In this edition:

Lots of "Wild Events" Scheduled for Outdoor Enthusiasts

This February 10 edition has a long list of "wild events" coming in February and March that offer a variety of opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. There are both outdoor events and indoor sportsman's shows that feature seminars, exhibits, demonstrations and contests promising fun and exciting new activities for everyone in the family. We welcome the 400 plus new subscribers that signed up at the January sportsmen shows in Richmond and Chantilly. VDGIF will have exhibits at the upcoming February – March shows and hope you will stop by and say hello. More importantly bring a youngster or a friend that you can introduce to the great outdoors. Join with your fellow sportsmen and support one of the many conservation organizations that support these events. Each edition of the Outdoor Report contains examples of organizations that partner with VDGIF staff to provide opportunities to get folks involved in outdoor activities, supporting conservation programs and making our wild Virginia a great place to live and seek outdoor adventure.

David Coffman, Editor

New Readers Guide to Your Outdoor Report...

Welcome... We appreciate your accepting our email invitation, or stopping at out exhibits at the sportsman's shows, to subscribe to our electronic newsletter. The Outdoor Report is formatted in standard sections as outlined in the "In This Edition" contents listing at the beginning. There is also an events calendar, hunting season dates, and other program features in the sidebar. Our purpose is to provide you with timely, up-to-date, factual, short articles with links to more details on featured stories. This format allows you to quickly scan through the newsletter and read those articles of interest to you. If you prefer not to scroll through the entire newsletter, simply click on the Section in the "In This Edition:" list you want to view and the section will appear on your screen. The newsletter is emailed directly to you the second and fourth Wednesday of each month. We are especially proud that after three years we have grown this newsletter to routinely include news items from more than 35 partner organizations and agencies. At VDGIF we realize that the conservation, management, and stewardship of Virginia's bountiful wildlife and natural resources is best accomplished with all of us working together. The Outdoor Report is your newsletter, and we welcome your comments, news items, and suggestions for improvement. Read about what's happening, then get out there and participate, enjoy and respect the great outdoors! You can contact us directly at: dgifweb@dgif.virginia.gov.

General Assembly Legislation of Interest to You

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

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

Proposed Regulation Amendment for Virginia Participation in the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact

The Board of Game and Inland Fisheries has proposed a regulation amendment to provide for Virginia's participation with 31 other states (with 4 more states in the process of joining) in the interstate Wildlife Violator Compact, under which convictions for violations in one state would be treated as convictions in other participating states as well. Comments are solicited »

Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss

2010 Freshwater Fishing in Virginia Book is Now Available!

The new 2010 Freshwater Fishing in Virginia (Fishing Regulations) book has been published, and a copy can be obtained at the upcoming fishing and hunting shows, all license agents and Department offices. VDGIF Fisheries Division Director, Gary Martel, notes, "This publication not only contains the fishing regulations, but an extensive 'Let's Go Fishing' section, with information about major sport fish, public fishing lakes, major fishing rivers, and the trout stocking program. Also, you can find information about fish citations, state records, angling education programs, exotic species, and more." The Freshwater Fishing Regulations section, including the complete Trout Fishing Guide, on our website have also been updated for 2010.

Richmond-Area Boat Shows to Combine February 19-21 at the Richmond Raceway

In an article in the January 12 edition of the Richmond Times Dispatch, Peter Bacqué reports that the Virginia Boat Show's producer has canceled the event, originally scheduled for January 22-24 at the Greater Richmond Convention Center. Affinity Events, the show's owner, will instead combine the downtown show with its Richmond Boat Show on February 19-21 at the Richmond Raceway Complex. The combined show at the raceway complex will showcase about 125 exhibitors, including about 25 boat dealers and attract over 8,000 boating enthusiasts. Read the entire Richmond Times Dispatch article at this link, or contact Peter Bacqué at (804) 649-6813 or pbacque@timesdispatch.com.

February—March Sportsmen's Shows Offer Something for Everyone

The four regional outdoor sportsmen's shows scheduled for February - March 2010 feature seminars, exhibits, demonstrations, and contests, promising fun and exciting new activities for everyone in the family. Experienced and novice sportsmen can try the latest in new equipment and learn about new places to enjoy Virginia's great outdoors. All the shows feature activities for kids to spark their interest in outdoor adventures. See the latest in specialized equipment and partnership programs offered by sportsmen's organizations. VDGIF staff will be on hand to provide information on hunting and fishing opportunities and agency programs to manage fish and wildlife resources. Each show offers something different, so check each show's website for all the details.

Alleghany Highlands Master Naturalists to Hold Class February 18

The Alleghany Highlands Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalists will hold its fourth annual Master Naturalist Training Class at Douthat State Park starting February 18, 2010. The class will be held on Thursday evenings from 5-8:30 p.m. at the historic Douthat Lake View Restaurant. The cost is $125 per person and includes dinner before each class. In addition to the 10 evening classes, there will be three Saturday field trips. Topics in the curriculum include ecological concepts, biogeography, geology, soil science, wild flowers, trees and shrubs, birds, mammals, insects, amphibians and reptiles, fish and stream biology. Following completion of the class, students complete a take-home written exam and a practical exam. After accumulating 8 additional hours of advanced training and 40 hours of volunteer work, students are certified as Virginia Master Naturalists. The Alleghany Highlands chapter members participate in volunteer activities including environmental education in local schools as well as citizen science projects such as monitoring blue bird nesting and hawk watching. This is a great opportunity to learn more about the wonders of nature that surround us here in the Highlands and to help protect them. For more information and to download an application for the class, go to our website. Applications are also available from the Douthat State Park office. Application deadline has been extended until February 12, 2010. For more information contact Keith Carson at 474-2858.

Holston River Master Naturalist Start Class February 18

The Holston Rivers Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalists is offering a Basic Training Class starting on February 18, 2010 - May 15 at the Southwest Virginia Higher Ed Center in Abingdon. Classroom instruction is 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Thursdays with seven Saturday field trips. In May, students can choose to participate in the Mt. Rogers Naturalist Rally for advanced training.

Visit their website for more information or contact nhagen@embarqmail.com (276) 475-3599.

Blue Ridge Foothills and Lakes Master Naturalist Training Begins March 11

The Blue Ridge Foothills and Lakes (BRFAL) Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalist Program has scheduled a 2010 training course from March 11 to May 20. Applications are due by Feb 19. The BRFAL Application Committee will notify all applicants on the status of their application by February 26th. Applicants accepted for the training program will be assessed a fee of $100 payable by March 5th to cover course materials and entitles each participant to a one-year membership in the BRFAL Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalist Program. Application forms can be obtained by download from www.brfal.org or by writing to: Virginia Master Naturalist, Blue Ridge Foothills and Lakes Chapter, P.O. Box 1151, Rocky Mount, VA 24151, ATTN: Application Committee.

Training sessions will be held at the Franklin Center in Rocky Mount on Thursday evenings from 6-8:30 p.m. with some Saturday sessions for field trips. A complete syllabus can be obtained on the BRFAL website. Topics will include: Geology, plants/wildflowers, trees, aquatic biology, vertebrates, land use, insects, and interpretive skills.

Greater Virginia Sports and Big Game Show at Rockingham Fairgrounds February 19-21

In its fourth year, The Greater Virginia Sports and Big Game show will once again take place at the Rockingham County Fairgrounds in Harrisonburg on February 19-21. Show Manager, Stacey Rowe, has a great line-up of experts in various activities including America's whitetail deer hunter expert, Rodger Raglin, who will be on hand to meet with folks and share some of the best information ever on hunting whitetail deer. Archery crack shot Randy Oitker will demonstrate his unique talent with bow and arrow. The Greater Virginia Sports and Big Game Show proudly works closely with local conservation groups each year to share the heritage that has been passed down from generation to generation. There are numerous contests including the NWTF Sanctioned Hunters for the Hungry Turkey Calling Contest and the newest contest to be introduced - the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Trail Camera Photo Contest. This contest is the first of its kind to be held in the State of Virginia at a sports show.

Visit their website for more information or call (540) 294-1492.

23rd Western Virginia Sports Show at Augusta Expoland Feb 26-28

Have you ever seen a big bear up close? Welde's Big Bear Show will be making their first appearance featuring huge brown bears at Augusta Expoland for the 23rd Western Virginia Sports Show February 26-28. The show will feature other hunting and fishing celebrities including Terry Drury of "Drury Outdoors" and National Champion Turkey Caller and home town favorite, Lance Hanger, will be on hand to demonstrate his winning techniques and give tips on hunting a big gobbler this Spring. Howard and Jason Caldwell will demonstrate Falconry featuring their "Raptors Up Close" program for conservation education of these fascinating birds of prey.

There will be seminars, exhibits, demonstrations and contests promising fun and exciting new activities for everyone in the family. Experienced and novice sportsmen can try the latest in new equipment and learn about new places to enjoy Virginia's great outdoors. The show features activities for kids to spark their interest in outdoor adventures. See the latest in specialized equipment and partnership programs offered by sportsmen's organizations. VDGIF staff will be on hand to provide information on hunting and fishing opportunities and agency programs to manage fish and wildlife resources. Visit the show's website for all the details.

In conjunction with the sports show, VDGIF is conducting the second Annual National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) Tournament on Saturday, February 27, at the Augusta Expoland. This tournament is the "culminating event" for Virginia schools participating in NASP. See Tournament article in People and Partners in the News section for more details.

Amazing Red Knot Migration Featured in NOVA Event February 24

Join the Friends of Dyke Marsh (www.fodm.org) on February 24, when Darin Schroeder, Vice President of Conservation Advocacy, American Bird Conservancy will discuss the amazing Red Knot, a shorebird that makes one of the longest migrations in the world. Every spring, the rufa Red Knot migrates from Tiera Del Fuego in South America to its arctic breeding grounds. It stops in the Delaware Bay and feasts on horseshoe crab eggs to rebuild its energy reserves. Horseshoe crab eggs are declining and this bird may be threatened with extinction. The event is co-sponsored by The Audubon Society of Northern Virginia and Prince George's (Maryland) Audubon. The program begins at 7:30 p.m., Huntley Meadows Visitors Center, 3701 Lockheed Boulevard, Alexandria, Virginia 22306. Get more information here.

Teen Angler Club Hosts Sportsman's Show in Orange March 6-7

The 6th Annual Orange County Fishing and Sportsman Show will be held March 6-7 at the Hornet Sports Center in Orange. This unique show is sponsored by the "Nation's Outstanding Junior B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Chapter", the Orange County High School 4-H and B.A.S.S. Angler's Club. There will be exhibits featuring hunting and fishing guides, gear, artwork, taxidermy, boats and more. There is a trout fishing pond for kids and an official ESPN BASS Casting Kids Competition. The Virginia Trappers Association will be promoting Project Healing Waters which provides rehabilitative fishing opportunities for wounded veterans, cancer survivors and others with disabilities. VDGIF and other conservation organizations will be there to provide information on the great fishing and skill building workshop opportunities statewide. There will be seminars on all kinds of fishing and the VDGIF boater safety class. Admission is $5 with kids under 10 free. Click here for information on seminar schedule and show features. Contact Youth Advisor OCHS Anglers, Becky Gore at (540) 661-4300 ext. 1154. www.ochsanglers.com

Virginia Trappers Annual Fur Sale March 13 at Augusta Expo

The Virginia Trappers Association Annual Fur Sale is scheduled Saturday, March 13 at Augusta Expoland in Fishersville. The sale will start at 8 a.m. The building will be open at 6:30 a.m. for dealer set up and pre-registered sellers. Pre-registration is open March 1-10 by calling Charlaine Crebbs (540) 832-2708. Dealers should call Glen Mabe (540) 860-2634. For more information visit the Virginia Trappers Association website.

Holiday Lake 4-H Center Offers Decoy Carving and Wilderness Survival Workshops

Are you interested in learning the art of traditional duck decoy carving? Nate Mahanes, Program Director for the Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center, advises that a gift of a registration for this hands-on workshop March 7-11, 2010, is perfect for that special person who enjoys the outdoors. Registration deadline is February 19. Early registration is encouraged as courses fill quickly. Participation is limited to 15 students for a better instructor participant ratio!

An Advanced Wilderness Survival Course will be offered April 16-18, 2010, with a registration deadline of April 2. Ever wondered what you'd do if you were lost in the wilderness or stranded after an accident? Would you know how to survive? Join us for a fun weekend and learn how to SURVIVE and THRIVE in the wilderness! Come spend a weekend learning Wilderness Survival Skills from experts in the fields of wilderness survival, search/rescue, primitive skills, and tracking! Registration fee of $165 covers programming, survival kit components, meals, and lodging.

For details on these courses and other adult programs visit the Holiday Lake 4-H website, or contact by email: nmahanes@vt.edu, or call (434) 248-5444 Fax: (434) 248-6749

Sportsmen and Conservation Organizations Hosting Annual Award and Fund Raising Events

A number of sportsmen and conservation organizations that partner with VDGIF throughout the year are hosting annual award and fund raising events during the winter months. If you are a member of one of these groups we appreciate your support of our aligned missions and volunteer efforts to improve opportunities for all outdoor enthusiasts and conservation of our wildlife and their habitats. If you are not a member of one of these organizations, we encourage you to find an organization that shares your views and join and support them. It is the strength in numbers that will allow us to preserve and continue our treasured outdoor traditions, be it hunting, fishing, boating, or viewing wildlife. The following is a listing of events that our partners have asked us to post:

People and Partners in the News

Wildlife Mapping Program Participants Collect Valuable Data

If you're reading the Outdoor Report, chances are you enjoy the outdoors and observing wildlife. You may also enjoy watching the wildlife you have attracted to your backyard as a result of establishing backyard habitat or simply the birds at your feeder. If you've nodded your head in agreement with any of the above, we'd like to invite you to participate in VDGIF's WildlifeMapping program. WildlifeMapping is an outreach and data collection program that provides the citizens of the Commonwealth with the opportunity to collect and report wildlife-related information. The data submitted by WildlifeMappers contributes to the state's biological database, providing wildlife managers with current information about species distributions in Virginia. " Participating in the program is a great way to improve your observational skills, knowledge and awareness of the Commonwealth's wildlife and promote stewardship of our fish and wildlife resources," notes Watchable Wildlife Coordinator Lou Verner.

If you're interested in becoming a WildlifeMapper, VDGIF will be offering a number of workshops throughout the year at various locations throughout the state. There is a $25 registration fee to cover materials (couples/partners sharing materials only need to send a single registration). The next three workshops are scheduled for:

Additional workshops will be added throughout the year and posted on our website, so keep checking if you cannot attend any of those currently listed.

You will find more details about the program and workshops, including how to register for any of the upcoming workshops, at our website. If you have any questions about the WildlifeMapping program, you may contact the program coordinator, Lou Verner, at: lou.verner@dgif.virginia.gov.

State Fish Art Contest Offers Opportunities For Young Anglers

Students across the United States have the opportunity to win prizes and national recognition while learning about state-fish species, aquatic habitats, and conservation. The State-Fish Art Contest uses art to children's imagination while teaching them about the outdoors.

The 12th Annual Wildlife Forever State-Fish Art Contest is open to all students in grades 4 through 12.

Winning artist will be invited to attend the Expo and will receive prizes and trophies.

Entries must be postmarked by March 31, 2010. Winners will be announced May 1, 2010.

To enter, young artists nationwide must create an illustration of their chosen state-fish. A short written composition on its behavior, habitat, and conservation needs is also required.

Educators, Homeschoolers and Parents: Visit the State-Fish Art website at www.statefishart.com for complete details and to download the free lesson plan.

Winning contestants from each state will be honored in three grade categories, 4-6, 7-9 and 10-12. All winning designs will receive national recognition on the official State-Fish Art website and during the Expo.

VDGIF To Host Archery in the Schools Program State Tournament February 27

VDGIF is conducting the second Annual National Archery in the Schools Program Tournament on February 27, 2010, at the Augusta Expoland in Fishersville. The tournament is being held in cooperation with the Western Virginia Sport Show which will be held at the same location from February 26-28. This tournament is the "culminating event" for Virginia schools participating in the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP). Last year, more than 90,000 Virginia students at more than 160 schools participated in archery instruction during their PE classes throughout the school year. The National Archery in the Schools Program promotes student education and participation in archery. The program's focus is designed to teach International target archery in 4th through 12th grades as part of the in-school curriculum. Before presenting archery instruction to their students at school, teachers must undergo an 8-hour instructor certification training program referred to as BAI, Basic Archery Instructor. Certification is conducted by VDGIF Outdoor Education staff and VDGIF-certified volunteers.

VDGIF recently received two NASP awards in recognition of the exceptional level of participation reached since the program began in Virginia in 2006. Currently over 297 schools, and 760 teachers have been trained. For more information and to get your school and teachers involved in NASP, contact VDGIF Outdoor Education Supervisor and Virginia State NASP Coordinator Karen Holson at (804) 367-6355 or Karen.Holson@dgif.virginia.gov. For more information about NASP visit the Department's website. Also, be sure to check out the NASP video and Virginia Wildlife feature article!

Complementary Work Force Releases Latest Newsletter

The Complementary Work Force is an initiative to use trained volunteer, and intern manpower to help fulfill the mission of VDGIF in an efficient and economical manner. It is composed mainly of citizen volunteers willing to devote their time and talents to enhance the efforts of our professional, technical, and administrative staff. Currently the program is operational in Regions 1, 4, and 5. To learn more about our volunteer opportunities, visit the DGIF website.

Wildlife Center of Virginia to Offer Rehabilitation Classes

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

Sunday, February 28th, 2010 Long Branch Nature Center, Arlington

Saturday, March 20th, 2010 Bridgewater College, Bridgewater

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010 Tonsler Park, Charlottesville

Saturday, July 17, 2010 Lynchburg Parks and Recreation, Lynchburg

For more information, including class descriptions and costs, visit the Wildlife Center of Virginia's website.

Disabled Sportsmen and Wounded Warriors Participate in Numerous Deer Hunts

The Virginia Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation Wheelin' Sportsmen program, The Virginia Deer Hunters Association, Sunrise Hunt Club in Sussex, and Fort A.P. Hill sponsored deer hunts for disabled sportsmen, veterans and wounded warriors throughout December. For details on these and other events and hunt event applications for future programs, visit the VANWTF website. Are you interested in volunteering to assist with an event or have a friend that is interested? Visit the Virginia National Wild Turkey Federation Web site to find numerous links to opportunities and information. The Virginia Deer Hunters Association also hosts hunts for Wounded Warriors and disabled veterans. Steven Sears with Sunrise Hunt Club in Sussex County reported their fifth annual wounded warrior and veterans hunt was very successful utilizing the VDGIF wheelchair accessible hydraulic lift stands for hunting week. All 8 hunters arrived and 7 deer and two turkeys were taken Visit the organizations web sites for photos and inspiring stories of sportsmen volunteering to give back and express appreciation in a special way to servicemen who have sacrificed for us.

Virginia Outdoor Writers Annual Meeting in Charlottesville March 17

The Virginia Outdoor Writers Association will hold their Annual Meeting in Charlottesville, Wednesday, March 17, 2010 at the Double Tree Hotel on U. S. Route 29 North. New this year will be a pre-meeting information fair featuring complementary exhibit space for current members, sponsors, and supporters to display information, or to sell their books, photographs and other communication services. For advance space reservations, contact David Coffman, email: david.coffman@dgif.virginia.org, or call (434) 589-9535. Registration will begin at 9 a.m. with the meeting starting at 10:30 a.m. The keynote speaker is yet to be confirmed. Frank Mundy, VOWA member and recent publisher of his third book, will talk abut self-publishing and marketing books. The program will also feature the winners of our high school and collegiate undergraduate writing competitions. There will be reports of activities by members and supporters and election of officers and board members for 2010-11. There will be door prizes and a silent auction and raffle to raise funds for programs. Networking opportunities and an exchange of information about VOWA for those interested in being more active in their association will continue during the post-meeting get together. Dominion Resources is a primary sponsor for this event.

A buffet lunch will be served payable on the day of the meeting. Advance registration to determine attendance and lunch reservations should be to Marika Byrd at oriole@vcu.org.

Winning entries are featured in each edition of the Outdoor Report in the Winning Outdoor Adventure Stories from Young Writers section. After reading these stories from exceptional young writers, we hope you will be inspired to write about one of your memorable outdoor experiences and submit it to the competition.

Mason-Dixon Outdoor Writers Annual Conference March 18 – 21

The Mason-Dixon Outdoor Writers Association (M-DOWA) will hold their Annual Conference in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware from March 18 to 21, 2010. Alex Zidock, President, M-DOWA notes that the cost is low and the benefits are high. The Friday pre-conference trip features photographer Kevin Fleming showing how to do bird and nature photography in the marshlands. There will also be sessions on surf fishing and a guided bus tour along the Maritime History Trail and Nassau Valley Vineyard.

Saturday is a full day that includes a host of speakers and programs including the Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife, birding trail information, offshore energy production including windmill update from Indian River Energy, a social marketing expert, and a program on computer tips and tweaks. Sunday morning features the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA). For conference information visit the M-DOWA website, or contact Ken Tidy, kptidy@comcast.net or azidock@ptd.net.

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.

YES Virginia, You Can Hunt in the Snow!

Vance Shearin at the VDGIF Information Desk in the Richmond Headquarters office has been getting a number of calls from hunters since December record snowfall asking, "Is it legal to hunt in the snow?" He notes that many of the calls were from hunters new to Virginia so he double checked with the VDGIF Law Enforcement Division and Major Mike Clark confirmed that the answer is "yes"! The questions may be from the fact that it is illegal to hunt certain game in the snow in some other states. Also there were a few regulations in years past prohibiting hunting in the snow, but over time all the exceptions have long since been repealed.

Here's an idea if the youngsters are out of school due to snow - take them hunting with you, rather than sit around the house. There is a vast outdoor classroom awaiting to learn the habits and movements of wildlife in the snow and bonding time that can't be beat. If they need a hunting license, Apprentice licenses are available on-line, or at area sporting goods retailers. So remember cold weather safety tips, check the regulations to be sure your game is in season and go hunt in the snow and create some great winter memories.

Share your Hunting Photos and Stories With Us...

With the huge success of the first new Youth Deer Hunting Day, we have encourage you to send us photos of new young hunters who get their first deer, wild turkey, or maybe the buck of a lifetime. Even though the season has ended, keep sending in great photos of smiling young hunters. Also, any unusual pictures or stories from any hunters are considered for posting.

The pictures need to be in good taste for publication—minimal blood, classic pose, etc. Our award winning professional photographers offer a few tips on composition of your photos so as to capture the moment with a good photo—consider background, good light, contrast, and have both young hunter and mentor in the photo, especially father-daughter, or mother-son, etc.

Send us the basic information to dgifweb@dgif.virginia.gov for a caption including: names, age, hometown, location of harvest, county, private, or public land, first deer, doe or # antlers, turkey, coyote, bow or gun specifics, comment from the young hunter or mentor.

We will send a Virginia Wildlife Calendar to the successful hunters whose photos we post. Good Luck, and smile for the camera!

David Coffman, Editor

CPO Karl Martin forwarded this note from a nine year old youngster from Franklin County that benefited from a program designed to get our young constituents interested in the "great outdoors"- the first annual Youth Deer Hunting Day September 26, 2009. Officer Martin met with the young man's father, Steve Jordan, at a sporting goods store where he works and got the photograph to go with his son's note.

Dear, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries,

Hello my name is Tyler Jordan I am nine years old. I would like to thank the VDGIF for making a Youth Hunting Day. I killed my first four point buck with my .243 WSSM rifle.

So, thank you for providing a Youth Hunting Day.
Sincerely, Tyler Jordan

Remember, only 52 days until the Youth Spring Gobbler Turkey Hunt Day,
April 3, 2010! See our website for details.

Deer Hunting Opportunities Still Available

Late Antlerless-Only Firearms Deer Season January 4-March 27, 2010

Hunters are reminded of the special late antlerless-only firearms deer season January 4–March 27, 2010, in the counties (including the cities and towns within) of Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun, and Prince William, except on Department-owned lands.

Urban Archery Season Runs Through March 27, 2010

Don't hang up your bow just yet—opportunities still exist for archery deer hunting across Virginia. To assist towns and cities with urban deer management issues, the Department established an urban archery season in 2002. This year, the season extends until March 27, 2010, in 21 localities. Due to these areas being more developed, there may be additional restrictions for safety measures that hunters must follow.

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

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

Chronic Wasting Disease Found in White-tailed Deer in Virginia

The VDGIF received laboratory confirmation on January 19, 2010, that a white-tailed deer tested positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD). This is the first confirmed case of CWD in Virginia. The deer was killed by a hunter in Frederick County less than one mile from the West Virginia line. With this case, Virginia now joins 17 other states and Canadian provinces with CWD, five of which are east of the Mississippi River.

"This was not unexpected," stated VDGIF Executive Director Bob Duncan. "Our wildlife professionals have been preparing for this for some time. The surveillance efforts have been critical and we appreciate the hunters, check station operators, and other cooperators who have supported our efforts."

CWD is a disease of deer and has not been found to be transmitted to humans or other animals. Learn more about CWD in Virginia and about the agency's CWD Response Plan.

CWD Update... Outdoor writer and Outdoor Report contributor Bill Cochran from Roanoke, recently met with VDGIF Deer Project Coordinator Nelson Lafon from our Region 4 Shenandoah Valley office in Verona for a Q&A session on the impact of CWD in Virginia on deer and hunters. Read the answers to the questions from that interview - many of which you probably have had yourself.

Safety and courtesy are free, share them generously

Be Safe... Have Fun!

No Burning Before 4 p.m. Until April 30

The Commonwealth's 4 p.m. Burning Law goes into effect February 15th – the start of spring fire season in Virginia. The law prohibits burning before 4 p.m. each day until April 30th if the fire is in, or within 300 feet of, woodland, brushland, or fields containing dry grass or other flammable materials.

"This law is one of the most effective tools we have in the prevention of wildfires," said John Miller, director of resource protection at the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF). "Each late winter and early spring, downed trees, branches and leaves become 'forest fuels' that increase the danger of a forest fire. By adhering to the law and not burning before 4 p.m., people are less likely to start a fire that threatens them, their property and the forests of Virginia." A violation of this law is a Class 3 misdemeanor punishable by up to a $500 fine. In addition to the criminal violation, those who allow a fire to escape are liable for the cost of suppressing the fire as well as any damage caused to others' property.

In 2009, there were 837 wildfires that burned 7,494 acres of forestland in the Commonwealth. This was a 36 percent decrease in the number of wildland fires compared to the number (1,322) of fires in 2008. Similarly, the amount of acreage burned decreased 70 percent when compared to 25,704 acres that burned in 2008. Periods of wet weather during the spring and fall fire seasons were a critical factor in reducing the number of wildfires. Of the fires that did occur, citizens burning debris or yard waste continue to be the leading cause of wildfire in Virginia. Arson and equipment use also make up the majority of the fires.

To learn more about how to protect yourself and your property, visit the VDOF website.

"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.

NOVA Workshop Focuses on Energy Conservation February 27

The Northern Virginia Climate Action Network will sponsor the "Tools for Change Workshop III ", featuring energy efficiency, a critical path to a clean energy future and talking about climate change, how to communicate the message, hands-on advocacy skills training . The workshop will be Saturday, February 27, 1 – 5 p.m. at the Fair Oaks Merrifield Garden Center (NOT Merrifield VA) 12101 Lee Highway, Fairfax,VA 22030 (near the Fairfax County Parkway and I-66). Refreshments will be served. You can register here.
Hear experts discuss:

The Northern Virginia Climate Action Network, is supported by several long-time supporters of Virginia's Teaming With Wildlife Coalition including: Audubon Naturalists Society, Pr. Wm. Conservation Association, Friends of Potomac River Refuges, and VA Native Plant Society. Energy conservation is an important aspect to wildlife habitat protection and management. Think you can't make a difference? You can! Be wild and work with your local officials and in your local communities to conserve Virginia's wildlife resources. Find out how you can help and join our team!

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

Be a Sweetheart to Wildlife

You can make a difference by helping to support the management of Virginia's wildlife. When you complete your Virginia state income tax form, you can be a sweetheart to wildlife by simply marking the Nongame Wildlife Program check off box and filling in the amount of your donation. Your contribution will help support essential research and management of native birds, fish, and other nongame wildlife.

Notes for Young Nature Explorers

This section features articles and tips of interest to youngsters to encourage them to get outdoors and explore nature. Observing and exploring the natural environment can be exciting, interesting, and fun: plus provide the types of experiences that cannot be found in books, the internet, or video games. 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 adventure!

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 school year 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.

The Education Outreach Coordinator, Sheila Mary Barnett, with the Virginia Office of Environmental Education in the Department of Environmental Quality offers this gift idea for educators. If you are looking for a great, green gift for an educator and want to support environmental education in Virginia, consider a subscription to Green Teacher magazine.

Nature Observations from the Virginia Wildlife Calendar

Look at the 2010 Virginia Wildlife Calendar for when these nature events occur in early February:

Answers to January 27 edition quiz...

Get your copy of the 2010 Virginia Wildlife Calendar here.

Habitat Improvement Tips

Feeding Deer Not Advised - Not Even During "Snow-mageddon"

Although we understand the good intentions of people wanting to feed deer this winter because of the unusually cold, snowy conditions, feeding deer is unnecessary and unadvised. White-tailed deer are adapted for harsh winter weather, coping with conditions every year in the northern United States and Canada that are worse that what we have in Virginia right now. Deer nutritional demands decline during winter, and their metabolism stays relatively low until early spring. However, it is natural for some deer to die each winter, so it will not be unexpected that some mortality will occur this winter. But feeding deer is not the answer. Feeding deer not only can lead to conflicts with humans, but it can also be bad for deer. People generally provide food items that are not really healthy for deer. Deer concentrated at feeding sites have a greater risk of transmitting diseases, which we are particularly concerned about with the recent discovery of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in Frederick County. More information is available on the VDGIF website.

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

Each year, the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) grows and sells more than 24 million tree seedlings. And every year, many of the more than 40 species sell out before the harvest season ends in April. If you are looking to plant tree seedlings or reforest your land this year, you still have a few weeks remaining to order your seedlings. But don't wait too much longer as several species, including Black Cherry, Sugar Maple, Persimmon, Canaan Fir, Black Oak, Allegheny Chinkapin and Shortleaf Pine, have already sold out.

This year, VDOF has expanded the quantities of its offerings. Seedlings are now available in bundles of 10 and 25; previously, the smallest quantity of bareroot seedlings available was 50. Landowners may still purchase seed mixes, shrubs and quality bare-root tree seedlings in specialty packets for wildlife habitat enhancement, water shed protection, fall and spring colors and timber management. Order yours today by visiting the VDOF Web store, calling the Augusta Forestry Center at 540.363.7000, or contacting your local VDOF office.

A Huge Step Forward for Wildlife Conservation in Virginia

Five new pairs of field boots hit the wildlife habitat dirt running in early January. They belong to Virginia's first cooperatively hired Private Lands Wildlife Biologists. Marc Puckett, VDGIF Co-Project Leader reports that this unique program represents a joint hiring effort between the Conservation Management Institute at Virginia Tech, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, they are the first of their kind in Virginia. Similar, highly successful, programs have existed for several years in Missouri, Kentucky, North Carolina and other states. They represent the closest partnership ever between the cooperating agencies. Jack Bricker, State Conservationist for NRCS and Bob Duncan, Director of the VDGIF, signed an agreement formalizing the partnership on December 22, 2009. The new biologists will be working daily with partners in the agricultural community – one critical to wildlife nationwide. Their primary role will be in helping private landowners develop wildlife habitat through a variety of financial incentives programs.

Virginia's Quail Action Plan was a big impetus for this partnership. In its first year of implementation, the hiring of the 5 new biologists was a major goal of the QAP. They will spend a great deal of their time working on early-successional habitat – a habitat type that benefits not only bobwhite quail but dozens of early-successional species including pollinating insects.

These new wildlife biologists can be contacted for habitat assistance at the following USDA Service Centers:

Prescribed Burning Workshop Rescheduled to March 13 in Bedford

Are you interested in learning more about using prescribed fire for wildlife habitat management? If yes, then you are invited to attend an educational workshop on using prescribed fire to enhance wildlife habitat rescheduled due to snowstorm from February 6, to Saturday, March 13, 2010 at the Claytor Nature Study Center, in Bedford County from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The hands-on workshop will cover the following topics:

Experts with the Virginia Department of Forestry, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, along with partnering agencies will be on hand to provide information about these topics both in the classroom and afield. The format for the day will be classroom in the morning and a field demonstration in the afternoon, weather permitting. This workshop is free and open to the public and will take place rain or shine – please dress for a short walk outdoors. You must pre-register for this event as space is limited to 40 participants due to program effectiveness and safety. Directions and details will be made available upon registering. To register contact the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Office in Forest at (434) 525-7522.

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.

2010 Freshwater Fishing in Virginia Book is Now Available!

The new 2010 Freshwater Fishing in Virginia (Fishing Regulations) book has been published and a copy can be obtained at the upcoming fishing and hunting shows, all license agents and Department offices. VDGIF Fisheries Division Director, Gary Martel, notes, "This publication not only contains the fishing regulations, but an extensive 'Let's Go Fishing' section, with information about major sport fish, public fishing lakes, major fishing rivers, and the trout stocking program. Also, you can find information about fish citations, state records, angling education programs, exotic species, and more." The Freshwater Fishing Regulations section, including the complete Trout Fishing Guide, on our website have also been updated for 2010.

State Fish Art Contest Offers Opportunities For Young Anglers

Students across the United States have the opportunity to win prizes and national recognition while learning about state-fish species, aquatic habitats, and conservation. The State-Fish Art Contest uses art to children's imagination while teaching them about the outdoors.

The 12th Annual Wildlife Forever State-Fish Art Contest is open to all students in grades 4 through 12.

Winning artist will be invited to attend the Expo and will receive prizes and trophies.

Entries must be postmarked by March 31, 2010. Winners will be announced May 1, 2010.

To enter, young artists nationwide must create an illustration of their chosen state-fish. A short written composition on its behavior, habitat, and conservation needs is also required.

Educators, Homeschoolers and Parents: Visit the State-Fish Art website at www.statefishart.com for complete details and to download the free lesson plan.

Winning contestants from each state will be honored in three grade categories, 4-6, 7-9 and 10-12. All winning designs will receive national recognition on the official State-Fish Art website and during the Expo.

Walleye Fishing Forecast and Tagging Study, 2010 Updates

We know it's cold and windy, but you walleye anglers know that this is your time of year! Walleye action is on the increase!

And to get you started in 2010, the Walleye Fishing Forecast and the Walleye Tagging Study update are both available. The fishing forecast is a must for any angler thinking about accepting the challenge of walleye fishing in 2010. DGIF has come a long way in developing very good walleye populations in a number of lakes through a stocking program; has learned a lot about walleye habitat, life history, and angling techniques in Virginia; and has lead the way in discovering and enhancing a unique strain of walleye found only in the New River. The forecast is the biologist's best predictions about where, when, and how. DGIF is also continuing a walleye reward tag study in 2010 and the update will give you details about how you can participate. Good luck and enjoy!

Richmond-Area Boat Shows to Combine February 19-21 at the Richmond Raceway

In an article in the January 12 edition of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Peter Bacqué reports that the Virginia Boat Show's producer has canceled the event, originally scheduled for January 22-24 at the Greater Richmond Convention Center. Affinity Events, the show's owner, will instead combine the downtown show with its Richmond Boat Show on February 19-21 at the Richmond Raceway Complex. The combined show at the raceway complex will showcase about 125 exhibitors, including about 25 boat dealers, and attract over 8,000 boating enthusiasts. Read the entire Richmond-Times Dispatch article at this link, or contact Peter Bacqué at (804) 649-6813 or pbacque@timesdispatch.com. An update on the combined shows will be posted in the January 27 Outdoor Report.

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.

Safe Boating is No Accident—Wear your Life Jacket and Take a Boating Safety Class

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. 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

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.

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

Caution: Hypothermia Lurks in Dangerous Combination of Warm Air and Cold Water

All of this cold weather made me think this would be a good time to discuss the dangers of hypothermia. Anglers are especially prone to this condition as they are more likely to become wet. Keep in mind that it does not have to be freezing to cause this potentially deadly condition. What follows is taken from the Mayo Clinic's website.

Hypothermia is a medical emergency that occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can produce heat, causing a dangerously low body temperature. Normal body temperature is around 98.6 F (37 C). Hypothermia (hi-po-THUR-me-uh) occurs as your body temperature passes below 95 F (35 C).

When your body temperature drops, your heart, nervous system and other organs cannot work correctly. Left untreated, hypothermia eventually leads to complete failure of your heart and respiratory system and to death.

Hypothermia is most often caused by exposure to cold weather, or immersion in a cold body of water. Primary treatments are methods to warm the body back to a normal temperature. Signs and symptoms of hypothermia include:

A person with hypothermia usually isn't aware of his or her condition, because the symptoms often begin gradually and because the confused thinking associated with hypothermia prevents self-awareness.

First-aid care:

Personal experience has taught me one thing about hypothermia: it's better to just not get it! Four years ago I was sharing a cabin in Highland County with my parents. On a chilly fall morning I decided that a dip in the river would be fun. Fifty yards from the cabin, the Bullpasture River forms a deep pool just before plunging down the gorge to Williamsville. Dressed in a bikini and a towel I walked across the grass to the pool and waded in. The water temperature was higher than the air and it felt wonderful. I'd fished the pond the day before for rainbows and lost my favorite Mepps spinner to a bush on the other side so I swam across and looked for the lure…it was gone. I swam back and waded out and toweled off before a walk back to the cabin.

After a few steps I had the strange feeling that I didn't know where the cabin was. I turned slowly in a circle until I could see the outline of the building through the trees. I headed for it, an easy walk turned hard. Stumbling up the steps I got inside and after a couple of wrong turns found the kitchen. Attempting to make myself a cup of hot chocolate... I couldn't do it. Through the gathering fog in my head I realized I had hypothermia. I made it to the bedroom where my mother was snuggled in her big heavy down sleeping bag and I crawled in and hugged her tightly. Warming began slowly and painfully. My father, without asking, brought me a big mug of hot chocolate and things seemed brighter. By mid afternoon I felt OK, and very lucky, knowing for sure that I wouldn't ever try cold water swimming again.

Editors note... Even though the fishin' is slow or not fit to go out in the frigid – snow packed conditions, our reporters have provided some great tips throughout the Fishin' Report to keep your gear and equipment in working condition and safety tips should you brave the elements. If you have any tips or experiences to share, send them to us for the next February 24 edition... since the groundhog saw his shadow looks like winter will be around for awhile. Best to be prepared and be safe. DC
dgifweb@dgif.virginia.gov

Region 1 - Tidewater

Little Creek Reservoir: Contributed by Park Supervisor Robert Eveland. (757) 566-1702.

Virginia Beach: Captain Jim Brincefield (443) 336-8756. No action out Captain Jim's way, too cold. The water is clear and 38 degrees.

March 13 - Great Bridge Fisherman's Association Flea Market will be held at the Ruritan Club of Hickory located in Great Bridge, 2752 S. Battlefield Blvd.in Chesapeake, VA 23322. A wide variety of salt and fresh water fishing tackle will be on display for anglers looking for great buys. New, used, antique, custom fishing and boating items will be available to all. Door prizes will be given away every hour which include-rods, reels, tackle and much more. Food and refreshments will be available. Show hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For show or vendor information call (757) 287-0330.

Chickahominy River: River's Rest (804) 829-2753. Charlie Brown reports no anglers. The water is stained and very cold.

North Landing River and Back Bay: West Neck Marina (757) 426-6735.

Norfolk Lakes: Dasheill's Show Room (757) 539-7854. Drew Dixon reports that before all the snow and cold hit, some anglers were taking yellow perch. The preferred bait was minnows or worms, with worms landing the bigger fish. Now, however, it is too snowy to fish. The water is slightly stained and in the low 40s.

Blackwater and Nottoway: By Riverkeeper Jeff Turner www.blackwaternottoway.com Hello gang! Well I'm sorry to report that I have nothing to report. The Blackwater is very high and though the Nottoway is not too bad off, the weather has just been terrible with the boat ramps looking more like a bob-sled ramp with all the snow on them.

Jeff cautions...

Cold weather can wreak havoc on boating equipment and a breakdown on the water this time of year can be life threatening. Here are some cold weather tips to protect your equipment:

  • Remember if you keep your boat outside this time of year to keep the motor in the down position to keep water from gathering and freezing in the lower unit.
  • In really cold weather like we are having, it's best if you can keep a charger on your batteries and never try to charge a dead frozen battery.
  • Be sure you keep your bearing buddies full of grease and check your water/fuel separators every month.

Be careful, prepared and safe during these winter conditions.

Region 2 - Southside

South Hill: Contributed by our man in the boat Willard A. Mayes. I needed some information from a business in South Hill so instead of calling them I thought it would be more personal if I showed up in person and since I was going there I figured may as well drag the boat with me and see how the fish was making it through the winter.

I hooked the truck to the boat and walked back to unhook the battery charger, noticed that the full charge light was not on the charger so I plugged in the trolling motor and checked that the battery was charged. It showed full charge so I headed out. Now for the rest of the story...

I got my info and was on the lake by 10:00 a.m. The water was cold and dark brown stain with visibility only of a foot or so and still a foot above normal. Now TV had promised me temps in the 50s for the day so I had big expectations. No sooner had the boat hit the water when the slight breeze we had been having turned into a full gale blowing straight down the lake away from the dam. Being a little on the lazy side I just let it blow me along fishing as I went. The wind was little on the chilly side so I headed into the first cove that the trees sheltered me from the wind. I fished it with my standard twister tail for about 15 minutes and never even felt anything come close to taking it.

I'm not sure how it is with all you other people, but whenever I get on the water the wind seems to change directions just to blow me opposite from the direction I want to go. It happens so often I never thought anything of it, just kicked the trolling motor on and thought I would go across the lake. I wasn't making any headway so got another gear then another gear and still not making progress heading into the wind.

Just about now that missing full charge light that was to be on the charger flashes through my mind so I again push the light on the trolling motor just to see it flash to LOW charge. Here I am 600 yards from the boat ramp and the wind doing everything to blow me away from the boat ramp. All thoughts of fishing left me and I did everything I could to get back to the ramp before the battery failed completely. I would make a little headway and along comes a strong gust and backwards we go. Thirty minutes later and lots of paddle strokes later I am back at the ramp and happy to be there.

Lake won that round, but I will be back. It is great to have a ground fault breaker on outside receptacles, but make sure they have not tripped when you think your battery charger is on.

Briery Creek: Longwood College Fishing Club's Jack Pollio reports that the student anglers have been unable to venture out in the snow. He hopes for more to report as the weather improves.

James at Scottsville: Local Guide L.E. Rhodes www.hatchmatcherguideservice.com, (434) 286-3366, (434) 996-506. No soap, too cold. L.E. advised me that GMCO Maps &b Charts out of Garrisonville, VA has a new map out on the Upper James River from Richmond to Scottsville. It is very detailed with rapids, ledges, ramps, access points, local names and fishing areas noted. And the maps are waterproof. Check out their website or call (888) 420-6277 for information.

Kerr Reservoir: Bob Cat's Lake Country Store, (434) 374-8381. Brandon Gray reports it's too cold to fish. The water is muddy and 38 to 41 degrees.

James at Lynchburg: Angler's Lane, (434) 385-0200. Tom Reisdorf sang the now too familiar tune of cold and snow and no anglers. The water is very, very stained and very cold.

Lake Gaston: Holly Grove Marina (434) 636-3455.

WHAT FOLLOWS IS AN IMPORTANT WARNING: The Virginia Department of Health has issued an advisory on walleye fish consumption due to mercury contamination in Lake Gaston. Recent fish tissue sample results from the North Carolina Division of Public Health show mercury levels in walleye fish exceed the amount considered safe for long term human consumption. VDH advises the consumption of no more than two meals a month of walleye taken from Lake Gaston. Virginia's advisory stretches from John H. Kerr Dam downstream 18 miles to the Virginia-North Carolina state line. For additional details, visit the VDH fish consumption advisory page.

Smith Mountain Lake: Contributed by Mike Snead. Virginia Outdoorsman, (540) 724-4867, www.virginiaoutdoorsman.com. Please note that this report is for February 8th to 21st.

Stripers: Stripers are being caught on spoons and flukes as well, but many report spending increasing amounts of time on the water without much success. Most stripers are being located deep, sometimes as far down as 65 feet below the surface. Flukes on custom jigheads and jigging spoons are good choices for stripers and according to a number of striper fishermen have been producing better than live bait lately. Anglers trolling Umbrella rigs with both gas and electric motors are also catching stripers.

Crappie: Crappie were caught during the last warm spell by anglers putting small minnows in submerged timber and brush on gold, thin wire hooks, but crappie fishing slowed when the colder weather moved into the area. Most crappie anglers reported having little success using small jigheads and plastic trailers as the bite was very light.

Winter Bass Tournaments continue to be held around the lake. The Smith Mountain Lake Bassmaster Club has two tournaments coming up which are open to all anglers. The first is on February 28 and the second on March 14th. Their next club meeting is on February 17th. Anyone interested in fishing in their open tournaments or in more information about the club should contact Travis on (540) 537-4390. The Region 5 B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Open Spring Classic is scheduled for February 20th. This open event will be held at the Penhook ramp. Anyone interested in additional details can find them by going to their website. The Smith Mountain Striper Club (SMSC) recently established the date for their first open tournament of the year. It will be a team event and is scheduled for April 3rd. Questions about all SMSC tournaments should be directed to Frank Skillman, their tournament director on (540) 797-9958.

At the national level, this year's BassMaster Classic will be held in several weeks. This year it will be held at Lay Lake near Birmingham, Alabama on February 19-21. Local bass tournament angler Jeff Freeman, from Max Meadows, has qualified through his performance in the Atlantic Division regional events to travel there and compete against the best bass anglers in the world. Congratulations, Jeff, and good luck at the Classic.

As many of you already know, the 2010 BassMaster Elite anglers will be returning to Smith Mountain Lake. The 2010 Blue Ridge Brawl will be held on April 15-18 and will be hosted by Parkway (Saunders) Marina. In the current format each of the professional Elite anglers will be accompanied, while competing, by an observer (marshal) who rides on their boat with them and has the opportunity to watch them fish. The Smith Mountain Lake/Bedford/Franklin County Fishing Tournament Committee has two marshal positions they plan to raffle off. The proceeds of the raffle will be used to support fishing events around the lake. The cost of each raffle ticket is expected to be $25, and they should soon be available in the Bedford, Franklin County and Smith Mountain Lake Visitor Centers as well as in the Virginia Outdoorsman. Other local merchants may also have tickets. Deadline for ticket sales is March 1st.

A number of people have expressed interest in our popular spring and summer workshops. The schedule will be finalized over the next couple of weeks, so if you are interested in attending, stop by or call the shop to verify your current email address. The workshop schedule will be distributed to our regular customers before we advertise it publicly. Seating is limited and the popular sessions often fill quickly, so if you are interested let us know. More cold weather and precipitation is on the horizon, so stay warm and be careful whether you are heading out on the water or shoveling snow. The waters are clear and muddy to good at 38 degrees.

Region 3 - Southwest

Claytor Lake: Rock House Marina, (540) 980-1488.

Lower New River: Big Z'S (540) 639-1651. John Zienius reports that it's too snowy to even get in where he is. The water is stained and very cold.

New River: Tangent Outfitters, (540) 626-4567. Jessica Stump told me that it has been too cold to get any fishing trips going, as they have been snowed in. The water is stained and very cold.

Region 4 - Mountain and Shenandoah Valley

North and South Forks of the Shenandoah: Harry Murray (540) 984-4212 www.murraysflyshop.com. Harry reports that it is too snowy and cold to fish.

Lake Moomaw: Local Guide, Mike Puffenberger, (540) 468-2682, www.mapletreeoutdoors.com. 'Puffy' reports that they're snowed in, but not sittin' around. Family is keeping busy getting ready, checking their calls and getting gear ready for spring gobbler season... just 8 weeks away!

Region 5 - Northern Piedmont

Piedmont Rivers: Local blogger and author Steve Moore, SwitchFisher.com / Fishing the North Branch of the Potomac. Steve reports that everything is cold and blown out. Fresh 6" of snow... nothing moving

February 13 - Flea Market to Benefit Youth Angler Foundation in NOVA
Looking to get some great deals on fishing lures, rods, reels, electronics, fishing apparel, or other great "must have" gear at rock bottom prices?? The New Horizon Bass Anglers Youth Foundation is sponsoring their annual Fisherman's Flea Market February 13 at the Sterling Ruritan Club in Sterling from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. For information on NHBA youth fishing programs or the fundraiser visit the website or contact: Charlie Taylor, (703) 887-8399.

Potomac: Charlie Taylor, Potomac River Fishing Guide provides syndicated column "Gone Fishing" in regional publications and promotes youth fishing through the New Horizon Bass Anglers Youth Foundation. visit the website or contact: Charlie at (703) 887-8399.

Mid Point Potomac: Warbird Outdoors, (703) 878-3111.

Upper and Lower Tidal James: Contributed by Captain Joe Hecht, Fat Cat Guide Service, (804) 221-1951.

Upper and Lower Tidal James: Contributed by Capt. Mike Ostrander, James River Fishing School, (804) 938-2350. Lots of migratory eagles from the Northeast and Canada are all around the river and can be seen flying and perched in trees along the riverbanks. January is peak time for the winter migration of bald eagles on the James River. Due to excessive snow and flooding no report was submitted- contact the reporter directly or visit their web site for up to date information.

Upper and Lower Tidal James: Local Guide, John Garland, Screaming Reels Fishing Charter, (804) 739-8810. Call Big john for updates on river conditions as the flood waters from the Piedmont snow melt move to the lower tidal area below Richmond.

Upper and Lower Tidal James: Local Guide, Captain Mike Hoke, Life's Revenge Guide Service, (804) 357-8518. Mike hasn't stirred, too snowy and cold. The river is very high and full of dangerous debris.

Lake Anna: Contributed by Local Guide Jim Hemby (540) 967-3313. A ray of sunshine in a snowy month! Jim and his clients have been bringing in stripers like nobody's business. Live bait seems to be your best bet. The water is clear and cold.

Lake Anna: Contributed by C. C. McCotter, Local guide and Editor-In Chief, Woods & Waters Magazine, (540) 894-5960.

Teen Angler Club Hosts Sportsman's Show in Orange March 6-7
The 6th Annual Orange County Fishing and Sportsman Show will be held March 6-7 at the Hornet Sports Center in Orange. This unique show is sponsored by the "Nation's Outstanding Junior B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Chapter", the Orange County High School 4-H and B.A.S.S. Angler's Club. There will be exhibits featuring hunting and fishing guides, gear, artwork, taxidermy, boats and more. There is a trout fishing pond for kids and an official ESPN BASS Casting Kids Competition. The Virginia Trappers Association will be promoting Project Healing Waters which provides rehabilitative fishing opportunities for wounded veterans, cancer survivors and others with disabilities. VDGIF and other conservation organizations will be there to provide information on the great fishing and skill building workshop opportunities statewide. There will be seminars on all kinds of fishing and the VDGIF boater safety class. Admission is $5 with kids under 10 free. Click here for information on seminar schedule and show features. Contact Youth Advisor OCHS Anglers, Becky Gore at (540) 661-4300 ext. 1154.

NOTICE: All anglers are reminded to acquaint themselves with a good description of the northern snakehead fish. If you should manage to catch one of these exotic imports, please kill it immediately and report the catch to either the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries or the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

View video about the snakehead

Get your kids hooked on fishing!

Got Tips?
Got Tricks?
Adventure Stories?
The one that got away?
The one that didn't?

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

Virginia Conservation Police Notebook

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

Region 1 - Tidewater

Citizen Tip Leads To Arrest Of Hunters Without Licenses... On December 30, 2009, Sergeant Marshall Crosby and CPO Austin Wakefield responded to an illegal hunting call near Old Somerton Road, in Suffolk. While searching for the hunters, Sgt. Crosby and CPO Wakefield split up in order to ensure the hunters did not leave the area. Sgt. Crosby located a group of four hunters who were standing in a wood line on the edge of a field. One of the men admitted the group was hunting deer and rabbits. Of the four men, only three were carrying firearms. None of the men possessed the necessary hunting licenses or blaze orange. Sgt. Crosby escorted the four men back to CPO Wakefield's vehicle, where they were issued summonses for hunting without a state hunting license, hunting without a big game license, and failure to wear blaze orange. While issuing the summonses, Officer Wakefield was notified by VDGIF Communication Center that the subject who was not carrying a firearm was a convicted felon. While questioning the subject regarding his felony conviction, the subject admitted to having a felony conviction for maiming. However, the subject continuously denied possessing a firearm. After issuing the summonses and releasing the four subjects, Sgt. Crosby and CPO Wakefield searched the area where the group had been located. While searching the location, they recovered a Mossberg Model 200D 12 ga. shotgun. The next day, Sgt. Crosby and CPO Wakefield interviewed the subject, who admitted to possessing the shotgun. CPO Wakefield then obtained an arrest warrant, which was executed on Jan 7, 2010. In total, the incident resulted in 12 summonses and one felony arrest warrant. For more information contact Lt. Scott Naff at (804) 829-6580.

Region 3 - Southwest

Be Careful Who You Let Borrow Your Pickup... Senior Conservation Police Officer Lee Wensel served summonses on three Giles County residents January 27, 2010 for spotlighting and killing deer in closed season. These charges were from violations that occurred in September 2009. The Giles County Sheriff's Department made CPO Wensel aware of a breaking and entering investigation that they worked that revealed the illegal hunting activities of the three. During the break-in, a compound bow and a cross bow were taken. The trio were also using a borrowed vehicle. When the vehicle was returned, the owner complained of a blood stain and deer hair in the back. CPO Wensel interviewed the three suspects and obtained confessions for the hunting violations. The deer were killed with a stolen compound bow in a borrowed vehicle. For more information contact Lt. Rex Hill at (276) 783-4860.

Region 4 - Mountain & Shenandoah Valley

Bad Habits are Hard to Break - Hunters Caught Baiting Second Season in a Row... On December 31, 2009 CPO Quesenberry received information that subjects at a hunting camp in the Snake Run area of Alleghany County were hunting baited tree stands. CPO Quesenberry and Angle checked the area and determined that there were hunters at the hunting camp. District 43 officers were familiar with the area having charged subjects from the same camp with hunting baited areas last hunting season. On January 1, 2010, Sgt Jones, Officers Quesenberry, Angle and Entsminger went to the area to check the known baited areas and found one hunter hunting a baited treestand. Information was obtained that two other hunters were hunting baited treestands on the other side of the road behind the hunting camp. Sgt Jones stayed at the camp with the first subject while Officers Quesenberry, Angle and Entsminger attempted to locate the other hunters. The officers saw one subject leave a baited area on an ATV and also found a deer that had been killed at another baited area. The subject that had killed the deer walked to the camp and was met by Sgt Jones. The other hunter was located by the officers. All three subjects were issued summons for hunting a baited area and one subject issued a summons for failing to notch a deer tag at the place of kill. For more information contact Lt. Ronnie Warren at (540) 248-9360.

These CPO reports show the value of concerned citizens, landowners and true sportsmen in providing tips to law enforcement officers on suspected violations by lawbreakers who give other hunters an undeserved bad reputation. Don't let the actions of a few outlaws tarnish the reputation of Virginia's sportsmen!

If you suspect or witness a violation, report it to the Wildlife Crimeline at 1-800-237-5712.

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

Winning Outdoor Adventure Stories from Young Writers

With the weekly snowstorms and frigid temperatures that ushered in February, it's hard to remember that spring and green pastures are only a couple of months away. But for 17 year old Erica Mangum, a Senior at Deep Run High School in Glenn Allen, her most memorable outdoor experience was a simple trip to the woods while still cold and wintry with a good friend. Even the fields and forests in 'lifeless' winter can offer relief from cabin fever and an opportunity to get outside and view the wonders of nature. Sharing an outdoor adventure, enjoying the peace and quiet of the winter woods gives a renewal of spirit. Erica entered her article in the 2007-08 Virginia Outdoor Writers Association High School Youth Writing Competition and her adventure story placed in the Top Twenty. Erica has captured the excitement, serenity, and fond memories that come with a day in the fields and forests with a four legged companion.

Soaring, Flying

By Erica Mangum

I zip up my boots and brush off my chaps. I shivered a little and pulled my jacket closer to my body. My lips were chapped and my cheeks looked like ripe red apples. It was cold, nearly 40 degrees and the wind was blowing. The air was crisp; perfect riding weather.

I rubbed Chris' neck and whispered in his ear, "Ready to ride boy?" His ears perked up almost as if to say "Yes!" I pulled down his stirrups and lifted my leg into one. I grabbed his mane and threw myself up on his back. I patted him in assurance and he began walking forward.

We walked out of the barn and passed the pasture where the other horses were grazing; lifting their heads as we walked by. There was a small path in the woods ahead of us that I decided we would take. After a mile or so we came to a creek. Chris halted. I had forgotten that he hated water. During the summer I had to jump through hoops just to get him to let me hose him off. I racked my brain for other possibilities. I looked around; there was no other way around it.

I let out a sigh of disappointment. I was just about to turn him around and head back for the barn when suddenly he took a step forward. As he entered the shallow water, I gripped onto the reins in fear that he would spook. I was shocked that he was walking through the nearly freezing water. He crept slowly across the creek. It seemed like we were in there forever. When we reached the other side he put a little hop into his step as he pulled us out of the water. "Good boy Chris!" I exclaimed. I was so proud of him. I lied down on his neck and gave him a huge hug.

We walked a while longer, passing leafless trees and worn down stumps. I talked to him and told him about my week. He was a great listener. It was almost as if he understood everything I was saying.

The path finally came to an end as it poured into a beautiful field enclosed by trees. It was absolutely perfect for riding, leaving us undisturbed and invisible to the world.

After taking everything in I was ready to ride. Applying just the smallest amount of pressure with my legs I nudged him into a trot. Up, down, up, down… Chris and I were in synch; our bodies moving together in the two step rhythm.

I lowered myself on his neck and said softly so that only he could hear me, "Let's run." I applied more pressure to my legs but only for a split second, that's all he needed. He took off in a gallop.

We moved with grace, running wild throughout the field. I could feel my hair whip across my neck. Being with Chris was my escape from reality. I didn't dwell on cleaning my room or the tests I had at the end of the week. It was almost unbelievable, the rush I got when I am with him, mounted on his back riding at full speed towards nothing at all.

Today, there are things like Xbox and Myspace that are suppose to provide us with fun. But I would give up any of those techno distractions for just an afternoon outdoors with Chris, because there is nothing like being outdoors, doing what you love with your best friend.

This entry in the Virginia Outdoor Writers Association (VOWA) 2007-08 High School Youth Writing Competition by 17 year old Erica Mangum , a Senior at Deep Run High School in Glenn Allen, placed in the Top Twenty in the Competition. For information on the VOWA Collegiate or High School Youth Writing Competitions visit the VOWA website: www.vowa.org, or contact VOWA Writing Competition Chairman:

David Coffman, Editor, Outdoor Report
VA Department of Game & Inland Fisheries
POB 11104 Richmond, VA 23230
Telephone: (434) 589-9535, Email: david.coffman@dgif.virginia.gov

In upcoming editions of the Outdoor Report, look for: