In this edition:

Welcome to the New Year!

This edition begins the sixth year of the electronic Outdoor Report. We have grown to over 34,000 subscribers, and we appreciate your continued interest. Our success is due to the generous support and participation by colleagues, partners, contributing reporters and readers who have made this newsletter a respected source for outdoor news. We hope you have been informed, educated and even inspired on occasion to do something new and different to enhance your outdoor experiences, or better yet, share with others.

This edition posts on the opening day of the Virginia General Assembly. To keep you informed we have provided a special section with several links related to your legislature. There is a lot of legislative action scheduled this year on issues that may affect you as an outdoor enthusiast, landowner, or concerned citizen. You can view on-line the progress and status of bills related to the Department's mission or that may affect our operations and be of interest to you. Having been involved in conservation and sportsman related legislative issues for more than 25 years, Virginia sportsmen tend to be more reactive than they are pro-active. Many sit back quietly and let House Bills and Legislation go un-noticed without voicing their stand. If the outcome of the legislation is not to their liking, they complain, but then it is too late. Be informed and proactive and join with groups that share your views on issues and support your cause by contacting your Senator or Delegate, by email, letter or telephone.

This edition features a long list of "wild events" upcoming in the next 4 months that offer a variety of opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. There are both outdoor events and indoor sportsman's shows that feature seminars, exhibits, demonstrations and contests promising fun and exciting new activities for everyone in the family. VDGIF staff and volunteers will have exhibits at the upcoming February – March shows and hope you will stop by and say hello. More importantly bring a youngster or a friend that you can introduce to the great outdoors. Join with your fellow sportsmen and support one of the many conservation organizations that host these events. Each edition of the Outdoor Report contains examples of organizations that partner with VDGIF staff to provide opportunities to get folks involved in outdoor activities, supporting conservation programs and making our wild Virginia a great place to live and seek outdoor adventure.

From all of us that work to bring you the Outdoor Report, we wish you and yours joy, fulfillment and peace throughout the New Year!

David Coffman, Editor

Hunters for the Hungry Needs Donations of Venison and Processing Funds

During this season of giving, sportsmen are sharing the bounty of our fields and forests in many ways. Food banks need donations now more than ever. Hunters are providing much needed protein to Virginia's needy families by donating a deer, or a portion of it, to Hunters for the Hungry. The potential exists to receive, process, and distribute 400,000 pounds of venison annually providing 1.6 million servings to the less fortunate across Virginia. Since Hunters for the Hungry was founded in 1991, more than 4.7 million pounds, equal to 18.2 million servings, of venison have been distributed in Virginia. In tough times, hunters continue to share the wealth of their harvest. Hunters can also contribute by donating $2 to Hunters for the Hungry when they purchase their hunting licenses. Another valuable contribution is to also pay the $40 tax deductible processing fee for the deer they donate. The non-hunting public is also encouraged to donate money to Hunters for the Hungry to off-set the cost of processing the donated venison. Share the bounty in any way you can in this season when we give thanks for all the many blessings we share. There are numerous other ways for sportsmen to 'give back' to their sport, their neighbors and their communities featured in the articles throughout this edition.

General Assembly Legislation of Interest to You

The Virginia General Assembly will convene January 11, 2012, the day we post this edition of the Outdoor Report. To keep you informed we have provided several links related to your legislature. There is a lot of legislative action scheduled this year on issues that may affect you as an outdoor enthusiast, landowner, or concerned citizen. With the Assembly in session you can view online the progress and status of bills related to the Department's mission that may be of interest to you.

The most appropriate way to express your opinion about these bills, or any other legislation, is through your local delegate and/or senator. For more information about your legislators and how to contact them, visit the Virginia General Assembly website. You may also contact the Virginia General Assembly's Constituent Viewpoint Comment line toll-free at 1-800-889-0229 (804) 698-1990 in Richmond.

Governor McDonnell Announces DMV and DGIF Partnership

Joint Venture to improve One-Stop Shopping Options for Customers

Governor Bob McDonnell has announced a partnership between the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) that supports his government reform initiative to streamline services. Beginning in late-January, citizens can register boats and boat trailers in one trip to either DGIF or DMV. They will also be able to purchase hunting and fishing licenses from both agencies.

Speaking about the partnership, Governor McDonnell commented, "This partnership will simplify the citizens' interaction with state agencies. Boat-owners can choose where they go to register boats and boat trailers. Previously, boat-owners had to go to DGIF to register their boats and to DMV to register their trailers. Now, it's one-stop shopping. They can conduct both transactions at either agency."

Governor McDonnell continued, "The 74 local DMV customer service centers and two mobile offices will join the more than 700 DGIF license agents across the state so customers will not have to travel far to obtain these products if they desire a face-to-face experience."

DMV and DGIF are working with the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) to determine how the DMV 2 Go mobile offices can assist with the sales of hunting and fishing licenses during peak seasons and events such as the highly-anticipated opening day for trout at Douthat State Park in early April.

New for 2012 - Facility Access Permit

Effective January 1, 2012, a Facility Access Permit will be required when using any Department-owned Wildlife Management Area or Fishing Lake. Such permit shall not be required for any person holding a valid hunting, fishing or trapping license or a current certificate of boat registration issued by the Department or persons 16 years of age or younger. The Facility Access Permit requirement does not apply to Department- owned boat ramps or segments of the Appalachian Trail on Department- owned land. The Facility Access Permit fee is $ 4 for a daily permit or $23 for an annual permit. The Facility Access Permit may be purchased online or at any license agent.

Increased Options and Decreased Costs Available For Hunting, Trapping and Freshwater Fishing Licenses

Multi-year license discount goes into effect January 1, 2012

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) will introduce reduced pricing for resident annual hunting, trapping and freshwater fishing licenses for two-, three- and four-year periods beginning January1, 2012. Purchasers will save $2 for each additional year over the first since the license price is reduced $1 and the associated $1 license agent fee will be saved.

Multi-year licenses will only apply to three RESIDENT licenses (the annual Basic Hunting, Trapping and Freshwater Fishing Licenses) during this pilot program. VDGIF Chief Operating Officer Matt Koch said, "We are excited to offer this new option to our customers who have told us that this will be a convenience for them and save them money. Once the success of this pilot program is proven, the Department will consider expanding the multi-year offer to more licenses." Cost for one year of an annual resident basic hunting or freshwater fishing license is $23; two years will be $44; three years will be $65; and four years will be $86. Cost for the resident trapping license for one year is $46; two years will be $90; three years will be $134; and four years will be $178.

Licenses can be purchased online at www.dgif.virginia.gov, by calling 1-866-721-6911 during business hours, or at any license agent. VDGIF has a network of more than 700 license agents statewide at most sporting goods stores and bait shops.

Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss

5th Annual Bass & Saltwater Fishing Expo Returning to Meadow Event Park January 20-22

The 5th Annual Bass & Saltwater Fishing Expo (formally called the Richmond Fishing Expo) is returning to the Farm Bureau Center at the new Meadow Event Park in Caroline County near Doswell, January 20-22, 2012. The family-oriented show is geared to be a fun and educational experience for all who attend. Whether you are a fly fishing enthusiast, a bass fisher, saltwater, lake or river angler, this show has something for everyone in the family. Again this year, your admission ticket will allow you to return to the Show another day. There will be conservation organizations represented and an incredible selection of outfitters, fishing charters, boating suppliers, and seminar presenters. Numerous nationally-known speakers will hold seminars to teach skills and share some great stories of their adventures and experiences. VDGIF staff will be on hand to answer questions on agency programs, angling education, special training events, and opportunities to enjoy Virginia's great outdoors. The Outdoor Report e-newsletter will also have an exhibit featuring Fishin' Report contributing reporters answering your questions on where to get the latest "how are they bitin'" info on more that 25 primary lakes and rivers statewide. Volunteers from the VDGIF Complementary Work Force will be on hand describing opportunities for volunteers to assist in carrying out a variety of agency programs. For information visit the Show website or view the Show flyer.

2nd Annual Virginia Beach Winter Wildlife Festival January 27 - 29

Registration is open for the 2nd Annual Virginia Beach Winter Wildlife Festival set for Friday January 27 through Sunday 29. The Festival highlights the great wildlife viewing opportunities that Virginia Beach offers during the cold months. There are trips scheduled to Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, Back Bay and False Cape and numerous other sites along with workshops and an exhibit hall on Saturday at the Princess Anne Recreation Center. Be sure to join us Friday evening for a screening of the amazing documentary "Winged Migration" at the Virginia Aquarium. This screening is sponsored by the Back Bay Restoration Foundation.

The festival is presented by Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries with support from VA DCR State Parks, USFWS, Lynnhaven River Now, the Virginia Aquarium and Virginia Beach Audubon. In addition to providing an amazing opportunity to get out and enjoy Virginia's amazing wildlife resources, events such as this support local economies and build support for continuing conservation efforts. Go to the festival website for more information or contact Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation at (757) 385-4461 Email: outdoors@VBgov.com.

Outdoors Expo and Wild Game Dinner Hosted by Spotswood Baptist Church in Fredericksburg January 28

Spotswood Baptist Church invites all area sportsmen to their annual Outdoors Expo and Wild Game Dinner at Fredericksburg Christian School High School January 28th, 2012. Events start at 2 pm, including 3-D archery contest (bring your bow and arrows), big buck contest (adult/junior categories, 2011-2012 Virginia harvest only, bring rack and harvest tag), turkey calling contest, kids casting contest, Laser Shot hunting simulator, Center Shot Archery instruction, Retriever demonstration, venison chili contest (bring your crockpot of chili), Whitetail Deer Seminar and Keynote address by Wade Nolan, noted wildlife biologist and videographer. Dinner is free (bring a main dish or side dish that serves 3 people) serving around 5 pm with free T-shirts and hats for first 300 guests, and door prizes are fantastic! Fredericksburg Christian School High School Campus is located at 9400 Thornton Rolling Road, Fredericksburg, VA 22408-1714. Contact Kirk Horton with questions, (540) 834-7467, kirk.horton@navy.mil.

Huntfest Set for Roanoke Civic Center January 27-29

Huntfest is a new outdoor sports show coming to the Roanoke Civic Center January 27-29, 2012. Show Manager, Stacey Rowe, has a great line-up of experts in various fields including Randy Oitker, the current Guinness Book World Record Holder will perform all four of his record shots including his most recent impossible shot with not six but 7 balloons, 7 arrows, 1 shot! The man from Booger Bottom, Michael Waddell, host of Bone Collector himself will be the headlining guest this weekend. Also Just Kill'n Time TV (JKT) Hosts Max Rowe and Buck Buchanan, Virginia's original outdoor hunting show on the Sportsman Channel, will also be featured at the show doing seminars, and sharing their hunting tips and experiences.

Huntfest- Roanoke proudly works closely with local conservation groups each year to share the heritage that has been passed down from generation to generation. Go by and support the Hunters for the Hungry organization at their booth where they will have raffle tickets and merchandise to support their mission to feed the less fortunate with donated venison from Virginia's sportsmen. The VDGIF will have CPOs and Hunter Education Safety Volunteers on hand to answer questions and demonstrate gun handling and tree stand safety techniques. Disabled artist Bruce Dellinger from Rockingham County will be the featured artist demonstrating his unique talent drawing holding a pencil in his teeth. There are activities for every member of the family. Visit the www.vahuntfest.com, or call (540) 294-1482 for more details.

Mouth Artist Bruce Dellinger Demonstrates Unique Style at Roanoke Huntfest

Bruce Dellinger, a self-taught artist from Timberville in Rockingham County, has been successfully drawing for over 15 years holding a pencil in his teeth. As a result of a farming accident in 1981 that left him a C5-C6 quadriplegic, he discovered that he could draw and write by manipulating pens and pencils with his teeth. This eventually led Bruce to the realization of how creating works of art can be enjoyable and therapeutic. Bruce's prints have been featured in gun shows and craft shows the past two years throughout Virginia through a partnership with Rustic Frames. Come meet Bruce in person at the Roanoke Huntfest January 27-29, 2012 where he is the featured artist for 2012. Bruce will be demonstrating his unique drawing technique and selling his limited edition prints at the Show.

By using naturalistic scenes. Bruce feels that the finished composition is a reflection of his mood and adaptability to life. Bruce has worked with several types of mediums, but has found that using a no. 2 graphite pencil and working in black and white is representative of his personal character and style. The pencil allows for ease of use and gives the drawing an old-fashioned appearance and quality. An avid outdoorsman, Bruce enjoys hunting and fishing. Bruce has been instrumental in working with the National Wild Turkey Federation's Wheelin' Sportsmen Program to provide outdoor activities for persons with disabilities and participates in many of the volunteer led activities. Visit his website for more information and a gallery view of his drawings.

January - April Sportsmens' Shows Set Dates and Locations

The seven regional outdoor sportsman's shows scheduled for January - April 2012 have set their dates and some have changed locations. These annual "Break the cabin fever and beat the winter blues" events feature seminars from the experts, exhibits, demonstrations, and contests, promising fun and exciting new activities for everyone in the family. Experienced and novice sportsmen can try the latest in new equipment and learn about new places to enjoy Virginia's great outdoors from the pros. All the shows feature activities for kids to spark their interest in outdoor adventures. See the latest in specialized equipment and partnership programs offered by sportsman's organizations. VDGIF staff will be on hand to provide information on hunting and fishing opportunities and agency programs to manage fish and wildlife resources. Each show offers something different, so check each show's website for all the details.

People and Partners in the News

"Train the Trainers" Fishing Seminar in Richmond February 18-19

The next stop in Future Fisherman Foundation's (F3) commitment to train the trainers of aquatic education programs is Harrowgate Elementary School in Chester, VA., 15501 Harrowgate Rd. Chester, Va. 23831. The seminar begins at 9 am, February 18-19. It's open to any organization. Interested applicants can go to the F3 website to register.

There's a $20 registration fee, which is refunded to those who complete the two day program as a training/travel stipend. Also, applicants who complete a post event survey will receive a tackle package for their students.

Stipend amounts vary, but typically anyone traveling more than 50 miles will receive $150 to help defer hotel and travel costs, and those traveling within a 50 mile radius of the site will receive $75. This seminar is open not only to teachers but also 4H leaders, Boy/Girl Scout Clubs and leaders, FFA members, and anyone interested in getting students involved with aquatic education. Learning the principles of successful programs like Hooked on Fishing Not on Drugs will be the focus of this two day seminar.

"We're thrilled to be working with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries on this event," F3 Executive Director, Mark Gintert, stated. "The intent of this seminar is to provide information on aquatic education and instill confidence in those wanting to train others in their respective organizations. We also intend to inform attendees about other available resources and the "next steps" for their established programs." The "Train the Trainers" series is made possible through a grant from the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF). For more information and to register interested participants go to www.futurefisherman.org for details.

About the Future Fisherman Foundation

Established in 1986, the Future Fisherman Foundation unites the sportfishing industry and a nationwide network of state outdoor educators, national conservation groups and youth organizations dedicated to introducing America's youth to angling and the outdoors. These efforts help people of all ages have safe and enjoyable fishing experiences that foster conservation ethics. Visit www.futurefisherman.org

VA Outdoor Writers Announce 2011-2012 High School and Collegiate Writing Competitions

The Virginia Outdoor Writers Association, Inc., (VOWA) announces the opening of its two 2011-2012 writing competitions for high school students and college undergraduates. The VOWA--Bass Pro Shops High School Competition is open to students in grades 9-12 including home-schooled students. The Collegiate Undergraduate Contest is open to any undergraduate student enrolled at a Virginia college or university, including a two-year community college, public, and private post-secondary institutions. The criteria and rules are posted on the left lower side of the VOWA homepage. The submission deadline is February 13, 2012. The theme of both competitions is a non-fiction article about a memorable outdoor experience. The word restrictions and submission forms are included with the rules on the website.

Winners and their families will be recognized, awards made, and prizes given at the 2012 VOWA's Annual Meeting held March 28, at the Doubletree in Charlottesville. The first place articles will be published in a future issue of the VA Department of Game & Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) Virginia Wildlife magazine, and other publications will consider articles as appropriate. The best of the articles submitted will be selected for publication in the bi-monthly VDGIF online newsletter the Outdoor Report and regional supporting member sportsmen publications.

VOWA represents professional writers, editors, photographers, videographers, agency and conservation organization communicators, and outdoor related businesses who strive to improve their craft and increase our knowledge and understanding of the outdoors and its enjoyment. Visit the VOWA website for more information and how to become a member or supporting member.

Hunters for the Hungry Announces New Fund Raising Raffles for 2012

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."

Tickets are still available for the Outdoor Adventure Raffle for 2012 that has a first ever TOP PRIZE of 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 package is over $6,000 in value!

Drawing to take place on March 1, 2012, between 4 pm and 5pm at the Hunters for the Hungry Office located at the Sedalia Center, 1108 Sedalia School Road, Big Island, VA.

To view the actual photos of the electronics package items, check out the website 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!

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."

Regional Waterfowlers Earn National Recognition and Leadership Honors from Waterfowl U.S.A.

Waterfowl U.S.A. is a national, non-profit, organization, dedicated to using funds in the areas in which they are raised for local and state waterfowl projects. This is done by Waterfowl U.S.A.'s dedicated network of local chapters. For over 25 years Waterfowl U.S.A. chapters have raised millions for conservation and used those funds for .their nonprofit mission of waterfowl conservation, wetlands preservation within the USA, protection of waterfowl wintering habitat and youth conservation education.

Waterfowl U.S.A. held its Annual Convention in Waupun, Wis., in October and the local LOCS Chapter and its President, Frank Wade, received several awards. The LOCS (Louisa, Orange, Culpeper and Spotsylvania) Chapter of Waterfowl USA gets its name from the four counties it represents. Pam Rikard, Waterfowl U.S.A. Assistant Director, said the LOCS Chapter although one of the smallest chapters in the nation, received awards for having the highest percentage increase in regular members, the highest percentage increase in sponsor members, and the highest percentage of sponsors. The Chapter also won the "Habitat Award." Rikard said this recognizes the chapter that accomplished "the most beneficial waterfowl habitat project with their working net and is based solely on the information contained in the chapters' annual project report."

Spotsylvania resident and Chapter President Frank Wade was recognized as Conservationist of the Year. Rikard said this is "presented to the individual who personally has done the most during the previous year to further the efforts of Waterfowl U.S.A. and promote waterfowl conservation and wetland preservation." Wade also received this prestigious award in 2006. Wade was also voted in as a Waterfowl U.S.A. Director. Wade has been active in regional waterfowl issues for several years and was a judge in recent Virginia State Migratory Waterfowl Stamp competition which raises funds for waterfowl and wetlands conservation projects.

Local chapter members traveling to the convention to share in the Chapter's recognition for outstanding achievements included Richard Strauss (Spotsylvania), Stephen Watson (Culpeper), Luther Berstrom (Orange) and Tony Catalano (Triangle).

VDGIF Director Bob Duncan in recognizing the leadership and dedication of Frank Wade and the LOCS Chapter volunteer members, acknowledged that such waterfowl conservation organizations are invaluable partners with VDGIF in promoting and maintaining the rich heritage and traditions of waterfowl hunting and waterfowl conservation to the next generation.

For more information on how you can be part of this organization contact Frank Wade at 540-412-2632. Or visit the Waterfowl USA website, or call their national headquarters in Edgefield, SC, 563-357-0184.

Editors note... We acknowledge and appreciate the information provided for this article by Ken Perrotte, Columnist, Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star and frequent contributor to Virginia Wildlife magazine and a variety of outdoor oriented publications. Thanks to Richard Strauss for use of the photos used in this article.

Been There - Done That! Can't Wait to Go Again...

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

Wheelin' Sportsmen Host Successful Fall Deer Hunts

Virginia Wheelin' Sportsmen members have enjoyed a tremendously successful fall deer season. Having completed 18 deer hunting events, hunters with disabilities have harvested deer throughout the state. Included in this total are several nice bucks, with numerous hunters taking their first deer, or first buck ever! These hunting opportunities would not be possible without the generosity of private landowners, hunt clubs, the partnerships with VDGIF, VA Dept. of Forestry, Dept. of Conservation & Recreation- State Parks and the dedication of the volunteers from the many National Wild Turkey Federation Chapters in all areas of Virginia.

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

New Areas Open To Float Blinds For Waterfowl Hunting

The waters around Michaels and Free School Marsh are now open to waterfowl hunting from floating blinds. The Free School Marsh that makes up the huntable portion of the Saxis Wildlife Management Area, as well as the designated waterfowl refuge of Michaels Marsh, had been closed to stationary blinds and floating blinds. A recent regulation change that went into effect on July 1, 2011 now allows hunters pursuing waterfowl to access these areas using floating blinds.

In the section known as Michaels Marsh, waterfowl hunting is prohibited in all marsh above mean high tide and in the creeks running into the marsh. There has been no change in the regulation in regards to prohibition of construction and hunting from stationary blinds in the areas of Free School and Michaels marsh.

A floating blind is defined as: A floating device, whether in motion or anchored, that can be occupied by and conceal one or more hunters, uses a means of concealment other than the device's paint or coloration, and is used in the public waters for the purpose of hunting and shooting waterfowl.

A stationary blind is defined as: A structure erected at a fixed location either on the shores or the public waters or in the public waters for the purpose of hunting and shooting waterfowl. A stationary blind shall be (i) of such size and strength that it can be occupied by and conceal one or more hunters or (ii)large enough to accommodate and conceal a boat or skiff from which one or more hunters intend to hunt or shoot waterfowl.

For more information about waterfowl hunting visit the Department's website or call 1-804-829-6580.

There is a Second Youth Waterfowl Hunting Day February 4, 2012

Youth days are no longer required to be consecutive hunting days, so Virginia is able to provide two Youth Waterfowl Hunt Days this season. The first Youth Hunt Day has been set for October 22, similar to when it has been held in the past, and the second day has been set for February 4, 2012 after the close of the regular duck season. See Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days. To get prepared and learn the skills necessary to be a successful waterfowler, the VA Waterfowlers Association in partnership with the VDGIF hosts several workshops throughout the season. Visit the VAWFA website for more information.

Fall Turkey Hunting Extended This Year

With the growing popularity of spring gobbler hunting, fewer hunters are turkey hunting in the fall. To provide added opportunities for fall turkey hunting, the season dates have been extended in some areas. and the starting and ending dates for the late segment for fall turkey have changed in most counties east of the Blue Ridge Mountains. {see Regulations for dates in your area}.

Note that hunters under the age of 12 are not required to have a license, but they must be accompanied by a licensed adult. Adult hunters supervising youth must possess a valid Virginia hunting license, and may assist with calling.

Fall turkey hunting has some unique methods and restrictions:

Be sure and check the regulations booklet for season dates, bag limits and other details.

A Friendly Hunter's Challenge to Help Hunters for the Hungry

The buddies in my hunt club came up with an interesting challenge... As we make drives on Saturday hunts during the 10 week season to get venison for all the club members, we agreed to donate any extra deer to Hunters for the Hungry. Well, last year several of us admittedly missed several good shots, so rather than do the traditional "cut the shirt tail", I challenged my fellow hunters to donate $5 for every missed shot towards the cost of processing a deer. With all the shooting I hear during some of our hunts we should collect the $40 needed to pay for processing a deer donated to Hunters for the Hungry several times over!

This year with the added drain on food banks from hard economic times, Hunters for the Hungry can use every donation whether it's cash or venison from sportsmen to show that they do positive actions to support their neighbors and communities. If you have a successful hunting season and were fortunate to have harvested more deer than what you need, and you use a 2011 Hunters for the Hungry participating processor, consider setting aside several packages of venison for donating to Hunters for the Hungry. Your donations of venison packages already processed are of no cost to the program. Share and enjoy your harvest with those in need! If you don't have a deer to donate, how about $5 bucks for every one you missed! Last year Friends & Family Hunt Club in Louisa donated $60 to Hunters for the Hungry. And we also built a sighting in bench for our target practice range to use before this season began.

Choosing A Quality Taxidermist Takes Pre-Planning

Editors note... We have run a series of articles the past 3 years on how to handle skinning your trophy without causing costly damage and what to look for in choosing a taxidermist. Todd and Vickie Rapalee from Goochland have offered these tips advising, "Just as important as scouting for game in the field, is scouting for a taxidermist prior to the season to handle all of your taxidermy needs! The most important thing is to get your trophy to the taxidermist as soon as possible if you plan to have it mounted." Here are links to the archived articles for various species:

Share your Hunting Photos and Stories With Us...

We're looking for some good deer, squirrel, rabbit, bear, and turkey hunting photos from youth, or novice hunters. Congratulations to those who have taken the time and commitment to mentor a young or novice hunter-- the dads and moms, uncles, aunts, grandparents, or friends for discovering the passion for the outdoors and providing this most important opportunity for developing new traditions, resulting in wonderful experiences and memories to last a lifetime.

Keep sending in great photos of smiling young hunters. Also, any unusual pictures or stories from any hunters are considered for posting. The pictures need to be in good taste for publication—minimal blood, classic pose, etc. Our award-winning professional photographers offer a few tips on composition of your photos so as to capture the moment with a good photo—consider background, good light, contrast, and have both young hunter and mentor in the photo, especially father-daughter, or mother-son, etc. Any firearms pictured MUST be pointed in a safe direction.

Send us the basic information to dgifweb@dgif.virginia.gov for a caption including: names, age, hometown, location and date of harvest, county, private, or public land, first deer, doe or # antlers, turkey, coyote, bow or gun specifics, comment from the young hunter or mentor.

David Coffman, Editor

License Options for Novice Hunters

Take a look at an Apprentice Hunting License for a friend or family member that wants to try out this rewarding sport this season. Apprentice hunters are reminded they still have to comply with this education requirement before legally purchasing a state resident or nonresident basic hunting license. Be sure to check out the new Apprentice Hunting License video VDGIF has posted on YouTube. The video is an overview of how the Apprentice Hunter program works. Lee and Tiffany Lakosky, stars of the Outdoor Channel program, "The Crush with Lee & Tiffany," have a special video message to take the time to introduce a friend or youngster to the great outdoors with an Apprentice Hunting License.

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 david.dodson@dgif.virginia.gov. Please include your locality in the e-mail.

Be Safe... Have Fun!

Most importantly wear blaze orange - it's the law for a good reason - it can save your life!

Boating Safety Precautions For Waterfowl Hunters...

There has been a surge in interest in waterfowl hunting this January as reported by an increase in calls and visits to our information desk at the Richmond Headquarters. Waterfowl hunting has a number of unique safety precautions that involve attention to water and boating safety measures, cold weather awareness and gun safety. VDGIF Boating Education Coordinator, Stacey Brown cautions, "While planning a waterfowl hunt, don't forget to check to be sure the boat is in good working condition, with enough gas for the trip and equipped with proper personal flotation devices and other safety gear." Here are some additional steps to reduce the chances of drowning.

With the increase in latter season interest in waterfowl hunting, there has been an increase in reported accidents. Don't let a late season accident ruin your hunt or take your life or the life of a fellow hunter. Safety and courtesy are free... use them generously!

See the Hunting News You Can Use Section for a reminder of the Waterfowl seasons open through February.

Preventing Frostbite and Hypothermia

Prolonged exposure to low temperatures, wind or moisture—whether it be on a ski slope or in a stranded car—can result in cold-related illnesses such as frostbite and hypothermia. The National Safety Council offers this information to help you spot and put a halt to these winter hazards.

Frostbite is the most common injury resulting from exposure to severe cold. Superficial frostbite is characterized by white, waxy, or grayish-yellow patches on the affected areas. The skin feels cold and numb. The skin surface feels stiff but underlying tissue feels soft and pliable when depressed. Treat superficial frostbite by taking the victim inside immediately. Remove any constrictive clothing items that could impair circulation. If you notice signs of frostbite, immediately seek medical attention. Re-warming usually takes 20 to 40 minutes or until tissues soften.

Hypothermia occurs when the body's temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Symptoms of this condition include change in mental status, uncontrollable shivering, cool abdomen and a low core body temperature. Severe hypothermia may produce rigid muscles, dark and puffy skin, irregular heart and respiratory rates, and unconsciousness.

Treat hypothermia by protecting the victim from further heat loss and calling for immediate medical attention. Get the victim out of the cold. Add insulation such as blankets, pillows, towels or newspapers beneath and around the victim. Be sure to cover the victim's head. Replace wet clothing with dry clothing. Handle the victim gently because rough handling can cause cardiac arrest. Keep the victim in a horizontal (flat) position. Give artificial respiration or CPR (if you are trained) as necessary.

How to prevent cold-related illnesses

Avoid frostbite and hypothermia when you are exposed to cold temperatures by wearing layered clothing, eating a well-balanced diet, and drinking warm, non-alcoholic, caffeine-free liquids to maintain fluid levels. Avoid becoming wet, as wet clothing loses 90 percent of its insulating value.

Permission to reprint granted by the National Safety Council, a membership organization dedicated to protecting life and promoting health.

Get Prepared for Winter Weather NOW!

Last winter, multiple record-breaking snowstorms and cold temperatures affected every part of Virginia. Citizens suffered in the wake of power outages, icy roads and bored school children. Last week was Winter Preparedness Week, to focus on getting ready for possible bad weather. Here's how to start preparing:

Additional information and resources are available online at Ready Virginia.

"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.

Do You Use a Wildlife Management Area or Fishing Lake?

New Facilities Access Permit Required in 2012

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 Access Permit' 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 Access Permit will have a sunrise of January 1, 2012. 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.

Notes for Young Nature Explorers

This section features articles and tips of interest to youngsters to encourage them to get outdoors and explore nature. Observing and exploring the natural environment can be exciting, interesting, and fun: plus provide the types of experiences that cannot be found in books, the internet, or video games. The Virginia Wildlife calendar lists natural events that can serve as a "lesson plan" to get students outdoors exploring, observing, and having fun while learning about the woods, fields, and streams and the fascinating plants and animals that share these habitats with us. Each edition we will bring you ideas on topics, natural occurrences, and events to spark your interests in exploring nature. Make it a family adventure!

Virginia Naturally Website Link to School Environmental Learning Programs

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

Make a Special Bird Treat

The following recipe is a great food mixture for birds that can be smeared on tree bark, fence posts, the wood in a wood pile, or pine cones hung in the yard where they can be seen from your windows. This mix provides a supplemental source of fat energy and nutrients to the birds. Making the mixture is fun, inexpensive and something the whole family can join in.

First, in large bowl, stir together:

  1. 1 part flour
  2. 3 parts yellow corn meal
  3. 1 part bird seed
  4. a handful of raisins
  5. a handful of shelled peanuts

Then add 1 part of lard or peanut butter and stir until the mixture holds together in one big ball. (Or, you can substitute bacon grease that's been rendered and chilled, but do not use shortening.)

This mixture will attract nuthatches, chickadees, tufted titmice, brown creepers, woodpeckers, mockingbirds, and even bluebirds. Keep a record of the different species of birds you observe, it's fun, and educational for "children" of all ages. The birds will appreciate it too!

Falconry Featured in January Virginia Wildlife Magazine

The January 2012 edition of Virginia Wildlife magazine features an article entitled "Hunting On the Wing", by Marie Majarov describing the ancient sport of falconry that is still very much alive, rewarding both raptor and human in a unique hunting partnership. The article offers an interesting overview for the sport of falconry, apprenticeship and the cooperative relationship between the VDGIF and the Virginia Falconers Association to keep falconry" relevant, legal, accessible and ethical." This is a great article to share with the youngsters as it relates to a unique 'partnership' between humans and wildlife to help both survive in ancient times. Many of the raptors trained for falconry are native species. One native raptor that is found in the wild hunting the brushy field habitats favored by falconers is the peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus). This "jet speed" raptor is also featured in the Be Wild column at the beginning of the Outdoor Report.

Master Falconers, Bill Barbour [right] with red-tailed hawk and Bill Harry [left] with peregrine falcon proudly display these native raptors which they have trained for the sport of falconry that dates back over 4000 years. Falconers are ardent conservationists, often acquiring young hawks in the fall under strict VDGIF regulations, hunt with them in the winter and release them back into the wild come spring. This prevents disruption to breeding adults and helps more young raptors survive the most vulnerable time of their life. Photos by Marie Majarov a frequent contributor to the Outdoor Report and Virginia Wildlife Magazine. Marie recently trained to become a Virginia Master Naturalist.

Guide to the Frogs and Toads of Virginia Now Available

A Guide to the Frogs and Toads of Virginia is a 44 page field guide that covers all 27 species of frogs and toads that inhabit Virginia. Species accounts, descriptions, biology, behavior, habitats and conservation issues are all described and illustrated through more than 80 photographs and drawings. Included is a complimentary CD of The Calls of Virginia Frogs and Toads. The price is $10.00 and is available through the VDGIF website.

Read the introduction to A Guide to the Frogs and Toads of Virginia »

Nature Observations from the Virginia Wildlife Calendar

Look at the 2012 Virginia Wildlife Calendar for answers to these wildlife related questions for January:

Answers to December 14th edition quiz for nature events for January...

Get your copy of the 2012 Virginia Wildlife Calendar here.

Habitat Improvement Tips

Quail Biologists Eager to Assist Landowners and Hunters

In January 2011 as part of implementing the VA Quail Action Plan (VQAP), five new pairs of field boots hit the wildlife habitat dirt. These boots belong to Virginia's first cooperatively hired Private Lands Wildlife Biologists. Marc Puckett, VDGIF Co-Project Leader for the Quail Recovery Initiative (QRI) reports that this unique program represents a joint hiring effort between the Conservation Management Institute at Virginia Tech, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, they are the first of their kind in Virginia. Similar, highly successful, programs have existed for several years in Missouri, Kentucky, North Carolina and other states. They represent the closest partnership ever between the cooperating agencies. Jack Bricker, State Conservationist for NRCS and Bob Duncan, Director of the VDGIF, signed an agreement formalizing the partnership December 2009. The new biologists work daily with partners in the agricultural community – one critical to wildlife nationwide. Their primary role is helping private landowners develop wildlife habitat through a variety of financial incentives programs.

VQAP was the impetus for this successful partnership. In its first year of implementation, the hiring of the 5 new biologists was a major goal of the VQAP. The biologists spend a great deal of their time working on early-successional habitat – a habitat type that benefits not only bobwhite quail but dozens of early-successional species including pollinating insects.

These wildlife biologists can be contacted for habitat assistance at the following USDA Service Centers:

Large-scale habitat restoration and education are the key elements of the VQAP. The Virginia Quail Council was established as a coordinating group of conservation organizations and agencies actively supporting the Virginia Quail Action Plan through the promotion and application of land management practices and programs that increase the quality and quantity of quail habitat on agricultural and forested landscapes.

A copy of the Virginia Quail Action Plan and Virginia Quail Council members can be viewed on the Department's website. For information on the bobwhite quail, and activities and accomplishments of the Quail Recovery Team read the latest edition of The Bobwhite Bulletin (PDF). Also view the video, "Answering the Call: Virginia's Quail Recovery Initiative."

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.

Reports from the field officer's notebook...

Region I – Tidewater

Shots fired from vehicle at night alert spotlighting patrol... On December 9, 2011, Conservation Police Sergeant Worrell was conducting a spotlighting patrol in Prince George County. At approximately 1930 a vehicle pulled up to an intersection and began to fire a weapon into the field that the Sergeant was watching. Deer could be seen jumping and running in front of the vehicle's headlights. A stop was done on the vehicle and it was found that the driver had fired 5 shots into the field from a .45 cal. pistol while sitting in the state roadway. The passenger was found to be in possession of the newly banned synthetic marijuana. Charges were placed for attempting to take deer at night, discharging a firearm within a state highway, and possession of synthetic marijuana.

Region II – Southside

High Volume Spotlighters... On November 17, 2011, Conservation Police Officers Dewayne Sprinkle and Eric Rorabaugh received a call in reference to spotlighting in Nelson County. The anonymous caller explained that he had heard Senior Officer Sprinkle talk about the Sportsman Reward Fund at an event the previous night and wanted to provide information in hopes of securing a reward. The caller told the officers about two men that had spotlighted and killed 30 to 40 deer in Nelson County this year. He provided directions to their residence and explained that they had just killed a buck the previous night. Officers Sprinkle and Rorabaugh, along with Sergeant Nipper, responded to the suspects' residence. Upon arrival Officer Sprinkle observed two men outside gathering wood and a buck hanging from a tree. He identified one of the men and immediately asked if that was the deer he killed last night to which the subject replied yes and then explained that the gun was in the truck parked in the driveway. There were also several more sets of antlers from this year on a shelf attached to a building beside the tree and a partially butchered carcass on the ground. After interviewing both subjects and collecting evidence, Officer Sprinkle determined that he could bring charges on the two men for killing at least 11 deer. The suspects explained that most of the deer they had killed were on and around the James River Wildlife Management Area. Upon completion of their investigation, Officer Sprinkle brought 74 charges against the two men to include possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, multiple counts of spotlighting, shooting from the vehicle and road, killing deer illegally and conspiracy.

Opening Day bleat call gives away big game hunter without a license... On the opening day of general firearms deer season, November 19, 2011, Conservation Police Officer Zach Adams was out early and observed a vehicle pull into the edge of a field. He approached the two men with the vehicle and the driver explained that he was dropping off the other subject to deer hunt, but he was going somewhere else to rabbit hunt as he did not have a big game license. He questioned if the subject had any deer calls on his person. As the many emptied his pockets and patted himself down to show he didn't have any deer calls he leaned over, and as he stood back upright a distinct "baaahhh" sound came from his coat. Officer Adams immediately recognized sound as that of a bleat can call used for deer hunting and asked the man to hand him the bleat call. Officer Adams then issued a summons for deer hunting without a big game license.

Region III - Southwest

"Shop With a Cop Event" big success... On December 10, 2011 Senior Conservation Police Officer Lee Wensel and Conservation Police Officer Troy Phillips participated in the New River Valley Fraternal Order of Police "Shop With a Cop" event. CPO Wensel is the President of The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 21, and he organized the event. Over 30 police officers from the New River Valley area took forty-one less fortunate children to the Radford Wal-Mart and helped them fill shopping carts with Christmas cheer. After the shopping spree totaling over $4,600, the kids and their families were treated to a pizza party at the Lodge building with Santa. CPO Wensel enlisted the help of the local social services agencies, Wal-Mart, Little Caesar's Pizza, and local bus service to hold the event. Under the leadership of Officer Wensel this event was completely paid for from a fund raiser held by the Lodge last summer.

Juveniles Caught Spotlighting... On November 27, 2011 at approximately 8:30 p.m., Conservation Police Officer Tosh Barnette received a call from the Lee County 911 Dispatch regarding a vehicle that was stopped for speeding by a Pennington Gap Police Officer. The Pennington Gap Officer found the vehicle to be occupied by three juveniles. Inside the vehicle the officer discovered two rifles and a doe in the back cargo area. Officer Barnette responded to the scene to assist. The vehicle matched the description of a vehicle involved in a spotlighting complaint that the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Dispatch had given out earlier that same evening. All three suspects admitted to spotlighting and shooting the doe. Appropriate charges were filed with Juvenile Services. While on this scene, one of the juvenile suspects stated to Officer Barnette that another subject had deer parts in his vehicle at his residence that were most likely illegally obtained. Officer Barnette went to the residence along with a Pennington Gap Police Officer to investigate. Officer Barnette was able to determine that this suspect had killed a doe on November 25th and had not checked it in. Appropriate charges were also filed with Juvenile Services.

Baited Stands Net Several Charges... On Saturday, December 10, 2011, Officers Mark Brewer and George Shupe walked in on two baited stands in Floyd County that had been located the previous day by Officer Brewer and Officer Jason Harris. When Shupe and Brewer arrived at the stands, each stand was occupied by a hunter. Both hunters were from North Carolina, and neither had any hunting license. Near each stand was a large pile of corn that the hunters admitted they had placed about a week prior. One of the hunters told the officers he was a farmer and had grown this corn himself. The other hunter admitted to killing a doe the previous day over a third corn pile near their hunting cabin. This deer had not been checked. The two hunters were charged with hunting over bait and the license violations, and the one hunter was also charged with failing to check a deer and killing a deer illegally.

Charges Filed on Out of State Bear Hunters... On December 17th, 2011, in Pulaski County, Conservation Police Officer Troy Phillips was on patrol on private property near the Floyd County line. Officer Phillips encountered two subjects from North Carolina driving off of posted property wearing camouflage clothes. The two male subjects had high powered rifles in the vehicle with them and admitted to hunting for bear. Officer Phillips asked for hunting licenses and they could not produce any. Officer Phillips asked if the men had ever been convicted of any felonies. One of the two subjects admitted to being a felon but claimed he had his rights restored. Officer Phillips asked for documentation of the pardon, but the man could not provide it. Officer Phillips ran the suspect's criminal history which came back positive. Officer Phillips made contact with the man's family and authorities in North Carolina, but could not find evidence that his rights had been restored. Both suspects were charged with hunting without an out of state big game and hunting license and the felon was charged with possession of a firearm as a felon.

Region IV - Mountains & Shenandoah Valley – Northern Piedmont

Shooting Across the Roadway... On December 5, 2011, Virginia Conservation Police Officers Boulanger and Joyner received information that came through the Director's office in reference to a subject who had possibly shot from the road and trespassed to hunt in Caroline County on the previous Saturday. The complainants provided pictures of the suspected violator as well as a vehicle license plate number. Officers Boulanger and Joyner responded to the scene of the incident and recovered two shotgun shell hulls, shot shell wads, and were able to document evidence of a shot path. The evidence the officers collected indicated the suspect had shot across the public roadway onto posted property. After collecting evidence, Officer Boulanger and Officer Joyner responded to the suspect's address in order to conduct an interview. The suspect admitted to shooting in an attempt to get the hunting dogs to come to his location for retrieval. When faced with the evidence the officers collected, the suspect admitted to shooting across the road. The suspect was subsequently charged with shooting across a roadway and trespassing to hunt on posted property.

"Shop With a Cop" Event brings Christmas joy... On December 17, 2011, Virginia Conservation Police Officer Rob Ham participated in the Staunton Police Departments and Office on Youth's program "Shop With a Cop". The program provides $200 for youngsters to purchase presents for themselves and family members. Having a law enforcement partner for the morning also helps build positive relationships between law enforcement and the general public. The children are nominated for this program by teachers and councilors of their respective schools to assist the needy family during the Christmas Holiday. Officer Ham teamed up with his 10 year old partner for the morning to "patrol" the aisles of Wal-Mart looking for Christmas gifts. Following the shopping adventure, the children and officers ride a trolley back to the Stonewall Jackson Hotel to wrap all the gifts and enjoy a catered lunch. Officer Ham and his 10 year old partner were extremely successful in finding gifts for the youngster's mother, sister and, of course, a couple things for himself on Christmas morning.

Felon with a Firearm arrested during routine license check... December 17, 2011, Virginia Conservation Police Officers Dooley and Inge were on hunting patrol in Southern Albemarle County. After checking a hunter in close proximity to the road they passed an intersection where three pickup trucks were stopped. After turning around to come back only two trucks were left in the roadway. Upon approaching the subjects, Officer Inge noticed the first truck had a loaded rifle in the front seat. Officer Dooley quickly approached the second truck and was able to contact the driver just as he ejected a live shell from a shotgun in the front seat. While waiting for suspects' information from Dispatch, one of the subjects began to act very nervously and tried making excuses to leave. Dispatch advised the officers the subject was a convicted felon and had an active protective order out against him. He was then placed under arrest. Charges from the incident included: Possession/transportation of a firearm by a violent felon, possession/transportation of a firearm by person subject to a protective order, two charges of stopping on the highway and two charges of transporting a loaded firearm in a vehicle.

K9 Teams

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 July 13th editon.

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.

These CPO reports show the value of concerned citizens, landowners and true sportsmen in providing tips to law enforcement officers on suspected violations by lawbreakers who give other hunters an undeserved bad reputation. Don't let the actions of a few outlaws tarnish the reputation of Virginia's sportsmen!

If you suspect or witness a violation, report it to the Wildlife Crimeline at
1-800-237-5712.

To learn more about Virginia conservation police officers visit the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries website.

Fishin' Report

Anglers throughout Virginia and neighboring states want to know "how are the fish bitin'?" To provide some answers, more than 25 license agents, marinas, fishing guides, and bait shops have volunteered to serve as contacts for information on recent fishing conditions for primary rivers and lakes throughout the state. Sarah White, outdoor writer and regular contributor to Virginia Wildlife magazine, prepares this Fishin' Report from interviews with these contacts the week prior to publication of the Outdoor Report.

The Fishin' Report is only available as part of your free subscription to the Outdoor Report.

The rivers and lakes featured in the Fishin' Report are listed by VDGIF Administrative Regions so you can quickly locate the area in which you are most interested.

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 2012 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 2012.

NEW Facility Access Permit Required in 2012 for Using WMAs and Fishing Lakes...

Hunting and Fishing license holders and registered boaters exempt

Effective January 1, 2012, a Facility Access Permit will be required when using any Department-owned Wildlife Management Area or Fishing Lake. Such permit shall not be required for any person holding a valid hunting, fishing or trapping license or a current certificate of boat registration issued by the Department or persons 16 years of age or younger. The Facility Access Permit requirement does not apply to Department- owned boat ramps or segments of the Appalachian Trail on Department- owned land. The Facility Access Permit fee is $4 for a daily permit or $23 for an annual permit. The Facility Use Permit may be purchased online or at any license agent.

Burke Lake Park Spillway Renovations Underway

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) and the Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) announce work is underway to perform engineering analyses and design modifications to the dam area at Burke Lake Park in Fairfax County. The project will ensure the dam meets spillway capacity and other dam safety standards. The lake is owned by VDGIF. The public may notice drilling machines working in the dam area to assess the subsurface soil conditions, and stakes related to surveying. Activity is anticipated to begin in the next few weeks.

"We need to expand the emergency spillway capacity to accommodate potential record flooding events in the future," said VDGIF's Infrastructure Division Larry Hart. "While we have not experienced a flood event that would cause water to overtop the dam in the lake's 46-year history, that does not mean we may not have larger flooding events in the future."

The Fairfax County Park Authority maintains and operates Burke Lake Park and golf course on properties adjoining the lake. "The Park Authority has a vested interest in maintaining Burke Lake Park as a recreational resource," said Judy Pedersen, Public Information Officer with the Fairfax County Park Authority. FCPA is working cooperatively with VDGIF, ensuring access to the FCPA property for investigative purposes.

VDGIF staff has no reason to think the dam is not safe in its current condition. The dam is well maintained and has functioned as designed. Conditions have changed around the lake that could lead to more runoff and residences have been constructed downstream that could be impacted. If the evaluation reveals a need to utilize any of the Authority's land to complete the spillway renovations, those uses would have to be in concert with the mission of the Authority.

The evaluations and designs should be completed by July 2012. Construction activities would take place later, depending on the amount of funds that may be needed. "It could take a few years to save enough money for this large project," said Hart. The Department currently budgets about $1 million of its special funds each year to dam safety activities. The special funds used for work on dams come from the sale of fishing and hunting licenses, a small portion of the state sales tax on hunting, fishing, and wildlife related purchases, and matching grants from the US Fish and Wildlife Service. For further information contact: Phillip D. Lownes, Director of Capital Programs, Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, 804-367-1253.

The Fishing Spot

by Chris Dunnavant, VDGIF Angling Education Coordinator

Greetings folks! My name is Chris Dunnavant and I am the Angling Education Coordinator and Director of the Angler Recognition Program here at VDGIF. My travels with the Agency as well as my personal fishing exploits have taken me all over the Commonwealth to experience great fishing and meet some really neat and talented people. In this new feature of the Outdoor Report, I will be sharing a variety of fishing information including fishing tips & hotspots, interviews, stories, program news and much more. I hope to pass along to you some of the wonderful opportunities afforded to me as an angler that may help improve your skills and at the least, provide some enjoyment. After all, Fishing is Fun!

I am a Crappie Fisherman

In Virginia we are fortunate to have an abundance of year round fishing opportunities. Crappie fishing is no exception and it ranks at the top of the list for cold-water fishing. Last November I had the opportunity to spend a day fishing the Chickahominy River and Lake with expert Crappie angler, Dr. Greg South. Greg is a retired radiologist and former Bassmaster pro, placing 2nd behind Rick Clunn in the 1984 Bassmaster Classic. Greg learned how to Crappie fish from his dad and has been pursuing them all of his life.

Greg says that Crappie can be caught year round, but he prefers to fish for them from November through April, "Crappie are excellent table fair and the meat is firmer and sweeter in the cold water." As we headed out to fish, Greg revealed his t-shirt that stated, "I am a Crappie Fisherman." He convinced me as we landed over 100 fish during our trip that day!

He exclusively uses homemade hair jigs during the cold weather, believing they give him an edge over plastic baits this time of year. He pours and paints his own jigheads and ties his jigs primarily with craft hair and occasionally buck tail. He and his dad have been tying Crappie jigs since he was a kid before the quality jig making components and plastic baits were available like they are now. His dad's first jigs were crafted using a baitholder hook with a split-shot pinched below the eye and tied with bristles from a shaving brush. Plastic baits like tubes, curly tail grubs and straight tail shad imitators work all year long, but he feels they are best during the warmer months. The top color combinations contain chartreuse, white, pink or orange.

Often anglers fish for panfish with flimsy ultra-light rods and small reels, but Greg uses heavier equipment. He uses 6'6" medium or medium light action rods that are suited for finesse bass fishing. The rods provide more backbone and the longer length coupled with larger reels allow for greater casting distance. He primarily fishes his jigs without a float, but will employ a 7' rod if that is the favorable technique. He spools up with 2 and 4 lb. yellow line to aid in detecting the faintest strikes. He ties all his baits with a loop knot to achieve the proper swimming action.

Even though the Crappie fishing is excellent during the cold months, with 100 fish days being commonplace, the fish are not found everywhere. The best concentrations of Crappie are likely to be found in deeper water away from the shoreline. In the tidal rivers and lakes with current like the Chick, Crappie will be found away from the strong current in eddies or slower moving water. They may be relating to current breaks, drop-offs, cover or just the bottom. In lakes like Buggs Island or Lake Anna the fish will be found around cover in the form of brushpiles, docks and bridge pilings. Greg also points out that Crappie love shade – even when it is cold.

A helpful tool for locating Crappie is your fishfinder. Idle around studying your electronics looking for schools of Crappie and cover. Greg rarely stops and fishes if he does not see fish on the screen. Sometimes they look like vertical columns and other times just horizontal lines just above the bottom or suspended. Each unit shows the fish differently, but over time you will learn what represents bait, larger fish and of course Crappie! Sometimes the fish hold tight to a brushpile and do not show up on the screen, a good brushpile is always worth a few casts.

Editors note... for more tips and stories on winter crappie fishing read Willard Mayes articles in the Piedmont Section of Sarah Whites Fishing Notebook in this edition of the Outdoor Report. Lake Anna local guide Jim Hemby and other lake reports also feature crappie action.

5th Annual Bass & Saltwater Fishing Expo Returning to Meadow Event Park January 20-22

The 5th Annual Bass & Saltwater Fishing Expo (formally called the Richmond Fishing Expo) is returning to the Farm Bureau Center at the new Meadow Event Park in Caroline County January 20-22, 2012. The family-oriented show is geared to be a fun and educational experience for all who attend. Whether you are a fly fishing enthusiast, a bass fisher, saltwater, lake or river angler, this show has something for everyone in the family. Again this year, your admission ticket will allow you to return to the Show another day. There will be conservation organizations represented and an incredible selection of outfitters, fishing charters, boating suppliers, and seminar presenters. Numerous nationally-known speakers will hold seminars to teach skills and share some great stories of their adventures and experiences. VDGIF staff will be on hand to answer questions on agency programs, angling education, special training events, and opportunities to enjoy Virginia's great outdoors. The Outdoor Report e-newsletter will also have an exhibit featuring Fishin' Report contributing reporters answering your questions on where to get the latest "how are they bitin'" info on more that 25 primary lakes and rivers statewide. Volunteers from the VDGIF Complementary Work Force will be on hand describing opportunities for volunteers to assist in carrying out a variety of agency programs. For information visit the Show website or view the Show flyer.

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

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

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

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

Rules for submitting photos to the group:

  1. Photos must be of fish caught in Virginia.
  2. Photos must not depict unsafe practices.
  3. Please do not publish personal information (last names, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, etc.).
  4. Please do include the species, location, and date of catch!
  5. Only submit photos for which you have permission to post online. For example, any minor pictured must have documented permission from his or her parent or guardian in order to appear in the group. By submitting a photograph of your child, you are giving VDGIF permission to post the photo on the Flickr "Virginia Fishing" group.
The Memories Are Always Bigger Than the Fish
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Remember the excitement? The rush? A picture is worth a thousand words, but sharing the memory of catching that first fish with your family or friends is priceless. Why wait? Start your memories today and buy your fishing license.

Go to HuntFishVA.com, call 1-866-721-6911, or visit your nearest license agent.

If you have already purchased your 2011 fishing license, we would like to thank you for helping to support Virginia's wildlife and natural resources.

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Sarah White's Notebook

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

Region 1 - Tidewater

Little Creek Reservoir: Contributed by Park Concessionaire Diane Priestley, (757) 566-2277, hhhatlcr@aol.com. The water is 48 degrees and clear. Bass are holding in 20 to 30 feet, and moving up on to shelves and ledges at 12 to 15 feet at mid day on those warm and sunny days. We saw fish in the 2 to 4 lbs. class last weekend that were hitting crank baits. The good news is that we caught lots of crappie last week; two boats averaged 20 fish with 12 keepers and one kicker of 2.5 lbs. and 16 inches. Try tube jigs in red/black, black/chartreuse, or small minnows fished at 15 to 20 ft. deep. The east end of the lake on the inside of points worked best. We also saw a couple stripers, a cat and a 17 in. pickerel come off the pier. By the way, our Second Annual Flea Market is set for April 20th with a rain date of April 27th.

Beaverdam Reservoir: Contributed by Eddie Hester, (804) 693-2107. The beautiful mild weather this weekend brought out a lot of park visitors. Most were enjoying the park trails and the opportunity to just be outside. Stephanie and Mark Van Cuyck of Hayes enjoyed a good day while fishing at the Beaverdam pier. The couple had a large number of bass, crappie, yellow perch and some nice chain pickerel. I don't expect the weather to stay like this, but I'll take it while it lasts. The water is 49 degrees, at full pool and slightly stained.

Cat Point Creek: Contributed by our new reporter Penn Burke of Spring Shad Charters (804) 354-3200. No report this edition.

Virginia Beach: Captain Jim Brincefield (443) 336-8756. Captain Jim told me that striper fishing has been phenomenal. Bear in mind, however, that any fish brought up from the Bay must be released. Out in the ocean they may be kept, but only two of 28 inches or more. The rockfish at Cape Henry (where you can keep them) are going for mojos, parachutes, bucktails and live eels. Tautog can be found at the tubes by the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and will take green or fiddler crabs and clams. The water is 46 degrees and clear.

Back Bay: Local angler Tom Deans. No report this edition.

Chickahominy River: River's Rest (804) 829-2753. According to Alton Williams, it's still "a ghost town" up his way, with no anglers braving the winter weather. The water is slightly stained and cooling.

North Landing River and Back Bay: West Neck Marina (757) 426-6735. Dewey Mullins reports that the bass fishing is good, with cranks, spinners and dark colored plastics being good choices. Crappie are scarce, but may take a minnow or jig. White and yellow perch are biting well, especially the white perch. Try minnows, small spinners and jigs. No word on cats or bluegill. The water is clear and in the 40s.

Norfolk Lakes: Dasheill's Show Room (757) 539-7854. Drew Dixon says that bass action is good on plastics and jigs. Crappie are being cooperative too, try a minnow or jig. Some really big cats have been coming in on cut bait. No word on perch or bluegill. The water is clear and cooling.

Blackwater and Nottoway: By Riverkeeper Jeff Turner www.blackwaternottoway.com. Spirit of Moonpie, Freezing Deer and I spent the 30th through the 1st on the Blackwater below the Steel Bridge. The water was 7 ft. on the USGS gauge, a little cloudy and 44 degrees. Air temperatures ranged from 30 to 60 degrees. We picked up one bag of trash and I saw no water quality issues. Fishing on this trip was okay, that is if you like fishing for bowfin. We caught 10 fish to 7 pounds jigging a chrome blade bait. I only caught two small largemouth casting.

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

Upper and Lower Tidal James: Contributed by Capt. Mike Ostrander, James River Fishing School, Discover the James, (804) 938-2350. No report this edition.

Region 2 - Southside

Lewis Pond: Contributed by our man in the boat Willard A. Mayes. The wife is in the floor on all fours wrapping Christmas presents and when that is going on she is not the happiest camper, so I am looking for greener grounds and I can't think of anything better than to be fishing. Since Lewis pond is fairly close to the house, that is where I headed. I arrived at the lake a little after 11:00 to almost 60 degrees and light wind blowing up the lake. I had the rope break on the last trip as I was loading the boat so I put another one on a little longer than the old one and had it hooked to the safety chain when I tried to launch the boat. Now this is when things started going south, the water is a little higher than normal so you have to back a little into the water and it still will not completely float the boat so what does anyone do, you take off real fast kinda jerking the boat off the trailer. That worked real fine until a knot somehow tied into the rope short and the weight of the boat managed to snap the rope real close to where it was anchored to the boat. I saw all this happen from the comfort of the seat of the truck having a fleeting thought or rushing into the very cold December water to grab the end of the rope. Now I remembered the wind blowing straight to the dam and the ramp, so I just knew it would blow the boat to the shore somewhere. I think as soon as the rope broke the wind stopped blowing with the boat sitting about 50 feet from the shore. There I stand for 5 minutes with the boat just sitting there. Now I have this one way cell phone where I turn it on to make a call and then cut it back off in the truck, so I was going to call the wife to give her a break from the wrapping of packages to bring me another rod so I could cast and hope to pull the boat to me, when, you guessed it, the battery is dead. I sit there for 30 more minutes before the wind decided to blow and where does it blow the boat? Straight back to the ramp where it will in no way be close to the shore. Yes I walked into about a foot deep water to get the boat and rope, did I tell you the water is very cold. It is now 11:57 when I crawl in the boat with cold wet feet and drop the trolling motor into the water. Yep here we go again, the battery is completely dead, so I go to the back of the boat and plug the spare trolling motor in and sure enough that battery is dead too. After going through all this, I am going to fish, so I get the one thing that always works and paddle out about 75 yards and drop the anchor because I do not want the boat any further out in the lake, and start fishing. People let me tell you that all that trouble was erased on the 4th cast. I started catching 8 to 10 inch crappie on almost every cast, it did not make any difference in which direction I threw a fish thought those chartreuse, purple and a new bubble gum, pink, orange with a yellow tail was just the meal. Loaded the boat back onto the trailer by 3:30 and I had 86 crappie, a dozen hand size blue gill that the cats thought were real tasty. I only had four 10 inch crappie. Do not get excited about the number of crappie because there isn't a limit of pan fish on Ft. Pickett lakes. About the dead batteries, the wife had cut the power going to the boat shed in the last storm so the battery charges had drawn the batteries down, because they both took a charge and were ready later.

Burchett Lake: Contributed by our man in the boat Willard A. Mayes. I made sure both batteries were at full change on December 28th and headed to Burchett and found it open. I met a truck and boat coming out when I got to the lake around noon and got the feeling that it may not be such a great day to be fishing there. The water was on the cold side but clear to about 4 ft. I made sure the rope would not knot this time and off loaded the boat and went all the way up the right coast fishing as I went. I never caught a fish. The wind is almost blowing straight back to the ramp so I cut the motor off and drifted back fishing all the time. I used many color twister tails and never caught a fish until I got to about a 150 yards from the dam. I tried many depths and caught the first fish about 6 feet down. Boat back on the trailer by 4 and I had caught only 4 fish, 3 crappie, one 12 and two 10 inch and one 11 inch blue gill. It was clear that all the fish must have eaten on Christmas and were not hungry.

Perry Floyd at FT. Pickett: Contributed by our man in the boat Willard A. Mayes. First of January and the temperature is to be in the 60s, so there is no work that cannot wait for another day, so I headed to lake I had never fished before on Ft. Pickett. On the lake at 11 and one of the first things I noticed is that there are still green lilies in the water. The water is clear to about 4 ft. and seems warmer than I expected for January, also there are some trees sticking out of the water just like Lee Lake or Briery Creek. After losing half dozen baits to the tree stumps under the water I am starting to think that things are not going as I had envisioned them. From what I could tell the water is fairly deep over most of the lake, almost to the shore line over most of the lake. Over half the lake is between 6 and 9 feet deep, at least most of the lake I checked is that deep. I fished for 2 hours only catching one 13 inch bass, at 2:35 I had only caught another 14 inch bass so I thought it was time to chalk one up to the lakes. I tried many color twister tails as well as different weight lead heads to no avail, even going up in the flats which were 3 and 4 ft deep because I saw an eagle searching for a meal there. He did not get one either.

Sandy River and Briery Creek: Contributed by Longwood College Fishing Club's Jack Pollio. Both lakes are still producing great bass fishing. Even with the colder temperatures the lakes are both around 45 to 48 degrees. The bass are being found anywhere from 3 to 25 feet deep. Jigs, shaky heads, and drop shot seem to be producing the best numbers as well as size. The chain pickerel have also been biting fairly well. Many citations are being caught on soft plastics and minnows. If you can brave the colder weather go catch the fish!!!

James at Scottsville: Local Guide L.E. Rhodes www.hatchmatcherguideservice.com, (434) 286-3366. The river has settled down from the rain events we had a couple weeks ago. It is once again fishable with the water temperatures are still hanging out in the upper 40s. I've heard a couple reports of some nice smallmouth being caught on pig & jigs. I haven't been after the smallmouth, but have been taking advantage of the nice weather chasing muskie. The muskie have been getting the best of me but I'm still on the hunt! Remember to slow your presentations down and when you find a fish there should be some others around.

Kerr Reservoir: Bob Cat's Lake Country Store, (434) 374-8381. Brandon Gray told me that bass action has been slowing down, but jigging spoons or small cranks may do the trick. Crappie are also reluctant to bite, but drop your minnow or jig near a brush pile and you might get lucky. Cat fishing has been "decent" with cut bait and crappie fillets. Stripers can be found near Grassy Creek and in the Ivy Hill area; try live shad or jumbo minnows. The water is stained and in the mid to upper 40s.

James at Lynchburg: Angler's Lane, (434) 385-0200. Tom Reisdorf reports that both browns and rainbows are hitting small nymphs (someone should tell these trout that it's not nice to hit someone smaller than you). Brookies are going for the same flies. The water is clear and cold.

Lake Gaston: Holly Grove Marina, (434) 636-3455. The marina is closed for the season. It will reopen in February. The gas pumps will work with a credit card. Boats are still available for rental, just call ahead and leave a message.

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 excellent. Most anglers report that most of the fish being caught are still being found in relatively shallow water. Where bass are found keying on shad, flukes, swimbaits, crankbaits and suspending jerkbaits are good choices. Pig & jigs and shakey head jigs are good choices when fishing around docks, edges created by bluffs and the sides of creek and river channels. Good colors include green pumpkin, Alabama craw and green pumpkin purple. Carolina rigged plastic worms and creature baits continue to produce an occasional bass when presented on primary and secondary points. The key appears to be a very slow retrieve and smaller plastics. A new lure, the Alabama rig, is receiving early acceptance by many in the local bass community. It is a lure designed with multiple plastic baits and it closely resembles a small, lightweight, Umbrella rig, except it is designed to be cast and retrieved instead of trolled. Several tournament bass fishermen report success using the Alabama rig with flukes and small swim baits, imitating a school of shad. One angler is experimenting with the rig in different configurations and is even using it to retrieve multiple plastic lures along the bottom. This lure promises to be one of the hot items this spring.

Striper: Fishing continues to be very good. Most striper anglers report catching fish almost every time they go out. Stripers are still feeding aggressively and are often found in large numbers chasing baitfish near the surface. The sea gulls have arrived this winter and most of us who fish this time of year have learned to watch them closely, as they are the best fish finders on the lake. When a flock of seagulls is observed circling over a section of water they undoubtedly see something of interest and I always keep an eye on them. If they move close to the surface of the lake or start to dive down and pick pieces of baitfish off the water, it is a sure sign that some fish are or recently have been feeding directly below them. When fishing this time of year I recommend you have several different size and type lures available, each rigged on a different rod. Anglers who like to fish for stripers at night are finding them up on long points and close to the shoreline and report success casting and slowly retrieving medium and deep diving jerkbaits. Anglers still fishing with live bait report having the most success presenting their bait on downlines to schools marked on electronics from 15 to 40 feet below the surface. As the lake continues to cool, the fish will become more sluggish and different techniques will be needed. Until then, watch the weather, pick a comfortable day, call a buddy and head out to enjoy the incredible striper fishing.

The water is 46 to 51 degrees and clear. Tight lines and best wishes in the New Year.

Region 3 - Southwest

Claytor Lake: Contributed by Mike Burchett of Rock House Marina, (540) 980-1488. Mike Burchett says the bass fishing has been "very, very good" with the Kopper's Live Target crankbait in crawdad colors being the lure of choice. Alabama rigs are working well too. No word on crappie. Yellow perch are going for small jigs and live bait. No word on cats. Striper action has been "PHENOMINAL", with two over 20 inches being brought in this week. Most anglers are getting their limit, with Alabama rigs proving very successful. The water is starting to clear up and is in the upper 30s to low 40s.

Lower New River: Big Z'S (540) 639-1651. John Zienius told me that the smallmouth bite is good. You may not land as many, but they will be bigger. Try using a pig & jig or a hard jerk. Muskies are really heating up, and just about everyone is having really good luck. They will take big jerks, live suckers or big chubs. The water is low, in the 40s and clear.

New River: Tangent Outfitters, (540) 257-0415. No report this edition.

Upper New River: Contributed by Captain Forest Pressnell, (540) 818-5274, New River Charter. The Upper New River is green with good visibility right now and a nice flow. Water temperatures are ranging from low to upper 40s so slow presentations are the ticket for the walleye and muskie. Smallmouth are a tough bite in this cold water but persistence may yield a big fish with a pig & jig or tube.

Top New River: Contributed by local guide Richie Hughes, owner of New River Trips LLC. Winter trout fishing conditions continue to be good in the area of the Top New (Mouth of Wilson to Fries). We had a brief cold snap early last week which started to ice up the creeks, then we had over 60 degree temperatures for 2 days later in the week. Creeks are running clear and beautiful. Winter time smallmouth conditions require patient presentations.

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. Master of all things fly, Harry says that the smallmouth streams are just too cold to fish.

The stocked and delayed harvest streams are still providing some good rainbow action. Fish with nymphs below the riffles and in the deep pools. Harry son recently landed a lunker rainbow with a Murray's Professor Nymph, size 14. Good flies to use include: Casual Dress, size 12; Cranefly Larva, size 12; and Murray's Dark Stonefly, size 12. The water is clear and 40 degrees.

The mountain streams are too cold to fish.

Harry wants to remind you that he has a new catalogue of flies and workshop dates and subjects. To get one call him at the above number or email him at the above address. You can also write to him at:

Harry Murray
P.O. Box 156
Edinburg, VA 22824

Lake Moomaw: Contributed by local anger Bill Uzzell. Local angler Bill Uzzell hasn't been able to get out much, but he does report that both smallmouths and largemouths have been hitting well, with angler's bagging the limit.

Lake Moomaw: Local Guide, Mike Puffenbarger, (540) 468-2682, www.mapletreeoutdoors.com. Puff is busy fishing, and hunting in the Highlands. Check his website for the latest news on fishing conditions and what's biting. Also check his site if interested in a great deer or fall turkey hunting experience.

Piedmont Rivers: Local author Steve Moore (Wade Fishing River Guidebooks covering the: Rappahannock, Rapidan, Upper Potomac, North Branch Potomac; Blog: SwitchFisher.com) I've packed it in for the year. Fishing has wrapped up and now all I have to keep me going is the promise of next year! I'll be back on the water in late February or early March depending on the weather. Books are available online to order for Christmas or winter reading. I hope to see you at the VA Bass and Saltwater Fishing Expo at the Meadow Event Park near Doswell January 20-22, 2012. I will be doing some seminars and hope to met and talk with you then

Lunga Reservoir and Rappahannock River: Contributed by local angler Scott Torgerson. No report this edition.

Lake Orange: Contributed by Darrell Kennedy of Angler's Landing (540) 672-3997. Angler's Landing is closing for the winter and will reopen in March.

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: Due to the mild winter we have been experiencing, fish are still feeding all over the lake. The water has been warm enough to prevent icing, and consequently bait and other fish are reluctant to leave the upper portions of the lake and are behind in their annual migrations. This year's slight warming trends will ignite feeding frenzies in areas of the lake that would normally be frozen by now. There are numerous patterns to try but the easiest for most anglers is to work the gulls. Anglers using artificial baits can catch plenty of stripers as long as they cut their big motors off well in advance of approaching a school of feeding fish and use their trolling motors to sneak up to the schools. Winter stripers will not tolerate boat traffic! Good baits to use are 3 to 4 inch Sea Shads, Sassy Shads, bucktails and Road Runners. Live bait fisherman have and will continue to catch nice stringers of stripers. During warming trends anglers can go back up lake pulling boards using 3 to 4 inch gizzard shad or large minnows purchased from the marinas. Fishing mid to down lake anglers can use larger herring and even jumbo minnows for better results. Try using planner boards working flats and points 20 feet or less in the low light times of the day and convert to downlines when the board bite diminishes. With water temperatures hovering between 44 degrees up lake and mid 50s down lake, live bait fisherman should be able to avoid the jump fisherman and work areas with less boat traffic resulting in more strikes.

Bass: My personal best catches of bass usually come in the January to February time frame. It is not uncommon for us to catch numerous citation bass during the day using herring pulled behind planner boards worked over areas ranging from 40 foot flats nearby the 208 Bridge to 5 foot flats anywhere in the lake during low light conditions. More and more anglers are putting a jumbo minnow on a bobber pulling it behind their boat while casting artificial for bass with great results. The artificial lure pattern that produces the largest bass this month probably is working a suspending jerk bait down lake on primary and secondary points next to deep water. Position your boat no deeper than 18 feet throwing your bait toward the shallows. Bass also love swimbaits this time of year. Using a slow retrieve with your favorite swimbait can catch you the bass of a lifetime from Lake Anna. Bass will also congregate nearby the bottom over 25 to 30 feet of water. Vertical jigging a spoon or blade bait around these arches on your depth finder will put fish in the boat.

Crappie: Warmer water will keep the slabs feeding on the bridges up lake as well as the major breaks. Crappie are easy to locate on a good depth finder, they are schooled up now, and are feeding on small threadfins about 2 inches long. Rocky primary point ledges in the 20 to 30 foot range hold large schools of fish. Deep bridge pilings and brush piles will also hold Crappie this month. The 522 Bridge in the North Anna and Dillards Bridge are sure places to score Crappie using small jigs and small minnows.

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

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

View video about the snakehead

Get your kids hooked on fishing!

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Winning Outdoor Adventure Stories from Young Writers

Alexis Reeder, is a junior at Virginia Tech majoring in Wildlife Science and minoring in Spanish. She has always written at any opportunity presented to her and entered the 2010-11 VOWA Collegiate Outdoor Writing Contest where she placed Third. Her article entitled "Moments and Memories, describes several events and experiences growing up that influenced her interest in a wildlife related career. Upon graduation, she plans to go into the protection of endangered species through breeding programs. There is no particular endangered species she is interested in protecting, so she plans to go wherever help is most needed. Alexis expects that to reach her goal she will have to get field work experience, or attend graduate school, or a combination of both. She has been in love with animals all of her life, with some favorites being wolves, stingrays, cheetahs, hyenas and dolphins. Horseback riding is her sport of choice, having owned her own horse for the past five years. She also loves hiking, which is perfect in Blacksburg since there are so many beautiful hikes to try within a relatively short distance. Alexis' story is a vivid reminder of how important outdoor experiences are in developing an appreciation and understanding of our precious wildlife and their wild habitats. Taking a youngster for an outdoor adventure hiking, hunting or fishing may be the experience that influences a lifetime of enjoyment and caring for our wild places and the creatures that inhabit them.

Moments and Memories

By Alexis Reeder

I have moved around at several points in my life, and my family travels frequently, so this has exposed me to many different environments, ecosystems, and wildlife habitats. I hope to continue traveling once I have the means to do so. My parents have passed down to me a voracious appetite for books, and I will read many different genres though my favorite is fantasy. With this love for reading naturally flowed a desire to write and it is always my activity to do during spare time to help me relax.

I could not state the time, or the exact location or event of a particular moment that made me realize that I wanted to work with wildlife. It is hard to pinpoint the time of a realization that has been engrained in your life since your first memories. My ultimate goal was – and still is – to work with animals and, most importantly, work outdoors, though the specifics to reach this goal have shifted constantly throughout the years. As a child, alongside my companions who wished to grow up to become ballerinas and firefighters, I proudly told the world that I wanted to be a marine biologist. The driving forces towards my career goals have been the feel of the wind caressing my face and rain on my skin, the smell of earth, and listening to the hum of life.

Moments and memories of times in nature catch brief glimpses into my contentment in the path of life I have chosen. Here are a few, to be shared and treasured:

At the small aquarium, I plunged my hand into the cold waters of the touch-tank once more. My fingertips were beginning to resemble pale-colored prunes, but I did not notice through my fascination of the stingrays caressing my hand. They glided through the water and bumped my arm, attempting to figure out what I was. The cownose stingray was especially curious, and I smiled with pleasure as her silky wings gently passed over my touch. A more shy Atlantic skate stayed towards the bottom of the tank, but was inching closer every time she thought I wasn't paying attention. I slowly inched my arm further into the water until I touched her sandpaper skin. To my delight and utter amazement, she wiggled underneath my hand so that I could scratch just the right spot on her spiny dorsal side. My friends had moved on, but I stayed to watch the fascinating behavior of an animal dear to my heart.

"Oh! Look!" my mom gasped, leaning precariously out of the car window. "What kind of bird is that?" With a greater sense of self-preservation, I poked my head carefully out of the passenger's side window and admiringly watched the bird of prey soaring on the thermals high above our vehicle en route to Ouray, Colorado. We rounded the bend and sat in silence for a moment to stare in awe of the natural beauty before us. Our vehicle was perched atop a low mountain, overlooking a small skiing town nestled in a valley between two mountains proudly reaching for the sky in the middle of the Rockies. The colors blue, green, white and brown had never before mingled and blended to create a more fantastic picturesque landscape.

The trails behind our house were logging roads, but the acres of land had been clearcut many years back and so there was still the feel of isolation from humanity. This peaceful haven for the Virginia wildlife of the fields and woods was where my horse and I trod many hours together. It was just after spring, when the light greens begin to darken and the vegetation becomes so thick that it's occasionally difficult to get through unless a trail is maintained. Clearly, this trail was not maintained for the height of a young woman on a horse, so there were many moments where I battled newly grown branches and vines in my way. My horse underneath me, finding this amusing, took care to find as many low hanging branches as possible to walk under.

When we reached a field again I sat up from my crouched position with relief, and then paused. A doe stood staring at us from across the field, ahead on the trail. Her ears twitched back and forth and her delicate legs were poised for flight, but she did not run away. My horse was oblivious to her and continued forward along the trail. I watched in fascination as three beings began to converge on one point – deer, horse, and human. Perhaps it was because I was on a creature more similar to herself that she held her ground, or perhaps she was as curious as I. Her large black eyes watched us carefully, and I could now see the distinction of every light brown hair. At this point, my horse finally assessed his surroundings and realized that another four-legged creature stood in his path. Belatedly, he gave a small jump of surprise and stopped moving forward.

The doe now realized that the strange creature before her smelled of human, and she fled into the field, bounding over the underbrush with enviable grace, her bright white tail flashing behind her. My horse's ears swiveled back to hear my command of how to proceed, but I gently told him, "Hold still for a bit. I'm savoring this moment."He snorted, but stayed where he was in otherwise silent acquiescence.

I sat outside soaking up the last few rays of sun touching the evening, listening to the sounds of life around me. A bobwhite quail announced his presence in the distance, and with a smile I imitated the noise. Only a moment's pause broke the interval in which the bobwhite called again, sounding closer. Amusing myself by thinking that he came to talk to me, I called back to him again, with a louder tone and more confidence. With absolute incredulity, I saw a bobwhite quail hop to a fence post no more than twenty feet away and call again. I responded politely, but what a surprise to the poor bobwhite to realize that his rival was a human! He flapped away shrieking in alarm. I will never forget the call of the bobwhite quail.

The horse trainer asked me what I wanted to do with my life. When I told her confidently of my plans, she pounded my back affectionately and said with a chuckle, "For you, that's a good career choice. No desk job for you!"

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 are now accepting stories with a deadline of February 13, 2012. We encourage you to write your most memorable hunting, fishing or other outdoor adventure story and enter the 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: