a full wet suit, snorkel, goggles, and had 2 largemouth bass on a stringer. Officer Morris issued summonses for taking game fish by illegal means and swimming in Amelia Lake. For more information contact Lt. Tony Fisher at (434) 525-7522.
Region 3 - Southwest
Alcohol and water bad mix on New River... On Saturday, June 27, 2009, while working the New River in Giles County during "Operation Dry Water" Senior Conservation Officer Gene Wirt and Conservation Officer Mark Brewer were notified by a fisherman of a person in the water that was unresponsive. The officers quickly responded 100 yards downstream to find a young male laying in the water, not moving and a German shepherd dog pacing back and forth by the body. Officer Wirt waded out into the water and pulled the victim to the shore. Once on the edge of the shore, the victim started to moan and mumble. After a few minutes of observation and assessment, the subject was arrested for drunk in public. Conservation Officer Frank Gough arrived and assisted with the German shepherd while Officers Wirt and Brewer transported the subject to the Regional Jail. For more information contact Lt. Rex Hill at (276) 783-4860.
Region 5 - Northern Piedmont
Turkey poacher apprehended through good tip and diligent investigation... On June 8, 2009, CPO Tim Dooley was contacted in regard to wild turkeys being killed out of season in Goochland County. CPO Dooley was able to develop a suspect based on information he had received previously. After scouring the area, CPO Dooley was able to find an area covered in blood and feathers. Contact was made with the suspect who, when presented with the evidence, provided a written confession to killing three wild turkeys. The subject was charged with taking wild turkeys in the closed season. For more information contact Lt. Milt Robinson 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
Going to summer camp is an experience many outdoor enthusiasts will note as one of their most memorable outdoor experiences due to something that inspired, excited, or made a lasting impression on them. As Jennifer Huffman describes in her story, "Final Night," her summer camp experience observing and studying nature, making new friends and sharing experiences provided her with lifelong memories. Jennifer offers some valuable observations and impressions from her experience at summer camp- especially the moving final night. Jennifer was a junior at Hidden Valley High School in Roanoke when she submitted her winning story which was one of the Top 15 entries in the 2007-08 Virginia Outdoor Writers Association High School Youth Writing Contest with the theme - "My Most Memorable Outdoor Experience."
By Jennifer Huffman
I lay sprawled out across my blue sleeping bag on the bottom bunk, talking and giggling with my friends who I would soon have to leave. It was the last night of camp and I was definitely not ready to go home. Camp was my escape from the "real world" and I preferred to be away.
Rolling off the bed, I stood on the brown linoleum floor and stretched as I laced up my tennis shoes and pulled on a light jacket. Stopping to grab my teal water bottle, I skipped out the door, following the other girls in my cabin. We made our way down the gravel path, meeting up with the younger girls and all the guys on our trek down to the field. The bridge crossing the two-lane road below, curving like a piece of cooked spaghetti, had a few slippery spots from the previous night's rain and I was careful walking down the steep metal stairs.
A few counselors were already sitting in the soft green grass that blanketed the large field; they had come down early to start the fire. I looked around, forgetting the world, and soaked in the night. Though it was summer, the air was cool as I gazed up at the sky. The sun had just set and the sky was grey, with a few twinkling stars and a bright crescent moon. I listened to the water as it flowed through the stream, the chirping of insects, and the crackling of the fire as it gave off a soft yellow-orange glow. Coming back to reality, I sat down in the grass and looked around at all the familiar faces. Two weeks seems like a short time, but we were already a family.
It's a tradition to go around the circle, allowing everyone to talk about their experience, their memories, or anything they feel they should say. As this happens, the one talking holds a candle, before passing it along to the next person when finished. Listening to the stories and times people shared, the reality of leaving finally began to sink in and I thought about how much these people meant to me.
A few tears rolled down my cheeks and I could taste the saltiness of one as others fell to the earth. Most people were crying at this point, not ready to say goodbye. The candle was getting closer. I tried to soak in as much as I could, between the gentleness of nature and the shakiness of voices as people tried to talk through the tears. To my right, my friend Elizabeth took the candle and spoke for a few minutes. As I took the candle from her, I winced slightly as a drop of wax hit my hand. Not really knowing what to say, as the experience was hard to describe, I began talking and the words seemed to flow out of my mouth; it was surreal. I passed the candle left to Katherine, trying to be careful to avoid dumping melted wax on her.
Gradually, the candle continued around until it had completed its journey. The camp director blew it out and we slowly got up and numbly made our way up the hill and across the bridge to the gravel parking lot near the lodge where we ate. We took time to say goodbye and talk to one another, crying and laughing at the same time. Hugs were plentiful as we thought about how much we would miss each other until next year, which seemed like an eternity away.
After awhile, we were herded back to our cabins, where we refused to sleep. We all hoped that if we never fell asleep, that maybe the morning wouldn't come and we could stay forever. Despite staying up as late as we could and talking, we began to drift off to sleep just as the sun was beginning to come up over the horizon. While the time together couldn't last, the memories made here and reminisced about on that final night will last forever.
This entry in the Virginia Outdoor Writers Association (VOWA) 2007-08 High School Youth Writing Contest by Jennifer Huffman was one of the Top 15 entries. Jennifer was a junior at Hidden Valley High School in Roanoke. For information on the VOWA Collegiate or High School Youth Writing Contests visit the VOWA website: www.vowa.org, 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
In upcoming editions of the Outdoor Report, look for:
- New Hunting & Trapping Regulations and Information
- Preparing for the New Youth Deer Hunting Day
- Upcoming Big Game Contest