In this edition:

Father's Day Ideas for the Outdoor Dad

This June 13th edition of the Outdoor Report is full of ideas for gifts for that special "outdoors Dad." But you won't see ads for new fangled gear and gadgets to wrap up as a gift. I learned from my Dad that the best gift for Fathers Day was sharing time and making great memories. Besides he already had two of everything, or so it seemed. A new fishing pole, camo truck mats, or rifle scope are nice, but include the gift of time to share in using these material things. With our busy lives these days, taking the time for an outdoor adventure, or making plans for a special trip this fall will create family bonds and memories that will last long after the other stuff. We hope the many stories and opportunities for outdoor related events in this edition will give you a great idea to honor your Dad or someone in your life that introduced you to the outdoors. If your kids aren't sure what to get you, go ahead and hint for the new shotgun, but note you would also prefer some time together to "unwrap" a very special gift.

David Coffman, Editor

Operation Dry Water

WARNING

Increased BUI Enforcement
June 22-24, 2012

Never Boat Under the Influence!

Boating Under the Influence (BUI) is dangerous. Nationwide, over 17% of boating-related fatalities are a result of alcohol use. Sun, wind, noise, vibration and motion intensify the effects of alcohol, drugs and some medications. They can slow reaction times, impair vision and lead to boating accidents. Also, operating a boat with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher is illegal. Penalties may include fines, jail, impoundment of boats, and loss of boating privileges. Curbing the number of alcohol and drug-related accidents and fatalities is key to achieving a safer and more enjoyable environment for recreational boating.

For more information on Operation Dry Water, visit http://operationdrywater.org.

Youth Hunters Experience Good Success for 2012 Spring Turkey Harvest

Spring turkey hunters reported harvesting 15,326 birds during the 2012 season. The statewide harvest was 2% lower than last year's total of 15,698 birds. Very little change was seen in counties east of the Blue Ridge Mountains (EBR) but there was a slight decline in counties west of the Blue Ridge Mountains (WBR).

The special Youth Hunting Day on April 7, 2012 saw a dramatic increase from 2011. Last year 347 birds were taken during the Spring Turkey Youth Hunt. This year 530 birds were harvested during the Youth Season, a 53% increase over last year. Although young turkey hunters only accounted for 4% of the total harvest, youth spring hunts are a good opportunity to introduce young people to hunting. VDGIF also offers a Youth Fall Turkey Hunt and many other opportunities for young hunters to go afield hunting or fishing. The Apprentice Hunter license is a great way to introduce adults to hunting. These incentives will hopefully increase recruitment of young hunters and retention of current hunters.

Details on the numbers... The East of the Blue Ridge harvest was essentially stable with a less than 1% increase. The EBR harvest was 10,527 in 2012 compared to 10,429 birds in 2011. In stark contrast, the harvest in WBR counties declined 9%. Last year 5,265 birds were killed in counties WBR, while 4,799 birds were reported in 2012. Fifteen percent of the gobbler harvest was reported on opening day. More gobblers (36%) were taken during the second week of the season than any other week of the season. Reproduction over the past two years has been near average. Little change in the spring harvest between years can be expected with average reproduction and with other population factors remaining similar. Most birds were harvested with shotguns (86%). Rifles accounted for 7% of the harvest while the balance were taken with bows, pistols, and muzzleloaders.

Over the past 10 years the turkey population has declined 1.2% annually. Due to the variation in harvests we now consider the turkey population to be stable. While we consider the statewide population to be stable, turkey populations across the state are not uniform. Based on kill per square mile of forest range, our highest turkey populations are in the tidewater and south piedmont regions. It is interesting to note, many of the counties that received birds during our trap and transfer program from Bath County now have higher population estimates than Bath County.

There are many important biological variables that may affect turkey populations and ultimately spring gobbler hunter satisfaction. Food is keenly important as hens need higher energy and protein levels for over-winter survival and for the different phases of reproduction, including egg laying, incubation, and brooding. Last year's mast crops were spotty but hopefully hens were able to build up body reserves. This year, winter and spring weather was exceptionally mild. With mild winter and spring conditions, hens' survival and body condition should have been good.

Spring weather also influences spring green-up which was particularly early this year. Early spring green-up likely provided foods that may have initiated the reproductive process earlier this spring. Some hunters believe the reproductive season was two weeks ahead of normal. Weather can also be a detrimental factor for turkey populations, especially if conditions are wet and cold over several days. In short, over-winter survival may have increased due to good fall foods and a mild spring. Early spring green-up likely resulted in earlier than normal reproductive chronology. The positive conditions for females likely contributed to gobbler survival as well, and should have resulted in better gobbling.

Additional information on the wild turkey, hunting regulations and tactics can be found on the Department's website.

The top 10 counties Spring Turkey Harvest:

20112012
Bedford493Bedford493
Pittsylvania452Pittsylvania425
Franklin448Halifax378
Southampton418Franklin375
Halifax417Southampton368
Campbell328Scott298
Scott317Surry265
Sussex305Grayson253
Grayson272Rockbridge249
Botetourt269Westmoreland246

Boating Safety Education Law Requires All PWC Operators, Boaters Age 30 and Younger to Take Safety Courses

Before you head out on the water, take a boating safety course! Virginia's Boating Safety Education Compliance Requirement states boaters must take a boating safety education course approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) and accepted by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF). The requirement has been phased-in by age group and category since 2009 and will continue to be phased-in over the next several years.

Currently, PWC (jet ski) operators age 50 and younger and motorboat operators 20 and younger who operate boats with motors of 10 horsepower and greater must complete a boating safety education course and have such proof in their possession while operating a boat or PWC.

On July 1, 2012, the law requires all PWC operators, and motorboat operators age 30 and younger who operate boats with motors of 10 horsepower and greater to have completed a boating safety education course and carry such proof in their possession while operating the vessel.

Boaters can take a classroom course, an internet course, or a challenge exam to meet the requirement. Classroom courses are taught by volunteer instructors throughout the state. There are several internet courses that are accepted by the VDGIF. Once you take a course, carry your course completion certificate or wallet card with you while operating a PWC or motorboat.

For boaters who have taken a boating safety course in the past, our optional Lifetime Virginia Boating Safety Education Card is available. This durable, driver's license-styled card is available for a fee of $10.00. You can get an application by visiting our website.

To learn more about boating laws in Virginia, and about boating safety education courses, visit the Department's website. Remember, everyone wants to have a safe, enjoyable day on the water. Do your part by wearing your life jacket and taking a boating safety education course. Be responsible, be safe, and have fun on the water!

Public Comment Period Through August 1st for Virginia Black Bear Management Plan

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) is seeking public input on its Draft Virginia Black Bear Management Plan. The comment period will run June 11th, through August 1, 2012. The original Virginia Black Bear Management Plan, first developed in 2001, is now being revised through the involvement of public stakeholders and wildlife managers. Because VDGIF's mission is "to serve the needs of the Commonwealth," it's important the process used to develop and revise the bear plan incorporates both public values (e.g., economic, sociological, and political) as well as biological considerations.

Beginning June 11, 2012, the draft plan will be available online. Members of the public will be able to review and submit comments online. Comments may also be mailed to Jaime Sajecki BBMP, VDGIF, 4010 W. Broad St, Richmond, VA 23230. The comment period ends August 1, 2012.

Guided by the VDGIF mission, the Virginia Black Bear Management Plan includes four goals that specify general directions for: (1) bear populations, (2) bear habitat, (3) bear-related recreation, and (4) human-bear interactions. Specific objectives will help guide the attainment of each goal, and potential strategies will identify how each objective will be achieved. By clarifying directions for black bear management, this plan will assist the VDGIF Board of Directors, VDGIF wildlife managers, and the public in addressing black bear issues.

Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss

Kids Fishing Day Events Provide Family Fun

More than 40 Kids Fishing Days are being planned state wide 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 statewide 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.

Kids 'n Fishing Photo Contest In celebration of National Fishing Week

Photos must be postmarked on or before June 16, 2012

Picture the excitement!

It certainly isn't hard to "picture it," kids 'n fishing that is - smiles, laughs, looks of anticipation and excitement. So, join in on the fun, catch the excitement of your child on film while fishing and enter his or her picture in the annual Kids 'n Fishing Photo Contest sponsored by Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Green Top Sporting Goods, and Shakespeare Tackle Company... celebrate National Fishing Week! The winning pictures are those that best capture the theme "kids enjoying fishing." Children in the first through third place photographs of each category will receive a variety of fishing-related prizes. Winning pictures will also be posted on the VDGIF website and may be used in a variety of VDGIF publications. There is no need to be a professional photographer. Any snapshot will do. For Contest Rules visit our website.

To Enter Send your photo, with the child's name, age, phone number and address, along with the Photo Contest Release Form (PDF), to:

2012 Kids 'n Fishing Photo Contest
Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
P.O. Box 11104
Richmond, VA 23230-1104

View the winning entries from the 2011 Kids 'n Fishing Photo Contest!

Waterfowl Predator Management Workshops Scheduled Statewide in 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.

Friends of Phelps Wildlife Management Host Events in June - July

The Friends of C.F. Phelps WMA have a scheduled meeting on Wednesday, June 27 at 7 pm with a presentation on the snakes of Virginia. The group will meet at the Sumerduck Ruritan Club at 5335 Sumerduck Road, Sumerduck, VA 22742. On July 18 the Friends group will meet at 7 pm at the Phelps Work Center for a pizza dinner with Hiking and Orientation Class afterwards. On August 25 a Work Day is planned at Phelps Work Center at 8 am (rain date August 26). To view what the Friends group has been doing, visit the Friends of C.F. Phelps WMA on Facebook at Friends of C.F. Phelps Wildlife Management Area and see photos of our Work Day and Tour of Phelps. For more information on the Friends of C.F. Phelps WMA or to be added to the distribution list for meeting reminders and notes, contact Patricia Wood at pwood12@earthlink.net or friendsofcfphelpswma@gmail.com.

Ft. Lee Dusters Hosting Sporting Clays Fundraising Shoot June 23

The Ft. Lee Dusters are asking for your support to represent Virginia AGAIN at the SCTP Nationals in Sparta, Illinois in July. The Dusters won the Nationals last year in Sporting Clays and are well on their way to do it again. On Saturday June 23, beginning at 10 AM a Sporting Clays Fundraising Shoot will be held at Central Virigina Sporting Clays in Palmyra in Fluvanna County. This will be a 100 Target shoot with a registration of $65.00. The format is 3 Lewis Classes 1st, 2nd, 3rd each class- $50/$30/$20 payout. BBQ Lunch will available to purchase. For more Info or directions call Brad @ 703-405-2110.

Ducks Unlimited To Host Greenwing Day for Kids in NOVA June 23

Parents! Looking for some outdoor fun for your kids? Consider Virginia Ducks Unlimited's District 1 Greenwing Day. Virginia DU District 1 is hosting its annual Greenwing Day for kids up to 17 years old from 8 am to 3 pm on June 23, 2012 at the Izaak Walton League Facility, 14708 Mount Olive Road, Centreville, Virginia 20122-0366. For $20 per kid, you get access to all kinds of outdoor activities such as Fishing; a Working Dog Retrieving and Training Demonstration; Duck Calling Contest and Demonstration; Building Blue Bird and Duck Nesting Boxes; Decoy Carving Demonstration by Charles Jobes, a renowned carver from MD; archery instruction; air rifle and/or .22 rifle instruction and target shooting; lunch and more. In addition the child will receive a Greenwing membership in Ducks Unlimited, the world's leader in wetlands and waterfowl conservation. Lunch for adults attending with their Greenwing(s) is by donation. Ducks Unlimited, Inc. is tax exempt under section 501 (c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. For more information and to buy tickets, please visit www.ducks.org/virginia/events or contact Sarah Mullins at novadu031@gmail.com. Hope to see you there!

Virginia Herpetological Society (VHS) to Hold Annual "HerpBlitz" at Mattaponi Wildlife Management Area (WMA), June 23-24

The VHS will hold its Annual 'HerpBlitz '(survey) at the new Mattaponi WMA, owned by VDGIF, in Caroline County along the beautiful Mattaponi River. This property is 2,542 acres and includes mature upland hardwood and mixed forest, managed loblolly pine stands, wetlands, and rivers. The WMA contains and borders 5 miles of the scenic Mattaponi River and another 1.5 miles of the South River, which include opportunities for canoeing or kayaking. There are also clearcuts, thinned pine stands, and log decks. Old oxbows lakes from the old channels of the Mattaponi River provide excellent aquatic habitat. Wetland habitats are abundant, too. 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 WMA is on Paige Road, State Rt. 605, near the town of Bowling Green. Only primitive camping is allowed on the WMA, while there are 2 private campgrounds nearby: Hidden Acres and R&D Family Hidden Acres and R&D Family Campground. Hotels may be found in the Bowling Green and Fredericksburg areas. Please contact the event leader to RSVP: Jason Gibson at frogman31@gmail.com.

Bowhunting Skills Workshop Hosted by Augusta Archers June 30

The experienced archers from Augusta Archers Club and certified VDGIF volunteer instructors will offer sessions on the "Basics of Bowhunting" at the Augusta Archers Club in Staunton June 30 from 9 amto 5 pm. This exciting workshop is for youth and adults who want to learn the skills of Bowhunting. Topics covered include archery equipment and accessories, treestand safety, game animal ID, ethical shot placement, an archery challenge course on the 3-D range and many other exciting topics. Archery experience is not a requirement. Pre-registration is required. Contact Linda Layser to pre-register or for more information at 540-490-0353.

Virginia Trappers Host Annual Sports Show July 13-15 in Orange

The Virginia Trappers Association is hosting their annual Convention and Sportsmen's Show at the Orange County Airport, near the town of Orange July 13-15, 2012. Whether you are an experienced or novice trapper, this event is one that you won't want to miss. There are workshops, exhibits, trapping supplies for sale and lots of experienced trappers to share information with you. The VTA Convention is a great place to meet with other trappers and VDGIF staff to learn about trapping regulations and gain additional trapping skills. For details visit the Virginia Trappers Association website or contact Art Foltz; artfoltz@comcast.net, (540) 630-1756 or Ed Crebbs; edcrebbs@yahoo.com, (540) 832-270.

Land Navigation Workshop at Holiday Lake 4-H Center July 13-15

Learn to navigate the woods of Virginia with a Map & Compass, or GPS at the Land Navigation Workshop at the Holiday Lake 4H Education Center near Appomattox July 13-15, 2012. The event begins with the basics of navigation and progresses rapidly to more advanced electronic GPS. Gain the skills and confidence you need to venture into the wilderness and more importantly return home. All of this plus lodging and GREAT meals for $120.00 per person. To register contact: www.trackingsurvival.com or 877-614-5289.

Woman's Outdoor Weekend "W.O.W." at Holiday Lake 4-H Center August 3-5

Come enjoy the weekend in a beautiful lakeside setting while learning the outdoor skills you've always wanted to master during the Woman's Outdoor Weekend "W.O.W.", August 3-5, 2012, at the Holiday Lake 4H Education Center near Appomattox. Each participant gets they're choice of 3 courses presented in a 4-hour session. Course options include: Hiking, Wilderness Survival, Outdoor First Aid, Kayaking, Outdoor Cooking, High Ropes, Canning, Canoeing, Rifle, Shotgun, Animal Tracking, Camouflage, Map & Compass, Wild Edibles, Nature Crafts, Archery, Bread Making, Climbing Wall, Stream Ecology and Amphibians & Reptiles. The entire weekend includes meals, lodging and all instruction for only $150.00 per person! This is the "DON'T MISS" event of the year! To register contact : www.trackingsurvival.com or call 877-614-5289.

Let's Play Ball... The Wildlife Foundation of VA, Bass Pro Shops and VDGIF Sponsor Richmond Flying Squirrels Game July 20

Come join The Wildlife Foundation of Virginia, Bass Pro Shops and VDGIF at the Richmond Flying Squirrels vs. Akron Aeros baseball game on Friday evening July 20, 2012 at The Diamond. The focus will be to celebrate the great outdoors through educational venues, on-the-field games, fan interactions, giveaways for all and more. It is also "sleepover night on the field" for the Scouts so the celebration gets even bigger! You don't want to miss this game with the introduction of the VDGIF's newest Wildlife K9 Units and The Floating Fishing School new pontoon boat sponsored by Bass Pro Shops and featured exhibits from Law Enforcement, Boating Safety, Hunter Education, Outdoor Report free subscription sign up, and much more. So, "Let's root, root, root for the home team, If they don't win it's a shame. For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out, if we don't see you at the game!" Let's show our spirit and support those great American traditions like fishing, hunting and baseball! Visit the Richmond Flying Squirrels website for tickets or contact Tom Wilcox, VDGIF, at 804.367.6892 or Tom.Wilcox@dgif.virginia.gov for event details.

29th Annual Sportsman Show Returns to Richmond Raceway Complex August 10-12

The 29th Annual Virginia Outdoor Sportsman's Show features a lot of new, exciting exhibits and demonstrations this year returning to the Richmond Raceway Complex! There's plenty of parking, more space for the 300 fun and exciting new exhibits, demonstrations and seminars- something for everyone in the family. Experienced and novice sportsmen and sportswomen can try the latest in new equipment and learn about new places and techniques to enjoy Virginia's great outdoors. At the three-day show August 10-12, 2012, Conservation Police Officers and Wildlife Biologists will be on hand to answer all your hunting, fishing and wildlife information questions. DMV Direct van will be on-site so you can conveniently purchase your hunting and fishing licenses, or the new 2013 Virginia Wildlife Calendar, even title a boat or other DMV business. Pick up your free copy of the new 2012-2013 Hunting Regulations & Information booklet that features descriptions of new regulations and opportunities to enhance your hunting experience this season. The new Wildlife K-9 Team will be there to demonstrate their unique skills assisting officers in wildlife investigations and search and rescue.

Hunting SAFELY & RESPONSIBLY is always foremost when afield. Hunter Education Instructors will have exhibits and demonstrations on safe firearms handling, tree stand use, waterfowl hunting and safety reminders for both experienced and novice hunters. This is your chance to see the biggest bucks harvested in Virginia. Deer hunters throughout Virginia will bring their mounts to this prestigious contest, organized by the Virginia Deer Hunters Association (VDHA). The Virginia Open Turkey Calling Championship will be held on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. sanctioned by the National Wild Turkey Federation. Celebrity guests include Lee & Tiffany, hosts of The Crush on the Outdoor Channel. Show Manager and Founder Hugh Crittenden notes he is giving away a special door prize- a 6-day pre-rut Kansas Bow Hunt valued at $2950 with Midwest Finest Whitetails! You must come to the Show to enter. Check the Show's website for information and to view videos on numerous seminars, exhibits, demonstrations, sportsmen celebrities, and contests.

Take a Friend, Make a Hunter... This is the perfect event to bring a friend that is interested in the Apprentice Hunting License to talk with experienced sportsmen about the many opportunities for hunting and try out the latest gear to enhance your experience.

People and Partners in the News

Ft. Lee S.C.T.P. Shooting Team Claims Virginia State Titles

In the last three weeks, the Ft. Lee "Dusters" Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP) Team have been competing in State competitions. On May 12, 2012 the team competed at Central Virginia Sporting Clays in Palmyra. The J.V. Team and Varsity Team both claim the title of Virginia State S.C.T.P. Sporting Clays Champions. Recently the team competed at Ft. Lee Trap & Skeet Club in the Virginia S.C.T.P. Trap & Skeet Championship. Again the "Dusters" proved that their shooting skills were no match for the other teams. The J.V. Team won 1st place in Skeet & Trap. The Varsity Team won 1st place in Skeet and Runner-Ups in Trap. The Intermediate team of Zachary Wells and Hunter Belch won 3rd place in Skeet. Now the biggest challenge lies ahead at National Level. The team is traveling to the S.C.T.P. Nationals to represent Virginia. The Nationals are July 17- 21, 2012 at the World Shooting Complex in Sparta, Illinois ,where there will be over 40 states represented and approximately 2100 youth competing. In the next 5 weeks the team will be practicing hard and preparing for this challenge."The guys are on their game and will do well at the Nationals", stated Coach Atkins.

The Varsity Team members are Alex Murray- Drakes Branch, Christian Pinney- Ruther Glen and Austin Chinault- Ruther Glen. The J.V. Team members are Colin Lewis- Crewe, Kevin Turner-Colonial Heights, John Mootz- Powhatan. The Intermediate Team members are Zachary Wells- Blackstone, and Hunter Belch- Richmond. The team is coached by Jeff Atkins- Farmville and Bernie Matthews- Oceanea.

The mission of the Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP) is simple and straightforward. It is to introduce school-age youths in grades 12 and under to the clay target sports and to facilitate their continued involvement in the shooting sports. The purpose is to provide a positive and supportive program for assisting young athletes in their growth and development as they tread life's pathway toward becoming productive and contributing members of society. The Scholastic Clay Target Program is the vehicle used to make this happen. The SCTP is focused on providing, promoting, and perpetuating opportunities for young Athletes to safely and enjoyably participate in a high-quality, team- based sport led by trained and dedicated adult coaches focused on helping their Athletes to become the best they are capable of becoming.

The SCTP is a YOUTH DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM providing young people with a positive experience in sports. The SCTP is designed to instill in young people a set of personal values or character traits for fair play, compassionate understanding, individual responsibility, sportsmanship, self-discipline and personal commitment - qualities that will serve them well throughout their lives and will be instrumental in helping each SCTP Athlete to reach his/her full potential.

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:

Public Comment Period May 1 - August 4, 2012 on Proposed Regulation Amendments

Proposed Regulation Amendments

The Virginia Board of Game and Inland Fisheries, pursuant to §§ 29.1-103, 29.1-501, 29.1-502, and 29.1-701 of the Code of Virginia, proposed the below amendments to the Commonwealth's fisheries, wildlife diversity (nongame), boating, and ADA-related land access regulations.

A public comment period on the regulatory proposals opened May 1, 2012 and closes at 5:00 PM on August 4, 2012. The Board will consider the proposals for possible adoption as final regulation amendments at its August 14, 2012 meeting. Written comments on the proposed regulation amendments should be submitted online at www.dgif.virginia.gov, or may be emailed to regcomments@dgif.virginia.gov or postal mailed to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Attn. Policy Analyst and Regulatory Coordinator, 4016 West Broad Street, Richmond, Virginia 23230, and received no later than August 4, 2012.

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."

Rockfish Valley Foundation Natural History Center Now Affiliate of Virginia Museum of Natural History

The Rockfish Valley Foundation Natural History Center is now an affiliate of the Virginia Museum of Natural History (VMNH), providing both institutions with a variety of partnership benefits and collaborative opportunities. The Rockfish Valley Foundation Natural History Center is located in Nellysford, Nelson County, Virginia. As the state museum of natural history for Virginia, VMNH serves all citizens of the Commonwealth through exhibits, education programs, scientific research and collections, and partnerships with other institutions. The VMNH affiliation program further advances the museum's statewide mission. "This agreement allows VMNH to reach audiences with our exhibits and programs much more efficiently," said Dr. Joe B. Keiper, executive director of VMNH. "We can also bring to bear the state's natural history collections to support the missions of both organizations."

The mission of the Rockfish Valley Foundation is to preserve the natural, historical, ecological and agricultural resources of the Rockfish Valley. The organization accomplishes this through enriching the lives of the communities served by supporting the Rockfish Valley Loop Trail system, Spruce Creek Park and the lands associated with them. The RVF supports conservation, recreation, preservation and environmental education and promotes a rural tourism experience in the Rockfish Valley of Nelson County. The Center will also provide a resource to teachers, parents, and young scientists. As part of the grand opening of the new RVF Natural History Center on June 16, 2012, VMNH staff will be installing elements of the recent "Living off the Land" exhibit at the center in the coming weeks. The "Living off the Land" exhibit was on display at VMNH from June 4, 2011 to February 25, 2012. The exhibit will include an array of taxidermied native wildlife, including black bear, wild turkey, squirrel, possum and others. Other displays will give young visitors the chance to experience animal pelts, insects, rocks, and other artifacts. There will also be a dugout canoe set in front of the animals; it's a great photo op to have your child's picture taken in the canoe.

The RVF was founded in 2005 and dedicated its first birding trail through the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries in September 2006. Since that time, the scope of the foundation and its support from the community have grown significantly. In May 2011, it established its headquarters at the Wintergreen Country Store, which will now also house the Natural History Center.

For more information about the Rockfish Valley Foundation, visit www.rockfishvalley.org or www.nelsonscenicloop.com. For more information about the Virginia Museum of Natural History, visit www.vmnh.net.

EXHIBIT OPENS SATURDAY, JUNE 16 Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each Saturday and Sunday FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

The Living Off the Land exhibit opens Saturday June 16 at the Rockfish Valley Foundation Natural History Center located on Rt 151 near Nellysford in Nelson County Learn how the Indians, early settlers, and present day hunters "live off the land." Meet Rocky, the bear, and his animal friends. Feel animal pelts and other hands on exhibits. Sit in a dugout canoe. See how the Indians and man used camouflage to hide themselves as they hunted turkey, deer, and other wild game for food. For more information, contact info@rockfishvalley.org or call 434-361-0271.

Been There - Done That! Can't Wait to Go Again...

Editor's note: Each edition of the Outdoor Report features a variety of great events and activities that get our staff, volunteers, partners and readers out in the field to enjoy adventures in our wild places. In this Section called "Been there – done that! Can't wait to go again...", we tell the 'rest of the story' from staff and partner observations participating in these memorable events...

Hunter Education Challenge Names Champions for 2012

The 2012 Hunter Education Challenge was held at Holiday Lake 4-H Center on May 4, 5 & 6. This year's "Challenge" will once again go down in the history books as a "safe" and "successful" event. Thirty teams, representing 10 different counties from across the Commonwealth participated in this year's event. A total of 152 young sportsmen and sportswomen competed this year, a significant increase from previous years. The overall team champion in both the junior and the senior division was Powhatan County. Overall individual winners included Tripp Smith from Powhatan in the junior division, and Casey Legg from Scott County in the senior division.

First place team award honors in the junior division go to Powhatan in Outdoor Skills, Archery, Rifle and Hunter Responsibility test, with Nottoway taking first in Shotgun. In the senior division Powhatan placed first in Outdoor Skills, Hunter Responsibility Test and Rifle, with Scott County taking first place in Archery and Shotgun.

Individual award honors in Outdoor Skills go to Colton Salyer from Scott County in the junior division and Cadis Bateman from Powhatan in the senior division. In Archery, Powhatan's Tripp Smith for the junior's and Anthony Schaapman from Powhatan for the senior's. Amy Adcock of Powhatan took first place honors in the Hunter Responsibility Test in the junior division, while Kelsey Kivikko of Powhatan took senior honors. Shotgun first place honors go to Jack Smith from Powhatan in the junior division, and Michael Jennings from Scott and Aaron Jarvis from Culpepper for the seniors. Tripp Smith from Powhatan for the junior's in rifle, with teammate Dana Thomas making a perfect score and winning first place for the senior's.

As we close the books on this year's Hunter Education Challenge, special thanks go to all of the volunteer Hunter Education Instructors and VDGIF Staff for making this a "safe "and "successful" Challenge.

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.

Time is Running Out to Purchase Your Riparian Stationary Blind License

Blind licenses can be purchased online or at any license agent

Waterfowl hunters who hunt from riparian stationary blinds are being reminded by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) that the time period for purchasing a stationary riparian blind license is coming to an end. Riparian owners, their lessees or permittees have until June 15, 2012 to purchase a license. In addition, plates with a 2013 decal must be affixed to a stake or blind by June 30, 2012.

There has been no change in the date a riparian stationary blind must be erected. For all stationary blinds, if a stake has been erected on the site such stake must be replaced by a blind by November 1. Such stationary blinds shall conform to the standards prescribed by law.

All blind licenses are available through the VDGIF's point of sale system just as other licenses are sold. Remember, hunters no longer have to go to the license agent in the county where the blind will be located. They can go to any license agent in the state or purchase the blind license via the internet.

Hunters who purchase their blind license online will be able to print out a PDF copy of their application information. The license for their blind will be emailed immediately after the sale is complete. As with purchasing directly from a license agent, hunters can request new plates online and the plate and decal will be mailed within three to five business days.

More information about the dates for purchasing blinds is posted on the Department's website, and will also be listed in upcoming regulation booklets.

Safety and courtesy are free, share them generously

Spring Squirrel Season Closes This Saturday June 16

There's only three days left in the statewide squirrel season which opened June 2- and closes this Saturday June 16, 2012. With schools out, it's a great time to get out with Dad for a fun Father's Day hunt to make some memories and brush up on shooting and hunting skills. The season is also open on specific VDGIF Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) as listed on the VDGIF website and on all private lands. Fox squirrels may only be harvested on all private lands in counties with an open fox squirrel season and on the following WMAs: Big Survey, Goshen, Havens, Little North Mountain, Merrimac Farm, Phelps, Rapidan, and Thompson WMAs. Hunting squirrels with dogs is now allowed during the June season.

Although it may be a foreign idea to many sportsmen, a June season is biologically justified. Squirrels have two peak reproductive periods - one during February-March and another during July-August. Therefore, hunters can harvest squirrels during the June season without impacting populations.

"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

Nathaniel Fisher Gets First Gobbler on Last Day!

Nathaniel Fisher age 15 from Fluvanna County killed his first gobbler while hunting with his dad, Craig and friend Randy Mays, on a friends woodland farm on the last day of the spring season. After calling for over an hour in the morning, a gobbler answered and began coming in. The bird never got in range and eventually walked away. While coming out of the deep hollow, calling as they walked, suddenly just as they approached the crest of the main ridge a gobbler thundered less than 60 yards away, still out of sight... Both dad and son found quick cover and Randy continued to yelp from behind them. This gobbler didn't hesitate and came right into Nathaniel's range. He squeezed the trigger on his trusty old Remington 870 12 gauge and the strutting gobbler flopped to the leaves covering the woods road. The big Tom weighed 18 lbs. with a 101/2 inch split beard and 1 ¼ inch spurs. Nathaniel carefully dressed the bird for a family feast that weekend. He preserved the tail and feet and made two wing bone calls- one to give to his buddy Randy in appreciation of the many hunts they have enjoyed together. Congratulations Nathaniel on your "first-last day of the season" gobbler!

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!

Be Safe... Have Fun!

Operation Dry Water: June 22-24, 2012

As part of Operation Dry Water: June 22-24, 2012, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Conservation Police Officers are intensifying efforts to detect and deter boat operators who are operating under the influence of alcohol or dangerous drugs. Learn more »

Inflatable PFD Makes A Perfect Father's Day Gift

Struggling to find the perfect gift for your dad? Consider giving him an inflatable life jacket. Inflatable life jackets are lightweight and easy to wear, which makes it more likely that your dad will wear it unlike most life jackets that he probably has lying around his boat. Whether you are fishing, cruising or paddling, inflatable life jackets are perfect for keeping the "World's Best Dad" afloat. Keep in mind, that if you dad prefers to go "high impact" on the water and would rather be waterskiing, wake boarding (go dad!), riding on personal watercraft (jet ski), or white-water paddling, he will need a life jacket other than an inflatable – there are many inherently buoyant life jackets better suited for these activities. Also, inflatable life jackets are U.S. Coast Guard approved for people age 16 and older.

I often get questions about the cost of an inflatable life jacket. They are more expensive than traditional life jackets. However, when you consider that of the 21 people that died on Virginia's waters in 2011, 17 of them were not wearing life jackets and drowned, the price of an inflatable life jacket is well worth it.

When you go to your favorite sporting goods store to pick one out, the inflatable life jackets will come with either a manual or automatic activation. According to Mustang Survival, "Manuals are perfect for when there is a reasonable chance that you will end up in the water, but you're confident that you'll be able to pull the inflation cord when you need it. For example when paddling, kayaking, or wade fishing. Automatics are your best choice if you don't expect to end up in the water, but want the confidence that if the unexpected happens, the PFD will inflate within seconds of being in the water."

It is the law in Virginia that there must be one wearable (Type I, II, III, or V) U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) approved life jacket of the appropriate size for each person on the boat. In addition, no person may operate a recreational vessel on federal waters with any child under age 13 on the vessel unless each child is either wearing an appropriate life jacket approved by the USCG, or below deck, or in an enclosed cabin. This applies to waters in which the USCG has enforcement jurisdiction, and in Virginia that includes the Chesapeake Bay, Smith Mountain Lake, Lake Gaston, Kerr Reservoir (Buggs Island Lake), Claytor Lake, Lake Moomaw, and other inland waters that are considered navigable. VDGIF is asking boaters to make a commitment to wear their life jackets at all times while on the water.

It is recommended for anyone who operates a boat to complete a boating safety education course is approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) and accepted by VDGIF. Virginia's Boating Safety Education Compliance Regulation is being phased in over the next several years. If you have previously taken a boating safety education course and have your card, you are in compliance with the new regulation. Visit the VDGIF website for course information and for information about how to get replacement cards. To learn more about boating laws in Virginia and about boating education courses, visit the Department's website.

For more information about life jackets, check out the U.S. Coast Guard's Boating Safety website.

For more information on boating water safety and the BoatU.S. Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water go to BoatUS.com. For details on Virginia's laws or to take a boating safety course, check out the DGIF boating website.

Video Features Squirrel Skinning Quick and Easy and Panfish Preparation and Filleting

Another great DVD is now being offered at the VDGIF store, this one a double-feature: Squirrel Skinning Quick and Easy and Panfish Preparation and Filleting. If you want to learn one of the best methods we've seen for skinning squirrels, former Game Warden John Berry teaches it in detail on the first video. This video has been extremely popular to walk-in customers at VDGIF headquarters, and is now available for ordering on-line, VDGIF Outdoor Education Instructor Jenny West demonstrates various ways to prepare tasty panfish, including scaling, dressing, and filleting. Get both "how to" videos on one DVD for $8.00, shipping included. The DVD makes a great gift for sporting enthusiasts young & old.

Order your own copy today!

Be Aware of Lyme Disease and Prevent Tick Bites

Remember spring is the time to be aware of ticks and the potential for Lyme disease. Especially for turkey hunters walking through grass fields and woods. Information about Lyme disease and what people should do if they are bitten by a tick can be found on the Virginia Department of Health website. Virginia Wildlife Magazine featured an article about Lyme disease prevention that can be read on our agency website.

The best way to avoid contracting Lyme disease is to prevent tick bites. Use insect repellant to prevent ticks from getting on you. There are many kinds of effective insect repellants on the market, so read up on benefits and precautions of the various kinds. Some may be applied directly to the skin, while others should only be applied to clothing. Read the label! Note the proper method to remove ticks (PDF) to prevent infection. Should you notice the target type ring around a tick bite or any of the symptoms of Lyme disease, seek medical attention immediately, as early detection and treatment will speed recovery in most cases. Be sure and check yourself, your children and your pets frequently whenever outdoors and after you return home for a few days.

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 Middlesex 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.

Golden Eagle Released Back to Wild

On June 6, the Wildlife Center of Virginia released a Golden Eagle at the Devil's Knob overlook at Wintergreen Resort in Nelson County. The release was one of three "big releases" during the week of June 4.

The Golden Eagle — Wildlife Center patient #12-0095 — was admitted to the Center on February 23 from Page County; the eagle sustained a left-wing fracture and other wounds during a research operation by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Veterinary fellow Dr. Miranda Sadar operated on this bird, and the eagle recovered from its injuries. The bird has spent time in the Center's large flight pens – including time as the "star" of Critter Cam, the Center's online live cam. Read the story on the dedication of the new large flight pen at the Wildlife Center where the eagle was rehabilitated in the May 23, 2012 edition of the Outdoor Report.

Dr. Dave McRuer, the Center's veterinary director, did the honors and released the Golden Eagle in front of a crowd of about 50 people. Also participating in the release was Jeff Cooper, eagle biologist for VDGIF. After walking to the edge of the overlook, Dr. McRuer tossed the Golden Eagle into the air. The eagle took off and soared out of sight. The crowd cheered and began to dissipate; some stayed for the Wildlife Center tradition of enjoying cookies at an eagle release.

After several minutes passed, the Golden returned to the release site – as the eagle flew by overhead, the remaining crowd realized that there were two Red-tailed Hawks in close pursuit! After a couple of minutes of being dive-bombed, the Golden Eagle ignored the hawks and caught a thermal – and flew higher and higher. Once he was high in the sky, he soared south — out of sight. The Golden Eagle was not outfitted with a transmitter; the bird was banded prior to release.

For more information and photos about the eagle release and other programs offered by the Center visit the Wildlife Center website.

Notes for Young Nature Explorers

This section features articles and tips of interest to youngsters to encourage them to get outdoors and explore nature. Observing and exploring the natural environment can be exciting, interesting, and fun: plus provide the types of experiences that cannot be found in books, the internet, or video games. The Virginia Wildlife calendar lists natural events that can serve as a "lesson plan" to get students outdoors exploring, observing, and having fun while learning about the woods, fields, and streams and the fascinating plants and animals that share these habitats with us. Each edition we will bring you ideas on topics, natural occurrences, and events to spark your interests in exploring nature. Make it a family adventure!

Virginia Naturally Website Link to School Environmental Learning Programs

Visit the Virginia Naturally website now for ideas on nature learning activities. Teachers, there are also ideas for workshops and training available for your continuing education and getting a start on environmental lesson plans for the next semester.

Nature Observations from the Virginia Wildlife Calendar

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

Answers to May 23rd edition quiz for nature events for early June...

Get your copy of the 2012 Virginia Wildlife Calendar here.

**Don't forget that June 16, 2012 is the deadline for submitting photos to the Kids 'n Fishing Photo Contest

Habitat Improvement Tips

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...

Operation Dry Water: June 22-24, 2012

As part of Operation Dry Water: June 22-24, 2012, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Conservation Police Officers are intensifying efforts to detect and deter boat operators who are operating under the influence of alcohol or dangerous drugs. Learn more »

Region I - Tidewater

CPO's Assist with Kid's Fishing Day on the Chickahominy... On Saturday May 19, 2012, Conservation Police Officers Baker and Hickman assisted with a Kid's Fishing Day event in New Kent County at Chickahominy Reservoir. The annual event is open to kids up to 16 years old. Prizes were given to each child that participated with ages ranging from 3 – 14 years old. CPO K 9 Officer Megan Vick attended the event with her dog "Jake" and was a big hit with the children. Although the fish were not too cooperative that day, everyone had a great time and learned a little about freshwater fishing.

Region II – Southside

Drunk Boater Caught After Costly Hit and Run Accident... On Sunday, May 20, 2012, Conservation Police Officer Matthew Silicki arrested a hit and run boat operator on Smith Mountain Lake. The 38 year old Franklin County man was also charged with OUI with a B.A.C. of .13. District 21 and 22 officers assisted with the arrest and follow-up investigation. The suspect was operating a rental 24 foot pontoon boat with three passengers aboard. The pontoon boat sustained $5,000.damage. The 21foot Baja boat that was struck by the pontoon boat was occupied by the operator and two passengers and was a total loss. Miraculously there were no injuries on either boat.

Region III - Southwest

CPO's and Volunteers Host Wounded Warrior Spring Turkey Hunt... The 2nd Annual Wounded Warrior Spring Turkey Hunt was conducted on May 10-12, 2012 in Grayson County. The hunt was organized and hosted by Conservation Police Officer George Shupe and his wife Rebecca along with one of last year's hunters, retired Gunnery Sergeant Tom Allen. Seven new Wounded Warriors and one returning from last year's hunt took part in the 2 ½ day spring gobbler hunt that took place on the 2000 acre River Ridge Cattle Company and other properties in Grayson County. The wounded veterans represented every branch of service and served in conflicts from the Korean War to Iraq. Guides assisted each hunter and consisted of members of the Grayson Chapter of the NWTF, VDGIF Biologist Bill Bassinger, and local landowners. Lodging was provided by the YMCA Camp Cheerio Outdoor Adventures.

Meals for the hunt were donated by Bojangles, Hardees, Subway, and local residents. Lunch on Friday was held at the Grayson County VFW were the women's auxiliary presented the Warriors with a challenge coin from the VFW Post. A steak dinner on Friday was donated by the River Ridge Cattle Company. Officers Shupe's wife Rebecca, along with her mother and father prepared all the side dishes and desserts for the dinner. Last year's hunters and other veterans with the Virginia Wounded Warriors Program attended the dinner and a bluegrass band provided music for the guests. Donated gifts and departmental satchels were given to each hunter and the Wounded Warriors presented their guides with a plaque and challenge coin from the VA Wounded Warrior Program. Officer Wes Billings and canine "Josie" provided a demonstration of the K9 program to the guests. Also in attendance were Sgt. Rolland Cox, Hunter Education Specialist Jeff Pease and Captain Clark Greene.

On the Thursday evening hunt, Biologist Bill Bassinger and his Wounded Warrior harvested a mature gobbler within an hour of leaving camp. At the conclusion of the hunt a total of five turkeys were harvested and one hunter missed a bird. For three of the five successful hunters these were their first turkeys. Each successful hunter will receive a free mount donated by local taxidermists and Noonkester Freeze Dried Turkey Heads in Abingdon donated all the heads and body forms.

Turkey Poacher Busted for More than Just Turkeys... On May 18, 2012 Virginia Conservation Police Officer Jason Harris received a complaint on a subject in Wythe County for failing to check turkeys and exceeding the bag limit of turkeys. Officer Harris responded to the Rural Retreat section of Wythe County and interviewed the subject concerning the allegation. During the interview, Officer Harris observed a breast feather from a wild turkey lying on the kitchen floor. A beard was also observed in the floor board of the suspects F150 pickup. The subject confessed to killing the turkey and failing to check a turkey after being confronted with the beard from the truck and the breast feather from the kitchen floor. While checking with Richmond on prior convictions marijuana plants were observed beside the front porch as well as in tubs on the porch. Conservation Police Officer George Shupe and K9 Officer Wes Billings responded to the location and a search warrant was obtained. The search turned up illegal turkey parts and 15 marijuana plants valued at $18,000. The subject admitted to maintaining the marijuana and to transplanting the plants to other areas on his property. Felony charges are pending for manufacturing marijuana, failing to check and illegal possession of a wild turkey.

New River Anglers Caught with No License and Undersized Fish... On Saturday, May 26, 2012, Conservation Police Sergeant Charlie Mullins and Officer Francis Miano conducted a boat patrol on the New River in Giles County. At approximately 4:35 pm, officers were checking two bank fishermen when Sgt. Mullins observed two subjects on an island with a stringer of bass which appeared to be in the 14-20 inch slot limit for the New River. When officers approached the subjects, they began to run away and a foot pursuit ensued. Sgt. Mullins dropped off Officer Miano on the island and patrolled the area to see if they could flush out the subjects. Officer Miano tracked the two individuals through the heavily wooded island and found them at the river shore approximately 400 yards away. When questioned about the fish they had, one subject stated that he threw them back into the water prior to our arrival. While running, the subjects ditched their fishing gear and supplies. They stated that they ran because they did not have a fishing license. Both subjects were charged with license violations and unlawful possession of fish.

Region IV - Mountains & Shenandoah Valley - Northern Piedmont

Conservation Awareness Day Features Roles of CPOs... Conservation Awareness Day took place on May 8th and 9th at the four Frederick County Middle Schools. Conservation Awareness Day is an annual event organized by the Virginia Cooperative Extension. This program for all 6th-graders is intended to make students aware of the need for the conservation of our natural resources, as well as introducing students to professions in the natural resources field. Senior Officer Ray Solomon, Officers Chance Dobbs, Wayne Billhimer conducted talks at various schools. They discussed the history of the VDGIF and its unique funding, the role of Conservation Police Officers and law enforcement techniques, while displaying various pieces of equipment used to enforce hunting, fishing, boating laws, as well as boating safety. They explained why wildlife laws are necessary and how they benefit conservation efforts. K9 Officer Billhimer spoke about the K9 program and its role in the protection of our natural resources. He discussed how a K9 tracks human scent and locates evidence. The kids received Billhimer & Justice trading cards as well as hunting/fishing information streams.

CPOs Demonstrate Duties for Fredrick County Youth Program Explorers... On May 21st Senior Virginia Conservation Police Officer Ray Solomon, Officer Ian Ostlund, K9 Officer Wayne Billhimer, and Sgt. Carl Martin provided a 2-hour youth program for the Explorers of the Frederick County Sheriff's Office. The program was intended to expose the youth group to the profession of wildlife law enforcement and the duties of a Conservation Police Officer. Senior Officer Solomon discussed the history of the VDGIF and Virginia Game Wardens/Conservation Police Officers (CPO's). He explained the need for wildlife laws and the benefit to public safety and natural resource protection. While discussing laws enforced by CPO's, he provided the group with case examples; photographs from actual cases were also displayed in order to explain a variety of enforcement situations. K9 Officer Billhimer discussed the role of VDGIF's K9 Program and the use of his partner, Justice. The group was able to witness K9 Officer Billhimer and Justice in action as they located hidden objects. Everyone was very impressed with the effectiveness of the K9 program in wildlife law enforcement. Officer Ostlund provided a presentation to the group concerning the equipment utilized by CPO's in the performance of their duties.

YOU can help support the K9 Teams

Editors note... The overwhelming and continuing success to the VDGIF law enforcement and educational efforts of the three K9 Teams during the past year has not gone unnoticed. Although the K9 Teams focus is on wildlife-related activity, including wildlife detection, tracking, and article recovery, the educational and public relations value is priceless as noted in reports in previous editions of the CPO Notebook. In order to have enhanced coverage of all five administrative regions statewide, two additional K9 teams have been authorized and are undergoing an extensive and comprehensive training course leading to graduation and certification then a period of active "in the field OJT". These two new K9 teams will help reduce response time to incidents, which is usually a critical factor in the successful outcome of an investigation or search and rescue. Look for a feature on the two new K9 teams in the June 27th, 2012 edition of the Outdoor Report... We've gone to the dogs!! And we're proud and pleased as we can be!!

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

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.

Operation Dry Water

WARNING

Increased BUI Enforcement
June 22-24, 2012

Never Boat Under the Influence!

Boating Under the Influence (BUI) is dangerous. Nationwide, over 17% of boating-related fatalities are a result of alcohol use. Sun, wind, noise, vibration and motion intensify the effects of alcohol, drugs and some medications. They can slow reaction times, impair vision and lead to boating accidents. Also, operating a boat with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher is illegal. Penalties may include fines, jail, impoundment of boats, and loss of boating privileges. Curbing the number of alcohol and drug-related accidents and fatalities is key to achieving a safer and more enjoyable environment for recreational boating.

For more information on Operation Dry Water, visit http://operationdrywater.org.

Dominion Power Adds Canoe Access Platform to Franklin Boat Ramp

Jeff Turner, Blackwater Nottoway Riverkeeper Program (BNRP) Director collaborated with Dominion Power to build a canoe/kayak access platform onto the pier at the VDGIF boat ramp in Franklin. Dominion Power asked the Blackwater Nottoway Riverkeeper Program how it could help people better enjoy the natural resource we have in the Blackwater River. Jeff advised that low water conditions often make it difficult for canoeist and other boaters to get in and out of their boats at the pier. The new drop-down access ramp will also benefit other owners of small craft who may not have the physical ability to climb up the ladders on the original pier. Jeff also advised the drop-down platform would help when the BNRP do their Eco-Cruises on days when the water is low. Dominion Power provided the funding and also a team of about 30 volunteers from various company work locations and got the job done in two days. The City of Franklin assisted with the project to handle the permits and other administrative requirements. The ramp facility at Franklin is now even more accessible to all who want to come and enjoy the Blackwater River.

Triploid Trout Stocked in Clinch Mountain WMA May 15th

In the May 23 edition of the Outdoor Report we featured this story on the partnership effort that lead to the stocking of triploid brook trout by VDGIF Wildlife Bureau staff into Little Tumbling Creek on the Clinch Mountain Wildlife Management Area in Region 3. This was part of a major restoration effort of approximately 4 miles of Little Tumbling Creek which was once a pristine brook trout stream.

New for this edition is the Youtube video put together by Appalachian Power which documents the brook trout stocking event on Little Tumbling Creek and interviews with the key partners in this project.

Why stock triploid trout? In recent decades, acidic precipitation and poor buffering capacity in the watershed have resulted in degraded water quality which prevents fish from surviving. VDGIF in partnership with Dr. Dan Downey at James Madison University have developed a liming program which should mitigate the impacts of the acid deposition and help restore the stream to a suitable condition to support aquatic life. Appalachian Power (AP) agreed to construct a "spur" road to access the stream in conjunction with a transmission line maintenance road that was constructed in the watershed. This road was completed last fall, and it provided suitable access to apply lime which had been stockpiled in the vicinity. Due to the warm temperatures and very little snowfall, Bureau staff was able to apply lime in the stream during the winter.

VDGIF Regional Aquatic Resources Manager William B. Kittrell, Jr. noted, "Other partners include Trout Unlimited who is providing approximately $20,000 (a grant from AP) for water quality analysis, additional lime and signage. DEQ is also assisting in this effort by providing expertise with aquatic insect surveys. This project was originally developed over 10 years ago, and with the help of many Bureau staff members and all our partners, it is finally moving along. The stocking of triploid brook trout is an attempt to develop a non-reproducing fishery as a "place holder" until we can eventually get a reproducing population of southern strain brook trout established. This is something that TU is really interested in doing with us. I recently gave a tour to some Appalachian Power and TU officials. The AP public relations staff will be working with us to attend the May 15th stocking and do a press event. We'll keep you posted on our website."

The Outdoors Unlimited Online Magazine Video Library: It's finally here!

Anglers now (and very soon hunters) will be able to go to the ODUMagazine™ website click on the "Video Library" tab choose a species of fish, choose a fishing technique and watch an ODUMagazine™ recommended video, on how to improve your time and success on the water. Larry Thornhill, Editor and Chief of the on-line magazine notes, "The " Video Library " is an easy way for anglers to find the video(s) that will hopefully impact their knowledge and fishing abilities. We have streamlined the process for you. You no longer have to search through hundreds if not thousands of videos that may or may not apply to the topic you are looking for. Wasting all your time and effort just to find out that it wasn't even close to what you were looking for. We have spent countless hours viewing and categorizing each video in an effort to make your search easier, by creating this easy to use library. For example; click on the "Video Library" tab, select Bass Fishing, a drop-down screen appears, select, " Carolina Rigs " click on the link and a list of per-selected videos will appear covering "Carolina Rigs". Then all you have to do is click on the video that you want to watch. It's just that simple."

Various manufacturer videos will be included in the library, so anglers can dive directly into how a specific bait is to be presented and fished. Our "Video Library" will be growing weekly with newly recommended videos.

Check back often to see what has been added. We will also be making announcements on ODU Fishing News when new sections are added. We are working in the library as we speak, finding the videos (see below) that help anglers improve their time on the water.

For further information, sponsoring a section, or possibly have your video added, contact Bill Schwarz, Assistant Editor at schwarzw@odumagazine.com.

Here's some links for bass and crappie...

Bass Fishing: Jigs, Carolina Rigs, Texas Rigs and Alabama Rigs.

Crappie Fishing: Bobber and Float Fishing, Crappie Rigs, Minnow Rigging, Cranking Crappie and Trolling For Crappie.

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 Middlesex 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.

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!

Top Artificial Baits for Sunfish

Sunfish are plentiful in Virginia's lakes, ponds, rivers and streams and they are a lot of fun to catch – especially with artificials. The most common sunfish in our waters include bluegill, redear, redbreast, pumpkinseed and warmouth. For other species such as bass, there are thousands of lures and techniques to choose from, but the lure selection is much simpler with sunfish and they are typically easier to catch.

The following are my top lures for sunfish. I will fish all of them on 2-4 lb. monofilament line. I fish with larger rods and reels than the common ultra-light and micro outfits. A larger reel gives me a bigger spool for increased casting distance, smoother drag and higher gear ratio. A longer rod assists in longer, more accurate casts and allows for greater control of my lure and the fish once hooked. I often use a 5' to 5 1/2' light action rod with 2 lb. test and 6' to 7' medium-light to medium action rod when using 4 lb. test.

Curley Tail Grub – The grub is the mainstay for sunfish and if I could fish with only one bait; this would be it. In clear water or for finicky fish use a 1" grub on a 1/32 oz. jighead with 2 lb. line. For aggressive or larger fish, use a 1.5"-2" grub on a 1/16 oz. head. For deeper water, heavy current or wind; scale up to a 3/32 or 1/8 oz head. I prefer jigheads without a collar. Plastic grubs will last a lot longer and stay on well. The bulky collar often tears up the grub after catching a few fish. Retrieve with a steady swimming action and adjust your rod angle and speed to control the depth of your bait.

Trout Magnet – It may be designed for trout, but it will flat out catch the sunfish. Use the smallest swivel you can buy, #10 or #12, above about 12-18" of 4-6 lb. test mono leader to prevent line twist and to add a little weight. Cast out and let it fall naturally through the water column; this is when most strikes will occur. Hop it a couple times after the initial fall and let it fall again, then reel it in and try another cast.

Slider Grub – This grub has a small paddle type tail that is more subtle than a curly tail grub. I use this for larger sunfish, when fish are nipping at a curly tail or in cold water when I want less action. I often shorten the bait by clipping off the tip of the grub at the first or second rib.

Garland Baby Shad – A shad shape grub that has a straight tail and is perfect for vertical presentations, deep water or fishing on the bottom. The erratic fall and natural minnow shape is irresistible.

Beetle Spin – A classic! Use the smallest 2 sizes, 1/32 and 1/16 oz. These baits typically come with a straight body grub, but any grub can be used in its place. They are very weedless which makes them great for beginners. Fish with a steady retrieve to keep the blade spinning.

Thill Night 'N Day Float, ¾" Oval – This is not a lure, but a must-have tool for sunfish. Works perfect for presentations along deeper weed-lines, around boat docks or when fish are not in a chase mood. Any float will work, but the Thill float is tops!

Fishing for sunfish with artificials opens up a new and fun dimension in fishing that is often overlooked. Not only is it sporting to catch these feisty fish on light tackle, but catching a variety of species such as bass, crappie, pickerel and catfish is common. Give it a try and you will be hooked!

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

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

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

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

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

Rules for submitting photos to the group:

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

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

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

If you have already purchased your 2012 fishing license, we would like to thank you for helping to support Virginia's wildlife and natural resources.

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

Sarah White's Notebook

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

The following is one of my Mom's favorite memories of fishing with her Dad, John Gartner, outdoor writer and conservationist.

You catch them, you clean them. One of my Dad's Mantras. In my memory all those cleaning tables blend together into one satisfying blur. It is hot, but a breeze is blowing in from somewhere cool. Conversations cheerful. Lots of laughing, lots of scales flying, rainbows in each separate one if you looked close enough. Exhilaratingly smelly, slimy fish guts running through my fingers as we rinse the filets, all ready to bring back to Mom. Looking forward to dinner. Perfect. Thanks, Daddy.

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. It is HOT on the creek but the fish are biting. The water temperature is 81 degrees and the visibility is at 13 ft. mid lake. Bass are harder to find now, but some nice fish were caught. Try fishing the shade side of points, large humps and islands. Using drop shot or Carolina rigs and slow rolling spinner baits will catch fish Top-water early in coves with deeper water close by is the key and stay in the shade and use loud lures. We are seeing some nice shellcrackers but they are in the deep water along the ledges; once again fish in the shade with 8 to 10 ft. of line under your float, try red worms or crickets. Be patient and try moving often. We saw crappie caught on Road Runners trolled slow in 15 to 18 ft. of water, minnows also caught some in the same depth. Try medium minnows, the larger ones will take them now. Cats are taking large minnows and small gills look for them along points and ledges in water 15 to 20 ft. Remember that we open at 6:00 a.m. on weekends now. And a new shipment of DEATH SHIMMER SPINNER BAITS are due in this week.

Beaverdam Reservoir: (804) 693-2107. Contributed by Park Supervisor Patti McGrath. We now have a better idea of where the bass are! Currently, it is looking like the bass are hanging in the deeper water. A fisherman caught a 7 lb. bass on Saturday June 9th in the morning. Those looking for crappie are having some luck, especially off the pier. Lots of sunfish are being caught at the pier also. No news on the catfish front. The water is at full pool, slightly stained and 83 degrees. There will be night fishing on July 6th. The next Big Bash Tournament is June 23rd. For more information, visit our website or call the park 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 cobia are at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and are biting bucktails and live spot. Croaker can be found at the mouths of the York and the James, the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel and also at the Ocean View Pier. They are going for Fishbite, squid and blood worms. For bluefish and Spanish mackerel, go to Cape Henry and use spoons. Flounder anglers should check out the cell at buoy 42 where the flat fish are attacking minnows and squid. The water is fairly clear and 74 degrees.

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

Chickahominy River: River's Rest (804) 829-2753. According to Charlie Brown, bass anglers are having lots of luck, but are too crafty to tell anyone what they are using. Crappie action is good with minnows and jigs. Cats are responding well to live eel and live and frozen shad. No word on perch, but they should be there for the taking. Bluegills are biting around the dock on jigs and worms. The water is slightly stained and warming.

Chickahominy Lake: Contributed by Captain Art Conway of Conway's River Rat Guide Service, (804) 746-2475. Chickahominy Lake mid day main lake water temperatures ranged from the low to the high 80s last weekend. The lake level was a few inches above the top of the dam. The water was dark but not muddy in the lower lake, but was murky up some of the creeks. Larger crappie and a few white perch were in mid depths around the creek mouths and on mid depth wood cover in the main lake. Small to medium crappie with a few large crappie were scattered along shorelines and on flats in the lower parts of creeks and in the main lake. Crappie and white perch were hitting live minnows, Wright Bait Co. and Southern Pro curlytail jigs and tubes, small swimbaits, and Kalin crappie scrubs. Small to medium bluegill were scattered in the creeks and were moderately numerous around shorelines in the main lake. Many larger bluegill have moved from mid depth areas and were mixed in with smaller bluegill along shorelines and on shallow flats. Bluegill were hitting live worms and crickets, flies, small Wright Bait Co. curlytail jigs, small swimbaits, Kalin crappie scrubs, and small spoons. Bass and bowfin were scattered, with some next to the shoreline vegetation in the creeks and others along the shorelines and mid depths in the main lake. Bass were hitting live minnows, creature baits, soft plastic stick baits, crank baits, and plastic worms.

North Landing River and Back Bay: West Neck Marina (757) 426-6735. Dewey Mullins told me that bass action has slowed down some, but anglers may still land one with top-waters, spinners and crankbaits. Crappie are slow as well, with minnows and jigs working best. Plenty of blue and channel cats are cooperating by biting cut bait and night crawlers. Perch are taking small spinners and night crawlers. Some really big bluegill (up to 1 ¼ lbs.) are being brought up. Small worms, crickets and popping bugs are your best bet. The water is clear and in the mid to high 60s.

Norfolk Lakes: Dasheill's Show Room (757) 539-7854. Drew Dixon reports that local bass are going for plastics and cranks. Crappie action is very good with the traditional minnows and jigs. Lots of cats are being landed with cut bait and worms. Some yellow perch are biting worms and small minnows. Bream will be happy to bite your cricket or worm. The water is clear and in the mid 60s.

Blackwater and Nottoway: By Riverkeeper Jeff Turner www.blackwaternottoway.com. I spent the 8th through the 11th on the Nottoway below Hercules. The water was normal and looked good. The fishing was a mixed bag. The bass fishing was poor and seemed better the further up river I was. I only caught four largemouth to 2 pounds. All were caught on top-water. The bream fishing, however, was very good. I caught a bunch of really big bream using an itty-bitty Rapala fishing on top. I'm betting that with a fly rod one could really mop up. I also caught a few catfish with one going about 4 pounds. All were caught with cut bream. It was a great weekend and the river was gorgeous except for the two mile section that had what seemed like 30 limblines hanging from the trees marked with gobs of orange survey tape and pieces of fabric softener jugs. What a mess! Tangled lines were dangling in the water, potentially tangling up and killing wildlife. Please folks, if you're going to set limblines, have the common sense and respect for the environment to remove those lines and the markers when you leave. Remember, your abandoned limblines will continue to fish, trap and catch long after you are gone.

Upper and Lower Tidal James: Local Guide, Captain Mike Hoke, Life's Revenge Guide Service, (804) 357-8518. Captain Mike says that bass on the main river are taking plastic worms, with red shad and purple fire tail being good color choices. No word on crappie. Striper action has slowed down, but bucktails and minnow imitating lures may still prove effective. Cats are going for cut shad. Bream fishing is very good in the tidal creeks with worms and crickets. The water is clear and 82 degrees.

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

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

Region 2 - Southside

Holliday Lake: Contributed by our man in the boat Willard A. Mayes. Old Blue was feeling frisky so Donny, better known as "Shoe", and the TV saying showers in late afternoon, we thought we would head to Holliday Lake in search of monsters. The water had cleared some more from my last trip and was a little warmer. We started fishing the shore line from the ramp with the intention of making it to the flats by afternoon. I was using my size 12 popping bug and Shoe was using a stone fly. After I had several strikes and had several almost to the boat when I would lose them, I thought it was time to check the hook on the bug, yep, I had tied a perfect weedless bug with the leader in that last wind storm. As soon as I had made the hook available to the fish, I started landing some. Donny decided it was time to switch to a popping bug after I had had several strikes and none wanted his stone fly and he actually landed the first fish. We never hit what we would call bedding fish but we did catch several fish in the same place. We switched to the spinning rod to see if we could catch some crappie in the same area we had caught them last year and Shoe caught several and I lost one when I tried to lift it in the boat using the line and pole, one day I will learn not to do that with the nice ones. Donny ended the day with 4 bass, 2 crappie. 1 yellow perch and 11 bluegill. I had managed to land 4 yellow perch, 1 bass and 19 bluegill the largest being only 11 inches. Most of the bluegill were between 7 and 10 inches with a few being small enough to feed my cats. We will try to get back in two weeks.

Lewis Pond: Contributed by our man in the boat Willard A. Mayes. I called Cricket and Worm Man to see if he could go fishing but his sister was down from Chicago so he took a rain check. Old blue and I headed to Lewis pond on Pickett but only got about 3 miles from home when the fan belt broke on old blue, after 21 years such a thing would happen. I went by auto parts store and got one and when I started to put it on I noticed the alternator had locked up so I got a new one and went home where my tools were and put them on. To make long story short, it was noon by the time I was on the water and fishing. The water was down to normal and I did not have any trouble launching the boat. The water had a brown stain and you could only see about 2 feet down and since I thought the lake is over stocked with pan fish I decided I would only use my spinning rods and not the fly rod. I fished the middle and the shore line until about 4:00 p.m. when I headed to the ramp to load the boat. I gave Cricket and Worm Man 69 crappie and 56 bluegill and I did not keep count of the ones I threw back. I caught everything on twister tails from 2 feet of water to 8 feet of water in the middle as well as the shore line. The purple twister tail seemed to be the bait of choice, but anything I threw out there worked. The crappie were between 7 and 10 inches with most being 8 and 9 inch range. The bluegill were between 5 and 7 with most being around 6 inches. I told Cricket and Worm Man I thought the whole lake was bedding fish. I got one 11 inch bass.

Does anyone out there know of a good ultra light closed face spinning reel and where I could get one? I can tell you it is not that platinum one. They claim it remembers where you last caught a fish but that in only a cop out because it just hangs up. If you know of one please email me at mayesfarm@hotmail.com.

Perry Floyd Lake and Lewis Pond: Contributed by our man in the boat Willard A. Mayes. Bob Wheeler, at least I think that is his name, told me that Perry Floyd Lake is a bass lake and after my second trip there I believe him. I got to the lake around 9:00 to find the water clear to about 3 feet with a slight brown stain and almost warm enough to swim in. I fished from the ramp all the way around alternating between the fly rod and the spinning rod without much luck with either. I caught 6 bluegill, 6 bass and 1 crappie. Several of the bluegill were pushing 9 inches and the crappie was little over 10 with the largest bass being 12 inches. I fished an area where the beavers had stuck some limbs in the water because everyone knows that is where crappie love to hang out and feed and that is where I got that one fish. My problem is I am catching one bass as often as bluegill and I know that I am only a few miles from Lewis pond that needs to have some of the pan fish taken out. I know this is hard to believe but I throw back the bluegill back and head for the ramp. The boat is on the trailer and I am headed toward Lewis Pond by 1:45 driving slow because of those dirt roads, and no one took time to tie the boat or rods down, I arrived at Lewis by 2:00. A man and his son were fishing from the dam and I spend some time talking with them before heading out. I find out that they have had a good day with the son catching more than his father. I am in the water fishing by 2:30 using the spinning rods and 2 inch twister tails on a 1/32 lead head. I fish along the dam and the far shore until I get to the flats where the water is less than 4 feet deep. The wind is blowing straight down the lake so I head to the middle of the lake and allow the wind to drift me toward the dam fishing as I go. I head back out when I get a little over half the way back and repeat the process. The water is warm and a greenish tint with only about 2 feet visibility so I am using chartreuse and my purple twisters tails. I headed to the ramp by 4:30 with 56 blue gill and 42 crappie. The bluegill are from 4 inches to 7 and the crappie from 7 to 9 inches. I caught one mill pond roach that the cats enjoyed along with couple of the smaller bluegill. I did throw back some of the smaller ones even though I know I shouldn't.

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 James is in great shape. Anglers have had success with soft plastics (flukes, sink-o's and grubs). The top water action is heating up also. Tiny Torps, Pop R's and Skitter Pops have all produced fish. Fly anglers throwing poppers, baitfish and schulpin patterns have seen some nice fish brought to the net.

Kerr Reservoir: Bob Cat's Lake Country Store, (434) 374-8381. Bobby Whitlow reports that bass action is good with top-waters and plastics in green pumpkin, watermelon and June bug. Crappie can be found near bridge pilings, docks and brush, try minnows and jigs. Catfishing is good as well with live bream and cut shad. No word on perch or bluegill. The creeks are clear, with the main lake being muddy. Temperatures range from the upper 60s to Low 70s.

James at Lynchburg: Angler's Lane, (434) 385-0200. Doug Lane told me that smallies are going for black booble poppers, clawdads and mystery poppers. Trout in the James and Jackson are taking baitfish patterns. Brookies like stonefly imitations. The water is clear and in the upper 50s to low 60s.

Lake Gaston: Holly Grove Marina, (434) 636-3455. Ron Karpinski says that bass acton is "steady" around the docks. Early and late, try top-waters; during the day try plastic worms, watermelon and green pumpkin are good colors. Crappie have gone to deeper waters and are taking minnows and jigs. Cats are really biting well on shad, cut shad and stinkbaits. Stinkbaits are especially good if you want an "eatin'" sized cat. No word on perch. Bluegill are going for minnows and jigs. Stripers are being fooled by blue and silver Cotton Cordell Redfins. The water is clear and warming.

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.

Stripers: This has been a strange spring for traditional fishing patterns and it has really impacted the striper fishing. This is probably influenced by the warmer than normal temperatures experienced this past winter. The huge striper surface breaks, a pattern many look forward to each year in the spring, have been noticeably absent. Captain Kenny Short said these breaks normally follow the striper false spawn each year as the stripers chase baitfish to the surface to feed aggressively after spawning. He said that while he continues to have great success on his charters, the surface feeding breaks just did not occur where he has been fishing this year. The striper "top water night bite" has been spotty as well with the shad often coming to the shoreline late and not saying up as long as usual. In the mid lake area the alewives haven't been moving up to the shoreline in significant numbers until around 11:00 p.m. Many anglers fishing for bass and stripers at night are finding both species are hitting soft plastics and crankbaits as well or better than the traditional top water jerkbaits and chuggers.

Striper fishermen and women continue to report success trolling with Umbrella rigs, three-way rigs, soft plastic swimbaits and individual diving crank and jerk baits. A number of live bait anglers also pull one or more lures behind their boats while searching for stripers with their electronics. For years I watched one of the most experienced striper guides at the lake catch stripers on two small bucktails rigged on a "tandem rig" and pulled behind his boat while looking for fish. I have found that the "donkey rig" with belly weighted EWG hooks and flukes or small bucktails (with small curl tail trailers) is another effective rig that can be cast as well as trolled successfully. I keep one set up at all times when on the water. If you need a little help with these rigs, just stop by your favorite tackle shop for a little assistance or look them up on the Internet. Then just rig one on a medium-heavy bait casting rod and reel, put it out behind your boat and anchor in a rod holder the next time you are riding around looking for fish.

Bass: Fishing continues to be fairly good and fishing patterns have not changed much over the past several weeks. There are still good numbers of bass being caught in water from two to ten feet deep, especially around docks, blow downs and natural rock bluffs. Small plastic worms or craws presented on a shakey head jig or Texas rig are producing well. Green pumpkin, watermelon seed and watermelon red are good colors, but there are other colors working as well. Shad and craw colored medium diving crankbaits are producing an occasional bass around the same structure during the day. At night many of the same patterns are working and some bass are moving up into more shallow water near the shoreline.

Panfish and Bluegill: The bite continues to be excellent. Small panfish are being caught along the shoreline, around docks and laydowns. This is a great opportunity to get young anglers into fishing. A small hair or crappie jig tipped with a small piece of worm is deadly for bluegill this time of year. The basic fishing rig with a hook (size 4 to size 8) tied to the end of the line, a small split shot crimped about 18 inches above the hook and a piece of red wiggler worm for bait also works well. I suggest using a small bobber above the split shot on both these rigs to avoid getting snagged on the bottom.

The water is 73 to 79 degrees and fair to clear. Tight lines and best wishes as we start what promises to be a great summer.

Region 3 - Southwest

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

Bass: Early in the morning and late in the evening, the top water action has really picked up with the Lobina Lures Rico popper seeming to be the best bait to throw. Once the sun gets up, skipping a wacky rigged Yamamoto Senko under docks is also catching a lot of bass. The shad spawn is in full swing, so after it gets dark, throw a Storm Thunderstick or Cotton Cordell Redfin for some exciting night time top water action. Slow rolling a Jolt Spinnerbait in a dark color is starting to produce some quality bass at night time also. Throwing a black and blue chatterbait at night time and ripping out of the hydrilla is also starting to heat up. The Twin Turbo double tail trailer from Missile Baits is a excellent trailer for the Jolt spinnerbait and the chatterbait.

Striper: With the shad spawn going on, night time is the time to go striper fishing. A Storm Thunderstick or Cotton Cordell Redfin slowly walked across the top of water will result in some exciting strikes. Slow trolling a umbrella rig with Storm Wild Eye shad rigged up in 30 to 50 feet of water is catching a few stripers during the day.

Catfish: Catfishing is doing great in Peak Creek, Live shad is the best choice for bait.

Crappie/Yellow Perch: The Crappie and Yellow Perch are starting to move to their deep summer time holes. A small jig head with a live minnow is still the best bait.

Bluegill/Panfish: Bluegills are starting to spawn in the back of coves. A small spinner or a night crawler under a float will work great.

Water temperature is in the mid to upper 70s, and is fairly clear.

Lower New River: Big Z'S (540) 639-1651. John Zienius reports that smallmouth fishing has picked up and is good. Effective lures are small cranks and 3 in. Senkos in dark colors and Gitzits. Muskies are really hot. If you go fishing, you will almost certainly run into one. They will happily take big inline spinners and big jerks. The water is clear and warming.

Upper New River: Contributed by Captain Forest Pressnell, (540) 818-5274, New River Charter. We are still dealing with alternating water conditions here on the Upper New. Some days it is green and great fishing, then it is brown from the rains. Smallmouth fishing has been excellent on plastics and subtle top-water lures. Muskie fishing has been hot with top-water and glide baits. We have caught a few walleye while smallmouth fishing. Everyone have a great Father's Day and happy Father's Day to my Dad up there...wish you were here to share this day on the river.

New River: Tangent Outfitters, (540) 257-0415. Shawn Hash told me that the smallmouth bite is excellent just now, and they will take just about whatever you throw at them. Muskies are taking big inline spinners and top-waters. The water is at a good level, high green to clear and warming.

Top New River: Contributed by local guide Richie Hughes, owner of New River Trips LLC. Smallmouth fishing on the Top New (Mouth of Wilson to Fries) has been quite good this past week. Water clarity is 4 to 5 feet. On 2 recent trips, smallies in the upper teens have been caught. Top-water presentations are working well, as are subsurface lures and flies. The forecast is for 1 to 2.5 inches of rain Monday and Tuesday. Hopefully things will clear up by the weekend. Trout fishing will take a backseat to smallmouth fishing for the next few months.

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

Region 4 - Mountains & Shenandoah Valley - Northern Piedmont

North and South Forks of the Shenandoah: Harry Murray (540) 984-4212 www.murraysflyshop.com. Fly guru Harry Murray spake unto me from his ashram on the mountain top and I learned that the smallmouth streams in both the North and South forks of the Shenandoah are giving excellent fishing just now. Try fishing the shaded banks. Good flies are: the Shenandoah Damsel Popper, size 4; the Shenandoah Sunfish Slider, size 4 and the Shenandoah Chartreuse Chuggar, size 4. The water is clear, at a perfect level and 71 degrees.

Many of the big streams in the Valley have recently been stocked with browns and the fishing is fantastic. Good flies are: Murray's Dark Stonefly, size 1; and the Mr. Rapidan Emerger, size 10. The water is clear, at an ideal level and 69 degrees.

Brookie fishing in the mountains is terrific. Good flies are: Murray's Flying Beetle, size 16; the Mr. Rapidan Parachute Dry Fly, size 16; and Shenk's Sulphur, size 16. The water is clear, at a good level and very clear.

Attention Trout Anglers - Special Regulation Permit Cards Available Online

VDGIF is pleased to announce that special regulation written landowner permit cards to fish Mossy Creek, Buffalo Creek, and Upper South River are now available online. A link to maps of each of these areas is also new function on the agency website.

Lake Moomaw: Contributed by local angler Bill Uzzell. No report this edition.

Lake Moomaw: Local Guide, Mike Puffenbarger, (540) 468-2682, www.mapletreeoutdoors.com. No report this edition.

Piedmont Rivers: Local author Steve Moore (Wade Fishing River Guidebooks covering the: Rappahannock, Rapidan, Upper Potomac, North Branch Potomac; Blog: CatchGuide.com) Conditions on the Upper Potomac are ideal. The water level above the Monocacy is within norms for careful wading – wear a PFD. The best spots are around Knoxville Falls near Harpers Ferry and Brunswick down to Point of Rocks. If you both wade and float, don't bother to get out of your boat on the Virginia side for the first mile downstream from Lander. The water levels are still a little high to reach the main channel of the river from that side. The best holding area for smallies is on the Maryland side where all the rocks and channels are; Virginia is mostly a cobble and sand. Water levels are still too high downstream of Riverbend for general wading - exercise caution. When I was out last Saturday, the bass were eating almost anything thrown at them, but showed a preference for green or sunfish (orange and bright green) colored grubs, dark colored worms and gold spinners. As a heads up, the Maryland DNR is doing a angler survey to determine catch rates on the upper Potomac. They have asked volunteers to pass out prepaid postcards for you to fill out with your days results (good or bad). Please participate and help improve the management of the river. The Blue Ridge is in good shape for trout right now. The water levels remain good, but could change quickly – so enjoy it while you can. If you want to fish the special regulation water requiring a special permit, remember that the VDGIF has set up an online permitting system at this link.

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

Lake Orange: Contributed by Darrell Kennedy of Angler's Landing (540) 672-3997. The water is stained a greenish tint due to the plankton bloom. The fish have moved into their summer patterns. Largemouth bass are in 8 to10 ft. depths with them keying in on schools of bait fish. In the early morning, a top-water bait is the best option for the bass bite. During the middle of the day, crankbaits and soft plastics will lure them in. Crappie are still in 10 to 12 ft. depth zone around the fishing pier and fish attractors being taken on small minnows. The cat fishing is excellent everywhere, the lake is really on fire with the cat fish bite using chicken liver and night crawlers to draw them in. With the warm weather this weekend in the low 80s the fishing should be outstanding.

Occoquan Reservoir: Contributed by local angler Jim Thomas. The Reservoir is finally beginning to clear up a little after at least two weeks of milkshake muddy water. There is still some flotsam on the lake, so boaters should be careful. The good news is that the largemouth bass are really turned on. Some of the fish are quite nice, going 4 to 5 pounds but the majority are 12 to 14 in. Baits of choice have been spinnerbaits and fire-tiger crankbaits. There are a few crappie still in the shallows. Bluegills are on the beds. Carp can be seen in the shallows and while I have not done any catfishing myself I have picked up channel cats on a crankbait as by-catch. The mid-day bite is pretty poor with the majority of fish coming in the first and last two hours of daylight, especially as the shad continue their spawn. Whether fishing crankbaits or spinnerbaits the formula is to go slow, perhaps because of the off-colored water.

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

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

Stripers: There are more stripers caught in June on the lake than any other month of the year. The fish are schooling and just about any method of fishing will produce nice catches this month. Stripers have migrated to the mid and down lake regions of the lake and are aggressively feeding on 25 to 45 foot flats gorging themselves on 4 and 5 inch herring. There are literally hundreds of schools of stripers roaming the lake now and good electronics are crucial in locating and staying on the schools.

Bass: The largemouths are in post spawn and summer patterns now and have retreated to deeper water to replenish their energy. They also are feeding aggressively and are suckers for top-water baits. Bass will rise out of 20 feet of water to hit a Pop R, especially in clear water. The deeper the water you fish over, the slower you should work your bait giving the bass time to locate and blow up on the bait. Spooks also work well fishing parallel to bluff banks like those in Contrary Creek. Carolina rigs tipped with your favorite lizard or worm also work well this month. Use heavy sinkers and cover water quickly till you feel structure, then hold on! Another good technique this month is to throw swimbaits counting them down using a slow retrieve.

Crappie: The slabs have pulled out and are being caught on deeper points with brushpiles and on the deeper bridge pilings in the 10 to 20 foot ranges. They continue to hit small minnows and jigs . The fish are also stacking up on ledges in the rivers in the 8 to 15 foot depths. If you fish the "Hot Side" the fish will congregate much deeper under the bridges in 20 to 30 foot depths. Crappie rigs (two hook rigs) tipped with minnows are deadly this month. Simply lower your offerings to the depth of the fish and once you start catching doubles mark your line at that depth and fill your cooler up.

Catfish: Cats are very plentiful this year and are feeding everywhere on the lake. Catfish are feeding aggressively on 4 and 5 inch herring using the lower third of the water column to feed. If you cannot catch herring, try large minnows rigged on downlines or use on fish finder rigs.

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

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

View video about the snakehead

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Winning Outdoor Adventure Stories from Young Writers

We seem to find the wonders of nature in a variety of outdoor pursuits. For 15 year old Toshali Randev , a Freshman at Briar Woods High School in Northern Virginia, it was a family trip to the Shenandoah Valley. Toshai moved to NOVA from urban New Jersey just prior to her Freshman year and had not been exposed to rural places. When she took a trip to the Shenandoah Valley with her family she was inspired to write her award winning story of this memorable outdoor experience. Toshai entered her article in the 2010-11 Virginia Outdoor Writers Association High School Writing Competition and won First Place. What outdoor adventure during your summer vacation may inspire you to become more aware of the wonders of nature and make efforts to conserve them for future generations?

My Side of the Mountain

By Toshali Randev

I sat in the car, waiting for the ride to end. It was a sunny Sunday in the middle of November, one of those unseasonably warm days when everyone proclaims that this winter would be a mild one. My sister sat next to me, napping loudly. Up in the front of the car, my mom gazed out the window, and my dad whistled under his breath as he drove. We'd been driving for almost two hours, and personally, I was sort of sick of it. Where I come from, which is densely-populated Edison, New Jersey, you don't need to drive anywhere for longer than five minutes. Moving to Virginia over the summer was a completely unexpected twist, like someone had jiggled up my insides and then put them back in the wrong places. A large part of me missed the Garden State. So far, Virginia had been relatively boring. Most of all, it didn't feel like home.

As our silver Toyota ambled along the highway, I noticed a change in the scenery. Towering apartment buildings morphed into small houses painted in endearing pastel colors. Trademarked supermarkets turned into rusty grocery stores, and paved streets into bumpy dirt roads.

I rolled down my window and stuck my hand out the window, letting the thick swirls of air wrap around it. Even though the school year was just getting started, this week had been particularly brutal; essays piled on top of projects and worksheets. I wanted to go home to Jersey where I knew all the kids in my grade and every teacher on a how-are-your-kids-doing basis. My preconceived notion was that living in Virginia was never going to match up to my days in suburban Jersey.

My sister interrupted my depressing train of thought. "Look! We're here! It says, 'Shenandoah Valley: Your Wilderness Oasis!"'

I rolled my eyes in response. "It's a bunch of mountains and trees. I don't understand why everyone gets so worked up about it." It's not that I didn't like nature; I love bird-watching and gardening just as much as the next teenage girl. My feelings of contempt were probably more along the lines of never having the chance to see nature up close and personal.

Once we got some maps from the welcome center, we proceeded to drive slowly up Skyline Drive. The Blue Ridge Mountains dipped and waned around us. The Shenandoah River intertwined with the mountains, its pale sapphire waters churning and flowing in perfect harmony. Most of the trees had already lost their leaves, leaving stick-straight, hollow trunks, which were beautifully symmetrical in their own way. Bare branches protruded from their sides, holding their frail selves strong against the billowing breezes. Thin, browning leaves crunched underneath the car's tires. The sounds of the nearby towns could no longer be heard. Birds swooped in and landed on trees, quietly chirping in melodious tones. I was stunned into silence.

As a scenic overlook appeared, we decided to get out of the car. The wind was mostly warm, with a slight wintry chill in the air. Standing on the edge of the overlook, I could see the beginnings of the Shenandoah River; I could see small cabins in nearby woods; I could see to the point where the sky's milky horizon seemed to meet the land. The view was awe-inspiring, breathtaking, and thrilling all at the same time. I felt like I could fly away into the never-ending sky and glide past the woes and worries of the world.

Suddenly, all at once, I remembered New Jersey. Crowded, cramped, and bustling with energy; that'd been my only idea of 'home'. But now, as I perched on a sturdy rock in the middle of the mountains, I couldn't imagine why I'd loved such a place. I'd be blessed to have this Valley as my home forever, with its soothing views and tranquil forests. I couldn't wait to come back when it was in full bloom or covered in snow.

Though it's true I won't ever forget my childhood days in the peeling-paint public schools of Jersey, it's also true that on my first visit to Shenandoah Valley, I learned a valuable life lesson: home is anywhere your soul feels free. I may not amount to much, after all, I'm no expert fisher or accomplished hiker, but even I felt the connection with my side of the mountain that afternoon. And I'm not about to forget that feeling of belonging anytime soon.

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: