In this edition:

The Turkeys are Gobblin' and the Fishing is Heating Up!

This April 13th edition has spring in full bloom and with warm sunny days and ample April showers gardens and food plots are being tilled and seeded to renew the cycle of planting and harvest. This is the traditional season when freshwater fishing action really heats up in lakes and rivers across the state. We've posted the Kids Fishing Day calendar, so look for an event near you and plan for some family fun. The turkeys are gobblin' and the fishing is getting better by the day.

Spring turkey hunting is a fantastic way for families to experience the excitement and natural beauty of the forest. From all the emails and phone calls that have been coming in from around the state it looks like the families are having some great success pursuing thundering gobblers. This edition has some great photos and stories of success and excitement by young hunters during the special Youth Spring Turkey Hunt Day April 2.

Read about these hunting adventures and of other successful young turkey hunters in Hunting News You Can Use section. Be safe and have fun enjoying the blossoming of Spring.

David Coffman, Editor

You Live in Bear Country

As new spring growth emerges, so do bears, and they are following their stomachs in search of food.

With a healthy and growing black bear population, bear sightings are becoming the norm throughout Virginia. While the highest concentration of bears occurs in the Blue Ridge and Alleghany Mountains and around the Great Dismal Swamp, bears are likely to be seen just about anywhere in Virginia. During the months of April and May bears have left their dens and are ending their winter fast. Bears do not eat, drink, urinate, or defecate while they are in dens. Additionally, while denning, female bears may give birth to cubs. Cubs are born weighing less than a pound and are reliant on their mother's milk.

In Virginia, bear diets consist of 80% vegetation and only 20% protein from common sources like insects and carrion. Bears are highly adaptable and intelligent animals and can learn to associate human dwellings with food. In their search for food, bears are attracted to residential areas by the smell of food around homes.

Please don't feed the bears.

Always remember that a bear is a wild animal, and that it is detrimental to the bear, as well as illegal in Virginia, to feed a bear under any circumstances. Even the inadvertent feeding of bears is illegal. The most common food attractants are bird feeders, garbage, and pet food. Additionally outdoor grills, livestock food, compost, fruit trees, and beehives can also attract bears.

Click on the following link to learn details on how to handle bears in your backyard...

If you do see a bear in your area, enjoy watching it from a distance. If you experience a bear problem after taking appropriate steps of prevention, please notify your Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Regional Office. Phone numbers for the regional offices can be found by visiting the Department's website.

Remember, if you live in Virginia, you live in bear country.

Youth Spring Gobbler Hunters Post Success

From all the emails and phone calls that have been coming in from around the state it looks like the April 2nd Special Youth Spring Turkey Hunt Day was a real success. This year's youth spring turkey day harvest was almost a mirror of last year's Youth Day, including the weather with scattered storms and gusty winds most of the day statewide. There were 349 turkeys total harvested during this special day for young hunters age 15 and under. There were 287 telechecked by phone and 62 by internet. This included 281 adults, 66 juveniles and 2 bearded hens. There were 356 turkeys telechecked in 2010 and 386 turkeys harvested in 2009. See photos and stories in the Hunting News You Can Use section.

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 is now open for the season and Shadcam is 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.

Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss

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.

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

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

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

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.

Youth Fishing Event At Occoquan Bay Refuge Set for May 14

The 10th Annual Youth Fishing event at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Woodbridge is scheduled for May 14 from 9 am to 2 pm.. The event is for kids ages 5-12 and is catch and release only. Bait is provided as well as some loaner gear. A limited number of loaner rod/reels will be available for children that may be in need of fishing gear for the event. Hot dogs, drinks and snacks are provided by donation for adults- free for kids fishing. Entrance fee to the refuge is waived for this event. Pets are prohibited and only lead-free shot weights are allowed. Bring insect repellant.

Learn About the Restoration Efforts for Shad on the Potomac River May 18

The Friends of Dyke Marsh and the Elizabeth Hartwell Environmental Education Fund will sponsor an educational program on the Restoration of The American Shad On The Potomac River by Jim Cummins of the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin on May 18, 7:30 p.m. at the Huntley Meadows Visitor Center 3701 Lockheed Boulevard, Alexandria, VA 22306. The program will feature: how scientists have stocked over 50 million American shad fry in the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers to restore what was once one of the Potomac River's most abundant and economically important fish, how pollution, over-harvesting and dams led to their decline, shad biology and ecology and how the shad have been a part of American history and culture. The program will note how volunteers have helped make restoration a success. For information on attending call (703) 768-2525, or visit the Friends of Dyke Marsh website.

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.

Friends of Phelps WMA Hold Youth Fishing Event June 4

The Friends of C.F. Phelps WMA are sponsoring a Youth Fishing Event at the C.F. Phelps WMA Fishing Pond near Remington on Saturday, June 4, from 9 am to 12 pm for all ages. The event is FREE! Come have some fun and learn the basics of fishing!!! Some loaner rods and reels available Cancelled if inclement weather! To register for the event or if you have questions contact Patricia Wood @pwood12@earthlink.net.

People and Partners in the News

Jeff Turner Receives WHRO Community Impact Environmental Service Award

Hampton Roads has a newly recognized hero for the environment with the recognition by WHRO and Dominion Virginia Power of Jeff Turner, Founder and Director of the Blackwater-Nottoway Riverkeeper Program. Turner has been notified that he is a 2011 Community Impact Award Recipient in the Environmental category. The awards honor people or organizations that work at the grassroots level; people who are, generally, under-appreciated for the selfless work they willingly do to help others. There are five categories recognized – environment, education, regionalism, health and public safety and social justice. One honoree has been chosen in each category to receive a $1,000 award for the charity of his or her choice. Winners will be recognized May 11, 2011 at an awards ceremony at the Norfolk Waterside Marriott.

Turner's nomination cited his contributions to the protection of the two area rivers and his outreach activities. Southampton County Administrator, Mike Johnson, added that, "Perhaps most importantly, he has single-handedly raised to unprecedented levels this community's awareness of its most precious resources, the two rivers we call the Blackwater and the Nottoway."

Turner is currently busy with arrangements for April 2, Saturday, for the annual Clean Rivers Day event he promotes, in which individuals and organizations give their time in assisting the BNRP in keeping trash out of the watersheds and the local rivers. If anyone has not signed up, there is still time to become part of this effort and pick up litter along the rivers, creeks, streets and road, as well as parking lots. Unfortunately so much litter ends up in the rivers, but fortunately the rivers have a hero in Jeff Turner. To sign up and learn more about the litter event, call Turner at 757.562.5173 or go to the website at www.blackwaternottoway.com.

Virginia Cave Week To Be Celebrated April 17–23

Virginia Cave Week will be held April 17–23 to promote an understanding of Virginia's caves and the surrounding limestone habitats known as karst. Sponsored by the Virginia Cave Board, the week is used to encourage educators of all subjects to actively engage their students from kindergarten through high school using in-class activities and by visiting one of the state's numerous commercial caves.

To encourage this activity, Dixie Caverns, Grand Caverns, and Shenandoah Caverns are offering a discount if you mention "Virginia Cave Week" when buying a ticket at the cave. The discount is good for the week of April 17–23. "Virginia Cave Week is an annual celebration of one of our Commonwealth's most unusual and interesting natural resources," said Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell. "I encourage all our citizens to visit one of Virginia's outstanding show caves during Cave Week. Discounted admissions are being offered at some of the caverns during Cave Week." This year's Virginia Cave Week theme, "Bats in the Web of Life," highlights how bats are connected to so many other animals in our fragile ecosystem. Bats play a crucial role in the food web by ridding the world of vast numbers of insects that would otherwise affect human quality of life and destroy crops that we rely on for our own food sources.

Many education efforts are aimed at combating White-Nose Syndrome, a disease that has killed more than a million bats in the U.S. and which has now infected some Virginia bats. While the disease does not spread to humans, if unchecked its effect on the food web is potentially devastating. Educators and others are encouraged to visit www.vacaveweek.com to access a variety of cave-related education resources. Virginia is rich in cave and karstland resources with more than 4,000 known caves. The Virginia Cave Board was established to conserve and protect the state's caves and karstlands and advocate the wise use of these resources.

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.

Want to be an Informed and Skilled Advocate for People with Disabilities?

If you become a Partner in Policymaking, you’ll learn from national experts about independent living, inclusive communities, assistive technology, natural supports, employment, and so much more. Participants agree to attend eight two-day (Friday afternoon-Saturday afternoon) sessions from Sept. 2011-May 2012. Sponsored by the Virginia Board for People with Disabilities, all expenses (training, lodging, meals, and travel) are covered for 30 participants. Partners include adults with developmental disabilities (DD) or parents/guardians of children with DD.

Your application must be received no later than April 29; see the complete schedule and download the form.

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: One of our New Year's resolutions was to get out in the field as much as possible and participate in a variety of the great events and activities that we write about each edition of the Outdoor Report. In this new Section called "Been there – done that! Can't wait to go again...", here's the 'rest of the story' from staff and partner observations participating in these memorable events...

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

The Rapidan Chapter of Trout Unlimited and VDGIF partnered 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 this year. That was a good decision as more than 1000 anglers including parents and kids participated. This event involved the stocking of two rivers, the Robinson and Rose at 2 pm on Friday April 1, at which point both rivers were closed for fishing until the following morning at 9 am. CPOs did extra patrols to ensure the trout would still be there for the kids. One river was open Saturday for fishing by children 12 and under , with the other being open to everyone. Photographers caught these fun-filled images of kids of all ages enjoying the fishing, exhibits, activities and fun provided by the sponsors during the weekend event.

Special thanks to photographer Greg Pels, a VDGIF Complementary Work Force volunteer for the wonderful pictures of this multifaceted, successful partner event. To see action from past years view the streaming video online.

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.

Just in Time for Spring Gobbler, New Mattaponi Wildlife Management Area Opened

The Mattaponi Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is the newest VDGIF land acquisition and latest addition into VDGIF's WMA system and opened for public use on Wednesday, March 30. The WMA was opened 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.

Spring Gobbler Hunting Season Dates and Tips

Safety and courtesy are free, share them generously

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.

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

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!

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.

Attention Date Changes Made For Purchase of Waterfowl Blind Licensees

There has been a change in the dates when stationary blind licenses can be purchased and posted. The change was made to avoid confusion and overlap between when riparian and non-riparian blind licenses can be purchased and erected. The change creates separate time periods for the purchase and posting of stationary blind licenses based on whether you purchased the blind license as a riparian owner, as a non-riparian owner for a blind that had been licensed in the previous year, or as a non-riparian owner for a blind that had not been licensed in the previous year. The new dates for the purchase of stationary blind licenses are as listed below:

Riparian owners, their lessees or permittees: May 1 through June 15; plates with current decal must be affixed to a stake or blind by June 30.

Nonriparian license for a stationary blind in the public waters previously licensed the year before: July 1 through August 15; plates with current decal must be affixed to a stake or blind by August 31.

Nonriparian license for a stationary blind in the public waters not previously licensed the year before: September 1 through October 15; plates with current decal must be affixed to a stake or blind by November 1.

There has been no change in the date that a stationary blind must be erected. For all stationary blinds, if a stake has been erected on the site of a stationary blind, such stake must be replaced by a blind by November 1.The other major change waterfowl hunters will need to be aware of is the way blind licenses are purchased. All blind licenses will now be available through the department’s point of sale (POS) system just as other licenses are sold. You no longer have to go to the license agent in the county where your blind will be located. You can go to any license agent in the state or you can do it on the internet from your home! In the case of stationary blind applicants the same information provided to agents in the past will be collected by the license sales systems. This includes the county and body of water where the blind will be located. A license will be provided to you at the time of sale. Applicants will have the option to request that a blind plate be sent if they do not already have one. The blind plate, if requested, and a decal for the plate will be mailed to you within 3 to 5 business days. Information on the new dates and the purchasing process is posted on our website and will be listed in our 2011-12 hunting and waterfowl regulation brochures. Thank you for your support of our wetland and waterfowl resources.

Young Girl Enjoys Duck Hunting at Early Age

Lynsey Wolfe age 9 from Bealeton,  spent the morning duck hunting along the Shenandoah River with her step dad Chris Bowers and their 2 ½ year old lab named Jack.  Their hunt started out with a morning snack in the blind as Lynsey earns "cool kid style points" sporting the ghillie suit. "We got up so early that by the time we got to the blind and I got all my gear on then had a donut it was time for a quick nap before the ducks came.  Chris woke me up in time to see two ducks coming in towards us.  He shot them both and then we watched Jack retrieve them.  I have helped with training Jack so that part was fun to watch." After a short couple hours Lynsey and Jack were posing for pictures with four fat mallards. "It was hard to stand there holding two ducks in each hand because they were so heavy."

Lynsey has been tagging along hunting with her step dad for a few years now and has become quite the little outdoors woman in her own right. Although Lynsey is not able to shoot the ducks yet she will be practicing all summer so she is ready for next season.  "I cannot wait until next year,  the ducks better watch out!"  Chris says, "Each season Lynsey's love for the outdoors seems to grow by leaps and bounds. I'm so thankful that she enjoys spending so much time out there with me and that we will always have this love for the outdoors in common.  It always seems that days like these always go by way to fast. Thanks to Andy Maneno, an award winning photographer, featured in the March 2011 special photography edition of Virginia Wildlife magazine for the inspiring story and editing these great photos of a young girls memorable outdoor adventure.

Agricultural Depredation Order For Resident Canada Geese Offered Again In Virginia For 2011

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) and the Wildlife Services Program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are working together to offer Virginia farmers an additional tool to manage problems caused by Resident Canada geese. This tool is an Agricultural Depredation Order.

The Agricultural Depredation Order was proposed in the Environmental Impact Statement on Resident Canada geese published by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in September 2006. The Agricultural Depredation Order was offered for the first time in Virginia in 2009. This Depredation Order authorizes landowners, operators, and tenants actively engaged in commercial agriculture to use certain lethal methods to control Resident Canada geese on lands that they personally control where geese are damaging agricultural crops.

The Agricultural Depredation Order is a bit different than the Nest and Egg Order in that it is administered by the state agencies and state authorization is required to conduct this control. There is no federal website registration or federal permit, but a state permit is required. The permit is free and agricultural producers can apply for the permit by calling the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife Services, P.O. Box 130, Moseley, VA 23120 Phone: (804) 739-7739 FAX: (804) 739-7738. The authorization process will provide a quick turn-around for permits and should make the process more user friendly for landowners and managers.

Activities allowed under this permit include the lethal take of Canada geese from May 1 through August 31, and the destruction of Canada goose nests and eggs between March 1 and June 30. All management actions must occur on the property controlled/managed by the applicant. Geese may not be taken using hunting methods such as decoys and calls. Permit holders must keep a log of their control activities and must submit a report by September 30 of each year detailing the number of birds taken. A copy of the Permit Application, detailing the terms and conditions of the permit, and an Annual Report Form can be obtained from the USDA at the address/number above.

Past efforts have shown that Canada goose depredation control is most effective when a combination of management techniques is used in an integrated approach. These techniques include hunting seasons (special early and regular Resident Canada goose seasons with liberal bag limits), nest and egg destruction, non-lethal treatment methods like hazing and harassment, habitat management and lethal alternatives when needed.

For additional information about Resident Canada geese and other waterfowl populations in Virginia, visit the waterfowl section on the Department's website.

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.

Virginia's Newest Wildlife Conservationist Bluebird License Plate Now Available

Motorists in Virginia have a new opportunity to show how much they care about Virginia's wildlife by being one of the first to drive away with the latest in the series of Virginia Wildlife Conservationist License Plates, The Bluebird of Happiness. Not only will drivers have a chance to show everyone they care about wildlife, but they will also help increase public awareness about the importance of preserving and protecting Virginia's diverse natural resources. After the first 1,000 Bluebird plates have been purchased, the VDGIF will receive $15 of the $25 additional annual fee. In 2010, the Wildlife Conservationist License Plate series generated $369,420 for VDGIF's conservation efforts. The proceeds are reinvested in wildlife management, research, educational programs, and for purchasing public lands that benefit all wildlife while assuring that outdoor opportunities such as hunting, fishing, hiking, boating, and wildlife watching will be enjoyed by Virginians and by future generations.

The artwork for the new Bluebird Wildlife Conservationist License Plate was painted by nationally-renowned wildlife artist and conservationist Spike Knuth. As far back as the 1950s, Spike has had an eye for painting birds in their natural habitat. Spike has five state waterfowl duck stamps to his credit. After 29 years of service, he retired from VDGIF where his paintings, writings and photography highlighted the beauty of the wildlife and nature in a multitude of publications, including Virginia Wildlife Magazine, the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail guides, posters, and brochures. He has donated more than 460 original paintings and nearly 100 prints to Ducks Unlimited and other conservation organizations to support fundraising efforts.

VDGIF Executive Director and avid birder Bob Duncan predicts "the Bluebird of Happiness – the eighth in the Wildlife Conservationist License Plate series – will be one of our best-selling plates." Since 1991, the VDGIF and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) have worked hand-in-hand to develop the very popular series of wildlife license plates. The complete wildlife series includes Mallard Duck, White-Tailed Deer, Largemouth Bass, Brook Trout, Wild Turkey, Black Bear, and Bald Eagle. All are currently available through DMV offices.

The Virginia Bluebird Society, a VDGIF conservation partner, was thrilled to hear of this addition to the Conservationist License Plate series. "The Bluebird is emblematic of conservation success in Virginia and this plate celebrates that success," said Anne Little, President of the Virginia Bluebird Society. To date, with the support of DGIF, the VBS has helped to fledge over 158,000 cavity nesting birds through their Bluebird Box Trails.

Learn more about the DGIF Wildlife Conservationist License Plates online or visit The Virginia Bluebird Society.

Small Boats Needed For Clean The Bay Day June 4

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) and its partners are now recruiting volunteers to clean up shoreline litter for the 23rd Annual Clean the Bay Day, Saturday, June 4, 2011, from 9 a.m. to 12 noon. Clean the Bay Day is a hands-on opportunity for individuals, families, businesses, and groups to join CBF, municipalities, concerned organizations, and businesses in one of the largest volunteer cleanup efforts in Virginia. The annual project, managed by CBF, involves thousands of Virginia citizens working on foot and by boat to restore and protect the Chesapeake Bay, its rivers, and streams. The event also raises public awareness about pollution issues beneath the surface. Last year, 7,430 volunteers removed 217,641 lbs of debris at 245 sites along 419 miles of Chesapeake Bay watershed shorelines. Cleanup sites are available throughout Hampton Roads, Virginia's Eastern Shore, Northern, and Central Virginia. To register, visit cbf.org/clean, send an e-mail to ctbd@cbf.org, or call 1-800/SAVEBAY.

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."

Boy Scouts do "Good Turn" at Amelia WMA

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 late April:

Answers to March 23 edition quiz for nature events in early Spring...

Get your copy of the 2011 Virginia Wildlife Calendar here.

Habitat Improvement Tips

Arbor Day in Virginia Celebrated, April 22nd

J. Sterling Morton initiated the holiday in 1872 in Nebraska and is credited as the father of Arbor Day nationally. Virginia adopted the concept and sets the last Friday in April as the day of our state Arbor Day. Arbor Day activities can occur throughout the month; here are some ideas for activities in your area:

Healthy trees are important to Virginians for two reasons. Rural trees are managed through sustainable forestry to create one of Virginia's greatest commercial industries - wood and wood products people need in daily life. In our towns and cities, trees are grown and cared for to provide economic, environmental, and social values for everyone. Forested land is lost each day in Virginia's urban environments because of rapid land development. While development meets the needs of a growing city, maintaining trees and their health is even more important because of the economic, environmental, and social values trees bring to daily life. The health of new and existing trees is dependent on elected officials, businesses, and residents working together to create and enforce best practices for tree maintenance, local tree ordinances, and seeking advice from experts within Virginia's tree community. Urban residents benefit from trees in savings on utility bills, increased property values, cleaner water and air, and environments that discourage crime and enhance the learning capabilities of children. Business thrives in tree-lined districts, which attracts more business and adds to the economic vitality of the region.

Many community values are dependent on the health of our trees. The concern for their health is everyone's responsibility. Everyone needs to take a leadership role in increasing funding and programs for parks, trees, and greenspace. It's your urban forest, learn it, grow it, maintain it, enjoy it. Plant a tree to benefit your children and theirs. Visit the VA Department of Forestry website for more details.

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.

Special note to our readers... We are proud to report that after a year of one-on-one reader satisfaction surveys taken at a dozen outdoor sports expos state wide, the CPO Notebook has consistently ranked as one of the favorite sections by you, our readers. We have consistently tried to provide a variety of these "real life" reports of actual incidents involving our brave, dedicated and highly trained professional law enforcement officers.

This edition we have an unusually long report due to the variety of activities during the 2 weeks since the last Outdoor Report. As you read these reports, please note that simple compliance with standard safety practices and /or laws would have prevented the unfortunate outcomes of many of these incidents. These stories also demonstrate the value of positive contacts with our boaters, anglers and hunters and support for our many partners in education and training for safe and successful outdoor adventures.

While we begin this report with the breaking news about the conviction of deer dog killers last November, due to the professional investigative skills by our CPOs; sadly we end the section with the sobering report of the law enforcement community honoring the two Buchanan Sheriffs Deputies killed in the line of duty in March. Please remember that all of our law enforcement officers are there for your safety and protection. When you encounter these dedicated officers in the field serving you, support them in their efforts to "serve and protect."

David Coffman, Editor

Region I- Tidewater

Dog Killer Caught Through Extensive Investigation by CPOs... On the January 12, 2011 edition of the CPO Notebook we featured a story of a hunter who had allegedly shot and killed 2 hunting dogs and through an extensive investigation by CPOs was caught and admitted to the crimes. On March 24, 2011, in the General District Court of Essex County, the case involving a hunter shooting and killing two hunting dogs and removing a tracking collar met it's final disposition.

The Defendant, represented by court appointed counsel entered into a plea agreement. The class 1 misdemeanor charge of Cruelty to Animals was Nol Prossed upon the defendant paying $1000 restitution to the dog's owner for each dog. The class 1 misdemeanor charge of Removing the Tracking Collar resulted in; 60 days jail time, all suspended on the condition of good behavior for 1 year, and completing 25 hours of community service. For the charge of hunting over bait; $75 fine. For the charge of failing to register a deer; $75. Court cost total was $241. Total for fines, court cost and restitution was $2,391. Investigating Officer, Sergeant Paul Atkins noted the defendant was remorseful and since the court date, the defendant has continued to be cooperative and assisting CPO's with another case involving a family member from another state.

Biologist rescues boaters, CPOs and emergency Teams use high tech sensors to search for victims... On March 21, 2011, Conservation Police Officers Mitch Booden, Brandon Woodruff and Sergeant Tim Worrell responded to the General Vaughn boat ramp on the Nottoway River in Southampton County for a boating incident. Upon arrival, they were met by VDGIF biologists who were on scene looking for a missing boater. Aquatics Biologist Manager Mitchell Norman had arrived to launch a boat for conducting a mussel survey when he heard someone yelling from the Nottoway River. He observed two men clinging to the side of a capsized jon boat. Mitchell Norman instructed a bystander at the boat ramp to call 911 and then launched his pontoon boat and began moving towards their boat to rescue the men. After several tries, he was able to get both men into his boat. Upon both men getting into Mitchell Norman's boat, one of the men told him that a third person had gone under the water. Both men had severe hypothermia as they had been in the water for over an hour and were transferred to Franklin Fire and Rescue and transported to the hospital. Franklin Fire, Hunterdale Fire and the Southampton County Sheriff's Office launched search boats to assist in the search for the missing boater and Med Flight and a USCG helicopter flew aerial search patterns along the river using Flir to detect any heat signatures for the missing boater. The VDGIF dive team responded and began searching the river using side scan sonar. Just after 7 p.m., a target was located that required the dive team to enter the water for further investigation. At approximately 8:30 p.m., the body of the missing boater was located and recovered.

CPOS and volunteer Hunter Education Instructors conduct turkey hunting workshop for novice hunters... On March 19, 2011, Senior CPO Frank Spuchesi and hunter education instructors Buddy Fines and Rick Wilks conducted a 7 hour turkey hunting seminar at Caledon Natural Area in King George County. 15 persons were in attendance of which several were new to the sport. The topics covered included turkey biology, calling, laws, ethics, safety, firearms, tactics, trophy care and processing the meat.

Region II - Southside

Illegal Deer Dog Hunt leads to charges... On Friday, March 11, 2011, Conservation Police Officer Eric Dotterer received information about an illegal deer hunt planned for the following day. CPO Dotterer along with assistance from CPO's Jeremy Hood and Matthew Silicki, were able to contact several participants of this hunt and they ascertained that an entry fee of $15.00 had been paid for each dog entered into the Pittsylvania County Hunt Club sanctioned "Deer Field Trial" event. Additionally, their investigation also revealed that trophies were to be awarded for the best dogs! As a result of this investigation, 29 hunters were charged with participating in an illegal hunt.

Region III - Southwest

Officers presence leads to 'peaceful and pleasant' Trout Heritage Day fishing... On April 2, 2011, Senior Conservation Police Officer Wes Billings and United States Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer David Abbott conducted a joint operation on Cripple Creek in Wythe County. The officers focused enforcement efforts on two sections of Cripple Creek that were designated as Trout Heritage Streams. The two sections have campgrounds and large parking areas that routinely attract persons consuming alcohol or participating in illegal activity. The officers split up and conducted compliance checks on the trout streams while monitoring the parking areas and campgrounds for illegal activity. The officers found that their presence in both areas resulted in high compliance rates for the fishermen and no detected or reported illegal activities in the parking areas or campground. A total of four fishing violations out of over 100 personal contacts were detected during the operation.

CPOs use bikes to patrol remote lake access... On March 13, 2011, Conservation Police Officers Dan Hall and James Brooks conducted a special operation on South Holston Lake in Washington County with emphasis on the ongoing fishing activity for walleye and crappie. The officers utilized the district bicycles to gain access to the upper region of South Holston Lake via the Virginia Creeper Trail. The officers were able to check several fishermen and motorboats involved in active fishing for both species of fish. The officers issued a total of three summonses for fishing without a valid fishing license and operating a motorboat without a valid registration. The officers covered a total of approximately five miles utilizing the bicycles during the patrol.

Elementary students and teachers learn about CPO duties... On 3/25/2011, Officer Eller participated in a career day event at an elementary school in Caroline County. Over 250 students ranging from grades K-3 attended. The students were excited to see the displays and learn the duties and activities carried out by CPOs. A few field equipment items were presented for hands on use. Teachers, students, and parents had positive comments about the presentation, all walking away with better knowledge in the role a CPO plays in preserving wildlife for future generations to enjoy.

Region IV - Mountains & Shenandoah Valley - Northern Piedmont

Illegal cast netting operation leads to multiple charges... Saturday afternoon, 4/2, Dispatch contacted Master Officer Randy Grauer about a complaint that two individuals were taking bass with a cast net at Pohick Regional Park in Fairfax. The complainant also said they were bringing live fish back to a white van and putting the fish in a tank inside the van. Grauer arrived within about 25 minutes and began to observe the two fishermen in a Scanoe with an electric motor. The man in the front was standing up and throwing a large cast net. They continued moving around while the man threw the cast net. While Grauer watched, the cast net man tore off 2 different pieces of his rain jacket and threw them in the water. The men finally returned to shore about 5 pm, one hour after Grauer arrived. When the men carried a large plastic tub up to the van and opened the doors, Grauer rolled up in his patrol vehicle and made contact. Both Asian men produced ID's and fishing licenses. Inside the van was another large plastic tub full of water with an aerator running to keep the fish alive. That tub had 4 largemouth bass, nine sunfish, 1 white perch, several crawfish and about ten gizzard shad. The bass were 18, 16, 13, and 11 inches in length. In the tub they just carried up, another 6" bass was found along with more crawfish and gizzard shad. The Scanoe was found to be unregistered and there were no PFD's in it. The tub in the Scanoe also was rigged with an aerator and a car battery (which they put back into the van). Both men were questioned separately about why they were keeping fish alive. They both said that they just liked the fish to be fresh before eating them. They insisted that they were not selling them to a restaurant. After photos were taken, all of the bass and sunfish were returned to the water. Five summonses were issued for unregistered motorboat, no PFD's, taking game fish with a cast net, taking 3 undersized bass (the Potomac has a 15" minimum from March 1 to June 15), and littering state waters.

CPOs safely reunite lost child with family... On Saturday, April 2nd, while on patrol at Burke Lake in Fairfax County SCPO DiLuigi and SCPO Landers were flagged down by a citizen who had found a 7 year-old boy crying in the parking lot. The juvenile had become separated from his grandfather in the crowded park. The officers were able to use their interview skills to extract enough information from the juvenile to begin a search for the grandfather. The juvenile was reunited with his grandfather after a brief search. The boy's mother, who was contacted by phone immediately after the search had begun, assured officers that this will never happen again.

CPOs help ensure successful "traditional opening day" for trout enthusiasts... Heritage Day 2011 brought enthusiastic anglers to Passage Creek in Shenandoah County for an excellent fishing opportunity provided by the VDGIF and the recently renovated Coursey Springs Trout Rearing Station. Although the number of anglers was smaller than past years (due to the Elizabeth Furnace Campground being closed for construction), Passage Creek still resembled the traditional opening day of trout season. The number of vehicles along the stream was estimated at approximately 150-175. While working in shifts, CPO's conducted approximately 90 license compliance checks while detecting only 5 fishing license/national forest permit violations. Many anglers commented positively about the trout and enjoyed their day on the stream.

CPOs honor fallen Sheriff's Deputies... On March 17 and 18, 2011, two deputies with the Buchanan County Sheriff's Department were laid to rest after being killed in the line of duty on March 13, 2011. The deputies were William "Billy" Stiltner and Neil Justus. It was reported that over 1,000 police officers, deputies and conservation police officers attended the services over the two days. Twenty-eight Virginia Conservation Police Officers attended from Districts 31, 32, 33 and 34, along with Lieutenant Rex Hill, Sergeant Davis, Sergeant Cox, and Sergeant Sutphin. Virginia CPO's made up the largest single department contingency of the departments represented.

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 Confirms New Record 109-Pound Blue Catfish

The State Record Fish Committee of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) has certified a 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.

Kids 'n Fishing Photo Contest In celebration of National Fishing Week

Picture the excitement!

It certainly isn't hard to "picture it," kids 'n fishing that is - smiles, laughs, looks of anticipation and excitement. So, join in on the fun, catch the excitement of your child on film while fishing and enter his or her picture in the annual Kids 'n Fishing Photo Contest sponsored by Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Green Top Sporting Goods, and Shakespeare Tackle Company... celebrate National Fishing Week! The winning pictures are those that best capture the theme "kids enjoying fishing." Children in the first through third place photographs of each category will receive a variety of fishing-related prizes. Winning pictures will also be posted on the VDGIF website and may be used in a variety of VDGIF publications. There is no need to be a professional photographer. Any snapshot will do.

Contest Rules:

To Enter Send your photo, with the child's name, age, phone number and address, along with the Photo Contest Release Form (PDF), to:

2011 Kids 'n Fishing Photo Contest
Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
P.O. Box 11104
Richmond, VA 23230-1104

View the winning entries from the 2010 Kids 'n Fishing Photo Contest!

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.

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. To find out more about the boating safety requirement, the rest of the phase-in for Virginia boaters, or to find a boating safety course, visit the Department's website.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rules for submitting photos to the group:

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

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

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

Region 1 - Tidewater

Beaverdam Reservoir: Contributed by Eddie Hester, (804) 693-2107, www.gloucesterva.info. Bass fishing here at Beaverdam continues to improve as the water temperatures rise. We are seeing bass in the 1 to 4 lb. range. Bass fishing should get hot and heavy soon with the dogwoods starting to bloom and condition becoming favorable. The crappie fishing has slowed this past week. I have had reports of anglers catching sunfish, yellow perch and a few catfish. The chain pickerel seem to be biting well also with many being caught. Beaverdam will hold its second Big Bash Bass tournament on April 16, 2011. For more information call (804) 693-2107 or visit our website. The water is 60 degrees, at full pool and clear.

Little Creek Reservoir: Contributed by Park Concessionaire Diane Priestley, (757) 566-2277, hhhatlcr@aol.com. Bass fishermen did well with some 2 to 4 pounders being landed. Good bets are green or brown worms rigged Texas or Carolina style or cranks and also spinners. Crappie were not as numerous this week, but keepers were caught. Try minnows and small jigs. Two 12 in. yellow perch were reported. Bream are at the rental dock, but not showing up on stringers yet. The water is holding at 55 and is at normal pool with 3 ft. of visibility.

Virginia Beach: Captain Jim Brincefield (443) 336-8756. Captain Jim reports that croakers are at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and at the mouths of the York and James Rivers. They are taking Fishbite, squid and bloodworms. Tautogs are at the Bridge Tunnel and inshore wrecks and will go for clams and green crabs. Puppy drum and speckled trout are at Rudee and Lynnhaven Inlets. Mirrolures and cut bait are good bets. The water is fairly clear and 51 degrees.

Back Bay: New reporter and local angler Tom Deans. No report this edition.

Chickahominy River: River's Rest (804) 829-2753. Alton Williams says that the bass bite is very good, with a variety of lures being successful. No word on crappie. The cats are really hitting, attacking eel and herring. No word on perch or bluegill. The water is slightly stained and warming.

North Landing River and Back Bay: West Neck Marina (757) 426-6735. Dewey Mullins told me that lots of bass are biting. Spinners, cranks and top-waters are your best bet. Crappie anglers have been getting some good "eatin' sized" slabs with minnows and jigs. The yellow perch are gone, but the white perch are coming up from deeper water and schooling. Try small jigs, minnows, spinners and nightcrawlers. No word on cats, but they should be out there. Lots of bluegill are being fooled by worms, jigs and crickets. The water is clear and in the low 60s.

Norfolk Lakes: Dasheill's Show Room (757) 539-7854. Drew Dixon reports that the bass bite is good, with plastics and cranks being the lure of choice. The crappie bite is good too, with a 2.8 lb. lunker and one over 3 lbs. being brought up at Burnt Mills. Minnows and jigs are proving effective. Cats are going for cut bait. Warmer waters will soon bring in white perch. Lots of shad are being fooled by shad darts and shad rigs. No word on bluegill. The water is in the low to mid 50s and clear.

Blackwater and Nottoway: By Riverkeeper Jeff Turner www.blackwaternottoway.com The white perch are in the river and some nice size ones are being caught. Some are catching them on the bottom with just bottom rigs and worms and some are being caught casting along the shore which is my favorite way to catch them. Small beetle spins and the deadly numbers 0 or 1 Mepps spinner with a white tail will do the trick. Shad are still being caught and stripers can be had also. Catfish are hitting and it is pretty easy to catch a mess of those. I just got back from 5 days on the Nottoway and the largemouth bass were tearing it up. I caught them vertical jigging and casting a blue-back AC Shiner. I caught a dozen I guess, with 2 right at 4 pounds. Its busy on the rivers right now, so be aware of that fat boat wake you're throwing. Just remember to "Be Kind and Don't Leave a Wake Behind".

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.

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. Mike told me that bass are going for cranks. Crappie in the creeks will take a minnow. The cat bite was slowed down by fluctuating water temperatures, but should be okay now. White perch are going for bloodworms. Herring and shad are attacking shad spoons. Lots of folks are out shad fishing these days, and Mike noted some boaters were driving too fast and disturbing other boats; so please take it slow. Mike also fished the Pamunkey recently and landed several bass while fishing for crappie with minnows.

Region 2 - Southside

Ft. Pickett Reservoir: Contributed by our man in the boat Willard A. Mayes. Off to Pickett reservoir old blue and I headed. Dogwoods are in full bloom so I just knew I would give that fly rod a work out - dang it, I keep having to say this, wrong again. I caught some bluegill that were almost big enough to feed to the cats but none on the bed. I picked up the spinning rod and tried along the aeration line and did not catch any crappie, so to the shore line I headed. I caught 3 small bass on three casts so I got the heck out of that area and headed to an area of 3 to 7 feet of water. I started catching crappie about 20 feet off shore line in the 8 to 12 inch bracket. I fished the left of the shore line from the ramp to about half way up the 2nd inlet and headed back to the ramp by 5:00. The water has a brown stain and clear to about 3 ft. and a lot warmer than last month. I only used the 1/32 lead head with purple, chartreuse and pumpkin seed 2 inch twister tails with the chartreuse catching the most, I am sure that it being on my favorite rod had nothing to do with it. When I emptied the live wells, I gave Cricket Man 12 bluegill and 52 crappie between 9 and 12 inches. Threw back 12 bass all 11 inches and under and 4 small crappie of 7 and 8 inches.

Sandy River: Contributed by Longwood College Fishing Club's Jack Pollio. The fishing is beginning to be very good. Good numbers of small and slot fish are being caught as well as larger bass. The bigger bass are being caught on swimbaits, jigs, spinnerbaits, and chatterbaits. The fish are beginning to move back into the feeder creeks, staging to get ready to spawn and feed well most parts of the day with the morning seeming to be best. I have seen some baits being chased as well. The crappie are biting well on small jigs and small minnows.

Briery Creek: Contributed by Longwood College Fishing Club's Jack Pollio. Fish are moving up and good numbers of fish are being caught on just about everything. The upper part of the lake has been producing a little better thus far with numbers and bigger fish. The water temperature has fluctuated but water is around the upper 50s and the upper part of the lake before the rain this past weekend was close if not in the lower 60s.

James at Scottsville: Local Guide L.E. Rhodes www.hatchmatcherguideservice.com, (434) 286-3366. The smallmouth are still found in the deeper slots and on warmer days can be found in the flats searching for minnows. Jigs, crankbaits and grubs are the best baits to be using now. Once we get more stable weather and the river warms, the fish will begin to move to the spawning grounds. I haven't heard of any catfish action in the past couple weeks probably because of the river conditions. The ramps have been cleaned off and are free of mud at this time. Good crappie fishing is being reported from the many Albemarle County lakes. Small jigs or live minnows have been boating the slabs. Catches of largemouth have been decent also. Soft plastic, stickbaits, crankbaits and spinnerbaits have all produced largemouth up to 6 lbs. The water temperatures are bouncing between 47 and 52 degrees. The river still has a little stain to it and is flowing around 4.5 to 5 feet.

Kerr Reservoir: Bob Cat's Lake Country Store, (434) 374-8381. Brandon Gray says that bass are hitting spinners, plastics and lizards. Crappie action is good, with trolling or casting towards shore structures being the best methods. Cats are going for cut bait. Some stripers have been landed at the main lake points on bucktails and swimbaits. The water is stained to clear and in the mid 50s.

James at Lynchburg: Angler's Lane, (434) 385-0200. Tom Reisdorf reports that brookie angers are having a great time. The little trout are going for March Browns, Hendrickson and Black Caddis; size 14 for all those flies. Rainbow and browns are being landed in the Jackson River on similar flies. The water is clear and in the mid to high 40s.

Lake Gaston: Holly Grove Marina, (434) 636-3455. Craig Karpinski told me that the bass bite is slow but steady, with rattletraps and jigs producing well. Some big crappie are coming in on minnows, with one lucky angler landing a slab over 2 lbs. Cats are biting too, try chicken livers or live bait. No word on perch. Stripers are gathering in the mouths of creeks and are taking bucktails and live shad. The water is clear and 70 degrees on the main lake and in the lower 70s in the creeks.

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

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

Crappie: Overall, fishing has been good for those who have been able to pattern the fish. When surface temperatures warmed into the mid 50s the crappies moved back into the creeks. They are being caught in open water within 6 or 8 feet of the surface by anglers trolling with minnows and small jigs. Anglers are also finding crappies suspended on brush and under docks near the shoreline in guts and the same creeks. A small crappie minnow rigged on a gold, thin wire hook below a small split shot on light line is a great choice this time of year. Crappies move up in the water column to feed, so using a sensitive crappie float will help detect their light bite far better than will a large bobber, especially when they are not hitting aggressively.

Bass: Fishing continues to be mixed, but anglers still report catching some nice fish. There are currently significant differences in surface water temperatures and finding pockets of warmer water can be key to finding active bass. As a rule, the fishing will be good in pockets of warmer water. Small topwater lures, swimbaits and spinnerbaits have been producing bass in these areas, especially early in the morning. Spinnerbaits with silver or white painted blades and shad color skirts are good choices in clear water. Those with chartreuse colored skirts will be more visible when fishing water that is stained or muddy. Medium diving crankbaits are another good choice. Use either natural shad color or crawfish color crankbaits for best results. Anglers continue to report catching nice bass off deep water points on suspending jerkbaits and swimbaits. Good colors include silver shad, hologram shad, chartreuse shad, aurora black, American shad and variations of the sexy shad color. Regular crankbaits and large lipless crankbaits are also working off points. Good crankbait colors for points include silver shad, glass ghost and a variety of crawfish colors in browns and greens. Several anglers also reported catching bass using Carolina rigged plastics on points. Shakey head jigs continue to produce bass off rock bluffs and around docks.

Stripers: Fish continue to be caught using live bait on planer boards, Water-Bugz and aluminum style boards, but the rapidly changing weather and pressure systems continue to make fishing for stripers difficult. Stripers found near the surface early in the morning will often move down into deeper water when the sun moves overhead and downlines are usually required to reach them. Anglers trolling with umbrella rigs and plastic swim shad continue to catch stripers, as do those casting and retrieving bucktails, swimbaits and flukes up near the shoreline early and late in the day. The water is clear and at 56 to 60 degrees.

We have finalized our "2011 Virginia Outdoorsman Fishing Workshop" schedule and will be sending it out this week. Seating is limited and registration for each workshop will be on a first come, first served basis. To receive a copy of this year's workshop schedule along with a little information about the individual workshops, just send me an email at virginiaoutdoorsman@gmail.com. If requested I will add you to our Preferred Customer List so you will also receive information about special sales and store promotions. We do not share customer information with anyone and you can easily unsubscribe to stop receiving our emails at any time. Tight lines and I look forward to seeing you the next time you are in the Westlake area.

Region 3 - Southwest

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

Bass: The bass bite is phenomenal. Anglers are getting lucky big time. The best lure is a crankbait, with red or orange being good color choices.

Crappie: It is the best spring I've seen in a long time for crappie; jigs and live minnows are both working well.

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

Stripers: Early in the morning and late in the evening the striper action is starting to pick up. Reports of stripers being caught in Peak Creek using jig head rigged Zoom Super Flukes and Yum Money Minnows.

The water temperature is in the upper 50s and is stained to muddy.

Lower New River: Big Z'S (540) 639-1651. John Zienius says that smallmouth fishing has picked up as the water has warmed. They are going for tubes, cranks, and, as water warms up, spinners. The muskies are being quiet. John has heard that the hybrids are biting in Claytor Lake. The water is full, has a good color and is in the low 50s.

New River: Tangent Outfitters, (540) 257-0415. Shawn Hash told me that they are landing citation sized smallmouths every day. The bass are going for spinners, tube jigs and cranks. Some muskies are responding to deep running cranks. Shawn expects the action to get even hotter. The water is a good color and is warming.

Upper New River: Contributed by Captain Forest Pressnell, (540) 818-5274, New River Charter. Spring keeps teasing us here on the Upper New but old man winter won't let go. Water temp is 45.6 degrees and green with some stain. The walleye spawn is over and the fish that spawned first should be hungry and hitting well now. Muskie are moving to the beds and will be difficult to entice right now but they should be back on the bite toward the end of April. When the water starts warming the smallmouth bite should be improving as well.

Region 4 - Mountains & Shenandoah Valley - Northern Piedmont

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.

North and South Forks of the Shenandoah: Harry Murray (540) 984-4212 www.murraysflyshop.com.According to Harry, the smallmouth streams are clear and fishable at 45 degrees. The fish are not very active, but fishing with an S.A. Mastery sink tip III and fishing it deeply should get good results. Best flies are: Murray's Magnum Creek Chub, size 4; and Murray's Hog Sucker, also size 4.

Many of the stocked streams in the Valley have been recently stocked with large rainbows. These fish will respond to deep running nymphs fished in the center of deep pools. Good flies are: Murray's Caddis Pupa Tan, size 12; and Murray's Dark Stonefly Nymph, size 12. The water is clear, at full pool and 42 degrees.

The mountain streams in the Appalachian and Blue Ridge ranges are in excellent shape. Your best bet is to go to the trail head and hike to the upper reaches of the stream. Good files are: Mr. Rapidan Dry Fly, size 14; Spirit of Pittsford Mills, size 14; and Murray's Yellow Drake Dry Fly, size 14. 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 (Wade Fishing River Guidebooks covering the: Rappahannock, Rapidan, Upper Potomac, North Branch Potomac; Blog: SwitchFisher.com) SHAD! This shad are here! Anglers are catching large numbers of shad from the city dock in Fredericksburg upstream. With the water temperature finally above 50°, the shad have begun their upstream migration with passionate intensity. Adding to the excitement, the smallmouth bass will also become active now that the temperature is above this magic number. However, with the frequent Spring rain, be sure to pay careful attention to the Fredericksburg gage reading and do not sacrifice safety for the opportunity to catch a fish. The most popular spots to pursue these fish in Fredericksburg are from the US 1 bridge upstream to the intersection of Riverside Drive and Charles Street. Switching to trout, the mountain streams are in great condition right now with anglers reporting good results using blue quills, stoneflies, Adams and the normal assortment of nymphs. Spin fishermen should go small and use a silver spinner if it is sunny switching to gold if cloudy. If you were interested in pursuing stocked trout, the heavy April stockings have loaded up all of the streams in our area to include the Quantico Marine Corps Base stream (Chopawamsic), Passage Creek, the Robinson River as well as the Rose. Although it is a little bit of a drive, Paddy Run is a pristine, scenic stream that received a stocking last week.

Lake Orange: Contributed by Darrell Kennedy of Angler's Landing (540) 672-3997. The fish are really on a pre-spawn pattern right now with some fish pulling up in the shallows getting ready to spawn as of Monday, April 11th. By the weekend most of the fish will be in their spawning areas. Largemouth bass are hitting soft plastic lures and live minnows. Crappie are being caught on live minnows and soft plastics as well. Catfishing is strong throughout the lake with chicken liver, night crawlers, and cut bait drawing them in. A couple of nice walleyes were caught this week on live bait. The walleyes are in a post spawn pattern in the shallows looking to feed on small minnows and night crawlers. The water is clear with temperatures in the upper 50s.

Lake Anna: Contributed by C. C. McCotter, McCotter's Lake Anna Guide Service, (540) 894-9144. No report this edition.

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

Bass: Bass are roaming the shallows looking to fatten up prior to the spawn. Work faster moving baits in warmer water such as swimbaits, spinnerbaits and crankbaits. Slow down and down size in cold front conditions, using Carolina rigged lizards, crawfish imitators and twitch baits. A great tried and true technique for the lake is barely twitching a floating Rapala in place nearby a boulder or stump. It is hard to beat sight fishing mid and down lake in the clearer water. Polarized glasses are a must for this type of fishing, use your trolling motor and scan the shallows on high till you see bass, then work the areas with your favorite lures. If you find beds you can throw tube baits, lightly weighted worms or lizards into the bed and leave it there to provoke strikes, remembering to please release bedding fish where you catch them. Up lake, if the water is very stained, work structures with moving vibrating baits. Docks in and around marina's hold large numbers of bass.

Stripers: These fish are feeding all over the lake now on 5 to 15 foot flats, humps and points. Stripers are feeding from all the way up the rivers down to the Dam and are not being selective of what they want to eat gorging themselves on herring and gizzard shad. Stripers only have two things on their mind, eating and spawning. When we have warming trends the fish feed more aggressively, feeding shallow and feeding often. Conversely, when cold fronts blow through the fish will not be as aggressive and will usually back off to deeper water, and anglers will have to put their live bait in their faces to entice strikes. Slow down and use smaller baits for more action. Fisherman who fish with artificial baits will also get some explosive results by throwing top water baits like Spooks, waking a Redfin and popping chuggar type baits. Swimbaits work well all month, good baits to try are Berkley's Hollow Body Swimbait when the fish are feeding on shad and downsize to Sassy Shads and Sea Shads when in cold fronts. A good pattern for stripers this month is to cast up to and under docks. stripers are also feeding on crappie and many are caught nearby deeper docks.

Crappie: Fishing for crappie doesn't get any better than this month and it is a great time to stock up the freezer. Locating the fish is very simple. Most shallow docks where baitfish are present will hold crappie, especially where there is some cover present. Every dock up lake above Hunters Landing has crappie under it, Simply fish the docks quickly till you hit the one that has the size fish you are looking for. Other great areas to fish are beaver huts, shallow brushpiles, shallow rock piles, stumps and especially the shoreline grassbeds in the North Anna. Good locater baits to use are small tube jigs on 1/16 oz heads. Pull up to a structure, make a few casts, catch a few fish, have a lot of fun. Once you locate the area where the larger fish are holding, try some small and medium minnows under a bobber. Everyone loves to watch a bobber slowly ease out of sight with the anticipation of catching a huge crappie.

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

NOTICE: All anglers are reminded to acquaint themselves with a good description of the northern snakehead fish. If you should manage to catch one of these exotic imports, please kill it immediately and report the catch to either the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries or the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

View video about the snakehead

Get your kids hooked on fishing!

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Winning Outdoor Adventure Stories from Young Writers

With the warming weather trend and beginning of Spring, many students are counting down the days till the end of school and Summer vacation! For a Richmond 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 16 year old Natalie Hahn, a Junior at Mills Godwin High School in Henrico County of a fishing trip to a Minnesota lake when she was seven years old earned her second place winner in 2009-10 Virginia Outdoor Writers Association High School Youth Writing Competition. Natalie's memorable first fish hopefully will inspire you to "take a kid Fishin'!" See the Kids Fish Day calendar in the Wild Events section for an event near you.

Fillets from Fidgeting

By Natalie Hahn

In the land of ten thousand lakes, a seven year-old version of me, and my father, sit in a boat that slowly bobs in the wake of Lake Sarah. The sun beats down on the two of us, and the glimmering water causes our eyes to squint despite the hats that we wear. We have been fishing for a few hours now, and my father has successfully caused the predicament that I often see to, a tangled line.

The winds cause the reeds and cattails to whisper and a distant train whistle is heard harmoniously with cicadas decreeing the heat. As the boat rolls slowly in the wake of other vessels, the water occasionally slaps the sides. I smell the sunscreen on my face, the life-vest smells of my garage, and the indescribable aroma of lake water surrounds. A few boats and houses can be seen in the distance, but otherwise, the lake is silent of men and their machines. My father sits with his tangled rod, hot and angry. He asks me to remain seated and quiet, which I must say is quite difficult for a young child. In my boredom, I take my Johnny Quest fishing rod and slowly dip the naked lure up and down into water, making quiet slaps and flicking sparkling water drops with the line. As my boredom waxes, I place the hook deeper into the water. I often play with the line in the water as my father fixes something, but on this occasion, a different result comes from the fidgeting. The red and white a bobber does not even have a chance to rest in the water before, out of my surprise, I pull up a shimmering fish.

I exclaim, "Look Dad! I caught a fish!"
He is still intent on his work as he replies, "Natalie, please just sit and stay quiet. I'm trying to untangle this line and it is really difficult, especially if you continue to talk." It is obvious that his patience is wearing thin, despite my enthusiasm.
"But I caught a fish!"

Still in disbelief, he then turns around to scold me, but the look on his face changes from anger to amazement as he sees the rod with a fish attached and squirming. Not long after, the exclamation that it is a crappie is heard and he inquires how I caught the fish. He places his work on the seat and walks over, causing the boat to slowly rock back and forth. Once the silver spectacle is taken off of the hook, he then requests that I do the exact same feat as before. In less than a minute, another fish inhales the empty hook that penetrates its mouth. For the next hour or so, we continued to angle in that spot, gaining a number of crappie and blue-gill. On the way back to the dock at the end of the day, I sit proudly as I look at the passing trees, birds, and cabins that lay near the edge. When back home, my father is still amazed as I recount the day to my mother. Due to my joy, I do not even mind the bloody task of cleaning of the fish. My mother breads them, and the golden filets sizzle in the pan. My elation is highly visible to my parents as I sat down to eat the delicious catch that lay on my plate, golden brown. The only seasoning that was on the fish that night was salt and pepper, but the fish tasted better than ever due to a seven-year-old's luck. I have an unforgettable memory in nature and a wonderful, true, fish-story thanks to that day in Minnesota.

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 will be posted on the VOWA website. 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.

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