In this edition:

Lots of "Wild Events" Scheduled for Outdoor Enthusiasts

This February 9 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.. 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

General Assembly Legislation of Interest to You

The Virginia General Assembly convened January 13, 2011, and 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

February - April Sportsmens' Shows Set Dates and Locations

The seven regional outdoor sportsman's shows scheduled for February - 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. Shenandoah Valley quadriplegic artist Bruce Dellinger will display his amazing wildlife art prints he draws by holding a pencil in his teeth. Along with free monster truck rides on the Virginia Giant there will also be LIVE grizzlies, reptiles, wolves and more. 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.

Teen Angler Club Hosts Sportsman's Show in Orange February 19-20

The 7th Annual Orange County Fishing and Sportsman Show will be held February 19-20 at the Hornet Sports Center in Orange. This unique show is sponsored by the "Nation's Outstanding Junior B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Chapter", the Orange County High School 4-H and B.A.S.S. Angler's Club. There will be exhibits featuring hunting and fishing guides, gear, artwork, taxidermy, boats and more. There is a trout fishing pond for kids and an official ESPN BASS Casting Kids Competition. The Virginia Trappers Association will be promoting Project Healing Waters which provides rehabilitative fishing opportunities for wounded veterans, cancer survivors and others with disabilities. VDGIF and other conservation organizations will be there to provide information on the great fishing and skill building workshop opportunities statewide. There will be seminars on all kinds of fishing and the VDGIF boater education safety class. Admission is $5 with kids under 10 free. Click here for information on seminar schedule and show features. Contact Youth Advisor OCHS Anglers, Becky Gore at (540) 661-4300 ext. 1154.

Rapidan Trout Unlimited Hosts Fishing Show at Fauquier High School February 26

The 57th Rapidan Trout Unlimited Fishing Show is scheduled for Saturday, February 26 at Fauquier High School Cafeteria at 705 Waterloo Rd in Warrenton, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Note that this is a new location as the show was previously held in Middleburg. There are 50 tables with vendors and services for trout and smallmouth bass, non-profit groups, Shenandoah Riverkeepers, National Park Service, VDGIF, Project Healing Waters, hot food & beverages, fly tying, and 8 seminars including: Mountain Trout Fishing, Fly-fishing for Musky,  Fly-fishing Tidal Waters, Fishing Best Waters of Mid-Atlantic, Three Moods of Smallmouth Bass, Trophy Fish of Shenandoah Valley,   Shad Fishing on Potomac and Virginia Waters Fish Outlook. "The Biggest Little Fishing Show" is the annual fundraiser for the Chapter's conservation projects, annual Youth Conservation and Fishing Camp, Trout in the Classroom, Heritage Day (Kid's Day fishing), Chapter operations, and stream restoration and cleanup. Map & other info available on the TU Chapter website.

24th Western Virginia Sports Show at Augusta Expoland Feb 25-27

Have you ever seen a big grizzly bear up close? Tonk, who has appeared on live TV shows, commercials, and special events throughout North America, is making his debut appearance at the 24th Western Virginia Sport Show at Augusta Expoland February 25-27. The show will feature other hunting and fishing celebrities including Travis 'T-Bone' Turner from the Bone Collector TV show and Ronnie "Cuz" Strickland , VP of Mossy Oak Camo. National Champion Turkey Caller and home town favorite, Lance Hanger, will be on hand to demonstrate his winning techniques and give tips on hunting a big gobbler this Spring. Howard and Jason Caldwell will demonstrate Falconry featuring their "Raptors Up Close" program for conservation education of these fascinating birds of prey. Founder and Show Manager Mark Hanger proudly notes, "Our show is a truly unique event. We proudly feature more outdoor celebrities, displays, and vendor categories than any event in the region. At our family friendly event , you can view the latest hunting and fishing equipment, arrange a dream hunting or fishing trip, enter contests, catch rainbow trout, participate in the latest interactive activities, enjoy dozens of game displays, shop with over 200 vendors, eat great food, and enjoy a variety of free seminars by well know celebrities and TV personalities. There will be seminars, 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. The show features activities for kids to spark their interest in outdoor adventures. See the latest in specialized equipment and partnership programs offered by sportsmen's organizations. The VDGIF will have Conservation Police Officers and Hunter Education Safety and Complementary Work Force Volunteers on hand to answer questions and provide information on hunting and fishing opportunities and Agency programs to manage fish and wildlife resources. Visit the show's website for all the details.

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.

Tidewater Master Naturalist Training Class Scheduled for March 7- May 16

The Tidewater Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalists is offering its Basic Training Class starting March 7 through May 16 at the Agricultural Research Extension Center in Virginia Beach. 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, aquatic biology, ornithology, shore ecology, and more. Volunteer projects include education, stewardship activities and citizen science. For more information and a training application visit: tidewatermn.org or contact: Marsha Miller at marsha.miller@dcr.virginia.gov, telephone (757) 412.2313. 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.

Basic Fly Fishing Workshop in Chesapeake 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.

Urban Survival Seminar In Richmond March 13

Would you know what to do if the power went out, the water stopped flowing and the grocery stores and gas stations were closed or inaccessible? When most people think of survival training they envision learning about outdoor wilderness outings gone bad, yet every year thousands of people endure survival situations in their own homes. Remember, if you are caught unprepared even a winter snowstorm or spring flood can turn into a catastrophic event. The Urban Survival Seminar is being presented at the Eastern Martial Arts Center in Richmond March 13 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. This program includes professional and expert instruction with participation limited for a better instructor: participant ratio. Optional classes include: Finding Water, Preparing your Home, Family, and Pets, Controlling Hyper & Hypothermia, Proper Clothing to Manage Your Environment, Heating and Cooling Your House Without Electricity, Tips and Tricks, Identifying Security Issues, Personal Safety, Storing and Preparing Food, and many more. Cost of seminar is $35 if not pre-registered by March 4, and covers all programming and instructor fees. To register contact Roy Hutchinson at: roy@trackingsurvival.com, or call (877) 614-5289. Check out the Wilderness Discovery School website.

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.

White Stone Hosts 32nd Rappahannock River Waterfowl Art Show March 19-20

The 32nd Rappahannock River Waterfowl Show is a unique art festival showcasing all forms of wildfowl art including paintings, sculpture, carvings, prints decoys, photography, jewelry and taxidermy. On March 19-20, the small town of White Stone, on the Rappahannock River near the Chesapeake Bay will host one of the highest quality art shows, attracting nationally prominent artists from all over the Eastern US.  Our own staff artist, Spike Knuth from Mechanicsville, has been a regular at the Whitestone Show for over 20 years and always has several sought after, new originals and signed limited edition prints for sale.  Spike’s art is regularly featured in Be Wild! Live Wild! Grow Wild! column in the Outdoor Report.   For more information visit www.rrws.org/home.html.

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.

Wildlife Center Of Virginia Announces Spring 2011 Open-House Schedule

The Wildlife Center of Virginia, the nation's leading teaching and research hospital for native wildlife, has scheduled six open houses for Spring 2011. These are rare opportunities to see the inner workings of the Waynesboro facility, as well as meet some of the wildlife that serve as the Center's education ambassadors.
The open houses will be held on:

The Center will have three separate sessions each day – at 12:30 p.m., 2:00 p.m., and 3:30 p.m. Each session lasts about an hour. As a wildlife emergency room and hospital, the Wildlife Center is not usually open to the public. The seasonal open houses are the times during the year when visitors may tour the Center. There is no charge to participate in an open house; however, reservations are required by calling (540) 942-9453 or wildlife@wildlifecenter.org. A limited number of spaces are available for each session. Larger groups [school groups, scout troops, etc.] are encouraged to contact the Center's Outreach Department to make alternate arrangements.

During the open house, visitors will tour the Center's building, including the medical clinic [examination room, operating room, etc.]. In addition, visitors will get to "meet" the Center's education animals – some of the 20 non-releasable animals that the Center's education staff uses in school assemblies and classroom presentations. Every year, more than 2,000 animals – ranging from Bald Eagles to opossums to chipmunks – are brought to the Wildlife Center for care. "The goal of the Center is to restore our patients to health and return as many as possible to the wild," Wildlife Center President Ed Clark said. "At the Wildlife Center, we treat to release."

People and Partners in the News

Wheelin' Sportsmen Help Manage Deer at the Matthews State Forest

The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) hosted its annual Wheelin' Sportsmen deer hunt on the 566 acre Matthews State Forest located in Grayson County near the town of Galax. Six hunters tagged seven deer, including two antlered bucks – a seven pointer and an eight pointer - during a two-day period. Wheelin' Sportsmen, an outreach program of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), provides opportunities for individuals with disabilities to enjoy sports, such as hunting and fishing. This is the third year VDOF has partnered with the VDGIF and the Grayson County chapter of the NWTF on this event. The NWTF chapter provided overnight accommodations; hearty meals; wheelchair-accessible portable blinds, and gifts for the hunters and their family members. In addition to providing the site and facilities, VDOF personnel provided transportation and general assistance for the hunters; guide services; game recovery and processing, and logistical support. Maintaining and sustaining wildlife habitat is one of the goals of state forest management. Heavy browsing on seed, seedlings and saplings can result in unacceptably low amounts of regeneration. Scheduled hunts of whitetail deer can help reduce this threat to forest health and provide quality outdoor experiences for disabled sportsmen. For more information on recreational opportunities on State Forests, visit the VDOF website. For information on outdoor adventure programs for persons with disabilities visit the VA NWTF website.

Article courtesy of the Virginia Department of Forestry; photos by Zach Olinger, VDOF forest education and management specialist.

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.

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, and Commander of the Smith Mountain Lake (SML) Sail & Power Squadron,Randy Stow, 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." Cmdr. Stow 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. Our squadron teaches the Boat Virginia course as well as the US Power Squadron's "America's Boating Course" which covers boating safety and basic boating.  The squadron currently has 18 active VDGIF qualified instructors and as an additional element to our classes, we have excellent support from the participation of various Conservation Police Officers who provide observations and answer questions for the classes. In 2010 the Squadron volunteers taught 13 classes with 773 graduates.  Additionally, we graduated 24 from the America's Boating Course."

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 Cmdr. Stow'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 website, 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.

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:

Been There - Done That! Can't Wait to Go Again...

Editor's note: One of my New Year's resolutions was to get out in the field as much as possible and participate in these great events and activities that we write about each edition of the Outdoor Report. In this first article I'm calling "Been there – done that! Can't wait to go again...", here's the 'rest of the story' from my observations participating in this memorable youth event... I rode up to the Pheasant Workshop with my neighbor and hunting buddies Craig and Nathanial Fisher. Dad, Craig had gotten a new pickup for Christmas and wanted to take me for a spin to show all the neat gizmos it had on it, and Nathanial had gotten a new 20 ga. Savage over-under shotgun and was anxious to both practice his wing shooting and get his first pheasant! I too had never been on a preserve pheasant hunt and wanted to get some photos for future articles on youth hunting opportunities. Let's just say we all got what we wanted and then some! It was truly a great day afield with old friends, making new friends, watching some great dogs get up birds and watch some awesome young hunters improve their skills, learn some great life lessons, and just have a blast!! I've never seen so many clays busted in a skeet practice shootout – these kids are goooooood!! David Coffman, Editor

Youth Pheasant Hunting Workshop in Fauquier Big Success

The VDGIF Outdoor Education program in cooperation with Sporty's Hunting Preserve near Catlett in Fauquier County hosted a "bang-up" pheasant hunting workshop for 18 young hunters January 16. The workshop provided a full day of fun and excitement for the young hunters and adult volunteers and parents including, numerous rounds of skeet shooting to hone their wing shooting skills with one-on-one shooting coaches, professionally guided pheasant hunt with some terrific dogs, firearms safety instruction, upland game bird biology and habitat, as well as a "field side" lunch of hot dogs and hearty beef stew to fend off the cold temperatures. But none complained about the cold with all the hot action shooting at clay pigeons and live pheasants. VDGIF Outdoor Education Coordinator Jimmy Mootz noted that this was a total learning experience for these young hunters getting the wing shooting coaching and practice with the clay birds, then hitting the field with professional guides and their dogs, flushing and shooting at the colorful pheasants till everyone got a bird. Glenn Waleska, a volunteer Hunter Education instructor who was instrumental in creating this event and serves as the local event coordinator noted, "The safety and ethics training gained at these youth events provide life lesions for these young hunters to use every day. We complete the event with them cleaning their birds ready to take home for a memorable dinner treat." A special thanks goes to the Virginia Hunter Education volunteers and the guides from Sporty's for giving their time and sharing their experience with these young hunters- the future of our sport. All the kids and parents went home with a goodie bag full of hunting items and memories of a fun day with lots of shooting practice, dogs pointing and birds flushing.

Volunteer VDGIF Hunter Education Instructors do much more than teach the required Hunter Education Courses, they also develop and assist with outdoor skills training events such as this Youth Pheasant Hunt, and other events throughout the year for deer, rabbit, waterfowl, squirrel and much more. To become involved as a Hunter Education Instructor, contact Sgt. David Dodson at david.dodson@dgif.virginia.gov. Please include your locality in the e-mail.

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

A Couples "Happy Ending" hunting tale...

Darren Smith from Fredericksburg is a new reader who signed up from our "December email invitation to subscribe." He sent in this great "couples hunting story" after reading the hunting experiences of young hunters in his January 12 edition...

"I just received my first Outdoor Report and I really enjoyed it, there are some really great articles in this edition. I think a lot of people don't realize the great opportunities we have for hunting and fishing in Virginia, they think to catch a big bass they have to go down south or to kill a big buck they have to go to the mid-west, boy are they wrong!! I have been blessed to have been raised in this great state in a family of outdoorsman who have taught me to hunt, fish, and enjoy the outdoors in general and I now get to pass the lessons I learned on to my children and what a great time I'm having with it! I just wanted to let you know I really enjoyed the report and I'm looking forward to many more in the future. I attached proof you don't have to go far for great opportunities. As proud as I was of my first big buck, I was more thrilled that my wife Meredith also got her first buck about 60 seconds after I got this one out of the same blind.

We got both bucks on November 13, opening day of gun season in Fauquier County where we hunt on a friend's farm. For the last four years my wife has been hunting with me. She got her first deer last year, a nice mature doe, and has been with me while I have taken a half dozen or so. The afternoon of the 13th we were in our blind on a cut corn field, about 4:30 two spikes and a nice 8 pointer came out into the field, my wife raised the gun to try and take the 8 pointer but due to the glare from the sun she couldn't see the deer in the scope. After a few minutes of fighting the glare, the 8 pointer went back into the woods leaving the two spikes and by this time several does in the field. After she calmed herself down from that she decided she wanted to take one of the spike bucks, she raised the gun and was trying to fight the suns glare again. I caught some movement out of the corner of my eye and looked to our side where I saw the 9 pointer in the photo, my wife could not see him and he was a few steps from going back into the woods so she gave me the gun and I made a 150 yard shot and the deer fell in his track's, at that time all I could think of was getting the gun back to my wife and trying to get her back on the spike she was trying to take. We looked back to the side of the field the other deer where on and to our surprise they were all still there, my wife raised the gun again and was able to make a 260 yard shot that resulted in the picture attached. This was the day I realized that deer hunting isn't about the size of the rack but the experience and the memories, my wife's smile says it all! I was more excited for my wife and her deer than the deer I had shot. This was my biggest deer I had ever taken it was a 140 inch 9 pointer and after it was all over and the deer were checked in and in the truck I found myself wishing I hadn't shot it, my wife just got her first buck and everyone that came over was looking and talking about mine not the fact that she just got a great deer, I feel like I took away from her experience of her first buck. I have never been more proud or excited about a deer than I was when my wife got hers, I didn't care about the antlers, but loved to see the excitement in my wife's face when she walked up to him for the first time. This was a day I will truly never forget.

Darren- I think you just sent Meredith the perfect "Valentines card"- it is very special to share such great hunting memories together.

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 and February 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 February. Canada Goose season runs till 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) Special Order Conservation Season in the Atlantic Zone, February 1 -March 26 which hunters need 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...

Preserve Your Trophy Properly

For information on taxidermist services visit the Virginia Taxidermist Association or visit the taxidermy exhibits at the various sportsmen shows statewide coming up. For tips on field preparation to protect and preserve your trophy animal or bird, check the Outdoor Report archives. Just enter the name of animal [like bear, deer, turkey, waterfowl] or 'taxidermy tips' in the search box. 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!

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.

Great Backyard Bird Count February 18-21

Anyone can participate from beginning bird watchers to experts. It takes as little as 15 minutes on one day, or you can count for as long as you like each day of the event. It's free, fun, and easy- and it helps the birds. Join us on February 18-21, make it a family event to see who can identify the most birds. For details visit: www.birdsource.org/gbbc

Be a Sweetheart to Wildlife

You can make a difference by helping to support the management of Virginia's wildlife. When you complete your Virginia state income tax form, you can be a sweetheart to wildlife by simply marking the Nongame Wildlife Program check off box and filling in the amount of your donation. Your contribution will help support essential research and management of native birds, fish, and other nongame wildlife.

No Outdoor Burning Before 4 p.m. Until April 30

The Commonwealth's 4 p.m. Burning Law goes into effect February 15 – the start of spring fire season in Virginia. The law prohibits outdoor burning before 4 p.m. each day until April 30th if the fire is in, or within 300 feet of, woodland, brushland or fields containing dry grass or other flammable materials. "This law is one of the most effective tools we have in the prevention of wildfires," notes John Miller, director of resource protection at the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF). "Each late winter and early spring, downed trees, branches and leaves become 'forest fuels' that increase the danger of a forest fire. By adhering to the law and not burning before 4 p.m., people are less likely to start a fire that threatens them, their property and the forests of Virginia."

A violation of this law is a Class 3 misdemeanor punishable by up to a $500 fine. In addition to the criminal violation, those who allow a fire to escape are liable for the cost of suppressing the fire as well as any damage caused to others' property. In 2010, there were 897 wildfires that burned 8,485 acres of forestland in the Commonwealth. This was a seven percent increase in the number of wildland fires compared to the number (837) of fires in 2009. Similarly, the amount of acreage burned increased 13 percent when compared to 7,494 acres that burned in 2009.

Periods of wet weather during the spring and fall fire seasons were a critical factor in reducing the number of wildfires. Of the fires that did occur, citizens burning debris or yard waste continue to be the leading cause of wildfire in Virginia. Arson and equipment use also make up the majority of the fires. To learn more about how to protect yourself and your property, visit the VDOF 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.

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 late February:

Answers to January 26 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. For questions or additional information, please contact Jason Fisher, Forestry Extension Agent, at (434) 476-2147 or via email at jasonf@vt.edu

February Workshops Scheduled To Promote Buffers to Improve Habitat and Protect Riparian Areas

NRCS and FSA will sponsor three workshops in February 2011 to promote buffers through CREP and other state and federal programs. These meetings will bring together cooperating partners to learn how the various programs can work together to meet landowner needs and increase protection for riparian areas. Locations include:

Contact Chad Wentz at USDA NRCS for more information.

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.

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

Illegal Road Hunters Caught From Tip—Buck Seized at Taxidermist... On December 13, 2010 Officer Woodruff received an anonymous tip about people shooting deer from the roadway in Sussex County. Two days later Officer Woodruff located a witness and found two empty shotgun shells and a pool of blood beside the road. Officer Woodruff then located the owner of the vehicle. In a written statement the subject admitted to stopping in the road, telling the passenger to shoot the deer, and transporting the deer. Officer Woodruff called the shooter, who lives in Tennessee, and he admitted to shooting from the roadway and advised Officer Woodruff the deer was at a taxidermist in the Bristol area. The deer was seized from the taxidermist in Bristol by Officer Salyers. Charges are pending for hunting from a vehicle, shooting across the roadway, transporting illegally taken deer, and conspiring to hunt from a vehicle.

Informants Help CPOs Nab Poachers Hunting Out of Season... For two years Officer Woodruff and other District 14 officers had received complaints about people operating ATVs, shooting deer at night, and hunting out of season. In October 2010, Officer Woodruff received photographs from an informant of the suspect holding the deer that was taken out of season. After several weeks Officer Woodruff checked the subject hunting, and learned that he had not checked any deer in October. The following day Officer Booden and Woodruff returned to the neighborhood in an attempt to get statements about hunting out of season from multiple people simultaneously. After interviewing the suspect and 2 others, the suspect admitted to killing a buck out of season with a rifle that he barrowed from a friend. Officer Woodruff seized a .25-06 caliber Ruger rifle and antlers. Charges were filed for fail to check, hunting out of season, and hunting with a rifle in a prohibited county.

Region II - Southside

'Close-Call' Crash for CPO Leads to Recovery of Stolen Vehicle and Property... On Saturday morning, January 1, 2011, CPO Joseph Williams was returning to his residence in Salem after completing a spotlight patrol in Franklin County. At approximately 0130 hours a dark colored SUV ran a red light and almost crashed into Officer William's patrol vehicle and another vehicle at the four way intersection. CPO Williams attempted to stop the vehicle but the operator increased speed in an attempt to elude the officer. The suspect lost control and "rolled" the vehicle multiple times. He was ejected and sustained serious, but non life threatening injuries. The 19 year old male operator from Franklin County was charged with DUI and felony eluding. The owner of the wrecked SUV reported that his vehicle had been stolen when he awoke at 1000 hours and noticed it missing. Items found at the wreck scene and thrown from the vehicle were later identified as being stolen from two residences near where the SUV had been stolen. A total of six felony warrants and two misdemeanor warrants were obtained for the suspect.

Region III - Southwest

Special Regulation Trout Waters Require "Special" Attention to Tackle and Bait... On January 21, 2011, Senior Conservation Police Officer Dan Hall was patrolling stocked trout waters in Smyth County at Buller Fish Cultural Station. The trout fishing activity had been monitored earlier in the day covertly by Senior Officer Rick Salyers. Senior Officer Hall arrived at the location at sunset and found one vehicle in the parking area but did not observe anyone fishing in the stocked trout water portion of the river. Officer Hall initiated a foot patrol in the Special Regulation Trout Waters. In this area fishing is allowed only with artificial, single hook lures and only two trout over sixteen inches in length are allowed to be creeled per day. Officer Hall found a fresh footprint beside the special regulation sign. This led him upstream approximately forty yards, where he observed a subject come around a steep rock formation on the riverbank and holding a trout in his hand. Officer Hall identified himself and initiated a brief interview with him. The trout was determined to be caught in the special regulation area with the use of power bait which was found to be still present on the suspects fishing hook attached to the rod and reel he was using. The trout was measured by Officer Hall and determined to be only twelve inches in length. The suspect was issued summons for Creeling Trout from Special Regulation Trout Waters less than sixteen inches in length and Fishing Special Regulation Trout Waters with other than Artificial Lure with Single Point Hook.

Editors note... The "special" regulations on Special Regulation Trout Waters are there so that all anglers have a quality experience and fair opportunity to fish and enjoy all that comes with this privilege. This photo shows volunteers representing Dominion Power, Fly Fishers of VA, TU, VDGIF and other organizations providing a quality trout fishing adventure for wounded warriors through the Project Healing Waters program. This event took place on a Special Regulation Trout Water stream and was an inspirational, recuperative and healing event for all involved. Breaking the rules in any Special Regulation Trout Waters, robs the ethical anglers and our special guests of their fair opportunity to enjoy their fishing experience. Not only be an ethical angler yourself , but set the right example for those accompanying you- especially the young or the novice anglers. Also if you see someone acting illegally call the WILDLIFE CRIMELINE at 1-800-237-5712. For information on how you can volunteer or support outdoor opportunities for our deserving disabled veterans, visit the Project Healing Waters website.

ALWAYS Obey the Trout Creel Limits – CPOs May Be Watching... On January 19, 2011, Senior Conservation Police Officer Dan Hall was patrolling on Staley's Creek in Smyth County. Senior Officer Hall noted two men he checked as having four trout each in their creel. Later that same day, Senior Officer Hall was working covertly on the Middle Fork of the Holston River in the town of Marion. Officer Hall noticed a subject come down to the river and begin fishing in the trout stream approximately 300 yards away. With use of the spotting scope, Officer Hall positively identified the subject as one of the men who had creeled four trout earlier in the morning on Staley Creek. Senior Officer Hall observed the subject catch a trout and move toward the bank with it and reappear at the edge of the stream without the fish. Officer Hall observed two other men come down to the river and begin fishing. One of the subjects was identified to have been fishing earlier. Officer Hall observed a subject catch another trout and discretely handed the trout to an unidentified subject fishing with him. Officer Hall was able to observe the subject catch three more trout and place one on his own stringer, another on the unidentified subject's stringer and another which he took to the bank of the river Officer Hall went to the location of the three subjects he was observing and found all three subjects still fishing. After initially being asked about the number of fish the subject had caught and creeled, the subject stated he had just kept the five trout that was on his stringer. Officer Hall advised the subject of the illegal activity he had observed. Officer Hall asked the suspect if he had any more trout that he wanted to tell him about. The suspect stated " I swear that's all I have kept. I did throw several back." Senior Officer Hall promptly went to the bank of the river and overturned a rock where a hole had been dug out underneath it that concealed two trout. Officer Hall issued the subject the appropriate summonses.

Poacher's Pickup Wreck in Snow Leads to Illegal Hunting Charges... Senior Conservation Police Officer Lee Wensel conducted an investigation that was the result of vehicle accident that occurred December 17, 2010. CPO Wensel learned about an accident where a pickup truck slid off a snow and ice covered back road in Montgomery County. The truck rolled dumping its load down a steep embankment. Since the ground was covered with fresh snow and ice, it was obvious that the seven deer carcasses that were deposited on the snow and ice had come from the bed of the truck. When CPO Wensel located the owner of the wrecked truck at his residence in Floyd County, three more deer heads were located. All the deer carcasses and heads were determined to be illegal. The investigation also revealed two tagging violations from deer season. Nineteen charges were placed in Floyd and Montgomery Counties in connection with the 10 illegal deer carcasses.

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.

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!

Teen Angler Club Hosts Sportsman's Show in Orange February 19-20

The 7th Annual Orange County Fishing and Sportsman Show will be held February 19-20 at the Hornet Sports Center in Orange. This unique show is sponsored by the "Nation's Outstanding Junior B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Chapter", the Orange County High School 4-H and B.A.S.S. Angler's Club. There will be exhibits featuring hunting and fishing guides, gear, artwork, taxidermy, boats and more. There is a trout fishing pond for kids and an official ESPN BASS Casting Kids Competition. The Virginia Trappers Association will be promoting Project Healing Waters which provides rehabilitative fishing opportunities for wounded veterans, cancer survivors and others with disabilities. VDGIF and other conservation organizations will be there to provide information on the great fishing and skill building workshop opportunities statewide. There will be seminars on all kinds of fishing and the VDGIF boater education safety class. Admission is $5 with kids under 10 free. Click here for information on seminar schedule and show features. Contact Youth Advisor OCHS Anglers, Becky Gore at (540) 661-4300 ext. 1154.

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, and Commander of the Smith Mountain Lake (SML) Sail & Power Squadron,Randy Stow, 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." Cmdr. Stow 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. Our squadron teaches the Boat Virginia course as well as the US Power Squadron's "America's Boating Course" which covers boating safety and basic boating.  The squadron currently has 18 active VDGIF qualified instructors and as an additional element to our classes, we have excellent support from the participation of various Conservation Police Officers who provide observations and answer questions for the classes. In 2010 the Squadron volunteers taught 13 classes with 773 graduates.  Additionally, we graduated 24 from the America's Boating Course."

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 Cmdr. Stow'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

Take Your Daughter Fishing

Even in our more enlightened days, fishing with your kids is often seen as a father and son activity. But, despite old stereotypes to the contrary, a girl can enjoy fishing as much as a boy. My Mom remembers going on fishing trips with her Father, a prominent outdoor writer, from the icy trout streams at Yellowstone to the warm lakes of Florida. Together they had many adventures and many victories over wily fish. I too, had some great times fishing and crabbing with my Dad. It never occurred to me that a girl shouldn't like slimy worms and fish, or shouldn't be able to cast properly. I was never conditioned to be incompetent outdoors. I had the gift of a father who wanted to share his passion for angling with me.

If you have a girl, be she tomboy or not, share your passion with her. It will create wonderful memories and give you both a common interest that never fades. Who knows, maybe someday she will make fishing a mother and son activity.

Sarah White

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.

Wade Brown from Amherst County landed this "Smallie" while fishin' on Martin Luther King Holiday this year. Wade noted, "I was fishing with my youngest son Ashton when I landed this fish. My sons and I have been visiting this same place on the river for the past several years and have been catching and releasing smallmouth around 18 to 19 inches long every year. A lot of fisherman believe that fish cannot be caught in cold weather, but I beg to differ. It has been my experience that the amount of fish declines, but the quality of the fish increases. As far as the bait I used... well its artificial... cant give away my secret. I grew up around hunting and fishing and it was handed down to me from my father and grandfather. I enjoy it as much today as I did as a kid. I as a father, are ensuring that my 3 children have the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors as I did. That's really all I can do is to introduce it to them, show them the proper etiquette and make it as enjoyable as I can for them. Hopefully that will find it as enjoyable as I have and hopefully pass it on to their children."

Region 1 - Tidewater

Little Creek Reservoir: (757) 566-2277, hhhatlcr@aol.com. Park Concessionaire Diane Priestley reports that stripers are going for black jigs and silver buddies. Crappie are biting too. Both can be found 25 to 30 feet down, around the points and humps. Once the water temperature rises, the bite should turn on. The water is slightly stained and cold.

On March 26th the First Annual Sportsman's Flea Market will be held at Little Creek from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. There you will find plenty of used sports equipment, but no guns or ammo allowed and no yard sale junk. Vendors are welcome to rent a space. For more info contact Andy or Diane Priestly at Headhunter's Headquarters at (757) 566-2277 or hhhatlcr@aol.com.

Beaverdam Reservoir: (804) 693-2107. Contributed by C. Blair Evans, Park Supervisor. The lake is clear of ice and is warming up.  Anglers are reporting good catches of crappie. An over 8 pound largemouth bass was caught on February 6th by Sean Griffith of Hayes, VA. The water is slightly stained, at full pool and in the 40s.

Beaverdam's Big Bash Tournament season is here and the first tournament will be held Saturday March 19th.  For more information, call the park at (804) 693-2107. Park hours are from 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. in February and 7:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. in March.

Virginia Beach: Captain Jim Brincefield (443) 336-8756. Captain Jim reports that it's just too cold for fishing action. He hopes things will pick up soon. The water is 39 degrees and clear.

Chesapeake Bay: Ruthless Kayak Fishing, (757) 403-0734. This new contributor offers guide and instruction services for fishing from kayaks. Cory Routh, the owner, told me that cold weather has kept the action slow. A few speckled trout were landed on Rudde Inlet on grubs fished "slow and low". Some yellow perch and largemouths were taken in Back Bay on minnows. The water is very cold and clear.

Chickahominy River: River's Rest (804) 829-2753. Charlie Brown says that not much is happening his way. A few cats bit on cut eel. Crappie fishing is "okay" with minnows and jigs. Some bream have responded to crickets. No word on bass. The water is in the upper 30s and slightly stained.

North Landing River and Back Bay: West Neck Marina (757) 426-6735. Dewey Mullins reports that things are starting to pick up a little. Some small bass were landed with soft plastics, shallow running crankbaits and jigs. Slow fishing is the key here. Bluegill are biting worms. Dewey hopes that a few warm days will put him "back in business again". The water is muddy and very cold.

Norfolk Lakes: Dasheill's Show Room (757) 539-7854. Drew Dixon says that not many anglers have braved the cold. No word on bass. A few crappie have gone for minnows and jigs. Some anglers have gotten some good yellow perch with minnows. Bream in the Nottoway are taking worms. Cats are responding to cut bait. The water is clear and in the high 30s.

Blackwater and Nottoway: By Riverkeeper Jeff Turner www.blackwaternottoway.com Fishing on the Blackwater and Nottoway continues to be slow.  Sporadic reports of catches of yellow perch keep filtering through the grapevine, but I have not found them in any numbers. Water temps were still in the high 30s as of this writing on Feb. 2nd. Higher temps mid week might spark some action, but you're gonna get wet for that luxury.  It should not be too much longer before some shad to start making their way up river.  If you really want to see something cool, ride down the Blackwater to Cherry Grove and see the eagles nesting.  That is if you're sharp enough to find their nest.

Upper and Lower Tidal James: Local Guide, Captain Mike Hoke, Life's Revenge Guide Service, (804) 357-8518. The tidal creeks and rivers are starting to warm and the yellow perch are in the rivers but mostly male fish are being caught with a few females also in the mix. One angler caught approximately 80 fish recently, but kept only a dozen that were big enough for the table. Most fish are caught using medium minnows on a double drop bottom rig, drifting and jigging a silver buddy and jigging a small twister tail grub or swim shad. Also a few catfish have been caught but trophy fishing has been slow; cut bait like shad or eel has yielded the best results. Crappie are in the mouth of the big creeks with deep holes and structure in the James and on most tidal rivers. Best bait is a small or medium minnow under a float using a bobber stopper to keep your bait at the depth or just above where you locate fish on your sonar. Patience is key when tidal fishing crappie as they can turn on or off suddenly with tidal movement.

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.

Nearly Extinct & Recovery

In the early 1970's, bald eagles were locally extinct or extirpated.  There were no eagles on the James and only 30 pair in the entire state of Virginia. Now, because of proactive measures like the Clean Water Act and banning of DDT (a powerful insecticide) coupled with the hard work and cooperation of organizations like the Wildlife Center of Virginia and the Center for Conservation Biology at William & Mary, and VDGIF, bald eagles have made their comeback.  Today, over 120 pair of resident bald eagles live along the James River and nearly 700 pair throughout the state of Virginia.

Thanks to Capt. Mike Ostrander from www.DiscoverTheJames.com, for this reminder of the successful recovery of the bald eagle, and to Lynda Richardson for the amazing eagle photo. Read Lynda's Photo Tips feature each month in Virginia Wildlife magazine.

Region 2 - Southside

Fort Pickett Reservoir: Contributed by our man in the boat Willard A. Mayes. One day it is in the 60s and I am sitting in Richmond with my grandson watching Thomas the Train Saves the Day. Want to take a guess where my mind is? Normally I do not fish on the weekend but Sunday was one of those days you cannot sit in the house, and since I felt everyone would be waiting for Super Bowl, I hooked "Old Blue" to the boat and headed for the reservoir at Pickett. I forgot to take into account that we had some rain and the lake was slightly on the muddy side but you had no problem seeing about a foot down. I had the boat on the water just before noon and fished from the ramp towards the aeration lines and picked up a 10 inch crappie on a black and yellow 2 inch twister. Since the water was not clear, I mostly used the 2 inch chartreuse twister. I fished the deeper part of the lake around the aeration lines and caught one 8 inch, one 9 inch, five 10 inch, one 11 inch and three 12 inch crappie. I may have picked up a few more but the "got to see bug" struck me and I just had to see if any were under the bridge at the upper end so took hour or so going there and back catching only one 8 inch bass. Boat back on the trailer by 4:30 and headed home.

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. The James is clear and cold! Still not hearing any reports of fishing action, although I have been seeing boats out and anchored up in some of the deeper holes. So anglers are out giving it a try. I'd go with jigs and a trailer and I'd also throw a crankbait every now and then. Slow rolling a spinnerbait in the deeper holes may get a bite or two.

Kerr Reservoir: Bob Cat's Lake Country Store, (434) 374-8381. No report this edition.

Tom McMurray sent in this picture of his new lab pup (hopefully his new fall turkey hunting partner!) with his first fish of 2011 - a 4 ft. carp caught on 4 lb test in a private pond in Nelson county in January. He notes, "I was actually trying to see if I could catch a few crappie for the frying pan under a dock with a jig when I snagged this brute. The fish fought for over an hour before I was able to get my hand under the gill plate and hoist it up on the dock. I am not sure what it weighed but it was amazing the line did not break during the battle. (missing a great endorsement here!!) The fact that the pond was pretty much void of snags and I was able to run back and forth on the dock as the fish made long hard runs helped for sure. The fish was released after a few pics. I think Maggie (the lab pup) will be disappointed in the size of the fish I will catch from here on out but you never know!?"

James at Lynchburg: Angler's Lane, (434) 385-0200. Tom Reisdorf says that the cold weather and icy mountain roads have kept anglers away. No word on the Smith River. The water is clear and in the 30s.

Lake Gaston: Holly Grove Marina, (434) 636-3455. The marina is closed for the season and will open in 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 in the deeper water where temperatures are more moderate. Crappies continue to be found in the tops of trees and other submerged vertical structure 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: 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. 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 located with electronics while 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 spinner baits, small weighted swimbaits and occasionally on medium and deep diving crankbaits taken quickly to depth and then retrieved very slowly.

The water is clear and 38 to 43 degrees. Tight lines and stay safe while out on the water this winter.

Region 3 - Southwest

Claytor Lake: Rock House Marina, (540) 980-1488. Greg Osborne says that most of the Lake is still frozen over, so still no anglers.

Lower New River: Big Z'S (540) 639-1651. John Zienius reports that the muskies are "on a tear". These fierce fish will go for big shiners, trout or suckers. The will also take a hard jerk. Not much bass action reported. The water is 36 degrees and clear. John also reports that there are still large chunks of ice on Claytor Lake that can do serious damage to your boat, or even get you dropped in, so be cautious.

New River: Tangent Outfitters, (540) 257-0415. Shawn Hash says that it is still a little early for great muskie fishing up his way. They may go for a slider or glider, though. Some bass are taking jigs and jerks. The water is in the mid 30s and slightly stained.

Upper New River: Contributed by Captain Forest Pressnell, (540) 818-5274, New River Charter. Well the ice is off the Upper New River and will remain that way for a while, we hope. Walleye are hitting suspending jerkbaits fished deep and slow as well as plastics on the bottom. Muskie are responding to slow presentations in deepwater holes. Water temp has risen to 34.5 degrees. Be sure and wear warm clothing and wear your PFD's! The new walleye regulations have gone into effect here so make sure to READ them before walleye fishing.

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 provide good fishing. In the Valley the stocked streams are still producing. The best areas are the Canyon on the Bullpasture and below the springs on Big Stoney Creek. Harry advises you to use nymphs. The best ones are: Murray's Cranefly Larva, size 12; and the Olive Strymph, size 10. Fish along the bottom of the deep pools and below the riffles. The mountain streams are too icy to fish.

Lake Moomaw: Local Guide, Mike Puffenbarger, (540) 468-2682, www.mapletreeoutdoors.com. "Puff" reports that Lake Moomaw is still about 16 feet low with the upper lake regions now beginning to thaw and the Bolar Flat boat ramp is now accessible. Lower lake is accessible and the Fortney Branch ramp is open. Coles Point ramp is closed due to low water level. Streams throughout the area are running full now with trout stocking in progress.

Weather conditions and temperature can change conditions at any time so check website for current updates. This is 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. Also it is only 4 weeks till we celebrate the 53rd Annual Highland Maple Festival the weeks of March 11-20. There are lots of great activities for all outdoor enthusiasts throughout the Highlands. Visit Puffs Southernmost Maple rural retreat for great food, including his maple syrup and famous maple donuts made right there on-site. In addition to hunting and fishing guide info, also see displays and demonstrations of outdoor related arts and crafts, hunting and fishing gear.

Region 5 - Northern Piedmont

Piedmont Rivers: Local author Steve Moore (Wade Fishing Guidebooks covering the: Rappahannock, Rapidan, Upper Potomac, North Branch Potomac) Cold and slow... fishing equipment mostly gathering dust. However, since the trout stocking program continues with ferocious diligence, there are great opportunities to get outdoors on the random warm day (like last Sunday) that may pop up. Piedmont trout hunters should head over to the Rose and Hughes. The mountain streams are far too cold right now for any action with Mossy Creek Fly Fishing reporting temperatures as low as 33 degrees. For those anxious for smallmouth bass, head over to the Dickerson Power Plant and bask, along with good numbers of smallies, in the warm water discharge. Use crayfish patterns or live bait for the best results.

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. No report this edition.

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

Stripers:  Two key elements in locating stripers this month are birds and electronics. Gulls will guide you to the schools of bait and the stripers will be nearby. Your depth finder will also identify the areas you need to fish by showing large clouds of bait with the stripers showing up as arches around the bait. Artificial techniques for catching stripers this month will be to use small swimbaits such as ¾ oz. Hopkins Spoons and Blade Baits vertical jigged Shads, 3 inch Sassy Shads and ¼ oz. Road Runners cast on light line with an extremely slow retrieve. Down lake, Redfins waked over long points and shallow flats in low light conditions will draw huge stripers up to explode on the bait, maybe resulting in the fish of a lifetime. As for live bait fisherman, being versatile will be the key this month. Start off pulling boards and freelines in the low light times of the day and as the sun gets brighter back off to the deeper flats continuing to use boards and adding a couple of downlines to the depth you see the fish at on your locater. Also as the sun warms up the red clay banks and rip rap in the afternoons the fish will move up chasing bait. Down lake use herring or large minnows and mid lake use threadfin shad or medium and large minnows.

Bass: February is a great month for fishing for huge bass on Lake Anna and many citations should recorded this month. One of the most productive patterns for catching big bass is to fish clear water with suspending jerkbaits. A long cast with a steady, slow retrieve with an occasional pause will trigger the bass to react. A great way to catch a citation bass this month is to pull a jumbo minnow behind your boat about 10 feet below a bobber, keeping your boat in the 15 ft. depth range.  My clients regularly catch very nice Bass using herring. Great places also to try are short guts or creeks off the main lake like Hackneys Creek.  If the weather warms up later in the month the back of Sturgeon will turn on. Many fish structures and brush piles are holding bass.

Crappie: Most crappie are caught up lake near bridges in February but unless we get warmer weather better areas to try would be around deeper docks mid lake, especially with brush piles nearby and docks that have lights on them during the night. There are nice crappie being caught around Elks Creek bridge on the private side of the lake.

Walleye: Some nice fish are being caught off the rocks at Dike 3 and nearby the discharge on the private side of the lake. Jerkbaits, 3 inch white grubs and minnows catch the majority of walleye.

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

Get your kids hooked on fishing!

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email your material to
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and it might get used in the Fishin' Report!

Winning Outdoor Adventure Stories from Young Writers

With the entrenched cold of winter surrounding us, we thought the story of a mid-summer hike to view St. Mary's mountain would transport your thoughts to warmer settings for a while. This story by then 16 year old Tylar Burgdorf, a Sophomore at Riverheads High School in Augusta County, was one of the Top 10 Entries in 2009-10 Virginia Outdoor Writers Association High School Youth Writing Competition. The vivid descriptions by Tylar of losing the trail in a wilderness hike and the calm demeanor of her hiking companion to re-discover the trail and the awesome beauty and mystery of the wilderness made this hike a most memorable outdoor experience.

My Memorable Outdoor Experience

Suspense at St. Mary's

By Tylar Burgdorf

The scorching sun beat against our faces. I grabbed a dangling, lifeless limb and hoisted myself over a fallen tree. The dead bark was diminishing on the tree and it creaked under my boots as I stepped on it. Once I was over, I released the branch and it hissed through the air as it sprung back into place on another neighboring tree. It was mid- afternoon on a blistering hot day in July. My boyfriend, Chris, and I were hiking the intimidating mountain of St. Mary's. The mountain was abundant with wildlife and the rivers ran through the valleys like blood through veins.

Thirsty and tired, we sauntered through steep sections of slick soil and braced ourselves as we bombarded bushels of brush. Our faces beaded with perspiration and our water canteens dripped dry with hot air. "Almost there," I often chanted to myself to stay optimistic. I couldn't wait to reach the top. The sun was sucking every last drop of energy out of the both of us. Following Chris like a baby elephant trailing its mother, I kept close behind. I knew we had to be close; we had been hiking for hours. Chris suddenly came to an abrupt stop. The woods were silent. It was like every animal in the forest had disappeared; there wasn't a single chirp or a rustle of leaves. I could hear faintly in the distance the roar of water rushing downstream; but that was all. "Where are we?" I asked curiously. Chris had no reply. I watched him as he turned his head of scruffy brown hair from right, to left, behind him, then in front of him. He cupped both hands to his freckled face with his blue eyes peering through, and then ran his fingers through his hair. I looked at the twisted expression on his face. "The trail," he grumbled, "I lost it."

Mimicking Chris, I looked from right, to left, behind me, then in front of me. Sure enough, the worn dirt trail had vanished from beneath our feet. My heart began to beat heavily in my chest like an angry drum; I swallowed hard and I remembered the, "CAUTION: RECENT BEAR SIGHTING" sign we read before we entered the woods and the large, blurred photo of a monstrous black blur crossing the trail. Were we going to be the next meal for a famished bear? Would the next group of unaware hikers find our flesh- stripped bones hiding in a cave? Before I had time to storm up any more terrifying thoughts to scare myself, Chris yanked my arm and dragged me behind him. After about 45 minutes, he stopped and pointed ahead of us. "There it is! That's the trail!" I peeked around him and I saw a large, winding river with hundreds of rocks parading through it. There was a small fall upstream and it overflowed with clear, white-crested water. Beside the river was a barricade of sheet rock, climbing in jagged, earthy layers towards the sky.

Demoralized, I wondered how we were supposed to logically get across and actually survive. Before I even opened my mouth, Chris was wobbling across the river of rock. Every unbalanced step he took, he neared the other side. I approached the river and unwillingly stretched my leg out to the first rock I saw. Swiftly moving from one slick rock to the next, I reached the other side. I began to think we were finally on the trail again until Chris positioned himself against the rock ledge, and started climbing. Progressing up the wall like a spider, he looked back down and grabbed my shaking hand. With all his strength he pulled me forward and I too began to scale the wall. I feared to look down, so I kept climbing higher and higher. At last, we reached the top and were back on the trail. We both turned around, and to our surprise, we saw the beautiful peak of the mountain. The trees below looked like tiny green ants, the sun shone brightly in the sky, and the elevated mountain air was crisp and fresh. Finally, we had made it.

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: