In this edition:

Springtime Adventures Await You

This March 23rd edition ushers in warmer weather with the promise of Spring and April showers that can't dampen the spirits of most outdoor enthusiasts to head to the steams, fields, and forests for a variety of opportunities for wild adventure. It's time to get out the fishin' gear as this is the traditional season when freshwater fishing action really heats up in lakes and rivers across the state. For the trout angler enthusiasts, Trout Heritage Day is April 2. A number of Kid's Fishing Days are also on the calendar, so be sure and outfit the kids and head out for a warm sunny day enjoying Spring with family and friends. The special Youth Turkey Hunt Day is also April 2 followed by six weeks when turkey hunters match their skills with wary ol' Tom.

This is a great opportunity to take a youngster out and experience the awakening of Spring and the wonders of Nature with some of that "quality time" that seems so hard to come by in these busy days. My Uncle Tink Smith will celebrate his 100th birthday this April. I fondly remember all the wonderful times I have been blessed to accompany him in the Spring woods to photograph and hunt wild turkeys, visit the lady slipper patch, pick morel mushrooms and hear the stories of seasons long past. Tink offered this advice at the last NWTF National Convention he attended a few years ago when he was '90 something'... "Moms and Dads, take your sons and daughters hunting and fishing, teach them the wonders of nature and appreciation for wildlife and wild places. You will both be better for it, and you will be glad you did!" If you don't have a youngster to take Spring gobbler hunting, or trout fishing—find one! Here's an idea-go turkey hunting in the morning, then go trout fishin' in the afternoon!! Make it a new Spring family tradition... I'm anxious to go visit Uncle Tink to spend some time with him talking turkey, listening for gobblers and to wish him a happy 100th birthday! Tink being a wildlife photographer tells me he most enjoys seeing the snapshots you send us of smiling kids with their prized fish catch, or golden gobbler. Now get out there and enjoy this glorious Spring and send those smilin' photos to share with our readers!

David Coffman, Editor

Next Edition Two Weeks Away April 13...

Since we post the Outdoor Report on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month, the next edition will be in two weeks, April 13. This 'extra week' in the calendar will be well spent callin' for spring gobblers or danglin' flies for trout. We look forward to getting your photos and stories for the April 13 edition. Have a safe and successful beginning of Spring.

Public Input Meetings Scheduled on Wildlife Regulations & License Fees

After much discussion at the March 1, 2011, Board of Game and Inland Fisheries meeting, the Board proposed hunting and trapping regulation amendments for the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 seasons. A public comment period on the proposed hunting and trapping regulations runs through 5 p.m. on April 15, 2011. At their October 2010 meeting, the Board also proposed regulation amendments regarding license fees and that public comment period which has been open since December 15, 2010, will close on April 14, 2011.

The regulation proposals have been posted on the Department website (www.dgif.virginia.gov or www.HuntFishVA.com) and will be published in the Virginia Register of Regulations, and summaries advertised in newspapers.

Wildlife Biologists with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) will host a series of public input meetings across the state as part of the process. The public is invited to attend to discuss the proposed regulations amendments. A list of the meeting locations has been posted on the agency website and is listed below.

The public may submit comments in a variety of formats including:

The Board will take final action on their proposed regulation amendments at their May 3, 2011, meeting.

Revenue Proposals and Hunting and Trapping Regulations Public Input Meetings March 21-31, 2011

Purpose: To accept public input regarding proposed increases in certain license fees, and proposed changes to hunting and trapping regulations for 2011-12 and 2012-13.

March 23, 2011

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, 4010 West Broad Street, Richmond, VA 23230
6 PM – 10PM Staff Contact: Glen Askins, 804-829-6580, glen askins@dgif.virginia.gov

Russell County Government Center, 137 Highland Drive, Lebanon, VA 24266
5:30 PM - 9:00 PM Contact: Allen Boynton, 276-783-4860, allen.boynton@dgif.virginia.gov

March 24, 2011

Peter Muhlenberg Middle School, 1251 Susan Avenue, Woodstock, VA 22664
5:30 PM - 9:00 PM Staff Contact: Jerry Sims, 540-899-4169, jerry.sims@dgif.virginia.gov

VA Institute of Marine Science, Waterman's Hall, 1375 Greate Road, Gloucester Point, VA 23062
6 PM – 10 PM Contact: Glen Askins, 804-829-6580, glen.askins@dgif.virginia.gov

March 29, 2011

Prince Edward County High School, 35 Eagle Drive, Farmville, VA 23901
6 PM – 10 PM Staff Contact: Jim Bowman, 434-525-7522, jim.bowman@dgif.virginia.gov

Arlington-Fairfax Chapter Isaac Walton League, 14708 Mount Olive Road, Centreville, VA 20121
5:30 PM - 9:00 PM Staff Contact: Jerry Sims, 540-899-4169 jerry.sims@dgif.virginia.gov

March 31, 2011

Buffalo Gap High School, 1800 Buffalo Gap Highway, Swoope, VA 24479
5:30 PM - 9:00 PM Staff Contact: Jerry Sims, 540-899-4169 jerry.sims@dgif.virginia.gov

Annual Shad Run Underway... Check Regulations for Catch & Release of American Shad

Spring is upon us and the annual run of shad has begun as they make their way into our freshwater rivers to spawn. Fishing should start picking up as the rivers return to normal after recent flooding and the temperature continues to climb due to the warmer than normal weather. In recent years, many anglers have been rediscovering these fine silvery jewels from the sea, as increasing numbers of hickory and American shad are providing exciting, spring angling opportunities. Hickory shad have already arrived at Richmond in the James River and in Fredericksburg in the Rappahannock River. American shad are not far behind and will soon be arriving in Richmond and then Fredericksburg by late-March. Fishing for hickories usually winds down in late-April in the James and early-May in the Rappahannock. Americans may be caught through the end of May, but most are gone by the middle of the month. Remember, it is catch and release only for American shad (check VDGIF and Virginia Marine Resources Commission regulations). The fishery for river herring (blueback herring and alewife) is still open with no new regulation changes for 2011. However, the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) is considering placing a harvest moratorium on river herring beginning in 2012 under direction by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. Pay close attention next spring for any possible regulation changes.

The American Shad Restoration Project is also underway to collect American shad eggs and stock the young fish when they're only a few days old as part of a cooperative effort to replenish shad stocks in the James and Rappahannock rivers. Eggs are collected from American shad in the Pamunkey River for the James stockings and from shad in the Potomac River for the Rappahannock stockings. Since 1992 over 111 million shad fry have been stocked in the upper James, and since 2003 over 30 million have been stocked in the upper Rappahannock.

Shad Cam Ready to Roll as Fish Passages Open

The Boshers Dam fishway will soon be opened for the season and Shadcam will be back up and running. Once again, enthusiasts will be able to enjoy capturing images of American shad and the 20+ other species of riverine fishes that typically pass through the fishway on the James River each spring.

Fish passage progress continues throughout Virginia. American shad and blueback herring have been found 28 miles upstream of the former Embrey Dam by VDGIF biologists. Hickory shad and striped bass have also been found in the upper Rappahannock.

VDGIF is also continuing to tag American shad and hickory shad to learn more about their populations and spawning migration patterns in the fall zones of the James and Rappahannock rivers. The tag is an external "spaghetti tag" inserted in the fish just below the dorsal fin on the right side of the fish. Anglers who catch a tagged fish are asked to call the toll free 866 number on the tag to report the catch to the fisheries biologists conducting the study. We ask that you report the fish tag number as well as the date, time and location of the catch, and whether or not the fish was harvested. Remember that all American shad must be released, as well as all hickory shad caught upstream of the 14th Street Bridge. There is no limit on hickory shad caught downstream of this bridge.

Attention Freshwater Anglers Fishing In "Anadromous" Tidal Waters

If you are a freshwater angler who is fishing for "anadromous" species in tidal waters or rivers where andromadous fish migrate upstream to spawn, you need to be aware of new regulations enacted by the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) that affect you. The new Saltwater Fisherman Identification Program (FIP) requires Angler Registration starting January 1, 2011 for all saltwater anglers. VMRC will also implement a free state saltwater angler identification program as of January 1, 2011. Purchasers of annual Virginia saltwater fishing licenses do NOT have to register. The Virginia Fisherman Identification Program (FIP) will require unlicensed saltwater anglers aged 16 and older to register and receive an identification number annually. Adult anglers who fish for anadromous or marine species in freshwater must also register. These species include striped bass (rockfish), shad or other tidal species that live in saltwater but spawn in freshwater. So if you're fishing for, or may catch, a saltwater fish such as a striper anywhere in Virginia's tidal waters, you'll need either a Virginia saltwater fishing license, or to register with the FIP.

There is no cost for registration. Online registration is available on VMRC's website. To register by phone, call toll-free 1-800-723-2728. For more information, visit VMRC's website or contact VMRC at (757) 247-2200.

Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss

Kid 's Trout Fishing Day at Old Cossy Pond In Fredericksburg March 26

The annual Kid 's Trout Fishing Event at Old Cossy Pond in Fredericksburg is scheduled for Saturday, March 26. VDGIF Fisheries Biologists Steve Owens notes that the pond will be closed to fishing on Friday, March 25, 2011 and stocked with trout for the event. Fishing will commence for kid 's 12 and under at 9 am and last till 3 am. After 3 pm the pond will reopen to the general public of all ages. Registration for this free event will begin ~8 am on March 26. A limited number of loaner rod/reels will be available for children that may be in need of fishing gear for the event. Old Cossey Pond is located near the corner of Mary Ball Street and Kenmore Avenue in the City of Fredericksburg adjacent to the Dog Park. For additional information contact the Fredericksburg VDGIF Office (540) 899-4169.

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 »

Kids Fishing Day Events Provide Family Fun

More than 35 Kids Fishing Days are being planned statewide by various organizations in partnership with VDGIF. These events are an enjoyable time for the family and a great opportunity to introduce kids to fishing in a fun atmosphere. There are events every weekend state wide through June. For detailed information on dates, locations, times and contacts, see the Kids Fishing Days schedule to find one near you! Catch the fun! Take a kid fishin'. For details, check the Kids Fishing Days calendar on our website.

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."

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.

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.

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.

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.

11th Virginia Fly Fishing Festival Celebrated in Waynesboro April 16-17

Fly anglers from across the country will celebrate the 11th Annual Virginia Fly Fishing Festival on April 16-17, 2011. Held on the banks of the South River in Waynesboro, the Virginia Fly Fishing Festival is the largest outdoor fly fishing event in the country that offers on-stream instruction. Only here can you learn all the latest techniques from the experts and then walk right over to the river and try them for yourself. The festival features small-group casting classes with fly fishing and fly tying experts from across the Mid-Atlantic. Members of the Federation of Fly Fishers will help children catch native brook trout from an on-site Children 's Catch and Release Tout Pool and then release them into the South River (with the help of their parents). Members of the Tidal Potomac Fly Rodders Club, the largest FFF Club in Virginia, will also provide paid spey casting classes and offer basic fly tying tips to beginners.

The highlight of the weekend is the Festival Foundation Dinner sponsored by Dominion, at which the festival committee presents the 2011 Virginia Fly Angler of the Year Award. Visit the website for ticket information and other details. This year 's festival sponsors include: Temple Fork Outfitters, Dominion, Subaru, Orvis, Hanover Fly Fishers, Augusta Health, DuPont Community Credit Union, Eastern Fly Fishing, the City of Waynesboro, Montana Fly Company, Blue Ridge Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Virginia Sportsman, Appomattox River Company, The Georgetowner, Mid-Valley Press, Tidal Potomac Fly Rodders, and Waynesboro Downtown Development Inc. There will be raffles, live music and fun for the entire family from beginner to expert angler. Daily admission to the festival is $15 per person, and the festival runs from 9 AM to5 PM on Saturday and Sunday. For more information about the festival, visit www.vaflyfishingfestival.org.

NRA Metallic Cartridge Reloading Classes Offered in Covington April 23 & May 7

Would you like to reduce your ammo costs and improve your shooting percentages? Then you need to be reloading your own ammo. Reloading costs less and your can tune your loads to your firearms individually!! There will be two NRA Metallic Cartridge Reloading classes offered on the following dates: April 23 & May 7 at NRA Instructor Mike Landis ' home in Covington. Each class covers all aspects of Basic Reloading; getting started, choosing equipment, and actual loading ammo. All safety guidelines are also covered as well as storing powder and primers correctly. The cost for either class will be $75, this is a non-refundable fee, and includes your NRA Packet and all other handouts. Classes start at 8:45 AM till 5:30 PM. Class size is LIMITED. The deadline for registration for April 23 rd class is April 9th and the deadline for the May 7th Class is April 16th. Contact Mike Landis, NRA Instructor @ (540) 965-0204 or at KD4AW@Aol.com, for more information about the classes. You may also register at the NRA Website online.

Virginia Living Museum to Host Sporting Clay Classic in Providence Forge April 30

The Virginia Living Museum is hosting a Sporting Clay Classic Saturday, April 30, At the Old Forge Sporting Clay range in Providence Forge. There will be teams for Men, Women, and Youth. The Four-Person Teams will shoot on 12 stations. Proceeds from this event go to support the education and conservation programs of the museum. For information and registration visit www.theVLM.org for details, or call (757) 534-7487.

Quail and Upland Wildlife Federation Hosts Shooting Event in Remington April 30

The Northern Virginia Chapter 16 Quail and Upland Wildlife Federation™ will host its annual youth and adult shooting event Saturday, April 30, at the Shady Grove Kennel in Remington from 7 AM to 2 PM. Adult sporting clay shooters (age 13+) will get 50 target sporting clays, lunch, drinks and chance at winning top shooting prizes. Shells not included. Youth shooters will get 15 targets 5-stand shooting, 25 rounds of 22 and BB gun shooting, food and drinks plus a chance to win a top gun prize if person shoots highest combined score at shotgun, .22 rifle and BB gun. All youth shooting ammo costs included. Shotguns (12, 20 and 410 gauges) will be provided. Payment accepted at door. Other activities include, demonstration, door prizes, raffles, and silent auction.

The purpose of the event is to get adults and young people actively involved in the great outdoors and to learn the importance of wildlife habitat restoration and management. QUWF Chapter Chairman AC Duckworth commented, "Most of the funds raised in the region are used in that region for habitat improvement and youth projects. We are a member of the Virginia Quail Initiative and are working on partnerships with farm owners and the National Park Service on quail and upland wildlife habitat restoration projects." This is the Chapter 's annual fund raising event and promises to be a fun time for all participants. More information about Shady Grove can be found at http://shady-grove.com. For more information about the Quail and Upland Wildlife Federation™, a 501(C)(3) national conservation organization founded in 2009, or to register for the Shooting Event, contact AC Duckworth, Chapter Chairman, at 540-840-5892 or visit website: www.quwf.net

Hunter Skills Weekend at Holiday Lake May 13-15

The Virginia Hunter Education Association, in cooperation with VDGIF will sponsor the Hunter Skills Weekend at the Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center near Appomattox, May 13-15, 2011. Designed to help the beginning hunter develop skills beyond the basic Hunter Education course, the program offers instruction in shooting, woodsmanship, and hunting techniques for a variety of species. Registration deadline is April 30, 2011. For more information, visit the 4-H Center website using the link above, or call Holiday Lake 4-H Center at (434) 248-5444 or bbranch@vt.edu.

Becoming an Outdoors-Woman Workshop at Graves Mountain Lodge May 20-22

VDGIF Outdoor Education Program has scheduled the Becoming An Outdoors-Woman® in Virginia workshop at Graves Mountain Lodge in Madison County near Syria, May 20-22. This workshop is designed primarily for women. However, it is an excellent opportunity for anyone 18 years of age or older to learn the outdoor skills usually associated with hunting and fishing, but useful in a variety of outdoor pursuits. This workshop is for you if you have never tried these activities, but have hoped for an opportunity to learn, if you are a beginner who hopes to improve your outdoor skills, if you would like to try your hand at some new outdoor activities, or if you are looking for the camaraderie of like-minded individuals. Registration is limited. For more information, contact Jimmy Mootz at (804) 367-0656 or Jimmy.Mootz@dgif.virginia.gov.

Herpetological Society to Hold Annual Surveys At Pocahontas State Park in May 20-22 and Fairfax Park June 4

On May 20-22, 2011, the Virginia Herpetological Society (VHS) will help Virginia State Parks celebrate their 75th birthday by holding the VHS Annual Survey and Meeting at the state's largest state park, Pocahontas State Park near Richmond. Almost 8,000 acres is available to the VHS in our first large-scale survey around Richmond. Pocahontas State Park is relatively centralized in the state, and has a lot of on-site amenities for family members not attending the survey.  Information for this survey can be found online.

On Saturday, June 4, 2011, VHS will hold a special survey at Old Colchester Park in Fairfax County.  The VHS has been invited to conduct a survey by the Fairfax County Park Authority on a recently acquired property on Mason Neck in Fairfax County, called Old Colchester Park. This will be a one-day survey to help the park authority inventory their natural resources on the site. Old Colchester Park is 140 acres and is currently closed to the public. This means that the VHS is giving you access to sites where other harpers are not permitted! Please contact John Orr (jorr1@gmu.edu) for further information regarding this survey.  Information for this survey can be found online.

People and Partners in the News

Trappers & Waterfowlers Partner To Host Waterfowl Predator Management & Trapping Workshops

For the second year in the row, the VDGIF Outdoor Education Program, Virginia Waterfowlers ' Association (VAWFA) and Virginia Trappers Association (VTA) will partner to provide the general public educational component workshops. Last year 117 constituents participated in four statewide workshops. This year, beginning on April 30th., there will be four more waterfowl predator management & trapping programs workshops throughout the state. These educational component workshops will be FREE educational workshops relating to wildlife and predator animals. The locations are hosted by Bass Pro Shops and Gander Mountain stores. Listed below are the workshops ' dates and locations:

These workshops will benefit the sportsmen and landowners who want to know more about managing wildlife and controlling predators. There will also be opportunities of HANDS-ON educational workshops with traps provided by the Virginia Trappers per request. For more information visit the Virginia Trapper's Association website or the Virginia Waterfowlers' Association website.

VA Outdoor Writers Announce Winners in High School Youth Writing Competition

The Virginia Outdoor Writers Association has announced the top three winners in the 18th Annual High School Youth Writing Competition to be recognized at their Annual Meeting at Bear Creek Lake State Park in Cumberland April 13-15, 2011. Competition Chairman Frank Mundy, noted there were many outstanding articles submitted this year, but these three students were selected for their overall impressions on the judges with their real life memorable experiences.

VOWA President Terry Lewis notes, "This year we 're doing something different than anything we've ever done in the past. The Virginia State Parks are celebrating their 75th anniversary and have offered us special accommodations and activities for our meeting. This provides a great opportunity for members to get some terrific story material, excellent photos, and a wonderful time to get to know the other members of our Association." The program will feature the winners of the High School and Collegiate Undergraduate Writing Competitions. Guest speakers will be Joe Elton, Director of the Virginia State Parks, and Bob Duncan, Executive Director of VDGIF. There will be reports of activities by members and supporters and election of officers and board members for 2011-12. Networking opportunities and an exchange of information about VOWA for those interested in being more active in their association will continue during the post-meeting get together. Dominion Resources is a primary sponsor for this event. For advance registration to determine attendance and meal reservations, contact Linda Layser rglayser@gmail.com or call (540) 490-0353. Visit the VOWA website for details.

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

Mason-Dixon Outdoor Writers Annual Conference March 31-April 3

The Mason-Dixon Outdoor Writers Association (M-DOWA) will hold their Annual Conference and Awards Banquet at the Holiday Inn Conference Center and Marina, located in the beautiful historic waterfront town of Solomon's, Maryland March 31 to April 3, 2011. Alex Zidock, President, M-DOWA notes that the cost is low and the benefits are high. There are tours planned to visit the Morgan State Estaurine Research Center and Biological Lab, then get on the Patuxent River for a trip to the oyster beds. Also visit area nature preserves, wetlands and museums. For conference information visit the M-DOWA website, or contact Alex Zidock Conference Chair at (570) 857-1557, zdockpub@ptd.net.

Wildlife Enthusiasts Asked to Support National Survey

The 12th National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation (FHWAR) starts April 1. This important survey is sponsored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. The Service appreciates the participation by anglers, hunters, birdwatchers, and other citizens throughout the country who participate in the survey when contacted by the Census Bureau. The survey results help wildlife and natural resource managers quantify how much Americans value wildlife resources in terms of participation and expenditures.

The last survey revealed that 87.5 million U.S. residents 16 years old and older, 38% of the population, participated in wildlife-related recreation activities. These recreationists spent over $122 billion pursuing their activities. Participation is totally voluntary and all responses are strictly confidential. Data collected is used for statistical purposes only and no participant can be identified from information contained in the database and follow-up reports. The reports of previous surveys are posted online. The 2011 survey reports will start being posted in the spring of 2012.

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.

Virginia Wheelin' Sportsmen (VAWS) Spring Gobbler Hunt Schedule

If you have a disability and would like to participate, select your choice of hunts in order of preference, 1st, 2nd, etc. to be entered into the hunt draw. Application deadline is April 1st. Application available on the VANWTF website.

Hunts offered are as follows:

Hunters must comply with the following Requirements in order to participate:

Virginia Wheelin' Sportsmen (VAWS) Trout Fishing Events

If you have a disability and would like to participate, select your choice of fishing events and complete the Application available on the VANWTF website. Mail or email completed Application by deadline of April 20 to Mike Deane 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: See the March 9, 2011 edition for the photos and story of the winning teams at the 3rd Annual NASP State Tournament. Outreach Division Director Lee Walker took these great photos to document the "rest of the story" beyond the photos of the Championship teams and individuals... all the participants – students, coaches, parents and volunteers are all winners in this memorable expo event.

Students, Teachers Fired Up About NASP

When VDGIF hosted the Third Annual National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) Statewide Tournament on Saturday, February 26, at the Meadow Event Park in Doswell, the spirit of competition was high with a fired up crowd of students, teachers, coaches, parents, and other spectators. This year more than 500 student archers registered to participate representing 26 elementary, middle, and high schools from around the state. Virginia currently has more than 155,000 students at more than 400 schools participating in NASP and those students and coaches are on fire with participation growing from more than 90,000 Virginia students at more than 160 schools just three years ago at the first statewide tournament. The program is coordinated by the VDGIF Outdoor Education staff. According to Outdoor Education Supervisor and Statewide NASP Coordinator Karen Holson, "NASP is growing rapidly as teachers see the tremendous positive results of the program on their students. The popularity of the tournament is a testament to how enthusiastic coaches, teachers, parents and student archers are about the benefits of NASP." The sponsors and numerous VDGIF staff and volunteers that help run the tournament noted the exceptional sportsmanship, spirit of competition and thrill of achievement demonstrated by the students and coaches. Although Champions were crowned at the end of the tournament, all participants agreed they were all winners for participating in this exciting and rewarding competition program.

The National Wild Turkey Federation Virginia State Chapter provided each first place team with a check for $1,700 to help cover the cost of traveling to Kentucky to represent Virginia at the National NASP Tournament. Other sponsors of the statewide tournament included Mathews Bows; Green Top Sporting Goods; Wilcox Bait & Tackle; Hunt N Shak; Parker Bows; Bass Pro Shops; Morrell Targets, Inc.; Organo Gold Coffee; Gander Mountain; Learnt It Outdoors LLC; and Hoffman Archery. 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!

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

Just in Time for Youth Spring Gobbler, New Mattaponi Wildlife Management Area Opens March 30

The Mattaponi Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is the newest VDGIF land acquisition and latest addition into VDGIF's WMA system and will open for public use on Wednesday, March 30. The WMA will be open for hunting on the Youth Turkey Hunting day on April 2 and for the spring gobbler season beginning on April 9. The Mattaponi will also open on March 30 for angling and the other wildlife -oriented recreational activities that are allowed on all of our WMAs. A map and description of the Mattaponi WMA will be posted soon on our website in the WMA section.

Special Youth Spring Turkey Hunting Day April 2

What better way to get young hunters excited about spring gobbler hunting than to show some photos of success by young hunters during last year's spring gobbler season. Jason Miller sent us this great photo of his then seven year old daughter Delanie proudly holding her first big gobbler last season...

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.

Remember, only 10 days until the Youth Spring Gobbler Turkey Hunt Day,
April 2, 2011! See our website for details.

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

Ryan's First Buck Spike? Or 8 Pointer?

Travis Jones from Warrenton sent in this curious hunting story about the first, and somewhat unique buck killed by his 10 year old son Ryan. Travis recalls, "As this big deer came through the woods, we could tell it was a buck, but not sure if it was a spike or an 8 pointer. One minute in the scope Ryan said it looked like a spike, then it looked like a nice buck. As the buck turned to head away, I just used my mouth to make a bleat call. The buck stopped. I said you have to shoot now Ryan. Within less than a second the gun went off and the buck dropped. Ryan made a great shot. The photo tells the story why we were not sure the type of rack. He got both types of bucks, half spike/half nice 8 pointer. Ryan really likes the unique look of his first buck. I found the front right hoof was messed up on this buck which is why the left antler I believe didn't fully develop. It was another great day to be outdoors with my son making memories for life.

Cause of Odd Rack Brings Variety of Guesses...

In the last March 9 Outdoor Report we followed up the story of Ryan's first buck having an odd antler arrangement- 8 pointer on one side, spike on the other, with a question that referred to the Dad's speculation as what caused the odd rack. We decided to quiz our readers to answer the question with this challenge:

Can you guess what may have caused this odd antler arrangement; spike on one side, 8 point typical on other side? We'll have the "official" answer from VDGIF Deer Project Leader Matt Knox in the March 23rd edition. Send me your answer via email... david.coffman@dgif.virginia.gov. First correct reply wins a 2011 Virginia Wildlife Calendar.

Congratulations to Barb Keeler from Herndon, a Complementary Work Force volunteer, who emailed me the first correct answer...

"I suppose the answer to the unusual antler configuration was explained in Virginia Wildlife magazine recently (February 2011 "Memory in Bone" by Jason Davis, Associate Professor of Biology at Radford University whose research focuses on physiological processes in wild animals ). Antlers in velvet are susceptible to damage. Damage on one antler causes malformation the first year, but in succeeding years, because of cellular connections, the uninjured antler will mirror the damaged one. Next season, that buck may have had a spectacularly miniature crown of matching antlers."

The "official" answer from VDGIF Deer Project Leader Matt Knox is:

There are two "good" guesses. One is straightforward and simple, an injury to the pedicle (hoof) could have caused this condition.

The second guess is much more exotic and more likely. The "hoof injury" guess by Travis is close. There is a very unique condition in deer that when they have a serious injury to their lower back right leg (e.g., a fracture), it will cause the antler on the opposite side to be abnormal/stunted for the rest of their life. This is more common than most hunters realize and often the injury to the leg is not very obvious. I have probably seen this condition at least 30-50 times personally and in photos. I have a shed from a mature buck I saw about 3-5 years ago hunting on the last day of the deer season that had a perfect 4 or 5 point rack on one side and a long twisted forked spike on the other. I found the twisted shed a couple of months after I saw him. Never saw him again. The best example of this is bucks that for whatever reason loose the lower portion of their back leg (i.e., three legged deer).

We also got some good "guesses" from the following readers within a day of posting, so a Virginia Wildlife calendar will also be sent to them:

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!

Is it a Gobbler or a Hen? The Beard is Not the Best Clue!

Although commonly called Spring "Gobbler" Season, the legal description allows that "bearded turkeys only" may be harvested. This is because 10-20 percent of hens may grow beards and could be mistaken for a bearded gobbler. Even though it is legal to harvest a bearded hen, take a good look and determine if your quarry is truly a gobbler. Hens have a fuzzy, blue-gray head - a gobbler's head is red and white. Gobblers will appear black in color while hens will be more brownish due to the buff color tips on the breast feathers. Although harder to see at a distance, only gobblers have leg spurs. Many sportsmen will pass up the hen with a beard to help the population grow a little. Remember as you take youngsters afield with you, always set a good example for safety and ethics. Teaching these hunting heritage traditions to the next generation are the most important lessons we as sportsmen and sportswomen can make.

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.

Sportsman/Photographer Tink Smith Celebrates 100th Birthday

Be Safe... Have Fun!

Make Your Spring Gobbler Hunt a Safe One!

This edition features numerous workshop opportunities sponsored by sportsmen's groups in partnership with VDGIF, encouraging special training for youth and novice hunters to participate in the upcoming Spring Gobbler season. To ensure a safe and enjoyable day afield, VDGIF recommends reviewing the following guidelines for a safe Spring Gobbler hunting experience for young and old, novice and experienced alike:

Hunt safely, responsibly and ethically.

Get more tips on how to stay safe during your Spring Gobbler hunt!

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.

"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.

Tree Seedlings Selling Fast—Order Yours Before They're Gone

Each year, the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) grows and sells more than 24 million tree seedlings. And every year, many of the more than 40 species sell out before the harvest season ends in April. If you are looking to plant tree seedlings or reforest your land this year, you still have a few weeks remaining to order your seedlings. But don't wait too much longer as several species, including Black Cherry, Sugar Maple, Persimmon, Canaan Fir, Black Oak, Allegheny Chinkapin and Shortleaf Pine, have already sold out.

This year, VDOF has expanded the quantities of its offerings. Seedlings are now available in bundles of 10 and 25; previously, the smallest quantity of bareroot seedlings available was 50. Landowners may still purchase seed mixes, shrubs and quality bare-root tree seedlings in specialty packets for wildlife habitat enhancement, water shed protection, fall and spring colors and timber management. Order yours today by visiting the VDOF Web store, calling the Augusta Forestry Center at (540) 363-7000, or contacting your local VDOF office.

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."

Summer Adventure Camps

A number of conservation organizations run a variety of summer workshops, camps and adventure programs that teach students life skills, respect for the environment and experience fun, exciting and sometimes life changing adventures. Here are a few programs that our Outdoor Report Team have experienced first hand as either participants or instructors.

Holiday Lake Forestry Camp - More Than Just Trees!

One of the longest-running Forestry Camps in the country – Holiday Lake Forestry Camp – is seeking youth ages 13 – 16 for its 65th annual week-long camp program that will be held June 13-18, 2011 at the Holiday Lake 4-H Center, located within the 20,000-acre Appomattox-Buckingham State Forest. Teachers, natural resource professionals and others may nominate youth for this outstanding program. Nomination forms are available on the VDOF website and will be accepted until April 8, 2011. Financial sponsorships from forest industries, conservation agencies, associations and individuals cover most of the cost of the Camp. Each camper selected to attend receives a $200 "scholarship," which means each camper pays just $75 to participate in the week-long, residential program.

"Forestry Camp is much more than a walk in the woods," said Ellen Powell, conservation education coordinator with the Virginia Department of Forestry. "Campers experience hands-on learning about wildlife habitat, tree identification, timber harvesting, reforestation, environmental protection and more. They also take part in exciting field trips, exploratory classes, outdoor recreation and a Lumberjack Field Day.".

Youth Conservation Camp Sponsored by Soil & Water Districts

The Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (VASWCD) has sponsored a week long summer conservation camp for Virginia high school students (grades 9-12) on the campus of Virginia Tech for 30+ years,. The program brings together about 90 interested students for a week of learning about Virginia's natural resources by conservation professionals and faculty from Virginia Tech. Most of the instruction is hands-on and outdoors. The 2011 Camp is July 10-16, 2011. Applications are available online and must be submitted to your local soil and water conservation district. Check with your local office for due dates. Contact information for your local office can be found at VASWCD's website. For further information please contact Beth Sokolik at Elizabeth.sokolik@vaswcd.org or (804) 559-0324.

Trout Unlimited Tri-State Conservation & Fishing Camp

Trout Unlimited is hosting their annual Trout Unlimited Tri-State Conservation & Fishing Camp Sunday, June 26 to Friday, July 1, 2011 at Graves' Mountain Lodge in Madison County adjacent to Shenandoah National Park Enjoy an exciting week of hands-on action packed fun in our mountain stream environment that will help you become a skilled angler and an experienced conservationist. You'll learn firsthand from officials of the National Park Service, professional conservationists with state natural resources agencies, environmental educators, professional fishing instructors and guides, and experienced members of Trout Unlimited. For information contact George Gaines, Executive Director, at gaines@tucamp.org, (202) 904-3547 or www.tucamp.org.

Summer Fishing Camp Adventures

Outdoor Report Fishing Report contributor Tee Clarkson runs a series of summer fishing schools and canoe adventures. Visit the Virginia Fishing Adventures website for details and schedule of sessions and registration.

Nature Observations from the Virginia Wildlife Calendar

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

Answers to March 9 edition quiz for nature events in early Spring...

Get your copy of the 2011 Virginia Wildlife Calendar here.

Habitat Improvement Tips

Be a Habitat Partner©!

If you're reading the Outdoor Report, chances are pretty good that you love the outdoors, so we hope you'll find some time this spring to improve wildlife habitat on your own property.  Many homeowners have found that gardening for wildlife is one of their favorite and relaxing activities, because they take delight in seeing all the wonderful creatures that visit the yard as a result.  With a small water feature, you will entice salamanders and frogs to lay their eggs.  Insects will visit perennial flowering plants, and birds will be attracted to feed on the insects.  Food, water and cover can be provided in so many different ways; what's important is that you get started!  Check out our habitat webpage to learn what plants to use, how to make a brush pile, build a frog pond, choose a bird house, and many more ideas.  You can also apply for a Habitat at Home© certificate.

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

Life Vests required by kayakers... On March 2, 2011, Conservation Police Officer Francis Miano initiated a patrol in the McCoy Falls area of the New River in Giles Co. Officer Miano noticed three kayaks pulling up on the bank. He asked to see a life-saving device from each kayaker. None of the three had PFDs on board. They all three stated that they actually had PFDs back in their vehicle. On this particular day, the air temperature was 60 degrees; however the water temperature was still near 40 degrees. This particular section of the New River is a dangerous area where numerous incidents and even drowning have occurred in the past; incidents that could have been prevented with the use of life-saving devices. The three subjects were charged with No Life-Saving Devices on Kayaks.

Hypothermia Alert!! The risk of hypothermia is high from falling into cold water ( 40 degrees or less) even when the air temperature is over 40 degrees. Be prepared – keep a change of dry cloths handy in case of exposure to cold water which could lead to hypothermia- bewilderment, and even death. Read more cold water safety tips in Fishin' Report section.

Possession 'Limit' Explained to Angler receiving fish from a "buddy"... On March 11, 2011 Sergeant Charlie Mullins was on foot patrol along Pandapalas Pond which is designed trout waters. During a license inspection the fishermen identified a suspect who had concealed some fish in his vehicle and then returned to fish. The informant was not sure how many trout the suspect had caught. Based on a description, Officer Mullins was able to locate the suspect and went to inspect his license. During the routine license inspection Officer Mullins could detect nervousness and deception during this contact. The suspect had five trout on his person and advised he had not placed any trout in his vehicle. Officer Mullins asked and received permission from the suspect to search his vehicle. As Officer Mullins approached the vehicle he asked again if there were any trout in the car. The suspect then explained he did have three trout in the car that his "buddy" had given them to him. As usual the suspect could not remember his buddy's name and advised that people gave him trout all the time. The possession law was explained to him and the appropriate charge was placed.

Oh Crappie!! Know the legal limit before fishing... On February 27, 2011, Senior Conservation Police Officer Dan Hall worked a covert trout patrol at Lincolnshire Lake in Tazewell County. Over a period of more than two hours, Officer Hall observed a man that appeared to be fishing, placing his catches in a white bucket, carrying the bucket to his truck, then returning to fish again. Officer Hall moved to the subject's pickup in the parking lot. He observed a tub with a plastic tarp stretched across the top and heard the sound of an aerator running. Approximately thirty minutes later, the subject returned, removed the plastic tarp from the tub and began putting fish into it. Officer Hall engaged the subject in a brief conversation during which he learned that the subject was catching crappie from the lake and was taking them to a friend's farm pond. Officer Hall stated to the subject that he must have at least forty crappie in the tub. The subject then stated, " I caught that many the first time this morning". During conversation, Officer Hall asked the subject if he knew what the limit for crappie was. The subject stated that he really did not pay attention to the limits. Officer Hall identified himself and a total of sixty-three crappie were counted. The subject was charged for exceeding the daily creel limit for crappie by thirteen fish. The subject asked if he could put thirteen crappie back. He was allowed to place back into the lake a total of thirteen crappie that were alive in the homemade live well.

Region IV - Mountains & Shenandoah Valley - Northern Piedmont

CPOs Participate in supporting educational and community events...

On February 17, Officer Daniel Eller was invited by one of the Stafford County Elementary Schools to conduct a presentation about Virginia's Wildlife.  Over a 125 teachers, parents and students from every grade attended the event to get the "hands on" experience with the animal pelts and mounts at the display.

On Saturday February 26, Officers Garrett and Simmons assisted with the 3rd Annual VA NASP State Tournament at Meadow Event Park in Doswell by serving as Line Judges.  There was over 500 student archers and 25 schools in attendance.

On January 29 Officer Garrett, Shull, and Simmons along with biologists Steve Owens and Mike Dye participated in the 6th Annual Wild Game Dinner in Fredericksburg sponsored by Men's Connection of Spotswood Baptist Church at the Fredericksburg Christian High School.  They had a display of furbearers found in the area, along with the Lasershot shooting education machine, and judged a big buck contest.  There were about 300 in attendance at this annual event to benefit support for families in need and promote safe, ethical hunting and fellowship.

Routine License check snags angler without license and fugitive from the law... On March 11, Officer Eller was patrolling for fishermen along a pull off spot at Lake Anna. After a single fisherman was checked, he was asked if anyone else was fishing around the area. The fishermen was hesitant at first, but stated that a friend was fishing on the other side of the pull off. The friend was checked, but did not have a fishing license. A check through dispatch determined that the individual was wanted in Louisa County. The individual was placed under arrest and transported to Louisa SO where he was processed and issued a secured bond.

Irritated beaver "holds up" convenience store... On Monday evening March 7, Master Officer Grauer was asked to respond to a convenience store east of Manassas to handle a situation where a beaver got into a fenced storage area next to the store. The store clerk was in a panic and was concerned for the safety of the customers and the beaver. When Officer Grauer arrived, he found the 40 lb. beaver huddled up against the brick wall in a small fenced storage area. He used a large stick to poke through the fence to push the beaver out of the gate and onto the sidewalk. Fortunately there was a wooded area next to the store, so the beaver was herded with another long tree branch back into the woods until the beaver just hunkered down and refused to go any farther. Since the animal was getting very irritated and "snappy", Officer Grauer figured this was far enough for safety's sake and left the scene after advising the store clerk the beaver had returned to the woods.

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. New Saltwater Fisherman Identification Program (FIP) Requires Angler Registration Starting January 1, 2011: The Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) will implement a free state saltwater angler identification program as of January 1, 2011. Purchasers of annual Virginia saltwater fishing licenses do NOT have to register. The Virginia Fisherman Identification Program (FIP) will require unlicensed saltwater anglers aged 16 and older to register and receive an identification number annually. Adult anglers who fish for anadromous or marine species in freshwater must also register. There is no cost for registration. Online registration is available on VMRC's website. To register by phone, call toll-free 1-800-723-2728. For more information, visit VMRC's website or contact VMRC at (757) 247-2200.

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.

State Record Fish Committee Reviewing Potential Record 109-Pound Blue Catfish

The State Record Fish Committee of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) is reviewing the certification of a potential new state record blue catfish that will be only the second confirmed freshwater fish over 100 pounds in the Commonwealth. The monster weighed in at exactly 109 pounds and measured 53 inches in length with a girth of 41 inches. Certification is estimated to be completed sometime next week. The huge blue catfish from Buggs Island Lake may take the record away from the James River. The big cat was caught by Tony Milam in Buggs Island Lake near the confluence of the Dan and Roanoke rivers. The previous state record blue catfish (102 pounds, 4 ounces) was caught in the tidal James River in 2009 by Tim Wilson. These two bodies of water have been locked in a battle for the state record blue catfish since the 90-pound mark was first topped in 2004 by a 92-pound fish from Buggs Island Lake.

For a complete listing of Virginia state record freshwater fish, visit the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries website.

Now is a 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." 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.

Caution: Hypothermia Lurks in Dangerous Combination of Warm Air and Cold Water

A sudden tumble into cold water, be it a lake, river, or small stream; can dangerously lower your body temperature leading to hypothermia. Even when the air temperature is in the 40s, hypothermia may occur 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. 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.

Dress for comfort and safety and always be prepared for problems which may arise out on the cold water. Let someone know your destination and expected return time. Carry a spare change of clothes in a dry bag in case you get wet—wool coat or sweater, socks, gloves, and knit cap. Regardless of weather conditions, always wear your life jacket!

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. Crappie have turned on! Fishermen caught 40 from the bank behind the rental center; 1in. grubs out fished minnows. Lots of small bass, 1to 3 lbs., have been brought up, most on crappie jigs but crankbaits and spinnerbaits caught them too. Every one caught their fill of pickerel. Then came some colder weather and fish got lockjaw; everything but pickerel. The water is at full pool, temp. is 52 degrees, visibility is 6 ft.

Beaverdam Reservoir: (804) 693-2107. Anglers are still reporting good days of crappie fishing, but it appears that the crappie bite has slowed down.  However, we are still seeing some nice sized fish.  Linwood Green of Deltaville landed a 16 ½ inch, 2 lb.7 oz. crappie.  The bass fishing is also improving and it is looking like the bass are still moving to shallower water.

The season's first Big Bash Bass Tournament was held on March the 19th.  The windy conditions made the fishing a little tough.  However, teams still finished the tournament with good total weights for a March Tournament.

Virginia Beach: Captain Jim Brincefield (443) 336-8756. Captain Jim says that things are really picking up. Flounder are at Quimby and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. They will take squid and minnows. Croaker have also shown up at the mouths of both the York and James Rivers. Try squid and Fishbite. Speckled trout are at Lynnhaven and Rudee Inlets, biting Mirrolures and soft plastic grubs. Stripers are attacking bucktails and plugs at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and the York and James River Bridges. Please remember that any stripers caught at these areas must be released, as they are not in season there yet. The water is clear and 48 degrees.

Back Bay: New reporter and local angler Tom Deans. Tom tells us that pickerel, largemouths, bluegill and crappie are all going for minnows. White perch are also biting. The water is stained and warming.

Chickahominy River: River's Rest (804) 829-2753. Alton Williams told me that bass are going for spinners. An 8 pounder was landed recently. Big cats, some citation sized, are also coming in. They like cut bait. Crappie action is good on the traditional minnows and jigs. No word on perch. The water is slightly stained and 58 degrees.

North Landing River and Back Bay: West Neck Marina (757) 426-6735. Dewey Mullins says that there lots of 1 to 2 ½ lb. bass are being landed with shallow cranks, spinners and top-waters. It's still too cold for great crappie action, but some big ones have been brought up. No word on cats. Lots of white perch are going for minnows, small spinners and nightcrawlers. Bluegill angling should pick up soon. The water is clear and in the 60s.

Norfolk Lakes: Dasheill's Show Room (757) 539-7854. Drew Dixon reports that there is some good bass fishing going on; try plastics and jigs. The crappie bite is also picking up. They like minnows and jigs. Cat anglers are getting lucky with cut shad and nightcrawlers. Yellow perch are going for minnows, and white perch action should pick up in a few weeks. The water is clear and in the low to mid 50s.

Blackwater and Nottoway: By Riverkeeper Jeff Turner www.blackwaternottoway.com I spent the 17th through the 19th on the Nottoway last week.  The water was high and 53 degrees.  There were a lot of people fishing for shad and other anadromous fish that run in the river this time of year. I caught about 20 shad over the course of the trip. They are really fun to catch when they are biting and really boring to fish for when they are not.  I heard tell of some white perch being caught on the lower river, but I only caught one. Stripers are still being caught here and there also.

Jeff and CPO Mike Booden have been in contact with the Virginia Marine Resources Commission  (VMRC) to clarify as to if the new VMRC Saltwater Fisherman Identification Program (FIP) registration applies to the Blackwater – Nottoway rivers. John M.R. Bull, Director of Public Relations  VMRC, confirmed in writing to Jeff, "CPO Booden is correct ( that FIP is not needed on Blackwater- Nottoway). The Blackwater and Nottoway rivers are non-tidal freshwater rivers. The Virginia Fisherman Identification Program does not apply. Anglers who fish in those rivers do not need to register with the Virginia FIP. Simply put: I was wrong. I apologize for any aggravation or inconvenience this may have caused, and I thank you both for bringing this matter to my attention." We appreciate Mr. Bull clarifying this issue in a timely matter.

As a reminder, if freshwater anglers are fishing in the James, Rappahannock, York or other tidal rivers for andromadous species including shad and striper, that live in saltwater, but spawn in freshwater, that a new regulation from VMRC requires anglers to have either a saltwater fishing license or call to receive a free Saltwater Fisherman Identification Program (FIP) number. There is no cost for registration. Online registration is available on VMRC's website. To register by phone, call toll-free 1-800-723-2728. For more information, visit VMRC's website or contact VMRC at (757) 247-2200.

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.

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. Captain Mike was in the Pamunkey recently where he landed a near citation sizes white perch with a minnow. He also got some nice crappie. The Pamunkey is slightly stained and 55 degrees.

The tidal James is seeing good action for American and hickory shad. Cats are going for cut shad. Stripers are attacking rattletraps, cut bait and live herring. The water is stained but clearing and 55 degrees.

Region 2 - Southside

Lake Gordon: Contributed by our man in the boat Willard A. Mayes. Some people watch the clock when going fishing, me I keep an eye on the thermometer and when it is over 45 and TV is claiming it will be over 50, I head to the boat. Thursday 17th of March was one of those days so off to Lake Gordon with me. I found the lake a foot over normal and clear to about 2 feet with a greenish stain. I had the boat in the water by 10 am and I took about 15 minutes to clean some of the trash from the drain pipe so the water would go out the pipe and not around the spill way. I fished from the dam up the middle of the lake with my 1/32 lead head and purple twister tail and caught couple 10 inch crappie here and there. I hit the jackpot around where the 2x4 sticks out the water about 100 yards back toward the dam. I caught my limit there of 9 to 14 inchers before moving down the lake. I took out that new fly rod that followed me home from the fishing expo and caught one 8 inch bluegill on a #10 popping bug before the wind interrupted that fishing. I continued on up the lake using the spinning rod and got into another bunch of 8 to 10 inch crappie just beyond where the power line crosses the lake. I had the boat back on the trailer by 4:45 and I headed home with limit of crappie, 1 bluegill and 1 white perch. I had to throw back 17 crappie, which pains me a lot since they can over populate so quickly.

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

James at Scottsville: Local Guide L.E. Rhodes www.hatchmatcherguideservice.com, (434) 286-3366. The James remains muddy. The ramps are still mud covered from the recent high water. It will be a week to 10 days before conditions improve. The area's public lakes have been fishing well. Crappie, bream and largemouths have all been providing action to the anglers getting out taking advantage of the spring like weather.

Kerr Reservoir: Bob Cat's Lake Country Store, (434) 374-8381. Devin Griles told me that it has been "a tough bite" for all species except catfish. The bass can be found in the bushes and may be tempted by a spinner, shakey head worm or a jig. Crappie are slow to bite, but can be found 5 to 10 feet down. A state record blue cat weighing 109 lbs. was fooled by cut shad, which is a good bet for any cat angler. No word on perch. The water is clearing up and is 45 to 54 degrees.

James at Lynchburg: Angler's Lane, (434) 385-0200. Doug Lane says that the brookies are biting on caddis patterns, hare's ear nymphs and C.K. nymphs. Smallmouth action is also heating up with crawdad and game fish patterns producing strikes. Local rainbows are going for the same flies as the brookies. The water is clear and in the upper 40s.

Lake Gaston: Holly Grove Marina, (434) 636-3455. Good news! Holly Grove Marina is open for business again, and Craig Karpinski told me that overall action at the lake is good. Bass are attacking cranks, shakey head jigs with Senkos and jigs with flukes. Crappie are being cooperative and taking small minnows. Cats are going for large minnows and chicken livers. Perch will take small minnows, as some crappie anglers have discovered. Stripers are biting in the creeks on extra large minnows and bucktails. The water is clear and in the mid 50s in the creeks and somewhat stained and 50 degrees in the main lake.

Lake Gaston Health Advisory: The Virginia Department of Health has issued an advisory on walleye fish consumption due to mercury contamination in Lake Gaston. Recent fish tissue sample results from the North Carolina Division of Public Health show mercury levels in walleye fish exceed the amount considered safe for long term human consumption. VDH advises the consumption of no more than two meals a month of walleye taken from Lake Gaston. Virginia's advisory stretches from John H. Kerr Dam downstream 18 miles to the Virginia-North Carolina state line. For additional details, visit the VDH fish consumption advisory page.

Smith Mountain Lake: Contributed by Mike Snead. Virginia Outdoorsman, (540) 724-4867, www.virginiaoutdoorsman.com.

Bass: Fishing continues to be mixed. While bass suspended in deep water continue to be caught on jigging spoons, like the Kastmaster and Luhr Jensen Smashflash. Deep diving, suspending, jerkbaits like the Lucky Craft Pointer 100DD and 78DD continue to produce good bass and an occasional striper, when presented off deep-water points. Slow rolled spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits are also working. The jig bite is starting to pick up and the Sweet Suzanne jig continues to be a top choice by those who fish jigs here and at Buggs Island. Jigs, including those by Jewel, Bill and Dave's, are also starting to work off bluffs and rocky bottoms.

Stripers: Fish are still being caught during the day in deeper water on downlines, flukes and jigging spoons. They are also being caught in shallow water off points early and late in the day, by anglers using bucktails, jerkbaits and flukes. Anywhere there is a section of water that is warmer than that surrounding it, you will find increased amounts of baitfish and stripers. Good areas include points, flats and humps. Live bait presented on down lines and shot lines behind bobbers (Redi-rigs) and planer boards is producing stripers. As the water continues to warm, planer boards will become even more productive. If you prefer to fish for striped bass with artificial lures, you can still find fish deep ,25 to 55 ft., where jigging spoons, Hopkins, Kastmaster, Luhr Jensen and flukes rigged on heavy jigheads, continue to produce good results. You can also catch stripers by trolling with umbrella rigs. While stripers are being found near the shoreline early and late, they are also being caught near the surface out in the middle of the main channel at various times of the day.

Crappie: Fishing slowed with the rains and cooler weather, but it should really heat up as the surface temperature moves past 50 degrees. Crappies will move back into the creeks and up in the water column as they pre-stage in anticipation of spring spawning activities. Good baits in the spring are small live minnows. Minnows can be fished using a variety of different types of tackle including small ultra-light spinning reels, lightweight crappie rods, light line and light weight jigs or number 6 gold hooks. Crappies are being found near submerged structure in deeper water on bright days and in shallower, warmer water later in the day. They will also be found within 6 or 8 feet of the surface in the backs of creeks and coves as the water warms. Once crappies are located, plastic trailers rigged on lightweight jigheads and small crankbaits are also good choices this time of year.

The water clarity is poor to fair and 48 degrees. Good luck and good fishing.

Region 3 - Southwest

Claytor Lake: Contributed by Mike Burchett of Rock House Marina, (540) 980-1488.

Bass:  The bass are really starting to turn on.  Brian Stacy and Mark Cox won a tournament on Claytor this weekend with 5 fish weighing over 22 lbs.  The top five boats had over 17 lbs.  The lower end, around the State Park, is muddy to stained. With the muddy water a crawdad colored crankbait, like the Rebel Deep Wee-R or the Storm Wiggle wart, are excellent crank baits.  A chartreuse and white chatterbait is also a great vibration bait for muddy water.  The muddy water can make for some great fishing!!  The river section of the lake is starting to clear up.  In the clearer water, jerkbaits like the Lucky Craft pointer 78 and Staysee work well.  Good color choices are American Shad, Chartreuse Shad, and Ghost Minnow. Buck tail hair jigs are also great choices for the clearer water.  For more info give Mike a call at (540) 980-1488.

Crappie: The crappie action is phenomenal; it seemed every boat I talked to this last weekend had a mess of crappie. Artificial jigs and live bait are the normal choices, but seems like about anything is working right now.

Yellow Perch:  Yellow Perch are starting to pick up using live minnow on a small lead head hook.

Bluegill/Panfish:  I'm starting to see a few bluegill poke their heads up around the docks here at the marina.

Stripers: With Peak Creek starting to clear up the striper action has picked back up.  Jig head rigged Zoom Super Flukes and Yum Money Minnows are good choices.  Storm 5" Wildeye swim baits in a chartreuse shiner color and ½ oz Roadrunner buck tails are also good choices.

Catfish: Have not heard anything on the cats.

Water temp is upper 40s to low 50s, clarity is stained.

Lower New River: Big Z'S (540) 639-1651. John Zienius says that the smallmouth bite is "on and off" and slow in general. You might get lucky with a crank or spinner. Not much word on muskies. The water is greenish and between 45 to 49 degrees.

New River: Tangent Outfitters, (540) 257-0415. Smallmouth are biting up Shawn Hash's way. They like spinners and cranks. Muskie are going for big cranks and big spinners. The water is somewhat stained and 51 degrees.

Upper New River: Contributed by Captain Forest Pressnell, (540) 818-5274, New River Charter. Finally a good report from the Upper New. Walleye tagging is complete with 300 fish tagged with $20 reward tags and numerous fish have double tags worth $40! The walleye spawn is in full swing and should continue through the end of month. The river is 48 degrees and finally turning green with visibility increasing after the month long rains and turbulent water. Smallmouths should be getting more aggressive as the water warms over 50 degrees this weekend with projected 70 degree weather; but a slow presentation will still work best as this is not a full blown Spring type of bite yet. Muskie are pre-spawn and still looking for easy meals as in slow moving glide baits but will be moving to the beds the end of March and be more difficult to catch.

Region 4 - Mountains & Shenandoah Valley - Northern Piedmont

North and South Forks of the Shenandoah: Harry Murray (540) 984-4212 www.murraysflyshop.com. Lord of the Flies, Harry Murray, reports that the smallmouth streams are producing some good fishing. The water level makes floating a better idea than wading. It also makes a fast sinking tip fly line a good idea. The best streams in the North are from Edinburg to Tom's Brook; in the South, from Luray to Bentonville. Good flies are: Murray's Road Kill Nymph, size 6; and Murrays Magnum Creek Chub, size 4. The water is clear and 48 degrees. The stocked streams in the Valley are also fishable and some recently stocked with rainbows. Good bets are Big Stoney Creek West of Edinburg and Passage Creek, East of Edinburg. Good flies are: Casual Dress, size 12; Betsy Streamer, size 12; and Murray's Cranefly Larva, size 12. The water is 44 degrees and clear.

The streams in the Appalachian and Blue Ridge Mountains are good places to fish just now. The best fishing is to be had at the upper reaches of the streams. Good flies are: Mr. Rapidan Dry Fly, size 14; Spirit of Pittsford Mills, size 14; and Mr. Rapidan Bead Head Nymph, size 12. The water is clear and 41 degrees.

Lake Moomaw: Local Guide, Mike Puffenbarger, (540) 468-2682, www.mapletreeoutdoors.com. Puff says with the warm spell the last week that fishing at the Lake is wide open! And with all the rain the past 2 weeks the Lake has gone from 16 ft. down to FULL POND!! All ramps are open and trout stocking is on schedule. Trout are fairly easy to catch in the spots where water is 15-20 ft. deep. Best bait is alewives or variety of small spoons. Bass are showing up in shallows or flats where the water tends to warm-up from the afternoon sun. Smallmouth are moving up on rocky points. The yellow perch are biting as well. Puff invites you to contact him asap as he still has a few spots available for his highly prized "spring turkey-trout combo trips" where you can come on up to the scenic mountains for Spring and enjoy the thrill of listening for gobblers in the mornings, then casting for some whoppers in the warm afternoons.

Piedmont Rivers: Local author Steve Moore www.switchfisher.com (Wade Fishing Guidebooks covering the: Rappahannock, Rapidan, Upper Potomac, North Branch Potomac) The recent burst of rain revitalized the mountain streams. Although the fish remain skittish after the summer drought followed by the winter lows, they should begin moving more and more in direct proportion to the warming weather and water. As long as you use caution as you approach the small mountain pools, you should be able to lock in good results using the normal assortment of nymphs (Hares Ear and Prince) or small spinners. Beyond the mountain trout, there was a massive amount of stocking activity all over the State last week with the Robinson River in Madison County getting another healthy dose of robust fish. A quick drive over the mountain puts you on other good water like Hawksbill Creek or the North River. Spin anglers can take advantage of the stocking immediately while fly enthusiasts should wait a week to allow the trout to adapt to their natural setting. If they go out earlier than that, they should use brightly colored streamers that mimic flashy spinners. According to Charley Taylor, the smallmouth bass fishing is starting to slowly come to life on the Upper Potomac. His "spies" indicate that the best areas include Seneca Creek, Edwards Ferry, Nolands Ferry and below Point of Rocks. Of course, the warm water output from the Dickerson Power Plant continues to be productive.

Lake Orange: Contributed by Darrell Kennedy of Angler's Landing (540) 672-3997. Darrell Kennedy says that bass fishing is "fantastic", with an 8 ½ pounder landed recently. They are going for cranks, soft plastics and live baits. Crappie angling is a little slower, with the slabs hanging out at 10 to15 feet down. They may be fooled by a small minnow. Cats are biting, but most of those brought up are on the small side. Try chicken livers and nightcrawlers. Not much word on perch. Walleye are responding to live bait. Bluegill are still in the deep water, but a few have been taken with nightcrawlers; some by cat fishermen! The water is clear and 52 degrees.

Lake Anna: Contributed by C. C. McCotter, McCotter's Lake Anna Guide Service, (540) 894-9144. C.C. told me that bass fishing is becoming "more consistent". Look around docks and shallow structures. The spawn is approaching. Try jigs and soft plastic jerks; up lake try spinners and cranks. Crappie action is picking up after the heavy rains. They are spawning and can be found near shallow structures in the afternoon. Try minnows and jigs. Stripers have been found in the upper North Anna, upper Pamunkey branch and upper Terry's Run. Fish shallow with swimbaits, herring or shad. Down lake the water is clear. Up lake the water is stained. The temperature is 60 degrees

The Lake Anna guides are packing up from the OCHS Fishing Expo last month and restocking for the Fredericksburg Outdoor Sports & Gun-Knife Show at the Fredericksburg Convention Center in Central Park March 18-20.

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

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

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Winning Outdoor Adventure Stories from Young Writers

With the warming weather trend and begging of Spring, many students are counting down the days till the end of school and Summer vacation! For a Tidewater Virginia teen, her summer vacation would not be a vacation at all, but a memorable outdoor learning experience that brought adventure and an appreciation of the wetlands that enrich and protect the Chesapeake Bay. This story by then 14 year old Grace Perkins Owen Morgan, a Senior at Lancaster High School in Whitestone, was the First Place Winner in 2009-10 Virginia Outdoor Writers Association High School Youth Writing Competition. Grace attended the Chesapeake Bay Governor's School, where each senior conducts a scientific study. She drew the inspiration for her article from her project, a comparison of native versus non-native marsh grasses. She is interested in environmental science, history, and international relations. She was accepted at The College of William & Mary as a Monroe Scholar and plans to pursue one of these three interests in at the college level. There are a number of summer camps and nature study opportunities to inspire young students to study nature and conservation. Read about more opportunities in the Young Nature Explorers section in this edition of the Outdoor Report.

Phragmites Australis

By Grace A. Perkins

Phragmites australis. I could hardly pronounce it, and I knew I did not want to spend my summer vacation studying it. However, the Chesapeake Bay Governor's School for Marine and Environmental Science requires a two year investigative project. Having learned to curse P. australis' very existence in class, I decided a relevant yet simple study would be a comparison of the effects of this invasive non-native marsh grass versus those of a native grass on the fish population of a Chesapeake Bay salt marsh.

My first mistake was believing this would be a leisurely undertaking. Field studies are intense, especially those dealing with tides. The second mistake was choosing a site forty minutes from my house. The tide cycles must be Mother Nature's practical joke. To cast my seine nets at low tide, I rose before sunrise and reached the marsh by daybreak. Then, I returned home and, six hours later, drove back to the marsh to pull in the nets. While my classmates woke up at noon, loaded the toaster with Pop-Tarts, and logged onto Facebook, I was in my maroon pick-up truck, dressed in old t-shirts, shorts, and water shoes (the ugliest article of clothing ever invented) on my way to wade in cold, brackish water. Despite weeks of sinking up to my knees in the darkest, slimiest mud imaginable, slapping at mosquitoes, and watching out for spiders and cottonmouths, I repeatedly reeled in empty nets in the P. australis marsh. It was disheartening, but I redesigned my experiment and it has since produced meaningful results.

This summer, I learned firsthand how P. australis can devastate a marsh. As importantly, however, I experienced the Chesapeake Bay in a new way. Although I have grown up in a small, rural area where many of my classmates' families depend on the menhaden and oyster industries, I only knew the Bay through tubing and jet skiing. For ten years, I have lived a short distance from the waterfront, but until this summer, I had never experienced its natural rhythms and beauty. I can now say I have watched the pinks and oranges of the rising sun paint the sky over Rockhole Creek. I have cast a net in cool water up to my ankles and caught marsh killifish and fiddler crabs. A blue heron has shared the mornings with me, and at the time, we seemed like the only living things in the world. I have driven with the windows down, the salty air blowing my hair around and big band music from the only available radio station turned all the way up. I felt infinite, like I was a part of something larger than myself.

This project taught me that science is not always the neat, controlled labs conducted in school. It can involve hard, even smelly, work. Experiments may require revision or redesign, and they do not always produce the intended results. These unlooked-for findings can lead to new ideas and experiences. Sometimes, unexpected results become the most important lessons of all.

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 deadlines for entries this year were closed February 25, 2011. Details for the Annual Awards presentations April 14 at Bear Creek Lake State Park 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 2011-12 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: