In this edition:

Leap Into Outdoor Adventure This Season...

February is special this "LEAP YEAR" with an extra day on the calendar... how do you plan to spend this bonus day opportunity?!? This February 8th edition has a long list of "wild events" upcoming that offer a variety of opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. There are outdoor events, training workshops and indoor sportsman's shows that feature seminars, exhibits, demonstrations and contests promising fun and exciting new activities for everyone in the family. More importantly take along 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. So if you have cabin fever, it's your own fault! Go to a show, training event or your local outdoor gear store and get something new to try out in your next outdoor adventure... you have an extra day this month- have fun and enjoy the time afield!

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.

Wildlife Foundation of VA Hosting Fundraiser February 21 in Richmond

The Board of Directors of The Wildlife Foundation of Virginia is hosting a fundraising event in support of Virginia’s Sporting and Wildlife Heritage the evening of Tuesday, February 21, 2012 from 6:00 - 9:00 pm at the University of Richmond Jepson Alumni Center in Richmond. There will be a Live Auction featuring unique items and good food and old friends. Tickets $75 per person, $140 per couple, $650 per table for ten. Pre-registration needed so Please RSVP no later than February 14 to Executive Director Jenny West at 757-566-4000. The mission of the Wildlife Foundation of Virginia is to assist in the conservation, protection and enhancement of the wildlife and habitat resources throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. Over the past thirteen years, WFVA has helped acquire and protect almost 10,000 acres. The organization is a primary partner with many VDGIF activities and initiatives including sponsoring fundraising for the VDGIF new wildlife K9 team and hosts for special hunts and skill building events for wounded warriors, youth and novice hunters. For more information on the WFVA event or programs visit their website: www.vawildlife.org.

Fishing, Wildlife Diversity, and Boating Regulatory Issues Public Comment Period

During the Fishing, Wildlife Diversity, and Boating Regulatory Issues Public Comment Period, February 6 through March 6, 2012, VDGIF is soliciting citizens' comments on regulatory issues, which were developed by staff based in part on recommendations by, or concerns from members of the public.

Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss

Got Your Sweetheart A Valentines Day Gift Yet?!?

Remember-- February 14 is Valentines Day and if you're looking for the perfect gift for your sweetheart, how about a fishing trip or date for another outdoor adventure. Lots of possibilities to fit any budget and schedule. Make great memories to last a lifetime - just look at these photos of Jordon and Amber from our Kid's Fishing Contest - smiles all around.

February - April Sportsmens' Shows Set Dates and Locations

The five regional outdoor sportsman's shows scheduled for February - 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.

Greater Virginia Sports and Big Game Show at Rockingham Fairgrounds February 17-19

In its sixth year, The Greater Virginia Sports and Big Game show will once again take place at the Rockingham County Fairgrounds in Harrisonburg on February 17-19. Show Manager, Stacey Rowe, has a great line-up of experts in various fields including Jim Shockey, famed Outdoor Channel wilderness guide and outfitter for the last two decades.. The national Sportsman Channel TV duo hosts of Just Kill'n Time TV (JKT), Max Rowe and Buck Buchanan will be featured at the show doing seminars, and sharing their hunting tips and experiences. Shenandoah Valley disabled artist Bruce Dellinger will display his amazing wildlife art prints he draws by holding a pencil in his teeth. Four time Guinness book world record holder Randy Oitker is back. Randy amazes crowds everywhere he goes with his archery skill! The VDGIF will have CPOs and Hunter Education and Tree Stand Safety volunteers on hand to answer questions and demonstrate gun handling and tree stand safety techniques. There are numerous contests including the NWTF Sanctioned Hunters for the Hungry Open Turkey Calling Contest and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Trail Camera Photo Contest. This year there will be FREE trout fishing for the kids and live exotic animals. Mike "Puff" Puffenbarger from Maple Tree Outdoors will serve his delicious BBQ and give seminars "From the Kill to the Grill" featuring recipes and tips for cooking venison, fish, duck and other game. Proceeds of all the contests/competitions go directly to the conservation organizations. Visit the Show website or call (540) 294-1492 for all contests rules, seminar speakers, and exhibitor details.

Teen Angler Club Hosts Sportsman's Show in Orange February 18-19

The 8th Annual Orange County Fishing and Sportsman Show will be held February 18-19 at the Hornet Sports Center in Orange. This unique show is sponsored by the "Nation's Outstanding Junior B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Chapter", the Orange County High School 4-H and B.A.S.S. Angler's Club. There will be exhibits featuring hunting and fishing guides, gear, artwork, taxidermy, boats and more. There is a trout fishing pond for kids and an official ESPN BASS Casting Kids Competition. The Virginia Trappers Association will be promoting predator control for improved waterfowl and wetland habitat protection. VDGIF and other conservation organizations will be there to provide information on the great fishing and skill building workshop opportunities statewide. VDGIF volunteer Boating Education Instructors will provide boating safety information, seminars and classes for certification. There will be seminars on all kinds of fishing and the VDGIF boater education safety class. Admission is $5 with kids under 10 free. Click here for information on seminar schedule and show features. For more information contact Youth Advisor OCHS Anglers, Becky Gore at (540) 661-4300 ext. 1154.

25th Western Virginia Sports Show at Augusta Expoland Feb 24-26

Have you ever seen a big grizzly bear up close? Welde's Big Bear Show grizzlies who have appeared on live TV shows, commercials, and special events throughout North America, are returning by popular demand featuring 6 different bears throughout the three day 25th Western Virginia Sport Show at Augusta Expoland February 24-26. The show will feature other hunting and fishing celebrities including Harold Knight, co-founder of Knight & Hale Game Calls. Country music sensation Aaron Tippen will be performing Saturday. Charlie O'Brien - from Mossy Oak's Deer T.H.U.G.S. TV Show will share his decades of experience spent managing, tending, growing and hunting whitetail deer. National Champion Turkey Caller and home town favorite, Lance Hanger, will be on hand to demonstrate his winning techniques and give tips on hunting a big gobbler this Spring. Howard and Jason Caldwell will demonstrate Falconry featuring their "Raptors Up Close" program for conservation education of these fascinating birds of prey.

Founder and Show Manager Mark Hanger proudly notes, "Our show is a truly unique event. We proudly feature more outdoor celebrities, displays, and vendor categories than any event in the region. At our family friendly event, you can view the latest hunting and fishing equipment, arrange a dream hunting or fishing trip, enter contests, catch rainbow trout, participate in the latest interactive activities, enjoy dozens of game displays, shop with over 200 vendors, eat great food, and enjoy a variety of free seminars by well know celebrities and TV personalities. There will be seminars, 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. The show features activities for kids to spark their interest in outdoor adventures. See the latest in specialized equipment and partnership programs offered by sportsmen's organizations. The VDGIF will have Conservation Police Officers and Hunter Education Safety and Complementary Work Force Volunteers on hand to answer questions and provide information on hunting and fishing opportunities and Agency programs to manage fish and wildlife resources. Visit the 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.

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!

Tidewater Retriever Club Hosts Young Dog Training February 25

The Tidewater Retriever Club is hosting a seminar featuring a new approach to Puppy and Young Dog Training for Field, Hunt Test and Obedience on Saturday February, 25. The seminar is being presented by professional retriever trainer Pat Nolan who operates Ponderosa Kennels, in Smithsburg, MD where he has developed revolutionary new methods to teach obedience and hunting and field skills and abilities. The seminar will be held at the All Dog Adventures Training Building, located at 4111 West Clay Street in Richmond. Cost of the seminar is $70 for Tidewater members and $75 for non-members. Seminar cost includes coffee and pastries and lunch. Material presented will be valuable in training dogs at all levels of age and venue. Electronic training dollars are not a part of this Seminar.

Information on Pat Nolan training can be found at www.trainingretrieverpuppies.com and on YouTube

For Registration to reserve your space, contact Linda M. Downey at (804) 794-8212, (804) 837-9308, or email: linda.tidewater@hotmail.com.

Virginia Trappers Annual Fur Sale March 10 at Augusta Expoland

The Virginia Trappers Association Annual Fur Sale is scheduled Saturday, March 10 at Augusta Expoland in Fishersville. This will be an auction forum with a 3% commission on all fur sold. The sale will start at 8 a.m. The building will be open at 6:30 a.m. for dealer set up and pre-registered sellers. Pre-registration is open March 1-10 by calling Ed Crebbs (540) 832-2708 or email: edcrebbs@yahoo.com. For more information visit the Virginia Trappers Association website.

Basic Trapper Training Course March 24 in Stanardsville

The Virginia Trappers Association (VTA) is sponsoring the Basic Trapper Training Course, Saturday, March 24, from 7:45 am to 5:30 pm at the South River Preserve on RT 230, one mile north of Stanardsville in Greene Co. This class is free, but pre-registration is required. All youths under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. There will be hotdogs and hamburgers provided for lunch or bring your own. Chairs are in short supply so if you have a folding chair you might want to bring it. Students should also bring boots for the water section.. For directions and pre-registration contact: Charlaine Crebbs at (540) 832-2708 or Ed Crebbs at ed.crebbs.1949@gmail.com. For information on VTA and other training and trapping opportunities, visit their website.

Upland Classic Bird Dog Events Set for March 31-April 1

March 2012 ends the 2011-2012 season for Upland Classic bird dog events here in Virginia. The National Championships for the entire Upland Classic Series nationwide, takes place in early March out at the Talbot Wildlife Center near Springfield, Missouri, and several members of the Virginia organization will travel to Mount Vernon, Missouri to compete in these events with the top dogs from all over the country. Virginia dogs have won some of these events in the past, and we are hoping that with good luck and a safe trip, our Virginia participants can bring home some trophies again.

After the National Championships Virginia's bird hunters start in again with hunting events here in Virginia for the 2012-2013 season. The first event is on Saturday and Sunday, March 31st and April 1st. It will be a "Chukar Hunt" at Liberty Corners Farm near Charlottesville. It is a long dry spell for bird hunters from March to November so the first event of the year, which is held as Spring approaches, is a special occasion. This year VUCS is holding an "all chukar" event to make it even more exciting. Chukars are tough!

If a woodchuck "chucks", does a chukar "chuckle"!? Some of us would argue that they can! After following a good dog into the field and locating a hidden chukar, at the subsequent rush of wings and shotgun report, one may think that they hear a "chuckle" emanating from the bird quickly disappearing over the horizon! I cannot swear to it, but I think I have heard this sound. Chukars are fast, and they explode into the air much the same as a bobwhite quail, only they are bigger and make more noise. They are just plain hard to hit, and they don't come down easily. You have to hit them hard. That is the challenge! That is part of the reason that they are so much fun to hunt! The other part is that they definitely make excellent table-fare.

All Virginia bird hunters are welcome to come join the fun at the "Upland Classic Chukar Hunt". (You will need a Virginia small game hunting license) The event will be in Esmont, Virginia, south of Charlottesville and just a little West of Scottsville. Upland Classic events mimic safe hunting, and participants are divided into fields of competitors with similar experience so that it is a fair competition and a lot of fun. For more information about the event or, directions to Liberty Corners Farm, contact Ben Norris, bgnorris@cox.net or 804-694-5118.

People and Partners in the News

CWF Volunteers Use A Variety of Skills to Build Boating Access Support

Region 1 has 67 boat landings under the supervision and maintenance of VDGIF Boating Access and Maintenance Supervisor John Kirk. Many of these landings have ramps with piers and boarding ladders. Seven VDGIF Complementary Work Force (CWF) volunteers demonstrated their skills and team work ability to build eight ladders during a scheduled workday at the Charles City Region 1 office January 17. Two of the ladders were installed the next day at Gloucester Point. The event was a success and John Kirk stated that CWF volunteers are a valuable asset to the Agency and are called upon routinely to assist Agency staff in maintaining facilities for public use. The construction crew consisted of Bob Clark, Don Ellis, Hank Grizzard, Chris Gunter, Wayne Hipkins, Mike Vober, and Len Ziegler and contributed over 35 hours of labor to benefit their fellow outdoor enthusiasts.

"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

Alleghany Highlands Master Naturalists Training Classes Begin February 16

The Alleghany Highlands Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalists will hold its sixth annual Master Naturalist Training Class at Douthat State Park starting February 16, 2012. The class will be held on Thursday evenings from 5-8:30 p.m. at the historic Douthat Lake View Restaurant. The cost is $125 per person and includes dinner before each class. In addition to the 11 evening classes, there will be 3 Saturday field trips. Topics in the curriculum include ecological concepts, biogeography, geology, soil science, wild flowers, trees and shrubs, birds, mammals, insects, amphibians and reptiles, fish and stream biology.

Following completion of the class, students complete a take-home written exam and a practical exam. After accumulating 8 additional hours of advanced training and 40 hours of volunteer work, students are certified as Virginia Master Naturalists. The Alleghany Highlands chapter members participate in volunteer activities including environmental education in local schools as well as citizen science projects such as monitoring blue bird nesting and hawk watching. This is a great opportunity to learn more about the wonders of nature that surround us here in the Highlands and to help protect them. For more information and to download an application for the class, go to our website. Applications are also available from the Douthat State Park office. Applications are also available from the Douthat State Park office. Application deadline is February 1, 2012. For more information contact John Stanley at johnstanleyenterprises@msn.com or (540) 968-1537.

Did you know our 35 state parks are open 365 days a year? You can also find detailed information about our trails including maps with GPS way points and video guides by clicking here and selecting the park of interest. For general park information go to www.virginiastateparks.gov, contact the park office at 540-862-8100 or email Douthat State Park at Douthat@dcr.virginia.gov. Douthat is located at 14239 Douthat State Park Road, Millboro, VA 24460.

Overnight reservations can also be made by calling 1-800-933-PARK (7275) or by booking online.

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

In recognition of the yearlong celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program (WSFR), we are featuring the VDGIF partner organizations that support our Mission. WSFR is 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 quality wildlife-related outdoor opportunities. This 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 VDGIF is pleased and honored to have the support of numerous non-profit conservation organizations, outdoor industries and local businesses 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, outdoor 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."

Virginia Hunter Education Association Spearheads Cooperative Effort with Venture Scouts

This feature story was prepared by VDGIF volunteer Master Hunter Education Instructor Henry McBurney. The Virginia Hunter Education Association's (VHEA) hosts numerous workshops and programs throughout the year in partnership with VDGIF Hunter Education Program, individual volunteers, sportsman's groups, area businesses and other sponsors to provide hunting adventures for youth's desiring to enter the hunting fraternity, but simply lacking the opportunities. This articles features a ground breaking event from last November-December deer season developing the 2011 Youth Workshop and Hunt for Boy Scouts in the Venture Program held at the New Kent Forestry Center.

The Inaugural New Kent Venture Scout Group Deer Hunt

In keeping with the Virginia Hunter Education Association's (VHEA) Executive Policy regarding Youth Hunting, VDGIF volunteer Hunter Education Instructors in eastern Virginia where public access to hunting is extremely limited, worked to develop a program to offer youngsters that want to get into hunting a safe, ethical, and positive hunting experience. In targeting youths from non-hunting families or youths that simply had no access to hunting, the first major problems faced were where to safely conduct the workshops and hunts and how to outreach and identify these aspiring hunters. These two initial challenges were overcome by the VHEA teaming with the Virginia Department of Forestry to utilize their New Kent Forestry Center to conduct the hunts and by teaming with the Colonial Council of the Boy Scouts of America to identify and provide the aspiring youth hunters.

Utilizing the New Kent Forestry Center offered a property with the controlled access we needed as well as a developed infrastructure which supported limited and controlled hunting thus having the youth hunts in a safe environment. The Colonial Council provided the interested youths by offering Scouts in their Venturing Program an opportunity to not only develop basic skills, but to put these skills into practice by participating in actual hunting opportunities.

The VHEA developed the framework for conducting these activities by structuring the workshops and hunt protocols to provide novice hunters a safe and ethical teaching environment where instruction was on a one-to-one ratio. All activities and protocols developed are fully compliant with all safety concerns, regulations and Youth Protection requirements of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF), The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) and the Boy Scouts of America (BSA).

The 2011 VHEA New Kent Youth Workshop and Hunt format and agenda were designed to offer the aspiring hunters safety training, live fire and three hunting opportunities over Virginia's long deer season. By providing for multiple opportunities over one hunting season the program provided the aspiring hunters a way to experience hunting under a variety of weather and game movement conditions. There were three steps necessary to complete this inaugural program:

  1. The first event was scheduled for the National Youth Hunting & Fishing Day, September 24th and consisted of a morning workshop and an afternoon hunt.
  2. The second day selected was the Saturday after Thanksgiving, November 26th, and consisted of a scheduled morning and afternoon hunt.
  3. The third day selected was the Saturday after Christmas, December 31st, and would consist of a morning and afternoon hunt utilizing drivers and a few deer hounds

All hunting was to be from assigned stands with each hunter tutored by a Hunter Education Instructor and accompanied by a third non hunting observer. The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries fully supported the format and Captain Bobby Mawyer was present for both hunts and gave the youth hunters a warm and inspirational welcome prior to them going into the field.

As all hunters know our activities are sometimes subject to the whims of Mother Nature and our first day's scheduled activities were no exception. Tropical storm Lee caused much local tree damage to the New Kent Forestry Center and left standing water which prevented safe access to the property. Thus our first day's activities had to be cancelled. This caused our day two activities to be modified and we conducted our safety training, game biology lecture and live fire for the Scouts in the morning. After a hearty lunch we successfully conducted our first afternoon hunt for these Venturing Scouts.

Approaching our last scheduled hunt some additional Venture Scouts wanted to be included as they were out of town for the hunt scheduled for the Saturday after Thanksgiving so we quickly included them. We held a safety training and live fire for these Scouts at the Lafayette Gun Club in Grafton, VA during their Christmas break from school as the New Kent Forest Center only permits firearms use on pre-approved Saturdays. The support from the Lafayette Gun club is an example of a committed organization responding to help youths on very short notice. The one-on-one instruction and mentoring proved very successful for the novice "hunters in training." See the feature story on one young shooter success, "Samantha", which shows the value of mentoring and experience provided by the volunteer instructors.

Henry McBurney concludes, "There were many good teaching and learning moments during these initial 2011 VHEA New Kent Youth Workshop & Hunts not only for the youth hunters, but for all of us involved in planning and conducting these events. I think the best and most rewarding moment for me is the realization that by the cooperative efforts of committed individuals and organizations we are going into the year 2012 with the beginning of a new tradition of youth hunting in eastern Virginia."

For more information on this youth hunt contact the Virginia Hunter Education Association.

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. Currently there are 900 certified Instructors who conduct over 350 classes each year , providing required training for more than 14,000 students. To become involved as a Hunter Education Instructor, contact Sgt. David Dodson at david.dodson@dgif.virginia.gov. Please include your locality in the email.

Hunter Education Instructors Help Scout Gain Confidence in Shooting Skills

First Deer Leads to Smiles All Around...

VDGIF volunteer Master Hunter Education Instructor Henry McBurney in relating the story of the Virginia Hunter Education Association's (VHEA) inaugural VHEA New Kent Youth Workshop & Hunt for Venture Program Scouts described the value of the mentoring program for the novice "hunters in training". Several new Venture Scouts wanted to participate in the last hunt on December 31st, but had not had the safety training and live fire experience required to participate. The Lafayette Gun Club in Grafton, was contacted and they willingly agreed to provide their facility for the training session for the Scouts over their Christmas break from school. The support from the Lafayette Gun Club is an example of a committed organization responding to help youths on very short notice. The one-on-one instruction and mentoring proved very successful for the novice "hunters in training."

One example of the many teaching moments and a real success story began at the Lafayette Gun Club when it was noticed that one of the novice shooters, Samantha, was consistently shooting high and to the left. Shotgun instructor Angie Leigh quickly began giving 'Sam' pointers on improving her fundamentals. By having individual instruction Sam's performance improved and she began to do some serious damage to the clay pigeons. That was a real confidence builder for Sam which carried over to the hunting day at New Kent where Samantha was one of the lucky youth hunters to harvest her first deer. Sam had been shooting a youth model .20 gage pump shotgun loaned to her by one of the Hunter Education instructors, Jerry Ward and that is the firearm she used for the deer hunt and as it turned out, Samantha was paired with Jerry Ward as her hunting instructor for the actual hunt.

Samantha and Jerry's stand was at the terminus of a small drainage ditch running east-west and they were facing west. This is your typical drainage ditch supporting a narrow band of trees on each side providing for a good "deer highway". This orientation put the morning sun at their backs with the south west breeze quartering and the drivers starting about a mile away headed towards them through a 35 year old pine orchard thick with briars and good deer cover. Jerry, being an old experienced deer hunter, was giving Samantha pointers about why they were well situated, what to expect and what her safe zone of fire was and had established a maximum effective range of 30 yards for an ethical shot with the .20 gauge shotgun. They observed six or eight deer as the drivers headed towards them most out of range, but several tempting. Sam did not give in to temptation and was rewarded with a nice 1-1/2 year old buck coming towards her along the deer highway and when the buck passed the 30 yard marker Sam's newly developed shooting instincts took over and she shot. Jerry told me that the shot knocked the buck into the ditch and he was astounded to see the buck somehow scramble out of the shallow ditch and stumble on the opposite side of the ditch from Sam and stumble off about 50 yards before going down in a briar patch out of sight.

In accordance with the established hunt protocol and good safety practice Sam waited for the drivers to get to them before tracking and finding her first buck. Sam said that was a really long 45 minutes of heart pounding wait, but worth the reward. I don't know who happier Samantha, Samantha's Dad or her proud new "Papa, Jerry".

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...

Three Generations Experience First Hunt

In EVERY edition of the Outdoor Report we promote the importance of continuing our treasured hunting traditions and heritage and passing them to a new generation of sportsmen. We received several great stories of the significance of hunting with family that hopefully will inspire you to introduce a newcomer to hunting, fishing, boating or other outdoor adventures.

Thanks to David Whipp II for sending this great story about how hunting creates special family memories that span generations and last a lifetime...

"I thought I would share my best hunting day ever for your consideration in the Outdoor Report, this is what it is all about to me....

In December 2011, I took my five year old son on his first hunt. It was my Dad, Me and my Son. It was also the first time the three generations hunted together, and the first real hunt for my new Deutsch Drahthaar bird dog puppy named 'DD'. It was a day I had been looking forward to for a long time. Everyone had a great time and it was a day I will never forget.

The three generations all live in Chesterfield, and included: David Whipp age 71,David Whipp II age 46, and David Whipp III age 5. We were hunting on private property in Carrsville, VA. This was a 'whole family' affair with wife Teresa joining us to photograph this very special day for us and she took 600 pictures in under an hour.".

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

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

Youth Waterfowl Day Provides Plenty of Shooting Excitement for Young Hunters

Young waterfowl hunters had a very successful morning hunting in Henrico County on Youth Waterfowl Hunting Day, February 4, 2012. "It was one of those mornings where the teens experienced geese, ducks and swans migrating, providing an exciting morning with lots of action. Both young hunters and volunteer guides and mentors are looking forward to hunting again", said Todd Cocker, Virginia Waterfowlers' Association (VAWFA) Executive Director who participated as one of the volunteer guides. Kent Callahan, VAWFA President and other VAWFA members took 4 kids goose hunting on this special youth only day. Two of the kids were VAWFA youth volunteers, who wanted to introduce/host kids and parents to waterfowl hunting. The morning was nearly three hours of excitement. The kids saw ducks, geese and swans migrating around from water to fields. There were birds moving around from Chesterfield, Henrico, Charles City counties and Richmond. For the accompanying adults, it was "the perfect morning of hunting" to share with the kids. The accompanying adults were as excited as the kids. We saw more than twenty flocks of geese moving around. Luckily, we were able to get 6 flocks to decoy. There were plenty of shooting opportunities for the kids only. They harvested 7 geese. One thing for sure, everyone will have everlasting memories of this youth hunt. Plans are in the works for the special spring gobbler Youth Hunting Day, Saturday April 7, 2012.

Lindsey Martin Excels in Shooting Sports After Apprentice Hunt Experience

The young lady in the Youth Waterfowl Hunting Day group was Lindsay Martin of Glen Allen, who is an avid shooter having competed in the 25th Annual Junior World Skeet Shooting Championship held at the Tennessee Clay Target Complex in Nashville in July 2011. Lindsay competed as a sub-junior and shot 12 gauge, 20 gauge, 28 gauge and .410 bore. In 12 gauge and 20 gauge, Lindsay placed third. She placed second in 28 gauge and won .410. All her scores combined together landed Lindsay in the top three sub-junior high overall lady champs. Lindsay's father, Richard Martin noted, "The Junior World Skeet Championship was Lindsay's first Skeet tournament and her scores ranked her 5th in the nation for 28 gauge and 6th in the nation for .410. Lindsay started shooting at the age of 6, like most of us, shooting in the backyard with a .22 rifle. We enjoy father-daughter hunting opportunities and the competitive shooting events."

Lindsay's love of shooting now encompasses hunting, shooting with Four Rivers 4-H shooting team, and competitive clay target competitions. She and her father were participants in the 2009 VAWFA Apprentice License Hunt. They were featured in the February 25, 2009 edition of the Outdoor Report. Their participation in the Apprentice License Hunt encouraged her to pursue excellence in shooting sports.

VAWFA Executive Director Todd Cocker proudly notes that the various youth hunts for deer, turkey and waterfowl sponsored and hosted by the waterfowler organization has been very successful in recruiting a new generation of hunters. The enhanced passion and interest in the shooting sports by the teens featured here is a testament to the value of innovative programs created by VDGIF in partnership with sportsmen groups including the Apprentice License, special "Youth Only" hunting days and volunteers who generously give their time and experience to these aspiring young hunters.

"Back to the Future"

Photo and story on Lindsay Martin from our archived February 25, 2009 edition...

Closing Day Provides New Beginnings For Young Waterfowlers

On Saturday February 14, 2009 the Virginia Waterfowler's Association and Webfoot Mafia Guide Service provided a fully guided goose hunt for three very fortunate apprentice hunters. The father & daughter team of Richard and 11 year old Lindsay Martin were on their first ever goose hunt, while US Army Reservist Stephen Carr of Ft. Lee was making a comeback to waterfowling after many years absence... After lunch and a training workshop which covered firearms safety, hunting from blinds, zones of fire, wingshooting fundametals, waterfowl identification, game laws, and hunter ethics, the hunters headed for the blinds... As dusk approached, the geese began working as expected. After a small flock landed on the pond, more and more birds began dropping in. With the expert calling of the Web Foot Mafia guides, birds were brought into range, and all of the apprentice hunters were fortunate enough to harvest their first geese! VDGIF Outdoor Education Coordinator Jimmy Mootz reported, "According to the three new hunters, the only downside of the hunt is that they have to wait until the September season to go afield again!"

Editor's note... Lindsay Martin did not wait for the September season, she took her new found interest in shooting sports and with practice and experience she has excelled as the story of the 2012 Youth Waterfowl Hunt Day has been recorded. Take a friend... make a hunter!

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!

Winter is Good Time to Take Required Boating Education Course

All Personal Water Craft (PWC) operators, 14 years of age and older, and all persons age 30 or younger operating a 10-hp or greater motorboat, are reminded they are required to complete a certified Boating Education Course by July 1, 2012. VDGIF Volunteer Boating Safety Education Instructor David Aitken, from Louisa, advises that February-March are great times to take an approved course before the spring warm-up gets boaters anxious to get back out on the water. Instructor Aitken adds, "It's easy to locate courses being offered near you by visiting the Boating Safety website for details and a list of courses being offered throughout the state." Volunteer Boating Safety Education Instructors will be staffing an exhibit and a Boating Safety Course at the 8th Annual Orange County Sportsman Expo at Orange County High School February 18-19, 2012. For more information on the Boating Education Courses being held throughout the state, or to find one of David Aitken's classes, visit the Boating Education Section in the sidebar for more information on Boating Education classes statewide.

No Burning Before 4 p.m. February 15 Until April 30

The Commonwealth's 4 p.m. Burning Law goes into effect February 15th – the start of spring fire season in Virginia. The law prohibits burning before 4 p.m. each day until April 30th if the fire is in, or within 300 feet of, woodland, brushland or fields containing dry grass or other flammable materials.

"This law is one of the most effective tools we have in the prevention of wildfires," said John Miller, director of resource protection at the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF). "Each late winter and early spring, downed trees, branches and leaves become 'forest fuels' that increase the danger of a forest fire. By adhering to the law and not burning before 4 p.m., people are less likely to start a fire that threatens them, their property and the forests of Virginia."

A violation of this law is a Class 3 misdemeanor punishable by up to a $500 fine. In addition to the criminal violation, those who allow a fire to escape are liable for the cost of suppressing the fire as well as any damage caused to others' property.

In 2011, there were 829 wildfires that burned 12,072 acres of forestland in the Commonwealth. This was a seven percent decrease in the number of wildland fires compared to the number (897) of fires in 2010. The amount of acreage burned increased 42 percent when compared to 8,485 acres that burned in 2010.

To learn more about how to protect yourself and your property, visit www.dof.virginia.gov.

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.

Virginia State Parks Sets Overnight Visitation Record In 2011

In 2011 Virginia State Parks celebrated its 75th anniversary with contests, special events and near-record attendance. They also hosted more overnight visitors than any year in history. Overnight attendance in state park cabins, campgrounds and lodges increased 3 percent last year to 1,055,875, up from 1,022,698 in 2010. "Year after year, Virginia State Parks continue to host record numbers of visitors," said Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation State Parks Director Joe Elton.

The 2011 overall attendance of 7,836,246 visitors was the second highest in the state park system's 75-year history, down slightly from the record-high attendance of 8,065,558 in 2010. "Hurricanes and tornados briefly closed a number of parks, in some cases for several weeks, and yet our daily attendance was the second highest in history, only a modest decline from 2010," Elton said. "In fact, our daily attendance increased in nearly half of our 35 parks. Virginia State Parks remain a primary vacation destination for millions of people looking for affordable opportunities to enjoy Virginia's great outdoors." Because Virginia State Parks generally are in less developed areas, they remain an important economic stimulant in rural communities when millions of visitors spend tens of millions of dollars on local goods and services. "Our state parks continue to be an excellent investment for the state," Elton said. "Our parks help generate more than $10 to the local economy for every $1 of general fund money allocated to state parks in the state budget."

Virginia State Parks are managed by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation and offer dozens of festivals and concerts and thousands of educational programs across the state. For more information about state park activities and amenities, or to make reservations in one of the 25 parks with camping facilities or 18 parks with cabins or family lodges, call the Virginia State Parks Reservation Center at 800-933-PARK or visit www.virginiastateparks.gov.

For a table showing the attendance and economic impact of each state park, click here (PDF) or email jim.meisner@dcr.virginia.gov

Be a Sweetheart to Wildlife

You can make a difference by helping to support the management of Virginia's wildlife. When you complete your Virginia state income tax form, you can be a sweetheart to wildlife by simply marking the Nongame Wildlife Program check off box and filling in the amount of your donation. Your contribution will help support essential research and management of native birds, fish, and other nongame wildlife.

Do You Use a Wildlife Management Area or Fishing Lake?

New Facilities Access Permit Required in 2012

Effective January 1, 2012, a Facility Access Permit will be required when using any Department-owned Wildlife Management Area or Fishing Lake not located on Department Wildlife Management Areas . 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 on Department-owned Wildlife Management Areas or fishing lakes, and 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.

For more information, visit the Access Permit section on our webpage.

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 25th edition quiz for nature events for early February...

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. 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 and Wildlife Management Workshop in Sussex County March 23

The VDGIF is partnering with several sportsman and conservation organizations to host a Quail and Wildlife Management Workshop on Friday, March 23, 2012 from 9:30 am to 3:00 pm/ at the Joyner /Grey/Yale Ruritan Club in Sussex County, located at 24210 Courthouse Rd., Yale, VA 23897. Come join us and learn how to make the most of your property for quail, deer, turkey and more. The workshop is FREE , but registration is requested in advance to help plan for meals and handouts.

Featured speakers include:

Mike Jones (NRCS Retired) – "What it really takes to succeed"

Bob Glennon (VDGIF/NRCS Private Lands Wildlife Biologist) – "Beyond programs – property evaluation and landowner attitudes"

Galon Hall (NRCS State Wildlife Biologist) – "Correcting landowner misperceptions and mistakes"

Marc Puckett (VDGIF Quail Recovery Initiative Coordinator) – "Virginia's quail recovery initiative"

Featured Landowner and Property field tour: Owen Strickler – Perhaps the largest single private land management project in Virginia, Owen will share his experiences and offer advice for success. We will tour portions of Owen's property and discuss techniques along the way.

Dress for the field. A sponsored lunch will be provided. To register, call Marc Puckett at (434) 392-8328, or email him at: marc.puckett@dgif.virginia.gov.

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

Trespassing Rabbit Hunter Also Arrested as Convicted Felon... On January 14, 2012, Conservation Police Officer Jerry Barwick responded to a trespassing call in Southampton County. He located a black pickup truck and proceeded into the woods to locate the hunters. Officer Barwick encountered two men rabbit hunting and asked for their permission to be on the property. When they could not produce written permission he ran their information through dispatch and found that one individual had been charged previously for game violations in Gloucester and the other was a six-time convicted felon. The felon was in possession of a shotgun and was subsequently arrested for that offense and transported to Southampton Sheriff's Office where he was held without bond. The other individual was charged with trespassing and released on a summons.

Landowner Pursues Spotlighters in Northampton... Just after midnight on December 21, 2011, Conservation Police Officer Murray received a call from the Northampton Sheriff's Office about a spotlighting incident which had just occurred. A landowner heard a series of shots close to his residence. He immediately looked out his living room window and witnessed a vehicle about 80 yards into one of his soybean fields. The vehicle had a doe deer lying in front of it which had been shot several times. The landowner then got into his truck and tried to stop them. A car chase ensued and ended five miles later on another farm when the landowner decided to end his pursuit. The suspect vehicle was located and stopped an hour later by Exmore Police who then contacted Officer Murray. Upon Officer Murray's arrival he collected evidence, interviewed the suspects and a thorough investigation was initiated. This investigation resulted in the two men admitting to participating in the spotlighting incident. With the assistance of Officers Bratton, Druy, Vick and the Northampton Sheriff's Office follow up interviews were conducted and additional information was gathered that resulted in two felony and five misdemeanor charges being placed on January 19, 2012.

Region II – Southside

Closed Season Deer Spotlighting Violators Charged in Multiple Jurisdictions... On January 22, 2012, Senior Conservation Police Officer Dewayne Sprinkle was contacted by the Nelson County Sheriff's Office about an illegally killed deer. At approximately 2:35 AM, a Nelson County Deputy had stopped a vehicle for illegally running a stop sign and noticed signs of a freshly killed whitetail deer in the bed of the truck. Officer Sprinkle arrived on scene and through his investigation determined that the suspect and his companion had been predator hunting. Sometime around midnight, with the aid of their vehicles' headlights, they saw and illegally shot a deer. One suspect shot and missed the deer two times with a shotgun while the other suspect shot at and killed it with a .30-.30 rifle. They took the deer, removed the tenderloins for themselves, gave the remaining meat to other individual and then dumped the carcass on National Forest property. Charges include Spotlighting, Closed Season, Hunting from a Vehicle, Illegal Transportation of Wildlife, Fail to Tag and Check and other applicable violations. The U.S. Forest Service will be placing charges of illegally dumping the deer carcass onto the National Forest Property. Additionally, the vehicle operator was charged with possession of a concealed weapon and failing to obey a highway sign by the Nelson County Sheriff's Office. In a cooperative and joint investigatory effort, a total of twenty charges were placed against these three suspects by the Nelson County Sheriff's Office, U. S. Forest Service and the Department of Game & Inland Fisheries.

Region III - Southwest

Suspect Takes 9 Year Old Son Spotlighting... On November 25, 2011, Conservation Police Officer Tosh Barnette received a call in reference to shooting after dark behind a local church, possibly from an all terrain vehicle. Officer Barnette left his spotlighting patrol location to respond to the scene. While in route to the location, Officer Barnette received a tip from an informant that the suspect was probably at a residence located on the opposite side of the ridge from the church. Officer Barnette responded to the residence where he found an off road utility vehicle parked behind the residence. Officer Barnette made contact with the resident who inquired as to why Officer Barnette was at his house. The suspect was shown fresh blood in the bed of the utility vehicle, a live rifle round in the passenger seat and the emanating heat of the engine. The suspect gave consent to Officer Barnette to search the property. A freshly killed doe that had been left in the grass behind a shed was located during the search. Officer Barnette obtained a statement from the suspect that he took his 9 year old son spotlighting on the utility vehicle and that his son had shot his first deer that night. Charges are pending on the adult suspect for spotlighting; illegally possess deer and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Region IV - Mountains & Shenandoah Valley – Northern Piedmont

Poacher Caught on the Last Day... On Saturday January 7th, the last day of the general firearms deer season, Virginia Conservation Police Officer Boulanger and Officer Suders were patrolling a piece of property in Caroline County where they had previously received a complaint regarding the use of a high powered rifle (Caroline is a Non-Rifle County). With only a couple hours of legal hunting time left, Officer Boulanger and Officer Suders observed a pickup truck drive along an elevated dirt road within a sand and gravel pit and park overlooking a field. Officer Suders utilized his issued spotting scope and watched the driver sit in the vehicle and continually scan the field with his rifle barrel pointing out the window and resting on the side view mirror. After about an hour of surveillance, the first shot rang out from the cab of the vehicle. In total, three shots were fired by the driver of the vehicle. Officer Boulanger and Officer Suders conducted a traffic stop and interviewed the driver who admitted to shooting at a deer with his .270 caliber rifle. The driver also admitted to killing a deer that had not been checked in. A firearm and a set of antlers were seized while summonses were issued for shooting from a vehicle, unlawful possession of wildlife, and hunting without blaze orange.

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.

Supplemental Largemouth Bass Stockings Planned for Back Bay

DGIF working to restore top trophy bass fishery

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) will initiate a three-year largemouth bass stocking project in Back Bay, beginning in late May of 2012. An experimental stocking of approximately 75,000 surplus largemouth bass fingerlings was initiated in 2009. It is through the post-stocking sampling, results, and ultimate success of that project that DGIF was able to justify a large-scale stocking that will attempt to improve, and ultimately aid in restoration of, the largemouth bass fishery Back Bay.

An official stocking request has been made to American Sportfish Hatchery (ASH) in Alabama for approximately 125,000 fingerling (1-2 inches long) largemouth bass that will be stocked in Back Bay in late May of this year. These bass will be F-1 hybrids, a cross between the northern strain largemouth bass and the Florida strain largemouth bass. Both strains are the same genus and species of largemouth bass, with just a slight variation due to temperature and climate.

DGIF does not have any concerns with stocking these bass in Back Bay, primarily due to the fact that nearly 100% of the bass in the mid-Atlantic are hybrids to some degree. Pure strains of largemouth bass simply do not exist in the mid-Atlantic, east of the Mississippi River, as largemouth bass are not native fish to the mid-Atlantic or even east of the Mississippi, excluding some regions of Florida. As with the previous stockings, these fingerlings will be chemically marked to allow DGIF staff to track their movement, survival, and distribution within the bay.

Back Bay was noted in the late 1970s as one of the top trophy bass fisheries in the nation. This outstanding bass fishery peaked in 1980, when 240 citation-sized largemouth bass (bass that weighed at least eight pounds) were reported to be caught in the bay. In recent years, Back Bay has undergone a tremendous recovery in terms of water quality and the growth of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV). The growth and coverage of SAV is near levels not seen since the early 1980's, and the fisheries populations have shown a positive response to this increased and improved habitat. In the near future, DGIF staff will be sending out additional updates on the actual stocking timeline.

Do You Use a Wildlife Management Area or Fishing Lake?

New Facilities Access Permit Required in 2012

Effective January 1, 2012, a Facility Access Permit will be required when using any Department-owned Wildlife Management Area or Fishing Lake not located on Department Wildlife Management Areas. 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 on Department-owned Wildlife Management Areas or fishing lakes, and 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.

For more information, visit the Access Permit section on our webpage.

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!

New State Record Striper

It is Friday evening at the Fishing Expo and the event is buzzing with people as the after-work crowd makes their way through the numerous exhibits. As I walk towards the DGIF booth I notice Les Gray, the host of the show, walking quickly and scanning around looking for someone. We make eye contact and I realize I am the one he is trying to find! He excitedly tells me a new state record Striper has been caught today and they will be bringing the massive fish to display at the show for Saturday and Sunday. He knew we were planning on conducting our radio broadcast segment on "The Weekend" with Anthony Oppermann live from the show the next morning. He wanted to get the news to me so we could air it on the program.

Saturday morning arrived and so did the largest Striper ever caught on record in Virginia waters. A large enough cooler could not be found so a feeding trough was purchased to hold the fish on ice for Expo patrons to view. The fish instantly became the hot spot of the show as folks crowded around to catch a glimpse. Envious anglers posed around the fish as camera phones snapped and flashed like the paparazzi surrounding a Hollywood star. This fish became an instant celebrity as I imagine thousands of photos were emailed and posted on social network sites and blogs.

As Sunday evening approached and the show was winding down, Cary Wolfe arrived to claim his catch and take it home. Cary is from Manassas, VA and scheduled the fishing trip just a week before with his father and brother-in-law. They went out of Long Bay Pointe Marina in Virginia Beach aboard the "Bada Bing" captained by Tim Cannon. The fishing was slow that day with the only bite coming from a dog shark when Cannon got word that there was a bite taking place off of Cape Henry. They immediately left and headed for the new fishing spot and a place in the record books as fate would have it.

As they trolled 2 white parachute rigs; the rod closest to Wolfe went down and the battle was on. Wolfe said the fish didn't do a lot of head shaking or make any runs, but it was more like reeling in a heavy pole. But the catch wasn't without any excitement and drama. At one point the line went slack and then tightened up again. They theorized that the fish was hooked in the throat and became dislodged and re-hooked on the edge of the mouth. Once the fish got to the boat they realized it was too large for the net and as they attempted to get her head in the net the line snapped! Fortunately the fish's head slipped down into the net before escaping back into the chilly waters.

The anglers new it was a big fish but did not realize they were in possession of the new state record. In fact they continued to fish and caught one more Striper about 25 pounds before calling it a day. When they returned to the dock and weighed the fish it was a huge surprise to find that he had just broken the record; 74 lbs. and 56 ¾" long, exceeding the previous record by a pound. A Virginia Marine Resources official arrived and certified the weight and once approved it will be declared the new state record. Consider this as you book a trip next Striper season; the next record holder could be you!

Listen for "The Weekly Wildlife Segment" with Chris Dunnavant, Saturdays, 9-11 am during the "The Weekend" with Anthony Oppermann on Richmond Sports Radio 910 – WRNL –AM. Listen to the latest or past segments on the YouTube channel, theopps83.

Complementary Work Force Volunteers Staff Exhibit at Bass and Saltwater Expo

Fifteen VDGIF Complementary Work Force (CWF) volunteers worked the Outdoor Report (ODR) booth at the three day Bass and Saltwater Expo held at the Meadow Event Park in Doswell January 20-22. The volunteers handed out over 500 flyers encouraging people to sign-up for the Outdoor Report. If the constituents were already receiving the ODR, they were requested to complete a Reader Satisfaction Questionnaire. As subscribers to the ODR have grown to over 34,000 readers, more than 70 Reader Satisfaction Questionnaires were collected. The volunteers answered questions from the public, directed them to the main VDGIF booth staffed by Fisheries Biologists and Law Enforcement Officers, and handed out additional information pertaining to fishing regulations, events and skill building workshops.

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

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

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

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

Rules for submitting photos to the group:

  1. Photos must be of fish caught in Virginia.
  2. Photos must not depict unsafe practices.
  3. Please do not publish personal information (last names, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, etc.).
  4. Please do include the species, location, and date of catch!
  5. Only submit photos for which you have permission to post online. For example, any minor pictured must have documented permission from his or her parent or guardian in order to appear in the group. By submitting a photograph of your child, you are giving VDGIF permission to post the photo on the Flickr "Virginia Fishing" group.
The Memories Are Always Bigger Than the Fish
Buy your fishing license today.

Remember the excitement? The rush? A picture is worth a thousand words, but sharing the memory of catching that first fish with your family or friends is priceless. Why wait? Start your memories today and buy your fishing license.

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

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

Don't miss out on a great fishing season.
Your License Dollars Support State Conservation Efforts

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. It is early February and the fish are biting. The water is 48 degrees and the visibility is a nice 16 ft. at mid lake. Bass were caught up to 4 lbs. last week. They are still moving up to the grass line on these sunny days, by the afternoon deep jerk baits are working. Crappie were caught in good numbers by a couple of fishermen in 12 to 15 ft. of water, but they were spread out along the grass line, not in tight bunches. This will change as the month moves on and they get ready to bed. We had a 20 in. walleye, tagged # 369, which was released at the dock.

Beaverdam Reservoir: Contributed by Eddie Hester, (804) 693-2107. Fishing at Beaverdam has been excellent this week! The weather was mild most of the week, bringing lots of anglers to the Park. Most anglers were having good success catching bass, crappie and chain pickerel. Live minnows were producing most of the fish. Visitors fishing from the Park fishing pier were catching some nice stringers of fish. Joe Byrum of Gloucester Point weighed in a 2 lb. 8 oz. crappie and had several others. Wendy Johnson of Poquoson Va. hauled in a bass that tipped the scales at 6 lbs. 8 oz. and was 22 ½ inches long. Both of these fish were caught while fishing off the fishing pier. The water is at full pool, slightly stained and 46 degrees.

Beaverdam will host the first Big Bash series Tournament March 17, 2012. For more information, visit our website or call the Park Ranger Station at (804) 693-2107. Happy fishing.

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. No report this edition.

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

Chickahominy River: River's Rest (804) 829-2753. Alton Williams reports that since no one has been out fishing lately, he has no information. The water is slightly stained and 40 degrees.

Chickahominy Lake: Contributed by our new reporter, Captain Art Conway of Conway's River Rat Guide Service, (804) 746-2475 out of Ed Allen's Boats and Bait. Chickahominy Lake mid day water temperatures were in the mid to high 40s in the lower and upper lake and in the high 40s in the major creeks last week on. The lake level was a little less than a foot above the top of the dam. The water was dark and a little cloudy, but not muddy, in the lower lake. Bass, a few pickerel, bowfin, and blue cats were scattered in the winter holes and deep channels, especially in the lower lake, and were hitting blade baits and live minnows. A few crappie were still in some of the winter holes, especially up the lake, and were hitting blade baits and minnows. Some crappie, bass, and bowfin were in the channels in major creeks and were hitting trolled live minnows. Fishing with Captain Conway, Captain Bill Buck had 7 crappie, 2 bowfin, 1 blue cat, and 3 bass. Malcolm Turnbull had a citation yellow perch, a crappie, and 2 bass.

North Landing River and Back Bay: West Neck Marina (757) 426-6735. Dewey Mullins told me that the bass bite is very good just now. Try live minnows, spinners and cranks. Crappie are starting to arrive on the scene, with a few lunkers being brought in. Minnows and jigs or small spinners are your best bet. No word on cats; they are out there, but no one has been fishing for them. White and yellow perch action is hot. Try minnows for yellow perch, night crawlers for white, and small spinners for both. Some good stripers have been landed. Not many folks seeking bluegills have been out, but there are lots of the little fish to get. To land your bluegill, use small worms, beetlespins, or a top-water fly. The water is in the low 40s and clear.

Norfolk Lakes: Dasheill's Show Room (757) 539-7854. Drew Dixon says lots of bass are coming in on jigs and plastics. Crappie action is also good, try the traditional minnows and jigs. Cats are hitting well on cut bait. Some yellow perch are going for minnows. The water is in the low 50s and clear.

Blackwater and Nottoway: By Riverkeeper Jeff Turner www.blackwaternottoway.com. Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 30th through the 1st on the Blackwater below Franklin. The water was clear and 47 degrees. Air temperatures ranged from 43 to 70 degrees. Yes, it was pretty nice weather right up until it started raining on me Wednesday night. Trash on this trip was not too bad; I only picked up a live-well full. I put the trash in that because I could not catch any fish to put in there. Actually I did catch three largemouth, two of which were nice two-pounders. All were caught with a Smithwick Rogue. I also fished for yellow perch, speckle, stripers and blackfish and did not have a hit. So pretty weather does not make good fishing. I hear stripers are being caught, but not by me. It shouldn't be long before we start seeing some shad.

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 says that the cat action is hot with cut eel or shad. Right now they are still around Hopewell, but should be moving upstream soon. Crappie fishing is good in the tidal creeks and barge pits, try minnows and jigs. The water is stained, rising and 50 degrees.

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

Region 2 - Southside

Nottoway Falls: Contributed by our man in the boat Willard A. Mayes. I was on the water at Nottoway Falls at 11:15, with the intention of fishing between the old Virginia Rail Road Bridge to the spillway, all day. The water was slightly muddy and only clear to about a foot and cold. The wind was blowing toward the spillway so I would allow the boat to drift and fish in all directions as I drifted and then do it all over again. I started catching 8 to 10 inch crappie all over the place in the deeper water. Only caught two in the same area and, as all fishermen, I just had to try out the other side toward the flats because you always think they are biting just a little farther up, but I only caught two on the upper side of the old bridge. I had the boat back on the trailer by 4:30 and headed home with thirteen fish. I fished lots of colors but only caught fish on my favorite purple twister and 1/32 lead head and two on the purple, pink with the yellow tail.

Lake Gordon: Contributed by our man in the boat Willard A. Mayes. The TV promised the temperature would be 70 degrees, so there was no way I could work in that heat, so I thought it was time to see if I could find any fish in Lake Gordon again. I got to the lake around 11:30 to find the level a foot above normal and the water going around the spill way. Seems the leaves and sticks has formed a nice filter around the drain. The wind was blowing straight up the lake so I just drifted with at fishing along the way and caught two 8 inch crappie in the deep water between 6 and 8 feet. I drifted all the way down to the power line and did not catch any fish beyond the first cove on the right. I fished back up to within 100 yards of the dam and caught one 15 inch bass around where the 2 x 4 sticks out the water. I started catching some more crappie between the dam and the first cove for a total of 13 crappie and one white perch on nothing but the purple 2 inch twister tail and 1/32 weight lead head. I fished with pumpkin seed, chartreuse, green and brown as well as a purple, pink with yellow tail but the only thing the fish found tasty was the purple twister that I have only been able to find at Dances Sporting Goods in South Park Mall. All the crappie were between 7 and 9 inches and only two at 7 inches. I guess there are a few fish left after the lake lost most of the water.

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 weather the past couple weeks has seen the fishing pick up. Anglers going for smallmouth have had success by using pig & jigs, tubes, creature style soft plastics and slow rolled spinnerbaits. Fly anglers using CK Clawdads, Rhodes' Rattle-n-Claws and Trow Tube Fly have also seen fish boated. Watch the weather and try to be on the water after 3 to 4 days of warm weather.

Kerr Reservoir: Bob Cat's Lake Country Store, (434) 374-8381. Brandon Gray reports that bass are really hitting cranks and rattletraps. Crappie are going for minnows trolled in the creeks. The cat bite is "decent" with cut bait, shad and crappie fillets. No word on perch. A few stripers have been landed on bucktails or trolling with live bait. The water is stained to clear and 47 to 51 degrees.

James at Lynchburg: Angler's Lane, (434) 385-0200. Tom Reisdorf reports that the smallmouth are not being very cooperative, but some big ones have come in on crayfish imitations. Not much word on rainbows or browns. Brookie fishing is very good; try Blue Wing Olive, size 16 or Black Caddis, size 14. Some muskies are being fooled by large baitfish patterns. The water is clear and in the 40s.

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.

Bass: The Alabama Rig craze has hit Claytor Lake and is producing in a big way. Rig up the A-rig with paddle swim baits. This past weekend the A-rig was catching bass in unbelievable numbers. Deep Points and Bluff walls in Peak Creek seemed to be the hot spots but the rig was catching fish throughout the lake. Due to the weight of the a-rig you need to throw it on a 7 ½ med hvy – hvy action rod, with the reel spooled with at least 50 lb. braid. The Rock House has the original Manns Alabama rig and the YUM yumbrella rig in stock, along with a good assortment of swimbaits and heads. Jerkbaits like the Lucky Craft Pointer, Luck-E-Strike RC Stick, and IMA's Foxy Fry are also catching bass very well.

Striper: The action is picking up in Peak Creek with everything from umbrella rigs, trolling live bait, and casting artificial lures working.

Catfish: I haven't heard anything on the cats.

Walleye: I have heard that the walleye action is very good in the upper section of the lake/river. The Allisonia section seems to be the best to find the "eyes" stacked up in deeper holes. The Guardrail section in the river is a good place to throw roadrunners and bucktails.

Crappie/Yellow Perch: The yellow perch are really starting to turn on with small jig heads tipped with a live minnow being the best choice.

Bluegill/Panfish: Bluegills are starting to become sparse as the water temp cools down.

Water temperature is in the low 40s.

Lower New River: Big Z'S (540) 639-1651. John Zienius says that the smallie bite is very slow. Muskies, however, are biting well on jerks and live chubs and suckers. The water is clear, at full pool and 40 or below.

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 in good shape right now. Good water flow, nice green color, four feet visibility and 43 degrees. I haven't heard of anyone smallmouth fishing but the walleye bite is picking up and the muskie fishing is still good. Slow presentations at this time of year and on blue bird days you may want to try some bottom bouncing for lethargic fish, it does pay off.

Top New River: Contributed by local guide Richie Hughes, owner of New River Trips LLC. The mild winter continues up here on the Top New (Mouth of Wilson to Fries). We have enjoyed dozens of delightful days on the streams flowing into the Top New, fly fishing for trout. Try Big Wilson, Cripple Creek, Crooked Creek, Fox Creek, Chestnut Creek, Helton Creek and others. Smallmouth in the New are still in winter mode but patiently working a jig, tube or a crawfish fly may get you a smallie in the wintering holes. Stream levels are average to above average. We have had almost weekly rains but no washouts.

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

Region 4 - Mountains & Shenandoah Valley - Northern Piedmont

North and South Forks of the Shenandoah: Harry Murray (540) 984-4212 www.murraysflyshop.com. Fly guru Harry says that both the smallmouth streams and the mountain streams are too cold to fish. The stocked and delayed harvest streams in the Valley are giving really good fishing for rainbows and browns. Fish the deep pools and below the riffles. Look for midge hatches in the flat pools in the evening. Good flies are: Griffith Gnat, size 18; and Brassies, size 18. The water is clear, at a good level and 39 degrees.

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." Puff will also be at the Greater VA Big Game Show in Harrisonburg February 17-18 with information on fishing the VA Highlands, spring gobbler hunting and doing seminars on cooking wild game, "From the Kill to the Grill."

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. No report this edition.

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

If you ask a college student majoring in a natural resources related curriculum, they can usually pinpoint a moment or experience in nature that inspired them to appreciate the natural world and want to be a part of the conservation of these wild places and the creatures that inhabit them. Often there is a parent or other mentor that introduced them to nature or encouraged them to explore the outdoors. For Lacey Williamson, a Freshman student at Virginia Tech from Winchester, Virginia, her interest in nature and a career choice was the result of her parents introducing her to the outdoors on the family farm. A keen interest in wildlife came from visiting the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute near Front Royal where her Dad worked and seeing all the exotic animals they cared for. She enjoys writing and entered the 2010-11 VOWA Collegiate Outdoor Writing Contest where she placed in the Top Ten. In her first year at Virginia Tech, Lacey was busy double majoring in Wildlife Science and Biology, minoring in Statistics, a member of the All-Girl Competition Cheerleading team, Honors Program, and Residential Leadership Community. Lacey's passion for wild animals and learning all she could about their life history and how they interacted with each other and their environment led her to wildlife studies at VA Tech. But several side interests took her in different directions, until she listened to her "Mother" – Nature that is.... Read on for the rest of the story.

Listen to Your Mother [Nature]

By Lacey Williamson

I didn't grow up like your average child. I never went to Disney World, watched Cinderella, or had an Easy-Bake Oven. I often spent my afternoons down at our farm with my dad picking rocks out of fields or identifying animal tracks around the water hole. My parents taught me so much and really sparked my interest in wildlife, even from a young age.

I loved going to my dad's work when I was younger. He works at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and enjoyed taking me around to see all the different animals they care for. One of his friends there even gave me a stuffed animal to match one of my favorite animals to watch at the center, a Tree Kangaroo, which many people don't even know exist. I love knowing more about things than other people, especially when it comes to wildlife or the outdoors. Regardless of my intrigue with animals, I had never wanted to be a veterinarian like most kids. I just really liked knowing all the different types of animals, how they interacted, and what characteristics made them remarkable. Actually, I had never really expressed any interest in working with animals as a career at a young age. The main reason was my severe asthma. My physician told my mother that I was the most allergic to fur of anyone he had ever seen, which put a damper on basically my whole life, since even today I can never resist petting a dog.

But I didn't let my chronic illness get me down too much; I still aspired to be a scientist. Biology came naturally to me and chemistry was one of my passions. So I figured, why not try Biochemistry? I stuck with that choice all through high school and decided I wanted it to be my major in college. But when I started college at Virginia Tech this past fall, something just didn't seem right. Every time Biochemistry was mentioned, it was followed by a discussion of the huge amount of dependency the career has in the lab. I don't mind being in the lab and all, but not for my whole career. I want to discover and explore things in their natural habitat, how everything is meant to interact.

So Biochemistry was out as a career choice. But I didn't know what I actually wanted to do for the rest of my life. What interested me enough to want to continue learning about it for the next 40 years or so? What had I been learning about my whole life that never bored me or ceased to amaze me? Wildlife never let me down. I like the fact that learning about wildlife is so broad. It necessarily involves a lot of different subjects since the environment is extremely interlaced and interdependent. With Wildlife Science I can be out all over the world, in the field, in a lab analyzing, researching, and so much more. I don't feel restricted by my career choice, even with my asthma being as severe as it is. When I made the switch from Biochemistry to Wildlife Science, it just felt right. I was finally excited about my classes and about learning.

It just goes to show that you can't fight nature. You'll always go back to where you're meant to be, no matter how hard you try to fight it. Mother knows best.

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: