In this edition:

Springtime Adventures Await You

This March 28th edition ushers in warmer weather with the promise of Spring and April showers that can't dampen the spirits of most outdoor enthusiasts to head to the steams, fields, and forests for a variety of opportunities for wild adventure. It's time to get out the fishin' gear as this is the traditional season when freshwater fishing action really heats up in lakes and rivers across the state. For the trout angler enthusiasts, Trout Heritage Day is April 7. A number of Kid's Fishing Days are also on the calendar, so be sure and outfit the kids and head out for a warm sunny day enjoying Spring with family and friends. The special Youth Turkey Hunt Day is also April 7 followed by six weeks when turkey hunters match their skills with wary ol' Tom.

This is a great opportunity to take a youngster out and experience the awakening of Spring and the wonders of Nature with some of that "quality time" that seems so hard to come by in these busy days. My Uncle Tink Smith, famed wildlife photographer will celebrate his 101st birthday this April. I fondly remember all the wonderful times I have been blessed to accompany him in the spring woods to photograph and hunt wild turkeys, visit the lady slipper patch, pick morel mushrooms and hear the stories of seasons long past. Tink offered this advice at the last NWTF National Convention he attended a few years ago when he was '90 something'... "Moms and Dads, take your sons and daughters hunting and fishing, teach them the wonders of nature and appreciation for wildlife and wild places. You will both be better for it, and you will be glad you did!" If you don't have a youngster to take Spring gobbler hunting, or trout fishing—find one! Here's an idea-go turkey hunting in the morning, then go trout fishin' in the afternoon!! Make it a new spring family tradition... In honor of all the mentors like my Uncle Tink who took the time to teach a youngster the joy and excitement of hunting and fishing adventures, send us snapshots of smiling kids with their prized fish catch, or prized gobbler. Now get out there and enjoy this glorious spring and send those smilin' photos to share with our readers!

David Coffman, Editor

Smallmouth and Tidal Largemouth Fishing Outlook Reports Posted

With the warm days associated with the arrival of spring a few weeks early this year, there is a scampering among anglers to break out the fishing gear and ask, "How are the fish biting at my favorite fishing hole? VDGIF fisheries biologists have been working over the winter months to review survey data from the major rivers throughout the state to produce the annual Fishing Opportunities reports for both largemouth and smallmouth bass posted on our website.

The full Smallmouth Bass Rivers Forecast is posted in the Fishing Section of the VDGIF website and in the Outdoor Report Fishin' Report. VDGIF Region 2 Fisheries Manager Scott Smith notes that the detailed report covers the following rivers:

VDGIF District Fisheries Biologist Bob Greenlee in Region 1- Tidewater area has also posted the Tidal River Largemouth Bass Outlook (PDF) on all the tidal river Fishing Opportunities pages on the VDGIF website and listed in the Fishin' Report in this and subsequent editions of the Outdoor Report.

Virginia Reservoirs Ranked for Largemouth Bass Fishing

VDGIF aquatic biologist Dan Michaelson reports that the fisheries staff spend considerable effort and resources to manage, enhance, and protect largemouth bass populations in Virginia's public fishing reservoirs, lakes, and ponds. Most of these waters are sampled each year, or every few years, to assess current largemouth bass population parameters such as age and growth, spawning success, and size distribution. These population samples are generally collected using daytime, boat electrofishing gear targeting largemouth bass and are conducted in a manner that allows several comparisons to be made concerning fish populations. Since many Virginia anglers target largemouth bass, and fish larger than 15 inches are considered "preferred" nationwide. Refer to the largemouth bass ranking table updated for 2011.

A reliable, up –to- date resource for "how are they biten' information" can be found here in the Outdoor Report. License agents, marinas, fishing guides and bait shops serve as contacts for information on recent fishing conditions for primary rivers and lakes throughout the state in Sarah White's Notebook in the Fishin' Report. The Fishin' Report is only available as part of your free subscription to the Outdoor Report email newsletter, sent direct to your email address on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month.

Trout Heritage Waters Announced for April 7 Celebration

Trout Heritage Day was established several years ago for those anglers who enjoyed and missed the old "opening day" tradition for Trout Season. Selected waters are stocked for the first Saturday in April to create an announced stocking event. To view the list of waters that will be stocked for Trout Heritage Day on April 7 visit our website.

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.

Kids Fishing Day Events Provide Family Fun

More than 40 Kids Fishing Days are being planned statewide by various organizations in partnership with VDGIF. These events are an enjoyable time for the family and a great opportunity to introduce kids to fishing in a fun atmosphere. There are events every weekend state wide through June. For detailed information on dates, locations, times and contacts, see the Kids Fishing Days schedule to find one near you! Catch the fun! Take a kid fishin'. For details, check the Kids Fishing Days calendar on our website.

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, took place in early March out at the Talbot Wildlife Center near Springfield, Missouri, and several members of the Virginia organization travelled 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 again this year our Virginia participants brought home some big trophies . See the details in the "Been There... Done That" section in this edition of the Outdoor Report.

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.

Fly Fishing Film Tour Coming to Richmond April 26

Central Virginia anglers have a great opportunity to view the 2012 Fly Fishing Film Tour (f3t) at Bow-Tie Movie Land at Boulevard Square, West Leigh St in Richmond on April 26, doors open at 7pm. Tickets can be purchased at Green Top Sporting Goods, Bass Pro Shop in Ashland, through the F3t website, and from Todd Kreikamp, Virginia Coastal Outfitters, LLC, phone: (804) 370-3453. This dramatic, instructional, and inspirational film features the best of fly fishing legends and locations and guaranteed to get you 'hooked' if not already a fly fishing enthusiasts. There will be local guides available near the café area inside the theatre where people can come by and network with others and to tell some fish stories promoting a good time within our local fly fishing community. A portion of the proceeds for the event will be donated to Project Healing Waters, which provides recreation and therapeutic healing thru fly tying and fly fishing opportunities for wounded veterans and active armed services members. Tickets are limited and likely to sell out quick, so don't delay getting yours.

Hunter Skills Weekend at Holiday Lake May 18-20

The Virginia Hunter Education Association, in cooperation with VDGIF will sponsor the Hunter Skills Weekend at the Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center near Appomattox, May 18-20, 2012. Designed to help the beginning hunter develop skills beyond the basic Hunter Education course, the program offers instruction in shooting, woodsmanship, and hunting techniques for a variety of species. Registration deadline is May 4, 2012. For more information, visit the 4-H Center website using the link above, or call Holiday Lake 4-H Center at (434) 248-5444 or bbranch@vt.edu.

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

Marie Majarov Wins Best Photograph Award

Outdoor Report contributor and Virginia Wildlife Magazine Photography Contest winner and author, Marie Majarov from Winchester, recently received the Excellence in Craft 2011 Pete Greer Memorial Award for Best Photograph from the Mason-Dixon Outdoor Writers Association. Her winning photo of a young Cooper's hawk eating the spoils of its early morning hunt was featured in the September 2011 Virginia Wildlife Magazine article "Hawk Watching Across Virginia." Marie and her husband Milan are nature enthusiasts and members of both the Virginia and Mason-Dixon Outdoor Writers Associations where they hold leadership positions. Inspiring children, both young and old, about the wonders of nature and encouraging the preservation of our precious natural resources is their dream for Majarov Photography. Marie is also a Virginia Master Naturalist and has a passion for the conservation of Monarch butterflies and bluebirds. For more information on Marie's stunning photos and nature writings visit her website: www.majarov.com. For more information on the Mason-Dixon Outdoor Writers Association visit their website.

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

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

Waterfowlers Build Wood Duck Nesting Boxes To Protect Broods

On Saturday, February 19, the Virginia Waterfowlers' Association hosted a public wood duck nesting box workshop at the Gander Mountain in Ashland. A group of outdoor enthusiast gathered together at the store for what has become an annual tradition of the organization, building wood duck nesting boxes. This is the third spring that Virginia Waterfowlers' Association (VAWFA) has hosted a series of such an event here in Virginia. The boxes are built for wood ducks to raise a brood and offer protection from predators. Typically these boxes are placed over shallow water, but have been proven to be effective even when they are not directly over water within close proximity. Lumber is donated every year for this cause from a local sponsor and the boxes are given out free of charge to those who partake in the event as well as conservationist looking to provide a suitable nesting box. To date the Virginia Waterfowlers' Association has built, and donated more than 300 wood duck boxes to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Virginia Department of Forestry, as well as programs for citizens. For more information on how you can help your local waterfowl visit the VAWFA website or contact Todd Cocker at goosesmacker@aol.com or Kent Callahan at kentC56@yahoo.com.

Hunters for the Hungry Announces Winners of Fund Raising Raffle for 2012

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

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."

Partner Organizations Recognize VDGIF Personnel for Outstanding Service

VDGIF Executive Director in the recent edition of his staff newsletter "The Trapline", noted recognition of several Agency staff members for exceptional service and leadership awards from partner organizations commenting, "The winter months bring a number of opportunities for visiting with various constituent groups and it was a real treat to participate in the recognition of Agency staff members for outstanding service and professional accomplishments." Here is a brief summary of recognition not already covered in previous editions of the Outdoor Report.

At the State Convention of the Virginia Chapter of Ducks Unlimited, Dr. Gary Costanzo, Ph.D Bureau of Wildlife Resources, Wetlands Science Team Leader, was named the Ducks Unlimited "Conservationist of the Year 2012," for his dedicated service to waterfowl resources and their habitats and his ability to work with constituents for the good of the resource.

At the National Wild Turkey Federation Virginia State Chapter Annual Awards event in Waynesboro, retiree Roy Swartz, Lands Manager, was recognized with the 'Andy Huffman Award' for his dedicated service to wild turkey habitat management in coordination with the George Washington National Forest and VDGIF Wildlife Management Areas in the mountains and Shenandoah Valley region.

Conservation Police Officer and K9 handler, Richard Howald, from Appomattox was named the VA State Chapter's 'Law Enforcement Officer of the Year'. Richard was similarly honored last fall when recognized as the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies 'Officer of the Year'.

Director Duncan noted, "Another very special treat for me was participating in a special program at the winter meeting of the State Chapter of The Wildlife Society(TWS), the organization certifying wildlife professionals. This event marked the 30 year Anniversary of the founding of the Virginia Chapter of TWS and as a Founding and Charter Member, it was indeed an honor to offer a few comments on the history of the Chapter to the well attended banquet. Other VDGIF staff in attendance were also recognized as Charter members including Suzie Gilley Gary Spiers and VA Department of Transportation cooperator Don West. A lot has changed in the last 30 years, but The Wildlife Society has remained on its 'true north' direction with regards to professional wildlife management.

Congratulations to Al Bourgeois, Wildlife Bureau biologist in Region 4, for being named as the 'Wildlife Professional of the Year' by the TWS State Chapter.

With the announcement of new appointments to the Board of Game & Inland Fisheries by Governor McDonnell, Director Duncan expressed appreciation to former Board members Mary Louisa Pollard (1st District), John Montgomery (3'd District), and Ward Burton (5th District) for their distinguished service on behalf of our Department and the sportsmen and women of Virginia. The wildlife resources of our great Commonwealth have benefitted greatly from their leadership and participation on our Board.

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...

Virginia Bird Hunters Compete At National Championship

Upland Classic competitors from Virginia and North Carolina did not "bring home all the Bacon" from the 2011-2012 National Championships in Fairview, Missouri, but they definitely brought back several good slices! Bird Hunters and their favorite dogs from all over the U.S. congregated at Fairview to compete for the Championship of the National Upland Classic Series gundog competitions for the 2011 and 2012 hunting season, and Virginia and North Carolina bird hunting was well represented.

The Championship events started on Wednesday, March 7th and continued thru Saturday, March 10th. Pointing dogs of all stripes spent three separate days in three separate fields on Quail, Pheasants and Chukars. Pointers, Setters, Wirehairs, Shorthairs, Brittanys, Vislas, and pointing dogs in all shapes and sizes from around the country were there to see who would be the best team in the "singles" open pointing event. With about a 10 acre field of good bird cover, six shells, and only twenty minutes to get the job done, each dog was scored on three birds in each field and the ten best accumulated scores were called back on Saturday morning for a final run on a new field of mixed birds (Quail, Pheasants and Chukars). The scores were all tabulated together, and the winning teams were selected. Virginia resident Jane Norris of Dutton and her Brittany, Rimrock Roy, wound up in fourth place among the 60 open singles competitors, and brought home a check for $1,045.00.

The single open flushing dog competition was basically the same format and Labs of all colors, Golden Retrievers, Cockers, Springers and all sorts of flushing dogs were in evidence as top dogs from around the nation. Richard and Marlene Sipes of Esmont, Virginia and his champion female, a black lab named "Dixie", took top honors in a field of 60 of the top flushing dogs in the U.S.. Richard's labs Uno & Charlotte were also among the "top ten" dogs in the Saturday championship finals.

The pointing doubles competition was a two day event in two separate fields of six mixed birds each (Pheasants, Quail & Chukars), over a 30 minute timeframe. Two handlers and two dogs take the field and are scored on finds, shots, retrieves, bagged birds and honors (an action where the second dog backs the pointing dog from a distance so as not to disturb the bird, much the same as should occur in a true hunting situation). In this field of 30 teams (60 dogs) Virginia dogs Snake Eyes and Rimrock Roy made up a father/son team of Brittanys owned by Ben & Jane Norris of Dutton, Virginia. Snake & Roy are both National champions, and finished in the stiff competition in ninth place.

Flushing Doubles is actually only one dog with two handlers (shooters). It is a two day event in separate fields of 6 mixed birds and the accumulated total scores determines the overall winners. The dog is worked between the two handlers and finds the bird and the handler shoots it for the dog to retrieve. Typically there is little or no "point" or hesitation when a flusher senses the bird. The dog flushes the bird when he finds it, so keeping up with the dog and staying in gun range is a big part of this event. Richard and Marlene Sipes have a great kennel full of champion labs near Charlottesville and at this particular championship their dogs and doubles team's good shooting took six of the "top ten" places in the single dog flushing doubles event, quite an achievement in a field of 30 of the top flushing dogs from around the country. Charlotte, Richard's yellow lab was placed third, and her kennel mate Cooper placed fourth. Richard and Marlene Sipes' Liberty Corners Farm kennel mates Dixie, Uno, Breeze and Rondo came in as 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th place dogs respectively. A total of eight of the "top ten" dogs in Flushing doubles were from Virginia and NC Upland Classic participants. Not a bad showing in a national competition.

Several Amateur entries from Virginia placed in the "top ten" of the forty dogs in the Flushing Amateur event. Butch White from Waynesboro placed in the "top ten" amateur pointing event with his young German Shorthair, Ace. A young lab called Bosch owned by Richard Sipes from Esmont, managed a tenth place finish for his first NUCS National championship event.

Virginia Upland Classic events are held two to three times each year and are sanctioned by both the National Upland Classic Series (NUCS, a division of the National Kennel Club) and the National Bird Dog Circuit (NBDC). Virginia Upland Classic events are designed to be a competition between bird dogs of all kinds, both pointing dogs and flushing breeds. These events follow a format that closely resembles actual upland game bird hunting. The competition is lots of fun for all levels of experience, safely hunting for birds and working with bird dogs. Separate events keep everybody competing within their own experience level to make it a fair hunt. The competition is open to all bird hunters and their dogs. A Spring "Chukar Hunt" is going to be held at Liberty Corners Farms near Charlottesville on March 31st and April 1st and you are certainly welcome to come participate. A Virginia small game license is required. Contact the following for additional information: VUCS Box 430, Dutton Virginia 23050 - phone (804) 694-5118 or bgnorris@cox.net.

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

"It Takes a Hunter to Make a Hunter"

Remember, only 10 days until the Youth Spring Gobbler Turkey Hunt Day, April 7, 2012! See our website for details.

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. View the full details and data analysis.

Award winning outdoor writer and Outdoor Report contributor Bill Cochran has posted a summary review of the harvest data with comments by the three VDGIF wildlife specialists on his blog at Roanoke.com. Here are some excerpts from Bills interviews with the biologists...

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. It should be noted 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.

From Bill Cochran @ Roanoke.com. Matt Knox, deer project leader: I guess the thing I am most impressed with is how stable the statewide deer number has been over the past decade, especially in light of declining licensed deer hunters. I estimate that the number of licensed deer hunters has probably declined about 14 percent over the past decade. The reason we have been able to maintain a stable deer kill is because our hunter-success rates are up to record levels--63 percent when last checked. I do not expect future deer kill numbers to be up. I expect them to be stable or dropping, for two reasons: The declining number of deer hunter and our liberal hunting regulations which have resulted in record doe kill the past five years. Alas, we may have seen our last record deer kill. Thank God!

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%).

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.

From Bill Cochran @ Roanoke.com. Jaime Sajecki, black bear project leader: It is encouraging to see that the interest and the success of bear hunters is growing in Southside Virginia. In bear management zones 11 and 12 (from Pittslyvania County eastward to Dinwiddie County) 104 bears were killed during the recent season. Three years prior to that, the kill was only 25.

About 25 percent of the bears killed in Southside the past season were taken by hunters using hounds. Since 2003, bear hound hunters have averaged taking about 50 percent of the bears during the firearms' season. This past season, partially due to expanded hound-hunting opportunities, hunters who use dogs accounted for approximately 64 percent of the firearms' harvest.

The new one-week muzzleloading season in Southwest Virginia resulted in a harvest of 55 bears. For many years, the management objective of this area has been to increase the bear numbers. The population has reached a healthy sustainable level that can withstand added recreation.

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.

From Bill Cochran @ Roanoke.com. Gary Norman, forest game bird project leader: Of all the things I noted, I think the most interesting is the new January season. During the three Saturdays of that season, the most birds were killed the last day. Clearly turkey hunters are serous with their effort down to the wire. I hope this will translate to gaining more fall hunters. Virtually all the comments received on the January season were positive.

In cooperation with Virginia Tech, we are developing a Virginia Wild Turkey Management Plan (see Cochran Field Reports). It will serve as a road map for turkey management much like what we've done for deer and bear. We particularly need help in the fall hunting category. I'm afraid the lack of response from fall hunters is reflective of the sport.

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

Sportsman/Photographer Tink Smith Celebrates 101st Birthday

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!

Make Your Spring Gobbler Hunt a Safe One!

This edition features numerous workshop opportunities sponsored by sportsmen's groups in partnership with VDGIF, encouraging special training for youth and novice hunters to participate in the upcoming Spring Gobbler season. To ensure a safe and enjoyable day afield, VDGIF recommends reviewing the following guidelines for a safe Spring Gobbler hunting experience for young and old, novice and experienced alike:

Hunt safely, responsibly and ethically.

Get more tips on how to stay safe during your Spring Gobbler hunt!

Spring 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.

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.

Friends of Dyke Marsh to Host Events April-May

Raptors Up Close: You can "visit with" raptors like owls and hawks on April 21 when FODM, the National Park Service and the Raptor Conservancy of Virginia will sponsor a raptor demonstration for Earth Day, April 21, 10 a.m. to 12 noon, at the Belle Haven picnic area near the bike path. The Raptor Conservancy of Virginia will bring live raptors for close-up encounters.

Help Find Reptiles and Amphibians in Dyke Marsh: On May 3, 10 a.m., under the direction of the Virginia Herpetology Society and the National Park Service, volunteers will search for, observe, photograph and survey reptiles and amphibians. This work will involve walking through conditions that may include mud, puddles, poison ivy and ticks. Wear shoes and clothes that can get wet and dirty.

Dragonflies and Damselflies: Learn all about the dragonflies and damselflies of the Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve at the May 16 Friends of Dyke Marsh meeting, 7:30 p.m., Huntley Meadows Park Visitor Center, 3701 Lockheed Blvd, Alexandria, VA 22306; 703-768-2525. Speaker, Chris Hobson, Virginia Natural Heritage Program.

24th Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup, sponsored by the Alice Ferguson Foundation. Many sites, including the Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve. April 14, 2012 - 9 a.m. to 12 noon www.fodm.org.

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

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!

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."

Summer Classes Offer Fishing Fun for Schoolchildren

Virginia Commonwealth University's Rice Center and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are teaming up to offer two exciting field courses in fishing for rising 6th to 9th graders. GO FISH! offered the weeks of June 18th-22nd and July 9th -13th, focuses on fishing and fish ecology. AQUATIC ECOLOGY, offered the week of July 16th-20th, focuses on water quality monitoring and the study of aquatic plants and animals. Both classes will give kids the opportunity for hands-on learning experiences. For more information or to register, visit VCU's website.

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.

The 2012 Virginia Wildlife Magazine Annual Photography Contest Showcase. Available Now!

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 the blossoming of spring in April:

Answers to March 14th edition quiz for nature events for late 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.

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

Spotlighters Caught After Night Hunting Complaint... 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.

King George Middle School Career Day... On March 13, 2012, Conservation Police Officer Joshua Thomas participated in King George Middle School's annual career day. Officer Thomas set up a display, which included a deer decoy that the students were able to operate. Approximately 100 students visited the display where Officer Thomas explained the duties of a Conservation Police Officer and the benefits of the career. Several students decided it was the career for them. Officer Thomas was also able to answer questions regarding laws, safety and resources.

Charges Pending in Spotlighting Arrest... On March 9, 2012, Conservation Police Sergeant Valasek was called at his residence in reference to a deer that had been killed by spotlighters in Dinwiddie County. The sheriff's office had two officers on scene with an adult and a juvenile who stated they had hit the deer with their truck and had euthanized the deer. This was their story and they were adamant that it was the truth. The evidence at the scene indicated otherwise. The firearm was seized by the sheriff's office. On March 10, Officers Kopelove and Shaw were assigned to the case. The officers were able to collect additional evidence at the scene and interview the suspects and witnesses. When confronted with the totality of evidence against them, the suspects admitted to spotlighting the deer and shooting it with a shotgun loaded with turkey shot. Charges are pending in this matter.

Region II – Southside

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 8feet above normal water levels. Job well done!

Illegal Deer Kill in Powhatan County... During the first week of March 2012, Conservation Police Officer Ivan Kopelove received information about an illegal deer kill. A meat processor was skinning a deer that was supposedly killed in Chesterfield County during the Urban Archery Season and discovered the remains of a jacketed muzzleloader bullet. This was the only wound on the deer. The bullet was turned over to Officer Kopelove and on March 11, 2012, Officer Kopelove was able to meet with the suspect. After a lengthy interview and being presented with the evidence against him, the suspect confessed to killing the deer with a muzzleloader during the archery only season. Charges are forthcoming in this matter.

Region III - Southwest

Surveillance Operation On Lick Creek... On March 13, 2012 Conservation Police Officer George Shupe, and Sergeant Rolland Cox conducted a surveillance operation on Lick Creek in Bland County that addressed complaints of fisherman exceeding their daily limits. After two hours of surveillance the officers observed a subject catch five trout and place them into a small Playmate Cooler. Upon catching his sixth trout, the subject took three dead trout from the cooler and threw back into the stream. A male and female fisherman came into the area and began to fish the same hole. The male caught four trout and the original fisherman caught an additional three trout and placed them in his cooler. Prior to the male and female leaving the stream two fish from the cooler were placed on her stringer. The man remained at the hole and intentionally snagged two additional fish and placed them in his cooler. The officers interviewed the subject and he denied everything the officers observed. He was charged with exceeding the daily creel limit of trout (5 over) and snagging trout. The officers located the male and female subject downstream. The male subject had three trout on his stringer and the female stated that she had obtained her limit. After interviewing the subjects separately, it was determined that the male subject had caught and creeled a total of seven trout. The female admitted the original subject had given her two trout from his cooler. Given the honesty and the cooperation of the subject's, the male was issued a summons for the lesser charge of fishing after obtaining his daily limit of trout.

K9 Teams Add Unique Capabilities to VDGIF Law Enforcement Efforts

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.

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

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.

Smallmouth and Tidal Largemouth Fishing Outlook Reports Posted

With the warm days associated with the arrival of spring a few weeks early this year, there is a scampering among anglers to break out the fishing gear and ask, "How are the fish biting at my favorite fishing hole? VDGIF fisheries biologists have been working over the winter months to review survey data from the major rivers throughout the state to produce the annual Fishing Opportunities reports for both largemouth and smallmouth bass posted on our website.

The full Smallmouth Bass Rivers Forecast is posted in the Fishing Section of the VDGIF website and in the Outdoor Report Fishin' Report. VDGIF Region 2 Fisheries Manager Scott Smith notes that the detailed report covers the following rivers:

VDGIF District Fisheries Biologist Bob Greenlee in Region 1- Tidewater area has also posted the Tidal River Largemouth Bass Outlook (PDF) on all the tidal river Fishing Opportunities pages on the VDGIF website and listed in the Fishin' Report in this and subsequent editions of the Outdoor Report.

Virginia Reservoirs Ranked for Largemouth Bass Fishing

VDGIF aquatic biologist Dan Michaelson reports that the fisheries staff spend considerable effort and resources to manage, enhance, and protect largemouth bass populations in Virginia's public fishing reservoirs, lakes, and ponds. Most of these waters are sampled each year, or every few years, to assess current largemouth bass population parameters such as age and growth, spawning success, and size distribution. These population samples are generally collected using daytime, boat electrofishing gear targeting largemouth bass and are conducted in a manner that allows several comparisons to be made concerning fish populations. Since many Virginia anglers target largemouth bass, and fish larger than 15 inches are considered "preferred" nationwide. Refer to the largemouth bass ranking table updated for 2011.

A reliable, up –to- date resource for "how are they biten' information" can be found here in the Outdoor Report. License agents, marinas, fishing guides and bait shops serve as contacts for information on recent fishing conditions for primary rivers and lakes throughout the state in Sarah White's Notebook in the Fishin' Report. The Fishin' Report is only available as part of your free subscription to the Outdoor Report email newsletter, sent direct to your email address on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month.

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:

Moratorium on River Herring Fishing Now in Effect

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

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

Supplemental Largemouth Bass Stockings Planned for Back Bay

DGIF working to restore top trophy bass fishery

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

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

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

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

State Record Fish Committee Confirms New State Record

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) State Record Fish Committee has certified a new state record, a spotted bass weighing in at 4 pounds, 7 ounces and measuring 20 inches long. The new record was caught Saturday, March 10, 2012, on Claytor Lake by Rod Kegley of Dublin, Virginia. Kegley's prize catch easily exceeded the past state record of 3 pounds, 10 ounces, which also came out of Claytor Lake and was caught by Mike Ritter in 1993.

Kegley, an avid angler, wasn't aware of his record breaking accomplishment until he returned to Rock House Marina. After watching a local tournament weigh-in, Kegley was alerted by another angler that his catch, which looked very much like a largemouth bass, was actually a huge spotted bass. Marina owner Mike Burchett weighed the fish and then held it in the marina's bait tank. VDGIF Aquatic Biologist, John Copeland, and VDGIF Conservation Police Officer David Peake verified Kegley's catch that afternoon.

Kegley, who was casting in deep water along a flat in the 'Peaks Creek' arm of the lake, caught his record spotted bass using an Alabama-style rig called the Yumbrella by Yum Baits. The castable multi-lure is a wire rig similar to a saltwater umbrella rig that is popular among anglers targeting big striped bass and other game fish along Virginia's coast.

Kegley said he regularly likes to "bring a mess of fish home," to cook, but decided his prized catch was too special to hit the frying pan. The record spotted bass was released unharmed back into Claytor Lake for others to enjoy. Kegley stated that spotted bass fishing on Claytor Lake has improved in recent years. The fish are getting larger and Kegley expects it will not take another 19 years to see the record broken again.

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.

For more information about Claytor Lake and Virginia's Angler Recognition Program and other state fish records visit: www.HuntFishVA.com.

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!

Formula to Catch a State Record

2012 has been a year of new opportunities in a familiar place for Rod Kegley. The Dublin, VA angler lives five minutes from Claytor Lake and fishes it regularly. This year he is fishing on his home lake from a new bass boat and using a new lure, the Alabama Rig. Using the new lure provided Rod with the biggest spotted bass catch of his life and the largest recorded in Virginia, a new state record weighing 4 lbs. 7 oz and measuring 20" long. However, the thread of events that led to the catch is quite remarkable.

Rod is no stranger to bass fishing. He is a 20 year veteran of club and federation tournament fishing and thanks to his father, a founding member of the Pulaski County Bassmasters; he has been fishing all his life. Rod took notice of the tournament that rocked the bass fishing world when Paul Elias won the FLW Tour event on Lake Guntersville in October of 2011. The event was won with a new bait called the Alabama Rig and it has been the hottest ticket in bass fishing ever since. The A-Rig is a harness for up to 5 different baits and is similar to an umbrella rig used to troll for stripers. Now, every lure maker on the planet has their own version of the cast-able umbrella style rig and they are catching fish.

Rod has been using the rig since January with great success. He was a skeptic until he saw another angler fishing the same cove, catch several bass when he was unable to get a bite. Fortunately he had been given one for his birthday by his fishing partner, who oh, by-the-way, almost reconsidered giving it to him in favor of keeping it for himself as a back-up to his own A-Rig. The girlfriend of his fishing partner convinced him to give it to Rod and the rest is history. Rod was using the Yum version of the rig called the Yumbrella, rigged with locally made ¼ oz. jigheads and pearl Zoom Swimming Super Flukes to catch the record.

On Saturday, March 10, Rod was just enjoying a day of fishing on Claytor Lake. He was casting the Yumbrella at depths of 12-15 feet, allowing the bait to sink to the bottom and slow reeling it. The fish hit near the boat and Rod, who likes to keep a few fish while the water is cold, put what he thought was a nice size largemouth in the live-well to take home and eat. Because of the size of the fish he never considered it to be a spotted bass and If Rod had not decided to check out a tournament weigh-in, the fish would have ended up in Lake Crisco! Once the weigh-in concluded, Rod asked if he could weigh his catch. Another angler quickly recognized the big bass was a spot and they all knew they were looking at the new state record which eclipsed the old record by nearly a pound.

Rod was not surprised to see a new record spotted bass caught this year. "The spots are getting larger each year and are showing up in many weigh-in bags. We used to only catch 10-12 inch spots, but now we are seeing two pound plus fish weighed in regularly." He expects this record will not last as long as the previous record of 3-10 caught back in 1993.

This remarkable thread of events has led me to create a "Formula to Catch a State Record." Tournament angler Dad + Know home lake + New boat + Lure phenom creation and frenzy + Hot-lure birthday present from fishing partner with a girlfriend who keeps her boyfriend honest + Angler using hot lure and catching them in sight to convince one to use it + Decide to keep some fish for a meal + Visit a tournament weigh-in instead of heading home + Ask to weigh your fish + Have an alert angler present to identify the fish = State Record .

Watch out! Rod is mentoring his 9 year old son to fish. The formula may be updated!!!

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.

Fly Fishing Film Tour Coming to Richmond April 26

Central Virginia anglers have a great opportunity to view the 2012 Fly Fishing Film Tour (f3t) at Bow-Tie Movie Land at Boulevard Square, West Leigh St in Richmond on April 26, doors open at 7pm. Tickets can be purchased at Green Top Sporting Goods, Bass Pro Shop in Ashland, through the F3t website, and from Todd Kreikamp, Virginia Coastal Outfitters, LLC, phone: (804) 370-3453. This dramatic, instructional, and inspirational film features the best of fly fishing legends and locations and guaranteed to get you 'hooked' if not already a fly fishing enthusiasts. There will be local guides available near the café area inside the theatre where people can come by and network with others and to tell some fish stories promoting a good time within our local fly fishing community. A portion of the proceeds for the event will be donated to Project Healing Waters, which provides recreation and therapeutic healing thru fly tying and fly fishing opportunities for wounded veterans and active armed services members. Tickets are limited and likely to sell out quick, so don't delay getting yours.

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 water is warming up quick. The temperature now is 64 degrees rising to 70 midday in some coves. We expect the temperature to drop 5 to 10 degrees by Monday because of the rain and cooler temperatures. The viability is 14 ft. mid lake but with all of the pollen it may be less by the weekend. Fish have shown up in very good numbers over the last two weeks. You will have to shake off 3 pickerel for every bass, but is that bad? Bass and pickerel are hitting everything you try. Most are small, but fat. Look for them in the shallow coves. Try a noise bait and hang on, they hit hard. We had crappie over 15 in. and up to 2 lb., minnows & jigs worked equally well. Striper to 45 in. and other keepers. A couple on large minnows, crankbaits, and spinnerbaits. Lots of small brim came in on red worms and we had one 6 lb cat. Not a bad week for late March.

Beaverdam Reservoir: Contributed by Eddie Hester, (804) 693-2107. The bass fishing at Beaverdam is about average for this time of year. Some of the bass are on the bed and ready to spawn. The crappie fishing has improved this week, with some nice crappie being caught. Larry Simpson of Hampton VA caught a crappie that weighed 1lb. 12 oz. and 15 in. long. The chain pickerel are being caught everywhere on the lake with minnows and lures. Catfish are also being caught. The results of the March 17th Big Bash series Tournament is as follows:

Beaverdam will host the next Big Bash series tournament April 21st . For more information, visit our website or call the Ranger Station at (804) 693-2107. The water is in the lower 60s, at full pool and slightly stained. Happy fishing!

Cat Point Creek: Contributed by our new reporter Penn Burke of Spring Shad Charters (804) 354-3200. The fishing is not good due to weekend rains that came to the west of Richmond causing the James River to flood. Whenever the river level is over 7' feet at Westham Station the docks at the boat ramp are under water and the water is too muddy for fishing. I've had to cancel trips for this week and not sure what the action will bring when this clears up. Hopefully there will be shad left to catch. I am sure that a lot of them will take advantage of the high water to swim above the fall line of Richmond.

Virginia Beach: Captain Jim Brincefield (443) 336-8756. According to Captain Jim, speckled trout are in the Elizabeth River and Willoughby Spit. They are going for Mirrolures and top-water plugs. Red drum are taking crab in the Barrier Islands. Croaker are at Rudee Inlet and Ocean View Fishing Pier and will attack squid or bluefish. Flounder are at Quimby and can be had with squid and cut bait. Tautogs are responding to crabs around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. The water is clear and 59 degrees.

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

Chickahominy River: River's Rest (804) 829-2753. Charlie Brown reports that bass action is good, with some 6 to 7 pound lunkers coming in. The lucky anglers didn't say what the bass were landed on. Crappie fishing is good with minnows and jigs. Cats large and small are being boated with live eel and cut bait. The perch bite is good with red wigglers and small spinners. The water is warming and slightly stained.

Chickahominy Lake: Contributed by our new reporter, Captain Art Conway of Conway's River Rat Guide Service, (804) 746-2475 out of Ed Allen's Boats and Bait. Chickahominy Lake mid-day water temperatures were in the mid 60s in the lower lake and in the mid to high 60s in the major creeks on Monday. The lake level was about 6 inches above the top of the dam. The water was dark and cloudy in the lower lake and up the major creeks due to the high winds. Crappies were active on wood cover in 5 to 10 feet of water in the main lake at the end of last week, but activity dropped off after the cold front over the weekend. At the end of last week, bass were in the shallows at the upper ends of the major creeks. Crappies were hitting live minnows, Wright Bait Co. and Southern Procurlytail jigs and tubes, small swimbaits, and Kalin crappie scrubs. Bass were hitting suspending jerk baits and live minnows. Fishing with Capt.Conway, Gary Lambert had 71 crappie, 1 bluegill, 1 white perch, and 3 bass.Ron and Cassy Eisele had 12 crappie.

North Landing River and Back Bay: West Neck Marina (757) 426-6735. Dewey Mullins told me that lots of bass are coming in on top-waters, spinners and cranks. Some big crappie are going for minnows and jigs. A few cats have gone for shiners. White perch are plentiful and will take red wigglers, beetle spins and small spinners. The yellow perch are mostly gone. The water is clear and 60 degrees.

Norfolk Lakes: Dasheill's Show Room (757) 539-7854. Drew Dixon Says that bass are responding well to plastics and jigs. Many crappie are coming in on minnows and jigs. Lots of cats were fooled by cut bait. White perch are going for red wigglers and small minnows. No word on yellow perch. The water is clear and in the mid 50s.

Blackwater and Nottoway: By Riverkeeper Jeff Turner www.blackwaternottoway.com. Spirit of Moonpie & I spent the 18th through the 20th on the Nottoway below Courtland. The water was clear, fast, 63 degrees and 7.15 on the U.S.G.S. gauge in Sebrell. Air temperatures ranged from 52 degrees to 78 degrees. I saw no water quality issues and only picked up a half a bag of trash. The fishing on this trip was amazing. It has been many a year since I have caught so many shad. I reckon I caught over 100 shad the whole trip. We caught right many herring also. I got my dad to come out the second day for a few hours and we wore them out. In one run I made eight casts and caught eight fish! It was a lot of fun.

Remember, on the Nottoway and Blackwater you can only keep 10 shad per day and no herring. Please do not cheat the system and catch ten and go put them in a cooler in your truck then go back out and catch ten more. The reason we are having such great shad fishing is because of the great efforts VDGIF has gone through with creel limits on this species to help the fish populations rebound. Please obey the creel limits so we all can enjoy this wonderful sport. Abuse it and stand the risk of a moratorium on shad, then you will be up the creek without any fish.

Upper and Lower Tidal James: Local Guide, Captain Mike Hoke, Life's Revenge Guide Service, (804) 357-8518. Captain Mike has no word on bass or crappie. Cats are going for cut bait and live white perch. White perch are really hitting bloodworms. The water is clear and 68 degrees.

Upper and Lower Tidal James: Contributed by Capt. Mike Ostrander, James River Fishing School, Discover the James, (804) 938-2350. Water temperatures are extremely warm for this part of March. If this warming trend continues, it might make for a short spring fishing season, but that remains to be seen. Blue catfish are biting pretty well all around the river, with a few flatheads starting to show up. Gizzard shad remains great bait. Hickory shad and American shad are being caught in the city stretches of the upper tidal section. Herring can be caught, but are not legal to keep. Be sure you know the difference between herring and shad.

Region 2 - Southside

Lewis Pond at Fort Pickett: Contributed by our man in the boat Willard A. Mayes. So much pretty weather and all that water out there and Lewis pond has so many fish, so someone needs to be fishing, why not me? I knew I would be getting my feet wet so I hooked to the flat bottom 14 ft. john boat and since I would have to lift it to off load and load it back on the trailer I did not put a battery or trolling motor on it. I remember fishing that way many years ago so I thought it would not be any problem. I arrived around 11:30 and put the boat in the water, the wind was blowing right up the lake so it was no problem fishing as I drifted. The water was not that cold and only clear to about 2 ½ ft., but had a dark brown stain. I fished the fly rod along the bank until I reached the flats and only picked up some small bluegill. When I reached the flats things got much better. I will not say they were on beds but they had to be staging or having a family reunion because I ended up with 66 bluegill from 5 to 8 inches. When the fly rod got tired I switched over to the spinning rod and caught 32 crappie almost in the middle along with some of the bluegill. I started back to the ramp to load the boat a little after 3:00 and that is when that gentle wind that got me to the flats seemed to have reached gale force or that boat must have had anchors holding it back because I thought my arm would fall off by the time I reached the dock around 4:00. I have fished all around Lee lake that same way and never felt that tired before. Just because it was 30 years ago should not have any bearing at all, but I do know that I may be lifting the battery from now on.

Twin Lake at Fort Pickett: Temperatures in the low 70s by 10:00 a.m. and I am trying to do some work in all that heat and I thought I would go cool off on Twin lake. It was almost noon by the time I got everything together and the boat in the water. I had seen some buds on the dogwoods and I just knew the bluegill knew to go to the beds because everyone knows that they are bedding when dogwoods are blooming. I started fishing the shore line from the dock toward the flats and back to the dam. I know DGIF says it is and impoundment, but it is a dam to me. I only caught a few 3 finger ones until I got to the flats, started catching 8 and 9 inch ones along the shores there. I tried fishing the middle with spinning rod but only caught 1 bluegill on the chartreuse twister, no idea where the crappie were hiding. For the day I caught 35 blue gill most of them between 8 and 9 inches and one 11 inch bass; all on a number 10 popping bug. They were hitting it as soon as it hit the water but would hit about the time you forgot about it being out there, at least that is the excuse I am using for all those I seemed to have missed and I missed a lot.The water has really warmed up but I still do not want to go swimming in it. The water was clearer than Lewis pond and not as brown.

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. As I write this report the James is rising and running muddy. Plus, there is more water to come down river. It may be next weekend until it's fishable again. Prior to the rain and rising water anglers were enjoying some great early spring fishing. I've heard several reports of smallmouth up to 5 lbs. being boated. Cranks, pig & jigs, and spinnerbaits have accounted for most of the fish. Fly anglers using Claw Dads, Rhodes' Rattle-N-Claws and Trows Tube Fly have had great success in getting smallmouth to the boat. The longer days will start the smallmouths movement towards their spawning grounds. As each week passes now the fishing will be improving, so get out and fish!

Kerr Reservoir: Bob Cat's Lake Country Store, (434) 374-8381. Bobby Whitlow told me that bass action has slowed down, but some will go for creature baits in green pumpkin and watermelon, jigs and spinners. Crappie are spawning or about to spawn and will hit minnows and jigs. Cat action is good, with live shad, bream, jumbo minnows or gold fish all being good choices. No word on perch or bluegill, but the action should pick up soon. The water is slightly stained and in the upper 60s to low 70s.

James at Lynchburg: Angler's Lane, (434) 385-0200. Tom Reisdorf reports that smallies are going for crayfish imitations. Rainbows and browns in the Jackson are taking minnow imitations and steamers. Mountain brookies are "hitting everything" and being very active due to insect hatchings. The water is clear and in the low 50s.

Lake Gaston: Holly Grove Marina, (434) 636-3455. Craig Karpinski told me the bass that haven't spawned yet are thinking about it and the bite is on. Try spinners, suspended jerkbaits and Alabama Rigs. Crappie action is good in the backs of creeks with minnows and jigs. Cats are also cooperating, with a 74 lb. blue being brought to boat. Perch are near the docks and may take a small worm or spinner. No word on bluegill. The water is 72 degrees and stained.

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. No report this edition.

Region 3 - Southwest

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

Record Spotted bass certified... The Alabama Rig has proven once again to be THE bait to throw. The state record spotted bass caught by Rod Kegley of Dublin 2 weeks ago has been certified by the State Committee. Officially the big bass weighed 4 lbs. 7oz. and was 20 inches in length. The bass was weighed in at the Rock House by Mike Burchett and verified by VDGIF Biologist John Copeland and CPO David Peake. The huge spotted bass was caught off of... you guessed it, the Alabama rig!

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.

Bass: With all the publicity over the record spotted bass that was released back into the Lake after verification- there's plenty of interest in bass and the Alabama rig. The bass fishing right now is really turning on. Water temperatures are reaching near 60 and the bass are beginning to spawn or at least moving shallow to looking for spawning areas. We weighed in a 10 lb. 4oz. largemouth on Saturday caught by Terry Jones. Right now you can catch bass using Zoom Super Flukes, Gary Yamamoto Senkos and Drops Shotting a Roboworm. But there are also many fish on bed right now so if you see any on bed pick out your favorite bed fishing technique and give that a try.

Crappie: The crappie fishing has really turned on as of late also. They are bringing in plenty of crappie mainly being caught around brushy areas in Peak Creek and around the light house bridge area as well using different sorts of hair jigs and live crappie minnows which has been one of the best selling items here at the marina the past two weeks.

Catfish: I've heard from a few customers that the catfishing is starting to pick up. I'm not sure on the exact technique but I would say some type of cut shad or minnow down in the deeper water is probably what would be producing best right now especially in the deeper channels in Peak Creek.

Stripers: As it has been all winter here, still seems really slow. Only hearing a few customers bringing in a couple of stripers and most of what I am hearing is that they are being caught on the Alabama Rigs using swim baits on those rigs. But the striper fishing is certainly not what it has been here for some reason.

Lower New River: Big Z'S (540) 639-1651. John Zienius says that the bass bite is starting to heat up. Try jerkbaits or tubes in dark green or brown. Muskie action is very hot as they are done spawning. They are going for jerks, big cranks and live trout and suckers. The water is slightly stained and warming.

Upper New River: Contributed by Captain Forest Pressnell, (540) 818-5274, New River Charter. For the most part the Upper New is in very good shape. The random T-Storms may muddy the water for 24 hours here and there but it has been clearing quickly. The walleye bite has been great but is tapering off. With this early spring the water is in the low 60s and the muskie are spawning now, making for a tough bite on them so look for them to be hitting again around mid April. Smallmouth are becoming active earlier than normal also and we saw several chasing baitfish yesterday. Haven't seen any striper in the river yet but they are just below Alisonia at this time so with continued normal to above normal water levels they should be moving up the river soon. Please practice CPR (Catch, Photo, Release).

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. Mild weather continues in the area of the Top New (Mouth of Wilson to Fries). On a recent trip, smallies hit tubes. jigs, spinnerbaits, jerkbaits and crankbaits should also be given a try. Water temperature is in the mid to upper 50s.Trout fishing should remain good for at least another month in the streams flowing into the Top New.

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

Region 4 - Mountains & Shenandoah Valley - Northern Piedmont

North and South Forks of the Shenandoah: Harry Murray (540) 984-4212 www.murraysflyshop.com. Harry told me that due to the warmer weather, smallmouth action is good in both the North and South Forks, with some lunkers being brought up. Fish nymphs and streamers deeply in the deep pockets below the riffles and in deep pools. Good files are: Shenk's White Streamer, size 4; Murray's Magnum Creek Chub, size 4; and Murray's Magnum Hog Sucker, size 4. The water is clear, at a good level and 57 degrees. Many of the streams in the Valley have been recently stocked and should give good fishing, especially if you like big browns. Good flies are: Murray's Betsy Streamer, size12; Pearl Marauder, size 12. The water is clear, at a perfect level and 51 degrees. Good dry fly fishing can be had in the mountain streams. The best idea is to park on Skyline Drive or the Blue Ridge Parkway and hike up to the trail head. Good flies are: Mr. Rapidan Parachute, size 14; Spirit of Pittsford Mills, size 14; Mr. Rapidan Olive Soft Hackle, size 14. The water is clear, at a good level and clear.

Lake Moomaw: Contributed by local anger Bill Uzzell. Lake Moomaw is experiencing an early spring just like every other lake in Virginia! The grouse are drumming, the turkeys are gobbling, and the bass are biting! The water temps are 56 to 61 degrees which have the pre spawn bass heading for the shallow coves and flats. Both largemouth and smallmouth bass have been actively attacking angler's offerings the past several weeks. Largemouth up to 7 lbs. and smallmouth over 4 lbs. are being caught at the present time. No surprise that crankbaits, spinnerbaits, drop-shots, jigs, and shakey heads are also scoring well. There are also some reports that the Alabama Rig is working as well. No substantial reports of crappie or yellow perch to report at this time. For those of you who enjoy chasing carp with bow and arrow, the carp have started to show up in big numbers. Some carp over 15 lbs have been taken already.

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. information on fishing the VA Highlands, spring gobbler hunting and tips on cooking wild game, "From the Kill to the Grill.". With this early warming trend in the Highlands, the gobblers are gobbling already and the fishing is great. The pool on Lake Moomaw is full and 55-60 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) With the Spring thaw, I'll be back on the water in late March depending on the weather and renew reports with the April 11 edition. Books are available online to order for winter reading. It's never too early to start "scouting" for those new promising fishing spots. Use my books to do the preliminary search for great fishing throughout the Virginia Piedmont region. I will also be participating in the C&E Nations Gun Show at the Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly April 13-15. Stop by and see me to talk about the great fishing opportunities in the Northern Piedmont and Potomac watershed. Books and fish art from local artists will be available and there are some great fishing gear deals from vendors throughout the show.

Occoquan Reservoir and Lunga Reservoir: Contributed by local angler Scott Torgerson. It's getting warmer and spring is definitely "in town"...which means fresh line on the reels and trying to figure out what the fish are up to. Over the last two weeks I was fortunate to link up with a new fishing buddy, John, who likes to fish the Occoquan River. As a result I've been out on both the Occoquan River and Lunga Reservoir last weekend and the Occoquan River this weekend. We found the Occoquan River to be in pretty good shape, with relatively murky water in the mid to high 50 degree temperature range. Our plan was to fish for shad coming into the river, but unfortunately the pickings were pretty slim on both the last two Saturdays. We plied the waters near the dam and town of Occoquan with ¼ oz Silver Buddy's and some various colored shad darts, but only caught one shad last weekend. However, we did catch a few nice 2 to 3 lb. largemouth bass on Silver Buddy's, silver colored suspending Rapalas and even some pearl colored Yamasenkos further out the river on the flats beyond the I-95 bridge.

I fished Lunga Reservoir last weekend and found the water temps rising to almost 60 degrees with pretty good clarity, 2 to 3 feet down. The range flags were up, so I had to stay in the main lake and didn't get to check out the shallower water in the back bays. I caught about 8 nice chain pickerel and a few small largemouth bass in 4 to 7 in. of water slow trolling silent shallow running square billed crank baits and Rapalas in light green and Tennessee Shad colors, but didn't find any big bass yet. Still it was a pleasant morning and a good start to the day.

I certainly appreciate the opportunity to fish some new water with my new fishing buddy...and look forward to sharing some of my trips with him and reporting on any and all fishing opportunities this coming fishing season! I plan to get out and check the Rappahannock River for some cats, Breckenridge Reservoir (also on Quantico Marine Corps Base) for crappie and largemouth, and Lake Frederick for some lunker bass and hopefully a northern pike or walleye...if I can ever figure them out. Good luck to all, hope you have plenty of safe and fun days on the water this season!

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. The continued mild weather has Anna's fish on the fast-track for an early spawn. Water temperatures range from nearly 60 near the dam to the mid-50s up lake. With an early full moon, many of the lake's bass, striper and crappie are ready to spawn. Here's what you can expect on your next visit.

Largemouth Bass: Spawners have been sighted in the lower lake region. From the dam up to Duke's Creek you might see a few if you look carefully. Most bass in the region, however, will wait until the April 6th full moon to spawn. Soft plastic stickbaits and soft plastic jerkbaits will be the baits to use as we warm up further, especially in spawning coves. Shakey head worms and hard plastic jerkbaits are good until then in the down lake region. Many mid lake region bass are schooled up and feeding on threadfin shad in the backs of creeks. You can use a shallow running, suspending jerkbait or spinnerbait when you encounter these conditions. The up lake region is offering the best fishing now for largemouth bass. Try a Dave's Tournament Tackle Tiger Shad spinnerbait in the Lake Anna Special pattern slow rolled from grass edges to the middle of spawning coves on cloudy and windy days. Opt for a suspending jerkbait on clear days. Once the fish move to the grass, start pitching a jig or creature bait and cast the spinnerbait into the grass.

Striper: Good early March catches in the up lake region set a blistering pace for the season. Fish up to 13 pounds have been caught on swimbaits in two-foot shallows. Live bait presented on side planers along the banks has also been productive when the lure bite is off. The hot zones have been from the Holladay Mill Bridge up to Gold Mine Creek and from the mouth of Terry's Run on up in the Pamunkey Branch. This bite will continue through April. A massive threadfin shad school lingers in Marshall Creek and some striper are available there, too. You will want to fish early and late in the day for the best catches.

Crappie: With water temperatures over 50 for much of March, the up lake region has had crappie in the grass on warm afternoons. Fish shallow brush, willow grass and docks with one-inch jigs as much as possible since the crappie want to spawn now. Slip bobbers with minnows are also good once you locate fish holding at a certain depth. The region from The Splits to the first two bridges will turn on next. Down lake does harbor crappie, but they are mostly on docks, beaver huts and brush piles and not present in the numbers found up lake.

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

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

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

View video about the snakehead

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Winning Outdoor Adventure Stories from Young Writers

With the spring season upon us with warm days and cool nights and the bursting of green from the once dormant woodlands and fields, it is an excellent time to introduce a oung person to the wonders of the outdoors. For Paul Ngo, a junior at Virginia Tech, his fascination with nature began at a very young age through a chance encounter with a "wild" animal. In his story submitted in the 2010-11 VOWA Collegiate Outdoor Writing Contest he paints a vivid picture of his revealation for the wonders of nature. Currently, Paul is pursuing a dual degree in wildlife sciences and biological sciences. He notes, "It took me awhile to end up in that major as I started as a chemistry major wanting to go into exotic and wildlife veterinary medicine. Freshman year, my major changed, officially and unofficially, from chemistry to biological sciences, to biochemistry, to philosophy, and then to English. Finally, my friend, Caryn McGrenra, introduced me to the College of Natural Resources and Environment and the major, wildlife science and I've fallen in love with the major ever since. With the help of the coordinator of academic advising, Suzie Leslie, and my academic advisor, Bill Hopkins, I finally found my place at Virginia Tech. While I'm completely content with my major, I loved delving into other majors just to see what they had to offer.

Since I was a chemistry and biochemistry major, I decided to take organic chemistry with the other majors just to see what it offered. I have planned to take more philosophy classes after being enthralled by my morality and justice class instructed by William FitzPatrick and my animals: minds and morality class instructed by Marc Lucht. I thought being in the foundations of physics class with all of the engineering and physics majors would be fun and while the topic was a bit of a drag, the instructor, Roger Chang, would definitely worth the experience. After taking both physics and organic chemistry, I realized that I didn't need that much more classes for a biological sciences major so I decided to add that. One of my biggest academic explorations outside my major was into the music program offered at Virginia Tech. I managed to be principle b-flat and e-flat clarinet player, at one point in time, for the symphony band and university campus band, directed by Dave McKee and Tony Marinello III respectively, and even played in the music majors' ensemble, the symphonic wind ensemble directed by Travis Cross. I love playing my clarinet and even though I'm in the environmental field of study, music will always be a large part of my life."

When not studying for classes, Paul enjoys hiking in the mountains around Virginia Tech, relaxing on the beaches in the Bahamas, or just enjoying nature wherever he goes.

Innocently Seeing the World

By Paul Ngo

People say that when you grow up, you lose your innocence. Some people can't wait to lose their innocence claiming that innocence is just ignorance and it makes you weak. I, on the other hand, firmly hold on to my childish innocence that allows me to see the world in a different point of view than someone else who threw away theirs. I completely disagree with people who say innocence is a waste. My naïve awe at the world protected me from the harsh realities of life while I was growing up and even though I can face life in the face now, I still keep my immense wonder of the world with me.

I was only five when I was in Kindergarten. I was on the verge of tears by the time I came home from school because I didn't have any friends in my class; the only thing stopping me from crying my eyes out was that I swore I wouldn't let people see me cry anymore after being the crybaby in preschool. I kicked off my shoes as I stepped off the cold, concrete stone onto the soft cushions of grass. As long as I remembered, I always loved walking barefoot in the grass because I loved how good it felt underneath my feet. I couldn't explain it; it was like trying to explain the glittering stars in the moonlit sky to a blind person. Even though I couldn't describe it, I still never questioned why I loved running barefoot in the grass. I pity the person who has never or hates walking in the grass just their bare feet.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something radiating fiery colors contrasting the cool emerald colors of the grass; I turned to see a tabby of a variety of orange and yellow eying me curiously cocking his head to the side. Being young and naïve, I never considered what would happened if the tabby attacked me as I approached him with my eyes wide and arms out with wonder. Surprisingly enough, the tabby allowed me to pick him up and cradle him like a baby despite me being only twice his size. I never felt the sensation of feeling a car purr before so when he started to vibrate in my arms, I was so amazed by the quivering that I got really excited and cried with glee. I remembered seeing something on TV about how cats climbed trees so I raced up my favorite flowering dogwood in my backyard hoping that he would follow me up. Sadly enough, he didn't and decided to run around the corner of my house. I, not wanting to lose him, tumbled down the tree and chased him around the side of the house.

As I was looking at him, I noticed a bed of wildflowers growing on the side of my house; they were the most beautiful flowers I've ever seen, as a five year old. There were ceruleans, carnations, violets, and colors I didn't even know I existed; an artist's palette would be shamed and pale in comparison. In the bed of flowers were tiny rainbow butterflies fluttering all over the place with a low and hypnotic hum of bumblebees. The sun was on the verge of setting so I turned to see the sky be painted with hues of reds, oranges, yellows, and blue as if the heavens were set on fire. I thought this vivid scenery was only something that painters could create; I never in my wildest dreams thought that the reality of a sunset would completely surpass the magnificence of sunset paintings. I felt like I was transported to Paradise on Earth.

I never did find him again but I never was the same after that. Since then, I started to notice the trees and the flowers in my life. As I started to grow up and people started to lose their innocence, I never lost mine nor did I change how I viewed the world; every sunset and sunrise was as breathtaking as it was when I was five; I still think that every flower was chiseled with perfection by the Gods and Goddesses themselves. Even though I'm now a little wiser and now know that it probably wasn't the best idea to be playing with wild animals, I still have to resist the temptation to go up to animals just to play with them and enjoy their presence. I think that's why I decided to go into the environment field in college because I wanted to protect my own childhood and I feel like I owe nature something after I was blessed by her to see all of these wonderful things in life. I hope that I can protect nature so that other children will be able to experience what I did. Whoever you were, mister orange tabby, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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: