In this edition:

Lots of "Wild Events" Scheduled for Outdoor Enthusiasts

This January 25 edition has a long list of "wild events" coming in February and March 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. Having spent the last weekend at the Bass & Saltwater Fishing Expo, I am humbled by the great responses from our subscribers on your high overall satisfaction with the Outdoor Report. We got some great ideas for improvements too. VDGIF 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 support 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.

Be aware of the legislative process...

For years VDGIF has posted bills of interest on our website for our users to see. Also for years, people have provided feedback after the legislative session concluded that they were unaware of pending bills that would affect them if passed. We are trying to improve the public's awareness regarding the legislative process by adding this article in the Outdoor Report. Please feel free to share this information with others who may be interested in our mission. There is a lot of legislative action scheduled this Session on issues that may affect you as an outdoor enthusiast, landowner, or concerned citizen. Be informed and engage in the process as desired. The Agency is not advocating any positions by sharing this information and we welcome your comments on the value of this channel of communication.

David Coffman, Editor

General Assembly Legislation of Interest to You

The Virginia General Assembly convened January 11, 2012, and numerous bills have been introduced that may affect outdoor enthusiasts. 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

VA Master Naturalists Host Showing of Aldo Leopold Documentary in Southwest VA

The Holston Rivers Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalists will host two free screenings of a new film called Green Fire, the first full-length, high definition documentary film ever made about legendary conservationist Aldo Leopold. The film explores Aldo Leopold's life in the early part of the twentieth century and the many ways his land ethic idea continues to be applied all over the world today. The film is being shown twice in Southwest Virginia region:

For more information on Virginia Master Naturalists contact, Steve Lindeman, (276) 676-2209, slindeman@tnc.org

Learn more about the "Green Fire" documentary in the "Green Tips" section

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.

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.

Friends of Phelps Wildlife Management Area To Meet February 15 and March 21

The Friends of C.F. Phelps Wildlife Management Area (WMA) have scheduled meetings on Wednesday, February 15 and Wednesday, March 21 at 7 p.m. The group will meet at the Sumerduck Ruritan Club at 5335 Sumerduck Road, Sumerduck, VA 22742. On Sunday, March 18 from 8 a.m. to noon the Friends group is hosting a Work Day with lunch provided! To view what the Friends group has been doing, visit the Friends of C.F. Phelps WMA on Facebook at Friends of C.F. Phelps Wildlife Management Area and see photos of our Work Day and Tour of Phelps. For more information on the Friends of C.F. Phelps WMA or to be added to the distribution list for meeting reminders and notes, contact Patricia Wood at pwood12@earthlink.net or friendsofcfphelpswma@gmail.com.

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

Southwest VA Master Naturalist Program Training Class Starts February 16

The Holston Rivers Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalists is enrolling students for the 2012 Basic Training Class. The thirteen-week course offers diverse classes on all aspects of Southwest Virginia ecology. Local experts will teach subjects such as local geology and karst systems, groundwater systems, aquatic biology, native animals, ornithology, forestry, wildflowers, and more. Related field trips visit interesting sites such as Pinnacle Natural Area Preserve, the Appalachian Trail, Buller Fish Hatchery, and the Mount Rogers Naturalist Rally.

The $100 tuition fee covers registration fees, field trips, books and other resources, and Holston Rivers VMN chapter dues for 2012. Classes start on Thursday, February 16, 2012, and run through Thursday, May 10. Classes meet from 6:30-9:30 p.m. on Thursdays at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in Abingdon. Field trips are scheduled on Saturdays.

The training class is open to all Virginia residents. No prior experience in the sciences is necessary, merely an interest in the natural world. Tennessee residents are welcome to participate. The class is great for teachers. After completing basic training, class members can choose to be a member of the Holston Rivers Chapter and pursue certification as a Virginia Master Naturalist.

The Virginia Master Naturalist program is a statewide corps of volunteers providing education, outreach, and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities. Interested Virginians become Master Naturalists through training and volunteer service.

FAQ, information about chapter activities, and an application for the 2012 Basic Training Course can be found on their website. For more information and an application, contact:

Monica Hoel – mhoel1985@gmail.com – 276-944-3516, or Shauna Russell – srussel@bvps.org

VDGIF To Host Archery in the Schools Program State Tournament February 25

VDGIF is conducting the Fourth Annual National Archery in the Schools Program Tournament on Saturday February 25, 2012, at Meadow Event Park, the new State Fairgrounds near Doswell. This tournament is the "culminating event" for Virginia schools participating in the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP). Last year, more than 200,000 Virginia students at more than 550 schools participated in archery instruction during their PE classes throughout the school year. The National Archery in the Schools Program promotes student education and participation in archery. The program's focus is designed to teach International style target archery in 4th through 12th grades as part of the in-school curriculum. Before presenting archery instruction to their students at school, teachers must successfully complete an 8-hour instructor certification training program referred to as BAI, Basic Archery Instructor. Certification is conducted by VDGIF Outdoor Education staff and VDGIF-certified volunteers. Currently over 550 schools, and 1270 teachers have been trained.

For more detailed information , visit the Department's website. For more information and to get your school and teachers involved in NASP, contact VDGIF Outdoor Education Supervisor and Virginia State NASP Coordinator Karen Holson at (804) 367-6355 or Karen.Holson@dgif.virginia.gov. Also, be sure to check out the NASP video and Virginia Wildlife feature article!

Wildlife Center of VA Announces Schedule for "On the Road" Rehabilitation Classes Starting February 25

Amanda Nicholson, Director of Outreach for the Wildlife Center of Virginia announces their full schedule of "On the Road" introductory wildlife rehabilitation classes can be found online.

Saturday, February 25
Shenandoah University, Winchester (and via teleconference in Ashburn)
Introduction to Raising Orphaned Mammals
Introduction to Raising Orphaned Birds

Saturday, March 10
Richmond, VA
Classes TBD

Saturday, March 31
Bridgewater College, Bridgewater
Classes TBD

Saturday, June 30
Lynchburg Parks and Recreation, Lynchburg
Wildlife Capture, Restraint, Handling, & Transport
Introduction to Raising Orphaned Mammals

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

Hunters for the Hungry has a critical need for both donations of venison and funds to pay for processing. 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 these tough economic times. 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.

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!

Hunters for the Hungry volunteers will be staffing booths at all the upcoming sportsman shows. Stop by and show your support by making a donation, purchasing logo gear and apparel, or buying raffle tickets... someone has to win -- it may be you!

Sportsmen and Conservation Organizations Hosting Annual Award and Fund Raising Events

A number of sportsmen and conservation organizations that partner with VDGIF throughout the year are hosting annual award and fund raising events during the summer months. If you are a member of one of these groups we appreciate your support of our aligned missions and volunteer efforts to improve opportunities for all outdoor enthusiasts and conservation of our wildlife and their habitats. If you are not a member of one of these organizations, we encourage you to find an organization that shares your views and join and support them. It is the strength in numbers that will allow us to preserve and continue our treasured outdoor traditions, be it hunting, fishing, boating, or viewing wildlife. The following is a listing of events that our partners have asked us to post:

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."

Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program Recognizes 75 Years of Wildlife Conservation and Partnership Success

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) joined the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA), and other partners at the 2012 SHOT-SHOW to announce the start of a yearlong celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program (WSFR), one of the most significant and successful partnership approaches to fish and wildlife conservation in U.S. history.

The "WSFR 75 – It's Your Nature" celebration brings together federal and state fish and wildlife agencies; the hunting, shooting, angling, and boating industries; and conservation groups to mark a milestone of partnership success that has led to 75 years of quality hunting, fishing, shooting, boating and wildlife-related recreation. The occasion also marks the beginning of a new era in wildlife conservation, during which the partners will establish new goals for fostering and maintaining partnerships to continue conservation and outdoor recreation into the next 75 years and beyond.

"The Service is proud to join our partners in recognizing more than seven decades of wildlife conservation and quality outdoor recreational opportunities," said Director Dan Ashe of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "With our nation's support and our partnership's renewed commitment, WSFR will help more Americans enjoy wildlife and our great outdoors for many years to come."

Through the WSFR program, several innovative and foundational fish and wildlife conservation programs are administered. The first was created on September 2, 1937 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, which raises funds through a dedicated excise tax on sporting guns and ammunition. In 1950, the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act was enacted and added to the WSFR program. Through this law, funds are provided for fish conservation and boating and fishing recreational programs in each state through an excise tax placed on certain fishing and boating equipment and fuels. "Since its 1937 inception, WSFR has provided more than $14 billion to support fish and wildlife restoration and management," said Hannibal Bolton, the Service's assistant director for the WSFR program. "The program and its partners, including the sporting arms industry, conservation groups, and sportsmen and sportswomen, are coming together for this anniversary to renew their commitment to conserve fish and wildlife and enhance hunter, angler, and boater recreation."

These funds, administered by the Service, are combined with hunting license dollars in each state to fund important state wildlife conservation and hunting programs. "The 75th anniversary of the WSFR program is a tremendous opportunity to celebrate the conservation victories that have been made possible because of this innovative funding approach," said Jonathan Gassett, PhD, president, Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. "WSFR has made the difference for the survival and abundance of some species, and because of it, many fish and wildlife populations are at historically high levels today."

Industry and agency partnerships have helped the WSFR program to become what it is today. According to Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Executive Director Bob Duncan, "From the manufactures of hunting, shooting, fishing and boating equipment who have paid billions in special excise taxes, to the wildlife management efforts by state fish and wildlife agencies, and to all those who have ever purchased a hunting and fishing license, the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program, has made it possible for everyone to enjoy the outdoors and the many benefits from its many conservation achievements."

"The WSFR programs have not only supported fish and wildlife conservation, they have also supported small businesses that manufacture and sell hunting and fishing equipment," said Myke Lynch, general manager of Green Top Sporting Goods in Richmond, Virginia. "The industry supporting sportsmen has a multi-million dollar impact on the nation's economy, and it depends on healthy fish and wildlife populations."

The WSFR 75th anniversary will include participation in various fish and wildlife conservation events and conferences throughout the year, to culminate with National Hunting and Fishing Day in September 2012.

For more information about the WSFR program and its 75th Anniversary in 2012, visit:

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov. Connect with our Facebook page, follow our tweets, watch our YouTube Channel and download photos from our Flickr page.

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...

Upland Classic Quail Hunt Features a Variety of "Bird Dog" Breeds

The Virginia Upland Classic finished up the 2011-12 season with a mid-winter Quail hunt at FFF shooting preserve in Keysville, Virginia. The two day event on January 7 & 8 included 75 runs with hunters and dogs competing to determine the best team of bird hunters in six divisions. Pointing dog and flushing dog breeds from all over the state of Virginia (with some NC & MD participants) included a field of participants that put on a display of safe bird-work and good shooting to determine the winners in "open" events (dogs over 3 years old), amateur events (dogs under 3 years old), and first time participants (novices).

One of the more interesting aspects of the event was the number of different breeds of dogs that are now fairly common to bird hunting. Not that long ago if you said "bird dog" you probably meant a pointer or a setter, but now dog breeds from all over the world are used to hunt upland game in the US and the variety makes for an interesting statement on who is hunting with what sort of dog?. At the Keysville event the pointing breeds not only included traditional pointers and setters, but also the Visla, the American Brittany, the German short-haired pointer, the Wire-haired pointer, the Griffon, the Drahthaar and even a Munsterlander. Labrador Retrievers in black, blonde, and chocolate colors pounded the brush in an effort to find and flush the quail for their handlers. Springer Spaniels, a standard Poodle, plus two Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers were on hand to compete.

With the absents of plentiful wild quail, and the difficulty of getting access to even go hunting for them, bird hunters in Virginia find that Virginia shooting preserves provide bird hunting for quail, chukars, or pheasants in a safe environment without making the expensive trip out West to bird hunt. "Shoot to retrieve" competitions like the Virginia Upland Classic Series are getting more and more popular with Virginia bird hunters as another way to get in the field with their dogs and go hunt birds. If you are interested in knowing more about Virginia Upland Classic Series events simply contact Ben Norris at VAUCS, Box 430, Dutton, Virginia 23050 (bgnorris@cox.net) or the National Upland Classic Series (a division of the National Kennel Club (NKC) at www.uplandclassic.com

Visit one of Virginia's popular shooting preserves for a day of shooting fun and an exciting hunting experience. Pen-raised game birds may be taken on licensed shooting preserves from September 1 through April 30. There are a number of shooting preserves in Virginia authorized through permits by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. A state resident hunting pen-raised game birds on a licensed shooting preserve is required to have either a state or county resident hunting license. A nonresident is required to have a state nonresident license or a special nonresident shooting preserve license which is valid only within the boundaries of a licensed shooting preserve.

For additional information visit the Virginia Hunting Preserve Association.

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.

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

Matthew Carter Patiently Waited for First Buck

Robert Jones sent us this picture and story about Mathew Carter, age 15 from Poquoson, with his first antlered buck shot on a private farm in Isle of Wight on November 25th this year. He sat with his dad Garry Carter in a custom buddy stand right off the pasture where the picture was taken. They watched several small does go by waiting for a buck. After cleaning the deer Mathew wanted to head back into the woods to get another. He shot the deer with a Youth Model Remington 870 in 20 ga. with # 3 buck at 20 yds. One shot! I have taken Mathew on several Youth Day hunts and others. He likes the woods and big trucks and anything mechanical. Very smart promising young hunter with patience!

Cristin Cade Uses Crossbow for First Buck on Traditional Father-Daughter Black Friday Hunt

Cristin Cade, age eleven , and her Dad, Scott, were hunting from a buddy stand on private land in King William November 25 2011, when she made her first kill. Black Friday has become a" father-daughter " tradition of Christmas shopping in the morning and hunting in the afternoon. The only difference, this year she was the designated shooter, up until this year she has been content with enjoying the hunt as an observer and head tracker. She made a 27 yd shot with her Dad's crossbow, her buck went 70 yds and dropped. We are still in awe around our house and have wall space reserved for her trophy, 12 pts 161 lbs. Congratulations on your new "father-daughter" tradition!

Austin Sherman Gets First Buck During Father–Son Hunt

Austin Sherman, age 8, from Evington, VA killed this button buck on November 11, 2011 while hunting with his father, Keith Sherman, in the National Forest in Amherst Co. He had hunted previously during the special Youth Day hunt during which he saw 3 does, but was unable to get a shot. He waited impatiently for the start of regular season to get his second opportunity and made good on a 60 yd shot with his Remington Model Seven .243. Did I mention he hiked over an hour back from the road, before dawn, to reach his hunting location in hopes of a true giant. Trophies are not always judged by size of antlers as you can tell by the smile on his face. Austin wants to get the skull bleached so he can hang it in his room. Keith notes, "His father's hunting passion has been successfully passed to the next generation."

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!

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.

VA Master Naturalists Host Showing of Aldo Leopold Documentary in Southwest VA

The Holston Rivers Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalists will host two free screenings of a new film called Green Fire, the first full-length, high definition documentary film ever made about legendary conservationist Aldo Leopold. The film explores Aldo Leopold's life in the early part of the twentieth century and the many ways his land ethic idea continues to be applied all over the world today. The film is being shown twice in Southwest Virginia region:

Green Fire: Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic for Our Time is a production of the Aldo Leopold Foundation, the US Forest Service, and the Center for Humans and Nature. The film shares highlights from Leopold's life and extraordinary career, explaining how he shaped conservation in the twentieth century and still inspires people today. Although probably best known as the author of the conservation classic A Sand County Almanac, Leopold is also renowned for his work as an educator, philosopher, forester, ecologist, and wilderness advocate.

"Aldo Leopold's legacy lives on today in the work of people and organizations across the nation and around the world," said Aldo Leopold Foundation Executive Director Buddy Huffaker. "What is exciting about Green Fire is that it is more than just a documentary about Aldo Leopold; it also explores the influence his ideas have had in shaping the conservation movement as we know it today by highlighting some really inspiring people and organizations doing great work to connect people and the natural world in ways that even Leopold might not have imagined."

Green Fire illustrates Leopold's continuing influence by exploring current projects that connect people and land at the local level. Viewers will meet urban children in Chicago learning about local foods and ecological restoration. They'll learn about ranchers in Arizona and New Mexico who maintain healthy landscapes by working on their own properties and with their neighbors, in cooperative community conservation efforts. They'll meet wildlife biologists who are bringing back threatened and endangered species, from cranes to Mexican wolves, to the landscapes where they once thrived. The Green Fire film portrays how Leopold's vision of a community that cares about both people and land—his call for a land ethic—ties all of these modern conservation stories together and offers inspiration and insight for the future.

"The Aldo Leopold Foundation is distributing the film to community screeners, and is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization based in Baraboo, Wisconsin. The foundation's mission is to inspire an ethical relationship between people and land through the legacy of Aldo Leopold. Leopold regarded a land ethic as a product of social evolution. "Nothing so important as an ethic is ever 'written,'" he explained. "It evolves 'in the minds of a thinking community.'" Learn more about the Aldo Leopold Foundation and the Green Fire movie at www.aldoleopold.org.

For more information on Virginia Master Naturalists contact, Steve Lindeman, (276) 676-2209, slindeman@tnc.org

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!

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 February:

Answers to January 11th edition quiz for nature events for January...

Get your copy of the 2012 Virginia Wildlife Calendar here.

Habitat Improvement Tips

9th Annual Landowners' Woods & Wildlife Conference in Manassas February 18

"Bringing out the BEST in your property" is an all day conference for landowners to meet various natural resource professionals, learn something about taking good care of your woodland and meet other like-minded landowners. Sessions planned include the following: Evaluating costs and income opportunities, Knowing the best trees and shrubs for your wildlife, Not Quitting on Quail, Wild & Wonderful wet spots (Seeps & Vernal Pools), Mineral rights and Landownership, Deer & Forest Ecology, and more!The day will appeal to large and small acreage landowners alike with an aim to motivate, equip, network and inspire!

The Conference is scheduled for February 18, 2012 from 9 am to 4:30 pm (registration opens at 8:30), on the George Mason University, Prince William Campus, Manassas.

Adam K. Downing, Extension Agent, Forestry & Natural Resources - Northern District, notes that space is limited and pre-registration is required. Registration deadline is February 3. Learn more about this conference content or registration information. If you have any problems with the above link(s) please call or e-mail Sandra Lillard (540) 948-6881 slillard@vt.edu for a brochure to be sent to you.

Thank you Partners & Sponsors: Forestry for the Bay, Piedmont Landowners Association, Prince William Soil & Water Conservation District, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Department of Forestry, Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries, Virginia Forest Landowner Education Program, Bradley-Murphy Extension Trust, Glatfelter Pulpwood Company, MeadWestvaco, Piedmont Environmental Council, Sustainable Forestry Initiative-State Implementation Committee, Virginia Forestry Association, VT Dept. of Forest Resources & Environmental Conservation, VT College of Natural Resources & Environment, Virginia Tree Farm.

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

Maryland Resident Charged with illegal deer kills- on waterfowl refuge... On Friday, January 6, 2012, Senior Conservation Police Officer Frank Spuchesi and Officer Josh Thomas were patrolling the VDGIF Lands End Waterfowl Refuge in King George County when they encountered a vehicle on the property. The officers conducted a foot patrol and located a subject hunting in a blind. Senior Officer Spuchesi identified himself and asked the subject to exit the blind. The suspect exited the blind with a muzzle loading rifle. The officers then located a high powered center fire rifle also in the blind. The subject, a Maryland resident, was interviewed and it was determined that he had walked past a no hunting sign and had killed two deer on the property the previous day, which he did not check in. The subject was charged with hunting with a rifle, trespassing to hunt and two counts of failing to check deer.

Region III - Southwest

Youth Deer Hunt at Claytor Lake State Park great success... Region III Hunter Education Specialist Jeff Pease along with Officers Troy Phillips and David Peake participated in a Youth Deer Hunt at Claytor Lake State Park in Pulaski County. Sixteen eager youth hunters braved the cold temperatures to attend this annual event and six of the young hunters were successful in harvesting a deer. This event was made a tremendous success by the partnership of VDGIF and DCR, and the volunteer Hunter Education Instructors that served as hunting mentors.

Tip leads to charges for doe killed out of season... On January 05, 2012, Conservation Police Officer Larry Walls received a call from Richmond Dispatch in reference to a complaint of a subject shooting a doe with a rifle. Officer Walls responded to the Mary's Chapel section of Washington County and found a blood trail indicating that a deer had been loaded into a vehicle. Officer Walls returned to the location the next day and conducted interviews with residents in the area. Officer Walls was able to identify the subject that had taken the doe deer. This subject was residing in Tennessee. After speaking with the subject's family they convinced the shooter to return to the area and meet with Officer Walls. When the subject arrived Officer Walls advised him of his Miranda Rights and conducted an interview. The subject gave a written statement admitting to shooting the doe with a rifle and transporting it to his residence. Appropriate charges were made for killing the doe deer out of season.

K9 Teams

K9 "Justice" finds hidden rifle leading to arrest of convicted felons... On December 31, 2011, Virginia Conservation Police Officer Heberling responded to a possible trespassing to hunt in progress in Fluvanna Co. Officer Heberling and a Fluvanna County deputy arrived on scene and found two individuals on the property. One individual had a rifle in possession, and the other was dragging a deer but did not have a firearm. Upon further investigation, it was found the individual dragging the deer had been convicted of several felonies and was listed as a violent sex offender. Two freshly fired rifle casings were found nearby, but were a different caliber than the other individual's rifle. The convicted felon insisted he did not have a firearm. The officers searched the area, but no firearm could be located. Conservation Police Officer Billhimer and his K9 partner, Justice, were contacted to try and locate a firearm on the property. Within 20 minutes, Justice found the rifle hidden nearby in the brush. A total of 6 charges were place on the two individuals including Hunting without a License, Hunting Deer without a Big Game License, Trespassing to hunt on Posted Property, Failure to Validate Deer Tag, and No Blaze Orange. Charges are pending for Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon and Driving While Driver's License is Suspended or Revoked. Without the help of Officer Billhimer and K9 Justice, valuable evidence may not have been found.

K9 Teams Add Unique Capabilities to VDGIF Law Enforcement Efforts

If your child was lost in the woods, wouldn't you want Jake on his trail?
One day you may be really happy to see Jake!

Help support the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries' Wildlife K9 Team, by making a donation through the Wildlife Foundation of Virginia.

Make a Donation to the K9 Team at: www.vawildlife.org/k-9.html

In May 2011, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries launched a K9 Team. The members of the new K9 Team are: from Portsmouth in Tidewater region, K9 Officer Megan Vick and her partner Jake; from Appomattox County in Central Virginia, K9 Officer Richard Howald and his partner Scout; and from Rockingham County in Western Virginia, K9 Officer Wayne Billhimer and his partner Justice.

The three dogs, all Labrador Retrievers, underwent intensive training in Indiana, and they, and their handlers, are now working the woods and waters of Virginia. Justice, Scout and Jake focus on wildlife-related activity, including wildlife detection, tracking, and article recovery. They have had much success already, and will be invaluable to the law enforcement and educational efforts of VDGIF.

The Wildlife Foundation of Virginia has partnered with VDGIF on this special initiative. Your tax-deductible donation to the Wildlife K9 Team will help provide food and veterinary care for these great dogs.

Watch for updates in the Outdoor Report on events where you can meet members of the new K9 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.

Moratorium on River Herring Fishing Now in Effect

On January 1, 2012, a moratorium on River Herring fishing went into effect. The VA Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) states that the purposes of the moratorium are to rebuild the Virginia stocks of River Herring and to comply with the requirements of the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Shad and River Herring. It is unlawful for any person to possess any river herring in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Fishermen that traditionally fish for river herring with hook and line, dip nets, cast nets, gill nets or any other gear should be aware of this fishing closure and not purchase a gear license if they were only interested in fishing for river herring.

For more info on the regulation establishing the moratorium visit the VMRC website.

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!

The Bass and Saltwater expo concluded last weekend and it was an exciting show with boats, tackle retailers and seminars. The list of pros and guides was impressive with 3 different seminars taking place each hour throughout the show. I had an opportunity to catch up with old friends and meet some new folks in the fishing industry as well. The event was well planned as the new state record Striper was caught on Friday. The fish weighed 74 pounds and was brought to the show packed on ice for all the attendees to see and photograph. What a catch!!! Visit "The Fishing Spot" in the coming editions to learn who I chatted with at the show.

We conducted the Weekend Wildlife segment on "The Weekend with Anthony Oppermann" live from the show, check it out and past segments.

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!
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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. Not a lot to talk about as it's cold and the fish know it, so they are holding in 20 to 30 ft. of water. A vertical presentation working blade baits and jigs seems to be the choice, but you may want to try Carolina rig along the 25. ft. shelves or the weed line; it's a little bit more exciting and is producing some bass. Some crappie are being caught down to 20 ft. along the grass line, try minnows or 1 1/2 tubes or jigs. Two strippers fell to slow trolling lipless cranks in mid lake.

Beaverdam Reservoir: Contributed by Eddie Hester, (804) 693-2107. No report this edition.

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 a state record striper had been landed. That big boy weighs 74 pounds! Striper fishing is good at Cape Henry, where they are attacking mojos, parachutes, bucktails and live eels. Please remember that fish taken in the Bay must be released. Out in the ocean, you can keep 2, but they must be at least 28 in. long. Tautog can be found at the pilings and tubes at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. They are going for green and fiddler crabs and clams. Water is 45 degrees and clear.

Editors note: We will have a full feature on the new record 74 lb striper in the February 8, 2012 edition of the Outdoor Report

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

Chickahominy River: River's Rest (804) 829-2753. Alton Williams reports that only duck hunters have been able to take all this cold weather; so lots of gunfire in the morning, but virtually no anglers out there. The water is somewhat stained and cooling.

North Landing River and Back Bay: West Neck Marina (757) 426-6735. Dewey Mullins says that bass action is good on cranks and spinners. Not many crappie have been coming in, but try a minnow or a jig. White perch are being extremely cooperative. They like minnows and night crawlers. No word on cats or bluegill. Some stripers have been landed on spinners and small cranks, mostly by anglers seeking bass or perch. The water is clear and in the mid to high 40s.

Norfolk Lakes: Dasheill's Show Room (757) 539-7854. Drew Dixon told me that lots of bass are coming in on jigs and plastics. Crappie action is also good, with minnows and jigs bringing in some big slabs. Some yellow perch are biting minnows. Cats are responding well to cut bait. A few stripers are going for large minnows or cranks. The water is clear and in the low 50s.

Blackwater and Nottoway: By Riverkeeper Jeff Turner www.blackwaternottoway.com. Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 18th through the 20th on the Blackwater above Joyner's Bridge. The water was tinted, 40 degrees and 6.7 on the USGS gauge at Burdette. Air temperatures ranged from a cold 27 degrees the first night to 50 and the wind seemed to never go away. It was a cold patrol. The fishing on this trip was pretty slow. I only caught two very small largemouth and three bowfin to six pounds. All fish were caught on a blade bait jigged vertically. I did not do any casting which may have been a mistake. I did try fishing for speckle, but did not catch a one.

Real sportsmen aren't litterbugs... I found where some thoughtless duck hunters had gone onshore at a spot upriver from the bridge and left a mess. Empty shotgun shells and cigarette butts littered the little peninsula they were on. Please, don't leave your shell casings and other trash in or on the river. You brought it, please take it with you when you leave!

Upper and Lower Tidal James: Local Guide, Captain Mike Hoke, Life's Revenge Guide Service, (804) 357-8518. Captain Mike reports that some big cats are coming in on cut shad. Crappie action is good in the creeks with traditional minnows and jigs. The water is clear and 46.

Upper and Lower Tidal James: Contributed by Capt. Mike Ostrander, James River Fishing School, Discover the James, (804) 938-2350. With steady air temperatures the past few days fishing should be pretty good. Look for blue catfish of all sizes along the river channel ledges. Gizzard shad continue to be the best bait and the fresher the better.

Region 2 - Southside

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

James at Scottsville: Local Guide L.E. Rhodes www.hatchmatcherguideservice.com, (434) 286-3366. The river conditions have been unstable for the past couple weeks. Rising water and cloudy to muddy conditions have had the smallmouth fishing come to a standstill. I have been able to get out Muskie fishing but have had only a couple follows with no fish boated. The water temperatures have dropped and will probably hold around the 40 degree mark. When the conditions improve continue to go with crayfish imitations such as pig & jigs and Tubes. A hair jig can also be productive this time of year. I always try to match what the fish are feeding on. I guess that comes with being a fly fisherman. In order for me to do so, I also need to know what the food source is at that given time. As it's winter the crayfish is most likely what will prompt a fish to feed. Here's a little bio on the crayfish from one of my presentations: Crayfish represent an important diet of the smallmouth. They thrive in rivers around semi soft bottoms with rocks, wood, grass, and clay banks. Water temperatures along with length of days determine activity periods. They hibernate in winter and are usually moving about in the early spring, before most fishermen begin to fish. The crayfish is characterized by a joined head and thorax and a segmented body, which is sandy yellow, green, or dark brown. They average about 3 inches in length. They have a hard outside body. They regularly outgrow their shell and shed it. This is called molting and occurs six to ten times their first year of growth. After each molt they have soft skeletons and are more vulnerable to fish. Pig & jigs, tubes and Soft plastic imitations (Beavers, Rodents, Road Kills) will all be good choices for spin fishermen. For the fly angler a Clawdad, Rhodes Rattle-N-Claw, Trow Tube Fly or a Ritt's Fighting Cray fish are all patterns to have in your box.

Kerr Reservoir: Bob Cat's Lake Country Store, (434) 374-8381. Brandon Gray says that bass are not biting well but a few anglers have been lucky with jigging spoons and small cranks. Crappie action is also off, with minnows and jigs being your best bet. Cut bait or crappie fillets may land you a cat. Stripers can be found near Grassy Creek and in the Ivy Hill area; try live shad or jumbo minnows. The water is slightly stained and 46 to 48 degrees.

James at Lynchburg: Angler's Lane, (434) 385-0200. No report this edition.

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: Overall fishing on the lake continues to be good and the mild weather has many anglers out enjoying it. Bass fishing is no exception. Local reports and recent tournament results indicate good numbers and quality bass are being caught. When largemouth are found feeding on shad, a variety of baitfish imitating lures including crankbaits, swimbaits, heavy spinner baits and flukes are being used successfully. While many bass are still being found in relatively shallow water where crankbaits and lightweight jigs are working, a number are also being found off the sides of points and humps. Deep diving suspending jerkbaits and drop shot rigged plastics are both good choices on points. The jerkbait bite should continue and might even improve as the water temperature drops. Carolina rigged plastics are also working on points and the edges of natural creek channels. Bass found deep near natural rock are also being caught on ½ and ¾ ounce football head pig & jigs. Deep water bass are also being caught by anglers vertically jigging with Hopkins, Kastmaster and Berry jigging spoons.

The Winter Weekend Bass Tournament Series is being held every Saturday morning at the State Park boat ramp from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. This popular series is currently scheduled to continue through the second weekend in February. This past weekend the team of Danny and Trevor Towe won the event with total weight of 19 lbs. 3 oz. They also claimed big fish honors with a bass weighing 4 lb. 7 oz. Tournament Director Phillip VanDerVeer teamed up with Chris Lucas to take second place honors with a total weight of 17 lb. 13 oz. Third place in this past Saturday's tournament went to the team of James Jordan and Douglas Eubanks when they brought a total weight of 8 lb. 5oz. to the scale. The team of Jim McCullough and Ronnie Lemons won the previous week's tournament with a total weight of 21 lbs. 9 oz. The team of Travis Towe and Danny Towe took second place honors in this event with a total weight of 18 lbs. Mark McFadden and Matt Kluender teamed up to bring a bag weighing 12 lb. 12 oz. to the scale and earn third place in this tournament while Danny Moles of Vinton caught the tournament lunker, a beautiful largemouth bass that weighed 5 lbs. 12 oz. If you desire more information about this series, I encourage you to contact Tournament Director Phillip VanDerveer by email (bassin0125@gmail.com) or by stopping by his business, Jiffy Automotive Service (540-344-7281) in Vinton.

Stripers: Fishing continues to be mixed, but most anglers who get out early are reporting success watching and fishing around seagulls, especially in the middle and upper sections of the lake. Seagulls are one of the best fish finders around the lake this time of year. When you see a concentration of gulls diving and picking up bait on the surface of the water, you can be sure there are feeding fish somewhere nearby or below them. While several anglers report catching striped bass very early in the morning using bucktails and flukes rigged on belly-weighted hooks and lightweight jigheads in the backs of creeks, most report catching stripers in the main channel. When seagulls are actively feeding and plucking injured baitfish off the surface of the lake, many anglers use a 3/8 or 1/2 ounce jighead to cast, countdown and retrieve a fluke, small swimbait or curl tail grub. As the sun moves overhead, many of the stripers will be found deeper in the water column. Currently, schools of striped bass are being found above Gills Creek on the Blackwater side and between the Hales Ford and Hardy Bridges on the Roanoke River. Once the stripers move deep, vertically jigging a spoon or a fluke rigged on a 1/2 or 3/4 ounce jighead is a productive technique. During the day stripers are currently being found in large schools anywhere from 20 to more than 50 feet deep. Vertically jigging a small umbrella rig can be very productive, especially for stripers that just refuse to hit a spoon or fluke. White perch are also being caught by anglers vertically jigging for stripers. Stripers are being caught at night, but based on several reports the normal night bite has been slow so far this year. While night anglers are catching a few stripers casting and retrieving diving jerkbaits, bucktails and flukes up along the shoreline, many say their best results are coming around security and dock lights. Live bait is, as always, a good choice for striped bass.

Crappie: Fishing continues to be good. Anglers report they are finding good numbers around and under deep water docks and the tops of submerged deep water structure and timber. Small crappie jigs, Popeye jigs and tiny spoons are the lures of choice for crappies although I'm sure small crappie minnows will also work if you can find them this time of year.

When the water temperature is this cold, hypothermia is a real danger. In addition to the risk of heat loss should someone fall into the lake, a person who falls into cold water without a life jacket may inhale while under water (involuntary gasping reflex) and drown without returning to the surface. It is vital to wear a life jacket or inflatable life vest anytime you are on the water and to carry a spare set of oversize dry clothing in the event you or someone else gets soaking wet while out in the cold.

The water is clear and 45 to 49 degrees. Tight lines and enjoy a safe winter.

Region 3 - Southwest

Claytor Lake: Contributed by Mike Burchett of Rock House Marina, (540) 980-1488. Mike Burchett told me that local bass have slowed down into their winter pattern, but try jigging spoons or slow rolling a heavy swimbait. No word on crappie, cats or bluegills. The yellow perch bite is picking up, especially on a small jighead with a crappie minnow. Striper fishing has been "so-so", with quality being better than quantity right now. Try slow trolling an umbrella rig in 30 to 50 ft. of water. The water is slightly stained and in the mid to low 40s.

Lower New River: Big Z'S (540) 639-1651. John Zienius reports that small mouth anglers are having a hard time, sometimes only 2 or 3 bites a trip. You may get lucky bottom bouncing baits like Gitzits and pig & jigs. Muskie are really hot just now and are attacking big jerks, cranks and live chubs or suckers. The water is clear and in the low 40s.

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 starting to turn green again after the recent rains. Muskie fishing has been great up till the muddy water hit. Recent shocking showed numbers of walleye are improving in pre-spawn areas so get ready for the walleye bite to start up in the next few weeks. I haven't heard of any reports on the smallies but it should be very slow right now. Water temperature is 40 degrees.

Top New River: Contributed by local guide Richie Hughes, owner of New River Trips LLC. We continue to have a mild winter up here in the area of the Top New (Mouth of Wilson to Fries). The best bet for fishing continues to be trout in one of the streams that flow into the Top New. Still no ice in the creeks as the temps will be in the 50s this coming week. Weekly rains have kept water levels at average or above average levels.

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

Region 4 - Mountains & Shenandoah Valley - Northern Piedmont

North and South Forks of the Shenandoah: Harry Murray (540) 984-4212 www.murraysflyshop.com. Harry says that the smallmouth streams are too cold to fish.

The stocked and delayed harvest streams in the Valley are providing excellent action for anglers. Fish below the springs, using a Shenk's Cress Bug, size 14; or a Shrimp, also size 14. When fishing the deep pools, use a Small Caddis Pupa, size 12; or a Stonefly Nymph, 12.

The mountain streams are too cold to fish.

Lake Moomaw: Contributed by local anger Bill Uzzell. No report this edition.

Lake Moomaw: Local Guide, Mike Puffenbarger, (540) 468-2682, www.mapletreeoutdoors.com. Check Puff's website and his articles in Woods & Waters Magazine for updates on Lake Moomaw fishing action and opportunities. Winter has made it's appearance here in western Virginia with very little snow fall and somewhat milder temperatures than normal, but February could change things. Puff notes, "Lot's of activities in the woods with maple syrup producers running sap lines and making ready for another sap season. Seems blaze orange has give way to woolrich plaids and carhartts. With the Highland County Maple Festival just around the corner (March 8-10 & 15-17) spring will be here before you know it."

Stream conditions throughout the area have been running a little over full most of the time making fishing conditions kind of tough. The trout anglers have been catching some decent creels at times weather permitting.

Lake Moomaw would be full pool and willing to produce some fair catches on days where we can see some warming trends. Smallmouth should be turning it on pretty well this month on the upper regions trout can be found throughout the Lake this time of year. Yellow perch grouped up pretty tight off rock ledges and points with water temperatures at or near freezing on parts of the Lake. Lure presentation should be fairly slow but as always elwives and shinners are favorite bait. Come see us at the Maple Festival... bring your fishin' pole too!

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 winter. Fishing has wrapped up and now all I have to keep me going is the promise of the Spring thaw. I'll be back on the water in late February or early March depending on the weather. Books are available online to order for winter reading. It's never to early too start "scouting" for those new promising fishing spots. Use my books to do the preliminary search for great fishing throughout the Virginia Piedmont region.

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. With warmer than normal water temperatures, many areas of Anna normally unproductive have remained productive long into the winter season. A slackening of warm water coming through Dike III has also changed things again in the lower lake. The water is in the lower 40s to upper 30s up lake. It's 50 mid-lake. You'll find it at 56 degrees at Dike III. Good bass fishing, fair striper fishing and good crappie fishing are the highlights on Anna now. Here's what you can expect during your next visit.

Largemouth Bass: The mid and down lake region continue to be the most consistent producing areas of Anna for green fish. Shakey head worms, jigs, toothache spoons and suspending jerkbaits are your top lure choices. Fish the big drops on main lake points, especially when you find natural cover like rocks or drop offs. Brush piles have only been fair lately. Some fish are schooled on small herring and threadfin shad in the Dike III region. The toothache e-rig and other multi-arm rigs have been productive on deep drops and points. Use long casts and let the thing sink to the bottom. Retrieve slowly, just above the bottom. Use 3 in. baits. A recently Sunday bass tournament was won by MLAGS Associate Guide, John Hutchins and his partner, with a five bass limit over 18 pounds.

Striper: Good fishing now for 18 to 21 in. fish throughout the lower lake region. Bigger fish are still biting around the Splits on up to the first two bridges in the North Anna and Pamunkey Branch. Multi-arm rigs with 3 in. baits are catching striper under birds. Spoons and swimbaits help you follow the action to the bottom. Expect good fishing in the Big Ben Flats and Jetts Island region to continue if the mild weather sticks around. The region from Dike III over to Valentine's Cove also has fish, but they are mostly under 21 in. so far.

Crappie: The fish have not completely left the up lake region, especially around the bridges. Deep brush and rocks down lake also have specks for you now. Sometimes the depth is 18 ft., sometimes it's 35 ft. Vertical jigging or fishing with a small minnow on a drop shot rig can be excellent at the mouths of mid lake creeks like Pigeon, Marshall, Sturgeon and Contrary.

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

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

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

View video about the snakehead

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Winning Outdoor Adventure Stories from Young Writers

Outdoor enthusiasts can usually pinpoint a moment or experience in nature that inspired them to appreciate and want to be a part of the conservation of these wild places and the creatures that inhabit them. For Casey Jenkins, a Freshman student at Virginia Tech from Alexandria, Virginia, her interest in nature and a career choice came when what she calls, "a walk through Heaven." She enjoys writing and entered the 2010-11 VOWA Collegiate Outdoor Writing Contest where she placed in the Top Ten. Casey plans to minor in creative writing at VA Tech while also working towards a degree in environmental science. She notes, "The outdoors interest me a lot and many of my hobbies deal with the outdoors. I love soccer and Ultimate Frisbee. Another of my hobbies includes music. I play the clarinet in concert band here at VT. I make a frequent point to get out and hike in the mountains surrounding Tech. Hiking, sports, music, and writing help make up who I am as a person." Join Casey as she eloquently describes her walk in the woods one day that set her on a path to be involved with nature throughout her life.

A Walk through Heaven

By Casey Jenkins

The wind caresses my face; this is the breath of Mother Nature. She is gentle and good to me. I walk towards the river and watch as the temperate water descends down the hill. This is Mother Nature's tears of joy. Like me, she marvels at her own doings; the graceful birds, the elegant animals crawling on her skin, the luscious plants, and the nimble fish all brought to life through her reassuring breaths.

It's only in the wilderness, where distractions are non-existent, can one realize his or her true colors and true self. I approach the river with anticipation and peer into the glistening water. I see myself in the reflection of the running water. Mother Nature is staring back at me. I smile and admire the beauty of the river; the beauty of her. I get up and begin to walk again. The wind is at my back and I know she is always there for me to appreciate and to love. I smile. I show no fear walking in the direction of the woods. I play pretend, and imagine the wooded area as one magnificent fort that I can play in. The wilderness is my oasis. It is something I can call as part of my own. I share this grand fort with many other creatures. A walk in the wilderness puts my mind at ease. My world is intertwined with that of Mother Nature's.

Here in the wild, I can be myself. I can roam where I please. My oasis is endless and limitless. The clouds look down on me with envy because they merely see the beauty below them, but cannot touch or feel what I can experience first-hand. I suppose everyone has a happy place. Mine is probably the biggest "place" of all. The wilderness is filled with life everywhere I look. Almost as if by magic, I can feel Mother Nature breathe life into my soul, rejuvenating me. It's a feeling that only the magical land of the wilderness can provide for.

As I continue to walk down the beaten path, the envious clouds release their tears. I cover my head and run towards the fort. Mother Nature is providing her earth and wilderness with the nectar that the earth thrives off. The rain comes down harder, and a squirrel scurries into a nearby tree within the fort. I love the rain and more often than not I embrace the rain when I take a stroll through the forest. Is there a better place to be? I'm in my happy place; my fortress of beauty. The wilderness is mine.

The sun hovers over me. The sun is like Mother Nature's eyes; every day, she awakens and opens her eyes as she gleams down on the beautiful earth. I look around me and notice the many flowers that are beginning to blossom, providing a rainbow of colors. Seems like whenever Mother Nature opens her eyes, and the sun comes out, she is able to coax all the flowers to blossom. It's a spectacular sight in front of me. I inhale deeply, taking all in all that is around me; capturing the essence of the moment.

I continue to walk east and enter a vast meadow about half a mile away from the river. Here, even the simplest setting is so serene and peaceful. If I listen closely, I can hear the orchestra playing; the crickets chirping, the birds calling, and the swaying of the tall grass going back and forth. The scene is like a dream. All I can do is smile and watch the beautiful scenery unfold in front of me. The meadow extends in all directions for what seems like miles. The meadow is like a vast maze; A maze which I would not mind getting lost in.

The wilderness provides inspiration, adventure, discovery and a world untapped with greatness waiting to be appreciated. As I turn back, I feel a slight breeze at my face; her gentle touch caressing my face once again. I can't help but smile. The wilderness is my oasis and it always will be. I begin to make my way back; back through the meadow, through the fortress, and through the tears of joy (Which never stop streaming down the mountain). I approach the small vacant hut where I first found the map trails and layouts of the park. The exit to the park is just beyond the abandoned hut. I slide the map in my back pocket so I won't misplace it. I plan to come back tomorrow and wander down the same trail. To see all the wonders that Mother Nature has to offer. What I wouldn't give to be a park ranger or wildlife tour guide; to walk this path of heaven every single day.

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: