In this edition:
- Celebrate Freedom Responsibly
- Let's Play Ball... Wildlife Foundation and VDGIF Sponsor Richmond Squirrels at the Diamond June 24
- New Hunting & Fishing License Fees Go Into Effect July 1
- Virginia Board of Game and Inland Fisheries Endorses Sunday Hunting
- Next Edition Two Weeks Away July 13...
- Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss
- Detailed Descriptions of Outdoor Events Across Virginia
- People and Partners in the News
- CWF Volunteers Honored for Service in Shenandoah Valley Area
- Marvin Gautier Receives National Recognition for Wildlife Management Accomplishments
- Tom Moss Named NWTF VA State Chapter Wildlife Manager of the Year
- Hunters for the Hungry Announces Two New Fund Raising Raffles for 2011
- Ft. Lee SCTP Skeet Shooting Team Wins State Skeet Championships
- Virginia Tourism Corporation Offers Popular Website To Promote Outdoor Events & Activities
- Virginia Wheelin' Sportsmen Host Events in Summer
- Sportsmen and Conservation Organizations Hosting Annual Award and Fund Raising Events
- Been There - Done That! Can't Wait to Go Again...
- VA Museum of Natural History Features Living off the Land Exhibit in Martinsville
- Hunting News You Can Use
- Apply for 2011 - 2012 Quota Hunts July 1
- VDGIF Board Approves Facilities Use Fee and Certain License Increases
- Share your Hunting Photos and Stories With Us...
- Virginia Receives $75,000 Grant from NSSF to Promote Hunting
- License Options for Novice Hunters
- Be Safe... Have Fun!
- Planning and Preparation Needed for Safe Summer Adventures
- Be a Safe Boater - Remember Life Jackets Save Lives
- Be Aware of Lyme Disease and Prevent Tick Bites
- "Green Tips" for Outdoor Enthusiasts
- State Parks Want YOU to be in "Tree Army"
- If You Find a Fawn, Leave it Alone!
- Virginia's Newest Wildlife Conservationist Bluebird License Plate Now Available
- Notes for Young Nature Explorers
- Kids Fishing Day Events Provide Family Fun
- Snakes: Splendor in the Grass
- Virginia Naturally Website Link to School Environmental Learning Programs
- Summer Adventure Camps
- Nature Observations from the Virginia Wildlife Calendar
- Habitat Improvement Tips
- You Live in Bear Country...
- Quail Biologists Eager to Assist Landowners and Hunters
- Habitat at Home© DVD Now Available
- Virginia Conservation Police Notebook
- Field Reports From Officers Protecting Natural Resources and People Pursuing Outdoor Recreation
- Fishin' Report
- State Record Fish Committee Confirmed State Record 143-Pound Blue Catfish and Possible World Record
- Kids Fishing Day at Harrison Lake Hatchery Draws Big Crowd
- Gear up for Summer! Wear your Life Jacket and Take a Boating Safety Class
- Does Your Life Jacket Really Fit?
- Video Features Squirrel Skinning Quick and Easy and Panfish Preparation and Filleting
- Got Pictures of Your Catch? Share Them With Us on Flickr!
- Sarah White's Notebook
- Regional River and Lake Reports on Fishing Conditions
- Winning Outdoor Adventure Stories from Young Writers
- "Summer of the Rattlesnake" by Lucy Adams
Celebrate Freedom Responsibly
This edition of the Outdoor Report posts just after Fathers Day and just before the 4th of July Independence Day holiday. These two holidays have special meaning to all of us who enjoy and appreciate our rich outdoor traditions of hunting, fishing, boating, and seeking adventure and inspiration in our wonderful wild places. We have some great stories of families sharing outdoor adventures that may give you some ideas for future summer outings. As we prepare to celebrate our Nation's birth of freedom July 4th, remember that with freedom also comes responsibility. Do your part to ensure our freedom to pursue our great outdoor traditions is not jeopardized by irresponsible actions of a few.
Safety and courtesy are free, use them generously as you share the outdoors with others. Our Conservation Police Officers will be concentrating efforts to enforce Boating Under the Influence (BUI) to protect responsible boaters and anglers from those who act irresponsibly and break the law. Remember they are there to protect your freedom to enjoy the outdoors - support them in their important work by setting a good example and seeing that others around you do their share to enjoy the outdoors safely and responsibly.
David Coffman, Editor
Let's Play Ball... Wildlife Foundation and VDGIF Sponsor Richmond Squirrels at the Diamond June 24
"Take me out to the ball game, Take me out with the crowd. Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks..." and join The Wildlife Foundation of Virginia and VA Department of Game & Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) who are sponsoring the Richmond Squirrels vs. the Erie Sea Wolves baseball game at 7 pm on Friday evening June 24th at the Diamond in Richmond. You don't want to miss this game as the crew from Cornelia Marie, Discovery Channel's "The Deadliest Catch" TV real life adventure series, will be featured at the game along with the introduction of the VDGIF's new K-9 Team and exhibits featuring Law Enforcement, Boating Safety, Hunter Education, Outdoor Report free subscription sign up, the Wildlife Foundation of Virginia, and much more. So, "Let's root, root, root for the home team, If they don't win it's a shame. For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out, if we don't see you at the game!" Let's show our spirit and support for those great American traditions... fishing, hunting, boating and baseball! Visit the Richmond Squirrels or the Wildlife Foundation of VA websites for details.
New Hunting & Fishing License Fees Go Into Effect July 1
Effective July 1, 2011, some hunting and fishing license fees will be increasing in Virginia. This was the first license fee increase since 2006 and only the second license fee increase for hunting and fishing since 1988.
The basic annual fishing and hunting licenses for adult Virginia residents will increase from $18 to $23 which includes the $1 license agent fee. Annual youth licenses will not increase. Non-resident fees for similar licenses were increased by the same percentage as the resident fees. For a list of fishing and hunting licenses and the fees to purchase them, including the cost for non-residents, visit the Department's website.
The Board of Game and Inland Fisheries enacted the fee increase at their May 3, 2011 meeting with an effective date of July 1. At that same time they created a facility use permit for Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) wildlife management areas or public fishing lakes that will go into effect January 1, 2012. Anyone over 16 years old who does not have an annual hunting, fishing, or trapping license or a boat registration will need this new use permit. Users will have the choice of paying $4 for a daily pass or $23 for an annual pass to all VDGIF facilities.
Virginia Board of Game and Inland Fisheries Endorses Sunday Hunting
At their June 7, 2011 meeting, the Board of Game and Inland Fisheries passed a resolution supporting Sunday hunting in Virginia. For years the Board has maintained a neutral stance on this issue. The right of Virginian's to hunt and harvest game is protected by Article XI, Section 4 of the Constitution of Virginia subject only to authority and restrictions prescribed by the General Assembly. The ban on Sunday hunting is set in the Code of Virginia by the Virginia General Assembly and repealing it would take legislative action. If the ban on Sunday hunting is repealed, the responsibility for determining hunting dates and times will rest entirely with the Board of Game and Inland Fisheries. "We welcome this opportunity to work directly with the stakeholders on setting hunting dates and times to include Sundays," said James Hazel, Chairman of the Board of Game and Inland Fisheries.
During the public comment period on the proposed hunting and fishing license increase that ran from December 16, 2010 through April 14, 2011, a significant number of the 1,200 comments received expressed support for Sunday hunting. Surveys of hunters over the years have yielded a similar theme. Additionally, suburban landowners and rural farmers agree that greater opportunity to harvest nuisance wildlife is desirable. With such strong support, the Board felt compelled to take action and developed a formal resolution.
Next Edition Two Weeks Away July 13...
Since we post the Outdoor Report on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month, the next edition will be in two weeks, July 13. This 'extra week' in the calendar will be well spent celebrating the 4th of July Independence Day weekend smokin' a venison tenderloin for the neighborhood party, or danglin' some crawdads at smallies on the James. We look forward to getting your photos and stories of your outdoor adventures with friends and family for the July 13 edition. Have a safe and enjoyable beginning of Summer.
This weekend, as part of Operation Dry Water, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Conservation Police Officers are intensifying efforts to detect and deter boat operators who are operating under the influence of alcohol or dangerous drugs. Learn more »
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.
Bear Creek Lake State Park Gets Ready to "Explore"
Bear Creek Lake State Park in Cumberland welcomed a much anticipated visitor June 3, when Karen Holson, Outdoor Education Supervisor for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries delivered to the Park a teaching trunk for the VDGIF Explore program as well as other assorted archery gear. Beginning later this month, Bear Creek Lake Park plans to incorporate the teaching trunk and its associated curriculum into weekly Park environmental programs. Bear Creek Lake will also be offering Basic Archery programs to its weekly activity offerings. The Explore Bowhunting Program is an outdoor conservation education program focusing on interactions with people and wildlife. The Explore program teaches the students how to interact with nature, as well as activities that teach an appreciation of what is around them and enhances their encounters with the outdoors.
These activities will greatly enhance the opportunities for visitors to enjoy the Park's Field Archery Range, developed in cooperation with the VA Department of Forestry at the Cumberland State Forest. The range is operated by the Friends of Bear Creek Lake. For more information about the Bear Creek Lake Archery Program, or about our Friends Group, please contact the Park at (804) 492-4410.
The award-winning Virginia State Parks, managed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation, have begun a year-long celebration of the park system's 75th anniversary with a "75 Days of Summer" contest.
- See a complete list of celebration events, including what's happening in the park nearest you
- For more information about the Virginia State Parks 75th anniversary celebration, visit www.virginiastateparks.gov
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: 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 25, 26; July 16, 17
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:
- June 25, 2011: Lynchburg Parks & Recreation
- August 13, 2011: Sandy Bottom Nature Park in Hampton
- August 24, 2011: Charlottesville
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.
Virginia Trappers Host Annual Sports Show July 15-17 in Orange
The Virginia Trappers Association is hosting their annual Convention and Sportsmens Show at the Orange County Airport, near the town of Orange July 15-17. Whether you are an experienced or novice trapper, this event is one that you won't want to miss. There are workshops, exhibits, trapping supplies for sale and lots of experienced trappers to share information with you. The VTA Convention is a great place to meet with other trappers and VDGIF staff to learn about trapping regulations and gain additional trapping skills. For details visit the Virginia Trappers Association website or contact Art Foltz; email@example.com, (540) 630-1756 or Ed Crebbs; firstname.lastname@example.org, (540) 832-2708.
Mother & Daughter Outdoors Program Returns to Holiday Lake July 22-24
The Mother and Daughter Outdoors program is designed primarily for women. Held this year at the Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center in Appomattox, Friday, July 22, through Sunday, July 24, it provides an excellent opportunity for anyone 9 years of age and above to learn outdoor skills usually associated with hunting and fishing, but useful in a variety of outdoor pursuits. Registration deadline is July 1, 2011. View the Mother & Daughter Outdoors PDF for more information and registration form. For more information, contact Jimmy Mootz at 804-367-0656 or email@example.com.
AKC Hunt Test Retriever Seminar for Judges & Handlers July 30 in New Kent
The Tidewater Retriever Club will host an AKC Hunt Test Retriever Seminar for Judges & Handlers at the New Kent Forestry Center near Providence Forge Saturday, July 30. The program will be presented by AKC performance event staff and utilize multimedia demonstrations, lecture and group discussions. Subjects covered include: The purpose of Hunting Tests, Performance Standard for Junior, Senior and Master, Hunt Test Scoring, Guidelines for Judges of Hunt /tests, How to Apply and Conduct a Hunting Test, The responsibility of Key Personnel Involved, Gun Safety AND How to Handle Misconduct. Registration begins at 8:00 am with classes completed by 4:30 pm. Registration $45 for members and $50 for non-members. Seminar price includes light breakfast and lunch. Motel room style lodging is available at the New Kent Forestry Center @ $ 65 per night. Google New Kent Forestry Center for details of their Nature Trails, etc. Contact Linda M. Downey, TRC Secretary H- (804) 794-8212 C - (804) 837-9308 or email firstname.lastname@example.org in advance if you are interested in lodging. Although your retrievers will not be a part of the Seminar, if you have to bring them along, there are many shade areas for parking. Registration is due by June 30. AKC requires 20 attendees to schedule seminar - so register as soon as possible.
People and Partners in the News
CWF Volunteers Honored for Service in Shenandoah Valley Area
The VDGIF Region IV Verona office held its annual Complementary Work Force (CWF) appreciation luncheon on May 11. This day had been set aside to celebrate the accomplishments of the CWF volunteer and to say "thank you." for another year of volunteering their time and labor to assist Agency staff and programs. Bureau of Wildlife Services staff, Law Enforcement and others worked together to make sure all would be perfect for the event. The conference room was transformed into a banquet room as tables were covered and adorned with colorful irises. Serving tables were placed throughout the building and soon were filled with food brought in by all, including the CWF staff. The volunteers were given a warm welcome by Wanda Wilson, Regional CWF Coordinator, Verona office. They were then honored with a power point presentation, complete with music, composed by Karen Austin. The presentation featured photos of the volunteers hard at work during the past year. Words of appreciation were extended by Estella Randolph, VDGIF Volunteer Administrator; Captain Kevin Clarke; Rick Busch, Assistant Bureau Director Region IV; Jay Jeffreys, Upland Habitat Science Team Leader; Hank Tomlinson, CWD Technician, and Jason Hallacher, Fisheries Technician.
VDGIF Region 4 - Verona Office CWF Program Coordinator Wanda Wilson, in addition to Regional administrative duties, coordinates assignments and service records for more than 60 volunteers in a variety of activities and programs throughout the Shenandoah Valley area. From January through May this year, these valuable and dedicated volunteers have provided over 2000 hours of service to benefit the people and natural resources of the Commonwealth.
Frank Showalter and Bob Stover were honored with a gift and plaque for volunteering 1000 hours. Charlie Grady and Kenneth Hall were honored with a gift for volunteering 600 hours. Lots of laughter filled the building along with well deserved thanks, picture taking and stories of adventures and funny misadventures faced by the volunteers in the field. Everyone enjoyed the great food and camaraderie.
Established in 2007, CWF program volunteers work with VDGIF staff providing help with trout stocking, deer damage kill permit inspections, public use facilities maintenance, office administrative tasks, equipment inventory, vehicle transport, public exhibits, Kid's Fishing Days, and other VDGIF tasks.
For information on volunteer opportunities and application information contact VDGIF Complementary Work Force Program Volunteer Administrator Estella Randolph at the Richmond Headquarters via email: email@example.com.
Marvin Gautier Receives National Recognition for Wildlife Management Accomplishments
Marvin Gautier received the 2011 Joe Kurz Excellence in Wildlife Management Award, at the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) National Convention and Sport Show in Nashville in February. Marvin began his involvement with the VDGIF as a volunteer and part-time worker. He left a professional position and accepted a significant reduction in pay to come to work for the Department full-time as a wildlife manager in 1995. His responsibilities include managing habit at and facilities on the Big Survey, Crooked Creek and Stewarts Creek Wildlife Management Areas and the Radford Anny Arsenal and assistance on research projects, particularly those related to turkeys and black bear. He has developed a reputation as the Department's "go-to" expert for turkey information because of his experience trapping and transferring wild turkeys, attaching transmitters to the birds, and tracking them. He worked on the Department's study of hen survival from 1989-1994 and again on the 2008-2010 gobbler study where he utilized these skills. Marvin also has been instrumental in the success of the many Thanksgiving Day Restoration events and other restoration effort s in Virginia trapping nearly 100 birds for these releases.
Marvin was the first recipient of the NWTF Virginia State Chapter's Wildlife Manager of the Year Award and received this award for the exceptional dedication, enthusiasm, and innovation in his work. He designed and constructed remote detonating devices for turkey trapping efforts using his imagination and engineering background to design the devices from surplused material s from robotic deer decoys. On his own initiative, he also developed a solution to a problem with backpack transmitters falling off of juvenile birds by incorporating a shock cord harness that permitted a tighter fit but eventually disintegrated with time and growth of the birds.As James Earl Kennamer, NWTFs chief conservation officer stated when Marvin received the award" Marvin's dedication to conservation and his love for wildlife sets an incredible example for Virginia's citizens. Wild turkeys, bear and other wildlife have benefited directly because of Marvin's efforts, and Virginia's hunters and other wildlife enthusiasts are fortunate to have him in their state."
The Joe Kurz Excellence in Wildlife Management Award is named in honor of a former Georgia Dept. of Natural Resources chief for his leadership and vital role he played in improving wildlife management especially with developing successful trapping and transfer programs for wild turkeys used across North America.
Tom Moss Named NWTF VA State Chapter Wildlife Manager of the Year
Thomas "T" Moss was named the 2010 Wildlife Manager of the Year by the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), Virginia State Chapter. 'T' Moss has been employed by the VDGIF for 15 years where he works as the Wildlife Management Area Supervisor on the White Oak Mountain, Turkeycock Mountain and James River Wildlife Management Areas and on the Smith Mountain Cooperative Wildlife Management Area during which time he has extensively manipulated early successional and forested habitats to create nesting, brooding and escape cover for wild turkey, quail and other species. Thomas's professional skills, positive attitude and can-do spirit have resulted in extensive habitat management accomplishments that benefit the wild turkey and a host of other wildlife on all of these properties. On White Oak Mountain and James River, he has developed a strategy for managing early successional habitats using the tools of prescribed fire, aerial herbicide applications, disking, drum chopping and mulching. Annually, Thomas coordinates the controlled burning of several hundred acres and has created and maintains 40 acres of fire lines, planted to wheat and clover, which are used by turkey poults for bugging areas. Some old field sites are maintained on a multi-year planting/fallow rotation which also provides quality early-successional feeding, nesting and escape cover.
Hunters for the Hungry Announces Two New Fund Raising Raffles for 2011
Hunters for the Hungry has announced their newest 2011 Raffles that are very different in nature and have some of the neatest prizes they have ever offered at the best price going! A single ticket is $5 and 3 chances for $10. Fund Raising Coordinator Gary Arrington expressed appreciation to the many folks and organizations that have supported and helped with the raffles and other fund raisers in past years. He noted, "These funds raised are critical in paying for the processing of the donated venison and supporters continue to be a blessing to our program and to all those whose lives are touched by what you do! For every $5 ticket we sell we can provide 25 servings of venison to needy men, women, and children."
The Electronics Raffle has 5 GREAT prizes and is topped off with a $3,300 dollar package which includes LG 55" LED LCD HD flat scrren TV and has with it a Samsung 1330 watt 7.1 3d Blue Ray Home Theatre System! IT IS AN AWESOME PACKAGE OVERALL! Check it out! The total retail value of this raffle is $6,350.00!
Our Outdoor Adventure Raffle has a first ever TOP PRIZE! It is an ALASKAN FISHING ADVENTURE FOR 2 - it is about 10 days with about 7 days of fishing, meals, lodging, and AIRFARE! To be scheduled in 2012! This trip packageit is over $6,000 in value!
The total value of the whole raffle including the hunts and the fishing trip is about $11,400! To view the actual photos of the electronics package items, check out the website at www.h4hungry.org and if you would like to purchase some of these tickets and / or would like to help us sell some of these please let us know! We could so use your support in these special fund raising efforts!
Ft. Lee SCTP Skeet Shooting Team Wins State Skeet Championships
Coach Jeff Atkins proudly reports that the Ft. Lee Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP) Skeet Shooting Team took first place June 5 in the Virginia State Skeet Championships. Lucas Meredith, shot a 97 out of a possible 100; Corey Shornak shot a 95 out of 100; Kevin Christiansen shot 93 out of 100; and Alex Murray shot 80 out of 100! Lucas, Corey and Kevin are from Chesterfield County and Alex is from Charlotte County. Coach Atkins proudly noted, "This is a great group of young men, dedicated to excellence and should do well at the Nationals." The SCTP competition is organized and funded by the National Shooting Sports Foundation. The Ft. Lee Dusters would like to thank Sussex Sporting Clays and the shooters that came out and supported their Fundraising Funshoot on June 12th.The event raised $1500 to help the team go to the S.C.T.P. Nationals in Sparta, Illinois, in July to compete in Sporting Clays, Skeet and Trap competitions.
Virginia Tourism Corporation Offers Popular Website To Promote Outdoor Events & Activities
With the summer vacation season heating up, thousands of visitors will be looking for outdoor adventures throughout the state. The Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) encourages everyone who has an event, workshop or outdoor-related activity to post it to the official tourism website of Virginia -- www.Virginia.org. This is a free service offered by VTC. Virginia.org is very popular with both in-state outdoor enthusiasts and out-of-state visitors interested in vacationing and seeking outdoor adventures here in the Old Dominion. Dave Neudeck, Director of Electronic Marketing for VTC, notes that the Virginia.org website attracts approximately 500,000 viewers per month.
The events or workshops need to be open to the public and should be something in which the traveling public can participate. Log in to the new Virginia.org Administration Tool to submit a new listing or update existing listings.
Virginia Wheelin' Sportsmen Host Events in Summer
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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:
- More than a dozen local Virginia Chapter National Wild Turkey Federation (VA NWTF) Chapters will be hosting fund raising events and skill building workshops throughout the summer months. Funds raised at these events are used locally by the volunteers to enhance habitat, access to hunting lands, support law enforcement, the Wildlife Crime Line and Rewards Program and fund research to improve wildlife management. For details on these upcoming events and how you can participate visit their website: www.vanwtf.com.
- Hunters – Remember to donate to Hunters for the Hungry when you purchase your hunting licenses this season. The traditional $2 donation check-off option has been changed to allow you to donate any amount. Many sportsmen and hunt clubs are recommending at least $5. With all the news about the poor economy many of our neighbors are experiencing hard times. Show that hunters are supportive of those in need in our local communities. Not only share your deer harvest, but provide some much needed funds to pay for the cost of the processing of this abundant resource by donating $5 when you purchase your licenses. To learn more on how Hunters for the Hungry is helping neighbors in need feed their families with nutritious, high protein venison, visit their website: www.h4hungry.org. Also learn how you can help by donating deer, raising funds and the location of meat processors to donate your deer harvest. More than 4 million pounds of venison have been distributed since 1991. Help them raise the funds to process their goal of 500,000 pounds this year.
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...
VA Museum of Natural History Features Living off the Land Exhibit in Martinsville
Looking for an interesting, educational, historical, affordable and FUN vacation trip for the family this summer... the new Living off the Land exhibit at the Virginia Museum of Natural History in Martinsville can fulfill all those qualities and more. With the VMNH Summer Discovery 2011 Program, the museum is offering discounted admission rates, discounts on new memberships, and special Sunday openings through September 4, 2011. Details are available online.
The Living off the Land exhibit shows the many ways in which humans depend on nature for a wealth of resources and economic, recreational and aesthetic benefits. The exhibit includes information about Virginia's wildlife, modern and ancient hunting and fishing methods, and the evolution of hunting firearms.
The Living off the Land exhibit includes several rare and fascinating elements, including a collection of trophy deer mounts on loan from the family of the late Tom Fleenor, a longtime VMNH volunteer. Also included is a large collection of historic firearms loaned to the museum by Dr. Mervyn King, an avid collector and member of the museum's Board of Trustees. The exhibit includes a variety of information and displays highlighting fishing, hunting, and other outdoor activities in Virginia, with items on loan from the National Wild Turkey Foundation, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, the Virginia Trappers Association, Orvis, Ducks Unlimited, Trout Unlimited, and other individuals and organizations.
For information about other attractions in the Martinsville – Southside Virginia area visit www.virginia.org. Special credit to Lee Walker, VDGIF Director of Outreach for creative assistance in developing the Living off the Land exhibit and the photographs taken during the grand opening.
Hunting News You Can Use
The following notes are quick reminders of things you may have overlooked in getting ready for hunting season, or reports of interest compiled from numerous calls we received recently at our information desk.
Safety and courtesy are free, share them generously
Apply for 2011 – 2012 Quota Hunts July 1
For the 2011 – 2012 hunting season, there are 35 quota hunt opportunities to take black bear, feral hogs, quail, rabbits, turkeys, waterfowl, and white-tailed deer. Beginning July 1, 2011, hunters may apply by mail, telephone or online. For telephone application call: 1 - 877 - VAHUNTS (1/877-824-8687). For online application go to: www.HuntFishVA.com
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.
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 email@example.com 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
In the Miller Family Everybody Gets to Hunt!!
Jason Miller sent us these great photos and story of their families spring gobbler hunt...
Our family has been hunting together for many years now. My daughter, Delanie, harvested her first turkey 3 years ago. My son, Dakota, harvested his turkey last year and so it was my wife, Renee's turn this year.
We have been hunting hard sense the opening of Spring Gobbler season. We have herd turkeys every weekend, but just couldn't get them to respond to the calls. It was Saturday May 7, as we parked the truck on a Nelson County ridge top over looking a clearcut that we have herd several turkey earlier in the season. As we all gathered our stuff and sprayed down with bug spray with the anticipation of hearing a gobbler, we heard the first crows just as the skyline appeared with that orange glow of a new day.
Soon after the crows began to sing we hear a gobble off to our left and then another off to the right. They both gobbled good, the one to our left was closer so we decided to go after him. After walking down an old logging road we quickly set up about 100 yards from him. It wasn't long and we hear the beating of wings as he flew down from his roost. I made some soft clucks and purrs and nothing. After about 10 minutes, I called again and nothing, he never gobbled again.
We walked and covered as much ground as we could. It was around 10:30 and we decided to go back to the area where we sat up on the turkey earlier. I called and we hear a gobble but not close. We walked in the direction that we hear the gobble and called again, he cut us off. So we quickly set up along the old logging road, my wife and I on the left and Dakota and Delanie on the right. I called again and "Gobbbbllleee"!! I told Renee, get ready he's coming. Soon we could just see the tail feathers of a strutter appear out of shotgun range down the road. It was a long beard and two Jake's quickly making there way toward us. Renee said, 'tell me when I can shoot', I whispered back, 'just keep him in your sights'. As the gobbler strutted into shotgun range of her trusty Mossburg 12 guage, I said ',shoot when he sticks his head up... BOOM!!! I didn't get to finish the sentence. Dakota and I ran down the road to recover the gobbler and Delanie ran and gave her mom a big hug. What a nice bird, the gobbler weighed 19 lb., with a 9 inch beard and 1 inch spurs. All I could do is thank the Lord and say wow!! What a hunt! What a great tradition we have created for our family and wonderful memories to cherish.
Virginia Receives $75,000 Grant from NSSF to Promote Hunting
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries has been awarded a grant for $75,000 from the National Shooting Sports Foundation to expand opportunities for hunters.
The state is one of nine to receive funding from NSSF through its Hunting Heritage Partnership program. NSSF, the trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting-sports industry, has provided more than $4.3 million in grants to 38 state agencies over the past nine years to support programs that promote hunting and target shooting.
The agency will take the lead on a multi-state research project that will determine the motivations of apprentice-hunting license holders for obtaining a first-time license; their expectations related to hunting; and their satisfaction with their hunting experiences. Research from Virginia, Alabama, Kentucky, Georgia and South Carolina will be part of the project. Such information can be used by state agencies to help encourage apprentice license holders to become active hunters.
"The apprentice hunting license is a great tool to recruit new hunters, and Virginia is very pleased to have the opportunity to enhance the value of this popular program," said Bob Duncan, executive director of VDGIF. "We look forward to working with our partner states and Mark Duda with Responsive Management to focus on the challenges of removing barriers to hunting and identifying ways to secure the future of our rich hunting heritage." Responsive Management is a Harrisonburg-based outdoor recreation research firm.
NSSF developed the Hunting Heritage Partnership grant program to assist state agencies nationwide in their attempts to help hunters locate land on which to hunt and easily access state hunting information plus encourage newcomers to start and then continue hunting.
"NSSF grants to state agencies are making a difference," said Chris Dolnack, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of NSSF. "Programs are being launched to benefit hunting and target shooting that otherwise might never have gotten off the ground in these challenging economic times." The grant program is helping NSSF fulfill its goal of increasing participation in hunting and target shooting by 20 percent by 2014.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation is the trade association for the firearms industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of more than 6,000 manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen's organizations and publishers. For more information, log on to www.nssf.org. NSSF is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2011. Learn about the Foundation's history at www.nssf.org/50.
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.
Licensed adults who take a novice hunting with an Apprentice License should be vigilant to ensure that hunting safety rules are followed at all times. It is best if the licensed adult does not carry a loaded firearm, so that the focus can stay on the apprentice. Teach new hunters to be safe from the start!
There are youth and family-friendly events throughout the year 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your locality in the e-mail.
Be Safe... Have Fun!
Planning and Preparation Needed for Safe Summer Adventures
Skeeters, ticks, and snakes, oh my! If you stop to think about all the critters and conditions that can possibly make your summer outdoor activities miserable, you may make a big mistake and stay home. With a little planning, preparation, and the proper gear, you can minimize the discomforts that come with any outdoor adventure. The old saying "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," relates directly to you and your outdoor plans. There are some basic safety precautions directly related to summer heat and critter activity that warrant your attention. This article is based on my experiences, including mistakes, the past 30 years camping, canoeing, fishing, and exploring our wonderful wild places.
David Coffman, Editor
Clothing: dress for the conditions you plan to encounter, then take additional items in case conditions change. Consider wearing pants that have the zip-off legs to give some protection in case you encounter brush, poison ivy (leaflets three, let it be!), or ticks. Same advice for shirts - take a long sleeve - it may get cooler if out after sunset. Wear light colors, they are cooler and do not attract mosquitoes like dark shades. Carry a small folding poncho for sudden downpours. Wear a hat to provide shade. Use sunscreen, even if you already have your tan.
Water: have plenty of liquids to prevent dehydration. As an Eagle Scout, the motto "Be Prepared" has helped me and my companions out of unforeseen circumstances on many occasions. I offer a personal tip for long drives. Always take a cooler with ice and a variety of liquid refreshments in your vehicle on any trip 5 miles or 500. With heavy traffic just about anywhere you go these days, a traffic stopping incident, or breakdown may strand you for hours, miles away from any refreshment. Keep a couple of bottles of water, or sports drink, and some packaged snacks in your vehicle just in case. You may just make someone's day, including your own. Be aware of the symptoms of heat stroke and heat exhaustion - these conditions can kill. Keep hydrated and do not over do it. Know your physical limits. Rest or get in shade to prevent heat stress
Critters: wear insect repellant. There are many kinds on the market, so read up on benefits and precautions of the various kinds. Note the proper method to remove ticks (PDF) to prevent infection. If you happen to encounter a snake, it's best to leave it alone. Many species of snakes, including venomous ones, are very beneficial to humans. Snakes are not aggressive and only bite in self defense, or if provoked. If bitten by a venomous snake, stay calm and seek medical attention immediately. Most venomous snake bites in Virginia only result in some swelling and discomfort. Bee, wasp, and hornet stings pose a greater risk, especially if you are allergic to them. If you are allergic, keep the proper medications with you, and tell your companions in case you need medical assistance. Rabies gets a lot of attention in the summer. If during the daytime, you see a fox, raccoon, or other mammal that is normally nocturnal and elusive acting aggressively or strangely, keep away. Contact local animal control authorities or the police immediately with the location of the animal
Finally, always let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return. These days with cell phones, SUVs, and GPS, we have gotten somewhat complacent on this basic safety rule. Murphy's Law is lurking out there - no cellular signal, dead batteries, twisted an ankle - insert your own excuse here. No wildland adventure is without some risk - it's why we call it "wild" and part of the appeal of venturing outdoors! If you take simple steps to be prepared, have the proper gear for the conditions and take basic safety precautions, you optimize your chances for a great wildland experience. Now go out there and have fun, seek adventure, respect and enjoy our great wild places.
This weekend, as part of Operation Dry Water, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Conservation Police Officers are intensifying efforts to detect and deter boat operators who are operating under the influence of alcohol or dangerous drugs. Learn more »
Be a Safe Boater - Remember Life Jackets Save Lives
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.
Review the article, "Does Your Lifejacket Really Fit?" in the Fishin' Report section.
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.
"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.
State Parks Want YOU to be in "Tree Army"
This is our third year participating in the Odwalla Tree Planting promotion, the fourth year that Odwalla has donated money to America's State Parks to help them buy trees. So far Odwalla has donated $350,000. Nancy Heltman, Director of Operations for Virginia State Parks notes that, "This year their plan is to donate $100,000 more. We want as much of that donation to come to Virginia State Parks as possible and you can help. This is our 75th anniversary and our original six parks and four others were developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Another name for the CCC was Roosevelt's Tree Army." As you know, this is our 75th anniversary and our original six parks and four others were developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Another name for the CCC was Roosevelt's Tree Army.
All you have to do is Click Here To Vote and then provide the requested authorization information. Odwalla does not use this information to spam you or sell a list with your information. It's just to keep people from cheating by setting up web bots to vote.
Virginia State Parks use the trees to beautify our parks, add screening between campsites, replace trees lost from storm damage or disease, and to discourage the public from making unofficial trails that threaten sensitive habitat. We use our dedicated corps of volunteers to plant the trees. To get an idea of what we do with the trees, Check Out This Video we made to help convince people to plant trees in our Virginia State Parks. If we just got every Twitter follower, eNews subscriber and Facebook Fan to plant one tree, we would do better than the last two years combined!
When you visit one of our parks and get the new Welcome Map, look for the Odwalla ad. There will be a secret code that will give you the opportunity to plant another tree. And be on the lookout as last year Odwalla came back and let folks plant more trees. We will let you know if that happens!
If You Find a Fawn, Leave it Alone!
It's that time of year again when white-tailed deer fawns are showing up in yards and fields and concerned citizens want to know how to help. In almost all cases, the best way to help is to simply give the fawn space and leave it alone. By giving it a wide berth, you also reduce the risk of inadvertently leading dogs and other predators to the hidden fawn. The white-spotted coat camouflages a fawn as it lies motionless in vegetation. Fawns, born from April through July, are purposely left alone by their mothers. Female deer, called does, stay away from the fawns to avoid leading predators to their location. They will return several times each day to move and/or feed their young. You probably will not see the doe at all since she only stays to feed the fawn for just a very few minutes before leaving it alone again.
Concerned people sometimes pick up animals that they think are orphaned. Most such "orphans" that good-intentioned citizens "rescue" every spring should have been left alone. Most wild animals are dedicated parents and will not abandon their young, but they do leave them alone for long periods of time while looking for food. If a fawn or rabbit has been "rescued" when it shouldn't have been, it can often be released at the same location. Parents tend to remain in the area for at least a day, looking for the lost youngster.
If a wild animal has been injured or truly orphaned, do not take matters into your own hands. You may contact a licensed rehabilitator by visiting the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) website. Raising a wild animal in captivity is illegal unless you have a state permit. Besides, each animal's nutritional, housing, and handling requirements are very specific and must be met if they have any chance of survival.
Virginia's Newest Wildlife Conservationist Bluebird License Plate Now Available
Motorists in Virginia have a new opportunity to show how much they care about Virginia's wildlife by being one of the first to drive away with the latest in the series of Virginia Wildlife Conservationist License Plates, The Bluebird of Happiness. Not only will drivers have a chance to show everyone they care about wildlife, but they will also help increase public awareness about the importance of preserving and protecting Virginia's diverse natural resources. After the first 1,000 Bluebird plates have been purchased, the VDGIF will receive $15 of the $25 additional annual fee. In 2010, the Wildlife Conservationist License Plate series generated $369,420 for VDGIF's conservation efforts. The proceeds are reinvested in wildlife management, research, educational programs, and for purchasing public lands that benefit all wildlife while assuring that outdoor opportunities such as hunting, fishing, hiking, boating, and wildlife watching will be enjoyed by Virginians and by future generations.
The artwork for the new Bluebird Wildlife Conservationist License Plate was painted by nationally-renowned wildlife artist and conservationist Spike Knuth. As far back as the 1950s, Spike has had an eye for painting birds in their natural habitat. Spike has five state waterfowl duck stamps to his credit. After 29 years of service, he retired from VDGIF where his paintings, writings and photography highlighted the beauty of the wildlife and nature in a multitude of publications, including Virginia Wildlife Magazine, the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail guides, posters, and brochures. He has donated more than 460 original paintings and nearly 100 prints to Ducks Unlimited and other conservation organizations to support fundraising efforts.
VDGIF Executive Director and avid birder Bob Duncan predicts "the Bluebird of Happiness – the eighth in the Wildlife Conservationist License Plate series – will be one of our best-selling plates." Since 1991, the VDGIF and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) have worked hand-in-hand to develop the very popular series of wildlife license plates. The complete wildlife series includes Mallard Duck, White-Tailed Deer, Largemouth Bass, Brook Trout, Wild Turkey, Black Bear, and Bald Eagle. All are currently available through DMV offices.
The Virginia Bluebird Society, a VDGIF conservation partner, was thrilled to hear of this addition to the Conservationist License Plate series. "The Bluebird is emblematic of conservation success in Virginia and this plate celebrates that success," said Anne Little, President of the Virginia Bluebird Society. To date, with the support of DGIF, the VBS has helped to fledge over 158,000 cavity nesting birds through their Bluebird Box Trails.
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.
Snakes: Splendor in the Grass
Snakes have been the focal point of folklore for centuries. From the hoop snake that sticks its tail into its mouth and rolls after you to snakes that hypnotize their prey. No other group of animals has suffered more from negative misinformation than snakes. In fact, snakes are some of the most fascinating and beneficial creatures on the planet. The benefits range from the thrill of a chance encounter while on a walk in the woods to the consumption of thousands of rodents that may potentially cause millions of dollars in agricultural damage every year. Their benefits to us and the ecosystem they inhabit are some of the reasons it is illegal in Virginia to intentionally kill snakes.
Generally speaking, snakes are very reclusive and timid. Many species of snakes will not even attempt to bite when handled. Of the 30 species in Virginia, only 3 are venomous: copperhead, cottonmouth and timber rattlesnake. All three of which are considered docile, unless provoked. Copperhead bites are by far the most common venomous snake bite in Virginia. However, in the 30 years that the Virginia Department of Health has been keeping records on venomous snake bites, no one has ever died from a copperhead bite. Copperhead bites often only result in mild inflammation and discomfort.
If you do encounter a snake in the woods, simply leave it alone, it'll get out of your way or you can walk around it. SNAKES DO NOT CHASE PEOPLE. Here are a few tips to avoid the possibility of being bitten when hiking in the woods:
- Stay on the trail.
- Watch where you place your hands and feet, and where you sit down.
- Do not attempt to capture snakes.
If you are bitten by a venomous snake, stay calm and seek immediate medical attention. None of Virginia's venomous snakes are considered to be highly lethal, but medical attention is necessary for all venomous snake bites.
If you are lucky enough to encounter a snake while enjoying the outdoors; step back and watch a moment. Notice the way the sunlight reflects off the scales and the incredible way a snake can glide off into the leaves barely making a sound. Unless cornered the snake is going to slip away as quick as it can.
To learn more... A Guide to the Snakes of Virginia, one of VDGIF's most popular publications since its 2001 release. This 32-page full-color booklet, co-authored and illustrated by Mike Pinder, our Region 3 Wildlife Diversity Manager, presents all of Virginia's 30 species of snakes in an attractive and educational "field-guide" format. It also includes snakebite information, provides answers to frequently asked questions about snakes, and suggests what you can do to protect or control snakes in your yard and home. Finally, it summarizes snake conservation and management issues, and offers ways you can help protect these fascinating animals. Single copies of the guide can be picked up free of charge at the Department's regional offices; or copies may be purchased online through the VDGIF Outdoor Catalogue for $5.00 each, or in cases of 60 copies for $150 per case.
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 July:
- How far can a striped skunk spray its 'oderific' liquid from the glands near it's tail?
- Skunks being mostly nocturnal, when is the Full Moon in July? Are skunks more active then??
Answers to June 8th edition quiz for nature events for late June...
- What Day does Summer officially begin? June 21, 2011. What natural occurrence sets this date? The Summer Soltice, the first day of the summer season is the day of the year when the Sun is farthest north (on June 20th or 21st).
- Why are raccoons noted for washing their food before eating? There are two theories on this 'habit'... first, that raccoons feel their food with their feet, and when wet, their feet are more sensitive. Second, raccoons are lacking in saliva and therefore need their food to be wet.
Get your copy of the 2011 Virginia Wildlife Calendar here.
Habitat Improvement Tips
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...
- How do you encourage a bear that's hanging around to move on?
- What should you do if you see a bear on your property?
- How can I learn more about bears in Virginia?
- Living with Bears in Virginia, a video produced by VDGIF provides tips for peacefully coexisting with bears and other useful links to bear information.
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.
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:
- Andy Rosenberger – Christiansburg – (540) 381-4221 ext. 128
- Katie Baker Martin – Farmville – (434) 392-4171 ext. 106
- Debbie Wright – Verona – (540) 248-6218 ext.108
- Mike Budd – Fredericksburg – (540) 899-9492 ext. 101
- Vacant – Smithfield – (757) 357-7004 ext. 126
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.|
VDGIF Dispatch critical link to CPOs and citizens for timely information and safety...
The official beginning of boating season arrived providing us with hot steamy weather that created a significant number of people on the waterways statewide. Not to mention the bear, baby deer, and injured animal calls.
Dispatch handled over 932 telephone calls that related to various questions/complaints/violations; and over 1536 radio transmissions from officers requesting or providing information. Many of those calls were handled directly by the Dispatcher in answering simple wildlife related questions.
Below are calls for service that were entered/monitored in CAD:
|26||Boat Accident/Drowning/Sinking/Distress and Abandoned boat related calls|
|13||Fishing violation complaints|
|8||Boating violation complaints|
|8||Hunting violation complaints|
|5||DGIF property complaints (Violate Posted Rules)|
|31||Wildlife Injured/Sick/Nuisance or Damage notifications|
|408||CPO Patrols (Boat/Foot/Special/Check Points)|
|52||Traffic Stops and Mutual Aid requests/services|
|2||Contamination of Waterway/Fish Kill notices|
|4||Media call requests|
|7||Questions/Call back requests|
|8||CPO Education and Inspection events|
In addition, a total of 225 subjects and 136 Vehicles/Boats/Trailers were checked; this number only reflects what Dispatchers actually ran and checked at a CPO's requests and does not include what sworn field officers ran through their MDT(s).
Region I - Tidewater
Serving and protecting rain or shine... On May 28, 2011 District 14 and District 15 Conservation Police Officer's conducted a BUI checkpoint on the Chickahominy River. They were almost run off the water by thunderstorms, but ran the checkpoint anyway. There was very light boat traffic, but they managed to check 14 boats and made 2 BUI arrests and issued 5 summons for boating safety equipment and registration violations.
Boaters Injured during launch rescued by Alert CPOs... On May 28, 2011, while conducting a boat patrol in Hull Creek in Northumberland County, Conservation Police Officer's Ken Williams and Tyler Bumgarner observed a pickup truck partially submerged up to its headlights at a private boat ramp. The officers also observed two men on land that were obviously injured. The officers immediately responded and found an 85 year old male with a broken arm and his 47 year old son with a deep laceration to his thigh. The officers provided basic first aid to their wounds until the rescue squad arrived. The injured men stated that they received their injuries while attempting to launch their boat. The son backed the trailer to the water and applied the vehicle's emergency brake and then climbed into the boat. The 85 year old father then entered the vehicle to back the boat further into the water in order to launch the boat. The father put the vehicle into reverse, but could not figure out how to release the emergency brake. The son exited the boat to assist when the father found the brake release while standing outside the vehicle, which was still in reverse. The vehicle moved backwards running over the arm of the father. The driver door caught the son in the thigh, slicing it to the bone.
Careless tube towing leads to severe injury to child... May 29, 2011, Senior Conservation Police Officer Frank Spuchesi and Officer Tyler Bumgarner responded to a boat accident with injury in Nomini Creek in Westmoreland County. A father was towing his 9 year old son in a tube with the child's aunt as an observer. The boat entered under a bridge at approximately 20 miles per hour, when the tube struck one of the bridge pilings. The 9 year old child suffered severe head trauma and was airlifted to MCV hospital. As of May 30th the child was listed as critical, but in stabile condition. The investigation into the incident is continuing.
During the Memorial Day weekend District 11 officers inspected a total of 20 personal watercraft, and issued 8 summonses to operators for failing to comply with the boater safety course requirement.
BUI a No! No! in a No Wake Zone... On Saturday, June 11, 2011, Senior Conservation Police Officer Frank Spuchesi and CPO Tyler Bumgarner were conducting a boat patrol in Monroe Creek in the town of Colonial Beach in Westmoreland County. The patrol was to monitor increased boat traffic resulting from the annual Potomac River Festival. At approximately 20:30 hours a boat entered the creek's no wake zone at an unsafe speed. The officers stopped the boat and observed over a dozen empty beer bottles on the deck of the boat. The operator appeared to be under the influence of alcohol and field sobriety tests were conducted and as a result the operator was arrested for BUI and his final BAC was a .10. The operator was charged with BUI and violation of the no wake zone.
Region II - Southside
"Fishing is Fun" kid's day big success... On Saturday, June 4, Senior Conservation Police Officer Brett Saunders held the Twelfth Annual Fort Picket "Fishing is Fun Day". Co-sponsored by the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries and Fort Pickett, this year's event was the biggest to date, with more than a 35% rise in attendance over the average of the last few years. Each year catfish are stocked for the event, which introduces local children and their families to the sport of fishing. In addition to the fishing, lunch is provided by Fort Pickett and prizes are donated by a local bank.
Region III - Southwest
Drowning victim recovered by intense cooperative efforts of volunteer and law enforcement teams... On Sunday May 29, 2011, Conservation Police Officers Jim Anders and Mark Brewer were advised of a possible drowning at McCoy Falls in Giles County. Upon arrival the Officers were advised that a male subject had been observed wading toward the shore when he went under and never resurfaced. Rescue Crews were on scene and a search and recovery effort was started. Officers Anders and Brewer provided support to the divers and Recovery Crews. The search was called off late in the evening without a successful recovery. On Monday May 30, 2011, Conservation Police Officers Jim Anders and Gene Wirt provided assistance again to the Recovery Crews and Divers. The VSP was on scene with the side scanning sonar and Divers from six different agencies were present to recover the victim. After three hours of searching the body was located in a "hot" spot, that the sonar had hit on earlier. The victim was recovered and loaded onto CPO Anders and Wirt's patrol boat and taken to the shore for transport to Giles Community Hospital. Agencies assisting with the Search and Recovery were Giles County Rescue Squad, Long Shop McCoy Rescue, VSP, Wythe County Sheriff's Department, Virginia Tech and DGIF.
Squirrel hunter caught in closed WMA... On June 4, 2011, Senior Officer Dan Hall and Sergeant Jamie Davis were on patrol at Hidden Valley Wildlife Management Area in Washington County. As the officers entered the parking area of the dam, they observed several subjects fishing at the edge of the dam. One of the subjects was holding a beer can in his hand and upon seeing the officers, put it behind a cooler. After making contact with the subject, an interview was initiated. The subject admitted that the beer cans were his. The cooler was found to contain several alcoholic beverages. The subject was issued a summons by Senior Officer Hall for violation of posted regulations / public display of alcoholic beverages. During the officers' departure from the management area, Sergeant Davis observed a subject walking out of the woods with a dog. Making contact with the subject, Sergeant Davis found that the subject was squirrel hunting on the management area on the opening day of the spring season. The subject walked back into the woods and returned with a loaded Crossman pellet rifle. The subject had laid the pellet rifle down upon observing the officers' approach. Senior Officer Hall performed a brief interview with the subject, who advised he thought that the squirrel season was open on the management area since he had read it on the Department website. Senior Officer Hall advised the subject that the nearest wildlife management area that has a spring squirrel season is the Big Survey, located approximately 75 miles to the southeast. The dog accompanying the subject was determined to be a Mountain Cur that the subject used to hunt squirrels. The subject was issued a summons for hunting squirrel during closed season on Hidden Valley Wildlife Management Area.
Parent cited on underage PWC operation... On June 6, 2011, Senior Conservation Police Officers R.A. Salyers and D.L. Austin were on patrol at South Holston Lake. The officers observed two PWCs that appeared to be operated by underage operators. Upon making contact with the subjects as they pulled into a dock, it was determined that the operators were 10 and 12 years of age. The father was present on the dock and was given information on requirements for PWC operation and was also issued a summons for allowing underage operation of PWC.
Memorial Day weekend busy time for CPOs on New River... During the Memorial Day Weekend District 32 Officers responded to four boater rescue calls on the New River and recovered one drowning victim. On May 30, 2011 Sgt. Rolland Cox, Senior Officer Randy Hurst, and Officer George Shupe responded to a report of a body floating in the Byllesby section of New River. The victim was identified several days later and it was determined that he had drowned while trying to wade across the river. Sergeant Cox, Senior Officer Billings, and Office Shupe than responded to a call concerning missing tubers near Veteran's Bridge in Grayson County. At the scene they spoke with the parents of the missing persons and learned a tube went flat and they had last seen the father and son floating down the river. A quick search of the area was conducted by the Grayson County Sheriffs Office and the tubers were located without harm after a group of kayakers assisted them to safety. May 31, 2011 was no different. While patrolling up the New River Trail, Officer Shupe noticed several items floating down the river at Double Shoals just below the town of Fries. Bikers on the trail stopped the officer and advised him that two canoes had tuned over in the difficult rapids. Officer Shupe grabbed his throw bag and noticed a female holding a type IV throw device floating through the rapids. The Officer Shupe threw the bag to her and was able to pull her to shore without incident. The remaining people in the river recovered one of the canoes and got to shore safely. After clearing from that call Officer Shupe received yet another call in Wythe County at Foster Falls State Park concerning personal items floating down the river and no sign of the paddlers. Officer Shupe followed the State Park Rescue Team to the location and once on scene, it was determine that the Wythe County Sheriffs Office had rescued the victims without injury. All the incidents were a result of higher water levels than usual.
Region IV - Mountains & Shenandoah Valley – Northern Piedmont
Middle School students learn about conservation from CPOs... May 10th and 11th District 41 Conservation Police Officers, Keith Crider, Chance Dobbs, Ray Solomon, Kevin Bilwin, and Sgt. Carl Martin participated in Conservation Awareness Day at the four Frederick County Middle Schools. Conservation Awareness Day is an annual event organized by the Virginia Cooperative Extension. The program is intended to make students aware of the need for conservation of our natural resources, as well as providing students with an idea of professions available in the natural resources field. District 41 CPO's conducted 7-9, 13-minute programs per school on topics such as conservation, hunting/fishing laws and regulations, effects of littering, boating safety, and duties of a Conservation Police Officer. The programs reached approximately 930 students at Admiral Byrd Middle School, James Wood Middle School, Frederick County Middle School, and Robert E. Aylor Middle School.
CPOs encountered numerous violations over the Memorial Day weekend... The officers in District 42 worked long hours patrolling the lakes, rivers, and woodlands in the district. A total of 66 violations were detected and charges placed. These violations included charges for No PFDs on a watercraft, No Fishing License, No Trout License, No Forest Stamp, Possess Loaded Firearm on NF, Possession of Controlled Substance and various other charges. An altered fishing license was seized and a follow-up investigation to be conducted. Numerous warnings were also given for various charges. A multitude of canoes and kayaks were observed on the South Fork Shenandoah(100+) with maybe 5% having a fishing pole on board. Excellent work was performed by all officers in the district.
Drunk boater endangers safety and river fun for others... On Monday afternoon May 30, Conservation Police Officers R. Grauer and M. DiLuigi were on boat patrol in Pohick Creek when they were flagged down by some boaters near Gunston Hall. They were advised that a boat pulling a tube was operating recklessly near their anchored boats and people in the water. The officers watched the boat zigzagging back and forth while heading toward Pohick Regional Park. The vessel stopped and began pulling in the tube so the officers approached the vessel. As a safety check began, it became obvious that the operator might be under the influence of alcoholic beverages or drugs. Officer Grauer conducted Field Sobriety Tests which were performed poorly. The operator was brought into the patrol boat and placed under arrest. The operator blew a .13 on the Breathalyzer at Fairfax ADC and was charged accordingly.
Summons issued for undersized striped bass... During the month of May, District 45 officers had been receiving complaints from citizens in reference to individuals keeping undersized striped bass that were being caught in the Rappahannock River, in the City of Fredericksburg. Due to these complaints, Sergeant Shuler and Officer Eller planned a plain clothes canoe patrol along the Rappahannock to target this activity. On May 30th, Sergeant Shuler and Officer Eller set out on patrol in their canoe. During the course of the patrol they made contact with a large group of anglers, canoeist and kayakers. Once they entered the city they encountered a large group of fishermen in the area of the Route 1 Bridge. While conducting surveillance from their canoe, they observed a male subject fighting a fish from the bank. Once the subject had landed the fish, the officers made contact with the individual and found that he had just caught an under sized striped bass. Upon speaking with the individual, they located a second under sized striped bass that was being concealed in a cooler. At this point Officer Eller advised the subject to release the fish he had just caught. Once the fish was released he advised the subject of the violation and issued him a summons for the under sized fish and fishing without a license. In total, seven summonses were issued that day and a crime line complaint was successfully handled.
K-9 "Justice" locates lost couple... On Saturday, May 7th Conservation Police Officer's Billy Angle, Robert Ham, Tony McFaddin, K-9 Officer Wayne Billhimer, and K-9 Justice responded to a call for assistance from a man and woman that were lost after riding through the woods on a UTV off of Rich Patch Road in Alleghany County. Once on the scene, the officers found where the UTV entered the woods and put K-9 Justice to work. K-9 Justice led K-9 Officer Billhimer and Officer Ham up a steep mountain side and directly to the couple. K-9 Justice's efforts very quickly brought the situation to an end and kept approximately 20 officers, fire fighters, and rescue workers from having to search around the mountain side for hours and freed them up to be available for other calls for service.
Come meet the K-9 Team... Come meet K-9 'Justice' and the rest of the new K-9 Team at the Richmond Squirrels Baseball game Friday June 24 at the Diamond in Richmond... for details see feature story.
New Wildlife K-9 Team Pilot Program Needs Your Support
VDGIF Director Law Enforcement, Colonel Dabney W. "Dee" Watts, Jr. introduced the new Wildlife K-9 Team Pilot Program to the Board of Game and Inland Fisheries at their June meeting making the following presentation.
"Initially three officers were selected to become K-9 handlers and they, along with 3 dogs were sent to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources' K-9 school. This was an intense and physically demanding eight week training course that all three handlers completed successfully. They were trained in tracking, wildlife detection and evidence recovery. They were graduated from the academy on April 22 and returned to Virginia to begin the Pilot program. The members of the new K-9 are: from Portsmouth in Tidewater region, K-9 Officer Megan Vick and her partner Jake; from Appomattox County in Central Virginia, K-9 Officer Richard Howald and his partner Scout; and from Rockingham County in Western Virginia, K-9 Officer Wayne Billhimer and his partner Justice. I would like to point out that although our three handlers successfully completed the academy, that was not the case with the original three dogs we sent from Virginia. Jake was the only Virginia dog to graduate. Our other two dogs washed out within the first week to 10 days. However the state of Kansas had sent two officers and four dogs to the academy also and through the generosity of the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Scout and Justice, were provided to Officers Howald and Billhimer to complete the academy. In the 6 weeks since their return to Virginia our canine team has been extremely active in demonstrating the benefit they will be to the agency.
It is our hope to fund this new agency program through donations made by individuals, businesses and wildlife organizations. In fact all three of our original dogs, as well as the 2 dogs from Kansas, were donated either by individuals or animal shelters. Through the efforts of VDGIF employee Tom Wilcox and Jenny West, Director of the Wildlife Foundation of Virginia, the Wildlife Foundation has agreed to accept and manage monetary donations made to the Department's K-9 program. Information on how to donate will be provided on both the Foundation and Department websites. In addition Lee Walker, Director of Outreach, has arranged for the printing of trading cards with a picture of each canine unit on the front and a brief introduction of each officer and his or her dog on the back along with information on how to donate to the program. These cards will be handed out at all public events attended by one of our canine units.
We have already had two businesses from Central Virginia provide generously to the K-9 program. Good sturdy, high quality vehicle kennels were among the first pieces of equipment we needed to purchase. We have been using portable kennels for several months now. Through the efforts of Officer Howald, BMG Metals of Lynchburg donated all materials needed for more permanent kennels and Moore's Machine Shop, owned by Steve and Todd McCormick in Appomattox donated their time and labor to manufacture the kennels. If we had had to purchase custom kennels of this quality they would have cost in the neighborhood of $3,000 each. That is a savings of $9,000 provided by these two businesses I am firmly convinced that this program will pay huge benefits to the agency and our constituents. I am very appreciative of the support for the canine program already demonstrated by members of the Board, Director Duncan, COO Koch, and many other agency employees. I am also very appreciative of the strong commitment, dedication and hard work already demonstrated by the three members of our canine team. In light of this support and commitment from others I feel it is only appropriate that I demonstrate both my professional and personal commitment to making this program a success by being among the first to make a donation to the program. Therefore I would like to present my personal check in the amount of $500 to Jenny and the Wildlife Foundation of Virginia."
Watch for updates in the Outdoor Report on events where you can meet members of the new K-9 Team and see demonstrations of their remarkable skills used in enforcement of wildlife laws and search and rescue. The Team will be featured at the June 24th Richmond Squirrels baseball game (details in Wild Events) and at the Virginia Outdoor Sportsman Show August 12-14, 2011 at the Richmond Raceway Complex.
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
To learn more about Virginia conservation police officers visit the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries website.
Anglers throughout Virginia and neighboring states want to know "how are the fish bitin'?" To provide some answers, more than 25 license agents, marinas, fishing guides, and bait shops have volunteered to serve as contacts for information on recent fishing conditions for primary rivers and lakes throughout the state. Sarah White, outdoor writer and regular contributor to Virginia Wildlife magazine, prepares this Fishin' Report from interviews with these contacts the week prior to publication of the Outdoor Report.
The Fishin' Report is only available as part of your free subscription to the Outdoor Report.
The rivers and lakes featured in the Fishin' Report are listed by VDGIF Administrative Regions so you can quickly locate the area in which you are most interested. Consult the regional location map to find the major river or lake you want to know about.
For regulations and conditions on saltwater fishing, visit the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) website. New Saltwater Fisherman Identification Program (FIP) Requires Angler Registration Starting January 1, 2011: The Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) will implement a free state saltwater angler identification program as of January 1, 2011. Purchasers of annual Virginia saltwater fishing licenses do NOT have to register. The Virginia Fisherman Identification Program (FIP) will require unlicensed saltwater anglers aged 16 and older to register and receive an identification number annually. Adult anglers who fish for anadromous or marine species in freshwater must also register. There is no cost for registration. Online registration is available on VMRC's website. To register by phone, call toll-free 1-800-723-2728. For more information, visit VMRC's website or contact VMRC at (757) 247-2200.
The new 2011 Freshwater Fishing in Virginia (Fishing Regulations) book has been published and a copy can be obtained at the upcoming fishing and hunting shows, all license agents and Department offices. This publication not only contains the fishing regulations, but an extensive 'Let's Go Fishing' section, with information about major sport fish, public fishing lakes, major fishing rivers, and the trout stocking program. Also, you can find information about fish citations, state records, angling education programs, exotic species, and more." The Freshwater Fishing Regulations section, including the complete Trout Fishing Guide, on our website have also been updated for 2011.
State Record Fish Committee Confirmed State Record 143-Pound Blue Catfish and Possible World Record
Second Huge blue catfish from Buggs Island Lake Shatters Three Month Old State Record
The State Record Fish Committee of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) has confirmed that the 143-pound blue catfish caught on June 18, in the John H. Kerr Reservoir, known as Buggs Island Lake, is a new state record. The committee members reviewed the application, verified the location of the catch as well as the species, weight, length, and girth of the fish. A VDGIF Conservation Police Officer and Fisheries Biologist were present at the weigh-in.
The huge cat was caught by Richard Nicholas "Nick" Anderson in John H. Kerr Reservoir (Buggs Island Lake) on Saturday, June 18, near the Goat Island section of the lake. The previous state record blue catfish (109 pounds ) was caught by Tony Milam in Buggs Island Lake near the confluence of the Dan and Roanoke rivers on March 17, 2011.
Anderson was fishing with his father and brother when he hooked the potential world record fish. After forty-five minutes, the fish was finally wrangled aboard their pontoon boat. The fish was weighed at Mecklenburg Supply Inc. in Chase City, Virginia, which was one of the few venues available with a scale large enough to accommodate the big fish. The weigh-in was witnessed by a VDGIF Conservation Police Officer and a VDGIF Fisheries Biologist.
"It's the biggest fish I've ever seen to come out of fresh water" said Dan Michaelson, a VDGIF Fisheries Biologist who certified the species as blue catfish. "Buggs Island Lake is one of the most productive systems in Virginia, and blue catfish take advantage of the four different shad species to feed on, especially the gizzard shad," Michaelson added. Blue catfish have become one of the most sought after sport fish in the lake in recent years, and Buggs Island has produced three state record blue catfish in the last decade. The tidal James River has also produced its share of big blue cats in recent years, and the two hotspots have traded the state record on more than one occasion.
Along with certification by the Virginia State Record Fish Committee, the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) will handle official certification of the trophy blue catfish as a potential new world record. If certified by the IGFA, the Virginia blue catfish will shatter the previous world record, a 130lb blue catfish caught in the Missouri River in 2010.
Kids Fishing Day at Harrison Lake Hatchery Draws Big Crowd
On Saturday June 4, the annual Harrison Lake National Fish Hatchery Youth Fishing Event was held in Charles City. The event provided a unique opportunity for kids to learn how to fish and discover just how much fun it can be! Every year volunteers teach children how to bait and cast, and help kids "reel in" their catch.
The event was co-sponsored by a variety of agencies, groups, businesses and local volunteers including the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries, Henrico Police Animal Control, Virginia Waterfowlers' Association, AmeriCorps, Burrowville Volunteer Fire Department and WalMart. Volunteers from these groups gave their time, talents and resources to support the event. Free bait, loaner rods and reels were available on a first-come-first-served basis.
Over 200 people from surrounding counties and cities attended the annual event. "The reward of the smiles on kids faces as they hold up their first fish of the day is worth all the efforts… this time together enriches their lives and creates memories that last a lifetime", commented Todd Cocker of Virginia Waterfowlers' Association.
Prizes were awarded to winners of ten categories. A free lunch was served to attendees and door prizes were given out. Contributions were provided by Brook Road WalMart, Adams Sports Mart, Virginia Waterfowlers' Association, Pure Fishing, Inc, Aubarnlea Farms and Roma Ristorante Italiano.
To find out about a kids fishing event near you check out our website.
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.
Does Your Life Jacket Really Fit?
How do you know if a life jacket really fits you? First, check the label to make sure the life jacket is U.S. Coast Guard approved wearable. Life jackets (or PFDs) come in a couple of basic sizes: infant, child, and adult. Within those basic sizes, there will be a range (Small, Medium, Large, etc.). The label will indicate the basic size and the size range, which will include a weight range and usually also a chest size range. After you check the label, make sure you move on to the second step, try it on!
Before every boating season, try on your life jacket. Make sure that it fits correctly. What does a correct fit mean? It should be snug, but not tight. Lift your arms over your head, can you turn your head left, right, and over your shoulder or has the life jacket ridden up and in the way of moving your head? For a child, have them stand with their arms to their sides. Lift the life jacket up by the shoulders. The life jacket should not move more than 3 inches, no higher that the child's ears. If the life jacket does move up more than 3 inches, it is too big and the child can slip right out – get a smaller life jacket! A younger child's life jacket should also include a crotch strap – this will help insure the life jacket stays on. Finally, practice using the life jacket in shallow water. Make sure it is snug enough to stay put and not ride up over the chin and ears when in shallow water. Have children practice in shallow water with their life jacket so they don't panic in case of emergency. Check out this informational video about properly fitting a child's life jacket.
For more information about life jackets, check out the U.S. Coast Guard's Boating Safety website.
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.
Video Features Squirrel Skinning Quick and Easy and Panfish Preparation and Filleting
Another great DVD is now being offered at the VDGIF store, this one a double-feature: Squirrel Skinning Quick and Easy and Panfish Preparation and Filleting. If you want to learn one of the best methods we've seen for skinning squirrels, former Game Warden John Berry teaches it in detail on the first video. This video has been extremely popular to walk-in customers at VDGIF headquarters, and is now available for ordering on-line, VDGIF Outdoor Education Instructor Jenny West demonstrates various ways to prepare tasty panfish, including scaling, dressing, and filleting. Get both "how to" videos on one DVD for $8.00, shipping included. The DVD makes a great gift for sporting enthusiasts young & old.
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:
- Email your photos to us and we'll post them on our "Virginia Fishing" group on the photo-sharing website, Flickr.
- 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:
- Photos must be of fish caught in Virginia.
- Photos must not depict unsafe practices.
- Please do not publish personal information (last names, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, etc.).
- Please do include the species, location, and date of catch!
- 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 email@example.com.
Region 1 - Tidewater
Beaverdam Reservoir: Contributed by C. Blair Evans, (804) 693-2107, www.gloucesterva.info. Summer time fishing conditions are now here and the bass have moved to the deeper portions of the lake. At this point in the game, anglers will need to practice patience and spend time fishing deeper holes. Rather than trying to fish around the reservoir, anglers are having better luck fishing in a certain deeper areas for a longer period of time. Fishing for bream and catfish has been improving. There have been no reports in the past week from anglers in regards to crappie fishing.
The next night fishing will be held on Friday July the 15th. The main entrance of the park will be open till midnight during night fishing. The next Big Bash Bass Tournament will be held on Saturday September the 17th. For more information, call the park at (804) 693-2107. Park Hours are: June to September 5th from 6:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Little Creek Reservoir: Contributed by Park Concessionaire Diane Priestley, (757) 566-2277, firstname.lastname@example.org. Yes, it's hot on the creek. But we're catching fish. Bass are taking green and brown worms. Your best bet is to try one of these drop shot, shakey head, or Carolina rigged. Try hitting as many points as you can. You may try large minnows slow trolled or drifted 10 to 12 ft. under a large float. Top water baits are working early and late. The guys fishing spider rigs are catching a mixed bag of crappie, bream, perch and even a bass or two. You can catch most all pan fish on wigglers or small minnows, but jigs are doing just as well. The bluegill are spawning on the flats and shallow points. Cats are eating night crawlers and minnows; look in mouths of coves and the downwind side of points. We had the first walleye of the summer this week caught on a small minnow on one of the deep points. The water temperature is 88 and 15 ft. visibility.
Virginia Beach: Captain Jim Brincefield (443) 336-8756. Captain Jim says that the fishing is great. Sheepshead have shown up at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel pilings. They will bite on crabs and clams. Spadefish are in the same place and inshore wrecks. They are going for clams. Croakers and spot are at the mouths of the James and York Rivers and like Fishbite, blood worms and squid. Flounders are at sandy bottoms and drop-offs, but most are too small to keep. Still, you might get lucky with bull minnows. Bluefish are at Cape Henry, as are the Spanish mackerels. Both will attack spoons. The water is fairly clear and 73 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 the some good sized bass have been landed on spinners. Crappie action is up and down, but some are going for the traditional minnows and jigs. Catfishing is slow, with eel being the best bet. No word on perch or bream. The water is slightly stained to clear and warming.
North Landing River and Back Bay: West Neck Marina (757) 426-6735. Dewey Mullins told me that the bass bite is good, with some up to 4 lbs. being brought up. Top-waters, cranks and spinners are good, while plastics aren't working very well. Crappie are starting to come in, and some as big as 1 ¼ lbs. are being brought to boat. Minnows, jigs and night crawlers are proving successful. Not many cats are cooperating, but they might be fooled by night crawlers or cut bait. Lots of white perch are out there and going for jigs and small cranks. Plenty of large bluegill are being landed on crickets, red wigglers and, for fly fishermen, small top-water poppers. The water is clear and in the 70s.
Norfolk Lakes: Dasheill's Show Room (757) 539-7854. Drew Dixon reports that bass action is good, with top-waters early and late, and plastics and cranks during the day. Some big crappie are biting minnows and jigs. Lots of cats are being obliging and biting cut bait. Some citation sized shellcrackers have been brought in. They are going for crickets and red wigglers. The same bait will work for bluegill. The water is clear and in the high 70s.
Blackwater and Nottoway: By Riverkeeper Jeff Turner www.blackwaternottoway.com. "Spirit of Moonpie", my ever-present canine companion, and I spent the 13th through the 15th on the Blackwater below Burdette. The water was low at 2.10 on the U.S. Geological Survey gauge and terribly nasty and stagnant. Trash was also bad, and as usual nearly all of it originated from where people have been fishing from shore. The good news was that the fishing was actually very good. I caught so many largemouths I lost count, but I'm guessing about 25 with the largest right at 5 pounds. All were caught on either a A.C. Shiner or a Bagley Tailspinner Bang-O-Lure. I also caught a huge gar that was 42 inches long and weighed close to 9 pounds. I caught 4 blackfish also. At 2.10 the river is too low to put in at the Steel Bridge and make it to Burdette in anything larger than the smallest john boat. I had to get out twice and drag across sand bars. I had actually tried to go up-river from the Steel Bridge, but I only got about a half mile before a tangle of trees stopped me. We saw a big Osprey on this trip which is I believe the first one I have ever seen this far upriver. In the past few years it has gotten pretty normal to see them on the lower river. I never saw any years ago anywhere on the river so I would have to say they are eventually going to repopulate the entire river. Even with the water so low I really had a hard time finding that perfect sand bar to camp on. The bad thing was that the sun got on the tent early. Hey, after a hard day of Riverkeeping, I like to sleep at least till 8! This campsite had another flaw. There was mostly only half rotten cypress sticks to burn in the campfire. I did not have to worry about bugs because there was so much smoke from my cypress smudge fire that the bugs could not see me. On the second night, Moonpie and I were sitting around the fire choking and crying when Moonpie said. "Man, I hope the meat-eater critters around here don't like smoked meat cause you and I have been well cured now for two nights in a row." "I don't think you have nothin' to worry about", I replied. I don't think there is anything that could stomach either one of us with the plethora of aromas we exude after three days out here on the two rivers we call the Blackwater and Nottoway.
Recycle Your Used Fishing Line
You know how aggravating it can be to be pulling in you lure and you snag a wad of fishing line discarded by some discourteous angler into the water or strewn on the bank where some unsuspecting critter will get hopelessly entangled. In 2009, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) and Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) launched a monofilament fishing line recycling program across the Commonwealth. Both state agencies installed PVC pipe recycling containers at public boats launches at numerous lakes, rivers and coastal waters. Anglers and boaters are encouraged to deposit used monofilament fishing line into the PVC containers. According to VDGIF Fisheries Assistant Director Ron Southwick, who is coordinating the line recycling program for the Department, "Several conservation organizations and municipalities jumped on board as partners sponsoring sites for the containers across the state." Sponsoring groups include the Virginia Bass Federation, Fairfax County Park Authority, Suffolk-Nansemond Chapter of the Isaac Walton League, Northern Virginia Kayak Fishing Club, Orange County High School Anglers Club, City of Richmond Parks and Recreation, VA B.A.S.S. Federation Nation, and the Isle of Wight Ruritan Club. In addition to providing the monofilament fishing line recycling containers, the sponsors also help maintain the containers and collect the used line for recycling. Groups interested in participating in the fishing line recycling program can contact Ron Southwick at (804) 367-1292 or by email Ron.Southwick@dgif.virginia.gov. If you're out with a novice angler during the Free Fishing Days June 3-5, set a good example and make an effort to collect any litter and discarded fishing line from others and recycle in proper containers.
- Why a Monofilament Fishing Line Recycling Program?
- Recycling Container Construction Guide (PDF)
- Recycling Container Assembly and Installation Guide (PDF)
Upper and Lower Tidal James: Local Guide, Captain Mike Hoke, Life's Revenge Guide Service, (804) 357-8518. Captain Mike says that bass are biting well in the main channel on plastic lizards, with black, chartreuse and watermelon being good colors. Plastic worms in those colors will also land you a bass. Cranks are also effective. Crappie are in the creeks and going for minnows and jigs. Flathead cats will take bream or suckers; and their blue relatives will take cut shad and cut bream. The bluegill bite is slow, but worms or crickets may prove effective. The water is slightly stained and in the 80s.
Region 2 - Southside
Lake Gordon: Contributed by our man in the boat Willard A. Mayes. Willard is still out of commission due to heart surgery, but we hope he will be fishing again soon and all send him get well wishes.
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. Whew! The smallmouth fishing has been tough. We have had to work hard for the fish we've boated. It's that time of year when the James goes into what we call the "James River Funk". It's hard to predict when, but every June there's a period of 10 days to two weeks that the fish transition from post spawn to their summer habits. The fish caught have taken soft plastics more aggressively than any other bait. There has been no one color that's been the go-to. Fly anglers have had success with some top water and baitfish patterns. Fish found have been scattered all over the river, there's no set pattern at this time. For anyone that plans to fish the Howardsville area there's a $6.00 parking fee to park now.
Kerr Reservoir: Bob Cat's Lake Country Store, (434) 374-8381. Bobby Whitlow reports that the bass bite is good on deep cranks and Carolina rigs. Crappie are in the deep brush piles and around bridge pilings No word on perch. Some bluegill are going for red wigglers. The water is clear and warming. Some huge cats have been brought in, including a 143 lb. lunker, which, if confirmed, would be a state record (see feature story at beginning of Fishin' Report).
James at Lynchburg: Angler's Lane, (434) 385-0200. Tom Reisdorf says that the smallmouth action has been really good. Good bets are Kreelex in copper and gold, Flukes, Crayfish Imitators and Baitfish Imitators and popping bugs. Not much action in local mountain streams. The water is clear and warming. In the lower Jackson rainbow and brown trout fishing is good, especially with Hare's Ear Nymphs and Purple Haze flies.
Lake Gaston: Holly Grove Marina, (434) 636-3455. Craig Karpinski told me that bass fishing is good, especially at night. Early and late, try black buzzbaits and top-waters. During the day, try Carolina rigs. Crappie can be found in 5 to 8 feet, and respond to minnows and jigs. Cats will take worms and chicken livers. Perch are coming in on small minnows and spinners. Bluegill like red wigglers. The water is clear and 80 degrees in the creeks and in the upper 70s in the main lake.
Lake Gaston Health Advisory: The Virginia Department of Health has issued an advisory on walleye fish consumption due to mercury contamination in Lake Gaston. Recent fish tissue sample results from the North Carolina Division of Public Health show mercury levels in walleye fish exceed the amount considered safe for long term human consumption. VDH advises the consumption of no more than two meals a month of walleye taken from Lake Gaston. Virginia's advisory stretches from John H. Kerr Dam downstream 18 miles to the Virginia-North Carolina state line. For additional details, visit the VDH fish consumption advisory page.
Smith Mountain Lake: Contributed by Mike Snead. Virginia Outdoorsman, (540) 724-4867, www.virginiaoutdoorsman.com.
Bass: Fishing continues to be good. In the daytime, bass are hitting a variety of finesse worms and soft plastics on shakey head jigs, drop shot and Texas rigs. Bass are also being caught on these and other larger soft plastics presented on drop shot and Texas rigs off sharp contour breaks, bluffs and natural rock points. Carolina rigged plastics, including the smaller finesse plastics as well as creature baits and larger worms are working off natural rock points. Wacky rigged Yamasenko worms, in selected colors, are working on vertical structure and certain docks in the daytime. Larger, dark colored plastic worms are working at night. Top-water lures continue to produce an occasional bass early in the morning and at night. The night bite has weakened but thanks to the cooler water temperatures continuing, some alewives are still moving along rip-rap covered banks to spawn. Bass that move up to feed on the alewives are being caught near the shoreline on medium sized, floating jerkbaits. These lures work best when retrieved slowly along the surface, producing a slight bow wake. Stripers also move up along the shoreline at night to feed on the spawning alewives. By far the most popular and productive striper lure is the Series 18 Floating Rapala in one of several select colors. This one lure may have accounted for more stripers at night that all the other lures put together.
Stripers: Fishing has been good so far this year. Many anglers continue to catch stripers in the daytime fishing with live bait on freelines, in-line planer boards, floats, lines and downlines. Stripers continue to be caught around the mouths of main channel creeks. Recent reports suggest the striper fishing is better in the mid and upper arms of both the Roanoke and Blackwater Rivers than in the lower lake which was very productive earlier in the summer. While large baits are producing stripers near the surface early, once the sun moves overhead many anglers are doing better using downsized bait and tackle including smaller hooks and lighter fluorocarbon leaders that are appropriate for the smaller sized bait that is proving so productive for the deep water stripers. If you are interested in learning more about catching, keeping and fishing with live bait at Smith Mountain Lake, I suggest you consider a seat in the July 14th workshop on the subject. Seating is limited and advance registration is required. For information about this workshop and the others scheduled this summer, just stop by the shop or go online.
Trolling is another very popular striper fishing technique at the lake, especially in the summer and with those fishing on boats that are not specifically equipped for fishing. Almost any boat can be used to troll for striper…even kayaks. Good trolling lures include heavy bucktails and horsehead lures with plastic trailers and a variety of diving hard baits. The very productive umbrella rig continues to be a popular lure for those trolling.
Catfish: Fishing has picked up over the past several weeks and anglers report catching good numbers of both flatheads and channel cats, especially at night. Shad and small panfish are good bait for flathead catfish. Prepared stinkbaits and nightcrawlers continue to work well for channel cats. To effectively fish these baits off the bottom, most anglers use a 2 to 3 foot leader ahead of a swivel and an egg sinker. Live shad and bluegill can also be placed under a float or bobber at night and allowed to swim along banks and points near deeper water for flathead catfish.
Tight lines and have a great week on the water.
Remember with these nice sunny days comes a hidden killer, SUNBURN, and all the bad stuff that comes with it. Blackwater and Nottoway Riverkeeper Jeff Turner cautions, "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."
Region 3 - Southwest
Claytor Lake: Contributed by Mike Burchett of Rock House Marina, (540) 980-1488. According to Mike Burchett, the bass bite is very slow. Top-waters early and late and a drop shot Roboworm the day are the best bet. The action is best at night with spinners. No word on crappie. Cat fishing is good in Peak Creek with live shad. No word on perch. Bluegill are "anywhere and everywhere" and Mike urges you to get some night crawlers and "have a ball". The water is clear and in the low 80s.
Lower New River: Big Z'S (540) 639-1651. John Zienius says that the river is in the best shape that it has been this spring and summer. He says that the bass fishing is good on the river. The most successful lures are tubes, especially the Gitzit T 4. Muskies are "on a tear" and going for inline spinners. The water is clearing, at a good level and in the mid 80s.
New River: Tangent Outfitters, (540) 257-0415. Shawn Has reports that, when it comes to bass fishing, "it's on". They are getting from 80 to 100 fish a day, mostly on top-waters. Muskies are biting hard too, with some 30 lb. lunkers being brought up. The like sliders and top-waters. The water is clear and in the 70s.
Upper New River: Contributed by Captain Forest Pressnell, (540) 818-5274, New River Charter. No report this edition.
Use common courtesy on the river and at landings... Blackwater and Nottoway Riverkeeper Jeff Turner advises 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.
Region 4 - Mountains & Shenandoah Valley - Northern Piedmont
North and South Forks of the Shenandoah: Harry Murray (540) 984-4212 www.murraysflyshop.com. Fly guy Harry Murray says that the smallmouth streams in the North and South Forks of the Shenandoah are clear, fishable and at an ideal level for floating or wading. The best location in the North Fork is from Edinburg to Tom's Brook. In the South, the best action is to be had downstream from Luray. Fish the shaded banks and grass beds. Good flies are: the Shenandoah Blue Popper, size 6; and the Shenandoah Damsel Popper, size 6. The water is clear and 72 degrees.
The stocked streams in the Valley are also good spots to fish just now. The best flies are: Murray's Olive Cadis Pupa, size 12; and Murray's Black Stonefly Nymph, size 12. The water is clear, at a good level and 71 degrees.
In the mountain streams there is currently a good hatching of yellow stoneflies and sulfurs, so use flies that imitate them, with 16 to 18 being good sizes. The water is clear, at a good level and 54 degrees. Harry gives a weekly fishing forecast on his website every Friday, so give it a look before setting out.
Lake Moomaw: Local Guide, Mike Puffenbarger, (540) 468-2682, www.mapletreeoutdoors.com. Puff is busy fishing, check his website for the latest news on fishing conditions and whats biting.
Piedmont Rivers: Local author Steve Moore (Wade Fishing River Guidebooks covering the: Rappahannock, Rapidan, Upper Potomac, North Branch Potomac; Blog: SwitchFisher.com) Need a grab? Head for the Rappahannock or the Rapidan! The smallies are back and are chomping on pretty much anything thrown in their direction. Plastic grubs, worms, small crank baits, large nymphs, and crawfish imitations are eagerly chewed by the inhabitants of both of these rivers. Although catching a truly large trophy fish is still an infrequent event, 40 to 50 fish days seem to be the norm given the current excellent river conditions. Anglers are finding most of the fish in the fast water below riffles laying in channels that are least a foot deep. The seasonal vegetation has not begun to grow excessively and this allows anglers to fish without having to deal with that obstacle. When casting, target the dark spots where the vegetation is beginning to grow as opposed to the brown sandy stretches. The Rappahannock River is running at 72°, clear and slightly below seasonal norms. The water level on the Upper Potomac is finally dropping to the upper bound that denotes the start of the wading season. It's running a warm 76%°. Ken Penrod reports the same general results in terms of size of fish and quantity on the Upper Potomac as seen on the Rappahannock. He recommends crank baits, spinner baits and four-inch Magic Stiks for the best results with the areas around Edwards and Whites Ferry being especially productive right now. Any activity on the Potomac should also involve wearing a PFD! The mountain brook trout fishing is coming to an end with the approach of the hot summer weather. If you want to hit the mountains, do it before July. At that point, the water typically becomes low and warm. Dry fly fishing continues to be good with Adams, Mr. Rapidan, and terrestrials being the go to flies. For nymphs, stick with hares ears and Prince nymphs.
New Reporter Northern Virginia Lakes: Contributed by local angler Scott Torgerson. It was a great Father's Day fishing weekend! I fished the western branch of Lunga Reservoir on Quantico on Saturday, 18 Jun. I was surprised to find the chain pike still pretty active, striking both a small suspending jerk bait and 5 inch wacky worm in green/black colors. I also caught several small bass between 10 to 16 inches early in the morning on top water PopR plugs in 2 to 4 feet of water. I found the water level dropped about ½ to 1 foot and the temperature dropped about 5 degrees to 75 degrees from the previous week, and the water clarity somewhat stained and cloudy.
New Reporter Rappahannock - South of Fredericksburg: Contributed by local angler Scott Torgerson. On Sunday, June 19th I headed out on the Rappahannock River south of Fredericksburg for some cat fishing. Unfortunately, it absolutely poured 2+ inches early that morning so the water was very murky as the water level rose with the incoming tide. I took the simple route fishing raw shrimp off the bottom near 16 to 20 foot holes and structure, but only caught three small cats between 14 to 18 inches. Still…a bad day on the water beats a good day at the office!
Lake Orange: Contributed by Darrell Kennedy of Angler's Landing (540) 672-3997. The fish have settled into their summer patterns. Largemouth bass are predominantly 10 to 12 ft. deep, moving shallow during low light periods of the day to feed. They are biting on a variety of soft plastics, live bait, and top-water lures. Walleye are being taken on a variety of baits, with live bait being the number one choice, although a few have been caught on crank baits also. Catfishing is strong throughout the lake on chicken liver and night crawlers, the upper end of the lake seems to be bringing in a few more bites. Crappie fishing is aggressive in 10 to 12 ft. depths around the fishing pier with some nice stringers being caught on small minnows. A couple of quality sized yellow perch have been caught on live bait. The water is clear with temperatures in the low to mid 80s.
Lake Anna: Contributed by C. C. McCotter, McCotter's Lake Anna Guide Service, (540) 894-9144.
Largemouth Bass: Interesting seasonal changes in this fishery are ongoing. The hottest pattern is using crankbaits in the upper North Anna River arm. Try a Bandit 200 on rocky points where the channel touches. If no fish within a dozen casts, slow down and use a shakey head worm. Mid lake fishing is tough with ultra-clear water and deep fish, except for those on vertical structure early in the day. You can try a shakey head worm or drop shot on structure 20 to 25 ft. down. The extreme headwaters are beginning to get productive. Buzzbaits, Tiger Shad spinnerbaits, soft plastic jerkbaits and Texas-rigged worms is what to use in these regions where the water flows and drops 10 degrees in temperature.
Stripers: It appears striper fishing is about two weeks behind where it normally is for this time of year. Strong schools showed in the 208 region in early late May, then dispersed. Some are down from the power plant to Dike I, others are from The Splits up to the first two bridges in both the North Anna and Pamunkey Branch. The Toothache spoon bite should begin soon. Trolling, too, should get hot as many fish are already suspended in a layer of cooler water from 25 to 35 ft. deep. Try a deep diving Redfin with a bucktail dropper off the middle hook.
Crappie: You can still catch plenty of crappie this month using live, small minnows on slip bobbers. Fish Structures in the mid and down lake region hold fish as long as they are 20+ feet down. The better bet is bridge pilings, brush and rocks in the upper Pamunkey Branch.
Lake Anna: Contributed by Local Guide Jim Hemby (540) 967-3313.
Stripers: For the last 2 weeks striper fishing has been as good as it can get. My clients are limiting out daily and some mornings we are catching as many as 20 Stripers an hour. (view our catches on my journal.) Pencil poppers, Pop R's and Spook type baits will draw explosive strikes from stripers the first hours of the morning. By far the most productive way to catch stripers is by using live bait. We are pulling gizzard shad in the morning on planner boards and free lines catching the larger fish of the day then once the sun gets up we are converting to working downlines over 25 to 35 foot flats rigged with herring. Schools are scattered throughout the lake from the dam up above the splits, but the mouths of the creeks and larger main lake coves have been producing very well.
Bass: These fish are also hitting top water baits well in the morning feeding on points nearby deep water. Later in the day bluff banks with shade hold schools of bass. We have also been catching large bass on channel bends with live bait while fishing for stripers in about 30 feet of water.
Crappie: Most of the bridges are still holding schools of crappie, and a pattern to try, especially when the days are hot, is to fish at night over the deeper docks that have lights on them.
Catfish: Catfish seem to be everywhere, we have been catching them on live bait from the surface down to 45 feet deep.
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 email@example.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.
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Winning Outdoor Adventure Stories from Young Writers
Summer is definitely here… with hot, humid days, and the search for cool areas out of the scorching sun. For 19 year old Lucy Adams, a sophomore at Virginia Tech, majoring in Wildlife Science, her love of nature led her to return to Nature Camp as a Counselor. Although a novice writer, she has been writing stories for fun off and on since childhood. As for outdoor experiences, she was most inspired by her time spent at Nature Camp located in Vesuvius, Virginia (near Lexington). It's an academic two-week summer camp, where classes take place outdoors in the field and leisure time is filled with long hikes and swims in the nearby streams and rivers. She was a camper there for six years and a counselor in the summers of 2007-08. which solidified her love for the environment. Most of her childhood was spent messing around outside, and her childhood adventures in her backyard are primarily responsible for her career goals to be a field biologist. What outdoor adventure during your summer vacation may inspire you to become more aware of the wonders of nature and conserve them for future generations? Lucy entered her article in the 2008-09 Virginia Outdoor Writers Association Collegiate Writing Competition and was awarded First Place.
Summer of the Rattlesnake
By Lucy Adams
It had been a battle keeping the kid's flashlights off, but we thought that it had been worth the effort. We had wanted them to have the full experience of the woods at night, to be able to see without being seen by all the life around them. We had been thinking in terms of the smaller sorts of wildlife – and by the end of the walk, we'd already caught a brightly colored red salamander and several of the familiar northern duskies.
Now, for the walk back, we were doing our best to fully enforce the No-Flashlight rule; perhaps if we were successful we would get the chance to hear a barred owl or other nocturnal bird. That is, if we could enforce silence as well. We were fighting a losing battle on the silence front until it fell all of its own accord at the sound of crackling beside the path.
We quickly pointed our flashlights in the direction of the sound – and illuminated the long sinuous body of a fully grown timber rattlesnake. The light from our flashlights reflected off his scales, and we could clearly see a lump in the middle of his stomach where he had lodged his dinner. There was a correspondingly large lump in my throat as we walked on, after standing for several moments in awe.
It seemed as though moments like that, moments where the inner workings of nature were suddenly and unexpectedly revealed, were common at Nature Camp. The year I saw the timber rattlesnake was the year I went back to camp to teach, because I'd gotten too old to go back there to learn. I couldn't bear to be parted from a place I loved so much, and I figured I would somehow manage to develop whatever it was my counselors had that had kept me coming back as a camper for so many years. Never mind the fact that I have a recurring tendency to avoid all person-to-person interactions (too fraught with the danger of awkward silences and social faux pas). I'd deal with that when the time came.
Anyway, what I remember most about my counselors was not their social abilities; it was the look on their faces when they were given the honor of catching a hidden glimpse of the natural world. I still remember the glowing look on our ornithology teacher's face when she found a hummingbird nest lodged in the fork of a tree at the end of camp. The branch was mottled with lichen, and the nest itself was not much more than a lichen-colored bump with a hole in it large enough to fit my thumb. Maybe. The whole thing was only visible through a tiny gap amidst the profusion of green leaves. I remember filling with excitement as Natalie carefully directed my binoculars in the right direction and the little nest came into focus.
When I went back to camp to teach, I taught freshwater ecology. I taught kids that when you turn over rocks in the stream, you are uncovering a whole world full of alien creatures – the larvae of stoneflies, mayflies and caddisflies – little bugs that, if they were magnified to human proportions, would be fearsome dragons and deadly wild beasts.
As it is, a mayfly larvae will fit in the palm of your hand, and if you fill the palm of your hand with water, its delicate gills will vibrate quickly back and forth to extract all the oxygen from that water supply. I realized it doesn't take any fine-tuned social graces to place a captured mayfly in the eager hands of a child and to watch his face light up with the same excitement I felt when I finally focused on the hummingbird nest.
I'd gone back to Nature Camp because I couldn't bear to stay away from it, but on doing so I found something as rewarding as discovering a hidden nest smaller than my thumb, or hearing the crackling of last fall's leaves beneath the body of a timber rattlesnake. I discovered the pleasure of listening to the joyful shouts of children who are holding a mayfly for the first time, and hearing gasps of wonder from someone who has never seen a snake in the wild before. I figure that if I can instill that sense of wonder in even a few people, my life will have been worth it.
The Virginia Outdoor Writers Association (VOWA) annually sponsors a High School and Collegiate Writing Competition, with the theme of "a memorable outdoor experience." The contests deadlines for entries this year were closed February 25, 2011. Details of the Annual Awards presentations April 14 at Bear Creek Lake State Park are 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.
In upcoming editions of the Outdoor Report, look for:
- How to cope with nuisance wildlife
- Recipes for Snakeheads- yes, tastes like chicken?!?
- "Staycation" opportunities within a 3 hour drive