In this edition:

Lots of "Wild Events" Scheduled for Outdoor Enthusiasts

This January 26 edition has a long list of "wild events" coming in February and March that offer a variety of opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. There are both outdoor events and indoor sportsman's shows that feature seminars, exhibits, demonstrations and contests promising fun and exciting new activities for everyone in the family. Having spent the last weekend at the Richmond Fishing Expo, I am humbled by the great responses from our subscribers on your high overall satisfaction with the Outdoor Report. We got some great ideas for improvements too. We welcome the hundreds of new subscribers that signed up at the show. VDGIF will have exhibits at the upcoming February – March shows and hope you will stop by and say hello. More importantly bring a youngster or a friend that you can introduce to the great outdoors. Join with your fellow sportsmen and support one of the many conservation organizations that support these events. 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 seek outdoor adventure.

David Coffman, Editor

Sportsmen Spending Billions in Virginia

Virginia's Lt. Governor, Bill Bolling, an avid fly fisherman, takes a moment streamside to comment on the importance of hunting, fishing, boating, and wildlife related recreation to Virginia's economy!

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.

Walleye Fishing Forecast and Tagging Study Updated for 2011

It's cold and windy, but you walleye anglers know that this is your time of year! Walleye fishing season is just around the corner! To get you started in 2011, the Walleye Fishing Forecast and the Walleye Tagging Study update are both available on-line. The fishing forecast is a must for any angler thinking about accepting the challenge of walleye fishing in 2011. VDGIF has come a long way in developing very good walleye populations in a number of lakes through a stocking program; has learned a lot about walleye habitat, life history, and angling techniques in Virginia; and has lead the way in discovering and enhancing a unique strain of walleye found only in the New River.

The forecast is the biologist's best predictions about where, when, and how to get the most out of your walleye pursuits. VDGIF is also continuing a walleye reward tag study in 2011 and the update will give you details about how you can participate. Anglers should note that an 18-inch minimum size limit is now in effect statewide for walleye. All walleye less than 18 inches must be released unharmed. Exceptions to the statewide regulation include Claytor Lake, the New River above Claytor Lake and Lake Robertson in Rockbridge County. Good luck and enjoy the walleye fishing!

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, fly tying, 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 flytyer53@hotmail.com.

February - 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.

Greater Virginia Sports and Big Game Show at Rockingham Fairgrounds February 18-20

In its fifth year, The Greater Virginia Sports and Big Game show will once again take place at the Rockingham County Fairgrounds in Harrisonburg on February 18-20. Show Manager, Stacey Rowe, has a great line-up of experts in various fields including America's whitetail deer management expert Dr. James Kroll of North American Whitetail. The Old Dominion has produced not one, but two national outdoor TV duos both of which will attend this year's event. Chris Ward and Eric Hale of Legends of the Fall TV will be on hand to meet with folks and share some of the best information ever on hunting whitetail deer. Just Kill'n Time TV (JKT) Hosts Max Rowe and Buck Buchanan will also be featured at the show doing seminars, and sharing their hunting tips and experiences. Along with free monster truck rides on the Virginia Giant (at designated times on Saturday and Sunday), there will also be LIVE grizzlies, reptiles, wolves and more.

The Greater Virginia Sports and Big Game Show proudly works closely with local conservation groups each year to share the heritage that has been passed down from generation to generation. The VDGIF will have CPOs and Hunter Education Safety Volunteers on hand to answer questions and demonstrate gun handling and tree stand safety techniques. There are numerous contests including the NWTF Sanctioned Hunters for the Hungry Open Turkey Calling Contest and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Trail Camera Photo Contest. This year there will be FREE trout fishing for the kids. The kids even have an opportunity to enter a Trout Competition with Izaak Walton League if they desire. Proceeds of all the contests/competitions go directly to the conservation organizations. Visit the Show website or call (540) 294-1492 for all contests rules, seminar speakers, and exhibitor details.

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 www.vbgov.com/winterwildlife. So bundle up and head to Virginia Beach for an amazing Winter Wildlife experience!

Friends of Phelps Wildlife Management Area To Meet February 16 & February 27

The Friends of C.F. Phelps Wildlife Management Area (WMA) have scheduled a meeting on Wednesday, February 16 at 7 p.m. The group will meet at the Sumerduck Ruritan Club at 5335 Sumerduck Road, Sumerduck, VA 22742.

On Sunday, February 27, from 8 a.m. to Noon The Friends group is hosting a Work Day with lunch provided! Projects include: Field Trial Barn Clean up, Equipment maintenance and Boundary Marking. 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 pwood12@earthlink.net or friendsofcfphelpswma@gmail.com.

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: roy@trackingsurvival.com, 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: holstonrivervmn.org or contact: Christi Edwards, camplakeshore@gmail.com, telephone (276) 492-6693 cell/day , (276) 676-2254 night. To learn about other chapters' training courses and activities, visit VirginiaMasterNaturalist.org.

Owls Topic of Friends of Dyke Marsh Program March 2

Join the Friends of Dyke Marsh, the Raptor Society of Virginia and the Northern Virginia Bird Club March 2, 2011, 7:30 p.m. Huntley Meadows Visitor Center in Alexandria, for a program entitled, "Owls – Birds of Mystery and Majesty." John Spahr will share his knowledge and some amazing images of these nocturnal birds. Mr. Spahr will cover some of the unique and special adaptations, behaviors and "lifestyles" of owls and offer some facts about common eastern owls. A retired pathologist, Mr. Spahr has observed birds on most continents. In 2010, he traveled 54,000 air miles and 33,000 miles by car all over the U.S. and counted 704 species of birds, "an exhausting and exhilarating" experience, he says.The program is free. For more information visit: www.fodm.org.

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. www.thevlm.org.

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

VDGIF To Host Archery in the Schools Program State Tournament February 26

VDGIF is conducting the Third Annual National Archery in the Schools Program Tournament on February 26, 2011, at Meadow Event Park, the new State Fairgrounds near Doswell. This tournament is the "culminating event" for Virginia schools participating in the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP). Last year, more than 155,000 Virginia students at more than 400 schools participated in archery instruction during their PE classes throughout the school year. The National Archery in the Schools Program promotes student education and participation in archery. The program's focus is designed to teach International style target archery in 4th through 12th grades as part of the in-school curriculum. Before presenting archery instruction to their students at school, teachers must successfully complete an 8-hour instructor certification training program referred to as BAI, Basic Archery Instructor. Certification is conducted by VDGIF Outdoor Education staff and VDGIF-certified volunteers. Currently over 405 schools, and 1015 teachers have been trained.

Deadline for Team registration is January 28, 2011. For more detailed information and registration forms, visit the Department's website. For more information and to get your school and teachers involved in NASP, contact VDGIF Outdoor Education Supervisor and Virginia State NASP Coordinator Karen Holson at (804) 367-6355 or Karen.Holson@dgif.virginia.gov. Also, be sure to check out the NASP video and Virginia Wildlife feature article!

Winter is Good Time to Take Required Boating Education Course

All Personal Water Craft operators (PWC), age 50 or younger, and all persons age 20 or younger operating a 10-hp or greater motorboat, are reminded they are required to complete a certified Boating Education Course by July 1, 2011. VDGIF Volunteer Boating Safety Education Instructor David Aitken, from Louisa, advises that February-March are great times to take an approved course before the spring warm-up gets boaters anxious to get back out on the water. Instructor Aitken adds, "It's easy to locate courses being offered near you by visiting the Boating Safety website for details and a list of courses being offered throughout the state."  Volunteer Boating Safety Education Instructors will be staffing an exhibit and a Boating Safety Course at the 7th Annual Orange County Sportsman Expo at Orange County High School February 19-20. For more information on the Boating Education Courses being held throughout the state, or to find one of David Aitken's classes, visit the Boating Education Section in the sidebar for more information on Boating Education classes statewide.

Outdoor Writers Association Youth Writing Competition Deadline Extended to February 25

The Virginia Outdoor Writers Association, Inc. (VOWA) is sponsoring 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 deadline for submissions has been extended to February 25, 2011.

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 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 david.coffman@dgif.virginia.gov. For the Collegiate Competition, contact Marie Majarov at marie.milan@majarov.com.

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.

VA Waterfowlers' Association Hosts Goose Hunt for Disabled Sportsmen

On January 8, 2011, the Virginia Waterfowlers' Association (VAWFA) hosted disabled hunters from the VA Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation Wheelin' Sportsmen to a goose hunt in Henrico County. Nineteen volunteers of the VAWFA arrived at the fields at 5:30 a.m. to begin preparing the hunt site. By 6:45a.m., nine disabled hunters with caretakers and guides were in two blinds waiting for the geese and weather front to arrive. As the sky slowly brightened, everyone could hear geese in the distance as they stirred around. The hunters and guides were excited already, but almost couldn't stand it when 500 or more geese got up off the roost at the same time, creating a roar of honking and cackling. Time seemed to drag as the geese got closer and closer. The guides began their chorus of their best clucks and moans, honks and murmurs calls as flocks of geese circled and circled. Quickly, shots rang out and a few birds fell, but most moved on, a little wiser than before.

Shortly, the weather front finally arrived and the snow and wind started... Waterfowling weather!! A steady supply of geese and snow showers continued to arrive for the next couple hours. By mid morning, everyone loaded up on to the ATV's and trailers and headed back to camp where they were greeted with a hearty breakfast and enjoyed great camaraderie. For more information on the training, hunting and conservation activities of the VA Waterfowlers Association, visit their website.

Wheelin' Sportsmen To Host Numerous Events in Spring

Hunting, fishing and outdoor skills building workshops for disabled persons will be hosted by the VA NWTF chapter of the Wheelin' Sportsmen Program this spring with details posted on their website in PDF format. Included in this issue you'll find articles about their exciting Spring events. VA Wheelin' Sportsman Coordinator Mike Deane reports, "There are several spring gobbler hunts scheduled all over Virginia, and we encourage anyone with a disability to apply for these hunts. There is no charge for our events, and they are open to anyone with a disability. Our NWTF Chapters have worked hard to arrange these hunts, so please plan to participate. In addition, we are always looking for new hunt hosts or volunteers to help with our events." If you are interested in hosting or helping with an event, contact Mike Deane, tel (434) 996-8508 or wheelin4u@yahoo.com.

Sportsmen and Conservation Organizations Hosting Annual Award and Fund Raising Events

A number of sportsmen and conservation organizations that partner with VDGIF throughout the year are hosting annual award and fund raising events during the summer months. If you are a member of one of these groups we appreciate your support of our aligned missions and volunteer efforts to improve opportunities for all outdoor enthusiasts and conservation of our wildlife and their habitats. If you are not a member of one of these organizations, we encourage you to find an organization that shares your views and join and support them. It is the strength in numbers that will allow us to preserve and continue our treasured outdoor traditions, be it hunting, fishing, boating, or viewing wildlife. The following is a listing of events that our partners have asked us to post:

Hunting News You Can Use

The following notes are quick reminders of things you may have overlooked in getting ready for hunting season, or reports of interest compiled from numerous calls we received recently at our information desk.

Safety and courtesy are free, share them generously

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 dgifweb@dgif.virginia.gov for a caption including: names, age, hometown, location and date of harvest, county, private, or public land, first deer, doe or # antlers, turkey, coyote, bow or gun specifics, comment from the young hunter or mentor.

David Coffman, Editor

Jimmy Mootz, VDGIF Outdoor Education Coordinator sent us this sentimental story of his son's "early Christmas"...

In an email to family and friends Jimmy writes: Yesterday afternoon, my son John and I were very fortunate in the opportunity to hunt a fantastic and historic property in eastern Henrico County along the James River. As sunset approached, upwards of 20 deer filled the lower portion of the field we were set up on. Included in the mix was a spike buck, a 4 pt, two 6 pts, a 7, and a nice 8 pt. We had such a great time watching them for about 30 minutes before deciding John would take the 8 pointer.

Showing much patience, John waited for his shot. Eventually the 8 pointer was in the clear of other deer, and presented a near perfect broadside pose. I quietly told my son, "there's your shot." Before I could fully repeat the phrase, John squeezed the trigger on his Papa Jack's old 6mm Remington.

After the pandemonium subsided from a field full of deer fleeing the area, we descended from our elevated box blind and walked the 240 yards to the spot where the deer last stood. Following a short search, we discovered the deer about 150 yards inside the woodline. John had placed one round nearly perfectly behind the right shoulder, and the exit wound behind the left shoulder.

I truly appreciate the time I get to spend afield with my son. I'm thankful that my late father took the time to teach me the importance of sharing this legacy, and that I now get to pass this heritage along. I'm also very thankful for the folks who have shared in this heritage along with us. Those who have helped to teach my son to be a marksman; those who have helped us by allowing us to hunt on their property and to learn and grow; and I guess the list wouldn't be complete without mentioning my wife, who puts up with us running all over creation in pursuit of wild game and fowl.

I'm not sure if there's dancing in heaven. But, if there is, I'm betting that my Dad danced last night as his namesake harvested a beautiful buck.

Merry Christmas! Jimmy

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.

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; Hank.Tomlinson@dgif.virginia.gov
Tyler Urgo, CWD Technician; (540) 290-8158; Tyler.Urgo@dgif.virginia.gov

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 and hypothermia in Be Safe... Have Fun Boating Safety Precautions For Waterfowl Hunters...

World Class Waterfowl - From the Water to Your Wall

Editors note... When I attended the Youth Pheasant Hunt last weekend and watched the excited youngsters with their colorful, feathered trophies, I was reminded of special handling and taxidermy tips for birds and waterfowl provided by consulting with Todd and Vickie Rapalee from Goochland who shared this advice for the Outdoor Report. Todd advises, "Just as important as scouting for game in the field, is scouting for a taxidermist to handle all of your taxidermy needs! Visit taxidermist's showrooms and web sites to decide on who will handle the preservation of your trophy, be it whitetail, bear, gobbler, bobcat, coyote, or waterfowl. Remember that you will take the trophy of a lifetime one day. It's best to choose your taxidermist before the hunt. The most important thing is to get your trophy to the taxidermist as soon as possible if you plan to have it mounted." Here are some special tips for waterfowl.

A quality mount begins in the field. By following a few simple procedures your taxidermist will have a much better specimen to work with.

  1. Retrieve the bird yourself. Often a "hard mouth" retriever will do damage beyond repair.
  2. Carry your trophy by the feet. Carrying the bird by the neck can cause feather loss.
  3. Once the bird is in hand keep it in a cool, dry place until you get out of the field or off of the water.
  4. Keep the feathers as clean as possible. Wipe off any blood or dirt to help prevent staining.
  5. While broken bones or shot holes in the birds bill are usually not a problem. Missing feathers on the other hand are, and cannot be replaced. Handle your bird gently.
  6. Keep birds cool and put them in the freezer ASAP. Tuck the bill under the wing and place the bird in a plastic bag and freeze. Please DO NOT wrap in newspaper. Label your bird with the following information: Name, Address, Species, Date and County & State Collected.
  7. Deliver to your taxidermist as soon as possible. The faster they receive it, the better condition it will be in and the quicker you will get it back!

If your waterfowl hunting will be taking you outside of the United States you will need to follow some additional guidelines. Check with your taxidermist to see if he or she is a USDA approved facility, authorized to accept birds or bird capes for trophies. If they are a USDA approved facility you will be able to send your birds directly to their studio from any country in the world. Always contact your taxidermist prior to any hunt for proper shipping instructions.

Nothing adds more color and texture to your home or office than quality bird mounts! Make a commitment to yourself to start a collection this season. Years from now as the collection grows so will your fond memories and recollections of hunting adventures with your family and friends.

For additional information on taxidermist services visit the Virginia Taxidermist Association or visit the taxidermy exhibits at the various sportsmen shows statewide coming up. See list of sportsmen shows in Wild Events section.

Be Safe... Have Fun!

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.

TREATMENT: 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.

TREATMENT: 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.

ATTENTION WATERFOWL HUNTERS... Todd Coaker with the Virginia Waterfowlers Association and an avid and experienced cold weather hunter, cautions that being on the water is one hazard waterfowl hunters face that some land-based hunters don't. And since many of Virginia's waterfowl hunting seasons last through January- February, hunters are especially at risk of hypothermia- even on days when the temperature is above 40 degrees. Add the proximity to water, wind and changing weather conditions and a simple slip or fall into cold water can trigger a dangerous situation. Visit the Virginia Waterfowlers Association website for more information.

Here are some special waterfowl hunting safety tips to stay warm and avoid hypothermia:

Be prepared... Be safe!

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.

Are You Prepared for Winter Weather?

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. Being prepared for severe winter weather can save you and your family from costly or disastrous consequences. Here's how to start preparing for possible bad weather:

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.

Newly Revamped Peregrine Falcon Section Available on VDGIF Website

VDGIF nongame bird conservation biologist Sergio Harding and other VDGIF Bureau of Wildlife biologists work with several partner organizations to implement the Virginia Peregrine Falcon Monitoring and Management Program. The Peregrine Falcon is a state-listed Threatened species which was almost certainly extirpated as a breeder east of the Mississippi by the mid-1960s. Recovery efforts across the eastern portion of its range have led to the comeback of this majestic bird of prey, which now numbers 23 pairs in Virginia. Check out the newly revamped VDGIF website dedicated to the Peregrine Falcon. The site features updated and new content, including information on breeding ecology, recovery and management efforts and successes, and newly discovered pairs in the Appalachian Mountains of VA and WV. The Peregrine Falcon has been featured in the Be Wild! Live Wild! Grow Wild! section of the Outdoor Report in the December 8, 2010 edition.

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."

VDGIF Provides Second Grade Unit on Virginia Wildlife

In a joint effort between VA Dept. of Education (VDOE) and VDGIF, a second-grade cross-curricular unit has been posted on the VDOE website to help second graders learn more about Virginia wildlife. The unit integrates the content areas of science, language arts, mathematics, and history and social science; and addresses 40 grade-two Virginia Standards of Learning. Students will develop an understanding of Virginia animals and their habitats through active research, investigation and data collection, mathematical analysis, and communication. The unit utilizes inquiry, student teamwork, project-based learning, student journals, and fosters responsible actions toward wildlife and related natural resources. The unit is enhanced when paired with Project WILD materials. View the second-grade curriculum at Virginia Animals and Their Habitat Unit.

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 2011 Virginia Wildlife Calendar for answers to these wildlife related questions for winter:

Answers to January 12 edition quiz for nature events in Winter...

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.

Water Quality Focus of Landowner Workshop in Rustburg February 24

The quality of our water is linked directly to the health of our forests, according to officials with the Virginia Department of Forestry. To help ensure landowners know the issues and some practical solutions regarding water quality, landowners in and around Lynchburg and Campbell County are invited to a free workshop, Thursday, February 24, 2011 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. A sponsored lunch will be provided and a field tour will conclude the program to include a recent conservation easement property.

Attendees will have the opportunity to hear speakers from VDOF and Virginia Cooperative Extension to discuss the Virginia water quality law, pond permits and tax credits, such as the riparian buffer credit. "Nearly 80 percent of Virginia's forestland is owned by private individuals and families," said VDOF's Kevin Dawson. "Almost everything these folks do on their forestland can affect the quality of our water, so it's important for them to know some actions they can take to protect this vital resource. This free workshop will provide a number of tips to ensure the health and sustainability of their forests as well as the quality of the water that flows through those woodlands."

The February 24th workshop will be held at the Campbell County USDA Office, 163 Kabler Lane in Rustburg. Deadline to register for the free workshop is Feb. 18, 2011. Attendance is limited to the first 40 people. Go online to register or for a downloadable brochure soon. For questions or additional information, please contact Jason Fisher, Forestry Extension Agent, at (434) 476-2147 or via email at jasonf@vt.edu

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: marc.puckett@dgif.virginia.gov, 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.

Region I - Tidewater

CPO educates novice military personnel found waterfowl hunting on WMA on closed day... On 01/05/2011 while patrolling the Princess Anne WMA in Virginia Beach, CPO Corley observed three waterfowl hunters on the WMA on a day when no hunting is allowed on the property. Upon checking their licenses it was found that none of the three had a state duck stamp. All three were issued a summons for hunting migratory waterfowl without a state duck stamp. Because each of the hunters were active military who were new to the area and new to waterfowl hunting they were also issued a written warning for violation of a WMA regulation, for hunting on a closed day. Each individual was then educated on the procedure to enter the drawing for the WMA hunt and the rules and regulations of the WMA.

BEFORE YOU GO WATERFOWL HUNTING... Be sure and check the current hunting regulations, or the VDGIF website to make certain that the area you plan to hunt is open and which waterfowl species are in season.

Region II - Southside

Boating accident bad start to New Year... District 22 units made it until January 2nd before the first reportable boating incident occurred on Smith Mountain Lake for the New Year. At 2315 hours, a 20 ft, 2004 Ranger, with two occupants, struck the Bedford County shoreline, ejecting both occupants. Both occupants were subsequently retrieved from the 45 degree water. The operator was flown by helicopter to Roanoke Memorial Hospital. He sustained a broken leg and broken ribs. The passenger was also taken to a nearby hospital, treated and released. The 2004 Ranger was a total loss. The operator has been charged with Reckless Operation of a Motorboat. Senior Officer Koloda led the investigation with the help of Master Officer Funkhouser and Officer Neel.

Region III - Southwest

Pattern Your Shotgun On A Proper, Safe Range—Not Off Of A Road Bridge... On January 7, 2011, Senior Conservation Police Officer James Hale noticed a pickup belonging to a subject known for taking game illegally. Officer Hale observed the truck drive by an area that had ducks and geese on the river. The truck stopped and two men got out with a shotgun and walked on to the bridge crossing the river. They fired four shots into the river. Officer Hale went to the home of one subject and obtained a confession that the men were patterning their shotgun with some new shells they got for Christmas. The first suspect refused to give Officer Hale contact information on the second suspect. Officer Hale knew where he works and went to the detention center where he was employed. Officer Hale interviewed the second suspect and gained a confession. Two Magistrate summonses were obtained for shooting from the roadway.

Taxidermist Fails to Get Required Permits... On January 6, 2011, Senior Conservation Police Officer Randy Hurst and District 32 officers investigated a taxidermist operating without the required permit in the Ivanhoe area of Carroll County. Senior Conservation Police Officer Randy Hurst and Officer Jason Harris conducted the inspection of the taxidermy shop and Senior Officer Jeff Pease and Officers George Shupe and Justin White conducted follow up investigations on the undocumented animals found in the shop. The subject was charged with conducting taxidermy operations without the required permit.

For information on professional taxidermists and how to select a taxidermist and field preservation tips for your trophy, visit the Virginia Taxidermist Association website as listed in the Hunting News You Can Use section.

Region IV - Shenandoah Valley and Northern Piedmont

Virginia CPOs Team with Maryland DNR on Potomac Waterfowl Hunting Compliance... On Saturday January 8, 2011, Conservation Police Officers Daniel Eller and Beth Garrett conducted a joint waterfowl patrol with Maryland Department of Natural Resources on the Potomac River. They focused on the Virginia/Maryland line and dealt with stationary and floating blind issues. They checked 28 hunters and summons were written for license violations, no HIP number, and an unplugged shotgun.

These CPO reports show the value of concerned citizens, landowners and true sportsmen in providing tips to law enforcement officers on suspected violations by lawbreakers who give other hunters an undeserved bad reputation. Don't let the actions of a few outlaws tarnish the reputation of Virginia's sportsmen!

If you suspect or witness a violation, report it to the Wildlife Crimeline at
1-800-237-5712.

To learn more about Virginia conservation police officers visit the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries website.

Fishin' Report

Anglers throughout Virginia and neighboring states want to know "how are the fish bitin'?" To provide some answers, more than 25 license agents, marinas, fishing guides, and bait shops have volunteered to serve as contacts for information on recent fishing conditions for primary rivers and lakes throughout the state. Sarah White, outdoor writer and regular contributor to Virginia Wildlife magazine, prepares this Fishin' Report from interviews with these contacts the week prior to publication of the Outdoor Report.

The Fishin' Report is only available as part of your free subscription to the Outdoor Report.

The rivers and lakes featured in the Fishin' Report are listed by VDGIF Administrative Regions so you can quickly locate the area in which you are most interested. Consult the regional location map to find the major river or lake you want to know about.

For regulations and conditions on saltwater fishing, visit the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) website. Mandatory Saltwater Angler Registry: Effective January 1, 2010, there is a new requirement that saltwater anglers obtain a federal registry number by calling 1-888-674-7411, or online at www.CountMyFish.noaa.gov.

The new 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.

Walleye Fishing Forecast and Tagging Study Updated for 2011

It's cold and windy, but you walleye anglers know that this is your time of year! Walleye fishing season is just around the corner! To get you started in 2011, the Walleye Fishing Forecast and the Walleye Tagging Study update are both available on-line. The fishing forecast is a must for any angler thinking about accepting the challenge of walleye fishing in 2011. VDGIF has come a long way in developing very good walleye populations in a number of lakes through a stocking program; has learned a lot about walleye habitat, life history, and angling techniques in Virginia; and has lead the way in discovering and enhancing a unique strain of walleye found only in the New River.

The forecast is the biologist's best predictions about where, when, and how to get the most out of your walleye pursuits. VDGIF is also continuing a walleye reward tag study in 2011 and the update will give you details about how you can participate. Anglers should note that an 18-inch minimum size limit is now in effect statewide for walleye. All walleye less than 18 inches must be released unharmed. Exceptions to the statewide regulation include Claytor Lake, the New River above Claytor Lake and Lake Robertson in Rockbridge County. Good luck and enjoy the walleye fishing!

Winter is Good Time to Take Required Boating Education Course

All Personal Water Craft operators (PWC), age 50 or younger, and all persons age 20 or younger operating a 10-hp or greater motorboat, are reminded they are required to complete a certified Boating Education Course by July 1, 2011. VDGIF Volunteer Boating Safety Education Instructor David Aitken, from Louisa, advises that February-March are great times to take an approved course before the spring warm-up gets boaters anxious to get back out on the water. Instructor Aitken adds, "It's easy to locate courses being offered near you by visiting the Boating Safety website for details and a list of courses being offered throughout the state."  Volunteer Boating Safety Education Instructors will be staffing an exhibit and a Boating Safety Course at the 7th Annual Orange County Sportsman Expo at Orange County High School February 19-20. For more information on the Boating Education Courses being held throughout the state, or to find one of David Aitken's classes, visit the Boating Education Section in the sidebar for more information on Boating Education classes statewide.

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 john.odenkirk@dgif.virginia.gov.

Safe Boating is No Accident—Wear your Life Jacket and Take a Boating Safety Class

Attention boaters, VDGIF has begun to phase in Virginia's boating safety education requirement and wants to remind boaters that as of July 1, all operators of personal watercraft (PWC), including Jet Skis, Sea Doos, and other PWCs, age 14 to 35 will need to have proof of boating safety course completion onboard while operating the vessel. PWC operators must be at least 14 years old. To find out more about the boating safety requirement, the rest of the phase-in for Virginia boaters, or to find a boating safety course, visit the Department's website.

Virginia's life jacket laws require that there must be one wearable (Type I, II, III, or V) USCG approved life jacket of the appropriate size for each person on the boat. All boats, except for personal watercraft, canoes, kayaks, and inflatable rafts, must carry one USCG approved Type IV throwable ring or seat cushion. In addition, if you are boating on federal waters where the USCG has jurisdiction, children under the age of 13 must wear a life jacket unless below deck or in an enclosed cabin.

For more information on boating water safety and the BoatU.S. Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water go to BoatUS.com. For details on Virginia's laws or to take a boating safety course, check out the DGIF boating website.

Review the article, "Does Your Lifejacket Really Fit?" in the May 26, 2010 Outdoor Report Be Safe... Have Fun section.

Got Pictures of Your Catch? Share Them With Us on Flickr!

How was your last fishing trip? Did you take pictures of your catch? Send them to us and share it with the world! Here's how:

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

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

Rules for submitting photos to the group:

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

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

I Met Some Great Teenage Anglers at the Richmond Fishing Expo...

At this past weekend's Fishing Expo in Doswell, I had the pleasure of speaking with some of the youngsters on the Orange County High School Fishing Team, and their "coach", teacher Becky Gore. The team has won 6 B.A.S.S Federation championships in a row, and 7 altogether. Their last win was with a bag weighing over 18 lbs. The high school based team is affiliated with 4-H and the B.A.S.S. organizations. B.A.S.S. is an anglers conservation organization which promotes conservation efforts, ethics, stewardship, skill building and sponsors youth events and tournaments. While talking to B.J. Mullins, a junior; Steven Mundell, a sophomore; and Devon Bowling, a senior., I discovered that they were some of the most articulate, confident and polite kids for their age that I have ever encountered.

Coach Gore, an Earth Science- Astronomy-Oceanography teacher at OCHS uses the same techniques honed from her exceptional classroom teaching abilities to work with the student anglers to foster excellence and performance both on the water and in the classroom. And indeed, that is what the program is really all about as praise from parents and students attest to the success of this extra-curricular team /club. Coach Gore told me that the program is "20% fishing and 80% character building"; and that members learn to "give back". As team member Devon pointed out, they learn moral values "that will stay with you for the rest of your life." To be on the team, student members must do conservation and community service work, as well as maintaining good grades. For example, last year the kids picked up 712 lbs. of trash at Lake Orange.

The team is also self-funded, raising needed operating funds through raffles, community and conservation service projects, sponsors and their Annual Sportsman Expo. The sponsors are an important part of the team and the Sportsman Expo this year scheduled February 19-20 at the OCHS Hornets Center. Community businesses, patrons and sporting goods companies all contribute to the team's success. They work with the teens, and even make some of them junior pro staffers. They are all, as B.J. Mullins put it "like a big family."

If you are interested in forming a team at your local High School, Becky Gore would be more than happy to help out; her email is bgore@fishingforkids.net. Who knows, perhaps some students you know would love to learn life lessons while learning to love the outdoors. Pic caption: Teen members of the Orange County High School 4-H & B.A.S.S. Angler's Team pose with their numerous awards for both fishing and community service accomplishments. As coach, teacher and mentor, Becky Gore notes that the program is "20% fishing and 80% character building"; and that members learn to "give back" to their community and their sport.

Attention Readers – If your favorite body of water is not covered in the Fishin Report, and you are a guide, tackle shop owner, marina or just a devoted angler; please drop me a line and we will see about adding your bi-weekly or periodic reports in the e-newsletter by telephone or email contacts. I am especially looking for folks who go ice fishing right now! You can reach me, Sarah White at fishing_report@hotmail.com.

Region 1 - Tidewater

Beaverdam Reservoir: (804) 693-2107. Wayne Ripley reports that very few folks have been out fishing. The Reservoir has thawed but anglers that do brave the cold have no luck. The water is slightly stained and 37 degrees.

Virginia Beach: Captain Jim Brincefield (443) 336-8756. A sad Captain Jim told me that he has seen no fishing action due to the chilly weather. The water is clear and 39 degrees.

Chickahominy River: River's Rest (804) 829-2753. Charlie Brown says that he hasn't seen anyone out fishing, and that things are "very slow". The water is slightly stained and 38 degrees.

North Landing River and Back Bay: West Neck Marina (757) 426-6735. Dewey Mullins reports that while the water has thawed, next to no one has been out on it. He hopes that some warm weather will bring the anglers back. The water is murky and 39 degrees.

Norfolk Lakes: Dasheill's Show Room (757) 539-7854. At last, a bright spot! Drew Dixon told me that there is some fishing going on! Stripers in some lakes are going for large minnows. No word on other bass. Crappie action is starting to heat up, and warmer weather should improve things even more. To get your "freckle" try a minnow or a jig. Cats are slow, but will go for cut bait. Yellow perch fishing is "pretty good", especially in the Blackwater River; try a minnow. The water is clear and in the low 40s.

Blackwater and Nottoway: By Riverkeeper Jeff Turner www.blackwaternottoway.com I spent the 15th through the 17th on the Blackwater above Joyner's Bridge. The water was 6.20 on the U.S. Geological Survey gauge in Burdette, 34 degrees and clear. Fishing on this trip was pretty bad. With water temps still in the low 30s, fish metabolism is about as slow as it gets. I caught a sucker and about 10 bowfin and that was it. I talked to a guy that had caught a few small largemouths, and another that had a few yellow perch, but nobody was catching fish fast. Ice was a problem again this trip. I do not believe I have ever seen the coves and sluices frozen over for this long. I guess the fish like it though, as it gives them a respite from fishing pressure.

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. Captain Mike told me that, while the bite is slow, a recent cat fishing tournament had a winning bag of 98 lbs. with the largest fish weighing in at 62 lbs. Cut shad seems to get the most fish. A few bass and crappie can be found at the Dutch Gap area; with the bass going for crankbaits and jigs, and the crappie attacking minnows and jigs. Some stripers are there too; try a rattletrap or plastic swimbait. The water is clear and in the mid 50s in the Dutch Gap area and 39 degrees elsewhere.

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

Upper and Lower Tidal James: Capt. Mike Ostrander, James River Fishing School, Discover the James, (804) 938-2350. Fishing on the tidal James for large blue catfish has been good. These cold water biters are being caught on cut gizzard shad fished on the bottom in depths of to 8 to 35 feet. Always try fishing different depths whenever possible, like near the edges of river channels. The winter migration of bald eagles is still a site to behold. On certain days, you can see multiple bald eagles in one tree, sometimes as many as 8 or 9! Best viewing is along the main channel downriver from Henricus Historical Park. Early morning is best for maximizing your eagle viewing opportunities.

Region 2 - Southside

Ft. Pickett Twin Lakes: Contributed by our man in the boat Willard A. Mayes. Temperature 44 degrees at 9:00 a.m., not a cloud in the sky and no wind and no way I could work or think about work, so I hitched old blue to the boat and headed to Ft. Pickett Twin Lakes since I was kind of sure it was without ice. I checked that I had a permit, which I did not. I had to get that first, so it was little after 11:15 when I got to the lake. The water had a slight brown stain but was clear to about two feet so I started out with 1/32 lead head and my favorite purple twister tail. I picked up a 10 inch bluegill in a few minutes and had caught a 12 inch "freckle" within an hour. I started to think I had picked the right lake and the right day, when, about then, "wrong". I fished for the next three hours throwing about every color I owned as well as 1/16 wt lead heads and never had another strike. I did catch an 11 inch bass on the way back to the dock on the purple twister.

There is always a good thing about every situation, as I did not have to wash my hands very often in that very cold water.

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 www.hatchmatcherguideservice.com, (434) 286-3366. Fishing continues to be slow. Not many anglers braving the cold to get out. The water is clear and 36 to 37 degrees.

Kerr Reservoir: Bob Cat's Lake Country Store, (434) 374-8381. Brandon Gray reports that "here and there" some anglers can be found. Some crappie action can be had with minnows and jigs. There are some big cats out there but they are 40 or 50 feet down. Try crappie or perch to fool them. The water is 36 to 39 degrees and slightly stained.

James at Lynchburg: Angler's Lane, (434) 385-0200. Tom Reisdorf says that no one has been out his way. The water is very clear and very cold.

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, www.virginiaoutdoorsman.com.

Crappie: The colder water temperatures found in the upper sections of the water column continue to keep many of the bait fish and many targeted species into the deeper water where temperatures are more moderate. Crappies continue to be found in the tops of submerged trees and other vertical structures from 18 to 24 feet below the surface. Surprisingly, anglers report limited success with the traditional crappie minnows lately, but nice crappies are being caught on lead headed jigs with plastic trailers, small hair jigs and tiny ice spoons.

Stripers: Striper fishing has been good, but patterns have been mixed this winter. One of the most popular techniques for stripers this time of year involves watching the seagulls that are wintering here at the lake. When seagulls are seen circling above the lake this is often a precursor to good fishing. When the stripers are feeding near the surface they can be seen breaking the water as they roll on baitfish. When feeding on the surface stripers can be caught by casting a bucktail, fluke or swimbait rigged on a lead head jig or belly weighted hook to the spot where the fish rolled and then slowly retrieving the lure. When birds are working the surface, but there is no visible surface feeding activity the stripers are usually feeding deeper in the water column. In these instances try casting and counting down your lure before retrieving it in an effort to find the depth of the feeding stripers. Jigging spoons are also good lures to use when jigging for stripers or bass located in deeper water. When stripers are found in deeper water, they can also be caught on live bait presented on downlines and umbrella rigs. Recently, stripers have also been reported in the upper layers of the water column where they are being caught by anglers using their trolling motors to pull light lures, umbrella rigs and live bait behind planer boards and floats.

Black Bass: Black bass can also be caught this time of year using jigging spoons, especially when they are suspending near bluffs or just above the bottom. Suspended bass are also hitting small plastics on drop shot rigs. Bass are also being found further up in the water column than usual for this time of year. Bass continue to be caught on suspending jerkbaits, slow rolled spinnerbaits, small weighted swimbaits and occasionally on medium and deep diving crankbaits taken quickly to depth and then retrieved very slowly.

Region 3 - Southwest

Claytor Lake: Rock House Marina, (540) 980-1488. Mike Burchett says that the lake is frozen over, so of course no anglers. He says that this year has been unusually cold, with the ice being 6 to 7 inches thick.

Lower New River: Big Z'S (540) 639-1651. John Zienius told me that muskie fishing is "pretty good", with suckers, trout or minnows being your best bet. No word on bass. The water is very clear and 34 to 35 degrees, with the river being frozen over in spots.

New River: Tangent Outfitters, (540) 257-0415. Shawn Hash says that a few smallmouths are being fooled by slow moving soft plastics. The muskie bite is good on slow moving baits. The water is clear and very cold, being iced over in places.

Upper New River: Contributed by Captain Forest Pressnell, (540) 818-5274, New River Charter. After a brief thaw, the river has frozen back over. The weather forecast is for continued cold conditions so it probably won't thaw anytime soon.

Region 4 - Mountain and Shenandoah Valley

North and South Forks of the Shenandoah: Harry Murray (540) 984-4212 www.murraysflyshop.com. According to Harry, the smallmouth streams are too cold to fish. The stocked streams in the Valley are fair for rainbows and browns. Fish the deep pools. Good flies are: Murray's Cranefly Larva, size 12; Mr. Rapidan Streamer, size 8; and the Betsy Streamer, size 10. All these should be fished deep and slow along the stream bottom. The mountain streams are too cold to fish and very dangerous to wade in.

Lake Moomaw: Local Guide, Mike Puffenbarger, (540) 468-2682, www.mapletreeoutdoors.com. "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 jerkbait 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.

Attention Readers – If your favorite body of water is not covered in the Fishin Report, and you are a guide, tackle shop owner, marina or just a devoted angler; please drop me a line and we will see about adding your bi-weekly or periodic reports in the e-newsletter by telephone or email contacts. I am especially looking for folks who go ice fishing right now! You can reach me, Sarah White at fishing_report@hotmail.com.

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

With the issuing of the new 2011 Fishing Regulations booklet in January, we thought a good fishin' story was needed to get you focused on the upcoming spring thaw and cold weather fishing fun. For a young teenager, a trout fishing trip to a remote, pristine stream provided a most memorable outdoor experience. As we get into March and the likelihood of snow and frozen trout streams diminishes-though not completely gone- the following trout fishing story may help you shake off cabin fever and venture out to check on your favorite trout waters. This story by then 17 year old Seth Hoilman, a Junior at Turner Ashby High School in Rockingham County, was one of the Top 30 Entries in 2007-08 Virginia Outdoor Writers Association High School Youth Writing Competition.

A Stream in Winter

By Seth Hoilman

I bring the truck to a stop in front of the old Girl Scout camp in Stokesville. I get out and stretch my legs. After stretching my legs, I pull the waders out of the truck box and slip them on. Once finished zipping up my fleece jacket, buckling the waders and retrieving my rod and backpack, I am ready to go. The felt soled wading boots make a curious crunching noise as I traverse through the snow to the stream. A thin layer of ice encrusts the first several inches of water away from the banks. As I step into the small deep body of water, I realize how frigid it is. Walking with the flow of the current, I stop to cast every few seconds poised on rocks slick with moss. I am crouched in the water in order to allow my lure to go between the surface and overhanging tree limbs, a gap which might be six inches.

The small stream begins to empty into a larger creek perhaps twice its width and a third deeper. The riffles dissipate as they enter the larger body of water. I cast below these riffles and retrieve my jointed, hard-bodied plug. I think to myself that if I were a trout that I would strike at the lure just because it looks so good moving through the water. Then I realize that if I were a trout that I would not survive long because of that, due to the fact that my shadow is clearly cast in the water. With this thought in mind I try to better conceal myself behind fallen trees and rocks before I cast, in order to hide my shadow. As I round the bend in the river, I see an enormous pool, perhaps one hundred yards long. A fish rises fifty feet away, and I instantly cast to the rise. The lure falls about a foot away from the rise, and I begin to feel the incredible delight of a man who senses that he will soon have a fish on the line. But alas I fear that I spooked the fish and receive no tug on the other end of the line. Moving to the opposite bank, I methodically scan the water as I walk.

The river is gorgeous, as it sparkles, shimmers, and gurgles along its rocky path. I get to the end of the pool and descend past a miniscule water fall. After the water fall is a very large riffle with outcropping rocks to one side. Positioning myself behind the largest rock, I cast my plug into its tail. Suddenly and without warning a sharp tug bows my graphite rod. I peer to the side of the riffle where my lure had been and see the magnificent colors of a native brook trout struggling against the tension in his mouth, and as quickly as he had come, he was gone and off my line. I retrieve the line and hastily cast to the same spot. I do this in vain though.

Despite the fact that I had lost a possible twelve inch brook trout (the largest I had ever hooked), I was overjoyed at just seeing such a fish. I move down the stream into a pool that had a huge rock face on one side and woods on the other. Because I am unable see the bottom of the pool, I scramble up the bank and cast from the shore. I see no fish or feel any on the end of my line, but I am in awe of the pristine nature of the spot. I wonder to myself, "Is there any better way to spend an afternoon?" I have not found one yet.

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 the deadline extended to February 25, 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: www.vowa.org, or contact VOWA Writing Competition Chairman:

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

In upcoming editions of the Outdoor Report, look for: