In this edition:

Springtime Adventures Await You

This March 24th edition ushers in warmer weather with the promise of Spring and April showers that can't dampen the spirits of most outdoor enthusiasts to head to the steams, fields, and forests for a variety of opportunities for wild adventure. 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 followed by six weeks when turkey hunters match their skills with wary ol' Tom.

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. My Uncle Tink Smith will celebrate his 99th birthday this April. I fondly remember all the wonderful times I have been blessed to accompany him in the Spring woods to photograph and hunt wild turkeys, visit the lady slipper patch, pick morel mushrooms and hear the stories of seasons long past. Tink offered this advice at the last NWTF National Convention he attended a few years ago when he was 90 something... "Moms and Dads, take your sons and daughters hunting and fishing, teach them the wonders of nature and appreciation for wildlife and wild places. You will both be better for it, and you will be glad you did!" If you don't have a youngster to take spring gobbler hunting, or trout fishing—find one! Here's an idea-go turkey hunting in the morning, then go trout fishin' in the afternoon!! Make it a new Spring family tradition... I'm anxious to go visit Uncle Tink to spend some time with him talking turkey, listening for gobblers and to wish him a happy 99th birthday! Tink being a wildlife photographer tells me he most enjoys seeing the snapshots you send us of smiling kids with their prized fish catch, or golden gobbler. Now get out there and enjoy this glorious Spring and send those smilin' photos to share with our readers!

David Coffman, Editor

Fishing, Wildlife Diversity, and Boating Regulation Amendment Process

The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and the Board of Game and Inland Fisheries review and amend all of the Virginia regulations governing wildlife and boating biennially, in two separate processes, with different regulations being under review in alternating years.

In 2009-2010 the Virginia Board of Game and Inland Fisheries is conducting its Fishing, Wildlife Diversity, and Boating Periodic Regulation Review and Amendment Process, in which it addresses and considers possible amendments to all Virginia state regulations governing inland sportfish and fishing, wildlife species other than those hunted, fished, or trapped, and boating.

General Assembly Legislation of Interest to You

Even though the legislative session has adjourned, there were a number of bills of interest to outdoor enthusiasts, landowners, or concerned citizens.

Remember the members of the General Assembly were elected to serve you. Stay in contact with your local representatives throughout the year and stay informed on issues that may impact you and your interests. 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.

Spring Time Is "Shad Time"

Spring is upon us and the annual run of shad has begun as they make their way into our freshwater rivers to spawn. Early sampling has detected the beginning of the run and when the rivers return to normal after recent high flow the run will get into full swing. In recent years, many anglers have been rediscovering these fine silvery jewels from the sea, as increasing numbers of hickory and American shad are providing exciting, spring angling opportunities. American shad and hickory shad have already arrived at Richmond in the James River and should arrive at Fredericksburg in the Rappahannock River by late-March. Fishing for hickories usually winds down in late-April in the James and early-May in the Rappahannock. Americans may be caught through the end of May, but most are gone by the middle of the month. Remember, it is catch and release only for American shad (check VDGIF and VMRC regulations).

Shadcam will be back up soon when the river settles after recent flooding. Once again enthusiasts will be able to enjoy capturing images of American shad and 20+ other species of riverine fishes as they pass through the Boshers Dam fishway on the James River.

The American Shad Restoration Project is also underway to collect American shad eggs and stock fry as part of a cooperative effort to replenish shad stocks in the James and Rappahannock rivers. The Pamunkey River supplies the broodstock for the James stockings and the Potomac provides the broodstock for the Rappahannock stockings. Since 1992 over 108 million shad fry have been stocked in the upper James and since 2003 over 25 million have been stocked in the upper Rappahannock.

Fish passage progress continues throughout Virginia. American shad and blueback herring have been found 28 miles upstream of the former Embrey Dam by our biologists. Hickory shad and striped bass have also been found in the upper Rappahannock. The Boshers Dam fishway on the James is once again operating for the 2010 spawning run.

VDGIF is also continuing the Shad Tagging Study in 2010, tagging American shad and hickory shad to learn more about shad populations and their spawning migration patterns in the fall zones of the James and Rappahannock rivers. Tagging is planned for March through May of 2010. The tag is an external "spaghetti tag" inserted in the fish near the dorsal fin (top/back) on the right side of the fish. Anglers who catch a tagged fish are asked to call the toll free 866 number on the tag to report the catch to the fisheries biologists conducting the study. We ask that you report the fish tag number, date, time and location of the catch, and whether or not the fish was harvested (would apply to hickory shad only below the fall line) or released.

Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss

Next Edition Two Weeks Away April 14...

Since we post the Outdoor Report on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month, the next edition will be in two weeks, April 14. This 'extra week' in the calendar will be well spent callin' for spring gobblers or anglin' for trout. We look forward to getting your photos and stories for the April 14 edition. Have a safe and successful beginning of Spring.

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

Rose River Trout Heritage Kids Fishing Day in Madison April 3

The Virginia Dept of Game and Inland Fisheries in conjunction with Rapidan Trout Unlimited and Graves Mountain Lodge will again help sponsor a Kids Fishing Day on the Rose River, to be held on Saturday April 3, 2010 for kids 12 and under. Starting time is 9 a.m. Registration begins at 8 a.m. and lasts until 4 p.m. Prizes given away every hour starting at 10 a.m. Every kid 12 and under will receive a gift for registering. Several aspects have changed for families that have participated in past years. The date has been changed from the third Saturday in March to the first Saturday in April to have a chance at warmer weather and the location has been changed from the Robinson River to the Rose River. This is the longest running Kids' event in the state

This year's activities will provide education and hands-on activities. Harry Murray will give a 45 minute talk on fly fishing and also give a demonstration. Trout Unlimited will have fly tying stations, fly casting demonstrations, fly casting classes at a pond for children and adults, insect monitoring in the stream, and helping kids with fishing on the Rose River. The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries will bring their taxidermy mounted animals for display. Virginia State University will display live fish, cold and warm water fish. Shenandoah National Park will have a display about fishing in the park. National Turkey Federation will have a turkey calling, archery and air rifle demonstrations. Culpeper Soil and Water Conservation Districts will show macroinvertibrates and have their soil tunnel. DEQ and 4-H Adventure Club, Old Rag Naturalists will be making and finding wildlife tracks, Plus other organizations will have booths with displays, information and activities All children participating will be eligible for prizes which will be given out every hour. Visit the Graves Mountain Lodge website for a map to the location and a complete schedule of activities. Additional information is available from Graves Mountain lodge at (540) 923-4231 or Trout Unlimited contact Marcia Woolman at (540) 253-5545, Email: marcia@woolmancane.com

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

Secretary of Natural Resources Addresses Outdoor Writers at Annual Meeting

Secretary of Natural Resources, Doug Domenech and Executive Director, Bob Duncan, met with over 50 members of the Virginia Outdoor Writers Association, Inc. (VOWA) at their Annual Meeting, March 17, 2010, in Charlottesville. Secretary Domenech introduced himself to the group and related his wide-ranging experiences in natural resources management as a forestry and wildlife graduate from VA Tech, to service in natural resource policy development as White House Liaison and Deputy Chief of Staff to the Secretary for the U.S. Dept. of Interior. Secretary Domenech related priority programs that he will be directing for Governor McDonnell including the goal to reserve 400,000 acres in conservation easements during his term.

Director Duncan reviewed his recent reorganization of the communications group to provide additional outreach, marketing, and education opportunities for agency programs and issues of interest to a broader constituency. He reviewed legislation recently passed by the General Assembly that affected agency operations and sportsmen's opportunities. Director Duncan also acknowledged the Secretary's support and assistance in several important agency operation matters before the General Assembly including flexibility in site selection for a new VDGIF Headquarters and changes in certain license fees to benefit all sportsmen. After awards were presented to six students for their writing excellence in the VOWA youth writing competitions [ awards detailed in article below], retired Game Warden, Frank Mundy, presented a craft improvement address on how to self-publish your book, or develop a website. Mundy has completed three books that recount his experiences, mostly humorous, as a Virginia Game Warden for over 30 years. New officers and board members for the professional communicators association were elected for 2010-11 as follows:

Board Members:

VOWA represents professional writers, editors, photographers, videographers, agency and conservation organization communicators, and outdoor related businesses. Visit the VOWA website for more information and how to become a member or supporting member.

Outdoor Writers Recognize Student Writing Excellence

The Virginia Outdoor Writers Association, Inc. (VOWA) recognized two Virginia college students, and four high school students, for their winning entries in the VOWA annual student outdoor writing contests. The presentations were made during the VOWA Annual Meeting, March 17 at the Doubletree Hotel in Charlottesville with more than 50 members and guests in attendance. VOWA annually holds a High School Outdoor Writing Competition (grades 9-12) and a Collegiate Undergraduate Writing Contest with the objective to encourage students to cultivate their creative talents in writing about their outdoor adventure experiences. The theme of the contests is how experiences in the outdoors have created memories and influenced their lives.

For the 5th Annual Collegiate Undergraduate Writing Contest, the first place winning story "Fairy Dust" was written by John Haworth , a native of Virginia Beach, and a Fisheries Science major attending Virginia Tech. An expert diver, John expressed a firm passion for marine science and is a leader in the Chesapeake Bay Student Network organized by students to spread awareness, education, and action towards restoration of the Chesapeake Bay. Second place honors went to Robert Bodendorf, a Senior English major and creative writing minor at Hampden-Sydney College. His article, "Up That Mountain" related the importance of growing up in a rural setting and the values instilled in him. Writing is a passion which he enjoys and practices as an editor for the College's literary magazine, The Garnet.

The four winning entries for the 17th Annual High School Writing Competition 2009-10 were:

All winners received prize packages including outdoor gear donated by sponsor members valued between $150-$300. VOWA President Terry Lewis was primarily responsible for obtaining the prizes from supporting members and corporate outdoor related businesses. VOWA also acknowledges and expresses appreciation to Dominion Resources for their generous grant contribution in support of the meeting and recognition of award winners. VOWA members Emily Gray and Marie Majarov were recognized for Excellence in Craft awards for feature writing. Philip James and Bill Cochran were recognized in the Bob Gooch Column Writing category

VOWA represents professional writers, editors, photographers, videographers, agency and conservation organization communicators and outdoor related businesses. VOWA members participate in and inform the public of opportunities to experience the outdoors and increase their knowledge, understanding and enjoyment of these resources through the various communication media. They support the conservation of our natural resources and the best precepts for the consumption and recreational uses of those resources. Anyone who is interested in reading the winning entries or entering the annual contests can access that information at the VOWA website. The website shortly will be hosting the photographs and winning articles for public access.

The best 24 articles submitted for the Virginia Outdoor Writers Association annual student competitions are featured in the Outdoor Report to publish winning student articles from the contests. Read "A Trip for the Ages" by Jordan Mangum, a Sophomore at Deep Run High School in Henrico. Her winning article from the 2007-08 competition is about her most memorable outdoor experience; a camping trip to Douthat State Park with her family enjoying the fresh air, outdoor cooking and spending time with family without the "techno distractions" when home. Read the Winning Outdoor Adventure Stories from Young Writers at the end of the Outdoor Report.

46 New Hunter Education Instructors Complete Training

On the weekend of March 5-7, 2010, forty-six new hunter education instructors joined the dedicated corps of volunteers which provides training to some 14,000 new hunters each year. The training course was conducted at facilities that have been developed over several years at the Holiday Lake 4-H Education Center near Appomattox. Law enforcement staff and experienced volunteers provided instruction on how to teach the basic hunter education course, which includes material on safety, ethics, and wildlife management. Firearms training was also provided, as each new instructor experienced a live-fire range using shotguns, rifles, or muzzleloaders. As a public safety outreach effort of the Law Enforcement Division of VDGIF, the Hunter Education Program has been very successful, with a 25% decline in the rate of hunting-related shooting incidents since 1988.

Rick Layser Awarded NWTF Conservation Volunteer Honors

Volunteers are the driving force behind the National Wild Turkey Federation's conservation successes, and each year the NWTF recognizes the best of the best with the Roger M. Latham Sportsman Wild Turkey Service Awards. This year the NWTF presented a Latham service award to Rick Layser of Middlebrook, Va., for his contributions to the NWTF's conservation legacy. Layser received the award in Nashville, Tenn., during the NWTF's 34th annual National Convention and Sport Show, themed "Conserve. Hunt. Share. - Live the Tradition." The convention was sponsored by MidwayUSA.

"Rick Layser shows tireless dedication to promoting conservation and hunting and sharing his passion for the outdoors," said James Earl Kennamer, Ph.D., the NWTF's chief conservation officer. "We are pleased to honor his commitment to excellence with this award." The Latham service awards are given to NWTF members who are not employed as professional wildlife managers, but have made significant contributions to wild turkey conservation. Winners are chosen from a field of the NWTF's nearly 350,000 volunteers.

"To be honored in front of so many people who care about hunting traditions, conservation and improving habitat, and to be able to share the moment with my wife, is pretty special," said Layser, who was joined at the 2010 convention by his wife Linda. Layser serves as vice president of the NWTF's Virginia State Chapter and has given hundreds of hours to the Conservation Volunteer Program at Virginia's Quantico Marine Corps Base to create turkey habitat and increase turkey populations in the area. He's a volunteer NWTF Habitat Pro Staff Member and represents the Federation as an associate director on the Headwaters Soil and Conservation District in Virginia. Layser and his wife also established a habitat demonstration area at a local elementary school, which won an award through the NWTF's Hunting Heritage Super Fund.

The National Wild Turkey Federation is a nonprofit conservation organization that works daily to further its mission of conserving the wild turkey and preserving our hunting heritage. Through dynamic partnerships with state, federal and provincial wildlife agencies, the NWTF's 350,000 members have helped restore wild turkey populations across the country, spending more than $306 million to conserve 14 million acres of habitat for all types of wildlife.

For more information about the the Roger M. Latham Sportsman Wild Turkey Service Awards or other convention highlights, call (800) THE-NWTF or visit www.nwtf.org.

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:

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.

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.

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.

Fishin' Report contributor for Lake Moomaw, local guide, Mike "Puff" Puffenbarger, with Maple Tree Outdoors in Highland County, reports that the snow is melting finally with the arrival of Spring. Having finished up maple syrup making season, the family has been busy getting their gear ready and 'tuning' their calls for Spring Gobbler Season. Puff is already excited about taking his grand daughter, Abigail Grace Ailstock, hunting for her second spring gobbler during the special Youth Turkey Hunt Day April 3. Last year Abigail got her first turkey gobbler at age 6. She is anxious to get to the 'turkey woods' to call in another gobbler and a great memory with Grandpa Puff.

Check out the feature article in the February edition of Virginia Wildlife magazine by Ken Perrotte on Puff and his wife Dianne who host unique hunting, fishing, and outdoor adventure opportunities at Southernmost Maple, their family mountain farm where the hospitality is wonderfully 'down home' in the peaceful and beautiful Highland County mountain setting. I accepted an invitation to work with the Puffenbarger family during both weekends of the 52nd Annual Highland Maple Festival, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Especially the great food with a sweet maple syrup flair in the area known as "Virginia's Switzerland." Hope to return soon, the fishin' should be pickin' up by then too!

Spring Gobbler Hunting Season Dates and Tips

Share your Hunting Photos and Stories With Us...

With the huge success of the first new Youth Deer Hunting Day, we have encouraged 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

Memories of Successful Youth Deer Hunt Provides Incentive for Spring Gobblers...

Camden Hill, age 14 from Harrisonburg,  harvested his second deer,  a 10-pointer, weighing 120 lbs. on private land in Albemarle County on Youth Deer Hunting Day, September 26, 2009. Camden was hunting with his dad, Randy who is a VDGIF volunteer Hunter Education Instructor. Camden put a great shot on this deer (while lying on the wet, soggy ground) at 126 yards with a 6MM and dropped him in his tracks. While grinning from ear to ear, Camden turned to his dad and said "Wow dad, man was I nervous"! Great shot Camden- hope you have a successful spring gobbler season as well.

Hunting Spring Gobblers Produces a Variety of Great Memories...

Remember, only 10 days until the Youth Spring Gobbler Turkey Hunt Day,
April 3, 2010! See our website for details.

Tips for Preserving Your Trophy Gobbler

Goooobbbbllleee...Goooobbbllleee... For the lucky hunter who harvests a trophy gobbler this spring the following tips from taxidermist, Todd Rapalee in Goochland, may be helpful in preparing your bird for mounting.

Take care in handling the bird to minimize feather damage. Do not carry the turkey by the neck. This will damage the fine neck feathers sometimes beyond repair. Place a paper towel in the bird's mouth and a plastic bag with a rubber band seal over its head. This will keep the feathers clean, not to mention the back of your jacket and pant legs. Remember, the extra care that you take in minimizing feather damage, the finer the outcome of the finished mount.

DO NOT field dress your turkey. Deliver it to the taxidermist within hours after the harvest or place the bird neatly in a large plastic bag and freeze it until it can be delivered to the taxidermist.

If you will be hunting out of state or out of the country for turkeys, call your taxidermist ahead of time for preparation and shipping instructions. Turkey shipments originating outside of the US must be sent to a USDA approved taxidermist.

As with any trophy you wish to have mounted, find a professional taxidermist that will produce a quality mount for you to enjoy for years to come. Don't go by price alone. Go and visit their studio and showroom to see first hand the quality that you will be receiving. It is not too early to start visiting taxidermy studios to find a taxidermist to handle your trophies from upcoming fall hunts. Fall hunting, like turkey season, will be here before you know it!

This information was provided by Todd Rapalee of Rapalee Taxidermy.

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

With the upcoming Spring Gobbler and early June Squirrel seasons, it's a great time to introduce a youngster to the sport by getting an Apprentice Hunting License. An apprentice license can be purchased by a new hunter before successfully completing the Department's hunter education course. However, apprentice hunters are reminded they still have to comply with this education requirement before legally purchasing a state resident or nonresident basic hunting license. Be sure to check out the Apprentice Hunting License video VDGIF has posted to its website. The video is an overview of how the new Apprentice Hunter program works. Watch the video and consider becoming a mentor to a friend or family member who's always wanted to try hunting. It's not just for kids!

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

Deer Hunting Opportunities End March 27

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!

"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.

DCR Natural Heritage Program Improves Hiking Trails at the Pinnacles

Over 6000 ft of new Virginia Wildlife and Birding Trail (MSP02) trail was added to the Pinnacle Natural Area Preserve's trail system. As part of the Virginia Natural Area Preserve System this preserve offers over six miles of trails which are ideal for hiking, fishing, birding, and wildflower viewing while offering spectacular views. Bill Dingus, Dept. of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), Division of Natural Heritage Southwest Operations Steward, invites hikers to, " Bring a picnic lunch and take a walk over the suspension bridge that crosses Big Cedar Creek and puts you on the path to trails that lead to the Big Falls, ridge top walks, views of the Pinnacle Rock, and the Clinch River. A wide array of wildlife can be seen; from small woodland invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals to larger creatures such as: Great blue herons, ruffed grouse and whitetail deer, but the things that make the Pinnacle Natural Area Preserve really special are its unique ecological communities and geological features, and rare plants and animals."

Cameras and field guides are great items to bring along. Two new trails to hike are the Grapevine Hill Trail and The Spring Falls Trail. The Grapevine Hill Trail was constructed with grant funds from DCR's Virginia Recreational Trails Fund. The trail climbs up from Big Cedar Creek, takes you along Copper Ridge, and leads you down to the Big Falls Area. The Spring Falls Trail was constructed with the help of the Friends of the Pinnacle Volunteer Stewardship Committee and leads you through bird rich old fields to the beautiful Spring Falls on Big Cedar Creek.

The Pinnacle Natural Area Preserve is owned and managed by the DCR Division of Natural Heritage. The Natural Heritage Program represents a comprehensive effort to save Virginia's native plant and animal life and the ecosystems upon which they depend through inventory, conservation information, protection and stewardship. As a member of NatureServe, the Virginia Natural Heritage Program contributes to an understanding of global biodiversity and helps to provide for the conservation and recovery of the earth's common, and rare and endangered species and threatened ecosystems, rare plants and animals. Visit the DCR's website for more information or view the Natural Area Preserve Access Guide here (PDF).

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) »

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 early April:

Answers to March 10 edition quiz...

Get your copy of the 2010 Virginia Wildlife Calendar here.

Habitat Improvement Tips

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

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

This year, VDOF has expanded the quantities of its offerings. Seedlings are now available in bundles of 10 and 25; previously, the smallest quantity of bareroot seedlings available was 50. Landowners may still purchase seed mixes, shrubs and quality bare-root tree seedlings in specialty packets for wildlife habitat enhancement, water shed protection, fall and spring colors and timber management. Order yours today by visiting the VDOF Web store, calling the Augusta Forestry Center at (540) 363-7000, or contacting your local VDOF office.

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.

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.

New State Record Yellow Perch Awaits Certification

VDGIF District Fisheries Biologist Tom Hampton has certified a potential new state record yellow perch. The fish was caught at Flannagan Reservoir on Monday, March 8, 2010 by George Mullins of Haysi. Hampton notes he has identified the fish, examined it and witnessed the weigh-in. The fish weighed 3.04 pounds and was 16.5 inches long (13-inch girth).

Flannagan does not have a notable yellow perch population. VDGIF biologists have been told by anglers for many years that some folks were transporting yellow perch from Lake Moomaw. A few different anglers have reported catching yellow perch from Flannagan which has not been a yellow perch hot spot as none have ever been collected there. It most likely was introduced into the lake several years ago. They are not native to the Big Sandy or Upper Tennessee rivers. There is a great interest in yellow perch in the Southwest region. The Application has been submitted to the State Record Certification Committee for approval and verification. We will keep you posted.

Spring Time Is "Shad Time"

Spring is upon us and the annual run of shad has begun as they make their way into our freshwater rivers to spawn. Early sampling has detected the beginning of the run and when the rivers return to normal after recent high flow the run will get into full swing. In recent years, many anglers have been rediscovering these fine silvery jewels from the sea, as increasing numbers of hickory and American shad are providing exciting, spring angling opportunities. American shad and hickory shad have already arrived at Richmond in the James River and should arrive at Fredericksburg in the Rappahannock River by late-March. Fishing for hickories usually winds down in late-April in the James and early-May in the Rappahannock. Americans may be caught through the end of May, but most are gone by the middle of the month. Remember, it is catch and release only for American shad (check VDGIF and VMRC regulations).

Shadcam will be back up soon when the river settles after recent flooding. Once again enthusiasts will be able to enjoy capturing images of American shad and 20+ other species of riverine fishes as they pass through the Boshers Dam fishway on the James River.

The American Shad Restoration Project is also underway to collect American shad eggs and stock fry as part of a cooperative effort to replenish shad stocks in the James and Rappahannock rivers. The Pamunkey River supplies the broodstock for the James stockings and the Potomac provides the broodstock for the Rappahannock stockings. Since 1992 over 108 million shad fry have been stocked in the upper James and since 2003 over 25 million have been stocked in the upper Rappahannock.

Fish passage progress continues throughout Virginia. American shad and blueback herring have been found 28 miles upstream of the former Embrey Dam by our biologists. Hickory shad and striped bass have also been found in the upper Rappahannock. The Boshers Dam fishway on the James is once again operating for the 2010 spawning run.

VDGIF is also continuing the Shad Tagging Study in 2010, tagging American shad and hickory shad to learn more about shad populations and their spawning migration patterns in the fall zones of the James and Rappahannock rivers. Tagging is planned for March through May of 2010. The tag is an external "spaghetti tag" inserted in the fish near the dorsal fin (top/back) on the right side of the fish. Anglers who catch a tagged fish are asked to call the toll free 866 number on the tag to report the catch to the fisheries biologists conducting the study. We ask that you report the fish tag number, date, time and location of the catch, and whether or not the fish was harvested (would apply to hickory shad only below the fall line) or released.

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 »

State Fish Art Contest For Young Anglers Deadline March 31

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. Water temp is 55 degrees on the main lake, with up to 58 degrees in the shallows. Fish have started to move into the shallows, hitting on crankbaits, jerkbaits and jigs. Small stripers hitting jerk baits off long points. Notable catches:
Greg Wiggins, Williamsburg - 4 bass up to 4.3 Ibs.
Tom Brono, Mechicsville - yellow perch, 13 ¼ inches.
William Reese, Hopewell - yellow perch, 12 ½ inches.
Vernon Mills, Richmond - 18 crappie up to 1 ½ Ibs.

Virginia Beach: Captain Jim Brincefield (443) 336-8756. Captain Jim says that speckled trout and puppy drum are striking at Lynnhaven and Rudee Inlets. Fishbite and Mirrolures are your best bet. Croakers are starting to bite in the mouth of the York River. They like (and don't we all) Fishbite and strips of squid. Stripers are being landed at Cape Henry on bucktails. The water is clear and 45 degrees.

Chickahominy River: River's Rest (804) 829-2753. According to Alton Williams the cat action is "comin' alive". One lucky angler brought a 40 lb. blue, and others are getting ones that are "eating size". No word yet on bass or crappie. The water is almost clear and warming.

North Landing River and Back Bay: West Neck Marina (757) 426-6735. Dewey Mullins told me that things his way are starting to "pick up". Lots of bass have been taken on topwater spinners and crankbaits. Crappie are just starting to come in, try minnows and jigs. Some big cats have been brought in. White perch are going for live bait, jigs and small spinners. The water is clear and in the low 50s.

Norfolk Lakes: Dasheill's Show Room (757) 539-7854. Drew Dixon reports that everything is "jumping", with plenty of bass being brought to boat. They are attacking soft plastics, spinners and cranks. Crappie are going for minnows and jigs. Not much cat action going on. White perch are going for minnows and red wigglers. The water is clear and in the low to mid 50s.

Blackwater and Nottoway: By Riverkeeper Jeff Turner www.blackwaternottoway.com Both rivers are seeing some action finally. There are a few shad being caught in the Nottoway, but the fishing is slow. Also some stripers are filtering in on both rivers. The bass fishing is also picking up and the catfishing is getting ready to get really hot. Everything is getting ready to get good.

Use Common Courtesy and Commonsense at Busy Boat Ramps...

This a very busy time of the year on our waterways. Ramps are crowded and tempers can flare. Do your part to keep things safe and calm and here are a few tips that can help with that. Don't wait till you back down the ramp to get your boat ready to launch, do that in the parking lot. Likewise when you pull your boat out of the water until you get off the ramp go secure your rig for travel, don't do it on the ramp.

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.

Upper and Lower Tidal James: Local Guide, Captain Mike Hoke, Life's Revenge Guide Service, (804) 357-8518. The biggest news is the American and hickory shad have started to show up in the tidal section of the James below I -95 bridge in Richmond. These fish are making their annual spawning run along with the blue back herring, striped bass and white perch. All these fish and more can be caught from the shore & docks along Canal St. ,Dock St. and Maury St. boat landing is always a favorite spot for local anglers. The fish right now are in a pre spawn pattern and tend to hang just above and below the public boat landing at Ancarrows. Over the next couple of weeks they will move up to the river into south branch between I-95 and the 14th St. bridge during the high tide and then drop back to their pre spawn area as the tide ebbs to low. Most anglers are using shad spoons and darts to lure strikes which sometimes comes with every cast but small jigs with curly tail 1 inch plastic grubs sibinki rigs and plain good hooks will produce shad, white perch herring and striped bass. Fly fisherman most of the time seem to have the upper hand as to catching more fish so if you have never experienced shad fishing with you fly equipment you have no idea what you are missing. The American shad must be released but the hickory shad may be kept.

The roe of the hickory shad is smaller and so is the fish compared to the American shad but the roe taste the same and I favor the hickory shad roe because of the egg size compared to the American shad because it has a less grainy feeling to my mouth when eaten. The hickory shad itself is great striper and catfish bait and is the bait of my choice when we can catch them. Never try to eat one; I had to find out for myself and I thought that smoking them would be the trick. I smoked 4 hickories and they came out looking as good as any salmon or trout I ever smoked. One bite confirmed that looks have never been more utterly deceiving, as my Labrador turned his nose up also. But what a fish to relish for its arrival every spring with it head shaking jumps sometime over your head and I have had them jump from one side the boat to the other and that is where they earned their name long ago as the POOR MAN'S TARPON. Using hickories as bait had produced some of the best result for some of the biggest cats of the season the last couple of years.

Upper and Lower Tidal James: Local Guide, John Garland, Screaming Reels Fishing Charter, (804) 739-8810. Captain John reports that there is still a fair amount of debris in the water. He reminds us that the debris that you don't see is more dangerous than what you can. He says that the bite is slow, but if you are patient, you will have success. Shad really seems to turn the cats on. The water is still on the muddy side, with temperatures in the 50s during the day and in the upper 40s at night.

Region 2 - Southside

Lake Gordon: Contributed by our man in the boat, Willard A. Mayes. Just had to get the boat out of the shed and head to Lake Gordon on Friday; I got to the lake little after 10:30 a.m. and had the boat in the water by 10:35 a.m. and the first crappie in the boat by 10:45 a.m. I almost made my arm sore with patting myself on the back for picking such a good day for fishing. The water has a slight brownish stain but not muddy at all. Visibility was from 3 to 4 feet and the water had warmed up a lot but I would not like to swim in it. I fished my 1/32 lead-head and 2 inch twister tails of, purple, yellowish green and chartreuse and a yellow/brown & green and caught the most on the yellowish green and the tri-color.

Okay here goes the tally, 6 bluegill in the 6 inch range and one of them being a shell cracker 10 inches, 29 crappie from 7 to 12 inches most in the 8 to 10 inch range, "just right for the frying pan", and 6 bass, the largest being 13 inches, one 12 inch, two 10 inch and two 6 inches, most of the bass were picked up along the shore line with the largest one in the middle of the lake. I caught two white perch around 10 inches in the middle also. The blue gill were caught along the shore line also but almost all the crappie were caught 50 or more feet from the shore in 4 to 8 feet of water fishing close to the bottom. I never caught more than two crappie in one place though but that could have been because I did not remain in one place that much. You know how it is, the grass is always greener just a little way further over. I was home by 5:00 p.m. with those fish to clean, of the 25 crappie all were roe except 5. Get ready boys they will be on the beds before long. None of the bluegill had any roe in them. When I started out that morning I met a boat coming in and they told me that they had only caught one small bass and that they were heading for Bugs Island to try to catch some crappie. I told them that the fish in Gordon were like me, old and they did not get up that early.

Sandy River and Briery Creek: Contributed by Longwood College Fishing Club's Jack Pollio. The Longwood University Fishing Club has been busy at Sandy River for the past two weeks. The fish have started to move closer to the store and are being caught mostly in the later afternoons as the shore line waters are warming up. The Fishing club hosted a tournament and spent a few afternoons fishing at Sandy. The largemouth bass we caught were between 12 to 14 inches in the morning with an occasional slot fish. The club has caught numerous 3 pound plus fish. On Sunday March 14, 2010, Brad Collins hauled in a 6 to11 bass on a Rapala Jerk bait, after the rain had cleared the area for the afternoon. In the past two weeks the rain has muddied the upper ends up but this week has started to become more clear. Most of the smaller fish where caught on green pumpkin senkos, drop shot with a black finesse worm, dark color craw pattern strike king red eye baits, and the Rapala x-rap suspended jerk bait.

The Longwood University Fishing Club also hosted charity tournament for Relay for Life the American Cancer Society this past weekend. With the water in the mid fifties they weighted in many nice bass. 1st place: Jon Acton and Thomas Mallory with 3 fish weighing in at 18.53 pounds, they also took the Biggest Bass prize of 8.7 pounds and the Biggest Junk Fish award with a chain pickerel weighting in at 3.1 pounds. 2nd place: Bobby Wright and Ronnie Crews with 5 fish weighing in at 15.78 pounds with a monster largemouth 7.46 pounds. 3rd place: Gerlad Cubbage and RJ with 13.62 pounds, they also took home the father and son place. 4th place: Jason Dressler and Daniel Palmore with 12.68 pounds. The Club appreciates the anglers that came out and participated in the event. The club raised over $500 for Relay for Life at this non-profit event.

Briery Creek: The fish have moved up. Some small fish are being caught from the bank on rattle traps and senkos. Shawn Smith of the Fishing Club brought in a nice 3.5lbs Chain Pickerel last week on the blue and chromedying shad Bill Lewis Rattle Trap.

James at Scottsville: Local Guide L.E. Rhodes www.hatchmatcherguideservice.com, (434) 286-3366. Another major rain event caused the river to once again spill out of its banks. It has since receded back but is off color and bank full. Caution should be taken at the Scottsville ramp as the ramp and parking lot is muddy. Water temperatures will warmer also, so look for the fish to be moving once you can get on the water. The Albemarle County Lakes (Walnut Creek or Beaver Creek) would be a good place to hit to scratch your itch to fish. The Rivanna Reservoir had some reports of Crappie and Bass being boated. Baits being used for Crappie have been minnows and small crappie jigs. Bass have been taking spinner baits and crank baits.

Kerr Reservoir: Bob Cat's Lake Country Store, (434) 374-8381. Bobby Whitlow told me that things are really good in the Reservoir. Bass are moving into the bushes. Crappie are biting well on minnows and jigs. Cats are going for live shad and cut bait. The water is stained in the main part of the Reservoir, but clear in some creeks, and the temperature is 55 to 60 degrees.

James at Lynchburg: Angler's Lane, (434) 385-0200. Things are starting to get good up Tom Reisdorf's way. Crappies are being fooled by white jigs. Bass action is really warming up. Brookies in the mountain streams are going for small nymphs and black caddis patterns. The water is clear and in the 40s.

Lake Gaston: Holly Grove Marina (434) 636-3455. Craig Karpinski reports that bass action is picking up. Good lure colors are chartreuse and blue with red. Spinners and rattletraps are working well. Crappie have picked up too; look for them in the shallows during the day, and deeper during the evening.

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. Overall, the fishing continues to improve as the water warms and most species move from winter to spring patterns.

Stripers: The striper fishing patterns have changed considerably over the past several weeks as stripers move up out of the deep waters of winter into the warming shallow water looking for baitfish. While some anglers are reporting success catching stripers in deeper water on jigging spoons, downlines and by casting, counting down and retrieving bucktails and flukes, others are having success fishing for stripers in more shallow water, especially early in the morning, late in the evening and at night. Stripers are moving into more shallow water off points, humps, the backs of creeks and along the bank looking for shad. Once located, they are being caught on live bait pulled on freelines and shotlines behind large peg floats or Redi-Rigs and planer boards (Water­, Bugz, Off-Shore, Outcast). Stripers are also being caught on artificial lures. Large poppers and topwater lures are working early when cast and retrieved on long shallow points. Bucktails and flukes rigged on jigheads with Gamakatsu hooks are also working early and late in the day. I slipped out for a couple of hours this past Saturday and caught two nice largemouth bass and two stripers casting a small bucktail up within a foot of the shoreline and retrieving it very slowly. Others I spoke with also caught stripers Saturday night on flukes rigged on custom jigheads. The bucktail and fluke bite died at dark, but those using jerkbaits continued to catch stripers up until they stopped fishing at around 10:30 p.m.

Crappie: The crappie bite continues to improve, but primarily in creeks and coves where the water has less color and stain. The rains expected over the next two weeks could bring additional color into these locations and make crappie fishing a little more difficult. Good crappies continue to be caught on traditional rigs using small, live "crappie" minnows. A good crappie combination for live "crappie minnows" is an ultra­light spinning rod or crappie pole rigged with 4 to 6 pound test line. I suggest you use Eagle Claw gold, thin wire, straight shank hooks (size 4 or 6), a couple of small or one medium split shot and a small X-Wing bobber rigged with a very small, rubber, adjustable, on-line bobber stop. This allows you to quickly adjust the depth of your bait and this bobber stop will work with virtually any open-face spinning reel. Several anglers reported success using small hair jigs rigged with either a small minnow or a plastic trailer. Small lead head jigs with plastic trailers will also produce, especially as the water continues to warm and the crappies move up into shallow water near the shoreline and around docks. They will continue to move into these areas over the next month or so as they prepare to spawn.

Bass: Bass fishing continues to be mixed. Some anglers are reporting large weights and good catches in a given area while many others report having limited success and getting few bites at all. Those having success report finding bass in areas where there are good numbers of baitfish and slightly warmer water. Bass found in these areas are being caught on traditional spinner baits, chatter baits, shad colored crankbaits and swim jigs. Shad and crawfish colored crankbaits, including the lipless variety, are also producing bass as are shad colored suspending jerkbaits. I received reports this past week from several anglers who had success using Carolina rigs on the sides of deep points. Others reported catching bass on flukes and shaky head and stand-up jigs rigged with finesse worms and crawfish imitating plastic trailers. One of the most popular jigs this spring has been the Squirrel Jig by Jewel. It and the equally popular Big Bite Squirrel Tail worm make an incredible combination. The jighead has a great flat bottom football head that really stands up, a fine wire Mustad hook for easy hook set and a great lure keeper. The Squirrel Tail Worm features a unique design with a thick body, thin tail and a slightly thicker tip in a contrasting color that floats high off the bottom. Stop by the shop and toss this rig in the bait tank. You'll see the tail of this worm move with just the slightest movement of the line or rod tip. The water is in the low 50s and muddy to clear. For those of you who are interested in the upcoming Blue Ridge Brawl Tournament, visit the local website.

The Smith Mountain Lake Striper Club produces an excellent newsletter with great info on SML activities, tournaments and ways responsible fishermen and boaters can improve the SML resource in cooperation with VDGIF and other partners. View the newsletter on this link.

Region 3 - Southwest

Claytor Lake: Rock House Marina, (540) 980-1488. Hayle Barbour says that the water is too muddy for good angling. Once it clears up, the fishing should be great. The water is muddy and 44 degrees.

Lower New River: Big Z'S (540) 639-1651. John Zienius told me that fishing is slow because the water is high and muddy. A few smallmouths were brought in on pig & jigs. Some muskies were landed using spinners and jerkbaits. The water is muddy and warming.

New River: Tangent Outfitters, (540) 257-0415. Shawn Hash reports that smallmouth angling is good. They are going for pig & jigs, spinners and crankbaits. Walleye like live bait. Muskies are biting spinners. Fishing in general should pick up soon. The water is stained but clearing and 49 degrees.

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 4 - Mountain and Shenandoah Valley

North and South Forks of the Shenandoah: Harry Murray (540) 984-4212 www.murraysflyshop.com. Fly guru Harry says that the smallmouth streams in the North and South forks of the River are too high for fishing. The stocked streams in the Valley are full but fishable. Good flies for rainbow trout are: the Murray Cranefly Larva, sizes 12 and 14; the Caddis Pupa, sizes 12 and 14; the Betsy Streamer, sizes 10 and 12; and the Pearl Marauder, sizes 10 and 12. The streams along the West Virginia line of the Blue Ridge Mountains are still fairly high, but not too high to fish. Your best bet is to park at the trail heads and hike to the upper reaches of the streams, Good flies are: the Mr., Rapidan, sizes 14 and 16; the Spirit of Pittsford Mills, sizes 14 and 16; the Murray Professor, sizes 12 and 14; and the Murray Tan Cadis Pupa, sizes 12 and 14.

Lake Moomaw: Local Guide, Mike Puffenbarger, (540) 468-2682, www.mapletreeoutdoors.com. Puff says with the warm spell the last week that fishing at the Lake is wide open! Trout are fairly easy to catch in the spots where water is 15-20 ft. deep. Best bait is alewives or variety of small spoons. Bass are showing up in shallows or flats where the water tends to warm-up from the afternoon sun. Smallmouth are moving up on rocky points. The yellow perch are still in tight schools. Come on up to the mountains for Spring and enjoy the thrill of listening for gobblers in the mornings, then casting for some whoppers in the warm afternoons.

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, Rapidan) are all still running a bit high and are far above the safe range to even think about wading. The Potomac is officially at "spring" temperature levels for smallmouth bass; rising 3 degrees over the last week to hit 50 degrees. If the temperature holds or rises from this level, the spring spawn will begin. The upper bound for good wading on the Rappahannock is 2.41 feet at the Fredericksburg gage and look for 1.44 feet in Culpeper before wading the Rapidan. 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 if you fish from the shoreline. As a result of the reciprocal agreement between Maryland and Virginia, you can fish from the Maryland shoreline with a Virginia license. The stocked streams in the Piedmont area are running full and fishable. Passage Creek is milky and crowded with over 50 vehicles counted in the numerous turnoffs this last weekend. Your best bet to visit this nice stream is during the week. Peters Mill Creek is clear and low; not worth visiting. Most other mountain streams are too high to be effectively fished right now, but get your hiking boots ready as the remote mountain waters of the Rose, Hughes and others will hit their prime in April and May. Exercise caution if you walk into the backcountry.

Rappahannock River above Fredericksburg: Contributed by local guide Peter Pfotenhauer, who works with Tee Clarkson and Virginia Fishing Adventures, (540) 498-0966. The fish are starting to wake up! The river is a beautiful green color and water temps over the last week rose to near 50 degrees. Levels are too high for safe wading, and temperatures too low to avoid serious risk of hypothermia, but well equipped expert canoeist and kayakers can access fishing locations. Smallmouth are increasing their activity levels as the waters warm, but as temperatures see saw up and down from weather events, expect the fishing quality to mirror the rise and fall in water temps. A few nice fish have been landed on deep diving crankbaits and tubes, including the 21 incher by Matt Gookin of Richmond. The fish weighed 5 lbs even before Matt released her so she'd be in the river for the upcoming spawn. Fishing slowly in areas with slack current can produce the biggest bass of the year for the careful angler. It's too early for any shad to have shown at City Dock or in the Falmouth rapids, but it won't be long now before these feisty fighters start bending rods.

Lake Orange: Darrell Kennedy of Angler's Landing (540) 672-3997. Darrell, reports that the water temperatures are in the low to mid 50s. The upper end of the lake is stained, but the lower end remains clear. Fish are in a transitional period right now moving from their winter pattern to a pre-spawn pattern. Largemouth bass can be found on points throughout the lake getting ready for spawning season. Folks are catching them on crankbaits, jigs, and live minnows. Crappie are also in a transitional period at the moment being caught in 10 to 15 ft. of water near the fish attractors spread across the lake on small minnows.  Catfish are feeding well on night crawlers and chicken liver in the deeper holes of the lake 15 to 20 ft. deep. Attention anglers: the Game Commission is in the process of tagging walleyes with a $20.00 bounty for each walleye tag reported. So, if you need a reason to come fishing cast a line, catch a fish and get paid!

Kid's Trout Fishing Event at Old Cossey Pond Great Success

VDGIF Region 5 Fisheries Staff and District 52 Law Enforcement Staff planned and coordinated the third annual Kid's Trout Fishing Event at Old Cossey Pond located in the City of Fredericksburg on Saturday, March 20, 2010. This pond is owned by the City of Fredericksburg and is enrolled in VDGIF's Urban Trout Program. The pond was closed to public fishing on Friday, March 19, 2010 to facilitate a special trout stocking for this event and fishing commenced on Saturday at 9 a.m. for children 12 and under. The pond was reserved for the kid's till 3 p.m. after which the general public of all ages were allowed to fish. Approximately 130 kids were in attendance for this year's event. A special thanks goes out to the following sponsors who donated door prizes which included rod/reel combos and tackle boxes: Bass Pro Shops, Gander Mountain, Walmart, Willis Bouchyard, and several other anonymous donors. Richard Rose of the National Wild Turkey Federation provided hot dogs, chips, and drinks at no charge for the participants. Volunteers for this years event included several VDGIF Complimentary Workforce Volunteers, City of Fredericksburg Parks and Rec Staff, and other interested citizens. Thanks to all who made this a great day for the kids!

Mid Point Potomac: Warbird Outdoors, (703) 878-3111. Terry Olinger was out fishing and was unable to get us a report.

Lake Anna: Contributed by C. C. McCotter, Local guide and Editor-In Chief, Woods & Waters Magazine, (540) 894-5960. We are now in the transitional pre-spawn season with the harsh winter just a memory. Everyone is anxious to get out on Lake Anna now that we have warm and sunny days. Bass, striper and crappie are currently getting prepared to spawn so fishing shallow will be or is the overall pattern depending on the weather conditions. Sunny days and warm nights mean fish will be shallow. Cold fronts push fish back to staging areas. Here's what you can expect on your next visit according to guide and marinas around the lake.

Largemouth: Late this month, at the lower end of the lake, the big 'uns' will begin spawning and you'll find them in three to six feet of water due to excellent visibility and sun penetration. The mid lake region will have some spawners soon, but probably by the start of April. Up lake will not have any spawners until the full moon in April possibly. Visiting anglers will find catching bass easier now in the shallows throughout the lake. Top lures until fish spawn will continue to be suspending jerkbaits, the Dave's Tournament Tackle Tiger Shad Lake Anna Special spinnerbait, a soft plastic jerkbait, shaky worms and lipless crankbaits. Fishing wood in the form of docks and stumps in the mid and lower end of the lake is productive. Up lake, focus on willow grass lines, docks and rocks.

Crappie: Specks will also begin spawning throughout the lake with the highest density of specks found in the upper portions of Terry's Run, Pamunkey Branch and North Anna River. Fish the docks, rocks and willow grass edges with slip bobbers and minnows and small jigs. The mid and down lake regions also have crappie, and they tend to be larger, but there are fewer of them due to the lack of shallow structure. Beaver huts, docks and brush piles are what you target in these regions.

Striper: Striped bass fishing has been excellent on Anna this year. March is a transition month for these fish as they are moving into the extreme upper portions of the tributaries to spawn. You job is to find them feeding on the way up river. There are so many striper in the lake now you often bump into them accidently bass fishing. Good traditional areas include the flats and points above and below Stubbs Bridge, the S­turns of the Pamunkey, upper Terry's Run and in the North Anna from Christopher Run up to the mouth of Gold Mine Creek. The amazing run of fish at Dike III continued into mid-March, so there might still be striper there too this month on the way into the hot side. Casting lures has become increasingly popular with Anna's striper anglers. Top April baits will be a soft plastic jerkbait, a Super lara Spook and a swim bait. If you want to pull bait behind your boat, side planers and corks with live shad and herring (in that order) is productive, too. McCotter's Lake Anna Guide Service will be busy this month putting clients on all three of Anna's major gamefish. Hat trick trips for all three are available. C.C. McCotter notes the crappie fishing should peak in the first two weeks of April, if you are planning a visit. He thinks the biggest largemouth spawn will be around the April 28 full moon. Striper fishing in April can be spotty if you don't know where the fish are. Check out his blog at www.mccotterslakeanna.blogspot.com for daily reports, photos and video of his trips. He has very limited personal openings at the end of May, and plenty of associates ready to take you this month.

Lake Anna: Contributed by Local Guide Jim Hemby (540) 967-3313. No report.

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

View the Kids Fishing Day video »

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

View video about the snakehead

Get your kids hooked on fishing!

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

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

Virginia Conservation Police Notebook

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

Region 3 - Southwest

Ignored warning on illegal sale of deer antlers leads to arrest... On January 20, Senior Conservation Officer V. R. Hurst concluded an investigation of the illegal sale of wildlife parts. The investigation began when officers of the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries obtained information of the illegal sale of deer antlers and other wildlife parts being sold at an annual flea market in Hillsville. Officers obtained the name, address, and phone number of an Ohio man who was a major seller of these animal parts. A Special Agent with VDGIF made contact with this suspect three times throughout the period of time from September 2008 to May 2009. The suspect was told that the selling of wildlife parts was an illegal activity but continued to offer his deer antlers for sale. The suspect stated that he knew the activity was illegal but that the law was not enforced. During the Memorial Day weekend a Special Agent with VDGIF met with the Ohio man at the Hillsville Flea Market and purchased eight sets of deer antlers and a bear skull. Senior Officer V. R. Hurst and Sgt. R. J. Cox arrested the individual at the scene and Officer Hurst charged him with the felonious sale of wildlife parts. The Circuit Court Judge of Carroll County concluded the Ohio man was guilty and convicted him of the felony as charged. For more information contact Lt. Rex Hill at (276) 783-4860.

It is illegal to sell deer antlers in their natural form. However the law does allow the sale of antler parts if they have been manufactured into useable items such as implement handles, lamps, and decorative items.

Poachers bragging on internet facebook leads to multiple charges... District 31 officers led by Senior Officer Lee Wensel were able to conclude an investigation that began late in the hunting season of 2009. Investigation covered two counties. In October 2009, Officers conducted an ATV patrol on a large tract on land in Montgomery County and found evidence of trespassing and poaching. While on the property they encountered an individual in violation of various game laws. Trespass to hunt, trespass with ATV, hunt over bait and hunt with firearm during closed season to name a few. This suspect was found guilty of eight game violations in court, totaling over $2,375.00 in fines. Information led to another suspect hunting the property illegally.

This second suspect had reportedly killed over the limit of bear for the year and had been trespassing and shooting deer well before season. This suspect would take pictures and video of himself after most of his game kills, narrating the date, place and circumstances of the game taken. He would then email the pictures to his friends to brag. The suspect would post these photographs on his My Space and Facebook account. Officers collected enough evidence to secure a search warrant for his residence in Giles County. During the search, bear skulls, computer, phones, video camera and other items were seized as evidence. Evidence shows that at least three bears, seven deer were killed during the fall of 2009 by this suspect. District 31 officers used a variety of sources to verify evidence. They used the state forensic lab to match a shell casing found on the scene to a seized weapon. With the assistance of Christiansburg Police Department they copied Facebook and My Space accounts. A court order was acquired for cell phone records covering a five month period. Over 300 digital pictures, some which were deleted, were collected from the suspects' cell phone with the help of Virginia State Police. Hours of video was copied for use in court. Officers also sharpened their interview skills with over 25 hours of taped interviews of nine individuals with information concerning the case. This suspect was served with a total of 26 warrants including 2 felonies for possessing sawed off shotguns. A June court date has been set. For more information contact Lt. Rex Hill at (276) 783-4860.

Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies are working effectively together to share information, investigation resources and techniques to make solid cases and bring to justice those criminals that violate wildlife laws and threaten public safety. If you know of a law violation, do your part to report it to the local authorities or use the Wildlife Crimeline 1-800-237-5712.

Region 4 - Mountain & Shenandoah Valley

Grouse poachers caught with birds in hand... On February 13, CPOs Entsminger and Quesenberry were patrolling in the Hidden Valley area of Bath County when they encountered a pickup truck stopped in the middle of the state road. The driver was setting in the truck and another subject was running back towards the truck. Upon stopping beside the truck it was determined that there were several guns in the truck and the passenger had a grouse in his hand. Shell casings were found in the road and feathers were found in the snow beside the road. The subjects admitted to shooting 3 grouse from the vehicle and road. A 28 gauge shotgun was seized and road hunting violations are pending. For more information contact Lt. Ronnie Warren at (540) 248-9360.

Ethical grouse hunting is a grand, time honored traditon in the mountain thickets of western Virginia. The Virginia Chapter of the Ruffed Grouse Society, works closely with VDGIF to improve habitat for the ruffed grouse and promote ethical hunting. Visit their website for additional information on how you can help restore grouse populations.

Also read a recent article entitled "Grouse hunting declines to memory status" by Bill Cochran, Roanoke Times on-line outdoor columnist.

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 Spring Break from school approaches many families head to the outdoors for a mini-vacation to camp, fish, canoe, hike or just enjoy time exploring wild Virginia. State Parks and retreats are opening back up after being closed for the winter months. For 15 year old Jordan Mangum, a Sophomore at Deep Run High School in Henrico, her most memorable outdoor experience was a camping trip to Douthat State Park in Bath County with her family enjoying the fresh air, outdoor cooking and spending time with family without the "techno distractions" when home. Observing and discovering the wonders of nature, learning new outdoor skills and sharing life stories with grandparents can be a life changing, memorable experience. Jordan entered her article in the 2007-08 Virginia Outdoor Writers Association High School Youth Writing Competition and placed in the Top 25. Jordan has captured the excitement, serenity, and fond memories that come with a week in the wild camping with her family and leaving the distractions of everyday life at home.

A Trip for the Ages

By Jordan Mangum

Nature is a gift that often goes unwrapped.

Whether it is the cool, fresh air or the bright sun shining against my face, I always feel recharged after spending time outdoors. But so often, after a hard day at school or work I burrow indoors connected to cords and disconnected from nature. The best way I have found to kick my techno habit is to go camping.

My family takes at least one camping trip every year. Sleeping, eating and chilling outdoors 24/7 are unforgettable experiences. Camping brings together nature and the tasks of everyday life. Food tastes better, I sleep better and I spend time talking with my family, hiking, or even reading a book. Before a trip, I think it's going to be boring but it never is.

One summer, I took a trip with my family to Douthat State Park to camp for a week. At first, I felt as though the trip would just be a fun chance to kayak, swim and catch salamanders. But I discovered how to have fun in a new way, a new unexpected way. I was introduced into the campground confinement of being stuck with my family. I felt as though this would be torture but it turned out to be more rewarding than I ever imagined. Sitting outdoors at the breakfast picnic table, I was talking with my parents and grandfather. I realized that there were three generations sitting there laughing and waiting for bacon and eggs. My uncle, cousin and sister were there too. I was able to enjoy the stories of these very different people who have lived through some of the most amazing times. We had so little in common and so much in common.

At night, we'd sit around the warm campfire and I would talk to my grandfather, I listened intently to each word he spoke. If we'd been at home, I probably would be playing guitar hero instead, not realizing what I was missing. As we hiked, I enjoyed the company of my family and we talked about past camping trips and those to come. We had canoe races, with my father and me racing against my cousin and uncle. I learned of how my father had once been involved in a canoe race where he had won. At night, when making the gooey smores, I reminisced with my cousin about our "childhood" years. Being out in the outdoors, I was forced to break away from the electronics and from my friends, and put into a situation where I was with my family….all the time. With more videogames and TV shows, it becomes difficult to be social and connect face to face. When you're inside the house it becomes hard to leave the comfort of a couch.

This trip to the outdoors let me build a stronger relationship with my whole family and led to me realize how fortunate I am to have the gift of nature. I just have to remind myself to unwrap this gift more often.

This entry in the Virginia Outdoor Writers Association (VOWA) 2007-08 High School Youth Writing Competition by 15 year old Jordan Mangum, a Sophomore at Deep Run High School in Henrico, placed in the Top 25. 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: