In this edition:
- It's Hot Out There... Enjoy the Water Safely and Responsibly
- New 2010-11 Hunting and Trapping in Virginia - Regulations Available
- Sportsman's Show Features New Opportunities for the Whole Family August 13-15
- The New Legacy Lifetime Hunting and Fishing License
- Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss
- Detailed Descriptions of Outdoor Events Across Virginia
- People and Partners in the News
- Gene Sours Receives 2010 Wildlife Manager of the Year Award from VA-NWTF
- Wildlife Center Holds Rehabilitation Classes in July - August
- Disabled Sportsmen and Wounded Warriors Participate in Numerous Summer Events
- Sportsmen and Conservation Organizations Hosting Annual Award and Fund Raising Events
- Hunting News You Can Use
- 2010 Hunting Opportunities on State Natural Area Preserves
- 2011-2012 Hunting and Trapping Regulation Review and Amendment Process
- Information on New Regs and Youth Hunters Photos Featured at Sportsman Show
- Share your Hunting Photos and Stories With Us...
- Be Safe... Have Fun!
- Snakes - Splendor in the Grass
- Beware of Lyme Disease Prevent Tick Bites
- Stay Safe on the Water - Boat Smart and Sober!
- "Green Tips" for Outdoor Enthusiasts
- White-Nose Syndrome Fungus Found on a Different Bat Species in Virginia
- Save Time, Money and Gas - Plan Your Summer Vacation for Virginia
- Outdoor Recreation Focus of New Website
- Notes for Young Nature Explorers
- School's Out!! Now what do you do?!?
- Nature Observations from the Virginia Wildlife Calendar
- Habitat Improvement Tips
- Invasive Plant Control Workshop Scheduled in Front Royal September 16-17
- Habitat at Home© DVD Now Available
- Virginia Conservation Police Notebook
- CPO Recruitment
- Field Reports From Officers Protecting Natural Resources and People Pursuing Outdoor Recreation
- Fishin' Report
- Beginning July 1, South Holston Reservoir Fishing License Available to VA, TN Anglers
- Shenandoah and James Rivers - Fish Health Update
- Safe Boating is No Accident—Wear your Life Jacket and Take a Boating Safety Class
- Got Pictures of Your Catch? Share Them With Us on Flickr!
- Sarah White's Notebook
- Kids Fishing Day Events Provide Family Fun
- Regional River and Lake Reports on Fishing Conditions
- Winning Outdoor Adventure Stories from Young Writers
- "Summer of the Rattle Snake" by Lucy Adams
It's Hot Out There... Enjoy the Water Safely and Responsibly
This edition of the Outdoor Report posts just as a lot of us are going on summer vacations or long weekend outings with family and friends. Fortunately there's a lake, river, or stream within an hour's drive from any location in Virginia, making it easy and economical to get away for a day on the water boating, fishing, and relaxing. When you purchase a fishing license, you not only buy quality time, but you also are investing in conservation. For less than the cost of a tank of gas, a family of four can fish for a year. The funds generated by boating and fishing are crucial to keeping Virginia's waterways and lands in good condition and managing the state's fisheries.
Remember as you head for the water with the relentless heat wave and deepening drought, make sure you are well prepared to safely enjoy your travel and outdoor activities. Safety and courtesy are free, use them generously as you share the outdoors with others. Note that VDGIF is recruiting a new class of Conservation Police Officers. When their training is completed they will join the dedicated officers who protect responsible outdoor enthusiasts from those who act irresponsibly and break the law. They are there to protect your freedom to enjoy the outdoors - support them in their important work by setting a good example and seeing that others around you do their share to enjoy the outdoors safely and ethically.
The Outdoor Report is full of fishing and boating tips and information to make your outing more productive, enjoyable, and safe. To learn more about fishing and boating in Virginia, including where to fish, how to identify fish species, guides to lakes and rivers, fishing and boating regulations and much more, read on...
David Coffman, Editor
New 2010-11 Hunting and Trapping in Virginia - Regulations Available
VDGIF is distributing the new 2010-11 Hunting and Trapping in Virginia - Regulations digest. This year's hunting seasons will be very similar to last year. However, hunters in Clark, Frederick, Shenandoah, and Warren Counties as well as in the City of Winchester will want to note the additional regulations for these areas based on the discovery of Chronic Wasting Disease in western Frederick County in November 2009. Another noteworthy change this year is the addition of a Legacy Lifetime License.
The 70-page booklet is available free of charge from license sales agents, Regional VDGIF offices and the Richmond Headquarters office. You can access the new regulations booklet on the VDGIF website. To offset printing costs, paid advertisements have been included again this year.
The New Legacy Lifetime Hunting and Fishing License
VDGIF board members Brent Clarke and Scott Reed waste no time in purchasing the new Legacy Lifetime Hunting and Fishing License from VDGIF Customer Service Representation Leslie Jefferson, which became available for sale July 1. The new Legacy Lifetime Hunting and Fishing License is a great way of creating lasting memories with your family and friends. For more information or to purchase a Legacy Lifetime Hunting and Fishing License please visit the Department's website.
Sportsman's Show Features New Opportunities for the Whole Family August 13-15
The 27th Annual Virginia Outdoor Sportsman's Show features 300 fun and exciting new exhibits, demonstrations and seminars- something for everyone in the family. Experienced and novice sportsmen and sportswomen can try the latest in new equipment and learn about new places and techniques to enjoy Virginia's great outdoors. The three-day show is held at The Showplace in Richmond August 13-15, 2010. You can purchase your new Hunting and Fishing Licenses and 2011 Virginia Wildlife Calendar from the VDGIF booth and also subscribe to Virginia Wildlife magazine and the Outdoor Report at the Show. Biologists, conservation police officers, Complementary Work Force volunteers, and Hunter Education Instructors will be on hand to answer your questions. Get your free copy of the new 2010-2011 Hunting & Trapping Regulations and Information booklet featuring descriptions of new regulations and opportunities to enhance your hunting experience. The VDGIF Outdoor Report is sponsoring a "Young Hunters Wall of Fame." Share your favorite hunting photos at the Show. Young hunters age 15 and under are invited to bring a copy of a hunting photo showing their success to post on the wall at entrance to the Show. Photos must be no larger than 8x10 size and be in good taste. Photos will not be returned and will be on display throughout the show.
This is your chance to see the biggest bucks harvested in Virginia. Deer hunters throughout Virginia will bring their mounts to this prestigious contest, organized by the Virginia Deer Hunters Association (VDHA). Certified judges from the VDHA and VDGIF will be awarding ribbons and trophies in four antler classes. The Virginia Open Turkey Calling Championship will be held on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. sanctioned by the National Wild Turkey Federation. There are cash and prize awards with the first place winners in four Divisions eligible to go to the National Calling Contest. Lee and Tiffany Lakosky hosts of The Crush had such a great time last year they are returning this year to to talk about what we all love, HUNTING!
Check the Show's website for information on numerous seminars, exhibits, demonstrations, sportsmen celebrities, and contests.
Take a Friend, Make a Hunter... This is the perfect event to bring a friend that is interested in the Apprentice Hunting License to talk with experienced sportsmen about the many opportunities for hunting and try out the latest gear to enhance your experience.
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.
Friends of the Phelps Wildlife Management Area to Meet July 15
On Wednesday, June 9th, 20 volunteers met with VDGIF staff at C.F Phelps Wildlife Management Area (WMA) Work Center to discuss developing a "Friends of the Phelps Wildlife Management Area" program to address the maintenance and wildlife habitat needs of this important WMA in Fauquier County. Many organizations were represented at this meeting as well as several VDGIF Complementary Work Force (CWF) volunteers. The Friends of the Phelps WMA group is now officially organized and will encourage local support and citizen involvement in management activities at this WMA and will work on future stewardship. The next meeting is scheduled for July 15 at the Phelps Work Center from 7-9 p.m.. If you are interested in learning more about or participating in upcoming volunteer activities with the "Friends of the Phelps Wildlife Management Area" program, contact Patricia Wood at (703) 282-9035.
Dove Hunting Clinic July 31
Cavalier Rifle and Pistol Club will host a special Dove Hunting Clinic. 9 am - 1 pm, Saturday, July 31. Cost is $65 per shooter, per clinic. Maximum eight shooters per clinic. Instruction Includes: safety, basic marksmanship, comfort, familiarity with firearms, shotguns, ear and eye protection, and targets. Reservations required. For more information, contact Henry Baskerville at 804-370-7565 or email@example.com.
Waterfowl Hunting Workshops – Saturday, August 7, 2010
VDGIF and the Virginia Waterfowler's Association announce two waterfowl hunting workshop events to be conducted on Saturday August 7, 2010. The workshops will be conducted at Sussex Shooting Sports, located west of Waverly, on Route 460.
Basic Hunting Workshop 10:30 am – 3:30 pm
Wing Shooting Clinic
Duck & Goose Calling – Decoy Placement Clinic
Waterfowl ID & Game Laws Clinic
This workshop provides 30 participants the opportunity to learn and/or improve their basic fundamentals of waterfowling. There will be three 75 minute clinics and a complimentary lunch included. $15.00 Fee covers cost of Basic Hunting Workshop.
Advanced Level Workshop 3:30 pm – 5:00 pm
Wing Shooting Clinic
Goose Hunting Clinic
This workshop provides 8 participants the opportunity to advance level fundamentals of goose hunting or advance level fundamentals of wingshooting. There will be one 90 minutes clinic. Participants must choose Goose Hunting or Wing Shooting. A complimentary dinner is included with this workshop only. $25.00 Fee covers cost of Advanced Level Workshop.
All participants will be required to be registered by July 24, 2010 Participants must be 18 years or older. Those under 18 must be accompanied by a registered adult. Workshops will be held outdoors RAIN or SHINE! To obtain registration form or more information, email Todd Cocker at firstname.lastname@example.org. Participants' information regarding all event details: schedule, directions, what –to-bring, etc. will be sent out by mail and/or email about one week prior to the event.
Mother and Daughter Outdoors Weekend August 20-22 at Holiday Lake
The Mother and Daughter Outdoors program is scheduled at the Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center in Appomattox, August 20 - 22, 2010. This weekend program is designed primarily for women and provides an excellent opportunity for anyone nine years of age and above to learn outdoor skills usually associated with hunting and fishing, but useful in a variety of outdoor pursuits. The courses offered at this 2-3 day event are similar in content to the Becoming an Outdoor Woman and the Virginia Outdoors Weekend events. Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Registration required. For more information, contact Jimmy Mootz at (804) 367-0656 or email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Workshops are scheduled as follows:
- Saturday, July 17, 2010 - Bass Pro Shops - Hampton
- Saturday, July 24, 2010 - Bass Pro Shops - Ashland
Page Valley Sportsmen Host Youth Shooting Workshop August 28
The Page Valley Sportsman Club, Inc. in Luray is sponsoring a Youth Shooting Workshop Saturday, August 28, 2010. This is a great opportunity for youth 7-17 to be introduced to shooting sports. There will be opportunities to experience an Air Rifle Range, Archery Range, Sporting Clays course, Rifle Range, Skeet Range and a Trap Range. Youth under 7 will have alternative activities available for them. This event is free and open to the first 35 registered participants and their families. Lunch is provided. All shooting supplies and safety equipment is provided. Pre-register by contacting Art Kasson at (540)622-6103, or email: email@example.com.
Outdoor Festival in Farmville August 28
The Riverside Community Church will host the 5th annual Outdoor Festival to be held Saturday August 28. The festival will take place at the Five County Fairgrounds off of Business 460 on the West side of Farmville. Festivities go from 10 am till 7 pm. A delicious lunch and supper will be served. This is a family event to celebrate the outdoor heritage of Virginia. Thanks to the many sponsors and help from the VA Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, every year this event seems to get bigger and better. There will be a kid's fishing pond, BB gun range, hunting simulator, five stand sporting clays shooting, turkey shoot, turkey calling contest and a 3-D archery contest. There will be many taxidermy displays, outdoor vendors, and a big buck contest. The live music will be exceptional featuring Crimson Flood and other bands. Riverside Community Church sponsors this event simply to honor the community and welcomes all outdoor enthusiasts. All events are free except for the vendors. This year the organizers are asking for a $5 donation for each person over 10. So come on out and bring the whole family, friends ,and pets. For questions call (434) 607-7776, or (434) 547-6770, or go to our website.
Primitive Bow Making Workshop Aug 29-Sep 1 at Holiday Lake
Are you interested in making your own primitive bow? Nate Mahanes, Program Director for the Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center near Appomattox advises that this Primitive Bow Making Workshop may make the perfect Father's Day gift for a special archery enthusiast. This workshop, last held in March 2009, was a huge success with several participants reporting they had successful deer harvests with the bows they had made. Meals and lodging on site are included in the fee for this four day workshop beginning Sunday, August 29 – Wednesday, September 1. Participation is limited to 10 students for a better instructor participant ratio. You may choose the wood composition, style of bow and receive an additional bow stave to complete at home. Workshop includes arrow making, shafting, and string making. Registration deadline is August 6. Early registration is encouraged as course fills quickly. For details visit the Holiday Lake 4-H website, or contact by email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (434) 248-5444 Fax: (434) 248-6749.
People and Partners in the News
Information from VDGIF is featured on the new Mapping Virginia section on the Virginia government portal. VDGIF wildlife management areas, boat access sites, and Birding and Wildlife Trail sites are included. Check it out!
Gene Sours Receives 2010 Wildlife Manager of the Year Award from VA-NWTF
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) is proud to announce that Gene Sours has been named Wildlife Manager of the Year 2010 by the National Wild Turkey Federation Virginia State Chapter (NWTF-VA). Gene Sours works as the Wildlife Management Area Supervisor on the Little North Mountain and Goshen Wildlife Management Areas. He has been employed by VDGIF for 38 years and over the past 10 years has coordinated work with the Augusta County Chapter of NWTF on Superfund projects that put habitat on the ground for wild turkey, grouse and other species. Gene received the award at the Augusta County Chapter's banquet in early May and was recognized at the June 8th Board of Game and Inland Fisheries meeting in Richmond.
Wildlife Center Holds Rehabilitation Classes in July - August
Amanda Nicholson, Outreach Coordinator and Rehabilitation Supervisor for the Wildlife Center, announces that the "On the Road" Rehabilitation classes scheduled for this summer:
- Saturday, July 17th, 2010, Lynchburg Parks and Recreation, Lynchburg
- Wildlife Capture, Restraint, Handling, and Transportation
- Introduction to Rehabilitating Reptiles
- Saturday, July 31st, 2010, Sandy Bottom Nature Park, Hampton
- Wildlife Capture, Restraint, Handling, and Transportation
- Introduction to Raising Orphaned Mammals
- August 28th, 2010, Dabney S. Lancaster Community College, Clifton Forge
- Overview of Wildlife Rehabilitation & Wildlife Capture, Restraint, Handling, and Transportation
- Introduction to Raising Orphaned Birds
For more information, including class descriptions and costs, visit the Wildlife Center of Virginia's website.
The Wildlife Center of Virginia, an internationally acclaimed teaching and research hospital for wildlife and conservation medicine located in Waynesboro, admitted a total of 2,534 animals for treatment during 2009 – injured, ailing, and orphaned wildlife from all across Virginia. The 2009 caseload was the highest number of patients treated at the Center since 2004.
Sportsmen and Conservation Organizations Hosting Annual Award and Fund Raising Events
A number of sportsmen and conservation organizations that partner with VDGIF throughout the year are hosting annual award and fund raising events during the summer months. If you are a member of one of these groups we appreciate your support of our aligned missions and volunteer efforts to improve opportunities for all outdoor enthusiasts and conservation of our wildlife and their habitats. If you are not a member of one of these organizations, we encourage you to find an organization that shares your views and join and support them. It is the strength in numbers that will allow us to preserve and continue our treasured outdoor traditions, be it hunting, fishing, boating, or viewing wildlife. The following is a listing of events that our partners have asked us to post:
- More than a dozen local VA NWTF Chapters will be hosting fund raising events and skill building workshops throughout the summer months. Funds raised at these events are used locally by the volunteers to enhance habitat, access to hunting lands, support law enforcement, the Wildlife Crime Line and Rewards Program and fund research to improve wildlife management. For details on these upcoming events and how you can participate visit their website: www.vanwtf.com.
- July 29 – Fredericksburg, Ruffed Grouse Society, Inagural Sportsmen's Conservation Shoot & Dinner. Ticket forms and information are available on website: www.ruffedgrousesociety.org or email: email@example.com.
- August 7 - Marion, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation VA Big Game Banquet, contact Charlotte Faris, (276) 783-2993, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- August 14 - Roanoke, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation VA Big Game Banquet, contact Brandy Vassar, (540) 992-2172, or e-mail: email@example.com.
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.
Apply for 2010 – 2011 Quota Hunts July 1
For the 2010 – 2011 hunting season, there are 37 quota hunt opportunities to take black bear, feral hogs, quail, rabbits, turkeys, waterfowl, and white-tailed deer. Beginning July 1, 2010, hunters may apply by mail, telephone or online.
2010 Hunting Opportunities on State Natural Area Preserves
The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation is offering managed hunts for deer and waterfowl at four state natural area preserves in 2010.
At Savage Neck Dunes Natural Area Preserve on the Eastern Shore, a lottery hunt is available for white-tailed deer. There are both Muzzleloader ONLY hunts in early November and shotgun or muzzleloader hunts in November and December. Each applicant selected in the lottery will be randomly assigned a two-day hunting period. Successful applicants will have the option of purchasing from one up to a total of five permits for their hunt, allowing each hunter to form a party consisting of themselves and up to four other hunters.
At Dameron Marsh and Hughlett Point natural area preserves on the Northern Neck, a lottery hunt is available for waterfowl beginning in November and running through January 2011. Hunts are on Mondays only during the last segments of the general duck season. Successful applicants have the option of purchasing from one up to a total of three permits each for their hunt day, allowing each hunter to form a party consisting of themselves and up to two other hunters. One blind per hunt party is land accessible ("walk-in"). All other blinds are accessible by water ONLY.
At Crow's Nest Natural Area Preserve in Stafford County, a lottery hunt is available for waterfowl beginning with the early September goose and teal seasons and running through the end of the general duck season in January 2011. Successful applicants will be responsible for building and/or reconditioning their own blinds at two assigned locations along the shoreline or in the marshes at Crow's Nest Natural Area Preserve. Hunting will be on Fridays only from ½ hour before sunrise to sunset.
Anyone 16 years of age or older may enter these lotteries by completing an application and returning it along with a $5 non-refundable application fee to the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation – Division of Natural Heritage, 217 Governor Street, Richmond, VA 23219. As with all DCR hunting opportunities, proof of completion of a hunter safety course is required for each hunter. Hunter safety certificates must be in possession and presented along with licenses if checked during the hunt. For specific hunt dates and additional information and to download an application form, go to the DCR website.
2011-2012 Hunting and Trapping Regulation Review and Amendment Process
Stage 1: May 1 - July 23, 2010 Scoping Period
The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and the Board of Game and Inland Fisheries review and amend all of the Virginia regulations governing wildlife and boating biennially. The regulations are reviewed in two separate biennial processes, with different regulations being under review in alternating years.
May begins the 2011-2012 Regulation Review and Amendment Process for Virginia's regulations governing hunting and trapping. In this earliest, scoping stage of the current regulatory review process DGIF staff is soliciting the public's views on what changes in regulations citizens would like to see. During this period, staff also collects and analyzes biological and sociological data relevant to regulatory issues. Such information typically includes constituent satisfaction survey results, conversations or meetings with constituents in groups and individually, and other forms of feedback from the public that occurs continuously including before the scoping period.
DGIF strongly encourages the public's participation in the regulation review process. You are invited to use this online comment submission system to submit your views.
For information on future stages in the periodic regulation review, see the Schedule for 2011-2012 Hunting and Trapping Regulation Review and Amendment Process.
Information on New Regs and Youth Hunters Photos Featured at Sportsman Show
Be sure and visit the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries booths at the 27th Annual Virginia Outdoor Sportsman's Show held at The Showplace in Richmond August 13-15, featuring 300 fun and exciting new exhibits, demonstrations and seminars- something for everyone in the family. Conservation police officers, hunter safety instructors and wildlife biologists will be on hand to answer all your hunting, fishing, and wildlife information questions. It's also a great time to purchase your hunting and fishing licenses, or the new 2011 Virginia Wildlife Calendar. Get your free copy of the new 2010-2011 Hunting & Trapping Regulations and Information booklet featuring descriptions of new regulations and opportunities to enhance your hunting experience.
With record deer and bear harvests last year, there are bountiful opportunities for pursuing big game, small game, waterfowl, and trapping. Sportsmen and landowners can get information on habitat improvement and the new quail restoration program. Hunter Education Instructors will have demonstrations on safe firearms handling, tree stand use, and safety reminders for all hunters. Complementary Work Force volunteers will show opportunities for volunteers to work side by side with professional staff in a variety of projects. The Department and partner organizations will have displays featuring specialized, innovative equipment, and opportunities for persons with disabilities and training in outdoor skills. Visit the Department's website for more information on Department programs and hunting opportunities.
Share your favorite youth hunting photos at the Show... Young hunters age 15 and under are invited to bring a copy of a hunting photo showing their success to post on the wall at entrance to the Show. Photos must be no larger than 8x10 size and be in good taste. Any firearms pictured MUST be pointed in a safe direction. For some good basic photo tips see the section below - Share your Hunting Photos and Stories With Us... Photos will not be returned and will be on display throughout the show. Prizes will be awarded for the Top Ten Photos and will be featured in the Outdoor Report and Whitetail Times, official magazine of the VA Deer Hunters Association.
Text in Sportsman to 68247 for a chance to win a Big Game, Big Buddy, 2 person ladder stand. Also watch for details on how to be automatically entered into the drawing for the Moultrie Game Spy I-45 Digital Trail Camera. Contest sponsored by the Virginia Outdoor Sportsman Show and Green Top Sporting Goods.
*Standard text message rates apply. Go to www.sportsmanshow.com for more details.
Share your Hunting Photos and Stories With Us...
We're looking for some good spring gobbler or spring squirrel hunting photos from youth, or novice hunters. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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
Safety and courtesy are free, share them generously
Be Safe... Have Fun!
Snakes: Splendor in the Grass
Snakes have been the focal point of folklore for centuries. From the hoop snake that sticks its tail into its mouth and rolls after you to snakes that hypnotize their prey. No other group of animals has suffered more from negative misinformation than snakes. In fact, snakes are some of the most fascinating and beneficial creatures on the planet. The benefits range from the thrill of a chance encounter while on a walk in the woods to the consumption of thousands of rodents that may potentially cause millions of dollars in agricultural damage every year. Their benefits to us and the ecosystem they inhabit are some of the reasons it is illegal in Virginia to intentionally kill snakes.
Generally speaking, snakes are very reclusive and timid. Many species of snakes will not even attempt to bite when handled. Of the 30 species in Virginia, only 3 are venomous: copperhead, cottonmouth and timber rattlesnake. All three of which are considered docile, unless provoked. Copperhead bites are by far the most common venomous snake bite in Virginia. However, in the 30 years that the Virginia Department of Health has been keeping records on venomous snake bites, no one has ever died from a copperhead bite. Copperhead bites often only result in mild inflammation and discomfort.
If you do encounter a snake in the woods, simply leave it alone, it'll get out of your way or you can walk around it. SNAKES DO NOT CHASE PEOPLE. Here are a few tips to avoid the possibility of being bitten when hiking in the woods"
- Stay on the trail.
- Watch where you place your hands and feet, and where you sit down.
- Do not attempt to capture snakes.
If you are bitten by a venomous snake, stay calm and seek immediate medical attention. None of Virginia's venomous snakes are considered to be highly lethal, but medical attention is necessary for all venomous snake bites.
If you are lucky enough to encounter a snake while enjoying the outdoors; step back and watch a moment. Notice the way the sunlight reflects off the scales and the incredible way a snake can glide off into the leaves barely making a sound. Unless cornered the snake is going to slip away as quick as it can.
To learn more... A Guide to the Snakes of Virginia, one of VDGIF's most popular publications since its 2001 release. This 32-page full-color booklet, co-authored and illustrated by Mike Pinder, our Region 3 Wildlife Diversity Manager, presents all of Virginia's 30 species of snakes in an attractive and educational "field-guide" format. It also includes snakebite information, provides answers to frequently asked questions about snakes, and suggests what you can do to protect or control snakes in your yard and home. Finally, it summarizes snake conservation and management issues, and offers ways you can help protect these fascinating animals. Single copies of the guide can be picked up free of charge at the Department's regional offices; or copies may be purchased online through the VDGIF Outdoor Catalogue for $5.00 each, or in cases of 60 copies for $150 per case.
- Purchase copies of A Guide to the Snakes of Virginia »
- View Streaming Video on Rattlesnakes »
- Read the Outdoor Report article 'The Eastern Cottonmouth: Separating Fact from Fiction' from July 22, 2009 »
Be Aware of Lyme Disease and Prevent Tick Bites
Remember summer is the time to be aware of ticks and the potential for Lyme disease.. 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.
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:
- wear your life jacket
- do not mix alcohol and boating
- take a boating safety course
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.
White-Nose Syndrome Fungus Found on a Different Bat Species in Virginia
Biologists working to better understand syndrome and its impacts
A sick bat found in Pocahontas State Park has tested positive for a fungus indicating White-Nose Syndrome (WNS), the disease killing bats from New Hampshire to Virginia and Tennessee. This is the first occurrence of the fungus detected in this bat species (southeastern myotis) which is found in only a few counties in southeast Virginia. The U.S. Geological Survey's National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wisconsin, found the bat to be positive for the fungus but was unable to confirm WNS, calling it "likely" to be infected.
In addition to probably adding to the growing list of bat species known to have WNS - including Indiana and gray bats - this discovery extends the potential spread of the disease. The southeastern myotis bat extends from Virginia south to Florida, west to eastern Texas, and north to Indiana and Illinois. Despite the extent of the range, the bat does not occur across these states and is considered a species in decline. The discovery of the fungus in the southeastern myotis bat now brings concerns for the spread of WNS through the South, potentially affecting other species during hibernation.
Staff at the park, in Chesterfield County, Virginia, collected the animal and contacted Chris Hobson, zoologist with the Department of Conservation and Recreation, who identified the bat species. Hobson noted flaking on the wing membrane, a characteristic sign of WNS, and sent the bat to the National Wildlife Health Center.
For more info contact: Rick Reynolds (540) 248-9360. or Ray Fernald (804) 367-8364
Studying WNS in Virginia
Biologists from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF), Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have joined with the National Speleological Society, local caving organizations, and volunteers to study the progression and impacts of WNS in hopes of gaining information that could lead to ways to combat this unprecedented wildlife epidemic. From last summer through early spring, Virginia biologists banded over 2200 bats with small metal alloy bands ["bracelets"] pinched to the bat's forearm, each with a unique identification number. "It is hoped that by following these bats over time we'll be able to determine if there are individuals that are resistant to WNS," said VDGIF Wildlife Diversity Biologist Rick Reynolds.
In addition to banding bats, VDGIF and partners are visiting known and suspect WNS sites to assess the impacts on bats. "We surveyed several sites this past spring and the results do not look promising. We found dead bats at all the sites and the fungus was evident on many of the bats still alive in the caves," said Reynolds.
When asked what this means to the average citizen, Reynolds responded, "While we are not 100 percent certain what the impacts to our ecosystem will mean, we do know their role in insect control is an important one and the loss of bats will likely be felt by many."
Reynolds noted other contributions related to bats. "Most people don't realize the many technological advances we have gained through the study of bats. Scientists have advanced our knowledge of sonar, coagulation in blood, vaccine development, and artificial insemination by studying these mysterious night flyers."
How the disease has spread so rapidly is still not fully understood. Bat to bat transmission has been demonstrated in the laboratory, and is believed to be the primary means for the spread of the disease. However, there is the possibility that humans can add to the spread by entering caves and carrying the fungus on their caving gear to other sites.
It is essential that any caving clothing and equipment be thoroughly cleaned and decontaminated before and after caving trips, and that gear used in WNS positive areas not be taken into caves to the south and west. Decontamination protocols for caving gear can be found at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website.
Anyone who observes dead or dying bats or bats exhibiting abnormal behavior (flying during daylight hours) can report these activities at the Department's website.
The May issue of the Virginia Wildlife magazine carried a special article on WNS and the impacts to bats.
For additional information about white-nose syndrome and its impact to Virginia bats, please visit:
- Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries »
- Virginia Department of Conservation & Recreation »
- US Fish & Wildlife Service »
Save Time, Money and Gas - Plan Your Summer Vacation for Virginia
With rising gas prices this summer, consider visiting Virginia on your vacation this year. There is a good reason why our Commonwealth is a top tourist destination - there are thousands of attractions, outdoor adventure opportunities, and natural and cultural history opportunities to explore right here at home! Rediscover why Virginia is for Lovers!
To help plan your Virginia adventure, visit VirginiaGreenTravel.org, a website dedicated to environmentally friendly travel in Virginia. The new site has convenient links to Virginia state parks, outdoor adventure programs, the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail, eco-friendly events, 140 green lodging facilities, restaurants, attractions, and travel tips. "Virginia Green is an important focus for our tourism industry, as we work to educate ourselves and improve upon how we treat the natural habitat that helps make Virginia a top travel destination," said Alisa Bailey, president and CEO of the Virginia Tourism Corporation. "It's smart business sense for Virginia and will help preserve and protect our natural heritage for future generations of citizens and tourists."
Outdoor Recreation Focus of New Website
Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Doug Domenech announced a new Virginia parks and outdoor recreation website. The Virginia Outdoors website will make planning summertime trip planning easier. The site content includes video tours of trails in all Virginia State Parks and audio podcasts with park staff and others who provide an insider's view on what our parks and open spaces have to offer. Also visit the VDGIF Birding & Wildlife Trail website for trail features and locations.
Encouraging visitors to enjoy Virginia's outdoors also has real benefits for the state's economy. In 2009, Virginia State Parks had a record 7.5 million visitors. This generated an economic impact estimated at $175 million. Donations from the Dominion Foundation helped develop the new website.
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!
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 late July:
- Wild Ponies are 'penned' in what Chesapeake Bay location?
- How did the ancestors of these ponies get to the Chesapeake Bay area originally?
Answers to June 23 edition quiz for nature events in early July...
- The cardinal is the State Bird of what states? Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia
- How can you tell the difference between robin eggs and cardinal eggs?
Robin eggs are a pale blue, Cardinal eggs are whitish with a bluish-green tint and brown or gray speckles.
Habitat Improvement Tips
Invasive Plant Control Workshop Scheduled in Front Royal September 16-17
Virginia Cooperative Extension & the Smithsonian's Conservation Biology Institute in partnership with VDGIF and other conservation agencies and organizations across the Mid-Atlantic region is sponsoring a workshop for natural resource professionals, landowners and volunteer on "Good Green, Bad Green - Invasive Plant Control for Habitat Restoration". The workshop is scheduled September 16-17, 2010, at the Northern Virginia 4H Center and Smithsonian Conservation Ecology Center near Front Royal.
Topics to include:
- Species identification techniques & emerging issues
- Integrated Pest Management
- Treatment demonstrations
- Strategies for conducting site triage
- Herbicide safety
- Restoration successes and challenges
This 2 day workshop is intended for Natural Resource Professionals, Master Naturalist, Consulting Foresters , Arborists , Master Gardeners, Green Industry Professionals, landowners and land managers. For registration and other information check out the event website.
Also check out "Tree Cookies Etc.", an electronic newsletter for forest landowners.
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!
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.|
VDGIF Now Accepting Applications for Conservation Police Officer Positions
Individuals who are interested in a law enforcement career could easily find themselves migrating into the field of natural resources where exciting opportunities await them as Conservation Police Officers (CPO). Once known as Game Wardens, these public safety professionals dedicate their lives to the protection of our natural resources by enforcing laws and regulations that regulate the activities of sportsmen and women who participate in outdoor recreation. Before pursuing this career path, candidates should consider both the attraction of working outdoors as well as the inherent dangers of the profession. If you have the ability to rise to such demands, then you may very well have what it takes to become a Virginia Conservation Police Officer!
View the video that showcases the CPO training program and what it takes to become a Virginia Conservation Police Officer
Must apply online no later than 5:00 pm on Friday, July 30, 2010.
For additional information contact our CPO Training Division at (804) 367-DGIF or visit the Department's website.
Never Boat Under the Influence!
During Operation Dry Water, CPOs patrolled lakes and rivers and successfully conducted OUI tests for suspected boaters and removed them from the waterways in the interest of public safety.
During Operation Dry Water, the Weekend of June 25-27, 2010, our Conservation Police Officers concentrated efforts to enforce Operating Under the Influence (OUI) to protect responsible boaters and anglers from those who act irresponsibly and break the law. Operating Under the Influence (OUI) is dangerous. Nationwide, over 17% of boating-related fatalities are a result of alcohol use. Sun, wind, noise, vibration and motion intensify the effects of alcohol, drugs and some medications. They can slow reaction times, impair vision and lead to boating accidents. Also, operating a boat with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher is illegal. Penalties may include fines, jail, impoundment of boats, and loss of boating privileges.
Curbing the number of alcohol and drug-related accidents and fatalities is key to achieving a safer and more enjoyable environment for recreational boating. Remember CPOs are there to protect your freedom to enjoy the outdoors safely - support them in their important work by setting a good example and seeing that others around you do their share to enjoy the outdoors safely and ethically. Safety and courtesy are free, use them generously as you share the outdoors with others. The following reports are examples of the officers activities...
Region 1 - Tidewater
Operation Dry Water gets dangerous boaters off the water... On Sunday, June 27th, during Operation Dry Water, CPO's Bell and Adams observed a 32 ft. Larson motorboat traveling up the Chickahominy River. The vessel initially failed to keep starboard in a narrow channel. The vessel twice veered into the path of the officers' patrol boat. As it passed by, the officers observed it was not displaying any VA registration numbers or a hailing port. Before stopping the vessel, it maneuvered through a very narrow marsh channel at a relatively high rate of speed, coming close to going in the marsh. Upon stopping the vessel, the operator was found to be naked and displaying signs of intoxication. Officer Bell had the subject perform a series of field sobriety tests which he had difficulty performing. The initial PBT reading was .22. The subject was charged with OUI and operate without proper registration. A final BAC was determined to be .16. For more information contact Lt. Scott Naff at (804) 829-6580.
Region 3 - Southwest
Alert Officers stop boater on suspected OUI... On July 3, Conservation Police Officers Troy Phillips and Justin White worked a scheduled boat shift on Claytor Lake in Pulaski County. At 1630 hours, the officers observed a PWC on the wrong side of the channel heading straight for them. Officer White turned the boat and caught up with the operator who cut in front of the patrol boat and almost caused a boating accident. The officers determined that the operator of the PWC had been drinking and was given field sobriety tests. The man failed the tests and was arrested by Officer White and taken to NRV Regional Jail where his BAC level was recorded at .080. The two officers returned to their patrol on the lake. At about 2113 hours, the officers observed a motorboat coming towards them in Dublin Hollow Cove without any lights on. The boat was stopped by Officer Phillips and a strong odor of alcoholic beverage was detected. The operator of the vessel admitted to drinking only one glass of wine with his diner 30 minutes before the stop. The suspect agreed to submit to field sobriety tests, which he failed and was placed under arrest by Officer Phillips for OUI. The drunken operator was transported to the NRV Regional Jail where his BAC level was recorded at .110 and was charged with operating a motorboat while under the influence of alcohol. For more information contact Lt. Rex Hill at (276) 783-4860.
Officers patrol popular waterway to maintain safety for tubers and anglers... On July 4, 2010, Sgt. Charlie Mullins, Senior Officer Gene Wirt, Officer Troy Phillips and 4 special agents from the Dept. of ABC conducted a special operation on the New River in the Big Falls section of Giles County. These officers utilized a jet jon boat and a kayak to patrol the river full of people floating on inner-tubes. During the 3 hour operation, over 20 summonses were issued for drinking alcohol in public, no fishing license and safety equipment violations. For more information contact Lt. Rex Hill at (276) 783-4860.
Reckless operation of PWC leads to arrest... On July 3, 2010, Conservation Police Officers Justin White and Troy Phillips were conducting a water boat patrol on Claytor Lake in Pulaski County. At approximately 1630 hrs, the officers observed a PWC traveling out of Peak Creek on the wrong side of the lake and into oncoming boat traffic. While attempting to stop the PWC the operator cut directly in front of the officers in a reckless manner causing them to almost strike the PWC. Upon making contact, the operator admitted to consuming alcohol over the past three hours. Field sobriety tests were performed and after a preliminary breath test, the subject was placed under arrest. Officer White and Phillips transported the subject to New River Valley Jail. The subject was given a breath alcohol test that registered .08. Officer White charged the subject for Operating a Motorboat while under the influence. For more information contact Lt. Rex Hill at (276) 783-4860.
Region 5 - Northern Piedmont
Boater's stumbling to locate proper safety equipment leads to OUI arrest... On July 4, 2010, at approximately 2230 hours, Conservation Police Officer Rich Landers (513) was working a boat safety checkpoint with District 51 officers on the Occoquan River in Fairfax County. The operation consisted of checking boaters returning from area fireworks shows, including Washington D.C. On the first boat stop, the boat operator was asked to show 3 wearable PFD's (one for him and each of his two passengers), a fire extinguisher, and a throwable PFD. The operator spent several minutes trying to locate the items, and then returned with 3 wearable PFD's, a throw able PFD, and a boat registration card. Landers noted that the operator's speech was slurred, his footing was unstable, and his breath smelled strongly of alcoholic beverage. Landers asked the operator how much he had to drink, and the operator replied "a few beers." Landers then brought the operator on board the patrol vessel for further testing. After performing poorly on sobriety tests, the operator blew a .287 on the PBT and was placed under arrest for BUI. The operator was transported to Fairfax County Adult Detention Center, and the subsequent Intoxilyzer test resulted in a .25. The subject was held on a $2,500 bond. For more information contact Lt. Milt Robinson at (540) 899-4169.
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.
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.
Beginning July 1, South Holston Reservoir Fishing License Available to VA, TN Anglers
Bristol, VA – Virginia and Tennessee anglers are celebrating the creation of the South Holston Reservoir Fishing License that will allow anglers from the two states to fish the entire lake with the purchase of this license. The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency held a joint ceremonial signing of the reciprocal agreement at Observation Knob Park in Tennessee today to officially kick off the program.
South Holston Lake is a nearly 7,600-acre impoundment with about 6,000 acres in Tennessee and about 1,600 in Virginia. Because the lake is located in both states, previously anglers needed a Virginia license to fish the Virginia side and a Tennessee license to fish the Tennessee side. This could be costly (purchasing resident and non-resident licenses can add up) and inconvenient. The new permit reduces that extra cost and confusion.
The South Holston Reservoir License will become available July 1, 2010. It costs $20 plus an agent fee of $1. The special permit is valid for one year from the date of purchase and allows the holder to fish both Virginia and Tennessee waters in South Holston. Virginia residents will still need to purchase a Virginia fishing license and if they intend to fish for trout will need a trout license.
The agreement between the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency also contains a joint fisheries management plan including consistent size restrictions and creel limits for the entire lake.
Shenandoah and James Rivers - Fish Health Update
VDGIF fisheries biologists continue to be extensively involved with field collections and studies that are part of ongoing efforts to investigate the Shenandoah River and James River fish disease and mortality events that have occurred each spring for the last several years. For a full update on ongoing investigations, what we know to date, and the status of the sport fisheries, go to the Shenandoah and James Rivers Fish Health Update.
Safe Boating is No Accident—Wear your Life Jacket and Take a Boating Safety Class
Attention boaters, VDGIF has begun to phase in Virginia's boating safety education requirement and wants to remind boaters that as of July 1, all operators of personal watercraft (PWC), including Jet Skis, Sea Doos, and other PWCs, age 14 to 35 will need to have proof of boating safety course completion onboard while operating the vessel. PWC operators must be at least 14 years old. To find out more about the boating safety requirement, the rest of the phase-in for Virginia boaters, or to find a boating safety course, visit the Department's website.
Virginia's life jacket laws require that there must be one wearable (Type I, II, III, or V) USCG approved life jacket of the appropriate size for each person on the boat. All boats, except for personal watercraft, canoes, kayaks, and inflatable rafts, must carry one USCG approved Type IV throwable ring or seat cushion. In addition, if you are boating on federal waters where the USCG has jurisdiction, children under the age of 13 must wear a life jacket unless below deck or in an enclosed cabin.
For more information on boating water safety and the BoatU.S. Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water go to BoatUS.com. For details on Virginia's laws or to take a boating safety course, check out the DGIF boating website.
Review the article, "Does Your Lifejacket Really Fit?" in the May 26, 2010 Outdoor Report 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:
- Email your photos to us and we'll post them on our "Virginia Fishing" group on the photo-sharing website, Flickr.
- 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:
- Photos must be of fish caught in Virginia.
- Photos must not depict unsafe practices.
- Please do not publish personal information (last names, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, etc.).
- Please do include the species, location, and date of catch!
- 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
Beaverdam Reservoir: Contributed by C. Blair Evans, Park Supervisor, (804) 693-2107. Fishing has been slow this past week. As expected, most of the bass are being caught early in the morning before it gets hot. Most of the nice size bass are being caught in water 9 to 12 feet deep. There have been reports of a lot of yellow perch being caught. Sunfish are also being caught on night crawlers and crickets. Catfish are biting on chicken livers. Beaverdam will have its next night fishing event on Friday August 6th. The water is slightly stained, 2 feet below full pool and 88 degrees.
Little Creek Reservoir: (757) 566-1702. Concessionaire Perry Veasey says that bass angling is good at the Reservoir. Soft plastics are your best bet with Green Pumpkin being a good color to try. No word on crappie or cats. Yellow perch are vigorously attacking minnows. The Reservoir is 5 ft. below normal, with visibility clear to 6 ft. down. The temperature is 83 degrees.
Virginia Beach: Captain Jim Brincefield (443) 336-8756. According to Captain Jim, spot and croaker are at the mouths of the York and James, and can be had with squid and Fishbite. Bluefish are at Cape Henry and are going for spoons and cut bait. Spanish mackerel are also at Cape Henry and like small spoons. The water is clear and 84 degrees.
Chickahominy River: River's Rest (804) 829-2753. Charlie Brown reports that some good sized bass are being fooled by plastic worms and spinners. No word on crappie. Catfishing is slow but steady with cut bait or live shad being your best options. No word on perch. Bluegill can be found around docks, and will go for crickets and worms. The water is fairly clear and 89 degrees.
North Landing River and Back Bay: West Neck Marina (757) 426-6735. Dewey Mullins says that lots of bass are being landed early and late with topwaters. During the day, try spinners and shallow running cranks. Crappie fishing is slow as the little fish dive deep to avoid the heat. Lots of small cats of all varieties are going for typical cut bait and live shad. White perch angling is slow, but try a minnow. Bluegill are going for small poppers on a fly rod and beetle spins and worms on a spinning rod. The water is clear and in the mid 80s.
Norfolk Lakes: Dasheill's Show Room (757) 539-7854. Drew Dixon told me that bass are hitting topwaters early and late. During the day, anglers are having some luck with soft plastics in all colors. Lots of crappie are coming in on minnows and jigs. Cats are going for chicken livers and cut bait. Bluegill like crickets and red wigglers. Not much action with white and yellow perch. The water is clear and in the high 70s to low 80s.
Blackwater and Nottoway: By Riverkeeper Jeff Turner www.blackwaternottoway.com Fishing remains pretty bad for the most part due to the terrible drought in this area. I did talk to my buddy Edwin Cutchins and he said he had caught 5 largemouth on topwaters up at Joyners Bridge. But that is about all I have heard. The water in both the Nottoway and Blackwater is hot and the dissolved oxygen is really low. The Blackwater is starting to get that nasty green scum on it, things are so bad. We need a big rain. The upper rivers are pretty much inaccessible right now unless you want to walk so I would stay away from there.
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.
Upper and Lower Tidal James: Capt. Mike Ostrander, James River Fishing School, Discover the James, (804) 938-2350. Fishing on the James River in the James River Park System has been very good. Catching plenty of bluegill, redbreasted sunfish and a few smallmouth bass. Folks are also catching flathead catfish and blue catfish. The water is very low and currently running fairly clear. Best fishing seems to be early morning and late evening, but fish can be caught at all hours of the day.
Region 2 - Southside
Nottoway Falls: Contributed by our man in the boat Willard A. Mayes. When the temperature is over 98 degrees you can find me sitting in the AC hoping we do not lose the electric power. The TV promised me that the temp would only be in the mid 80s on June 30, so Cricket Man and I headed to Nottoway Falls with the idea if we were lied to we could find some shade in the upper part of the lake where the river comes in. The water was not as warm as I expected it to be with all the sun and hot weather we had been having; I guess it was due to the river water flowing into it. The water was clear to about 3 feet with a slight brown stain.
I fished from the ramp toward the dam first part of the day, Cricket Man with his worms and I with the fly rod and size 10 white popping bug. I picked up a dozen or so from 5 to 7 inch bluegills along the shore and the dam; Cricket Man was not having as much luck, guess his worms were not as tasty. I switched to the spinning rod and 1/32 oz. purple twister and fished the middle of the lake looking for some crappie. I caught a few up next to the dam right in the middle, around 10 inches, before we moved on. We kept to the shore line, since Cricket Man likes to fish there with his worms, and went up the lake. We got into bunch of nice crappie across the lake from the ramp where there used to be a beaver lodge.
About now we knew we had been lied to and we headed up lake to find the shade. I fished the fly rod on the way up in the middle of the lake and picked up more bluegill. We finished our day up river with the temp in the mid 90s and Cricket Man with 19 bluegill, 6 crappie, 1 small mouth and 1 large mouth both around 10 inches. I had 21 Crappie between 9 and 12 inches, 31 bluegill from 5 to 7 inches and 9 largemouth bass all 12 inches or less.
Rode by Lake Gordon one of those 100+ days to find the lake 6 inches below normal but fairly clear, then dropped by County pond on the way home and it is about same on the low side.
Sandy River and Briery Creek: Contributed by Longwood College Fishing Club's Jack Pollio. Jack reports that no fishing trips have been taking place because school is out for the summer, but he hopes to go fishing soon.
James at Scottsville: Local Guide L.E. Rhodes www.hatchmatcherguideservice.com, (434) 286-3366. The James is running 2.6 feet. The temperature is 85 degrees. Low and clear conditions make for some interesting fishing; lots of the normal holding spots have too little water. The fish can be found just before current breaks mid stream and a bank structure that has a current and two feet or better flow. Soft plastics (Flutes-Grubs and soft swim baits) are the baits producing best. Top water action can be found using Tiny Torps, Skitter Pops and Cripple Killers. Fly Anglers should go with at least a 12 foot leader and Fluorocarbon tippet. Once you notice the Dragon and Damsel flies about, go with a topwater bug. The fish have been taking the bugs with little to no movement. Take care not to thrash the water. If you are not happy with your cast let it drift out before picking up to cast again.
The Hardware Bridge Project is coming along fine. The contractor hopes to be finished by the end of July. You can see the progress from the start to the current status by going to my Facebook page Hatchmatcher Guide Service and checking out the photo album I've got on the Hardware Bridge.
On July 17, 2010, the Shenandoah Riverkeeper is holding his annual fundraiser. It is located at the low water bridge campground in Bentonville. Check out his website for more info. It's a great time with fishing, great food and music. Hope to see you there.
Kerr Reservoir: Bob Cat's Lake Country Store, (434) 374-8381. Taken from the Bob's website.
Striper: Size and numbers are starting to pick up as fish are moving back into the lake. Fishermen are finding fish in the Goat Island area and up to Eastland Creek. They are trolling bucktails, deep diving red fins and Capt. Mack's umbrella rigs with downriggers. Heavy jigging spoons in the 2 ¼ to 4 oz. range on main lake points in the Nutbush area will soon pick up.
Catfish: Fishing for cats remains good with blues in the 20 to 40 lb. range being caught and flatheads in the 30 to 40 lb. range. Fish can be found from the mouths of rivers to Goats Island. Fishermen are anchoring on main channel breaks fishing with shad, bream, and jumbo shiners. Noodling has also picked up in major creeks.
Crappie: Fish have moved to their summer hideouts. Deep brushpiles around main lake points in the 15 to 30 ft. range. Fishermen are reporting catching fish up to 1 ½ lb. Most are casting jigs like Bobby Garland, Kalins and Southern Pro and are also using the slip cork method.
Bass: Fish are being found in all depths. Fishermen are reporting finding topwater fish early using Zara Spooks & Splash-It's. They are catching them around bridge poles with crankbaits, flick shake rig and shakey heads. Deeper fish can be found in the 15 to 25 ft. range using big worms 10 to 12 inches, Carolina rigs, football jigs and deep crankbaits like Bill Norman DD-22, Spro DD Little Johns and Rapala DT's.
James at Lynchburg: Angler's Lane, (434) 385-0200. Doug Lane says that bass are hitting well on poppers. Crappie are going for damsel imitations. Brookie fishing has been slow. In the Smith River below the dam, browns and rainbows have been attacking caddis imitations. The water is clear and in the mid to upper 70s.
Lake Gaston: Holly Grove Marina (434) 636-3455. Craig Karpinski reports that bass fishing is only so-so, with topwaters around the grass beds being a good choice. Crappie can be found around deep drop offs and will go for a small minnow. Cat action has been good, try chicken livers, cut bait and clam snouts. A few perch have been landed with small spinners or worms. The water is slightly stained and in the 70s in the main lake and 80s in the creeks and coves.
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.
Stripers: Striper fishing was good this past week and large numbers of fish were caught as the striped bass continue to transition from spring to summer patterns. Stripers continue to be found in the backs of most major creeks early in the morning where live bait presented on downlines and shotlines behind planer boards and floats are all producing fish. Good lures right now include the large Pop'R, Gunfish, Spook and Spook Junior. For more information about or help with lures and rigs just stop by Virginia Outdoorsman Sporting Goods store or consider attending the "Fishing Basics" workshop on July 22nd and the "Trolling For Stripers" workshop on August 5th. These are two of the six workshops currently scheduled this summer. All are being held in the meeting room above the shop from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. and advance registration is suggested as seating is limited. Just contact the shop to reserve a seat or receive a workshop schedule.
Bass: Fishing continues to be good. Early in the morning, bass can be to be caught on topwater lures like the Lobina Rico, Pop'R, Spook, Spook Junior, Gunfish and fluke rigged on an Extra Wide Gap (EWG) hook and Top Shelf line through swimbaits. Many bass continue to be caught under deep water docks on selected colors and sizes of wacky rigged Yamasenko plastics, shaky head jigs with plastic worms, jigs and tubes. For assistance with tackle selection, rigging and technique consider attending our upcoming "Daytime Summer Bass" or "Fishing Basics" workshop. Bass fishing at night has been mixed recently. Stop by your favorite local tackle shop or consider attending the "Bass At Night" workshop on July 29.
The "dock bite" is wide open. Many fish are being caught off local boat docks and shorelines. My son Brian and his family are visiting this week and within a couple of hours of their arrival, my 7 year old grandson, Gabriel, had caught and released over 25 small panfish at the dock. He reports that using small jigs tipped with a "red wiggler" worm or Berkley artificial maggot was the most productive and his favorite bait. He, his older sister Emily and 4 year old cousin CJ, had a ball catching and releasing small fish around the dock all weekend.
The water is clear and 85 degrees. Tight lines.
Region 3 - Southwest
Claytor Lake: Rock House Marina, (540) 980-1488. Glendon Jones told me that bass angling has slacked off, but the fish can be found under docks and in grass beds. Under docks, try a Senko; in the grass beds, go for a crankbait. No word on crappie. Catfishing has picked up with cut bait and live shad being the best bet. No word on perch. Stripers can be had at night with topwaters. The water is slightly stained and 88 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. John Zienius reports that the river is low and clear. Your best bets to land a bass are Senkos, frogs or cranks in the grass beds. Muskie action has slowed down a lot, but try your luck with an inline spinner. The river is clear and in the upper 80s to low 90s.
New River: Tangent Outfitters, (540) 257-0415. No report this edition.
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 got heavy rain on July 7th. By now they have cleared up and fishing is good. The best fishing on the North fork is between Edinburg and Tom's Brook. In the South fork it's between Luray and Front Royal. Harry recommends the Shenandoah Blue Popper, size 6; and the Murray's Magnum Chub, size 4. The water is clear and 78 degrees.
The stocked streams in the Valley are at a good level now and good fishing can be had at Big Stoney Creek West of Edinburg and the Bullpasture in the Gorge. Use small streamers in both areas and 12 to 14 sized nymphs. The water is clear, at a good level and 76 degrees.
The fishing in the Mountain trout streams varies from stream to stream, depending how much rain they got on the 7th. Try a Shenk's Cricket, size 16; a Murray's Flying Beetle, size 16; and the Mr. Rapidan Dry Fly, size 16. The water is at a good level, clear and 66 degrees.
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 / Wade and Shoreline Fishing the Potomac River - DC to Harpers Ferry. The strong blast of rain we had last weekend brought the Piedmont rivers back to life! The heat wave drove both anglers and fish to seek cool refuges with neither interested in excessive activity. Mornings and evenings were the ticket for success for those who did venture out. The upper Potomac is moving into the best time of the year for wade fishing. The Point of Rocks gage is running at 1 foot - well below the 2 foot level that represents the upper bound for wading. On the lower part of the upper Potomac river, the Little Falls gage tells the same positive story for those who do not have boats. The latest gage reading was around 2.85 feet (3.0 feet is the nominal upper bound); making Lock 7 and Lock 8 good choices. In spite of the drop in both gages, wading anglers must wear a PFD since there are deep drop-offs and hidden holes that you may unexpectedly discover. Top water action is good and the full range of plastics can be brought into play with the hot colors being chartreuse and natural shades of brown and green. Since the water is a little cloudy from the recent rain, try dark colors in the coming week. Anglers should rig everything weedless as underwater vegetation has experienced its normal summertime explosive growth. The run from Lander to Point of Rocks is a great example of variable vegetation. At Lander, it's deeper and the water runs faster with veggies not causing a problem. But, the closer you get to Point of Rocks, the more of an issue it becomes. According to American Whitewater, both the Rappahannock and Rapidan remain below recommended levels for floating. The Rappahannock continues to fish well and will get better with the new rain. Good results were reported for those willing to wade a mile downstream from Motts Run. On the other hand, the areas immediately adjacent to Clore brothers and Motts Run remain heavily pressured with few fish caught. If you enjoy bank fishing, you should try the small bass pond at the middle of the Phelps Wildlife Management Area. There is good bank access and the fish have been cooperative. With recent heat wave causing the mountain brook trout to stack in the larger pools, the rain will be a welcome relief; bringing both food and oxygen. However, at this point in the summer, I recommend you turn your rod towards the major rivers and lakes in search of bass. With the mountain streams now running at the high summer temperatures that push the threshold of survival for trout, catching them would add stress and increase mortality. Charlie Taylor reports that the lower Hughes is fishing well for trout and recommends silver spinners and terrestrial patterns for fly rodders. Any remaining trout in the lower Hughes are probably stockers that will die as the water heats up. If you need a trout fix, head there or hit the tailwater on the North Branch of the Potomac below Barnum. Visit Steve's blog, SwitchFisher.com, for more information.
Lake Orange: Contributed by Darrell Kennedy of Angler's Landing (540) 672-3997. The water is clear with temperatures in the upper 80s. Largemouth bass are attacking soft plastics. Robert Seale of Orange, VA, caught a 26 in. citation bass this week, which was released to be caught another day. Catfishing is strong throughout the lake on live bait and chicken livers. Crappie are continuing to hang around the fishing pier and fish attractors in 10 to 15 ft. of water with small minnows being the bait of choice.
Mid Point Potomac: Warbird Outdoors, (703) 878-3111. Chuck Perry says that, while bass fishing has slowed down, top waters, plastic frogs, swimmers, spinners and cranks are all finding success. No word on crappie. A few cats are being landed on cut bait and large minnows. No word on bluegill. The water is slightly stained and in the low 80s.
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.
Largemouth bass: Some schooling action remains as bass feed very early in the morning on baitfish, however, most of these schools now stay deep on some type of underwater structure. Humps, rock piles, brush piles and channel ledges are holding large numbers of bass now. You can target them with a crankbait and worm in the upper regions of the lake, shakey worm and drop shot mid lake and down lake. A cast or two over the structure right after arrival with a Zara Spook or Badonkadonk will determine how active the school is. Always have this topwater ready in case bass or striper start breaking within casting distance. Fish structures are excellent now as are bridges in the upper portion of the lake.
Striper: Almost too easy once you find them now! Trollers, live bait anglers and spooners are doing well. Places to check include the Dike I area, the mouths of Contrary and Mitchell Creeks, from the mouth of Pigeon Run to The Splits and just above Stubbs Bridge. The Rose Valley area should be turning on soon, too. Very early in the morning the fish are breaking and can be caught on a variety of casted lures. Once this phase ends, the fish will roam in schools for another hour or two, then they will gather up and stay relatively static in 27 to 38 ft. of water. Looking for the schools is the key now. Do not stay in one place more than 10 minutes if you don't get a bite or the depth finder is blank.
Catfish: If you cannot find the stripers, you'll find the catfish with the live bait now. Fish from 25 to 35 ft. deep with down lines near the bottom and get ready. Channel cats are the most desirable fish now.
Lake Anna: Contributed by Local Guide Jim Hemby (540) 967-3313.
Stripers: The days of July are hot, the water temperature is hot 90 degrees, but the striper fishing is even hotter and will continue to be for the rest of the month. There are literally hundreds of schools of stripers roaming the lake feeding aggressively now. We are seeing acres upon acres of stripers ranging from above the splits down to the dam. July is the month when any angler can catch Stripers on the lake; just pick your preferred method. Here are a few techniques to try to cash in on this great fishery: In low light conditions, the Stripers will be near the surface busting on the small bait fry. When you see the action, ease up to the school, cut your big motor off 100 yards from the action and use your trolling motor to sneak up to the school. You can throw Sea Shads and Berkley Hollow body swim baits under these breaking fish to catch some larger stripers. When the sun gets bright the fish will retreat to the depths and that is when you must locate the schools on your depth finder. Once you locate them you can use many methods to catch them. The most productive way to catch Stripers this month is to locate the schools and put downlines rigged with Herring right in their face. Note the depth the fish are using and count down your bait to that depth, engage your reel and get ready. This is the tactic I use, and it is common for my clients to experience 200 to 300 hits a morning! When you use this method you can't keep up with the constant and frantic action and this method usually produces the larger fish. To view our daily catches, visit my journal at Jim Hemby.
Bass: By now the bass have taken up residency in their summer haunts and are predictable in their feeding patterns. In low light conditions, fish topwater baits chuggars, prop baits, twitch baits, etc. on main lake points, flats and humps. Many fish will school in the mouths of creeks and on structures especially humps and ledges where baitfish are present. After the sun gets bright the bass will retreat back to the depths using stumps, rock and brush piles, bridge pilings and ledges as cover.
Crappie: Most slabs have moved to deeper water now using bridge pilings, brushpiles and ledges in 15 to 30 feet of water as holding areas. Also try fishing the docks that have lights on them in deeper water. Use heavier jigs or slip bobbers tipped with small minnows to catch the slabs this month.
Catfish: The Cats have moved to the 20 to 40 foot depths and are feeding on herring now. You can use live bait as well as cut bait to catch the fish. They are either behind or underneath the schools of stripers and can be located on your depth finder as arches on or just above the bottom on deep flats.
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.
Get your kids hooked on fishing!
The one that got away?
The one that didn't?
email your material to
and it might get used in the Fishin' Report!
Winning Outdoor Adventure Stories from Young Writers
Summer is definitely here, with hot, humid days, and the search for cool areas out of the scorching sun. For 19 year old Lucy Adams, a sophomore at Virginia Tech, majoring in Wildlife Science, her love of nature lead her to return to Nature Camp as a Counselor. Although a novice writer, she has been writing stories for fun off and on since childhood. As for outdoor experiences, she was most inspired by her time spent at Nature Camp located in Vesuvius, Virginia (near Lexington). It's an academic two-week summer camp, where classes take place outdoors in the field and leisure time is filled with long hikes and swims in the nearby streams and rivers. She was a camper there for six years and a counselor in the summers of 2007-08. which solidified her love for the environment. Most of her childhood was spent messing around outside, and her childhood adventures in her backyard are primarily responsible for her career goals to be a field biologist. 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? Lucy entered her article in the 2008-09 Virginia Outdoor Writers Association Collegiate Writing Competition and was awarded First Place.
Summer of the Rattlesnake
By Lucy Adams
It had been a battle keeping the kid's flashlights off, but we thought that it had been worth the effort. We had wanted them to have the full experience of the woods at night, to be able to see without being seen by all the life around them. We had been thinking in terms of the smaller sorts of wildlife – and by the end of the walk, we'd already caught a brightly colored red salamander and several of the familiar northern duskies.
Now, for the walk back, we were doing our best to fully enforce the No-Flashlight rule; perhaps if we were successful we would get the chance to hear a barred owl or other nocturnal bird. That is, if we could enforce silence as well. We were fighting a losing battle on the silence front until it fell all of its own accord at the sound of crackling beside the path.
We quickly pointed our flashlights in the direction of the sound – and illuminated the long sinuous body of a fully grown timber rattlesnake. The light from our flashlights reflected off his scales, and we could clearly see a lump in the middle of his stomach where he had lodged his dinner. There was a correspondingly large lump in my throat as we walked on, after standing for several moments in awe.
It seemed as though moments like that, moments where the inner workings of nature were suddenly and unexpectedly revealed, were common at Nature Camp. The year I saw the timber rattlesnake was the year I went back to camp to teach, because I'd gotten too old to go back there to learn. I couldn't bear to be parted from a place I loved so much, and I figured I would somehow manage to develop whatever it was my counselors had that had kept me coming back as a camper for so many years. Never mind the fact that I have a recurring tendency to avoid all person-to-person interactions (too fraught with the danger of awkward silences and social faux pas). I'd deal with that when the time came.
Anyway, what I remember most about my counselors was not their social abilities; it was the look on their faces when they were given the honor of catching a hidden glimpse of the natural world. I still remember the glowing look on our ornithology teacher's face when she found a hummingbird nest lodged in the fork of a tree at the end of camp. The branch was mottled with lichen, and the nest itself was not much more than a lichen-colored bump with a hole in it large enough to fit my thumb. Maybe. The whole thing was only visible through a tiny gap amidst the profusion of green leaves. I remember filling with excitement as Natalie carefully directed my binoculars in the right direction and the little nest came into focus.
When I went back to camp to teach, I taught freshwater ecology. I taught kids that when you turn over rocks in the stream, you are uncovering a whole world full of alien creatures – the larvae of stoneflies, mayflies and caddisflies – little bugs that, if they were magnified to human proportions, would be fearsome dragons and deadly wild beasts.
As it is, a mayfly larvae will fit in the palm of your hand, and if you fill the palm of your hand with water, its delicate gills will vibrate quickly back and forth to extract all the oxygen from that water supply. I realized it doesn't take any fine-tuned social graces to place a captured mayfly in the eager hands of a child and to watch his face light up with the same excitement I felt when I finally focused on the hummingbird nest.
I'd gone back to Nature Camp because I couldn't bear to stay away from it, but on doing so I found something as rewarding as discovering a hidden nest smaller than my thumb, or hearing the crackling of last fall's leaves beneath the body of a timber rattlesnake. I discovered the pleasure of listening to the joyful shouts of children who are holding a mayfly for the first time, and hearing gasps of wonder from someone who has never seen a snake in the wild before. I figure that if I can instill that sense of wonder in even a few people, my life will have been worth it.
This entry in the Virginia Outdoor Writers Association (VOWA) 2008-09 Collegiate Writing Competition by Lucy Adams, a Wildlife Sciences student at VA Tech, won First Place. For information on the VOWA Collegiate or High School Youth Writing Competitions visit the VOWA website: www.vowa.org, or contact VOWA Writing Competition Chairman:
David Coffman, Editor, Outdoor Report
VA Department of Game & Inland Fisheries
POB 11104 Richmond, VA 23230
Telephone: (434) 589-9535, Email: email@example.com
In upcoming editions of the Outdoor Report, look for:
- Bowfishing Opportunities in Northern Virginia
- Sportsman Shows Coming August-September
- How to Find a Hunter Education Class Near You