In this edition:

Get Ready for Springtime Adventures

This March 10th edition has a long list of "wild events" coming in March and April that offer a variety of opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. With the official first day of spring March 20th , it's time to get out the fishin' gear as this is the traditional season when freshwater fishing action really heats up in lakes and rivers across the state. For the trout angler enthusiasts, Trout Heritage Day is April 3. A number of Kid's Fishing Days are also on the calendar, so be sure and outfit the kids and head out for a warm sunny day enjoying Spring with family and friends. The special Youth Turkey Hunt Day is also April 3. This is a great opportunity to take a youngster out and experience the awakening of Spring and the wonders of Nature with some of that quality time that seems so hard to come by in these busy days. 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 new Spring family tradition... and send us those snap shots of smiling kids with their prized fish catch, or gobbler beard to share with our readers!

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.

Student Archers Show Skills at NASP State Tournament

The 2nd Annual Virginia State National Archery in the Schools (NASP) Tournament was held on February 27th at the Augusta Expoland in Fishersville in conjunction with the 27th Western Virginia Sport Show. There were 336 student archers registered for this event representing 19 schools shooting from 10 meters and 15 meters. In addition the bleachers were packed with 'standing room only' with hundreds of parents, teachers, friends and archery enthusiasts cheering on the skilled student archers.

 The event scheduled seven Flights beginning at 9 a.m. with the final flight scheduled for 5:10 p.m. The student archers were from schools in Smyth, Roanoke, Salem, Rockingham, Hanover, Albemarle, Newport News, Prince William, Stafford, and Amherst Counties. The teams competing in the Virginia State NASP Tournament had 16-24 students, consisting of both male and female archers. The student archers were in 4th – 12th grade. The Teams competed in one of the three Divisions: Elementary, Middle or High School.

Assisting with Lane Judging, Scoring, Registration, Bow Repair and performing as Range Officials were 30 volunteer Instructors from VDGIF representing the Outdoor Education Program, Hunter Education Program, Complementary Work Force and Agency staff. Many comments from the coaches and parents complimented the workforce on their professionalism and patience with the young archers! The full results will be posted on the Agency website under Upcoming Events.

The Virginia Chapter of NWTF presented the First Place team in each Division a check for $1670 to help the teams with travel to represent Virginia at the NASP National Tournament in May in Louisville, KY.

The Overall Virginia State Champion Team was Warwick High School from Newport News with an overall score of 3108.

2010 NASP Tournament Team Awards

Elementary Division:
3rd Place - Elon Elementary – Amherst County – score of 2124
2nd Place - Sinclair Elementary – Prince William County - score of 2299
1st Place – Northside Elementary – Roanoke Co - score of 2550

Middle School Division:
3rd Place - Stonewall Jackson Middle School – Hanover Co - score of 2588
2nd Place - Northside Middle School – Roanoke - score of 2972
1st Place – Chickahominy Middle School – Hanover Co - score of 2976

High School Division:
3rd Place - Northside High School, Roanoke County - score of 2785
2nd Place - Hidden Valley High, Roanoke - score of 3046
1st Place – Warwick High, Newport News - score of 3108

The National Archery in the Schools Program Virginia State Tournament was made possible through the generous sponsorship of the following businesses and organizations:

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.

VDGIF Comments on the Draft Rappahannock Watershed Management Plan

The VDGIF is signatory to a Conservation Easement on 4,300 acres of riparian and upland property owned by the City of Fredericksburg spanning approximately 33 miles of the Rappahannock and Rapidan river corridors. Following release of a draft Watershed Management Plan for the property by the Friends of the Rappahannock on February 11 and a public meeting on February 17, VDGIF staff developed the posted comments regarding the Department's concerns with the draft plan. The comments were reviewed and endorsed by the Board of Game and Inland Fisheries on 2 March 2010, signed by Executive Director Duncan, and submitted to Friends of the Rappahannock. As a co-holder of the conservation easement, VDGIF is a partner with the City of Fredericksburg, The Nature Conservancy, and the Virginia Outdoors Foundation in developing the Watershed Management Plan, and is especially concerned with ensuring the long-term stewardship of the property, and with ensuring public access for the Department's constituents to pursue their constitutionally-guaranteed rights to hunt and fish in the Commonwealth.

Read the VDGIF comments on the Draft Rappahannock Watershed Management Plan (PDF) »

2010 Tidal River Largemouth Bass Fishing Outlook!

Getting anxious to wet a line in pursuit of tidal river bass? Want to try out that new fishing gear? Well, fishing for tidal river bass in 2010 should be excellent and bass action is just about to heat up. To help you get started this spring, VDGIF fisheries biologists have just completed the 2010 Tidal River Largemouth Bass Outlook (PDF). This information will tell you what our biologists see as highlights of bass populations on the tidal James, Chickahominy, Rappahannock, Pamunkey, and Mattaponi rivers. DGIF biologists are putting a lot of effort into bass population research and monitoring on tidal rivers and this outlook is their way of making sure the latest information is passed on to those of you that care so much about these bass fisheries.

Smallmouth Bass River Fishing Forecast Available From Biologists

Virginia has some of the premier smallmouth bass rivers in the country and things are looking up for 2010. DGIF Fisheries Biologists are also continuing to lead the nation in research to learn more about how fish populations in these rivers work and how to better manage the fisheries to improve angling opportunity. Scott Smith, Fisheries Biologist in south-central Virginia and the Chairman of the DGIF Smallmouth Bass River Technical Committee, has worked with other river biologists around the state to come up with their latest forecast of what anglers will encounter as they hit the smallmouth bass rivers this year. Scott wants anglers to know that DGIF biologists are working hard on a number of issues facing smallmouth bass fisheries, like fish health on the Shenandoahs and Upper James, and overall anglers should have plenty of nice smallmouth bass to pursue. Any smallmouth angler will want to check out the 2010 Smallmouth Bass River Fishing Forecast as they plan their river fishing outings.

Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss

52nd Annual Highland Maple Festival March 12-14

Fishing Report contributor for Lake Moomaw, local guide, Mike "Puff" Puffenbarger, (540) 468-2682, 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 grand daughter 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." www.mapletreeoutdoors.com. The fishin' should be pickin' up by then too!

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.

Master Naturalists Host Piedmont Geology Lecture March 18

The Blue Ridge Foothills and Lakes (BRFAL) Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalist Program (VMNP) announces a Free Public Lecture on the Geology of the Southside Piedmont by Dr. William Henika a Research Associate with the Virginia Museum of Natural History (VMNH) and a part time faculty member of the Department of Geosciences at Virginia Tech.  The lecture will be held at the Franklin Center (Rm 221) in Rocky Mount on Thursday, March 18th at 6 p.m.

Dr. Henika has studied aspects of Blue Ridge Geology for over 40 years and has published extensively on his findings.  He has focused on areas around the Philpott Reservoir, Basset, Danville, Montvale, Martinsville and Roanoke.  Not only has he studied the structure and tectonics of these areas but also the economic and environmental impacts that the local geological formations have on the area.

The VMNP is sponsored by Virginia Departments of Forestry, Game & Inland Fisheries, and Conservation & Recreation, as well as the VMNH and the VT Cooperative Extension Service.  The program trains volunteers involved in maintaining natural resources and areas in the state.  The BRFAL Chapter focuses on Franklin County as well as parts of Bedford, Pittsylvania and Patrick Counties.  BRFAL volunteers contribute to projects at Smith Mountain Lake and Fairy Stone State Parks, Booker T. Washington National Monument and other educational, citizen science and stewardship activities.

For more information about the lecture or about BRFAL in general please contact www.BRFAL.org or phone (540) 365-4613

Virginia Taxidermist Association Annual Convention March 19-20

The Virginia Taxidermist Association will host their Annual Convention at the Best Western Inn in Waynesboro. There will be seminars on various aspects of taxidermy as well as a taxidermy competition including a People's Choice Award. There will also be a business meeting and a banquet for VTA members. For more information visit: www.vataxidermist.com.

Annual Fredericksburg Kid's Trout Fishing Day March 20

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is sponsoring the Third Annual Fredericksburg Kid's Trout Fishing Day to be held on Saturday, March 20, 2010 from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Children 12 years of age and younger are invited to attend this event which will provide them an opportunity to fish for freshly stocked trout in the 3-acre pond owned by the City of Fredericksburg. The pond is located near the corner of Kenmore Avenue and Mary Ball Street and is adjacent to the Dog Park. This event is FREE and no pre-registration is required. A limited number of loaner rod/reel combos will be available for use during the event for children that may not have their own fishing gear. To prepare for this event Old Cossey Pond will be closed to all angling beginning on Friday, March 19, 2010 until 9am on Saturday, March 20, 2010. Fishing will commence for children 12 years of age and under on Saturday, March 20, 2010 at 9 a.m. and this event will be only open to those youth till 3 p.m. More information can be obtained from the VDGIF Fredericksburg Regional Office (540) 899-4169.

Woodcock Educational Field Day in Powhatan March 27

The James River Chapter of The Ruffed Grouse Society will be hosting a Woodcock Educational Field Day on Saturday, March 27, in Powhatan. Attendees will learn about woodcock habitat and habitat management in classroom and field presentations. The $30 fee includes breakfast and lunch. Space is limited. For more information, contact Tom Pratley at tom@pratleyfarm.com.

Youth Turkey Hunting Seminar in Page Valley March 27

Youth Turkey Hunting Seminar in Page Valley will host their annual Youth Turkey Hunting Seminar in Page Valley March 27 This seminar is a complete course on Wild Turkey Hunting. All aspects of turkey hunting will be covered. Topics to include Identification, Turkey calls and Calling techniques, Distance Judging, Hunting Tactics and Techniques and much more. The event is open to the public and adults must bring a youth to attend. The event is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and lunch is provided at no charge. There will be a shotgun patterning session in the afternoon. Participants should bring their turkey shotgun and matching ammunition to pattern. This course prepares a novice turkey hunter for that first outing into the woods. Call to reserve your space today! For more information contact Art Kasson at (540) 622-6103 or artkasson@yahoo.com

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 Madison County adjacent to Shenandoah National Park. Check the vdgif website for details.

View the Kids Fishing Day video »

Disabled Sportsmen and Wounded Warriors Participate in Numerous Spring Hunts

The Virginia Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation Wheelin' Sportsmen program will sponsor spring turkey hunts for disabled sportsmen, veterans and wounded warriors throughout April and May. 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. Please note the following deadlines for applications:

View the Spring 2010 Virginia Wheelin' Sportsmen Newsletter for further information on programs, events and opportunities or visit the website.

Blackwater Nottoway Riverkeepers Host River Clean-up April 24

The Blackwater Nottoway Riverkeepers (BNRP) will hold its annual "Clean Rivers Day" April 24. The clean-up encompasses the Blackwater/Nottoway watershed. Teams or individuals wanting to help can pick a spot they would like to clean or have one designated. The event is staged from the city of Franklin, but you do not have to travel to Franklin to participate. Jeff Turner, BNRP Riverkeeper, notes that this will be the Riverkeepers ninth clean-up, which to date has removed 53,000 pounds of trash from the watershed. BNRP is a non-profit environmental organization dedicated to protecting and preserving the Blackwater and Nottoway Rivers. For more information call: (757) 562-5173.

Fly Fishing Festival in Waynesboro April 17-18

The Virginia Fly Fishing Festival is held outside each spring on the banks of the South River in Waynesboro, Virginia. On April 17-18 2010, the 10th annual Virginia Fly Fishing Festival will draw anglers from across the Mid-Atlantic with nonstop free lectures and tips on where, when, and how to fly fish in the Old Dominion and across the globe as well as wine-tasting and live music.

Want to get started in fly fishing but don't know where to begin? The Virginia Fly Fishing Festival is the ideal place to get your feet wet in the sport. Are you an avid fly angler looking to take your skills to the next level? The festival is your one-stop shop for gear, expert advice, and even instruction. Be a part of the largest fly angling event in the Old Dominion!

Get more information here »

Quail Group To Host Sporting Clays Shoot in NOVA April 24

The Quail and Upland Wildlife Federation (QUWF) Northern Virginia Chapter 16 will host its first youth shooting and adult Sporting Clays Tournament April 24, 2010 from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Shady Grove Sporting Clays, 11986 Lucky Hill Road, Remington, VA 22734, 540-439-2683. The event will be a combined family event for youth with 5 - Stand TOP GUN shooting and an adult Sporting Clays Tournament. For youth 5 and below games and shooting will be available. Jerry Saggers, QUWF Regional Director notes the primary purpose of this event is to get youth and adults together to interact and have fun. The secondary purpose is to raise funds for our on-going quail habitat restoration project with the Dept. of Interior, Bureau of Land Management at Meadowood Farm in Lorton, and for other youth and wildlife projects planned for this year. Registration available at shady-grove.com or call (703) 232-3572.

QUWF is a 501(C) (3) non-profit conservation organization. Generating revenue for "Turnin-The-Dirt™© at the local, grass roots level by the chapters and doing the work locally to make a difference by performing upland wildlife projects that have an impact. More information about QUWF can be found by visiting www.quwf.net

River Fest in Waynesboro April 24

This FREE annual event takes place river-side at Constitution Park in Waynesboro, on Saturday, April 24th from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Activities include wildlife programs from the Wildlife Center of VA, stream safari, fish and fun rodeo, canoe rides, kids arts & crafts, stream electro-fishing and is capped off by the Great South River Duck Race.  For more information, visit www.riverfestwaynesboro.org

Holiday Lake 4-H Center Offers Hunter & Wilderness Survival Skills Weekends

Advanced Wilderness Survival and Outdoor Living Skills Weekend April 16-18

Do you know the basics, but want to increase your knowledge and advance your outdoor skills? Are you out of practice and need to refresh your skills? Are you just looking for a fun get away to challenge yourself and put your skills to the test? The Holiday Lake 4-H Education Center near Appomattox is hosting an Advanced Wilderness Survival and Outdoor Living Skills Weekend April 16-18. The program includes professional and expert instruction with participation limited for a better instructor: participant ratio. Optional classes include:Survival Refresher Course, Advanced Land Navigation, Building Temporary Shelters, Locating and Collecting Water, Improving "Situational Awareness" Skills, Nighttime Navigation Challenge, Primitive Tools and Cordage, and Sleep Overnight in Temporary Shelters. Learn knowledge and skills to last a lifetime! Cost of workshop is $165 and covers all programming and instructor fees, meals, and lodging. Register by April 2. For additional information, visit the Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center website or call (434) 248-5444.

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.

Becoming an Outdoors Woman Workshop in Madison May 14-16

The VDGIF Outdoor Education Program will host a Becoming an Outdoors Woman workshop at Graves Mountain Lodge in Madison County, May 14 -16. This program is designed primarily for women whose outdoor exposure has been limited. The three-day event (Friday through Sunday) offer a variety of four-hour classes geared towards beginners. Participants can choose from shooting sports, angling, boating and a host of other educational courses. The courses offered may include, but are not limited to, introduction to shotgun, rifle, archery, hunting techniques for game species, fly-fishing, bass fishing techniques, boating, camping, hiking, wilderness survival, and outdoor cooking. Graves Mountain Lodge offers rustic yet comfortable settings in the Blue Ridge Mountains adjacent to Shenandoah National Park. Participants in the Becoming an Outdoors Woman programs must be at least 18 years of age. Registration is required through the VDGIF website. For more information, contact Jimmy Mootz at 804-367-0656 or jimmy.mootz@dgif.virginia.gov.

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

Conservation Police Officers Honored with Life Saving Award

At the March 2 VDGIF Board Meeting, in Richmond, two VDGIF Conservation Police Officers, Brandon Harris and Mark Van Dyke were presented Life Saving Awards by Region II Captain Ron Henry. These two officers were able to revive and save the life of an eight year old girl who had gone under the water, had no pulse and was not breathing when they arrived on scene at Buggs Island Lake. VDGIF Executive Director Bob Duncan proudly complimented the officers noting, "These two individuals, who are so genuinely modest about their efforts, gave credit to their agency training in reviving and saving this little girl's life. As for me, I think they are both heroes and outstanding examples of the Law Enforcement professionals that make us all proud at VDGIF. Our heartfelt congratulations to Brandon and Mark for their exceptional service."

John Dodson Earns Volunteer Community Service Award

The Culpeper County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday March 2, presented the Culpeper Colonel awards, recognizing six residents for their exceptional community service. About 60 people filled the board's meeting room for the annual ceremony. One of the six recipients was John W. Dodson, a hunter education instructor volunteer for 21 years. Dodson has devoted his time to educating youth on safe and responsible hunting. A 10-year Air Force veteran, Dodson is the president of Cedar Mountain Youths and shares his firearms knowledge with members of the 4-H and the Boy Scouts. Congratulations John on this well deserved recognition of your service and sportsmanship mentoring of young hunters and shooters.

Rare "Robin Hood" Shot Witnessed at NASP Tournament

During the NASP State Tournament at Augusta Expoland in Fishersville February 27, the school age competitors and large crowd of parent and archery enthusiasts spectators witnessed a rare "Robin Hood" shot by Noah Trivitt, a 5th grade archer from Saltville Elementary School. Noah accomplished this unique feat on his fifth arrow during the practice round. You talk about "being on target"!

For a shot arrow to be hit by another arrow and travel down the inside shaft of the first arrow is known as a "Robin Hood". It is known among archers as a "million in one" shot, but can be done! Getting a precise hit becomes a mix of marksmanship, timing of the oscillation of the flying arrow and being lucky enough to have a target arrow with a perfectly aligned grain attempt splitting one arrow with another from knock to tip. The grain of the wood in the arrow shaft must be absolutely perfect to permit such a split. The arrows used in the NASP archery program are aluminum, so the result is a bit different, but is still known as "Robin Hood". Karen Holson, VDGIF NASP State Coordinator notes, "For the past 4 years the NASP program has been in Virginia, and over 135,000 student archers shooting arrows, this is Virginia NASP's first Robin Hood! The crowd went wild with excitement for Noah!"

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).

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 complimentary 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

Andy Fischer sent in this picture of his 10 year old son Josh's first deer kill. Joshua was hunting with his dad, in Rockbridge County on private land the opening day of rifle season when he shot his first deer, an 11 pointer with a 16 ½ inch inside spread with a double brow tine on the right side, weighing 147 pounds. Josh downed the buck with a Browning .308 lever action rifle that was left to him by his late grandfather, Edward J. Fischer Jr. who passed away when Josh was only 3 years old. Josh's grandfather was an avid hunter and enjoyed the outdoors and teaching his three sons to do the same. It appears that Josh is on the right track and off to a great start as he learns to be a great young hunter and outdoorsman from his father as well. Josh says there has been a lot of deer taken with this old rifle and there are a lot more to be taken, no doubt. This family is passing on the great traditions of family hunting and sportsmanship.

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

Is it a Gobbler or a Hen? The Beard is Not the Best Clue!

Although commonly called Spring "Gobbler" Season, the legal description allows that "bearded turkeys only" may be harvested. This is because 10-20 percent of hens may grow beards and could be mistaken for a bearded gobbler. Even though it is legal to harvest a bearded hen, take a good look and determine if your quarry is truly a gobbler. Hens have a fuzzy, blue-gray head - a gobbler's head is red and white. Gobblers will appear black in color while hens will be more brownish due to the buff color tips on the breast feathers. Although harder to see at a distance, only gobblers have leg spurs. Many sportsmen will pass up the hen with a beard to help the population grow a little. Remember as you take youngsters afield with you, always set a good example for safety and ethics. Teaching these hunting heritage traditions to the next generation are the most important lessons we as sportsmen and sportswomen can make.

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.

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.

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.

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!

Hunter Education Instructors and CPOs Receive Treestand Safety Certification

On February 23, volunteer Hunter Education Instructors, along with Conservation Police Officers and hunter education staff, attended a Treestand Safety Certification Class conducted at Douthat State Park. The program was conducted by Wade Nolan, a national expert in the field of treestand safety. Graduates of this class will impart their knowledge to other instructors and students as Virginia helps to lead the way in the education and prevention of treestand accidents. Just one example of the public safety role VDGIF has in the Commonwealth!

"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.

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.

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.

Summer Adventure Camps

A number of conservation organizations run a variety of summer workshops, camps and adventure programs that teach students life skills, respect for the environment and experience fun, exciting and sometimes life changing adventures. Here are a few programs that our Outdoor Report Team have experienced first hand as either participants or instructors.

Holiday Lake Forestry Camp - More Than Just Trees!

One of the longest-running Forestry Camps in the country – Holiday Lake Forestry Camp – is seeking youth ages 13 – 16 for its 64th annual week-long camp program that will be held June 14-19, 2010 at the Holiday Lake 4-H Center, located within the 20,000-acre Appomattox-Buckingham State Forest. Teachers, natural resource professionals and others may nominate youth for this outstanding program. Nomination forms are available on the VDOF website and will be accepted until April 9, 2010. Financial sponsorships from forest industries, conservation agencies, associations and individuals cover most of the cost of the Camp. Each camper selected to attend receives a $200 "scholarship," which means each camper pays just $75 to participate in the week-long, residential program.

"Forestry Camp is much more than a walk in the woods," said Ellen Powell, conservation education coordinator with the Virginia Department of Forestry. "Campers experience hands-on learning about wildlife habitat, tree identification, timber harvesting, reforestation, environmental protection and more. They also take part in exciting field trips, exploratory classes, outdoor recreation and a Lumberjack Field Day."

Youth Conservation Camp Sponsored by Soil & Water Districts

The Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (VASWCD) has sponsored a week long summer conservation camp for Virginia high school students (grades 9-12) on the campus of Virginia Tech for 30+ years,. The program brings together about 90 interested students for a week of learning about Virginia's natural resources by conservation professionals and faculty from Virginia Tech. Most of the instruction is hands-on and outdoors. The 2010 Camp is July 12-18, 2009. Applications are available online and must be submitted to your local soil and water conservation district. Check with your local office for due dates. Contact information for your local office can be found at VASWCD's website. For further information please contact Beth Sokolik at Elizabeth.sokolik@vaswcd.org or (804) 559-0324.

Trout Unlimited Tri-State Conservation & Fishing Camp

Trout Unlimited is hosting their annual Trout Unlimited Tri-State Conservation & Fishing Camp  Sunday, June 27 to Friday, July 2, 2010  at Graves' Mountain Lodge in Madison County adjacent to Shenandoah National Park Enjoy an exciting week of hands-on action packed fun in our mountain stream environment that will help you become a skilled angler and an experienced conservationist.  You'll learn firsthand from officials of the National Park Service, professional conservationists with state natural resources agencies, environmental educators, professional fishing instructors and guides, and experienced members of Trout Unlimited.

Camp schedule has been revised to accommodate school schedule changes. New dates above are correct as listed on the website www.tucamp.org. or contact George Gaines, Executive Director, at gaines@tucamp.org, (202) 904-3547

Summer Fishing Camp Adventures

Outdoor Report Fishing Report contributor Tee Clarkson runs a series of summer fishing schools and canoe adventures. Visit the Virginia Fishing Adventures website for details and schedule of sessions and registration.

Nature Observations from the Virginia Wildlife Calendar

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

Answers to February 24 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.

Forest Landowner Workshops scheduled for May-June

Whether you are interested in converting lawn to forest, creating wildlife habitat, or providing a useful outdoor space for your family, these workshops are for you. The workshops will take participants through the manual, The Woods in Your Backyard, exploring planning and implementation of various land management concepts and tools. A Resource CD will also be available. All workshops are 2 sessions, a week apart for homework completion. For more about manual go to nraes.org.

Woodlots, large or small, are a vital resource for all. Additionally, woods provide a myriad of other benefits such as carbon sequestration, improved air quality, wildlife habitat, biomass opportunities, recreational outlets and more. Owners of even just a few acres can make a positive difference in their environment through planning and implementing simple management practices.

The workshops will use the award winning, The Woods in Your Backyard: Learning to Create and Enhance Natural Areas Around Your Home, to equip owners of 1-10 acres to be better stewards of their property. The full-color, 139-page manual helps users identify goals for their land, and offers guidance to achieve them.

Workshop locations & times
Each workshop is 2 sessions

Rappahannock workshop:
May 12 & 19, 1:30-4:30 p.m.
Location: Rappahannock County Library
4 Library Rd., Washington, VA
Kenner Love, Extension Agent
(540) 675-3619 klove@vt.edu

Warrenton workshop:
May 20 & 27, 6:30-9:00 p.m.
Location: Fauquier County Extension Office
24 Pelham Street; Warrenton, VA
Fauquier: Tim Ohlwiler, Extension Agent
(540) 341-7950 tohlwile@vt.edu

Culpeper workshop:
June 1 & 8, 6:30-9:00
Location: Culpeper County Library
271 Southgate Shopping Center,
Culpeper, VA
Carl Stafford, Extension Agent
(540) 727-3435 ccstafford@vt.edu

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.

2010 Tidal River Largemouth Bass Fishing Outlook!

Getting anxious to wet a line in pursuit of tidal river bass? Want to try out that new fishing gear? Well, fishing for tidal river bass in 2010 should be excellent and bass action is just about to heat up. To help you get started this spring, VDGIF fisheries biologists have just completed the 2010 Tidal River Largemouth Bass Outlook (PDF). This information will tell you what our biologists see as highlights of bass populations on the tidal James, Chickahominy, Rappahannock, Pamunkey, and Mattaponi rivers. DGIF biologists are putting a lot of effort into bass population research and monitoring on tidal rivers and this outlook is their way of making sure the latest information is passed on to those of you that care so much about these bass fisheries.

Smallmouth Bass River Fishing Forecast Available From Biologists

Virginia has some of the premier smallmouth bass rivers in the country and things are looking up for 2010. DGIF Fisheries Biologists are also continuing to lead the nation in research to learn more about how fish populations in these rivers work and how to better manage the fisheries to improve angling opportunity. Scott Smith, Fisheries Biologist in south-central Virginia and the Chairman of the DGIF Smallmouth Bass River Technical Committee, has worked with other river biologists around the state to come up with their latest forecast of what anglers will encounter as they hit the smallmouth bass rivers this year. Scott wants anglers to know that DGIF biologists are working hard on a number of issues facing smallmouth bass fisheries, like fish health on the Shenandoahs and Upper James, and overall anglers should have plenty of nice smallmouth bass to pursue. Any smallmouth angler will want to check out the 2010 Smallmouth Bass River Fishing Forecast as they plan their river fishing outings.

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

View the Kids Fishing Day video »

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

Region 1 - Tidewater

Little Creek Reservoir: Contributed by Park Supervisor Robert Eveland. (757) 566-1702. Welcome back to Little Creek Reservoir. Our operating hours are now 7 a.m. to sunset, Monday thru Friday, and 6 a.m. to sunset on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. New at LCR, rental equipment will now be required to be turned into the office at 4:30 p.m. daily, and the concession building will now close to all business at 5:00 p.m. daily and on weekends. We look forward to a fine fishing season.

Virginia Beach: Captain Jim Brincefield (443) 336-8756. According to Captain Jim, speckled trout and puppy drum can be had at Lynnhaven and Rudee Inlets. They are going for Mirrolures and Fishbite. The water is clear and 44 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 says no action in his neck of the woods. The water is slightly stained and 50 degrees.

North Landing River and Back Bay: West Neck Marina (757) 426-6735. Dewey Mullins reports that the only anglers he has seen lately are going for crappie, and not having much luck. A few have been landed with minnows. The water is very stained and in the 40s.

Norfolk Lakes: Dasheill's Show Room (757) 539-7854. Drew Dixon says that things are picking up. Yellow perch are being brought to boat with minnows. Crappie are going for minnows and jigs. Some bass have been fooled by jigs. The water is clear and in the low 40s.

Blackwater and Nottoway: By Riverkeeper Jeff Turner www.blackwaternottoway.com Little by little the fishing is improving from this very long cold winter. My man in the field, Edwin Cutchins, tells me as of this March 6th the shad have not shown up in the river yet. However, there was a bass tournament on the Nottoway this past week and some good largemouth bass were caught. Speckled are being caught here and there also, but no large catches have been reported. No striped bass caught yet either. I hope to get out soon as my shoulder injury gets better and then I can see firsthand what is happening out there. I expect the shad to be here soon though, so better go ahead and get your shad rigs straightened out.

Blackwater Nottoway Riverkeepers Host River Clean-up April 24 – Volunteers Needed!

The Blackwater Nottoway Riverkeepers (BNRP) will hold its annual "Clean Rivers Day" April 24. The clean-up encompasses the Blackwater/Nottoway watershed. Teams or individuals wanting to help can pick a spot they would like to clean or have one designated. The event is staged from the city of Franklin, but you do not have to travel to Franklin to participate. Jeff Turner, BNRP Riverkeeper, notes that this will be the Riverkeepers ninth clean-up, which to date has removed 53,000 pounds of trash from the watershed. Jeff notes, "He will have litter getters and bags for those who need them.  Teams or individuals can pick their own locations or I can find you one.  My advice is to look around at bridge crossings etc in your area and be scoping out a place for you or your team to go after.  That way we are more spread out and you will be making a difference close to home.  Teams can pick what time of day they want to work and how long. Teams must keep count of bag and participant totals and totals of tires etc.  Make note of your "most unusual item found".  More details will follow when you sign up." Email Jeff at blknotkpr@earthlink.net or call (757) 562-5173 to get signed up.  This is a community event, get your group involved this year, it is a big event with big rewards and recognition for all that participate. BNRP is a non-profit environmental organization dedicated to protecting and preserving the Blackwater and Nottoway Rivers.

Beaverdam Reservoir: Contributed by Park Supervisor C. Blair Evans, (804) 693-2107. Fishing has still been a little slow but with each day of warmer weather, reports will be improving.  On average, bass anglers are reporting catching a few fish no more than 4 pounds.  The crappie fishing is beginning to pick up, but the bigger fish are not showing up yet.  One angler reported a good day of crappie fishing by catching and releasing around 100 smaller fish. Beaverdam's Big Bash Tournament season is here and the first tournament will be held on Saturday March the 20th.  For more information, please call the park at (804) 693-2107.

Park Hours
March 1st thru 13th – 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
March 14th thru 31st – 7:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
April: 6:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Region 2 - Southside

Brunswick Lake: Contributed by our man in the boat, Willard A. Mayes. Here I was standing in the yard with a rake in my hand trying to get up sweet gum tree balls; the sun felt so warm and the rake was complaining about being tired so I packed a cooler with an apple and bottle of water and headed to Brunswick Lake. I arrived at the lake little before 1:00 p.m. and headed for the bridge to see if I could find any starved crappie. The water is about normal for winter, slightly stained with visibility of about 3 feet. I fished my standard .32 oz lead head and three different color twister tails, chartreuse, purple and John Deer for about 30 minutes without any strikes, so I headed towards the dam. I fished to within 100 yards of the dam and never had a strike. I started back to the dock and caught a crappie, slightly over 9 inches, and a bluegill, about 6 inches. There were 4 other boats on the lake and I talked with 3 of them, and no one had enough fish to brag about. One said they had 5, another said they had not caught anything and a boy I went to school with, caught 3 crappie and lost one. Still beat raking gum balls.

Briery Creek: Contributed by Longwood College Fishing Club's Jack Pollio. We have gotten out a few times on Sandy and Briery, but no fish are really biting. The water is still around 40 degrees and will start to warm up this next week hopefully. We are holding our Tournament on Sandy River March 20, 2010. All the proceeds are going to the charity, American Research Society and Relay for Life at Longwood University. Anyone is welcome to come and watch the weigh in at 2 p.m.

James at Scottsville: Local Guide L.E. Rhodes www.hatchmatcherguideservice.com, (434) 286-3366, (434) 996-506. The James is at 6.5 feet 38 degrees and stained. There have been reports of some nice catfish and crappie being caught at Columbia. They say that cats have been taking shrimp. The river is still a little cold and off color for smallmouths.

Kerr Reservoir: Bob Cat's Lake Country Store, (434) 374-8381. According to Brandon Gray things are "turned on". Anglers trolling for crappie with minnows and jigs in the flats of the creek are getting lucky. Some bass have been fooled by crankbaits. A few big blue cats in the 40 to 50 pound range have been brought in. Also, a few stripers have gone after crankbaits. The water is muddy to stained, and 41 to 45 degrees.

James at Lynchburg: Angler's Lane, (434) 385-0200. Tom Reisdorf reports that not much is happening, as some mountain roads are still not passable. Some anglers have been able to land brookies with pheasant tails. The water is clear and 40 degrees.

Lake Gaston: Holly Grove Marina (434) 636-3455. Ron Karpinski says that some bass are being landed in the creeks. Your best bet is to fish slow. Some yellow perch have been landed with minnows. Crappie should be there soon. The water is muddy on the lake, clear on the creeks and 49 degrees.

Lake Gaston Health Advisory: 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. The fishing is improving but continues to be mixed.

Crappie: The crappie fishing has improved significantly over the past week or so and should only get better as we move into spring. Many crappie anglers report they are finding crappies in the tops of submerged trees and brush and are catching good numbers on minnows rigged on gold, thin wire hooks below a couple of small split shot. When fishing for crappie when the bite is very light, consider using the small, X-Wing bobbers. They will help you detect subtle bites far better than the traditional round or pear shaped bobbers.

Stripers: Striper fishing is better, but continues to be challenging. Stripers are being caught using live bait presented on "downlines" to fish that are from 25 to 55 feet deep. Stripers are also moving up on points, flats and along the bank where live bait on planer boards (Off Shore, Water Bugz, Outcast) are producing an occasional fish. Stripers continue to be caught using jigging spoons and the most recent reports are that chrome Kastmaster spoons with bucktail trailers are out producing all others. Heavier bucktails and flukes rigged on custom.5 ounce jigheads are also being jigged on deep-water stripers with good results.

Bass: Bass fishing has been mixed with several recent tournament angler teams producing nice bags for current conditions. Overall, the bass fishing has proven to be challenging this winter, although several anglers have caught some nice bags of fish on spoons and deep running crankbaits when found grouped together in the same area. The Kastmaster, Hopkins Shorty, Cotton Cordell "CC" and Luhr Jensen spoons are working. I have had several anglers report they lost good fish while using several of these spoons, so I suggest you replace the hooks on a couple of them. Deep diving crankbaits and suspending jerkbaits are also working near deeper water and around points and humps. Heavier football jigs (Dave's, Cheeseburger) are also producing an occasional bass. The SML Bassmaster club held an open tournament on February 28th and had a field of 18 boats participating under very difficult weather and fishing conditions. David Peters and Steve Conner brought a great bag weighing 15.55 pounds to the scale to take first place honors. The big fish, weighing 4.62 pounds, was caught by the team of Scott Howard and Daniel Gibson. The next open sponsored by this local club will be held at the State Park this Sunday, March 14th. For more information about this tournament, you can either call the shop or Travis (540) 537-4390. The Western Division of the Fishers of Men will be returning to the lake this weekend with a tournament on Saturday, March 13th. For more information about this series, contact Jamie Shrimp on (540) 323-2198. The water is clear and 41 degrees. Tight lines.

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 3 - Southwest

Claytor Lake: Rock House Marina, (540) 980-1488. Greg Osborne says that the ice has just left the lake and not many anglers have tried their luck. The water is clear, down one foot and in the mid to upper 30s.

Lower New River: Big Z'S (540) 639-1651. No report.

New River: Tangent Outfitters, (540) 257-0415. No report.

Region 4 - Mountain and Shenandoah Valley

North and South Forks of the Shenandoah: Harry Murray (540) 984-4212 www.murraysflyshop.com. The smallmouth streams in the North and South forks of the river are a good color and 40 degrees. The water is a little high for wading but safe in a boat or canoe. Some fall fish can be had with Murray's Mad Tom, size 4; Black Marauder, size 6; and Murray's Heavy Hellgrammite, size 4. The stocked streams in the Valley are dropping to a good level, moderately clear and 38 degrees. Rainbows are going for nymphs and streamers, good ones are: Murray's Cranefly, sizes 12 and 14; Casual Dress, sizes 10 and 12; Betsy Streamer, sizes 10 and 12, and the Olive Strymph, size 10. The mountain streams are still too cold and high 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. The major rivers in the area (Potomac, Rappahannock, Rivanna, Rapidan) are all still running high as a result of the melting snow and you should not attempt to wade.  Of these rivers, the Rappahannock and Rapidan are both dropping quickly back to seasonal normal levels. The temperature on the Upper Potomac is slowing clawing its way back up to a fishable level but, at 41 degrees, we are still 5 degrees below normal for this time of year. Expect to see sluggish behavior over the next couple weeks. However, the warm water discharge downstream of the Dickerson Power Plant (GPS 39.21026,-77.467024) provides opportunities for bass fanatics to get out and have a good day.  According to Charlie Taylor's sources, bass are hitting well on top water presentations in that area. The stocked streams in the Piedmont area are all high but are fishable with the Hughes and Robinson Rivers being recently stocked. The mountain streams are running full and very cold with snow still present in the higher elevations and shaded areas. As a result of this, the consensus is that the mountain streams are unfishable. Exercise caution if you walk into the backcountry.

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 »

Upper and Lower Tidal James: Local Guide, Captain Mike Hoke, Life's Revenge Guide Service, (804) 357-8518. Time to dust off your gear and put some thought to getting on the water. Right now is prime time for one of my favorite annual fishing trips and always the first one that I look forward to going on in the New Year - fishing for crappie and yellow perch on the tidal rivers and creeks East of Richmond. They are the first sign that the water is starting an upward swing. After the past four months, I think the fish wouldn't mind some company. Not much pressure has been put on any local waters, if any at all, so you can look forward to some great fishing the next couple of months. We have been catching the crappie on small minnows, mostly on a bobber and setting the depth at 8 to 10 feet with a bobber stopper. Most fish are being caught as the current slows at the end of the tide cycles, reason for this being the water temperature is 40 to 41 degrees. The fish are sluggish and move more and feed during the slower currents. Patience is key when fishing tidal crappie at this time of year. You may sit there for an hour or so and not get a bite or just a couple takers, then one bobber goes down and as you boat a nice slab you turn to see 2 more bobbers gone of the 5 rods out. Before you know it, you have none in the water and fish slapping all over the bottom of your boat.

Upper and Lower Tidal James: Local Guide, John Garland, Screaming Reels Fishing Charter, (804) 739-8810. No report.

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

Mid Point Potomac: Warbird Outdoors, (703) 878-3111. Terry Olinger reports that bass are hitting rattletraps and chatterbaits. Some big cats have been going for cut bait. No word on crappie. Yellow perch have been attacking Silver Buddies. The water is stained and near 40 degrees.

Annual Fredericksburg Kid's Trout Fishing Day March 20
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is sponsoring the Third Annual Fredericksburg Kid's Trout Fishing Day to be held on Saturday, March 20, 2010 from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Children 12 years of age and younger are invited to attend this event which will provide them an opportunity to fish for freshly stocked trout in the 3-acre pond owned by the City of Fredericksburg. The pond is located near the corner of Kenmore Avenue and Mary Ball Street and is adjacent to the Dog Park. This event is FREE and no pre-registration is required. A limited number of loaner rod/reel combos will be available for use during the event for children that may not have their own fishing gear. To prepare for this event Old Cossey Pond will be closed to all angling beginning on Friday, March 19, 2010 until 9am on Saturday, March 20, 2010. Fishing will commence for children 12 years of age and under on Saturday, March 20, 2010 at 9 a.m. and this event will be only open to those youth till 3 p.m. More information can be obtained from the VDGIF Fredericksburg Regional Office (540) 899-4169.

Lake Anna: Contributed by C. C. McCotter, Local guide and Editor-In Chief, Woods & Waters Magazine, (540) 894-5960. No report.

Lake Anna: Contributed by Local Guide Jim Hemby (540) 967-3313. Spring is coming, the water is warming, ice is melting, bait is migrating into the creeks and all species of fish will be preparing for the spawn, and as the water warms up so will their appetites. Walleyes are spawning, crappie and stripers will begin to spawn latter in the month and a few of the lakes larger bass will attempt to spawn down lake on the full moon late this month. March is a month to catch some of the largest fish of the year and many citations should be recorded this month.

Stripers: Stripers are scattered all over the lake now, primarily in main lake regions but as the water warms and the ice melts in the backs of creeks and rivers they will follow the bait and gorge themselves - fattening up for the rigors of the spawn which will take place over the next couple of months. Striper fishing has been fantastic this year, my clients have been averaging about 30 fish a day, and the fish are fat and full of roe. Contrary to what many fishermen believe, all the stripers do not migrate up into the rivers to spawn. There are numerous schools of stripers that live their entire lives within certain areas of the lake, moving with the bait from main lake locations to the backs of the nearby creeks, from deeper flats to shallow bays, but they stay within a range of a couple of miles in their core area. About every 3 miles there are major core areas that are worth checking, establish a pattern for the day you are fishing and you can duplicate that pattern in each area of the lake. Here are some proven tactics to catch stripers this season. Down lake by the dam and the 3rd Dike stripers will be moving in and out of the current feeding on the massive schools of bait wanting to spawn in the current. In low light times of the day fish will explode on Pencil Poppers and Rebel Jumping minnows worked in the current. When the stripers sound rattletraps, you'll catch plenty of fish. To fool a big fish try waking a Redfin across any flat, hump or point in that region, you may be in for a big surprise. When the fish sound they school on the bottom, spoons jigged in their faces may catch a few of these lethargic fish as will trolling deep diving crankbaits. On cooling trends and blue bird days I will drop back to 20 to 30 foot flats and pull a combination of boards and downlines. I will run herring when the water temps are below 55 degrees and shad when the water warms up. View our catches online!

Bass: March is a month of bass tournaments, and the fish will see every lure known to man this month. Lake Anna is the first stop on most tournament schedules and for good reason; there are plenty of big bass that are fatting up for the spawn. If you like stained water, there is plenty up lake. The water early in March is very cold up but if we get 3 or 4 sunny warm days the dirty water will warm enough to turn the bass on up there. Bass will move right up on objects that heat up quickly (rocks, clay banks, stumps, the edges of the dead grass bed, etc.) and feed well on spinnerbaits, swimbaits, rattletraps and shallow diving crankbaits. Once we get a warming trend bass will turn on in the backs of creeks, feeding on the flats when it is warm and pulling back to the edge of the channel in cold front conditions hanging tight to the stumps and breaks. Mid lake and down lake concentrate your efforts in depths of 16 feet or less, working pre-spawn areas. Primary and secondary points down lake will hold giant bass that are suckers for suspending jerkbaits. A good pattern to try is targeting 30 degree gravel banks that have cover on them with crankbaits or swimbaits. Other areas that will produce this month will be Windy Rip Rap, throwing big bladed spinner baits on the banks. A few areas that always produce in March and April are coves like Hackneys, Boggs and Dukes Creek. If you can get on the private side, the fishing is awesome now, many fisherman are catching over two dozen bass a day over there fishing pre-spawn and spawning bass.

Crappie: Early in the month the fish will be in deeper water nearby spawning flats, congregating along bridge pilings and rocky drop offs. We have seen 100 yard schools of crappie hanging along the first main drop off next to spawning flats in 10 to 20 feet of water. Once the water warms up into the upper 40s they will move to extremely shallow water. Huge slabs can be caught on the Anna side around the dark shoreline grass beds in a couple feet of water. Almost every dock in the upper Pamunkey will hold crappie later this month as well as will shallow stumps and brush. Try locating the schools with small jigs and once you find the larger fish work on them with minnows.

Walleye: Two areas to fish for these elusive fish…around the rocks and shallow gravel flats down lake nearby the 3rd dike and up lake on clay banks and points in depths of 8 feet or less. If you can fish the private side, get as close to the discharge as you can, citation size fish are being caught there.

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

View video about the snakehead

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Virginia Conservation Police Notebook

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

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. Greg was selected by the NWTF State Chapter last year and then was selected nationally from a field of officers from all the other states. His selection marks the third time in the 11-year history of the award that a Virginia officer has won. Captain Ron Henry was the first Virginia officer to win this honor followed by CPO Chris Thomas

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

Region 4 - Mountain & Shenandoah Valley

Illegal trapper nabbed for trespassing... On February 5, Conservation Police Officer K.G. Bilwin received a report from a landowner about a neighbor trespassing on his property in order to trap. Officer Bilwin spoke with this individual and learned that the person in question has been warned three separate times to stay off the property and earlier that morning the landowner saw the traps still set on the property. Officer Bilwin responded to the area in Clarke Co. to meet with the caller. As Officer Bilwin walked to the area of the traps, fresh 3-wheeler tracks were observed in the snow. The tracks were obviously from that morning. When Officer Bilwin got to where the traps were set, they had been removed. Officer Bilwin questioned the landowner about the person involved and learned he lives only a couple hundred yards away and that every time he comes onto the property he uses a 3-wheeler. Officer Bilwin then followed the 3-wheeler tracks back to the suspect's residence. During questioning the suspect gave Officer Bilwin a full written confession. Charges for Trespassing on Posted Property, No Trapping License and Failure to Mark Traps are pending. For more information contact Lt. Ronnie Warren at (540) 248- 9360.

Professional and ethical trapping are important management practices to control nuisance wildlife and predators. The Basic Trapper Training Program provided by the Virginia Trappers Association teaches new and experienced trappers the laws and ethics involved in trapping and maintaining professional trapper-landowner relations. For info on professional trapping and training opportunities to become a certified trapper visit the VA Trappers Association website.

Region 3 - Southwest

Felon caught riding ATV on snow-covered highway... On February 23, Conservation Police Officer Mark Brewer was on patrol in the Copper Hill area of Floyd County. He observed an ATV being ridden on a public highway and stopped to investigate. The road was snow-covered, and the ATV operator was seen steering in a zigzag manner down the road. The operator stated that he was trying to break up the snow to make it easier to plow. When asked for a driver's license, the operator stated he did not have one. CPO Brewer obtained the subject's name, date of birth and Social Security number and contacted VDGIF Dispatch to verify his identity. This particular individual was a two-time convicted felon, and dispatch learned he was wanted by Virginia State Police on three felony drug charges out of Botetourt County: Manufacture heroin, Transport heroin with intent to distribute, and Conspire to distribute heroin. CPO Brewer took the subject into custody and transported him to New River Valley Regional Jail in Dublin. While at the jail, the subject was served a magistrate summons for operating an ATV on a public highway. For more information contact Lt. Rex Hill at (276) 783-4860.

Region 1 - Tidewater

Landowner tip and skilled investigation lead to poachers arrest... On January 19, 2010, CPO Skinner received a complaint from a Surry County landowner of shots fired in fields near his residence on two successive nights. On the second night, a white pickup truck was seen leaving the area and a dead deer was found in one of the fields the next day. CPO Skinner checked the scene and recovered two .17 caliber shell casings. CPO Skinner staked out the area the following two nights. On the second night, a vehicle came through the area, spotlighted the fields and one shot was fired from the vehicle. A white pickup truck was stopped and found to be occupied by two young men, both of whom were drinking beer. There was a loaded .17 caliber rifle with a scope in the truck along with a spotlight and three boxes of ammo. The two young men gave lengthy confessions after being advised of their Miranda rights. They admitted killing the deer in the same field two nights earlier. In addition, they confessed to riding around Prince George and Surry Counties the prior two weeks shooting deer, raccoon, foxes and any other animals they found in fields. They had picked none of the animals up, but had left them in the fields after shooting them. According to one of the subjects, they were just having fun. The driver of the vehicle had received the rifle from his girlfriend as a Christmas present. Multiple charges were placed against the two subjects and warrants were obtained later on the killing of the deer two nights earlier. The investigation also revealed that one of the subjects had killed a deer in Prince George on the last day of the season and failed to check it. Needless to say, the landowner was very appreciative upon hearing of the arrest of the subjects. For more information contact Lieutenant Scott E. Naff (804) 829-6580.

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

As the weather warms and Spring approaches, thoughts of Summer vacation for many students begin to stir. Ironically now is the time when planning for summer vacation trips needs to begin. For 18 year old Mark Robinson, a Senior at Patrick Henry High School in Roanoke, his most memorable outdoor experience was a summer adventure every Boy Scout dreams about- a ten day trek at the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. Hiking through this vast rugged landscape observing and experiencing the wonders of nature, learning self reliance, endurance, and learning new skills, can be a life changing adventure. Sharing such an outdoor adventure with fellow Scouts makes for lifelong friendships and gives a measure of your true character. Mark entered his article in the 2008-09 Virginia Outdoor Writers Association High School Youth Writing Competition and his adventure story was awarded First place. Mark has captured the excitement, serenity, and fond memories that come with a week in the wild with friends of a common purpose of service and self improvement.

Philmont

By Mark Robinson

It's about 5:30 AM in Roanoke Regional Airport. A bunch of uniformed teenagers gather with oddly shaped camouflage patterned laundry bags and nervous looking parents on either side. Suddenly, an average-sized, geeky looking man rushes in, triumphantly holding a delectable chocolate chip cookie. The strange man raises the cookie into the air and slowly takes a large bite out of it. Was it the beginning of a two week reign of terror on the western United States? Was it a tremendous endeavor of twelve men and boys to do what had never been done before? Or was it the beginning of one of those terribly trippy science fiction novels that you just scratch your head after reading? The answer: all of the above.

Turns out that the strange man with the cookie was just Mr. Don Sipher, fearless Scoutmaster of Troop 236 of southwest Roanoke County. The uniformed boys were Boy Scouts, the most (insert preferred adjective here) of all living creatures. The camouflage packages were their backpacks; the medium with which they would carry all their worldly belongings in the next twelve days. This was the beginning of the magical journey referred to by many as Philmont Scout Ranch.

Soon after arriving on the ranch, the boys learned many useful skills, such as how to create a packline and where to find water in base camp. They met Ranger Wesley Johnson, the man who would hold their lives in hand for the next three days until suddenly but gently passing the responsibility back to the crew as a whole. The boys endured ranger training, learning the Philmont way of camping so as to avoid any bear maulings.

Over the next few days, the boys suffered the hard life of a Philmont hiker. They endured root beer from the tap at Abreu, team-building games, ghost stories, and blinding sunrises at Urraca, and scaled near vertical rock faces at Miner's Park. At Black Mountain, they became soldiers in the American Civil War, where they learned to shoot rifles from that era.

The boys' morale was lifted at Philips Junction, where a renewed food and water supply, as well as six or eight Toblerone chocolate bars apiece, helped to replenish their darkened spirits. At Crooked Creek, they braved the frontier as homesteaders, having to make candles to light their way in the dark New Mexico night and to ward off ferocious predators like mountain lions and bears. Only luck and prayer kept them from being mauled.

The next morning they visited Clear Creek, where they learned how to trap beaver, a skill that would come in handy the next few days, as they wouldn't see water again for 48 hours. This was the prelude to the conquest of Philmont's second highest peak at 11,771 feet above sea level, Mount Philips. From the summit, the view was breathtaking. The entire range of the southern Rockies was before their very eyes. Baldy to the north, Angel Fire to the west, it was pure beauty. Well, at least until the thunderstorm hit, hurrying the crew off of the peak. Camp that night was made on neighboring Comanche Peak where they experienced a beautiful sunset from chairs made of rocks.

Thus they began to descend. Down the ridge toward Sawmill, which held for them rifle shooting and a nice hot shower. They made their camp in Sawmill Canyon along a creek lined with tall aspens, the like of which you only hear in stories. In the morning, they made their way down the canyon and across a ridge to Ute Gulch, where they restocked on food for the last time and enjoyed another fifteen to twenty Toblerone bars apiece. Their travels then took them through Hidden Valley and into Cimarroncito, one of the more famous camps at Philmont. Cito was the location of the group's conservation project. They were lumberjacks for the day, chopping and stacking down wood as a means of forest fire regulation.

The crew then made their way down to Hunting Lodge, where they enjoyed one of the finest evenings of scouting they would ever experience. Hunting Lodge offers cobbler dessert to crews who entertain them, whether it be through song, skit, story, or another means. This fine crew chose all three, and so did their sister crew, which turned it into a sort of a competition. Songs, skits, and the like were all performed masterfully by the best entertainers ever to visit northeastern New Mexico. The next day, a short hike brought them to Clark's Fork, where they would spend the subsequent hours occupying themselves with a myriad of activities ranging from chess to guitar and horseback riding to branding irons before a chuck wagon dinner.

Up and over Schaffer's Peak they went; and down the ridge to Tooth Ridge, where they set up camp for the last time on Philmont. They enjoyed the view from the camp and in the morning they visited the legendary Tooth of Time. It was a long six miles back to base camp, but they all made it, and the lives of the boys and the history of the troop had never been richer.

This entry in the Virginia Outdoor Writers Association (VOWA) 2008-09 High School Youth Writing Competition by 18 year old Mark Robinson, a Senior at Patrick Henry High School in Roanoke, was awarded First 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: