In this edition:

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

This February 27th edition has a long list of "wild events" coming in March and April that offer a variety of opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. There are outdoor events and indoor sportsman's shows that feature seminars, exhibits, demonstrations, and contests promising fun and exciting new activities for everyone in the family. And for many sportsmen the much anticipated Spring Gobbler season!! This edition features the special Youth Turkey Hunt Day, April 6. It has been very exciting the last two months to see the growing number of 'sportsmen families' attending the outdoor shows around the state and signing up for the Outdoor Report. Seeing the families out there bodes well for the future of our treasured hunting and fishing heritage and traditions. The stories from our readers confirm the results of recent research that shows a majority of sportsmen are mentoring young people and how important it is to get the young kids outdoors—the younger they start, the more likely their participation will continue as adults and then teach their kids. Trout Heritage Day is also April 6. If you don't have a youngster to take spring gobbler hunting, or trout fishing—find one! Start your own 'family tradition.' Here's an idea—go turkey hunting in the morning, then go trout fishin' in the afternoon!! Make it a family tradition full of treasured memories...

David Coffman, Editor

Deer, Bear, Turkey Harvest Data for 2012-13

Wildlife biologists with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) have compiled preliminary figures for deer, bear, and turkey harvests for the 2012-13 fall/winter hunting seasons. The white-tailed deer harvest was down from last year while the turkey and bear harvest increased. The turkey harvest was the highest fall turkey harvest reported over the past five years. A better acorn crop than last year, in the range of average to good, across the state coupled with management actions to meet population objectives all factored into fluctuations in populations and harvest trends. The harvest figures continue to indicate that good hunting is available across the Commonwealth for these popular game species. Data presented in these summaries are preliminary.

White-tailed Deer

During the past deer season 213,597 deer were reported killed by hunters in Virginia. This total included 96,712 antlered bucks, 18,061 button bucks, 98,781 does (46.3%), and 43 "unknown" deer. The fall 2012 deer kill total was down 8% from the 233,104 deer reported killed last year. It is also 9% below the last 10 year average of 232,573.

Total deer kill levels were down from last fall across most of Virginia including Tidewater (down 15%), the Southern Piedmont (down 8%), the Northern Piedmont (down 9%), and the Southern Mountains (down 3%). Deer kill levels were stable in the Northern Mountains. The female deer kill which was down 13% from 2011, while the antlered buck kill was only down 2% from 2011. The top 5 counties were Bedford, Loudoun, Southampton, Fauquier and Pittsylvania.

Archers, not including crossbow hunters, killed 15,791 deer. The bow kill comprised 7% of the total deer kill. Crossbows resulted in a deer kill of 10,596 deer or 5% of the total deer kill. Muzzleloader hunters killed 54,808 deer or 26% of the total deer kill. Nearly 160,000 deer (78%) were checked using the Department's telephone and Internet checking systems. The youth deer hunting day in September resulted in a deer kill of 1,977 deer.

Black Bear

A total of 2144 bears were harvested in Virginia during the 2012 - 2013 bear hunting seasons representing the combined kill from archery, muzzleloader, and firearms hunters. The 2012 harvest resulted in an approximate 7% increase over last year's initial reported kill of 1997 bears. In 2012, bears were harvested in 73 counties/cities. Female bears represented 36% of the total 2012 harvest, which was a smaller proportion of females in the total harvest compared to the previous 3-year average female harvest of 42%.

Archery hunters accounted for 513 bears during 2012, representing 24% of the total harvest. The top three archery counties were Augusta (32), Rockingham (30) and Page (24). Crossbow hunters accounted for 44% of the total archery kill in 2012. The harvest from the archery season was 32% female, down from the previous 3-year average female harvest of 42%.

Muzzleloader hunting opportunities were expanded in 2011, and the second year of the statewide 1-week muzzleloader harvest accounted for 415 bears (19% of the total harvest). This is an increase over the previous 3-year average (15%) of the total harvest. The top three muzzleloading counties were Rockingham (22) Botetourt (18), and Bath (18).

Representing 57% of the total harvest, the 2012 firearms season yielded 1216 bears, an increase from the 2011 harvest (1039 bears, 52% of harvest) and greater than the previous 3-year average percent of the total harvest (52%) . Hound hunters accounted for 59% of the firearms kill in 2012 (33% of the statewide harvest), which was an increase over the previous 3-year average of 56% of the firearms harvest and 29% of the total statewide harvest. The top three general firearms counties were Rockingham (89), Nelson (75) and Craig (63). General firearms hunters who did not use hounds harvested 40% females, a reduction from the previous 3-year average female harvest of 42%. Hound hunters harvested 34% females down from the previous 3-year average female harvest of 36%. The top 3 counties/cities for bear harvest without the use of dogs were Nelson (31), Rockingham (29), and Suffolk (25). The top 3 counties for bear harvest with the use of dogs were Rockingham (60), Craig (55), and Nelson (44).

Fall Wild Turkey

During the 2012-13 fall turkey season, 4,432 turkeys were harvested. The 2012-13 harvest was the highest fall harvest reported over the past 5 years and was 28% above last year's reported kill (3,470). The harvest increased 37% in counties west of the Blue Ridge Mountains (1,734 vs 1,267). Counties east of the Blue Ridge Mountains increased 21% percent (2,673 vs. 2,203). Bedford led all counties with a harvest of 151 birds. Most of the harvest was reported on private lands. On the Youth Fall Turkey Hunt Day 60 birds were harvested.

The 2012-13 was the second year for the January season. Virtually all of the comments received on the January season were positive. The harvest during the January season was 245 birds. The highest harvest during the January season was the last Saturday of the season. Hunters reported more birds (65%) by phone or internet.

The increase in the harvest was expected given good reproduction and acorn crops were better than last year. Turkey reproduction is typically highly variable and may be influenced by many variables; the greatest is believed to be inclement weather during the 2 weeks following hatching.

View the full details in the official News Release on the VDGIF website.

For more information contact:

Matt Knox, Deer Project Leader, Telephone: 434-525-7522
Gary Norman, Forest Game Bird Project Leader, Telephone: 540-248-9360
Jaime Sajecki, Bear Project Leader, Telephone: 804-367-8001

General Assembly Legislation of Interest to You

The Virginia General Assembly which convened January 9, 2013, is winding down with final votes on many important bills taking place as we post this edition. To keep you informed we have provided several links related to your legislature. The legislative action taking place this year has dealt with important issues that may affect you as an outdoor enthusiast, landowner, or concerned citizen. You can view bills related to the Department's mission that may be of interest to you at: www.dgif.virginia.gov/legislation

The most appropriate way to express your opinion about these bills, or any other legislation, is through your local delegate and/or senator. For more information about your legislators and how to contact them, visit the Virginia General Assembly website. You may also contact the Virginia General Assembly's Constituent Viewpoint Comment line toll-free at 1-800-889-0229 (804) 698-1990 in Richmond.

Ask Your Friends if They are Still Getting Their Outdoor Report

If you're reading this, that's good news! From time to time, email providers implement changes to the way they try to detect which incoming emails are "spam" and which are legitimate messages. Sometimes, real emails—like the one you get twice a month to let you know the latest Outdoor Report has arrived—are flagged mistakenly as spam. If you don't hear from us on the second and fourth Wednesdays of every month, take a moment to look in your spam or "junk mail" folder, to make sure it hasn't ended up there.

To make sure you receive the Outdoor Report every time, be sure to whitelist our address (OutdoorReport@dgif.virginia.gov) by adding it to your email account or client's "approved senders" list. Taking this action will ensure that your email provider never marks our messages as spam by mistake. If your friends and colleagues have also requested the Outdoor Report, and suddenly stop receiving it, please tell them to also whitelist our address, and re-subscribe if necessary.

If you ever need to subscribe again, you can do so on our subscription page.

Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss

Rapidan Chapter Trout Unlimited Fishing Show at Fauquier County Fairgrounds March 2

On March 2, the  Rapidan Trout Unlimited Chapter will host their annual Fishing Show at Fauquier County Fairgrounds in Warrenton.   Show hours are 9 am-4:30 pm, $5 admission, children under 12 free, and plenty of parking. This is the annual fundraiser for TU Chapter activities: Tristate TU Youth Conservation & Fishing Camp; Heritage Day(Kids Fishing day); Trout in Classroom(11 schools); Rapidan River Cleanup/Picnic/Fishing; Camp Special Love/Cancer Kids; Project Healing Waters/wounded veterans; Casting for Recovery/women's cancer; and conservation projects(i.e. Spout Run). There are 50 tables, 8 seminars, fly-tying demo, with hot food & beverages. Vendors are from PA, MD, DC, VA, & WV. The keynote speaker is Jeff Murray of Murrays Fly Shop/Edinburg on "Mountain Trout Fishing". For details visit: www.rapidantu.org

Wildlife Center of Virginia Announces "On the Road" Wildlife Rehabilitation Classes

The Wildlife Center of Virginia has announced the upcoming "On the Road" wildlife rehabilitation class:

Saturday, March 2: Chantilly, Virginia [in conjunction with Wildlife Rescue League]
Introduction to Wildlife Rehabilitation
Introducing to Raising Orphaned Mammals
Emergency Stabilization

More information, including class descriptions, fees, and locations can be found online.

Food Plot Planting Seminar At Lake Monticello March 2

A Wildlife Food Plot Seminar covering "Huge Results With Small Equipment" will be held Saturday March 2nd 1:00pm till 3:00pm at the Fluvanna 'Bestdoit' Hardware located in Crofton Plaza off route 618at Lake Monticello. Sherwood Londeree, Wildlife Manager for Friends and Family Hunt Club and long time leader for the Central Virginia Chapter of the NWTF will share his 20+ years of experience with participants in enhancing habitat through establishing food plots of all types and sizes. Topics he will be covering are picking a plot location on your property, seed choices for best results year long, step by step directions on processing the plot and the benefits for planting a wildlife plot. Sponsors for this free workshop include: Fluvanna bestdoit Hardware, Central Virginia Chapter NWTF, Pennington seed, and Friends and Family Hunt Club. For more information contact Sherwood Londeree: bo.londeree@yahoo.com.

"Herps" topic of Friends of Dyke Marsh March 3

The world of "herps" will be the focus of March 3 meeting of the Friends of Dyke Marsh. Caroline Seitz, Director of Reptiles Alive and a member of the Virginia Herpetology Society, will survey the world of "herps," explain the basics and highlight today's challenges. She will also report on the VHS's herp survey of Dyke Marsh. The meeting is at 2 p.m. It is free and open to the public and will be held at the Huntley Meadows Park Visitor Center, 3701 Lockheed Boulevard, Alexandria 22306. About Caroline: "At five feet tall, she is more than capable of handling a giant python, capturing a crocodile or carrying a heavy tortoise," says her website. You can learn all about her online.

Urban Survival Weekend Scheduled for NOVA March 8-10

The Urban Survival Weekend is scheduled for March 8-10 at the Northern Virginia 4-H Educational and Conference Center near Front Royal. This unique course will provide participants with practical, immediately relevant information to stay informed and prepared in today's dynamic world. This engaging, hands-on program is open to the general public and is packed with critical information designed to help keep you and your family safe in an emergency situation. Instructor Roy Hutchinson, founder of Wilderness Discovery, has extensive experience in survival on numerous trips in extreme environments. He is a volunteer instructor for the VA Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, is a member of the International Society of Professional Trackers, and has lent his expertise to the U.S. Military, Law Enforcement, and Search and Rescue teams.

Course Topics:

REGISTRATION: Pre-registration is required to guarantee your spot. Course fee is $160 and includes all instruction, meals, lodging, and materials. Website: www.trackingsurvival.com

For information on the Northern Virginia 4-H Educational and Conference Center near Front Royal visit Website: www.nova4h.com Phone: (540) 635-7171

Potomac Pullers Need Volunteers to Help Control Invasive Species on National Wildlife Refuge

The Potomac Pullers are looking for dedicated volunteers interested in invasive plant control and monitoring at Potomac River National Wildlife Refuge Complex. Volunteers will map infestations utilizing GPS technology and participate in control efforts to help the refuge respond more efficiently to invasive species. This volunteer group will serve as a way to actively support the Potomac River NWR Complex. The first meeting will be held Saturday, March 9th at 4:00pm at the Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Contact Station - 13950 Dawson Beach Road. Woodbridge, VA 22191. For more information, please contact: Chelsea DiAntonio, Wildlife Biologist,chelsea_diantonio@fws.gov, 703-490-4979 ext. 14 OR Patricia Wood, Park Ranger, patricia_wood@fws.gov

VDGIF To Host Archery in the Schools Program State Tournament March 16

VDGIF is conducting the Fifth Annual National Archery in the Schools Program Tournament on Saturday March 16, 2013 at Meadow Event Park, the new State Fairgrounds near Doswell. This tournament is the "culminating event" for Virginia schools participating in the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP). Last year, more than 200,000 Virginia students at more than 550 schools participated in archery instruction during their PE classes throughout the school year. The National Archery in the Schools Program promotes student education and participation in archery. The program's focus is designed to teach International style target archery in 4th through 12th grades as part of the in-school curriculum. Before presenting archery instruction to their students at school, teachers must successfully complete an 8-hour instructor certification training program referred to as BAI, Basic Archery Instructor. Certification is conducted by VDGIF Outdoor Education staff and VDGIF-certified volunteers. Currently over 550 schools, and 1270 teachers have been trained.

For more detailed information, visit the Department's website. For more information and to get your school and teachers involved in NASP, contact VDGIF Outdoor Education Supervisor and Virginia State NASP Coordinator Karen Holson at (804) 367-6355 or Karen.Holson@dgif.virginia.gov. Also, be sure to check out the NASP video and Virginia Wildlife feature article!

Holiday Lake 4-H Center Offers Possibles Bag and Decoy Carving Workshops

The Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center near Appomattox is again offering a variety of popular winter workshops for unique outdoor related skills like Decoy Carving and creating a possible bag! Early registration is encouraged as courses fill quickly and spaces are limited. The Traditional Flintlock Rifle Workshop March 3-8, 2013 announced in the last Outdoor Report is FULL. For details on upcoming workshops contact Heather Benninghove, Program Director, by email: heathern@vt.edu call (434) 248-5444 Fax: (434) 248-6749, or visit the Holiday Lake 4-H website.

Decoy Carving Workshop March 3-7, 2013

Learn to carve your own traditional duck decoy or sharpen your carving skills! Beginners Welcome! Carving experience not needed. First time carvers will carve and paint a Canvasback, one of the most popular of all decoys. Returning students will carve and paint a decoy of their choice. Decoys will be carved from Tupelo, a favored decoy wood. Workshop price is $275 and includes meals, lodging, materials, and instructor fees. Click here for more information. Register by February 15, 2013.

Possibles Bag Workshop - March 24-27, 2013

Learn about period bags, leather tools, and working with leather. Gain the knowledge to complete your own Possibles Bag. Historically a Possibles Bag was a leather bag that men carried items such as patches and balls for a gun, knives, pipes, and other essential items. There are many modern day uses. The cost of the workshop is $200 which includes instruction, by Jimmy Blanks and food and lodging for the whole workshop. Register and get more information online. Registration deadline is March 9, 2013.

Banjo & Mandolin Building Workshop - March 24-29, 2013

Build your very own custom banjo or mandolin. This workshop is for beginners, so no prior knowledge or experience is required. The cost of the workshop is $920, this prices includes your choice of instrument kit, expert instruction, meals and lodging for the entire workshop. For more details about the instruments and the instructor, Don Kawalek, and to register click here. Registration deadline is March 4, 2013.

White Stone Hosts 34th Rappahannock River Waterfowl Art Show March 16-17

The 34th Rappahannock River Waterfowl Show is a unique art festival showcasing all forms of wildfowl art including paintings, sculpture, carvings, prints, decoys, photography, jewelry and taxidermy. On March 16-17, the small town of White Stone, on the Rappahannock River near the Chesapeake Bay will host one of the highest quality art shows, attracting nationally prominent artists from all over the Eastern US. VDGIF retired staff artist, Spike Knuth from Mechanicsville, has been a regular at the Whitestone Show for over 20 years and always has several sought after, new originals and signed limited edition prints for sale. Spike's art is regularly featured in the Be Wild! Live Wild! Grow Wild! column in the Outdoor Report. The VA Waterfowlers Association will also have an exhibit showcasing their youth hunting and habitat conservation projects. VAWFA members will also have VDGIF program materials and information on upcoming events of interest to outdoor enthusiasts including, wildlife watching, boating, fishing and hunting. For more information visit: www.rrws.org.

The Rappahannock Decoy Carvers and Collectors Guild Annual Carving Competition, March 16

The Rappahannock Decoy Carvers and Collectors Guild will have their annual carving competition on Saturday, March 16 next door to the firehouse hosting the Rappahannock River Waterfowl Show . The Decoy Carvers and Collectors Guild will host the 2013 International Wildfowl Carvers Association's (IWCA) World Canvas Decoy Championship and the World Buoy Body Championship. Classes for a wide variety of wildfowl carvings will be offered. Admission to decoy contests only is free of charge. For more information visit: www.rrws.org.

Blaine Short Memorial J.A.K.E.S. Event set for March 23rd in Augusta

The 2013 Blaine Short Memorial JAKES event is scheduled for March 23rd, at Shenandale Gun Club, in Buffalo Gap. The Augusta County Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation is partnering with Cargill Foods, Shenandale Gun Club, D.G.I.F., "Pecks" B.B.Q. and Pepsi-Cola to put on their annual youth event. Registration and check-in is from 8:00 to 8:30 A.M. and the event ends at 4pm. The event includes lunch, introduction to shotgun, trapping classes, air rifle, skeet shooting, target shooting, and hands on demonstration of turkey callers. The Rockingham Branch of Q.D.M.A. will provide a gun to give- away to a youngster attending. Instead of a covered dish, each person attending is asked to bring a few cans of nonperishable canned food to be donated to a local food pantry. The registration fee is $10 to join the JAKES program, and is the only cost associated with this event, thanks to the great support of our sponsors! For more information about this event, call Eddy or Jan Pitsenbarger at 337-6902, Chuck or Tina Hite at 886-3141, Danny or Melinda Clifton at 290-0978, Lennie or Bonita Tolley at 248-4564, or Jeremiah Major at 943-8773.

Augusta JAKES Event Offers Hunter Education- Certification Class March 23 & 30

The Augusta County Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, along with certified VA Department of Game & Inland Fisheries Instructors will be offering a class for Hunter Education Certification. The class is open to both adults and youngsters attending the Chapter's 2013 J.A.K.E.S.'S Event on Saturday, March 23rd at "Shenandale Gun Club", and classroom training at Augusta County Government Center on the following Saturday, March 30th . Participants must attend both days to be eligible for certification. For information and required JAKES event registration contact Lennie Tolley @ 540-248-4564, or Rick & Linda Layser @ 540-886-1761, or email to: LT1958@verizon.net.

Intro to Turkey Hunting Class presented by Virginia Elite Outdoors March 31st at Green Top

Green Top Hunting & Fishing (The Lodge) will be hosting an Intro to Turkey Hunting Class March 31st at their new store location in Ashland from 1-4 pm. This class is intended for beginner or intermediate turkey hunters. Cost for Adults is $95 - Youth/Student: $75. Topics of discussion and hands on practicals will include: Basic Safety, Turkey History & Habits, Scouting, Set-Up, Calls & Calling,  Different Strategies for Hunting, Preparation for the Shot & Shot Placement. Instructors will cover a broad spectrum of turkey topics and have many displays, photos, and videos to assist in the instruction. The class will be taught by the Guides of Virginia Elite Outdoors who have a combined experience of over 100+ years hunting in the woods of Virginia. Visit: www.VaEliteOutdoors.com for further details or email hunt@vaeliteoutdoors.com

People and Partners in the News

Outdoor Writer Associations Plan Joint Annual Conference in Staunton March 15-17

The VA Outdoor Writers Association 2013 Annual Meeting will be held March 15-17 as a joint conference with the Mason-Dixon Outdoor Writers Association in Staunton, the "Queen City of the Shenandoah Valley." http://www.staunton.va.us

In a format similar to the outstanding and inspiring meeting we all enjoyed in Hampton, VA, 2009, the meeting will include a break-out Friday of special tours and activities including the Frontier Culture Museum, story opportunities, photography, and an opening dinner all graciously sponsored by the Greater Augusta Regional Tourism Board. Saturday will be a full day of informative workshops highlighted by nationally acclaimed photographers/writers Rob & Ann Simpson, Youth Contest Winners, Annual Meetings for each organization, topped off with our joint Awards Banquet and silent auction. Sunday morning will feature a breakfast and speaker before departure. For early birds who want to arrive Thursday afternoon there will be fly-fishing opportunities. Come meet and get to know MDOWA writers and photographers from PA, MD, NY, NJ, DE, and WVA, and experience wonderful networking opportunities.

This is planned to be a generously sponsored conference with your cost being only your sleeping room and small registration fee. The hotel venue is the beautifully refurbished Stonewall Jackson, where we have secured reduced conference room rates. Get your reservations in as soon as possible. Deadline for reserving rooms at the special conference rate is February 22, 2013. You must mention VOWA/MDOWA when you reserve your room. This conference will be exceptional, don't miss it. Visit www.vowa.org for more details.

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:

VA Chapters of Ducks Unlimited Schedule Fund Raising Banquets for March

For 76 Years Ducks Unlimited (DU) has conserved over 12 million acres of wetland habitat raising funds through local chapter banquets.    Neal  Roth, Ducks Unlimited Regional Director for West Virginia & Virginia notes that ,"Ducks Need Wetlands - You Need Ducks so volunteer today.  For information on upcoming DU events or opportunities to get involved contact Neal at 304.667.3794, email: nroth@ducks.org    or website www.ducks.org/virginia

Visit www.ducks.org/virginia for details on upcoming March DU Chapter Events:

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."

Sportsman's Expo Benefits Orange Student Angler Club and Community

The energy and enthusiasm generated by the OCHS teen anglers is infectious! The 9th Annual Orange County Fishing and Sportsman Expo held February 16-17 at the Hornet Sports Center in Orange is a testament to a school and community working together to put on a good show that benefits everyone. This unique outdoor sports expo is sponsored by the "Nation's Outstanding Junior B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Chapter", the Orange County High School 4-H and B.A.S.S. Angler's Club. Joining in this year was the Madison County High School Angler's Club. There were exhibits featuring hunting and fishing guides, gear, artwork, taxidermy, boats and more. Teen club members showed younger kids fishing techniques in the trout fishing pond. Young anglers also participated in the Casting Kids Competition. VDGIF and other conservation organizations provided information on the great fishing and skill building workshop opportunities statewide. There were seminars on all kinds of fishing and VDGIF Volunteer Boating Education Instructors conducted boater safety classes throughout the weekend. A special note of "well done" to Club Coach, Advisor, Mentor and all around "go to gal", Earth Science Teacher Becky Gore who has developed this team of well-mannered, enthusiastic, dedicated, hard working student anglers into the 'best of the best.' The Orange community should be very proud of this team and how they conduct all their activities with excellence and passion for community service, sportsmanship and resource conservation. For information on how you can start a Teen Angler's club in your school, contact Becky Gore, Youth Advisor OCHS Anglers, at (540) 661-4300 ext 1154. There are currently similar Clubs in Frederick County, Warrenton, Broad Run High School in Loudoun and Madison County. Get your kids hooked on fishing! You will all be better for it—just ask any parent, teacher, or student fishing club member at OCHS!

The group picture shows the OCHS Anglers as they congratulate and join in the celebration of Al Palaini winning the grand prize twin troller boat raffle. Palaini is the owner of Grey Goat custom lures. He sponsors several members of the OCHS Anglers, was the OCHS Co -Sponsor of the Year and has formed a tournament trail of "Make a Lure" tournaments. In the photo are front row left to right: Ashley Wilt - Abbey Browning - Ryan Wilt - Logan Douglas - Michael Sidle - Dee Maddox - Jacob Dodson - Becky Gore, Advisor - Dylan McGhee. Back row: Cierra Brickey - Katie Craft - Zack Mastin - Al Paliani - Jamerson Gallihugh - Robert Kloby - Travis Taylor.

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

Editor's note... The future of our hunting heritage and traditions is in the hands of the sportsmen that take the time to mentor new hunters- especially children, creating memories and a passion for the sport to continue to a new generation. Family members and friends, hunt clubs, and numerous sportsmen organizations all have a part in this important mission, "It takes a hunter, to make a hunter". The following is a personal story of the importance of getting hunters of any age or experience level to try new experiences to renew their interest and passion for the great outdoors and making new memories with family and friends. David Coffman

Rabbit Hunt Provides Fun Day Afield for Good Friends

It had been more than a dozen years since I had been on a rabbit hunt, when my hunting buddy and neighbor Ronnie Page called me up on the last Monday in January and asked what was I doing on Wednesday... I hesitated because I'm never sure what this busy retiree is getting me into, sometimes it's helping another friend or neighbor with a chore, sometimes hunting whatever is in season, a ride-along for an errand, etc. So I gave him my standard answer, "Working on stories for the Outdoor Report!?!" This gives me some wiggle room on deciding whether to play along. Ronnie replied, "I'm meeting my friend for a rabbit hunt—you said you wanted hunting stories for the newsletter so here's your chance." Ronnie is an avid rabbit hunter and just a great buddy to go hunting with, and I'm always looking for a "field trip" to get a good story to share in the OR and learn something new... so I did not hesitate and replied YES! Ronnie came by the house the next day to help me go through my gear to select what all I needed. After all, being a gear head, Ronnie wanted to save me from bringing a pickup load of stuff – just a few things to get us through the day and type of terrain we were planning to hunt.

Before I new it, Wednesday was here and Ronnie's pickup was coming up the driveway early morning, the bright sun rising up over the horizon. He chuckled as I threw 2 backpacks and a duffle bag in the back of his pickup, a shotgun case and cooler, yes I had thought of a few more things since Monday night that we may just need as the day's hunt continued- my ingrained Boy Scout training to "BE Prepared" was hard to ignore. Now just as much as Ronnie had been asking me on a rabbit hunt for the past 2-3 years , I had been inviting him to hunt with me at my Friends & Family Hunt Club property in Louisa. Since I knew my Club property habitat and Ronnie was looking for a new place to hunt rabbits- we agreed the Club would be a good spot. Shortly we met Ronnie's long time rabbit hunting buddy Floyd Hawk at the crossroads near the Club. Floyd was from Maidens in Goochland County and told me that he had been rabbit hunting for over 25 years and was always looking for new places to hunt with his beagles.

I showed my new hunting companions the aerial photo of the Club property and described the fields and edges where I had seen rabbits while deer and turkey hunting. We decided on a large field with lots of woods edge and hedgerows. We got our gear and guns ready and Floyd described to me how he works the beagles and some do's and don'ts for both safety for us and the dogs and tactics to cover the hunting area as we walked. As Floyd got 3 of his six beagles out of the bed box and attached tracking collars, he introduced me to each of the lovable energetic and excited dogs. The first group was Robin age 9, Jake age 8 and 5 year old Pete. Floyd's 25 years of experience hunting with dogs and his passion and love for these canines was quickly apparent. As we worked the field, Floyd explained how different sets of dogs work together and teamwork between the three dogs and the hunters is very important. Within 2 minutes and 20 yards the beagles jumped the first rabbit out of a honeysuckle patch on the edge of the pines and Ronnie got first shot... no rabbit. A few minutes later another one took off and Ronnie got the first hit of the day. We got 4 rabbits out of the first field, took a break for a snack lunch and drink then headed to another part of the farm. There we hunted with a second group of beagles that had not been together as long as the first group- sort of an OJT hunt for Festus a one year old pup, Tammy age 5 and the leader of this pack, 8 year old Cindy.

What a thrill to watch the teamwork and skill exhibited by the hunter and the hounds. Floyd is one of a 'dwindling' breed of dog hunter – passionate, caring, dedicated, but the rising cost of keeping a big pack of dogs, loss of good habitat affecting hunting for many small game species and limited days to hunt are of concern. Floyd is a member of the VA Hunting Dog Alliance, realizing that sportsmen like him cannot save their sport alone. Working for preservation of our treasured hunting traditions and heritage can only be effective by working together with other sportsmen through effective organizations. I would recommend to any hunters with an interest in hunting with dogs for quail, waterfowl, coons, bear, deer or rabbits; find a reputable sportsmen's organization and get involved. Looking at the calendar as I write this story, there's only a few days left in rabbit season that closes February 28th, so even if I cannot get out again this season, I am looking forward to getting out again when the season returns next November. Even though I only got one shot, just being a part of the team spending a day afield with an old friend and seven new ones has me rear 'in to go again!

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.

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

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

Don't forget about the special Youth Spring Turkey Hunt that will take place on Saturday, April 6, 2013, for youth age 15 and under. Youth hunters between the ages of 12-15 must have appropriate valid hunting licenses. Hunters under the age of 12 are not required to have a license, but must be accompanied by a licensed adult. See the Department's website or Hunting & Trapping in Virginia Regulations and Information digest for more information on Hunter Education requirements. The youth turkey hunt is a great way for an experienced hunter to introduce a youngster to the great outdoors. If you cannot schedule a hunter education class before the season begins, there is the option of getting an Apprentice Hunting License. See article below for details.

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

Volunteer VDGIF Hunter Education Instructors do much more than teach the required Hunter Education Courses, they also develop and assist with outdoor skills training events such as Becoming an Outdoor Woman workshops, sportsman show exhibits and other Special Youth Hunts throughout the year for deer, rabbit, waterfowl, squirrel and much more. To become involved as a Hunter Education Instructor, contact Sgt. David Dodson at david.dodson@dgif.virginia.gov. Please include your locality in the e-mail.

Remember, only 37 days until the Youth Spring Gobbler Turkey Hunt Day, April 6, 2013! See our website for details.

VA Bird Dogs to Compete in National Championships March 5-10

February and March are prime months for gundog championship events nationwide. The National Upland Classic Series (NUCS) holds its' 2013 "shoot and retrieve" Bird Dog Championships during the first full week of March to determine the top dogs in the National Kennel Club for the previous hunting event season. More than a dozen dogs from Virginia have qualified and signed up for this competition March 5-10, 2013 out in Fairview, Missouri. Virginia has a bunch of top bird dogs. The National Bird Dog Circuit (BDC) holds its' national championship out in Meridian, Kansas this year from March 19th through the 24th and a substantial number of Virginia dogs will compete for BDC titles. United Field Trailers' Assoc. (UFTA) hosts its' national championship in mid February from the 15th through the 24th down in Town Creek, Alabama and it is a really big event. UFTA "Nationals" is a ten day competition with several hundred dogs and handlers vying for some big cash prizes of several thousand dollars each. Again, many of our Virginia bird dogs will be competing in several categories including Pointing and Flushing breeds. Although our own Virginia Upland Classic Series is well under way for 2013, we will have several dogs and handlers in each of these National competitions, and they are usually top contenders at all three.

Virginia Upland Classic Quail Hunt Scheduled March 23-24 in Providence Forge

Here in Virginia our first of four scheduled hunts for the 2013 season took place in Keysville, Virginia back in January. The "Southside Quail Hunt" at the FFF Kennels & Hunting preserve January 12-13 was well attended and about forty bird hunters from around the state gathered with their dogs on an unusually foggy and warm January morning to hunt quail in a friendly, fun competition. Ben Norris, VA Upland Classic event coordinator notes, " We have separate events for both Pointing and Flushing breeds and we separate the hunters into fields of older, experienced dogs, (over three years old on January 1st, the start of our season), younger dogs we call "amateurs", and first time participants (novices) and their dogs. Novices are assisted in the field by the scorekeeper as they find the birds and learn the sport. All Virginia bird hunters are welcome to come participate, and we encourage any of you to come out and spend a day in the field with your dog hunting quail. No membership is required to participate, but you will need a Virginia Hunting license and a blaze orange hat."

The next Virginia Upland Classic hunt is scheduled to take place on March 23-24, 2013 a week or so after our NUCS National Championships out in Missouri. This will be about the last chance we will have before it gets too warm to get out and hunt quail without our dogs getting over heated. Spring hunts are a problem as quail typically want to go into molt and lose their flight feathers around this time, but we have made arrangements with a breeder who held off setting his brooding houses for several months last Fall, so the quail we use should be in good flight condition this March. Virginia Upland Classic hunts follow a "shoot and retrieve' format where we hunt for three birds randomly planted out of sight of the participants. We try to use a field of cover large enough to be challenging for the dog and hunter (around 7-10 acres), and send a scorekeeper (not a judge) with each hunter to keep tabs on the dog's finds, the hunter's shooting, full or partial retrieving by the dog, and then awards points for each of these hunting activities as they occur. We try to mimic a safe bird hunt to the extent possible, and the goal of the sport is to hunt with your dog and have a safe and fun experience.

The quail hunt on March 23-24 will be near Richmond at the Hunters Sanctuary on #155 in Providence Forge. Please consider yourself invited and simply contact Joe Owen (jkowen@capacitytechnology.net) or myself (bgnorris@cox.net) to enter your dog and yourself for a great day of bird hunting with a group of like minded dog owners. I can almost guarantee a good time if you are a bird hunter and you love your bird dog. This coming Fall we will have our annual "Pheasant Hunt" close to Thanksgiving near Charlottesville at Liberty Corners Farm (11/9-10) and then our final hunt in December (12/14-15) back at the Sanctuary in Providence Forge. You can find us on Face Book at Virginia Upland Classic.

Webpage Developed to Update Virginia Wild Turkey Management Plan

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) and Virginia Tech's Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation have developed a webpage to host information about the developing Virginia Wild Turkey Management Plan (Virginia Wild Turkey Management Plan).  Please check the webpage often for information about the planning process, as this webpage will serve as the main source of information regarding the plan.

Update as of January 2013

Since the last update, 13 individuals were extended an invitation, and subsequently all have accepted, to participate on the Wild Turkey Management Plan Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC).  These individuals represent the spectrum of users and stakes in turkey management, including turkey hunters, other nature enthusiasts, agricultural and/or commodity producers, and representatives of organizations and agencies deemed important to turkey management.  This group will work together to develop policy-level draft goals for inclusion in a new statewide management plan for wild turkeys in Virginia.  Issues raised during a series of focus group meetings held in April and May 2012 will provide a starting point for discussion.  The draft management plan will be available for general public review and comment later this year.  Below a link is provided where a summary of issues raised during the focus groups can be viewed.  Preparation of an educational document that reviews the history, biology, and management of the wild turkey in Virginia currently is nearing completion and will be used to enhance knowledge and understanding of turkeys and turkey management among the public; when completed, this document will be available via the VDGIF web site.  In the coming months, the SAC and the VDGIF Wild Turkey Technical Committee will be very busy working to develop a draft plan.  Please monitor the VDGIF web site for future updates.

VDGIF Recognizes Assistance of Hunters in CWD Sample Collections...

One New CWD Positive Reported In Western Frederick County

A single new case of chronic wasting disease (CWD) has been detected very close to where CWD-infected deer were harvested in 2009, 2010, and 2011. This 3.5-year-old buck was killed by a hunter on November 17 in western Frederick County, Virginia, very close to the West Virginia border. Given the proximity of this new positive to the previous cases, changes to current management actions or restrictions are not anticipated.

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) would like to thank all of the hunters in Frederick and Shenandoah counties for their excellent cooperation during CWD sample collection this past fall. VDGIF plans to continue collecting CWD samples on the first three Saturdays of regular firearms season during future hunting seasons, along with other management options implemented after the initial detection of CWD in 2009. These management actions include: prohibiting the feeding of deer year-round both in and near the Containment Area (CA) prohibiting the movement of deer carcasses and parts out of the CA (with exceptions) restricting the disposal of deer wastes from the CA, prohibiting the rehabilitation of deer in the CA, and maintaining liberal seasons and bag limits on private lands in an attempt to reduce the deer population. The CA is located in western Frederick and Shenandoah counties.

As of January 20, 2013, CWD has been detected in 23 states and two Canadian provinces. The disease is a slow, progressive neurological (brain and nervous system) disease found in deer, elk, and moose in North America. The disease ultimately results in death of the animal. Symptoms exhibited by CWD-infected deer include staggering, abnormal posture, lowered head, drooling, confusion, and marked weight loss. There is no evidence that CWD can be naturally transmitted to humans, livestock, or pets. More information on CWD can be found on the VDGIF website. For additional information contact:

Megan Kirchgessner, Wildlife Veterinarian Telephone: 804-367-8944

Nelson Lafon, Deer Project Coordinator Telephone: 540-569-0023

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

Editor's note... While working the VDGIF exhibit at the 9th Annual OCHS Fishing Expo a dad and daughter came by the booth and I commented to the smiling young girl, "Where did you get that cool shark hat?!" She was sporting a toboggan style gray knit cap that had a big row of white shark teeth and menacing black eyes right on the forehead- sort of matched her big smile. Being at a fishing show, I curiously asked if the dad-daughter duo also hunted. I was a little surprised when the girl smiled even bigger and proudly exclaimed, "We sure do!" "Did you have any luck this season?", I asked. Beaming with pride she exclaimed, "I got a big 6 pointer with my new 'camo-pink' Parker crossbow !" Now there was a story to be told...

I congratulated the young huntress and asked her dad if they would please email her story and a photo for the next Outdoor Report. The dad Stephen Grabeel, introduced himself and his eight year old daughter Erin, noting they were from Orange. I gave them my contact information and asked they email me the story and photo. Stephen said they had sent information to Parker Bows concerning her first bow hunt last November. Here is the story they sent...

TO: "Parker Photo Gallery"
FROM: Stephen & Tricia Grabeel

Hello Parker Crossbows,
We are writing this story with the help of our eight year old daughter who shot her first deer with her new pink camo Parker Challenger crossbow. Erin Grabeel shot this big bodied 6 pointer in Gordonsville, Virginia with her pink Challenger. We purchased this crossbow on 10/20/2012 at Greentop in Ashland, Virginia.

Erin practiced that Sunday and was able to hit the target at 40 yards consistently. On Monday she went hunting with her dad after school. They were sitting on the ground in the woods with a small blind set-up so the deer wouldn't get spooked by her moving around some...hard to keep an 8 year old still. Her buck made its way down the hillside and she waited until she could get a good shot. With dad holding the tripod and telling her to use the 40 yard bead...she took dead aim and with the arrow going clean through. The buck ran 20 yards and dropped....as well as Erin's jaw dropping. Very excited she wanted to trail after it but they waited 15 minutes and approached the dead deer after finding her Parker arrow covered in blood. She told her dad that she kinda went between the 30 and 40 yard bead...which was probably a good thing as she could have missed high. After getting it loaded into the truck her reply to her dad was..."All I can say is...thank you Dad!"

Wildlife Conservation Projects Update

Editor's note... In the past two years VDGIF has established restoration programs for bobwhite quail, mussels, elk and other species. Our readers have noted great interest in updates on these programs in particular and other species that are "in the news" and subject to special management considerations by VDGIF staff and partner agencies and organizations. These news items are featured in this section. DC

Quail Restoration Efforts Continue Strong as Quail Supporters Rally After Quail Unlimited Closes

With the announcement February 5 that the national conservation organization, Quail Unlimited (QU) was closing due to longstanding management problems, Marc Puckett – Chair – National Bobwhite Technical Committee and VDGIF Farm Game and Quail Program Co-coordinator, wanted to put this announcement in perspective in regards to the more positive 'big picture' for the ongoing success of quail restoration on several fronts. Marc commented, " We fear the public perception is that if QU folds, quail are in trouble. Many fine people worked very hard for QU for years, but the troubles over the past 5 years were an example of a good effort being negatively impacted by the deeds of a few at the top. In spite of valiant efforts by new leadership to save QU, the problems proved insurmountable. The quail world will roll right along. Our hearts go out to our friends in the QU organization, and we will do all we can to help them stay engaged in quail conservation.

There has never been a time in the history of quail management when more positive things are occurring than now. The glass if ¾ full. We hope and expect the members of QU will continue on in support of one of several NGOs related to quail, and their support is not limited to one.

The 25 state agency led NBCI is a parallel effort not designed to compete with NGOs or agencies, but rather to facilitate at the national level all aspects of quail habitat management and land use policy that impacts quail and so many more early-succession species.

We look forward to many continued years of increasing management and policy effort on behalf of quail and their habitat counterparts."

The following background information and article condensed from the Feature section courtesy of The Outdoor Wire February 5, 2013

Quail Unlimited Folds

With a message from President Bill E. Bowles on its website, Quail Unlimited, the nation's oldest quail advocacy group, has announced its immediate closure-- ceasing all operations. Bowles encouraged members to move their memberships and allegiances to Quail Forever. The announcement closed the book on an organization that, despite its best efforts, could not overcome mismanagement first uncovered nearly three years ago.

When we first reported the story of possible problems with the organization in 2009, there was still hope that the struggling organization could reverse abuses of the organization's finances which had left not only in desperate financial straits, but looking at least one federal investigation involving missing firearms supposedly used in QU fundraising efforts.

Meanwhile, Quail Forever and sister organization Pheasants Forever, have rolled out the proverbial welcome mat for former Quail Unlimited members and chapter officers.

In a welcome page automatically linking from the former Quail Unlimited website and closure announcement, Quail Forever is quick to point out a critical difference between QF and QU: a 4-star Charity Navigator rating. That rating puts the organization at the top of the nation's various conservation groups with 91.23 cents of every dollar raised going directly back into conservation work.

The welcome also points out that the 100 Quail Forever chapters and more their than 10,000 members have the responsibility of determining how 100 percent of their locally-raised conservation funds were spent. "As a result," the welcome explains, "chapter volunteers are able to see the fruits of their efforts locally, while belonging to a national organization with a strong voice on federal and state conservation policy."

Despite the warm welcome to QU members, the QF/PF organization points out there was no merger of interests nor is there any linkage between the two organizations.

PF/QF has, however, acquired the membership list, website and logo of the now-defunct Quail Unlimited. And four former QU employees are working under short-term contracts to help reach out to the now-disenfranchised members and chapters.

"Our goal," says QF/PF's Vice President of Marketing Bob St. Pierre, "is to let those state and local volunteers know we welcome their passion into our organization. We want them to join us as individuals or become newly-chartered chapters."

Like Quail Forever, the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) is saddened by the demise of Quail Unlimited, but director Don McKenzie says they're confident that the grassroots support of the national bobwhite restoration effort will continue to strengthen, despite the failure of the species' oldest advocacy group.

VDOF and VDGIF Announce New Forestry Cost-Share Partnership

The Virginia Quail Team is pleased to announce the launch of a trial program partnership between VDOF and VDGIF to offer forestry related, wildlife friendly best management practice cost-share. These practices apply in the 15 target, or focus quail counties and are aimed at improving early-succession wildlife habitat while simultaneously targeting forest stand improvement. The program will be administered by VDOF and funded primarily by VDGIF via Quail Recovery Initiative funds. Visit the website for details.

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."

Elk Restoration Update

Elk Release in Buchanan County Makes History... Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) biologists brought 11 elk to Virginia from southeastern Kentucky on May 18, 2012. They returned to Kentucky and brought another 7 elk to Virginia on May 24th. Sixteen of these elk had been in quarantine for disease testing since February 7th and two were calves born in quarantine. All received a clean bill of health before coming to the release area near Vansant in Buchanan County. Once in Virginia, the elk were placed in an acclimation corral to calm down before release. All adult elk wore new GPS telemetry collars so that biologists could monitor their movements following release. The Elk Restoration Project is the result of a long term partnership between VDGIF, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and Buchanan County. Biologists released the first 11 elk on the night of May 23rd. They released elk in the second group on three different nights due to the birth of two additional calves in the acclimation corral. Two pregnant cows were released on May 29th, a pregnant cow and two cows with calves were released on May 31st, and the last cow and calf were released on June 7th. The telemetry equipment performed well in the rough terrain, providing three locations per elk each day. Following release, all elk remained within a mile of the acclimation corral for several weeks. Elk found plentiful forage due to the reclamation work completed by the mine operators and the abundant rainfall this spring. In July and August, cows with calves had the smallest activity areas, ranging in an area encompassing approximately 1000 acres while the two 2-year old bulls had the largest activity areas, ranging an area over 9,000 acres. Radio collars and trail cameras located at frequented areas have provided detailed information on movements by the herd.

November Update: All elk released in Buchanan County last May are still alive to the best of our knowledge. Most of the released elk have remained in the acclimation corral area following the rut. Staff biologists and volunteers did not confirm the presence of any indigenous elk in the release area during the rut. However, one of the two-year old bulls that we released tended cows and hopefully we have several pregnant cows now.

Three cows and their calves have separated from the main group of elk, but remain within several miles of the release area. All elk are foraging in reclaimed mine or timber harvest areas.

VDGIF staff worked with our Kentucky and Missouri partners to repair the quarantine facility in Kentucky in October. Veterinarians from the three states are making final adjustments to quarantine procedures. Trapping for more elk to bring to Virginia will begin in January.

January 2013 Update: Allen Boynton , VDGIF Terrestrial Wildlife Biologist Manager for Region 3 notes that, "The elk released in Buchanan County last May are doing well. All the elk that we have observed appear to be in very good condition. Most have remained in the release area and are foraging together. One cow and her calf are several miles from the release site. The bulls have on several occasions wandered off singly or in small groups for several days. However, the bulls continue to return to the area frequented by the cows and calves. Preparations are underway in Kentucky to trap and quarantine elk. VDGIF plans to bring another small group of elk to Buchanan County this spring."

Look for exclusive updates in this section of future editions of the Outdoor Report.

For more information on elk restoration in Virginia:

The Wildlife Foundation of VA Launches Quail Restoration Effort on Albemarle Property

The November December 2012 edition of Virginia Wildlife magazine in the Afield and Afloat section features an article by Jenny West, Executive Director of the Wildlife Foundation of Virginia on the Foundation's efforts to improve habitat for bobwhite quail on their 2,000 acre property in southern Albemarle County. As a pilot program TWFVA has released 500 birds at Fulfilment Farms and over the next few months will provide controlled public hunting opportunities, youth hunts and bird dog hunts to help revive this waning sport. Visit the www.vawildlife.org website for more details.

Habitat at Home© DVD 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!

Be Safe... Have Fun!

Winter is Good Time to Take Required Boating Education Course

All Personal Water Craft (PWC) operators, 14 years of age and older, and all persons age 40 or younger operating a 10-hp or greater motorboat, are reminded they are required to complete a certified Boating Education Course by July 1, 2013. VDGIF Volunteer Boating Safety Education Instructor David Aitken, from Louisa, advises that March-April are great times to take an approved course before the spring warm-up gets boaters anxious to get back out on the water. Instructor Aitken adds, "It's easy to locate courses being offered near you by visiting the Boating Safety website for details and a list of courses being offered throughout the state." For more information on the Boating Education Courses being held throughout the state, visit the Boating Education Section in the sidebar for more information on Boating Education classes statewide.

No Burning Before 4 PM Until April 30

All outdoorsmen are reminded that the "4 PM Burn Law" is in effect from February 15 until April 30 to help prevent forest fires. The law bans all open air burning, including campfires, before 4 PM if your fire is within 300 feet of the woods, brush, or dry grass which can carry the fire to the woods. You are allowed to burn debris or have campfires between 4 PM and midnight, as long as you take proper care and precaution and attend your fire at all times. Read the Virginia Department of Forestry's Frequently Asked Questions: Can I Burn? to learn more.

"This law is one of the most effective tools we have in the prevention of wildfires," advised John Miller, director of resource protection at the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF). "Each late winter and early spring, downed trees, branches and leaves become 'forest fuels' that increase the danger of a forest fire. By adhering to the law, people are less likely to start a fire that threatens them, their property and the forests of Virginia." A violation of this law is a Class 3 misdemeanor punishable by up to a $500 fine. In addition to the criminal violation, those who allow a fire to escape are liable for the cost of suppressing the fire as well as any damage caused to others' property.

In 2012, there were 630 wildfires that burned 6,901 acres of forestland in the Commonwealth. This was a 24 percent decrease in the number of wildland fires compared to the number (829) of fires in 2011. The amount of acreage burned decreased 42 percent when compared to 12,072 acres that burned in 2011.

To learn more about how to protect yourself and your property, visit the VDOF website.

Remember only YOU can prevent forest fires!

Stay Safe on the Water - Boat Smart and Sober!

On July 1, 2013, all PWC operators 14 years of age and older as well as motorboat operators age 40 and younger who operate boats with motors of 10 horsepower and greater must have completed a boating safety education course and carry such proof in their possession while operating the vessel.

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!

This winter boating season VDGIF reminds fisherman and duck hunters to boat smart, boat sober, and boat safe while out on our waterways. All boaters should:

Remember safety and courtesy are free, share them generously!

"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.

Food Plot Planting Seminar At Lake Monticello March 2

A Wildlife Food Plot Seminar covering "Huge Results With Small Equipment" will be held Saturday March 2nd 1:00pm till 3:00pm at the Fluvanna 'Bestdoit' Hardware located in Crofton Plaza off route 618at Lake Monticello. Sherwood Londeree, Wildlife Manager for Friends and Family Hunt Club and long time leader for the Central Virginia Chapter of the NWTF will share his 20+ years of experience with participants in enhancing habitat through establishing food plots of all types and sizes. Topics he will be covering are picking a plot location on your property, seed choices for best results year long, step by step directions on processing the plot and the benefits for planting a wildlife plot. Sponsors for this free workshop include: Fluvanna bestdoit Hardware, Central Virginia Chapter NWTF, Pennington seed, and Friends and Family Hunt Club. For more information contact Sherwood Londeree: bo.londeree@yahoo.com.

Be a Sweetheart to Wildlife

You can make a difference by helping to support the management of Virginia's wildlife. When you complete your Virginia state income tax form, you can be a sweetheart to wildlife by simply marking the Nongame Wildlife Program check off box and filling in the amount of your donation. Your contribution will help support essential research and management of native birds, fish, and other nongame wildlife.

Nuisance & Problem Wildlife

Modifications have been completed on the Nuisance and Problem Wildlife Section of VDGIF's website. Angela Weller, Executive Administrative Assistant in the VDGIF Bureau of Wildlife Resources notes that it is much easier to access the nuisance wildlife information. Simply Click on the Wildlife Information Tab from the home page and choose the second link, which is the Nuisance/Problem Wildlife Page. From there you can choose species pages with basic information on laws and regulations right at the top of the page.

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.

Critter Corner by Marlene A. Condon

Virginia Opossum

Many folks don't like the Virginia Opossum because they consider it to be ugly and rat-like in appearance. Since people tend to be afraid of rats, they are often afraid of opossums. But there's really no reason to fear them. They very rarely get infected with rabies and, anyway, these animals have no interest in interacting with people.

Time of year to see them and where: If you drive slowly along roadways after dark, you might spot an opossum and be able to watch its ambling gait as it searches for food. This nocturnal animal (active mostly at night) makes its home in cities and towns as well as in the countryside. Only on the very coldest nights of the year does the Virginia Opossum stay holed up inside a tree cavity, log, or some other type of protected area. Otherwise its almost hairless ears and tail and bare toes could get frostbite.

Food: In addition to feeding upon dead animals, opossums eat just about anything that they find, including insects and other invertebrates (animals without a backbone), small birds and mammals, amphibians (such as frogs) and reptiles (such as snakes), eggs, nuts, and fresh fruits and vegetables.

Environmental function: Virginia Opossums are members of Mother Nature's cleanup crew. When they feed upon dead animals, they are helping to recycle nutrients back into the environment for the benefit, ultimately, of plants. Unfortunately, this role often causes opossums to get run over when they try to feed upon animals that have been hit and killed by traffic.

Personal observation: As a student at Virginia Tech, I lived a few miles away from campus in an old trailer that was surrounded by farmland. One morning when I left for class, I forgot to close my bedroom window. Much to my surprise (and delight, to be honest with you), when I returned home later that day and walked into the bedroom, I found a momma opossum with her babies clinging to the fur on her back! Young opossums accompany their mother in this manner during the final month that they are suckling.

Nature-friendly garden tip: Opossums will rest underneath brush piles that you can provide by building one off in a corner of the yard or out in a field. Several years ago I wrote a color-illustrated brochure for the Virginia Department of Forestry on the value of brush piles for wildlife. If you would like a free copy, please send a business-sized self-addressed double-stamped envelope to me at 5554 Sugar Ridge Road, Crozet, VA 22932-2204.

Naturalist Marlene A. Condon is the author/photographer of The Nature-friendly Garden: Creating a Backyard Haven for Plants, Wildlife, and People (Stackpole Books; information at www.marlenecondon.com).  If you have a question about animals or gardening in a nature-friendly manner, please send it to NTRLDY@aol.com.

Marlene will be presenting her "The Nature-friendly Garden" program in the Tidewater region at the Virginia Beach Audubon Society meeting coming up March 11. Meetings begin at 7:00 PM on the Second Monday of every month. The location is the Eastern Shore Chapel, 2020 Laskin Road, Virginia Beach, VA 23454.

Nature Observations from the Virginia Wildlife Calendar

Look at the 2013 Virginia Wildlife Calendar for answers to these wildlife related questions for early March:

Answers to February 13th edition quiz for nature events for late February...

2013 Virginia Wildlife Calendar Now Available

It's time to purchase the 2013 Virginia Wildlife Calendar! For more than 23 years the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries has been publishing one of the most visually stunning and informative wildlife calendars in the country. The 2013 edition highlights many of the most sought after game and fish species in the state. Virginia hunters, anglers, and wildlife enthusiasts will appreciate the rich colors and composition of the 12 monthly photo spreads. Each page is full of useful tidbits for the outdoors lover -- including wildlife behavior, preferred fishing and hunting times, hunting seasons, state fish records, and much more! Life history information is provided for each species featured. Virginia Wildlife Calendars make great holiday gifts and are being offered at the bargain price of only $5 each. Quantities are limited, so order yours now!

Get your copy of the 2013 Virginia Wildlife Calendar here.

Virginia Conservation Police Notebook

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

Reports from the field officer's notebook...

Region I - Tidewater

Game Cameras Stolen... During the 2012 general firearms hunting season, Conservation Police Officer Thomas Mecadon worked with several landowners in reference to numerous complaints of trespassing to hunt on several properties located in Henrico County. The landowners took the initiative to purchase game cameras that email photographs immediately upon activation. In a time span of two weeks, Officer Mecadon was able to make several arrests with the assistance of the cameras. On December 30, Officer Mecadon received a call from Sergeant Wayne Weller, who also received the photographs, that one of the cameras was being stolen. The image showed an individual with a pair of blue bolt cutters. Sergeant Weller responded to the scene and did verify the camera was indeed stolen. Sergeant Weller, after talking with the landowner, determined that a Lowes Hardware Store was in the vicinity of the larceny. He made contact with the Lowes the next day and ascertained the process to request videos and invoices. Officer Mecadon conducted follow up with the Lowes and after submitting the required paperwork, learned that only one pair of bolt cutters (that were blue) was sold on December 30. The suspect was identified on the store surveillance camera and customer invoice. This was the same individual that had been charged and convicted by Officer Mecadon earlier in the season for trespassing and hunting with no blaze orange. Sergeant Valasek and Officer Mecadon attempted to make contact with the individual several times in order to conduct an interview. On February 3, Officer Kopelove and Officer Mecadon were able to locate the individual at his residence. After conducting a suspect interview he admitted to stealing the camera and throwing it away. He will be charged with Grand Larceny and Trespassing.

"Not So Bright" Spotlighting... On February 8, while patrolling Cavalier WMA in Chesapeake, Senior Conservation Police Officer Beatley observed a vehicle traveling at a crawl on the main road in the WMA at approximately 2130 hours. The occupants were then observed shining a handheld spotlight into the fields. The vehicle stopped several times and spotlighted several areas of the fields. Senior Officer Beatley stopped the vehicle and found it to be occupied by two 18 year old male subjects. The two subjects advised that they weren't looking for deer; they were looking for nutria, rats and raccoons. They were in possession of a 20 gauge shotgun and a semi-auto 22 rifle and ammunition for both. They were both charged with spotlighting while in possession of firearms.

Well Armed Spotlighters Nabbed on WMA... On February 9, while patrolling Cavalier WMA in Chesapeake, Senior Conservation Police Officer Beatley observed a vehicle traveling at a slow pace on the main road in the WMA at approximately 2215 hours. The occupants of the vehicle were observed shining a hand held spotlight into the fields. The occupants then turned onto the Clubhouse Road and continued to spotlight the field. They then stopped their vehicle and turned out the lights. They then drove the vehicle out into the field while using the hand held spotlight. At this time Senior Officer Beatley initiated a vehicle stop. The truck was occupied by two persons. They were in possession of one 45-70 rifle with 52 rounds of ammunition, one 45 ACP handgun with one loaded magazine, one 10mm handgun with one loaded magazine and one loaded 357 Magnum handgun. They made statements that they were looking for venison, had seen a nice buck in the field and had driven out into the field to get a better look. Both subjects were charged with attempt to take deer at night with a light.

Biologists and Officers Support Local Hunter/Landowner Committee... On February 12, District Biologist Todd Engelmeyer, K9 Officer Frank Spuchesi, Officer Josh Jackson and Sgt. Rich Goszka attended the King George Hunter/Landowner Committee meeting. Todd Engelmeyer gave a presentation on deer management and hemorrhagic disease. Officer Jackson gave a presentation on enforcement issues related to last hunting season. The officers stayed after the meeting and answered individual questions and concerns. Over 50 citizens were in attendance.

Region III - Southwest

Tennessee Resident Caught Spotlighting Deer in Virginia... On December 14, Virginia Conservation Police Officer Jason Honaker received a complaint about a deer being shot on the night of December 7. The complainant stated that the doe deer had been shot by use of a spotlight in the Boozy Creek area of Scott County. The suspect vehicle was described as a white Dodge diesel pickup. After repeated patrols in the area, Officer Honaker was unable to locate a vehicle matching the description. Officer Honaker contacted Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Officer David Carpenter in January and inquired if there had been any reports of a vehicle matching the description causing problems on the Tennessee side of the state line. TWRA Officer Carpenter stated that there had been a report of a vehicle matching the description earlier in the season for out of season hunting violations. Carpenter stated that the suspect lived in Tennessee and had been questioned regarding the hunting violations. According to Carpenter, the suspect had placed the blame for the violations on his wife. The wife then admitted to all of the violations in Tennessee and was convicted. Officer Carpenter provided contact information for the suspect. On February 07, Officer Honaker met TWRA Officer Carpenter in Tennessee and went to the suspect's location. During the interview, the suspect admitted to shooting a deer on the night of December 07, in Scott County. Towards the end of the interview the suspect admitted to additional hunting violations in Tennessee. The suspect provided Officer Honaker with a written statement admitting to the violations. The suspect also provided the officers with information regarding other hunting violations that he was aware of that had occurred in Tennessee. Before the officers left the scene, Officer Carpenter confiscated four large deer racks. TWRA officers were able to obtain warrants for killing deer out of season, killing deer over the limit, failure to check turkey, and numerous hunting license violations. Officer Honaker obtained a warrant for shooting deer at night in Virginia.

Trail Camera Clicks Evidence on Trespassers... On December 30, Senior Conservation Police Officer Jason Honaker was contacted by a landowner in Scott County regarding trespassing issues on his property in the Dungannon. The landowner stated that his game camera had taken a photograph of two subjects that were carrying firearms and appeared to be hunting on his posted property. Officer Honaker requested the complainant to email the photograph of the suspects to him. Officer Honaker printed a copy of the photograph and put it into his vehicle for reference as he tried to locate the suspects. After going to the Dungannon area and interviewing local residents about the photograph, the investigation seemed to be at a dead end since no one could identify the suspects. On January 05, Officer Honaker was patrolling in the Fort Blackmore section of the county when a subject approached to ask him a question about hunting. Officer Honaker told the subject that he looked familiar but the subject replied that he had never met the officer before. The suspect stated that this was only the second time that he had come in from out of state to hunt this year. During his conversation, Officer Honaker realized that the subject he was speaking to was one of the trespassers in the photograph. Officer Honaker questioned the suspect as to whether he had been hunting on December 26 in Dungannon. The suspect stated that he had hunted on his own property that day on Cassells Chapel Road near Dungannon. Officer Honaker asked the suspect who was hunting with him on December 26. The suspect stated that his son had been hunting with him. Officer Honaker showed the suspect the photograph that showed both the suspect and his son carrying firearms on the posted property. The suspect stated that the photograph looked a little like him but it was not him. Officer Honaker observed that the suspect just happened to be wearing the same pants and boots that were worn by the person in the photograph. When confronted about the clothing, the suspect then admitted that it was in fact him and his son in the photograph. The suspect stated that they were on the complainant's property on December 26, even though they knew they did not have permission to be there. The suspect claimed that he and his son were on the posted property to go and look at an old cemetery. Further investigation by Officer Honaker revealed that neither of the suspect's had a valid hunting license, big game license or muzzle loading license. The complainant decided not to pursue trespassing charges after being presented with the results of Officer Honaker's investigation. Officer Honaker obtained warrants for the hunting license violations and served magistrate summonses on February 9.

K9 Team Update

K9s Good for Scouting... On February 11, 2013, Conservation Police Officer Jim Anders, K9 Officer Wes Billings and K9 Josie conducted a talk and demonstration at a Scout meeting in Wythe County. Several trout were hidden in the meeting room and after a briefing of what Josie would do to find them, she was released and to the delight of the Scouts she located the hidden trout in a short time. Everyone enjoyed the "meet and greet" with Josie and several good contacts were made by Officers Anders and Billings. There were 20 scouts and their parents in attendance.

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. Make a Donation to the K9 Team at: www.vawildlife.org/k-9.html.

For more information visit the Law Enforcement section on our website. There is also a feature article in the June 2012 edition of Virginia Wildlife Magazine, "Canines On A Mission", by Clarke C. Jones. Watch for updates in the Outdoor Report on events where you can meet members of the new K9 Team and see demonstrations of their remarkable skills used in enforcement of wildlife laws and search and rescue. Their activities are featured in the K9 Team Update in the Virginia Conservation Police Notebook section of each Outdoor Report.

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 2013 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 2013

Take a Kid Fishing on the James, Saturday, April 6, 2013, aboard The Floating Fishing School

The James River is a great springtime fishery with so many species to catch: shad, white perch, catfish and stripers are all at their best. Join DGIF, Angling Education and Bass Pro Shops, Pro Staffer, Captain John Garland aboard "The Floating Fishing School," our 26 foot Sun Tracker pontoon boat provided by Tracker Marine, for the Take a Kid Fishing on the James workshop where we fish for whatever is biting. The spring bite is hot on the river, so register today for this fun and educational event, space is limited! Workshop sessions are from 8-Noon or 1-5 pm out of Osborne Turnpike boat landing in Henrico. Bait, tackle, PFD, snacks and drinks are provided. Registration fee is $15 per participant. Each adult (18 and older) must register with at least one child between 8-17 years of age. Freshwater fishing license required for 16 and older. To register and pay, contact Chris Dunnavant at 804-367-6778 or at chris.dunnavant@dgif.virginia.gov

Fishing Show Season 2013

It's show season again and time to head out to the nearest expo hall and check out the latest in boats, gear and tackle. Although internet ordering has opened up many opportunities, nothing beats being able to put your hands on that new rod and reel, getting in a boat and opening up the storage lockers or talking to industry experts and pros. They are a great deal too; for much less than the cost of a movie, you and your friends or family can enjoy hours of fun. Be sure to check out a show near you this season!

March 2, Rapidan Trout Unlimited Chapter Fishing Show at Fauquier County Fairgrounds, Warrenton Show hours are 9 am-4:30 pm, $5 admission, children under 12 free, and plenty of parking. This is the annual fundraiser for TU Chapter activities: Tristate TU Youth Conservation & Fishing Camp; Heritage Day(Kids Fishing day); Trout in Classroom(11 schools); Rapidan River Cleanup/Picnic/Fishing; Camp Special Love/Cancer Kids; Project Healing Waters/wounded veterans; Casting for Recovery/women's cancer; and conservation projects(i.e. Spout Run). There are 50 tables, 8 seminars, fly-tying demo, with hot food & beverages. Vendors are from PA, MD, DC, VA, & WV. The keynote speaker is Jeff Murray of Murrays Fly Shop/Edinburg on "Mountain Trout Fishing". For details visit: www.rapidantu.org

Virginia Reservoirs Ranked For Largemouth Bass Fishing

VDGIF aquatic biologists spend considerable effort and resources to manage, enhance, and protect largemouth bass populations in Virginia's public fishing reservoirs, lakes, and ponds. Most of these waters are sampled each year, or every few years, to assess current largemouth bass population parameters such as age and growth, spawning success, and size distribution. These population samples are generally collected using daytime, boat electrofishing gear targeting largemouth bass and are conducted in a manner that allows several comparisons to be made concerning fish populations. VDGIF Bureau of Wildlife Resources Aquatic Biologist Dan Michaelson notes, " Since many Virginia anglers target largemouth bass, and fish larger than 15 inches are considered "preferred" nationwide; the following summary contains information about bass over 15 inches (preferred size). View the largemouth bass ranking table!

New Impoundment and Smallmouth Bass River Fishing Forecasts Released on VDGIF Website

Virginia has extremely diverse aquatic ecosystems found over varied geographic regions, from the Lowland Coastal Plain to the rugged topography of the Appalachian Plateau. Over 176,000 acres of public lakes, primarily man-made impoundments, and 28,300 miles of fishable streams (1,000 miles tidal) provide fishing opportunities for more than 600,000 licensed anglers. Virginia's 24 man-made large impoundments (>500 acres) are spread throughout the state and provide the public with over 139,000 acres of quality fishing. These impoundments range in size from 510 to 48,900 acres and were built by various federal, state, or private entities for flood control, water supply, hydroelectric generation, and /or recreation. Additionally, Virginia has over 40,000 miles of streams. This important resource includes approximately 25,000 miles (1,000 miles are tidal) of fishable warmwater streams which support a great diversity of freshwater fish species and provide excellent sport fishing opportunities. Included here is the 2013 fishing forecast for selected large impoundments (>500 acres) and rivers representing all the physiographic regions of the Commonwealth. For more information on Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) managed rivers, streams and impoundments of all sizes, please visit our website.

Boat Landing on the Rappahannock Temporarily Closed to Powerboats

John Kirk, the Region I Boating Access Maintenance Supervisor for VDGIF, wants boaters to know that the Department will be closing Mill Creek Boat Landing near Wake on the Rappahannock River in Middlesex County for the period February 18 through March 15, 2013 to dredge sand from the area and install sheet piling to inhibit further sand accumulation in the ramp area. VDGIF is working to fix the ramp as quickly as possible, but says boaters will have to use other landings in the interim.  The site is currently open for light boat access only since sand deposits prevent launching of larger boats. Notices will be placed at the boat landing and at the Agency's website. If you have questions or need additional information contact:

The Fishing Spot

by Chris Dunnavant, VDGIF Angling Education Coordinator

Welcome to The Fishing Spot! Through my role as Angling Education coordinator for the VDGIF, I am able to connect with a variety of anglers across the Commonwealth and this is an opportunity for me to share those experiences and fishing related topics with you. My sincere hope is that you can always come to The Fishing Spot for interesting and educational fishing articles, intriguing interviews with anglers and the latest on fishing in Virginia. Please enjoy!

John Crews – Virginia Pro (Part 2)

It does not take much time around John to realize he is more than just a bass fishing pro. There is a serious professionalism about him; he is business-like, articulate and detail oriented. His personality shows itself in how he approaches his career. He is not merely satisfied with the baits the tackle companies role out each year. His mind is always working; brainstorming and developing lures as tools to fill a fishing need.

Years ago an opportunity opened up for John to join the Spro pro staff and create his own line of crankbaits. The Little John series of baits doesn't just have John's name on it, but he actually draws out the lures with exact measurements, specifications and components. Spro sends him prototypes and they work together to tweak and hone the bait until it satisfies John. He currently has 5 models available in the Little John Series that covers an array of depths from a shallow 1-3' diver to a super deep 20' model. Check them out at the Spro website.

John's creativity and proclivity to design baits is not exclusive to hard baits. He has always drawn out designs for soft plastic baits as well. At one point a soft plastics sponsor did not pan out and it led John to start his own lure company. Through years of planning and effort, Missile Baits was formed and John's creations went into production; launching in 2012.

The lure company exploded onto the market when, Ish Monroe, Missile Baits pro-staffer, won the opening FLW tournament at Lake Okeechobee on the D-Bomb, a bulky creature bait designed for flipping and pitching. That gave the company a lot of credibility and a big boost. The timing was perfect as John was negotiating with retail giant, Dick's Sporting Goods. The D-Bomb experienced a spike in sales and is still the top seller in the Missile Bait line.

John feels being a full time angler and bait company owner offers some distinct advantages. "It opens a lot of doors and helps in making connections." Competing on the pro bass circuit helps him develop quality products that catch bass as well. "We are tuned into what is working and devising new ideas through competing," John says. All the designs come from experience on the water and brainstorming with pros like Monroe to create the Missile Baits array of lures.

The company's first year has been successful. John sets lofty goals and targets strategies to increase exposure and sales. A recent addition is the warlock jighead for fishing soft plastics, shakey-head style. It offers several distinct advantages over other jigheads including a custom wide bite hook and shorter spring to increase your hook-up ratio. He has many more new products in the pipeline and will be rolling out new designs each year. Be sure to visit the Missile Baits website and root for Virginia pro, John Crews on the B.A.S.S circuit this year.

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

Region 1 - Tidewater

Boat Landing on the Rappahannock Temporarily Closed to Powerboats

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

Little Creek Reservoir: Contributed by Park Concessionaire Diane Priestley, (757) 566-2277, hhhatlcr@aol.com. The water temperature is 45 degrees with a visibility of 14 ft. There are lots of fish being caught, we saw 5 bass over 4 lbs. on Sunday. Most were caught on ultralite Crappie rigs. They are in the coves that have deep water channels in them moving up as shallow as 8 to 10 ft. midday on warm sunny days. Suspending jerkbaits, Silver Buddy's, and crankbaits should work if fished SLOWWW. Crappie and yellow perch were very active also, one fisherman caught 4 citation yellow perch one 13 1/2 in another caught a bunch of crappie one 15 1/2 in. They preferred jigs over minnows. crappie and yellow perch were caught as shallow as 4 ft. No eyes or stripers were caught but they are there just waiting for you to find them. Your Season Pass runs out on the first of March, so stop by the shop and get your 2013 pass.

Beaverdam Reservoir: (804) 693-2107. Contributed by Park Supervisor Patti McGrath. Dustin F. caught a 12 in. crappie off the dock on Wednesday Feb. 20. He worked pretty hard for that one but was pleased with the results. He was using minnows as bait. He said "Crappie fishing is still picking up off the pier, but it is nothing like the boom they saw last year this time." We have seen crappie in the 11 to 13 inch range being brought in for the last month or so. As a side note, the grass has died back significantly and the water has surprisingly cleared up along the shore even with all the rain we have had. There is some floating sea weed bunches migrating around the lake which make good fish attracters. The water is at full pool, 44 degrees and stained. Boy Scouts' Benefit Bass Tournament is scheduled for April 28, 2013. For more information about Beaverdam Park visit our website or call the Ranger Station at (804)693-2107.

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

Virginia Beach: Contributed by local guide Skip Feller of Rudee Inlet Charters (757) 425-3400. Tautog fishing around the bridge tunnel has been good, mainly on crab and clam. Haven't heard much on the stripers lately.

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

Chickahominy River: River's Rest (804) 829-2753. Alton Williams reports that his place is still a ghost town. No anglers, no fish, no action. The water is fairly clear, at a good level and cooling.

Chickahominy Lake: Contributed by Captain Art Conway of Conway's River Rat Guide Service, (804) 746-2475. Chickahominy Lake mid day water temperatures were in the low 40s in the lower lake and major creeks on Saturday (2/23/2013). The lake level was about 6 inches above the top of the dam. The water was brown and slightly cloudy in the lower lake. A few bowfin, blue cats, crappies, white perch, and bass were in deeper channels and deep winter holes (about 18 to 25 feet deep) in the lower main lake and when active were hitting blade baits, small Gulp baits, and live minnows. A few crappies and some bass were on brush piles and other wood cover in mid-depths (6 to 12 feet) and when active were hitting live minnows. Most crappies and white perch appeared to have left the winter holes but have not yet made an appearance in the major creeks. Look for them to start showing up in the creeks during the next week or two if water temperatures rise. Most bass and pickerel were scattered on mid depth and deep flats in the main lake and were hitting live minnows, blade baits, and lipless crankbaits. A few small to medium bass and an occasional small yellow perch or pickerel were in the major creeks and were hitting live minnows and small suspending jerkbaits. Fishing with Capt. Conway, Hollis Pruitt had 4 bass.

North Landing River and Back Bay: Contributed by Ken Testorff, local blogger. I made a trip to West Neck Marina today for multiple reasons. Primarily, Skip and I were meeting our friend, Charlie, to give him some samples of different fishing lines. Why, you ask? Simple. Charlie is getting ready to do a serious study of fishing-line visibility underwater. He's already dabbled in this area, but now he's preparing to take it to a new level. Skip and I hardly can wait to find out the results.

I arrived on the scene early and went straight to my boat shed to check my onboard battery charger. To my dismay, I learned there was no power in my shed. When I walked down to the store, I saw that the overhead light was on there, so I knew it was time for me to call David (the owner) and find out if he knew he had a problem. As it turned out, he didn't have a clue.

About the same time he arrived, handyman Andy also showed up with his "juice" tester. In no time, they had traced the problem to a couple of big fuses, for which David had gone looking for replacements before I left to come home. Before letting him get in his vehicle, though, I had an opportunity to discuss a number of issues with him and picked up some info I feel may be of interest to a number of folks.

To start with, I asked a couple of questions. I first asked if it might be possible to get a light installed in the ramp area to help those folks who launch boats at 0-dark-30, and David said yes. I next asked if he minded my putting a collection container in the marina store for donations to the American Cancer Society in Dewey Mullins' name, and David said OK to that idea, too. At that point, he asked me a couple questions about this year's tourneys, and then he started sharing some info, which I found interesting.

For openers, he said his brother (Steve, I've heard, is his name) has agreed to lease the marina from him. He went on to explain that his brother has been in the construction and catering businesses for a number of years. And once he takes over, he plans to fix some things up there at the marina and begin offering something more substantial than the packaged snacks usually available. David said there isn't enough space to turn the store into a restaurant but hinted that the operation somewhat might resemble a mini-take-out affair. The brother, I'm also told, plans to run some tourneys for kids there at the marina. And, continuing the tradition that started with Bill Brown, and continued through all of Dewey's years of leadership, a cookout will cap the end of the annual Dewey Mullins Memorial Bass Tourney Series.

After explaining all that, David started to walk away, en route to going for the new fuses, but then stopped suddenly and added some additional insight. He told me to count on a donation from him and Teresa (his wife) in the amount of $325 for each of the first two tournaments this year. He told me to use it as additional prize money for those tournaments, which perhaps will serve as added incentive for even bigger participation this year than we had in 2012.

I don't mind telling you that I walked away as one happy camper from that conversation.

Norfolk Lakes: Dasheill's Show Room (757) 539-7854. Jason Blankenship says that the bass bite has been very slow, with live minnows being your best bet. Crappie action, on the other hand, has been very good indeed, with minnows and jigs. Cats are reluctant to bite, but may take cut bait. Perch are not biting in this cold water, and the bluegill aren't any friskier. The water is muddy and 46 to 47 degrees.

Blackwater and Nottoway: By Riverkeeper Jeff Turner www.blackwaternottoway.com. Contributed by Riverkeeper Jeff Turner. Still not a lot to report from my end. The rivers have been unusual the last couple of months, making fishing a bit of a challenge. So I really still have nothing to report. I have seen a few yellow perch being caught but in no large amounts. The shad run will start soon so I hope that will be good this year. Progress on the new VDGIF boat landing on the Nottoway off of Rt. 671 is progressing nicely. That should be a pretty spiffy facility.

Upper James: Contributed by local guide Jared Harker of Confluence Outfitters LLC, (434) 941-9550. No report this edition.

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

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

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

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.

Region 2 - Southside

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

James at Scottsville: Local Guide L.E. Rhodes www.hatchmatcherguideservice.com, (434) 286-3366. As the length of day light along with the water temperature starting to climb, we all start to get the itch to fish. Although the smallmouth's metabolism is still low they are starting to stir about more than just a few weeks ago. It's at this time of year with the water temperatures in the low to mid 40s that I'll go searching with claw dad patterns. The mouths of tributary's along with spring influxes and /or the sunny side of the river will find the warmer water at this time. Current breaks either submerged or rock gardens with some depth will hold a fish or two. Remember that the smallmouths are still a little sluggish and want to expend as little energy as possible. I'll spend most of my time fishing the wintering holes. Look for some depth that has chunk rock, boulders and/or ledge bottoms. The fish feel secure and looking for that easy meal here. By crawling, hopping or swimming a claw dad pattern in these areas you stand to catch possibly your biggest fish of the year! Gearing up with at least a 7 weight rod (preferably an 8 weight) is recommended. I go with an 8 to 10 lb. fluorocarbon leader. The river is generally running a little higher and has a stronger current in late winter so a sink tip line may be required along with heavy weighted flies. You want to get down fast to hit the strike zone. Cast past your intended target and bring your offering into the zone as too not spook the fish. The size flies I use at this time range from 1/0 to size 2. Water clarity plays a role in the colors I choose to throw. But most of the time I will start with a dark color. I really like a Black/Blue combo or all black. Another go to color is a Brown/ Chartreuse. As the water warms a little I'll switch up and start throwing olives, tans, brown/orange or an olive/orange combo. The patterns you'll see in my early spring box will have CK Claw Dads, Rhodes' Rattle-n-Claw, and Rhodes' Low Life along with some Trow Tubes. A good searching pattern is a Lead Head Twist & Shout. As the water temperatures rise into the high 40s to low 50s baitfish patterns will come into play-but I'll cover those at another time. The best advice I can give is to throw big flies. You will be amazed at the quality size fish you will net. Besides the smaller fish will be just as willing to gobble up a bigger offering as well.

Kerr Reservoir: Bob Cat's Lake Country Store, (434) 374-8381. Bobby Whitlow describes the bass bite as "fair", with jerks, rattletraps and slow rolling spinners being your best bets. The crappie bite is a little slow, but some big ones are coming in, try minnows and jigs. Cats are going for cut bait, especially the big blues. No word on perch or bluegill. The water is in the low 40s and stained.

James at Lynchburg: Angler's Lane, (434) 385-0200. Tom Riesdorf reports that smallmouth action is slow, but a crayfish imitator may bring you success. The rainbows and browns in the Jackson are hitting well on prince nymphs and hare's ear nymphs. The mountain brookies like sub surface hare's ear nymphs. The water is clear and in the mid to high 40s.

James near Lynchburg: Contributed by Jared Harker, owner of Confluence Outfitters, (434) 941-9550. No report this edition.

Lake Gaston: Holly Grove Marina, (434) 636-3455. Holly Grove Marina is closing for the winter and will reopen in February.

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.

Striped and black bass: These fish are still being located in the lower water column on electronics and traditional deep water winter patterns are working. Anglers are having success catching stripers on downlined live bait. Stripers are being caught as deep as 60 feet below the surface by anglers vertical jigging with flukes on lead head jigs, bucktails and jigging spoons. Spoons and jig heads weighing ¾ ounce or more are preferred over lighter lures for vertical jigging, especially when there is wind as the extra weight helps keep the lure in the cone of your electronics. The most popular jigging spoons used at Smith Mountain include the ¾ ounce Hopkins Shorty, CC, Kastmaster and Berry models. Suspended deep water bass are also being caught on jigging spoons, drop shot rigs and the floating fly. Bass are also being caught off the sides of ledges, deep water points, channel breaks and submerged structure on jigs. Heavier ½ to ¾ ounce football head jigs with trailers are a good choice when fishing deeper rock structure. Stripers continue to be caught by anglers trolling deep diving crankbaits, jerkbaits, Alabama rigs and umbrella rigs. Alabama rigs and small umbrella rigs are also effective when vertically jigged for stripers marked in pods on electronics. Bass are being caught in areas where visibility is good, like the points in the lower lake, on deep diving, suspending jerkbaits. Fish are also being caught in upper sections of the water column, especially in areas where the shad are found near the surface. Stripers and an occasional bass are hitting flukes (rigged on jig heads), bucktails and Alabama rigs when they are cast, counted down and retrieved. The clarity is fair to poor and the temperatures in the mid 40s.

While this is the last fishing report I will be writing and publishing in the Smith Mountain Eagle they plan to continue to publish fishing reports in the future. They are actively seeking clubs, businesses and individuals who will agree to provide them with fishing information so reports can continue. They are open to receiving the information in a variety of different formats. The report can be as simple as a summary of the basic patterns, a short summary or a longer report. If you love to fish, wish to help others enjoy the thrill of catching fish in this lake, please consider this opportunity and give Rob Lyon a call. He and the others at the Eagle are fantastic to work with so please contact him now on (540) 719-5100.

Tight lines and I hope to see you on the water.

Region 3 - Southwest

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

Lower New River: Big Z'S (540) 639-1651. John Zienius told me there's "not much action" where bass are concerned. The water has lowered and is now at a fishable level, but anglers should still be on the lookout for debris. Muskies aren't biting well either. The water has a green stain and is in the 40s.

Upper New River: Contributed by Captain Forest Pressnell, (540) 818-5274, New River Charter. Finally the Upper New River is green and running a normal flow. Walleye trips starting up this week and the walleye fishing should continue to be great for the next six weeks or so. Muskie are bulking up for their spawn coming up the end of March and early April. Water temperature is 35.8 degrees, so the smallmouth action remains slow. After the floods there will be a lot of new trees and trash in the river, some may be laying just below the surface so go slow with your motor until you are familiar with your area. It might just save your hull, prop or lower unit and remember to wear those PFD's. Please be aware of the walleye regs; limit of 2 per person with a 19 in. to 28 in. slot that is protected and those big brood fish over 28 in. should go back in the river anyway to ensure future generations of this fantastic species. VDGIF has worked hard for many years to give us a sustainable walleye fishery.

New River: Tangent Outfitters, (540) 257-0415. Shawn Hash reports that bass action is slow due to muddy water. Muskies, however, are being cooperative and should really turn on soon. The water is dirty and in the upper 30s.

Top New River: Contributed by local guide Richie Hughes, owner of New River Trips LLC. We have had cool and seasonable weather here on the top New. The river and local creeks are a nice green color. Trout fishing on the local creeks is somewhat slow due to the cool weather. This upcoming week looks to be colder than average. Conditions should improve on both the creeks and rivers as the weather warms.

New River: Contributed by Britt Stoudenmire, 540-921-7438, owner of New River Outdoor Co. and host of The Life Outdoors w/Britt & Leigh. This is the PEAK season for muskie and we have been targeting them exclusively above and below Claytor Dam on both conventional and fly gear. The water is in better shape above the dam, but has continued to stay stained (6 in. or less visibility) below the dam because of the condition of the lake that resulted from the extremely high waters several weeks ago. Once the lake clears, the fishing and conditions on the Lower New should pick up considerably. Water temperatures across the New River have ranged from 36 to 42 degrees the past several days. Trophy smallmouth season is here, and the action should only continue to get better as we head into one of the best months of the year, MARCH!! For more action from the New River, don't miss The Life. Outdoors w/Britt & Leigh's exciting March episode; "And Then There Was GIANT..." airing at  http://www.thelifeoutdoors.com (beginning 3/11) featuring Britt's hunt for one of the New River's finest smallmouth, GIANT!!

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

Upper James: Contributed by Andrew Fenstermaker, 540-921-7438, Lead Guide for James River Outdoor Co. The water is currently low and clear on the James and has fallen fast since the high waters several weeks ago. Water temperatures have ranged from 36 to 42 degrees over the past several days. We have been targeting muskie on both fly and conventional gear with success hitting the big days and fishing through the tougher days as is the norm for this time of year during the PEAK season for the heaviest muskie. For more reports from the James River, check out this exciting video, "In One Minute.." - 43in Musky on the Fly, featuring a great muskie caught recently by James River Outdoor Co. We will be getting after the smallmouth very soon!!

North and South Forks of the Shenandoah: Harry Murray (540) 984-4212 www.murraysflyshop.com. Smallmouth action in the north and south forks is getting better. Fish slowly along the banks. Best flies are: Murray's Magnum Creek Chub Streamer, size 4; Shenk's White Streamer, size 4; and Shenk's Sculpin, size 4. The water is clear, at a good level and 46 degrees.

In the Valley, stocked streams are producing good rainbows. Fish the deep cuts below the riffles and in the deep pools. Good flies are: Murray's Betsy Streamer, size 10; Casual Dress, size 12; and Mr. Rapidan Nymph, size 12. The water is 46 degrees, clear and at a good level.

The brookie streams in the mountain are too cold to try for one.

Please remember that Harry updates his website twice a month, so you can always get fresh information, it's at www.murraysflyshop.com

Lake Moomaw: Contributed by local angler Bill Uzzell. The fishing on Lake Moomaw is very tough right now. Two major reasons; water temperature is 37 degrees and the recent filling of the lake to normal pool has the fish scattered for awhile. There were a few hearty souls out on the lake, including yours truly, and not a bite. I will keep you posted as to the progression of water temps which will trigger the bite. In my over 30 years of fishing this lake I have found that when temps approach 45 degrees things start to happen. There is no ice and all ramps are open.

Lake Moomaw: Local Guide, Mike Puffenbarger, (540) 468-2682, www.mapletreeoutdoors.com. Check Puff's website and his articles in Woods & Waters Magazine for updates on Lake Moomaw fishing action and opportunities. Winter has made its appearance here in western Virginia with very little snow fall till this last week with several ice storms. Puff notes, "Lot's of activities in the woods with maple syrup producers running sap lines and making ready for another sap season. Seems blaze orange has give way to woolrich plaids and carhartts. With the Highland County Maple Festival just around the corner (March 8-10 & 15-17) spring will be here before you know it." Come up to Bolar to our store and maple syrup making shop at Southernmost Maple to get some great country cookin', local crafts, fresh maple syrup, information on fishing the VA Highlands, spring gobbler hunting and tips on cooking wild game, "From the Kill to the Grill."

Upper James: Contributed by local guide Jared Harker of Confluence Outfitters LLC, (434) 941-9550. No report this edition.

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.

Quantico Bay: Contributed by local angler Scott Torgerson. No report this edition.

Potomac and small ponds around Ashburn: Contributed by local angler Tyler Folts. Fishing has been slow in the Northern Virginia ponds again with only a few bites here and there. The weather has been pretty consistent with a water temperature from 38 to 40 degrees. If you want numbers, a small grub on a 1/16th ounce jighead fished extremely slow and close to cover will get you many 10 to 14 inch fish with the possibility of a crappie mixed in. A blue and black jig and pig fished slow and deep is still the way to go for the bigger fish. Crappie are starting to hit small grubs fished under a bobber in open water. They are not schooled up yet and are pretty small. They will likely start schooling and getting bigger in the next few weeks. The weather is warming up and we will hopefully get more consistent catches of better fish in the upcoming weeks.

Occoquan Reservoir: Contributed by local angler Jim Thomas. This past week I have been fishing the Occoquan River. The river is very muddy and fishing is difficult in the limited visibility. I have managed a few crappie up to a pound. I have not done much on the yellow perch or anything else of significance.

Lake Orange: Contributed by Darrell Kennedy of Angler's Landing (540) 672-3997. Angler's Landing will be closed for the winter and will reopen on St. Patrick's Day.

Lake Anna: Contributed by C. C. McCotter, McCotter's Lake Anna Guide Service, (540) 894-9144. Many anglers will be looking forward to their first fishing outing of the year on Lake Anna in the coming weeks. They will come from all over the east coast and beyond to try for one of Anna's hard-fighting striper, heavy-weight largemouths and plentiful crappie. The lake's marinas welcome you and invite you to stop in for fishing information and local lures and tactics that catch fish. Here's a roundup of the news and what you can expect for your next visit. Water temperatures now range from 40 up lake to 54 at the Dike III discharge. With longer days and more sunshine anglers can expect a gradual warm-up to begin. If we have a warm spell of three days over 60-degrees, consider an afternoon visit to the lake for crappie and bass.

Largemouth Bass: We suggest you target them in the mid and up lake regions using suspending jerkbaits, shakey worms, swimbaits, spinnerbaits and jigs. Mid lake (from the power plant to The Splits) is where most late winter largemouths will be caught and they historically bite suspending jerkbaits. Now you can target them on main lake, stumpy points and the first third of creeks with similar wooden structure. If you find bait, bass should also be nearby but you usually have to use a swimbait, lipless crankbait or spinnerbait. Some bass in the mid lake area will move to docks and a shakey worm or jig is the bait of choice. The new Missile Baits Fuse 4.4 has been excellent. In the up lake region, you can try fishing shallower running suspending jerkbaits and spinnerbaits retrieved over gently sloping banks by the end of the month. A lipless crankbait is a good choice, too, if you find bass on baitfish in a flat. Pitching a jig to willow grass and docks can be productive after a couple of warm days. Good areas include the stretches between the bridges in the North Anna and Pamunkey, as well as up on shallow water flats in both. Down lake bass will be on offshore wood and docks. Suspending jerkbaits and the shakey worm will be the top lures until late March here when a soft plastic jerkbait bite might start.

Stripers: Fishing for striper has been tricky recently. Anglers have looked but not found reliable concentrations of fish much below The Splits. Most of the bait and fish remain in the up lake region, above the first two bridges. This is unusual, given that we've had ice and some cold temperatures. A large bait plug is holding between Christopher Creek and the Rt. 522 Bridge in the North Anna, as well as from Hunter's Landing up to the mouth of Terry's Run in the Pamunkey Branch. Anglers will want to target striper in these regions using suspending jerkbaits, swimbaits and multi arm rigs. If you don't mind using live bait, you can try pulling herring and large minnows on side planers. The big shad bite has not begun yet. So far there have been no reports of pattern able striper at the Dike III discharge nor below the 208 Bridge. Some striper have been caught around the 208 bridge marinas and the mouth of Pigeon Run by anglers vertical jigging and casting small swimbaits.

Crappie: Crappie fishing in late winter can be fair to good. Down lake and mid lake you'll want to target beaver huts after a couple of warm days. The up lake region has so much willow grass and shallow cover that it can be overwhelming. Don't jump the gun. Just remember, the crappie will start to bite first on off shore brush piles and bridge pilings. Only at the end of a warm February or early March will they move onto docks and grass lines. The exception would occur in the extreme up lake creeks and flats if we experience a rapid warm up. Threadfin shad will move into shallow water and the crappie will follow, even in February or early March. Small minnows and one-inch jigs are what you'll need this month regardless of where you fish.

Guide C.C. McCotter says now is the time to book a trip or fish the lake on your own for a trophy largemouth or crappie. Pre spawn conditions are approaching and should be just right by the end of the month and he is looking forward to some big fish. Good luck and see you on the water.

Lake Anna: Contributed by Local Guide Jim Hemby (540) 967-3313. Fishing in January was poor due to weather conditions, but with the lake full and a bait kill up, lake fishing will improve dramatically this month. Slower and more vertical presentations of baits will produce more strikes in the colder water under 50s and slow horizontal retrieves will work in warmer water. February is the month to catch big fish and many citations should be recorded this month.

Stripers: Concentrate your efforts on the main lake wherever bait is present. Gulls will guide you to the schools of bait and the stripers will be nearby. Your depth finder will also identify the areas you need to fish by showing large clouds of bait, usually in 15 to 30 feet of water, with the stripers showing up as arches around the bait. There are schools of stripers all over the lake now but the largest concentrations up lake are from Christopher Run up to Tim's and Terry's up to the S turns. Here the fish are feeding primarily on 2 to 3 inch threadfin shad. Below the 208 bridge, good schools can be found from the mouth of Sturgeon over to the power plant, the mouths of major creeks and from the third dike to the dam. These schools have been found in depths of 25 to 40 feet and are easily seen on good depth finders. There is so much bait in the lake the stripers are always full making them difficult to catch, especially with artificial baits. Artificial techniques for catching stripers this month will be to use small baits such as ¾ oz. Hopkins Spoons , Silver Buddies, etc. vertical jigged over pods of bait and fish. Sea Shads , 1/4 and 3/8 oz. Road Runners and Stump Jumpers and 3 in. Sassy Shads cast on light line and counted down with an extremely slow retrieve will also catch fish this month. The multi-rigs will work well all over the lake but rig them with 3 inch swimbaits which match the size of the bait the fish are eating. Down lake, Redfins walked over long points in low light conditions will draw huge Stripers up to explode on the bait, maybe resulting in the fish of a lifetime.

Bass: Favorite patterns this month will be to fish in clear water with jerks. Suspending baits work best fished on primary and secondary points and flats down lake. Hit as many points as you can, making a dozen casts on a point, if you don't get bit hit the next point. Once you catch a fish, work the point thoroughly with the jerkbait, maybe slow down and throw a grub and if you see stumps or rocks try a jig. The fish are easy to pattern and the larger fish bite this month. Swimbaits work exceptionally well this month making long casts with steady retrieves. There are many points around Dukes Creek with "bowling ball size" rocks on them that hold lunkers.

Crappie: The fish are schooled up now and are on deeper drop offs in the 15 to 25 foot range. Main lake primary points with major breaks are holding nice fish, especially if boulders or rocks are present. Points around Christopher Run and Terry's Run are good as well as the Bridge Pilings in the rivers. The docks in front of Tim's are full of keeper crappie. Large slabs are also hanging on channel breaks and are always nearby schools of threadfin shad. They are easy to locate on a good depth finder, showing up as dozens of small arches grouped tightly together nearby clouds of bait. Dropping small jigs, spoons and small silver buddies will catch limits quickly. Try deeper brush piles also if bait is present.

Don't forget to send me your tips, tricks and recipes for our next edition! Just send them to fishing_report@hotmail.com.

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 Outdoor Report is proud to partner with the on-line ODUMagazine™  to give our readers direct access to a great variety of info about fishing around the region, as well as links to hunting and conservation news. ODU Magazine Editor Larry Thornhill and  Assistant Editor Bill Schwarz will be providing updates and links to their website on new features and seasonal information for the fishing enthusiasts. We welcome them and their vast video library and contacts as regular contributors to Sarah White's Notebook in the Fishin' Report.

Editor Larry Thornhill notes, "Since we launched in December 2011, we aspired to provide our growing readership with a quality, entertaining and educational digital fishing magazine, balanced with daily news from our hunting and fishing journals. In the  ODU Fishing News and ODU Hunting News, we cover daily fishing and hunting tips, new product introductions, conservation announcements, legislative issues that outdoorsmen should be alerted to and great catches and hunts from around the world.  ODU Magazine™ is not your typical outdoor website. We don't just provide a link and logo for our advertisers; we provide an advertising campaign on our network of fishing sites. Advertisers get ads in our digital magazines, their products and news in our news journals (fishing or hunting), videos provided are added to our Video Library and all company provided news is released into our extensive social network.  Look for "what's new' in each edition of the Outdoor Report...

Check out the video library...   Anglers now can 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.

This week from Larry Thornhill: Ice fishing is an angling sport that many of us only hear about, because we live where ice fishing is impossible. But, those of us who live where ice fishing happens have a different look at how much fun it can be. Ice fishing for many anglers is the only time they wet a line. One thing is true for all ice fishing anglers. They love their sport, and they love to share it with other anglers. That is one way ODU Magazine looks at our ice magazines, sharing the knowledge of some very well-known and well versed ice fishermen with you.

Here is the line up for this edition of ODU Magazine..Ice Fishing 2013:

Windlass Tip-Up Tactics To Improve Your Game, By Tom Gruenwald   Icing Trout, By Ben Leal   Two Sides To Winter Walleyes, By Matt Straw
Search and Destroy...the quest for pig perch, By Jason Freed  The Secret of the Pike, By Anthony Larson  The Strikes of Winter, By Scott Brauer
Why Leech Lake, By Jason Freed  Lake Simcoe's Premier One Day Ice Fishing Event, By Wil Wegman  Developing a Touch for Bite Detection, Dave Genz 
Ice Fishing River Systems 101, By Robert Booth   5 Ways to Catch More Walleyes, By Nathaniel Myson  Two Best Ice Fishing Presentations, By Steven Johnson
Japan Ice Team Competes in World Championship, By Mike McNet and Munenori Kajiwara  What's Hot on the Ice for 2013, By Anthony Larson
Punching Bluegills, by Jason Mitchell  Cold Out There. . . Warm In Here!!!, By Jay Warren  Save Bristol Bay, Ben Leal  Multi-Species Boat For Ice Fishing?, By Marty Glorvigen 
Searching for Early Ice Gold, By Jason Freed  The Best Ice Anglers in the World, By Brian Gaber – Coach USA Ice Team
Perch on Ice, By Ted Takasaki and Scott Richardson  Do You Ice Derby?
Click here to read this edition of ODU Magazine or any of the above titles to go directly to that article.

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

View video about the snakehead

Get your kids hooked on fishing!

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Winning Outdoor Adventure Stories from Young Writers

During the Annual Meeting of the Virginia Outdoor Writers Association in March, the winners of the VOWA's Annual High School and Collegiate Outdoor Writing Competitions are recognized. The 2012 First Place Winner for the Collegiate Competition was Nikita Jathan, a second year Honors College student at Virginia Commonwealth University. Nikita notes, "I am originally from Cary, North Carolina, and am currently studying Environmental Studies and Biology, with minors in Chemistry and Creative Writing at VCU in Richmond. Most people may wonder at what I hope to achieve with this range of academia under my belt, and that's something I wonder often as well. One day, I hope to achieve a balanced life through an amalgam of my passions for helping people, healing people, and entertaining people. I hope to one day travel for longer periods of time than described in the story I submitted for the contest and utilize these travels to establish organizations to better the lives of people who have not been presented with as blessed a life as I have. I've found that one way in which I can best achieve my goals, is to be able to devise, develop and record them; writing has allowed me an outlet that holds my thoughts until I am ready to develop them again, without losing them to the rush of everyday life." Congratulations to Nikita on First Place recognition for her moving story of her most memorable outdoor experience and the passion to fulfill a childhood dream.

Big Dreams

By Nikita Jathan

I have a memory from what feels like age 3 or 4.

In it, I'm being hoisted up by two arms – a man's or woman's, I'm not so sure – up toward the head of a great, big elephant. My excitement at feeding the sweet, smiling thing a banana is drowned out by the sounds and smells of somewhere I can only identify as India. From the time of that memory, I've deemed myself a lover of elephants – I have proof of it too: project after craft after poster after presentation on my favorite animal, starting from the ripe age of kindergarten.

Sometimes I've wondered if that memory was only a dream – perhaps just a figment of my young imagination, conjured up by a child who so desperately wanted it to come true. If anything, that dream stuck with me a long time, and in the summer of 2011, I was able to (for the first time? for the second time?) make it come true.

A chance to engage in community development, to teach English, to tour the beautiful kingdom of Thailand, but most exciting: the chance to work with elephants – the program seemed unreal, and even though I signed up months in advance, I didn't really understand the gravity of this trip until I was physically there, my foot stuck in the thick jungle mud; or learning the logistics of a sacrificed chicken's bone in a shaman's house; or conquering waves in the Phang Nga Bay to reach its guarded, green, serene lagoons; or at the observation point at Railay Beach, feeling like I could see the ends of the earth.

For my time with the elephants, I found myself in the North, voyaging through the jungles from Chiang Mai City into what those before me have referred to as the "Elephant Haven." An area free from human encroachment and development, what the Elephant Nature Park has created for the nearly forty elephants who live there is absolutely incredible. Set against the backdrop of climbing forests above the Mae Taeng River, the Park ensures the health and safety of the elephants it harbors while also allowing them lives of freedom and peace. Almost every elephant in the Park has been rescued and spared from lives of slavery and abuse. Understanding that these elephants had seen horrors unimaginable to myself made my first touch alarmingly different than what I had seen in my dreams.

For animals known for their majestic and loving qualities, I was unusually anxious the first time I interacted with one. Though at the end of my time with the elephants I felt as though I was surrounded by several loving grandmothers, my first impressions rendered me a Lilliputian with multiple Gulliver's swinging their trunks and trotting carelessly around me. On my first day, I was warned several times to watch my footing for wastes (of varying textures and odors), and to watch my back before I got knocked down. After observing for some time, but still keeping my distance, I spent lunchtime bathing the elephants in the unyielding waters of the Mae Taeng.

Finally, after bathing time was over, my group and I were led by mahouts, with whom the elephants were very comfortable, to interact. I was absurdly excited for this moment. I approached the old female, who I later learned was not the keenest to new faces, and as I reached to caress her side, my hand was whacked to the side by her trunk. I laughed, but I was a bit taken aback. I wanted so much to create a bond with this elephant – she was beautiful, and I wanted to gain her trust. I cooed some and after a minute or so of flattering her, I raised my palm to her side, keeping myself in her sight.

She stayed calm. Which was surprising, because this time, my heart was the one racing. The texture of her skin was something I'd never imagined, no matter how obvious it might have been that an elephant would have skin that was tough and rugged; it was leathery, but rock-like, only enhancing their enormous strength, and the more time I spent with these elephants, the more I learned how even creatures as sweet as these need ways in which to defend themselves from the dangers they face.

Throughout the remainder of my time at the Park, I spent much of my time doing backstage work: harvesting corn and other crops, unloading incessant trucks stocked with food, preparing meals for the elephants, and cleaning up after them. I stole every moment I could to spend with them, and in this time, my understanding of these animals changed an incredible amount. I witnessed training methods used to more easily treat and further the healing of injured elephants, as well as select elephants who had been born in the sanctuary, into a blessed life, without fear of being forced into slavery or street-walking. The elephants in the Park came in as something else – some troublemakers and rebels, others socially damaged – but to interact with them and see the progress they have made was life-changing.

What surprised me most out of my entire experience with these elephants was how starkly it contrasted with what I had always dreamed they would be like. These animals were so much more than myself, with a presence so much larger than what I had imagined (literally, and figuratively). It was frightening to stand face to face with one, but I was terrified in the best way possible. My entire time in Thailand can be characterized with experiencing things and places bigger than myself, and learning to appreciate the wonder that they provide and the humility they have given me. If one childhood dream can be so much more astonishing than I could dare to imagine, I can only pretend to understand the magnitude of what the future could hold.

The Virginia Outdoor Writers Association (VOWA) annually sponsors High School and Collegiate Writing Competitions with the theme of "a memorable outdoor experience or special interest." We encourage students to consider their experiences in the outdoors with wildlife, hunting, fishing, and natural history and enter these contests. The goal of the competition is to reward high school and college students for excellence in communicating their personal experiences in the outdoors.

This year's competition deadline was February 7, 2013. Judging has been completed and the Winners will be announced and awards presented at the joint Mason Dixon & Virginia Outdoor Writers Association Annual Meeting on March 15 -17 in Staunton.

Bass Pro Shops will again cosponsor the High School contest, and is providing gift cards of $150, $100, and $50 for purchasing merchandise at Bass Pro Shops to the top three winners. Prizes will also include gear from outdoor sports businesses and Supporting Members of VOWA.

The Collegiate winners will receive cash prizes from VOWA. This year a special new cash award that includes publication will be provided by the Cooperative Living Magazine staff for the best Collegiate entry about the Virginia outdoors.

Full competition guidelines/rules for 2012-13 on the VOWA Collegiate Undergraduate and High School Youth Writing Competitions are available on the VOWA website: www.vowa.org.

In upcoming editions of the Outdoor Report, look for: