In this edition:

Gobblers, Trout, and Outdoor Adventure Perfect for Springtime Family Traditions

This March 14th edition has a long list of "wild events" coming this spring that offer a variety of opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. There are outdoor events and indoor sportsman's shows that feature seminars, exhibits, demonstrations, and contests promising fun and exciting new activities for everyone in the family. And for many sportsmen the much anticipated Spring Gobbler season!! We also have the Big Game Harvest Results for 2011-12 featured with photos of young hunters using guns and gear passed down to them to carry on the family hunting tradition and wonderful memories. This edition features the special Youth Turkey Hunt Day, April 7. It has been very exciting the last two months to see the growing number of 'sportsmen families' attending the outdoor shows around the state and signing up for the Outdoor Report. Seeing the families out there bodes well for the future of our treasured hunting and fishing heritage and traditions. The stories from our readers confirm the results of recent research that shows a majority of sportsmen are mentoring young people and how important it is to get the young kids outdoors—the younger they start, the more likely their participation will continue as adults and then teach their kids. Trout Heritage Day is also April 7. If you don't have a youngster to take spring gobbler hunting, or trout fishing—find one! Start your own 'family tradition.' Here's an idea—go turkey hunting in the morning, then go trout fishin' in the afternoon!! Make it a family tradition full of treasured memories...

David Coffman, Editor

Legislation Update...

The Virginia General Assembly adjourned March 10th after acting on nearly 4 dozen bills that the Department was tracking and sending the passed bills to the Governor for signature. Since the Budget was not voted on- the General Assembly will reconvene March 21 to continue budget deliberations. We will keep you posted in the March 28th edition of the Outdoor Report and on our website.

There was a lot of legislative action this Session on issues that may affect you as an outdoor enthusiast, landowner, or concerned citizen. To keep you informed we have provided several links related to legislation that may be of interest to you. The latest information on the bills that could affect VDGIF and our mission is posted on the VDGIF website's legislative page.

The most appropriate way to express your opinion about any bill or any other legislative matter 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.

FAQs Updated on VDGIF Website for New Access Permit

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

VDGIF is committed to an excellent customer experience as this new permit is introduced. We know that many people may be unaware of the requirement for the permit until they reach our property. That is why all of our properties have new signs explaining the permit and including a phone number and QR code to allow people with cell phones or smartphones to easily comply before enjoying the property. During 2012, our Conservation Police Officers will focus on educating any visitors not in compliance with this new rule and ask them to please purchase a permit before they return. We believe this is a respectful approach and we appreciate your compliance on your very first visit.

Due to the number of questions coming in from many individual constituents and groups regarding special circumstances for possible waivers and discounted Daily Group Permit rates and other questions and suggestions, the online information has been updated and supplemented. For more information, visit the Access Permit section on our webpage and the following applicable links:

Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss

March - April Sportsmens' Shows Set Dates and Locations

The three regional outdoor sportsman's shows scheduled for March - 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.

White Stone Hosts 33rd Rappahannock River Waterfowl Art Show March 17-18

The 33rd Rappahannock River Waterfowl Show is a unique art festival showcasing all forms of wildfowl art including paintings, sculpture, carvings, prints, decoys, photography, jewelry and taxidermy. On March 17-18, the small town of White Stone, on the Rappahannock River near the Chesapeake Bay will host one of the highest quality art shows, attracting nationally prominent artists from all over the Eastern US. VDGIF retired staff artist, Spike Knuth from Mechanicsville, has been a regular at the Whitestone Show for over 20 years and always has several sought after, new originals and signed limited edition prints for sale. Spike's art is regularly featured in the Be Wild! Live Wild! Grow Wild! column in the Outdoor Report. The VA Waterfowlers Association will also have an exhibit showcasing their youth hunting and habitat conservation projects. VAWFA members will also have VDGIF program materials and information on upcoming events of interest to outdoor enthusiasts including, wildlife watching, boating, fishing and hunting. For more information visit: www.rrws.org

The Rappahannock Decoy Carvers and Collectors Guild Annual Carving Competition, March 17

The Rappahannock Decoy Carvers and Collectors Guild will have their annual carving competition on Saturday, March 17 next door to the firehouse hosting the Rappahannock River Waterfowl Show . The Decoy Carvers and Collectors Guild will host the 2012 International Wildfowl Carvers Association's (IWCA) World Canvas Decoy Championship and the World Buoy Body Championship. Classes for a wide variety of wildfowl carvings will be offered. Admission to decoy contests only is free of charge.

Friends of Phelps Wildlife Management Area Work Day March 18 - Meeting March 21

The Friends of C.F. Phelps Wildlife Management Area (WMA) have scheduled a meeting on 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.

Kids Fishing Day at Old Cossey Pond in Fredericksburg March 24

The VA Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is sponsoring their annual Kids Trout Fishing Day at Old Cossey Pond, in the City of Fredericksburg Saturday March 24 from 9am-3pm. The pond will be closed to anglers on Friday, March 23, 2012 for stocking. Fishing can begin at 9am on Saturday, March 24, 2012 for kids 12 and under. After 3pm the pond will reopen to anglers of all ages. Some rod/reels available, bring your own bait. For information contact the VDGIF Regional Office at (540) 899-4169.

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.

Youth Turkey Hunting Seminar in Page Valley March 24

Page Valley Sportsman Club in Luray will host their annual Youth Turkey Hunting Seminar (under age 16) in Page Valley March 24. This seminar is a complete course on Wild Turkey Hunting. All aspects of turkey hunting will be covered. Class includes aspects of turkey hunting from safety, history and identification, calls and calling to equipment and shotgun selection, strategies, and patterning. Students are requested to bring their own shotgun and ammunition to use when patterning the shotguns in the afternoon. The event is open to the public and adults must bring a youth to attend. The event is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and lunch is provided at no charge. There will be a shotgun patterning session in the afternoon. Participants should bring their turkey shotgun and matching ammunition to pattern. This course prepares a novice turkey hunter for that first outing into the woods. Adults must be accompanied by a youth under age 16. Call to reserve your space today! For more information contact Art Kasson at (540) 622-6103 or artkasson@yahoo.com.

Turkey Hunting Seminar March 24 in Fairfax

A Turkey Hunting Seminar will be held Saturday March 24 at the NRA Headquarters in Fairfax, sponsored by the National Rifle Association/ National Capitol Chapter Safari Club International and National Wild Turkey Federation. The workshop is free to everyone and classes cover both beginner and intermediate levels with youth and women welcome. The event begins at 9:30 am to 2:30 pm and includes lunch, a free textbook and turkey call. Contact Ted Griner At Tgriner2@Verizon.net or 703-478-0250 for reservations.

Course Content:

  1. Public land hunting opportunities
  2. Biology & behavior of the wild turkey
  3. Turkey calls & calling techniques
  4. Gearing up for gobblers
  5. Scouting & hunt preparation
  6. What to do when a turkey hangs up
  7. How to set up in the woods
  8. Tricks of successful turkey hunters
  9. How to prepare a turkey for mounting (using a real turkey)

Intermediate classes will focus more on advanced calling & set up techniques, taking a turkey that has hung up, & tricks of successful turkey hunters.

Hunters Helping Kids Hosting Annual Banquet in Waynesboro March 30

The Waynesboro Valley Chapter of Hunters Helping Kids is hosting their annual Fundraising and Recognition Banquet in Waynesboro at the Best Western Conference Center, Friday March 30th. Hunters Helping Kids, Inc. (HHK) is a non-profit 501c3 organization dedicated to inspire and educate our youth in wildlife conservation and management. Virginia representative Dennis Campbell notes, "It is our belief that by involving our youth in outdoor shooting sports, the desire to preserve the conservation and hunting heritage will endure through future generations. It's all about the kids!" To reserve tickets, or for more information on hunting events, or to volunteer to help with a hunt for youngsters, who may otherwise not have the opportunity to experience an outdoor adventure, visit: www.huntershelpingkids.com, or contact: Ben Campbell (540) 447-4383 or email: turkeyman@comcast.net.

Mid-Atlantic Salt Water Fishing Expo NEW Show March 30-April 1, in Richmond

Make plans to attend the new Mid-Atlantic Salt Water Fishing Expo March 30 - April 1, at The Showplace, 3000 Mechanicsville Turnpike in Richmond. This Expo has something to offer everyone. Whether your preference is pier fishing, surf fishing, spear fishing, inshore or offshore fishing - no matter how big the fish, with a boat or without a boat - we have something for you. Come to the expo and be a part of the largest salt water fishing show in Virginia and the Mid-Atlantic region. The show will feature numerous well-known anglers including Mark Davis of Penn's Big Water Adventure who will conduct seminars and meet and greet show attendees. Penn's Big Water Adventure has been one of the top-rated shows on TV for over three years. Mark has traveled all over the East Coast fishing for all kinds of salt water fish. Come learn from Mark and the other well-known anglers at the expo who will be ready to talk about the big one that you brought in or the ones that got away.

The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles' mobile office, called DMV 2 Go, will be at the Expo so you can pick up your 2012 fishing and hunting licenses. The full service mobile office provides all DMV transactions so you can take care of any DMV business right here at the Expo. All Expo attendees can register to win a two-day sport-fishing trip aboard the Dragonfly courtesy of Down East Guide Service. Admission to the Expo is $10 for adults and free for children 15 and under when accompanied by a paying adult. Parking is free. Show hours are Friday 4 to 9 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Visit the show's website for more information.

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.

Odd Fellows Host Kids Fishing Day in Covington March 31

The Independent Order of Odd Fellows is hosting for the first time a free Kids Fishing Day in Covington this spring on Saturday, March 31 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The organization is giving kids ages five to 16 a safe, fun, free day to catch fish with their family on The Odd Fellows Farm located on Dunlap Creek, State Route 159 south of Covington, with lunch provided. The purpose for the Kids Fishing Day is to provide a quality day for kids and their families.

The Odd Fellows, a non-profit organization giving support to the elderly generations and orphans, has been collecting donations from community supporters to help off-set the cost of this event. All money raised for this event will be applied to the cost of The Kids Fishing Day. MeadWestvaco Carbon Plant is helping sponsor the event by making a monetary donation to the Odd Fellows. The rain date for the Kids Fishing Day is Saturday, April 14. For directions and more info contact 540-747-2262 or 540-968-2765.

Celebrate Trout Heritage Weekend with the Kids in Madison April 7

The Rapidan Chapter of Trout Unlimited and VDGIF partner with Graves Mountain Lodge the first Saturday in April for Trout Heritage Day and Kid's Fishing Day. Several hundred trout are stocked along a private section of the Rose River, solely for children under the age of 12 to experience the joy of fishing. This popular event is just Saturday this year since Sunday April 8 is Easter, so sponsors agreed to make it a one-day affair for this year. Come join us on April 7 to support Kid's Day and Trout Heritage Day at Graves Mountain Lodge in Madison County adjacent to Shenandoah National Park. Check the vdgif website for details.

Shotgun Shooting Clinic at Holiday Lake April 14

Join us for a fun day of learning to safely shoot a shotgun. This clinic is designed for individuals 12 years of age and above. You will be treated to a day of hands-on instruction by experts in the sport. Registration fee covers use of all equipment needed to participate in the workshop. If you currently have your own shotgun, feel free to bring it and we'll show you how to safely use it. The Workshop is to be held at the Holiday Lake 4H Education Center near Appomattox on April 14, from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. The program is being presented in cooperation with Wilderness Discover, Inc. and the VDGIF Outdoor Education Program.

Session Topics include:

There will be detailed instruction in firearms safety, 1:1 coaching on a live fire range with certified shotgun instructors by the National Rifle Association. The cost is $60 per participant and includes ammunition, targets and loaner shotguns. Pre-registration required. Deadline for registration is April 5, 2012. To register go to www.trackingsurvival.com or call (877) 614-5289.

12th Virginia Fly Fishing Festival Celebrated in Waynesboro April 21-22

Fly anglers from across the country will celebrate the 12th Annual Virginia Fly Fishing Festival on April 21-22, 2012. Held on the banks of the South River in Waynesboro, the Virginia Fly Fishing Festival is the largest outdoor fly fishing event in the country that offers on-stream instruction. Only here can you learn all the latest techniques from the experts and then walk right over to the river and try them for yourself. The festival features small-group casting classes with fly fishing and fly tying experts from across the Mid-Atlantic. Members of the Federation of Fly Fishers will help children catch native brook trout from an on-site Children 's Catch and Release Tout Pool and then release them into the South River (with the help of their parents). Members of the Tidal Potomac Fly Rodders Club, the largest FFF Club in Virginia, will also provide paid spey casting classes and offer basic fly tying tips to beginners.

The highlight of the weekend is the Festival Foundation Dinner sponsored by Dominion, at which the festival committee presents the 2012 Virginia Fly Angler of the Year Award. Visit the website for ticket information and other details. This year, our festival sponsors include Temple Fork Outfitters, Dominion Resources, Subaru, Orvis, Hanover Fly Fishers, Natural Retreats, Augusta Health, DuPont Community Credit Union, Blue Ridge Outdoors, Eastern Fly Fishing, the City of Waynesboro, Montana Fly Company, Blue Ridge Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, South River Fly Shop, Virginia Sportsman, Appomattox River Company, Virginia Living, Mid-Valley Press, Tidal Potomac Fly Rodders, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and Waynesboro Downtown Development Inc. The festival is also delighted to have the Herring Alliance as this year's conservation sponsor.

There will be raffles, live music and fun for the entire family from beginner to expert angler. The Virginia Fly Fishing Festival is a one-of-a-kind event: Monies received from sponsors, vendors, ticket sales, and raffles are used to cover the cost of next year's festival with the remainder going to the Virginia Fly Fishing Festival Foundation, which promotes conservation and stream restoration projects. Daily admission to the festival is $20 per person, and the festival runs from 9 AM-5 PM on Saturday and Sunday. For more information about the festival, visit www.vaflyfishingfestival.org.

Spring Fling Shotgun Clinic May 19 in Fluvanna

Get ready for a Spring Fling Shotgun Clinic which will be held from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm, on May 19, at Central Virginia Sporting Clays range located near Palmyra, in Fluvanna County. This shotgun clinic is for individuals 12 years of age and above,. This educational workshop is presented in partnership with Central Virginia Sporting Clays, Learnt It Outdoors, LLC and the VDGIF Outdoor Education Program. This clinic provides participants the opportunity to learn how to select a shotgun that suits hunting and target shooting, eight steps to shotgun success and live fire course instruction in five stand and sporting clays. Come join us at this educational workshop for 1:1 coaching with certified coaches and instructors. Registration fee is $65, which includes the use of materials and supplies for this educational opportunity. Space is limited! Pre-registration is required. Click on link below for more details or to register.

For more information, contact Learntitoutdoors@earthlink.net

To register: http://www.learntitoutdoors.com/Events.html

People and Partners in the News

Governor McDonnell Announces Board Appointments for Natural Resources Agencies

On February 24, 2012, Governor Bob McDonnell announced Board appointments to agencies under the Secretary of Natural Resources.

Board of Game and Inland Fisheries

Board of Conservation and Recreation

For more information visit: www.governor.virginia.gov.

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, 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

Mason-Dixon Outdoor Writers Assoc. Holding Annual Conference March 16-18

The Mason-Dixon Outdoor Writers Assoc. will hold their Annual Conference in Columbia , MD March 16-18, 2012. VDGIF is a Supporting Member of M-DOWA and will feature exhibits on Agency programs and outreach publications including the Outdoor Report, Virginia Wildlife Magazine and website. The Conference attracts communicators and resource managers and conservation organization representatives from the Mid-Atlantic region covering 6 states. There will be informative seminars including presentations about MD State Park's black bears, and a roundtable discussion on "Selling the Outdoors."The panel, consisting of representatives from major outdoor retailers like Bass Pro Shops, LL Bean, REI, and Dick's Sporting Goods, will discuss how they get their customers hooked on the outdoors through programs and product offerings. Best selling "Historically Correct Fiction" author Kenny Kieser, will present ideas and successful programs to take kids fishing recognized by the National Fresh Water Hall of Fame. There will be craft improvement seminars on "Sharpening Your Writing Skills and challenges of Suburban Deer Management. Of special interest to boaters, Ryck Lydecker, AVP Boat US, will wrap-up the Conference Sunday morning discussing "Ethanol Case Study: Lobbying on Behalf of Boaters." Most gasoline in this county is 10-percent ethanol, but environmentalists want that ratio doubled. Modern boat engines cannot operate properly on such a fuel mixture. Those who claim that they haven't had a fuel separation problem, at least once since a 10-percent ethanol ratio was mandated in gasoline some years ago, are lying. Now, with a proposed increase in ethanol content, fuel separation is only the tip of the iceberg. The stroke of a pen in Washington could make your relatively new outboard motor obsolete! In fact, a tank of fuel with a high percentage of ethanol could destroy the engine. Find out what the problems are and what boating lobbyists are doing about it. Here's a story that affects boaters and anglers from coast to coast. Don't miss out on it!

The Mason-Dixon Outdoor Writers Association (M-DOWA) is a not for-profit organization, founded in 1957, to foster professionalism and improved knowledge of craft among outdoor communicators in all fields of media and members of the outdoors industry who are Supporting Members. M-DOWA promotes outdoor education, wise use of our natural resources and ethical standards of journalism. Visit their website for more information: www.mdowa.org

VA Outdoor Writers Hold Annual Meeting in Charlottesville March 28

The Virginia Outdoor Writers Association, Inc., (VOWA) will recognize the winners of the 2011-2012 Bass Pro Shops High School Writing Competition and College Undergraduates at the 2012 VOWA's Annual Meeting held March 28, at the Doubletree in Charlottesville. Winners and their families will be recognized, awards made, and prizes given. 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 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 Winners of Fund Raising Raffle for 2012

Hunters for the Hungry announced the winners of their 2012 Outdoor Adventure Raffle drawn on March 1, 2012. Director Laura Newell-Furness and Fund Raising Coordinator Gary Arrington, expressed appreciation for support commenting, "We want to congratulate our winners and to express our deepest and most sincere appreciation for each person who supported our charity and its feeding efforts through their ticket purchases. Each ticket buyer, those who take time to help sell our raffle tickets, and every business and individual who donates these hunts and trips are a blessing to our charity. Thank you all for supporting Hunters for the Hungry!"

1st Place Prize - Alaskan Fishing Adventure - WINNER - George and Dawne Angell of Indian Valley, Virginia TICKET # 795

2nd Place Prize - Bowhunt for 2 in Texas - WINNER - H. Fred Kaiser of Fairfax, Virginia TICKET # 3671

3RD Place Prize - 7 Day Canadian Bear Hunt - WINNER - Mr. Bob Lovett TICKET # 5506

4th Place Prize - Guided Fall Turkey Hunt - WINNER - Thomas Bove of Leesburg, Virginia TICKET # 5683

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.

Wheelin' Sportsmen Spring Hunting and Fishing Event Applications!

Virginia Wheelin' Sportsmen currently has four exciting Spring Gobbler Hunts planned for this Spring, and four Trout Fishing Events. We also have a new West Augusta Outdoor Day with skeet, crossbow, and catfishing planned for July 14th. If you have a disability and would like to participate, please find all of the Applications available on our website. Please note the application deadlines. Also, check out Virginia Wheelin' Sportsmen Facebook page!

Spring Gobbler hunts- Registration Deadline April 1st

Fishing events – registration deadline April 20, 2012

Want to be an Informed and Skilled Advocate for People with Disabilities?

If you know a high school student with a disability apply NOW to attend the Youth Leadership Forum, a free week-long program in July. It's a competitive process, and only 25 students across the state are chosen to attend. Students, teachers, and parents agree that it's a week of activity that is a life-changing experience for students with disabilities. Application deadline is March 30 (requires 2 references). Download the application and watch the videos (video 1 and video 2) to learn more. YLF is sponsored by the Virginia Board for People with Disabilities.

If you are the parent or guardian of a young child with a developmental disabilities(DD), or a person with DD, you can apply for Partners in Policymaking. Participants agree to attend eight two-day (weekend) sessions from Sept. 2012-May 2013. Sponsored by the Virginia Board for People with Disabilities, all expenses (training, lodging, meals, and travel) are covered for participants. Only 30 people will be chosen, so check out the videos (video 1 and video 2) to learn more. Applications are due April 30.

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."

Wildlife Center President and Co-Founder Ed Clark Recipient Of 2012 "Rare Life" Award

Eagle Rare Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey has awarded Ed Clark¸ President and Co-Founder of The Wildlife Center of Virginia in Waynesboro, the national 2012 Grand Prize Rare Life Award.

The Rare Life Award is given to an individual who "leads a rare life" of courage, leadership, survival, devotion, character, and heroism. Nominations were solicited through the Eagle Rare web-site; individuals could review the biographies of scores of nominees and vote for the most worthy recipients. According to Eagle Rare, Clark's nomination received a recording-setting 180,000 supporting votes.

Seven finalists were selected from the top 20 vote-recipients. Clark is the Grand Prize award winner for 2012; as part of the Grand Prize award, Eagle Rare will donate $20,000 to the Wildlife Center.

"Receiving the Eagle Rare Life Award is gratifying and humbling," Clark said. "This is an extremely prestigious award. It is humbling to know that people care, and it's motivating to continue to try to make a difference."

"Throughout his life, Clark has inspired and enabled millions of people to become involved in protecting wildlife around the world," said Kris Comstock¸ Bourbon Brand Manager of Buffalo Trace Distillery. "It is because of his courage, leadership, survival, devotion, character and heroism that Ed Clark is the grand prize winner of the 2012 Rare Life Award."

Since its founding in 1982, the nonprofit Wildlife Center has cared for nearly 60,000 wild animals, representing 200 species of birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. The Center's public education programs share insights gained through the care of injured and orphaned wild animals, in hopes of reducing human damage to wildlife. In 2011, the Center launched a web-based Critter Cam which has attracted thousands of viewers from across the United States and around the world. The Center trains veterinary and conservation professionals from all over the world and is actively involved in comprehensive wildlife health studies and the surveillance of emerging diseases. Under Clark's leadership, the Wildlife Center received the 1993 National Environmental Achievement Award for Wildlife Conservation; in 2007, the Center received the National Wildlife Federation's Conservation Achievement Award and was named the Wildlife Conservation Organization of the Year for the United States. Additional information about the Wildlife Center is available at www.wildlifecenter.org.

Clark is a Virginia native; he received a B.A. in history and political science from Bridgewater College and did graduate work in education at James Madison University and the University of Virginia. Before co-founding the Wildlife Center, Clark served as president of the Virginia Wilderness Committee, the first Executive Director of the Conservation Council of Virginia Foundation [now known as the Virginia Conservation Network], and co-founded and became Assistant Director of the Environmental Task Force in Washington, D.C. In 1997 he received the Chuck Yeager Award from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for his conservation work. In 2006 he was named Distinguished Alumnus of the Year by Bridgewater College and also received the "Scarlette Award" from the Virginia Conservation Network for outstanding contributions to conservation and environmental protection.

Eagle Rare Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is part of the award-winning Buffalo Trace Distillery, a family-owned company based in Frankfort, Kentucky with a distilling tradition dating back to 1787. Eagle Rare Bourbon is an award-winning ten-year-old single barrel bourbon. Additional information about Eagle Rare and the Rare Life Award is available at www.eaglerarelife.com.

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...

4th Annual Virginia NASP State Tournament Hits the Bulls-eye

On February 25th, over 500 young archers from across the Commonwealth gathered at Meadow Event Park in Doswell, for the 4th Annual National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) State Tournament. Students from 33 schools competed, shooting over 21,000 arrows throughout the course of the day.

Chickahominy Elementary took First Place in the Elementary Division, Chickahominy Middle maintained First Place for Middle School Division, and Atlee High captured the First Place High School Division. In an upset, Chickahominy Middle school bested Atlee High School by 43 points to win Virginia State Champion with a score of 3265. For all tournament results for Individual and Team winners, visit our website. The day also included a coaches' shootout, won by Bruce Lovelace from Chickahominy Middle, Hanover County; and Sarah Jones from Northside High, from Roanoke; and the presentation of the Amber Nease Leadership Award to Danielle Foley, Atlee High School, for her leadership and enthusiasm in the sport of archery.

While winners prepare for the NASP National Tournament scheduled for May in Kentucky, and hopefully the NASP World Tournament scheduled for October in Orlando, Florida, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, which hosted and organized the event, looks forward to an even larger tournament next year and thanks the 55 volunteers and staff, the Meadow Event Park staff, and the other event sponsors for making this year's tournament such a resounding success.

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!

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

Bear, Deer, Turkey Harvest Data for 2011-12 Announced...

Bear Down Slightly, Deer Up, Turkey Way Up!

Wildlife biologists with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) have compiled preliminary figures for deer, turkey, and bear harvests for the 2011-2012 fall/winter hunting seasons. The white-tailed deer harvest was slightly up from last year, while the turkey harvest increased significantly. The bear harvest was down from the previous year. Poor and spotty mast crops across the state this past fall coupled with management actions to meet population objectives all factored into fluctuations in populations and harvest trends. The harvest figures continue to indicate that good hunting is available across the Commonwealth for these popular game species. Data presented in these summaries are preliminary.

White-tailed Deer

During the past deer season 231,454 deer were reported killed by hunters in Virginia. This total included 98,770 antlered bucks, 20,738 button bucks, and 111,830 does (48.3%). The fall 2011 deer kill total was higher (up 4%) than the 222,074 deer reported killed last year. It is in line with the last 10 year average of 230,850.

Deer kill levels were down slightly in Tidewater (down 2%) but were up in all other regions including the Southern Piedmont (up 6%), Northern Piedmont (up 5%), Southern Mountains (up 13%) and Northern Mountains (up 3%).

Archers, not including crossbow hunters, killed 17,110 deer. The bow kill comprised 7% of the total deer kill. Crossbows resulted in a deer kill of 10,877 deer or 5% of the total deer kill. Muzzleloader hunters killed 55,306 deer or 24% of the total deer kill. Over 166,000 deer (72%) were checked using the Department's telephone and Internet checking systems.

The Department's deer management efforts over the past five years to increase the female deer kill over much of the state, especially on private lands, has been very successful. Female deer kill numbers have been at record levels for the past five consecutive deer seasons. These high and sustained female deer kill levels were intended to eventually lead to a decrease in the statewide deer herd and a decline in total deer kill numbers.

It should be noted however, that the Department is currently actively managing to increase deer populations in the Cumberland Plateau counties of Buchanan, Dickenson, and Wise, in the Alleghany Highland counties of Alleghany, Bath, and Highland and on National Forest lands west of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Black Bear

During the 2011-2012 bear hunting seasons 1,997 bears were harvested during the archery, muzzleloader, and firearms seasons. The 2011 harvest resulted in an approximate 10% decrease over last year's reported kill of 2,221 bears. In 2011, bears were harvested in 73 counties including the first legal bear harvest in Henrico County in numerous decades. Female bears represented 42% of the 2011 harvest, which was greater than the 2010 harvest (39%) but equal to the 2009 harvest (42%).

Archery hunters accounted for 693 bears during 2011, 35% of the total harvest. This was the third year of the 6-week statewide season for bowhunters, and although the archery kill was higher than last year (2010 - 409 bears) it was less than 2009 (1,017 bears). As expected with the poor mast crop, archery success increased this year over 2010 and was comparable to the archery harvest reported in years with limited or spotty fall mast. Archery success typically increases during poor mast years and decreases when acorns are abundant. The top three archery counties were Rockingham (52), Page (50), and Warren (31). Crossbow hunters accounted for 42% of the total archery kill. The harvest from the archery season was 42% female compared to 40% females in 2010 and 44% in 2009.

Muzzleloader hunting opportunities were expanded in 2011 and were available for the first time in southwest Virginia. The statewide 1- week muzzleloader harvest accounted for 265 bears (13% of the total harvest). The new season in Southwest Virginia resulted in the harvest of 55 bears. The total muzzleloader harvest was less than both the 2010 (342 bears) and 2009 (356 bears) seasons. The top three muzzleloading counties were Rockingham (22), Page (20), and Augusta (14). The harvest from the muzzleloader season was composed of 42% females compared to 41% females in 2010 and 51% in 2009.

Representing 52% of the total kill, the 2011 firearms season yielded 1,039 bears, a decrease from the 2010 harvest (1,428 bears, 66% of harvest) and an increase from the 2009 firearms harvest of 931. Hound hunters accounted for 64% of the firearms kill in 2011 (33% of harvest), which was an increase over 2010 (57%), 2009 (48%), and 2008 (47%). The top three general firearms counties were Augusta (109), Rockingham (96), and Rockbridge (67). General firearms hunters who did not use hounds harvested 45% females (40% in 2010, 42% in 2009), while hound hunters harvested 39% females (36% in 2010, 30% in 2009).

The 2011-2012 Virginia bear harvest is similar to other Mid-Appalachian states including West Virginia that saw a slight decrease in the number of bears harvested over last season. This slight decrease was within the expected harvest levels for a year with a poor and spotty fall mast crop. Black bears are managed through population objectives in the Black Bear Management Plan. The bear population objectives are currently being revised for the Revised Black Bear Management Plan and subsequent bear harvest seasons will be structured according to the new bear population objectives.

Fall Wild Turkey

During the 2011-2012 fall turkey season, 3,470 turkeys were harvested. This harvest was 29% above last year's reported kill (2,687). The harvest increased 15% in counties west of the Blue Ridge Mountains (1,267 vs. 1,102). Counties east of the Blue Ridge Mountains increased 39% (2,203 vs. 1,585). Botetourt led all counties with a harvest of 119 birds. Most of the harvest was reported on private lands. Thirty-seven birds were harvested on the Youth Fall Turkey Hunt Day.

The 2011-2012 season was the first year a separate January season was offered. Virtually all of the comments received on the January season were positive. The harvest in the thirteen day January season was 273 birds.

This year also marked the first time fall turkey kills could be checked using the phone or on the internet. Hunters reported 57% of their harvest using either method.

The increase in the harvest was expected given good reproduction and spotty mast crops. Turkey harvest rates typically increase when acorns are scattered. Birds tend to travel further with low mast crops in search of food which oftentimes takes them near or in openings or fields. As a result, their home ranges increase and birds become more visible, easy to locate, and easier to hunt.

Additionally, it appears reproduction was higher than average, although the increase was not uniform across all regions. Turkey reproduction is typically highly variable and may be influenced by many factors; the greatest is believed to be inclement weather during the 2 weeks following hatching. Juvenile birds typically make up a majority of the fall harvest, so a good hatch can add to the fall take. Taken together, average mast crops and above-average reproduction likely contributed to the harvest increase.

VDGIF Recognizes Assistance of Hunters, Reports Two New CWD Positives In Western Frederick County

Not unexpectedly, two new cases of chronic wasting disease (CWD) have been detected very close to where CWD-infected deer were found in 2009 and 2010. Both deer – a 4.5 year old buck and 1.5 year old doe - were killed by a hunter in November 2011 in western Frederick County, Virginia, very close to the West Virginia border. Given the proximity of these new positives to the previous cases, changes to the current management actions or restrictions are not anticipated, although CWD surveillance in that particular area may be heightened.

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) would like to thank all of the hunters in Frederick and Shenandoah counties for their excellent cooperation during CWD sample collection this past fall. VDGIF submitted over 525 samples for CWD testing from deer brought to check stations, self-service drop stations, or deer killed on the road in these two counties. In addition, 1,120 samples distributed over every county in the remainder of the state were submitted for CWD testing and no additional positives were detected.

VDGIF plans to continue collecting CWD samples during future hunting seasons, along with other management options implemented after the initial detection of CWD in 2009. These management actions include: prohibiting the feeding of deer year-round both in and near the Containment Area, prohibiting the movement of deer carcasses and parts out of the Containment Area (with exceptions), restricting the disposal of deer wastes from the Containment Area, prohibiting the rehabilitation of deer in the Containment Area, and maintaining liberal seasons and bag limits on private lands in an attempt to reduce the deer population. The Containment Area is located in western Frederick and Shenandoah Counties.

As of March 12, 2012, CWD has been detected in 19 states and two Canadian provinces. A total of four deer have tested positive in Virginia—the first one in 2009, another in 2010, and the latest two in 2011, all within a two-mile radius in the Containment Area. The disease is a slow, progressive neurological (brain and nervous system) disease found in deer, elk, and moose in North America. The disease ultimately results in death of the animal. Symptoms exhibited by CWD-infected deer include, staggering, abnormal posture, lowered head, drooling, confusion, and marked weight loss. There is no evidence that CWD can be naturally transmitted to humans, livestock, or pets. More information on CWD can be found on the VDGIF website.

Planning to Take a Youngster on a Spring Gobbler Hunt? Schedule a Hunter Education Class Now!

Now is the time to enroll in a Hunter Education Class for spring gobbler season. Class schedules are available on the VDGIF website. Hunter Education is mandatory for all hunters age 12 and older.

Don't forget about the special Youth Spring Turkey Hunt that will take place on Saturday, April 7, 2012, for youth age 15 and under. Youth hunters between the ages of 12-15 must have appropriate valid hunting licenses. Hunters under the age of 12 are not required to have a license, but must be accompanied by a licensed adult. See the Department's website or Hunting & Trapping in Virginia Regulations and Information digest for more information on Hunter Education requirements. The youth turkey hunt is a great way for an experienced hunter to introduce a youngster to the great outdoors. If you cannot schedule a hunter education class before the season begins, there is the option of getting an Apprentice Hunting License. See article below for details.

Check the UPCOMING EVENTS calendar for numerous hunter training workshops around the state sponsored by youth oriented organizations like NWTF JAKES, 4-H Shooting Sports Clubs, and others dedicated to continuing our rich hunting heritage to a new generation.

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.

Remember, only 25 days until the Youth Spring Gobbler Turkey Hunt Day, April 7, 2012! See our website for details.

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

Priestview Hunting Preserve Hosts 5th Annual Bird Hunt for Boy Scouts

Editors note: Jeff Tomlin with the Amherst-Nelson Chapter of the VA National Wild Turkey Federation sent in this story on the 2012 5th Annual Boy Scout Bird Hunt.

The high winds, (to put it mildly,) made the pheasants, chukars, and quail, seem more like aerial acrobats on a flying trapeze, than birds at the 5th Annual Troop #32 Boy Scout Bird Hunt! But, Team NWTF managed to emerge victorious claiming First Place among the 5 teams that shot in this past Saturday's event held at Priestview Hunting Preserve.

First and foremost, I'd like to thank Officer Bill McDonald along with his exceptional bird dogs "Autumn" and "Rose," for their expert guiding and companionship. Bill has guided our group for 4 of the 5 years this event has taken place. This has lead to a lifelong friendship and we look forward to our yearly outing with this trio! I'd also like to thank Tim and Clark Castillo for hosting these hunts at beautiful Priestview Hunting Preserve. This is truly a beautiful place to be and a wonderful way to spend a Saturday! Tim and Clark should be commended for supporting Boy Scout Troop #32 in their fundraising endeavors.

Thanks to Boy Scout Troop #32 for inviting us to participate in this hunt. The hunt included an afternoon of pheasant, chukar, and quail shooting, followed by dinner at Lovingston Firehouse with a live auction, silent auction, and bluegrass music by The Little Mountain Boys. And, last but certainly not least, I'd like to thank my good friends and hunting companions for accompanying me on this hunt, Allen Cash and Massie Saunders. There are never enough words to properly express or explain the camaraderie felt by true friends sharing a hunt. Thanks everyone for the memories... Jeff Tomlin

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." 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.

Statewide Tornado Drill March 20

Last year, 51 tornadoes struck Virginia. This was the second highest number on record. Ten people were killed and more than 100 were injured. Approximately 212 homes and 17 businesses were destroyed, and more than 1,050 homes and businesses were damaged. Many Virginia communities continue to heal from their losses and to rebuild their community.

Last year's weather events and the early March devastation in the mid-west from a large number of powerful tornados, underscores why it is critical that state employees and their families know what to do and where to go in case of a tornado warning. This year, Gov. Bob McDonnell has proclaimed Tuesday, March 20, as Tornado Preparedness Day in Virginia. At approximately 9:45 a.m., the Statewide Tornado Drill will be held so that schools, government agencies, businesses and families can practice their tornado emergency plans. Learn about your agency's tornado plan and encourage your fellow employees to participate in the drill. Detailed steps about conducting a tornado drill are available on the Virginia Department of Emergency Management's website.

Also, please be sure that your family knows what to do and where to go at home during a tornado. Every family needs an emergency plan (for more, see www.ReadyVirginia.gov).

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.

"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.

VDGIF Launches Android Version of Hunt Fish VA App

Continuing its commitment to mobile technology users and serving as a benchmark for innovation for outdoor regulatory and enforcement agencies throughout the nation, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) is once again partnering with Virginia Interactive (VI) to offer the Android version of its popular, award winning Hunt Fish VA mobile app.

Officially released February 6, 2012, the new Hunt Fish VA mobile app for Android is available free from the Android Market. The online tool allows Virginia sportsmen and sportswomen to search a wide variety of Virginia hunting and fishing related information on their smart phones. Some of the app's numerous capabilities include:

VDGIF had previously launched the Hunt Fish VA mobile app for Apple's iOS devices in July 2011 and was later recognized at the 2011 Governor's Technology Awards, held annually at the Commonwealth of Virginia's Innovative Technology Symposium. Since its release, the iOS version has been downloaded over 7,000 times and remains a five-star rated app in the Apple's iTunes store.

"With the success of the original iOS version and because so many sportsmen have been asking for an Android version, we are very excited about launching the new Hunt Fish VA app for Android. We love the idea that we can reach the thousands of hunters, anglers, boaters, and wildlife enthusiasts while afield or afloat!" said Bob Duncan, VDGIF Executive Director.

Technology savvy sportsmen are growing in number with many relying on smartphones and tablets to conduct the everyday business of life. Fish and wildlife agencies would be remiss to ignore the growing trends toward mobile technologies and with the release of the new Hunt Fish VA mobile app for Android; VDGIF has elegantly continued its tradition of leadership in mobile application development.

Virginia Interactive is the result of a mutually beneficial contractual relationship established between the Virginia Information Technology Agency's (VITA) and Virginia Interactive, LLC. Virginia Interactive, a subsidiary of NIC, manages the portal and develops eGovernment solutions for the Commonwealth of Virginia.

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.

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!

New King George Middle School Outdoor Club Seeks Donations to Support Fishing Field Trip to Bay

Mark Fike is an outdoor writer from the King George area who wears many hats including writer / photographer for The Journal and The Chronicle newspapers, regional hunting and fishing magazines and is the 8th grade writing teacher at King George Middle School. Mark has taken his interest in the outdoors and passion for introducing youngsters to hunting and fishing skills and traditions and started an official Outdoor Club at the Middle School where he teaches. This unique club is the first of its kind in the region. Initially there were 52 kids in it, with an average of 15-25 in regular attendance at the after-school meetings. Topics covered are everything from hunting, shooting, gun dogs, and fishing.

With the assistance of Senior Conservation Police Officer Frank Spuchesi and two other teachers, Sarah Smigeilski and Kevin Linza, Fike would like to take 10 members that regularly participate in meetings to Smith Point to fish on The Midnight Sun charter boat for a field trip in June. Bass Pro Shops in Ashland has made a substantial donation to help fund the trip, but we still need approximately $1,130 to cover costs for the students. Mark stated, "I have never had to do fund raising for the students activities, but with this special group of active and dedicated club members, I can see we are making a huge impact in continuing our hunting and fishing heritage to a new generation. At least a third of the group are girls and many of our members have never fished or hunted, so we are actively recruiting new members to fish and hunt and get them involved in conservation and an appreciation for outdoor traditions. Any donations will be used to help pay for disadvantaged kids and those that had experienced hardships, and show them the joys of angling. Captain Ryan Rogers is very good to us and always made the trip top notch for the kids so I could take a bunch of kids during the summer. However, I can no longer afford to fund the trips on my own. Anyone knowing individuals, civic groups, or companies interested in supporting this new effort, please contact me so I can send a proposal or ask for funds to help take these kids to the Bay for an educational and memorable adventure. Forward any information to Mark Fike email: sniper@crosslink.net.

Editors note: Here is the link to a short news article written by Courtney McCosley , one of the young girls in the Outdoor Club, for the newspaper Mark Fike writes for. The article describes for potential donors and sponsors how the Club is making a positive impact on these young conservationists.

Reprinted with permission from The Journal newspaper...

Tuesday, 31 January 2012
Middle School Outdoor Club Teaches Hunting and Fishing Skills and Traditions

By Courtney McCosley Many of the people that live in King George might not know that King George Middle School has an Outdoors Club. Nearly 60 kids have joined this club so far.

The leaders of the club are Mark Fike, Sara Smigielski, and Kevin Linza. The kids attend during 7th period rotation once a month. Sometimes when a student or leader would like to present a lesson on anything outdoors, then some of the kids sign up to stay after school.

A few weeks ago I attended a seminar on how to clean a deer properly after you have shot it. During that after school seminar our local conservation police officer, Frank Spuchesi, brought in a hindquarter of deer. It was generously donated by a citizen that heard about our club.

Some of the kids cut the meat into roasts and the other parts of the meat were hand ground to make burgers. At the end of the after school club meeting the kids each got to take home some meat.

The club ensures that you have a learning experience that you will not get many other places. This month, club member Kyle Gardner asked to present a seminar on duck hunting.

He brought in two ducks he shot the day before and cut one open to show us how to pluck a duck and "butcher" it. Also, Kyle brought many decoys and duck and geese calls. I learned A LOT from this seminar. I did not know much about hunting ducks and geese. But now after this outdoors club meeting I know some of the basics. It is interesting to see how things interact in our environment.

Note by Mark Fike: Miss Courtney McCosley is an 8th grade student at King George Middle School and an Outdoor Club member. She is one of many young women that are part of the club. Courtney enthusiastically participates in all of the activities to include the seminar on processing deer and the duck dressing seminar we did. It is great to see so many young people, including young women, interested in the outdoors.—Mark Fike

Summer Adventure Camps

A number of conservation organizations run a variety of summer workshops, camps and adventure programs that teach students life skills, respect for the environment and experience fun, exciting and sometimes life changing adventures. Here are a few programs that our Outdoor Report Team have experienced first hand as either participants or instructors.

Holiday Lake Forestry Camp - More Than Just Trees!

One of the longest-running Forestry Camps in the country – Holiday Lake Forestry Camp – is seeking youth ages 13 – 16 for its 66th annual week-long camp program that will be held June 18-23, 2012 at the Holiday Lake 4-H Center, located within the 20,000-acre Appomattox-Buckingham State Forest. Teachers, natural resource professionals and others may nominate youth for this outstanding program. Nomination forms are available on the VDOF website and will be accepted until April 9, 2010. Financial sponsorships from forest industries, conservation agencies, associations and individuals cover most of the cost of the Camp. Each camper selected to attend receives a $200 "scholarship," which means each camper pays just $75 to participate in the week-long, residential program.

"Forestry Camp is much more than a walk in the woods," said Ellen Powell, conservation education coordinator with the Virginia Department of Forestry. "Campers experience hands-on learning about wildlife habitat, tree identification, timber harvesting, reforestation, environmental protection and more. They also take part in exciting field trips, exploratory classes, outdoor recreation and a Lumberjack Field Day."

Youth Conservation Camp Sponsored by Soil & Water Districts

The Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (VASWCD) has sponsored a week long summer conservation camp for Virginia high school students (grades 9-12) on the campus of Virginia Tech for 35 years. The program brings together about 90 interested students for a week of learning about Virginia's natural resources by conservation professionals and faculty from Virginia Tech. Most of the instruction is hands-on and outdoors. The 2012 Camp is July 8-14. Applications are available online and must be submitted to your local soil and water conservation district. Check with your local office for due dates. Contact information for your local office can be found at VASWCD's website. For further information please contact Beth Sokolik at Elizabeth.sokolik@vaswcd.org or (804) 559-0324.

Trout Unlimited Tri-State Conservation & Fishing Camp

Trout Unlimited is hosting their annual Trout Unlimited Tri-State Conservation & Fishing Camp Sunday, June 24 to Friday, June 29, 2012 at Graves' Mountain Lodge in Madison County adjacent to Shenandoah National Park Enjoy an exciting week of hands-on action packed fun in our mountain stream environment that will help you become a skilled angler and an experienced conservationist. You'll learn firsthand from officials of the National Park Service, professional conservationists with state natural resources agencies, environmental educators, professional fishing instructors and guides, and experienced members of Trout Unlimited.

Camp schedule has been revised to accommodate school schedule changes. New dates above are correct as listed on the website www.tucamp.org or contact George Gaines, Executive Director, at gaines@tucamp.org, (202) 904-3547.

Summer Fishing Camp Adventures

Outdoor Report Fishing Report contributor Tee Clarkson runs a series of summer fishing camps throughout Virginia. Visit the Virginia Fishing Adventures website for details and schedule of sessions and registration.

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.

Nature Observations from the Virginia Wildlife Calendar

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

Answers to February 22nd edition quiz for nature events for early March...

Get your copy of the 2012 Virginia Wildlife Calendar here.

Habitat Improvement Tips

NRCS Awards 2012 Funding for Quail Habitat Restoration

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service has awarded $85,000 to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries for ongoing partnership activities to create or improve quail habitat in Sussex, Halifax, Wythe, Culpeper, King and Queen, and Augusta counties. Although program signup is continuous, deadlines for upcoming ranking periods are March 30, April 30, and May 31. Assistance is available to help farmers install conservation practices to:

"The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is a key partner in our efforts to help landowners improve wildlife habitat on their land," says NRCS State Conservationist Jack Bricker. "Working through shared Private Lands Wildlife Biologists, we are continuing to piece together 'quail quilts' of habitat to help the species recover."

This is the third year NRCS has provided funding through the Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative (CCPI) to support Virginia's Quail Recovery Initiative, a cooperative effort between several agencies, groups, and individuals. These landscape-scale quail recovery projects are beginning to yield positive results with surveys in one rural Virginia county recording one quail per three acres.

States Marc Puckett of VDGIF, "NRCS continues to be a 'diamond' partner in Virginia's quail recovery efforts. Their support is playing a key role in helping Virginia's landowners strive to reach habitat goals outlined in the Quail Recovery Initiative. While dubbed 'quail habitat,' these projects help dozens of wildlife species, including pollinating insects."

Visit your local NRCS Office in Emporia, Tappahannock, Halifax, Culpeper, Verona, or Wytheville to learn more about signing up for this CCPI funding for quail recovery activities. Contact: Marc Puckett, VDGIF, (434) 392-8328, or Galon Hall, NRCS, (804) 287-1669 for habitat program information.

Wildlife Habitat Workshop in Loudoun County March 18

The Orange Hunt Club is sponsoring a late afternoon seminar on conservation and habitat on Sunday, March 18th at 4:30 PM in the Middleburg area of Loudoun County, 20 miles north of Warrenton. Seeing quail, turkey, waterfowl, eagles, fox, and other wildlife out the window of your home, or down the path as you and your neighbors walk or ride your territory, is one of the pleasures of country living. The purpose of this two hour presentation is to show you how easily we can all help to bring the rural "country" living benefits back to our community. Speakers will be James Barnes, Sustainable Habitat Program Manager for the Piedmont Environmental Council and David Bryan, Private Lands Wildlife Biologist with the Quail Recovery Initiative of VDGIF, VA Tech, CMI, and NRCS. James and David will come share their expertise on how to create habitat and food sources for a multitude of birds and mammals. You can make your farm more natural, and maybe more private. Pre-registration is requested by contacting David Bryan (david.bryan@va.usda.gov; 540.899.9492 x101). The location will be set based on the number of participants, so we need your contact information if planning to attend. Snacks will be provided.

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

Night Hunting Complaint Leads to Arrest... On February 18, 2012, Officer Woodruff received a call from Southampton County Sheriff's Office to assist a deputy with a night hunting complaint. Upon arrival Officer Woodruff found the deputy with two suspects. The suspects had already loaded a freshly killed deer into their pickup and were dragging a second deer to their vehicle. Through interviews and further investigation Officer Woodruff was able to disprove many of the suspects' statements about striking the deer with their vehicle. Officer Woodruff found two discharged .30-06 rifle cartridges near the roadway and deer hair and blood splatter in the field where the shots impacted the animals. Officer Woodruff seized a .30-06 rifle and charged the suspects with killing deer by use of lights.

Region II – Southside

Officers Perform Life Saving River Rescue... On March 1, 2012, at approximately 1420 hours, Officer Shannon Smith received a call from the Botetourt County Sheriff's Office regarding two capsized canoes in the James River, with four people reported to be in the water. Officer Smith proceeded to pick up his issued jet jon boat while Officers Dallas Neel and Michael Morris responded to the Buchanan area to assist EMS. After being informed that EMS already had several boats on scene, Officer Smith responded with Officers Neel and Morris directly to the scene. Officer Neel donned his issued inflatable PFD and entered the flood waters to assist EMS personnel in the rescue. Officers on shore used issued lifesaving throw bags to pull victims and EMS personnel from the water. By 1529 hours, all four victims were out of the water. One victim was transported to Roanoke Memorial Hospital for hypothermia. Two of the victims were wearing PFDs at the time of the incident. The James River was approximately 8' above normal water levels. Job well done!

Region III - Southwest

Suspect Charged with Snagging Trout... On February 18, 2012, Senior Officer Dan Hall was patrolling the stocked trout waters of the Middle Fork of the Holston River in Smyth County. He received a complaint from a concerned sportsman of a subject snagging trout. After taking down pertinent information from the complainant, Officer Hall proceeded to the location of the reported violation and set up surveillance. Officer Hall observed one of the subjects using a set of un-baited treble hooks attached to a fishing pole snag and creel two trout. The subject was barefoot and wet up to thigh level in the frigid water. When Officer Hall approached the three subjects, the suspect that had been snagging the trout noticed the officer and broke the large treble hook off and threw it in the stream. After making contact with the suspect and identification was made, it was found that the subject had creeled a total of five trout. The other two individuals observed fishing had not caught any trout and were found to be related to the suspect. Officer Hall charged the suspect appropriately and recovered the treble hooks from the streambed.

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.

FAQs Updated on VDGIF Website for New Access Permit

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

VDGIF is committed to an excellent customer experience as this new permit is introduced. We know that many people may be unaware of the requirement for the permit until they reach our property. That is why all of our properties have new signs explaining the permit and including a phone number and QR code to allow people with cell phones or smartphones to easily comply before enjoying the property. During 2012, our Conservation Police Officers will focus on educating any visitors not in compliance with this new rule and ask them to please purchase a permit before they return. We believe this is a respectful approach and we appreciate your compliance on your very first visit.

Due to the number of questions coming in from many individual constituents and groups regarding special circumstances for possible waivers and discounted Daily Group Permit rates and other questions and suggestions, the online information has been updated and supplemented. For more information, visit the Access Permit section on our webpage and the following applicable links:

NEW Mid-Atlantic Salt Water Fishing Expo March 30-April 1 in Richmond

Make plans to attend the new Mid-Atlantic Salt Water Fishing Expo March 30 - April 1, at The Showplace, 3000 Mechanicsville Turnpike in Richmond. This Expo has something to offer everyone. Whether your preference is pier fishing, surf fishing, spear fishing, inshore or offshore fishing - no matter how big the fish, with a boat or without a boat - we have something for you. Come to the expo and be a part of the largest salt water fishing show in Virginia and the Mid-Atlantic region. The show will feature numerous well-known anglers including Mark Davis of Penn's Big Water Adventure who will conduct seminars and meet and greet show attendees. Penn's Big Water Adventure has been one of the top-rated shows on TV for over three years. Mark has traveled all over the East Coast fishing for all kinds of salt water fish. Come learn from Mark and the other well-known anglers at the expo who will be ready to talk about the big one that you brought in or the ones that got away.

The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles' mobile office, called DMV 2 Go, will be at the Expo so you can pick up your 2012 fishing and hunting licenses. The full service mobile office provides all DMV transactions so you can take care of any DMV business right here at the Expo. All Expo attendees can register to win a two-day sport-fishing trip aboard the Dragonfly courtesy of Down East Guide Service. Admission to the Expo is $10 for adults and free for children 15 and under when accompanied by a paying adult. Parking is free. Show hours are Friday 4 to 9 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Visit the show's website for more information.

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.

Spider Blocks Placed In Douthat Lake... 100 Spider Blocks Hope to Provide Quality Fishing

One hundred fish structures, also known as spider blocks, were placed on the bottom of Douthat State Park's 50 acre lake on Thursday, Feb. 16 by park staff. The spider blocks provide fish habitat that should improve recreational fishing around the lake. The structures were placed in clusters in the vicinity of the fishing pier near the spillway and at the end of the lake towards Lakeside Campground.

Underwater structures, such as these spider blocks, can protect fish from predators. Fish structures vary in difference from natural materials to man-made features. Spider blocks simulate the natural habitat of smaller fish drawing larger fish on the food chain to the area. Those larger fish make the habitat a prime fishing zone for anglers.

The spider blocks were made from cinderblock and four to six pieces of flexible plastic water pipe approximately five feet long. The piping was placed in the holes of the cinderblock and concrete was poured to hold the piping in place.

Learn more about opportunities to enjoy YOUR VA State Parks...

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 e-mail 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.

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.

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!

Join a Fishing Club

I recently attended a Virginia Angler's Club meeting as a guest. I was greeted warmly by many of the members and quickly found myself engaged in conversation about a variety of fishing topics. The purpose of my visit was multi-purpose, but I quickly became intrigued by what I was seeing and knew I needed to share the benefits of a fishing club membership.

The Virginia Anglers Club was founded in 1961 in Richmond, Virginia by a group of pioneering big game anglers. The club offers tournament competition through multiple venues in both fresh and saltwater. Club membership is not just about tournaments, but an opportunity for anglers to learn and share knowledge about fishing. The club has monthly meetings featuring guest speakers, time to share what's biting and talk with other anglers about fishing techniques. To learn more about the club, visit the website.

The VAC is not the only fishing club around. In fact, I joined a BASS Federation Club at the age of 16. My club membership provided opportunities to fish in bass tournaments at the local level with chances to compete at regional and national levels. I learned so much during my time in the club, it was a great venue to develop and hone my fishing skills as well as make new friends. Tournament competition is what I thrived on which led to a victory in the Federation's state championship, the Mr. Bass Tournament. At 19 years of age I became the youngest angler in the Virginia BASS Federation to win the championship and hold the title of Mr. Bass; certainly a highlight of my fishing career!

Now there are two bass club organizations to consider: The Bass Federation and The Federation Nation. Local, regional and national tournament competition is a major component with plenty of opportunities for conservation, community service and youth outreach. Each of these organizations has high school and college level fishing trails for the youth to get involved. Check out their websites and consider joining a local club.

If fly fishing is your preference there are several organizations in that category. Trout Unlimited is a national organization with a local chapter near you. Chapters are involved in conservation efforts, fly fishing and education. The Fly Fishers of Virginia focus on a wide range of fly fishing in Virginia and have many events and opportunities to learn and get involved. FFV is affiliated with the Federation of Fly Fishers.

There are also independent clubs in your area such as the Bass-Jon's in Hampton Roads or the Augusta County Bass Jon's. Most clubs have their own website and a little internet research can pay dividends. Joining a club can provide you with opportunities to learn and improve your fishing skills, serve in the community and develop friendships that can last a lifetime.

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.

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 2012 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. The weather is great! The lake is at full pool with a water temperature of 49 warming to 52 mid day and a visibility of 15 ft. mid lake. We have seen everything this week. Bass over 4 lbs., they are still holding to deep point in the morning, but by midday they are moving into the grass line and hitting jerkbaits, crankbaits, and spinnerbaits. Lots of crappie have moved into the shallow brush along the shore; one fisherman caught over 60 from the bank over the weekend. Try small minnows or 1 ½ in. jigs under a float. Some large pickerel were caught too, try any bait you like shallow or along the points, they're hungry.

Beaverdam Reservoir: Contributed by Eddie Hester, (804) 693-2107. Eddie Hester says that some big, fat bass are coming in on live bait. There are plenty of bait and forage fish around for them to eat. Crappie action is good with minnows and jigs. Yellow perch are going for small jigs and small minnows. The next Big Bash Series Tournament to take place will be on Saturday, March 17th. The water is slightly stained, at full pool and 51 degrees.

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

Virginia Beach: Captain Jim Brincefield (443) 336-8756. Captain Jim told me that tautog can be found at the Tubes on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, and are going for crabs and clams. Speckled trout are in the Elizabeth River and are taking Mirrolures, soft plastics (chartreuse and white are good bets), and grubs. Flounder are attacking cut bait, Fishbite and clams. These flat fish can be found at the Tubes on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. Please remember that they must be a minimum of 16 ½ inches to keep, and you can keep only 4. The water is 46 degrees and clear.

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

Chickahominy River: River's Rest (804) 829-2753. According to Charlie Brown, some big bass have been landed, but the anglers are keeping their lures close to their vests and won't say on what. Crappie anglers are having success with minnows and jigs. Cats are going for cut bait. The water is fairly clear and warming.

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 low 50s in the lower lake and in the mid to high 50s in the major creeks on Monday. The lake level was about a foot and a half above the top of the dam. The water was dark and slightly murky in the lower lake and up the major creeks. Crappies and bass were active in the major creeks, and were primarily in the channels. Crappies were hitting live minnows, Wright Bait Co. and Southern Pro curlytail jigs, and Kalin crappie scrubs. Bass were hitting suspending jerkbaits and live minnows. Fishing with Capt. Conway, Nick and Ryan Lombardozzi had 16 crappie, 3 bluegills, 1 pickerel, and 2 bass. Rev. Bruce Birdsey had 8 crappies.

North Landing River and Back Bay: West Neck Marina (757) 426-6735. Dewey Mullins reports that the bass action is great. Try small cranks, spines and minnows. It's not quite time for top-waters yet. Crappie are few and far between, but a minnows and jigs may prove effective. Cats are taking night crawlers and shiners. Lots of perch, both white and yellow are coming in just now; taking beetle spins, night crawlers and small spinners. Not many folks are fishing for bluegill, but those that do are getting plenty on red wigglers and small spinners. The water is clear and in the mid 50s.

Norfolk Lakes: Dasheill's Show Room (757) 539-7854. Drew Dixon says that the bass bite is good with cranks, soft plastics and jigs. Many crappie are coming in on the traditional minnows and jigs. Cats are responding well to cut bait. White and yellow perch are going for minnows and red wigglers in the Nottoway and Blackwater Rivers. Bluegill haven't really shown up yet. The water is clear and in the low 50s.

Blackwater and Nottoway: By Riverkeeper Jeff Turner www.blackwaternottoway.com. Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 5th through the 8th, yes FOUR days on the river below Hercules. The water was high at 10.5 on the USGS gauge, fast and 47 degrees. I picked up very little trash, which was amazing since the river was full of people. The fishing on this trip was pretty good. I caught a striper that was 19 inches, about 20 shad and 3 catfish. I caught the cats on 3 drop lines I borrowed that were already out there but not set. One of the cats was a 10 pound channel cat, which is a big catfish for a channel in these rivers. I caught all these fish right in the narrows. On the last night at camp it was so nice. The temperature was like 50 degrees, the nearly full moon was big and bright in the sky and the frogs 30 ft away in the swamp were singin' and raising a raucous. It was so peaceful, and then suddenly from behind us some kinda commotion exploded in the river right near the shore which 'bout made me fall into the campfire. Moonpie hollered, "Oh my God, your 4 day old stinkin' fish smellin' self has drawn a bear up here upon us and now we is gonna' be bear treats." Knowing how I smelled and realizing Moonpie could actually be correct, I unstrapped Hanna, my 44 magnum, and made ready to defend our position. However after a few moments I realized the splashing and commotion was not getting any closer. I then figured out it was not something trying to get out of the river but a huge fish trying to get off of a limb-line set right there at the camp-site. A few moments, later some young fellers come up in a boat and retrieved the bear of a fish. I could hear the excitement in their voices as they hauled the beast aboard. I asked them how big it was and they estimated the blue cat at 35 pounds. We talked a few moments and then they were off into the night to continue their catfish quest. As the sound of their outboard faded upriver I thought about what I had just witnessed. How cool, I thought, that here are these young folks out on the river at night doing what I have enjoyed for 40 years. As I sat there by the campfire reflecting my countless nighttime river adventures and it was satisfying to know that the traditions I love and enjoy will continue on the two rivers we call the Nottoway and Blackwater.

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

Upper and Lower Tidal James: Contributed by Capt. Mike Ostrander, James River Fishing School, Discover the James, (804) 938-2350. The water on the tidal James River is stained, with just a little grass and debris left from the recent flood waters coming out of the non-tidal river. Fishing has been pretty good with great catfish action in the main and old river channels. Gizzard shad are dimpling the top in the early morning, so they are easy to locate and catch for bait. Fishing fresh cut shad on the bottom has been working well along channel ledges. This week clients boated numerous fish in the 21 to 57 pound range with a fair amount of blue cats in the 12 to18 pound range.

Region 2 - Southside

County Pond: Contributed by our man in the boat Willard A. Mayes. First of March, weather is pretty and as soon as I walked out of the house I could hear the county pond calling me, so ole blue and I headed there for some relaxation. It was almost noon when I put the bait in the water there at the bridge with two others fishing from the bank. I fished for about 30 minutes and caught one flyer of 8 inches so I thought I would fish towards the dam. I caught my first crappie in the first dogleg to the left and another when the lake turned toward the dam. I fished that area for an hour or so catching several more crappie in about 6 ft. of water before heading toward the dam. Only caught one 8 in. crappie in that deeper water fishing up and back toward the dock. I picked up several more crappie in the same water I caught the others in before reaching the ramp. For the day I had 12 eight to ten inch crappie, that one flyer and 3 small bass. When I got back to the ramp there was this Bass Tracker boat sitting there and the man on a phone calling a friend to bring him some tools so he could take the battery out of his truck so he could raise the motor on his boat so he could trailer his boat. Seems he had three dead batteries on his boat. Now, since things could happen and knowing from firsthand experience I told him if he could wait until I got my boat on land he could take one of my batteries and use it. When he had his motor up I informed him I would have to tell the story in the outdoor report since something had happened to someone else and not me this time. That is when I found out he knew my name since he reads the report too.

Engineer's Pond, Lewis Pond and Twin Lakes: Contributed by our man in the boat Willard A. Mayes. I had checked out Engineer's Pond several times before, so I thought I would try it even though I was not sure of catching much there since I had heard it had been drained about 5 years before, but what the heck, may as well. I got there about 10ish to find two other trucks already there, one being a person that lives only a few miles from me and the other someone in a tan Ford Ranger, The ramp there is wide enough for at least 4 people to launch at the same time but the Ford Ranger had left his truck and trailer parked there at the water. I started out fishing the middle of the lake which is not all that wide, until I ran into the person in the Ranger and not being shy I told him that I thought he was not considerate of others by leaving his truck parked right in the middle of the ramp to which he replied that I had plenty of room to launch from and that there were two other ramps I could use. When I told him that that was not the issue that it is not being considerate to other people by leaving his truck parked in the middle of the ramp and that I was going to write about it in the Outdoor Report he dropped a bomb on me saying that it was people like me that gave sportsman a bad name. Now people, that got to me because I was trying to figure out what he meant. Did he mean that I was giving people a bad name by commenting on the fact that I thought it was not being considerate of others when it dawned on me that I was giving sportsman a bad name by writing on it. I just shook my head and continued fishing. I had caught one small bass by then and caught three more from 6 to 10 inches and nothing else. I do not know about the rest of you, but I went there looking for bluegill and crappie and my friend was fishing with minnows and only had caught small bass and I knew Lewis pond was not that far from there so I headed back to the ramp and loaded up and headed to Lewis Pond. Lewis Pond water had a slight greenish tint to it and was up about a foot. I took the tie down off and backed into the water. I had all 4 wheels in the water and did not have the trailer back far enough to float the boat. I may have been able to get far enough back to float the boat enough to slide it off the trailer, but being alone I knew it was no way I could reload the boat without having to walk into about a foot or better of water. Ok, I was still going to fish, so over to Twin Lakes I headed. The water in the upper Twin Lake was clear to about 3 feet and it being about 12:30 by now and the wind blowing me straight down the lake, I just fished as I drifted. I started catching fish in about 4 to 6 ft. of water just before the flats. I marked that spot on the boat and continued into the flats, only catching some bass there. I followed the map back to the first area to see if I could catch some more good eating fish and fished until about 3:00 p.m. which is heart pill time, reached into my empty pocket for a pill that was not there and realized it was still sitting on the bar at home. I loaded the boat and headed home. All I had was 4 crappie from 10 to 12 inches and 3 bluegill from 7 to 9 inches all on the chartreuse 2 inch twister. Nothing on my other colors.

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 fishing is starting to turn on. I have heard reports of smallmouths up to 5 pounds being boated. The fish have showed interest in jigs, slow rolling spinnerbaits and crankbaits. A couple fly anglers have had success using crayfish and tube patterns. The best set up for fly anglers at this time of year will be a sink tip line and heavy flies. This set up will help in getting you fly down quickly and in the strike zone. It's that time of year when the longer days and warmer air temperatures will help in warming the water which will get the fish moving and more willing to bite. There will some great weather coming our way so get out and enjoy some spring fishing.

Kerr Reservoir: Bob Cat's Lake Country Store, (434) 374-8381. Bobby Whitlow says that the bass bite is "awesome", with some real lunkers coming in. Try rattletraps, soft plastics, small cranks and jerks. Big crappie are coming in too, use minnows and jigs. Lots of big cats have been fooled by shad, crappie fillets and live bluegill. No word on perch or bluegill. The water is fairly clear, slightly above full pool and 54 to 60 degrees.

James at Lynchburg: Angler's Lane, (434) 385-0200. Tom Reisdorf has heard no word on smallies. Rainbows and browns are going for big stonefly nymphs. Brookies are really starting to get active and like Purple Haze flies. The water is clear and in the high 40s.

Lake Gaston: Holly Grove Marina, (434) 636-3455. Craig Karpinski reports that bass action is very good off the points using jigs and suspended baits. Crappie are cooperating too, with a special preference for small spinners and minnows. Cats are good as well, with a 74 lb. lunker coming in on minnows. Cut bait will work as well. Perch action is slow, but try grubs in the shallows. No word on bluegill. The water is 55 and clear.

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.

Crappie: Fishermen are reporting success using small minnows on traditional "live minnow rigs". The most popular hook for live minnows is still the gold, thin wire Eagle Claw straight shank hook in a size 4 or 6. Most anglers fishing with live shiner minnows are putting out multiple rod sets that utilize very sensitive bobbers and then using another rig without a float to probe the submerged structure. Small lead head hair jigs and jigs tipped with a small minnow or the traditional small plastic trailer or tube are all good choices right now.

Stripers: Overall, striper fishing has been good, although on certain days striped bass can be found using good electronics but can prove difficult to catch. Reports continue to suggest that the fishing in the upper sections of the lake is stronger than that in the middle and lower sections and that better quality fish are being caught on the Roanoke side. Stripers are being caught by anglers using live bait, and the larger gizzard shad are the bait of choice. Anglers are having success presenting live bait on downlines to fish that are located 18 to 40 feet below the surface near schools of bait. Stripers are also being caught by anglers casting, counting down and retrieving or vertically jigging with flukes rigged on quality jigheads and bucktails. Trolling continues to be an effective technique and is still producing an occasional striper. Anglers trolling with Umbrella rigs, Alabama rigs, three-way rigs and deep diving jerkbaits and crankbaits continue to report success.

Bass: Fishing has been good all winter and the bass being caught are very healthy. They appear to have been feeding more aggressively than usual as a product of the warmer than usual weather this winter and many are bulky. While there are a number of different techniques and lures that are proving effective, the major buzz is around the new multi-lure Alabama Rig. This rig has lightweight wire arms that when rigged with plastic shad or other artificial lures represents a school of baitfish or other targeted food source. It is typically cast and retrieved using a heavier action rod, but some anglers are also finding it works great when vertically jigged and slowly retrieved along the bottom like a Texas rig. Several striper anglers report success using the rig when trolling as well. The shaky head rig with a small weighted jig rigged with a small, floating, finesse worm or creature bait is also a productive combination right now. Regular pig & jigs and Carolina rigs are also working for bass keying on crawfish and some bass are already being caught in very shallow water, especially where the water temperature is slightly warmer than surrounding waters. Good jig colors include almost anything with green pumpkin and a little dark brown in it. Bass are keying on shad, so a shad colored crankbait, spinnerbait or swimjig is also a good choice.

Suzanne and I want to thank all of the sportsmen and women who stopped by the shop over this past weekend to either take advantage of our Virginia Outdoorsman Closing Sale or to just say goodbye. We had an incredible standing room only crowd on Friday and one almost as large on Saturday. We really appreciate everyone coming out and the patience of those who stood in line Friday for close to an hour just to check out. While we will continue to sell and transfer firearms by appointment as we have all winter, the full retail location will be closed after this weekend. We are retaining and can be reached through our regular telephone number (540) 721-4867, email address and website should you want to get in touch with us after the Virginia Outdoorsman closes. We really enjoyed the past nine years and look forward to seeing you on the water, at the range and around town.

Water temperatures range from 48 to 51 degrees and clarity is fair to good. Tight lines and let's all get out and enjoy this beautiful weather.

Region 3 - Southwest

Claytor Lake: Contributed by Mike Burchett of Rock House Marina, (540) 980-1488.

Bass: Water temperatures are in the mid 40s. The Alabama Rig has proven once again that it is the bait to throw. Weighed in this weekend was a potential state record spotted bass weighing 4 lbs. 7oz. caught by Rod Kegley of Dublin.. The bass was weighed in at the Rock House and verified by VDGIF Biologist John Copeland. The huge spotted bass was caught off of... you guessed it, the Alabama rig! The VDGIF Certification Committee has not met as of posting time so we hope to have a decision by the March 28th edition.

Mark Taylor, Outdoor Editor for the Roanoke Times did an excellent story on Rod Kegley's big catch and all the side stories surrounding the catch, verification and eventual release. Read the full story at Mark's column.

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 mid 40s.

Lower New River: Big Z'S (540) 639-1651. John Zienius told me that smallmouths are gobbling up pig & jigs and big jerks. Muskies are really going wild for Alabama Rigs. The water is clear, rising and in the mid 40s.

Upper New River: Contributed by Captain Forest Pressnell, (540) 818-5274, New River Charter. Everyone's interest is on the walleye right now here on the Upper New. While the eye fishing has been good it has also been very finicky. Water temperatures, varying from 40 to 50 degrees up and down, are having a big impact on the bite. Small males are milting but the females we have landed haven't "popped" yet. Look for the bite to be good if you can catch the water 46 degrees and above. Some little small mouth and rock bass are showing up for the jig fishermen chasing walleye but jerkbaits have been my choice. The drastic water temperature changes are also impacting the muskie as a quick drop usually shuts them down till it stabilizes and warms a few degrees. I try to update my New River Charter Facebook page every few days to the changing river conditions so you may want to "like" it to stay more informed.

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

Top New River: Contributed by local guide Richie Hughes, owner of New River Trips LLC. Trout fishing continues to be good in the streams flowing into the Top New (Mouth of Wilson to Fries). Water temperature in the New last Wednesday was a very chilly 42, but that should go up substantially with air temperatures approaching 70 later this week. Muskie fishing is decent (37 incher last week) and the smallmouth fishing should be starting to pick up.

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. Lord of the flies, Harry Murray, says that the smallmouth streams have finally warmed up enough for good fishing. Look to fish the back eddies. Good flies are: Murray's Magnum Creek Chub, size 4; Murray's Heavy Black Hellgrammite, size 4. The streams have a good color, and are full and 41 degrees. The stocked steams in the Valley are giving good fishing just now; with Big Stoney and Passage Creeks full of good rainbows. Good flies are: Pearl Marauder, size 10; and Mr. Rapidan Streamer, size 8. The water has a good color, is at full level and 40 degrees. Dry fly hatches are happening now in the mountain streams, which is good news for brookie anglers. It is best to start fishing at the trail heads on the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive. Good flies are: Mr. Rapidan Dry Fly, size 14; and the Spirit of Pittsford Mills, size 14. The water is clear, full and 40 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 for spring gobbler hunting- as with this early warming trend in the Highlands, the gobblers are gobbling already and the fishing is great. With very little snow fall or freezing temperatures, the syrup production is down, but the evaporator is running full blast to get plenty of syrup made for the last weekend of the Highland County Maple Festival March 16-18. Puff invites you to, " Come up to Bolar to our store this Friday and Saturday and visit the maple syrup making shop at Southernmost Maple to get some great country cookin', local crafts, fresh maple syrup, information on fishing the VA Highlands, spring gobbler hunting and tips on cooking wild game, "From the Kill to the Grill." The pool on Lake Moomaw is full and 43 degrees. Smallmouth are active and good sized trout are being caught with minnows the preferred bait. Yellow Perch, full of eggs, are being landed and sunny, warm temperatures are making for a welcome early spring and great fishing.

Odd Fellows Host Kids Fishing Day in Covington March 31

The Independent Order of Odd Fellows is hosting for the first time a free Kids Fishing Day in Covington this spring on Saturday, March 31 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The organization is giving kids ages five to 16 a safe, fun, free day to catch fish with their family on The Odd Fellows Farm located on Dunlap Creek, State Route 159 south of Covington, with lunch provided. The purpose for the Kids Fishing Day is to provide a quality day for kids and their families.

The Odd Fellows, a non-profit organization giving support to the elderly generations and orphans, has been collecting donations from community supporters to help off-set the cost of this event. All money raised for this event will be applied to the cost of The Kids Fishing Day. MeadWestvaco Carbon Plant is helping sponsor the event by making a monetary donation to the Odd Fellows. The rain date for the Kids Fishing Day is Saturday, April 14. For directions and more info contact 540-747-2262 or 540-968-2765.

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.

Stripers: These fish are scattered all over the lake now and are gorging themselves fattening up for the rigors of the spawn, which will take place over the next couple months. Due to the warmer than average water temperatures stripers are literally everywhere from the Dam all the way up the rivers, main lake to the backs of the creeks. Gulls will advertise where schools are working and will give anglers a good place to start fishing. Striper fishing has been excellent, my clients have been limiting out easily and on some days our catch rates have been in excess of 10 fish per hour. [Check out our catches on my journal at www.JimHemby.com] Stripers are fat and full of roe. Here are some proven tactics to catch stripers this season: most anglers are limited to using artificial baits only and rely on gulls rather than their electronics to locate feeding stripers. The trick is to approach diving birds quietly, turning your big motor off a minimum of 100 yards away and quietly using your trolling motor to sneak up on the feeding stripers. Many different baits can be used but throwing spoons either working them nearby the surface or letting them fall and working them all the way back to the boat have been catching nicer fish. Down lake near Dike 3 Pencil Poppers, Spook type baits and Rattletraps work well when the fish surface in the current. Jigs rigged with Super Flukes dropped near the action seem to catch better fish. Mid lake and up lake it is hard to beat throwing swimbaits at the banks especially on warming trends. Locate an area where you see bait on your depth finder and target clay or rocky banks for better action. In low light times of the day waking a Redfin over a point nearby bait can bring chills to your spine when a big striper explodes on your offering.

Bass: Warmer than average weather has pushed bass shallower than normal for this time of year. March is a month of Bass Tournaments on the lake and the fish will see every bait known to man this month. Lake Anna is usually the first stop on most tournament schedules and for a good reason, there are plenty of big bass that are fatting up for the spawn. Bass are working pre spawn areas [primary and secondary points and various structures nearby spawning flats] feeding heavily in good conditions and retreating back to the first drops or shallower channel edges in when the conditions decline. Many fisherman are using the new multi-rigs [many with different names but basically the same look and appeal] with good results but as the fish move into spawning areas conventional baits should excel with the lack of large school of bait not being nearby. Mid lake and down lake concentrate your efforts in depths of 16 feet or less, working prespawn areas. Primary and secondary points down lake will hold giant bass that are suckers for suspending jerkbaits. A good pattern to try is targeting 30 degree gravel banks that have cover on them with crankbaits or swimbaits. Other areas that will produce this month will be windy rip rap, throwing big bladed spinner baits on the banks. A few areas that always produce in March and April are coves like Hackneys, Boggs, Dukes Creek and the back of Sturgeon Creek. Backs of mid lake coves and pockets along with docks in deeper Marinas will attract nice bass now. Brush piles, big boulders and any structure should hold Bass that are in transition to spawning areas.

Crappie: Fishing has been and will continue to be excellent. Up lake nice fish have been very shallow using shallow docks, dead shoreline grasses and stumps for cover. In cold front conditions, crappie are congregating along bridge pilings and rocky drop offs. We have seen 100 yard schools of crappie hanging along the first main drop off next to spawning flats in 10 to 20 feet of water. Try locating schools with small jigs and once you find the larger fish work them with medium minnows. We are catching a few crappie on 6 inch baits pulling boards up on the banks!

Catfish: The Cats have even been feeding earlier than normal this year. In addition to them being scattered around the numerous bait pods of bait everywhere huge bue cats are up in the current at Dike 3. Last year numerous fish over 20 pounds were caught there in March and already this month a 42 pound fish was boated there.

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

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

View video about the snakehead

Get your kids hooked on fishing!

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Winning Outdoor Adventure Stories from Young Writers

With the new Saltwater Fishing Expo coming to the Richmond Showplace March 30—April 1, the Trout Heritage Day April 7 at Graves Mountain Lodge in Madison, VA Fly Fishing Festival in Waynesboro April 21-22 and numerous Kid's Fishing Days scheduled for spring, it's time for a good fishin' story. The unusually warm early spring temperatures have anglers sorting through their tackle boxes and tangled line and rods to get ready for fishing adventure. For Alex Pearce a Junior at Randolph-Henry High School in Charlotte County, a family fishing trip where he unknowingly ate a record catch- before it was verified, prompted his most memorable outdoor experience. His article "Holy Mackerel!" placed third in the 2010-11 VOWA High School Writing Contest. Alex has been raised with lots of support for outdoor adventure as his parents are both volunteer Hunter Education Instructors and 4-H Shooting Sports Team Coaches. We hope you will read Alex's story and be inspired to take a kid fishing in search of that "first fish, citation or trophy! Just be sure you get your prized catch "verified" before eating it for dinner!!

Holy Mackerel!

By Alex Pearce

Most fishermen hope to catch that one trophy fish in their lifetime. I went to Florida last summer hoping to catch a trophy fish after my uncle promised that we'd catch fish bigger than me. A trophy fish is more than just self pride; it can put your face on the cover of fishing magazines. I'm a decent angler having caught some nice size fish, but never a huge one.

Early one morning, my cousin, Nathan, and I got the boat ready for a long day of fishing. Rods and tackle were easy to load, since Uncle Bill always had everything set out and ready to go. Bait was the worst part, usually smelling like it had been sitting in the sun for days. Today would be a good day of fishing; I had a feeling. We started the rough 7 mile trip to the reef after deciding to fish for yellow-tail snapper. They live near reefs where the water is so clear you can see many beautiful, colorful fish.

Once at the reef, Bill told everybody what to do. Nathan and I got the rods and bait ready. Friends, John and Cameron, were to get the chum bag, as Bill anchored the boat. John and Cameron had difficulty with their task since the chum bag was still sitting on the dock. Quickly, Bill and I improvised making a chum bag out of a trash bag with a fillet knife.

Finally, Nathan and I fished with shrimp on the back of the boat, John and Cameron were on the sides fishing and Bill was overseeing. Snappers instantly started biting and the boat was filling up with fish. We brought in fish until our arms tired from reeling.

John hooked a huge snapper and Bill instructed him to, "pull up, reel down". The drag clicked as more line was pulled out, until, suddenly .... nothing. John reeled the fish to the side of boat, looking for a whopper. Instead, all that was left of the fish was its head; a barracuda was swimming behind the boat enjoying the luxury of not having to search for food but eating our fish as we hooked them on our lines.

"We'll stop this!" Bill said.

He set up a rod with a ballyhoo, and ran the line on the outrigger off the side of the boat. We waited for the barracuda to take the bait. The fishing slowed; then it stopped. Nathan fell asleep and Cameron took a break. I was watching the sea life around the reef. It was quiet, except for sounds of waves slapping the side of the boat, Nathan's occasional snore, and the lone call of a frigate. Suddenly, a loud "pop" of line being pulled from the outrigger rang out. The hissing of line followed, and grew louder, waking up Nathan and startling me. Bill shouted "Alex get up here." "NOW"!

I rushed to grab the rod, started reeling and heard Bill say "Lift up your arms. Put the fighting belt on him."

Nathan struggled to put the belt on me. Everyone was guessing what was on the end of the line. I kept reeling and fighting whatever was hidden below the surface. After 25 minutes, I finally got it to the boat.

Bill said "Damn, that's the biggest Spanish mackerel I have ever seen. Alex, keep its head in the water."

Exhausted, I obeyed and Bill leaned over the side of the boat and gaffed it. The fish was huge for a mackerel, weighing about 14 pounds instead of the usual 2 pounds. Bill said it might be the world-record Spanish mackerel, but no one really believed him. Catching record fish was a rarity that none of us had experienced, so we put it in the cooler and headed home.

That evening we grilled our days catch, including the mackerel, and enjoyed a great meal. It was the best fish I'd ever eaten. Later, we Googled and found the record mackerel was 13 pounds, 6 ounces. Oh, no!! I had caught a world record mackerel and no one would ever know. A record fish must to be weighed and measured immediately, and we didn't do that.

I wouldn't be recognized for my record fish with magazine covers or record books. At first, I was upset, but realized my family and I knew it was a world record. That's what mattered.

I thought to myself, "I guess I have caught that one trophy fish.....Boy, he was good!"

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: