In this edition:

The Turkeys are Gobblin' and the Fishing is Heating Up!

This April 11th edition has spring in full bloom and with warm sunny days and ample April showers gardens and food plots are being tilled and seeded to renew the cycle of planting and harvest. This is the traditional season when freshwater fishing action really heats up in lakes and rivers across the state. We've posted the Kids Fishing Day calendar, so look for an event near you and plan for some family fun. The turkeys are gobblin' and the fishing is getting better by the day.

Spring turkey hunting is a fantastic way for families to experience the excitement and natural beauty of the forest. From all the emails and phone calls that have been coming in from around the state it looks like the families are having some great success pursuing thundering gobblers. This edition has some great photos and stories of success and excitement by young hunters during the special Youth Spring Turkey Hunt Day April 7.

Read about these hunting adventures and of other successful young turkey hunters in Hunting News You Can Use section. Be safe and have fun enjoying the blossoming of Spring.

David Coffman, Editor

Spring Gobbler Season Forecast Bright—Hunt Safely This Year!

Virginia's abundant population of wild turkeys entices many hunters to venture into the woods each Spring when the sound of the male turkey, or gobbler, fills the air. This year the Spring Gobbler Season in Virginia runs from April 14 to May 19. A special Youth Turkey Hunt Day took place April 7, for hunters aged 15 and under. Turkey populations are projected to be good to excellent throughout most of the Commonwealth. According to Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Upland Game Bird Project Leader Gary Norman, "hunters should find good numbers of turkeys in good condition. Last fall mast crops were generally good and the past winter was unusually mild, so gobbling intensity should be good and hens should be in good condition for nesting."

Spring Gobbler season is the favorite time of year for many hunters. Heart-pounding action takes place as a hunter must attempt to remain completely still while using a call to bring a male bird to within shotgun range. Because turkeys have both keen hearing and sharp eyesight, camouflage is worn by hunters. It is essential for every hunter to positively identify their target and the area beyond their target before pulling the trigger. Most hunting fatalities are the result of the hunter not making sure of his or her target.

To ensure a safe and enjoyable day afield, read special safety precautions in the Be Safe... Have Fun section. By taking these basic precautions, hunters protect themselves and protect others. Bring home that gobbler safely, by following these guidelines. Also, remember to tag your bird by notching the appropriate tag on your license before removing it from the place of kill, and check your bird by calling 1-866-GOT-GAME (468-4263) or by using the internet www.HuntFishVA.com.

Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss

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.

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.

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

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

This is the third and final free public viewing:
April 20, 2012, at 6:30 pm on: Hemlock Haven Conference Center, Hungry Mother State Park, 2854 Park Boulevard, Marion, Virginia. This free screening will be followed by a discussion facilitated by award winning local author, Jim Minnick. For more information on Virginia Master Naturalists contact, Steve Lindeman, (276) 676-2209, slindeman@tnc.org

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

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.

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.

Blackwater & Nottoway Rivers Clean Rivers Day Set for April 28th

Clean Rivers Day 2012 on April 28th (Saturday) is a community effort to clean up around the Blackwater & Nottoway Rivers. This 11th annual clean up is accomplished by teams and individuals going out on our rivers, streams and ditches, parking lots, even your yard or wherever, and picking up litter, trash and other junk. To date we have removed over 68,000 pounds of trash from our little piece of the world. Blackwater Nottoway Riverkeeper Jeff Turner encourages folks who care about their environment get involved, "CRD is a great opportunity for folks to contribute to the health of the community we live in. As always I will have litter getters and bags for those who need them. Teams or individuals can pick their own locations or I can find you one. My advice is to go ahead and start looking around at river and swamp bridge crossings or ditches in your area as a place for you or your team to clean up. Teams can pick what time of day they want to work and how long. Teams need to keep count of bag and participant totals, and totals of tires, etc. Make note of your "most unusual item found" and be sure to take pictures to send to me. More details will follow when you sign up. Email me at blknotkpr@earthlink.net or call me at 562-5173 to get signed up. This is a great community event to get involved in. Please put this date on your organizations Calendar now."

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

Virginia Herpetological Society (VHS) to Hold Annual Survey at Shenandoah River State Park, May 18-20

The VHS will hold its Annual Spring Survey & Meeting at Shenandoah River State Park, in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley. The park is 1,604 acres with 5.6 miles of river frontage along the South Fork Shenandoah River, in Warren County. The land is rolling and mountainous with steep slopes and mostly forest habitat. The park also includes scenic vistas overlooking Massanutten Mountain to the west and Shenandoah National Park to the east. All VHS surveys aim to find and document as many different herpetofaunal species as possible during each event. This data will be entered into VDGIF's databases, helping to keep these resources of data as up to date as possible. Anyone is invited to come join us and participate in survey events, as these events encourage educating as many as possible about Virginia's herpetofauna. Membership in VHS is encouraged, but not required. Please keep checking the events section of the VHS website for further details about the event as we get closer to the date. The park is 8 miles south of Front Royal and 15 miles north of Luray, located off Rt. 340 in Bentonville. The park has cabins and campgrounds, or there are hotels in nearby Front Royal. Please contact the event leader to RSVP: Larry Mendoza at president@vaherpsociety.com.

People and Partners in the News

Bowhunters Recognize Matt Knox for Deer Management Success

On Saturday March 17, 2012 the Virginia Bowhunters Association held its 17th Annual Awards Banquet hosted by the Keezletown Ruritan Club in Keezletown, Bowhunters from around the State were in attendance for the evening's festivities. Awards were presented to members for field archery and bowhunting accomplishments.

The VBA was very fortunate to have VDGIF member Matt Knox, Deer Project Coordinator join the VBA members for the evening. Clint Keller VBA Bowhunting Committee Chairman, noted, "We have had several members that have been fortunate enough to have met and worked with Matt on several issues and projects. Everyone that I have spoken to that has known Matt has had nothing but positive comments about his experience, professionalism and knowledge about whitetails. Matt was gracious enough to accept the VBA's invitation to be our guest speaker for the VBA Awards Banquet and no one was disappointed to have him there. In fact most people would have liked to have Matt share more of his knowledge with the organization. His presentation on deer management from stocking in Virginia to today's management plan and the forecast for the future kept everyone's undivided attention. Matt's personal intimacy with the area added to his bond with the members."

Matt, while talking about when the first bow season occurred in Virginia, stopped to point out and acknowledge VBA Parliamentarian, Clinton Western who was also in attendance that evening, as being one of the original bowhunters in Virginia to take a buck with a bow during Virginia's very first archery season. That honor landed his picture and story in THE WASHINGTON STAR newspaper, what an accomplishment to be known for.

Sportsmen and women who enjoy the sport in Virginia are fortunate to have someone of Matt's caliber, knowledge and enthusiasm working for us. We all owe some credit and thanks to Matt for the work he has done over the last 20 years to manage the game that we enjoy in our wonderful State. It is the partnerships between organizations such as ours and friendships such as these that form through partnerships that keep our programs running strong and allow us to work together to meet our common goals. On behalf of the Virginia Bowhunters Association, thank you Matt Knox and the men and women of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries for all that you do.

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!

Fishing events – registration deadline April 20, 2012

Want to be an Informed and Skilled Advocate 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.

Who are Partners in Policymaking? Advocates for People with Disabilities! Watch to find out!

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 and skill building workshops throughout the year. 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."

Waterfowlers Promote Conservation Practices and Nesting Boxes at Rappahannock Waterfowl Festival

The Virginia Waterfowlers' Association and Holiday Lake 4H Education Center provided waterfowl conservation seminars at the 33rd Rappahannock River Waterfowl Show in White Stone, on March 17-18, 2012. The seminars offered patrons of the show hand-on sessions of building wood duck boxes, providing habitat and a variety of making waterfowl decoys.

This unique art festival showcases all forms of wildfowl art including paintings, sculpture, carvings, prints, decoys, photography, jewelry and taxidermy. The Virginia Waterfowlers Association (VAWFA) hosted an exhibit showcasing their youth hunting and habitat conservation projects. VAWFA volunteer members also passed out VDGIF program materials and information on upcoming events of interest to outdoor enthusiasts including, wildlife watching, boating, fishing and hunting.

Holiday Lake 4H Center staff provided sessions on the craft of making decoys from foam blocks. VAWFA provided sessions on the craft of making silhouette goose decoys and how to provide wood duck habitat. Participants were able to assemble a wooden box for installation near a river or lake to encourage the wood ducks to nest. Participants of all ages were able to take home snow goose silhouettes and wood duck boxes free of charge.

On Saturday, March 17, the Rappahannock Decoy Carvers and Collectors Guild hosted two world championship waterfowl decoy contests in conjunction with the Rappahannock River Waterfowl Festival. The contest event included the International Wildfowl Carvers Association's Canvas Decoy World Championship and the Buoy Body Decoy World Championship. This year's decoy contest event was the largest in the show's 32 year history. Over 330 entries from the east coast, gulf coast, mid west and west coast states were entered.

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...

Alexa Nunnally Gets First Gobbler on Special Richmond Chapter NWTF Youth Hunt

VA NWTF Richmond Chapter member Donnie Nunnally sent in this picture of his daughter Alexa who got her first gobbler at 7:05 am Saturday April 7, the special Youth Spring Gobbler Hunting Day.. The bird weighed 2 1 lbs. 8oz. had an 11 and a half inch beard and 1 inch spurs. Ironically Donnie had purchased the Youth Hunt in a fund-raising auction provided by the Richmond Chapter the Friday evening just prior to the hunt. The proceeds from the auction are used by the Chapter to support youth hunting programs, law enforcement, habitat improvement and other conservation projects for hunting heritage.

Donnie has purchased hunts for his children in previous years as he knows the importance of continuing the family hunting traditions to the next generation. Plus the Youth Hunt offered by the Chapter is first class as it is guided by Steve Fritton, who is a NWTF Life Member and Hall of Fame inductee and nationally recognized as one of the top turkey hunting guides and mentors. Also assisting with the Chapter's Youth Hunt is Reed Schweickert, Richmond Chapter Founder, Sponsor, Hall of Fame member and guide . Both Steve and Reed note that they are anxious to donate their time and skills to mentor novice hunters of any age as they are the future of our cherished hunting heritage and traditions.

Donnie was proud of his daughter for her patience and good shooting skills they had practiced. "This was wonderful hunt for all of us as you can see by the smiles on their faces," Donnie noted. "The donation to the Chapter for the price he paid for Steve and Reed to guide the hunt was a real bargain as the memories of this hunt are priceless!"

Anya Nunnally Wins Shotgun at NWTF Chapter Event

Anya Nunnally, age 12 from Chesterfield proudly holds a 20 gauge shotgun she won at the JAKES raffle at the VA NWTF Richmond Chapter Hunting Heritage Banquet last Friday just prior to the opening of the Spring Gobbler Season. Anya's Dad, Donnie noted he was anxious to take Anya and her new shotgun spring gobbler hunting to try and get her first bird. She noted she planned to get it patterned the next day! Virginia Eastern Regional Executive Director for NWTF, Cole Joyner congratulated Anya on her winning and complemented her and other young hunters that attended the banquet event with their parents and helped with set up and various fundraising activities at the annual event. Anya noted she has been coming with her Dad for several years and was excited to win the shotgun. She is also a promising young deer hunter.

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"

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...

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

Jack Quarles Gets First Gobbler on Youth Day with Granddad's Calling

Carson Quarles, former VDGIF Board Chairman from Roanoke area sent in this great photo of a three generation gobbler hunt during the special Youth Spring Gobbler Hunt Day April 7. " On the Youth Spring Gobbler day. I took my 14 year old grandson Jack (John Carson Quarles) with his dad James (James Carson II) accompanying us. About 9:15 am I called in a nice gobbler and Jack bagged his first gobbler, a real prize--19 pounds, 10 inch beard and one inch spurs. In addition to a growing interest in hunting, he is an honor student at the Read Mountain Middle School in Botetourt County. I'm also looking forward to the regular season opening next Saturday, April 14th as I plan to take my wife Norma. This may be my last hunt for the spring, as I am scheduled to have left knee replacement on Monday, April 16th. I thank God that I could hunt with my grandson today and should be able to hobble one more day with Norma next week. God is good. What a glorious time in spring to enjoy with your family. "

Hunters Helping Kids Hosts Youth Turkey Season Opener

Tom Stumpf with Hunters Helping Kids (HHK) sent in this great story about a young hunters first turkey hunt. Although it is from the 2011 Youth Spring Gobbler Hunt Day it represents what many young hunters experienced the first Saturday in April...

A few months ago Steve Butcher contacted me about hunting and one of the things we talked about was his son Matthew's strong interest in hunting, having joined his dad pheasant hunting on family property in Iowa last fall. I have been working with an organization called Hunters Helping Kids (HHK) for a few years and asked Steve if Matthew might be interested in a spring turkey hunt. Steve said that not only would Matthew love to do it, he had never turkey hunted and would also like to see how it was done. I made a call to the Director of HHK and secured Matthew a slot on the HHK youth turkey hunt on April 2nd. Virginia has a youth only turkey hunt day before the regular season starts.

To prepare for the hunt we went to Fairfax Rod and Gun Club and Matt shot some turkey head targets. He learned where to aim and we picked the best load for his shotgun. He also studied some mounted birds at my house and got a good idea of the size and shape of the birds. (Then we had bison burgers for lunch. We traveled to Waynesboro, VA, on April 1st, checked into the motel, had an organization meeting, safety briefing and dinner, all provided by HHK.

We (the 3 of us plus another HHK volunteer familiar with the property) traveled to a private farm made available to the kids. Well before sunrise we got into position. With decoys out, I made a few calls at first light. The only gobbles were a long way off so we repositioned several times. While working up a creek and calling occasionally, we got a gobble very close. We got into position as quick as possible and a few soft hen calls were more than the bird could stand. He came in above us at full strut and never went out of strut. Matt waited without moving until the bird went behind a tree still strutting and looking for the hens he thought were there. Matt raised his gun and was in position when the bird came out the other side. He took him at 25yds. The big gobbler weighed 19 pounds, had a 9 inch beard and 1 inch spurs. This was a great hunt and Matt was very appreciative. He's ready for his next hunt.

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 April-May 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.

Boat Landing on the Rappahannock Temporarily Closed to Powerboats

The VDGIF would like boaters to be aware of a problem at Mill Creek Landing in the community of Wake in Gloucester County. The landing has become sanded-in to the extent that only small johnboats, canoes, and kayaks can safely launch. Signs warning boaters have been posted at the landing to alert them of the problem, as well as a notice on the VDGIF website. John Kirk, the Region I Boating Access Maintenance Supervisor for VDGIF, wants boaters to know that the Department will be working to fix the ramp as quickly as possible, but says capital project monies will need to be budgeted for and approved before doing so, and boaters will unfortunately have to use other landings in the interim.

"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.

White-Nose Syndrome Continues to Decimate Bat Population in Virginia

Another winter has come and gone and the negative impact of white-nose syndrome (WNS) on Virginia bat populations continues. While few surveys of hibernating bats were conducted this past year in order to minimize disturbance to already declining bat populations, new evidence of the spread of WNS was documented. Scott County was added to our list of WNS confirmed counties and additional WNS positive caves were added to counties already known to house the deadly disease. It now appears that Lee County is the only county in the mountain region of the state where WNS has not been documented. Because the WNS fungal spores are typically not present during the warm seasons Virginia has few records of bats with WNS symptoms outside the mountain region. Of the eight species of bats that hibernate in Virginia, only the Virginia big-eared bat has not been confirmed to contract the WNS disease.

Other research in Virginia designed to understand the spread of WNS has confirmed the continued decline of the two most common cave hibernating bat species, the little brown bat and tri-colored bat. Virginia is assisting the USGS National Wildlife Health Center with a study to look at the persistence of WNS fungal spores in caves and mines in the eastern United States. As part of this effort bat counts were conducted at the survey sites, documenting the continued declines in little brown and tri-colored bats. At these sites little brown bats declined from a combined high of just over 5,000 individuals in 2009 to 1,266 in 2011, to just 125 individuals in 2012, a decline of over 95% in four years. Tri-colored bats showed a similar decline from a high of 388 individuals in 2009 to 42 in 2012, a decline of almost 90%.

How to Safely Remove Bats from the Home

Both little brown and tri-colored bats are known to roost in human dwellings during the warm months of spring, summer, and early autumn. While the declines in these two species should mean fewer encounters with humans it also emphasizes the importance of the summer roosts for these species. Most people recognize the importance of bats as major nighttime insect eaters, and farmers are keenly aware of their critical importance to our food supply, but rarely does one want to share their home with a colony of bats. Luckily there is a win/win approach to excluding bats from human dwellings. Web sites such as Bat Conservation International (batcon.org), Bat Conservation and Management (batmanagement.com), and the Organization for bat Conservation (batconservation.org) are a few of the groups that provide both a "how to do it yourself" approach as well as links to certified professionals who can help you exclude bats from human dwellings in a bat friendly manner.

There are many state and federal agencies, universities, and non-government organizations working hard to understand and negate the impacts of WNS. As an individual you can educate yourself on the issues surrounding WNS at the web links listed below. If you have bats residing in a dwelling on your property and you need to exclude them, you can help these summer residents by following the guidance in the web sites mentioned above. We may not know what the final outcome will be when the "spore-laden dust" from WNS finally settles, but we can do our part to help promote the individuals that survive and show a resistance to this disease.

http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/bats/white-nose-syndrome/

http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural_heritage/karsthome.shtml

http://www.nwhc.usgs.gov/disease_information/white-nose_syndrome/

http://www.fws.gov/whitenosesyndrome/

Working Woods Walk at James Madison's Montpelier April 15

Venture beyond the mansion and the lawn to the woods of Montpelier on Sunday April 15. This two-hour tour of the Montpelier Demonstration Forest Trail will help visitors understand society's dependence on forests now and during the Madison's time. The tour will begin at 2:00 p.m. at the Visitor Center. (540) 672-2728.

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

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

This is the third and final free public viewing:
6:30 pm on April 20, 2012: Hemlock Haven Conference Center, Hungry Mother State Park, 2854 Park Boulevard, Marion, Virginia. This free screening will be followed by a discussion facilitated by award winning local author, Jim Minnick.

For more information, Steve Lindeman, (276) 676-2209, slindeman@tnc.org.

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

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

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

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

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

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 28th edition quiz for nature events for late March...

Get your copy of the 2012 Virginia Wildlife Calendar here.

Habitat Improvement Tips

Working Woods Walk at James Madison's Montpelier April 15

Venture beyond the mansion and the lawn to the woods of Montpelier on Sunday April 15. This two-hour tour of the Montpelier Demonstration Forest Trail will help visitors understand society's dependence on forests now and during the Madison's time. The tour will begin at 2:00 p.m. at the Visitor Center. (540) 672-2728.

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 II – Southside

"Before Season" Turkey Poacher Nabbed by Tip... On Saturday, March 31, 2012, District 25 Conservation Police Officers Matt Sandy, Andrew Howald, and Kyle Wooldridge, apprehended an individual who was illegally hunting turkey during the closed season in Lunenburg County. Acting on information from an informant, the officers set up surveillance and observed the suspect in full camouflage with a shotgun calling to a responding gobbler. The officers approached and placed the suspect under arrest. During the interview, the suspect admitted to having killed two gobblers the week before. These two birds were located and confiscated as part of the investigation.

Region III - Southwest

Wildlife Poacher Fails to Check in Legal Kill... On March 28, 2012, Senior Conservation Police Officer James Hale came across a subject that many people in Buchanan County had named as a wildlife poacher. The subject approached Officer Hale and asked when turkey season opens. Officer Hale advised April 14. Officer Hale then told the subject of a story going around that the subject had killed some fall turkeys. The subject then began bragging and showed Officer Hale a photo of a hen that he killed in October 2011. During the conversation, it was determined that the subject had not checked the turkey in. A Magistrate summons was obtained for failing to check a wild turkey.

Region IV - Mountains & Shenandoah Valley and Northern Piedmont

Surveillance Leads to Arrest and Conviction for Illegal Trapping of Raptors... In August 2011, Conservation Police Officers Eller and Sergeant Shuler received information from Officer Spuchesi that illegal trapping of raptors was occurring in Stafford County. Officer Eller and Sergeant Shuler located the site in question, and observed multiple 4x4 poles in an open field with a foothold trap placed on top of each pole. For several months the area was placed under multiple methods of electronic surveillance. The field was visited on a weekly basis by both officers; evidence of dead raptors was collected and preserved. In addition, the area was thoroughly photographed and GPS locations were taken of each pole which contained a trap. Once the surveillance was complete, the involved individuals were interviewed. When the prime suspect was confronted with photographic evidence of him bludgeoning a red tailed hawk to death, he confessed. He advised the officers he had been trapping and killing raptors for years, and feels he has killed well over a hundred. On March 27, the case was adjudicated in Stafford County General District Court. The prime suspect involved pled guilty of illegal taking of wildlife and unlawful trapping methods. He was ordered to pay $2500 in replacement costs to the Game Protection Fund for raptors killed, was sentenced to serve 60 days in jail, and his privilege to hunt was revoked for one year. The jail time was suspended in accordance with good behavior for a period of three years.

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.

Boat Landing on the Rappahannock Temporarily Closed to Powerboats

The VDGIF would like boaters to be aware of a problem at Mill Creek Landing in the community of Wake in Gloucester County. The landing has become sanded-in to the extent that only small johnboats, canoes, and kayaks can safely launch. Signs warning boaters have been posted at the landing to alert them of the problem, as well as a notice on the VDGIF website. John Kirk, the Region I Boating Access Maintenance Supervisor for VDGIF, wants boaters to know that the Department will be working to fix the ramp as quickly as possible, but says capital project monies will need to be budgeted for and approved before doing so, and boaters will unfortunately have to use other landings in the interim.

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.

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.

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:

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!

Favorite Fishing Tips

Every angler learns some helpful, time and money saving tips to improve their experience in their fishing journey. What is even more helpful is when anglers share their knowledge with one another. Some of the best and most successful anglers I know are the most generous with their knowledge and enjoy sharing with others. The best teachers are also the best learners and reciprocal relationships develop among good teachers and learners that elevate them in whatever field they occupy.

I have picked up some handy tidbits along the way and thought I would share some them with you. And in the spirit of sharing; I am giving you an opportunity to share your angling tips as well. I will select a few and occasionally publish them here at The Fishing Spot so we can all benefit. Please send your tips (100 word max) to me at chris.dunnavant@dgif.virginia.gov. Use "TFS Tips" in the subject line of your email and include your first name and town where you live.

  1. Do you ever need to re-tie or change lures, but can't find the needle nose pliers or scissors? Attach a clip-on retractor with fingernail clippers to your belt or clothing. They will always be accessible and convenient. If it is windy or the current is strong while boating, you can stay on the trolling motor while tying your knot. If you are a tournament angler, this will save you precious time. Clip it on to your PFD while canoeing, kayaking or wading. Find these retractors in a fly fishing shop, amongst key-chains in the hardware store or the plastic type used for work badges in the office supply section.
  2. Fishing line can be very expensive these days, especially if you prefer fluorocarbon or premium line. Most freshwater fishing requires less than 50 yards of line, so why spool on 200 yards of the good stuff? Rather, spool on some old or inexpensive sale-bin line first as backing, tie a line-to-line knot and only spool about 60 yards of the choice fishing line. Now you can fill up 3-4 times from a 250 yard spool.
  3. Braided lines come in a variety of colors. Even the natural color line will eventually fade and need to be rejuvenated. Use a permanent magic marker to dye the first 3-5 feet of line above your lure. Take a chisel tip marker and use a razor blade to slice a notch in the tip of the marker. Now your line will easily slide into the marker tip and stay there during application. My favorite colors are brown and black.
  4. One of the most enjoyable aspects of a new fishing rod is the clean and crisp handle, but after a little bit of use that luster quickly dulls. To remove the grime from your cork or foam handle rods; soak a hand towel in white vinegar or 91% rubbing alcohol solution and rub into the rod handle.
  5. We all do not have time to wash our boats after every fishing trip, but a quick wipe down with a wet towel is a helpful practice after putting the boat on the trailer. Take this process a step further and really see some results by spraying daily shower cleaner on your boat prior to a wipe down. Your boat will sparkle and stretch your time between boat baths.

Thanks and I hope these help to make your fishing experience that much better – looking forward to receiving your best tips!

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

Boat Landing on the Rappahannock Temporarily Closed to Powerboats

The VDGIF would like boaters to be aware of a problem at Mill Creek Landing in the community of Wake in Gloucester County. The landing has become sanded-in to the extent that only small johnboats, canoes, and kayaks can safely launch. Signs warning boaters have been posted at the landing to alert them of the problem, as well as a notice on the VDGIF website. John Kirk, the Region I Boating Access Maintenance Supervisor for VDGIF, wants boaters to know that the Department will be working to fix the ramp as quickly as possible, but says capital project monies will need to be budgeted for and approved before doing so, and boaters will unfortunately have to use other landings in the interim.

Little Creek Reservoir: Contributed by Park Concessionaire Diane Priestley, (757) 566-2277, hhhatlcr@aol.com. The temperatures on the creek are up and down from 68 to 70 degrees, or more on sunny days, and a visibility of 15 ft. mid lake. A good week on the creek! We saw fish of all kinds, bass over 3 lb. in good numbers and several crappie 10 to 12 inches. Shell crackers, a couple of striper, a 31 in. walleye; and yes, the ever present pickerel. The large hog bass is missing, but as the water continues to warm she has to feed before she spawns. I think we need 70 degrees steady for this to happen. Until that happens keep throwing those crankbaits, spinnerbaits, worms, or whatever you like and enjoy those scrapping buck bass. Pan fishermen should continue to see numbers rise, try inline spinners, small jigs, and minnows.

Beaverdam Reservoir: (804) 693-2107. According to Chris Smith, all types of fishing have really slowed down due to fluctuating water temperatures. Things should improve soon. The next Big Bash Tournament will be April 21st. The water is slightly stained and 59 degrees.

Cat Point Creek: Contributed by our new reporter Penn Burke of Spring Shad Charters (804) 354-3200. I went out this afternoon with Dr. Galen Fisher and his son Grayson. No excitement at launch as the high side of the dock was out of the water but the low side was under and this about an hour before high tide. When we took out at 9 p.m. both sides were out of the water. Quite a few boats, out but I think the heavy wind kept a few folks off the river. We had a little trouble getting the anchor to hold in the wind at the rock pile so we went up river to get a break from the wind. Finally added another line to my small anchor but refused to break out the heavy ground tackle with the ½ inch link chain to get all fouled up on the bottom. We finally got a system to work and caught quite a few hickory shad. We had a couple of hook ups with American shad that added some excitement. Grayson started out with his dad or me doing the casting and him doing the retrieve. He finally got the hang of things and was doing his own casting after a while and was catching quite a few shad (on his own) and only letting us know when he had a "Fish On". He was right there with the net when his dad or I needed assistance getting the roe shad safely over the side and into the live well. After nailing a bunch of shad and just before the sun set, we moved over to the North side of the river and set up a spread of bait on the bottom for some big fish. No monsters were hooked but we enjoyed a good round of action with some catfish. As we closed up shop and headed back to the ramp, we were motoring down river under a beautiful full moon with clear skies. The wind had died so we had the downtown lights reflecting off the smooth water.

In April the cat fishing gets hot in the James River... just ask Benjamin Ewing, age 45 from Coal City, WV. James commented, "I caught this 55 lb. blue catfish, 44 inches long on the James River on April 19, 2011 while on a week fishing trip with a bunch of my friends. I used gizzard shad cut bait to catch it and I used a 7 foot Ugly Stik fishing pole with 50lb. Power Pro line on it with 5/0 circle hook. This fish was not released as I took it home to show my buddies what Virginia cats looked like! I received a Virginia Trophy Fish Citation for this catch. It was totally awesome! For this was the biggest fish I have ever caught in my life. I show and tell everybody about it, I am very proud of my catch!"

Virginia Beach: Captain Jim Brincefield (443) 336-8756. Captain Jim says that croakers are at the fishing pier and at the mouths of the York and James. They are going for squid and Fishbite. Red drum are taking crabs and cut bait near the Barrier Islands and Fishermen's Island. Tautog are around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel pilings and at the Tubes, with crab as the bait of choice. Bluefish are attacking cut bait at Rudee Inlet. The water is 54 degrees and fairly clear.

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

Chickahominy River: River's Rest (804) 829-2753. Alton Williams told me that bass fishing is hit or miss. Good crappie are coming in on minnows and jigs. Loads of cats are being fooled by eel and shad. No word on perch or bluegill. The water is 67 degrees 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 low 60s in the lower lake and in the low to mid 60s in the major creeks last weekend. The lake level was about 6 inches above the top of the dam. The water was dark but clear. Crappies were scattered up the major creeks and around the creek mouths, primarily in the creek channels. Crappies were hitting live minnows, Wright Bait Co. and Southern Pro curlytail jigs and tubes, small swimbaits, and Kalin crappie scrubs. Fishing with Capt. Conway, Lee Rothgeb had 19 crappie, 3 bluegill, 2 white perch, 1 blue cat, 2 pickerel and 1 bass.

North Landing River and Back Bay: West Neck Marina (757) 426-6735. Dewey Mullins reports that bass are really going big for small spinners, swimming grubs and swimming minnows. Not many cooperative crappie just now. White perch action is good with night crawlers and small spinners. No word on cats. Plenty of bluegill are coming in on small spinners, crickets, beetle spins and red wigglers. The water is dingy and in the 60s.

Norfolk Lakes: Dasheill's Show Room (757) 539-7854. Drew Dixon told me that bass action is good with plastics and banger lures. Some good crappie are biting minnows and jigs. Many cats are attacking cut bait. Plenty of white perch are going for small spinners and red wigglers. The water is clear and in the high 50s.

Blackwater and Nottoway: By Riverkeeper Jeff Turner www.blackwaternottoway.com. Spirit of Moonpie and I spent the 29th through the 31st on the Nottoway below Hercules. The water was 69 degrees, fast, colored and high at 12 ft. on the U.S.G.S. gauge at Sebrell. Air temperatures ranged from 47 to 75 degrees. I caught about 60 fish, which included some herring. I also caught a few white perch. It appears herring numbers are getting stronger, at least this year anyway. However, the critters up and down the river are having a bountiful time right now. This is the time of year they fatten up with all the herring and shad in the river. I saw an eagle in the narrows on the second day and the Great Blue Heron are so plentiful you see one everywhere you look. I watched an otter working the narrows also. I even got some great footage of a Barred Owl that was so happy it was hootin' and a hollerin' in the middle of the day. I was actually talking to Freezing Deer on the phone when it started calling and the owl was so loud she could easily hear it through the phone. Moonpie slept right through it! Snakes, yep I know ya'll like to hear about those. Well they are mating right now on the river. You can always see them easily this time of year because when they do their thing they get together in what we call "snake balls". Several snakes just tangle all up together and they get it done. Makes for some great photo opportunities, as since they are, uhh, occupied, they don't pay much attention to what is going on around them. So yep, great time to be on the river, the fish are biting and the wildlife is everywhere. It is also a fantastic opportunity to teach a child to fish. All you need is some worms and a bottom rig. So load up the boat and get the family out of the house and go enjoy the splendor of the two rivers we call the Nottoway and Blackwater.

Blackwater & Nottoway Rivers Clean Rivers Day Set for April 28th

Clean Rivers Day 2012 on April 28th (Saturday) is a community effort to clean up around the Blackwater & Nottoway Rivers. This 11th annual clean up is accomplished by teams and individuals going out on our rivers, streams and ditches, parking lots, even your yard or wherever, and picking up litter, trash and other junk. To date we have removed over 68,000 pounds of trash from our little piece of the world. Blackwater Nottoway Riverkeeper Jeff Turner encourages folks who care about their environment get involved, "CRD is a great opportunity for folks to contribute to the health of the community we live in. As always I will have litter getters and bags for those who need them. Teams or individuals can pick their own locations or I can find you one. My advice is to go ahead and start looking around at river and swamp bridge crossings or ditches in your area as a place for you or your team to clean up. Teams can pick what time of day they want to work and how long. Teams need to keep count of bag and participant totals, and totals of tires, etc. Make note of your "most unusual item found" and be sure to take pictures to send to me. More details will follow when you sign up. Email me at blknotkpr@earthlink.net or call me at 562-5173 to get signed up. This is a great community event to get involved in. Please put this date on your organizations Calendar now."

Upper and Lower Tidal James: Local Guide, Captain Mike Hoke, Life's Revenge Guide Service, (804) 357-8518. The fishing is at its finest time of the year for the James River, mainly because of the diversity and abundance of fish available. The white shad have made a strong showing this season and I have caught some of the biggest I have ever landed. The hickory shad fishing has just started to get going for me. I have yet to catch any shad on a spoon, which for me, is usually the lure of choice. The striped bass fishing has been decent and last week clients landed fish up to 24 pounds. All the fish we caught were on a strip of hickory shad fished on a three way rig with a number 4 circle hook about a foot off the bottom. The catfish are biting and I landed a 50 pound blue catfish recently, but we caught no flatheads last week and I'm thinking they may have started to spawn. Water temperatures were in the mid 60s and the water was slightly stained as a result of the recent high water but clearing up more each day. White perch fishing is at its peak and fishing with bloodworms or small jigs you can catch them every cast if you find where they are schooled up. Minnow were working better than jigs and most fish were in 2 ft. of water or less and on beds in the upper reaches of the creeks. We have caught a few largemouth bass while crappie fishing, but I heard that the smallmouth fishing last week was really good from Richmond up to Scottsville. I believe everyone should experience white and hickory shad fishing once in their lifetime. Good fishing!

Upper and Lower Tidal James: Contributed by Capt. Mike Ostrander, James River Fishing School, Discover the James, (804) 938-2350. Lots of hickory shad with a few American shad mixed in around the fall line. Lots of white perch are also available. Blue catfish and flathead cats are being caught throughout the tidal James from the City of Richmond to Hopewell. Fishing is good right now.

Swift Creek Reservoir: Contributed by local angler Archie Spencer. A buddy of mine, Mike, called me and suggested we go out and fish the Reservoir this weekend from his Jon boat. I caught up with Mike Saturday morning and we headed out. We decided we would try the Zoom 4 and 6 plastic lizards in a variety of colors. I did fish white spinnerbait in the shallows for a bit with no luck. We started working our way around the banks and had some hits on the 4 lizards. Mainly this occurred where we found a change in water depth. We were working the banks but it seemed to be areas where the depth changed from inches to 4 to 4 ½ feet where we got the hits. My technique must need a little work because Mike skunked me. The only thing I can share with you is that he was working that lizard really slow. If he was doing anything else different he didn't let on. I have to say though this is probably the only time I got skunked fishing but still had a great time. I have good reason though. I've caught a lot of fish out of this Reservoir over the years but no really big fish. Well people, I'm here to tell you there are some really big bass in this Reservoir. Mike hooked a fish and got it to the side of the boat before it got off. However, it surfaced right beside me. The head on that fish was awesome. I saw that big gold flash of his scales as he rolled over first then his head broke through the surface! He was a monster, I was looking straight into that big ole' bucket mouth and he could've swallowed a softball! That bass had to be at least 10 pounds if not 12. I'll be on the water next weekend in the kayak trying to get that bass in the boat. I'll let him go after a quick photo though so he'll be there for the next person.

Region 2 - Southside

Nottoway Falls: Contributed by our man in the boat Willard A. Mayes. When I was younger there used to be a program on TV called Hee Haw that used to say ' if it wasn't for bad luck I would have no luck at all'. I am starting to feel that way. I started off with ole blue a little on the sick side so I hooked the new truck to the boat and headed to Nottoway Falls to see if the bluegill had seen the dogwoods in bloom. I got to the lake after 11:00 to find that one tire on the trailer was almost flat. Some people would think that was bad luck, but me, I thought how lucky I was to make it all the way without it going flat. Okay, that sounds good, off loaded the boat so I could work on the tire. I've been carrying one of the cig lighter air pumps for years hooked it up to try to pump up the tire, it would not pump it up. This nice couple that was fishing from the bank pulled up their truck so I could use his truck and not have to unhook mine. After running that pump for about 30 min and no more air in the tire I knew it was time to put the spare on. Yep, you guessed it; the spare was almost flat too. I got the couple to watch the boat and trailer while I drove into Victoria to pump up the tires. Finally fishing around 12:30, I tried to catch some crappie around the old Virginia Rail Road Bridge but no hungry ones, so out comes the fly rod. I fished the shore line toward the dam and only picked up a few every now and then. When I touch the fly rod the wind always shows up but I fished anyway with the fly rod the rest of the day. I hit a few places where you could catch more than a couple but I would not say they were bedding yet. I did catch two 9 inch crappie on the popping bug and one 11 inch on spinning rod after I got one on the fly rod. It finally dawned on me how I got them on the fly rod, with the wind blowing I did not always see the bug when it was taken under the water and when I started to cast again the crappie would hit it under the water. I still did not fish to sinking bait simply because I love to see the bluegill hit the top water. I ended up with 38 bluegill. 3 crappie and threw back two 8 inch bass. The water was colder than Twin lakes and stained between slightly mud and green. I still think I was lucky.

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. No report this edition.

Kerr Reservoir: Bob Cat's Lake Country Store, (434) 374-8381. Bobby Whitlow reports that the bass bite is "tough", but you might get one on a spinner or green pumpkin plastic. Crappie action is heating up, with some on the beds and some not. Try a traditional minnows or jigs around bridge pilings, docks and lay downs. Cats are really biting bluegill, shad and eels. The water is stained and in the upper 60s.

James at Lynchburg: Angler's Lane, (434) 385-0200. Doug Lane says that rainbows and browns are biting well in the Jackson. Try caddis imitators, Quill Gordons and hare's ears. Brookies in the mountains like caddis imitators, Adams Parachutes, and hare's ears. The water is very clear and in the low 50s.

Lake Gaston: Holly Grove Marina, (434) 636-3455. Craig Karpinski told me that the bass bite is good with Carolina rigs and small minnows. Some big crappie have come in, with one lucky angler landing a 2 lb. 8 oz. lunker. Four citation slabs have come in lately. Small minnows are the bait of choice. Cats are also being cooperative, going for clam snouts and stink bait. Four citation cats have been boated recently. Bluegill action is slow, but should pick up soon, try red wigglers. Perch are moving to the shallows, try small minnows and spinners. The water is clear and in the low 70s.

Lake Gaston Health Advisory: The Virginia Department of Health has issued an advisory on walleye fish consumption due to mercury contamination in Lake Gaston. Recent fish tissue sample results from the North Carolina Division of Public Health show mercury levels in walleye fish exceed the amount considered safe for long term human consumption. VDH advises the consumption of no more than two meals a month of walleye taken from Lake Gaston. Virginia's advisory stretches from John H. Kerr Dam downstream 18 miles to the Virginia-North Carolina state line. For additional details, visit the VDH fish consumption advisory page.

Smith Mountain Lake: Contributed by Mike Snead. Virginia Outdoorsman, (540) 724-4867, www.virginiaoutdoorsman.com.

Crappie: There is an old southern adage that when the redbuds and azaleas are in full bloom the white perch are running and the crappie are moving into the mouths of creeks as they prepare to move up into shallow water and spawn. The redbud plants are already in full bloom and that means the crappie bite is on. This marks the beginning of some of the best fishing found all year. A number of different species will be moving up in the water column over the next month or two seeking the warmer water needed to prepare their eggs prior to the spawn. The warm water, current weather forecast and upcoming moon phases should bring an increasing number of crappies up along the shoreline, especially in the windblown guts and coves where the surface temperature is a little higher. I noticed a number of carp up along the shore line this past weekend, a sure sign there are or soon will be fish up depositing eggs nearby. Pre-spawn crappies are being caught by anglers slow trolling near the mouths and inside the major creeks and spawning bays around the lake. Crappies are also being found and caught off the edges of laydowns, in the tops of submerged structures and along the sides of submerged creek channels leading to the expansive spawning flats in the backs of creeks and main channel guts. Trolling small crankbaits and small minnow imitating plastics rigged on jigheads with a trolling motor can be very effective as the crappies move into pre-spawn locations. Once they move up near the shoreline around laydowns or other structure, other techniques are more effective. When crappie fishing around docks and under overhanging shoreline structure, consider using "dock shooting" technique. This is a casting technique that allows you to slingshot small jigs up under overhanging docks and other structures that provide the shade sought by crappies. There are several good videos on You Tube that detail both the technique and the tackle required.

Striper: Fishing has been and continues to be awesome. Stripers are being caught by anglers using a wide variety of techniques. Those fishing with live bait on downlines, freelines and behind planer boards are catching good numbers of healthy fish. Medium size gizzard shad have been working for those presenting live bait near the surface and small alewives have been working when the bite is deeper. Anglers trolling with umbrella rigs, Alabama rigs and lures are also reporting success as are those casting and retrieving lures. Popular striped bass lures include Alabama rigs, flukes, swimbaits, jerkbaits, top-water poppers, bucktails and twitchbaits. Early and late in the day are prime times for striper fishing near the surface. While the alewives have not yet moved up near the shoreline at night to spawn, stripers are being caught on points and close to the shoreline at night on floating jerkbaits and top-water lures.

Bass: Bass are moving into pre-spawn patterns and can be found off the sides of points and inside the mouths of creeks and guts near channels leading to areas where they will ultimately spawn. Bass can also be seen up along the shoreline and under docks as they move up into warmer water to help cure their eggs. Bass are keying on shad and can be found wherever the baitfish are concentrated. Bass are being caught on a variety of baits during the day, especially those that represent shad. The most popular lure right now has to be the Alabama rig. Another popular lure for pre-spawn bass is the crankbait. Medium diving crankbaits in both natural shad and crawfish colors are currently working. Spinnerbaits and flukes are also working, especially where schools of shad are found inside guts, creeks and around deep water docks. Pig & jigs, shakey head jigs and Texas rigged plastics are also proving effective especially in places where bass are looking for crawfish. The crawfish I caught in my dock trap this past weekend were medium brown with green pumpkin color accents, so lures in those colors should be good choices.

Catfish: Fishing is picking up and flatheads are being caught by anglers using small panfish and live shad off the bottom. Channel catfish are also being caught by anglers using stinkbait and dead shad presented on the bottom.

The water temperature is from 58 to 64 degrees with clarity from fair to good. Spring turkey season is here, and if you are not a hunter and plan to be in the woods from mid April through mid May, I suggest you wear bright clothing, a fluorescent vest or cap. Tight lines and enjoy this fantastic spring weather in the woods and on the water.

Region 3 - Southwest

Claytor Lake: Contributed by Mike Burchett of Rock House Marina, (540) 980-1488. No report this edition.

Lower New River: Big Z'S (540) 639-1651. John Zienius says that times are tough for bass anglers, as the bass aren't biting. On the up side, local muskies are "going crazy". If you go out for muskies, you will get some. Try hard jerks at 6 to 8 inches long. The water is slightly stained and in the mid 50s.

Upper New River: Contributed by Captain Forest Pressnell, (540) 818-5274, New River Charter. At time of this writing the river is up and muddy with more rain coming down and forecasted. Perhaps by the time this reaches the internet it will be clearing but you can always check my Facebook New River Charter page for more current river updates. The muskie are just finishing up the spawn so it will be a slow bite on them for a couple of weeks. Smallmouth fishing has been very good but with this cold rain, muddy water and forecasted cold temperatures, the river temperatures could be dropping, slowing the bite. Walleye have been on the bite since their post spawn lull. Some striper are making their way up the river out of Claytor Lake and there is an abundance of shad and alewife in the river right now. Please remember boat ramps are NO WAKE zones whether on the river or lake. If you are interested in booking an April or May trip for smallmouth or muskie open days are filling up fast.

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. The Top New (Mouth of Wilson to Fries) has been brown the last few days, but we did manage an 18 inch smallie on Easter, caught on a spinnerbait. Also try tubes, jigs and crankbaits. A week ago, we had good luck with baitfish and crawfish flies on the long rod before the water muddied up. The rest of the week looks cool with no significant rain so the weekend could be good for the early season smallie bite.

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

Region 4 - Mountains & Shenandoah Valley - Northern Piedmont

North and South Forks of the Shenandoah: Harry Murray (540) 984-4212 www.murraysflyshop.com. Fly Guy Harry says that fishing in the smallmouth streams in both the North and South forks of the Shenandoah are good spots to fish. Good flies are: Murray's Magnum Creek Chub, size 4; and Murray's Magnum Hog Sucker, size 4. Fish deeply in the low pools bellow the riffles, and along the shaded banks. The water is clear, at a good level and 58. The stocked streams in the Valley are giving good fishing. Good flies are: Murray's Pearl Marauder, size 10; and Murray's Black Marauder, size 10. Fish deeply in the cuts below the riffles. The water is clear, at a good level and 55 degrees. The brookies in the mountain streams are also biting. Good flies are: Mr. Rapidan Delta Wing Olive Caddis, size 16; Mr. Rapidan Parachute Dry Fly, sizes 14 and 16; and Murray's Professor Dry Fly, sizes 14 and 16. Fish all with a 9 ft 6x leader. The water is clear and 54 degrees.

The best way to get these little fish is to park in the mountains and then walk up to the headwaters. If you need help or directions in finding the trails, feel free to call Harry at the number above. Harry also has updates on stream conditions on his website that are updated every Tuesday and Friday.

Lake Moomaw: Contributed by local anger Bill Uzzell. All the recent frontal weather and heavy rain has had the Moomaw bass on a bit of a retreat. Anglers report that largemouth and smallmouth bass are still being caught but not with the consistency of previous weeks. The water temperature has dropped from a consistent 59 to 62 degrees to a 54 to 56 range. Most anglers report that plastics (drop-shot, grubs, Texas worm, floating worms, and Carolina rigs) are taking the reluctant creatures. Green pumpkin is the most popular color (with the exception of the floating worm; bubblegum). No reports of the A Rig being successful this week. If you can get a crankbait down to about 14 in. you may find some of the larger fish. A hard jerk bait has also found some success in the clearer water of the lower pool. Most bass are in the 1 to 2 lbs. range. Trout fisherman are starting to find success with browns and some rainbows. The most popular bait is either minnows or netted shad.

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 55-58 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.

Piedmont Rivers: Local author Steve Moore (Wade Fishing River Guidebooks covering the: Rappahannock, Rapidan, Upper Potomac, North Branch Potomac; Blog: SwitchFisher.com) Two big stories! Shad and brookies! The shad are running strong on the Rappahannock in Fredericksburg. Typically, most anglers fish around the US 1 bridge and off of Riverside Drive. The emerging consensus on the US 1 bridge is that the push of sand down from the old Embry Dam has filled in many of the good channels/deep spots; reducing the number of shad holding in that location. The better places seem to be at the tip of the upstream island and in the deep pool along Riverside Drive. A shared concern is the shad run may end early this year as a result of the warm weather. I don't know if that's biologically true, but it's a great excuse to break away from work and take advantage of the run while it lasts. The other great fishing is available on the eastern slope of the Blue Ridge. While we need additional water to extend the fishing into late May, it is perfect right now and the brookies are very active. The water runs crystal clear with plenty of deep pools in all of the well-known wild trout streams such as the Rose, Hughes, Hazel and others. Harry Murray recommends Quill Gordons, Mr. Rapidan and Blue Quill nymphs. The farther you walk away from the parking lot, the better the fishing becomes with this being the most true if you hike down from Skyline Drive . The brutal hike back up to your vehicle eliminates all but the most fit. And the Upper Potomac? The water temperature dropped from 63° on March 26 to a low of 55° on March 31; bouncing slowly back to 59° on April 6. This shutdown the bass temporarily, but as the weather and the water warms, the fish should turn on with a vengeance as they start pre-spawn feeding activity. Fish on!

Occoquan Reservoir and Lunga Reservoir: Contributed by local angler Scott Torgerson. The good news is the warmer weather continues, so my rods and reels are getting some use again! I spent time on the Occoquan River the last two weekends, targeting the shad run and those fun little fighting fish from the sea. My buddy and I found the Occoquan River once again be in great shape, the water is clearing and in the high 50 degree temperature range. We fished in the morning hours and were able to find shad in good numbers in the river close in to Occoquan, catching fish on light tackle with various colored shad darts and silver buddies and spoons. What an enjoyable way to spend time with a friend! The bad news is I tried to go out on Easter morning and fish Lunga Reservoir...but found the boat ramp and recreation area completely closed off! After I returned home and checked the Quantico Marine Corps Base website I found the following notice "Lunga Park will be closed and off-limits from April 2 through June 2 while munitions found during February site inspections in the recreation area are cleaned up." I haven't had a chance to talk with anyone from the Marine Corps base, but it looks like there will be no fishing on Lunga Reservoir until at least early June. I'm going to have to try some of my other haunts more often over the next couple of months...so look for some reports from the Occoquan Reservoir, Lake Frederick, and maybe a couple of other new northern lakes as I explore the water away from my favorite hole at Lunga. Till then, happy fishing folks!

Lake Orange: Contributed by Darrell Kennedy of Angler's Landing (540) 672-3997. The water is clear with temperatures hovering around 60 degrees. Most of the fish are in a pre-spawn mode right now with a few largemouth bass on the beds. Crappie can be found around shoreline cover biting small minnows and some jigs. Largemouth bass are taking soft plastics and crank baits in 3 to 8 ft. depths. Catfishing is excellent throughout the lake on live bait and chicken liver.

Lake Anna: Contributed by C. C. McCotter, McCotter's Lake Anna Guide Service, (540) 894-9144. No report this edition.

Lake Anna: Contributed by Local Guide Jim Hemby (540) 967-3313.

Striper: Simply stated, "IT JUST DOESN'T GET ANY BETTER". March fishing was excellent ,view our catches on my journal at blog.jimhemby.com, but April fishing should be even better. Stripers are feeding all over the lake now on 5 to 15 foot flats, humps and points. Just about every shallow flat and primary point on the lake and near the mouths of creeks are producing nice catches. Stripers are feeding from all the way up the rivers down to the Dam and are not being selective of what they want to eat, gorging themselves on herring and gizzard shad. This month stripers only have two things on their mind, eating and spawning. There are hundreds of schools of stripers scattered throughout the lake. April weather is usually not very stable, when we have warming trends the fish feed more aggressively, feeding shallow and feeding often. When the fish are feeding in the upper water column we are running herring and gizzard shad on planner boards, bobbers and freelines. This is not a tactic for the faint of heart, when a huge striper blows a 12 inch gizzard out of the water and your drag starts screaming it will put chills down your spine. Conversely when cold fronts blow through the fish will not be as aggressive and will usually back off to deeper water, anglers will have to put their live bait right in the faces of the stripers to entice strikes. Slow down and use smaller baits for more action. In cold fronts I will downsize to herring and present them on a down line in the depth I see them on the depth finder. Live bait consistently catches stripers, whatever the weather conditions offer. If you have tried live bait fishing and are not having the success you desire book a trip with me and learn how to catch Stripers on Lake Anna.

Bass: Usually only a small percentage of bass spawn this month but due to the warm weather and bedding activity the majority of bass will attempt to spawn this month. Instead of working pre-spawning areas, concentrate your efforts in spawning grounds for better success. It is hard to beat sight fishing mid and down lake in the clearer water, concentrate your efforts looking for 30 degree gently sloping banks with sand or gravel bottoms with scattered stumps. Polarized glasses are a must for this type of fishing, use your trolling motor and scan the shallows on high till you see bass, then work the areas with your favorite lures. If you find beds you can throw tube baits, lightly weighted worms or lizards into the bed and leave it there to provoke strikes, remembering to please release bedding fish where you catch them. The backs of main lake pockets and coves all hold bass and are easier to fish if you want to avoid the wind. Another pattern that works for big fish this month is targeting windy rocky points and rip rap where the baitfish are spawning and throwing big bladed spinner baits. Put the bait right up to the bank for best results, the rockier the point the better. Docks in and around marina's hold large numbers of bass, many tournaments are won fishing in these areas. Types of baits to use are endless; sometimes it is better to use baits you are comfortable with instead of experimenting with all of the new "wonder" baits. Just about any technique you use will work this month, just concentrate your efforts in 15 feet or less. Bass guide Chris Craft has been doing well catching a 9 pound bass in March.

Crappie: Fishing for crappie doesn't get any better than this month and it is a great time to stock up the freezer. Locating the fish is very simple. Most shallow docks where baitfish are present will hold Crappie especially where there is some cover present. Every dock up lake above Hunters Landing has crappie under them , simply fish the docks quickly till you hit the one that has the size fish you are looking for. Usually the larger fish will attack your offerings first, fish till you catch little fish then move on. Other great areas to fish are beaver huts, shallow brush piles, shallow rock piles, stumps and especially the shoreline grass beds in the North Anna. Crappie congregate in large numbers around the larger dock complexes such as Marina and community docks. Good locater baits to use are small tube jigs on 1/16 oz heads.

Catfish: We are catching catfish earlier and more often than usual this year. Already this year a 40 pound plus fish was caught at Dike 3 and Jimmy Richards caught a catfish exceeding 35 pounds uplake on a gizzard shad. These are exceptionally large catfish for Lake Anna. Richards also caught one last year in April around Dike 3 in excess of 30 pounds. Contrary to what many anglers believe, catfish do not always feed on the bottom. The fish is easy to target and live or dead baits work well but the pigs have been caught on live bait.

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

April features several events that celebrate nature including Earth Day and Arbor Day. For Mark Robinson, a sophomore at Emory & Henry College, his experiences in nature have had a profound impact on his career aspirations. Mark is pursuing a triple major in mass communications, history, and geography. A native of Roanoke, Virginia, he has worked as a staff writer for VirginiaPreps.com, Hogoheegee.com, and ValleySportsNow.com, all web sites covering high school sports. He also has experience as a sports editorial assistant at The Roanoke Times. And currently serve as news editor for The Whitetopper, Emory & Henry's campus newspaper, and also work on the College's radio station, cable television, and online publication staffs. Mark is already an accomplished writer, his essay "Philmont" was selected as the 2009 Virginia Outdoor Writers Association High School Writing Contest winner, and was published in Virginia Wildlife magazine and the Outdoor Report. He plans a career in journalism or to move on to graduate school in a Ph.D. program in history or geography. His entry in the 2010-11 Collegiate Contest is in tribute to Arbor Day and the important role trees play in our environment and spiritual well being.

Mr. Monahan's Tree

By Mark Robinson

Sometimes I claim that I can't remember when or where it started, but when I really sit down and think about it, Mr. Monahan's spruce tree was the root of my love for the outdoors. I used to chase lost baseball across the street and over the fence into that age-old evergreen's shade, but there was one day, maybe about nine years old, that I started to climb.

I had climbed trees before, the maple by the mailbox in my own front yard, the bigger red maple at my grandparents', but this spruce dwarfed them both. I reached close to the top, as high as I felt safe going, and there I was, 60 feet above the ground.

On one side, I could see downtown Roanoke, but that wasn't of any interest to me; I'd see that every week when we went to church. Instead, I turned the other way, toward Sugar Loaf Mountain and Smokey Ridge, the woods that would be my playground for the rest of my childhood. From that vantage point, I could see the bamboo grove behind my house, where I built my first fort, a lean-to shelter patched with leaves that actually kept out the rain, and where I first cut myself with my Swiss Army knife.

Past the "bamboo forest," as I called it, was a gully through which ran the headwaters of Mud Lick Creek. Crossing that gully were several fallen trees laid as if bridges between my street's backyards and the next's. High above the creek sat a small plateau, plentifully irrigated by runoff from the backyard of the house above it, and protected in one corner by a rotted-out stump that perched like a guard tower over the steeply sloping woods.

If I followed the creek far enough down the gully, I could see an old forest road to the right, which led to a run-down wooden building. The structure leaned heavily to the uphill side, and someone had put an old, wire-frame bed against its wall so the second level could be reached. If I went into the building in the spring, I could find dozens of black snakes hanging from the rafters like Spanish moss.

Back high in Mr. Monahan's spruce tree, I looked southwest past the neighborhood pool down the street, where the woods fell thick before Smokey Ridge rose and another neighborhood sat at its crest. An rusty iron bridge leaned precariously over one of the creek's headwaters springs and at the base of the mountain sat an ancient vending machine. Another fire road branched off the street adjacent mine and sharply climbed the hill to a water tower that demarcated the limit of my parents' non-negotiable boundaries.

Looking to the northwest from Mr. Monahan's spruce tree, the landscape was dominated by Sugar Loaf Mountain, a conical peak that I wouldn't conquer until age 14, when some neighbors and I summitted it on a snowy day when we were off from school. At its top, Sugar Loaf is flatter than Nebraska for about 30 square feet before dropping steeply into woods on all sides.

In all directions from that mighty spruce across the street from my house, I honed my skills and my love for the outdoors, exploring places unseen by most people who live less than a mile away, and learning to appreciate nature even in its abrupt proximity to urban landscapes. Those woods behind my house nurtured a love for the outdoors that I carried through my teenage years in the Boy Scouts in canoe trips to the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York, backpacking in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of Northeastern New Mexico, and camping and fishing in my Southwest Virginia home.

Those excursions, those microcosmic adventures that led my childhood self through the forest behind my own house have stemmed and leafed into a flowering appreciation for geography, one of my courses of study as I am now in college, both of the natural world and of those who inhabit it, for history, and those who have changed the panorama of life, and for communication, which is key to the conveyance of these absolutely necessary studies which study the past and determine the future courses for human existence within nature.

The culmination of all these experiences for me will be the Appalachian Trail, designed to foster oneness between man and the natural world, which I plan to thru hike, traveling southbound, beginning in June. Such a goal as finishing those 2,000-plus miles isn't just a trek to get from Point A to Point B in the physical world, but more to grow as an individual in nature as one who truly understands the connection between the human animal and nature.

It was from Mr. Monahan's spruce tree that I first discovered such a connection between myself and that force of life, and something about those woods near my house, though they slowly disappear as development eats away at what little remains, will stick out prominently from the remainder of my childhood memories, calling me back to that 360 degree view of civilization and wilderness, human and human nature.

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 opened in the fall and typically close in February. 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: