In this edition:
- It's Hot Out There... Enjoy the Water Safely and Responsibly
- Ron Louque Wins Duck Stamp Contest
- New Hunting & Fishing License Fees Go Into Effect July 1
- Sportsman's Show Features New Location and Attractions for the Whole Family August 12-14
- Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss
- Detailed Descriptions of Outdoor Events Across Virginia
- People and Partners in the News
- Monte Brackenridge Receives Hunter Education Award for Excellence
- Fishing for Nutrition: Cast, Catch, Clean, Cook, and Yum!
- Project Healing Waters Supporter Douglas Dear Finalists in LL Bean Outdoor Hero Award
- Hunters for the Hungry Announces Two New Fund Raising Raffles for 2011
- 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
- Partner Organizations Working Together For Wildlife
- The Virginia Trappers Association
- Been There - Done That! Can't Wait to Go Again...
- Baseball Fans 'Go Nutz' for New VDGIF K-9 Team
- Hunting News You Can Use
- Apply for 2011 - 2012 Quota Hunts July 1
- VDGIF Board Approves Facilities Use Fee and Certain License Increases
- Information on New Regs and Youth Hunters Photos Featured at Sportsman Show
- Share your Hunting Photos and Stories With Us...
- License Options for Novice Hunters
- Be Safe... Have Fun!
- Be a Safe Boater - Remember Life Jackets Save Lives
- Does Your Life Jacket Really Fit?
- Be Aware of Lyme Disease and Prevent Tick Bites
- "Green Tips" for Outdoor Enthusiasts
- What To Do With Nuisance Wildlife
- Notes for Young Nature Explorers
- Kids Fishing Day Events Provide Family Fun
- Virginia Naturally Website Link to School Environmental Learning Programs
- Summer Adventure Camps
- Nature Observations from the Virginia Wildlife Calendar
- Habitat Improvement Tips
- Workshops Scheduled for Native Warm Season Grasses in Forage-Livestock Systems
- 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
- Snakes: Splendor in the Grass
- Gear up for Summer! Wear your Life Jacket and Take a Boating Safety Class
- 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
- "My Most Memorable Outdoor Experience: Camping" by Kayla Bretzin
It's Hot Out There... Enjoy the Water Safely and Responsibly
This edition of the Outdoor Report posts just as a lot of us are going on summer vacations or long weekend outings with family and friends. Fortunately there's a lake, river, or stream within an hour's drive from any location in Virginia, making it easy and economical to get away for a day on the water boating, fishing, and relaxing. When you purchase a fishing license, you not only buy quality time, but you also are investing in conservation. For less than the cost of a tank of gas, a family of four can fish for a year. The funds generated by boating and fishing are crucial to keeping Virginia's waterways and lands in good condition and managing the state's fisheries.
Remember, as you head for the water with the relentless heat wave and deepening drought, make sure you are well prepared to safely enjoy your travel and outdoor activities. Safety and courtesy are free, use them generously as you share the outdoors with others. Note that VDGIF is presently training a new class of Conservation Police Officers. When their training is completed they will join the dedicated officers who protect responsible outdoor enthusiasts from those who act irresponsibly and break the law. 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 ethically.
The Outdoor Report is full of fishing and boating tips and information to make your outing more productive, enjoyable, and safe. To learn more about fishing and boating in Virginia, including where to fish, how to identify fish species, guides to lakes and rivers, fishing and boating regulations and much more, read on...
David Coffman, Editor
Ron Louque Wins Duck Stamp Contest
2011 Virginia Migratory Waterfowl Conservation Stamp Available July 1
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) began selling its 2011 Virginia State Migratory Waterfowl Conservation Stamp on July 1, 2011. The artwork for the stamp, painted by Virginia artist Ron Louque, depicts a pair of redhead ducks. This is not the first time Mr. Louque's artwork appeared as a winner in Virginia, his painting of flying mallards was depicted on the first voluntary Virginia duck stamp back in 1988.
Ron Louque's painting was selected by a judging panel made up of VDGIF staff and representatives from NVC Delta Waterfowl; Waterfowl USA; Virginia Ducks Unlimited; and Virginia Waterfowlers Association. All submitted entries were produced by Virginia artists. Stamp collectors who would like the 2011 Virginia waterfowl stamp and/or print with artwork by Ron Louque can request it by contacting Mike Hinton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more on Ron. Louque's extraordinary art career and his current status as a world champion waterfowl stamp artist in the full release on our web site.
Last year, 22,682 duck stamps were sold bringing in $225,820. The Department awarded four Virginia Migratory Waterfowl Grants in 2010 for projects to be started in the upcoming year totaling $128,845. Grantees included Ducks Unlimited, The Fish America Foundation, The Elizabeth River Project and the Nature Conservancy. These projects will restore over 240 acres of wetland habitat from the Eastern Shore to Wakefield. In addition this past year the Department used duck stamp funds to purchase the Mattaponi WMA in Caroline county which contains over 800 acres of wetland habitat.
The funds generated from sales of the Virginia Migratory Waterfowl Conservation Stamp are placed in the Department's Game Protection Fund and are accounted for under a separate fund designated as the Virginia Migratory Waterfowl Conservation Stamp Fund. These funds are used to contract with appropriate nonprofit organizations for cooperative waterfowl habitat improvement projects; to protect, preserve, restore, enhance and develop waterfowl habitat in Virginia through the department's waterfowl program; and to offset the administrative costs associated with production, issuance of, and accounting for the Stamp.
For more information on waterfowl hunting in Virginia, visit the Department's website at www.dgif.virginia.gov.
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.
Sportsman's Show Features New Location and Attractions for the Whole Family August 12-14
The 28th Annual Virginia Outdoor Sportsman's Show features a lot of new, exciting exhibits and demonstrations this year plus a new location- The Richmond Raceway Complex! There's plenty of parking, more space for the 300 fun and exciting new exhibits, demonstrations and seminars- something for everyone in the family. Experienced and novice sportsmen and sportswomen can try the latest in new equipment and learn about new places and techniques to enjoy Virginia's great outdoors. At the three-day show August 12-14, 2011, you can purchase your new Hunting and Fishing Licenses and 2012 Virginia Wildlife Calendar from the VDGIF booth and also subscribe to Virginia Wildlife magazine and the Outdoor Report at the Show. Biologists, conservation police officers, Complementary Work Force volunteers, and Hunter Education Instructors will be on hand to answer your questions. The new Wildlife K-9 Team will be there to demonstrate their unique skills assisting officers in wildlife investigations and search and rescue. Get your free copy of the new 2011-2012 Hunting & Trapping Regulations and Information booklet featuring descriptions of new regulations and opportunities to enhance your hunting experience.
Hunting SAFELY & RESPONSIBLY is always foremost when afield. Hunter Education Instructors will have exhibits and demonstrations on safe firearms handling, tree stand use, waterfowl hunting and safety reminders for both experienced and novice hunters. The VDGIF Outdoor Report is sponsoring a "Young Hunters Wall of Fame" where young hunters age 15 and under are invited to bring a copy of a hunting photo showing their success to post at the booth near the entrance to the Show. Photos must be no larger than 8x10 size and be in good taste. Photos will not be returned and will be on display throughout the show.
This is your chance to see the biggest bucks harvested in Virginia. Deer hunters throughout Virginia will bring their mounts to this prestigious contest, organized by the Virginia Deer Hunters Association (VDHA). Certified judges from the VDHA and VDGIF will be awarding ribbons and trophies in four antler classes. The Virginia Open Turkey Calling Championship will be held on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. sanctioned by the National Wild Turkey Federation. There are cash and prize awards with the first place winners in four Divisions eligible to go to the National Calling Contest. Celebrity guests include Pat Reeves and Nicole Jones hosts of popular TV show "Driven 24/7. Bone Collector, Travis "T Bone" Turner and Nick Mundt are returning this year to talk about what we all love, HUNTING! Also new is a fashion show featuring Haley Vine's Outdoor Collection of clothes for women. The Tidewater Dock Dogs will be set up outside on Saturday and Sunday to thrill you with their jumping, flying, splashing, swimming and leaping ability. This event is open to the public, with no admission fee. This is the third official sanctioned event of the year, open to any dog that likes water and fun—regardless of breed, size, shape, or ability. All dogs are welcome, and those new to the sport can introduce their dogs to this fast-growing sport, and get tips on coaching and encouraging their pooches from Tidewater Dock Dogs members.
Show Manager and Founder Hugh Crittenden notes with this new location and many new attractions for the Show, he is giving away a special door prize- a 6-day pre-rut Kansas Bow Hunt valued at $2950 with Midwest Finest Whitetails! You must come to the Show to enter. Check the Show's website for information and to view videos on numerous seminars, exhibits, demonstrations, sportsmen celebrities, and contests.
Take a Friend, Make a Hunter... This is the perfect event to bring a friend that is interested in the Apprentice Hunting License to talk with experienced sportsmen about the many opportunities for hunting and try out the latest gear to enhance your experience
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.
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.
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:
- 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.
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.
3D Archery Shoot to Benefit Hunters for the Hungry July 30 in Moneta
The Hunters for the Hungry Program and Spring Lake Archery Park invites everyone to come out and enjoy a day of food, fun, amp;& fellowship, while helping to provide for those less fortunate! The first annual 3D Archery Shoot will be held at the Spring Lake Archery Park in Moneta Saturday July 30 from 7:30 am to 5 pm. Your participation will help to provide food for those less fortunate while helping to spread more awareness about the Hunters for the Hungry Program! Event includes 3-D archery competition with 1st, 2nd, & 3rd place awards in 8 classes along with a variety of novelty shoots, raffles, and door prizes.
Entry Fee is $25.00 Adults; $10.00 12 & Under registration includes lunch, soft drinks, bottled water, entry for door prizes! To register or for additional information contact: Spring Lake Archery - David Merritt @ (540) 598-9907 Hunters for the Hungry - Gary Arrington @ (434) 665-7658. Come support the Hunters for the Hungry Program!
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.
Hunter Skills Weekend at Holiday Lake August 26-28
The Virginia Hunter Education Association, in cooperation with the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries and Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center, is sponsoring the 4th Hunter Skills Weekend August 26th- 28th, 2011. The program is designed to help the novice hunter develop skills beyond the basic Hunter Education course with instruction in survival, shooting, game recovery and hunting techniques for a variety of species but also offers many skills to the seasoned hunter. Quotes from past courses included "Thought I was safe and doing things correct. But I was not and learned so many new proper ways to be safe in the stand" (Tree stand safety class participant) and "Great class. Military service member for 26 years and learned a lot in this class about shooting. Outstanding instruction and amount of range and time with rifles" (Rifle class participant) Come join us for a fantastic weekend at the 4-H Center near Appomattox, Va. For more information, contact the Center website.
People and Partners in the News
Monte Brackenridge Receives Hunter Education Award for Excellence
The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Hunter Education Program conducted an Advanced Training Event for 115 instructors June 24-26 at the Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center in Appomattox. The group, composed primarily of volunteers, received training in a variety of disciplines including classroom management, treestand safety, shotgun, pistol, muzzleloading, bowhunting, and hunting ethics. On Saturday night, veteran instructor Monte Brackenridge of Clifton Forge received the William Dixon Morgan Memorial Award for Excellence in Hunter Education. Monte has been an instructor since 1992 and has personally trained more than 7000 students. Each year, over 900 volunteer Hunter Education instructors train approximately 13,000 students to be safe and ethical hunters. Contact state coordinator David Dodson at email@example.com for more information.
Fishing for Nutrition: Cast, Catch, Clean, Cook, and Yum!
Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) Complementary Work Force Program (CWFP) Volunteers, John McMann, Dave Wabeke, and John's son Cliff collaborated with Fredericksburg Moss Clinic Nurse Educator, Jacqueline Arthur to hold a fishing clinic for Moss Clinic Patients on Friday, June 17, 2011. The fishing instruction class hosted 25 eager participants and provided attendees with basic instruction covering, baiting, casting, catching, cleaning, preparing fish available throughout the Fredericksburg and surrounding counties fishing lakes and ponds. The class also included education on "the value of eating fish as a part one's overall nutrition intake". This is the first of two scheduled classes initiated by Nurse Arthur and coordinated through the CWFP Fredericksburg Region CWFP Coordinator Thomas Goldston. Trout stocked in local fishing spots are a good source of Omega â€“ 3 EPA/DHA.
The VDGIF Tackle Loaner Program provided rods and reels for use by those attending the class. CWFP Volunteers, Chris, David, and John demonstrated tying knots, baiting, casting, reeling in the catch, cleaning, and preparation. David, fresh in from a fishing day on Lake Anna provided fresh fish to demonstrate and instruct on filleting. The filleted fish, distributed amongst attendees, highlighted the successful event.
Nurse Educator Arthur adds, "Words cannot adequately express how great the fishing night went on June 17. John, Cliff, and Dave were certainly the stars of the evening. Their enthusiasm and knowledge of fishing was self-evident. The patients who attended the fishing presentation let 'everyone know,' in the clinical area, how valuable the class was to them. Having Dave bring fish and show the group how to clean the fish was a HUGE HIT! Dave gave me 6 rods and reels to give out to the patients who did not have any fishing poles. That was most generous of him. John brought his rods and reels and I have attached a few pictures showing John instructing some Moss patients in the art of casting. Cliff was a treasure trove of information, about knot tying and where to set the weight on the line in reference to, what kind of fish one is fishing for. I certainly learned a lot about fishing. Adding to the evening event, attendees enjoyed foil baked catfish and cod, with vegetables. It was one of my most successful health activities for patients at the clinic."
Project Healing Waters Supporter Douglas Dear Finalists in LL Bean Outdoor Hero Award
Douglas Dear of Rose River Farm in Madison County and Chairman of the Board for Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing has been selected as one of 10 finalists for the national LL Bean Outdoor Hero award for his work as Chairman of the Board of PHW from it's founding to today. Dear was nominated by Ed Nicholson, the founder of Project Healing Waters (PHW) and selected as one of the 10 finalists from over 600 nominees. The winner will be determined by internet vote which closes July 31. If Dear is chosen the winner, PHW wins $5,500.
PHW helps injured active duty military and Veterans rehabilitate through fly fishing, fly tying and fly fishing outings. With Dear's commitment and leadership, PHW has grown from one location at Walter Reed to over 100 VA Hospitals, Military Hospitals and Warrior Transition Units around the country reaching over 2,000 soldiers since its start 5 years ago. At the prestigious 5th annual PHW 2-Fly Fishing Tournament hosted at Rose River Farm, Dear was honored with his site being named the Official Home Waters of PHW. Ed Nicholson noted, "Douglas has been critical to helping the PHW participants regain confidence and a sense of accomplishment. He takes an active and personal interest in the wounded warriors. He's kind, giving and altruistic â€“ beyond what you'd expect for the chairman of any board." Dear also provides the facilities and pristine waters of Rose River Farm for other fishing opportunities and events for groups like Trout Unlimited, kids fishing days and VDGIF partnership programs. For more information about Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, visit projecthealingwaters.org. To view a photo feature on the Two-Fly Tournament and how you can support PHW, read the Been There, Done That... feature article in the May 25, 2011 edition of the Outdoor Report.
To learn more about Douglas Dear's leadership and service with PHW and view a 2 minute video of Douglas, shot at the Farm during the 2-Fly Tournament and vote in support of Project Healing Waters visit: LL Bean 2011 Outdoor Heroes Award.
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!
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. On August 27 the VA Chapter NWTF Wheelin' Sportsmen will hold their Annual Fund Raising and Awards recognition event in the form of a Hawaiian Luau at Best Western Conference Center in, Waynesboro. For information or tickets contact Linda Layser at (540) 886-1761, email email@example.com, or Sherry Engle, 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 â€“ 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.
Partner Organizations Working Together For Wildlife
The VDGIF is pleased and honored to have the support of numerous non-profit conservation organizations that are dedicated to wildlife conservation and education. Through the involvement of thousands of citizen volunteers, as well as a financial commitment to a variety of agency projects, organizations have supported wildlife conservation efforts that benefit all Virginia sportsmen and women. We encourage everyone to support these organizations and to become active participants in one or more of these groups. In this section of the Outdoor Report we spotlight one of these partner organizations, highlighting the groups programs and activities that support us in our Mission "working together for wildlife.".
The Virginia Trappers Association
In September 1966 twenty-three concerned trappers met at Hungry Mother State Park in Smyth County, VA to discuss the trapper's future in Virginia. In view of unknowledgeable, emotional people trying to get legislation passed to outlaw trapping in Virginia, these trappers knew something had to be done to combat the lies that were being told about trappers and the antics of anti-trapping groups to get attention and donations.
The facts are that a large percentage of the propaganda being advertised by these anti-trapping groups have been proven to be untrue. The National Wildlife Federation, who make their policies on scientific fact alone, state that trapping furbearers is a legitimate use of a renewable resource. These trappers knew that by standing together and adopting ethical and scientific principals of wildlife management could they survive and promote their traditions and heritage and adopted the following guidelines and principals for their organization:
- To conserve and maintain an adequate supply of furbearing animals;
- To preserve the freedom and pleasures of the trapline for those who succeed them;
- To uphold the fundamental rights of freedom, liberty and justice for all;
- To develop leadership for the advancement of the best interests of trapping and the fur industry as a whole;
- To insure a desire to practice the ethics of true sportsmanship towards others who wish to enjoy the recreation and pleasures of the outdoors;
- To impart knowledge to the young concerning the necessity of conservation;
- To cultivate a feeling of goodwill and mutual understanding through a proper respect of the rights of landowners at all times;
- To aid and cooperate with law enforcement agencies in bringing about the apprehension and just punishment of those who violate the laws as they relate to the interests of trappers;
- To oppose and request revisions of any proposed legislation which discriminates toward the hunting and trapping fraternity; and,
- To oppose any legislation which would impose unreasonable restriction on the taking of furbearing animals or the sale of furs.
Therefore, the Virginia Trappers Association (VTA) came into being, and an election was held on the spot. Johnny Hundley, of Bassett, VA, was elected the first President, Mr. E. C. Morgan, of Abington, was elected Vice President, and Mr. William "Bill" Kindervater of Richmond was elected Secretary-Treasurer
Since its beginning inÂ 1999 over 900Â men and women, andÂ boys and girls, from 8 years old to 74 years young,Â have attended the Basic Trapper Training Program. The number ofÂ attendees continues to increase each year.Â There areÂ 550 active members in VTA who Â serve as volunteers and partners with VDGIF and other organizations in providing training programs for beginning trappers, Hunter EducationÂ Instructors, Conservation Police Officers and Youth Programs in elementary schools. Demonstrations and exhibits are Sportsman shows, County Fairs and other outdoor and agricultural events to show the benefits of trapping in managing nuisance wildlife and providing ethical and competent trapping services to citizens. Many members also serve as Hunter Education Instructors, Complementary Work Force Volunteers and conduct Trapper Certification Workshops.Â VTA members participate in an advisory capacity on various study committees and management workgroups with VDGIF and other natural resource conservation agencies.
Last spring the VDGIF Outdoor Education Program, Virginia Waterfowlers' Association and VTA partnered to provide the general public educational component workshops on waterfowl predator management. The four workshops held throughout the state were attended by 210 constituents. These educational workshops were offered free to participants. The locations were hosted by Bass Pro Shops and Gander Mountain stores. These workshops benefited the sportsmen and landowners who wanted to know more about managing wildlife and controlling predators. See the May 25th Edition feature Been There Done That section of the Outdoor Report for details.
VTA helps sponsor and conduct the Annual Fur Sale. In July the VTA annual statewide convention attracting 800-1000 participants from Virginia and surrounding states to attend seminars, training, purchase supplies from specialty vendors and join in the camaraderie of fellow trappers and wildlife management professionals. This year's convention is July 15-17 in Orange, VA. For details see the article in Wild Events section.
If you are having a problem with nuisance wildlife, see the article in the Green Tips section on how to contact a competent trapper to resolve the problem. For more details and information on the VTA activities, training workshop schedules, or how to contact officers and members, visit the Virginia Trappers Association website.
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 â€“ 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...
Baseball Fans 'Go Nutz' for New VDGIF K-9 Team
"Take me out to the ball game, Take me out with the crowd. Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks..." was the theme song as nearly 7000 baseball fans attended The Great Outdoors Celebration night sponsored by The Wildlife Foundation of Virginia and VA Department of Game & Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) for the Richmond Squirrels vs. the Erie Sea Wolves baseball game on a beautiful calm clear Friday evening June 24th at the Diamond in Richmond. In addition to the Squirrels winning 8-1, the fans all agreed the "most valuable players" were the VDGIF's new K-9 Team introduced to the fans at the start of the game and roaming the stands throughout the game to the thrills of kids of all ages getting to pet and shake paws with these extraordinary dogs and their CPO partners. VDGIF staff and Complementary Work Force Volunteers organized by Tom Wilcox VDGIF Grants Coordinator and Outreach Director Lee Walker provided exhibits featuring Law Enforcement, Boating Safety, Hunter Education, Outdoor Report free subscription sign ups, and partner activities with Jenny West Executive Director of the Wildlife Foundation of Virginia.
Many thanks to Paul Farmer of Farmer's Foods grocery store for supporting the pre-game picnic and festivities at the Richmond VDGIF Headquarters campus. This effort brought employees and families together to show VDGIF Team support for our home team â€“ the Richmond Flying Squirrels. Nothing like hot dogs, hamburgers, chips, and Cracker Jacks for a pre-game meal. Paul noted, "Farmers Foods is very pleased to help support the exceptional stewards of Virginia's great outdoors.Â They not only preserve our natural resources, the wildlife, and the necessary habitats; but go to remarkable lengths to inform, encourage, and educate Virginians and others to participate and enjoy the abundant outdoor opportunities in Virginia.Â Personally, some of my finest memories have been throughout Virginia, far from stoplights, cyberspace, and sidewalks, both as a child and later with my family.Â The opportunity for this to continue through generations is a statement of the benefits to Virginians for supporting organizations such as the VDGIF and WFV."
To make sure that VDGIF looked liked One Agency; One Team, Jim Nathanson of Target Marketing provided caps for VDGIF staff and volunteers. The lightweight caps, made from 100% recyclable plastic water bottles, were perfect for the June heat and created a great team look for VDGIF during the game. Employees are still wearing them today!!! Target Marketing is supporting the revitalization the new VDGIF E-Store and Jim was introduced to Chief Operating Officer Matt Koch and Executive Director Bob Duncan to kick-off this new partnership. A very special thank you to the Wildlife Foundation of Virginia for their financial support of the pre-game picnic. The VDGIF is excited about this partnership and going above and beyond in the future!
For more information on the new K-9 Team read the feature in the CPO Notebook in this edition or the June 24th edition. To support the new K-9 Team, the Wildlife Foundation of VA has set up a fund to receive donations through their website. 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'ts show our spirit and support for those great American traditions... fishing, hunting, boating and baseball!" Thanks also to the Richmond Squirrels for hosting the Great Outdoors Celebration night at the Diamond- Gooooooooo Nutz!
Photos by Lee Walker.
VDGIF K-9 Team warms up with the ball players at the Diamond to the delight of fans. Jenny West, Executive Director of the Wildlife Foundation of VA invited a special guest to throw out the First Pitch. Â MSgt Paul Starner, US Marine Corps, stationed at Portsmouth Naval Hospital was wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan and the recipient of four Purple Hearts.Â MSgt Starner noted that his life long dream has been to become a Conservation Police Officer and being asked to throw the first pitch for the Great Outdoors Night was a great experience. We honor and appreciate his courage, service and Â sacrifice.
Photos by Lee Walker.
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 â€“ 2012 Quota Hunts July 1
For the 2011 â€“ 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.
Information on New Regs and Youth Hunters Photos Featured at Sportsman Show
Be sure and visit the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries booths at the 28th Annual Virginia Outdoor Sportsman's Show held at a NEW LOCATION this year, The Richmond Raceway Complex August 12-14, featuring 300 fun and exciting new exhibits, demonstrations and seminars- something for everyone in the family. Conservation police officers, hunter safety instructors and wildlife biologists will be on hand to answer all your hunting, fishing, and wildlife information questions. It's also a great time to purchase your hunting and fishing licenses, or the new 2012 Virginia Wildlife Calendar. Get your free copy of the new 2011-2012 Hunting & Trapping Regulations and Information booklet featuring descriptions of new regulations and opportunities to enhance your hunting experience.
With record deer and bear harvests last year, there are bountiful opportunities for pursuing big game, small game, waterfowl, and trapping. Sportsmen and landowners can get information on habitat improvement and the new quail restoration program. Hunter Education Instructors will have demonstrations on safe firearms handling, tree stand use, and safety reminders for all hunters. Complementary Work Force volunteers will show opportunities for volunteers to work side by side with professional staff in a variety of projects. The Department and partner organizations will have displays featuring specialized, innovative equipment, and opportunities for persons with disabilities and training in outdoor skills. Visit the Department's website for more information on Department programs and hunting opportunities.
Share your favorite youth hunting photos at the Show... Young hunters age 15 and under are invited to bring a copy of a hunting photo showing their success to post on the wall at the Outdoor Report booth near the entrance to the Show. Photos must be no larger than 8x10 size and be in good taste. Any firearms pictured MUST be pointed in a safe direction. For some good basic photo tips see the section below - Share your Hunting Photos and Stories With Us... Photos will not be returned and will be on display throughout the show. Prizes will be awarded for the Top Ten Photos and will be featured in the Outdoor Report and Whitetail Times, official magazine of the VA Deer Hunters Association.
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
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!
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.
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 â€“ get a smaller life jacket! A younger child's life jacket should also include a crotch strap â€“ 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.
It is recommended for anyone who operates a boat to complete a boating safety education course is approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) and accepted by VDGIF. Virginia's Boating Safety Education Compliance Regulation is being phased in over the next several years. If you have previously taken a boating safety education course and have your card, you are in compliance with the new regulation. Visit the VDGIF website for course information and for information about how to get replacement cards. To learn more about boating laws in Virginia and about boating education courses, visit the Department's website.
Be Aware of Lyme Disease and Prevent Tick Bites
Remember spring is the time to be aware of ticks and the potential for Lyme disease. Especially for turkey hunters walking through grass fields and woods. Information about Lyme disease and what people should do if they are bitten by a tick can be found on the Virginia Department of Health website. Virginia Wildlife Magazine featured an article about Lyme disease prevention that can be read on our agency website.
The best way to avoid contracting Lyme disease is to prevent tick bites. Use insect repellant to prevent ticks from getting on you. There are many kinds of effective insect repellants on the market, so read up on benefits and precautions of the various kinds. Some may be applied directly to the skin, while others should only be applied to clothing. Read the label! Note the proper method to remove ticks (PDF) to prevent infection. Should you notice the target type ring around a tick bite or any of the symptoms of Lyme disease, seek medical attention immediately, as early detection and treatment will speed recovery in most cases. Be sure and check yourself, your children and your pets frequently whenever outdoors and after you return home for a few days.
"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.
What To Do With Nuisance Wildlife
Let's face facts... those cute and cuddly critters we see in the wild can also be a nuisance if they decide to move in with you or overstay their welcome. Vance Shearin, who staffs the Information Desk at the VDGIF Headquarters in Richmond, hears that complaint a lot. He notes, "We get a lot of calls on nuisance animals and nuisance furbearers especially in the spring and fall. Someone calls in and may have a fox in the yard, squirrel in the attic, raccoon in the garage, or beavers cutting down trees or flooding a road with their dam. Many of the callers are under the false impression that we will come and remove the wildlife for free as a public service. They are often unaware that they may have to pay a private trapper if they don't want to dispatch the animal themselves."
VDGIF Furbearer Biologist Mike Fies advises, "Nuisance wildlife laws and regulations are complex. Most of the complexity is due to the different Code [of Virginia] Sections that pertain to various wildlife situations. Landowners are permitted to trap and shoot some species of nuisance wildlife at any time. However, you should check with the VDGIF to make sure you are complying with all laws and regulations before taking action. The VDGIF provides assistance by instructing people how to handle their own problem depending on the circumstances, or putting them in contact with private individuals who can provide trapping services for a fee." Property owners need to be aware that it is illegal to capture and relocate wildlife without a permit. Relocating nuisance wildlife would simply move the problem to someone else's property. A list of trappers who handle nuisance animals is available on the VDGIF website. For information on non-lethal alternatives for nuisance wildlife problems visit The Center for Human-Wildlife Conflict Resolution.
The Code that is enforced by VDGIF states, "A landowner may shoot fur-bearing animals except muskrat and raccoons, upon his own lands during closed season. When beaver are damaging crops or lands, the owner of the premises, his agent, or tenant, may kill the animals, or have them killed. A landowner and members of his immediate family may kill rabbits or squirrels for their own use during the closed season. Fur-bearing animals include beaver, bobcat, fox, mink, muskrat, opossum, otter, raccoon, skunk, and weasel." Animals that are a threat to public safety, like a potentially rabid fox, or aggressive coyote should be reported immediately to the local animal control officer or police.
For more details on how to handle nuisance wildlife read When Wildlife Overstays its Welcome (PDF) by VDGIF Habitat at Home Coordinator Carol Heiser.
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.
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:
- When is the Chincoteague Pony Penning?
- Where did the ponies originate?
Answers to June 22nd edition quiz for nature events for late June...
- How far can a striped skunk spray its 'oderific' liquid from the glands near it's tail? 5-10 feet.
- Skunks being mostly nocturnal, when is the Full Moon in July? July 15th.
Are skunks more active then?? Probably - but at least you can see them better!!
Get your copy of the 2011 Virginia Wildlife Calendar here.
Habitat Improvement Tips
Workshops Scheduled for Native Warm Season Grasses in Forage-Livestock Systems
Virginia Working Landscapes has scheduled Warm Season Grass Workshops in two counties to cover establishment and management of warm season grasses on your farm to use as a forage crop, improve wildlife habitat and provide other potential marketing opportunities. Dr. Ben Tracy from VA Tech will discuss the value of native warm season grasses in forage-livestock systems through classroom sessions, field trips to working farms using warm season grasses and the distribution of information books, fact sheets and research articles. Both workshops are from 8:30am to 5:00 pm.
- August 10th Middleburg, VA (MARE Center)
- August 11th Front Royal, VA (Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute)
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 â€“ 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 â€“ 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 â€“ Christiansburg â€“ (540) 381-4221 ext. 128
- Katie Baker Martin â€“ Farmville â€“ (434) 392-4171 ext. 106
- Debbie Wright â€“ Verona â€“ (540) 248-6218 ext.108
- Mike Budd â€“ Fredericksburg â€“ (540) 899-9492 ext. 101
- Vacant â€“ Smithfield â€“ (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.|
Region I - Tidewater
Special Operations on Ragged Island WMA find multiple violations and illegal aliens... On Friday, May 27, 2011, District 13 conducted a special operation on Ragged Island WMA in Isle of Wight County targeting after hours activities on the WMA. Seven individuals were contacted and eleven summonses were issued for various violations to include: Fishing Without a License, Trespass on WMA after Sunset and Littering. On Sunday, May 29, 2011, District 13 again conducted the special operation on Ragged Island WMA. This night would yield fourteen contacts with twenty-six total arrests. These arrests included: Fishing Without a License, Trespass on WMA after Sunset, Littering, and Drinking in Public. Of the fourteen subjects contacted, eight were determined to be in the United States illegally. The district officers secured federal detainers on those eight illegal suspects. Those eight were taken into custody and transported to the Western Tidewater Regional Jail where they were processed and would remain in federal custody until a deportation hearing.
Operation Dry Water Nets BUI... On Saturday, June 25, 2011, Conservation Police Sergeant Rich Goszka and Officer Ken Williams were conducting an Operation Dry Water boat patrol on the Rappahannock River in the area of the town of Tappahannock. At 2040 hours the officers observed a Fountain speedboat almost strike a fishing net near the Rt. 360 Bridge. The officers stopped the boat and Officer Williams arrested the operator for Operating Under the Influence. The operator's final BAC was a .17 and he was charged with BUI and for not having the proper number of PFD's for the number of passengers on board. Due to his lengthy criminal history he was lodged in the Northern Neck Regional Jail with no bond until a June 30th arraignment.
Region II - Southside
"Operation Dry Water"... From June 24-26, 2011, Region 2 waterways were saturated with boating patrols for the National "Operation Dry Water" enforcement effort. During this period, 28 Region 2 Conservation Police Officers along with 3 officers from the Franklin and Patrick County Sheriff's Office's, conducted 43 boating patrols and 5 boating safety checkpoints. Over this 3 day period, 566 boating safety checks were conducted in which our officers detected violations ranging from alcohol violations to safety equipment violations. During this period, 119 arrests and 139 warnings were made. There were 3 charges of Boating Under the Influence (BUI) and 4 boating incidents (1 Hit and Run which is still under investigation). In addition to the enforcement efforts, there were two Law Enforcement safety talks, one to a Boating Safety Class (147 students) and the other to a PWC Poker Run event.
Region III - Southwest
Grandfather's "Fishing Trick" works, but you still need a fishing license... On July 2, 2011, Conservation Police Officer Tosh Barnette conducted a covert patrol of Bark Camp Lake in Scott County. Officer Barnette was working his way down the shore to check fishing licenses when he observed a subject standing on the shore looking out at the water. Officer Barnette, dressed in plain clothes, approached the subject and began fishing. The subject under observation then pulled a stick with fishing line attached out of his pocket. The subject put corn on the hook and began fishing for bluegill. The subject caught a bluegill and placed it in the cargo pocket of his shorts. Officer Barnette struck up a conversation with the subject who advised he had learned this trick for catching bait fish from his grandfather. After identifying himself to the subject, Officer Barnette issued the subject a summons for fishing without at license.
Region IV - Mountains & Shenandoah Valley â€“ Northern Piedmont
Boating Under the Influence... On June 18, 2011, while on boat patrol on Lake Anna, at approximately 20 minutes after sunset, Conservation Police Officer Garrett observed a pontoon boat coming up lake towards Sturgeon Creek. The vessel had no running lights displayed and the only light on was a white spotlight on the port side. She stopped the vessel and immediately noticed an odor of alcoholic beverage about the operator. The operator was unable to determine which switch would turn on his navigation lights, or the function of any of the switches on the vessel. After checking the vessel's safety equipment, she asked the operator to perform some field sobriety test, which he did not perform to her satisfaction. One of the occupants on the vessel kept asking and became insistent that he, and not the operator, be taken to jail and that he was willing to do prison time for his friend. Contradictory to his friend's wishes, the operator was arrested and transported to the Spotsylvania County Sheriff's Department where he provided a sample of his breath. The result was a BAC of 0.08%.
Spear Gun Fisherman Nabbed... On Saturday, June 25, Conservation Police Sergeant Carl Martin and Officer Chance Dobbs conducted a 10-mile kayak patrol on the South Fork of the Shenandoah River from Inskeep Landing to Fosters Landing in Page County. During this patrol, seven summonses were issued for fishing and boating violations. One angler exceeded his daily creel limit for bass. After observing an individual with goggles in the river, the officers set up surveillance. The officers saw this subject raise a spear from the water. While approaching this individual, he dropped the spear gun; however, the smallmouth bass he possessed told the story on how they had been taken. In addition, all three bass were within the slot limit, and of course, could not be released. This is the same area of the river where other arrests have been made for fishing by illegal methods.
New Wildlife K-9 Team Pilot Program Needs Your Support
VDGIF Law Enforcement has introduced a pilot program K-9 Team with three Labrador retrievers trained in tracking, wildlife detection and evidence recovery. The dogs and their CPO handlers graduated from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources' K-9 Academy in April. This was an intense and physically demanding eight week training course that all three handlers completed successfully with their dogs and returned to Virginia to begin their work. These K-9 units have already made an impressive start assisting CPOs and other state and local law enforcement and search and rescue teams with the dogs special skills and abilities. The members of the new K-9 Team 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.
VDGIF Director of Law Enforcement Col Dabney Watts, Jr., has high expectations for this new versitle Team noting, "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 Grants Manager 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 is provided on both the Foundation and Department websites. In addition Lee Walker, Director of Outreach, 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. See the feature on the K-9 Team's introduction at the Richmond Squirrels baseball game in the "Been There, Done That" section.
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 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.
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.
- Purchase copies of A Guide to the Snakes of Virginia »
- View Streaming Video on Rattlesnakes »
- Read the Outdoor Report article 'The Eastern Cottonmouth: Separating Fact from Fiction' from July 22, 2009 »
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.
Review the article, "Does Your Lifejacket Really Fit?" in the Be Safe... Have Fun section.
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 â€“ 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. No report this edition - call for update on water conditions.
Little Creek Reservoir: Contributed by Park Concessionaire Diane Priestley, (757) 566-2277, firstname.lastname@example.org. Fish are on their summer time pattern so look deep, 15 ft. or more. Bass over 4 lbs. came in last week now that the fishermen have found the pattern. Look for something different on the 15 to 20 ft. shelves, it may be a bend, hump, an intersection channel or just a hole anything that is different. Try finesse worms, shaky heads, or drop-shot, even vertical jigging. The crappie bite has slowed down but some keepers are showing up in 12 to 15 ft. Try jigs or minnows. Bluegills are everywhere since the lake came up 6 in. after last week's downpours, which may have dropped the temperature a degree or two. Look for larger ones at 8 ft. or below. Use red wigglers, jigs and you have to try inline spinners and very small crank baits just above the grass. Nice catfish rounded this week's report. In the mood for a fish fry? Find a point closest to shore go 10 to 20 ft. down and use 3 to 4 oz. bluegills for bait. The fishing pier has produced channel and blues exceeding 8 lbs. The water level is good, only down 20 in. with a water temperature of 89 degrees and a visibility of 15 ft.
Virginia Beach: Captain Jim Brincefield (443) 336-8756. Captain Jim says the fishing is good. Sheepshead and Spadefish are at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel pilings. They will both take clams. Flounder are at Buoy 42 and the cell. They are going for squid and bull minnows, but most are too small to keep. Bluefish and Spanish mackerel are at Cape Henry and attacking spoons. Spot are at Rudee and Lynnhaven Inlets and showing interest in Fishbite and blood worms. The water is clear and 72 degrees.
Back Bay: New reporter and local angler Tom Deans. No report this edition.
Chickahominy River: River's Rest (804) 829-2753. Charlie Brown reports that bass action is good, especially with plugs, top-waters and plastic worms. Crappie fishing is good too, try minnows and jigs. Some cats are coming in on cut bait and live eel. No word on perch. Lots of bluegill are hanging out at the dock and snacking on red wigglers. The water is slightly stained and 87 degrees.
North Landing River and Back Bay: West Neck Marina (757) 426-6735. Dewey Mullins told me that lots of bass are being landed with top-waters early and late. During the day try spinners, plastic (black or pumpkin seed), and cranks. Not many crappies have come in, but those that have are big. Minnows, jig and small spinners are your best bet. Not too many anglers are going for cats out there, but good "eatin' sized" blues and channels are going for cut bait, live shiners and night crawlers. Plenty of white perch are being brought up, ranging from ¾ to 1 ¼ lbs. They like small cranks, minnows and night crawlers. Bluegill are taking red wigglers, crickets and, for fly anglers, top water poppers. The water is clear and in the high 70s.
Norfolk Lakes: Dasheill's Show Room (757) 539-7854. Drew Dixon says that lots of bass are to be had his way. They are going for plastics (June bug) and cranks. Lots of crappie are coming in on minnows and jigs. Cats are plentiful too, try cut bait. Not much word on perch. Bream action is good with crickets and red wigglers. The water is clear and in the low to mid 80s.
Blackwater and Nottoway: By Riverkeeper Jeff Turner www.blackwaternottoway.com. Spirit of Moonpie, Freezing Deer (my wife) and I spent the 2nd through the 3rd on the Blackwater below Franklin. The water was nasty, green, 84 degrees and the dissolved oxygen at the surface was 2.71 ppm. Trash on this trip was not too bad. However most of the river had the green sheen going on and was that way most everywhere we went. The main water quality issue I saw was all of the cow poop lying on the shore and in the river from the cows on a nearby farm. That really adds a lot of nutrients to the water helping to cause that green sheen not to mention the e-coli influx from all that poop. So if you go to the river I do not recommend getting in the water up there. The fishing on this trip was okay. It was just so hot I only did a bit of fly fishing during the day. However I did catch plenty of nice bream while I was turning into a piece of fried bacon on the front deck of the boat. We fished several hours one night but only caught a blue and a yellow cat. Moonpie suggested we throw the yellow and blue cat in a bucket together to see if they would turn green but I told her I didn't think it worked that way. We rode down to check on the eagles at the Cherry Grove nesting site. I was surprised to see the two young eagles hatched this year still hanging around. One was in the nest and the other was flying around but not going far. There was one parent present, so I guess the young eagles are still being taught their survival lessons. We also saw a few snakes and actually had a brown water snake swim right up to the boat and at first I thought we were going to get boarded. I looked around and Freezing Deer and Moonpie had already grabbed weapons, so I waved the serpent off with a well thrown nab. All in all, it was a good trip. I'm hoping next time we get out the water will be back to black because I don't want to see a green river when we go visit 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. No report this edition.
Region 2 - Southside
Lake Gordon: Contributed by our man in the boat Willard A. Mayes. Willard is still recovering from his heart surgery, so he hasn't been out; but I'm sure we're all keeping him in our thoughts. Get well soon Willard; we need you to make us laugh.
Sandy River and Briery Creek: Contributed by Longwood College Fishing Club's Jack Pollio. Plenty of bass are being caught in the ledges and deep points on a lot of different baits. Carolina rigs, drop shot, deep diving crankbaits, and jigs have been the best producers. Plenty of 20 in. plus fish have been caught even in the heat. Catfishing has also been very good on chicken liver, shrimp, or large minnows. Crappie fishing on the deeper brush piles and bridge pilings have also been producing a lot of slabs.
James at Scottsville: Local Guide L.E. Rhodes www.hatchmatcherguideservice.com, (434) 286-3366. The James is in the best condition it has been all year. Fish up to 21.75 inches have been boated the past couple weeks. Fly anglers are having success using Claw Dad, Baitfish and Top-Water patterns. The fish are still scattered about in the river. Look for the deeper ledges midstream and current along the banks for the bigger fish. Conventional anglers are successful throwing soft plastics or some type of top-water bait.
Kerr Reservoir: Bob Cat's Lake Country Store, (434) 374-8381. Bobby Whitlow reports that bass have gone deep. Try cranks, spinners or a Carolina rig off the lake points. Striper are deep as well, so try down riggers or a lead core line about 25 to 30 ft. down. Crappie have gone deep too, but they are biting. Look about 25 to 30 ft. down around brush and bridge pilings. Cat action is spotty, but some 30 to 40 pounders have been brought in; try cut bait, cut or live shad and bluegills. Speaking of bluegills, they are ready to bite red wigglers around ripraps and docks. Perch will hit "just about anything", but are very fond of jigging spoons. The water is slightly stained and 85 degrees.
James at Lynchburg: Angler's Lane, (434) 385-0200. Tom Reisdorf says that bass are really responding to popping bugs. Trout fishing has been tough due to the low water. Your best bets are ant and beetle imitations or Hoppers. The water is low, clear and warming.
Lake Gaston: Holly Grove Marina, (434) 636-3455. Ron Karpinski told me that bass fishing is slow due to all the pleasure boaters around his area. It's best to try top-waters early and late. Crappie are also hard to find, but may go for a minnow. Cat fishing is good with minnows and stinkbaits for the small ones and shad or cut bait for the big bruisers. No word on perch or bluegill. The water is clear and in the mid to high 80s.
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, but patterns continue to change as we move into summer. As the warmer water continues to push down in the water column and the alewives spawn draws to a close, bass are being found in deeper water more frequently. Early summer patterns influence where bass anglers are spending their time and the lures they are using, both in the day and at night. While a number of fish remain up near the shoreline, once the sun moves overhead most of the better bass are being found on deepwater ledges and in the shade under deep-water docks. These deepwater bass continue to be caught on a variety of lures including medium and deep water crankbaits including good colors of DD-22's as well as the newer deep water Spro and Rapala plastic crankbaits. Soft plastics are also working. Bass are also being found in submerged brush where the straight tail worm is a good choice Topwater baits continue to produce bass early in the morning, late in the evening and at night. Bass continue to move up into shallow water at night looking for crawfish up closer to the shoreline. Crawfish imitating pig and jigs and plastics presented on lightweight Texas rigs and jigheads are good choices.
Striper: Fishing is mixed. A number of different striped bass anglers reported they found it increasingly difficult to locate schooling striped bass this past week. Those who found the schooled fish had good success using very small, "peanut" sized live bait, rigged on small Octopus circle hooks (Size 2 to 1/0) on lightweight, fluorocarbon leaded, downlines. As in years past, when the stripers are found in schools from 20 to 60 feet below the surface, anglers using very healthy, lively, small live bait, rigged on light tackle will have success when those fishing with traditional, heavier tackle on the same fish won't. If you want to learn how to select and throw a castnet, keep your bait healthy and present it effectively I suggest you attend the "Live Bait" workshop that will be held this Thursday evening starting at 6:30 p.m. in the second floor conference room above our shop. The cost is $20, advance registration is required and I anticipate this session will last until well after 9 p.m. Please call the shop or go online for more information or to reserve a seat in this hands-on seminar.
Bream: Red wiggler worms continue to be the bait of choice for those who want to catch the numerous bluegill, warmouth and other panfish that are currently found around docks and riprap shorelines. Small hair jigs, crankbaits and tiny lead headed jigs with plastic trailers are also good choices for the smaller panfish, especially for those who prefer to fish with artificial lures. Using a small bobber in conjunction with several of the lures listed above will help keep them from being snagged and will help younger anglers detect strikes.
Catfish: Stinkbaits continue to work well for channel cats, especially the shrimp, crawfish and shad scented dough baits presented on the bottom using spring hooks. Spring hooks are designed to hold the dough ball onto the surrounding treble or straight shank hook so the bait will remain on the hook for an extended period and will not flip off when being cast, like so often happens when regular hooks are used. Flathead catfish continue to be caught on live shiners, shad and small bluegill presented on the bottom.
Water temperatures are ranging from 79 to 86 degrees. Clarity is good. Tight lines and good fishing.
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.
Bass: Water temperature is in the mid 80s. There is a decent early morning and late evening top-water bite with Lobina Lures Rico popper working well. Once the sun gets up, the fishing gets tougher. Gary Yamamoto double tail hula grubs on a small jig head is a good lure choice to use to get a bite or two. Drop shotting a Roboworm is the best way to finesse the finicky bass. After dark the action picks back up a little with a black/blue chatterbait or a dark colored Jolt spinnerbait being the best lure choices. Matt and Billy Marten won the Tuesday night tournament with 5 bass weighing 10.06 lbs. The Rock House Marina has a Tuesday night tournament every Tuesday from 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Striper: There is a little bit of schooling activity at day break. After the sun gets up, try trolling an umbrella rig in deep water. The key is finding the suspended bait on your depth finder.
Catfish: The cats are starting to turn on. Peak creek is has produced some good size and good numbers lately. Bottom fishing with live shad is the best technique.
Crappie/Yellow Perch: They have moved to their summer hideouts and are hard to find. Haven't heard anything on either species.
Bluegill/Panfish: Bluegill are plentiful in the back of coves around any docks or laydown trees. A night crawler is the best choice.
Water temperature is in the mid 80s and clear.
Lower New River: Big Z'S (540) 639-1651. John Zienius says that smallmouth action is slow during the day due to the heat. Going for the night bite is more likely to get you a fish. Muskies will "eat anything" and more than one bass angler has been surprised to find a monster muskie on the end of his line. If you are trying to get muskies, go with inline spinners. No word on walleye, they are down very deep. Cats in Claytor Lake are biting on chicken livers and shrimp. The water is low, clear and in the mid to low 80s.
New River: Tangent Outfitters, (540) 257-0415. Shawn Hash reports that smallmouths are responding well to Senkos in all colors. Lots of muskies are going for big inline spinners and big sliders. The water is clear and in the 70s.
Young Angler Has 3 Citations Before third Birthday
Rylee Jolee Moore-Cox was fishing with her grand-father Linny Cox, aka "Paw Paw", on a fishing trip Fathers Day weekend on the New River near Eggelston and caught her first citation smallmouth. She will turn 3 years old in July and lives in Maidens. The citation smallmouth was caught on a grub not to far from where the state record was caught here on the New. Rylee Jo happily released her first citation since she loves to fish and at such a young age plans to catch more! Grandma Tena Cox notes, "We are so proud of her and how she does so well with fishing. Her Paw Paw is her mentor and Rylee enjoys doing things with him, he has been a wonderful part of her life, with having to be both a father figure and a grand-father. We asked her what she wanted to do for her birthday and she said GO FISHING!" After Rylee Jo caught her citation and took her pictures to show her buddies at Green Top Sporting Goods, Jeff Hopkins fitted her up with her very own new Rod & Reel combo. Jeff is a good "outfitter" as she has caught 2 more citations since! I think she will be the next youngest VA Angler at her best! Rylee picked up her first fishing pole at the age of 14 months and has been on it every since. We should be seeing more great photos of Rylee in future Fishin' Reports.
Upper New River: Contributed by Captain Forest Pressnell, (540) 818-5274, New River Charter. Well, here we are in July and the Upper New River is still muddy and or dingy for unknown reasons. Green or clear water has been hard to come by this year. I haven't heard many fishing tales so it would appear the river is getting minimal fishing pressure with these water conditions. If you venture out try spinner baits and top water for the smallies. Scale down baits for these warm water muskies. Catfishing has been good at night on chicken livers and shad. Water temperature is 79 degrees and the river level is going up and down from low to normal flow.
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. Harry says the smallmouth streams are giving good fishing. The best area in the North Fork is Edinburg downstream to Tom's Brook. Your best spot in the South Fork is from Luray to Bentonville. Best flies are: Murray's Floating Chub Streamer, size 6; and Murray's Olive Marauder, size 6. The water is clear, at a good level and 80 degrees.
The stocked streams in the Valley are also producing well. Best flies are: Murray's Professor Nymph, size 12; Murray's Caddis Pupa Olive, size 14; and the Mr. Rapidan Streamer, size 8. The water is clear, at a good level and 74 degrees.
The mountain streams are at a good level for this time of year and the headwaters of the streams are giving good action. Best flies are: Murray's Little Yellow Stonefly, sizes 16 and 18; Murray's Bronze Stonefly Dry, sizes 16 and 18; and Murray's Sulfur Dry, sizes 16 and 18.
Remember that Harry's website has a new stream condition report every Friday, so check it out before you pack up your flies.
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) The strong blast of rain we received over the last weekend will muddy the water on both the Rappahannock or the Rapidan through the end of the week. Even though the Rappahannock is a larger, longer river, it cleans up about three days sooner than the Rapidan. Therefore, if you fish the Rapidan this weekend and it is muddy, shift your focus and angling efforts to its larger cousin. We are about to enter the standard summer pattern for both spin and fly anglers. During the transition period, I agree with the Mossy Creek Fly Shop's recommendation to spend more time fishing mid river ledges in the current, not the banks, with the standard array of lures and flies. Of note to fly anglers is the universal goodness of the bitch creek nymph (or anything leggy) pattern. Use a large size â€“ size 8. The water level on the Upper Potomac is mixed right now. While it is below the nominal upper bound for safe wading (with a PFD) above the Monocacy, the Little Falls gage indicates we are still above the nominal upper bound for the lower section of the river. Exercise extreme caution if entering the water anywhere from the Monocacy downstream. Water temperatures remain good at 83°. With the abundant rainfall so far this year, mountain trout fishing in the Blue Ridge is still a viable option. By the weekend, the streams should be clear and the fishing good. If you need to feel the adrenaline rush of wary brookies hitting dry flies without being chilled to the bone by ice cold water, this is the time to have that experience.
Northern Virginia Lakes: Contributed by local angler Scott Torgerson. I spent several mornings over the 4th of July weekend and this past weekend on my favorite local hole, Lunga Reservoir on Quantico, as well as on the upper Occoquan Reservoir in the vicinity of the Bull Run Marina. The water levels and temperatures on both bodies of water have held pretty steady, hanging in the upper 70s and staying somewhat murky given the heavy rains we've experienced in the area. Lunga largemouth still liked striking top-water PopR plugs in 2 to 4 feet of water, and green/black wacky-rigged Senkos near structure a little later in the morning. Didn't see any chain pickerel though, so I think they may have headed into deeper water, and didn't catch any largemouth over 2 ½ lbs. but sure had fun being out on the water and seeing the sun come up! On the Occoquan, I found nice crappie and largemouth hitting shad colored shallow running crankbaits (4 to 5 feet) and 'foxy' shad lipless crank baits (8 to 10 feet) while I slow trolled the deeper channel areas early in the morning. Once the sun rose higher and it began to heat up I found some largemouth tagging wacky-rigged black Senkos near deeper structure and along the weed lines. Interestingly my largest crappie almost matched my largest bass... with both weighing in at just over 2 lbs. Great for the crappie, only average for the bass. Hope you enjoy the water in the coming weeks!
Rappahannock - South of Fredericksburg: Contributed by local angler Scott Torgerson. No report this edition.
Lake Orange: Contributed by Darrell Kennedy of Angler's Landing (540) 672-3997. The water is partly stained with visibility about 2 ft. down. Water surface temperature is in the low to mid 80s. The largemouth bass bite is productive early in the morning and evening on top-water baits. During mid day, offshore brush piles in 10 to15 ft. of water using a soft plastic lure or live bait is your best choice. Crappie are also offshore in 10 to 20 ft. range with structure being the key; brush piles or standing timber. They are biting small minnows and jigs. Catfishing is fantastic throughout the lake on live bait, chicken liver and night crawlers. The walleye are hanging out in about 20 ft. of water, being taken on live bait.
Lake Anna: Contributed by C. C. McCotter, McCotter's Lake Anna Guide Service, (540) 894-9144. No report this edition.
Lake Anna: Contributed by Local Guide Jim Hemby (540) 967-3313.
Stripers: HOT!!! Not only has the weather been hotter this summer with water temperatures on June 1st being 87 degrees, but the striper fishing has been hotter than previous years. My clients are averaging 50 to 80 stripers a morning and the bite is getting progressively better. Stripers have migrated to the mid lake regions and are aggressively feeding on 25 to 40 foot flats, gorging themselves on blue back herring. There are literally hundreds of schools of stripers roaming the lake now and good electronics are crucial in locating and staying on the schools. Some good techniques to try this month are as follows: Top-water action can be excellent this month. In the low light times of the day the stripers will bust Spooks, Pencil Poppers and Redfins worked near the deeper banks and over humps. When the stripers back off to deeper flats Sea Shads, Sassy Shads and swimbaits will work well. Once the fish congregate nearby the bottom, jigging spoons and Super Flukes will also catch fish. Trolling is a good option this time of year. Deep diving Redfins with a bucktail or Sea Shad trailer are hard to beat when the fish are 25 to 30 feet deep. Once the fish go deeper, umbrella and drop rigs work best fished on lead core line. The absolute best way to catch stripers this month is to use herring or minnows rigged on downlines putting the baits in the stripers' face. It is important to get the bait to the exact depth to maximize your catches. Concentrate your efforts this month in the first and last 3 hours of the day.
Bass: The bass are post spawn now and have retreated to deeper water to replenish their energy. They will still feed in low light conditions and will hit top water baits with vengeance, a Pop R being a great example. Work these baits with slow rhythmic chuggs giving the bass time to locate and blow up on the bait. June is a great month to work the old Carolina rig with lizards or your favorite rubber bait, a lot of water can be covered quickly to locate bass. Swimbaits will also catch very nice bass this month.
Crappie: The slabs have pulled out and are being caught on deeper points with brush piles and on the deeper bridge pilings in the 10 to 20 foot ranges. They continue to hit small minnows and jigs. The fish are also stacking up on ledges in the rivers in the 8 to 15 foot depths. If you fish the "Hot Side" the fish will congregate much deeper under the bridges in 20 to 30 foot depths. Crappie rigs [two hook rigs] tipped with minnows are deadly this month. Simply lower your offerings to the depth of the fish and once you start catching doubles mark your line at that depth and fill your cooler up.
Catfish: These fish are plentiful and are feeding everywhere on the lake, usually just behind and below the schools of stripers. They can be located on a good depth finder showing up as arches on or very near the bottom.
Attention Readers â€“ 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
Whether hunting, fishing, boating, camping or hiking, outdoor adventure shared with family members can create lasting memories. For 16 year old Kayla Bretzin, a Junior at Loudoun Valley High School in Leesburg, her most memorable outdoor experience was a camping trip with her family that included hiking, fishing, campfire stories and cooking over open flames. Whether finding peaceful solitude exploring the stream and woods with her brothers, or catching fish in the lake, sharing time afield offers many rewards. Kayla entered her article in the 2007-08 Virginia Outdoor Writers Association High School Writing Competition and placed in the Top 15. Kayla has captured the excitement, serenity, and fond memories that come with a family camping trip.
My Most Memorable Outdoor Experience: Camping
By Kayla Bretzin
Waking up to the sound of birds chirping and going to sleep in front of a crackling fire is only a small portion of what makes up camping. Confronted with the ever-changing atmosphere and the slow-paced world of nature makes us change our outlook even if it is only for a day or two. On top of this being surrounded by the nature, that we try so hard to separate ourselves from, is what makes camping such an enjoyable experience.
The six of us loaded up our equipment into our old, weather-beaten van. With our vehicle full to bursting we were on our way on our camping trip in Pennsylvania. Though a considerable distance, we kept busy and were excited with the anticipation of the coming week. Arriving at the grounds in mid-afternoon we began immediately to unpack the car and set up the tents. Having completed this we were free to explore our environment and I went out eagerly to the lake to survey the fishing areas. Fishing was probably one of my favorite things to do while camping because it can be both relaxing and exciting.
Sitting out at the lake drinking up the sun, I would sit and wait for that moment when the line became taut, suddenly called to attention, my heart would begin to pound. I would reel with all of my might, thinking, "This must be a big one!" Then after all that work, I pull out the scrawniest and most sickly looking fish I'd ever seen. After sizing it up for a few seconds I'd chuckle to myself and toss it back into the murky lake water and ready my hook for another catch.
On this particular camping trip there were many trails available for hiking. I found this activity to be very enjoyable because my brothers and I would always go off the trails exploring the various crevices and scaling the variety of rocky formations that protruded from the ground. Coming back to the campground after a long hike my father would light a fire. Once it was blazing we would cook hot dogs and grilled cheese, and roast marshmallows. While you are camping the "cuisine" is always delicious because it has that nice smoky flavor cooked right in. But it also helps that you are ravenous by the end of the day and would enjoy just about anything. After eating we read stories around the campfire, enjoying the fiery glow and the quiet wind through the trees. Moving only when the smoke would start to billow in our direction stinging our eyes and clogging our throats. Then we finally returned to our cave-like tents and went to sleep.
Camping is a time when families can bond and experience nature for themselves and not just through the TV. Because there are so many activities to choose from camping can be enjoyable for anyone. I have found that I enjoy many aspects of camping including fishing, hiking, and telling stories around the campfire. Also because we do so much camping has become an unforgettable experience for me as well as my family.
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:
- New K-9 Teams featured at Richmond Sportsman Show
- Recipes for Snakeheads- yes, tastes like chicken?!?
- "Staycation" opportunities within a 3 hour drive