In this edition:

Honor and Remember Our Veterans Who Answered the Call This Memorial Day

As spring gobbler season comes to an end and we clean and stow our gear, and get out the boat and fishing gear, be reminded that Memorial Day is a few days away on May 31st. To all our veterans and their families and friends we honor and remember your service, courage, and sacrifice. Thank you for "answering the call" to defend freedom and preserve liberty.

Our rich hunting and fishing traditions are intertwined in your service and preserved for future generations to enjoy due to the ultimate sacrifice of so many for our benefit. Honor these veterans by pursuing your outdoor adventures with safety and courtesy for your fellow outdoor enthusiasts and appreciation for the opportunity to just be out there.

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 "High-Tech Inflatable Life Jackets are Cool and Comfortable" in the Be Safe... Have Fun section.

Be Aware of Lyme Disease and Prevent Tick Bites

Governor McDonnell has signed a proclamation naming May 2010 Lyme Disease Awareness Month. Information about Lyme disease and what people should do if they are bitten by a tick can be found on the Virginia Department of Health website. Virginia Wildlife Magazine featured an article about Lyme disease prevention that can be read on our agency website.

The best way to avoid contracting Lyme disease is to prevent tick bites. Use insect repellant to prevent ticks from getting on you. There are many kinds of effective insect repellants on the market, so read up on benefits and precautions of the various kinds. Some may be applied directly to the skin, while others should only be applied to clothing. Read the label! Note the proper method to remove ticks (PDF) to prevent infection. Should you notice the target type ring around a tick bite or any of the symptoms of Lyme disease, seek medical attention immediately, as early detection and treatment will speed recovery in most cases. Be sure and check yourself, your children and your pets frequently whenever outdoors and after you return home for a few days.

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.

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.

Friends Group Organizes for Phelps WMA in Fauquier June 9

If you enjoy spending time outdoors and would like to get involved in new improvements at the C.F. Phelps Wildlife Management Area, please join us at our first Friends of C. F. Phelps WMA Formational Meeting on Wednesday, June 9, 2010 from 7 pm to 9 pm at the Phelps Work Center. The purpose of the meeting is to gain community support to begin and sustain a "Friends Group" that will help implement hands-on projects and assist with the WMA activities. Most of the management area's 4,539 acres are in southern Fauquier County with the balance being in Culpeper County. There is no charge to attend and light refreshments will be available. Please register for the meeting by calling Patricia Wood at 703-282-9035 by June 4. For information on the Phelps WMA visit the website.

Friends of the Chickahominy WMA Host Kick-Off Workday June 12

The newly formed Friends of the Chickahominy Wildlife Management Area is hosting a "Chickahominy Kick-Off" event in Charles City county on Saturday, June 12, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.. If you enjoy spending time outdoors and meeting great people, come by and help out with three new projects that will improve wildlife habitat and increase everyone's enjoyment of the Management Area. Volunteers are needed to install wood duck boxes, mark access trails, and create a new planting around the main entrance. (Children under 18 must be supervised by a parent at all times.) A grilled lunch will be part of the schedule. Don't miss this chance to learn more about the Friends group! Advance registration is preferred; please call Darlene Lyons at 804-829-6580 by June 4 to register. If you miss registration and come on June 12, you'll be assigned to a project with the most need. For info on the Chickahominy WMA visit website.

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.

HerpBlitz at Kiptopeke State Park June 12-13

The VA Herpetological Society (VHS) will host their 5th Annual 'HerpBlitz' at Kiptopeke State Park on the Eastern Shore, on June 12 & 13, 2010. For details visit the VHS website under "2010 Calendar of Events". All the surveys that VHS hosts are open to the public, as well as members, to participate. Please pre-register with Jason Gibson, VHS HerpBlitz Committee Chair, at frogman31@gmail.com if you plan to attend. This will allow for better coordination and communication if there are any updates or changes.

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

Officers Honored by the Virginia Hunter Education Association

On April 20, the Virginia Hunter Education Association appeared at the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Board Meeting in Richmond to honor two Conservation Police Officers for their dedication to Hunter Education. Crystal Weidman, Hunter Education Coordinator for Region 2, and Kris Dougherty, Hunter Education Coordinator for Region 4, were recognized for their passion for excellence and their unwavering support of the volunteer instructors who teach this public safety program. Vernie Kennedy, President of the Virginia Hunter Education Association, stated, "These dedicated officers have always been available and willing to help with any project the Association is conducting. They have spent weekends away from their families and personal lives to help the volunteer instructors and students. VDGIF and the people of this state are very fortunate to have these two dedicated people involved in the Hunter Education Program."

To learn more about becoming a Hunter Education Instructor visit the VDGIF website. For information on the Virginia Hunter Education Association programs and activities visit their website.

Concerned Bass Anglers of VA Donate to VDGIF Angler Education Efforts

The Concerned Bass Anglers of Virginia (CBAV) have purchased nearly $5000 worth of rods and reels for the VDGIF Fishing Education in the Schools Program (FESP). The FESP, coordinated by VDGIF Angling Education Coordinator Chris Dunnavant, provides training, curriculum and equipment to teach and conduct fishing programs in the schools. The amount of equipment CBAV purchased will supply 10 schools with the rods and reels needed for the program. Recently, CBAV members Frank Poirier and Tom Leary attended a fishing field trip at Three Lakes Park in Henrico County for one of the participating schools, Holladay Elementary. At Holladay, the entire 3rd grade participates in the program and students participate in both a fall and spring fishing field trip. To learn more about VDGIF Fishing Education in the Schools, contact Chris Dunnavant at (804) 367-6778 or chris.dunnavant@dgif.virginia.gov.

VDGIF and Partners Host Fun Fishing Day for Starlight Children

VDGIF Angling Education program coordinated a fishing day with Starlight Children's Foundation Mid-Atlantic. Starlight organizes events and opportunities for seriously ill children and their families. On May 8, over 20 children and parents enjoyed a great day of fishing at a private residence in Prince George County, outside of Hopewell. Everyone caught fish – lots of bass and bluegills, and enjoyed a great cookout lunch of hamburgers and hotdogs. Many anglers volunteered their time to assist the children and families with casting, baiting hooks and unhooking fish. Partners for the event included: Fishers of Men Tournament Trail and Super Valu - Eastern Region provided food, facilities and supplies. Green Top Sporting Goods donated rod/reel combos, T-Shirt and tackle for each child and bait for the event. Unity Baptist Church provided volunteers, tables, chairs, cooking supplies and the grill. Special thanks to all the partners and sponsors for making this event a successful and fun day for the children to enjoy a day fishing and making new friends.

Wounded Warriors Hosted for Turkey Hunt in Suffolk by Fellow Hunters

On April 10 the 3rd Annual Wounded Warriors Hunt was held in Suffolk, where 15 hunters with many challenges from walking wounded to wheelchair bound, 15 callers and 15 videographers came to hunt spring gobblers once again.

The hunt was sponsored by the Virginia Hunter Education Association with vendors supplying different needs from a set of camo clothes from Outfitters Tuff to a variety of turkey calls from Buck Gardner and Limb Shaker. Bruce Wilds from Hunter Specialties gave handmade box and slate calls from a children's group who signed each with a word of encouragement to each veteran. The base of operations was at Rob and Cindy Zepp's farm, with volunteers from Nansemond River Baptist Church, VDGIF, the Hunter Education Association, Rick Hendricks Collision Center and Somerton and Borderline hunt clubs. Donations came from various resources including Food Lion for the meats and DaShields who discounted items we needed including a shotgun that was given away to a veteran. Land use was also donated from area farms that are leased to Somerton and Borderline hunt clubs in the surrounding areas.

The hunters were treated like royalty from the time they arrived to the moment they left. Everyone involved wanted the veterans taken care of in a manner that left no doubt in their minds that we appreciated them and their service to our country. Early in the morning Rob Zepp kept getting call after call stating "Bird Down" to the sum of six spring gobblers. As the event ended and everyone was saying goodbye, two thoughts remained with all the participants. We will be back next year and we never can say 'Thank You" enough to our servicemen and women who daily put themselves in harm's way to keep us and our way of life safe.

VDGIF Wows Students at Smyth County Watershed Field Day

VDGIF Bureau of Wildlife Resources staff provided a live fish exhibit, a mussel display, and demonstrated river electrofishing, for the annual Smyth County Schools Watershed Field Day on April 30. Other agencies attending the event included the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Approximately 200 sixth-grade students, parents and teachers from four middle schools in the county attended the event. Check out the event here. VDGIF District Fisheries Biologist Tom Hampton notes that, "VDGIF staff have provided similar exhibits this year for Earth Day at the Southwest Virginia Mental Health Institute and Discovery Day Marion Primary School. These live fish exhibits provide an excellent hands-on learning opportunity for students and patients. We cover fish anatomy, habitat requirements and watershed issues. These exhibits are always very popular with the students, parents and faculty.

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. The Wheelin' Sportsmen VA Chapter will hold their annual fund raising and volunteer recognition event at Augusta Expoland in Fishersville June 19. For information on supporting this event visit their website, or contact Rick Layser 540-886-1761 rglayser@earthlink.net, or Mike Deane 434-996-8508 Wheelin4u@yahoo.com.

Also visit other websites of sportsmen's organizations that also provide outdoor activities for disabled persons and veterans and victims of severe illness including: VA Waterfowlers Assoc., VA Hunters Education Assoc., VA Deer Hunters Assoc., Hunters Helping Kids, and Trout Unlimited VA Chapter with Project Healing Waters and Casting for a Cure.

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.

Spring Squirrel Hunting Safety Tips

If you're planning to go squirrel hunting the June 5-19,2010 spring season, you need to keep a few things in mind to ensure you have a pleasant and safe experience. If you're wearing camouflage, it should be lightweight. You'll also want to put on some bug repellent to ward off ticks, chiggers, gnats and mosquitoes. Learn to identify poison ivy (leaflets three let it be!) and avoid contact with the shiny green leaves and hairy vines. Note that you can also get a rash from handling clothes that have come in contact with this abundant woods plant. If you have walked through a patch of poison ivy, wash those clothes to remove the oils which cause the itchy rash. Snakes are also out and about with the warmer temperatures, so be alert. If it is a very warm day, it would be a good idea to field dress your harvested game as soon as possible and bring along a cooler with ice and plastic bags to store them. You may want to view the instructional squirrel skinning video featured in the next article.

As always, practice basic firearm safety. Treat every firearm as if it were loaded, only point at what you intend to shoot, and clearly identify your game and what is beyond. So spray on a little bug juice and take a youngster squirrel hunting on one of the selected VDGIF's WMAs or private woodlands. You can locate the WMAs at the VDGIF map information system on our Find Game website.

Video Features Squirrel Skinning Quick and Easy and Panfish Preparation and Filleting

Another great DVD is now being offered at the VDGIF store, this one a double-feature: Squirrel Skinning Quick and Easy and Panfish Preparation and Filleting. If you want to learn one of the best methods we've seen for skinning squirrels, former Game Warden John Berry teaches it in detail on the first video. This video has been extremely popular to walk-in customers at VDGIF headquarters, and is now available for ordering on-line, VDGIF Outdoor Education Instructor Jenny West demonstrates various ways to prepare tasty panfish, including scaling, dressing, and filleting. Get both "how to" videos on one DVD for $8.00, shipping included. The DVD makes a great gift for sporting enthusiasts young & old.

Order your own copy today!

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

Hunter Education Challenge Held at Holiday Lake 4-H Center

Aaron Smith from Shenandoah Valley is seen checking his archery target at the Hunter Education Challenge (HEC) held recently at Holiday Lake 4-H Center in Appomattox. Hunter Education Instructor Shay Bolen is scoring. The HEC draws 100+ participants from throughout Virginia each year to compete in several events "aimed" at encouraging graduates of the hunter education course to develop their skills. This years Senior Division team winner, Powhatan County, will go on to compete in the national event held later this summer July 26-30 in Mansfield, PA . Click here for more information.

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

Eleven year old Denis Saunders from Nelson County shot his first wild turkey on Monday, May 10, hunting with his dad before school started. Dad, Bennett Saunders, noted, "The shot was around 35 yards, using a 20 gauge shooting #6 Hevi-Shot. The bird weighed 15 lbs. 13 ozs. and had a nice thick 10 in. beard. There were 3 mature toms together. Only one was on the roost when we first started calling. We worked the bird for 1-½ hours. I bet I told him to ‘sit still' over 100 times. But his patience paid off."

Trophy Gobbler Has Five Beards

During the Spring Gobbler season you can only harvest a "bearded bird." The regulation is stated this way since some hens do have beards. Kenny Stuart from Chesterfield was pretty sure he didn't have a hen with a beard as he got a big surprise when he started to measure the beard on his gobbler. The gobbler had 5 separate beards with a total beard length of 45 inches. The big gobbler weighed 19.5 lbs, with spurs of 1 7/16 and 1 3/8 inches. Length of the 5 individual beards was as follows: 11.5 in., 11 in., 5.5 in. and two 8.5 in. Now that's a unique trophy – hope he read the taxidermy tips in the April editions.

Safety and courtesy are free, share them generously

Be Safe... Have Fun!

High-Tech Inflatable Life Jackets are Cool and Comfortable

With the warming weather and summer coming soon, boaters are anxious to get back on the water. As you go through your preparation checklist, when you get to the life jackets—check their condition real good- your life may just depend on it! If they are worn, dry rotted or maybe don't fit properly, do not despair. This is a great opportunity to replace the unserviceable life jackets with new, high-tech, "cool and comfortable" inflatables.

Nearly all boating-related fatalities are the result of drowning and it is estimated that over 80% of fatalities could have been prevented if a life jacket was worn. With the improved technology of inflatable life jackets, there really isn't any reason not to wear a life jacket today. While yesterdays life jackets were hot, bulky and uncomfortable, the new life jackets are lightweight, compact and extremely comfortable.

Inflatable life jackets are all the rage. They come in two basic styles, "Over the Shoulder" and "Waist Belts/Packs", both using a simple CO2 release mechanism to inflate an inner bladder. The release device comes in two styles, manual or auto/manual. You'll pay about $130 more for the automatic inflation style, but to some boaters, it's money well spent. The inflatable life jackets are U.S. Coast Guard-approved, but you do need to check the label to determine what the rating is for each individual life jacket. A Type V rating requires the device to be worn by the person to meet carriage requirements.

Inflatable life jackets take up about one-tenth the storage room of conventional foam-filled PFDs and are USCG-approved for persons over 16 years of age who are not engaged in whitewater activities, water skiing or riding on PWC.

Read more »

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.

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.

Eagle Banding at Norfolk Botanical Garden Videotaped for Ongoing Research

On May 5th VDGIF Nongame and Watchable Wildlife along with Agency Outreach staff were at the Norfolk Botanical Garden for the banding and transmitter fitting of nestling bald eagles by researchers at the Center for Conservation Biology. In order to provide the public with an exceptional view of these activities while maintaining an environment that minimized disturbance to the birds, staff from VDGIF's Information and Education section were present to document the event close-up with photo and video. The bald eagles at the Norfolk Botanical Garden are part of a unique partnership between the VDGIF, the Norfolk Botanical Garden, and WVEC Channel 13. This partnership brings the viewing public the Eagle Cam - an up close look into the daily lives of these birds. Viewers from around the world, including many Virginia School Children "tune in" to the Eagle Cam every day as part of their studies in science, ecology and life cycles. WVEC provided a second webcam for the day which provided a great view of the event. The camera was operated by VDGIF Watchable Wildlife staff who provided ongoing narration and commentary of the work along with the researchers from The Center for Conservation for Biology at William & Mary (CCB).

CCB was performing this work as part of the ongoing research efforts study bald eagles in the Chesapeake Bay region. These efforts complement those of VDGIF whose eagle conservation work within the commonwealth includes a variety of monitoring, tracking and management activities. Conservation partnerships such as this help ensure the continued recovery of bald eagles.

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.

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!

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.

School's Out!! Now what do you do?!?

Just because school's out for the summer doesn't mean learning and fun take a vacation too. Look for Summer Nature Adventure ideas for having fun and studying nature while school's out this summer in the next June 9 edition. You can visit the Virginia Naturally website now for more ideas. Teachers- there are also ideas for workshops and training available for your 'continuing education."

Kids Discover Nature by Jodi Valenta also provides ideas for parents to get your kids "nature aware."

Nature Observations from the Virginia Wildlife Calendar

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

Answers to May 12 edition quiz for nature events in late May...

Get your copy of the 2010 Virginia Wildlife Calendar here.

Habitat Improvement Tips

Wildlife, Land, and Money Workshop in Appomattox June 4... Register by May 28

Are you a forest landowner wishing to know more about how to earn supplemental income from your property with wildlife as an objective? There are options available. Virginia Cooperative Extension, in cooperation with VDGIF, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Virginia Forestry Association, Outdoor Underwriters, LLC, and other professional land management entities will be offering an afternoon crash course on management options for your timberland to include a variety of interesting topics including management plans, hunting leases, liability, trespass and cost share habitat improvement programs. If you are interested in learning more about options for gaining supplemental income from your land, then "Wildlife, Land, and Money" is what you need to take advantage of on Friday, June 4, 2010, at the Appomattox Community Center, 220 Community Lane, Appomattox, VA, from 1:00pm – 5:00pm. If you are concerned about the liability involved, and laws regarding taking on such a project, then you should make plans to attend. Presenters from the above mentioned entities will assist you with your land management objectives as it pertains to wildlife leasing options and other wildlife related income opportunities. This workshop is FREE and space is limited to 50 participants! To register, contact Donna Tolley at 434-352-8244 or e-mail dtolley@vt.edu by May 28.

Online Woodland Options Short Course for Landowners Begins June 1

The Virginia Forest Landowner Education Program is offering an online short course that private woodlot landowners, of any acreage, can take in the comfort of their own home. The 12-week "Online Woodland Options for Landowners" short course begins Tuesday, June 1 and runs through August 13. This course is not intended for woodlot owners who have substantial experience working alone, or with natural resource professionals in the management of their woods. However, veteran landowners are welcome to enroll and may take the course as a refresher on basic management. Registration is now open on-line at the Virginia's LEAF Program website or Virginia Tech's Virginia Forest Landowner Education Program. Cost is $25 per family. Textbooks and instructional DVDs are included. For computer requirements and other information about the course, please contact: Jennifer Gagnon, VFLEP coordinator (540) 231-6391 jgagnon@vt.edu.

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, this workshop is for you. The workshop 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. This workshop is two sessions, a week apart for homework completion. For more about manual go to nraes.org.

The workshop 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.

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.

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 4 - Mountain & Shenandoah Valley

Officer hosts successful Kid's Fishing Day on Bullpasture River in Highland... On May 8, 2010, Conservation Police Officer Beth Harold planned, coordinated and successfully conducted the first Highland County Kid's Fishing Day on the Bullpasture River. Officer Harold was able to secure funds to purchase door prizes through local Ruritan Clubs and the Monterey Lions Club in Highland County. Officer Harold met with the Highland County Recreation Department and coordinated with them to supply and cook lunch consisting of hot dogs, chips and drinks for all the participants. All 39 kids registered received door prizes and caught fish. Officer Harold's parents, Harley and Donna Gardner, volunteered and assisted at the registration table. Conservation Police Officer Rob Ham and Senior Conservation Police Officer William Herndon assisted in the event.

Region 3 - Southwest

Fishermen lie about property ownership - ticketed for no licenses... On April 6, Officer Justin White and Senior Officer Wes Billings conducted an on-water boat patrol on the New River in Wythe County. During the patrol two subjects were observed fishing from the bank. Upon making contact Senior Officer Billings requested to see their fishing license and both stated it was family property which made them exempt. After questioning the subjects about the property owner they admitted that their family didn't have ownership of that section of the river. Summons were then issued to both subjects for the violation of fishing without a license.

Turkey hunter nabbed for illegal baiting, a second time... On April 10, Officers Jason Harris and George Shupe received information on illegal baiting of turkeys. Prior to opening day, Officer Harris walked the property and located two baited blinds. On opening morning the officers were dropped off by Sgt. Cox prior to sunrise. Officer Shupe had started to one blind when he observed headlights approaching. He quickly hid and observed the suspect exit the vehicle, walk within 10 ft. of him and proceed to the blind. Shortly after sunrise a gobble was heard on the ridge behind the blind and a call quickly answered from the blind. On approach, Officer Shupe observed a 5 gallon corn feeder hanging about 30 yards from the blind. The subject was charged with hunting turkeys over bait. This was not the first time he was charged with hunting over bait. Officer Harris charged him 4 years earlier.

Alcohol and boating bad combination... On April 1, Senior Officer J.S. Pease assisted State Park Conservation Officers and Wythe County Deputies with two intoxicated fishermen/boaters at Foster Falls State Park. The fishermen refused to return to shore and leave the park when the park closed at 10:00 p.m. Numerous attempts by the officers to resolve the situation with the agitated and uncooperative fishermen were unsuccessful. The fishermen ultimately came to shore when a tow truck arrived to remove their vehicle. The two brothers were arrested and charged by the officers with offenses including: Drunk in Public, Curse and Abuse, Obstruction of Justice, Resisting Arrest, Reckless Operation of a Motorboat, Failure to Display Lights on a Motorboat, and Violation of the Park Curfew.

Alcohol and boating don't mix- if drinking on the water, drink responsibly and always have a designated driver in the crew.

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.

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.

New State Record Sauger Approved

The State Record Fish Committee of the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries has certified a new state record sauger caught by Mr. Ronald C. Davis of Duffield, Virginia. The 3-pound fish was caught just before daybreak on Saturday, April 24th, 2010 from the Clinch River near Speers Ferry in southwest Virginia. The fish measured 21 inches in length and had a girth of 10.5 inches. This breaks the previous record of 2 pounds, 12 ounces, also caught in the Clinch River. Mr. Davis went fishing that morning to try out a new lure and have some quiet time. He was fishing primarily for smallmouth bass. When he caught the record sauger he wasn't completely sure that is was a sauger. He knew that it looked different than the walleye he had recently caught from the Clinch and he knew that this fish was special. On the way home he stopped by the Kid's Fishing Day at Natural Tunnel State Park. Conservation Police Office (CPO) Sergeant Steve Sutphin and Scott County Sheriff John Puckett, a retired CPO, confirmed that the fish was a sauger and that it was an exceptional trophy.

The officers contacted fisheries biologist George Palmer, who met with Mr. Davis to verify the species and witness the weighing on certified scales. When Mr. Davis was notified that his fish was accepted as a new state record he expressed gratitude both for the award and for the kindness shown to him by the Department's employees. He remarked that because everything had fallen perfectly into place he knew that this record fish was a gift from above. Visit the Department's website for a complete list of the current State Record Freshwater Fish, and for more information about sauger and the Clinch River.

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

Fishing report contributor Captain Mike Ostrander sent me the following info about an exciting trip on the James:

Enjoy the natural beauty of the James River as you trace the naval actions that took place in the area of Dutch Gap and Jones Neck from 1862-1865. Listen to stories about Confederate torpedoes, the Dutch Gap Canal, The Bermuda Hundred Campaign, and the James River Squadron's desperate attempt to break out at Trent's Reach.

This stretch of river offers a unique opportunity to visualize these and other historic events in a landscape that has changed little since the time they took place almost one hundred and fifty years ago. The tour also offers great opportunities to view wildlife on the river and in the Dutch Gap Conservation Area. The tour will be led by Capt. Mike Ostrander and Scott Williams. Capt. Mike is recognized as one of the leading river guides on the James, and has been offering a variety of fishing, historical and wildlife tours for 10 years. Scott is the Chairman of the Military History Committee for the Chesterfield Historical Society. He was the mapmaker and a contributing author for the recently published Bermuda Hundred Campaign Tour Guide.

Call Capt. Mike to sign up for this unique opportunity on board the Discovery Barge II, a 24-foot, covered pontoon boat.

June 26, 2010 8:30-10:30 & 11:00-1:00
Deep Bottom Boat Landing
$40 per person
Limited Seating: 6 people per trip – 12 spots total

Contact: Capt. Mike Ostrander
Discover the James

(804) 938-2350
mike@DiscoverTheJames.com
www.DiscoverTheJames.com

Region 1 - Tidewater

Little Creek Reservoir: Contributed by Park Supervisor Robert "Doc" Eveland. (757) 566-1702. The lake is approximately 6 inches below full pool, with surface temps in the mid 70s. Fish continue to be caught in the shallows, around structure, in good numbers.

Notable catches this week:
Robert "Doc" Eveland, Toano - yellow perch, 12 in.
Paul Rodrigio, Newport News - 6 stripers up to 6 lbs., bass, 4.8 lbs.
Tom Crittenton, Yorktown - bass, 8 lbs. 1 oz. (24 ½ in.)

Added Note: Effective June 1, 2010, Little Creek Reservoir will be turned over to a private citizen to be operated over the next year. Don't worry, folks will still be allowed to fish here.

Beaverdam Reservoir: Contributed by C. Blair Evans, Park Supervisor, (804) 693-2107. All week the fishing has been excellent here at Beaverdam; with many nice bass being caught. Most bass have been in the 1 to 3 lb. range. Some bigger bass have been caught on the drop offs and in the deeper waters. The fishing here this weekend was outstanding, with a lot of average size fish being caught. Anglers on the pier this weekend were catching a lot of crappie, sunfish, chain pickerel and tons of small bass; with a few yellow perch and catfish mixed in. The pier was full of children and adults alike catching fish and having fun. The water is at full pool, slightly stained and 74 degrees. Beaverdam will hold its next bass tournament June 19, 2010.

Virginia Beach: Captain Jim Brincefield (443) 336-8756. According to Capt. Jim, things are much the same this week as last time. This means that black and red drum are congregating around Fisherman's Island and going for cut bunker and crab. Speckled trout are at Rudee and Lynnhaven Inlets attacking Mirrolures and Fishbite. Rockfish are at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and like live spot and top water plugs. New this time are the sea trout, which can also be found at the CBBT and will take Fishbite or cut spot. Spot can be found around the mouth of the Lynnhaven and respond to Mirrolures and blood worms. The water is 61 degrees and clear.

Chickahominy River: River's Rest (804) 829-2753. Charlie Brown didn't have much to say this time. No word on bass. Crappie are hitting traditional minnows and jigs. Cats are going for cut bait and eels. The water is stained and in the upper 70s.

North Landing River and Back Bay: West Neck Marina (757) 426-6735. Dewey Mullins reports that bass are plentiful. Try top waters early and late and cranks, spinners and plastics during the day. The crappie bite is somewhat slow, as they have not schooled up. Some good ones have been landed, though, on minnows and jigs. Some cats are going for eels, large shiners and cut bait. There are lots of white perch, try a minnow. For bluegill, try top water poppers early and late around bridge pilings and brush beds. The water is clear and in the high 50s to low 60s.

Norfolk Lakes: Dasheill's Show Room (757) 539-7854. Drew Dixon says that fishing in his area is "decent". There are croakers in the Nansemond that are taking squid and shrimp. For bass, try top waters early and late and soft plastics during the day. Lots of crappie are being landed at the newly opened Burnt Mills Lake. Some local cats are going for cut bait. The bluegill bite is good, with crickets being your best bet. The water is clear and in the mid 70s.

Blackwater and Nottoway: By Riverkeeper Jeff Turner www.blackwaternottoway.com Bream and shell cracker fishing is pretty darn good in both rivers. Largemouth bass are also doing well. With river levels up some now due to the recent rains it is a great time to try some of the upper reaches of both the Nottoway and Blackwater. Red throat fishing is really fun and fast paced in the swifter water. Small boats and canoes are the vehicles for these parts of the river. Up above Rt. 603 on the blackwater is truly a fisherman's paradise if you can get there. Small spinners and small topwater lures like Heddon's Baby Torpedo will yield plenty of 1½ pound largemouths.

Upper and Lower Tidal James: Local Guide, Captain Mike Hoke, Life's Revenge Guide Service, (804) 357-8518. Striped bass were hitting till the recent rains which brought water levels over 6 ft. The river is starting to recede but looks like more rain in the forecast might keep the water high. I was catching striped bass on Cotton Cordell Redfins and a Deepcreek lure. Most fish were 22 to 24 in. with the biggest at 27 in. and we have been catching between 20 to 30 fish each trip. The crappie bite is hot up in the creek all along the James and I have had my best fishing using a Calcutta 2 inch triple ripple grub on a 3/16 or 1/8 oz. chartreuse. jig head. Bass fishing is good and most fish have spawned and can be found around rock jetties, piers and structures along the main river channel and cut through channels. I have good results on plastic worms and usually a purple 6 in. fire tail does well. I will also cast crank baits such as speed shad and other shad pattern crank baits. The catfish are starting to come off their spawn and last week there were a couple of fish caught in the 50 lb. range. With the recent high water, I look for the fishing to really get started this week and get hot into June as more big females start foraging as they start to travel and feed mostly at night. Bait of choice is cut shad or eel, but also live bream, white perch or shad will catch big blues and flatheads.

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

Upper and Lower Tidal James: Capt. Mike Ostrander, James River Fishing School, Discover the James, (804) 938-2350. No report this edition.

Region 2 - Southside

Holliday Lake: Contributed by our man in the boat, Willard A. Mayes. I'm still trying to pay my debt to the neighbor, Donny Williams, so I took him back to Holliday Lake on Monday the 10th hoping to find some monsters on the bed. The water is still clear enough to drink and cooler than normal for this time of year. Very light wind so it was fly rod all the way. We fished the shore line all around the lake picking up one every now and then. When we got to the flats things picked up a little with catching several in one place but we did not find any on the beds. I can't give you a report on how Donny was doing but he seemed to get a strike every time I did and I brought up 20 between ½ and ¾ lb., throwing back those 12, from 4 to 6 inches. I got two bass, a 12 and a 14 incher and a couple trees that snuck out on the water. I've got to go back one more time to see if they ever start bedding.

Sandy River and Briery Creek: Contributed by Longwood College Fishing Club's Jack Pollio. Longwood University is out so the summer but a few of us that live close are still fishing Sandy and Briery. In the Sandy River, bass biting in the late afternoon on top water, cranks to 5 feet in shad color and in deeper water on shaky head and drop shot.

James at Scottsville: Local Guide L.E. Rhodes www.hatchmatcherguideservice.com, (434) 286-3366. Well, the releases from Lake Moomaw have pretty much shut down the Smallmouth fishing. We saw the river levels rise to over seven feet which caused the river turn to a muddy brown color. Hopefully by the weekend of May 28th things will have returned to normal. The fish appear to have finished their spawn and were scattered prior to the high water. Once things stabilize, look for the fish to be taking soft plastics; stick baits and shallow running crankbaits. I still have no news on the status of the Howardsville boat ramp which is slated to close at the end of May. I will pass along any info as I receive it. Work continues at the Hardware landing which they hope to have completed by July.

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 and logjams and creek channel bends. Preferred baits are bream, shads, 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 ¾ 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 to10 ft. range and both Carolina rigs and shaky heads are doing well.

James at Lynchburg: Angler's Lane, (434) 385-0200. Tom Reisdorf says that bass fishing is good, with the fish going for minnow and crayfish imitations. All the local trout are biting caddis imitations. The water is clear and in the mid 50s.

Lake Gaston: Holly Grove Marina (434) 636-3455. Ron Karpinski reports that the bass bite is good, with Baby Back Brush Hogs being a good lure to try. Soft plastics in dark colors are also a good bet. Crappie are going for small minnows. Some big blue cats have been landed on cut bait. No word on bluegill or perch. The water is clear 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. Bass continue to be caught around docks very early in the morning on small poppers, like the Rico, and on flukes rigged on Gamakatsu Super Line and belly weighted hooks. Spinner baits and lipless crankbaits are also working when it is windy, especially off windy points and breaks. Increasingly, anglers are finding success with swimbaits. The 3 and 5 inch swimbaits, in shad colors, are proving to be very effective for both locating bass and as a good lure for quality fish. The night bite continues to improve for both bass and stripers as the alewives spawning activity increases. The best fishing continues to be from around 10 p.m. until around 2:30 a.m. although on any given night the times will vary as will the spawning activity and intensity at different sections of the lake. Floating jerkbaits, wake baits, swimbaits and chuggers continue to be among the best lures for night fishing along the bank.

There have been a number of bass fishing tournaments on the lake over the past several weeks. Most have been open events that attracted large numbers of participants. In addition, the lake has hosted a number of smaller club tournaments bringing members of fishing clubs from outside our area here to fish. The Limit-5 Tuesday Night and Foxport Saturday Night Open Tournaments are both planning to hold tournaments this week and next. The following weekend, Saturday June 5th the Fishers of Men Legacy Series and the 2010 Bassmaster Weekender Series will both be holding events at the lake. For more information about these and other upcoming tournaments, stop by Virginia Outdoorsman Sporting Goods and Guide Services. We are now open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m.

At night, the stripers are moving up to feed on the spawning alewives along the bank. Good lures for stripers include many of the floating jerkbaits that work for bass including the Storm Jointed Thunderstick and the Cotton Cordell Redfin. Another excellent lure at night is the Wake- Em balsa wake bait. Stripers continue to be caught on live bait presented on freelines and shotlines behind planer boards, Red-I-Rigs and floats during the daytime. Crappie fishing has been mixed. While regular crappie anglers wisely continue to be tight lipped, we continue to sell a lot of small crappie minnows, so I'm sure those willing to put in the time can find some fish. Bluegill and other pan fish are everywhere along the shoreline. The water is clear and 68 to 70 degrees.

Stay safe on the water, tight lines and have a great Memorial Day weekend.

Region 3 - Southwest

Kids Fishing Day At Pinnacle Natural Area Preserve Great Success

On Saturday, May 15th the Department of Conservation and Recreation's Natural Heritage Program hosted the annual Kids Fishing Day at Pinnacle Natural Area Preserve (PNAP) in Russell County. Kids Fishing Day at PNAP is sponsored and organized by the Cleveland Volunteer Fire and Rescue Squad and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. More than 500 people attended the event, including 285 children who registered for door prizes. The kids had a beautiful day for fishing with many catching their creel limit of trout out of Big Cedar Creek. DCR Natural Heritage staff, DCR Natural Heritage volunteers, VDGIF staff, and a number of Cleveland Fire and Rescue Crew members worked together during this successful event.

Claytor Lake: Rock House Marina, (540) 980-1488. Mike Burchett told me that local bass are in all three stages: some pre-spawn, some spawning, and some in post-spawn. For any of them, try top water lures like the Rico's. No word on crappie as they are going deep. Cat fishing is slow, but should pick up soon. Tons of bluegill are waiting to be had, with nightcrawlers being a good bet. The water is clear and in the low to mid 70s.

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. According to John Zienius, bass fishing is good. Dark colored Senkos (like green pumpkin) are a good bet. Muskie action has slowed down a little, but they will still attack in line spinners. No word on cats or crappie. The river is at a good level, fairly clear and warming.

New River: Tangent Outfitters, (540) 257-0415. Shawn hash told me that smallmouth fishing up his way is very good. Good lures are: cranks, spinners and soft plastics. The muskie bite is "on fire" with the lunkers going for mid running cranks. The water is high green to clear and warming.

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 level on the smallmouth streams in both the North and South forks of the Shenandoah are at a good level for floating or wading. The best part of the North fork is from Edinburg to Tom's Brook. The best of the South fork is from Luray to Front Royal. Good flies are: Murray's Magnum Bluegill, size 4; Murray's Olive Marauder, size 6; Skunk Roadkill Nymph, size 6; and the Shenandoah Blue Popper, size 6. Fish all these with at 6x leader. The water is clear and 65 degrees.

The stocked streams in the Valley are dropping, but still good places to land a rainbow. Harry had an especially good day on Big Stoney Creek, West of Edinburg, using a Murray's Flying Beetle, size 14. The Hidden Valley of the Jackson River is another good place to try your luck. Good dry flies for these areas are: the Sprit of Pittsford Mills, sizes 14 and 16; Murray's Sulfur, sizes 16 and 18; and Murray's Yellow Drake, sizes 14 and 16. For underwater flies, try nymphs and streamers. The water is very clear, at a good level and 67 degrees .

The mountain streams are providing good angling just now. For best results, start at the heads of the streams from the Blue Ridge Parkway or Skyline Drive and work your way down. The water is very clear and 54 degrees. Remember to check Harry's website before heading out.

Lake Moomaw: Local Guide, Mike Puffenbarger, (540) 468-2682, www.mapletreeoutdoors.com. No report this edition.

Region 5 - Northern Piedmont

Piedmont Rivers: Local author Steve Moore, SwitchFisher.com / New Book Wade and Shoreline Fishing the Potomac River - DC to Harpers Ferry) reports that bass and trout action is uniformly good in the region. The Rappahannock above Fredericksburg is fishing well for smallies with good numbers of fish being taken around the grassy islands and channels leading into pools. Of course, the monsters continue to lurk in the deep sections and demand anglers use lures that will stay close to the bottom. Since it takes eight years or longer for smallmouth to grow to 18 inches, Steve encourages catch and release -- take a picture and let it go. The Rappahannock bass are not interested in poppers right now although the sunfish are. Flyrodders can have a full day of action if they float small poppers or terrestrial patterns under the trees along the shoreline. Even though the Rappahannock above Motts Run is below recommended levels for kayaking and canoeing, there are plenty of people who remain willing to spend more time walking than floating to get to good fishing locations away from the access points. The best fishing is where the current moves fast over a rocky bottom. In general, this eliminates the river upstream of the Phelps Wildlife Management Area. According to Ken Penrod, conditions on the upper Potomac are great. Although the upper river remains too high to wade fish, those with boats should concentrate on the section of the river upstream of White's Ferry. Even though we are past May 15 and Maryland law no longer requires boaters to wear a PFD after that date, anyone wading in the Potomac should always wear one. The Rapidan is at good levels right now with high-quality fishing near the Elys Ford access point. Charlie Taylor confirms that the Occoquan Reservoir is high and stained, but that is not inhibiting the bass from hitting in the coves, on the points or along the rock walls on the normal mix of bass lures. The trout fishing will be good after the rain last weekend. The Robinson River was stocked last week and the Hughes and Rose should still have decent numbers of stocked fish that have been under water long enough to begin to feed on insects; making this a good week for fly anglers. The North Fork of the Thornton is fishing well from the gate upstream for 2.25 miles. The lower stretch of the Hazel River in the Park is productive for those willing to climb over the rocks to get to the best pools. As we move into summer, fly anglers should switch to longer leaders to maintain their distance as the trout become more skittish. Normal fly patterns for this time of year include ants, large mayfly and caddis.

Lake Orange: Contributed by Darrell Kennedy of Angler's Landing (540) 672-3997. The water remains clear with temperatures in the upper 60s pushing 70s. Both crappie and largemouth bass have finished spawning. They have moved out to the mouths of the spawning coves to the first available structure. They are willing to bite live bait and lures. I expect some top water action this week and here on, as the bass are swimming around looking for forage. Walleye fishing has been really good so far this spring; with numbers of the toothy critters mostly being caught on live bait. Noteworthy: local walleye master David Thiess, has caught 2 walleyes this week with tags from VADGIF, which netted him a $60.00 reward, plus dinner. Catfishing is picking up throughout the lake on live bait. Pan fishing is picking up as well, with bluegills and shell crackers moving into the shallows for their spawning season. Red wigglers are the bait of choice for the pan fish bite.

Mid Point Potomac: Warbird Outdoors, (703) 878-3111. Terry Olinger reports that local bass are going for top water buzzbaits like the Pop-R. Crappie are responding to minnows. Cats are hitting well on cut bait, clam snouts and large minnows. Bluegill and perch are spawning and will bite nightcrawlers.

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. No report this edition.

Lake Anna: Contributed by Local Guide Jim Hemby (540) 967-3313. Water temperatures are now in the 80s and the lake is full and in great shape. All species of fish have spawned and are fatting up for the summer. Catches this year have been record breaking and will continue to be in June.

Stripers: Lake Anna offers some of the best striper fishing in Virginia and has generous creel limits, 4 per person per day. Striper fishing is HOT and will be for the next 2 months. With water temperatures rising into the 80s and the stripers finishing their spawn, with the fish are pulling back to their deeper main lake schooling areas and are feeding on schools of herring and gizzard shad The stripers are migrating into the midlake regions of the lake and feeding on points and midlake humps in lowlight conditions, falling back to to the river channel bends and flats in the 30ft. range during the day. Topwater baits will entice some explosive strikes early in the morning hours. The absolute best way to catch the stripers this month is with live bait.

Bass: The bass have finished their spawn and have retreated to deeper water nearby spawning areas to replenish their energy and feed up for the summer months. Bass will feed in low light conditions on points, humps and flats hitting chuggar and popping baits with a vengeance. Work your baits in clear water with slow, rhythmic chuggs giving the bass time to locate and blow up on the bait. The bass will come up out of 20 feet of water to take advantage of your offering. The new swim baits are catching plenty of big bass now and when they are not chasing baits the bass can be caught in main lake brush, rock piles and on primary North Anna.

Catfish: These fish are extremely plentiful and are feeding everywhere. The larger cats are just under or behind the schools of stripers. Anglers are catching fish using Powerbait Catfish Bait on fish finder rigs and the cats sure are hitting live bait very well. The catfish show up on your depth finder as arches on or very near the bottom.

Crappie: The slabs have pulled out and are being caught on deeper points with brush piles and on the deeper bridge pilings in the 10 to 20 ft. ranges. They continue to hit small minnows and jigs. The fish are also stacking up on ledges in the rivers in the 8 to 15 ft. depth. If you fish the "Hot Side" the fish will congregate much deeper under the bridges in 20 to 30ft. depth. Crappie rigs [two hook rigs] tipped with minnows are deadly this month. Simply lower your offerings to the depth of the fish and once you start catching doubles mark your line at that depth and fill your cooler up.

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 a holiday camping trip to a wilderness park with family and friends and chances are you can create a memorable outdoor experience. For 15 year old Rebecca Kiefer, a Sophomore at Ocean Lakes High School in Virginia Beach, a family camping vacation to hike in the giant sequoia forests and mountains of northern California , inspired her to have a greater appreciation of "wild " places and have a most memorable outdoor experience. She was inspired to study environmental science with a new passion. What outdoor adventure during your summer vacation may inspire you to become more aware of the wonders of nature and conserve them for future generations. Rebecca entered her article in the 2007-08 Virginia Outdoor Writers Association High School Writing Competition and placed in the Top 15.

Into the "Wild"

By Rebecca Kiefer

Out of all of my memories in being in the outdoors, I would have to say that my fondest and most fun-filled experience was when I went on a camping trip at a campsite near the Sequoia National Park in northern California. I know myself that I wasn't the big happy camper, but my perspective definitely changed after that trip, which was about 4 years ago. Nature and preserving it has become one of my ambitions and there is no better way to understand it than actually spending time in the outdoors.

After the long car ride to the campsite, I remember stepping outside and smelling the fresh clean air in the environment surrounding me. It was different then where I lived; it was natural with all the bird noises and the tall trees enclosed around me and I felt like I got placed into a whole new world. It was getting dark and we finally set up camp, and my family set up a campfire that just lit up the night. I could hear the insects chirping and other creatures come out for their calling. The wind was softly blowing, making the leaves on the tree and the grass whisper to each other. The moon was lighting up the night sky and sparkles were seen in the black blanket above us. After the campfire, we lay under the stars and tried to point constellations. The sky was so much clearer to see then in the city. That night is when I realized how much we would lose if it was all gone and the forests were chopped down.

The next day is when we went to the Sequoia National Park and at first I didn't know what it was until we entered it. This park preserves Sequoia trees, which are illegal to cut down. The height of the trees were amazing and is located on high elevation on a mountain, so when I walked close to the edge it seems like you can stare out to a never-ending distance. My family was in awe from the spectacular view of the large sun shining blindly at us. The best part of the trip was when it started to snow. Living in the southern part of California, I never really experienced any snow during the winter, so this was a definite treat to my family. As it was snowing, we took a stroll in the park along the path and saw many intricate birds everywhere and I even remember seeing a rabbit dashing away as soon as it saw us.

We also got to walk on giant rocks and once you get to the top, we were able to see the sun setting over the horizon fading into the distance. As evening was approaching us, we headed back to the campsite and then took a nice refreshing bike ride on the path throughout the forest. While on the bike ride, I was surrounded by the smells of pine and the moist ground from the snow, which was something I took pleasure in. I felt that I could actually breathe for once without having to choke from the exhaust smell from a car, back where I live.

Overall, this camping trip was one of the greatest experiences I've ever had. I was able to familiarize myself with nature and why it's so important to always take care of it. I've actually grown an interest to study environmental sciences and I know it was because of my camping experience. The outdoors is intricate with a fun; new exciting discoveries waiting to be made. Camping is always something I will be doing and I know that whenever I want some clear skies and vibrant smells, I can always go into the wild.

This entry in the Virginia Outdoor Writers Association (VOWA) 2007-08 High School Youth Writing Competition by 15 year old Rebecca Kiefer, a Sophomore at Ocean Lakes High School in Virginia Beach, placed in the Top 15. 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

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