In this edition:

May Full of Outdoor Adventure Opportunities

This May 11th edition has signs that summer is fast approaching with reports of bears roaming in search of food and Safe Boating Week May 21-27 just prior to the Memorial Day Holiday. Free Fishing Days follow June 3-5. Seasonal reminders to "wear your life jacket" while on the water and "not feed the bears" are simple ways to stay safe and enjoy the great outdoors. We've posted the Kids Fishing Day calendar, so look for an event near you and plan for some family fun. The turkeys are still gobblin' for another week and with schools out for summer vacation, what a super opportunity to take a youngster on a squirrel hunt during the Spring Squirrel season June 4-18. The warming weather is good for planting wildlife food patches as we have had ample "April showers." Lot's to do in the great outdoors... Be sure to pause and smell the May flowers!

David Coffman, Editor

Newest Wildlife Management Area Significantly Enhances Conservation Efforts in Virginia

The acquisition of Virginia's newest Wildlife Management Area contributes 2,542 acres to the Governor's goal of conserving 400,000 acres during his administration and brings the total of Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) owned by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) to 39. VDGIF is the Commonwealth's largest public landowner with properties totaling 201,408.

The newly-acquired property, known as the Mattaponi WMA, conserves critical habitat and will provide quality wildlife-related recreation in central Virginia. The landscape ranges from mature upland hardwood and mixed forests to wetlands and rivers. The property borders portions of the Mattaponi River/Campbell Creek watershed and the South River/Mays Run watershed. Governor Bob McDonnell summarized the project by saying, "This acquisition is vital in that it conserves valuable natural resources and plays a key role in Virginia's efforts to protect an important watershed of the Chesapeake Bay."

Two recent acquisitions by the Board of Game and Inland Fisheries make up the new Mattaponi WMA. Both purchases were underway simultaneously. VDGIF obtained a 765.6-acre tract first. The Nature Conservancy (TNC) helped in that acquisition by purchasing and holding the property until DGIF could put together its funding package. DGIF purchased the property for $2.4 million using federal dollars from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service through the Federal Assistance in Wildlife Restoration Program matched with agency revenues from hunting license sales and sales of Virginia's duck stamp. The agency closed on that parcel on August 30, 2010.

The second acquisition involved three parcels of land totaling 1,777 acres that surround the original tract. It includes more than 5 miles of scenic Mattaponi riverfront and another 1.5 miles of riverfront along the South River. DGIF purchased the land for $5.2 million and closed on December 17, 2010. Partners also contributed to the second acquisition.

The property lies partially within the buffer area around Fort A.P. Hill. Consequently, the U.S. Department of Defense contributed more than $1.4 million from its Army Compatible Use Buffer Program (ACUB). Fort A.P. Hill will also be able to use some 500 acres of the area to establish one of the Army's first wetlands mitigation banks. The Trust for Public Lands (TPL) administered the ACUB funds in Virginia.

Other partners included the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service through the Federal Assistance in Wildlife Restoration Program and the State Wildlife Grants which matched VDGIF funds. Because of wetlands and wetland restoration opportunities on the property, Ducks Unlimited (DU) also contributed $30,000 to the purchase. The majority of VDGIF's contribution of approximately $4 million will be reimbursed over the next few years from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service through the Federal Assistance in Wildlife Restoration Program.

Secretary of Natural Resources Doug Domenech noted the recreational significance of the property, "The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries has been looking for some time to provide more public land and boating access within a short drive of Northern and Central Virginia. The Mattaponi Wildlife Management Area will offer greater opportunity for outdoor recreation to these Virginians."

Fort A.P. Hill Garrison Commander Lt. Col. John Haefner stated, "Army Compatible Use Buffers around Army installations limit negative effects of incompatible development, helping sustain military readiness while providing the simultaneous benefit of preserving wildlife habitat or agricultural land. This particular property offers the Army a wealth of benefits, not the least of which is a tremendous opportunity for Fort A.P. Hill to establish one of the Army's first wetlands mitigation banks. This joint venture of VDGIF, DU, TPL, and the U.S. Army underscores the value of working together."

All the partners recognized that purchasing the property will conserve critical habitat for wildlife and inland fish as well as threatened and endangered species in a rapidly developing area of Virginia. "Conserving this property protects habitat for nearly 60 species of greatest conservation need in the Commonwealth, and we were pleased to partner with VDGIF to conserve this property that provides more than 2,500 acres of open space and natural habitat for future generations of Virginians to enjoy," said Michael Lipford, Virginia director of The Nature Conservancy.

According to Kurt Dyroff, Director of Conservation Programs at Ducks Unlimited's Annapolis Office, "Waterfowl conservation is facing important challenges as wetlands and associated habitats are being degraded and lost. This project aligns perfectly with our mission to conserve, restore and manage these habitats for waterfowl while also benefiting other wildlife and people. Ducks Unlimited and our nearly 14,000 members in Virginia are proud to support this important acquisition."

The Mattaponi WMA will offer Virginians a premiere destination for quality hunting, fishing, boating, and wildlife watching experiences. VDGIF is currently working on a management plan for the site and infrastructure such as signage and parking. The Mattaponi WMA was opened to the public on March 30 in order to be available for the Special Youth Spring Gobbler Hunt Day and spring turkey season in April.

To learn more about Wildlife Management Areas, hunting, fishing, boating, and wildlife watching in Virginia visit the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries website.

VDGIF Board Approves Facilities Use Fee and Certain License Increases

At the May 3, 2011, Board of Game & Inland Fisheries meeting in Richmond, several milestone decisions were made that will benefit the Agency and its ability to continue to provide a multitude of services to all the citizens and visitors of the Commonwealth. The Board approved only the second increase in license fees in the past twenty-four years along with an exciting array of hunting and trapping regulation proposals. The adoption of a facilities ‘Use Fee' is important well beyond the actual revenue derived since it provides the means by which folks who use these wonderful Wildlife Management Areas and state fishing lakes can contribute, on either a daily or annual basis, to their maintenance and management. Users with valid hunting, trapping or fishing licenses, boat registrations, 16 years old or younger, or hiking the Appalachian Trail will not have to pay the use fee. In order to educate the public sufficiently, the Use Fee will have a sunrise of January 1, 2012. Additionally, the Board approved license increases on some, but not all licenses with a special focus on basic hunting and fishing licenses, the trout license and the big game license. Nonresident licenses were increased in a manner that was proportional to the increase for resident sportsmen and women. Staff's recommendations and the Board's action reflected the general theme learned during the 120-day public comment period. The Board's decisions were made easier due to solid support from the Agency Advisory Group, which is made up of leaders of sportsman and outdoor enthusiast organizations that meet quarterly with the Director and Department staff to gain input and make recommendations on program management, operations, legislation and future services options. The details of the hunting and fishing regulations, license fee changes and facilities user fees are being reviewed by staff and will be posted on the VDGIF web site shortly and will be covered in more detail in future editions of the Outdoor Report.

Award winning outdoor writer and Outdoor Report contributor Bill Cochran has posted a review of the Board actions from the "sportsman's perspective" on his Roanoke Times online outdoor column. Bill's own insight and interviews with various sportsmen leaders on these Board actions will provide you with the background and projected program enhancements to be gained by these actions.

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.

Free Fly Fishing Courses at Orvis in Richmond May-July

The Orvis Company has announced the Spring/Summer 2011 line up of Fly Fishing 101 and Fly Fishing 201 classes. Trout Unlimited and Federation of Fly Fishers have also partnered with Orvis for this series. Each class is FREE. Perfect for the beginner, Fly Fishing 101 teaches the basics of fly fishing - from casting to outfitting. Fly Fishing 201 takes participants out to the water to put their new skills to the test. The two classes meet at the Orvis retail store at Short Pump Town Center and are approximately three hours in length. Reservations are required for attendance and there is a fifteen student maximum per class. Call 804-253-9000. Orvis is encouraging family participation, ages 15 and under must be accompanied by an adult.

Fly Fishing 101
The Fly Fishing 101 class consists of casting basics, how to assemble a rod outfit and tie basic knots. All ages and skill levels are welcome.

Each Fly Fishing 101 group attendee will receive a certificate for a free Trout Unlimited membership and a free membership in the Federation of Fly Fishing - a $70 value! Additionally, each group attendee will receive a $25 coupon off any purchase of $50 or more good toward Orvis gear.

Fly Fishing 101 Class Dates: May 14*, 15*, 28, 29; June 11, 12, 18, 19; July 2, 3, 9, 10
* Indicates a corrected date from flyer

Fly Fishing 201
Fly Fishing 201 builds on the knowledge students have learned in Fly Fishing 101. This class entails a short outing on local water for students to try their hand at catching (and releasing) their first fish.

Fly Fishing 201 Class Dates: June 4, 5, 25, 26; July 16, 17

Man Tracking Workshop in Cumberland May 13-15

Do you do Search and Rescue and want to increase your ability to find lost people? Are you a police officer who wants to be able to safely follow a suspect in the woods? Would you like to be able to follow your tracks back to where you started in case you get lost while out hiking? Or are you interested in perimeter security and knowing if someone has been there? If you answer yes to any of those questions, then this class is for you! Roy Hutchinson with Wilderness Discovery Tracking & Survival School will conduct a workshop on Man Tracking Level I, May 13-15 at their property in Cumberland. Topics include: Tracking Tools – what to carry and how to use them / Aging sign, Finding and interpreting signs of passage / Reading the story, Tracking on various groundcovers / Closing the time/distance gap, Identifying the evasive subject / Tracking team security, Search and Rescue Tracking / Night tracking, Distinguishing human and animal sign. The cost is $90 per person if registered before May 1, 2011; $100 after May 1. For information on other wilderness survival related classes visit the Wilderness Discovery Tracking and Survival School website, or the VDGIF website on upcoming Outdoor Education classes.

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.

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 remaining two 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.

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.

Youth Outdoor Day at Rose Hill Preserve in Culpeper May 21

Historic Rose Hill Farm and Game Preserve is hosting the 2nd Annual Youth Outdoor Day event on May 21 from 8 AM to 1 PM. There will be activities and demonstrations for: Fishing, Wood Duck Box Building, Sporting Clays, Fly-Casting & Fly-Tying Instruction, Fishing Knot Tying, Retriever & Pointer, Archery, BB Gun and Air Rifle. The VDGIF Complementary Work Force Volunteers will be on hand to help with instruction and the new VDGIF Canine Unit with their Conservation Police Officer handler will be on hand to introduce this newest addition to our law enforcement efforts to the kids. The event is free but registration is required by contacting Don Haight, Jr. via email: dhaight@rosehillfarm.org or visit the website: www.rosehillgamepreserve.com.

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.

Wild Edible Plants Workshop in Cumberland June 4 – Learning Nature's Bounty

Have you ever wondered which plants are edible, medicinal, poisonous or just ornamental? Is that plant in your lawn or garden just a 'weed' or is it a nutritional powerhouse of vitamins and minerals?

The Wilderness Discovery Tracking & Survival School will conduct a workshop on Wild Edible Plants June 4, from 10am to 4 pm at their property in Cumberland. The cost is $20 per person. Pre-registration required by calling VM: (877) 614-5289 (toll free) or email: roy@trackingsurvival.com, or the Wilderness Discovery website.

This introductory workshop can begin a wonderful journey into the often ignored world of wild plants. A starting point for new learners or an opportunity to sharpen existing plant identification skills, the workshop will cover individual plants in various habitats, help students to learn how to use available printed resources and most importantly introduce the skills of awareness and attention to detail needed to successfully locate and identify edible wild plants. This workshop is an expansion of a wild edible plant class developed and taught by Wilderness Discovery instructors for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Outdoor Education Programs. The workshop will also incorporate various components from other Wilderness Survival Classes taught to better establish the relationship of plants into the overall wilderness survival package of skills.

Instructor Will Dotson's 20-plus years of outdoor experience include 10 in Search and Rescue. He is a member of the International Society of Professional Trackers (ISPT) and is an Operational Tracker and Assistant Director of the Search and Rescue Tracking Institute (SARTI). Will is also a member of Commonwealth Search and Rescue and the Training Officer of Carroll County Search and Rescue. He teaches animal tracking, short term survival, use of wild plants, etc. as a volunteer instructor for such organizations as the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts of America. For information on other wilderness survival related classes visit the Wilderness Discovery website, or the VDGIF website on upcoming Outdoor Education classes.

The Wildlife Center of Virginia "On the Road" Rehabilitation Classes June-August

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

More information can be found on the Wildlife Center of Virginia website.

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

People and Partners in the News

See Habitat Partners© Streaming Video of 4 Corporate Habitats

In recognition of the 10 year anniversary of the VA Department of Game and Inland Fisheries' Corporate Habitat program, four habitat improvement projects installed by private businesses are being showcased in streaming video on the agency's website. Pfizer Consumer Healthcare in Richmond; Boxley's Piney River Quarry in Amherst County; Wetland Studies and Solutions in Gainesville; and Capital One in Goochland County have all shared the successes of their habitat work. Each of the four companies took a close look at the landscape and made a commitment to adopt management practices unique to their specific site. The streaming videos provide visual examples of a variety of improvement methods that benefit wildlife, such as: a meadow planting along a woodland edge; a wetland restoration; a butterfly garden; and plantings that also improve water quality, such as rain gardens and a green roof. In addition, company employees enjoy the added benefit of working in a more aesthetically appealing environment. These examples are described in more detail in an article also posted on the same web page.

Hunter Education Volunteers Recognized for Service

Hunter Education staff conducted an awards dinner at Kelly's Ford Inn on April 9, 2011 for almost 100 volunteers, officers, and spouses. Region 4 Hunter Education Coordinator Kris Dougherty presented 99 incentive awards to instructors. Volunteers also presented retirement gifts to former Coordinator Phil Townley in appreciation for his years of dedicated service.

Virginia Wheelin' Sportsmen Host Trout Fishing Events in May

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 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...

First Turkey Hunt... Memories to Last a Lifetime!

Most of the buddies in my hunt club have grown children and only a few grandkids that already hunt. We talked at our last Annual Meeting in March about trying to find some youngsters who have never gone spring gobbler hunting and with the school's taking spring break in April, we began looking for some 'willing candidates' who were not traveling over break, or would forgo sleeping in to get up at 4 a.m. and head for the woods at the chance to hear a thunderin' gobbler... or maybe not!! My neighbor's 11 year old grandson Bryan Wimmer from Northern Virginia was visiting over spring break. He had asked if I had any chores he could do to earn money to buy a new pair of hunting boots. I can always use a hard working kid to help get my garden ready for planting. While we were planting lettuce wondering if the deer would get it first, the story in the Outdoor Report on Bryan killing his first dear last season came up. I asked Bryan if he had ever been spring gobbler hunting? "No sir!" he answered quickly with an excited anticipation in his voice... "Would you like to go with me some day this week?" "YES SIR!" he quickly answered. I had already asked his Grandparents if it was alright to invite him and they had said yes, if Bryan wanted to go, realizing that the early morning wake up was not negotiable for gobbler hunting.

So with the invitation extended and accepted, we quit yard work a little early to go get the gear ready for an "extra hunter" in the party. We had a review of things he had learned in his Hunter Education Class last fall, safe gun handling and turkey tips and tactics, then gather up extra camo clothes, headnet, gloves, etc., then off to bed—"I'll pick you up at 4:30 am!" We were joined the next morning by my hunt club buddy Ed Crebbs, Master Hunter Education Instructor, and high school teacher also on spring break, eager to take his 'vacation' to share his knowledge and experience with a novice young hunter.

We'll save the details of the next 2 days turkey hunt for another time. Although Bryan is somewhat shy and reserved, he was a joy to take hunting as he was courteous, respectful, eager to learn, caught on quick and a fine young sportsman in the making. As the photos show we all had a great time and all of us learned some things - although no shots were fired, two old timers got to share the experience with a young boy and the thrills and adventure of his first gobbler hunt. We've invited him back for squirrel season in June... may need some help in the garden then too!

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 Ends Saturday May 14

Safety and courtesy are free, share them generously

June Squirrel Season Opens on Private Lands and Selected WMAs June 4-18

For the fifth year a statewide squirrel season will be available for sportsmen June 4-18, 2011, on specific VDGIF Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) as listed on the VDGIF website and on all private lands. Fox squirrels may only be harvested on all private lands in counties with an open fox squirrel season and on the following WMAs: Big Survey, Goshen, Havens, Little North Mountain, Merrimac Farm, Phelps, Rapidan, and Thompson WMAs. Hunting squirrels with dogs is now allowed during the June season.

Although it may be a foreign idea to many sportsmen, a June season is biologically justified. Squirrels have two peak reproductive periods - one during February-March and another during July-August. Therefore, hunters can harvest squirrels during the June season without impacting populations.

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

22 Years of Perseverance Results in First Gobbler for Vickie Rapalee

Vickie Rapalee from Goochland has a great story that begins with the history leading up to her first spring gobbler... She explains, " I am surrounded by outstanding turkey hunters! My husband Todd Rapalee, well known taxidermist, has his World Slam and my teenage son Dillon has his Grand Slam, Jimmy, my father-in-law and my Dad , Eddie Gutshall, both have harvested numerous turkeys. No pressure! I have attended so many NWTF events I can't even recall them all. We love, respect and admire the wild turkey. Todd's license plate has BOSS TOM, Jimmy has BOX CALL and mine is BOSS HEN! Yep, love those turkeys. After hunting with my husband numerous times over 22 years I was wondering if my time would ever come!

The LORD blessed me with a perfectly beautiful spring morning on Monday, May 2nd. He was gobbling on the roost as soon as we reached our spot. Todd, who is the world's best caller in my opinion, hence his nickname "The Turkenator", gave a few very soft calls. Patience is not my strongest virtue. I sat in the woods for 4 hours the previous Saturday waiting for him to come in and he never showed up. I assumed once he hit the ground this hunt would turn out the same way, so I almost wasn't ready when I spotted his head bobbing through the woods towards me at 6:20! I spotted him first which was pretty cool considering I was with the pro. I didn't think I would be as nervous as I was, but I thought for sure the sound of my heart beat would scare him away. I took aim with my son's turkey gun.... and boom! I finally got my longbeard! He sported a 10 inch beard, 1 inch spurs and weighed 17 pounds. We nicknamed him "Osama Done Gobblin" in honor of our brave military who finally took down public enemy #1. Perseverance pays off! God Bless the USA! I plan on getting the gobbler mounted, I know a great taxidermist who will give me a good deal!!"

Preserve Your Trophy Properly

For information on taxidermist services visit the Virginia Taxidermist Association or visit the taxidermy exhibits at the various sportsmen shows statewide coming up. For tips on field preparation to protect and preserve your trophy animal or bird, check the Outdoor Report archives. Just enter the name of animal [like bear, deer, turkey, waterfowl] or 'taxidermy tips' in the search box. Note that several of the states best taxidermist, including Todd and Vickie Rapalee, will have an exhibit at the VA Outdoor Sportsmans Show at Richmond Raceway Complex August 12-14, 2011.

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 permitees: 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.

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!

National Safe Boating Week is May 21-27, Time To Remember Life Jackets Save Lives

National Safe Boating Week is May 21-27, making right now the time to remind boaters to be safe on the water. First and foremost, boaters need to think about life jackets and plan to wear them. A significant number of boaters who lose their lives by drowning each year would be alive today had they worn their life jackets.

It is the law in Virginia that there must be one wearable (Type I, II, III, or V) U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) approved life jacket of the appropriate size for each person on the boat. In addition, no person may operate a recreational vessel on federal waters with any child under age 13 on the vessel unless each child is either wearing an appropriate life jacket approved by the USCG, or below deck, or in an enclosed cabin. This applies to waters in which the USCG has enforcement jurisdiction, and in Virginia that includes the Chesapeake Bay, Smith Mountain Lake, Lake Gaston, Kerr Reservoir (Buggs Island Lake), Claytor Lake, Lake Moomaw, and other inland waters that are considered navigable. VDGIF is asking boaters to make a commitment to wear their life jackets at all times while on the water.

It is recommended for anyone who operates a boat to complete a boating safety education course is approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) and accepted by VDGIF. Virginia's Boating Safety Education Compliance Regulation is being phased in over the next several years. If you have previously taken a boating safety education course and have your card, you are in compliance with the new regulation. Visit the VDGIF website for course information and for information about how to get replacement cards. To learn more about boating laws in Virginia and about boating education courses, visit the Department's website.

Be Aware of Lyme Disease and Prevent Tick Bites

Remember spring is the time to be aware of ticks and the potential for Lyme disease. Especially for turkey hunters walking through grass fields and woods. Information about Lyme disease and what people should do if they are bitten by a tick can be found on the Virginia Department of Health website. Virginia Wildlife Magazine featured an article about Lyme disease prevention that can be read on our agency website.

The best way to avoid contracting Lyme disease is to prevent tick bites. Use insect repellant to prevent ticks from getting on you. There are many kinds of effective insect repellants on the market, so read up on benefits and precautions of the various kinds. Some may be applied directly to the skin, while others should only be applied to clothing. Read the label! Note the proper method to remove ticks (PDF) to prevent infection. Should you notice the target type ring around a tick bite or any of the symptoms of Lyme disease, seek medical attention immediately, as early detection and treatment will speed recovery in most cases. Be sure and check yourself, your children and your pets frequently whenever outdoors and after you return home for a few days.

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.

"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.

Swansboro Elementary Certified as a Schoolyard Habitat

It can be difficult for children to spend time in nature when they live in an urban setting. But many teachers and parents who realize this dilemma have found that a Schoolyard Habitat can be a wonderful, safe setting for kids to explore the outdoors—and learn a lot, too. Volunteers from the Richmond Audubon Society (RAS) have been working with the principal and teachers at Swansboro Elementary in the City of Richmond since 2007 to convert a bare, unsightly courtyard that was locked on one side with chain-link fence into a colorful, stimulating outdoor classroom now called the "Green Room." Using grant money as well as private donations and plenty of volunteer time and elbow grease, the labor of love has resulted in a beautiful garden of native flowering perennials, shrubs and trees that attract birds, butterflies and other wildlife. Bird feeders and water features were also installed, and Jordan Construction Company donated raised beds and an arbor. RAS developed nature activities that are used in the garden to teach several Standards of Learning. Students in 3rd, 4th and 5th grades are "Habitat Keepers" who maintain a scrapbook of observations, and each Friday during assembly a student reports on what they've seen. Other students worked with the school media specialist to develop a "Garden Newsletter" for visitors.

In the process, many students have undergone a positive transformation. Nanette Sweet, an active RAS Kids volunteer, recently shared this comment: "We have stories galore about children—a girl who quit summer camp because of bees that now stops and writes in our garden with bees everywhere. On a campus where mutilated snakes were once found, we have students advising adults to be careful, quiet, etc. because it's habitat."

As a result of this success, Swansboro Elementary was awarded a Schoolyard Habitat certificate by the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries' Habitat Partners© program. Future plans include installation of a rain garden, a sustainable playing field, and an environmental trail that will be sponsored by Reveille United Methodist Church. Over time, with a lot of inspired foresight and dedication, this project has become a vibrant focal point for the community.

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!

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.

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!

Virginia Naturally Website Link to School Environmental Learning Programs

Visit the Virginia Naturally website now for ideas on nature learning activities. Teachers, there are also ideas for workshops and training available for your continuing education and getting a start on environmental lesson plans for the next semester.

Kids Discover Nature by Jodi Valenta also provides ideas for parents to get your kids "nature aware."

Summer Adventure Camps

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 early May:

Answers to April 27th edition quiz for nature events in early Spring...

Get your copy of the 2011 Virginia Wildlife Calendar here.

Habitat Improvement Tips

Butterfly Gardens: Critical Habitat - Now is Time for Planning and Planting

By Marie Majarov, Majarov Photography, www.majarov.com

Butterfly Gardens offer beautiful blossoms that will bring a wide variety of butterflies and even hummingbirds flocking to your yard. Now is the time for you and your family to do some planning and planting for a wonderful wildlife show – and help save our butterfly treasures as well.

Some flowers provide rich nectar, important food sources for our fluttering friends, while others are host plants offering places for butterflies to lay eggs that will hatch and develop into fascinating caterpillars that munch on the plant leaves before transforming into chrysalids from which, almost magically, glorious butterflies emerge. VDGIF website "Creating A Butterfly Garden" by Master Naturalist Donna Cottingham will give you many suggestions for native plants, both annuals and perennials, and describes which plants are hosts for various butterfly species. The new Habitat at Home© DVD will also provide you with many helpful ideas. (see details of this DVD in Habitat Improvement Tips section)

This is a critical time to plant a butterfly garden as one of our loveliest and most recognizable butterflies, the large, brilliantly-colored, orange and black Monarch, has been and continues to be in grave danger.  Shrinking summer habitat, very dry conditions in Texas welcoming the returning monarchs that wintered in Mexico this year, and some of the unusual weather experienced across their range, are all causing major concern for the monarchs' ability to produce reasonable numbers for their migration this coming fall.  Gardens with Monarch host plants, milkweed, and nectar sources are called Waystations. Your help is essential in saving this beautiful butterfly.

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

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.

Conservation Police Officers (CPOs) provide rescue, security and assistance in aftermath of tornados...

The arrival of super cell thunderstorms over Southwest Virginia late in the evening of Wednesday, April 27, 2011, was the precursor to a deadly tornado that would strike Washington County shortly after 1 a.m., Thursday, April 28, 2011. An EF2 tornado touched down about one mile northwest of the confluence of the Middle and South Forks of the Holston River. From that point the tornado advanced towards the northeast with a ground speed of 60 miles per hour. After crossing the Middle Fork of Holston, it moved rapidly through the community of Bethel, crossing Rte. 58 there. Snapping trees like toothpicks and blowing brick homes off foundations, the tornado damaged several homes, horse barns and a church at Bethel. The tornado crossed over the development surrounding Exit 29 on I-81, increased in intensity, reaching force EF3 with circulation wind speeds between 140 and 160 miles per hour. Many homes and businesses were devastated by the vicious winds. Passing over the Utility Trailer Company, it tossed newly constructed cargo trailers about as if they were empty soda cans. Homes in the nearby Crowville Subdivision were striped of shingles, siding and carports. It was in this area that the first of three fatalities occurred when the violent winds exploded a mobile home and hurled the body of the victim for 250 feet into a field; the second fatality, also in this area, was hurled into a field after his modern brick home disintegrated. The third fatality resulted from the explosive destruction of another mobile home not much farther along the tornado's track. Shortly after 1:15 a.m. all business activities ceased at the Petro Truck Center as the tornado blasted its way across the service complex. It lifted and tossed fully loaded tractor trailers. Vehicles traveling along adjacent I-81 were wrecked by the winds. The tornado apparently lifted or dissipated after moving into Smyth County where it inflicted minor damage to businesses along Rte. 107 in the area of Tate's Chapel.

On Thursday, April 28, 2011, at 2:00 a.m., following the devastating tornado, Sergeant Jamie Davis began assisting storm victims around his residence and local emergency service personnel. Sergeant Davis advised, "This is the worst disaster that I have ever seen". Conservation Police Officers were contacted at day break to assist Washington County and the community of Glade Spring. They conducted house-to-house searches on foot for injured and missing people; they utilized ATV's to search fields and neighborhoods; employed chain saws, winches, log chains and tow straps on patrol vehicles to clear from roadways fallen trees and other storm related debris. Conservation officers secured private property from looting and provided general citizen assistance. Among the favorable comments Agency employees received from citizens in the Glade Spring area: " The Game Department's assistance is greatly appreciated." " I have never seen so many Game Warden vehicles in one location." "I had no idea you all did this type work, thank you."

To learn more on how you can aid the victims and communities devastated by the tornados visit the VA Department of Emergency Management website.

Region I - Tidewater

Officers rescue capsized boaters... On April 21, 2011, Conservation Police Officer's Wilson and Adams were on boat patrol on the Chickahominy River checking herring fishermen at Walker's Dam in New Kent County. After checking a few boats, Officer Wilson heard a woman scream and saw a boat capsizing. The officers went to the boat and rescued a female from the water as another boater rescued a male from the water right at the dam. At the rescued female's request, Officer Wilson was also able to recover the catfish that she had caught earlier in the day. Both individuals were uninjured and were taken to shore.

Region III - Southwest

Poachers caught shooting turkey decoys... On April 15, 2011 Conservation Police Officer Mark VanDyke was contacted by Richmond Dispatch in reference to hunters trespassing to hunt in Wise County. Officer VanDyke arrived on scene and spoke with the complainant. The complainant advised while he was turkey hunting two men in a white Chevrolet pick-up drove up to his location and shot his turkey decoys twice with what sounded like a .22 caliber rifle. The complainant and the land tenant both knew the two suspects. The complainant stated that the same individuals had shot his decoys during the 2010 turkey season. The complainant was able to obtain the tag information of the truck. Upon inspection of the decoy, Officer VanDyke found two bullet holes that appeared to be from a small caliber rifle. After a short investigation, Officer VanDyke was able to locate both suspects. Both individuals admitted to driving onto the posted property and shooting at the decoys with .22 caliber rifles. Both suspects stated they thought the decoys were real turkeys. Both suspects were unable to provide a valid 2011 Big Game License. Warrants were obtained and served for Trespass to Hunt on Posted Property, Hunt with out a Big Game License, and Shooting from a Vehicle.

CPOs observation leads to multiple changes during drug raid... On April 26, 2011, Virginia Conservation Police Officer Jason Honaker participated in a joint drug takedown operation with the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Scott County Sheriffs Office. Officer Honaker assisted one team of officers with a raid at a residence in the Manville section of Scott County while other teams raided other sites in the county. While Officer Honaker assisted in containing the perimeter at his assigned location, he noticed a deer head near the residence. As the officer moved to the front of the residence he noticed a large number of tires piled up. After the suspect was arrested and interviewed by the federal officers, Officer Honaker interviewed him and obtained a confession for killing the deer illegally. Officer Honaker also went back to the scene of the illegal tire dump and counted 349 tires at the site. Officer Honaker documented the evidence at the dump site and obtained a warrant for the illegal disposal of tires. The suspect was charged with numerous counts of selling drugs, possession of drugs, possession of illegal weapons, possession of illegal deer, and illegal disposal of tires. Three other suspects were also arrested during the joint operation.

Cold Case Re-activated... After 8 Years, Family Still Waits for Answers to Hunter's Death

Hunters in the Rockbridge County area will be getting letters asking if they have information that will help Conservation Police Officers with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries solve an eight-year-old case involving the death of turkey hunter David B. Stack of Nanjemoy, Maryland. Stack was killed while turkey hunting in Rockbridge County on Saturday, April 12, 2003. He was hunting in the area between South Buffalo Road and Bluegrass Trail near an area known as Saville Hill when he was shot in the back. Conservation Police Officers investigating the case feel strongly that someone has information that will lead them to the responsible person.

In 2003, a fund was established to reward anyone with tips leading to the arrest of the individual or individuals responsible for the death of David B. Stack. The fund quickly grew as donations came in and reached a total of $32,000. Despite publicizing the reward, the case remained cold. In the fall of 2003, the case was featured on an episode of the Fox television program America's Most Wanted. Still, the case remains unsolved.

Now VDGIF is trying a new approach by reaching out directly to turkey hunters in the area with a special mailing. The letter recounts the basic information and asks those with any information that may lead to the identity of the shooter to call the Wildlife Crime Line at 1-800-237-5712 or email wildcrime@dgif.virginia.gov. The identity of those who provide information will remain confidential.

The reward fund is currently being managed by The Wildlife Foundation of Virginia and has grown over the last eight years. The Foundation, in consultation with David Stack's family, has agreed that a portion of the funds can be used by VDGIF to cover the cost of mailing the letters in hopes of finally getting answers to this mystery. This still leaves an approximately $30,000 reward for anyone who provides information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the death of David Stack.

The David Stack hunting incident is unique in that it is the first case in more than 20 years in which the shooter in a hunting fatality is unknown. It is uncommon in hunting-related shooting incidents for the shooter not to come forward or to offer assistance at the scene. Conservation Police Officers with VDGIF and the Stack Family hope that this letter will generate sufficient interest and information to solve the case.

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.

VA State Record Blue Catfish at Bass Pro Shops Aquarium in Ashland

On Thursday, May 5th the state record blue catfish was released into the aquarium at Bass Pro Shops south of Ashland in Hanover County. The catfish was caught by Tony Milam of South Boston on March 17, 2011 at Buggs Island Lake. The massive fish weighed in at 109 pounds even and was 53 inches long. The fish was kept alive and transported to the Bass Pro Shops Headquarters in Springfield, Missouri where it spent six weeks being treated by their veterinarian staff and becoming accustomed to aquarium life before returning to Virginia. Now she is home and on display for everyone to see and enjoy!

Chesapeake Bay Program & Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Seek Your Involvement in Action on Blue Catfish

The Chesapeake Bay Program (CBP) has several science teams. One such team is the Sustainable Fisheries Goal Implementation Team composed of fisheries managers from around the region. The Team's mission includes supporting viable recreational and commercial fisheries, with a view to "ecosystem-based" management goals.

After hearing from a panel of blue catfish science experts during its December 2010 meeting, the Team determined to develop a Chesapeake Bay wide management policy for blue catfish. The team asked this group of experts to develop a range of management options by the time of the Team's June 2011 meeting. The Team requested assessment of policy options ranging from eradication to leaving management unchanged. While the Team recognized eradication of blue catfish from the Chesapeake Bay watershed is likely not feasible, this was one of the management options the Team requested the group of science experts to evaluate.

The CBP Fisheries Goal Implementation Team recently developed a draft resolution on blue catfish and flathead catfish for the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC). An early draft of the ASMFC resolution defines blue catfish and flathead catfish as "invasive", and "that all practicable efforts should be made to reduce the population level and range of non-native invasive species" in the Chesapeake Bay watershed – which includes Virginia's tidal river blue catfish populations.

If you are a recreational angler, or otherwise have an interest in this resource, you have a role to play in this ongoing process. Both the Chesapeake Bay Program and Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission welcome and encourage stakeholder and public involvement.

View the Chesapeake Bay Sustainable Goal Implementation Team online »

View the Atlantic States Fisheries Commission online »

Changes in Tidal River Blue Catfish Populations and Fishing Forecast

It has been over 35 years since blue catfish were established in Virginia's tidal waters, and the populations still have not stabilized at a level sustainable in the long-term. In the period 2002 – 2008, as blue catfish populations became overcrowded, VDGIF biologists documented significant declines in blue catfish growth in the Rappahannock, Mattaponi, and Pamunkey. Until recently growth in the James River had remained stable, in spite of dramatic increases in the number (crowding) of blue catfish in that river. However in 2010, significant declines in growth were documented in the James River. The time it takes a James River blue catfish to reach 35 inches increased from 13 years to 15 years. In other words, to reach 30 pounds a blue catfish will now have to live 15 years, when it previously would have reached this weight by age 12. If growth continues to slow in coming years, as has been the case in other tidal rivers, the resulting increase in the time to reach a given weight will mean fewer fish surviving to reach "trophy" size.

Forecasts

  1. James River and its tributaries: Virginia's premier trophy blue cat fishery, still with good numbers of fish to the 50 pound range, and fair numbers of fish to the 70 pound range.
  2. Mattaponi and Pamunkey: Currently good numbers of fish to the 50 pound range, with anglers reporting the occasional fish to 80 pounds. Growth rates in decline, therefore future production of trophy fish is uncertain.
  3. Rappahannock River: This river is only rarely producing citation-sized blue catfish. However, as with Virginia's other tidal blue cat fisheries, an extremely high abundance of smaller fish are available to anglers looking to take fish home to the table.

For more information, the 2011 Tidal River Blue Catfish Report for Anglers has been posted in the VDGIF fishing website.

Safe Boating Week May 21-27, 2011 Gear up for Summer! 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.

Two Streams Added to the VDGIF Catchable Trout Stocking Program

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) has added two new streams to its Catchable Trout Stocking Program in southwest Virginia. A 2.3 mile section of the South Fork Powell River in the Town of Big Stone Gap and a 0.75 mile section of the Middle Fork Holston River in Chilhowie have been added to this very popular program. Included in the program are those waters that are posted as "Stocked Trout Waters" and are stocked with catchable-sized trout from October through May each year. Designated stocked trout waters are listed by the Director of the Department in the annual Trout Stocking Plan published in the "2011 Freshwater Fishing in Virginia" regulations pamphlet on pages 20 - 21.

This modification to the trout stocking plan will be effective with the formal posting of regulations on the new streams. "We are very excited about this great opportunity for anglers in Wise and Smyth Counties," stated Bill Kittrell, Regional Aquatic Manager in the Department's Marion Regional Office. "It has taken a considerable amount of work on the part of both the Town officials as well as Department staff to bring this about," Kittrell explained. Officials from both the Town of Big Stone Gap and the Town of Chilhowie have presented the Department with formal resolutions supporting the concept. "In both cases, the Towns own large tracts of land adjacent to the streams, and access for the public is excellent," Kittrell continued. These waters will only be considered designated stocked trout waters from October 1 through June 15, and a trout license will be required to fish in addition to the regular fishing license. A trout license is not required from June 16 through September 30. Trout angling hours on designated stocked trout waters are from 5:00 a.m. until one hour after sunset. For more details on the Department's Catchable Trout Stocking Program and the many other great fishing opportunities in Virginia, please check out the Department's website.

Contact: William B. Kittrell, Jr., Regional Aquatic Manager, Marion Regional Office, (276) 783-4860, bill.kittrell@dgif.virginia.gov.

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.

For Rules and 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

Photos must be postmarked on or before June 18, 2011

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.

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 C. Blair Evans, (804) 693-2107, www.gloucesterva.info. Currently, the anglers are reporting that the fishing is a little inconsistent. The bass are not really in one location, they seem to be spread out. Anglers fishing for them are reporting catches of average sized fish no larger than 3 pounds. Bass anglers are also catching a good number of chain pickerel. Roy Moon of Gloucester County landed a citation 26 inch 4 lb. 2 oz. chain pickerel. The crappie fishing has slowed down and anglers from the pier are beginning to catch brim and catfish. The water is 71 degrees, at full pool and slightly stained.

The first night fishing of the year will be held this Friday May 13th and the main entrance of the park will be open till midnight. The next Big Bash Bass Tournament will be on Saturday May the 21st. For more information, call the park at (804) 693-2107. Park Hours are: May to September 5th 6:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Little Creek Reservoir: Contributed by Park Concessionaire Diane Priestley, (757) 566-2277, hhhatlcr@aol.com. Park Concessionaire Andy Priestly says that lots of small bass are being landed, as well as some lunkers. Try soft plastic and cranks. Local stripers are going for black back herring, which can be caught on the Reservoir with nets. Huge shellcrackers can be found around docks and shallows, and are biting red wigglers and beetlespins. Crappie action is slow, but experienced and patient anglers are getting some slabs. Some big cats are taking minnows, with some 4 lb. to 5 lb. channels being brought up. Perch are hit or miss, but may take a worm. Lots of bluegill are in the coves and shallows and are hungry for red wigglers and crickets. The water is clear and 70 to 71 degrees.

Virginia Beach: Captain Jim Brincefield (443) 336-8756. Captain Jim says that flounder action has slowed down, but try a bull minnow or squid. Croakers can be found at Ocean View and the mouths of the York and James Rivers. They go for Fishbite and bloodworms. Bluefish are at Cape Henry and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and are attacking cut fish or spoons. The red drum are back; they can be found at the Barrier Island and Fisherman's Island, and will take crabs and clams. The water is clear and 56 degrees.

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

Chickahominy River: River's Rest (804) 829-2753. Alton Williams reports that bass action is slow but should improve, try top-waters. Crappie fishing is good, with the traditional minnows and jigs proving effective. The cats are really biting just now, attacking herring or eel. No word on bluegill. The water is warming and slightly stained but clearing.

North Landing River and Back Bay: West Neck Marina (757) 426-6735. Dewey Mullins told me that the bass bite is very good. Try cranks, spinners, buzzbaits and top-waters. Crappie action is picking up with minnows, small spinners and jigs. The cats are lurking out there, but few anglers are going for them. Lots of white perch are being landed with small spinners, night crawlers and jigs. Some big bluegill are being brought up with red wigglers and crickets. Fly fisherman should try a small popping bug. The water is clear and in the low to mid 50s.

Norfolk Lakes: Dasheill's Show Room (757) 539-7854. Drew Dixon says that bass are hitting "quite well" on plastics, jigs and cranks. Crappie fishing should improve, especially using minnows and jigs. Cat angling is good with cut bait. Bluegill are attacking red wigglers and crickets. Not much perch action. The water is clear and in the high 50s.

Blackwater and Nottoway: By Riverkeeper Jeff Turner www.blackwaternottoway.com Fishing in the Blackwater and Nottoway continues to get better and better. Plenty of everything is being caught. Bream will be on the bed soon, so good fly-rod opportunities are coming up. Big blue (big for our rivers) cats in the 15 to 30 pound class are being caught. So there is a lot of opportunity for folks who want to fish right now. And yes, you can eat the fish out of the Blackwater and Nottoway. Just follow the recommendations on the VDGIF website. I have been eating fish out of the river for 45 years and not been poisoned yet, but I still would stick to the recommendations especially for small children and women who are pregnant.

Remember with these nice sunny days comes a hidden killer, SUNBURN, and all the bad stuff that comes with it. Take it from me, 45 years of fishing with half of that done nearly naked in my youth is dangerous. We used to go get in the boat with just cut offs on, the muddy water was our sun block and it didn't work. I have already had one melanoma cancer removed from my neck that left an ugly 3 inch in diameter scar. So wear a hat or something that will cover your face, neck and ears. Put on a good high number sun block on the rest of you exposed to the world. It's not sissy to put on sun block; it beats having chunks of your face and arms/legs removed for cancer down the road.

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

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

Region 2 - Southside

Swift Creek Reservoir: Contributed by local angler Archie Spencer, Spencer1967@yahoo.com. Fishing at Swift Creek is challenging as usual. The water was muddy in the coves this past Sunday after the rain. It seemed to slow the fishing down. People are catching smaller fish on smaller baits like flukes and curl tail grubs and inline Mepps spinners. Crappie are plentiful on minnows. I landed a 3 lb. bass on a Panther Martin floating frog last weekend in one of the coves and had numerous other strikes at it until a pike bit its leg off. I've been told the coves seem to be better later in the evening. It appears the carp that were put in last year may be helping with the hydrilla problem but then again it may just be too soon to tell. I did run into hydrilla but it's not as thick as last year ...yet. I didn't hear or see any other large bass caught. If you have tips or tricks, fish to report caught or stories feel free to drop me a line at Spencer1967@yahoo.com and I'll add them to the Swift Creek report.

Holliday Lake: Contributed by our man in the boat Willard A. Mayes. I'm still trying to pay my debt to Donny Williams, better known around here as "Shoe" for helping me dig out my combine, so off to Holliday Lake we go. The water is clear to about 6 feet with a slight brown stain and a little cooler than the water down here. Donny and I both fished the fly rod around the shore line looking for any bedding monsters but we did not find any beds. We were using number 10 and 12 popping bugs and would catch a bluegill every now and then as we moved around the shore line. Old man wind was getting the best of us so we switched over to the spinning rods and 2 inch chartreuse twister tail in an area just off the point where the lake turns to the left and goes into the flats. We were about 50 ft. off the shore line in about 10 ft. of water and started catching 9 and 10 inch crappie about 6 ft. down. I was a little bit ahead of Donny so I threw back 4 while I waited for him to catch his limit before we continued around the shore line with the fly rod. It is now about 4:00 p.m. and waves 6 inches or more so we headed for the dock. Now for the rest of the story. Donny and I must have had trouble in math because when we got home he had 19 crappie and 12 bluegill and I had 20 crappie and 25 bluegill. Each of us had half dozen almost monsters, 10 inch bluegill about 7 inches wide and 1 1/2 thick. Donny also caught two 12 inch bass which he released. Got to go back in another week to see if we can find some beds .

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

James at Scottsville: Local Guide L.E. Rhodes www.hatchmatcherguideservice.com, (434) 286-3366. The James is starting to shape up. Although it is still running close to 6 ft. and has about 3 ft. of visibility, it is fishable from a boat. I've been able to get out twice in the past two weeks, and WOW! We found the fish! In the two days we boated 8 fish 4 lb. to 4.5 lbs. and several in the 3 lb. to 4 lb. range. The baits of choice were spinnerbaits, jigs, and lipless crankbaits. The current is still too strong to fly fish, but by late week you should be able to put the long rods to use. Go with the biggest presentations you have. CK Baitfish, Clawdads and Rattle N Claws should be in every fly box at this time of year.

Kerr Reservoir: Bob Cat's Lake Country Store, (434) 374-8381. Brandon Gray told me that bass action is fair, but picking up. Look around brush and try spinners, buzzbaits and plastic lizards and creature baits. Chartreuse is a good color for the latter. Crappie are biting around banks and shore structures. Trolling a minnow should get you a bite. Cats are going for cut shad and bream. Bluegill are not being very cooperative, but may take a red wiggler or a popping bug from a fly rod. The water is clear and in the 70s.

James at Lynchburg: Angler's Lane, (434) 385-0200. Doug Lane reports that rainbows, browns and brookies are biting on Wooly Buggers, Flashback Hare's Ears and Mayfly Imitations. The water is getting to a good fishing level, is clear and in the mid to upper 50s.

Lake Gaston: Holly Grove Marina, (434) 636-3455. Ron Karpinski says that lots of bass are being brought up. Spinners and plastics in Green Pumpkin are doing the job. Crappie fishing is hit or miss, but if you can find some, they are lunkers. Minnows are proving effective. No word on stripers, perch or bluegill. Some citation sized cats were fooled by cut bait. Some bass and crappie anglers are landing walleyes. The water is clear and in the mid 70s.

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.

Baitfish: Alewives have started their traditional spring spawning ritual and are moving up near the shoreline at night. Their appearance brings bass, stripers and flathead catfish up along the shoreline at night as well, seeking an easy meal. There are numerous lures and techniques used by those fishing at night for bass, stripers and catfish. Swimbaits, flukes and bucktails are good choices for bass and stripers around sunset and daybreak. These lures also work at night although most anglers tend to use jerkbaits, chuggers, wake baits or dark colored spinner baits once the sun goes down. Using good quality hooks and strong split rings is extremely important and most anglers change the hooks on lures not equipped with quality hooks when purchased. There are a many different techniques and tips that are helpful when fishing close to the shoreline at night in the spring. If you would like to learn more about this pattern and how to catch bass and stripers in the spring and early summer using artificial lures at night, I suggest you consider attending our "Bass and Striper Night Fishing With Artificials" workshop. This session will be held Thursday evening, May 26th. For more information about this and our other workshops, go to www.virginiaoutdoorsman.com or stop by the store. The cost is $20 and advance registration is required. These sessions often fill quickly and seating is limited, so I suggest you sign up early.

Stripers: Striped bass are being caught during the day by anglers using a variety of different techniques. Stripers have started schooling up and large schools have been seen breaking on bait. So far this year most breaks have been observed early in the morning. Breaking stripers are being caught on swimbaits, flukes and top-water lures including poppers and jerkbaits. Several anglers report they caught stripers on Umbrella rigs, bucktails and three way rigs while trolling as they searched for schooled fish using their electronics. Others report good success pulling live bait behind in-line planer boards like the inexpensive Water Bugz and Rednecks, Ready-Rigs, floats, freelines and on downlines.

Bass: Largemouth and smallmouth bass are spawning near the shoreline and on points. Sight fishing with bright colored soft plastic lures and tubes will produce when bass are locked on beds or protecting fry. Bass are also being caught around docks using YamaSenko worms and finesse plastic worms, and crawfish imitating plastic trailers rigged on shakey head jigs. Spinner baits and crankbaits continue to produce around structure, especially when there is a little wind and when fish are found chasing shad. Carolina rigged plastics are also a good choice this time of year.

The water is stained to clear and 62 to 67 degrees. Tight lines.

Region 3 - Southwest

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

Bass: The bass are in full spawn. A Zoom super fluke in white or albino color is great bait for locating the bass guarding their beds. It is also a good lure for the cruising bass. The smallmouth bass are also spawning, for the most part a little deeper and harder to see. Lucky jerkbaits are a great choice for locating the very protective spawning smallmouth. Usually once you find one smallmouth with the jerkbait, slow down and thoroughly cover the area with a drop shot roboworm, normally there will be more than one smallmouth spawning in the area. The first Tuesday night tournament was held last week. It was won by Chris "Bubba" Lewis and Jason Adams with a 5 fish limit, mixed bag of largemouth and smallmouth, weighing 17.50 lbs. Myself and Tyler Stassin came in 2nd with 5 smallmouth weighing 13.85 lbs. The Rock House Marina holds an open bass tournament every Tuesday from 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. For more info call Mike at (540) 980-1488.

Crappie: Crappie fishing is still doing well. 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.

Bluegill/Panfish: Bluegill are plentiful around docks and in the back of coves. Night crawlers are a great choice.

Stripers: With the shad starting to spawn, the night time striper and hybrid bite has turned on. Jerkbaits, Thundersticks, and Redfins are excellent lure for the night time bite.

Catfish: Have not heard anything on the cats.

Water temperature is in the upper 60s and clear.

Lower New River: Big Z'S (540) 639-1651. John Zienius reports that the smallmouth bite is picking up as the water clears and warms up. Jigs, dark colored Senkos and spinners are all good bets. Muskies are spawning and being quiet, but some are being landed accidentally by smallmouth angers. The water is clearing and 63 degrees.

New River: Tangent Outfitters, (540) 257-0415. Shawn Hash says that the smallies are "on fire" with up to 65 fish being landed on some trips. The best lures are cranks and black or brown tubes. Muskie are being unresponsive. The water is clearing and in the low 60s.

Upper New River: Contributed by Captain Forest Pressnell, (540) 818-5274, New River Charter. No report this edition.

Region 4 - Mountains & Shenandoah Valley - Northern Piedmont

North and South Forks of the Shenandoah: Harry Murray (540) 984-4212 www.murraysflyshop.com. Harry told me that the smallmouth streams in the North Fork of the Shenandoah are giving good fishing just now. The water has a good color and is at a full level. The best angling can be had from Edinburg to New Market. Be sure to use a sinking tip line or heavily weighted streamers or nymphs. Good flies are: Murray's Magnum Creek Chub, size 4; or Murray's Magnum Bluegill, also size 4. The water is 56 degrees.

The stocked streams in the Valley are full and fishable. Action is best in the deep pools below the riffles. Good flies are: Murray's Olive Caddis Pupa, size 12; and Murray's Black Stonefly, size 12. The water is clear and 54 degrees.

The mountain streams are providing good fishing these days. The best method is to take the Blue Ridge Mountain Parkway, Skyline Drive or National Forest roads and go to the heads of the streams. Good flies are: Murray's Little Yellow Stonefly, size 16; Mr. Rapidan Dry Fly, sizes 14 and 16; and Murray's Professor, size 14. The water is at a full level, clear and 52 degrees.

Kids' Trout Fishing Day in Reston - A Big Success

Over 400 children and parents turned out for the first ever Reston Kids' Trout Fishing Day on April 23 in Reston. The event, sponsored by Wetland Studies and Solutions, Inc. (WSSI), Reston Association, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, and Northern Virginia Trout Unlimited, provided a venue for children ages 2-12 to spend a day outdoors, and for some, the opportunity to catch their first fish. Photo Courtesy of the Reston Patch.

Lake Moomaw: Local Guide, Mike Puffenbarger, (540) 468-2682, www.mapletreeoutdoors.com. No report this edition.

Piedmont Rivers: Local author Steve Moore (Wade Fishing River Guidebooks covering the: Rappahannock, Rapidan, Upper Potomac, North Branch Potomac; Blog: SwitchFisher.com) Water levels are finally falling across the Piedmont rivers. While the levels on the Rapidan and Rappahannock are at the upper extremes for wading, the Potomac is off limits unless you have a boat. Ken Penrod reports the ramps are slick and muddy after all the high water and recommends bringing a snow shovel and 5 gallon bucket to clean the ramp before using. A slip this early in the fishing season will take you out of the game for most of the summer. Once the mud drops, river fishing should be great. Sadly, this will not occur in time to salvage a disastrous shad season. Constant high water over the last several weeks has kept us off the water. While there may be a few stragglers wandering upstream, the major push is done. Put away the shad darts and start thinking smallies! You can't catch fish if you don't know where to go - check out the river guidebooks with their exceptional detail, pictures and GPS coordinates. If you don't mind scrambling through the boulder fields that protect the mountain trout streams, you can enjoy great fishing for small mountain brookies. The streams are running fast at 54 degrees with intense dry fly action on Adams, Mr. Rapidan, yellow humpies and the normal assortment of nymphs. Small spinners will do fine if you can find calmer water.

Lake Orange: Contributed by Darrell Kennedy of Angler's Landing (540) 672-3997. The crappie and bass have pretty much spawned out and pulled off the banks. They are hungry with good stringers brought in this week, fishing in depths of 6 ft. to 8 ft. Crappie are taking live bait. The bass prefer soft plastics. Bluegills and shellcrackers are just beginning to spawn. The pan fish bite should be great over the next 4 weeks on the banks. The catfish bite is strong throughout the lake on chicken livers. Walleye fishing is phenomenal with some nice walleyes caught in the 2 lb. to 4 lb. range using live bait. The water is clear with temperatures in the mid to upper 60s.

Lake Anna: Contributed by C. C. McCotter, McCotter's Lake Anna Guide Service, (540) 894-9144. Welcome to one of the best months of the year to enjoy Lake Anna! May is the official start of the boating season as well as a great month to fish here. Shad and herring are spawning now so many game fish are in post spawn feeding frenzies and looking for these "buffet" lines. While not all of the spawning is over (full moon on May 17) most is. Our sunfish are also spawning, so fly casting can be a lot of fun, too. Water temperatures are 68 to 76 degrees. Here's what you can expect during your visit this month.

Largemouth Bass: Some fish will spawn on the May 17 full moon, so don't be surprised if you see a bed or two, mostly in the uplake region, especially in willow grass. Try a Tiger Shad spinnerbait in this shoreline structure or a soft plastic jerkbait. Later in the month a buzzbait, surface popper, even a surface frog might produce bites early, then it's time to pitch a Texas-rigged worm. Mid lake bass will be cruising flats near spawning areas looking to eat! Top-waters and soft plastic jerkbaits and wacky worms are good ways to catch them. Downlake bass will also be cruising early and then holding on docks and offshore structure during the day.

Striped Bass : Good fishing in all three regions of the lake this month. From Dike III to the upper portion of the North Anna and Pamunkey you'll find striper around spawning baitfish. Fish early in the morning for some excellent surface and schooling action using top-waters and soft plastic jerkbaits. Once this activity dies, move to 18 ft. to 25 ft. of water and starting jigging a Toothache Spoon where your depth finder shows fish. The mouth of Pigeon Creek and the Rt. 208 region will be hot as will Dike III.

Crappie : Some uplake fish will spawn in the grass on the 17th, but most are now post spawn and on structure just off the bank in about 10 ft. to 20 ft. Small minnows on slip bobbers are excellent in either situation. Get three dozen and go on a freckle hunt above the first two bridges in either branch or fish the bridges if you just cannot find them anywhere else.

Good luck and see you on the water.

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

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

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

View video about the snakehead

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! . As spring gobbler season comes to a close, many young hunters probably experienced the lessons in patience that Jesse Hawthorne relates in the following story. Jesse was a senior in the Collegiate School in Richmond in 2009 and notes that his experience has him looking forward to the next season and the adventure it holds. This story was one of the Top 5 Entries in 2008-09 Virginia Outdoor Writers Association High School Youth Writing Contest.

Patience Pays

By Jesse Hawthorne

Great writers have described New York City as filled with life and diversity. These great writers have never entered the turkey woods. Had they, they would be greeted with more life and diversity than in any city. One of my most memorable hunting experiences took place in the swamps of southeastern Virginia. The area is well known for its peanuts, swamplands, and unfortunately, mosquitoes. It is here that I find myself in my dreams as I recall a turkey hunt that will forever remain in the back of my mind.

As my father's black F-150 rolls to the edge of the field where the rows of peanuts meet the rows of tall oak trees on the edge of a swamp, my hands become sweaty and my heart begins to race. We haven't even started the hunt and I am experiencing these symptoms. We step out of the truck in the waning moments of darkness just as the woods awake. The first sounds that strike my inner ear are the faint bellows of bullfrogs. My feet crunch the small strip of grass as we near the edge of the woods. Then the woods become alive. Within minutes, every bird within two miles makes his presence known by emitting his call. Thousands of different sounds reach my eardrum and my heartbeat quickens. The streets of New York are meager in comparison to the hustle and bustle of first light in the turkey woods, and the diversity of sounds exceeds the diversity of people in the city.

The one bird that we are after has yet to make a sound. The tired owl makes its last hoot in the early morning and then it happens. The great bird's gobble resonates through the canopy. It's ineffable to describe the flood of emotions that engulf my body. So we set off. The tom gobbles again and the same flood engulfs me. We sit and wait. Bill Day, my father's hunting companion, makes a few clucks from his slate call and the bird gobbles, asserting his dominance. This cycle repeats itself, again and again. With each gobble it becomes obvious to me that the tom is making no effort to close the gap. Time passes slowly as airplanes, geese, and crows fly over and the turkey gobbles in response. An hour passes and still the tom hasn't budged. Pain and agony reach my rear end after fifteen minutes of sitting and it only escalates. The mosquitoes search for the slightest hint of skin. Buzzing around my face and eyes, they land and I can only blow air at them. Our patience is wearing thin as is the amount of blood in my face.

My father and Bill Day continue calling, reaching deep within their arsenal of sounds to try and coax the tom. Our patience is almost at the breaking point when an idea strikes. Both men use their slate calls simultaneously with a series of purrs and clucks. The bird gobbles again, louder and closer. My mind races and my eyes dart from tree to tree in search of the turkey for I know he is on his way. Straight in front of me a ray of sunlight strikes the white head of the approaching tom. My body is quivering and the pain in the seat of my pants disappears as does my worry of getting malaria. My focus is entirely on the task at hand and that task is to harvest this magnificent turkey. He gobbles and I know he is locked in on where the hen is supposedly located. He reaches another ray of sunlight and unfolds his feathers. The light refracts from his feathers and he glows just out of range. One more soft call from my dad and the bird continues to me. My sweaty hands prove to be no obstacle in pulling the trigger. The turkey flops and finally dies. I have to restrain myself from screaming with joy as I see the turkey on the ground.

My quest was over and I had nothing left to do but celebrate. Undoubtedly the hardest turkey hunt I've had the pleasure to be on turned out a success. Not because of the turkey lying dead on the ground, but because of the work and patience that we three hunters put into this hunt. Today I can only delve into my memories to think of this awesome hunt with the joy in knowing that turkey season is just around the corner.

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 of 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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