In this edition:

Get the Kids Ready for Hunting Season!

Let's have some fun this coming hunting season!! With all the various school and sports activities competing for our kid's time; hunting, fishing, boating and other outdoor adventures need to be fun and exciting to compete! In partnership with the VDGIF, youth oriented sportsmen organizations, sportsman shows and Bass Pro Shops in Hampton and Ashland will be hosting fun-filled, youth oriented events with activities and seminars throughout August and September.

There will be seminars by accomplished young hunters and experienced pros on hunting tips, planning family outings, choosing the right gear for your age and experience level, mentoring and how to get the most out of your outdoor adventures. Information on the new Youth Deer Hunting Day September 25, and the Youth Turkey Hunting Day October 16 will be featured. This is also a great opportunity to get an Apprentice Hunting License for a friend or family member that wants to try out this rewarding sport. View the video message from Lee & Tiffany Lakosky, stars of the Outdoor Channel program, "The Crush with Lee & Tiffany," encouraging you to take the time to introduce a friend or youngster to the great outdoors with an Apprentice Hunting License!

There are youth and family friendly events throughout September all across the state, where you can go to get information and the right gear to make your outdoor adventures safe, rewarding and fun. Visit your local sporting goods store or sportsman event and properly prepare for a great hunting season with family and friends. Hope to meet you in Richmond, Hampton, Franklin, Abingdon, Harrisonburg, or, at hunting camp this season...

David Coffman, Editor

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 Boating 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 and Whitetail Times - the official magazine of the VA Deer Hunters Association, 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 from any past season, showing their success to post on the wall at the 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.

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.

Public Comment Period Open for Board Proposed Changes to Fishing, Wildlife Diversity, and Boating Regulations

On June 8, 2010, the Virginia Board of Game and Inland Fisheries voted to propose a number of amendments to fishing, wildlife diversity (non-game), and boating regulations. A public comment period on these regulatory proposals opened July 16, 2010 and closes September 16, 2010. DGIF strongly encourages the public's participation in the regulation review process; for more information and to make comments on specific regulation proposals, go to the 2009-2010 Fishing, Wildlife Diversity, and Boating Regulation Review and Amendment Process webpage.

Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss

Rockwood Nature Center to Unveil Honeybee Observation Exhibit August 14

The Rockwood Nature Center in Chesterfield County will be all abuzz August 14. An entire day of festivities is planned for the unveiling of the nature center's honeybee observation exhibit inside Rockwood Park. The community is invited from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. for music, food, crafts and of course lots of bee watching. The new exhibit will enable visitors to safely get up close to the hive and watch drones, worker bees and the queen work together as one unit. Beekeepers will be on hand to explain their craft, share local honey and explain how we can keep bees and other important pollinators buzzing. In addition to the unveiling, the event will be a fundraiser by the Friends of Rockwood Nature Center. Proceeds from a cake walk, bake sale and silent auction will go toward maintaining the nature center's wildlife exhibits. There also will be a raffle to win an acoustic guitar. For more information or to volunteer for this event, call (804) 674-1629 or visit the Friends of Rockwood Nature Center page on Facebook.

Hunters for the Hungry Fund Raising Drawing August 15 at Sportsman Show

The winning ticket for the 2010 Hunters for the Hungry ATV Raffle Package which includes a New 2008 Arctic Cat ATV & 2010 Diamond "C" Trailer will be drawn at the VA Outdoor Sportsman Show Sunday August 15 at the Showplace in Richmond. If you cannot make it to the Show, there's still time to get your tickets, only $5.00 EACH, by calling Hunters for the Hungry at 1-800-352-4868 or e-mail hunt4hungry@cs.com.

This prize package valued at $7,600 was donated by: Arctic Cat Corporation, Thief River Falls, MN, Outback Motorsports, Amherst, VA , Central Virginia Soil Consulting, Inc., David B. Beahm, Forest, VA Diamond C Trailers, Mt. Pleasant, TX , New London Tractor and Equipment, and Jerry Skinner, Lynchburg, VA. This is one of the major fundraisers for Hunters for the Hungry to help them process and distribute thousands of servings of nutritious venison to needy Virginians.

4H/NRA Shooting Education Camp at Holiday Lake August 15-19

The Virginia 4H/NRA Shooting Education Camp is scheduled at Holiday Lake 4H Center August 15-19, 2010. Registration Deadline has been extended until August 1st. This unique camp is open to boys and girls ages 12 to 16 with an interest and/or experience with firearms. Participants will receive 4 days of instruction related to their chosen discipline and consisting of such topics as Shooting Safety Education, Shooting Fundamentals and Theory, and Marksmanship Instruction. Each camper will have the opportunity to participate in one or more competitive shoots. All instructors are certified through 4-H, VDGIF, NRA, NAA and other national organizations. Classes offered: Small Bore Rifle, Shotgun, Air Rifle, Air Pistol, Archery Instruction, and Muzzleloading. For more information, or to register contact the 4H Center at (434) 248-5444 or visit the website.

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 jimmy.mootz@dgif.virginia.gov.

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: artkasson@yahoo.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.

Holiday Lake 4-H Center Offers Powder Horn and Decoy Carving Workshops

The Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center near Appomattox is again offering a variety of popular fall workshops for unique outdoor related skills for building your own powder horn or carving a duck decoy.

September 19-22: Build your own powder horn! The powder horn that participants will be making is a common horn from the late 1700's or early 1800's. Registration is $210 and covers all programming and instruction fees, powder horn kit, meals, and lodging. Register by September 3rd.

September 19-23: Learn to carve your own traditional duck decoy or sharpen your carving skills! Beginners Welcome! Carving experience not needed. First time carvers will carve and paint a Canvasback, one of the most popular of all decoys. Returning students will carve and paint a decoy of their choice. Decoys will be carved from Tupelo, a favored decoy wood. Workshop price is $275 and includes meals, lodging, materials, and instructor fees. Register by September 3rd.

Early registration is encouraged as courses fill quickly. For details contact Nate Mahanes, Program Director, by email: nmahanes@vt.edu, or call (434) 248-5444 Fax: (434) 248-6749, or visit the Holiday Lake 4-H website.

September Big Game Contests Promote New Hunting Opportunities

Take a Friend, Make a Hunter... Be sure and visit the VDGIF exhibits at upcoming sportsmen's shows this fall. These are excellent opportunities to bring a friend who 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. The trophy bucks on display can provide some inspiration too!

September 11-12: Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC) Hunting & Fishing Expo, SVHEC is hosting a Hunting & Fishing Expo in Abingdon. VDGIF is participating by offering the Hunter Education Course, providing additional educational programs, demonstrating the fishing/hunting simulator, and SVHEC will provide computers for guests to obtain their license online during the event. Longbow legend, Byron Ferguson, is the featured celebrity guest who will be demonstrating bowhunting skills. Kim Stewart, Director for the event, noted that exhibitor spaces are still available for vendors, seminar presenters and all organizations/associations affiliated with hunting and fishing to participate. For information visit: www.swcenter.edu

September 11-12: 71st Eastern Regional Big Game Contest, More than 3000 sportsmen and families are expected to attend the official Big Game Contest at the Southampton County Fairgrounds west of Franklin sponsored by the Virginia Peninsula Sportsmen's Association in partnership with VDGIF. The VDGIF exhibit will feature subscription sign-up for the Outdoor Report and new hunting opportunities of interest to sportsmen in the eastern regions of the state. The event will feature exhibitors with gear, calls, supplies and taxidermy as well as activities for youth. Biologists and Law Enforcement staff will be on hand to answer questions. For Contest rules and information visit: www.vpsa.org

September 25-26: 71st Western Regional and State Championship Big Game Contest is sponsored by the Rockingham-Harrisonburg Izaak Walton League at the Rockingham County Fairgrounds south of Harrisonburg in partnership with VDGIF. VDGIF's exhibit will feature information on new VDGIF programs and hunting opportunities and the CWD surveillance plan for the northern Shenandoah Valley. Volunteer Hunter Education Instructors will teach safe gun handling and shooting with the laser shot range for youth attending the event. Exhibitors will be on hand with the latest in gear, supplies, artwork, taxidermy, and more. Come see the truly awesome trophy bucks harvested in Virginia. This year the Western Regional is also the State Championship. For Contest rules and information: www.iwla-rh.org

WSLS 10 Sportsmen's Banquet to Benefit Hunters for the Hungry September 25

Come enjoy an evening of food, fun, and fellowship while helping to make a difference in the lives of many less fortunate in our community and our state at the WSLS TV 10 Annual Sportsmen's Banquet to benefit Hunters for the Hungry September 25. The event will be held Roanoke Moose Lodge in Salem at 5:30 pm and includes dinner, dessert, and beverages, a variety of raffles as well as live and silent auctions of donated merchandise. Advance ticket sales ONLY! This event has been a sellout the last several years. NO tickets sold at the door! For tickets or additional information contact: Ralph and Lois Graybill (540) 427-5125 or  Fred & Phyllis Wells (540) 992-3874.

Hunter Skills Weekend Returns to Holiday Lake October 1-3

The first of its kind Virginia Hunter Skills Weekend held this past May was such a success that the sponsors have decided to offer a second event set for October 1-3 at Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center near Appomattox. This workshop offers expert instruction for participants to learn new hunting skills or hone the ones they already have developed.

The Virginia Hunter Education Association, in partnership with VDGIF and Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center, sponsor this unique training event. Designed to bridge the gap between the basic Hunter Education course and actual hunting experiences, the event will offer specialized training in the use of hunting firearms and archery equipment, hunting techniques for deer, turkey, waterfowl, and small game, and other useful woodsmanship skills. All instruction is provided free; participants pay only for meals and lodging. To find out more, or to register, visit the Holiday Lake 4-H website or call (434) 248-5444.

Women Exploring Loudoun Outdoors October 2

Women Exploring Loudoun Outdoors is an all-day event for women ages 14 years and older, offering various introductory outdoor activities: Archery; Intro to Fishing; Kayaking; Fly Fishing; Rifle, Shotgun and Handgun Shooting; Map and Compass; GPS; Intro to Hunting; Outdoor Survival Skills; Intro to Camping and Outdoor Cooking; Gourmet Cooking of Wild Game and Outdoor Photography. Fee for this one-day event is $50. Early registration discount applies. See registration form for details. Includes coffee and pastries, lunch, educational materials, equipment use and, an event commemorative item. For more information, contact Elizabeth at (540) 535-8891 or lcciwla_welo@hotmail.com.

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!

Volunteers Recognized for Outstanding Service in VDGIF Region 4

May 19 was a special day in VDGIF Region 4 in Verona. This day was set aside to celebrate the accomplishments of the Complementary Work Force (CWF) volunteers and to say "thank you" for a job well done through endless hours of selfless dedication. CWF volunteers logged 2391 hours during the past year. The recognition and awards event was hosted by Regional CWF Coordinator Wanda Wilson. Wildlife Biologists, Fisheries Biologists, Law Enforcement and others came together and worked hard to make sure all would be perfect for the event. The conference room was transformed into a banquet room as tables were covered and adorned with beautiful sweet smelling peonies provided by Officer Kris Dougherty, Region IV Hunter Education Specialist, from her own yard. Serving tables were placed throughout the building and soon were filled with delicious food brought in by everyone, including the CWF staff who wanted to share their favorite recipes. The group was honored with a power point presentation, complete with music, composed by Karen Austin, Region IV Program Support Specialist II. The presentation featured photos of the volunteers hard at work during the past year. Words of appreciation were expressed by Major Mike Clark and Captain Kevin Clarke, Law Enforcement as well as Paul Bugas, District Fisheries Biologists and Jason Hallacher, Fisheries Technician. Other staff members also added brief expressions of appreciation. Needless to say, lots of laughter filled the building along with well deserved "hugs," "slaps on the back," picture taking and stories of adventures and funny misadventures faced by the CWF in the field. Once all was completed and the last plate disposed of, what did the Region IV CWF say as they left, "Okay everyone, let's get started on another year!"

Morgan Award Presented to Hunter Education Instructor Chauncey Herring

The William Dixon Morgan memorial award was presented to volunteer Hunter Education Instructor Chauncey Herring on June 26, at Airfield 4-H Education Center in Wakefield.  The Morgan Award is the highest honor given to Hunter Education Instructors in Virginia.  Chauncey has been a volunteer instructor for over 10 years in the Tidewater Region and has trained more than 5000 new hunters. He has contributed over 3000 hours to Hunter Education efforts in Virginia. His specialty is muzzleloading and his fellow volunteer instructors and students commend him on his dedication in teaching hunting safety and ethics. Upon receiving his award, Chauncey commented, "Every day I open the paper and don't see a hunting incident, is a day I realize what we are doing in hunter education, has a positive influence on our sport and in our communities." The award was presented by Sgt. David Dodson, State Hunter Education Coordinator. The awards ceremony was held during the quarterly Advanced Training Weekend for volunteer Hunter Education Instructors. For more information on the Morgan Award visit our website. If you would like to learn more about opportunities on how to become a Hunter Education Instructor, or sponsoring a Hunter Education Course for novice outdoorsmen, visit our website.

Wildlife Center Holds Rehabilitation Classes in August - October

Amanda Nicholson, Outreach Coordinator and Rehabilitation Supervisor for the Wildlife Center, announces that the "On the Road" Rehabilitation classes scheduled for this summer:

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.

Wheelin' Sportsmen To Host Numerous Events in Fall

The new Fall 2010 Virginia Wheelin' Sportsmen Newsletter is now posted on their website in .pdf format. Included in this issue you'll find articles about their exciting Spring events as well as the Outdoor Day VII. The Fall Hunt events scehdule and Application is now available. Note that the application deadline is October 2. VA Wheelin' Sportsman Coordinator Mike Deane reports, "There are 14 deer hunts scheduled all over Virginia, and we encourage anyone with a disability to apply for these hunts. There is no charge for our events, and they are open to anyone with a disability. Our NWTF Chapters have worked hard to arrange these hunts, so please plan to participate. In addition, we are always looking for new hunt hosts or volunteers to help with our events." If you are interested in hosting or helping with an event, contact Mike Deane, tel (434) 996-8508 or wheelin4u@yahoo.com.

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:

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.

Dove Season Opens September 4 - Labor Day Holiday Weekend

  • Dove hunters have a unique opportunity again this year with the opening day for Dove Season coinciding with the Monday Labor Day Holiday weekend. This is also a great opportunity to introduce a youngster, or adult friend to hunting with the Apprentice Hunting License. See details on this new license option in this section. A new regulation enacted last year states that dove hunters are no longer required to wear blaze orange during the deer firearms seasons. The first segment of Dove Season runs September 4 - October 12, and the second segment starts October 20 through November 6, 2010. So there's no excuse this year not to go afield... Wow, a holiday weekend opening day, good friends and family, ample dove fields and lots of birds. Remember safety first and have fun!
  • Floating Blind Licenses Now Available from License Agents and Online
  • 2010 Virginia Migratory Waterfowl Conservation Stamp Available July 1
  • Remember to get a new HIP number.
  • Non-Toxic Shot Now Required for Hunting Rail, Snipe, Moorhen and Gallinule
  • Shotguns Need to be Plugged for Doves, Ducks, Geese and More...

New Seasons to be Set For Waterfowl and Webless Migratory Birds

New season dates for waterfowl will be set by the Board of Game and Inland Fisheries at their August 17, 2010, meeting in Richmond. The dates and bag limits for various migratory waterfowl and webless species are posted in the sidebar of the Outdoor Report under the "Hunting Season at a Glance" section, or can be found on the Department's website.

Time to Take a Hunter Education Class

Now is the time to enroll in a Hunter Education class for the upcoming fall hunting seasons. The Hunter Education course is designed to teach hunting safety, principles of conservation, and sportsmanship, and is mandatory for all hunters age 12 and older. There are numerous Hunter Education Classes scheduled for this fall. The mandatory 10-hour course is offered free of charge in a variety of formats to accommodate student schedules. The classes are taught by trained volunteer instructors. You can find the class schedules and locations by telephone or website. To find one near you visit the VDGIF website or call 1-866-604-1122. Our team of over 800 volunteer instructors have classes scheduled statewide. But don't wait, as classes fill up fast as deer season approaches.

If you would like to learn more about opportunities on how to become a Hunter Education Instructor, or sponsoring a Hunter Education Course for novice outdoorsmen, visit our website.

New Legacy Lifetime Hunting and Fishing License Now Available

The new Legacy Lifetime Hunting and Fishing License which became available for sale July 1, 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 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! 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 can be from any season, and 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 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

Safety and courtesy are free, share them generously

Be Safe... Have Fun!

Choose the Right Tree Stand For You with Safety in Mind

The use of tree stands for hunting has increased dramatically in the past few years. Along with the increase in their use comes an increase in the number of serious or fatal injuries. While firearms-related incidents have declined tremendously since mandatory hunter education courses were instituted and blaze orange laws were passed, the number of treestand-related incidents has increased significantly.

Among the hundreds of volunteer Hunter Education Instructors, Dick Holdcraft stands out as the "tree stand expert," based on over 40 years as a career safety manager and Master Instructor since 1993. Dick has written numerous articles on tree stand safety and we appreciate his sharing his experience in this report. Whether you are an experienced deer hunter or this is your first time using a stand, Dick provides these tips to help you prepare and stay safe:

Tree stands are used by hunters who prefer to hunt from elevated positions to increase their field of view and to decrease the likelihood of detection by game animals on the ground. In several counties in Virginia, use of rifles, or muzzleloaders are allowed only if shooting from an elevated stand for safety purposes. Several styles of tree stands are available, such as an integral ladder and platform stand; fixed-position stands, and self-climbing stands. Unique features distinguish each of these three styles and they each have their advantages and disadvantages. What's the best stand for you depends on the terrain, users physical condition and type of hunting- bow, crossbow, or firearm. Stand features need to be thoroughly evaluated by the hunter before purchasing or erecting the stand prior to the season.

Hunters have a variety of features to choose from when selecting tree stands. These features include portability, bars, chains, straps and rails that affix the seating device to the tree, gun rests, bow rests, outward facing stands, forward facing stands, and multiple-occupancy stands that include a tree stand with a seating capacity for four individuals.

Recent surveys have determined that the most common reason for falls from elevated hunting positions was due to some type of structural failure. These types of failures included rotted wood, loose nails, nails pulling through boards, broken bands, bolts, ropes, or other attaching devices. However, according to Sgt. David Dodson, the Virginia Hunter Education Coordinator, "Staying attached to the tree through proper use of a high-quality full-body harness is your best protection against serious injury while using a tree stand. In almost all cases, those who were injured were not wearing a harness at all. Stay attached from the time you leave the ground."

For more information on tree stand use and safety, review other articles by Dick and the VDGIF Hunter Education Instructors Tree Stand Safety Team at: http://www.bowhunting.net/ Also visit the Tree Stand Safety display at the Virginia Outdoor Sportsman Show August 13-15 in Richmond.

Remember: Always Harness Up - Before You Climb Up!

If you would like to learn more about opportunities on how to become a Hunter Education Instructor, or sponsoring a Hunter Education Course for novice outdoorsmen, visit our website. There are numerous Hunter Education Classes scheduled for this fall. The mandatory 10-hour course is offered free of charge in a variety of formats to accommodate student schedules. The classes are taught by trained volunteer instructors. To find one near you visit the VDGIF website or call 1-866-604-1122.

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:

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.

Program on Dyke Marsh and Impacts on the Chesapeake Bay September 22

"What Happens in Dyke Marsh Doesn't Stay in Dyke Marsh," is the featured topic at the Friends of Dyke Marsh quarterly meeting, Wednesday, September 22, 2010, at 7:30 p.m., at the Huntley Meadows Park Visitors' Center, 3701 Lockheed Boulevard, Alexandria, VA 22306. The speaker is "native son" Chris Miller, President of the Piedmont Environmental Council. Miller will discuss how what we do in our community impacts Dyke Marsh, the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay and how the preservation and restoration of Dyke Marsh affect the larger environment. The program is free and presented by The Friends of Dyke Marsh and The Mount Vernon Group of the Sierra Club. For more info call (703) 768-2525. For directions: www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks.

Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve is a 485-acre tidal freshwater marsh on the Potomac River one mile south of Old Town Alexandria, administered by the National Park Service and part of the George Washington Memorial Parkway. The Friends of Dyke Marsh is a 30-year old conservation advocacy organization. Visit Friends of Dyke Marsh website.

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 Starts Soon- Still Time for Nature Learning

Schools will be starting back in session throughout August, but there's still time to get outdoors and discover nature. 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," and getting a start on environmental lesson plans for the new semester.

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 August:

Answers to July 28 edition quiz for nature events in early August...

Habitat Improvement Tips

Quail Management Workshop in King and Queen County September 11

VDGIF Small Game Project Leader Marc Puckett has announced that as part of the Quail Management Plan a workshop on quail management will be held at the King and Queen Ruritan Club near St. Stephens Church, from 11 a.m. till 4 p.m. in King and Queen County on September 11. The workshop will cover topics of interest to landowners and natural resource professionals including: available wildlife cost share programs, small scale projects with large scale impacts, how to establish wildlife habitat, benefits to timberland owners and farmers, and quail population status in Virginia. The program will include lunch and a field tour of ideal habitat. Pre-registration is requested, but not required by contacting Private Lands Wildlife Biologist Mike Budd - (540) 899-8482 ext 101, or michael.budd@va.usda.gov.

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:

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 which contains information on additional educational events coming soon to various parts of the Northern half of Virginia. Whether you interests are urban forests, invasive plants, or conserving your land for future generations, there is something for everyone. Contact Adam K. Downing, Extension Agent Forestry & Natural Resources - Northern District in Madison Phone: 540.948.6881 for more information or questions about any of these workshops:

August 23 & 30 - Warrenton
Family Forestland Short-course: Focusing on Land Transfer to Generation 'NEXT'

Accepting applications now for this 2-day hands-on workshop, Space is limited- don't delay! View the PDF flier here.

September 4 - Madison
Natural Hardwood Charcoal Making Demonstration
(Using Tree-of-Heaven!)

Accepting applications now for this 2-day hands-on workshop, Space is limited- don't delay! View the flier and related information here.

September 9 - Waynesboro
15th Annual Urban Tree Health Care Workshop

Agenda and registration details available soon at the Virginia Urban Forest Council website.

September 23 (Evening Public Meeting) & 24 (Day Conference)- Arlington
Valuing Urban Forests: Science, Application & Action

Details forthcoming on the Valuing Urban Forests website.

October 15 – Page & Rappahnnock Counties
34th Annual Fall Forestry & Wildlife Bus Tour

Through Forest Types, Across Geology and Over the Northern Blue Ridge. Agenda and registration details available soon at the Virginia Forest Landowner Update website.

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 Thursday, August 12, 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 summer months, our Conservation Police Officers concentrate 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 I - Tidewater

Choose a designated driver for your boat or go to jail... On Saturday, July 24, Sgt. Rich Goszka, Senior CPO Frank Spuchesi and CPO Josh Jackson conducted a night boat patrol on the Rappahannock River in Lancaster County. The patrol commenced at the mouth of the Rappahannock River in the area of Windmill Point, the area where an alcohol related fatal boating accident occurred on July 5th of this year. The CPOs arrived in the area at 2115 hours and immediately observed a boat leaving a local bar and not displaying navigation light. The boat was stopped and boarded and the operator was found to be under the influence of alcohol and arrested. Three of the boat's occupants were also impaired and Senior CPO Spuchesi drove their boat back to the bar dock for their safety. The 21 year old male operator's final BAC was a .08 two hours after his arrest. He was charged by CPO Jackson with BUI, no navigation light and expired flares. For more information contact Lt. Scott Naff at (804) 829-6580.

Region II - Southside

Observe no wake zones and boat sober... CPO Matthew Silicki made an OUI arrest on Smith Mountain Lake on July 24.. The pontoon boat operator plowed through a no-wake zone and after being stopped, failed all field sobriety tests. He registered .13 on the intoxilyzer at the Franklin County Sheriff's Office and was jailed. For more information contact Lt. Tony Fisher at (434) 525-7522.

Set the brake when loading on a boat ramp... A Gretna man was trying to load a PWC into the back of a pick-up truck at the VDGIF Penhook Boat Landing on July 25. The 1998 Chevrolet truck engine was left running with the driver's door open as the man tried to push the PWC into the truck. The truck slid backwards and floated 40 feet into Smith Mountain Lake. CPO Jeremy Hood and Sgt. Karl Martin were on a scheduled patrol on the lake and were called for assistance. CPO Hood had scuba gear available and was able to dive and secure a cable from a wreck truck to the front of the submerged truck. The truck was pulled from the lake with water damage and towed for repair. For more information contact Lt. Tony Fisher at (434) 525-7522.

Region IV - Mountain & Shenandoah Valley

Alert Officer nabs illegal spear fishermen... On July 31, Sgt. Carl Martin was patrolling the Shenandoah River in the area of Watermelon Park in Clarke Co. while checking for subjects fishing with cast nets. He stopped across the river from the Castleman Ferry's Boat Landing (Rte. 7) in order to observe activity. A subject entered the water carrying a spear. A subject with goggles began fishing under water with the spear while a second individual remained closely behind with a stringer. The spear always seemed to remain in the water, and the fish were transferred to the stringer under water. After approximately two hours, both subjects walked to the bank. The subject carrying the spear dropped it in the river before exiting. When the second subject saw Sgt. Martin, he immediately dropped the stringer of fish in the water. Sgt. Martin picked up the stringer, which held seven bass (3 within the slot limit) and eleven other sunfish. The subject fishing with the spear was charged with taking game fish by illegal method, exceeding the daily limit for bass, possessing bass within the slot limit on the Shenandoah River, and fishing without a license. Since both subjects were working together, the second was charged with possessing game fish taken by illegal method under 29.1-531. For more information contact Lt. Ronnie Warren at (540) 248-9360.

Region V - Northern Piedmont

Crime line callers receive rewards... On July 31, Lorraine Bass and Sergeant John Cobb attended the Virginia Sportsman Reward Fund, Inc. meeting at Director Bill Cox's farm in Powhatan. The primary purpose of the meeting was for reviewing crime line calls that resulted in an arrest to determine reward eligibility. A total of 16 cases were reviewed and $1,225 rewards approved for payment to individuals that reported boating, fishing, hunting or other wildlife related violations that occurred in the Commonwealth. 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.

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.

Fish Virginia First - Your Fishing Vacation Planning Tool!

Fish Virginia First is an inter-jurisdictional marketing effort seeking to link Virginia's fisheries with anglers, travelers, outdoor television networks, and tournament organizers from across the nation. The initiative's goal is to better inform anglers, vacationers, and fishing tournament organizers of the outstanding fisheries available in the Commonwealth's rivers, lakes, streams, and reservoirs and to provide assistance with planning a fishing adventure in Virginia by linking visitors with local hotels, restaurants, guide services, campgrounds, state parks, and fishing related businesses that can make fishing trips easy and fun. Visitors are encouraged to visit the site and begin exploring the fisheries resources that are awaiting you whether you are planning a day trip on your next day off or a two week family vacation of a life time!

Visit the Department's website to learn more about this innovative fishing trip planner.

Snakeheads Are Good Eatin'

We had a good reaction to our feature in the July 28th edition on "Bowfishing for the Potomac River Trash Fish Triple Crown --Carp, Gar & Snakehead!" from Adam Hatchl. Adam sent us the following recipe for snakeheads from a local oriental restaurant... Put the snakehead fish fillets in a pouch of aluminum foil with lemon grass, ginger root and olive oil, with salt and pepper to taste. Grill 7-10 minutes until fish begins to flake. Enjoy your catch.

VDGIF Regional Fisheries biologist John Odenkirk follows up Adams story with a few tips for catching, preserving and eating snakeheads:

  1. Snakeheads are good eating, as they are very tasty with firm white meat.
  2. Take a cooler and ice with you so as to keep the fish from spoiling.
  3. Take a net so as to successfully land the fish that are arrowed or hooked.
  4. Potomac rivershed anglers are reminded that the law states that nobody may possess any snakehead fish of any species unless the fish is a northern (the kind in the Potomac). Adams snakehead was legally caught, is dead, and the catch was called in to the hotline (804-367-2925). We appreciate his efforts to catch snakeheads and follow-up with reporting the catch and kill.

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 »

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:

  1. Email your photos to us and we'll post them on our "Virginia Fishing" group on the photo-sharing website, Flickr.
  2. Or, if you already have an account on Flickr, join the group and submit your photos. It's easy!

No matter how you send in your pictures, please remember to include the species, date, and location of your catch. If you know the length and weight, please include it.

Rules for submitting photos to the group:

  1. Photos must be of fish caught in Virginia.
  2. Photos must not depict unsafe practices.
  3. Please do not publish personal information (last names, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, etc.).
  4. Please do include the species, location, and date of catch!
  5. Only submit photos for which you have permission to post online. For example, any minor pictured must have documented permission from his or her parent or guardian in order to appear in the group. By submitting a photograph of your child, you are giving VDGIF permission to post the photo on the Flickr "Virginia Fishing" group.

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

Region 1 - Tidewater

Beaverdam Reservoir: Contributed by C. Eddie Hester, Park Ranger, (804) 693-2107. C. Blair Evans, Park Supervisor, told me that the bass bite is slow, but some have had luck with deep running cranks. Crappie season is pretty much over. Cat action is good late in the evening with chicken livers. The park closes at 8:30 p.m. Bluegill are hitting on crickets and worms. The park sells worms, but not crickets. The water is clear and 85 degrees.

Little Creek Reservoir: (757) 566-1702. No report this edition.

Virginia Beach: Captain Jim Brincefield (443) 336-8756. Captain Jim reports that the cobia are biting well around buoys and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. They are going for bucktails and live eels. Bluefish are attacking spoons at Cape Henry. Puppy drum can be found at the Lynnhaven and Rudee Inlets. Try Fishbite, Mirrolures or Gotcha Plugs. Flounder angling is improving, with larger fish being landed. They will go for small live spots. The water is clear and 84 degrees.

Chickahominy River: River's Rest (804) 829-2753. Charlie Brown says that some 3 to 5 pound bass have been brought to boat. Spinners are a good bet. Some crappie are responding to spinners and small worms. Cat action is good and steady. Try live or cut eels or alewives. Bluegill are hanging around the docks and will bite worms and crickets. The water is slightly stained and 88 degrees.

North Landing River and Back Bay: West Neck Marina (757) 426-6735. Dewey Mullins reports that bass fishing is good early and late with top waters. During the day dark colored plastics are working. No word on crappie. Lots of cats are being landed, both blue and channel. White perch are there to be had with small jigs, small spinners and live worms. Bluegill are plentiful, with red wigglers being a good bet; or, if you are a fly fisherman, poppers. The water is clear and in the high 70s to low 80s.

Norfolk Lakes: Dasheill's Show Room (757) 539-7854. Drew Dixon told me that the heat has kept anglers away for the most part. A few bass have been landed with plastic worms. Not many crappie have been brought in. Cat action is okay in the Nansemond. Perch have been scarce. The water is clear, low and in the low 80s.

Blackwater and Nottoway: By Riverkeeper Jeff Turner www.blackwaternottoway.com 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.

Upper and Lower Tidal James: Local Guide, Captain Mike Hoke, Life's Revenge Guide Service, (804) 357-8518. According to Captain Mike, the bass bite is hit and miss, with soft plastics being good during the day. No word on crappie. Cat action is good with some 50 pound blues being fooled by live eels. The water is stained and 83 degrees.

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

Lake Gordon: Contributed by our man in the boat Willard A. Mayes. Another two weeks behind us with scalding temperatures and the boat sitting lonely in its shed so I hooked old blue to it and headed for lake Gordon with the promise that the temp would be in the low 90s. Packed plenty of liquids as well as my twister tails and popping bugs, arriving at the lake by 9:30. The water is lower than I have ever seen it and visible to only about a foot or so somewhere between brown and green stain. I tried the fly rod but did not have much luck, I only caught three just big enough to feed to my cats, so I switched over to the spinning rod using 1/32 lead head with purple and chartreuse 2 inch twister tails. I had better luck with the chartreuse than the purple because of the darkness of the water. I fished from the ramp all the way to the flats only catching enough to keep you fishing. I caught most of the bluegill in 4 ft. of water somewhat close to the shore along with 1 eleven inch bass, I caught all the rest in 4 ft. or more water in the center of the lake. I finished the day with 6 crappie in the 8 to 9 inch range, 3 white perch around 8 inches and 11 bluegill 6 to 8 inches. I'm not sure if my luck or lack of luck was due to the recent rains or the fact that the water is very warm or the fact that I did not find the way they wanted the bait presented. Always another day.

Sandy River and Briery Creek: Contributed by Longwood College Fishing Club's Jack Pollio. In the Sandy and Briery both, water surface temp is between 84 to 89; sometimes higher in the heat of the day. Smaller bass are easily caught but I have not heard of many bigger fish. I caught some 6 inch bass on finesse baits like little cranks in shad and perch colors. I also caught small bass dragging a Carolina rig with 18 to 32 inch leader tipped with a 6 inch black finesse worm or green pumpkin with chartreuse tail. You can also catch smaller bass dragging a Texas rigged worm thrown at cover on structures like ditches or points. The bream/bluegill/sunfish should be biting fairly well on crickets and red worms or little 1 inch grubs in green, white, yellow or red colors along the shore line. I like targeting areas with the buggy whip reeds where there is a mixture of hard and muddy bottoms. I hope people brave the heat and get out there some. The big bass can be caught even in the dog days!

James at Scottsville: Local Guide L.E. Rhodes www.hatchmatcherguideservice.com, (434) 286-3366. The James has been on fire! Smallmouth up to and over 20 inches are feeding. Fly anglers dead drifting Olive-Brown or Blue poppers in the shadows are bring quality fish to the boat. Streamer patterns fished along the shelves with quick strips that make the fly jump are also producing strikes. Conventional anglers throwing prop baits to the bank are seeing explosive hits. Smaller buzz baits thrown to mid stream structure are also producing fish. Stick with the soft plastics when fishing the deeper holes.

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 mouth 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 lbs. 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 in., 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 smallmouth angling is good these days. Try Blue Poppers, Damsel Imitation Poppers and Olive Brown Buggers. Rainbows and browns are being landed on the Smith and Jackson Rivers on Pheasant Tails. The water in these areas is clear and in the mid 50s.

Lake Gaston: Holly Grove Marina (434) 636-3455. Craig Karpinski reports that bass fishing is okay, with a citation largemouth of 8 lbs. being brought in recently. Local bass are going for top waters early and late and suspended plugs during the day. Crappie fishing is slow, try a small minnow 8 to12 ft. down. Cats are responding to stinkbaits and frozen shad. Perch are hit or miss, with small spinners and worms having the most success. Bream are biting worms and crickets. The water is slightly stained and in the low to high 80s.

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 continues to be mixed. Most of the striped bass that are being caught are still being found in the middle and lower sections of the lake. Stripers continue to school and are found in deep-water creeks and in the main channel, often near submerged timber and the old river channel. Once located, striped bass are being caught from 35 to 65 feet below the surface on downlines using live shiners and shad. These deep water stripers are also being caught by anglers vertically jigging with Cotton Cordell, Hopkins and Kastmaster spoons or flukes rigged on lead headed jigs. Trolling is another very effective and popular technique used to locate and catch striped bass this time of the year. Stripers are being caught trolling 3 and 4 arm Umbrella rigs (Urigs). They are also hitting Sutton Spoons, swimshad and bucktails with trailers trolled on the traditional three-way rig.

Bass: Bass fishing this past week was tougher than usual and tournament weights were off a little. Largemouth continue to be caught while suspending on deep-water dock pilings. Lures including a light shakey head jig, Yamamoto Senko worm and weighted tube are all working. Drop shot rigs are also working on these fish as well as those found suspended in deep water off points.

Catfish: Channel catfish continue to be caught on bottom rigs using Magic Catfish Baits rigged on a spring hook. Flathead catfish are hitting shad, live shiners, panfish and night crawlers. Flatheads can be caught on bottom rigs during the day and night and on shallow float rigs after dark.

If you want to learn about fishing in Smith Mountain Lake and surrounding waters, consider attending one of our evening workshops. We have a "Fishing Basics" session on August 19th. It is a "hands on" class designed for new anglers and those who have fished before, but are seeking a refresher course on the latest techniques, rigs and lures. Seating is limited and advance registration is required. The water is clear and 85 degrees. Tight lines.

Region 3 - Southwest

Claytor Lake: Rock House Marina, (540) 980-1488. Contributed by Mike Burchett:

Bass: The weather has got HOTTER and slowed down the bass bite tremendously. The bass have moved deeper. A drop shot with a 4 ½ inch Roboworm is the best bet to entice the deep non-aggressive bass. A 3/8 ounce Paca Bug Football finesse jig combined with a Paca chunk in any green pumpkin color combo is also a good lure for a slow deep presentation. You can still get a few quality bites in the grass. If the grass is topped out and thick, the Tru-Tungsten Mad Maxx frog is a good bet. If the grass is still below the surface try a small crank bait like the Lucky Craft B.D.S. Marty or S.K.T. Mini. Try ticking the top of the grass and getting a reaction bite. Accent lures double bladed buzz-bait has tricked a few bass also. After dark try slow rolling a Jolt spinnerbait or dark colored chatterbait. Our weekly Tuesday night tournament at the Rock House Marina was won by Ralph Jones and Chris Eads with 8.68 lbs. For more info on the Tuesday night tournaments call Mike at (540) 980-1488.

Crappie: Haven't heard or seen anything on crappies.

Bluegill/Panfish: Get some night crawlers and head to any dock or back of a cove and you find plenty of action and fun.

Stripers: Stripers are being caught up lake at the mouth of Clapboard hollow and the stump fields by trolling umbrella rigs with bucktails or swim baits. At the mouth of Dublin Hollow and around the Dam area of the lake from approximately 11:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. the shad are up on the surface. Walking a Storm Thunderstick or Cotton Cordell Redfin across the surface can lead to exciting top water activity.

Catfish: Starting hear a few reports that they are being caught at night time in peak creak using live shad as bait.

The water is clear and in the low to mid 80s.

Upper New River: Contributed by Captain Forest Pressnell, (540) 818-5274, New River Charter. Well, speaking of fishing on the Upper New River, recent rains have made the water very dingy, making for tough fishing. Shad from Claytor Lake are working their way up the river but water levels are too low for the striper and hybrid to follow them. Spinnerbaits are a good call for the smallmouths right now but look to tubes, flukes and Senkos as the water clears. Top water is a good bet early and late in the day as well as all day if it is cloudy. Muskie action has been hot, just have to be on the water and throw the big stuff a lot. Walleye are slow on the bright sunny days but hitting spinner baits and jerk baits on cloudy days. From looking in the shallows it would appear there have been good survival rates on this year's spawn of small mouth and sunfish on the river. Numerous channel cats in the 12 to18 inch range are showing up and the carp are well represented for those who like to go after theses battling bruisers.

Lower New River: Big Z'S (540) 639-1651. High temperatures have made the River low and the fishing slow. Some bass are going for Gitzit tube bait, color T4 brown. The muskies are still in their summer holes and you're not likely to see one. The water is very clear and 82 degrees.

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. Master of all things fly, Harry let me know that the smallmouth streams in both the North and South forks of the River are in really good shape right now. The best spot in the North fork is between Edinburg and Tom's Brook. In the South fork, it's between Luray and Bentonville. Good flies are: Murray's Magnum Creek Chub, size 4; Murray's Magnum Bluegill, size 4; and the Shenandoah Blue Popper, size 6. The water is clear and 78 degrees. In the stocked streams in the Valley, fishing is good below the riffles and in deep pools. Good flies are: the Betsy Streamer, size 12; Murray's Cranefly Larva, size 12; and the Mr. Rapidan Emerger, size12. The water is clear, low and 78 degrees.

Many of the mountain streams are very low, but the recent rains have helped a few of them. Your best bet is to fish from the high gradient sections of the stream, as you are less likely to scare away the fish. Good flies are: Murray's Inchworm, size 14; Murray's Housefly, size 16; and Murray's Flying Beetle, sizes 16 and 18. Remember that Harry updates conditions every Friday on his website.

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. Reports have been mixed. Some indicate excellent results; others reluctantly suffer an brief instant of angler honesty and report the opposite. Guess it depends on where and when you go fishing. The rain last week injected a welcome blast of cool water into all of the major Piedmont area rivers. By the time you read this, the silt that accompanied the rain should have dispersed and the fishing will improve accordingly. Excellent reports have been coming from the Upper Potomac between Brunswick and Harpers Ferry with decent numbers of small bass caught a half mile downstream of the Brunswick Family Campground. Water temperature is back into the high 70s; prompting increased activity. The underwater vegetation has now reached its annual "obnoxious" stage of growth – especially at Pennyfield, Sycamore and above Lander. Go weedless and cast to the edges... if you can find them. In addition, the Rappahannock at the Rappahannock River Campground (walk downstream ½ mile) and Snake Castle Rock are both producing some nice fish. The area on the Rappahannock between Motts Run and the Clore Brothers launch is not doing as well. Farther upstream at the Phelps Wildlife Management Area, the only good results have come from those hardy enough to brave the 3.5 mile hike/bike from the Sumerduck entrance to the river. If you do that, fish upstream and target the dual log jams about ½ mile upriver. Downstream from the pipeline access at Phelps is normally good, but not right now. American Whitewater continues to caution that both the Rappahannock and Rapidan remain below recommended levels for an enjoyable float. Trout hunters need to avoid the mountain streams that are now just a trickle of water oozing down the eastern slope of the Blue Ridge. Instead, fish the cold tailwater of the North Branch of the Potomac or head to the Jackson.

Lake Orange: Contributed by Darrell Kennedy of Angler's Landing (540) 672-3997. The water is clear to stained with temperatures in the mid 80s. Largemouth bass are biting on soft plastics near brush piles in 8 to10 ft. of water. Top water baits are your best option during low light periods of the day. Catfishing remains strong throughout the lake on live bait and chicken livers. A few nice walleye were caught this week on live bait. Crappie are hanging out in 10 to 15 ft. of water around brush piles and off the fishing pier. A few crappie have also been caught while trolling with small jigs and live bait.

Our 12th Annual Youth Fishing Day sponsored by the Gordonsville Lions Club is Saturday, September 25th from 12:00 noon to 4:00 p.m. We will have recognition for: Largest fish caught, Largest Largemouth bass, Largest Catfish, Largest Bream, Largest Crappie, as well as many other categories too! Event is open to any child who can hold a fishing pole up to age 16. Fishing is permitted from the shoreline, from your boat or from one of the rental boats available at Lake Orange. Come make a day of it, bring the family to Lake Orange! This Event is FREE! Registration begins at 11:00 a.m. to acknowledge all of the participants!

Mid Point Potomac: Warbird Outdoors, (703) 878-3111. Chuck Perry says that the heat has kept most anglers away. The bass bite is slow. There has been no word on crappie or cats. The water is slightly stained and very warm.

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.

Stripers: This has been one of the hottest years on record, water temperatures have been near 90 degrees all of July, but the striper fishing has been hotter than the weather. The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries have done a spectacular job of managing the lake and our catches this year reflect this excellent work. We have been catching our limits all year, and in July we have been limiting out usually before 9 a.m. August fishing should prove to be as good but the stripers will be moving more, working their way to shallower and more oxygenated waters. Fish will be moving toward the backs of creeks and further up lake following the bait migrations especially if we experience some cooling rains. Most any bait will catch these fish but Pencil Poppers and Pop R's will work the best. The deep bite is still on and once you locate the fish on your depth finder you can troll Deep Diving Redfins, drop rigs or umbrella rigs to catch fish. Some days the stripers will move right up on the bank to feed, especially in low light conditions. Both herring and gizzards will catch stripers this month, we have been using the herring on downlines when the fish are deeper and the gizz on boards to catch the larger fish.

Bass: There are two basic patterns to rely on this month that will put bass in the boat. Main lake points, humps, roadbeds and bridges hold bass with numerous techniques catching fish. Deep diving crank baits are working well now along with 10 to 12 inch worms rigged either Texas style for cover or Carolina style for covering larger areas. If you prefer shallow water fishing, bass are feeding heavily in the backs of the creeks on humps, rocks, stumps and ledges. The fish will be extremely shallow up the rivers and creeks. Shallow running crankbaits and spinnerbaits work excellent in these stained waters. Bass will be up on the flats when they are aggressively feeding and will pull back to the ledges of the creek or river channel in adverse conditions. The baitfish will tell you where the bass are; find the bait and the bass will be nearby. Good areas that are holding bass are at the bridge in Contrary and also the humps and ledges back by the proposed golf course, all the way up the rivers as far as you dare to travel, back behind the bridge in Christopher Run, the back of Terry's, and main lake fish are schooling on many of the fish structures.

Crappie: Nice crappie are being caught on the bridges, ledges and deep docks that have brush underneath them. At night, crappie are all over docks with lights on them. I can't keep the crappie out of my net when I am throwing for bait in the mornings. Later in the month the fish will move very shallow and can be caught in 4 to 10 feet of water. They will be feeding on threadfin shad about 2 inches in length. Keep your baits small this month to imitate the shad they are feeding on.

Catfish: Cats are everywhere feeding on everything in sight. Simply use a fish finder rig with either live minnows, cut bait or stink baits fished on the bottom. They love this water temperature and are probably the easiest fish to catch this month.

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

Summer vacation can be an adventure when you travel to exotic tropical ocean islands and participate in an outdoor adventure that you cannot do at home. For 16 year old Megan Newsom, a sophomore at Ocean Lakes High School in Virginia Beach, a family vacation trip to the Virgin Islands provided a very memorable adventure snorkeling in the coral reefs. As Megan encountered the sea creatures in this strange new underwater world, the natural environment brought sights and thrills that inspired her to see nature differently and more respectfully. 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? Write us and let us know.

Snorkeling in a Coral Reef

By Megan Newsome

The great outdoors was so named for the adventure and wonder it has inspired for ages. People have been captured by its essence from ancient civilizations that created gods to explain natural phenomenon, to modern scientists who spend a lifetime studying one species. It is no wonder that people find that their most poignant memories are of traipsing trough forests and diving to new depths. My most vivid experience in the great outdoors was underwater.

The flora and fauna of the ocean have a certain allure. Even more spectacular is the sea life in the warm cerulean blue waters of the Virgin Islands. The vibrant archipelago that sits in the Atlantic is surrounded by marvels of color and size. We started our ocean bound voyage on a catamaran in Tortola. The ship set sail, and soon we were blazing through the tumbling waves with wind in our sails. It did not take long to reach our first destination, Anagota.

This relative flatness of island is the result of a coral foundation. Anagota is surrounded by a multitude of brightly colored coral formations. My adventure began in this maze of reefs. Clad in flippers, snorkel, and bathing suit, I plunged into the glassy surface of the waves. I looked around taking a few minuets to adjust to the watery world provided by my mask. Something small darted by my ear and I slowly pumped my fins back and forth, all the while moving towards the reef.

A shot of adrenaline prickled down my spine. I slowly took in the submerged ecosystem and swam in farther. The floor of the reef was only about eleven feet down, and the pearly white sand was scattered with pink conk shells. A vibrantly colored parrotfish swam slowly beside me. Looking down again I saw two eyes on one side of a flat fish; a flounder. These aquatic masters of disguise blend in with the sand so well that when he closed his eyes he was hardly visible. I was conscious of the cunning tide that slowly pulls people out to sea.

Moving into a large open area enclosed on three sides by a rampart of coral, my eyes caught sight of … three barracudas. My body started to tingle, and I went under water. As a result water siphon into my snorkel. Salty seawater spilled into my mouth, and in shock I swallowed quickly. With a belly full of ocean water I very carefully backed myself out of the enclosure. Wasting no time I found my way back to the sandy white beach littered with people.

As soon as my feet hit the sand I flung myself down on to the warm beach. Sand rubbed my back but I did not care. It was a moment before I caught my breath. It made me realize that the underwater world I had just sampled was incredible. This adventure I will carry with my always.

This entry in the Virginia Outdoor Writers Association (VOWA) 2008-09 High School Writing Competition by Megan Newsom, a sophomore at Ocean Lakes High School in Virginia Beach placed in the Top Thirty. For information on the VOWA Collegiate or High School Youth Writing Competitions visit the VOWA website: www.vowa.org, or contact VOWA Writing Competition Chairman:

David Coffman, Editor, Outdoor Report
VA Department of Game & Inland Fisheries
POB 11104 Richmond, VA 23230
Telephone: (434) 589-9535, Email: david.coffman@dgif.virginia.gov

In upcoming editions of the Outdoor Report, look for: