In this edition:

Gobblers, Trout, and Outdoor Adventure Perfect for Springtime Family Traditions

This February 24th edition has a long list of "wild events" coming in March and April that offer a variety of opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. There are 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. And for many sportsmen the much anticipated Spring Gobbler season!! This edition features the special Youth Turkey Hunt Day, April 3. It has been very exciting the last two months to see the growing number of 'sportsmen families' attending the outdoor shows around the state and signing up for the Outdoor Report. Seeing the families out there bodes well for the future of our treasured hunting and fishing heritage and traditions. An article in People & Partners notes research results that show a majority of sportsmen are mentoring young people and how important it is to get the young kids outdoors—the younger they start, the more likely their participation will continue as adults and then teach their kids. We also have the Big Game Harvest Results featured with a great photo of a young hunter and his dad with his first deer, using his grandpa's rifle—passed down to him to carry on the family hunting tradition and wonderful memories. For the angler enthusiasts, Trout Heritage Day is also April 3. If you don't have a youngster to take spring gobbler hunting, or trout fishing—find one! Start your own 'family tradition.' Here's an idea—go turkey hunting in the morning, then go trout fishin' in the afternoon!! Make it a family tradition...

David Coffman, Editor

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.

Bear, Deer, Turkey Harvest Data 2009-10 Announced

Wildlife biologists with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) have compiled preliminary figures for deer, turkey, and bear harvests for the 2009-10 fall/winter hunting seasons. The white-tailed deer and wild turkey harvests were largely consistent with last year's harvest. As anticipated, the black bear harvest was up, but only slightly. These harvest figures indicate that good hunting is available across the Commonwealth.

Black Bear

During the 2009-10 bear season a total of 2,304 black bears were harvested using archery, muzzleloader, and firearms. This represented an increase of 4.5% over last year's harvest of 2,204 bears.

In 2009-10, bears were harvested in 74 counties, up from 64 counties last season. The top five counties for bears were Rockingham (176), Page (130), Augusta (129), Botetourt (120), and Rockbridge (100). Female bears composed 42% of the total harvest, a number consistent with the 2008-09 harvest in which 40% were females. Read more...

White-tailed Deer

During the 2009-10 white-tailed deer season, a total of 256,512 deer were harvested in Virginia. This total included 108,443 antlered bucks, 23,592 button bucks, and 124,477 does. Female deer represented 49% of the total deer harvest. The 2009-10 harvest represented an increase of less than 1% over the 256,382 deer reported killed last year.

Deer kill levels were up across Southern Virginia, increasing 7% in the Southern Piedmont and 2% in the Southern Mountains. Deer kill levels were down across Northern Virginia, decreasing 7% in the Northern Mountains and 3% in the Northern Piedmont. The deer kill was stable in Tidewater. Use of the Department's telephone and Internet checking systems continues to increase each year. More than 168,300 deer (66%) were checked by telephone or internet, up 3% from last year.

Virginia's first Youth Deer Hunting Day, which took place the last Saturday in September, resulted in the harvest of 1,838 deer. Based upon the harvest, young hunters across the Commonwealth appeared to have braved the heavy downpours to enjoy this new hunting opportunity. Read more...

Fall Wild Turkey

Fall turkey hunters harvested 3,538 birds in the 2009-10 season. This harvest was 1% above last year's reported kill of 3,505.

The relatively low but stable harvest was a result of several factors, including spotty mast conditions, and low reproduction. Good recruitment is obviously needed to bolster turkey populations and reproduction has been poor in recent years. Acorns are definitely a preferred food for wild turkeys and acorn availability drives wild turkey behavior patterns and harvest rates. The bottom-line is that wild turkey harvest rates decline when there is more food available and increase when food is less abundant. In summary, the stable fall turkey harvest was likely the result of a combination of factors, including poor reproductive performance, and spotty mast conditions. Turkey populations were likely lower than last year, but because of higher harvest rates the kill was essentially stable. Read more...

For more information about white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, and black bears visit the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries website. The website also contains information about wildlife management, hunting regulations, and hunting opportunities within the Commonwealth.

Virginia Reservoirs Ranked For Largemouth Bass Fishing

Largemouth bass anglers: Do you prefer reservoirs and lakes in pursuit of largemouth bass? Ever wonder how the bass populations in these waters stack up to each other? Well the new Largemouth Bass Lakes Report, prepared by VDGIF Fisheries biologists, should be a great place to start planning your 2010 fishing trips. VDGIF Fisheries biologists spend considerable effort and resources to manage, enhance, and protect largemouth bass populations in Virginia's public fishing reservoirs, lakes, and ponds; most of these waters are sampled each year, or every few years, to assess current largemouth bass population parameters such as age and growth, spawning success, and size distribution. Since many Virginia anglers target largemouth bass, and fish larger than 15 inches are considered "preferred" nationwide, biologists prepared the Largemouth Bass Lakes Report to provide anglers with current information about bass over 15 inches (preferred size).

Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss

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.

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

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. 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.

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

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.

Celebrate Trout Heritage Day with the Kids in Madison April 3

The Rapidan Chapter of Trout Unlimited and VDGIF partner with Graves Mountain Lodge the first Saturday in April for Trout Heritage Day and Kid's Fishing Day. Several hundred trout are stocked along a private section of the Rose River, solely for children under the age of 12 to experience the joy of fishing. Come join us on April 3 to support Kid's Day and Trout Heritage Day at Graves Mountain Lodge in Syria, Virginia. Check the vdgif website for details.

View the Kids Fishing Day video »

'Thaw-Out' Smallmouth & Trout Fishing Seminar March 4th in Christiansburg

Leave the nasty 2010 winter behind and bring in the 2010 fishing season with an evening of New River smallmouth bass fishing techniques and West Virginia trout fishing secrets featuring Bruce Ingram, renowned sporting writer and contributor to Virginia Wildlife magazine, and Britt Stoudenmire, New River guide from the New River Outdoor Company. The 'Thaw-Out' Smallmouth & Trout Fishing Seminar March 4th in Christiansburg event will be held Thursday, March 4, at the Montgomery County Government Center, 2 miles south of I-81 (exit 118C) on Rt. 11 in Christiansburg. Admission is free, but a $5 donation at the door supports the New River Valley Trout in the Classroom program and puts you in the running for a New River smallmouth float trip guided by Britt Stoudenmire, as well as numerous other door prizes. Additional door prize chances will be available for purchase. Bruce Ingram will also donate $2.50 from every book sold at the event to the Trout in the Classroom program! Trout in the Classroom is a cooperative program involving VDGIF, numerous public schools, Trout Unlimited and community and business partners to introduce students to the science and excitement of coldwater ecology. As an added feature to the event, Bruce and Britt have agreed to answer your fishing questions that may be pre-submitted via email to the address be_ingram@juno.com. Come out to hear some great fishing information from regional experts and support a worthwhile cause! Contact Todd Lowe (540) 797-0643, toddlowe@gmail.com for more information.

Holiday Lake 4-H Center Offers Hunter Skills Weekend, May 14-16

The Holiday Lake 4-H Center near Appomattox, has partnered with the Virginia Hunter Education Association and the VDGIF Hunter Education program to offer the Virginia Hunter Skills Weekend, May 14-16, 2010. For information, visit the Holiday Lake 4-H website or call (434) 248-5444.

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

Officer Greg Funkhouser Honored with NWTF Award

Master Officer Cleggett Gregory Funkhouser with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries was honored by the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) for his efforts in conserving America's wildlife.

Funkhouser, of Roanoke, was recognized as the NWTF's Virginia Wildlife Law Enforcement Officer of the Year during its 34th annual National Convention and Sport Show, sponsored by MidwayUSA, held February 18 to 21, 2010, at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville, Tenn. The NWTF initiated the State Wildlife Law Enforcement Officer of the Year award in 2000 to acknowledge top officers such as Funkhouser across North America .

"Officer Funkhouser is a highly creative, innovative officer who consistently uses his knowledge, skills and abilities to implement new approaches to performing his duties. Through his expertise and efficiency, he has gained the respect of his peers and positively impacted his community," said Robin Clark, NWTF Virginia State Chapter president.

The NWTF is a national nonprofit conservation organization that is dedicated to the conservation of the wild turkey and the preservation of our hunting heritage. Through dynamic partnerships with state, federal and provincial wildlife agencies, the NWTF and its members have helped restore wild turkey populations across the country, raised and spent more than $306 million, and conserved nearly 14 million acres of habitat for all types of wildlife.

For more information about the NWTF's law enforcement award winners, or the NWTF's efforts to support wildlife law enforcement, call (800) THE-NWTF, or visit www.nwtf.org.

Read the full article here »

Fisheries and Wildlife Professional Societies Recognize Leadership by VDGIF Staff

The Virginia Chapter of the American Fisheries Society and Virginia Chapter of the Wildlife Society conducted professional training with staff from the VDGIF Wildlife Resources Bureau which includes the staff from the Fisheries, Wildlife, and Wildlife Diversity divisions. The training was held February 3-5 at the Smith Mountain 4 H Education Center. The training was co-hosted by the Virginia Chapter of the American Fisheries Society (AFS) and Virginia Chapter of the Wildlife Society (TWS) and was attended by professionals from state and federal agencies, universities, and the private sector, and students from VT, JMU, VCU, Radford, and Randolph Macon. In addition to a panel discussion on incorporating natural resources issues into municipal land management planning efforts, this meeting was an important opportunity for fisheries and wildlife managers, biologists, technicians, educators, and students to stay current with on-going research and management activities within Virginia, and the region; network with fish and wildlife students; stay up-to-date with professional contacts; discuss common problems and issues impacting aquatic and terrestrial habitats and species; and exchange professional ideas.

VDGIF Watchable Wildlife Program Manager Jeff Trollinger was presented the 2010 Henry S. Mosby Outstanding Wildlife Professional Award by the Virginia Chapter of The Wildlife Society. VDGIF Deer Project Coordinator Nelson Lafon was elected President-Elect for 2010, to become President of the TWS Chapter in 2011. Congratulations to both Jeff and Nelson for recognition of their exceptional service and leadership in TWS.

Friends of the Chickahominy Wildlife Management Area Meet March 16

Be a part of the future of wildlife management! The Chickahominy Wildlife Management Area in Charles City County encourages volunteers to help VDGIF establish a "Friends of the Wildlife Management Area" (WMA) group. This is a pilot program that seeks to encourage local support and citizen involvement in WMA activities. Come to a formational meeting on March 16, 2010, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the VDGIF regional office in Charles City County (located .9 mi east of the intersection of Rte. 106 and Rte. 5). We will share our vision and invite ideas and suggestions from those who attend. Please call Darlene Lyons at (804) 829-6580 to register for the meeting (there is no charge).

New Poll Finds Majority of Adult Hunters Are Mentoring Young People

Adult sportsmen and women reported an impressive level of mentoring to young hunters on a recent HunterSurvey.com study commissioned by the National Shooting Sports Foundation. More than 77 percent of active hunters and target shooters indicated they had taken their sons and daughters hunting. Even adults without a child or stepchild got into the act, with 56 percent of them reporting they also took a young person hunting.

"The information collected from this and other research projects will prove valuable in determining how hunters first entered the sport and what youth projects can be initiated to help increase participation in hunting and shooting sports in the future," said Jim Curcuruto, NSSF's director of research and analysis. "The National Shooting Sports Foundation is proud to partner with Southwick Associates on research projects such as this."

The poll also shows 83.4 percent of young people were introduced to hunting, even if they didn't carry a firearm or bow, before they turned 13 years old, which is a critical factor in ensuring the next generation will be avid, lifelong hunters.

The average age of the mentor was 38, according to a concurrent study conducted by the NSSF. A majority of adult hunters, 61.7 percent, first introduce a young person to hunting when they are between the ages of 30 and 45. Mentoring is an important component not only for recruiting new hunters but for ensuring experienced sportsmen and women continue spending time afield.

Read more details at: HunterSurvey.com

Contact: Donna@southwickassociates.com for additional information.

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. 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.

John Gibbons from Northern Virginia, recently became a VDGIF Complementary Workforce Volunteer and sent us this testimonial. "Before joining the CWF, I carefully considered volunteering for the program because I thought the necessary time commitment would exceed the time available. To my relief, I did learn that although some volunteer positions require regular or frequent commitments, others require only occasional or seasonal participation. Noting this flexibility, I submitted my application and now participate in those activities that do not interfere with my family and career responsibilities. I continue to be impressed with the diverse activities and training opportunities that this program offers. I encourage you to consider volunteering."

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:

Saturday, March 20th, 2010, Bridgewater College, Bridgewater

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010, Tonsler Park, Charlottesville

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

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

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.gov, 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.

Planning to Take a Youngster on a Spring Gobbler Hunt? Schedule a Hunter Education Class Now!

Now is the time to enroll in a Hunter Education Class for spring gobbler season. Class schedules are available on the VDGIF Web site. Hunter Education is mandatory for all hunters age 12 and older.

Don't forget about the special Youth Spring Turkey Hunt that will take place on Saturday, April 3, 2010, for youth age 15 and under. Youth hunters between the ages of 12-15 must have appropriate valid hunting licenses. Hunters under the age of 12 are not required to have a license, but must be accompanied by a licensed adult. See the Department's website or Hunting & Trapping in Virginia Regulations and Information digest for more information on Hunter Education requirements. The youth turkey hunt is a great way for an experienced hunter to introduce a youngster to the great outdoors. If you cannot schedule a hunter education class before the season begins, there is the option of getting an Apprentice Hunting License. See article below for details.

Check the UPCOMING EVENTS calendar for numerous hunter training workshops around the state sponsored by youth oriented organizations like NWTF JAKES, 4-H Shooting Sports Clubs, and others dedicated to continuing our rich hunting heritage to a new generation.

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. Any firearms pictured MUST be pointed in a safe direction.

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

Special Youth Spring Turkey Hunting Day April 3

What better way to get young people excited about spring gobbler hunting than to show some photos of success by young hunters during last year's spring gobbler season. Jason Miller sent us the great photos and story of his seven year old daughter Delanie and her experience last season…

"We heard three gobblers that morning. We didn't get to set up on them from the roost because Delanie got sick on the ride to our hunting spot. After she was feeling a little better we started to walk an old logging road in the direction of the turkeys we heard at day break. After we walked to the top of the hill over looking the James River, we stopped and made some calls. After cutting and a few yelps, we heard a hen answer us back. I told the kids (my daughter and son) that we needed to set up because there might be a gobbler with her. After we set up and called two or three times, we heard a gobbler answer us, but he was behind us. So the kids and I moved and set up looking the direction that we heard the gobbler. I called and the gobbler cut me off and the hen was now behind us and she was coming. I told Delanie to stay there and I got up and ran down the old logging road to scare the hen away so we could work the gobbler. After I ran the hen off it didn't take long for the gobbler to show himself. Delanie shot the gobbler at 46 steps with her Mossberg Youth 20 gauge. The smile on her face in the photo tells the story best."

Remember, only 38 days until the Youth Spring Gobbler Turkey Hunt Day,
April 3, 2010! See our website for details.

Apprentice Hunting License is a Great Way to Begin the Spring Gobbler Season

With the upcoming Spring Gobbler and early June Squirrel seasons, it's a great time to introduce a youngster to the sport by getting an Apprentice Hunting License. An apprentice license can be purchased by a new hunter before successfully completing the Department's hunter education course. However, apprentice hunters are reminded they still have to comply with this education requirement before legally purchasing a state resident or nonresident basic hunting license. Be sure to check out the 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. It's not just for kids!

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

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.

The following seasons end in February:

VDGIF Reports No Additional CWD Positives; Response Planning Underway

VDGIF has received laboratory results from all chronic wasting disease (CWD) samples collected through the 2009-2010 hunting season, and no additional positives were found. Since 2002, nearly 5,000 samples have been collected in Virginia, and CWD has been detected in only one deer.

The deer was killed by a hunter on November 14, 2009, in western Frederick County and was one of more than 200 hunter-killed and vehicle-killed deer in the Active Surveillance Area tested this year for CWD. The Active Surveillance Area consists of parts of western Frederick and Shenandoah Counties. VDGIF biologists have focused CWD surveillance in this area since 2005, when a deer with the disease was found in Hampshire County, West Virginia, within 10 miles of the Virginia state line. Deer with CWD have been found in that area of West Virginia every year since then. This is the first year that a deer with the disease has been detected in Virginia.

Guided by the CWD Response Plan, the Department is considering a range of potential measures to continue looking for CWD and to contain the spread of the disease in western Frederick County.

Specific recommendations are currently slated to be announced in April. A public meeting will be held in Frederick County at that time as part of the communication on any new measures. Updates will be posted in the coming months in the Outdoor Report.

There is no evidence that CWD can be naturally transmitted to humans, livestock, or pets. Anyone who sees a sick deer that displays any of the signs described on our website should contact the nearest VDGIF office immediately with accurate location information. Please do not attempt to disturb or kill the deer before contacting the VDGIF.

For additional information on CWD, please visit the Department's website.

Safety and courtesy are free, share them generously

Be Safe... Have Fun!

Make Your Spring Gobbler Hunt a Safe One!

This edition features numerous workshop opportunities sponsored by sportsmen's groups in partnership with VDGIF, encouraging special training for youth and novice hunters to participate in the upcoming Spring Gobbler season. To ensure a safe and enjoyable day afield, VDGIF recommends reviewing the following guidelines for a safe Spring Gobbler hunting experience for young and old, novice and experienced alike:

Hunt safely, responsibly and ethically.

Get more tips on how to stay safe during your Spring Gobbler hunt!

"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.

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," notes VDGIF Deer Project Coordinator Nelson Lafon. He continues, "White-tailed deer are adapted for harsh winter weather, coping with conditions every year in the northern United States and Canada that are worse than 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.

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.

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.

Time To Get Bluebird Nest Boxes Ready

By Marie Majarov

Majarov Photography

It's almost Spring -- do you know what that means? For bird lovers it means charming BLUEBIRDS singing and building nests! Eastern bluebirds, scientific name Sialia sialis, sporting rich red breasts and crisp white under-feathers, are cavity-nesters. Many spend the winter in Virginia keeping warm inside abandoned woodpecker holes, in natural cavities, or in nest boxes crafted and put up by caring people like you and me.

Nest boxes are very important as naturally occurring cavities are becoming fewer and fewer. At the Shenandoah Audubon Blandy Bluebird Trail located at The State Arboretum/ UVA Blandy Experimental Farm, where my husband and I help monitor a 110-box trail, early March is the time we ready nest boxes so mom and dad bluebirds can begin building new finely-woven grass nests for this years babies. If you have nest boxes in your yard this is the time you should get out there with your parents to clean out the old nest material from last year that has kept the wintering bluebirds warm and toasty. Time to start fresh. On the Blandy Trail we do this carefully because the material is very dusty, and you don't want to breathe in this dust; you can use rubber gloves and paper masks if you would like.

Building a nest box can also be a great project for you and your parents to do together. The Virginia Bluebird Society and the North American Bluebird Society have plans to build correctly sized boxes that bluebirds will love, along with a wealth of information on how to place and safely monitor your boxes so you can see the light blue eggs and miracles of growth that will happen inside.

Hiking with your family to see Eastern bluebirds is another fun activity. The State Arboretum is a terrific place to walk, and you will see many bluebirds. More locations can be found along the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail, which meanders all across our Commonwealth. This friendly little bird will captivate you. Enjoy!

Marie Majarov and her husband, Milan, live in Winchester, VA where they are Clinical Psychologists, nature enthusiasts, and members of the Virginia Outdoor Writers Association. They are dedicated volunteers on the Shenandoah Audubon Bluebird Trail, and also maintain a trail of bluebird boxes and a butterfly garden at their home. Inspiring and exciting children, both young and old, about the wonders of nature and encouraging the preservation of our precious natural resources is their dream for Majarov Photography. More about their work can be seen at www.majarov.com.

Nature Observations from the Virginia Wildlife Calendar

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

Answers to February 10 edition quiz...

Get your copy of the 2010 Virginia Wildlife Calendar here.

Habitat Improvement Tips

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.

Prescribed Burning Workshop In Mecklenburg March 12

Are you interested in learning more about prescribed fire to enhance wildlife habitat? If so, experts with the Virginia Department of Forestry, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, along with partnering agencies will be hosting an educational workshop on using prescribed fire to enhance wildlife habitat. Information about these topics will be provided both in the classroom and afield. The workshop will be held at Dick Cross WMA in Mecklenburg County on March 12, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Some topics to be covered included creating fire breaks, firing techniques, enhancing songbird and upland game habitat, and using prescribed fire for managing warm season grasses.

Thanks to our sponsors, lunch will be provided for participants. 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. To register contact the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Office in Forest, Virginia at (434) 525-7522.

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 10 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.

Virginia Reservoirs Ranked For Largemouth Bass Fishing

Largemouth bass anglers: Do you prefer reservoirs and lakes in pursuit of largemouth bass? Ever wonder how the bass populations in these waters stack up to each other? Well the new Largemouth Bass Lakes Report, prepared by VDGIF Fisheries biologists, should be a great place to start planning your 2010 fishing trips. VDGIF Fisheries biologists spend considerable effort and resources to manage, enhance, and protect largemouth bass populations in Virginia's public fishing reservoirs, lakes, and ponds; most of these waters are sampled each year, or every few years, to assess current largemouth bass population parameters such as age and growth, spawning success, and size distribution. Since many Virginia anglers target largemouth bass, and fish larger than 15 inches are considered "preferred" nationwide; biologists prepared the Largemouth Bass Lakes Report to provide anglers with current information about bass over 15 inches (preferred size).

Trout Heritage Day Celebrated April 3

On Saturday, April 3, VDGIF will host its annual Trout Heritage Day. A group of 17 waters will be freshly stocked with trout to allow trout anglers and communities to plan activities around a known stocking date. This program was added several years ago for those anglers who enjoyed and missed the old opening day. Selected waters are stocked for the first Saturday in April to create an announced stocking event. The Department has worked with the U.S.D.A. Forest Service, local communities and private landowners to provide this opportunity. During the previous Trout Heritage Days, anglers reported success on most waters and were pleased with the angling opportunity provided. The fee fishing areas are closed to angling from March 29-April 2. Heritage Waters are closed on Friday, April 2. On Saturday, April 3 fishing can begin at 9:00 a.m. Check the vdgif website for details

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. VDGIF 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. VDGIF 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!

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.

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 35 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

Get Ready to Scratch!

Mike Burchett, of Rock House Marina at Claytor Lake, put it well when he said that a lot of anglers have been coming in and "getting that itch." Spring will be upon us soon, and so will much better fishing. Now is a good time to check out your rods and lures to make sure they will be up to the challenge. As the days grow warmer it becomes time to get out in the yard and practice your casting. You will be surprised at how much you can improve. A trip to the local tackle shop, or area sportsman shows, is also a wonderful idea and a lot of fun. So if you've been dreaming all winter of getting out to land a lunker – start "itching" now.

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 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. Action is very slow at the Reservoir. "Doc" will be stat sending us reports again starting March 1st.

Virginia Beach: Captain Jim Brincefield (443) 336-8756. Captain Jim hasn't been out lately due to the cold and wind. The water is very cold.

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. No action up Charlie Brown's way. The water is stained and 36 degrees.

North Landing River and Back Bay: West Neck Marina (757) 426-6735. No report.

Norfolk Lakes: Dasheill's Show Room (757) 539-7854. Drew Dixon reports that while things have been very slow, some yellow perch action can be had. Just last week a citation one was landed. The preferred bait is minnows. The water is in the high 30s.

Blackwater and Nottoway: By Riverkeeper Jeff Turner www.blackwaternottoway.com Well, not much to report this session. The rivers have been out of their banks for some time and I have not been able to get out. However, the Nottoway is finally back to being fishable and the Blackwater will be by the time this report comes out. In the Nottoway the shad should be making their way in soon. Usually a few can be caught at the end of February, but they are usually pretty spread out. A few striped bass usually follow them up so get ready, a good fishing season is just around the bend.

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

A sudden tumble into cold water, be it a lake, river, or small stream; can dangerously lower your body temperature leading to hypothermia. Even when the air temperature is in the 40s, hypothermia may occur when the body's temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Symptoms of this condition include change in mental status, uncontrollable shivering, cool abdomen and a low core body temperature. Treat hypothermia by protecting the victim from further heat loss and calling for immediate medical attention. Get the victim out of the cold. Add insulation such as blankets, pillows, towels or newspapers beneath and around the victim. Be sure to cover the victim's head. Replace wet clothing with dry clothing. Handle the victim gently because rough handling can cause cardiac arrest. Keep the victim in a horizontal (flat) position.

Dress for comfort and safety and always be prepared for problems which may arise out on the cold water. Let someone know your destination and expected return time. Carry a spare change of clothes in a dry bag in case you get wet—wool coat or sweater, socks, gloves, and knit cap. Regardless of weather conditions, always wear your life jacket!

Region 2 - Southside

Lake Gordon: Contributed by our man in the boat Willard A. Mayes. I hate to have to confess that I have not been fishing but twice this year and it is already the end of February. The days I could fish Mother Nature was against me, wind blowing like crazy and the temperature barely out of the 30s. Being the thoughtful person that I am I did not to subject my boat to those conditions, so I left it in the shed. I rode by Brunswick Lake on Friday, and it is still about 10 inches above normal, but has cleared up a lot, still has that slight brownish stain that it gets from oak leaves. Need I say that it is still on the cold side but all the ice seems to be melted.

Briery Creek: Contributed by Longwood College Fishing Club's Jack Pollio. Same old, same old for Longwood University. We are planning to try and get out sometime next week if it warms up a little bit, but as for now nothing is happening.

James at Scottsville: Local Guide L.E. Rhodes www.hatchmatcherguideservice.com, (434) 286-3366, (434) 996-506. Well the river is in good shape. Getting to or on the river is another thing. After the high water which covered the ramps in mud, the snow came and covered the mud with 2 feet of snow. Once the ramps are safe for launching we should see and hear of some quality fish being boated. Think Spring!

Kerr Reservoir: Bob Cat's Lake Country Store, (434) 374-8381. Bobby Whitlow says that things are getting better. A few more accesses are open. A few crappie anglers are landing some on minnows in the creeks. The water is muddy in the middle areas of the lake and clearer in the creeks; with a temperature of 41 degrees.

James at Lynchburg: Angler's Lane, (434) 385-0200. Tom Reisdorf told me that access to the mountain streams is hard to come by. However, the water level is good and things should pick up soon. The water is clear and in the low 40s.

Lake Gaston: Holly Grove Marina (434) 636-3455. Craig Karpinski says that while there is not a lot of fishing going on, people are landing stripers. It's hit or miss, but you might very well get lucky. Your best bet is cut bait, spoons or bucktails. Next month sees tournaments coming to the lake. The water is cloudy and in the upper to lower 30s.

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. No report.

Celebrate Trout Heritage Day with the Kids in Madison April 3
The Rapidan Chapter of Trout Unlimited and VDGIF partner with Graves Mountain Lodge the first Saturday in April for Trout Heritage Day and Kid's Fishing Day. Several hundred trout are stocked along a private section of the Rose River, solely for children under the age of 12 to experience the joy of fishing. Come join us on April 3 to support Kid's Day and Trout Heritage Day at Graves Mountain Lodge in Syria, Virginia. Check the vdgif website for details.

View the Kids Fishing Day video »

Region 3 - Southwest

Claytor Lake: Rock House Marina, (540) 980-1488. Mike Burchett reports that the lake is frozen in many places. The only boat access is in Claytor Lake State Park. He does say that anglers have been at the store "getting that itch". Let's hope they stay itchy, as things should improve soon. The water is very cold.

Lower New River: Big Z'S (540) 639-1651. John Zienius told me that the local ramps are frozen, with the only workable one being the White Thorn ramp. Use caution when you get your boat in, the ramp gets wet and freezes up. John says that things should pick up soon and further that if you can get on the river now, you stand a pretty good chance of landing a fish. Smallmouths and muskies are biting on jerkbaits and glide baits. The water is down, clear and 35 to 36 degrees.

New River: Tangent Outfitters, (540) 257-0415. Shawn Hash reports that some have had luck with going for walleye with deep running crankbaits. Smallmouths are going for pig 'n jigs; and muskies for jerkbaits. For those of you unfamiliar with Shawn's place, they also do canoeing and kayaking trips, fishing trips and logistics if you want to do your own angling. They also have a cafe and cabins. Shawn reports that the water is greenish and 36 degrees.

Region 4 - Mountain and Shenandoah Valley

North and South Forks of the Shenandoah: Harry Murray (540) 984-4212 www.murraysflyshop.com. Fly guy Harry Murray reports that the smallmouth rivers, both the North and South forks, are cold but fishable. Fish deeply, with streamers and nymphs. The water is clear and wadeable at 36 degrees. The stocked streams in the Valley are fishable, too. The best ones are Big Stoney Creek West of Edinburg and Passage Creek East of Edinburg. The water is clear and 36 degrees. The mountain streams are too cold to fish.

Lake Moomaw: Local Guide, Mike Puffenbarger, (540) 468-2682, www.mapletreeoutdoors.com. "Puff," with Maple Tree Outdoors, reports that the snow is melting finally and with the cold weather, he and the family have been busy getting their gear ready and 'tuning' their calls for Spring Gobbler Season. He is already excited about taking his grandaughter hunting for her second spring gobbler during the special Youth Turkey Hunt Day April 3. Check out the feature article in the February edition of Virginia Wildlife magazine by Ken Perrotte on Puff and his unique hunting, fishing, and outdoor adventure opportunities at Southernmost Maple, his family mountain farm where the hospitality is wonderfully 'down home' in the peaceful and beautiful Highland County mountain setting. Puff extends a personal invitation to you all to come visit during the upcoming 52nd Annual Highland Maple Festival, March 12-14. There are lots of fun activities for the whole family, not to mention great food with a sweet maple syrup flair in the area known as "Virginia's Switzerland." The fishin' should be pickin' up by then too!

Region 5 - Northern Piedmont

Piedmont Rivers: Local blogger and author Steve Moore, SwitchFisher.com / Fishing the North Branch of the Potomac. Sadly, the conditions remain unfishable here in the Piedmont area. All the major rivers are running high.

Upper and Lower Tidal James: Local Guide, John Garland, Screaming Reels Fishing Charter, (804) 739-8810. Big John told me that while the main river is in the 40s, it is still fishable. The best place to try your luck is in the barge pit, which is 57 degrees and clear. The pit is a good place to go for gamefish, like shad. Cats love shad! Even some bass and crappie anglers are landing them in the pit.

Upper and Lower Tidal James: Local Guide, Captain Mike Hoke, Life's Revenge Guide Service, (804) 357-8518. Mike hasn't been out in a while, but expects to go out soon. He knows of some folks who have landed some big blue cats on shad. These anglers report that the cats were in the shallows, but for some reason then went deep. Mike expects action to pick up soon. The water is somewhat stained, with some debris and is 42 to 43 degrees.

Lake Orange: Darrell Kennedy of Angler's Landing (540) 672-3997. No report.

Mid Point Potomac: Warbird Outdoors, (703) 878-3111. Chuck Perry reports that there has been no action in the frigid Potomac his way. People can get in "but that's about it." The water is very cold.

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.

Lake Anna: Contributed by C. C. McCotter, Local guide and Editor-In Chief, Woods & Waters Magazine, (540) 894-5960. As of this writing in mid-February, Lake Anna was experiencing a much-needed thaw. The once ice-laden upper lake region was clearing, though the water was muddy from runoff and melt water. Water temperatures ranged from 49 at Dike III to 40 at the mouth of Sturgeon Creek (mid lake). While this winter has been very unusual for Virginia, it comes with a benefit. The cold water should kill off enough baitfish to make fishing excellent this spring and summer. Tournaments started last month and there will be plenty of weekend activity from anglers in the coming months. Here's what you can expect on your next visit to Anna according to the guides and marinas around the lake.

Largemouth Bass: Last month was the time to start lifting your hand weights and get in shape for the suspending jerkbait season. He predicts a great season for anglers dead-sticking these hard plastic lures from Sturgeon Creek on down to Valentines Cove. Mid lake is generally the last place for bass to turn on in the early spring, with the extreme upper portion of the both the North Anna and Pamunkey Branch worth trying once the water temperatures reach 45. Other good March lures for Anna's largemouths are lipless crankbaits, the ¼ oz. Dave's Tournament Tackle Lake Anna Special spinnerbait in the new Sexy Blue Herring skirt pattern and a shakey worm. Once the fish get on down lake docks, the worm is hard to beat. Try a 3/8 oz. jig for bigger bass on the same structure. Lastly, a soft plastic jerkbait like the Berkley Jerkshad could be a top producer late in March around docks, too. Don't forget, the full moon is March 28, so pay attention to shallow fish movement in places like Duke's Creek and other down lake coves that traditionally draw early spawners.

Striper: We will be seeking striper in the upper end of the Anna in March. The fish should migrate into the upper regions around the new moon and bite right on the banks. Large swimbaits are usually what they like, however some years they prefer crankbaits and jerkbaits. The region from Christopher Run up to Gold Mine Creek is often excellent in the afternoons on the North Anna side of the lake. Terry's Run, the mouth of Foremost and the S-turn are good places to look on the Pamunkey side. Will the striper continue to stay down at Dike III and the mouth of Sturgeon where they are now? Yes, some will. The back of Sturgeon is usually a stopping point for striper and bass on their way up lake as bait congregates here annually, but the best action will eventually be far up lake.

Crappie: The crappie will be schooling and returning to bridge pilings and other hard cover early in March. With a warm spell they might hit the banks in the extreme upper end, but that is unlikely given current conditions. We do a lot of guiding for crappie and is looking forward to a year without dredging in the upper North Anna where muddy water ruined the early crappie season last year. If you don't want to fish bridges, try the extreme upper ends of the lake on warm afternoons. Fish jigs and minnows on a 2' leader next to beaver huts, dock pilings, willow grass and rocks. There could be a crappie spawn on the March 28 moon.

Lake Anna: Contributed by Local Guide Jim Hemby (540) 967-3313.

Bass: February is a great month for fishing for huge bass on Lake Anna and many citations will be recorded this month. One of the most productive patterns for catching big bass is to fish clear water with suspending Jerk baits. Suspending jerk baits work best fished on primary and secondary points and flats on the main lake this time of year. When working the bait, use a jerk, jerk, pause jerk retrieve on fairly slack line to entice the fish to hit. The bass are easy to pattern and once you locate the type of structure they are relating to duplicate it as many times at different locations increasing your chances of catching a "Hog". Points with "bowling ball size" rocks on them especially hold bass, many such points can be found around Duke's Creek and Bogg's Creek. Swim baits also work very well in the same areas when the water temperatures are above 45 degrees. A long cast with a steady, slow retrieve with an occasional pause will trigger the Bass to react. A great way to catch a citation bass this month is to pull a Jumbo minnow behind your boat about 10 feet below a bobber, keeping your boat in the 15 feet depth range. My clients caught 3 citations in January on live bait!

Stripers: Concentrate your efforts on the main lake wherever bait is present. Gulls will guide you to the schools of bait and the stripers will be nearby. Your depth finder will also identify the areas you need to fish by showing large clouds of bait (usually in 15 to 30 feet of water) with the stripers showing up as arches around the bait. From Sturgeons Creek up the fish are feeding on 2 and 3 inch threadfin shad and down lake they are feeding on 4 and 5 inch herring. Match the bait you are using for the area you are fishing in to maximize your catch. Down lake in the current at Dike 3 and the flats adjacent to it, there are numerous schools of smaller stripers working the current and shallow flats in the low light conditions of the day and when the light is bright they school up near the bottom over 25 to 35 foot flats. Mid lake the fish are in the backs of short creeks, coves and pockets on warming trends and relating to the main lake other times. Artificial techniques for catching stripers this month will be up lake to use small baits such as ¾ oz. Hopkins Spoons and Blade Baits vertical jigged over pods of bait and fish and throwing small swimbaits such as Sea Shads, 3 inch Sassy Shads and ¼ oz. Road Runners cast on light line with an extremely slow retrieve. Down lake, Redfins waked over long points and shallow flats in low light conditions will draw huge stripers up to explode on the bait, maybe resulting in the fish of a lifetime! Another great bait to throw, is a suspending jerkbait like Smithwicks Suspending Rogue, blackback-foil-orange belly.

Crappie: The fish are schooled up and are on deeper drop offs in the 15 to 25 foot range. Main lake primary points with major breaks are holding nice schools, especially if boulders or rocks are present. Points nearby Christopher Run and Terrys are hot as well as the bridge pilings in the rivers. Try fishing deep docks with lights at night for some big slabs.

White Perch: On the private side up in Elks Creek the white perch are feeding heavily on threadfin. Ed Whitlock continues to catch pound size perch off the bottom with live bait on Lindy Rigs. Jigging spoons work at times but the live bait fills the coolers. Concentrate between 15 to 30 feet deep.

Walleye: Fish are being caught at the 3rd Dike on the rocks with small minnows and on 2 inch white jigs. On the private side nice fish are congregated nearby the discharge and are hitting crankbaits. Doug Hall caught a citation walleye off the catwalk at the third dike on a 4 inch jerkbait. Check out the full report on the website for more details on successful fishing tactics and best baits to use throughout Lake Anna.

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!

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email your material to
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Virginia Conservation Police Notebook

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

Region 1 - Tidewater

Homeowner Charged for Impeding Lawful Waterfowl Hunt... On January 22, CPO Ken Williams was dispatched to a complaint of waterfowl hunters having their hunt impeded by a homeowner on a Northumberland County creek. Officer Williams interviewed the hunters and then contacted the homeowner. The homeowner admitted to using his boat's horn to scare away waterfowl because he did not want the hunters in the area. After consulting with the Northumberland County Commonwealth's Attorney, a warrant was obtained for impeding a lawful hunt. For more information contact Lt. Scott Naff at (804) 829-6580.

Conflicts between hunters and homeowners are continuing to rise along the waterways in the Northern Neck. Both hunters and homeowners have the responsibility to act in a lawful, ethical, respectful, safe, and courteous manner.

Region 3 - Southwest

Landowner busted for failure to check deer and turkey kills... On January 10, CPO Senior Officer Dennis Austin responded to a complaint of a deer hanging in a tree at a residence in Washington County. The suspect stated that he killed the deer on January 2, on his farm and did not check it in. He also stated that he killed a turkey on Thanksgiving Day and did not check it. The suspect was issued two summonses for failure to check game.

Landowners are reminded that even though they are hunting on their own land, they are still required to check their big game harvests. All hunters are reminded that promptly and properly checking your big game harvests is not only the law, but critical data for wildlife managers to assess so that seasons and bag limits can be set for the next year and maintain optimum populations.

CPOs rescue grandmother and children from house fire... On January 12, Senior Officer Wes Billings and Senior Officer Jeff Pease were the first on the scene of a house fire on Peak Creek Road in Pulaski County. The officers assisted an elderly woman, her daughter, and great grandson in evacuating the home, which was completely engulfed in flames. The officers assisted the family to a safe location and stayed on scene to assist with traffic control and scene security after the fire department arrived. The fire reportedly started due to a faulty extension cord. For more information contact Lt. Rex Hill at (276) 783-4860.

CPOs are often called upon—especially in rural areas—to assist other public service professionals and volunteers like sheriffs, volunteer firemen, state police, and rescue squads and are an integral part of providing safety and security for their communities.

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 green up is only a few weeks away. But for 16 year old Madison Shaw, a Sophomore at Ocean Lakes High School in Virginia Beach, her most memorable outdoor experience was a move to her grandparents farm in Tennessee when her military parents were deployed to Iraq. What she first thought was 'nowhere', became a paradise once she got out and began to observe and experience the wonders of nature. Sharing an outdoor adventure, enjoying the peace and quiet of the woods gives a renewal of spirit. Madison entered her article in the 2007-08 Virginia Outdoor Writers Association High School Youth Writing Competition and her adventure story was awarded Third place. Erica has captured the excitement, serenity, and fond memories that come with a day in the fields and forests with a four legged companion.

Nature Shock

By Madison Shaw

My most memorable nature experience was more than a trip, more than a vacation, and more than a day out; it was an entire move to Tennessee. I had to move to Tennessee to live with my grandparents when both of my parents were deployed to Iraq. I am used to moving a lot because I'm a Navy brat, but this was a whole new experience. I usually move to a city or military housing on a base, but my grandparent's house was out in the middle of nowhere. I was not very happy about this at first. Little did I know, this would be one of the best places that I had ever lived.

It took me a while to notice that I was living in the middle of paradise. I could go fishing, hiking, exploring, and swimming any time I liked. The first place that I noticed was the pond across the street. I already knew that I loved going over there to throw the stick in the water for the dog to chase, but the first time my grandfather took me over there to fish I realized that this pond had the best fishing. I could go over there everyday and catch at least 10 fish. That became a regular activity for me after that.

One thing that I really wanted to do was go exploring in the acres of forest that surrounded my grandparent's house. The first time that I went exploring in the woods, it took me 3 hours to come home because it was just so fun. I never realized what kind of natural wonders you can find just walking around. I found streams that I could swim in, small caves, deer, and abandoned houses. The abandoned houses were one of the coolest things, because I found out that each of them came with their own unique story.

The best thing that I came upon in my explorations was a pond hidden in a circle of trees. At first, it just looked like a nasty pond over grown with grass and thorns. As soon as I got only five feet away from the pond, I heard about twenty frogs jump into the water. Tons of frogs continued to jump into the water as I got closer. It amazed me. Now you may think, "What's so great about a bunch or frogs and a pond?" It's not just about the pond or the frogs; it was the personal connection that I would gain with this pond over just a matter of weeks. I first had to name the pond so that I wouldn't have to say "that pond", every time I talked about, so I decided to call the pond Hop Frog Pond. I thought the name really fit. I made a little walkway into the pond and made a sign to go right next to the path. This was my place to go to relieve stress, to have some quiet, or to just go see all the frogs.

After all of these discoveries, I didn't think it could get any better. That was until I met Janie. She was a lady that took care of the farm across the street. I gained a friendship with her very fast. She took me with her when she had to spray anthills, check the cows, and feed the horses. I loved working on the farm with her because I got to be close to the animals and drive the gator. Then, after awhile of getting all that hands on experience, she let me take a big leap. She wanted me to help herd cows. At first it didn't sound like fun, but after that first time I couldn't wait until we had to do it again. The adrenalin from having to keep the cows in certain boundaries and just the fact that it was a dangerous job that I was getting to help with made me fall in love with herding.

This move and experience was exactly the adventure that I had always wished that I had. The fact that I didn't see it coming and I discovered it on my own made it even better. I found out that it only takes a little looking to find such adventure and wonders in nature, and it may be right under your nose.

This entry in the Virginia Outdoor Writers Association (VOWA) 2007-08 High School Youth Writing Competition by 16 year old Madison Shaw, a Sophomore at Ocean Lakes High School in Virginia Beach, was awarded Third Place. 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: