In this edition:

Happy New Year... Welcome New Subscribers!

This January 12th edition is very special as it is the first edition of 2011 and begins our fifth year of the electronic Outdoor Report. As a result of our new subscriber invitation we sent out while many of you were snowed in over the holidays, we have grown to over 33,000 readers. For nearly 4,000 of you, this is your first Outdoor Report! We welcome you as new readers and greatly appreciate the continued interest of our regular subscribers. We hope you will be well informed, educated, and even inspired on occasion to do something new and different to enhance your outdoor experiences, or better yet, share with others. Sharing activities with novice outdoor enthusiasts is a great way to "give back" to the outdoors you respect and cherish. You don't have to do this alone, find a group that shares your views and interests and join. Each edition of the Outdoor Report contains examples of organizations that partner with VDGIF staff to provide opportunities to get folks involved in outdoor activities, supporting conservation programs and making our wild Virginia a great place to live, and experience the bounty of our fields, streams and forests.

From all of us who work to bring you the Outdoor Report, we wish you and yours a safe, rewarding New Year full of outdoor adventures!

David Coffman, Editor

New Readers Guide to Your Outdoor Report...

Welcome. We appreciate your accepting our email invitation to subscribe to our electronic newsletter. The Outdoor Report is formatted in standard sections as outlined in the "In This Edition" contents listing at the beginning. There is also an events calendar, hunting season dates, and other program features in the sidebar. Our purpose is to provide you with timely, up-to-date, factual, short articles with links to more details on featured stories. This format allows you to quickly scan through the newsletter and read those articles of interest to you. If you prefer not to scroll through the entire newsletter, simply click on the Section in the "In This Edition:" list you want to view and the section will appear on your screen. The newsletter is emailed directly to you the second and fourth Wednesday of each month. We are especially proud that we have grown this newsletter to routinely include news items from more than 35 partner organizations and agencies. At VDGIF we realize that the conservation, management, and stewardship of Virginia's bountiful wildlife and natural resources is best accomplished with all of us working together. The Outdoor Report is your newsletter, and we welcome your comments, news items, and suggestions for improvement. Read about what's happening, then get out there and participate, enjoy and respect the great outdoors! You can contact us directly at:

General Assembly Legislation of Interest to You

The Virginia General Assembly will convene January 13, 2011, the day after our next Outdoor Report edition. To keep you informed we have provided several links related to your legislature. There is a lot of legislative action scheduled this year on issues that may affect you as an outdoor enthusiast, landowner, or concerned citizen.

The most appropriate way to express your opinion about these bills, or any other legislation, is through your local delegate and/or senator. For more information about your legislators and how to contact them, visit the Virginia General Assembly website. You may also contact the Virginia General Assembly's Constituent Viewpoint Comment line toll-free at 1-800-889-0229 (804-698-1990 in Richmond.

2011 Freshwater Fishing in Virginia Book is Now Available!

The new 2011 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. 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 2011.

Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss

Basic Fly Fishing Workshop in Chesapeake February 5 and March 5

Learn to tie your first fly, cast a fly rod, and pick your equipment for a better fly fishing experience. Casting instructions, flytying, equipment basics, terminal tackle, and accessories. Held at Northwest River Park, in Chesapeake, on the first Saturday of the month, January through March 2011. No registration or experience required. Free and open to the public. Bring your own equipment if you like, but it's not required. For more information, contact Northwest River Park at (757) 421-7151 or

Richmond Fishing Expo Moves to Meadow Event Park January 21-23

The Richmond Fishing Expo is moving to the Farm Bureau Center at the new Meadow Event Park in Caroline County for the January 21-23, 2011 return to the Richmond area. The family-oriented show is geared to be a fun and educational experience for all who attend. Whether you are a fly fishing enthusiast, a bass fisher, saltwater, lake or river angler, this show has something for everyone in the family. Again this year, your admission ticket will allow you to return to the Show another day. There will be conservation organizations represented and an incredible selection of outfitters, fishing charters, boating suppliers, and seminar presenters. Numerous nationally-known speakers will hold seminars to teach skills and share some great stories of their adventures and experiences. VDGIF staff will be on hand to answer questions on agency programs, angling education, special training events, and opportunities to enjoy Virginia's great outdoors. The Outdoor Report e-newsletter will also have an exhibit featuring Fishin' Report contributing reporters answering your questions on where to get the latest "how are they bitin'" info on more that 25 primary lakes and rivers statewide. Volunteers from the VDGIF Complementary Work Force will be on hand describing opportunities for volunteers to assist in carrying out a variety of agency programs. For information visit the Show website or view the Show flyer.

January - April Sportsmens' Shows Set Dates and Locations

The six regional outdoor sportsman's shows scheduled for January - April 2011 have set their dates and some have changed locations. These annual "Break the cabin fever and beat the winter blues" events feature seminars from the experts, exhibits, demonstrations, and contests, promising fun and exciting new activities for everyone in the family. Experienced and novice sportsmen can try the latest in new equipment and learn about new places to enjoy Virginia's great outdoors from the pros. All the shows feature activities for kids to spark their interest in outdoor adventures. See the latest in specialized equipment and partnership programs offered by sportsman's organizations. VDGIF staff will be on hand to provide information on hunting and fishing opportunities and agency programs to manage fish and wildlife resources. Each show offers something different, so check each show's website for all the details.

Friends of Phelps Wildlife Management Area To Meet January 19 & February 16

The Friends of C.F. Phelps Wildlife Management Area (WMA) have scheduled meetings on Wednesday, January 19 and Wednesday, February 16 at 7 p.m. The group will meet at the Sumerduck Ruritan Club at 5335 Sumerduck Road, Sumerduck, VA 22742. To view what the Friends group has been doing, visit the Friends of C.F. Phelps WMA on Facebook at Friends of C.F. Phelps Wildlife Management Area and see photos of our Work day and Tour of Phelps. For more information on the Friends of C.F. Phelps WMA or to be added to the distribution list for meeting reminders and notes, contact Patricia Wood at

VA Beach Celebrates Winter Wildlife Festival January 28-30

Winter is a great time to see wildlife in Virginia! The Winter Wildlife Festival January 28-30 in Virginia Beach offers a great chance to see wintering waterfowl, shorebirds raptors and songbirds as well as whales and maybe even seals! This festival is jointly sponsored by the Virginia Beach Department of Park and Recreation and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Many partners are coming together to offer a truly great event (Virginia Aquarium, Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, False Cape State Park, First Landing State Park, Lynnhaven River NOW, and the Virginia Beach Audubon Society).

There are trips and tours with expert guides to Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, False Cape and First Landing State Parks and The Princess Anne Wildlife Management Area to name a few. No winter visit to Virginia Beach would be complete without heading out to the islands of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. These man-made islands attract a variety of wildlife not typically seen close to shore – with birds like purple-sandpipers and harlequin ducks often seen, and seal sometimes hauling out on the rocks.

The festival will kick-off on the evening Friday Jan 28th with an evening at the Virginia Aquarium with Reese Lukei of the Center for Conservation Biology. Snow Geese make a spectacular migration every year with as many as 25,000 spending the winter in Virginia. Reese will talk about his work tracking marked snow geese in Southeastern Virginia.

On Saturday Jan 29th the Festival HQ and Exhibit Hall at Princess Anne Recreation Center, 1400 Nimmo Parkway will be open with fun activities and displays for the whole family – the exhibit hall is free and open to the public. There will be workshops as well, where you can learn about the basics of birding, how to create backyard habitats or make your own rain barrel. Advanced registration is required to join the field trips and workshops. Registration is free, although some trips so require a fee. For more information and registration go to So bundle up and head to Virginia Beach for an amazing Winter Wildlife experience!

Wilderness Survival & Outdoor Skills Weekend at Hungry Mother State Park February 18-20

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? Hungry Mother State Park near Marion is hosting a Basic Wilderness Survival and Outdoor Skills Weekend February 18-20. The program includes professional and expert instruction with participation limited for a better instructor: participant ratio. Optional classes include: Basics of Survival - What to think about to stay alive,  Primitive Shelter - Space Blankets to Debris Huts, Water & Wild Edibles - Finding Water and Food,  Situational Awareness – Use and detection of camouflage, Fire Craft - Making and maintaining a fire without matches,  Managing Hypo/Hyperthermia. Each participant will learn how to build their own survival kit .  Learn knowledge and skills to last a lifetime! Cost of workshop is $50 and covers all programming and instructor fees. Pre-registration required. Contact Roy Hutchinson, email:,  Check out the Wilderness Discovery School website or call (877) 614-5289.

Holston River Master Naturalist Training Class Scheduled for February-May

The Holston Rivers Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalists is offering its Basic Training Class starting Feb. 17- May 5, 2011 at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in Abingdon. The Virginia Master Naturalist Program is a statewide corps of volunteers providing education, outreach and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities. To become certified, Master Naturalists complete 40 hours of basic training, including classroom hours and field trips, plus eight hours of advanced training and 40 hours of volunteer service per year. Topics in the curriculum include such diverse subjects as basic geology, karst groundwater hydrology, aquatic biology, ornithology, salamanders, entomology, forestry, stream health, and more. Volunteer projects include education, stewardship activities and citizen science. For more information and a training application visit: or contact: Christi Edwards,, telephone (276) 492-6693 cell/day , (276) 676-2254 night. To learn about other chapters' training courses and activities, visit

Virginia Living Museum Hosts Fly Tying and Casting Workshop March 19

Virginia Coastal Fly Anglers will present a one-day workshop at the Virginia Living Museum in Newport News for those interested in learning and/or improving their fly fishing skills. Learn to tie three to four flys, how to throw your line to a fish, tie basic knots, match a rod to a reel and line. All materials are provided or you can bring your own equipment. Fly fishing merchandise coupons will be given to all participants. For adults, plus ages 12-16 with an adult. 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Cost $40 VLM members, $50 non-members. Register in advance at (757) 595-9135.

Virginia Bats at Risk is Topic of Lecture Series at VA Living Museum March 6 & May 1

The mysterious White Nose Syndrome (WNS) that has killed hundreds of thousands of bats in the northeastern U.S. has been confirmed in some Virginia counties. Learn what is known about WNS, the current status of WNS in our state, which bats are affected and what the spread of WNS may mean to Virginia's caves and other wildlife in this lecture at the Virginia Living Museum 1 p.m. Part of the museum's Sunday lecture series. Included in museum admission of $17 adults, $13 ages 3-12.

People and Partners in the News

Bedford Youth Rabbit Hunting Workshop Great Success

On Saturday, December 4, 2010 the Virginia Hunter Education Association, Inc. conducted their 4th Annual Youth Rabbit Hunting Workshop. This workshop was conducted on property belonging to Kennedy's Orchard in the Wheats Valley section of Bedford County. This annual hunt has created an incredible opportunity for some area youth to experience rabbit hunting with dogs in a safe, controlled and learning environment. Ten youngsters under 17 years of age participated in the all day event, beginning with an instructional session on Eastern cottontail biology & habitat, hunting techniques, ethics and safety. The youth were then divided into two groups with dog handlers and rabbit beagles and were supervised by Volunteer Hunter Education Instructors.

For many, this was their first experience rabbit hunting and, although the hunt began on a very cold and frosty morning, it didn't dampen their enthusiasm. In short order, the music of some very excited beagles rang out and the chase was on!! Despite the cold weather, frozen ground and blowing snow making it difficult for the beagles to stay on the track, plenty of rabbits were jumped and several were harvested by the young hunters. Several hours of cold and snow flurries eventually drove everyone back to the comfort of the Kennedy home. Here, they were greeted with warm cups of hot chocolate and steamy bowls of venison chili, while sharing their experiences of the day!

After hearing expressions of "Thanks" and many "let's do it again next year", the instructors ended their day with plans for a 2011 event. Many thanks go out to the Virginia Hunter Education Association members and volunteers, VDGIF employees and area rabbit dog handlers, without which this event could not have been possible!

Bedford Youth Participate in Muzzleloader Deer Hunts

The Virginia Hunter Education Association Inc., in cooperation with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF), conducted two Youth Deer Hunting Workshops on Saturday, November 20th & December 18th, 2010. The hunts were conducted on property belonging to the Bedford County Economic Development Authority located in the New London area of Bedford County. These workshops marked the fifth and sixth such events conducted in Bedford County in the past three years and continues the partnership between these Agencies and the Economic Development Authority. The workshops created an incredible opportunity for some area youth to experience hunting in a safe, controlled and learning environment. At the first hunt nine youngsters, ages 12 to 15, participated in the all day event, beginning with a morning hunt, an instructional session on deer biology, deer hunting techniques, and firearms safety. This was followed with each youth and parent sharing in a hearty lunch before heading back to the blinds for the afternoon hunt. The late muzzle loading hunt allowed eleven youth hunters this same opportunity.

The hunts began at approximately 6 a.m. with each youth being accompanied by a parent/guardian and supervised by a certified Virginia Hunter Education Instructor. Each hunting location had been pre-determined, with ground blinds set up to accommodate all participants. The hunts continued until the close of legal hours with seven deer being harvested, many deer seen and smiles all around. A heartfelt thanks go out to the members of the Virginia Hunter Education Association, VDGIF employees and all other volunteers who were instrumental in successfully providing these youth deer hunting workshops. Additionally, thanks go out to the Association for their fund raising efforts and to all the vendors who so graciously provided donations. The numerous donations received made it possible to provide lunch, snacks, and hunting related door prizes for all the youth participants at no charge.

Over the past three years these hunts have offered many unique opportunities for area youth to experience the hunting tradition in a safe and ethical manner. With each passing year, we continue to see the excitement and enthusiasm in the faces of every youth and parent and are met with resounding anticipation of the next years hunts!

Outdoor Writers Association Announces Annual Youth Writing Competitions

The Virginia Outdoor Writers Association, Inc. (VOWA) announces its 18th Annual High School (grades 9-12) Writing Competition for 2010-11. The goal of the competition is to reward young people for excellence in communicating their personal experiences in the outdoors. The competition is open to all Virginia students in grades 9 through 12, including home-schooled students.

The theme of this year's contest is based on "A Memorable Outdoor Experience". An experience by the student writer with hunting, fishing, camping, canoeing, hiking, birding or other outdoor activity should be the predominant subject matter. No athletic event or competition is an eligible subject matter. Submissions can be submitted in a Microsoft Word or text file since the three top winners will be posted on the VOWA Web site, and may be in other publications or on web sites. E-mail submissions are encouraged - write the document and then attach it to an e-mail. The submissions can be made between now and the January 31, 2011, deadline.

Awards will consist of gift certificates and gear from outdoor sports businesses and Supporting Members of VOWA. Over $500 in prizes will be awarded. Winners will be announced and awards presented at the VOWA's Annual Meeting scheduled April 13-14, 2011 at Bear Creek Lake State Park in Cumberland County. The winner's parents (or mentor/teacher) will be guests of VOWA for the awards presentation event. There is also a separate competition for college level undergraduates interested in pursuing journalism or communication careers and interests.

For Competition guidelines, entry information and required entry submission form for both the High School and Collegiate Undergraduate contests, visit the VOWA website or contact VOWA High School Competition Chairman, David Coffman at For the Collegiate Competition, contact Marie Majarov at

Winning entries are featured in each edition of the Outdoor Report in the Winning Outdoor Adventure Stories from Young Writers section. After reading these stories from exceptional young writers, we hope you will be inspired to write about one of your memorable outdoor experiences and submit it to the competition.

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. 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.

Safety and courtesy are free, share them generously

Yes Virginia, You Can Hunt in the Snow!

Vance Shearin at the VDGIF Information Desk in the Richmond Headquarters office received a number of calls from hunters during last December's record snowfall asking, "Is it legal to hunt in the snow?" He notes that many of the calls were from hunters new to Virginia so he double checked with the VDGIF Law Enforcement Division and Major Mike Clark confirmed that the answer is "yes"! The questions may be from the fact that it is illegal to hunt certain game in the snow in some other states. Also there were a few regulations in years past prohibiting hunting in the snow, but over time all the exceptions have long since been repealed.

Here's an idea if the youngsters are out of school due to snow - take them hunting with you, (gun , binoculars or camera) rather than sit around the house. There is a vast outdoor classroom awaiting to learn the habits and movements of wildlife in the snow and bonding time that can't be beat. If they need a hunting license, Apprentice licenses are available on-line, or at area sporting goods retailers. So remember cold weather safety tips, check the regulations to be sure your game is in season and go hunt in the snow and create some great winter memories.

Share your Hunting Photos and Stories With Us...

We're looking for some good deer, squirrel, rabbit, bear, and turkey hunting photos from youth, or novice hunters. Congratulations to those who have taken the time and commitment to mentor a young or novice hunter-- the dads and moms, uncles, aunts, grandparents, or friends for discovering the passion for the outdoors and providing this most important opportunity for developing new traditions, 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

Don Hebert sent in this photo of his son Daniels first deer harvested the day before Christmas in New Kent county. We had hunted hard during archery and muzzleloading seasons with no luck. A nice 4 point winded us during archery and stayed just out of bow range. A nice doe ran away after a miss fire from 20 yards during muzzleloading season. Daniel stated he was tried of spending hours in the woods with nothing to show for it. When a friend from church invited us to hunt with his club the day before Christmas we were eager to say yes. When my 5 year old says the blessing at dinner he always adds "and send Daniel a big buck" , and it sure worked this time. We were spread out with Daniel in the middle I was on his left and my oldest son, Jonathan, on his right. I saw a doe just walking toward us, no dogs anywhere near us, she headed straight for me, Daniel and I fired at the same time and she dropped right there, then the buck, whom we had not seen, bolted to the right and gave Daniel a perfect broadside shot-he unloaded the shotgun on him and he also dropped the buck… a nice 7 pointer with a pretty large body and will be the main course at several meals and some summer sausage! I look forward to many more deer and hopefully turkeys harvested with these 2 and my other 2 children also.

Southside Hunters Celebrate 60 Year Thanksgiving Tradition

Thanksgiving Day, 1950, David Robertson and Raymond Davis began a hunting tradition that reached its 60th anniversary celebrated this past Thanksgiving 2010.  Both, soon to be 85 years of age, became lasting friends as salesmen for Curtiss Candy Company (signature candies - Baby Ruth & Butterfinger) earlier in 1950.  Regardless of the weather, each Thanksgiving, Raymond would travel to David's home in Danville for the long Thanksgiving weekend and three days of rabbit hunting on the farms and timberland of Pittsylvania and Halifax counties.  David's devotion to sportsmanship, his pack of 8 to 14 beagles that he trains and works year round, his 35 years of route salesmanship to the back road country stores, and his never-met-a-stranger demeanor has earned respect throughout the Danville area

Before meeting, David and Raymond had common ground:  David born and raised on a farm in Pittsylvania County: Raymond born and raised on a farm in Halifax County;  Both joined the Navy during WWII, David serving in the Pacific, Raymond serving in the Mediterranean Sea; and both career salesmen.  After their meeting, David shared his passion for rabbit hunting and the thrill of the beagle chorus echoing through the brush and woods with Raymond.  Because they both could be off from work during Thanksgiving, the hunts became a scheduled calendar event.  Many rabbits were gathered over the years, not so many are gathered now and the hunts are not as long, yet the joy of being in the field, of the dogs whaling away as David calls each of them by name and of stories retold many times have bonded these two guys. A faithful hunting buddy and a pack of good rabbit dogs… there's a lot to be Thankful for!

License Options for Novice Hunters

Take a look at an Apprentice Hunting License for a friend or family member that wants to try out this rewarding sport this season. Apprentice hunters are reminded they still have to comply with this education requirement before legally purchasing a state resident or nonresident basic hunting license. Be sure to check out the new Apprentice Hunting License video VDGIF has posted on YouTube. The video is an overview of how the Apprentice Hunter program works. Lee and Tiffany Lakosky, stars of the Outdoor Channel program, "The Crush with Lee & Tiffany," have a special video message to take the time to introduce a friend or youngster to the great outdoors with an Apprentice Hunting License.

There are youth and family-friendly events throughout September all across the state, where you can go to get information and the right gear to make your outdoor adventures safe, successful, and fun. Visit your local sporting goods store or sportsmen event and properly prepare for a great hunting season with family and friends.

Remember to make a donation to Hunters for the Hungry when you purchase your licenses through the convenient check-off option- give $5 to show you care for those in need!

Update on VDGIF - CWD Sampling in Frederick and Shenandoah Counties

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) wishes to recognize the excellent cooperation of hunters in sampling for chronic wasting disease (CWD) in Frederick and Shenandoah counties this past November. To date, VDGIF has collected samples from more than 500 deer brought to check stations and self-service drop stations or killed on the road.

Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, a new case of CWD was detected less than 2 miles from the first case discovered last year in western Frederick County, Virginia. The 4 point buck was killed by a hunter near the West Virginia line and brought to a check station for sampling on November 20, 2010. Given the proximity of this second case to the first one, changes to the current management actions or restrictions are not anticipated. However, VDGIF is still awaiting final test results from approximately 100 samples, so the need to modify management strategies cannot be determined until after the conclusion of the hunting season and receipt of all sample results in January.

In addition to collecting samples, VDGIF has implemented several other management actions in the northern Shenandoah Valley during the past year in response to the detection of CWD. These management actions include: prohibiting the feeding of deer year-round, prohibiting the movement of deer carcasses and parts out of the Containment Area (with exceptions), restricting the disposal of deer wastes from the Containment Area, prohibiting the rehabilitation of deer in the Containment Area, and changing seasons and bag limits on private lands in an attempt to reduce the deer population.

CWD has been detected in 18 states and two Canadian provinces. CWD is a slow, progressive neurological (brain and nervous system) disease found in deer, elk, and moose in North America. The disease ultimately results in death of the infected animal. Symptoms exhibited by CWD-infected deer include, staggering, abnormal posture, lowered head, drooling, acting confused, and marked weight loss. There is no evidence that CWD can be naturally transmitted to humans, livestock, or pets. More information about CWD and these management actions can be found on the VDGIF website.

Anyone who sees a sick deer that displays any of the signs of CWD (see website for symptoms) should contact the nearest VDGIF office immediately with accurate location information. Please do not attempt to disturb or kill the deer before contacting the VDGIF. For additional information contact:
Hank Tomlinson, CWD Technician; (540) 290-9359;
Tyler Urgo, CWD Technician; (540) 290-8158;

Updates For Waterfowl and Webless Migratory Birds

There has been a surge in interest in waterfowl hunting this January as noted by an increase in calls and visits to our information desk at the Richmond Headquarters as reported by Vance Shearin who answers inquiries for the numerous visitors and callers. Vance notes there are still lots of opportunities for waterfowl hunting in January and February. Duck season is open until January 29. Goose season is open till January 29 in the Atlantic Zone, February 15 in the Southern James Bay Zone, and to February 26 in the Resident (West) Zone. Also Light Goose (Greater/Lesser Snow Geese & Ross' Geese) season runs till January 31 then the Special Order Conservation Season February 1 -March 26 which hunters will be able to register online through our website or by calling our Customer Service center, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m., excluding holidays, at 1-866-721-6911. Duck and Goose hunting is hot right now.

Season dates for waterfowl were 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.

SAFETY FIRST... Waterfowl hunting has a number of unique safety precautions that involve attention to water and boating safety measures, cold weather awareness and gun safety. VDGIF Boating Education Coordinator, Stacey Brown cautions, "While planning a waterfowl hunt, don't forget to check to be sure the boat is in good working condition, with enough gas for the trip and equipped with proper personal flotation devices and other safety gear." Read the safety precautions and additional steps waterfowl hunters need to take to reduce the chances of drowning in Be Safe... Have Fun Boating Safety Precautions For Waterfowl Hunters...

Be Safe... Have Fun!

Boating Safety Precautions For Waterfowl Hunters...

There has been a surge in interest in waterfowl hunting this January as reported by an increase in calls and visits to our information desk at the Richmond Headquarters. Waterfowl hunting has a number of unique safety precautions that involve attention to water and boating safety measures, cold weather awareness and gun safety. VDGIF Boating Education Coordinator, Stacey Brown cautions, "While planning a waterfowl hunt, don't forget to check to be sure the boat is in good working condition, with enough gas for the trip and equipped with proper personal flotation devices and other safety gear." Here are some additional steps to reduce the chances of drowning.

With the increase in latter season interest in waterfowl hunting, there has been an increase in reported accidents. Don't let a late season accident ruin your hunt or take your life or the life of a fellow hunter. Safety and courtesy are free… use them generously!

See the Hunting News You Can Use Section for a reminder of the Waterfowl seasons open through February.

Preventing Frostbite and Hypothermia

Prolonged exposure to low temperatures, wind or moisture—whether it be on a ski slope or in a stranded car—can result in cold-related illnesses such as frostbite and hypothermia. The National Safety Council offers this information to help you spot and put a halt to these winter hazards.

Frostbite is the most common injury resulting from exposure to severe cold. Superficial frostbite is characterized by white, waxy, or grayish-yellow patches on the affected areas. The skin feels cold and numb. The skin surface feels stiff but underlying tissue feels soft and pliable when depressed. Treat superficial frostbite by taking the victim inside immediately. Remove any constrictive clothing items that could impair circulation. If you notice signs of frostbite, immediately seek medical attention. Re-warming usually takes 20 to 40 minutes or until tissues soften.

Hypothermia occurs when the body's temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Symptoms of this condition include change in mental status, uncontrollable shivering, cool abdomen and a low core body temperature. Severe hypothermia may produce rigid muscles, dark and puffy skin, irregular heart and respiratory rates, and unconsciousness.

Treat hypothermia by protecting the victim from further heat loss and calling for immediate medical attention. Get the victim out of the cold. Add insulation such as blankets, pillows, towels or newspapers beneath and around the victim. Be sure to cover the victim's head. Replace wet clothing with dry clothing. Handle the victim gently because rough handling can cause cardiac arrest. Keep the victim in a horizontal (flat) position. Give artificial respiration or CPR (if you are trained) as necessary.

How to prevent cold-related illnesses

Avoid frostbite and hypothermia when you are exposed to cold temperatures by wearing layered clothing, eating a well-balanced diet, and drinking warm, non-alcoholic, caffeine-free liquids to maintain fluid levels. Avoid becoming wet, as wet clothing loses 90 percent of its insulating value.

Permission to reprint granted by the National Safety Council, a membership organization dedicated to protecting life and promoting health.

Get Prepared for Winter Weather NOW!

Last winter, multiple record-breaking snowstorms and cold temperatures affected every part of Virginia. Citizens suffered in the wake of power outages, icy roads and bored school children. This is Winter Preparedness Week December 5-11, to focus on getting ready for possible bad weather. Here's how to start preparing:

Additional information and resources are available online at Ready Virginia.

"Green Tips" for Outdoor Enthusiasts

This section in the Outdoor Report provides tips and articles on ways you as an outdoors enthusiast 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.

"On the Trail"

VBWT Site CRI02 Three Lakes Park, Nature Center & Aquarium

It is perhaps a truism among travelers that distant sites hold more appeal and intrigue than those close to home. Sadly, that often means some really terrific local sites never get visited by those who live in the area. For those of you who happen to live in the Richmond area, one such site might just be Three Lakes Park Nature Center & Aquarium in Henrico Co. Site CRI02 on the Richmond Loop, it is located at 400 Sausiluta Dr. Henrico, VA 23227, just minutes from downtown Richmond. This is definitely a site for which you'll want to bring the kids along, regardless of their ages. To start, there is the 119-acre park centered on three lakes and their accompanying interwoven trails. The trails will take you through a variety of habitats, including swamps, upland forests, open fields, meadows and riparian (stream-side) woodlands. Water is always a draw for all kinds of wildlife, and when warm weather returns, you'll be able to enjoy scoping the main lake for herons and other wading birds as well as amphibians, turtles and abundant damsel- and dragonflies from the observation platform just outside the Nature Center.

If you're not into winter wildlife watching, The Nature Center may be just the ticket for a weekend family outing (Three Lakes Park & Nature Center is only open Saturday and Sunday, noon – 4:30 p.m., December-February). The current Nature Center opened in April, 2007 after Hurricane Gaston destroyed the previous one in 2004. The new 6,500 sq. ft. facility features a variety of live exhibits, dioramas, and interactive displays designed to provide for hands-on experiences that informs visitors about the local flora and fauna. If you're like me and easily transfixed by watching aquarium fish, you'll be entranced by the Center's underwater viewing window that gives you a "fish-eye" view of the inhabitants of its 50,000 gallon freshwater aquarium. You're sure to be impressed by the size of some of our Virginia natives, including longnose gar, crappie, largemouth bass, and catfish.

Programs, tours, and classes are available throughout the year. For more information about upcoming programs and events, visit their website or contact Tom Thorpe or Becky Monroe at (804) 262-5055.

The Virginia's Birding and Wildlife Trail (VBWT) features over 680 sites from every corner of the Commonwealth into 65 driving loops. The VBWT offers visitors the opportunity to discover and experience our incredible wildlife diversity throughout the coastal, piedmont and mountain regions. The best way to appreciate what the Trail has to offer is with the help of a Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail Guide. You can visit the website to download any or all of the 65 scenic loops that cover Virginia's 43,000 sq. miles. You can also call toll-free, 1-866-721-6911, to purchase the comprehensive guidebook featuring all of the sites statewide. Both the website and the guidebook provide detailed descriptions of the trail loops and sites, maps, driving directions and information about the wildlife you'll see.

Create a Holiday Tree for the Kids and the Birds

Dreaming of a white Christmas? Whether there is ice and snow, or just frigid temperatures, here are some ideas to help wildlife through severe weather. If you are wondering what to do with the kids over the long holiday break from school, these activities will get them away from the video screens and outdoors exploring nature.

When the holidays are over and all the decorations and tinsel have been removed, put your cut tree out in the yard to provide additional cover for the birds. Outside, cut trees will remain green long after the holiday has ended, if they were cared for properly inside. You may want to anchor the tree with tent stakes and string to prevent the wind from blowing it over. Once stable, you can "decorate" the tree again, this time with food for the birds. An evergreen holiday wreath can be recycled in your yard the same way.

Fill the cut tree (or old wreath) with fruits and nuts strung on narrow twine or tied with other inexpensive string. Suitable foods include apple slices, whole peanuts in the shell or cranberries, and raisins; suet in nylon net bags; or pine cones filled with peanut butter and rolled in seed. Use foods that are natural and not full of added sugars or artificial ingredients. Be sure to tie the treats close to the branches so that once eaten there isn't a long string dangling for a bird to become entangled in; remove strings as they are emptied. The birds will welcome the treats and will take advantage of the protective cover from the tree as winter winds and cold settle in. Keep re-decorating the tree with more fruits and nuts as the food is eaten through the winter.

When spring comes, don't haul the now leafless tree to the dump. Instead, lay it on its side in an out of the way location, or incorporate the dead twigs and branches into a compost pile. The tree can also be used with other dead limbs or fallen branches in the yard to construct a brush pile for chipmunks, rabbits, and other small animals.

For more info visit the VDGIF website for "Bird Feeding Basics" (PDF)

Don't Move Firewood

Trees are being destroyed through the transportation of invasive insects and diseases in firewood. Once transported into new areas, these insects and diseases can become established and kill local trees. You can help stop the spread: Use firewood from local sources only. DO NOT transport firewood across state lines or into campgrounds or parks. If you have moved firewood, burn all of it before leaving your campsite. Even if an area is not under quarantine, it is a good general practice to not move firewood long distances. The quarantine regulations for an area usually lag well behind the arrival of a new invasive species. For more information, visit the Virginia Department of Forestry 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!

Virginia Naturally Website Link to School Environmental Learning Programs

Visit the Virginia Naturally website now for ideas on nature learning activities. Teachers, there are also ideas for workshops and training available for your continuing education and getting a start on environmental lesson plans for the next semester.

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

Snow Cover Offers Best Time to Track Wildlife

The Northeaster snowstorm covering most of the East coast just after Christmas provided a great opportunity to go out and track the movements of wildlife. With the frigid temperatures the snow stayed around for several days in many areas and offered a rare outdoor classroom for learning the movements, shelter and feeding habits of wild animals under harsh conditions. If you did not take advantage of this opportunity in December- here are a few observations and photos we made while deer hunting. Next time it snows, dress warmly and head out with your camera and a good wildlife track guide and learn the wonders of nature and how wild animals move about and survive in the snow.

Make a Special Bird Treat

The following recipe is a great food mixture for birds that can be smeared on tree bark, fence posts, the wood in a wood pile, or pine cones hung in the yard where they can be seen from your windows. This mix provides a supplemental source of fat energy and nutrients to the birds. Making the mixture is fun, inexpensive and something the whole family can join in.

First, in large bowl, stir together:

Then add 1 part of lard or peanut butter and stir until the mixture holds together in one big ball. (Or, you can substitute bacon grease that's been rendered and chilled, but do not use shortening.)

This mixture will attract nuthatches, chickadees, tufted titmice, brown creepers, woodpeckers, mockingbirds, and even bluebirds. You and your family can get winter feeders (PDF) ready and review bird-feeding basics (PDF) that will help keep your backyard birds healthy and discourage unwanted intruders to your feeders. A brush pile will give these guests a place to take cover between trips out in the open to feed. The Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail, winding its way all over our state provides excellent opportunities for family walks to view and welcome arriving winter songbirds. Keep a record of the different species of birds you observe, it's fun, and educational for "children" of all ages. The birds will appreciate it too!

Nature Observations from the Virginia Wildlife Calendar

Look at the 2010 Virginia Wildlife Calendar for answers to these wildlife related questions for winter:

Answers to December 8 edition quiz for nature events in January...

Get your copy of the 2011 Virginia Wildlife Calendar here.

Habitat Improvement Tips

Landowners Woods & Wildlife Conference in Charlottesville February 19

Calling all owners of woodland, large or small... The 8th Annual Landowners Woods & Wildlife Conference is scheduled for February 19, 2011, 8:30 am – 5 pm in Charlottesville at the Zehmer Conference Center. Topics covered include: Invasives, Profitability & Conservation.

Quail Biologists Eager to Assist Landowners and Hunters

In January 2011 as part of implementing the VA Quail Action Plan (VQAP), five new pairs of field boots hit the wildlife habitat dirt. These boots belong to Virginia's first cooperatively hired Private Lands Wildlife Biologists. Marc Puckett, VDGIF Co-Project Leader for the Quail Recovery Initiative (QRI) reports that this unique program represents a joint hiring effort between the Conservation Management Institute at Virginia Tech, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, they are the first of their kind in Virginia. Similar, highly successful, programs have existed for several years in Missouri, Kentucky, North Carolina and other states. They represent the closest partnership ever between the cooperating agencies. Jack Bricker, State Conservationist for NRCS and Bob Duncan, Director of the VDGIF, signed an agreement formalizing the partnership December 2009. The new biologists work daily with partners in the agricultural community – one critical to wildlife nationwide. Their primary role is helping private landowners develop wildlife habitat through a variety of financial incentives programs.

VQAP was the impetus for this successful partnership. In its first year of implementation, the hiring of the 5 new biologists was a major goal of the VQAP. The biologists spend a great deal of their time working on early-successional habitat – a habitat type that benefits not only bobwhite quail but dozens of early-successional species including pollinating insects.

These wildlife biologists can be contacted for habitat assistance at the following USDA Service Centers:

Large-scale habitat restoration and education are the key elements of the VQAP. The Virginia Quail Council was established as a coordinating group of conservation organizations and agencies actively supporting the Virginia Quail Action Plan through the promotion and application of land management practices and programs that increase the quality and quantity of quail habitat on agricultural and forested landscapes.

A copy of the Virginia Quail Action Plan and Virginia Quail Council members can be viewed on the Department's website. For information on the bobwhite quail, read the feature article in the Be Wild! Live Wild! Grow Wild! section. View the new video, "Answering the Call: Virginia's Quail Recovery Initiative," featured in this edition of the Outdoor Report.

Become a Quail Hunter Cooperator - We Need Your Help

VDGIF Small Game Project Leader Marc Puckett needs the help of Virginia's quail hunters. VDGIF biologists conduct a Quail Hunter Cooperator Survey annually that helps them keep track of hunter success, as well as the hatching dates and nesting chronology of wild bobwhites in Virginia. Puckett notes, "During its "hey day", we had over 200 quail hunter cooperators. Today that number has fallen to 58. We are in danger of losing this important survey. Please help us by becoming a quail hunter cooperator. All participants receive a free 2011 Virginia Wildlife Calendar and a report on previous surveys each year."

Cooperators are asked to report on each quail hunt via a reporting envelop. They are also asked to remove and include one wing from each quail harvested. They report on hunts whether quail are harvested or not. The postage is covered so there is no cost to participants. Each cooperator will receive between 5 and 50 quail wing envelops, one for each quail hunt they expect to go on annually. They are for wild quail hunts only and pen-raised quail should not be included.

To participate, send an e-mail to Marc Puckett at:, or call him at (434) 392-8328. We will need your name and full mailing address, plus the anticipated number of hunts you would need an envelop for. Feel free to call or email with questions if you are unsure whether you want to help, or are unclear about anything.

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.

Dog Killers Caught Through Extensive Investigation by CPOs

On Sunday December 19th, 2010, an Essex County hunter contacted Conservation Police Officer Cameron Dobyns in regards to having two deer hounds shot the day before. Since both dogs had tracking collars on them, two hunters went looking for them Sunday morning. What they first found was only one tracking collar and no dog. As they looked for the second collar they discovered it on one of their dogs which had been shot. The hunters left things as they found them and awaited Officer Dobyns arrival. While on scene and collecting evidence, the dog missing the collar was found dead nearby also shot.

With some help from Mother Nature it wasn't too hard to make out tracks in the snow and get a sense of what occurred. Officer Dobyns could clearly see where someone had walked in the snow up to one of the dogs and removed the tracking collar. There was evidence that indicated that the tracking collar had been moved to the opposite side of the property where the first tracking collar was found by the hunters.

There were ATV tracks that Officer Dobyns recognized and which could be identified later as belonging to an ATV used on the property. Though the snow helped, there were a lot of ATV trails and other footprints in the snow throughout the property and the property had also been hunted several days prior to this incident. Also located on the property were several treestands baited with corn. Dobyns contacted the landowner and learned the name of the hunter who was hunting on the property with an ATV that day. Dobyns contacted the hunter and requested a meeting the next day.

The meeting was planned at the property the next day at 1 PM. Officer Dobyns contacted Sgt. Atkins to ask for his assistance because of court the following morning. Sgt. Atkins arrived early while Officer Dobyns was in court. This was in case the suspect came early to remove bait or make an attempt to move or tamper with the already collected dogs or collars. While checking out the property, baited stands and tracks, Sgt. Atkins located the place where the 2 dogs had been shot along with some additional evidence. The suspect arrived at the property about 2 hours ahead of the meeting time but did not go into the woods. When Officer Dobyns arrived on scene, he and Sgt. Atkins went with the subject into the woods to discuss property lines. The subject showed the officers the treestand (baited) he had hunted out of on Saturday. He complained that because of the deer dogs running through the property they had no deer.  He admitted to feeding them all summer but swore the feeders were empty. (They were not) As they walked the property line and ATV path they got closer to where the dogs had been shot. The suspect wanted to head back to the vehicles in a different direction, but the officers continued to walk and ask general questions until they came upon the blood in the snow.

Pointing out the blood and giving a sense of raised curiosity the officers began trailing and putting the pieces together in the presence of the suspect. They followed the evidence to the ATV track which the suspect had previously claimed were his tracks. The suspect was then told the true reason for the officers being at the property. The suspect who was already nervous began to deny emphatically any knowledge of the dogs being shot.. This continued for a brief period until the subject eventually claimed he found the one dog dying and got scared because he did not want the local hunters to find it on the property so he removed the collar. After the officers pointed out the extensive evidence, the suspect finally admitted to shooting the dogs. Unfortunately for him he thought the other dog had gotten away but it had only run down the hill a little ways to where it also died. The subject is being charged with the killing of the 2 dogs, hunting over bait, and failing to check a deer that was killed Friday, December 17, 2010.

The suspect's cousin who resides out of state had also been there hunting on Saturday the 18th. He has no non-resident hunting license and killed a deer on the 18th from a baited treestand. Officials in that state have been contacted about the second suspect and a possible Lacy Act violation. Additional warrants have been obtained for the non-resident subject for game violations. For more information on this case contact Lieutenant Scott E. Naff at (804) 829-6580 (office).

Region I - Tidewater

Deer Decoy Operation Successful in Catching Poacher... On Saturday November 27, District 15 Officers conducted a deer decoy operation in New Kent County due to reported illegal hunting from the public road. At 7:00 pm, a decision was made to terminate the operation after 3 hours of uneventful activity. As CPOs Bell and Wilson were preparing to cross the road to take down the decoy, one last vehicle came down the road and stopped at the decoy. The Officers quickly concealed themselves again as the driver of the pickup got out and took numerous photos of the decoy. After taking photos and placing a cell phone call to his son, the driver excited told his son that the deer was still there and only 20 feet off the road. The driver then reached into his pickup and withdrew a 20 gauge slug gun and promptly shot the decoy in the chest. Realizing his folly, the driver speed off down the road only to be stopped by a CPO chase vehicle. The suspect was charged with spotlighting deer and shooting from a public roadway.

Region III - Southwest

CPOs Assist Vehicle Accident Victims During Snowstorm... On December 4, 2010, Senior Conservation Police Officer Randy Hurst, Wes Billings and Sergeant Rolland Cox assisted the Virginia State Police with vehicle accidents in Carroll and Wythe Counties. Both counties experienced an early season snow storm and VSP and local Sheriff's offices were unable to keep up the demands for service. Their assistance included aiding with the extrication of trapped individuals from three overturned vehicles, gathering information, directing VDOT resources, and traffic control.

Road Hunter and Driver charged on Multiple Offences... On December 5, 2010, Senior Conservation Police Officer Dan Hall was contacted on his day off by the Smyth County Sheriff's Office reference a call involving multiple game violations. Upon his arrival at the suspects' residence, Senior Officer Hall initiated an investigation relating to subjects shooting from the roadway. After advisement of both suspects of their Miranda Rights, Senior Officer Hall was able to determine that the suspects were traveling east on Riverside road when they saw a deer feeding in a field across the South Fork River. The passenger shot and killed the deer from within the vehicle with the use of a high powered rifle. The incident occurred within fifteen yards of the front of a residence located on the north side of Riverside Road. After driving approximately a mile to their residence, both suspects were attempting to retrieve the deer on foot when they were discovered by Smyth County Sheriff's Officers. After conclusion of the investigation, Senior Officer Hall obtained and served the suspect responsible for shooting the deer with magistrates summonses for Shooting a Deer from an Automobile, Killing a Deer on Sunday, Kill Deer during a closed season in violation of Board Regulations, Possession of an Illegal Deer, and Discharging a Firearm from a Road Right-of-Way. The driver of the vehicle was charged with Conspiring to Shoot Deer from an Automobile, Conspiring to Kill Deer on Sunday and Conspiring to possess an Illegally Taken Deer. The suspect's rifle used in commission of the offenses was also seized.

Region IV - Mountain & Valley

Citizen Complaints Lead to Apprehension of Convicted Felons Road Hunting... On November 27, 2010 Officer Billhimer and Officer Herndon were patrolling an area in Rockingham County, where several complaints of a red Chevrolet pickup was road hunting and shooting from the road. At sunset the vehicle was observed driving past where the Officers were staged. The vehicle drove the road at less than 5 mph with the windows down. The Officers confronted the suspects both suspects were armed with firearms and both were convicted felons. Written confessions were obtained. Warrants following shooting from the road, killing six deer without notching the license or checking the deer in and convicted felon in possession of a firearm. The community has called to show their appreciation to the Officers.

Region V - Northern Piedmont

Officers Surprise Baiters in Remote Mountain Location... In October 2010, CPO Tim Dooley received information from Region 4 CPO Kester in reference to a hunt club baiting deer in the Jones Hollow area of Albemarle County. Over the course of the next several weeks CPO's Dooley, Heberling, and Sgt. Ferguson spent countless hours covertly scouting the property and identifying the baited areas. The property in question consists of over 1,000 acres atop a steep mountain which made scouting difficult, and the officers narrowly avoided detection on more than one occasion.

On the Saturday following Thanksgiving, Region 5 CPO's Dooley, Green, Heberling, and Sgt. Ferguson joined forces with Region 2 CPO's Nipper, Sprinkle, and Sgt. Thomas to implement what was dubbed "Operation Cold Turkey." The CPO's hiked into the baited locations before daylight and got into position. At 0700 hours, the trap was sprung and several suspects were confronted. The suspects were shocked to see Conservation Police Officers that far into the mountains. One suspect stated that he had never been checked as long as he had hunted with that hunt club. Four charges were placed for hunting deer over bait, one charge for failure to wear blaze orange, with additional charges pending for killing deer illegally.

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

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.

2011 Freshwater Fishing in Virginia Book is Now Available!

The new 2011 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. 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 2011.

Fishing Expo Moves to Meadow Event Park January 21-23

The Richmond Fishing Expo is moving to the new Meadow Event Park in Caroline County for the January 21-23, 2011 return to the Richmond area. The family-oriented show is geared to be a fun and educational experience for all who attend. Whether you are a fly fishing enthusiast, a bass fisher, saltwater, lake or river angler, this show has something for everyone in the family. Again this year, your admission ticket will allow you to return to the Show another day. There will be conservation organizations represented and an incredible selection of outfitters, fishing charters, boating suppliers, and seminar presenters. Numerous nationally-known speakers will hold seminars to teach skills and share some great stories of their adventures and experiences. VDGIF staff will be on hand to answer questions on agency programs, angling education, special training events, and opportunities to enjoy Virginia's great outdoors. The Outdoor Report e-newsletter will also have an exhibit l featuring Fishin' Report contributing reporters answering your questions on where to get the latest "how are they bitin'" info on more that 25 primary lakes and rivers statewide. Volunteers from the VDGIF Complementary Work Force will be on hand describing opportunities for volunteers to assist in carrying out a variety of agency programs. For information visit the Show website or view the Show flyer.

Trout Stocking to Resume at Lake Thompson

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries announced January 12, 2011 that it will return Lake Thompson in Fauquier County to the Agency's list of designated stocked trout waters for 2011. Lake Thompson is a 10-acre pond located on the G. Richard Thompson Wildlife Management Area (WMA) which has been in the state’s trout stocking program for many years. However, the lake self-drained last summer due to a faulty emergency drain feature. Recently the leak has plugged itself and the water level has been stable for several months. Lake Thompson is a Category A "put-and-take" trout water which means it will be stocked six times between now and May 31, 2011 and a trout license is required in addition to a fishing license for anglers over age 15. Questions concerning this fishery should be directed to John Odenkirk at (540) 899-4169 x117 or

Give the Gift of a Fishing Trip with Family and Friends...

Outdoor Report Editor David Coffman offers a special gift idea to share with family and friends AND support your area fishing related businesses... Consider booking a fishing trip with some of the many guides that contribute their experience and expertise to the Fishin' Report each edition. Their websites and telephone numbers are listed with their reports. Also support your local bait shop, sporting goods store, marina, or other area retail businesses to help support your local economy. Visit any of the upcoming sportsman expos to learn from the pros. Also shop for a new personal flotation device for you or a fishing buddy. This is a meaningful gift that can be life-saving. There are new inflatable models that are more comfortable for adults allowing improved range of motion for casting. Also remember that a portion of your purchases of licenses and fishing equipment comes back to wildlife management agencies to fund management and research programs to enhance your sport. Remember it's the sportsmen that pay for conservation. Best wishes for a New Year of tight lines and calm waters.

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: (804) 693-2107. Eddie Hester reports that not many anglers have braved the cold weather; so he has nothing to tell us. The water is in the 40s and clear.

Virginia Beach: Captain Jim Brincefield (443) 336-8756. Captain Jim says that things are "as cold as I've ever seen", and it's "not a good time to be a fisherman". He predicts that there will be no good action until things warm up. The water is 38 degrees and clear.

Chickahominy River: River's Rest (804) 829-2753. Charlie Brown told me that there have been very few anglers up his way. A few "eatin' sized" cats have been landed off the dock on nightcrawlers. Charlie also found some bream in a crab pot he brought up, but that is all. The water is 33 degrees and slightly stained.

North Landing River and Back Bay: West Neck Marina (757) 426-6735. Dewey Mullins says that things have been iced over for the last 4 to 5 weeks; so no anglers. He hopes that thing will warm up soon and provide some action for anglers.

Norfolk Lakes: Dasheill's Show Room (757) 539-7854. Drew Dixon reports that the fish are there, if anyone can brave the cold to look for them. Bass are still out there, and going for jigs and plastics. Crappie are schooling up. Some big cats have been landed in the James on cut bait and cut eels. Some big yellow perch can be had in the lakes on minnows. The water is in the low to mid 30s and clear.

Blackwater and Nottoway: By Riverkeeper Jeff Turner The Blackwater and Nottoway are really cold right now with water temps around 34 to 37 degrees.  Most of the guts are covered with ice.  However I spent three days on the Blackwater, the 3rd through the 5th, and found that you could catch a fish if you were diligent. The Silver Buddy vertically jigged caught fish.  The ¼ oz size is a good all around choice and will take every species in the river.  A few yellow perch are starting to hit.  I also hung on a larger Silver Buddy, a huge carp that weighed at least 20 pounds, that I fought for at least 15 minutes on ultra-light tackle. Of course when I reached for the net it was hung up and that is when the fish got off.  At least I got to see it though.

Cold weather dressing tips... Dress warmly if you go out for any amount of time this month.  Layers are better and do not put so much on your feet that you can't wiggle your toes. It will make your feet colder if they are that restricted.  In other words, don't try to make a springtime boot a winter boot.  Get yourself a winter boot.  It can be fun on the water this time of year, but you need to slow down and I'm not just talking about boat speed.  I mean don't be in a rush to do anything.  Be careful and think.  Make extra equipment checks such as; batteries topped off, good gas, oil levels good, water separators with fresh filters and a fully charged cell phone.  Be sure you let people know where you are going and when you are expected back and be sure to wear that flotation device.  All that stuff that if forgotten or not done in the summer would be just an inconvenience.  In below freezing weather it could be a real problem and lead to a real bad day or worse be a matter of life or death.  See the information on frostbite and hypothermia in the Be Safe... Have Fun section.

Upper and Lower Tidal James: Local Guide, Captain Mike Hoke, Life's Revenge Guide Service, (804) 357-8518. While Captain Mike says that thing have slowed down considerably, there is a little action to be found. He landed 5 cats in the Dutch Gap area on cut shad. Some stripers are going for bucktails, swimmers or rattletraps. Some big crappie have be brought up with jigs. In fact, one citation sized one was landed in the Appomattox on a jig. The yellow perch are biting in the tidal creeks of the Mattaponi. The water is clear and in the 40s to 50s in the Dutch Gap area and around 33 everywhere else.

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. The year started off right with the landing of a few large blue catfish. The biggest fish of the year so far is a 48 pound blue catfish caught by angler Joe Bass, of Richmond.  Joe and Bob Vassar, from D.C., caught a number of blue cats in the 20 to 48 pound range.  All the blues were caught by using cut gizzard shad fished on the bottom. They also enjoyed eating a nice five pounder, fried up for lunch on the Discovery Barge II.  David Roberson and his buddy Eric Bowers, both of Richmond, caught a few decent sized blue catfish, but the surprise catch was a 38 pound flathead catfish in 39 degree water.  The flathead, which is not known as a cold water fish, put up a heck of a fight.  Lots of bald eagle action can be seen from just about anywhere along the tidal James River.  Migratory eagles from the north are literally everywhere on the river.  We have had multiple days seeing 50 or more bald eagles in just a few miles of river.

Region 2 - Southside

Lake Gordon: Contributed by our man in the boat Willard A. Mayes. I hope I never have to use these words again this year "I have not been fishing!" Now for the excuses: the main reason I have been keeping a close eye on the heat system of my house has something to do with the weather and the fact that it is hard to fish through the ice on the lakes. I was by Lake Gordon today and it has a skim of ice so that lake is out and the last time I was by the county pond it had ice on it too. I did drive by Twin Lakes in Pickett and they were free of ice, so if the weather gets above 50 I may try them.

Sorry folks, just nothing to talk about unless you think of all the lures you have made while you could not go fishing, but then again I have failed in that department also. I had big hopes of making me some popping bugs that would actually float on top of the water this winter too.

Sandy River and Briery Creek: Contributed by Longwood College Fishing Club's Jack Pollio. No report this edition.

James at Scottsville: Local Guide L.E. Rhodes, (434) 286-3366. Happy New Year everyone! The fishing on the James is slow. I suggest that if you have an itch to fish to head to the New Canton area. The Bremo power plant just downstream has the water temperatures in the 50s. Elsewhere on the James the temps are in the 30s. Be aware that most ramps are still mud covered from the high water. With the freezing air temperatures it's hard to get the ramps clean. Crankbaits and jigs should produce a fish or two. Fish them SLOW! Fly anglers should go with sink tip lines and a crayfish pattern fished very slow and on the bottom. The new section on the South River opened on January 1st. It's a four mile section of catch and release trophy trout water. It has promise to be a world class trout fishery. Anglers are still feeling out the new water. Lots of fall fish are being caught along with smaller trout (6 to 10 inches). I did talk with one fisherman and saw pictures of a Brown and a Rainbow that easily went 17in. each. Streamers and nymphs are the flies of choice. You need a permit to fish and they are free. You can pick a permit up at the VDGIF office in Verona, Stone Soup Books Cafe in Waynesboro or Dominion Outdoors in Stuarts Draft.

Kerr Reservoir: Bob Cat's Lake Country Store, (434) 374-8381. Bobby Whitlow sang me the same sad, now familiar refrain, too cold for most fishing. A few stripers have been brought up with jigging spoons. Some cats are going for cut bait on the ledges. Crappie are in deep brush, and may take a minnow or jig. No word on perch or bluegill. The water is 38 degrees, stained on the upper lake, and clear on the main lake.

James at Lynchburg: Angler's Lane, (434) 385-0200. Doug Lane says that, while there is ice on the streams, brookies will bite if the water warms to the 40s. They are going for hare's ears, caddis imitations and blue winged olives. The stocked streams are okay; try a wooly bugger, caddis imitation or stone fly. The water is in the high 30s and clear.

Lake Gaston: Holly Grove Marina, (434) 636-3455. Holly Grove Marina is closed until mid February.

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, No report this edition.

Region 3 - Southwest

Claytor Lake: Rock House Marina, (540) 980-1488. No report this edition.

Lower New River: Big Z'S (540) 639-1651. John Zienius reports that no one has been out on the unfishable river. Many boat ramps are frozen over. The water is clear with lots of ice and 34 degrees.

New River: Tangent Outfitters, (540) 257-0415. Shawn Hash says that they have been "dodging snow" and not able to fish much. There is, however, good muskie action for those with "hard fortitude". Try big sliders and "cover the water". The water is in the 30s and almost frozen; it is also clear.

Upper New River: Contributed by Captain Forest Pressnell, (540) 818-5274, New River Charter. The Upper New River has pretty much been frozen over the last month but recent warming trends have opened it up. Walleye are in deep holes and lethargic so a slow jig presentation is best. Muskie are still active with slow presentations producing the best results. Water temp is 34.

Editors note: Don't miss the Winning Outdoor Adventure Stories from Young Writers feature this edition which has a great story by Matt Harman about his exciting and memorable fishing trip on the New River with his Dad, guided by Captain Forest.

Region 4 - Mountain and Shenandoah Valley

North and South Forks of the Shenandoah: Harry Murray (540) 984-4212 Harry told me that the smallmouth streams are too cold to fish, (where have I heard that before?). The stocked and delayed harvest streams in the Valley are giving good fishing for rainbows and browns. Fish the deep pools and the pockets below the riffles. Good flies are: Casual Dress Nymph, size 10; Mr. Rapidan Streamer; size 10; and the Pearl Marauder, size 10. Harry has a website that is updated every Friday, and on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday he posts a blog.

Lake Moomaw: Local Guide, Mike Puffenbarger, (540) 468-2682, "Puff" reports that Lake Moomaw would be about 17 feet low with the upper lake regions being froze over and the Bolar Flat boat ramp being inaccessible.  Lower lake is accessible and the Fortney Branch ramp is open. Coles Point ramp is closed due to low water level.  Weather conditions and temperature can change conditions at any time so check website for current updates.  A great time to get rods and reels and equipment ready for the spring thaw and some great fishing as Moomaw has been noted for.  Streams throughout the area are at normal level, but most of the slower moving water is iced over. Note that Moomaw ice conditions would not be safe for ice fishing.

Region 5 - Northern Piedmont

Piedmont Rivers: Local author Steve Moore (Wade Fishing Guidebooks covering the: Rapidan, Upper Potomac, North Branch Potomac) My new book, "Wade Fishing the Rappahannock River" was released last week. It covers the smallmouth bass fishing between the fall line in Fredericksburg to Chester Gap in the Blue Ridge and includes a chapter on shad fishing. Sadly, all most of us can do is read about fishing as the cold and snow force us to huddle in a warm place. Harry Murray reports that the Blue Ridge streams are running too cold for trout activity – something I verified on the east slope this week. But, looks like warmer weather will arrive towards the end of the month and allow us to get out and take advantage of the VDGIF stocking program that continues unabated!

Lake Orange: Contributed by Darrell Kennedy of Angler's Landing (540) 672-3997. Angler's Lane is closed for the season. Although the shop is closed, the Lake remains open for use.

Lake Anna: Contributed by C. C. McCotter, McCotter's Lake Anna Guide Service, (540) 894-9144.

Largemouth bass : Bring your jerkbaits, jigs and swimbaits and prepare to cover some points. You'll find a "turrble" bait plug at the mouth of Contrary Creek moving ever down lake toward the power plant region. There are herring and threadfin shad in this mess and yes, there are game fish, but they are overfed and often unwilling to take artificial offerings. Try suspending jerkbaits off the first three points in creeks and the first point of coves in this region. Seek out 42 to 45 degree water when possible. You can also move further down lake and find water at nearly 50 degrees all the way down at Dike III. Bass are still on bait here and often chase them under birds during the day. Good creeks to try include Duke's, Rockland, Levy and Valentines.

Striper: Many anglers want to catch fish in the Contrary to Sturgeon bait plug, but few have succeeded. This will improve soon, so keep checking it with Toothache spoons, the 3/8 oz. Krazy Blade and small swimbaits. Other areas worth fishing for striper this month include the Dike I to Duke's Creek region and the Dike III region. The latter can be crowded with anglers, but if you are patient and observant, you can figure out what the fish are doing from day to day. On clear and bright days, they feed for about a half hour at dawn and a half hour at dusk in shallow water on swimbaits and soft plastic jerkbaits on jigheads. During the day, you'll have to fish deeper with the metal. Jumbo shiners can be good if you like to drag bait and don't have the means to catch native baitfish like herring and shad. Fish any bait on side planers and free lines as the fish are high in the water column when the bite is "on".

Crappie: Not so much going on now as the specks have moved off structure and begun to follow bait. You can try the ¼ oz Krazy Blade when you see bait (think the bait plug mid lake) because this is where the crappie are now.

White Perch: The same tactic used for crappie can be excellent in the mid lake region. You can also try small minnows on a drop shot rig in 30 to 38 ft. of water around the 208 Bridge and surrounding areas.

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

Stripers: Expect striper fishing to be excellent this month due to the harsh winter that we have been experiencing. Water temperatures are lower than normal causing massive bait kills all the way down to the power plant. Also the back of most of the creeks and up the rivers are frozen forcing the stripers to feed only in the main lake regions. Small swim baits like Sea Shads, Sassy Shads, bucktails and Road Runners will catch plenty of smaller fish this month. Suspending jerk baits work exceptionally well in the clearer water. Trollers are catching fish using umbrella rigs. Live bait fisherman have been catching very nice stringers of fish with regularity. We have downsized our baits to using herring and smaller gizzard shad. We are pulling planner boards over 10 to 30 foot flats catching 20 to 30 fish a day. Fishing will only get better as the month progresses.

Bass: The pattern that produces the largest bass this month probably is working a suspending jerk bait downlake on primary and secondary points next to deep water. Position your boat no deeper than 18 feet throwing your bait toward the shallows. The bass can see your injured bait a great distance in the clearer water and will chase it down, usually attacking it on the pause. Points with stumps, rocks or some structure will hold better bass.  For a chance to catch a citation bass this month pull a jumbo minnow behind your boat 12 feet below a bobber. Bass also love swimbaits this time of year. A 4in. Sassy Shad, Sea Shad or grub worked slowly on a ¼ oz. head can get your arm broken. Many winter bass tournaments are won using this technique. Deeper brush piles also hold nice bass this month.

Crappie: If the weather warms and the lake thaws up lake, crappie can be caught on deeper structures where threadfin shad are present. Rocky primary point ledges in the 20 to 30 foot range hold large schools of fish. Deep bridge pilings and brush piles will also hold crappie this month. The 522 Bridge in the North Anna and Dillards Bridge are sure places to score crappie using small jigs and small minnows.

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

The New Year also brings the issuing of the new 2011 Fishing Regulations booklet. Having just finished the main deer hunting season and with all the great youth hunting stories in this edition, we thought a good fishin' story was needed to bring in the New Year. For a young teenager, his first fishing trip on the New River with his Dad and Outdoor Report Fishin' Report contributor Captain Forest Pressnell provided a most memorable outdoor experience. Matt Harman, a Senior at Cave Spring High School in Roanoke , when he entered his article in the 2009-10 Virginia Outdoor Writers Association High School Youth Writing Competition. His moving story about the stewardship and conservation side of fishing he learned first hand from Capt. Forest during the catch and release adventure placed in the Top Ten.

The Fishing Story

By Matt Harman

It's five a.m. and I am traveling with my dad through the mountains of southwest Virginia. The sun has not yet peaked over the Blue Ridge but it is a warm southern morning. Our destination is Popular Camp for a day of fishing the New River.

The New River is a special place. It originates in the western mountains of North Carolina and is one of the few rivers in the world that flows northward. It winds northwest from the continental divide into West Virginia where it flows into the Kanawha River. It is the oldest river in North America and is known for its great fishing, white water rapids and natural beauty.

When we arrived in Popular Camp we met Captain Forest Pressnell. He would guide us along the river and show us the best fishing spots. Captain Forest has a special love for the Blue Ridge Mountains, the outdoors and especially the rivers and streams. He arrived in his pickup truck towing a three man pontoon raft. The first thing I noticed was two oars and no gas or electric motors on board. I knew that someone had some hard work ahead. Captain Forest greeted us with a hand shake and smile. He asked if we were ready to ride the "New" and catch some fish. I could tell by the size of this man's arms and his tanned face that he had spent a lot of time on the river. Dad and I were more than ready to try our luck.

We climbed aboard his truck and followed a country road to the river. The morning fog rising from the river made it hard to see. I could hear the water tumbling over rocks and I knew we were close. We came to the landing and prepared to unload the raft. As I waded into the river, I could see a lot of fresh water clam shells on the river bottom. Standing in the cool water and looking at the shells made me wonder if those clams were food for the fish we were going to catch.

Captain Forest waded into the water and told me that since it was my first trip down the river I would have the front seat on the raft. My dad was on the back and Captain Forest was in the center with the oars. The New River can be dangerous with its large rocks, twisting currents and fast moving water. I did not know what was ahead but I felt that the next ten miles on the river would be a trip that I would never forget.

Leaving the shore, I could feel the speed of the water and the power of the river. Captain Forest guided the raft through the rapids and into slower water and told us what to expect and how we would be fishing. By this time the fog was lifting and I could see that the water was very clear. Forest told us that as the sun moved overhead, the fish would search for structures that would allow them to feed and hide. I knew fishing would be a challenge but I felt confident that we would catch some nice fish. We were fishing for smallmouth bass, walleye and the meanest fish in the river, the Muskie. Captain Forest told us if we caught all three we would call it the New River Trifecta. Of course, we would release every fish to help protect the quality of fishing in the future.

We started floating with Captain Forest pointing out rocks, logs and eddies for us to cast our bait. After about twenty casts, I felt a sudden jerk and Captain Forest said "set it, set it". I started reeling as fast as I could, thinking I had caught the first fish of the day.

Wrong, I got my first lesson of the day, how to set a hook quickly. Casting again near a huge rock with water swirling around it, I could see a smallmouth bass. It took the bait and I quickly raised the top of my rod to set the hook. I gripped the rod as if I had a great white on the line and started pulling him in. I was so exited that I actually jerked the fish out of the water. Captain Forest grabbed the net and helped me land the fish without harming him. Captain Forest first dipped his hands into the river, took the fish off and weighed it. He lifted the fish by the lower lip and passed it to me to get a picture. As soon as the picture was taken, he lowered the fish back into the River, moving it back and forth several times. I later learned that this helped flow water by the gills, giving it oxygen and reviving it after the battle. All of a sudden, the fish swam away and disappeared. I can say there is nothing like catching your first smallmouth on the New River.

Things were starting to "heat up" for my dad as he snagged a couple of fish from the back of the raft. Even though we were busy, I could sense that Captain Forest was looking for something we had not seen. We rounded a bend in the river to see a large crane on a sand bar snaring minnows. I guess we startled him and he flew directly over our raft to the other side of the river. I cast my lure toward a tree that had fallen into the river. It landed perfectly by the limbs and started to sink into the river. As quick as a flash something grabbed it jerking my rod tip into the water. My first response was to pull the rod back and that set the hook. With the line tight and the rod bending, I knew this was something special. "Don't let you line go slack, we have a big fish", Forest yelled. I was able to pull the fish away from the branches and into open water. My line was moving back and forth in the river when all of a sudden the fish jumped and landed with a big splash. It was no ordinary smallmouth and it seemed it was mad at me for disturbing its day. I cannot describe how excited we were to finally land this trophy. Again, Forest was quick to the net and we had my first Virginia citation smallmouth in the raft. Forest weighed the twenty three inch monster at four pounds, fourteen ounces.

All along the way small streams fed the river, great places to hold fish. It wasn't long before casting to one of these streams that another huge strike took place. I could tell that this fish was different by the way it fought. It never jumped but headed for deeper water before I landed the walleye. By now the sun was hot and we stopped for a snack and a dip in the river to cool off. While resting and talking with Captain Forest, I came to realize how much he loved the river and wanted to protect it. His actions spoke louder than words. He never missed a chance to grab a piece of trash or broken fishing line from the river. He was careful to handle the fish with care and to release them the proper way. He helped me become a better fisherman and made certain that my experience on the New River was something I will never forget. If we all live by Captain Forest's standards for example reducing run-off, picking up litter and using less phosphate-based detergents that generate algal bloom than we can make sure that the river will be there for many generations to enjoy and many more father-son memories

The Virginia Outdoor Writers Association (VOWA) annually sponsors a High School and Collegiate Writing Competition. with the theme of "a memorable outdoor experience." The contests are now accepting stories with a deadline of January 31, 2011. Details are posted in the People & Partners section of this edition. We encourage you to write your most memorable hunting, fishing or other outdoor adventure story and enter the contest. 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:

In upcoming editions of the Outdoor Report, look for: