In this edition:

Bears and Safe Boating in the News

This May 12th edition has signs that summer is fast approaching with reports of bears roaming in search of food and Safe Boating Week May 22-28. Seasonal reminders to "wear your life jacket" while on the water and "not feed the bears" are simple ways to stay safe and enjoy the great outdoors. We've posted the Kids Fishing Day calendar, so look for an event near you and plan for some family fun. The turkeys are still gobblin' for another week and the weather is good for planting wildlife food patches. Be sure and stop to smell the May flowers!

David Coffman, Editor

National Safe Boating Week May 22-28, Time to Remember Life Jackets Save Lives

National Safe Boating Week is May 22-28, making right now the time to remind boaters to be safe on the water. First and foremost, boaters need to think about life jackets and plan to wear them. A significant number of boaters who lose their lives by drowning each year would be alive today had they worn their life jackets.

It is the law in Virginia that there must be one wearable (Type I, II, III, or V) U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) approved life jacket of the appropriate size for each person on the boat. In addition, no person may operate a recreational vessel on federal waters with any child under age 13 on the vessel unless each child is either wearing an appropriate life jacket approved by the USCG, or below deck, or in an enclosed cabin. This applies to waters in which the USCG has enforcement jurisdiction, and in Virginia that includes the Chesapeake Bay, Smith Mountain Lake, Lake Gaston, Kerr Reservoir (Buggs Island Lake), Claytor Lake, Lake Moomaw, and other inland waters that are considered navigable. VDGIF is asking boaters to make a commitment to wear their life jackets at all times while on the water.

It is recommended for anyone who operates a boat to complete a boating safety education course is approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) and accepted by VDGIF. Virginia's Boating Safety Education Compliance Regulation is being phased in over the next several years. If you have previously taken a boating safety education course and have your card, you are in compliance with the new regulation. Visit the VDGIF website for course information and for information about how to get replacement cards. To learn more about boating laws in Virginia and about boating education courses, visit the Department's website.

Read "Does Your Life Jacket Really Fit?" in the Be Safe... Have Fun section.

You Live in Bear Country

As new spring growth emerges, so do bears, and they are following their stomachs in search of food.

With a healthy and growing black bear population, bear sightings are becoming the norm throughout Virginia. While the highest concentration of bears occurs in the Blue Ridge and Alleghany Mountains and around the Great Dismal Swamp, bears are likely to be seen just about anywhere in Virginia. During the months of April and May bears have left their dens and are ending their winter fast. Bears do not eat, drink, urinate, or defecate while they are in dens. Additionally, while denning, female bears may give birth to cubs. Cubs are born weighing less than a pound and are reliant on their mother's milk.

In Virginia, bear diets consist of 80% vegetation and only 20% protein from common sources like insects and carrion. Bears are highly adaptable and intelligent animals and can learn to associate human dwellings with food. In their search for food, bears are attracted to residential areas by the smell of food around homes.

Please don't feed the bears.

Always remember that a bear is a wild animal, and that it is detrimental to the bear, as well as illegal in Virginia, to feed a bear under any circumstances. Even the inadvertent feeding of bears is illegal. The most common food attractants are bird feeders, garbage, and pet food. Additionally outdoor grills, livestock food, compost, fruit trees, and beehives can also attract bears.

Click on the following link to learn details on how to handle bears in your backyard...

If you do see a bear in your area, enjoy watching it from a distance. If you experience a bear problem after taking appropriate steps of prevention, please notify your Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Regional Office. Phone numbers for the regional offices can be found by visiting the Department's website.

Remember, if you live in Virginia, you live in bear country.

Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss

Kids Fishing Day Events Provide Family Fun

More than 35 Kids Fishing Days are being planned statewide by various organizations in partnership with VDGIF. These events are an enjoyable time for the family and a great opportunity to introduce kids to fishing in a fun atmosphere. There are events every weekend state wide through June. For detailed information on dates, locations, times and contacts, see the Kids Fishing Days schedule to find one near you! Catch the fun! Take a kid fishin'.

For details, check the Kids Fishing Days calendar on our website.

Learn About Dyke Marsh Plants May 22

Join FODM on a plant walk on May 22, 10:30 a.m., led by Dr. Elizabeth Wells, Botany Professor, George Washington University. Meet on the wooden bridge opposite Tulane Drive. Park on Tulane Drive and carefully cross the parkway. Wear sun protection and prepare to stand and walk the entire time.

For details visit Friends of Dyke Marsh website or VA Birding & Wildlife Trail.

Ladies' Day Rifle - Shotgun Clinics June 5 in Hanover County

The Cavalier Rifle and Pistol Club in western Hanover County is hosting a choice of Rifle (22 rimfire) or Shotgun clinics from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m., Saturday, June 5. Clinics are taught by certified instructors and includes safety instruction, basic marksmanship, comfort, familiarity with firearms, firearms, ear and eye protection, and targets. Reservations are required and clinic size is limited to eight shooters per clinic. For more information, contact Henry Baskerville at (804) 370-7565 or H.Baskerville@comcast.net.

Wood Duck Box Workshop at New Kent Forestry Center June 12

The Virginia Department of Forestry and the Virginia Waterfowlers' Association have partnered to host a Wood Duck Nesting Box Workshop Saturday, June 12, 9 a.m. - noon at the New Kent Forestry Center near Providence Forge. This hands-on workshop has space for 30 participants, including children and adults, with lunch included.

The Virginia Waterfowlers Association will provide an educational presentation, instructors, wood duck box kits, and nails for participants. Participants will be required to bring hammers. PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED. To register, or for more information, contact Todd Cocker by email: goosesmacker@aol.com, or call (804) 317-8058.

Waterfowl Predator Control Workshops Scheduled Statewide This Summer

The Virginia Trapper's Association, Virginia Waterfowlers' Association and VDGIF have developed a unique partnership to hold three Waterfowl Predator Control Workshops throughout the state this summer. These educational component workshops are developed for the general public and will be conducted free at both Bass Pro Shops and Gander Mountain stores. These workshops will benefit sportsmen and landowners who want to know more about managing wildlife and controlling predators. Personal hands-on tutoring workshops will also be available upon request by contacting duckfox2010@yahoo.com. Workshops are scheduled as follows:

For scheduled times and additional information visit the Virginia Trapper's Association website, or the Virginia Waterfowlers' Association website.

People and Partners in the News

Kennedy and Siple Receive Hunter Education Instructors Volunteer Service Awards

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Director's Volunteer Service Award was presented to veteran volunteer Hunter Education Instructors, Vernie Kennedy and Paul Siple. The Awards were presented at the agency Board meeting held in Richmond on April 20, 2010. Individually, both recipients have contributed in excess of 5000 volunteer hours in service to the Hunter Education program and the public safety initiatives promoted therein. The Virginia Hunter Education Association further recognized this accomplishment by presenting each with a Henry Golden Boy rifle.

Record Number of VA Schools Competed in NASP Tournament in Kentucky

Virginia schools were represented by a record seven teams that competed in the National Archery in the Schools (NASP) National Tournament that took place May 7-8, 2010 in Louisville, KY. More than 7000 elementary, middle and high school age students competed. The schools earned eligibility for the National Tournament by qualifying at the VA State NASP Tournament held in conjunction with the Western Virginia Sportsman Show at Augusta Expo in Fishersville, February 27. See the article on the State tournament in the March 10, 2010 edition of the Outdoor Report in the archives. Note that a number of sportsman organizations and outdoor sports related businesses provided scholarships for these teams to attend the National Tournament.

The seven Virginia school teams that went to the NASP Nationals include: Chickahominy Middle School (Hanover Co), Northside Elementary, Northside Middle, Northside High school, Hidden Valley High, (all from Roanoke), Saltville Elementary (from Smyth County) and Warwick High School from Newport News. Congratulations to these outstanding young archers and their coaches for qualifying and competing at the national level. We will have the final results in the May 26th edition!

Master Naturalist Plant Trees for Earth Day in Franklin County

What did you do on Earth Day? Plant a tree perhaps? How about planting 70 trees? That's what four volunteers from the local Blue Ridge Foothills and Lakes Chapter (BRFAL) of the Virginia Master Naturalist program did. On April 22, VDGIF Wildlife Diversity Biologist/Malacologist Brian Watson, directed the activity with BRFAL members Carl Boast, Lee Borgman, Dick Hendrix and Larry Hutson. The volunteers ventured into the farm field owned by Becky Flora of Franklin County to plant 70 maples, sycamores and oaks. The trees were planted as part of a stream restoration project. Fences to keep cattle out of an 825 foot tributary to Little Doe Run on Ms. Flora's property had previously been installed by VDGIF. Little Doe Run flows into the Pigg River. The trees were planted within the fenced area to add soil stability, act as a filter and to provide shade. The cost-sharing project is part of the VDGIF Landowner Incentive Program, which targets stream restoration that will benefit rare species, in this case the Roanoke Log Perch in the Pigg River. To learn more about Master Naturalists and training opportunities, call 540-365-4613, or visit www.brfal.org. For information on VDGIF cost-share stream restoration programs visit our website.

VDGIF Volunteers and Officers Mentor High School Students on Earth Day

Conservation Police Officer (CPO) Steven Hicks and VDGIF Complementary Work Force (CWF) volunteers participated in the Career Shadowing Program at Liberty High School in Fauquier County on Earth Day. This program enables students to accompany work place mentors through their daily routine allowing the students to see first hand how their job is done. On Earth Day 2010 one of CPO Hicks' duties was to escort a VDGIF CWF stocking crew through Madison County. Officer Hicks related to the students how law enforcement officers conduct license and creel limit checks with anglers. VDGIF Montebello Hatchery fish culturalist L. E. Humphries gave the students a short lecture on trout stocking practices and procedures before starting the stocking run. CWF volunteers Wayne Thacker, and Pete Poulos, instructed students Lindsay Dean and Bryant Hines on how to place trout in a stream.

If you are looking for a fulfilling volunteer opportunity, consider joining the VDGIF Complementary Work Force. The program benefits the agency, its constituents, and the wildlife and fisheries resources of Virginia in many unique and rewarding ways. It provides opportunities for you to share your talents, gain new skills and work experience, and make new friends, all while working in some of the most beautiful locations that Virginia has to offer. Volunteers may donate time on a regular, occasional, or even seasonal basis, depending on their availability. For more information about the program and current activities read the Spring CWF Newsletter. To apply to be a CWF volunteer, please visit our website.

Disabled Sportsmen and Wounded Warriors Participate in Numerous Spring Hunts

The Virginia Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation Wheelin' Sportsmen program has sponsored 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. View the Spring 2010 Virginia Wheelin' Sportsmen Newsletter for further information on programs, events and opportunities or visit the 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.

June Squirrel Season Opens on Private Lands and Selected WMAs June 5-19

For the fourth year a statewide squirrel season will be available for sportsmen June 5-19, 2010, on specific VDGIF Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) as listed on the VDGIF website and new this year, on all private lands. Fox squirrels may only be harvested on all private lands in counties with an open fox squirrel season and on the following WMAs: Big Survey, Goshen, Havens, Little North Mountain, Merrimac Farm, Phelps, Rapidan, and Thompson WMAs. Hunting squirrels with dogs is now allowed during the June season.

Although it may be a foreign idea to many sportsmen, a June season is biologically justified. Squirrels have two peak reproductive periods - one during February-March and another during July-August. Therefore, hunters can harvest squirrels during the June season without impacting populations.

Apprentice Hunting License: A Great Way To Get Youth Involved in Hunting

Because school will be out during most of the June squirrel season, it is a wonderful opportunity to introduce a youngster to hunting. There are very few other hunting opportunities available at the start of the summer. This time provides a youngster actual in-the-field hunting without some of the distractions or pressures of fall deer or turkey hunting like more hunters in the woods, cold and windy weather, or more elusive game. If they do not have their Hunter Education class completed, an Apprentice Hunting License can be purchased by a new hunter. However, apprentice hunters are reminded they still have to comply with this education requirement before legally purchasing a state resident or nonresident basic hunting license. Previous license holders are not eligible for Apprentice Hunting Licenses. 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.

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

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, VA Waterfowlers Association and others dedicated to continuing our rich hunting heritage to a new generation

Spring Gobbler Hunting Season Dates and Tips

Share your Hunting Photos and Stories With Us...

We received a great response from our readers with inspiring stories of new hunters — both young and old, that we want to share with you. Congratulations to the dads and moms and sons and daughters for discovering the passion for the outdoors and mentoring novice hunters resulting in wonderful experiences and memories to last a lifetime.

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 and date 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.

David Coffman, Editor

Young Hunter Encounters Late Morning Jake

Jacob Hodges age 11 from Calloway in Franklin County was turkey hunting with his dad, William during the regular Spring Gobbler season on private land. William recalls, "We heard several birds early that morning and I called two in, but they stayed out of Jacob's shotgun range. It was later in the morning and the gobblers were all with hens and weren't gobbling. We were walking a ridge trying to get a response. As we eased into an area I knew the turkeys liked to use in late morning, I saw a head pop up. We froze and after a couple minutes the jake decided he was seeing things. As soon as he dropped his head we dropped down and waited for them to feed in front of us. The longbeard in the group never offered a shot that Jacob was comfortable with, but one of the jakes did.

Son Provides Father With Hunt of a Lifetime

Patrick Scanlan sent in this story and photo of a gobbler his father William D. Scanlan harvested on April 12 in Loudoun County. Patrick notes, "This was the "hunt of a lifetime," as I had just returned home from being deployed in the Middle East. The entire morning was perfect as it had been 25 years since my father and I last hunted wild turkey together. It is amazing the bond hunting builds between parents and children, regardless of the age, or passage of time. Thanks to the kindness of a friend, Brian Burkhart, we had the privilege to hunt a great piece of well managed property. We scouted the area and found an ideal blind site. Following about 45 minutes of back and forth calling with the very excited gobbler, he came charging in to the decoy and my Dad took care of business. The gobbler was estimated by a taxidermist to be 4 to 5 years old and had 1 ½ inch spurs and a 10 inch beard.

Patrick adds that 15 minutes after taking the gobbler, a large hen came in to us and actually spotted the harvested gobbler which I had placed over a bench behind our natural blind. It remained in the area circling us for about 30 minutes. Then, upon my Dad and I pulling down my driveway after our hunt, there was a large hen walking thru my back yard. I have lived in my home for 5 years and not a single time have I ever observed a wild turkey on my property. I think the Lord sometimes sends us unique signals he's paying attention and has a sense of humor as well. So kids of any age, take the opportunity to spend time in the woods together with a parent or mentor, it could just be the hunt of a lifetime to cherish for years to come.

Spring Gobbler Hunting Survey Available on Website

There is still time to head to the woods and fields for some spring gobbler hunting. VDGIF Small Game and Furbearer Program Manager Gary Norman, encourages turkey hunters this spring to participate in the 2010 Spring Gobbler Survey (PDF). The survey is a daily log of biological information and hunting success. Additionally we ask participants to complete a survey of their attitudes about a number of questions at the end of the season. The survey form can be downloaded from our web-site or by emailing gary.norman@dgif.virginia.gov or call (540) 248-9360. Encourage your hunting buddies to also take the survey to help gather valuable data to improve turkey hunting opportunities.

Safety and courtesy are free, share them generously

Be Safe... Have Fun!

Does Your Life Jacket Really Fit?

How do you know if a life jacket really fits you? First, check the label to make sure the life jacket is U.S. Coast Guard approved wearable. Life jackets (or PFDs) come in a couple of basic sizes: infant, child, and adult. Within those basic sizes, there will be a range (Small, Medium, Large, etc.). The label will indicate the basic size and the size range, which will include a weight range and usually also a chest size range. After you check the label, make sure you move on to the second step, try it on!

Before every boating season, try on your life jacket. Make sure that it fits correctly. What does a correct fit mean? It should be snug, but not tight. Lift your arms over your head, can you turn your head left, right, and over your shoulder or has the life jacket ridden up and in the way of moving your head? For a child, have them stand with their arms to their sides. Lift the life jacket up by the shoulders. The life jacket should not move more than 3 inches, no higher that the child's ears. If the life jacket does move up more than 3 inches, it is too big and the child can slip right out – get a smaller life jacket! A younger child's life jacket should also include a crotch strap – this will help insure the life jacket stays on. Finally, practice using the life jacket in shallow water. Make sure it is snug enough to stay put and not ride up over the chin and ears when in shallow water. Have children practice in shallow water with their life jacket so they don't panic in case of emergency. Check out this informational video about properly fitting a child's life jacket.

For more information about life jackets, check out the U.S. Coast Guard's Boating Safety website.

Stay Safe on the Water - Boat Smart and Sober!

The upcoming summer boating season is right around the corner, and VDGIF reminds all boaters to boat smart, boat sober, and boat safe while out on our waterways. All boaters should:

Remember safety and courtesy are free, share them generously!

"Green Tips" for Outdoor Enthusiasts

This section in the Outdoor Report provides tips and articles on ways you as an outdoor enthusiasts can join with others to do simple things in your outdoor pursuits that can make a big difference in keeping Virginia "green" and wildlife "wild" to benefit us all.

If You Find a Fawn, Leave it Alone!

It's that time of year again when white-tailed deer fawns are showing up in yards and fields and concerned citizens want to know how to help. In almost all cases, the best way to help is to simply give the fawn space and leave it alone. By giving it a wide berth, you also reduce the risk of inadvertently leading dogs and other predators to the hidden fawn. The white-spotted coat camouflages a fawn as it lies motionless in vegetation. Fawns, born from April through July, are purposely left alone by their mothers. Female deer, called does, stay away from the fawns to avoid leading predators to their location. They will return several times each day to move and/or feed their young. You probably will not see the doe at all since she only stays to feed the fawn for just a very few minutes before leaving it alone again.

Concerned people sometimes pick up animals that they think are orphaned. Most such "orphans" that good-intentioned citizens "rescue" every spring should have been left alone. Most wild animals are dedicated parents and will not abandon their young, but they do leave them alone for long periods of time while looking for food. If a fawn or rabbit has been "rescued" when it shouldn't have been, it can often be released at the same location. Parents tend to remain in the area for at least a day, looking for the lost youngster.

If a wild animal has been injured or truly orphaned, do not take matters into your own hands. You may contact a licensed rehabilitator by visiting the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) website. Raising a wild animal in captivity is illegal unless you have a state permit. Besides, each animal's nutritional, housing, and handling requirements are very specific and must be met if they have any chance of survival.

Virginia Living Museum to Host Bat Disease Symposium June 1 in Newport News

Something Is Killing Our Bats – and It's In Virginia! The mysterious White Nose Syndrome (WNS) that has killed hundreds of thousands of bats in the northeastern U.S. was confirmed in five counties in Virginia in spring 2009. Join U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service biologist Sumalee Hoskin at the Virginia Living Museum in Newport News, June 1, from 6-7:30 p.m., to explore what is known about WNS, the current status of WNS in our state, which bats are affected and what the spread of WNS may mean to Virginia's caves and other wildlife. Call 757-595-9135 or register at www.thevlm.org. Cost for the program is $5 VLM members and non-members $7.

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!

Third Graders Celebrate Earth Week at New Kent Forestry Center

The woods were a little noisier than usual at the New Kent Forestry Center on Earth Day this year. Five busloads of third graders from Kersey Creek Elementary School came to the Virginia Forest Education Center for a field trip, and brought 70 parents with them! The weather was perfect, and seasoned educators from the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF), Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF), and Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) were waiting along the trails. Several volunteers from the Historic Rivers Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalist program served as event hosts and guided each group through the event stations.

The big hit of the day were the fish that Fisheries Biologists Bob Greenlee, Matt Blommel and Scott Herrmann from VDGIF had shocked and netted that morning from the Chickahominy River. The fish were in tanks and brought squeals and expressions of awe from everyone as Bob lifted them one by one for the group to see. The star of the show was a 25 pound, three-foot-long blue catfish, which Bob just managed to wrestle out of the tank for each group. Teachers and parents commented this was the best field trip they had attended.

The Virginia Forest Education Center at New Kent is open to group visitation by appointment only. Contact Lisa Deaton, VDOF forest education specialist, at 804-966-7058 or lisa.deaton@dof.virginia.gov if you would like to schedule a visit or an educational program.

Nature Observations from the Virginia Wildlife Calendar

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

Answers to April 28 edition quiz for nature events in early May...

Get your copy of the 2010 Virginia Wildlife Calendar here.

Habitat Improvement Tips

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

"Tree Cookies Etc." Landowner Newsletter Available On-line

Adam Downing, Virginia Cooperative Extension Agent Forestry & Natural Resources - Northern Region in Madison County has completed a new edition of the electronic newsletter for forest landowners, "Tree Cookies Etc."

Learn about forestry, wildlife, water quality and other natural resource management issues and tips to manage your woodlands for multiple uses and benefits.

Grab Your Hammer- Help Build Wood Duck Nest Boxes in New Kent

Join volunteers from the VA Waterfowlers Assoc for a Wood Duck Nest Box Building Workshop June 12 at the New Kent Forestry Center near Providence Forge. Contact Todd Cocker for details and registration. goosesmacker@aol.com, or call (804) 317-8058.

Habitat at Home© DVD Now Available

The Habitat at Home© DVD features the yards of four homeowners in different parts of the state who have removed invasive plants, reduced their amount of lawn, added water features, and planted flowering perennials and shrubs. VDGIF Habitat Education Coordinator Carol Heiser advises, "Native shrubs in particular are an excellent choice for wildlife, because they support native insects that make up a critical part of the food web. Native plants are better adapted to our growing conditions and are much easier to maintain than non-native ones. So many of our neighborhoods lack the kind of native plant diversity that wildlife really needs. You'll be surprised at the number of birds and other wildlife that use native shrubs. Visit our website to purchase your own copy of the 40-minute DVD!

Read the feature on planting a butterfly garden by Marie Majarov in the Notes for Young Nature Explorers section.

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. Mandatory Saltwater Angler Registry: Effective January 1, 2010, there is a new requirement that saltwater anglers obtain a federal registry number by calling 1-888-674-7411, or online at www.CountMyFish.noaa.gov.

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.

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

National Safe Boating Week is May 22-28, making right now the time to remind boaters to be safe on the water. First and foremost, boaters need to think about life jackets and plan to wear them. A significant number of boaters who lose their lives by drowning each year would be alive today had they worn their life jackets.

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.

Review the article, "Does Your Lifejacket Really Fit?" in the Be Safe... Have Fun section.

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.

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

Region 1 - Tidewater

Little Creek Reservoir: Contributed by Park Supervisor Robert "Doc" Eveland. (757) 566-1702. The lake is at full pool. Surface temperatures range in the mid 70s. The coves and shallows have plenty of small bass and other fish. Larger fish continue to hang in deeper waters.

Beaverdam Reservoir: Contributed by C. Blair Evans, Park Supervisor, (804) 693-2107. This past week has proved to be excellent fishing here at Beaverdam Park. Most anglers are reporting that their days have been filled with catching numerous bass (within the 2 to 5 pound range), chain pickerel and crappie. The bass have completed their spawn and are hanging out in the shallower water before they move to the deep. The water is at full pool, 74 degrees and slightly stained.

Little Creek Anglers Tournament Results: First Place- Freddie Randall & Robert Jensen, 16.7 lbs.

Beaverdam's next Big Bash Tournament will be held this Saturday May the 15th. The kid's free fishing day sponsored by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries will be held on June 5th from 9 to 12. For more information, please call the park at (804) 693-2107. Park Hours: May thru Labor Day – 6:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Virginia Beach: Captain Jim Brincefield (443) 336-8756. Captain Jim reports that things are really "turned on". Black and red drum can be found at Fisherman's Island, and are going for cut bunker and crabs. Speckled trout are at Rudee and Lynnhaven Inlets and are attacking Mirrolures and Fishbite. Bluefish are biting cut bunker at Rudee Inlet. Rockfish are around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, they like live spot and top water plugs. The water is 61 degrees and clear.

Chickahominy River: River's Rest (804) 829-2753. Charlie Brown says that not a lot of anglers have come in the past week. He has had no word on bass, and very little on crappie. Some big blue cats, up to 50 lbs. have been landed, with eels, cut bait and herring being the best things to use. The water is slightly stained and 78 degrees.

North Landing River and Back Bay: West Neck Marina (757) 426-6735. Dewey Mullins told me that lots of bass are being landed. They are on their beds and will go for poppers and buzzbaits early and late. During the day, try cranks and spinners, or possibly plastics. Crappie action is slow. Fish along the banks early and late and around deeper structures during the day. Some channel and blue cats are being fooled by cut bait. White perch are plentiful and like minnows, nightcrawlers and small jigs. There are lots of bluegill too and they will take a cricket or a small worm. The water is clear and warming.

Norfolk Lakes: Dasheill's Show Room (757) 539-7854. Drew Dixon says that Burnt Mills Lake has been reopened and anglers are landing citation sized crappie there on minnows and jigs. Lots of bass are going for top water lures. Some cats are responding to cut bait. Bluegill are starting to bite well, and will be even more responsive as the water warms. The traditional cricket is your best bet. The water is clear and in the mid to high 60s.

Blackwater and Nottoway: By Riverkeeper Jeff Turner www.blackwaternottoway.com Well the anadromous fish are just about out of the river. The blue catfish bite is good I'm told with cats going to 13 pounds in the Nottoway. A few white perch are still in the river but they are about gone also. The shell crackers are on the bed and are starting to bite pretty good. Largemouth bass are already doing well also and the fishing should just continue to get better through the month into June and early July until the dog days of Summer set in.

Upper and Lower Tidal James: Local Guide, Captain Mike Hoke, Life's Revenge Guide Service, (804) 357-8518. No report this edition.

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

Family Shares Catfishing Success on the James

Bill Webster, from Barhamsville had a great day fishing on April 11 on a trip with Captain Mike Ostrander on the James River. Two of his daughters, a grand daughter and a friend were along for the trip. Bill reports, "We caught several nice fish in the 15 and 20 lb. category and a couple  28 inch stripers using herring for cut bait. Catching the bait fish was a lot of fun also. I caught my 73 pounder early that morning and my friend, Frank Mastaler, caught a 31 pounder right behind me. This was my third trip with Capt. Mike and we have enjoyed success on each one. I followed up the 11th trip with one on the 22nd of April  with another daughter and her husband. He was fortunate enough to land  a nice 43 pounder. All fish were released. I would like to have kept a striper for table fare, but they were not in season.

For anyone who likes fishing, I highly recommend a trip on the James with Mike Ostrander. I guarantee you will want to do it again. One of my daughters traveled from Nebraska to make this fishing day and plans to return next year for another. I will do it again next year and maybe I'll be able to catch one my age (78). What a most memorable day for me and one I was able to share with family.

Region 2 - Southside

Holliday Lake: Contributed by our man in the boat, Willard A. Mayes. A neighbor spent three days helping me dig out my combine last winter and the only pay he wanted was a trip to Holliday Lake, so I got to thinking I could pay him today. I'm not going to say it was a mistake because no day spent fishing is a waste, but it sure was eventful. We were at the lake and had the boat in the water a little after 9 in the morning. That is when things went a little south; I tried to turn the trolling motor on and nothing happened. I have one of those remote control trolling motors and the battery was dead in it. I have a spare motor on the back of the boat so we thought we could make do with that so out we went. Both of us were using the fly rod with #10 popping bugs and we fished the shore line without finding any hungry bluegill. I had hardly started with the fly rod when the wind picked up which did not help matters because with the motor on the back of the boat, it seemed I was turning it the wrong way every time. The water seemed colder than the last time I was there but it was still clear to over six feet. He caught two blue gill, one hand size and one 10 incher, I was a little luckier with 7 blue gill around 7 to 8 inches and one 12 inch bass. Note to self, make sure you carry spare batteries to remote control for trolling motor.

Nottoway Lake: Contributed by our man in the boat Willard A. Mayes. Too dry to continue planting soy beans so thought I would check out Nottoway Lake, "Lee Lake", today to see if I could find some hungry bluegill with the fly rod. I got to the lake around 10:00 a.m. to find the water very clear for that lake, visible to about 6 ft. and considerably warmer than some of the other lakes. I fished the shore line from the dam to little over half way before heading back picking up a few bluegill along the way. I fished the other shore on the way back in and found that the fish had made beds in 5 to 6 ft. or water, so I started fishing out in the lake away from the shore some and landed 26 blue gill between 6 and 10 inches with most of them in the 8 and 9 inch range. Still plagued with bass, catching one 10 incher, three 11 inch and one 15 inch. Caught all fish on a #10 white with red eye popping bug. I used the spinning rod while I was crossing the lake and got one black crappie of 10 inches on a 2 inch Mr. Twister.

Sandy River and Briery Creek: Contributed by Longwood College Fishing Club's Jack Pollio. Must be studying for exams, no report this edition.

James at Scottsville: Local Guide L.E. Rhodes www.hatchmatcherguideservice.com, (434) 286-3366. River levels have dropped to the lowest they have been all year. The water temperature continues to rise. Fishing has been hit and miss this past week. Smallmouths caught have taken jig head grubs; soft plastic stick baits and crank baits in the softer natural colors. Fly anglers have had success using suspended baitfish patterns and natural colored crayfish. I'm going with a floating line at this time with a 6 to 8 foot leader when throwing crayfish and a 9 foot fluorocarbon leader when going with a baitfish pattern. Quality catfish are being caught using cut bait; bream; goldfish and shrimp. Cats up to 30 lbs. have been reported.

Kerr Reservoir: Bob Cat's Lake Country Store, (434) 374-8381. Taken from the Bob's website.

Striper: Fishing for stripers remains good. Fish are being found all over the lakes major creeks like Rudds, Eastland, Ivy Hill and Grassy Creek. Fishermen are finding fish in the shallows in the morning and late evening with swimbaits and topwater and out off of major points and creek channels with live bait and bucktails during mid-day. The rivers are doing well with fish spawning also.

Catfish: There is good river fishing right now with reports of nice blues and flatheads being caught in the 30 to 50 lb. range. Most fishermen are anchoring on flats or logjams and creek channel bends. Preferred baits are bream, shad, menhaden, goldfish and jumbo minnows.

Crappie: Fishing remains good with many different methods working. We still may have a little spawning left to go, but about 3/4 of the fish are finished spawning. Fish are being found on laydowns with deep water in front of them. Bridge poles and brush are starting to pick up and boat docks are holding fish with deeper water under them. Most fishermen are casting jigs to areas or with minnows on slip corks. Good colors are blue, chartreuse, pearl white, Tennessee shad and John Deere green. Water temps are 68 to 74 degrees.

Bass: Mixed patterns are working with a little water still in the bushes. Fish are being found with top water and shallow running crankbaits in the morning and evenings. During the day, fishermen are moving out a little on secondary points with crankbaits in the 5 to 10 ft. range and Carolina rigs and shaky heads are doing well.

James at Lynchburg: Angler's Lane, (434) 385-0200. Tom Reisdorf reports that smallmouths are "turning on" and biting minnow and crayfish imitations. In the Mountain streams, the little brookies are going for Hendrickson's Caddices and Hendrickson's Little Yellow Stoneflies. In the Jackson River the brown and rainbow trout are responding to Copper Johns in red and green. They also like caddis emergers. The water is in the mid 50s and very clear.

Lake Gaston: Holly Grove Marina (434) 636-3455. Everything is biting up Craig Karpinski's way. Bass are on their beds and going for top water lures. Crappie are off their beds and in the deeper waters, they are biting minnows and small jigs. Cat angling is going well, with three 50 lb. blues being landed by some lucky anglers. Preferred baits are: cut bait, clam snouts and chicken livers. Yellow perch can be had with small minnows. The water is slightly stained, at a high level and warming.

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, fishing has been good over the past week and good numbers of quality fish were caught, although strong winds made conditions challenging.

Stripers: Stripers continue to be caught on live bait pulled behind in-line planer boards (Water-Bugz, Off- Shore, Outcast), pegged floats, Redi-rigs and on freelines. Medium to large gizzard shad have been producing the best results. Stripers continue to break on or near the surface while chasing schools of live shad. Soft plastic swimbaits, normally considered bass lures, have also been successful on breaking stripers and on stripers feeding along the shoreline early, late and at night. The night bite is really picking up, especially now that the alewives are spawning along the shoreline after it gets dark. Large topwater lures, flukes, swimbaits and floating jerkbaits are all effective choices for stripers at night.

Bass: Bass are currently being caught on plastic worms and soft, plastic lures imitating crawfish. The wacky rigged Yamasenko in the appropriate colors continues to be an incredibly effective lure for bass whether they are suspended under docks or up along submerged structure near the shoreline. Bass are also being caught on shaky head worms. Tubes and small plastic lizards are two other good choices for bass this time of year and when fished with very light weight will often be eaten on the fall.

Carp and Crappie: The carp can be seen up along the shoreline while the crappies have moved out into deeper water. The carp are taking prepared carp bait and corn while the crappies are being caught on small, live minnows in the top of submerged brush. There are also some crappies being caught on small jigs with plastic trailers under docks.

The water is stained to clear and 68 to 74 degrees.

Region 3 - Southwest

Claytor Lake: Rock House Marina, (540) 980-1488. Glendon Jones reports that the bass are on their beds. They like Texas rigs, Smallie Beavers, tubes, drop shots and shaky heads. Crappie action is slow; look around brush, and try a small minnow or jig. No word on cats. Stripers are going for top water lures at night. The water is muddy and around 70 degrees.

Use Common Courtesy and Common sense 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, wait until you get off the ramp to secure your rig for travel, don't do it on the ramp.

Lower New River: Big Z'S (540) 639-1651. After thanking God that it was Friday, John Zienius told me that there have not been a lot of lucky bass anglers lately. The bluegill bite, however, is "excellent"; try small worms and poppers. No word on crappie or cats. Muskies are done with their spawning and are hitting hard. Good lures are inline spinners and muskie jerks. Some disappointed bass anglers are bringing up muskies. The water is clear and 63 to 68 degrees.

New River: Tangent Outfitters, (540) 257-0415. Shawn Hash says that his clients are landing lots of smallmouths on cranks, jerks and soft plastics. Muskies are "on fire" and are attacking jerks and cranks. The water is clear, but full of pollen and warming.

Region 4 - Mountain and Shenandoah Valley

North and South Forks of the Shenandoah: Harry Murray (540) 984-4212 www.murraysflyshop.com. Harry told me that the smallmouth streams in the North and South Forks of the River are at a perfect level and the fishing is great. Some of the best angling on the South Fork is at Front Royal upstream to Luray. The best on the North Fork can be found at Tom's Brook upstream to Edinburg. Good flies are: the Shenandoah Blue Popper, size 6; the Shenandoah Sunfish Slider, size 4; the Murray's Magnum Bluegill, size 4; and the Road Kill Skunk Nymph, size 6. The water is clear and 67 degrees. The stocked streams in the Valley are also at a good level and will provide good fishing. The most productive streams are: Big Stoney Creek, West of Edinburg, the Hidden Valley of the Jackson and the Gorge of the Bullpasture. Good underwater flies are: the Mr. Rapidan Beadhead Nymph, size 12; the Betsy Steamer, size 12; and the Casual Dress, size 12. Good top water flies are: the Spirit of Pittsford Mills, sizes 14 and 16; the Murray's Yellow Drake, sizes 14 and 16; and the Murray's Professor, sizes 14 and 16. The water is clear and 67 degrees. The head water streams in the Mountains are at a good level very fishable. Good flies are: the Murray's Flying Beetle, sizes 14 and 16; the Dry Little Yellow Stonefly, size 16; and the Murray's Sulfur Dry Fly, sizes 16 and 18. Fish all of these on a 6x leader. The water is clear and 62. Harry updates his stream reports every Friday, so check it out before you leave.

Lake Moomaw: Local Guide, Mike Puffenbarger, (540) 468-2682, www.mapletreeoutdoors.com. Puff reports that fishing is slow with this cool spell. Catching trout and largemouth. A few crappie occasionally show up. Lake level is full and water temperature is around 60 degrees. The gobblers are still struttin' so have been concentrating on turkey hunting the last week of the gobbler season. Will start fishing hard next week.

Region 5 - Northern Piedmont

Piedmont Rivers: Local author Steve Moore, SwitchFisher.com / New Book Wade and Shoreline Fishing the Potomac River) reports that the shad fishing on the Rappahannock is wrapping up and the shad run should end within the next week. As quickly as anglers put away their shad darts, they should grab their smallmouth gear and hit the water. The water temperature on the Rappahannock, Rapidan and Upper Potomac are above normal for this time of year. Steve measured the temperature on 5/8/2010 and was surprised to see the Rappahannock was 72°, the Rapidan 70° and the Upper Potomac 67°. Even more startling was the visual confirmation of the quick warm up provided by people swimming in the Rappahannock upstream from Kellys Ford. Based on 35 years of USGS data, the average water temperature for this time of year should be 63° to 65°. The spike in temperature is causing the smallmouth bass to start to move. While cool weather may drive the temperatures back to seasonal norms, it clearly is "summer" for smallies. While the Rapidan is within accepted norms for wade fishing, the Rappahannock is still running high. In any case, anglers should wear a PFD if they enter the river. Decent fish are being caught on poppers and small grubs on both rivers. According to Charlie Taylor, largemouth bass are as active as their smallmouth cousins on the Occoquan Reservoir, Burke Lake and the Upper Potomac. Small crankbaits, plastic grubs, spinners and live bait are all producing well. If you fish the Potomac from a boat, please remember that Maryland regulations apply and you must wear a PFD until May 15th. Ken Penrod recommends the Lander area on the Upper Potomac using mizmo tubes and case magic stiks. Trout fishing continues to be good. The stocked trout have now been in the water long enough to adapt to natural food -- giving flyrodders a slight edge. Water levels in the mountain streams are dropping, but the action continues to be strong. The brookies are hitting both dry flies and nymphs with hendrickson, caddis and yellow sallies for dry and hares ear, copper john and pheasant tails for nymphs being the most popular patterns.

Lake Orange: Contributed by Darrell Kennedy of Angler's Landing (540) 672-3997. Still have a few largemouth and crappie on spawning beds. Most have finished the spawn and have moved up into the flats. They are hungry, feeding well on live bait and soft plastics. Noteworthy, Kenny Powell of Orange, VA caught a 9lb. 1oz. largemouth on April 30th. Walleyes are biting on small minnows in shallow water. In the next week or so, I expect a migration of shell crackers and bluegills into the shallows to spawn with red wigglers being the bait of choice. Catfishing is picking up in the upper end on chicken liver and live bait.

Mid Point Potomac: Warbird Outdoors, (703) 878-3111. Terry Olinger reports that bass fishing is getting better. Try chatters, spinners or a green pumpkin worm on a blue jig. Crappies are going for minnows and jigs. Cats are being landed with cut herring and live minnows. Yellow perch like medium to large minnows. Not a lot of word in about stripers. The water is clear and 73 degrees.

Potomac: Outdoor writer and fishing guide, Charlie Taylor provides a weekly Fishing Report for the Potomac River and other NOVA lakes and rivers, which may be accessed at any time at: http://mysite.verizon.net/vzeqbewt/. This web-report is updated every Thursday afternoon.

Lake Anna: Contributed by C. C. McCotter, Local guide and Editor-In Chief, Woods & Waters Magazine, (540) 894-5960. Welcome to the post spawn phase of Lake A's fishing calendar. You will find most of all species have finished spawning. Turns out the first week of April was the big one. All over the lake fish are beginning to school and feed with water temperatures approaching 74 degrees in places. The blueback herrings are spawning as are the bluegills and shellcrackers.

Largemouth Bass: Plenty of action with several patterns working. The first and most exciting is targeting schooled fish on spawning herring. Soft plastic jerkbaits, topwaters, and swimbaits are the top baits for this pattern. Most of this occurs from mid lake down to Dike III. Another pattern is fishing a topwater along the willow grass found from mid lake up into the North Anna and a short way up into the Pamunkey Branch. You can also target deep fish on off shore structure in the down lake region now, too using shaky head worms and drop shot Berkley Realistix Minnows.

Striper: Super action now for schooled fish willing to crush casted lures and live bait. Fish are scattered from the first two bridges on down to Dike III. In the early morning when the herring are still spawning in the shallows you'll find striper nearby willing to take just about any topwater lure and soft plastic jerkbaits. They will relocate deeper and deeper as the sun rises and you can follow them down with the same lure on a jig head and finally with a Toothache spoon. Hotspots are Dike III and the power plant.

Crappie: The spawn is just about over and most fish are moving away from the banks except for some in the extreme headwaters of the lake. Fish offshore rocks, brush and docks now with minnows on slip bobbers.

Bluegill and Shellcracker: Excellent fishing now in protected coves where these fish are now bedded and spawning. Use popping bugs for the 'gills and sinking Wooley Worms for the crackers. Try the Tiny Bass Assassin for both if you like to cast an ultralight.

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

Stripers: Striper fishing continues to be excellent, April was a banner month and May should even be better. Some good areas to start looking for stripers are: Down Lake - stripers are spawning in and around the current, anglers have been catching easy limits off the dike and on the nearby flats out of boats. Mid Lake the mouths of the creeks and the 20 foot flats around the splits are holding Stripers. Up Lake stripers are literally everywhere. Without a doubt the best catches will come this month from savvy live bait fisherman. Huge stripers will blow 10 to 12 inch gizzard shad out of the water pulled behind Water Bugz planner boards or freelines when the fish are shallow.

Bass: Bass fishing is great in May, tournament fishing pressure has subsided, the weather and water temperatures are more stable, and most bass have spawned and are hungry. Bass are cruising the shallows now: cover lots of water using Polarized glasses looking for stumps, beds and bass. Tube baits, Senkos, Carolina rigged Lizards and jerk baits work well in these areas. Baitfish are spawning on windblown rocky and clay banks, find a point with these conditions and throw a #8 willowleaf spinnerbait in white or pearl up on the banks and try to get your bait back to the boat.

Crappie: The crappie have finished spawning and have moved back to the 6 to 15 foot depth ranges with nice slabs being caught on deeper docks and shallower bridge pilings. Look for rocky drop-offs on or near points, brush piles on flats and generally areas where baitfish are plentiful with structure.

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

View video about the snakehead

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Winning Outdoor Adventure Stories from Young Writers

Take an old boat, a warm, sunny day, with family and friends and chances are you can create a memorable outdoor experience. For 16 year old Genevieve Campagnola, a Senior at Lancaster High School in White Stone , her most memorable outdoor experience was a day spent on the Chesapeake Bay with her dad who had fixed up an old boat. Sahring time with family on a boating adventure after a lot of hard work to get the vessel 'ship-shape' has many rewards. Genevieve entered her article in the 2009-10 Virginia Outdoor Writers Association High School Writing Competition and was awarded Fourth Place.

One Day With My Dad

By Genevieve Campagnola

I have never been an outdoorsy girl. I like the outside but I definitely love my couch, too. The best memory I have of the outside is with my dad and our summertime boat. The Sea-Doo speedster is its name. My dad bought this boat when it was still a huge hunk of junk. After dad fixed it up, there was nothing on that boat that was not new or renovated. One day in the summer before my junior year of high school, my dad and I went out on the boat. My mother, my little sister, and my best friend Danielle went with us. All piled up in our family SUV, we went to the closest dock. My family and I spent about two hours just wandering around Carter's creek, a wide, popular creek that connects to the Rappahannock River. The day was scorching and it felt like every ray of sun shine was aimed right at our faces. My mom and my little sister started to get tired and sun burnt after awhile and decided they wanted to be brought back to the dock. We sped to the dock and dropped mom and Mackenzie off, but Danielle, Dad and I decided to continue our day. I remember sitting close to the back of the boat and feeling the hot air crash against my cheeks as we flew over the water. I remember Danielle and I smiling at each other as Dad did donuts in the middle of the creeks.

Dad had brought this over-sized purple tube with AIRHEAD plastered on it with us. When we reached the Rappahannock River, we all tied the tube to the back of the Speedster and took turns riding. Dad even let me drive the boat so he could go once or twice. I remember later we parked under the White Stone bridge to take a break from all the action. Dad tied a rope to one of the nails sticking out from the huge concrete pillar that held the mile long bridge in place. Danielle and I took turns hurdling off the side of the Speedster into the waves of the river. I remember the ride home to the dock. It was late, probably around 4 or 5 and we were all tired. By then, my normally blonde, straight hair was in a nasty, brown knot on the top of my head. Danielle had been stung by jelly fish several times and Dad had a pretty awesome lifejacket tan.

As we drove up to the dock, I, the self proclaimed first mate, helped Dad put our beloved Speedster on the trailer. Despite never having been an outdoorsy girl, that summer day with my dad and the Speedster was the day I started to look at nature in a whole different way. I started to see that Carter's Creek was not a large, wet mass of mud (my previous conclusion) but instead a world of possibilities. Now, I live for summer days with my family. My mind was completely changed by the Speedster. It only took one day with my dad.

•••

Genevieve Campagnola is a Senior at Lancaster High School in White Stone and has been in the Red Devil marching band for four years and is a member of the Key Club, National Honor Society and participated two years in both Model General Assembly and Visual Arts. She spends her free time with her family that includes her mom, dad, two sisters, a dog and a mean cat. She is proud to say , "That my best times are spent on the boat with my dad." Hence the inspiration for her touching article.

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: