In this edition:

April Showers Bring May Flowers and the Rebirth of Spring...

This April 25th edition has warm sunny days and ample April showers bringing the promise of May flowers and the busting out all over with the rebirth of spring. Gardens and food plots are being tilled and seeded to renew the cycle of planting and harvest. Hen turkeys and soaring eagles are nesting. 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.

From all the emails and phone calls that have been coming in from around the state it looks like many youngsters took part of their spring break to pursue thundering gobblers or shiny trout. This edition has some great photos and stories of success and excitement by young hunters and anglers during this season of renewal.

Be safe and have fun enjoying the blossoming of spring.

David Coffman, Editor

You Live in Bear Country

With a healthy and growing black bear population, bear sightings are becoming the norm throughout Virginia. While the highest concentration of bears occurs in the Blue Ridge and Alleghany Mountains and around the Great Dismal Swamp, bears are likely to be seen just about anywhere in Virginia. During the months of April and May bears have left their dens and are ending their winter fast, although this year due to a mild winter and early spring conditions, bears are already active. Bears do not eat, drink, urinate, or defecate while they are in dens. Additionally, while denning, female bears may give birth to cubs. Cubs are born weighing less than a pound and are reliant on their mother's milk. As new spring growth emerges, so do bears, and they are following their stomachs in search of food. In Virginia, bear diets consist of 80% vegetation and only 20% protein from common sources like insects and carrion.

Bears are highly adaptable and intelligent animals and can learn to associate human dwellings with food. In their search for food, bears are attracted to residential areas by the smell of food around homes. The most common food attractants are bird feeders, garbage, compost piles, and pet food. Additionally outdoor grills, livestock food, compost, fruit trees, and beehives can also attract bears.

The best way to encourage a bear to move on is to remove the food source that is attracting it. Do not store household trash, or anything that smells like food, in vehicles, on porches or decks. Keep your full or empty trash containers secured in a garage, shed or basement unless they are bear proof. Take your garbage to the dump frequently, and if you have a trash collection service, put your trash out the morning of the pickup, not the night before. Take down your birdfeeder temporarily until the bear moves on. Consider installing electric fencing, an inexpensive and extremely efficient proven deterrent to bears, around dumpsters, gardens, beehives, or other potential food sources.

If addressed quickly, wildlife problems caused by food attractants in people's yards can be resolved almost immediately. After you remove the food source on or around your property, the bear may remain for a short time, but after a few failed attempts to find food, it will leave your property.

Bears generally avoid humans, but in their search for food, they may wander into suburban areas. So, what should you do if you see a bear? The most important response is to keep a respectful distance. Black bears have a natural distrust of humans, and in most cases would rather flee than have an encounter with people. If a bear is up a tree on or near your property, give it space. Do not approach or gather around the base of the tree. By bringing your pets inside and leaving the immediate area, you give the bear a clear path to leave your property.

If you see a bear cub in an area do not try to remove it from the area or "save it". Female bears will wander to find food usually with her cubs in tow. If she feels nervous, she will typically send her cubs up a tree and can leave the area. Bear cubs left where they are will almost always be retrieved by their mother as long as there are no people or pets around and the cubs are not moved by a person.

Always remember that a bear is a wild animal, and that it is detrimental to the bear, as well as illegal in Virginia, to feed a bear under any circumstances. Even the inadvertent feeding of bears is illegal including allowing bears access to unsecured trash or birdfeeders. Preventing problems with bears is a shared responsibility between the citizens of Virginia and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

You can help manage the Commonwealth's black bear population by keeping your property clear of attractants and communicating with your neighbors to resolve community bear concerns. If you visit outdoor recreation areas in bear country insist that the area supervisors manage their trash properly. Human and bear safety is the responsibility of all residents of the Commonwealth.

If you do see a bear in your area, enjoy watching it from a distance. If you experience a bear problem after taking appropriate steps of prevention, please notify your Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Regional Office. Phone numbers for the regional offices can be found by visiting the Department's website.

Living with Bears in Virginia, a video produced by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, is available on the Department's website and provides tips for peacefully coexisting with bears. Please visit www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/bear to view the video, print a brochure, read more about bears in Virginia, and view other useful links to bear information.

Remember, if you live in Virginia, you live in bear country.

VDGIF Launches Wildlife Internship Network (WIN)

If you are interested in a career in wildlife conservation, public education, marketing or information technology and many more career areas, we may have the WIN-WIN place for you. As Virginia's wildlife agency, we are always looking for future talent to assist us in field sampling, conducting public workshops or promoting wildlife conservation efforts across the Commonwealth. Come join our team for a semester, a summer or a year-long assignment. We'll show you a WINning future!

Our Wildlife Internship Network (WIN) student internship program "pays" students in the form of academic credit (if applicable), real-world experience and professional networking opportunities. It is designed to provide college students challenging opportunities to:

The program is designed to inspire college students to broaden their education in a manner that complements the agency's professional staffing needs. The WIN will work hard to provide internship opportunities closely tailored to the students' interests to maximize their opportunities for future career success.

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.

Friends of Dyke Marsh to Host Events April-May

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."

Waterfowlers Team with Forestry Dept. To Host Wood Duck Box Workshop

The Virginia Waterfowlers' Association and VA Department of Forestry will host a public Wood Duck Nesting Box Workshop on Saturday, May 19, 2012, 1pm – 4pm at the New Kent Forestry Center - 11301 Pocahontas Trail – Providence Forge, VA 23140. The workshop is a great Free educational component workshop for adults and children! It is a Hands-On workshop for 15 participants. The Virginia Waterfowlers' Association will provide an educational presentation, Instructors, WoodDuck box kits and nails for participants. Participants will be required to their own hammers. PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED TO PARTICIPATE. The boxes will be given out to those who partake in the workshop. To register or for more information about the workshop, email: Todd Cocker at Todd.Cocker@yahoo.com.

For more information about the New Kent Forestry Center contact Lisa Deaton at (804) 804-966-2201, ext. 115 or email: Lisa.Deaton@dof.virginia.gov.

Appalachian Highlands Ruffed Grouse Chapter Sponsors Sporting Clays Shoot May 12

The Appalachian Highlands Chapter of The Ruffed Grouse Society is sponsoring its 2nd Annual Sporting Clays Shoot on Saturday May 12, 2012 (rain or shine) at the Kettlefoot Rod and Gun Club in Bristol, VA. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. and the shoot will start at 9:00 a.m. Trophies will be presented to winners along with prizes and lunch for all participants. Also, Alpha Natural Resources is sponsoring a free competitive pellet gun shoot with a focus on firearms safety for kids of all ages.

Established in 1961 the Ruffed Grouse Society (RGS) is the one international wildlife conservation organization dedicated to promoting conditions suitable for ruffed grouse, American woodcock and related wildlife to sustain our sport hunting tradition and outdoor heritage. Proceeds from this event will be used to promote forest wildlife habitat in northeast Tennessee and southwest Virginia.

For additional information please contact Chris White at 276-494-1364, email at: clwhite@bvunet or Mike Giles at 276-219-7302 email at: michael.a.giles@comcast.net.

Waterfowl Predator Management Workshops Scheduled Statewide May- June

The Virginia Waterfowlers' Association (VAWFA), Virginia National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) and Virginia Trapper's Association (VTA) in partnership with VDGIF will be hosting four Predator Management Workshops throughout the state this May-June. These educational component workshops are developed for the general public and will be conducted free at both Bass Pro Shops and Gander Mountain stores. These workshops will benefit sportsmen and landowners who want to know more about managing wildlife and reducing predator numbers. There will also be opportunities for HANDS-ON educational workshops with trapping equipment provided by the Virginia Trappers Association. Workshops are scheduled as follows:

For scheduled times and additional information visit the Virginia Trapper's Association website, or the Virginia Waterfowlers' Association website.

Todd Cocker, Executive Director for the VAWFA notes this is the third year for these unique, hands –on predator management workshops with over 320 participants thus far. Steve Colvin, President for VTA advises that one of the benefits of the workshops is that it gives non-hunting participants an opportunity to address their issues and concerns and gain education and training from professionals on the purpose/benefits of predator management. VDGIF Furbearer Biologist Mike Fies commented that these workshops provide a unique partnership among the four organizations to combine resources and reach new constituents and address concerns by trappers, landowners and concerned citizens. Volunteers from the VDGIF Complementary Workforce will be on hand at the workshops to distribute educational and training materials.

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

Waterfowlers Host Wood Duck Box Building Workshop at Gander Mountain in Fredericksburg

On April 1, 2012 the Virginia Waterfowlers' Association hosted their third wood duck nesting box workshop scheduled for 2012. This year the organization will be hosting a series of FREE workshops throughout the commonwealth. The Virginia Waterfowlers' Association provided a presentation on wood ducks & habitat, instructors and nesting box kits.

The third wood duck nesting box workshop went very well. Another group of outdoor enthusiast from Northern Virginia gathered together at the Gander Mountain Store in Fredericksburg, VA. Participants built 10 wood duck boxes, many whom built their first wood duck box this year. The boxes are given out to those who partake in the event. For more information on the VAWFA visit their website or call Executive Director Todd Cocker office) 804 367-6629 (cel) 804 317-8058.

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."

Roger Keene Receives Morgan Award for Hunter Safety

On March 31, 2012, Buchanan County native Roger Keene of Oakwood received the annual William Dixon Morgan Memorial Award for his contributions in hunter safety. The award was presented to Mr. Keene at Holiday Lake 4-H Center in Appomattox, by Officer Jeff Pease, Hunter Education Coordinator for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Roger Keene has been a faithful and reliable contributor to the Hunter Education Program since 1994, instructing over 2,000 students and logging over 2,000 hours in the instruction of new hunters.

According to Officer Pease, "Roger is a tremendous asset to our program. He is very passionate about safe and ethical hunting and is able to convey this passion to his students in a very charismatic way. Roger is the guy you want to have on your team. It is an honor to work with him."

Roger regularly makes the five hour (one way) trek to Holiday Lake 4-H Center to teach fellow instructors archery hunting skills and safety at Advanced Training Events that the department holds for volunteer Hunter Education Instructors. Roger has volunteered to assist in the Youth Hunter Education Challenge at Holiday Lake since 2006. The Hunter Education Challenge draws young hunters from across the state to compete in this annual event. Roger recognizes the increased popularity with the use of crossbows and has volunteered to work with Hunter Education staff to develop a crossbow hunting class for advanced training events. He is also currently working with department personnel to plan several youth rabbit hunts in Southwest, Virginia to promote youth involvement in the sport of hunting.

The Morgan award was established in 1985 by the Morgan family after the untimely death of William Dixon Morgan on November 22, 1983, when another hunter failed to identify his target before shooting. The award is presented each year to a hunter education volunteer who best exemplifies the spirit of commitment to hunter safety in Virginia. Congratulations Mr. Keene on a job well done!

History of Morgan Award for Outstanding Service to Hunter Safety Education

Born January 25, 1953, William Dixon Morgan, better known as 'Billy', was the youngest of three children and the only son of William T. Morgan and Magdeline N. Morgan. He became an Eagle Scout at the age of 14 and at the time of his death he was instructing Boy Scout merit badge classes in Archery, Marksmanship and Wilderness Survival. Billy participated in a wide range of outdoor activities and was an avid rabbit, squirrel, turkey and deer hunter. He was an outdoorsman who won numerous awards in both archery and firearm competition. In 1980 and 1981 he won National and State awards for whitetail deer.

On the morning of Tuesday, November 22, 1983, two days before Thanksgiving, life for Billy could be no better. He was doing what he loved most, hunting. At 8:30 am Billy, who was 6 feet one inch tall and weighed 185 lbs., climbed a 12-inch diameter, leafless tree, to a limb approximately 10 feet above the ground. He did not know another hunter was in the area. Twenty minutes later the other hunter, failing to identify his target, fired the shot that ended Billy's life.

At the time of Billy's death, his mother, Magdeline Morgan was a member of the Virginia Governors Advisory Board. Mrs. Morgan, with the help of other board members and the Governor, began promoting the importance of blaze orange, and the law requiring the wearing of blaze orange soon became a reality. Mr. and Mrs. Morgan also wanted to establish some type of a memorial for Billy, and at the suggestion of Governor Gerald Baliles, a family friend, the idea of an annual hunter safety award was conceived. So, in 1985 the Governor of Virginia, Gerald Baliles presented the first annual William Dixon Morgan Memorial Award for Hunter Safety in Richmond, Virginia at a Virginia Game Department Meeting.

Hunter Education is mandatory for hunters 12-15 years of age and for all first-time license purchasers. There are 46 Hunter Education courses scheduled around the state between now and Labor Day. Sign up now and take the course during summer break. Avoid the last-minute rush just before the fall hunting season, when the class you want may already be full.

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, Hunter Skills Weekend, 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 email.

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...

Kids Catch Trout and Great Memories at Trout Heritage Weekend in Madison

The Rapidan Chapter of Trout Unlimited and VDGIF partnered with Graves Mountain Lodge for the traditional first Saturday in April for Trout Heritage Day and a special Kid's Fishing Day. Several hundred trout were stocked along a private section of the Robinson River, solely for children under the age of 12 to experience the joy of fishing. This popular event was just one day on Saturday this year since Easter Sunday was April 8. A special thank you to all the volunteers from various organizations and agencies that shared their passion for fishing and the great outdoors with these youngsters and their families.

View the Kids Fishing Day video »

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

Editor's note...
Thanks to CPO James Hale for the following story on his recent spring gobbler hunt with his fiancée. It's a wonderful endorsement for improving hunting opportunities in the "Great Southwest" mountain region of the Old Dominion where restored strip mining lands are providing improved habitat and outdoor recreation opportunities. In addition to the wild turkeys, this May those same Buchanan County turkeys will have elk as new neighbors. It is also great to see James and his bride to be enjoy the great outdoors together. There are a growing number of couples that are discovering the joy, adventure and great memories that enhance their relationship through hunting, fishing and boating in the great outdoors. Also a special thank you to James and his fellow law enforcement officers for their service protecting the natural resources of the Commonwealth and the citizens who use them.

A Little Lady Luck

by CPO James Hale

I had taken my fiancée Katrina hunting for a couple of hours before work on 4/17/12 at a friend's farm in Buchanan County that is an old strip job. When we got out of the truck, I used a locate call and heard six or seven gobblers on the next ridge over on another piece of property. I knew a nice place to set up on our side of the hollow and set up a hen decoy in an open spot where the gobblers could see from the other ridge. After about 20 minutes of calling, I saw a large gobbler fly off his roost and come sailing straight towards Katrina and the decoy. Just short of landing in her lap, the turkey turned and landed about 120 yards away. He was totally zoomed in on the decoy. I changed calls and started yelping softly to the gobbler. All of a sudden, another gobbler flew across the hollow and landed right behind the first bird. The first bird had already seen the decoy and was coming in like he was on a string. The two birds got about 40 yards away and stopped. The second bird started putting and trotted away about 9 or 10 yards. The first bird then went with it. They both stopped just shy of flying off the strip bench. They were in a dip, and Katrina could not see them. The second bird leapt from the bench. The first bird stopped short of the edge and stopped to look back at the hen one more time. That's when I fired 2 ¼ ounces of Heavy Shot Blend and he fell in his tracks. After I notched my tag and retrieved the bird, I stepped off the distance back to our set up. It was 49 steps.

"It Takes a Hunter to Make a Hunter"

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 email.

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

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!

Virginia Black Bear Tests Positive for Rabies

On April 17th, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) was contacted by two men who encountered a bear that appeared to be acting very erratically in Afton, Virginia, Albemarle County. The men were driving a small 4-wheel off-road utility vehicle on a large, secluded parcel of land, when a bear approached and began biting the vehicle's tire, and then attempted to enter the occupied vehicle. The men were able to exit the vehicle without injury and ultimately shot and killed the bear.

Because of this highly unusual behavior of the bear, following protocol, VDGIF law enforcement staff with the help of a local animal control officer removed the biological material necessary for submission to the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) office in Charlottesville. Within 24 hours VDGIF was notified that the bear tested positive for the rabies virus. VDH officials are investigating this incident but it's believed the men involved did not come into contact with the virus and will not need post-exposure rabies vaccinations. In addition, this was a single incident that is exceedingly rare; and because bears are typically solitary animals, there is very little chance that other bears have been infected.

Rabies is rarely diagnosed in any species of bear and has never been detected in a Virginia black bear. Rabies was found previously in a single black bear killed in Maryland in 2007 and in several black bears in Canada. Rabies has also been reported in a single polar bear.

The rabies virus is transmitted from infected animals to humans by contact with the saliva or brain/spinal fluid of the infected animal. People usually become infected with rabies after being bitten by a rabid animal. If left untreated, rabies is fatal.

The Thomas Jefferson Health Department strongly advises that people take these steps to prevent families and pets from exposure to rabies:

While rabid animals may act aggressively, not all aggressive animals are rabid. Rabid animals may also be unusually friendly, may appear confused or disoriented, may vocalize abnormally, or be active at odd times of the day. It's important to remember not to approach any ill or sick appearing animals. Also always wear gloves when handling dead animals, and disinfect all implements used to dispose of a dead animal.

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.

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/

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 early May:

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

Get your copy of the 2012 Virginia Wildlife Calendar here.

Habitat Improvement Tips

NRCS Awards 2012 Funding for Quail Habitat Restoration

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

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

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

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

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

Quail Biologists Eager to Assist Landowners and Hunters

In January 2011 as part of implementing the VA Quail Action Plan (VQAP), five new pairs of field boots hit the wildlife habitat dirt. These boots belong to Virginia's first cooperatively hired Private Lands Wildlife Biologists. Marc Puckett, VDGIF Co-Project Leader for the Quail Recovery Initiative (QRI) reports that this unique program represents a joint hiring effort between the Conservation Management Institute at Virginia Tech, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, they are the first of their kind in Virginia. Similar, highly successful, programs have existed for several years in Missouri, Kentucky, North Carolina and other states. They represent the closest partnership ever between the cooperating agencies. Jack Bricker, State Conservationist for NRCS and Bob Duncan, Director of the VDGIF, signed an agreement formalizing the partnership December 2009. The new biologists work daily with partners in the agricultural community – one critical to wildlife nationwide. Their primary role is helping private landowners develop wildlife habitat through a variety of financial incentives programs.

VQAP was the impetus for this successful partnership. In its first year of implementation, the hiring of the 5 new biologists was a major goal of the VQAP. The biologists spend a great deal of their time working on early-successional habitat – a habitat type that benefits not only bobwhite quail but dozens of early-successional species including pollinating insects.

These wildlife biologists can be contacted for habitat assistance at the following USDA Service Centers:

Large-scale habitat restoration and education are the key elements of the VQAP. The Virginia Quail Council was established as a coordinating group of conservation organizations and agencies actively supporting the Virginia Quail Action Plan through the promotion and application of land management practices and programs that increase the quality and quantity of quail habitat on agricultural and forested landscapes.

A copy of the Virginia Quail Action Plan and Virginia Quail Council members can be viewed on the Department's website. For information on the bobwhite quail, and activities and accomplishments of the Quail Recovery Team read the latest edition of The Bobwhite Bulletin (PDF). Also view the video, "Answering the Call: Virginia's Quail Recovery Initiative."

Habitat at Home© DVD Now Available

The Habitat at Home© DVD features the yards of four homeowners in different parts of the state who have removed invasive plants, reduced their amount of lawn, added water features, and planted flowering perennials and shrubs. VDGIF Habitat Education Coordinator Carol Heiser advises, "Native shrubs in particular are an excellent choice for wildlife, because they support native insects that make up a critical part of the food web. Native plants are better adapted to our growing conditions and are much easier to maintain than non-native ones. So many of our neighborhoods lack the kind of native plant diversity that wildlife really needs. You'll be surprised at the number of birds and other wildlife that use native shrubs. Visit our website to purchase your own copy of the 40-minute DVD!

Virginia Conservation Police Notebook

To increase awareness of the activities of our dedicated Conservation Police Officers, previously called game wardens, the "Virginia Conservation Police Notebook" provides an overview of the variety of activities encountered by our officers who protect natural resources and people pursuing outdoor recreation in the fields, woods and waters of Virginia.

Reports from the field officer's notebook...

Region I - Tidewater

Always on Duty... On April 5, 2012, Conservation Police Officers Kopelove and Wilson were enjoying a day off shad fishing on the James River. The officers noticed what appeared to be two fishermen who creeled an illegal American Shad. Officer Kopelove notified Officer Patrillo and Sergeant Valasek. Officer Patrillo maintained surveillance of the vessel until the fishermen pulled up anchor and they were met at Ancarrow's Landing. Officers inspected licenses, the boat, and coolers which revealed seven illegal American Shad which were handled by summons. Also detected were boating safety equipment violations which were handled by written warning, and a suspended driver's license which was appropriately addressed.

Hunting Over Bait... On April 13, 2012 in Essex County, Conservation police Officer Tyler Bumgarner located corn scattered along two sections of a woods road behind a locked gate approximately quarter to a half mile from the entrance. On 04/14/2012, with assistance from CPO Cameron Dobyns, the baited location was put under surveillance. At approximately 8:30 AM two subjects dressed in camouflage and carrying shotguns eased up to the first baited area and made several calls for a turkey. They then proceeded down the road and stopped again near the second baited area and made additional calls. Having no luck they continued to head down the road a bit before being approached by the officers. It was a father and son hunting together and it was determined that the son put the corn out and the charge of hunting over bait was made.

Region III - Southwest

Turkey Baiting Investigation... On April 14, 2012 Conservation Police Officer George Shupe and Sergeant Rolland Cox concluded a turkey baiting investigation in Bland County. Information was provided by Senior Officer Gene Wirt concerning hunting turkey over bait and operating ATV's on the National Forest. Prior to turkey season, Officer Shupe and Forest Service LEO Teddy Mullins had checked the property and found ground blinds baited with corn and one with a hanging feeder in front of it. On the opening day of turkey season Officer Shupe entered the property before daylight and was in position to observe the hunters as they left a cabin on ATV's. One hunter went to a box blind where the hanging feeder was located and Officer Shupe charged him for hunting over bait. Officer Shupe directed Sgt. Cox into an unchecked area of the property where a second hunter had ridden his ATV. After finding an unoccupied baited ground blind, Sgt. Cox found and charged a hunter who was in a box blind located in an area heavily baited with corn. Officer Shupe located a third hunter in a previously located baited area and issued him a summons for hunting over bait.

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.

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
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Sarah White's Notebook

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

Region 1 - Tidewater

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 water temperature is holding at 67 degrees with a visibility of 14 ft. mid lake. More of the same old thing. Bass up to 4 lbs. but most were 2 to 3 lbs. Worms and crankbaits worked well. Crappie were caught but not a lot of them. Try small minnows or jigs in 8 to 12 ft. along the inside of points, and be patient as it's slow. Lots of bluegills and shellcrackers (not the jumbos ) try red worms from 3 ft. out past 10 ft. The large ones are deeper. Keep an eye on the water temperature. When it gets to over 70 degrees we will see the bass and shellcracker move up to beds, but it happens quick so check them out often. A couple stripers were caught. Two eyes come in last week both shallow, on crankbaits. Thanks to all that helped with the Sportsman Flea Market.

Beaverdam Reservoir: (804) 693-2107. Bass seem to be the main focus for anglers at Beaverdam now. We weighed in some nice bass this week. Austin Williams 11 years old of Gloucester caught a bass that weighed 4lb 9oz and 20" long. The chain pickerel are also very plentiful and being caught on minnows and lures. We are also seeing good catches of channel catfish, yellow perch and sunfish.

The results for the April 21 Beaverdam Big Bash series fishing tournament are as follows:

Beaverdam will host the next Big Bash series tournament May 19. For more information, visit our website or call the Ranger Station at (804) 693-2107.

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

Virginia Beach: Captain Jim Brincefield (443) 336-8756. Captain Jim says that red and black drum are taking crabs at the Barrier Islands and Fishermen's Island. Bluefish are at Rudee Inlet. They are biting surface plugs and cut bait. Croakers are at the Ocean View Fishing Pier and the mouths of the York and James and are going for Fishbite and blood worms. The flounder action is very poor. The water is fairly clear and 56 degrees.

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

Chickahominy River: River's Rest (804) 829-2753. Alton Williams reports that bass action is good to fair, but he does not know what they will go for. No word on crappie or perch. Catfishing is "decent" on eel and shad. The water is in the upper 60s 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 70s in the lower lake and in the major creeks over the weekend. The lake level was a few inches above the top of the dam. The water was dark, but clear in most areas. Crappies were scattered up the major creeks, around the creek mouths, and on mid-depth wood cover in the main lake. Crappies were hitting live minnows, Wright Bait Co. and Southern Pro curlytail jigs and tubes, small swimbaits, and Kalin crappie scrubs. Some bluegills were in the creeks, primarily around vegetation, and hitting curlytail jigs, small swimbaits, and small spoons. A few pickerel were around the pad beds at the upper ends of the major creeks and in creek channels and were primarily hitting live minnows. Bass were next to the shoreline vegetation up the side creeks and were hitting soft plastic stick baits and plastic worms. Fishing with Capt. Conway, Hollis Pruitt and Malcolm Turnbull had 21 crappie, 15 bluegill, 2 shellcracker, 1 white perch, 1 pickerel, and 2 bass.

North Landing River and Back Bay: West Neck Marina (757) 426-6735. Dewey Mullins told me that bass action is good. Top-waters, spinners, cranks, and dark plastics are all good bets. Crappie fishing is slow, but some good ones are coming in. Lots of white perch are out there waiting to bite night crawlers, small spinners and beetlespins. Cats are getting ready to spawn and "will hit anything". The water is somewhat dingy and in the 60s.

Norfolk Lakes: Dasheill's Show Room (757) 539-7854. Drew Dixon says that bass are hitting well on top-waters, crankbaits and plastics. Crappie are also cooperating with the traditional minnows and jigs producing the best results. The white perch are in the river and the yellow ones in the lakes. Both will go for red wigglers, jigs and spinners. Cat action is "right good" on cut bait. 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 10th through the 12th on the Blackwater below Franklin. The water was high that first day, fast, clear and 60 degrees. Air temperatures ranged from 37 to 68 degrees and the wind never ceased. I saw no water quality issues. The fishing on this trip was fair. I caught no white perch or shad, but did get into the big bream and red throats waaaay upriver. They were killing a number 1 white tail Mepps. I also caught a couple bass and hung one that jumped and spit the Mepps back at me that would have gone 3 pounds.

Now here is a "Tip of the Day" for you that I learned this trip. At one point on this adventure I switched to a different rod and reel combo that I'd put together from another strange event I'll tell you about in a minute. I tied on my lure and cast. The lure went flying away through the woods like I had not tied a good knot. I got the lure back with 6 inches of line attached and figured I had a bad place on my line. I retied and cast again. The same thing happened twice more. I checked the line and there was nothing wrong with it. But everytime this happened there was six inches of line attached to the lure. I finally figured that's how much line I have hanging down when I cast, so I looked at the rod tip and the glass guide was chipped. I put a piece of line through it and pulled and it cut that braided line like butter. Then it hit me how that happened. On the way to the river it was so windy that one of my large gear bags that held my sleeping bag, pad, pillow and clothing (about 30 pounds worth) blew out of the boat taking that rod and reel with it. That disaster destroyed the reel but I thought the rod was okay and put another reel on it when I got to the river. Now of course I know the rod was damaged also. So just know, those guides are not unbreakable and you might want to inspect them from time to time, it just might keep you from losing your favorite lure or even worse, losing a trophy fish.

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. According to Captain Mike, everything seems to be about 3 weeks ahead fishingwise, so things have been a little strange. The bass bite is good on spinners and tubes. Crappie are spawning and can be found in the shallow areas. Try jigs or suspended minnows. White perch near Richmond are taking shad and herring. Some big stripers are coming in on cut hickory. Catfishing is slow, but should really pick up by mid May. The water is clear and warming.

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

Swift Creek Reservoir: Contributed by local angler Archie Spencer. No report this edition.

Region 2 - Southside

Lake Gordon: Contributed by our man in the boat Willard A. Mayes. We have been blessed with a warm spring, so what better way to celebrate it than by fishing. I got old blue and headed to Lake Gordon to see if any fish were left since it almost got drained last .I arrived at the lake around 11:30 to find the water level at normal and clear to about 3 feet with its normal brownish stain. When I left home I had the fly rod on my mind but I waited until I got all the way across the lake to get it out. I fished the spinning rod while crossing it without any luck. I knew that the bluegill liked to bed under some of the trees that lean out over the lake to try to get you to hang your bug up in the tree when you try to cast under then limbs that is all of 3 feet over the water. I caught about a dozen of 6 to 8 inch ones before moving up the lake. You know how it is, bigger ones and more of them are always just a little farther up. I moved across the lake to the first cove on the right and got into many more of them from two finger wide ones up to 8 inches. It was about now that I had my limit of bluegill so I put the fly rod down and started fishing my purple 2 inch twister tail across the middle of the lake until I had my limit of crappie between 7 and 9 inches. It was all of 2:00 pm by now and no way I was going home so, as much as it pained me, I had to throw them back. I caught many more crappie from the power line to the area where the lakes widens before you get to the flats, that area that I call the meat box. I fished the fly rod with a number 12 popping bug along the shore line around the lily pads and caught a whole lot more bluegill to a total of 115 blue gill and 46 crappie for the day. I had the boat on the trailer and was headed home at 6:02. I can't swear that the numbers are right because I may have missed a few along the way but I know I did not count any twice. I brought three two-finger wide ones home to the cats and when I cut them in half for them the female ones were full of roe. I really hate to have to throw them back because they can over populate so quick.

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

James at Scottsville: Local Guide L.E. Rhodes www.hatchmatcherguideservice.com, (434) 286-3366. The rain we are having as I write this report is well needed. The James has been running around 4 feet and very clear. Hopefully with the rain being a slow soaking event, all it will do is bump the water levels up without blowing out the river. The past couple weeks the smallmouth fishing has been good. Fish over five pounds have been boated. On one trip my customer caught the five pounder plus two 19.in., two 18 in., three 16 in. and several 10 to 15 inch fish. Baits of choice have been pig & jigs, soft plastics and crankbaits. Fly anglers have done well also using CK Baitfish, Clawdads and Todds Wiggle Minnows.

Kerr Reservoir: Bob Cat's Lake Country Store, (434) 374-8381. No report this edition.

James at Lynchburg: Angler's Lane, (434) 385-0200. Tom Reisdorf reports that rainbows and browns in the Jackson are going for caddis imitators and prince nymphs. Brookies are very active and will take little yellow stoneflies and caddis imitators. The water is clear and in the low 50s.

Lake Gaston: Holly Grove Marina, (434) 636-3455. Craig Karpinski says that bass action is pretty good, with some getting ready to get on the beds, some there and some getting off. They are going for dark plastic worms, jigs and spinners. Crappie are biting the traditional minnows and jigs. Some really big slabs are coming in, with some citation sized. Perch are in the shallows, try red wigglers or small spinners. Cat fishing has heated up with some citation sized lunkers being brought to boat on minnows and cut bait. The water is muddy and in the upper 60s.

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. While the alewives have started to move toward the shoreline at night as they begin their annual spawning ritual, if the cold weather in the forecast for this week arrives it might delay or seriously dampen that annual event. As the weather warms and the days become longer, small groups of alewives will be seen and heard flipping along the shoreline at night in most sections of the lake. This attracts bass, flatheads and stripers which are looking for an easy meal and brings out the anglers who enjoy fishing at night this time of year.

There are alewives in many open water locations around the lake right now with heavy concentrations in the major creek areas. Gizzard shad, which prefer warmer water than do the alewives are also fairly abundant but are being found closer to the surface. Alewives can be located in schools using electronics in the day and can often be found at night near dock and security lights. Gizzard shad can be found flipping near the surface or in the shallow water near the backs of the major creeks.

When both bass and stripers are keying on shad, artificial lures that represent and mimic local baitfish are solid choices both in the day and at night. Casting and retrieving flukes, swimbaits, spinnerbaits, poppers, crankbaits, jerkbaits and wakebaits will produce when bass or stripers are feeding on shad in the day. Early and late, flukes, top-water poppers, jerkbaits, spinner baits and swimbaits can all be productive. Weather, water conditions and target fish behavior will dictate which lures to use and how best to present them. Often it is wise to try different retrieval techniques and let the fish tell you what they want. At night, when bass or stripers are heard or seen feeding on the alewives near the shoreline, the most popular lures include floating jerkbaits and wakebaits. The key at night is to find the targeted fish up on an "active bank" and then present the lure very, very slowly, so it puts out a slight wake as it moves through the water. Overall, bass fishing has been pretty good. Largemouth and smallmouth bass are still being found in relatively shallow water where they are either spawning or actively guarding their young. While the wind and murky water have reduced visibility and hampered sight fishing efforts, when conditions are right this is still a productive technique right now. Sight fishing with light colored, highly visible jigs and plastics is still working for bedding bass. There are a number of different lures being used to catch bass near beds. Plastic creature baits and craws rigged on jigheads, Texas rigs and drop shot rigs are all working. Bass are also being caught off points, around submerged natural rock shelves and under deep water docks on pig & jigs, shakey head jigs, crankbaits, flukes, swimbaits and Alabama rigs.

Striped bass fishing has also been pretty good. Stripers are currently being found in many locations around the lake and there appear to be better concentrations in the middle and lower sections. There were reports of surface breaks in the open water of the lower lake.

There is at least one tournament on the lake every weekend and for those who want to participate in local events, there is a Tuesday evening and Saturday night open bass tournament held each week. Two weeks ago, the college Bassmaster series held their Eastern Super Regional event here, attracting teams of anglers from colleges all over the eastern part of the country. Radford University's Justin Witten and Travis Cox dominated this event when they brought a two day total weight of 34 lbs. 5 oz. to the scale, beating the nearest competitors by over 7 lbs. This team said that while they caught most of their bass off of beds, their largest fish each day was caught by casting and retrieving a large swimbait off of rocky points and shoreline. That same weekend, the Smith Mountain Striper Club held a member guest tournament. First place honors in that event went to Wade Grindstaff, second place to Pauline Nuckels and third place went to Marty Anderson.

This past weekend the Oakley Big Bass Tour was in town to host their 2012 Blue Ridge Big Bass Classic on Saturday and Sunday. This series features a unique format that recognizes the largest bass brought to the scales each hour of the event. This allows each angler the opportunity to win multiple prizes because they can catch and weigh-in different fish they catch throughout the two day event. The largest bass caught and weighed in at this weekend's event was a monster largemouth weighing 7.18 lbs. caught by Phillip Cox. The second largest bass was caught by Kyle Whisnant and weighed 6.31 lbs. The third heaviest bass of the weekend, weighing 6.02 lbs. was brought to the scales by Cory White.

Once we get through this little blast of winter weather, things should warm back up and the fishing should really be great. If you plan to be out for a walk near fields or the woods, don't forget that spring turkey hunting season extends through the middle of May. Wearing a bright orange cap or vest to insure you are easily seen is always a good idea in areas where there might be hunters.

Tight lines and I hope to see you out 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. According to John Zienius, smallmouth fishing is very, very slow. Fortunately muskies are picking up the slack, going for big inline spinners and big swimbaits. Some frustrated bass anglers are pulling up muskies! The water is clear and in the mid 50s.

Upper New River: Contributed by Captain Forest Pressnell, (540) 818-5274, New River Charter. Well, we have been dealing with muddy conditions for some time now on the Upper New, so I don't have any actual hands on info for you other than my clients were getting on some dandy small mouth before it turned muddy. With some luck the river should be fishable a few days after this report reaches you. As the water clears the muskie coming off their post spawn lull should be hitting well and male smallies should be moving to the bedding areas while the female smallies should be bulking up and hitting hard! Water temperature is 54 degrees from the recent cooler weather (snowing as I write this) but should be warming this week. You can find New River Charter on facebook. Please practice CPR (Catch, Photo, Release) to protect this amazing fishery.

New River: Tangent Outfitters, (540) 257-0415. Shawn Hash reports that the smallmouth bite is good on soft plastics in all colors. Muskie fishing has slowed, but inline spinners and cranks may do the trick for you. The water is stained and in the mid to upper 50s.

Top New River: Contributed by local guide Richie Hughes, owner of New River Trips LLC. Heavy rains in the vicinity of the Top New, mouth of Wilson to Fries, muddied the river last week. Some nice smallies were seen in bedding areas before the rains came. Early this week cold winds and snow flurries are predicted. The rest of the week should warm up nicely, thus making for a good weekend of fishing. Trout fishing in the tributaries of the Top New remains good.

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

Region 4 - Mountains & Shenandoah Valley - Northern Piedmont

North and South Forks of the Shenandoah: Harry Murray (540) 984-4212 www.murraysflyshop.com. Harry told me that the smallmouth streams in both the North and South are full, clear and fishable at 58 degrees. Fishing in the Northern fork is "outstanding". Good flies are: Murray's Magnum Creek Chub, size 4; and Murray's Marauder, size 6.

The stocked and delayed harvest streams in the Valley are giving good fishing right now. Try fishing the deep pools and the cuts below the riffles. Good flies are: Murray's Dark Stonefly Nymph, size 12; and the Mr. Rapidan Emerger, size 10.The water is clear and 54 degrees.

Fishing for brookies in the mountain streams is "exceptional" The best thing to do is to hike up to the trail heads and fish your way back. Good areas are the Blue Ridge Parkway, the National Forest roads and Skyline Drive. Good flies are: Murray's Little Yellow Stonefly Dry, size 16; Murray's Professor Dry, sizes 14 to 16; and Murray's Mr. Rapidan Parachute Dry Fly, sizes 14 to 16. The water is clear and 53 degrees.

Lake Moomaw: Contributed by local angler Bill Uzzell. The bass fishing at Lake Moomaw is trying its best to rebound this past week. Anglers have been catching some solid keepers as the water temperature continues to rise to previous levels; currently 57 to 59 degrees. The big spawning females should start to make their presence known soon, as the bucks are arriving to build nests for the interrupted spawn. Anglers report that jigs are starting to take their fair share of bass. Still can't go wrong with a drop shot tipped with a Robo worm or small lizard. Carolina rigs are also scoring with Brush Hogs (green pumpkin) and Lizards (pumpkin/chartreuse) as go to baits. Jerkbaits are still taking some good fish as well as super flukes and floating worms. Still no reports of strong crappie or yellow perch catches at this time. I am sure someone has found them, though their numbers seem to be down. Anglers are finding some trout in the lower pool with minnows the preferred bait.

If you like to hear turkeys in the Spring then get to Moomaw in the early morn and enjoy the booming gobbles from the surrounding mountains and hollows.

Lake Moomaw: Local Guide, Mike Puffenbarger, (540) 468-2682, www.mapletreeoutdoors.com. With the surprise April snow storm this past weekend, things are a little slow on Moomaw- but the gobblers are heating up so concentrating on feathered critters for now. With the warm up as we head into May, the fishing will pick up too. Check our website for updates and availability to reserve a fishing date.

Piedmont Rivers: Local author Steve Moore (Wade Fishing River Guidebooks covering the: Rappahannock, Rapidan, Upper Potomac, North Branch Potomac; Blog: SwitchFisher.com) Record low water on the Upper Potomac flipped the switch last week when the gage at Point of Rocks hit the upper bound for wading at 2.0 feet. You still need to wear a PFD and take normal safety precautions, but the river is no longer the jurisdiction of folks with boats. Lander is producing well right now. If possible, walk up the towpath from Point of Rocks and wade out on the ledges (careful!) to fish the holes above and below. No grass yet – that's a good thing. Go small for now – grubs and crankbaits; top water around the weedbeds. Pick up some greenies near feeder creeks. The rain last weekend may change the conditions dramatically and send a surge that raises the levels. Watch the gage! The Rappahannock is alive with stripers now with the tail end of the shad run dribbling to a disappointing conclusion for the year. Fish upstream of the Route 1 bridge. Brookie fishing in the mountains is superb. The rain will swell the creeks and rivers and improve the quality into the next week. Fish on!!

Occoquan Reservoir and Lunga Reservoir: Contributed by local angler Scott Torgerson. No reports this edition.

Lake Orange: Contributed by Darrell Kennedy of Angler's Landing (540) 672-3997. The water is clear with temperatures remaining in the low 60s. The fish are in all phases of the spawn, mainly bass and crappie with some fish moving up on the banks to spawn. Others have spawned out and are in post spawn. We also have some pre-spawn fish waiting to move up and spawn. Crappie can be found in a variety of depths ranging from literally inches deep to 8 to 10 ft. with minnows being the bait of choice. Largemouth bass are also in all phases of the spawn, and on the warm sunny days we have new fish pulling up that can be caught shallow on soft plastics. On cloudy cooler days the bass can be taken on top-water fishing a little deeper. Catfishing is phenomenal right now. Catfish remain mostly in the north end of the lake with some big fish being caught. Local Angler, Angie Smith caught a real lunker with stink bait. The pan fish are on the verge of spawning, and are being caught on red wigglers and night crawlers in the shallows.

Lake Anna: Contributed by C. C. McCotter, McCotter's Lake Anna Guide Service, (540) 894-9144.

Largemouth Bass: Heading into May, we are seeing some late spawners on beds mid lake but many more in the up lake region of the North Anna and Pamunkey. Down lake bass are just about all post spawn. You can target the up lake fish using soft plastic sticks around willow grass lines and docks. When you spot a bed, you can decide if you want to pursue the fish using a variety of sight fishing tactics, mostly involving precise presentations of soft plastic creature baits and jigs. You can also use a top-water popper or swimbait over the top of and around the shoreline grass as well as the shorelines with a steeper drop, as big female bass cannot resist these now. Mid lake fish will finish up their spawn and be happy to eat shakey worms, wacky-rigged Magic Sticks, light Carolina-rigged lizards, top-waters and soft plastic stickbaits the further from the spawn they get. Fishing spawning coves out to the first point is a good tactic. Polarized glasses are a must now! Down lake, bass will begin to school and can be caught on top-water and soft plastic stickbaits until they begin to move off shore later in May. MLAGS has tallied one citation largemouth so far this season so more are on the way!

Striper: Schools of striper have taken up residence in Contrary Creek, the s-turns of the Pamunkey, around Jett's Island, Rose Valley and around Duck In Hole Creek. These areas have been consistent for over a month. Big baits are better now. Throw big swimbaits in the up lake regions as gizzard shad and other fish like white perch annoy spawning stripers. If you enjoy trolling live bait, you can use jumbo shiners or large gizzard shad on corks and side planers to extend the artificial bite window. The Dike III region already has spawning herring, so the big schools of striper will be there soon! Make sure you are on the water just before dawn and then again at sundown because the stripers are most active then. Birds are still here and are on schools of fish in the up lake region. The multi-arm rigs are still catching striper, too. You can fish them in deep water, down to 25 ft. because they sink quickly and can be retrieved along the bottom. Some fish have also been caught already by anglers jigging with toothache spoons in the mid lake region.

Crappie: Another spawn began after the full moon in April in the North Anna willow grass and the area of the Pamunkey Branch from Stubbs Bridge on up to Terry's Run. You can catch them using 1 in. jigs on 1/32-oz. head and six-pound test or set up on an especially productive grass line with a few dozen minnows and use slip bobbers. The guide service has produced a nearly 15 in. crappie that weighed 1lb. and 4 oz. but no citation specks, yet.

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

Stripers: Fishing continues to be excellent for stripers as they are spawning now and will be for the next month. Concentrate your efforts in the upper water column 20 feet or less. My clients are catching limits regularly and Craig Rasmusson caught a striper in excess of 21 pounds out of my boat last week. We are pulling big gizzard shad and herring behind Water Bugz planner boards over flats less than 25 feet deep. Although most anglers are fishing uplake the best places to try have been areas where the fishing pressure and boat traffic have been minimal. Stripers are starting to hit swimbaits, pencil poppers and spooks also.

Bass: Fish are in spawn and post spawn patterns now. Many bass are being caught around the larger dock complexes.

Crappie: Fish are still shallow also. Most docks above Hunters Landing and the stump beds in the back of Terry's are holding nice slabs.

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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and it might get used in the Fishin' Report!

Winning Outdoor Adventure Stories from Young Writers

For Matt Reilly, a 16-year-old sophomore at Fluvanna County High School, his experiences in nature have had a profound impact on his career aspirations. Matt's article on his most memorable outdoor experience won him Second place in the VOWA Bass Pro High School Youth Writing Contest 2011-12. Upon receiving his prize of a $150 Bass Pro Gift Card and a selection of outdoor gear, Matt commented, "First, I love to hunt, fish, fly-fish, kayak, hike, camp--anything in the outdoors. Second, I have a strong desire to relate my experiences in the outdoors through the mediums of photography and writing. In February, I began a submitting monthly contributions to Woods & Waters Magazine. I am constantly adventuring and writing. Right now, I see myself in college--possibly Virginia Tech--studying fisheries biology and journalism." When not outdoors 'adventuring', Matt is a member of the "Flying Fluco's' soccer team and Blue Ridge Virtual Governor's School. With the spring warming up and the fishing action beginning to heat up, we think Matt's story of his young start fishing with his dad and the memories created will make you want to grab your favorite rod and lure and head for the water with a special person in your life.

The Homecoming

By Mat Reilly

My life as a fly fisherman began at the tender age of two. Not yet had I begun to master the art of swinging delicate flies to hungry trout; but it's safe to say I was on my way. In the prime of my impressionable life, I accompanied my father to the boulder-strewn gorges in the Blue Ridge foothills, and it was there that my fly fishing education began. I learned of the serenity and balance that surround trout streams and the nearby woods. The essence of the art that is fly fishing, I learned, cannot be measured in fish caught, but in memories created and thoughts provoked. The fly rod is but an earthly tool that gives tangible life to that essence and philosophy; and the trout, a heavenly touch that can only be comprehended through grace.

Mother Nature had ignited a spark that lay on the back burner, flaring up with opportunity. In the summer of my ninth year, my enlightened father shared with me his knowledge of the fine art of fly tying. That mass of feathers and furs fueled my fire into a raging flame. I can distinctly remember the chills I sustained as I eagerly watched him spin a length of grizzly hackle onto the body of a CK Nymph—just as his mentor had shown him.

From that point on, fly tying was my security blanket when absent from the river; and I tied viciously. Every imitation was embellished as an offering to the universe, in trusted return for a story and a trout.

My efforts paid off one day as the summer heat waned on into autumn. After a day of tying an improvised Sulfur variation of the Elk Hair Caddis, my father and I loaded up the truck and made the long drive to the Conway River.

An hour and a half later I was reacquainting myself with the scenery of the mountain. We walked an old fire road, paved over with cobblestone from a recent flood, little more than a mile downstream—our eyes focused intently, sizing up the pools we would soon fish. Just a quarter mile into our light-hearted hike along the river, the darting shadow of an ancient Brown brought both our feet and speech to a halt—it was going to be a good day.

My first chance at a fish came in what I considered to be a classic pool. With fifteen feet of line, I placed a sharp cast to slack water separating two small waterfalls at the head of the pool. My self-fashioned Sulfur landed sloppily; nevertheless, my fly was in place. I followed the crème colored fly for a few long seconds with anticipation. My first reaction was a second slow, but my quarry was forgiving, and I managed to hold on for several brief seconds before breaking the fragile tippet.

I motioned to my father at the tail of the next pool that I needed the fly box. With a flick of his wrist, he air mailed the small, translucent box to me, which proceeded to hit the rocks and crack open, scattering size 14 dry flies across the rocky bar—initiating a humorous blame game we play to this day.

We fished on in tapering anticipation until we reached the last pool. My father trudged up the steep, weathered hillside to the truck, leaving the last pool for me. It was a long pool—shallow too—but the hillside dabbled young roots in the water on the steeper bank; and I knew this was my best bet for a fish in the fading mountain light. Stripping off a few feet of fly line, my arm swayed, and a twenty foot cast unrolled, falling on plane to rest on what I hoped was a hungry trout's dinner plate. The fly was sipped down smoothly, and a short battle ensued. Hoisting the brilliantly colored, native Brook Trout from the cool water, I hollered to my father, and we admired the five-inch fish for as long as we deemed safe.

As I gazed into the glorious oranges and greens of that young fish, I recognized it as a cornerstone in my life. That night, I learned fly fishing is about homecomings and renewing old memories; it's about a first native fish—a trout on a self-tied fly. To this day, those five inches of fish serve as my foundation as an angler, and mean more to me than any fish ever will.

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: