In this edition:

Safety First - Time To Take Your Hunter Education Class

September is just a week away... which means the fall hunting seasons will begin soon. Are you ready? On September 25th we officially celebrate and observe National Hunting & Fishing Day. Be sure and review the Wild Events You Don't Want To Miss section for the numerous opportunities for hunting and fishing related events, skill building workshops, and sportsmen's shows that offer something for beginners as well as the most experienced hunters. For new hunters, NOW is the time to take the required Hunter Education Class to qualify for your license. Our team of over 900 volunteer instructors have over 100 classes scheduled statewide. But don't wait, as classes fill up fast as deer season approaches. You can find the class schedules and locations by telephone or website. With the new Youth Deer Hunting Day September 25th, this is a great opportunity for a new hunter to schedule the class and take it together for a refresher. This is also a good time to get an Apprentice Hunting License for a friend or family member that wants to try out this rewarding sport this season.

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, successful, and fun. Visit your local sporting goods store or sportsman event and properly prepare for a great hunting season with family and friends.

David Coffman, Editor

Comment Period Open for Proposed Elk Hunting Moratorium Regulatory Amendment

The Board of Game and Inland Fisheries requested a moratorium be placed on hunting of elk in Virginia at the August 17, 2010 meeting in Richmond. The proposal is to (i) designate that the term elk refers specifically to Rocky Mountain elk (Cervus elaphus) and (ii) prohibit the hunting of Rocky Mountain elk in Virginia. The Department will be embarking on a pilot program to restore elk in southwest Virginia and until a viable herd is established the hunting of elk will be prohibited.

The Virginia Board of Game and Inland Fisheries, pursuant to §§ 29.1-103, 29.1-501, and 29.1-502 of the Code of Virginia, proposed the amendment 4VAC15-90-85 (PDF). A public comment period on the regulatory proposal opened August 20 and closes September 20, 2010. The Board will hold a public hearing on the proposal at its meeting 9:00 AM October 5, at 4000 West Broad Street, Richmond, and will consider the proposal for possible adoption as a final regulation amendment at that time. Written comments on the proposed regulation amendment should be submitted online, or may be emailed to or postal mailed to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Attn. Policy Analyst and Regulatory Coordinator, 4016 West Broad Street, Richmond, Virginia 23230, and received no later than September 20, 2010.

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 Clarke, 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

Open House At Lynchburg Izaak Walton Park August 28

The Izaak Walton League of Lynchburg invites area families for a FREE day of fun in the outdoors. Enjoy swimming, fishing, picnicking, canoeing, and kayaking from 9 am to 6 pm, Saturday, August 28. Visit the archery range and check out the campground, clubhouse and pavilion. Try your hand at trap and skeet shooting. The rifle range will be open and there will be a "Cowboy" demonstration and fun shooting opportunities on the pistol range. For more information visit:, or call Don (434) 525-8974, or Ray (434) 332-5901 for more information.

Advanced Trapper Training Course August 28 in Highland County

The Virginia Trappers Association (VTA) is sponsoring the Advanced Trapper Training Course, Saturday, August 28, from 7:00 am to 4:00 pm in Highland County. The class will be at Highland Welding, on Rte. 220 north 6 miles from Monterey on the left. This class is free, but limited to 24 and pre-registration is required. VTA instructors recommend you have 1-2 years trapping experience. If you do not have some experience trapping, you will find this class difficult to follow. Bring a chair for the inside portion of the course. Lunch is provided. For pre-registration contact Billy Price at (540) 886-8014. For information on VTA and other training and trapping opportunities, visit their website.

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:

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.

Big Woods WMA and State Forest Information Meeting August 31 at Airfield 4-H Center

VDGIF and VDOF representatives will hold a meeting to discuss the Big Woods Wildlife Management Area (WMA) and State Forest on Tuesday, August 31 at the Airfield 4H Center near Wakefield. The meeting will start at 7:00 pm in the 4-H Center dining hall. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the newly acquired Big Woods natural area in general, future management plans, the upcoming hunting season, and introduce agency staff who will be responsible for managing the property. See the feature article on the acquisition of the 4,400 acre land from the Nature Conservancy in the archived July 28, 2010 edition. The public is encouraged to attend. No registration is required. For additional information contact VDGIF Region 1 Office in Charles City County at (804) 829-6580.

Kayak Fishing Workshop on the New River September 8

Want to catch a big smallmouth bass? Come out and kayak fish a world class fishery; the New River. The action gets hot as the weather begins to cool down for fall. The Wednesday, September 8 workshop provides kayak and fishing instruction, although some prior fishing knowledge is recommended. Event cost is $20. Register through Montgomery County Parks and Recreation (540) 382-6975 - register today, space is limited. The fishing event lasts from 9- 4 pm. Must be age 16 and up, kayaks and fishing tackle provided, bring your own lunch. For additional questions contact Chris Dunnavant at (804) 367-6778 or

JAKES Outdoor Day at Caledon State Park September 18

The 3rd Annual JAKES Outdoor Day at Caledon State Park in King George County will be held September 18 from 10 am to 2 pm. This is a great opportunity for youth 6-16 to be introduced to a variety of outdoor activities including turkey calling, archery, air rifle and outdoor photography. The Patawomek Indians will demonstrate flint arrowhead making, hide tanning and building a dug-out canoe. This event is free. Pre-register by calling Caledon State Park at (540) 663-3681. For more information call Buddy Fines at (540) 775-7294 or Bill Newman at (540) 361- 7824. The event is sponsored by the NWTF Fredericksburg Chapter, Fredericksburg/Northern Neck Chapter VA Deer Hunters Assoc., VDGIF, King George Sheriff's Dept. and Parks & Recreation.

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.

October 22-24: Basic Wilderness Survival and Outdoor Living Skills Weekend. Do you want to know the basics of wildland survival, or increase your knowledge and advance your outdoor skills? Are you just looking for a fun get away to challenge yourself and put your skills to the test? The Holiday Lake 4-H Education Center near Appomattox is hosting a Basic Wilderness Survival and Outdoor Living Skills Weekend October 22-24. The program includes professional and expert instruction with participation limited for a better instructor: participant ratio. Optional classes include: Land Navigation, Building Temporary Shelters, Locating and Collecting Water, Improving "Situational Awareness" Skills, Primitive Tools and Cordage, and Sleep Overnight in Temporary Shelters. Learn knowledge and skills to last a lifetime! Cost of workshop is $175 and covers all programming and instructor fees, meals, and lodging. Register by October 8th.

Early registration is encouraged as courses fill quickly. For details contact Nate Mahanes, Program Director, by email:, 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:

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:

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:

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.

Basic Trapper Training Course September 25 in Gordonsville

The Virginia Trappers Association (VTA) is sponsoring the Basic Trapper Training Course, Saturday, September 25, from 7:45 am to 5:00 pm near Boswell Tavern in Louisa County, south of Gordonsville. This class is free but pre-registration is required. All youths under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. If you have a folding chair it is recommended you bring it as chairs are in short supply. You should also bring boots which you may wear in a few inches of water. Bring your own lunch or take your chances with burgers and dogs provided by the instructors. For directions and pre-registration contact: Charlaine/Ed Crebbs: (540) 832-2708; email: For information on VTA and other training and trapping opportunities, visit their website.

Kayak Fishing Workshop at Bear Creek Lake State Park October 2

Learn the basics of kayak fishing at Bear Creek Lake State Park in Cumberland County on Saturday, October 2. Kayak paddling and fishing instruction will be provided followed by fishing on Bear Creek Lake. Event is from 9-4 pm, bring your own lunch, for those age 12 and up, kayaks and fishing tackle provided. To register: send names of participants, address, day & evening phone numbers, email address, date of birth and a check made out to "Treasurer of VA", $15 per person to VDGIF Angling Education - P.O. Box 11104, Richmond, VA 23230. Informational mailing will be sent prior to the event. For additional questions contact Chris Dunnavant at (804) 367-6778 or

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

Virginia State Duck & Goose Calling Championship October 3 at Green Tops

The 2nd Annual Virginia State Duck & Goose Calling Championship sponsored by the Virginia Chapter of Ducks Unlimited will be held at Green Top Sporting Goods in Glen Allen Sunday, October 3, 2010. Pre-registration entry form deadline (State & Open) is September 22, 2010. Contestants must be present promptly at 9:00 am with the mandatory caller's meeting to begin at 9:15 am. Order of calls will be Youth Goose, Youth Duck, Open Goose, State Goose, Open Duck, and State Duck. The 2 winners of the VA DU Lower Chesapeake Open Duck and Open Goose Calling Contests will each receive $500 and a shotgun. For contest rules and pre-registration telephone (804) 836-6688 or email Derrick Davis,E. Virginia Regional Director

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!

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 schedule 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

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.

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.

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.

Just 31 Days Till the Special Youth Deer Hunting Day September 25th

Youth Deer Hunting Day - September 25, 2010

For more details visit the Department's website.

2010 Hunting Opportunities on State Natural Area Preserves and State Forests

The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation is offering managed hunts for deer and waterfowl at 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. The application deadline is Oct. 1, 2010.

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. The application deadline is Oct. 8, 2010.

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.

Lottery Now Open for Conway Robinson State Forest in NOVA

The lottery is now open for the Conway Robinson State Forest hunt, consisting of three days only: November 15th, November 22nd, and December 13th. Hunters will be selected using a lottery system with the application deadline 12:01 am, October 4, 2010. Hunt information, rules, and an online lottery ballot can be found at (scroll down to Conway-Robinson).

Safety Team Promotes Proper Treestand Use at Sportsman's Show

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 "treestand expert," based on over 40 years as a career safety manager and Master Instructor since 1993. Dick is the leader for the Treestand Safety Team, comprised of experienced volunteer Hunter Education Instructors whose mission is to inform hunters on proper use, maintenance and safety practices while hunting from tree stands. Whether you are an experienced deer hunter or this is your first time using a stand, the Team is providing exhibits, demonstrations and training at various sportsmen's events to help hunters properly prepare and stay safe while using treestands. (For treestand safety and use tips see the article in Be Safe... Have Fun section of the Aug 11, 2010 edition of the Outdoor Report.)

The Treestand Safety Team was in full force at the VA Outdoor Sportsman Show in Richmond August 13-15. Show goers were given the opportunity to "take the pledge" to use proper treestand safety practices and enter a drawing for a Summit Ultimate Viper treestand donated by the Virginia Hunter Education Association and a Third-Hand haul line donated by Third-Hand Archery Accessories. The two pledges drawn for the prizes were John Thurston, of Virginia Beach for the Summit Ultimate Viper treestand and Michael Murray from Sundsden for the Third-Hand haul line. Congratulations to these winners for taking the pledge and receiving these great prizes. Remember to harness up before you climb up.

Lots of Smiles Posted at Young Hunters Wall of Fame

The VDGIF Outdoor Report and the VA Deer Hunters Association official magazine Whitetail Times sponsored a "Young Hunters Wall of Fame" at the VA Outdoor Sportsman Show in Richmond Aug 13-15. Young hunters age 15 and under were invited to share their favorite hunting photos at the Show by posting a copy of their hunting photo from any past season, on the wall at entrance to the Show. The top ten best photos were selected by a panel of Outdoor Report photographers and contributors. These winning photos will be used in the Outdoor Report and Whitetail Times magazine throughout the Fall season. The winners received a new 2011 Virginia Wildlife Calendar and other hunting related items.

Virginia Deer Classic Winners Posted on VDHA Website

The winners of the Virginia Deer Classic Contest sponsored by the Virginia Deer Hunters Association (VDHA) and Swedish Match at the Virginia Outdoor Sportsman Show August 13-15 at the Showplace in Richmond are posted on the VDHA website (PDF).

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 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!

Crossbow Safety Tips by Dick Holdcraft

Virginia is among a growing number of states that have allowed all hunters the opportunity to use a crossbow for deer hunting. Formerly just reserved for handicapped individuals, now allowing all hunters to use a crossbow during archery season has become the fastest growing new hunting option. While crossbows are considered in the same regulations that apply to archery equipment, there are several key differences to handling a crossbow safely. If you hunt from a treestand and are using a crossbow, you need to be aware of these special safety guidelines.

Always use the manufacturer's recommended arrow weights and specifications. Be sure and practice, before the season, using your crossbow in field situations, and treestands keeping in mind the safety tips noted above. Perfect practice makes perfect.

Thanks to Richard L. "Dick" Holdcraft for his safety tips. 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 guidelines to help you prepare and stay safe.

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.

Conservation Landscaping Contest Open Through September 1st

Chesapeake Conservation Landscaping Council (CCLC) is pleased to sponsor the 2010 Conservation Landscaping Contest. Healthy, beautiful landscapes in the Chesapeake Bay region demonstrate elements of conservation landscaping, and we hope to see many of them documented on contest applications this summer. Applications, complete contest rules and further information are available on the CCLC website.

Novice gardeners, students, schools, businesses and professionals are all welcome to enter. Applicants will complete check-off and long answer portions of the application to demonstrate how their site meets the Eight Elements of Conservation Landscaping. For a detailed description, see Conservation Landscaping Guidelines: The Eight Essential Elements of Conservation Landscaping at our web address above. New this year is a portion of the application that includes EPA's WaterSense Program "Landscape Water Budget Tool."

Entries may be chosen as a 2010 or future field day location (submit early!), with the permission of the property owner. Winning sites will be featured on the CCLC website and the EPA WaterSense Program website. One applicant for each winning site, with the exception of CCLC Board Member organizations, will receive a complimentary registration to the 2011 Turning a New Leaf Conference. Deadline is Sept. 1 for applications. Winners announced Nov. 1.

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:

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, 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 early September:

Answers to August 11 edition quiz for nature events in late August...

Habitat Improvement Tips

Conservation Landscaping Contest Open Through September 1st

Chesapeake Conservation Landscaping Council (CCLC) is pleased to sponsor the 2010 Conservation Landscaping Contest. Healthy, beautiful landscapes in the Chesapeake Bay region demonstrate elements of conservation landscaping, and we hope to see many of them documented on contest applications this summer. Applications, complete contest rules and further information are available on the CCLC website. Deadline is Sept. 1 for applications. Winners announced Nov. 1.

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 - 540-899-9492 ext 101, or

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:

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.

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 III - Southwest

GPS confirms coon hunters over the state line... On the night of July 30, 2010, Virginia Conservation Police Officers Wirt, Wensel, and Sgt Mullins encountered two West Virginia residents' raccoon hunting in the Shumate area of Giles County. The hunters were trailing two hound dogs with radio collars equipped with a GPS feature. The hunters stated they thought they were in West Virginia. The GPS device they were using clearly showed the party was nearly two miles into Virginia. Both hunters in the party were charged with hunting without license and closed season. For more information contact Lt. Rx Hill at (276) 783-4860.

Officers quick action rescues swamped jon boaters... On August 14, 2010, Senior Conservation Police Officer Wes Billings and New River Trail State Park Officer Nathan Younger conducted a water rescue of two subjects from the Foster Falls section of New River in Wythe County. The two men from North Carolina were fishing in a 10-foot jon boat with a small trolling motor, when the current pulled them over the falls and swamped their boat. Officer Billings was able to position a jet powered jon boat near the boat and deploy a rescue rope bag to the two victims. The victims bailed the water from their boat and then tied the rescue rope to the bow. The officers then pulled the boat and gear back up over the falls and to shore. No injuries to the boaters or damage to the boat. For more information contact Lt. Rx Hill at (276) 783-4860.

Alcohol and drugs dangerous combination on the water... On August 14, 2010, Senior Conservation Police Officer James Hale arrived at Hidden Valley Lake for his scheduled boat shift. Officer Hale saw a jon boat on the water near the boat ramp with two males fishing from it. From Officer Hale's position, he could see the entire floor area of the open boat and saw the subjects had no type 4 and no life jackets. Officer Hale spoke to the subjects. When the operator spoke, Officer Hale noticed his speech was very slurred. As the boat approached Officer Hale at the bank, Officer Hale noticed the strong odor commonly associated with consuming alcohol. The operator of the boat got out and advised Officer Hale the life jackets and type 4 were in his truck. Officer Hale asked the operator when was the last time he had drank an alcoholic beverage. The operator advised about two hours earlier. The operator also advised he had taken Loritabs, Clonipin, Zenaflex and Gabapentin with the alcohol. The operator later changed his story to drinking two 22-ounce Corona's about 20 minutes before Officer Hale arrived. He took his medication with the beers. Officer Hale offered the subject field sobriety tasks. The operator performed very poorly. He was offered a PBT and showed a BAC of 0.11. Officer Hale arrested the subject and charged him for OUI, no type 4, and no lifejackets. The passenger on the boat was not impaired. For more information contact Lt. Rx Hill at (276) 783-4860.

Region IV - Mountain & Shenandoah Valley

Officers participate in public safety events... District 41 Officers participated in two National Night Out Events on August 3, 2010. These events are held nationwide in order to foster public safety within communities. CPO Kevin Bilwin and Wildlife Biologist Fred Frenzel set up exhibits in Front Royal in Warren County. CPO Bilwin displayed a patrol boat and provided law enforcement information to the public centered on boating safety. Biologist Frenzel displayed equipment and information related to "living with black bears." Although attendance was affected by the county fair, the event was still a success with over 20 booths set up from various law enforcement agencies and private industries and attendance estimated at several hundred people.

Sgt. Carl Martin participated in National Night Out at the Rutherford Crossing Shopping Center in Frederick County. He responded to citizen inquiries about various hunting, fishing, boating, and conservation topics and distributed regulations. Sgt. Martin displayed the District 41 kayaks and a variety of PFDs to promote boating safety. Several discussions centered around the kayaks as a law enforcement tool on the Shenandoah River. For more information contact Lt. Ronnie Warren at (540) 248-9360.

CPOs and Biologists work with youth on hunting and fishing skills at summer camp... District 41 Conservation Police Officers, Sgt. Carl Martin, Senior Officer Ray Solomon, Chance Dobbs, and Bureau of Wildlife Resources' Wayne Pence and Niles Beeler conducted eight, 2 ½ -hour fishing classes for the 12th Annual Frederick County Sheriff's Office Youth Camp on August 9, 10, and 11. Approximately 80 campers received instruction on topics such as fish identification, fishing laws and regulations, catch & release techniques, fish handling techniques, etc. The campers were able to fish in the lake at Camp Rock Enon where they caught bluegill, bass, and crappie; a 12" largemouth bass took the record for this year's camp (although an adult counselor did catch the 25" catfish that usually takes the record!). District 41 Officers, Wayne Pence and Niles Beeler stayed busy assisting the kids with baiting hooks, measuring and taking fish off the hook, fixing rods and reels, and trying to help all the campers catch fish. This was a great experience for everyone involved. For some of the kids, this was their first fishing experience! Future Angler Certificates were provided to all campers. Chris Dunnavant, Angling Education Coordinator, provided fun, informative and educational materials that were distributed. For more information contact Lt. Ronnie Warren at (540) 248-9360.

Region V - Northern Piedmont

Officers planning and presence keeps major boating event safe... On Saturday, July 24th, nearly all of the Region 5 law enforcement personnel took part in a large boating event, known as Aquapalooza, on the Potomac River in Prince William County. Our response to this one day event involved a total of 21 officers working 10 dedicated boat patrols over a 16 hour period to safely assist the recreational boaters who would come to hear live music and see the fireworks show between separate barges on the water. An operational plan was developed and approved due to issues that came up at last year's event when it was held in Maryland waters.

On the day of the event there were as many as 800 boats at any one time anchored and rafted up together in the general area. Due to the large volume of boats situated tightly together with people in the water among them, especially in front of the band stand area, our patrol boats were utilized on each of the two shifts in a mainly law enforcement deterrence posture. Our efforts were further tasked with continually keeping access open on an unmarked channel through the crowd of vessels and people in the water to be utilized by fire and rescue response to and from their assigned dock at the restaurant and other emergency response as needed. In fact, one of the most effective methods to get through the tightly rafted up boat areas was with personal watercraft. Two officers utilized our personal watercraft to gain access to these areas and actually were able to assist two individuals on separate occasions, when they were in the water having difficulty swimming by putting them on these watercraft and transporting them to their vessels.

As a result of our law enforcement deterrent efforts, there were no boating incidents that day and many of the boaters choose to stay anchored and spent the night in the area. After the fireworks show had ended it was determined that we had significant resources to again take enforcement action and to prevent operators from operating on the water and later getting in their vehicles and driving on the public roadways. Two pre-planned special operation checkpoints were conducted. In addition, light and wake violations were stopped and appropriately addressed, which resulted in four BUI arrests in just over an hour. PBT results in the field for these cases were recorded from as high as .28 BAC to .13 BAC. Of the four BUI arrest cases, three of them later refused the Breath Test at the ADC and were each charged appropriately for unlawful refusal. The other final result was a .09 BAC several hours after coming off the water.

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

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.

Lake Thompson is Draining (Again)

Lake Thompson, a 10-acre lake on the VDGIF G. Richard Thompson Wildlife Management Area in Fauquier County, is draining again – the first case occurring almost exactly two years ago. The drain near the lake bottom failed somewhere along its course upstream of the outlet pipe and, unfortunately, was not fixed before the failure became clogged (probably by mud) last time which allowed inadvertent refilling. VDGIF engineers, in consultation with contract dam safety engineers, will evaluate potential repair possibilities to the drain system and conduct additional assessments of the entire outlet structure and emergency spillway that need extensive renovations to meet current Department of Conservation and Recreation Dam Safety Standards.

As of August 23rd, the lake was down to about 2 acres of pool and was still draining rapidly. It is likely that the lake will be dry by the first of September given current flow rate. Anglers are advised to use caution when fishing the lake, as the exposed substrate is slippery and littered with debris. However, fishing is still allowed, and fish may be creeled (harvested) in compliance with State regulations. For updates check our website or contact the Region 5 office in Fredericksburg at (540) 899-4169.

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.

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 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. Blair Evans, Park Supervisor, (804) 693-2107. Hopefully, we are over the extremely hot weather that has slowed down the fishing here at Beaverdam.  The cooler weather is beginning to improve the conditions.  We are getting reports that the bass are beginning to move to shallower water during the cooler periods of the day.  However, the best fishing will still be in deeper portions of the lake using rubber worms and crankbaits.  Anglers fishing from the pier are having good luck while fishing in the morning and evening. The water is slightly stained, at full pool and 85 degrees. Beaverdam's next Big Bash Tournament will be held Saturday, September the 18th.  The last night of Night Fishing will be held on September the 3rd, the main entrance of the park will be open till 12 a.m.  For more information, please call the park at (804) 693-2107.

Park Hours 6:00 am to 8:30 pm till Labor Day September 6th. 7:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. for the remainder of the month of September.

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

Virginia Beach: Captain Jim Brincefield (443) 336-8756. Captain Jim says that spot can be found at the Lynnhaven and Rudee Inlets and at the mouths of the James and York. They are going for Fishbite and blood worms. Croaker are in the same places and going for the same bait, they will also bite squid. Bluefish and Spanish mackerel are at Cape Henry and are attacking small spoons trolled very fast. Triggerfish are responding to cut bait around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel.

Chickahominy River: River's Rest (804) 829-2753. Charlie Brown doesn't have much news for us, as there have been very few anglers venturing out his way. He does say, however, that fishing in general is pretty good. The cat bite is good on cut live eel. The water is slightly stained and 82 degrees.

North Landing River and Back Bay: West Neck Marina (757) 426-6735. Dewey Mullins reports that bass fishing has really picked up. Early and late try topwaters, poppers and buzzbaits. During the day, try spinners, dark plastics and crankbaits. Not many crappie are being landed. Lots of bluegill are being brought in using minnows and worms. Fly fishermen are having luck getting bluegills with poppers. There are plenty of channel and blue cats to be had around the drop offs. Try live minnows or nightcrawlers. 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 they have plenty of bass and that they are going for plastics. Not many crappie, but try your luck with minnows and jigs. Lots of cats are being fooled by cut bait. Bluegill are responding to crickets, worms, plastics and beetlespins. Not many perch around. The water is clear and in the high 80s.

Blackwater and Nottoway: By Riverkeeper Jeff Turner I am still not able to get out fishing because of my shoulder. I am told, however, that the fishing is improved because of the recent rains we have had. Largemouth are being taken from both rivers with pretty good success.  One fellow told me he was above Franklin on the Blackwater recently and caught 6 up to 3 pounds.

How to prepare and cook "Jacks"...

I also had a guy tell me he was catching a bunch of "jacks" ( that's what we call them) or chain pickerel.  He said he was told they were inedible and so I had to correct him on that. In fact they are my favorite freshwater fish. The secret to getting around all those tiny "Y" bones is this. First scale the fish. Then fillet it cutting around the rib bones.  Lay the fillet skin down on your cleaning board and notch the fish crossways down to the skin ¼ in. apart the length of the fillet. You should end up with what looks like a fish accordion.   That will allow the grease to get in and dissolve those bones. You then fry it like any other fish.  The flesh is firm and delicious. In fact that sounds so good I think I'm going to have to try this old arm out and see if I can catch me a mess of 'em.

Upper and Lower Tidal James: Local Guide, Captain Mike Hoke, Life's Revenge Guide Service, (804) 357-8518. Captain Mike has been going for cats and found the action good. Flatheads and blues are going for cut eel and live bream suspended from a cork. Bream are biting well on worms and crickets. The water is fairly clear and 85 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. Fishing is very good right now.  Lots of bass and redbreast sunfish are being caught on a variety of lures. Sunfish are available by casting small spinners and grubs while smallmouth bass can be caught on Senko worms fished slowly in eddies and along current lines.  Topwater action is always a good bet early in the morning and late evening.  Flathead catfish, blue catfish and channel catfish can all be caught fishing cut bait or live bait on the bottom.  Good luck!

I am running two hour Eagle Tours on the tidal James River.  We slowly cruise the James, on the Discovery Barge II, my 24 ft. covered pontoon boat.  While searching for bald eagles, we will travel through the territories of five resident pair of eagles.  Along the way I'll share a few great stories about these eagles.  It's a great get-a-way for families and friends.  Maximum capacity per trip is six people.  For more information, check out my website.

Region 2 - Southside

Briery Creek: Contributed by our man in the boat Willard A. Mayes. Old Blue was feeling frisky so I hooked it to the boat, picked up Cricket Man and headed to Briery Creek to look for those monsters that hang out in that lake. We were at the lake and in the water by 9:30 am. The water was not as clear as usual and at least 6 inches below what I think is normal, in other words most of the tree stumps I get hung on were sticking out of the water. I fished from the lower launch around the shore and caught two 8 inch bluegill with the fly rod and size 10 white popper and then the rain started. It was not hard or heavy, but the annoying kind. Those were the last fish I caught on the fly rod that day. I switched over the spinning rod with 2 inch and 1 inch twister tails and caught 5 more bluegill, one 9 inch crappie and three bass of 10, 13 and 16 inches. Cricket Man stayed with his worms and crickets and did much better with the bluegill fishing from 2 to 8 ft. of water. He had several close to the 10 inches with most being 7 to 8 inches. He ended the day with 21 frying pan bluegill, one 9 inch bass and 10 bluegill in the two finger size that we fed to the cats. I had the boat back on the trailer by 5:00 and that is when the rain stopped.

Sandy River and Briery Creek: Contributed by Longwood College Fishing Club's Jack Pollio. The Longwood University Bass Team will be getting back to school soon and the reports from us will be getting more exciting. I have fished Briery only once so far in August. The lake temperature is about 83 degrees and a little dirty. I fished the main lake channel. Blue and chrome bleeding red eye shad and wacky rigged zoom finesse worms produced for me. I also fished some small coves near the 701 ramp and caught bass flipping a small spring craw in the timber and along dollar lily pads. I hope this weather in the next week will bring even more fishermen out.

James at Scottsville: Local Guide L.E. Rhodes, (434) 286-3366. The James continues to fish well. Fly anglers are enjoying success by throwing top water bugs throughout the day. With the low clear water conditions go to a 12 foot leader with about 6 to 8 inches of fluorocarbon for tippet. Look for the fish to be in the shaded areas along the banks and mid stream structure. A white baitfish pattern around mid stream structure has also produced well. Conventional anglers fishing soft plastics are seeing some quality fish boated. Good areas to target have been the push water before the shoals and the tail outs after riffles. Pop-R's and Tiny Torpedoes along the banks have seen some explosive takes.

The bridge work at Hardware River landing has been completed opening up two sections of river that hasn't seen much traffic for close to two years. There is about a month of quality top water action left for the year. Get out if you haven't and enjoy the James. Give me a call if you want to book a trip or just talk fishing!

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. Jimmy Cheers reports that the bass bite is great, especially if you use Carolina Blue or Chartreuse poppers. For rainbows and browns try dry flies, nymphs, adams, pheasant tails and prince nymphs. Brookies are going for the same flies. The water is clear and warm.

Lake Gaston: Holly Grove Marina (434) 636-3455. Craig Karpinski told me that the bass action is okay. Early and late, try top waters. During the day, try suspended bait or Carolina rigs near the drop offs and bridge pilings. Crappie are "holding their own" and going for small minnows. Cats are in the channel and will take cut bait or stink baits at night. Perch are attacking red wigglers and small spinners. Bluegills like the worms and spinners too, with fly anglers having good luck in the early morning. The water is slightly stained, with temperatures in the creeks and coves 87 degrees, and cooler in the main lake.

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,

Bass: Bass fishing continues to be mixed as can be seen in the wide range of local tournament weights. While bass continue to be caught both shallow and deep, most are being found in deeper water around submerged brush and natural rock or suspended off deep water points, bluffs, drop offs and other bottom structure. The deep water bass on points and humps are hitting deep diving crankbaits and Texas and Carolina rigged plastic worms. Heavy football head jigheads rigged with a variety of plastic trailers are another good lure for deep-water bass.

Striped bass: Stripers continue to be found from the mid lake area of the Blackwater and Roanoke Rivers down to the dam, often where a major creek enters the rivers. Anglers trolling three-way rigs with swim baits, bucktails and/or Sutton spoons and umbrella rigs with their gas and electric motors are also catching good numbers of striped bass. Trolling is a very effective technique for stripers in the summer months as it allows the angler to cover a lot more water while looking for the schooled fish that does pulling live bait. Many anglers who fish out of pleasure boats or pontoons without trolling motors or electronic fish finders catch stripers consistently using metered lead core line outfits and an assortment of basic trolling lures on three way rigs. When trolling, depth control is the key. One of the most effective trolling lures this time of year is the umbrella rig.

Catfish: For those who like to fish for catfish, the channel catfish continue to hit Magic soft stinkbait very well. I suggest anyone fishing with dough bait use a spring hook as it helps keep the bait on the hook when casting and while in the water, increasing its effectiveness. Flathead catfish are hitting live shad.

Crappies: Crappies are deep, but are being caught on small minnows and jigs with plastic trailers. Small panfish are easily caught on red wigglers under docks and in the shady areas created by large rocks and rip-rap near the shoreline.

The water is clear and 83 degrees. Tight lines and enjoy this great fishing weather.

Region 3 - Southwest

Claytor Lake: Rock House Marina, (540) 980-1488. Contributed by Mike Burchett: The rain has set in all week and made the temperature a little more bearable.  The bass don't seem to agree though, Our Rock House Marina Tuesday night tournament was won by Jason Adams & Chris "Bubba" Lewis with 6.64lbs.

Bass: In the grass that is topped out, the Tru-Tungsten Mad Maxx frog is still producing a few fish.  A chatterbait ripped out of the deeper grass is getting a reaction bite.  The drop shot with a 4 ½ in. Roboworm is the best bet to entice the 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.  In between rains the top water bite has improved, a Lobina Lures Rico popper is pulling up a few key fish. After dark, try slow rolling a Jolt spinnerbait or dark colored chatterbait. 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 schooling up in the late evening in the midlake area.  Casting a jerkbait or roadrunner to the busting fish can be intensely exciting and productive.   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: Catfishing is really picking up in Peak Creek.  Reports that they are being caught at night time in Peak Creek using live shad as bait.

Water temperature is low 80s, the water is clear.

Upper New River: Contributed by Captain Forest Pressnell, (540) 818-5274, New River Charter. Shad continue to make their way up the Upper New out of Claytor Lake but water levels are still too low for the striper and hybrid to follow. The really hot weather has the water temps ranging from upper 70s in the morning to mid 80s by afternoon creating a sluggish bite on all species. Look to the rapids and adjacent pools as well as shade for active fish. Plastics such as tubes and grubs drifted down streams may offer an easy meal to a smallmouth. Catfishing should be picking up at night. If we can get our normal late August spell of some nights dipping into the upper 40s to low 50s the fishing should really turn around.

Lower New River: Big Z'S (540) 639-1651. John Zienius says that the smallmouth action should pick up soon as the water is getting higher and more stained. Bass will go for spinners and crankbaits. Muskie fishing is okay, try an inline spinner. The water is stained and cooling.

New River: Tangent Outfitters, (540) 257-0415. Shawn Hash reports that the fishing has been "phenomenal" on his part of the river. Bass are attacking soft plastics: Senkos, flukes and tubes. Muskies are going for inline spinners. The water is clearing and in the 70s.

Region 4 - Mountain and Shenandoah Valley

North and South Forks of the Shenandoah: Harry Murray (540) 984-4212 Harry says that recent rains and cool nights have helped the smallmouth streams. The best area in the North Fork is Edinburg to Tom's Brook. In the South Fork it's Luray to Bentonville. Good flies are: Tapply Green and White Hairbug, size 4; Shenandoah Blue Popper, size 6; and the Mr. Rapidan Skater, size 8. The best action is along the shaded banks at dawn and dusk. The water is 76 degrees and clear.

The stocked streams in the Valley are low but recent rains have helped. Good flies are: Mr. Rapidan Parachute Dry Fly, size 16; and Murray's Flying Beetle, size 16. The water is 74 degrees and clear.

Recent rains and cool nights have lowered the Mountain streams temperature; and the trout are feeding on small insects. Good flies are: Murray's Inchworm, size 14; Murray's Housefly, size 16; and the Peacock Caddis Dry, size 18. The water is 64 degrees and clear. Remember that Harry updates his report weekly, so check it out before you make your trip.

Lake Moomaw: Local Guide, Mike Puffenbarger, (540) 468-2682, Fishin's good- come to the mountains where it's cool and beat the dog days of summer! Call or check out the website for updates.

Region 5 - Northern Piedmont

Piedmont Rivers: Local author Steve Moore, / Wade and Shoreline Fishing the Potomac River - DC to Harpers Ferry. Unless you are an early bird or a night owl... or know where to go..., avoid the Upper Potomac where the water temperature is back in the mid-80s. For those who wade or drift aimlessly downstream, they will find that nothing significant is moving in during the middle of the day. The vegetation continues to sprawl uncontrollably in the shallow areas of the river. Pennyfield, Lander, Sycamore and upstream from Riverbend are thick with grass beds. On a wide and open the river, these actually create an opportunity since the fish will hang at the edges of the open areas. Ken Penrod recommends Magic Stiks and Mizmo Tubes while Charlie Taylor points to small crankbaits, spinners and plastic grubs as the "prime baits." In addition to fishing the holes in the grass, continue to search for and target the deeper sections (see book for specifics). After a spike in water level that briefly pushed it back up to its normal level for this time of year, the Rappahannock dropped back down and will continue to do so without another infusion of rain. While this sets up good conditions for wading, the outlook for those who fish from a kayak or canoe continues to be grim (American Whitewater). The most popular floats on the Rappahannock are almost a foot below recommended levels. If you wade, fish downstream from the VDGIF lot next to the Clore Brothers. Move directly across the shallow sandbars and grass beds to fish the deep shelf that hugs the northern bank at 38.312991,-77.53819. You can actually see the deep water in the current satellite picture on Google. The Rapidan is a smaller reflection of the situation on the Rappahannock and is running over a foot below recommended levels -- count on walking more than floating if you put in at Elys Ford. However, for those who are willing to make the long, long wade (3.5 miles) downstream from Elys, you can find good fishing at 38.374421,-77.658666 where there are a number of good pockets and small "lakes" that hold decent numbers of smallmouth. Just remember that you have to walk all the way back since there is no public access any closer. Trout hunters need to avoid the mountain streams that are now just a trickle of water bubbling languidly down the eastern slope of the Blue Ridge. Instead, fish the cold tailwater of the North Branch of the Potomac (reports are that the trout are very active and hitting hard in the 9 mile stretch below the dam) or head to the Jackson.

Lake Orange: Contributed by Darrell Kennedy of Angler's Landing (540) 672-3997. The water is clear with temperatures in the mid 80s. The shorter days and longer nights have the largemouth bass starting to change over from their summer pattern. Bass are migrating from the deeper water to the flats readily taking top water, crankbaits, spinners, and a variety of lures and live bait. Seemingly, the crappie also are on the move to a bit shallower water in 8 to 10 ft. near brush piles. Crappie are feeding well on live minnows. Catfishing is good, especially in the upper end of the lake on chicken livers and live bait.

Mid Point Potomac: Warbird Outdoors, (703) 878-3111. Chuck Perry reports that the bass bite is slow due to the heat, but some are landed by using a top water on the grass mats. Not many crappie, but you may get lucky with the traditional minnows and jigs. No word on cats. A very few perch are being fooled by minnows and small crankbaits. Some bluegill are going for worms. The water is dingy and in the mid 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: This web-report is updated every Thursday afternoon.

Lake Anna: Contributed by C. C. McCotter, McCotter's Lake Anna Guide Service, (540) 894-9144. Get ready for schooling fish and topwater action because this part of the season has begun here on Lake Anna. Seagulls and terns are present in several locations around the lake now. Find them and you'll find fish nearby. Water temperatures have dropped back to the mid 80s and the backs of creeks are cooling nightly. Here's what you can expect on your next visit.

Bass: Many of Anna's bass school like stripers. They do this to feed on the plentiful threadfin shad and blueback herring throughout the lake. While you can find schooled largemouths from the upper end to the lower end of the lake, the lower end tends to harbor more. While it might seem like the fish are in open water, they are actually schooled according to how the current positions them on underwater points and humps. Baitfish are drawn to the current where they can feed on plankton and enjoy the higher oxygen present in moving water. The region from the power plant down to Valentine's Cove is the top zone for this pattern. Top lures will be Badonkadonks, Super Spooks, the Berkley Jerkshad, the Berkley Realistix Minnow, the Berkley 3" Ripple Shad and the Toothache Spoon.  If you prefer not to fish for schooling fish, you can target bass in the upper North Anna, Pamunkey Branch and Terry's Run using crankbaits and shakey head worms. Underwater rockpiles, docks, bridges, willow grass and brushpiles are all holding fish now.

Striper: Did you know that 201,000 fingerling Chesapeake Bay stripers were stocked back in May here? Yep, lots of stocked fish each year have made Lake Anna's striper easier to find for everyone and it's been an enjoyable summer. Get out early in the morning and start your striper search at places like Rose Valley, Big Ben Flats, just above and below Stubb's Bridge, just above and below the 208 bridge and down around the power plant. Don't go too far back into any creek. The majority of the fish are still on the main lake now. An afternoon/evening feed will develop by the end of the month, too. Casting lures and trolling tends to work better now than live bait until the water cools again in November. Expect plenty of 18 to 21inch fish this month and the occasional good'un up to 10 pounds. Hot zones could be the mouth of Plentiful Creek, the flats in front of the State Park beach, Ferrari's Corner Pocket of Big Ben Flats and the Window Pane and don't rule out some action way up around Gold Mine and Duck In Hole Creek near the end of the month.

Crappie: At some point next month these fish will return to the docks in the upper region of the lake. Until then you can fish deep for them using slip bobbers and minnows around bridge pilings and deep brush. McCotter's guides prefer to wait until they firm up in cooler water and make for better eating.

Book your fall trip now as dates are going quickly.

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

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

Whether hunting, fishing, camping or hiking, outdoor adventure shared with family members can create lasting memories. For 16 year old, Kyle Whigham, a Junior at Riverheads High School in Augusta County, his most memorable outdoor experience was a hike to Crabtree Falls in Nelson County with his family that started out as a "drag", but inspired by the beauty of Nature, his mood suddenly changed by a simple burst of sunlight... rejuvenating his spirit. Whether finding sights and sounds while exploring the streams and woods with his family, or sharing the experience and past memories of outings, sharing time afield offers many rewards. Kyle entered his article in the 2009-10 Virginia Outdoor Writers Association High School Writing Competition and placed in the Top 10. Kyle has captured the excitement, serenity, and fond memories that come with a family hiking trip into the wild.

My Visit to Crab Tree Falls

By Kyle Whigham

Roughly four-and-a-half miles of serene walking through Nature and all her beauty best describe the hike to Crab Tree Falls. While waking up at six o'clock in the morning is never fun, taking a brisk morning hike is… too bad I never did that. That Saturday I had woken up at ten o'clock. My day passed as usual; a few chores, weekend homework, that sort of thing. Around lunch time, my parents announced one of the most boring ideas I had ever heard; we were going to Crab Tree Falls later in the afternoon to hike. The first thing that went through my mind when they said that was, "Well, there goes my day." They had us pack a few snacks for the trail, and we all decided to dress in shorts and a t-shirt, seeing how it was the middle of July.

My family and I packed into the car like sardines, and started down the road. After about 15 minutes, we were surrounded by little hills and dips in the land. All I could comprehend was no cell phone reception, which in turn led to the realization that I couldn't text. I was mortified for the next five minutes that we spent driving. After a last rise in the road, we drove into a quaint little parking lot that seemed deserted, which was good as it seemed it could only hold a couple dozen vehicles. Two small brown restroom buildings squatted opposite of where we parked. My mom, dad, and two little brothers all clambered out of the car, seeing the sights they could see, watching for wildlife, and exclaiming to each other the things they saw, sounding like a nest of baby birds, all chirping at each other. I heaved a sigh and slowly pulled myself out of the vehicle, head hung, resigned that nothing good would come of this day. Now of course I was drafted for pack mule duty, and was given the task of carrying the backpack throughout our little excursion.

Our hike wasn't going to go very far, just about two miles round trip; still a long way to carry a backpack. We all set out along the path, everyone with a spring in their step; except me of course. I trudged along at the back of the group, feeling a little (a lot) dejected, all because of this dumb backpack and this dumb trip. Just as I lifted my head to watch where I was going, the sun burst from behind a cloud and lit up the whole forest like a giant Christmas tree. Individual rays of light shot through the overhead canopy of leaves, illuminating the entire forest floor. Already orange and bronze leaves had been blown from the trees overhead, creating a kaleidoscope of bright autumn colors. The beauty of it astounded me.

A thought entered my head right then that maybe, just maybe, this wouldn't be so bad after all. That darn backpack felt twenty pounds lighter already. Head swiveling, half a smile on my lips, I walked forward, shedding the lethargic feeling first from my toes, then my feet, then legs, and upwards until it reached the top of my head, where warmth suddenly rushed down in the reverse and my body felt rejuvenated and I felt alive. Mouth finally broken into a huge smile, I quickly caught up with my family and joined in their conversation, listening to their observations and adding those of my own. My parents noticed my change of heart, and smiled themselves, which in turn caused my little brothers to smile as well. The backpack wasn't noticeable at all. All smiling we walked in companionable silence for a little bit, looking very goofy doing so. No one was around to see it except Nature herself and I loved every minute of it.

This entry in the Virginia Outdoor Writers Association (VOWA) 2009-10 High School Writing Competition by, 16 year old, Kyle Whigham, a Junior at Riverheads High School in Augusta County placed in the Top Ten. For information on the VOWA Collegiate or High School Youth Writing Competitions visit the VOWA website:, 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:

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