In this edition:

Gobblers, Trout, and Outdoor Adventure Perfect for Springtime Family Traditions

This February 23rd edition has a long list of "wild events" coming in March and April that offer a variety of opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. There are 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. And for many sportsmen the much anticipated Spring Gobbler season!! This edition features the special Youth Turkey Hunt Day, April 2. It has been very exciting the last two months to see the growing number of 'sportsmen families' attending the outdoor shows around the state and signing up for the Outdoor Report. Seeing the families out there bodes well for the future of our treasured hunting and fishing heritage and traditions. The stories from our readers confirm the results of recent research that shows a majority of sportsmen are mentoring young people and how important it is to get the young kids outdoors—the younger they start, the more likely their participation will continue as adults and then teach their kids. Trout Heritage Day is also April 2. If you don't have a youngster to take spring gobbler hunting, or trout fishing—find one! Start your own 'family tradition.' Here's an idea—go turkey hunting in the morning, then go trout fishin' in the afternoon!! Make it a family tradition full of treasured memories...

David Coffman, Editor

Virginia Now Stocking Trout In South Holston Lake

Trout stocking trucks from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) were at the Washington County Park boat ramp and the Route 421 boat ramp in Tennessee last week. The trucks were carrying the first trout to be stocked in the South Holston Lake as part of a reciprocal agreement between the VDGIF and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency that went into effect July 1, 2010. The agreement between the two states contains a joint fisheries management plan including consistent size restrictions and creel limits for the entire lake.

The agreement also created the South Holston Reservoir License which became available July 1, 2010. It costs $20 plus an agent fee of $1. The special permit is valid for one year from the date of purchase and allows the holder to fish both Virginia and Tennessee waters in South Holston. Virginia residents will still need to purchase a Virginia fishing license and, if they intend to fish for trout, will need a trout license. Since July 1, 2010, VDGIF has sold 633 South Holston Reservoir Licenses.

South Holston Lake is a nearly 7,600-acre impoundment with about 6,000 acres in Tennessee and about 1,600 in Virginia. Because the lake is located in both states, previously anglers needed a Virginia license to fish the Virginia side and a Tennessee license to fish the Tennessee side. This was costly (purchasing resident and non-resident licenses can add up) and inconvenient. The new permit reduces that extra cost and confusion.

To learn more about the South Holston Lake agreement contact VDGIF Regional Aquatic Manager Bill Kittrell, at (276) 783-4860. For more information on fishing opportunities in Virginia, about fishing licenses and fishing regulations, visit the VDGIF website.

Do You Use Wildlife Management Areas For Your Outdoor Recreation?

If So, VDGIF Wants to Talk with You.

Wildlife Management Area User Study to include workshop meetings in March

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) owns more than 201,000 acres on 39 Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) located across the Commonwealth. The land was acquired primarily to conserve wildlife habitat and to provide wildlife-related recreational opportunities for the public. These areas were purchased and are maintained using Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Funds derived from excise taxes assessed on hunting and fishing equipment and supplies; hunting, trapping and fishing license revenues; and a variety of other funding sources including grants from partner organizations.

While WMAs were initially purchased by the agency to be used by hunters and anglers (many WMAs contain public lakes or have access to public waters), these largely undeveloped lands are also used by bird watchers, boaters, hikers, horseback riders, participants in field dog trials, and others. That's a lot of people who have an interest in Virginia's Wildlife Management Areas.

To gain stakeholder input regarding recreational use and land management of WMAs, VDGIF Bureau of Wildlife Resources staffs and researchers from Virginia Tech's Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences will hold public workshop meetings on five evenings in March. At the request of VDGIF, Virginia Tech researchers completed a year-long study in September 2010 that examined recreational use on WMAs in Virginia. The March workshops are the next step in a multi-year process of assessing use of and developing a statewide management plan for Virginia's WMAs.

Five workshop meetings will be held on weeknight evenings in mid-March. The dates, times, and locations of workshop meetings are as follows:

Tuesday, March 8 (7:00-9:00 PM): John Barton Payne Community Room, 2 Courthouse Square, Warrenton (former Fauquier County Library Building)

Wednesday, March 9 (6:30-8:30 PM): Virgil I. Grissom Library, 366 DeShazor Drive, Newport News

Thursday, March 10 (7:00-9:00 PM): DGIF Richmond Office, 4010 W. Broad Street, Richmond

Wednesday, March 16 (7:00-9:00 PM): Augusta Co. Government Center (South Board Room), 18 Government Center Lane, Verona

Thursday, March 17 (7:00-9:00 PM): Wytheville Community College (122 Smyth Hall), 1000 East Main Street, Wytheville

The public is invited to attend and to discuss goals and concerns regarding recreational use and land management on the WMAs. For information on WMAs contact David Norris, VDGIF, 804-829-6580. To help VDGIF plan, please call or email Amy Carrozzino at Virginia Tech (acarroz@vt.edu, 540-231-0961) if you plan to attend one of the meetings.

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.

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.

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 Muskie,  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.

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!

Friends of Phelps Wildlife Management Area To Meet February 27

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.

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.

'Thaw-Out' Smallmouth and Trout Fishing Seminar in Christiansburg March 2

Leave the winter behind and help the New River Valley chapter of Trout Unlimited bring in the 2011 fishing season with the annual 'Thaw Out' meeting. This special event will feature presentations from some of the region's most active authorities on fishing for smallmouth bass and trout in the NRV. John Copeland, fisheries biologist for VGDIF will be there to answer your questions about where to find your trophy smallmouth on the New River. Also learn about results from last year's spawn as well as 2010 angler surveys. Hear the status of fisheries from renowned outdoor writer Bruce Ingram and nationally renowned guide Brit Stoudenmire of New River Outdoor Company. If you enjoy fishing the NRV, this is a meeting that you do not want to miss! The event will be held at the Montgomery County Government Center, 2 miles south of I-81 exit 118C on Rt. 11 in Christiansburg beginning at 7pm on March 2nd. Admission is free, but a $5 donation at the door supports the New River Valley Trout in the Classroom program. The event will also feature raffles of fishing gear to raise funds for Trout in the Classroom, a cooperative program involving VDGIF, numerous public schools, Trout Unlimited and community and business partners to expose students to the science and excitement of coldwater ecology If you would like to submit questions in advance, please contact Bruce at be_ingram@juno.com. Come to hear a great program from regional experts and support a worthwhile cause. Contact Andrew Green (ajgreen@vt.edu) for more information.

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.

Western Virginia Land Trust Hosts Program on Paddling New River March 6

The Western Virginia Land Trust is hosting award-winning author Tim Thornton with his program "The New River, Wild and Scenic and Under Siege," based on his recent paddling trip down the length of the New River at the Western Virginia Land Trust's first-ever potluck supper on Sunday, March 6.Thornton has won awards from the Society for Environmental Journalists and the Virginia Press Association for his writing. The supper will begin at 5 pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church on the corner of Brandon Ave. and Grandin Rd. in Roanoke. There is no charge to attend and the general public is invited. Everyone is encouraged to come out, enjoy food and fellowship and meet your fellow land trust supporters. Everyone is asked to bring a covered dish or dessert and serving utensil; WVLT will provide plates, eating utensils, napkins, cups and beverages. For more information, e-mail dperry@westernvirginialandtrust.org or call (540) 985-0000.

Virginia Trappers Annual Fur Sale March 12 at Augusta Expo

The Virginia Trappers Association Annual Fur Sale is scheduled Saturday, March 12 at Augusta Expoland in Fishersville. This will be an auction forum with a 3% commission on all fur sold. The sale will start at 8 a.m. The building will be open at 6:30 a.m. for dealer set up and pre-registered sellers. Pre-registration is open March 1-10 by calling Charlaine Crebbs (540) 832-2708. Dealers should call Glen Mabe (540) 860-2634. For more information visit the Virginia Trappers Association website.

53rd Annual Highland Maple Festival March 11-20

Fishing Report contributor for Lake Moomaw, local guide, Mike "Puff" Puffenbarger, (540) 468-2682, with Maple Tree Outdoors, reports that the snow is melting finally and with the cold weather, he and the family have been busy getting their gear ready and 'tuning' their calls for Spring Gobbler Season. He is already excited about taking his granddaughter hunting for her third spring gobbler during the special Youth Turkey Hunt Day April 2. Check out the feature article in the February 2010 edition of Virginia Wildlife magazine by Ken Perrotte on Puff and his unique hunting, fishing, and outdoor adventure opportunities at Southernmost Maple, his family mountain farm where the hospitality is wonderfully 'down home' in the peaceful and beautiful Highland County mountain setting. Puff extends a personal invitation to you all to come visit during the upcoming 52nd Annual Highland Maple Festival, March 11-20. There are lots of fun activities for the whole family, not to mention great food with a sweet maple syrup flair in the area known as "Virginia's Switzerland." The fishin' should be pickin' up by then too!

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 Hosts Spring 2011 Open-Houses

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."

The Wildlife Center of Virginia "On the Road" Rehabilitation Classes Scheduled in March

The Wildlife Center of Virginia Director of Outreach Amanda Nicholson announces the Center's "On the Road" wildlife rehabilitation classes for this spring as follows:

March 5th: Norwich Center, Roanoke City Parks & Recreation, Roanoke
Wildlife Capture, Restraint, Handling, and Transportation
Introduction to Raising Orphaned Birds

March 19th: Bridgewater College -Bridgewater
Introduction to Wildlife Rehabilitation
Wildlife Capture, Restraint, Handling, and Transportation

Registration for classes scheduled June 25 in Lynchburg and August 24 in Charlottesville will be open for registration later in April. For registration contact Amanda Nicholson at (540) 942-9453 or email ANicholson@wildlifecenter.org. Find more information on the Wildlife Center of Virginia website.

Celebrate Trout Heritage Weekend with the Kids in Madison April 2-3

The Rapidan Chapter of Trout Unlimited and VDGIF partner with Graves Mountain Lodge the first Saturday –Sunday in April for Trout Heritage Day and Kid's Fishing Day. Several hundred trout are stocked along a private section of the Rose River, solely for children under the age of 12 to experience the joy of fishing. This popular event was so busy last year that the sponsors agreed to make it a 2-day affair. Come join us on April 2-3 to support Kid's Day and Trout Heritage Day at Graves Mountain Lodge in Madison County adjacent to Shenandoah National Park. Check the vdgif website for details.

View the Kids Fishing Day video »

Wilderness Survival & Outdoor Skills Weekend at Cumberland April 8-10

Do you want to know the basics of wildland survival, or increase your knowledge and advance your outdoor skills? Are you just looking for a fun get away to challenge yourself and put your skills to the test? The Wilderness Discovery School is hosting a Basic Wilderness Survival and Outdoor Skills Weekend April 8-10 on their property in Cumberland. 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.

Basic Trapper Training Course April 2 in Bedford

The Virginia Trappers Association (VTA) is sponsoring the Basic Trapper Training Course, Saturday, April 2, from 7:45 am to 5:30 pm at the Bedford Moose Lodge #1897 in Bedford. This class is free but pre-registration is required. All youths under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Bring your own lunch or take your chances with the chili provided by the instructors. For directions and pre-registration contact: Greg Mason Tel: 434-525-7266; email: mason63@jetbroadband.com. For information on VTA and other training and trapping opportunities, visit their website.

Fishing Camp at Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center April 15-17

This weekend specialty camp is designed for boys and girls ages 9-13 and has something to offer for all skill levels. Whether your youngster is interested in learning to fish or has been fishing for years and would like to hone their skills, they will love this camp. Class instructors will include experienced fisherman and experts in the field of fish and wildlife sciences. Class topics include; Canoeing, Knot Tying, Casting, Fish Identification, and there will be a fish shocking demonstration by VDGIF biologists. For more information or to register, visit the 4-H Center website or call the 4-H Center Office at (434) 248-5444. Cost $75. Registration Deadline: April 1, 2011.

Clean River Day For Blackwater-Nottoway Scheduled April 2

Clean River Day is scheduled April 2 as a community effort to clean up the Blackwater & Nottoway watershed. This clean up is accomplished by teams and individuals going out on our rivers, streams and ditches, paring lots and picking up litter, trash and other junk. Blackwater Nottoway Riverkeeper Jeff Turner notes, "It is a great opportunity for folks to contribute to the health of the watershed community they live in. We will provide litter getters and bags for those who need them. Teams or individuals can pick their own locations or I can find you one. My advice is to now start looking around at river and swamp bridge crossings or ditches in your area and be scoping out a place for you or your team to go after. Teams can pick what time of day they want to work and how long. Teams need to keep count of bag and participant totals and totals of tires etc. Make note of your "most unusual item found" and be sure to take pictures to send to me." More details will follow when you sign up. Email at blknotkpr@earthlink.net or call me at 757-562-5173 to get signed up. This is a community event, get your group involved this year, it is a big event with big rewards and recognition for all that participate.

People and Partners in the News

Wheelin' Sportsmen Hold Deer Hunt at Rehabilitation Center in Augusta

On Friday, December 31st, the Augusta County Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation hosted their annual deer hunt on the grounds of Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation Center and adjoining property near Fishersville. Thirteen hunters with varying disabilities participated and four hunters tagged deer. The Augusta County and Virginia Wheelin' Sportsmen Chapters both provided volunteers for assisting and guiding hunters, recovering game, and processing the deer. More than 50 volunteers contributed to this event. The Augusta County members provided a pastry and coffee breakfast and a pork tenderloin lunch with all the trimmings. All of this years participants were again given a laser engraved collector edition box- call as a souvenir of their outdoor experience.

Travis Painter from the W.W.R.C. police department and Robin Clark, VA NWTF State President, planned and organized the annual hunt. President Clark from Charlottesville, who served as the first volunteer coordinator for the Wheelin Sportsmen program in Virginia noted, "It is somewhat ironic and appropriate the this special hunt is conducted at the same rehab center where some of the hunter guests received therapy and rehabilitation for their injuries. This hunt now not only provides continued therapeutic and recreational opportunities for these disabled hunters, but helps the Center manage the deer herd and keep it in balance with the habitat to provide adequate food and cover without over browsing. A win-win activity for everyone." Lennie Tolley from the Augusta County Chapter expressed how good it feels to help with these events, "You think you have problems, until you see people that really do have serious physical limitations, but still make the effort to get out and enjoy hunting. Helping others never felt so good." Thanks to all that participated, and a special thank you to the VA Dept. of Rehabilitative Services and WWRC for allowing us to provide this opportunity to our disabled sportsmen.

For more information on outdoor opportunities for persons with disabilities visit the VA NWTF website and the Spring Edition of Gobbler Tracks newsletter in PDF format.

Virginia Deerhound wins "Top Dog" at Westminster Show

FROM NEW YORK (AP)

A Scottish deerhound that loves to chase wild animals wound up catching her biggest prize yet. A 5-year-old named Hickory pulled a huge surprise Tuesday night at the 135th Westminster Kennel Club Show, winning best in show and the title of America's top dog. She became the first of her breed to capture the purple-and-gold ribbon and shiny silver bowl. "I think Hickory could feel my lead that I was excited and went with it," handler Angela Lloyd said.

Judge Paolo Dondina of Italy thanked everyone at Madison Square Garden, then picked Hickory from a best-of-seven final show ring that truly sounded international - there was a Pekingese, Portuguese water dog, Chinese shar-pei, smooth fox terrier, bearded collie and black cocker spaniel. The 85-pound Hickory beat out a total of nearly 2,600 entries for this coveted title. Hickory lives on a 50-acre farm in Warrenton, VA, where she enjoys running after deer and rabbits. Owners Sally Sweatt and Cecilia Dove and Dr. Scott Dove will certainly let her romp all she wants after this victory, her 16th best-in-show overall. Read more here.

National Committee for the New River Awarded Accreditation

The Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, announced that the National Committee for the New River (NCNR) has been awarded accredited status. "Accredited land trusts meet national quality standards for protecting important natural places and working lands forever," said Commission Executive Director Tammara Van Ryn. "The accreditation seal lets the public know that the accredited land trust has undergone an extensive, external review of the governance and management of its organization and the systems and policies it uses to protect land."

NCNR's accredited status demonstrates our commitment to permanent land conservation," says Executive Director George Santucci. "We are a stronger organization today having gone through the rigorous accreditation program."NCNR envisions a permanently protected New River as a treasured natural resource. The mission of NCNR is to advocate for successful protection of the New River, to restore eroding river and stream banks, and to permanently protect land along the New River. NCNR s one of 130 land trusts from across the country that has been awarded accreditation.

Land is America's most important and valuable resource. Conserving land helps ensure clean air and drinking water, food security, scenic landscapes and views, recreational places, and habitat for the diversity of life on earth. Across the country, local citizens and communities have come together to form land trusts to save the places they love. Community leaders in land trusts throughout the country have worked with willing landowners to save over 37 million acres of farms, forests, parks and places people care about. Strong, well-managed land trusts provide local communities with effective champions and caretakers of their critical land and water resources, and safeguard the land through the generations.

NCNR works in North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia's New River watershed. The organization has protected over 7,000 acres of land important to the New River's water quality, scenic and natural values, and has stabilized nearly 70 miles of river and stream bank. More information on the Alliance is available on their website.

Wheelin' Sportsmen To Host Numerous Events in Spring

Hunting, fishing and outdoor skills building workshops for disabled persons will be hosted by the VA NWTF chapter of the Wheelin' Sportsmen Program this spring with details posted on their website in PDF format. In the current issue of the VA NWTF Gobbler Tracks newsletter, available on the website, 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 a variety of the great events and activities that we write about each edition of the Outdoor Report. In this new Section called "Been there – done that! Can't wait to go again...", here's the 'rest of the story' from my observations participating in this memorable expo event...

Richmond Fishing Expo Features New Venue and Exhibitors - Photos tell the story...

The VDGIF staffed two exhibit at the 2011 Richmond Fishing Expo at the new Meadow Event Park in Caroline County (new location of the State Fair) January 21-23. The VDGIF booth had staff representing Angling Education programs, Conservation Police Officers and fisheries biologists. The Outdoor Report exhibit featured Fishin' Report Contributing Editor, Sarah White, and visiting fishing area reporters Willard Mayes, Steve Moore, Chris McCotter, Mike Hoke, Jack Pollio and the OCHS 4-H & BASS Fishing Team answering questions on where to get the latest "how are they bitin'" info on more than 30 primary lakes and rivers statewide. Eight new river and lake locations were confirmed for bi-weekly reports on fishing conditions for the Fishin' Report. Twelve volunteers from the VDGIF Complementary Work Force (CWF) staffed the exhibit describing opportunities for volunteers to assist in carrying out a variety of agency programs and signing-up subscribers for the ODR. Over 260 new subscribers were signed-up and 114 written reader satisfaction/opinion check-off surveys were taken. A special thanks to Les and Russell Gray, Show Managers from NC Boat Shows for their generous support of VDGIF programs and producing a quality show with a interesting and fun filled variety of vendors, exhibitors and sportsman angling organizations . Their Southeast Productions organization now produces 8 events annually for the marine industry exclusively in both North Carolina and Virginia that attract over 100,000 visitors. It is estimated 15,000 fishing enthusiasts- including many families attended the Richmond area event now in its fourth year, but first time at the new venue. If you missed "THE Fishin' Show" this year, be sure and look for the announcement of the dates for the 2012 Fishing Expo and plan to attend- you don't want to miss it!

Photos by David Coffman, Editor unless otherwise noted.

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

Planning to Take a Youngster on a Spring Gobbler Hunt? Schedule a Hunter Education Class Now!

Now is the time to enroll in a Hunter Education Class for spring gobbler season. Class schedules are available on the VDGIF website. Hunter Education is mandatory for all hunters age 12 and older.

Don't forget about the special Youth Spring Turkey Hunt that will take place on Saturday, April 2, 2011, for youth age 15 and under. Youth hunters between the ages of 12-15 must have appropriate valid hunting licenses. Hunters under the age of 12 are not required to have a license, but must be accompanied by a licensed adult. See the Department's website or Hunting & Trapping in Virginia Regulations and Information digest for more information on Hunter Education requirements. The youth turkey hunt is a great way for an experienced hunter to introduce a youngster to the great outdoors. If you cannot schedule a hunter education class before the season begins, there is the option of getting an Apprentice Hunting License. See article below for details.

Check the UPCOMING EVENTS calendar for numerous hunter training workshops around the state sponsored by youth oriented organizations like NWTF JAKES, 4-H Shooting Sports Clubs, and others dedicated to continuing our rich hunting heritage to a new generation.

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 Becoming an Outdoor Woman workshops, sportsman show exhibits and other Special Youth Hunts 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.

Fall Turkey Hunting Provides Good Training for Spring Gobblers...

Tom McMurray from Fairfax sent in this story of how the experience gained fall turkey hunting has fueled the interest and anticipation for the upcoming Spring Gobbler Season with the Special Youth Turkey Hunting Day, Saturday April 2, 2011. Tom notes, "the photos of my 12 year old son Ben show the pride and excitement with his first turkey - a jake killed in Madison County on private land with his Mossberg Youth 20 gauge shotgun. Ben had been turkey hunting a dozen times or so over the past three years including spring seasons with some close encounters, but no shots fired. He finally got his opportunity to squeeze the trigger on a cold, crisp November morning in 2010 and he made it count. The turkey was with a flock of about a dozen birds which we heard on the roost. We waited for them to fly down and then we snuck as close as we could before we ran into the flock and scattered them. After about a half hour the old hen started to regroup the flock and we ran her off. After another 45 minutes we heard several young birds calling and we were able to call several in. The jake came in first from the left and behind us. Ben had to scoot around the tree we were sitting against and then lean across me before he was in a good shooting position to take the bird at 20 yards. After he shot the bird stayed put and were able to call in several more birds and watch how they reacted to our calls. What great practice for the upcoming spring gobbler season. That day was an incredible experience for both of us and has to be one of my all time favorites in the Virginia woods hunting turkeys. I think my son had almost as much fun as I did!"

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

First Deer Hunt - First Deer

Brad Puryear, the Buck Gardner Regional Pro-Staff Director from Chesterfield sent us this story of his girlfriends son, Matthew's first hunt and first deer.

"After watching his big sister kill a buck on Youth Day, and his mother kill a buck with the bow, Matthew decided he wanted to give hunting a try. So finally his turn came in mid-December, and when asked if he wanted to go he was quick to respond YES! So we headed out on the afternoon of the 18th to a private farm, Matthew toting his mother's .243 in hand. We arrived shortly after 2 pm and quickly got into our blind overlooking a bean field. We had not been there more than about 20 minutes when the first deer appeared, a mature doe, Matt was ready to try his luck on her but fortunately... she was too far, so we waited and within minutes a 4 pointer walked out. You could see the excitement in Matthew's eyes as he watched and waited for the buck to come closer, then without warning he chased some does back into the woods and just as quickly Matthew was disappointed. I assured him more would come out and we still had one doe in the field slowly working her ways towards us. In less than 15 minutes the deer started coming out, we watched as 3 bucks walked out together, you could almost hear Matthew's heart beating at that point, he was so excited, and then I spotted HIM.... lurking in the heavy brush waiting to make sure everything was OK, slowly he made his way to the field, at this point I was shaking with excitement, I whispered to Matthew that this was the one we would try for.

We sat the rifle on the ledge of the blind and waited, I am sure to Matthew it seemed like an hour, but really took less than a minute for the buck to turn broadside, I whispered to Matthew to slowly squeeze the trigger. At the crack of the rifle the field cleared, the big buck made his way back towards the hedgerow and I honestly thought he had missed him. We got out of the blind and went searching for blood. To my surprise there was very little blood showing up on the snow, but it didn't matter, because within 30 yards on entering the hedgerow the buck had piled up stone dead. One hunt, one shot, one kill. One elated boy, one very proud man!"

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!

New Special Conservation Order Season for Light Geese February 1 - March 26

Are you still looking for some goose hunting in Eastern Virginia? Vance Shearin who staffs the Information Desk at the VDGIF Richmond HQ notes that the new Conservation Order Season for Light Geese could be for you. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) in cooperation with VDGIF has developed a special late season for the hunting of "Light Geese" and have enacted special rules and hunting methods to help control this goose population. Light Geese include: Greater Snow Geese, Lesser Snow Geese, and Ross' Geese. The Conservation Order Season (COS) is open from February 1 through March 26. There is no daily bag limit or possession limit for this special season. Also there are some special hunting methods for this season including; use of electronic calls, and unplugged shotguns, as well as extended shooting hours to ½ hour after sunset. This special season is only open in the Conservation Order Season Zone, which is the same as the AP Canada Goose Zone – the area east of the Stafford/King George County line from the Potomac River south to the Rappahannock River, then west along the Stafford County line to Interstate 95, then south along I-95 to Route 460 in Petersburg, then southeast along Route 460 to Route 32 in the City of Suffolk, then south to the North Carolina border.

Special Registration Required for COS... If you want to participate in the Conservation Order Season you have to register in advance of hunting and complete a Harvest Report Form and mail it to VDGIF within two weeks of the close of the season to report how many geese you harvested. You will be able to register online through our website or by calling our Customer Service center, Monday-Friday, 8 AM - 5 PM, excluding holidays, at 1-866-721-6911. Finally, in addition to registering and reporting, you will need the normal licenses and stamps to participate including: a Virginia State Hunting License, a Federal Duck Stamp, a Virginia Migratory Waterfowl Stamp (unless exempt) and Virginia HIP number. The use of non-toxic shot is also required. Don't miss this great opportunity for some late season goose hunting.

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!

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.

Preventing 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 hypothermia. The National Safety Council offers this information to help you spot and put a halt to these winter hazards.

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!

Winter's NOT Over Yet... Stay Prepared for Winter Storms!

The past couple years Virginians have experienced severe late winter snowstorms and cold temperatures causing 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. Maintain your winter storm preparedness through March...

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.

Golden Eagle Soars Again

A golden eagle is flying free again after being injured. This video shows its first flight—on February 16, 2011—after a month of rehabilitation. Golden eagles migrate through the mountains of western Virginia and some winter here, but they are rarely seen. A biologist at the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, and researchers with West Virginia University and Virginia Tech are studying the migration patterns of the raptors. This eagle was banded and fitted with a GPS transmitter that will track its movements for up to two years. The bird, a male eagle, is expected to head to Canada for the breeding season within the next few weeks. View the video and learn more about the golden eagle.

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.

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."

Time To Get Bluebird Nest Boxes Ready

By Marie Majarov

Majarov Photography

It's almost Spring -- do you know what that means? For bird lovers it means charming BLUEBIRDS singing and building nests! Eastern bluebirds, scientific name Sialia sialis, sporting rich red breasts and crisp white under-feathers, are cavity-nesters. Many spend the winter in Virginia keeping warm inside abandoned woodpecker holes, in natural cavities, or in nest boxes crafted and put up by caring people like you and me.

Nest boxes are very important as naturally occurring cavities are becoming fewer and fewer. At the Shenandoah Audubon Blandy Bluebird Trail located at The State Arboretum/ UVA Blandy Experimental Farm, where my husband and I help monitor a 110-box trail, early March is the time we ready nest boxes so mom and dad bluebirds can begin building new finely-woven grass nests for this years babies. If you have nest boxes in your yard this is the time you should get out there with your parents to clean out the old nest material from last year that has kept the wintering bluebirds warm and toasty. Time to start fresh. On the Blandy Trail we do this carefully because the material is very dusty, and you don't want to breathe in this dust; you can use rubber gloves and paper masks if you would like.

Building a nest box can also be a great project for you and your parents to do together. The Virginia Bluebird Society and the North American Bluebird Society have plans to build correctly sized boxes that bluebirds will love, along with a wealth of information on how to place and safely monitor your boxes so you can see the light blue eggs and miracles of growth that will happen inside.

Hiking with your family to see Eastern bluebirds is another fun activity. The State Arboretum is a terrific place to walk, and you will see many bluebirds. More locations can be found along the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail, which meanders all across our Commonwealth. This friendly little bird will captivate you. Enjoy!

Marie Majarov and her husband, Milan, live in Winchester, VA where they are Clinical Psychologists, nature enthusiasts, and members of the Virginia Outdoor Writers Association. They are dedicated volunteers on the Shenandoah Audubon Bluebird Trail, and also maintain a trail of bluebird boxes and a butterfly garden at their home. Inspiring and exciting children, both young and old, about the wonders of nature and encouraging the preservation of our precious natural resources is their dream for Majarov Photography. More about their work can be seen at www.majarov.com.

Nature Observations from the Virginia Wildlife Calendar

Look at the 2011 Virginia Wildlife Calendar for answers to these wildlife related questions for early March:

Answers to February 9 edition quiz for nature events in Winter...

Get your copy of the 2011 Virginia Wildlife Calendar here.

Habitat Improvement Tips

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 III - Southwest

Citizen Tip Leads to Poacher... On November 17, 2011, Conservation Police Officer James Brooks responded to a complaint of a subject shooting a deer from a vehicle in Tazewell County. Officer Brooks made contact with a complainant and obtained a vehicle description and license plate number. Officer Brooks located the vehicle. It belonged to a local business. Officer Brooks was able to identify the subject operating the vehicle on the day in question. The complainant identified the subject as the one that shot from the vehicle. When checking the criminal history of the suspect, it was determined he was a convicted felon. Officer Brooks obtained warrants on the subject following advice from the Commonwealth Attorney and they were served February 4th, 2011.

Residents charged with keeping raccoon as pet... Senior Conservation Officer Lee Wensel received information January 1st that led to a Montgomery County resident being charged for possessing a raccoon without required permit. At the time the charges were placed, CPO Wensel ordered the suspect to release the raccoon. This case came to court and the defendant testified that the raccoon had not been released and that it was being kept in the family residence as a pet. The General District Court Judge ordered the defendant to come into compliance explaining they could be charged each day they held the animal with a separate offense. CPO Wensel contacted the Health Department and Social Services because a child was being exposed to the raccoon. The defendant's residence was revisited the day after court, however the raccoon was not found. Later that same week responding to a tip, Senior Conservation Police Office Lee Wensel with the assistance of Heath Department officials located the missing raccoon that was held as a pet. The person now holding the raccoon was an acquaintance of the original defendant. The raccoon was seized for rabies testing and the holder of the animal was charged for holding wildlife with out required permit.

Reminder- it is illegal in Virginia to hold any wild animal in captivity or as a pet without a required permit. This is for the protection of both the animal and the people holding the animal no matter how well intentioned. Wildlife take special care for feeding and pose a safety hazard due to their wild nature, and possibility of diseases. Each animal's nutritional, housing and handling requirements are very specific and must be met if they have any chance of survival. For information on how you can become a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, contact the Wildlife Center of Virginia or E-mail address: wildlife@wildlifecenter.org. For more information on what to do with suspected injured or orphaned wildlife visit the Department's website.

Trout fishermen caught over their creel limit... On February 8, 2011, Senior Conservation Police Officer Dan Hall was working a covert patrol on the Middle Fork of the Holston River in Smyth County. While utilizing a spotting scope, he was able to determine illegal fishing activity by one of two individuals. Officer Hall left his observation area and drove to the location of the suspected illegal activity. Upon arrival at the location, Officer Hall observed one subject with a rod and reel in hand fishing above the bridge. The second subject was behind the wheel of a pickup truck parked along side of the bridge. The subject fishing looked around and saw Officer Hall and immediately bent over and began working quickly with something out of Officer Hall's view. Officer Hall made contact with the subject and he advised that one of the trout on his stringer belonged to his stepson. Keeping the two subjects separated, Officer Hall looked on the back of the truck and found three trout lying in the bed of the pickup and seven trout on a stringer. After a brief interview with both subjects, Officer Hall determined that the suspect observing the fishing had caught the seven trout on the stringer. Following a search of the area where the subject had been fishing, Officer Hall located two trout lying in the water. The trout were retrieved from the river and the suspect admitted to Officer Hall that he had caught and originally creeled these trout. Officer Hall issued summonses for Exceeding the Daily Creel Limit for Trout.

Plain clothes patrol catches illegal 'snagger'... On February 09, 2011, Conservation Police Officers Francis Miano and Troy Phillips conducted a plain clothes trout patrol on Big Stoney Creek in Giles Co. Both Officers set up in separate wooded areas to conduct surveillance of trout fishermen since the creek was stocked earlier that morning. Officer Miano began surveillance of a white male at the bridge near Keffer Lane. The fisherman hooked a fish and it got away. Officer Miano observed through binoculars that the subject did not re-bait his hook. He had been using yellow powerbait. The subject looked right and left numerous times in a suspicious manner and his pole was straight down in the water directly in front of him. Officer Miano observed an abrupt jerk from the subject's pole and a fish broke water hooked from its dorsal area and mouth pointing straight down. Officer Miano left the wooded area and confronted the subject. Officer Miano asked if he had any luck and he replied "no". The subject's licenses and trout bag were checked. He had all the required licenses and no fish in his possession. Officer Miano asked the subject what about fish he snagged. The subject looked very surprised and advised that he didn't snag any fish. Officer Miano advised the subject that he watched him through binoculars and would re-ask the question once more. The subject patted Officer Miano on the back, smiled and stated "You got me". The subject stated that the fish appeared to be dead and just laying dormant. The subject threw the fish back into the water before Officer Miano made contact. The subject was charged with taking fish by unlawful methods.

Region IV - Shenandoah Valley and Northern Piedmont

Waterfowl hunters checked for compliance in joint operation with USF&W officers... On the final day of waterfowl season, January 29, USF&&W officers Gareth Williams and Matt Byrer, Master Officer Grauer and Officer Sanitra set out in two jon boats on the Potomac River to check waterfowl hunters. The Special Operation patrol area was defined from Possum Point in Prince William, then north up to Hallowing Point in Fairfax County. A total of 36 hunters with ten boats were checked for compliance. Officers Grauer and Sanitra went south first to check the Cherry Hill area and wrote 4 summonses: 2 trespassing to hunt, 1 shotgun capable of holding more than three shells and 1 possession of lead shot. The USF&&W officers went north toward Occoquan Bay and Belmont Bay. The ice played a factor in where the hunters were and where the officers could travel. A total of 11 violations were detected with five summonses issued. Other violations included hunting waterfowl without a valid Federal Stamp, unsigned Federal stamps and no licenses in possession.

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.

Virginia Now Stocking Trout In South Holston Lake

Trout stocking trucks from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) were at two Virginia and Tennessee boat ramps in mid- February carrying the first trout to be stocked in the South Holston Lake as part of a reciprocal agreement between the VDGIF and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency that went into effect July 1, 2010. The agreement between the two states contains a joint fisheries management plan including consistent size restrictions and creel limits for the entire lake. The South Holston Reservoir License which became available July 1, 2010, costs $20 plus an agent fee of $1. The special permit is valid for one year from the date of purchase and allows the holder to fish both Virginia and Tennessee waters in South Holston. Virginia residents will still need to purchase a Virginia fishing license and, if they intend to fish for trout, will need a trout license. Since July 1, 2010, VDGIF has sold 633 South Holston Reservoir Licenses. South Holston Lake is a nearly 7,600-acre impoundment with about 6,000 acres in Tennessee and about 1,600 in Virginia. Because the lake is located in both states, previously anglers needed a Virginia license to fish the Virginia side and a Tennessee license to fish the Tennessee side.

Black Bass

Walleye

Crappie

Trout

White Bass

Catfish

Bluegill

Rock Bass

*All trotlines, limb-lines and jugs must be tagged with angler's name, address or license.

*Trotlines

*Jugs

*Limb-lines

Both agencies agree to stock trout in the South Holston Reservoir. Virginia will stock Rainbow and Brown Trout in late winter to early spring. Tennessee will stock Lake Trout in winter to early spring. In addition, Virginia agrees to stock walleye fingerlings. Each agency has agreed to obtain approval of the other before stocking any other species of fish, and both agencies will discuss proposed biological investigations.

In addition to the fisheries management, the agreement outlines how funds from the sale of the license will be handled. Revenue generated from the sale of the South Holston Reservoir Fishing License will be disbursed annually to the states, such that Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency will gain all revenue from the sale of the license to Virginia residents and Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries will gain all revenue from the sale of this license to Tennessee residents.

After two years, and every two years thereafter, both agencies will review license sales data and compare revenue and stocking expenditures to ensure that the terms of the agreement are equitable as possible, and to determine if the annual cost of the South Holston Reservoir License should be increased on decreased.

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!

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.

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

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. You can reach me, Sarah White at fishing_report@hotmail.com.

Region 1 - Tidewater

Little Creek Reservoir: (757) 566-2277, hhhatlcr@aol.com. Contributed by Park Concessionaire Diane Priestley. Fishing is picking up. A couple of small bass, some pickerel and one citation yellow perch were brought in. But the big news is one stringer of 20 crappie. We only need a couple more degrees for fine fishing. The water is in the low 40s but fluctuating 4 or 5 degrees by mid-day. If the temperature finally settles in the 40s the fish will turn on. COME AND GET 'EM!

Beaverdam Reservoir: (804) 693-2107. Contributed by C. Blair Evans, Park Supervisor. The bass fishing here at Beaverdam is slowly improving with the warmer days and rising water temperatures. We expect more bass to start being caught when the water temperature hits 52 to 54 degrees and up. The crappie fishing here at Beaverdam is excellent and large numbers of crappie are being caught. Derik Nelson of Gloucester weighted in a 3 lb. 16 ½ inch crappie along with other nice crappie. We have seen some really nice crappie this week with many topping the two pound mark. Fishing here at Beaverdam is expected to become fast and furious as the weather gets warmer. The water is slightly stained, at full pool and 45 degrees.

Beaverdam's first Big Bash Bass tournament will be held on March the 19th. For more information give us a call (804) 693-2107 or visit our website.

Virginia Beach: Captain Jim Brincefield (443) 336-8756. Captain Jim says that things are finally looking up. Speckled trout are there to be had in the Elizabeth River. They like Mirrolures and rubber grubs. Striped bass are also there and like the same things. However, since stripers are not in season in those waters, any you land must be released. Tautogs are biting around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, they are going for hermit crabs and green crabs. The water is clear and 41 degrees.

Chickahominy River: River's Rest (804) 829-2753. Charlie Brown reports that he has not seen any bass anglers lately. Some crappie are being found off the dock and using minnows and jigs. The cat bite is pretty good, with both big and little ones being landed. Try cut bait, especially eel or shrimp. Some bluegill have gone for worms. The water is slightly stained and in the 40s.

North Landing River and Back Bay: West Neck Marina (757) 426-6735. Dewey Mullins told me that things have "picked up". Bass are going for spinners, cranks and live shiners. Crappie haven't really started biting well yet. Lots of bluegill are attacking poppers and red worms. Yellow perch are also hitting, with a 1¼ pounder being landed. Minnows are a good bet for the perch. The water is clear and in the 40s.

Norfolk Lakes: Dasheill's Show Room (757) 539-7854. Drew Dixon reports that the fishing is not good when the wind is too strong. A few bass are responding to soft plastics. Crappie angling is starting to pick up on minnows and jigs. Some good cats have been landed on cut bait. Yellow perch are going for minnows. Bluegill should pick up in a month or so. The water is clear and in the low to mid 40s.

Blackwater and Nottoway: By Riverkeeper Jeff Turner www.blackwaternottoway.com Water temperatures this past week rose into the mid 40s waking the fish up a bit. On the 15th through the 17th, I was on the Nottoway around the Bronco Club area. I caught 8 different species of fish in 2 days of fishing. Caught were a few nice yellow perch, 2 crappie, 1 that weighed a pound, a white catfish, a channel catfish, several blackfish, a largemouth, a white perch and 3 stripers. All were caught on either a blade bait or a small jig. So the fishing is getting ready to really get fun again.

Use common courtesy on the river and at landings... If you're boating or fishing on the river this spring please remember that a lot of people fish anchored in the middle of the river this time of year. So, please slow down around those blind curves and don't wake people hard when they are fishing. At the boat ramps please don't prepare your boat to put in on the ramp or prepare your rig for going home on the ramp. There is usually lots of room in the parking lot. If you're in your boat waiting for the boat ahead of you to get out of the way, remember, don't make it harder on them by cruising back and forth in front of the landing at ¼ throttle and throwing a 3 ft. wake. You're only going to make him mad and take longer to get their boat on the trailer, plus it's against the law! Be courteous and respectful of others, after all we all want a safe and enjoyable trip to and from the river.

Upper and Lower Tidal James: Local Guide, Captain Mike Hoke, Life's Revenge Guide Service, (804) 357-8518. No report this edition.

Upper and Lower Tidal James: Capt. Mike Ostrander, James River Fishing School, Discover the James, (804) 938-2350. Fishing for blue catfish in the tidal James is good, and should be getting better and better as we head into the spring.  To catch the biggest of the big blues, fish fresh cut shad on large circle hooks (8/0 or bigger) on the bottom.  Fish can move to different depths on different days, so try fishing various depths.  Good luck

Region 2 - Southside

Lake Gordon: Contributed by our man in the boat Willard A. Mayes. I waited for the temp to reach over 40 so I did not get to the lake until about 11:15. As soon as the boat hit the water the wind started blowing and did not let up until I got home that evening. I fished for over 2 hours and never had a strike, so I allowed the wind to blow me up the lake and fished as I went. I finally got a 12 in. bass to hit. Had the trolling motor running but the wind still blew me toward the shoreline and I looked over the side to see how close I was to bottom and spotted a nice crappie. I got into another gear and moved out into the lake and did something I seldom do, I dropped anchor. I fished that general area for several more hours picking up 23 crappie, all between 8 and 11 inches. I really thought I had the limit but that is all I got out of the live well. I had a total of 7 bass, 2 fourteen in,. 2 twelve in. and three 10 in., as well as one 8 in. bluegill. Also caught two pike, one 19 in. and one 20 in. The water has a slight brown stain but you could see to about 4 feet. I tried several color twister but the chartreuse was the one they preferred.

Brunswick Lake: Contributed by our man in the boat Willard A. Mayes. I had such a good time with the wind on Wednesday that I thought it was time to check out Brunswick Lake. The water there is a little darker brown than Gordon and you can only see to about 3 feet. Since I had caught those crappie in 3 to 4 ft. of water I thought I would fish the flats on the other side of the bridge. The only good thing I can say about the flats was that the trees kept the wind off me. I moved back under the bridge and headed towards the dam and started catching some crappie in 4 to 6 ft. of water. Chartreuse was the bait of choice again, I was fishing as I drifted and would pick up a fish about every 15 minutes, I never caught more than one fish in a spot. I ended the day with 11 crappie, between 9 and 12 in, 1 blue gill and 2 twelve in. bass.

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. No report this edition.

Kerr Reservoir: Bob Cat's Lake Country Store, (434) 374-8381. . Brandon Gray says that fishing is picking up. Bass are going for cranks. For crappie, go shallow at the backs of creeks and troll a minnow. No word on cats, perch or bluegill. Stripers in the creeks are responding to live bait. The water is clear to slightly stained and 45 to 50 degrees.

James at Lynchburg: Angler's Lane, (434) 385-0200. Tom Reisdorf reports that things are getting better. The brookies are starting to respond to sub surface nymphs, as are the browns and rainbows. No word on smallmouths. The water is clear and in the high 30s to low 40s.

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.

Stripers: The striper fishing slowed this past week. Anglers reported stripers were difficult to locate and when found were often individual fish or small pods. Anglers continue to locate and catch stripers as deep as 50 feet below the surface by vertically jigging with spoons and flukes rigged on ½ and ¾ ounce jigheads. Anglers also reported success trolling for stripers with umbrella rigs and diving jerkbaits very slowly using their electric trolling motor. Anglers continue to have success casting, counting down and retrieving bucktails and flukes near points in the late afternoon and early evening.

Bass: Anglers fishing for bass reported success vertical jigging but also were quick to say it was more difficult this week because of the heavy winds, especially in the open waters of the lower lake. Suspended bass are also being caught by anglers using floating worms on drop shot rigs and lightweight bucktails and hair jigs presented on light fluorocarbon line under a small bobber. Bass are also being caught off deep-water primary and secondary points using jerkbaits and spoons.

Crappie: Those crappie that are being caught have been found in deep water or in private ponds. Fishermen hope the impending warmer weather will get the crappie in the lake to start moving toward the creeks where they will pre-stage prior to their spring spawn. While a little early for them to move up to pre-spawn locations they might start to reposition themselves in the creek channels as they consider checking out the warming sun drenched waters. Only weather, temperatures and time will dictate when the crappie fishing will really turn on, but a number of crappie anglers are already changing their line, purchasing lures and preparing to take advantage of any increase in crappie activity.

If you happen to catch a nice fish over the next week or so, please consider sharing it with others. Just take a quick photo of you and the fish and email it as a jpeg or other common file type to virginiaoutdoorsman@gmail.com. Please include your name, telephone number, the species and if possible, the estimated length and weight along with your agreement to allow me to submit it to the Smith Mountain Lake Eagle and other newspapers for others to enjoy. The water is fairly clear and 37 to 44 degrees. Tight lines. Enjoy the warmer weather, but be careful while out on the water.

Region 3 - Southwest

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

Lower New River: Big Z'S (540) 639-1651. John Zienius reports that the smallmouths are not active yet. Some bass anglers have been surprised by bringing up a muskie! Big muskies are going for live bait, mostly suckers, trout or big chubs. The water is clear and in the low 40s.

New River: Tangent Outfitters, (540) 257-0415. Shawn told me that smallmouth fishing is still slow. Some muskies are going for sliderbaits and deep cranks. Walleye should be improving soon, try deep jerks and cranks or minnows and jigs. The water is low and clear and in the 40s.

Upper New River: Contributed by Captain Forest Pressnell, (540) 818-5274, New River Charter. Water temp on the Upper New is 36.6 degrees, so the fishing is still sluggish. A warming trend for the next week should get the walleye starting to move for the spawn which should peak by the full moon in March. With waters reaching the lower 40s the small mouth and muskie bite should improve as well with slow presentations working best. The river is low and clear.

Region 4 - Mountain and Shenandoah Valley - Piedmont

North and South Forks of the Shenandoah: Harry Murray (540) 984-4212 www.murraysflyshop.com. Harry says that the smallmouth streams are still too cold to fish. The water is clear and 36 degrees. The stocked streams in the Valley are giving good angling. The Bullpasture and Big Stoney Creek West of Edinburg are good areas to try. Fish deeply with nymphs and streamers. Good flies are the Mr. Rapidan Streamer, size 10; the Betsy Streamer, size 10; and the Olive Strymph, size 10. The water is 37 and clear. The delayed harvest streams in the Valley, like Back Creek and Passage Creek are offering exiting dry fly fishing. Use small stonefly patterns. Murray's Dark Stonefly, size 16, is a good bet. Fish the slow areas along the sides of the pool. The water is 37 and clear. The mountain streams are still too cold to fish. They are 33 degrees and clear.

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.

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 3 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 Puff's 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.

Piedmont Rivers: Local author Steve Moore www.switchfisher.com (Wade Fishing Guidebooks covering the: Rappahannock, Rapidan, Upper Potomac, North Branch Potomac) Steve has been "on the road" presenting seminars and promoting his books and website at sportsmen events including the Richmond Fishing Expo, OCHS Sportsman Expo, Bass Pro Shops Fishing Extravaganza, and more. To view his show exhibit and seminar schedule, visit his website. As far as fishing goes in the NOVA area it's still somewhat cold and slow, so I have been checking out the new gear , tackle, and GPS gizmos at the area sportsmen's expos.

With the weather warming up rapidly, the fishing will improve at the same pace. Unfortunately for smallmouth anglers, the water temperature is lagging behind the air temperature and this is keeping the fish moving slowly. But, the Rappahannock hit 46° last week and that is a month ahead of schedule based on historical data. Normally, the Rappahannock does not reach the magic 50° mark that triggers spawning activity until early April. In fact, according to anglers who fished it last week, the lower Rappahannock is beginning to offer up decent numbers of smallmouth caught on six-inch plastic worms. Up in the Blue Ridge, brookie fishing should explode over the next week as the water warms up. At this time of year, unless you see an active hatch, stick with prince nymphs, hares ears and copper johns in the range of size 14 – 18. Small streamers, size 10, should work well. Don't forget the stocked water! Most of the Piedmont streams were stocked during the cold stretch and those fish are all still there waiting to be caught. Small gold/silver spinners or brightly colored streamers are the "go to" lures in those waters.

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

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

Largemouth Bass: Get ready to embrace the jerkbait and "charm some snakes" because February is a top month for fishing suspending jerkbaits. Make a long cast parallel to a bank or point halfway back in a creek, crank 10 times to get the bait to maximum depth and begin a jerk and pause retrieve. Long pauses incite fish to nibble or engulf the bait depending on their mood. Hot areas for this technique will be main lake points and the first half of creeks from Pigeon Creek on down to the dam this month. This tactic will also work in the far upper sections of the lake if the water isn't muddy and stays above 45.

Striper: The good times just keep on rolling with plenty of striper being caught by our guides and clients using lures and live bait. Dike III continues to be a good place to start your search. Fish are also now being caught in other areas of the lake including the region from Duke's Creek to Sturgeon Creek. If the weather moderates and the water warms to 45, you can expect to find striper feeding right on the banks in the upper North Anna from the Harris Bridge up to the mouth of Duck In Hole Creek. Swimbaits casted to the bank and small crankbaits are good in the up lake region. The down lake region requires a bit of mimicry like a soft plastic jerkbait on a jighead to imitate a herring or a suspending jerkbait. Some of the largest striper of the year are often landed in February.

Crappie: The up lake region is where you can catch crappie this month if they move up. Bridge pilings are where you'll find them first, then brush piles, rocks and then docks. If we experience several 60-degree days you can expect the crappie to move onto the extreme up lake flats, following the threadfin shad. This action doesn't last long, but it can produce numbers of citations. Slip bobbers and minnows are excellent this month wherever you fish.

Good luck and see you on the water. For more information, check out www.mccotterslakeanna.com or www.mccotterslakeanna.blogspot.com.

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. 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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and it might get used in the Fishin' Report!

Winning Outdoor Adventure Stories from Young Writers

With the warming weather trend and promise of Spring, many of us are anxious to get over our "cabin fever" and get outdoors again to explore wild places. For a group of young teens a hike into unfamiliar woods almost turned into disaster when they realized they were lost and one of the friends was injured. .This story by then 16 year old Sarah Fairbanks, 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 Sarah of getting lost and the panic that can overwhelm you, serve as a reminder of the importance of planning where you are going and most importantly telling someone where you are going and when you plan to return. Fortunately, taking charge of the situation, calming down and then finding a somewhat surprising way to navigate their way home, leads to a safe ending- with valuable and memorable 'life lessons' learned.

Lost

By Sara Fairbanks

Colin and I had planned a full weekend of adventure for us and our friends. First things first, we had to wait for them to come over. We sat in this cramped cold basement and watched the door waiting for that moment. The door flew open and out came Hannah and Ryan. We told them the adventure we had planned and set off on our journey. Colin grabbed some sleeping bags and Hannah grabbed the tent. Down toward the dark damp woods we went. Hannah screamed she was afraid of what was hiding behind that bush. I crept closer and closer and out came a bird. I jumped and fell on my rump "ouch!" I said I had landed on a pointed rock. Ryan picked me up and helps dust the dirt off, but the mud left a stain on my jeans. We kept walking till we ran into a black snake crossing in our path and of course Hannah jumped in fear like she always does. The snake stopped dead still in the middle of our swampy path. He looked scared and confused. Then he hissed and we jumped over his long black body and ran till we came to a dead end. "Where should we go now?" Hannah asked. Colin looked up and pointed toward the woods. Ryan was confused "Can't we just go that way?" he said as he pointed back toward the house. "No" I said, as I started to walk into the woods.

Branches hit us in the face and left scratches and bruises. Hannah cried she wanted to go back, but Colin and I didn't; we pressed forward. I looked up at the sky. It was getting dark. Maybe we should go back I thought in my head. I patted Colin on his arm, I felt blood, he was bleeding badly. We had to go back now. "Which way is back?" I asked Colin. He was in to much pain to respond. I stopped and laid him down on the rock beside me. He was crying with horrible pain, Hannah wanted to go home, and Ryan was confused, I was devastated. What should I do, I thought to myself, pitch tent right here, no go back, no I don't know. Colin was the navigator he knows his way around this neck of the woods. I thought for a while about my options then I looked in my bag. "Wait my phone!" I screamed, I looked in my bag it wasn't there I looked all over the ground, next to Colin, in my pockets it wasn't there. Now I'm in double trouble! One we are lost, and two, I lost my phone. Could this day get any better? As soon as I said that it got worse Hannah was nowhere to be seen. Ryan said she walked away trying to find a way back. "Just great that's all I need." I ran after her and brought her back. Just then I heard a noise. It was very faint, but I did hear something and I knew I wasn't dreaming or dead. I listen for that noise again "Do you guys hear that?" I asked Hannah and Ryan. They both said yes and looked at me. I think it's the neighbor's yard. "What?!" said Ryan. They have these fat black and white things in there backyard what are they called again. "Dogs!" said Hannah. "Yeah, no not dogs. They're fat and produce milk" I said. Ryan yelled "Cows!" "Yes thank you Ryan, we need to go toward the noise it will help us get home." I thought through that response thoroughly before saying it. I gathered Colin in my scrawny little arms and carried him toward the noise. We kept going at a running pace all of us with salty tears running down are faces toward that faint noise. Then in the distance I saw a fence and behind it cows. "Now what do we do. We found the noise, but we aren't home." Ryan said with a whinny yelp. "We need to follow the fence and back from the way we came which is the right, I think?" I said with confusion. We followed the fence till we noticed there was a path beneath are remains of what shoes we had left with. We all screamed "We're home!" We ran toward the house with excitement in our breath. Mom was glad with smiles all over here face and a hug for each of us.

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: