In this edition:

Springtime Adventures Await You

This March 27th edition ushers in warmer weather with the promise of Spring and April showers that can't dampen the spirits of most outdoor enthusiasts to head to the streams, fields, and forests for a variety of opportunities for wild adventure. It's time to get out the fishin' gear as this is the traditional season when freshwater fishing action really heats up in lakes and rivers across the state. For the trout angler enthusiasts, Trout Heritage Day is April 6. A number of Kid's Fishing Days are also on the calendar, so be sure and outfit the kids and head out for a warm sunny day enjoying Spring with family and friends. The special Youth Turkey Hunt Day is also April 6 followed by six weeks when turkey hunters match their skills with wary ol' Tom.

This is a great opportunity to take a youngster out and experience the awakening of Spring and the wonders of Nature with some of that "quality time" that seems so hard to come by in these busy days. This Spring, I fondly remember my Uncle Tink Smith, famed wildlife photographer and mentor to many young outdoor enthusiasts who passed away at 101 last April, and to all the wonderful times I was blessed to accompany him in the spring woods to photograph and hunt wild turkeys, visit the lady slipper patch, pick morel mushrooms and hear the stories of seasons long past . The torch is now passed, so it is my responsibility to introduce youngsters to the great outdoors reciting the advice Tink offered at the last NWTF National Convention he attended a few years ago when he was '90 something'... "Moms and Dads, take your sons and daughters hunting and fishing, teach them the wonders of nature and appreciation for wildlife and wild places. You will both be better for it, and you will be glad you did!"

If you don't have a youngster to take Spring gobbler hunting, or trout fishing—find one! Here's an idea-go turkey hunting in the morning, then go trout fishin' in the afternoon!! Make it a new spring family tradition... In honor of all the mentors like my Uncle Tink who took the time to teach a youngster the joy and excitement of hunting and fishing adventures, send us snapshots of smiling kids with their prized fish catch, or trophy gobbler. Now get out there and enjoy this glorious spring and send those smilin' photos to share with our readers!

David Coffman, Editor

Trout Heritage Waters Announced for April 6 Celebration

Trout Heritage Day was established several years ago for those anglers who enjoyed and missed the old "opening day" tradition for Trout Season. Selected waters are stocked for the first Saturday in April to create an announced stocking event. To view the list of waters that will be stocked for Trout Heritage Day on April 6 visit our website.  Read details in the Wild Events section for the special Kids Fishing Day at Graves Mountain Lodge on the Rose River in Madison County, co-sponsored by Trout Unlimited and VDGIF

Spring Gobbler Season Forecast Bright—Hunt Safely This Year!

Virginia's abundant population of wild turkeys entices many hunters to venture into the woods each Spring when the sound of the male turkey, or gobbler, fills the air. This year the Spring Gobbler Season in Virginia runs from April 13 to May 18, 2013. The special Youth Turkey Hunt Day is April 6th - see details in Hunting News section. Turkey populations are projected to be good to excellent throughout most of the Commonwealth. Spring Gobbler season is the favorite time of year for many hunters. Heart-pounding action takes place as a hunter must attempt to remain completely still while using a call to bring a male bird to within shotgun range. Because turkeys have both keen hearing and sharp eyesight, camouflage is worn by hunters. It is essential for every hunter to positively identify their target and the area beyond their target, before pulling the trigger. Most hunting fatalities are the result of the hunter not making sure of his or her target.

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

 

Proposed Regulatory Amendments Pertaining to Hunting and Trapping, Foxhound Training Preserves, and Other Regulations of the Board READY for Public Comment April 2, 2013

Public Input Meetings Scheduled April 2-10

Public Comment Period April 2-May 31

The Board of Game and Inland Fisheries has proposed amendments to the regulations to govern hunting and trapping during the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 seasons, foxhound training preserves, and other matters regulated by the Board. The regulation amendments proposed by the Board on March 20-21, 2013 will be published on the DGIF website at the start of a 60-day proposed regulation public comment period that opens on April 2 and closes on May 31, 2013. The proposed amendments will not be available for viewing on our website until April 2. Regulatory comments received by DGIF during this period will be provided to, and considered by, the Board. In order to be submitted to the Board for their consideration during regulatory actions, comments must be in writing and accompanied by the name, address, and telephone number of the party offering the comments. Comments lacking the submitting party's identifying information may be received by staff but will not be considered by the Board.

The channels for submitting written comments during the April 2-May 31 proposed regulation public comment period are:

Please note that comments on the proposed regulation amendments received outside of the public comment period are not provided to the Board. (The exception is public comments made in person at the March "regulatory proposal" and the June "final action" Board meetings; these are considered by the Board even though given outside of the designated public comment period.)

Public input meetings are scheduled April 2 – April 10, 2013 in nine locations. See the dates, times and locations for the Proposed Regulation Public Input Meetings.

Ask Your Friends if They are Still Getting Their Outdoor Report

If you are reading this – that's good news! We have just discovered we've lost a random group of subscribers back in December- January. Somehow our 'system' lost or dropped several thousand subscriber emails-- we aren't sure what happened. We have no way of knowing who got dropped. We've gotten a lot of emails from loyal readers letting us know they had not received their January or February editions. Please help us restore our subscriber list by contacting your friends and colleagues and asking if they received this March 13th edition of the Outdoor Report. If not, advise them of this subscriber address glitch and forward them this edition.

Contact your friends and colleagues to check their spam folders... David Murr, VDGIF Webmaster notes that 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

Cross Roads Outdoorsman Show at Olde Dominion Ag Complex in South Chatham March 30th

Cross Roads Reconciliation Services, Inc is hosting the Cross Roads Outdoorsman Show at the Olde Dominion Agricultural Complex located at 19783 US Hwy 29 South, Chatham, VA 24531 this Saturday March 30th. The event features a NWTF Sanctioned Turkey Calling Competition , Mid-Atlantic 3-D Archery Competition, and Big Buck/Big Bass Competition with over $3,000 cash & prizes guaranteed. Other attractions include a gun show, vendor booths, concessions , DRMC blood mobile on site , children's area with inflatables and face painting, drawing for a filmed hunt with Southside Bone Collectors and raffles and silent auctions . Admission is $3 at gate with fun for all the family. Proceeds from benefit Cross Roads Reconciliation Services, Inc. , a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization, whose mission is to provide clinical pastoral counseling to the hurting and brokenhearted. these funds help finance counseling and other services for children, teens, families & individuals who could not afford help otherwise, "offering hope for today, strengthening our community for tomorrow." For information contact :Jeff Davis, Event Chair or Joyce Estabrook, Administrative Director at 625 Piney Forest Rd. - Suite 108 Danville, VA, 24540 or tel 434.548.6039.

The Nature Conservancy Hosts Guided Hike at Cumberland Marsh Preserve March 31

The Nature Conservancy will host a Family Friendly guided hike at the Cumberland Marsh Preserve Sunday, March 31, 2013 11:00 a.m. Located in New Kent County, Cumberland Marsh features a mix of wooded upland and freshwater tidal marsh along the banks of the Pamunkey River. Virginia's largest population of a rare plant called sensitive joint-vetch can be found here. The preserve is Open daily from dawn to dusk with several miles of hiking trails and a board-walk providing wonderful views. The mission of The Nature Conservancy is to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. For more info and to RSVP contact : Jen Dalke, email: jdalke@tnc.org or call 434-951-0572, or visit their website.

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

Kids Fishing Day Events Calendar Posted on VDGIF Website

The 2013 Kids Fishing Days event table is now posted on the VDGIF website. View it from the Upcoming Events page and there is a link under Contests and Ongoing Events on the right side. There are 40 events posted currently and new ones will be added as they are submitted. VDGIF Angling Education Coordinator Chris Dunnavant notes, "More and more people are utilizing this web-table and traveling significant distances to experience a Kids Fishing Day." Send in your photos of family fun to the Outdoor Report. Share this information with family and friends and "Take a Kid Fishing!"

Celebrate Trout Heritage Day with the Kids in Madison April 6

The Rapidan Chapter of Trout Unlimited and VDGIF partner with Graves Mountain Lodge the first Saturday in April for Trout Heritage Day and Kid's Fishing Day. Several hundred trout are stocked along a private section of the Rose River, solely for children under the age of 12 to experience the joy of fishing. This popular event is just Saturday again this year. Come join us on April 6 to support Kid's Day and Trout Heritage Day at Graves Mountain Lodge in Madison County adjacent to Shenandoah National Park. Check the vdgif website for details.

Wild Edibles Course Held in Cumberland April 6

Have you ever wondered which plants are edible, medicinal, poisonous or just ornamental?  Is that plant in your lawn or garden just a 'weed' or is it a nutritional powerhouse of vitamins and minerals?   This introductory workshop can begin a wonderful journey into the often ignored world of wild plants.  A starting point for new learners or an opportunity to sharpen existing plant identification skills, the workshop will cover individual plants in various habitats, help students to learn how to use available printed resources and most importantly introduce the skills of awareness and attention to detail needed to successfully locate and identify edible wild plants.  This workshop is an expansion of a wild edible plant class developed and taught by our instructors for the VDGIF Outdoor Education Program(s).  The workshop will also incorporate various components from other Wilderness Survival Classes taught by our instructors to better establish the relationship of plants into the overall wilderness survival package of skills.  The Wild Edibles Course is April 6, 2013 from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm at our training facility in Cumberland.   Cost: $25.00 per person. Pre-registration required. Contact Roy Hutchinson at www.trackingsurvival.com or call 877-614-5289.

Friends of Dyke Marsh to Host Events in April

Potomac River Watershed Cleanup.  In 2012, almost 15,000 volunteers removed 262 tons of trash from 660 sites spread across the Potomac watershed.  Join us at Dyke Marsh for this year's cleanup on Saturday, April 6, 9 a.m. to 12 noon.   Visit www.fodm.org for more details. The Friends of Dyke Marsh cleanup is part of a much larger, annual Potomac River (and tributaries) cleanup sponsored by the Alice Ferguson Foundation. Visit the Foundation's website for information on other cleanup sites in the Region.

Raptor Demonstration.  On Earth Day, see raptors that have been rescued and rehabilitated by the Raptor Conservancy of Virginia and learn more about these fascinating and beautiful birds of prey.  April 20, 10 a.m. to 12 noon, Belle Haven Picnic Area, near the Mount Vernon bike trail.

13th Virginia Fly Fishing Festival Celebrated in Waynesboro April 20-21

Fly anglers from across the country will celebrate the 13th Annual Virginia Fly Fishing Festival on April 20-21, 2013. Held on the banks of the South River in Waynesboro, the Virginia Fly Fishing Festival is the largest outdoor fly fishing event in the country that offers on-stream instruction. Only here can you learn all the latest techniques from the experts and then walk right over to the river and try them for yourself. The festival features small-group casting classes with fly fishing and fly tying experts from across the Mid-Atlantic. Festival volunteers will help children catch native brook trout from an on-site Children 's Catch and Release Tout Pool and then release them into the South River (with the help of their parents). Members of the Tidal Potomac Fly Rodders Club, the largest FFF Club in Virginia, will also provide paid spey casting classes and offer basic fly tying tips to beginners.

The highlight of the weekend is the Festival Foundation Dinner sponsored by Dominion, at which the festival committee presents the 2013 Virginia Fly Angler of the Year Award. This year's festival sponsors include Temple Fork Outfitters, Dominion Resources, Subaru, Orvis, Natural Retreats, Wild River Outfitters DuPont Community Credit Union, Blue Ridge Outdoors, Flymen Fishing Company, Speckled Trout B&B, Eastern Fly Fishing, the City of Waynesboro, Blue Ridge Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Virginia Sportsman, Mid-Valley Press, Virginia Living, Mid-Atlantic Council of the International Federation of Fly Fishers, Duck Down Inn, Green Top Sporting Goods, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and Waynesboro Downtown Development Inc.

A variety of classes will be offered which includes fly casting and fly tying for beginners. There will be raffles, live music and fun for the entire family. The Virginia Fly Fishing Festival is a one-of-a-kind event: Monies received from sponsors, vendors, ticket sales, and raffles are used to cover the cost of next year's festival with the remainder going to the Virginia Fly Fishing Festival Foundation, which promotes conservation and stream restoration projects. Daily admission to the festival is $20 per person, and the festival runs from 9 AM-5 PM on Saturday and Sunday. The cost of admission includes free wine tastings for those 21 and older.

The Virginia Fly Fishing Festival will kick off its event with a showing of "Where the Yellowstone Flows" in coordination with Trout Headwaters Inc, and the City of Harrisonburg on Friday April 19th at Courts Theater. Admission for the movie is $10 and all proceeds raised will be donated to the Virginia Fly Fishing Festival Foundation.  For more information about the festival, visit www.vaflyfishingfestival.org.

Wheelin' Sportsmen Plan 3 May Fishing Events - Registration Due April 20th

Virginia Wheelin' Sportsmen have some exciting fishing events planned for this spring.  If  you have a disability and want to join us, now's your chance. Last year we held our first West Augusta Outdoor Day near Staunton, and we'll return again this year on May 11th. If you weren't there last year, you missed out on our NWTF award-winning Best New Event of 2012, as our participants shot skeet, crossbow and reeled in big catfish all day. The Little Switzerland Chapter NWTF will re-stock their trout pond with rainbows on May 18th, so head for the beautiful mountains of Monterey... and plan to take plenty of trout home! On Saturday May 25th, the Grace family will host their 7th annual Mossy Creek Trout Rodeo near Broadway, just north of Harrisonburg. We will be fishing a mile stretch of the scenic Smith River, stocked with browns and rainbow trout. You do not want to miss out on this event! Registration Forms are available at www.vanwtf.com and the application deadline is April 20th!

We have numerous events planned throughout the year, ranging from turkey, deer, dove, and waterfowl hunts to fishing and shooting events, in all areas of Virginia. As an outreach program of the National Wild Turkey Federation, our events are open to anyone with a disability, and there is no charge to participate. If you'd like to receive news of our events, please contact Robin Clark at 434-249-6154 or via email.

Woman's Outdoor Weekend at Holiday Lake April 12-14

Woman's Outdoor Weekend (WOW) will be at Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center on April 12-14. Come enjoy the weekend while learning the outdoor skills you've always wanted to master! Included are archery, rifle, shotgun, canoeing, kayaking, wilderness survival, and much, much more.  Participants must be age 8 and up. (17 and under must be accompanied by a registered adult.)   Details and registration information can be viewed at www.holidaylake4h.com or give us a call at (434) 248-5444 if you have any questions.

Fishing Camp at Holiday Lake April 26-28

Fishing Camp is back at Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center! No experience necessary, beginners are welcome. Cost is $80 and covers all programming fees, instruction, meals and lodging. Workshops included are: Learning to Tie Knots, Natural Bait, Lake Shocking, Casting Techniques, Fishing Equipment and Fish ID. You can register online at www.holidaylake4h.com or print your registration form and mail it to us at Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center, 1267 4-H Camp Rd. Appomattox, VA 24522. Registration deadline is April 12th. Scholarships are available for Appomattox and Prince Edward Counties. Call us at (434) 248-5444 if you have any questions.

NRA Courses in Basic Pistol and Personal Home Protection at Holiday Lake April 28-30

Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center located at 1267 4-H Camp Rd. Appomattox, VA 24522 is offering the Two Courses in Two Days on April 28th-30th. NRA Pistol Basic Course teaches the knowledge, skills and attitude necessary for safely owning and using a pistol. This course meets the requirements to obtain a concealed handgun permit in Virginia. Personal Protection for the Home Course follows the NRA Basic Course and teaches advanced shooting techniques. It is an excellent course in safety and how to be more prepared in the invent of a home invasion. Both courses are taught by a certified NRA instructor and are offered at $215 which will include all course instruction, materials, meals and lodging. This is a live fire class (22 cal. Pistols will be available, students must provide ammo). For more information or to register please visit us at www.holidaylake4h.com/nraclass.php or call us at 434-248-5444.

One Day NRA Shooting Camp Planned in Middlesex April 20

The Middlesex Sportsmen's Hunt Club is sponsoring a family oriented shooting sports camp on Saturday April 20th at the club's shooting range on Route #3 (1860 Twiggs Ferry Road) in Hartfield, Virginia. The event is targeted to expose young shooters and their families to the fun of participating in the various shooting sports, while teaching about the safe handling of firearms on the range, in the home, and while hunting. According to camp director Macey White, "The camp is a really fun way to learn about firearm safety and a must for any family with firearms in the home".

Increased interest by gun owners in the fun of organized shooting sports such as Skeet, Trap, and Sporting Clays for shotgun enthusiasts, and target shooting with pistols, rifles and air rifles, is on the rise. Here on the Middle Peninsula the Middlesex Sportsman's Hunt Club operates a shooting facility for local members and the club sponsors educational activities for new shooters including 4-H Club shoots and National Rifle Association events that promote safe handling of firearms and increased participation in the various shooting sports.

The Saturday April 20th NRA Shooting Sports Camp is an all day event. Under the direct supervision of certified firearms instructors, participants will learn to safely handle and fire rifles, pistols, shotguns and muzzleloaders. It is the club's belief that "hands on" experience in a safe and educational environment promotes safety. Participants will learn skills, and practices that will help keep them safe throughout their life. Many people who have attended the camp in the past have discovered that target shooting is a safe and enjoyable hobby that they can participate in for the rest of their life.

As participants arrive on the 20th, teams of several attendees will move "round-robin" style through each of the events so that everyone will get plenty of experience in each of the types of firearms. The camp lasts about 3 hours and all firearms, safety glasses, ear protection, ammunition and targets are provided by the club.

Pre-registration is encouraged. Call or email club secretary, Macey White, at 776-9861, or maceywhite@gmail.com, to register and to receive your starting time. The cost for the event is $10 per person. Lunch will be available (Hot Dogs, Hamburgers, etc). The range is covered and the event will go forward on the 20st rain or shine.

The camp on April 20 will be a fun filled and educational event for families with hunters and shooters here on the Middle Peninsula. The Club is easy to find. There will be signs to guide you to the event on state route #3 (Twiggs Ferry Road) between the Piankatank River bridge and Route #33 in Hartfield, Virginia. All are welcome, but please leave your own guns at home.

Great Dismal Swamp Birding Festival April 25-27

Celebrate spring migration at the Great Dismal Swamp Birding Festival April 25-27 at the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. Join expert birders and guides to explore the Swamp with guided bird walks, canoe trips and bus tours. Get a close-up look at colorful songbirds with bird banding demonstrations and explore the Swamp at night with Owl Prowls. There will be photography workshops to hone your skills and a variety of exhibits and fun children activities at the Festival HQ on Saturday April 27th. DGIF is proud to help sponsor this great wildlife experience. Registration is free! Call (757) 986-3705.

Explore the Outdoors Event for Kids in Chesterfield April 28th

Come join the fun with the Community Idea Stations and Chesterfield County Parks and Recreation at the Explore the Outdoors event Sunday, April 28, 2013 from 1-5 pm, at Huguenot Park, 10901 Robious Road, North Chesterfield, VA 23235.   From nature walks to outdoor investi­gations, families, friends, and neighbors are invited to participate in hands-on experiences that encourage kids to learn about science. VDGIF staff will have furs, skulls and other hands-on wildlife identification items. The day will feature 40+ local organizations which specialize in outdoor activities for families and is free and open to the public.  Explore the Outdoors activities and parking will be held at Huguenot Park. Next to the park, the Community Idea Stations studios will be open for tours and kids will have a chance to meet Curious George plus see themselves on TV.    The Virginia529 Savings Plan is the funding Sponsor. For  more information visit the website: http://ideastations.org/exploreoutdoors

Urban Survival Course in Franklin County April 27-28

An Urban Survival Weekend course has been scheduled for April 27-28, 2013 from 8 am-5pm each day at the Franklin County Public Safety Training Center located at 1488 Franklin St, Rocky Mount, VA 24151.  The course cost $25 and will cover a broad range of topics:
Water Sources: Finding them and making them potable, Waste Management and Disposal, Food: Types, Proper Storage, Methods and Preparations, Preparing Your Home, Family, and Pets, First Aid Kits and Supplies, Hyper- & Hypothermia: How to avoid it, Prevention and Treatment, Heating and Cooling Your House Without electricity, Tips and Tricks, Natural Emergencies: Power Outages, Snow -Severe Storms, Fire, Earthquakes &Flooding,  Unusual Emergencies: Nuclear, Civil Unrest, Pandemic, Biological Event and Economic Collapse,  Shelter in Place or Bug Out, Herbs and Wild Foods, Non-electric Gizmos and Gadgets, Situational Awareness and Personal Safety, Basic Human Needs for Survival: Physical and Emotional. To register E-mail: michaelpruitt@franklincountyva.org or call  540-483-3091

Hunter Skills Weekend at Holiday Lake May 3-5

The Hunter Skills Weekend is a unique program open to ages 11-90+, that  offers opportunities to learn new skills or fine-tune the ones you already have.  Three 4-hour sessions in a variety of topics provide skills development for new and seasoned hunters alike and include shooting, archery, survival, game cooking, treestand safety and a variety of hunting techniques. This partnership program is presented by the Virginia Hunter Education Association, VDGIF and Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center located near Appomattox. Registration is open until April 19, 2013 and the cost is $120.00 (meals and lodging included); a discounted fee is available before April 12, 2013. Completion of a Hunter Education course is preferred but not required; children under 18 must attend with a parent. For more information visit www.holidaylake4h.com or call Holiday Lake at (434) 248-5444.

People and Partners in the News

VA NWTF Donates $10,000 to Support NASP Training Equipment

On March 16th, over 530 student archers and coaches representing 34 schools from across the Commonwealth gathered at Meadow Event Park in Doswell, VA for the 5th annual National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) State Tournament. 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.

Sponsors for this year's State Tournament included Green Top Sporting Goods, Hanover; Bass Pro Shops, Hanover; Hunt N Shak, Richmond; Wilcox Bait and Tackle, Newport News; Parker Bows, Augusta County; Morrell Targets, AR; the Virginia State Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF); Hoffman Archery, Fauquier County and Matthews Bows. Rick Layser, President of the Virginia State Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) presented a check for $10,000 towards the purchase of loaner equipment sets for new schools that want to participate in NASP for 2014. Linda Layser VA NWTF NASP Committee Chairperson in addition donated a total of $5,100 divided between the three top schools in each class, Elementary, Middle and High School. These cash awards are for the winning teams to represent Virginia at the Nationals scheduled for May in Louisville, KY. Each of the three First place teams received a check for $1700. Both Rick and Linda Layser also participate in NASP as instructors. 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!

Sportsmen and Conservation Organizations Hosting Annual Award and Fund Raising Events

A number of sportsmen and conservation organizations that partner with VDGIF throughout the year are hosting annual award and fund raising events and skill building workshops throughout the year. If you are a member of one of these groups we appreciate your support of our aligned missions and volunteer efforts to improve opportunities for all outdoor enthusiasts and conservation of our wildlife and their habitats. If you are not a member of one of these organizations, we encourage you to find an organization that shares your views and join and support them. It is the strength in numbers that will allow us to preserve and continue our treasured outdoor traditions, be it hunting, fishing, boating, or viewing wildlife. The following is a listing of events that our partners have asked us to post:

Partner Organizations Working Together For Wildlife

In recognition of the yearlong celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program (WSFR), we are featuring the VDGIF partner organizations that support our Mission. WSFR is one of the most significant and successful partnership approaches to fish and wildlife conservation in U.S. history. The "WSFR 75 - It's Your Nature" celebration brings together federal and state fish and wildlife agencies; the hunting, shooting, angling, and boating industries; and conservation groups to mark a milestone of partnership success that has led quality wildlife-related outdoor opportunities. This also marks the beginning of a new era in wildlife conservation, during which the partners will establish new goals for fostering and maintaining partnerships to continue conservation and outdoor recreation into the next 75 years and beyond.

The VDGIF is pleased and honored to have the support of numerous non-profit conservation organizations, outdoor industries and local businesses that are dedicated to wildlife conservation and education. Through the involvement of thousands of citizen volunteers, as well as a financial commitment to a variety of agency projects, outdoor organizations have supported wildlife conservation efforts that benefit all Virginia sportsmen and women. We encourage everyone to support these organizations and to become active participants in one or more of these groups. In this section of the Outdoor Report we spotlight these partner organizations, highlighting the groups programs and activities that support us in our Mission "working together for wildlife."

NASP State Tournament Features 500 Student Archery Competitors

On March 16th, over 500 young archers from across the Commonwealth gathered at Meadow Event Park in Doswell, VA for the 5th annual National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) State Tournament. Students from 34 schools competed, shooting over 22,500 arrows throughout the course of the day. In addition to the NASP Tournament, DGIF hosted a fish casting station, 3 D archery range, and a bow fishing station for the student archers and parents to enjoy while waiting for the scoring results. The event was attended by 1770 spectators in addition to the 530 student archers and coaches.

The 6th graders at Chickahominy Elementary took First place in the Elementary division with score of 3066, Chickahominy Middle School 7th and 8th graders maintained First Place for middle school division with a score of 3322, and Atlee High captured the First Place high school division with a score of 3272. In an upset, Chickahominy Middle school bested Atlee High School by 50 points to win Virginia State Champion with the overall highest team score of 3322. For all tournament results for Individual and Team winners, visit our website. The day also included a coaches' shootout, won by Bruce Lovelace from Chickahominy Middle, Hanover County; and Sherry Beamer from Hidden Valley High, from Roanoke; and the presentation of the Amber Nease Leadership Award to Noah Trivitt, Northwood Middle School; Smyth County, for his enthusiasm in the sport of archery and overall Leadership abilities.

While winners prepare for the NASP National Tournament scheduled for May in Kentucky, and hopefully the NASP World Tournament scheduled for October in St. Louis, Missouri, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, which hosted and organized the event, looks forward to an even larger tournament next year and thanks the 55 volunteers and staff, the Meadow Event Park staff, and the other event sponsors for making this year's tournament such a resounding success.

Sponsors for this Tournament include Green Top Sporting Goods, Hanover; Bass Pro Shops, Hanover; Hunt N Shak, Richmond; Wilcox Bait and Tackle, Newport News; Parker Bows, Augusta County; Morrell Targets, AR; the Virginia State Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation (VA NWTF); Hoffman Archery, Fauquier County and Matthews Bows. The Virginia State Chapter of NWTF also presented a check for $10,000 towards the purchase of loaner equipment sets for new schools that want to participate in NASP for 2014. The VA NWTF NASP Committee in addition donated a total of $5,100 divided between the three top schools in each class, Elementary, Middle and High School. These cash awards of $1700 each are for the three winning teams to represent Virginia at the Nationals scheduled for May in Louisville, KY.

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! A special note of appreciation and acknowledgement to Lee Walker, VDGIF Outreach Division Manager, for the spectacular photographs used in this feature to capture the excitement and skill demonstrated by these student archers during the NASP State Tournament.

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

Conservation Police Association Hosts Youth Bird Hunt in Franklin County

March 16, 2013 was a "Spring-Like Day" in Franklin County at the Holland Shooting Preserve as 15 youth from surrounding areas gathered with their parents for the First Annual Youth Bird Hunt. CPO Edgar Huffman organized the event that focused on firearms safety, ethics, sportsmanship and "just plain fun" ! The day started with a refresher course in firearms safety followed by a practice session with skeet shooting. Lunch was served and the hunts began----professional guides volunteered their services and also provided the hunting dogs. The youth participants were selected from past local outdoor education events such as Hunter Education programs and NWTF JAKES Events. The male and female slots were divided equally.

A viewing area was set up for parents and guests to observe their youngsters in the field. Youth hunted in pairs with a guide, safety officer and cameraman to film the hunt. All the participants were successful in the afternoon of hunting pheasant, chukar and quail. Volunteer guides demonstrated the proper technique to clean birds and taught the youngsters how to clean the birds after the hunt and each cleaned their own kill.

The Virginia Conservation Police Association sponsored the event with support from many local businesses. Special thanks to John Sherrod Holland, the shooting preserve owner, operator and guide. For more information on the shooting preserve,  email : sherrardholland@yahoo.com, also  listed on FACEBOOK as John Holland and telephone at 540-576-3040 or 540-420-2168 ©

Photos were taken by Corri Huffman for entire event. Corri is the wife of CPO Edgar Huffman who shares his love of the outdoors and photography. She has a master's degree from Central Michigan University in business, and took photography classes as general electives. She now works with the VA Employment Commission and takes pictures as a hobby to "document life" and has been practicing on all the latest greatest photo shop software out there.

Editor's note... The Virginia Conservation Police Association (VCPA) was formed in 1981 as the Virginia Game Warden Association to better serve the citizens of the Commonwealth. With the name change from Game Warden to Virginia Conservation Police Officer in 2007—also came the change to VCPA. The VCPA understands the need to recruit new outdoor recreation enthusiasts and the need to bring young people into the s[port. Virginia is blessed with bountiful natural resources and offers a multitude of opportunities to enjoy the "great outdoors." Hunting and shooting sports are a treasured tradition in the "Old Dominion" and are once again becoming healthy family outings creating bonds and memories to last a lifetime and pass to the next generation.

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

"It Takes a Hunter to Make a Hunter"

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.

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.

Update as of March 2013

The Wild Turkey Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) convened for the first time on February 19th, 2013 in Verona. At the meeting the SAC was briefed on their role in the planning process, established the operational rules under which it will work and conduct business, and learned about wild turkey biology, status, and management history in Virginia. Expanding on the results of earlier stakeholder focus group meetings, the SAC identified public issues and concerns related to wild turkey management in Virginia. The SAC will meet again in mid-March, to establish the underlying values behind these issues, which ultimately will provide the basis for wild turkey management goals in Virginia. Please monitor the VDGIF website for future updates

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

Jarrod Smith sent us this story of a memorable turkey hunt with his son...

I've been taking my son Corbin hunting since he was 4 years old. I took the hunter safety course when I was in middle school. When Corbin turned 11, I took him to the course at Quantico and put the pressure on him to pass the class. He was so worried , but when he finally finished the test (the last to finish) and the instructor graded it you should have seen how proud he was of himself. I can still picture it in my mind. I then went and purchased his first gun. Though we had been deer hunting on my mom's property for many years because that's where I felt most safe for taking him, we had never harvested a deer. Then my friend Pat invited us to go Spring gobbler hunting with him. We both harvested our first turkeys at the same time. That fall Corbin harvested his first deer and a buck at that. We also have been attending the hunting classes at Holiday Lake in Appomattox and what wonderful classes and instructors. I just thought since I enjoy reading these stories I figured you would too. Also thanks to you and all you do Corbin wants to become a Conservation Officer himself. This story is still the best story I've heard probably because its mine.

This story was submitted to Field & Stream Magazine in April 2012 for the Game Faces section!

The Perfect Hunt

It's April 9, 2011. We wake around 4:30in the morning at Pat's house, filled with the anticipation of getting our first turkeys. We drive to some backwoods property in Loudon County, Virginia. Along the drive I'm thinking, "Ok, I've got everything: gun, shotgun shells" and so on. We park, grab all our gear and head into the woods. Hoot owls start calling as we set up the blind and settle into our chairs. Corbin asks me with a little fright in his voice "what's that, Dad"? Then I tell him, "monsters," but he knows I'm joking. We get out the coffee and Pat's famous hot chocolate (the best I've ever had. I've got the recipe too). Just at daybreak, Pat asks, "Are you ready?" Corbin nods with contained excitement and I'm thinking "sure, like the turkeys gonna' come just because we are ready." He hits the slate call and throughout the woods a loud "gobble gobble gobble" answers him. I slowly turn my head to Corbin and whisper "this is it, today's gonna' be a good day." Then slowly turning to look at Pat with a grin I say, "I can't believe it—they gobbled on the first call." I think to myself, "Man Pat really knows how to call."

For the next half hour that gobbler gobbles at everything from the geese, ducks and crane flying over. Then he comes off the roost and just shuts up. We sit there for the next couple of hours with Pat hitting the slate call then the box call. Nothing. Not a sound. Starting to get discouraged, we all get out of the blind and relieve ourselves, stretch our legs and settle back down with another cup of Pat's hot chocolate. Pat has another cup of coffee and we all eat some Kit Kats and Snickers bars.

Ready for round two. The day passes by in silence, we watch a few squirrels scurry around, and ducks and geese fly by, but still no turkey. Pat makes a few more calls. Still, nothing. I keep telling myself, "well maybe it's not gonna' happen...that's ok...we got to hear one gobble this morning and that was exciting." That's why they call this hunting. Time passes and then all of a sudden, Corbin starts snickering. I give him the mean look and whisper, "stop! Pat's not gonna' want you to come next time." He points at Pat with more snickering, holding back a laugh, tears in his eyes. I glance over my shoulder at Pat and I can't believe it. He's asleep. His head all laid back and, I mean, he's out! Then he starts snoring. I start snickering too, trying my hardest to hold back. I then nudge Pat's leg. His eyes open and while slowly raising his head says, "what, what are you doing?" I tell him, "You were sleeping and snoring." He says "I know. That's my secret weapon." We all laughed.

A little more time goes on and about 11:30 Pat asks, "Are you about ready to go"? I shrugged and got up, but Corbin is disappointed. "I want to get a turkey," he says, but I assure him we'd go again. We wait a few more minutes, get out the blind, and start packing up. We unload our guns, and pack the blind away. I look up and Pat is putting his chair back in his bag when Corbin, about 30 yards away, looks at us and says with a loud whisper "I heard one!" Pat and I just look at each other, and then I hear it too. "Did you hear that?"But no, he didn't. Pat finishes putting his chair in the bag then gets his slate call out. He hits it one time and all we hear is "gobble, gobble, gobble." There's more than one. Pat drops his chair and while grabbing his jacket says, "we've got about six minutes to get ready." I drop what I'm doing and Pat whispers to Corbin, "Come here." Pat tells Corbin to jump in this makeshift blind that he made a few years back by a big oak tree. Corbin grabs his gun as I help him put two shells in it, and he jumps over into the blind and hunkers down. I grab my gun, put two shells in also, and hunker down right behind Corbin. Pat throws Corbin a face net. I can't remember where I put mine. Pat runs to a tree behind us and sits on the ground and leans up next another oak. Then he whispers, "I wonder if I should try and put out a decoy" and I whispered back, "ya." Pat jumps up grabs a decoy from his vest, shoves it in the ground about 20 yards in front of us, and runs back to his spot. I look back and Pat has covered himself with his jacket. He hits the slate call. "Gobble gobble gobble" is all we hear. Probably 10 or 12 minutes go by as we scan the woods searching. Then all of a sudden Corbin whispers, "There they are!"

There were three of them jokers, just a struttin'. You should have seen the look on Corbin's face and as he's hunched down behind Pat's makeshift blind hoping not to get spotted. He puts the bead down towards them Jakes. They stop and look and I thought, Dag gone it! They've busted me because I don't have my mask on. So I slowly hunker down lower behind Corbin's head hoping not to get caught. I tell him to take the safety off and wait till they pass that oak tree. With all the excitement going I also forgot to get my gun ready and now I'm also worried I might get busted a second time. I said to myself maybe I can ease it up slowly right before Corbin shoots. Corbin keeps hitting this small cedar branch with the barrel of his gun so I had to whisper to tell him "Stop moving". He steady's his gun just about the time I ease mine up. I then whisper "shoot!" And Corbin says, "Which one?" I said "pick one!" By the time I ease my gun back up, POW! Corbin shoots. Then I shoot too, and the birds are down. Corbin jumps up and yells "I got 'em, I got 'em!" I jump up and say "I know, we did." Grinning from ear to ear, we see Pat run past us to make sure the birds didn't run off. We go check out our prizes. I looked at Pat with a tear in my eye, shake his hand, give him a manly hug, and say, "Pat, thanks, you just don't know, WOW, Oh my God what a day, I can't believe it!"

I'm thinking, man, how awesome is it that Corbin and I got our first turkeys on the same day? Pat says, "Well, I called three in just in case you missed one." We all laugh. Corbin also manages to find a stinkin' 6-point deer skull. Thank goodness for trash bags because we had to bring that home, too. We pick up all the gear and birds and stinkin' deer skull and head for the truck. I can still picture how proud Corbin was carrying that big old bird over his shoulder. Thank goodness for Pat again—he remembered a camera. We took pictures of us posing with our trophy birds and that's how our perfect hunt went. There are not too many days that are that perfect in life and not too many hunters who can say they got their first turkey the same day as their son. That's a perfect hunt.

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

The Virginia Quail Team is on Facebook

The Virginia Quail Team is on Facebook! Like us at www.facebook.com/VirginiaBobwhiteBulletin . VDGIF Farm Game and Quail Program Co-coordinator Marc Puckett noted, "On this new facebook page you'll be able to meet the Quail Team, stay up-to-date on the latest quail news in Virginia, learn about habitat management techniques and quail ecology, and much more! Help us build a network of individuals dedicated to bringing back the bobwhite in Virginia. Help us spread the word to the next generation of quail enthusiasts. Local landowner interest and leadership is the key to quail recovery in Virginia."

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.

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!

Make Your Spring Gobbler Hunt a Safe One!

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

Hunt safely, responsibly and ethically.

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

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.

Critter Corner

by Marlene A. Condon

The Easter Bunny (Eastern Cottontail Rabbit)

It's been said that the Easter Bunny is perhaps the greatest gift that the Pennsylvania Dutch gave to America. These immigrants to Pennsylvania arrived from southwestern Germany and Switzerland in the 17th and 18th centuries, bringing their customs with them.

One custom was the appearance of brightly colored eggs on Easter morning, supposedly delivered to children by the Easter Hare. In the German-speaking countries of Europe, there are hares instead of cottontail rabbits (often called bunnies colloquially). The hare is closely related to our rabbit, but it's bigger with longer ears and legs.

The Eastern Cottontail gets its name from its tail that truly resembles a ball of cotton. It inhabits all parts of Virginia where suitable cover and food exists.

Unfortunately, in some years you hardly ever see Eastern Cottontails. Many folks (especially gardeners, orchardists, and farmers) may find that to be a blessing, but in the lean years I miss these adorable animals that are so often found in children's stories, undoubtedly because they look so huggable. After all, what is Easter without a real cottontail hopping about?

Time of year to see them and where: Cottontails can be seen all the year round, but the best time is early spring to fall when an adult female produces several litters of two to six young each. She makes a shallow depression in the ground, lining it with grasses and fur from her body. Although baby rabbits are born blind, helpless, and almost naked (furless), they are ready to leave the nest in only about two weeks to fend for themselves.

Food: The Eastern Cottontail is found where there is a mix of herbaceous (non-woody) plants for food, and brush or shrubbery for protection from predators. It eats green plants, including the lawn grass found in so many suburban yards. During the cold months of the year, the cottontail includes twigs and young bark in its diet. Orchardists may then find their fruit trees damaged (although mice also eat the bark of these trees), but the home gardener can easily place hardware cloth around the base of a fruit tree for protection.

Environmental function: Rabbits in Virginia reproduce often because many of the young ones are lost to predation. They are an important food source for many wild animals, such as foxes, hawks, owls, and snakes. (Unfortunately, pets needlessly take a toll when they kill, but don't eat, rabbits.)

Personal observation: If you put out mixed seed during the winter for ground-feeding birds, you may find cottontails also feeding upon your handout. I've discovered that these animals really enjoy milo seeds that must be rather hard to chew. You can really hear the rabbits crunching away on those seeds!

Nature-friendly garden tip: Cottontails relish newly planted flowers and vegetables, which is why gardeners often do not care for these cute mammals that children usually love. However, if you don't have deer to contend with, a two-foot-tall chicken-wire fence around a vegetable garden is all you need to keep out rabbits. The fencing should also be buried at least 6 inches underground, with the bottom few inches bent at a right angle outward from the garden. I have never experienced a problem with these animals eating from my numerous flower beds because I allow dandelions—a favorite of rabbits—to grow in my lawn.

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 wildlife or gardening in a nature-friendly manner, please send it to NTRLDY@aol.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.

Blackwater & Nottoway Clean Rivers Day Scheduled for April 20th

The Blackwater & Nottoway Clean Rivers Day 2013 is set for Saturday April 20th . This is a community effort to clean up around the Blackwater Nottoway Rivers is organized by the Blackwater Nottoway Riverkeepers (BNRK). This 12th annual clean up is accomplished by teams and individuals going out on our rivers, streams and ditches, parking lots, even your yard or wherever, and picking up litter, trash and other junk. According to Jeff Turner, Blackwater Nottoway Riverkeeper, "Over 74,000 pounds of trash have been removed from our little piece of the world. CRD is a great opportunity for folks to contribute to the health of the community we live in. As always I will have litter getters and bags for those who need them. Teams or individuals can pick their own locations or I can find you one. If you pick your own location it is very important that you let me know where that is so I will not send another team there. My advice is to go ahead and start looking around at river and swamp bridge crossings or ditches etc. in your area as a place for you or your team to clean up. Teams can pick what time of day they want to work and how long. Teams need to keep count of bag and participant totals, and totals of tires etc. Make note of your "most unusual item found" and be sure to take pictures to send to me. More details will follow when you sign up. Email me at blknotkpr@earthlink.net or call me at 562-5173 to get signed up. This is a great community event to get involved in. Please put this date on your organizations Calendar now." For more information or to sign up contact Jeff Turner at email: blknotkpr@earthlink.net or website: www.blackwaternottoway.com, or call 757-562-5173 .

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!

Explore the Outdoors Event for Kids in Chesterfield April 28th

Come join the fun with the Community Idea Stations and Chesterfield County Parks and Recreation at the Explore the Outdoors event Sunday, April 28, 2013 from 1-5 pm, at Huguenot Park, 10901 Robious Road, North Chesterfield, VA 23235.   From nature walks to outdoor investi­gations, families, friends, and neighbors are invited to participate in hands-on experiences that encourage kids to learn about science. VDGIF Wildlife Education Coordinator  Suzie Gilley will have furs, skulls and other hands-on wildlife identification items. The day will feature 40+ local organizations which specialize in outdoor activities for families and is free and open to the public.  Explore the Outdoors activities and parking will be held at Huguenot Park. Next to the park, the Community Idea Stations studios will be open for tours and kids will have a chance to meet Curious George plus see themselves on TV.    The Virginia529 Savings Plan is the funding Sponsor.   For  more information visit the website: http://ideastations.org/exploreoutdoors

Virginia Naturally Website Link to School Environmental Learning Programs

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

Nature Observations from the Virginia Wildlife Calendar

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

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

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 III - Southwest

CPO Donates Guided Hunt to Youth Hunter... On March 16 Senior Conservation Police Officer Randy Hurst conducted a hunter education course at the Hillsville Masonic Lodge. There were thirty people in attendance. Officer Hurst recently attended a National Wild Turkey Federation banquet and purchased a guided youth turkey hunt during the live auction. Officer Hurst's intention from the beginning bid was to donate this hunt to a youth at the hunter education class. The hunt will be guided by four-time Virginia turkey calling champion Jeremy Hendrick, and requires a parent or guardian to be present during the hunt. This hunt will also be videotaped and the DVD presented to the hunter to memorialize the activity. The winner of the hunt was a ten year old from Cana, Virginia.

Fishermen Cited... On March 9, Conservation Police Officers Jim Anders and Keith Hagy were patrolling the New River in Wythe County for walleye fishermen in the Foster Falls area. Several fishermen were observed in boats on the river. Officers Anders and Hagy observed two of the fishermen catching walleye and putting them on a stringer on the boat. One fisherman was observed catching 4 walleye and keeping 3 of the fish. The fisherman handed the fish to his partner who was placing them on the stringer. The second fisherman was observed catching 1 fish, which he put on the stringer as well. After more than an hour of surveillance, the fishermen began to work their way to the boat ramp. Officer Anders approached the subjects on foot as Officer Hagy approached via vehicle. Upon contact with the fishermen, each one claimed 2 walleye and denied any wrong doing. The subjects advised that they were just keeping 4 walleye. Summonses were issued for possession over the daily limit and for conspiracy to possess over the daily limit of Walleye.

K9 Team Update

K9s Demonstrate Investigative Skill for Outdoor Writers at Annual Conference... The VDGIF K9 Team provided a wildlife investigation demonstration at the Constitution Park along the banks of the South River in Waynesboro during the Mason Dixon and Virginia Outdoor Writers Associations Joint Conference field trip and from many accounts was the highlight of the day. VDGIF Law Enforcement Division Maj. Mike Minarik introduced the K9 Teams and provided background on the development of the K9 Units and explained how the K9 Units are funded through private donations through the Wildlife Foundation of Virginia. Both Senior Officer Wayne Billhimer and K9 Justice and Senior Officer Richard Howald and K9 Scout fascinated the group with the dog's amazing skills. There were lots of questions as members tried to take notes in the cold wind. So to follow-up with the members who were interested in more complete info on the K9 Units, a special update was prepared with background and stories of the K9 program featured in the Outdoor Report the past 11 months and sent to the participants via email. Additional information on the K9 program and activities can be found by searching the Outdoor Report Archives using key words in the search box:  http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/outdoor-report/

Editor's note... A special note of appreciation and acknowledgement is given to the VOWA- MDOWA Conference sponsors Dominion and Augusta County regional tourism directors who provided additional fly fishing demonstrations and information on upcoming events, festivals and special outdoor attractions in Augusta County, Waynesboro and Staunton areas. Look for features on Conference presenters and activities in the April 10th and 24th editions of the Outdoor Report. Contact these folks for the best in hospitality, history and adventure in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley... Virginia is for Lovers!!

Sheryl Wagner, Director of Tourism
Staunton Convention & Visitors Bureau
wagnerss@ci.staunton.va.us , www.VisitStaunton.com

Katie McElroy, Director of Tourism
Waynesboro Department of Tourism
mcelroyke@ci.waynesboro.va.us
www.visitwaynesboro.net

Jessica Staples, Economic
Development & Tourism Coordinator
Augusta County
jstaples@co.augusta.va.us

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

Kids Fishing Day Events Calendar Posted on VDGIF Website

The 2013 Kids Fishing Days event table is now posted on the VDGIF website. View it from the Upcoming Events page and there is a link under Contests and Ongoing Events on the right side. There are 40 events posted currently and new ones will be added as they are submitted. VDGIF Angling Education Coordinator Chris Dunnavant notes, "More and more people are utilizing this web-table and traveling significant distances to experience a Kids Fishing Day." Send in your photos of family fun to the Outdoor Report. Share this information with family and friends and "Take a Kid Fishing!"

Boat Landing on the Rappahannock NOW OPEN to Powerboats

Mill Creek boating access site in Middlesex Co. on the Rappahannock River near the community of Wake in Gloucester Countyis now open to the public. Visit the VDGIF Facility Closures & Alerts page for more details.

Hercules Landing on Nottoway River To Open First Week of April

The Hercules Landing at Rt. 671 on the Nottoway River is expected to open sometime during the first week of April. VDGIF Facilities Project Manager Allester Watts noted, "The recent rain and snowstorm delayed the final grading and wet ground conditions prevented paving this week as had been scheduled. With the sunny forecast we plan to complete paving of the site and be ready to open the new ramp by April 6." The closure was necessary because the ramp at Hercules sat adjacent to a VDOT bridge that is being expanded. The expansion will occupy the area where the old ramp was located. The new ramp will be much improved and will provide service far into the future. VDGIF Project Managers had hoped to have the new ramp completed before having to close the old ramp, but project delays with the new site meant the old ramp had to be demolished for bridge expansion prior to opening of the new site. In addition to better boating access, the new ramp offers improved safety to vehicles and trailers entering and exiting the facility. We apologize for any inconvenience this closure has caused and hope the new ramp serves the boaters and anglers in that area well. Updated information will be posted on the VDGIF Facility Closures & Alerts page and the Outdoor Report as soon as new information becomes available.

Use Caution at Carters Wharf Boat Ramp - Extreme Sanding Build-Up

John Kirk, VDGIF Boating Access Maintenance Supervisor for Region I Tidewater area, advises boaters to use caution at Carter’s Wharf ramp on the Rappahannock River due to extreme sand build-up on the ramp and beyond. The ramp is only navigable by small jon-boats, canoes, and kayaks. This sand build-up is currently beyond the abilities of VDGIF equipment to clear. VDGIF Infrastructure staff is currently working to determine the potential for a project that would remove the sand and result in a long-term fix. We apologize for any inconvenience and suggest using Hoskin’s Creek as an alternative launch in the area. Updated information will be posted on the VDGIF Facility Closures & Alerts page and the Outdoor Report as soon as new information becomes available.

Wheelin' Sportsmen Plan 3 May-Fishing Events - Registration Due April 20th

Virginia Wheelin' Sportsmen have some exciting fishing events planned for this spring.  If  you have a disability and want to join us, now's your chance. Last year we held our first West Augusta Outdoor Day near Staunton, and we'll return again this year on May 11th. If you weren't there last year, you missed out on our NWTF award-winning Best New Event of 2012, as our participants shot skeet, crossbow and reeled in big catfish all day. The Little Switzerland Chapter NWTF will re-stock their trout pond with rainbows on May 18th, so head for the beautiful mountains of Monterey... and plan to take plenty of trout home! On Saturday May 25th, the Grace family will host their 7th annual Mossy Creek Trout Rodeo near Broadway, just north of Harrisonburg. We will be fishing a mile stretch of the scenic Smith River, stocked with browns and rainbow trout. You do not want to miss out on this event! Registration Forms are available at www.vanwtf.com and the application deadline is April 20th!

We have numerous events planned throughout the year, ranging from turkey, deer, dove, and waterfowl hunts to fishing and shooting events, in all areas of Virginia. As an outreach program of the National Wild Turkey Federation, our events are open to anyone with a disability, and there is no charge to participate. If you'd like to receive news of our events, please contact Robin Clark at 434-249-6154 or via email.

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.

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!

With several Angling Education events coming up and little spare time to pen an article for the Fishing Spot, Editor David Coffman introduced me to a young outdoor writer, Matt Reilly, who is an avid fisherman. I saw Matt' recent article he did for The Rural Virginian newspaper and thought you would enjoy it and learn a few "getting ready for spring" fishing ad gear tips.

Editor's note... For Matt Reilly, a 17-year-old Junior at Fluvanna County High School, his outdoor experiences in nature have had a profound impact on his career aspirations. Matt won Second place in the VOWA Bass Pro High School Youth Writing Contest last year and has continued his writing submitting feature contributions to Woods & Waters Magazine and in June 2012 he landed a weekly column, Adventures Afield, in The Rural Virginian, a multi county weekly newspaper covering the Central Virginia region. We are re-printing Matt's column from the March 13, 2013 edition with permission from his Editors at The Rural Virginian.

It's Almost Time...

Despite the occasional snowstorm, thermometers across the state are showing increasingly more red. March is rolling in like a lion; the shadbush is budding; and the fact remains that our furry friend, Punxsutawney, found himself alone by his groundhog hole on that prophetic February morning. Spring is almost upon us.

Organize and Simplify

Winter offers a perfect time for anglers to take stock of their fishing tackle and prepare for the upcoming season.

Reorganize that terminal tackle box that was shaken to chaos over the course of the summer; and replace the items that are running out. Return all lures to their homes—whether organized by color, type, or target species--, for they were surely mixed up for convenience's sake.

Take critical inventory of all lures, paying attention to those that were put to good use in the previous season and those that were not. Those that were could be considered confidence baits—those that you turn to when times are tough—and should be amply replaced. Exclude or pack away any lures that were neglected last year—they were for good reason. The freed space will provide more room for the lures that continually produce for you, and will make your tackle box altogether more effective.

Time for Shad

The annual migration of anadromous shad is the first rite of spring in the angling world. Sexually mature adults begin their run up Virginia's large coastal rivers when tidal temperatures approach 55 degrees, and offer great sport for the light-tackle angler.

There are two species of shad to be caught from Virginia waters, the hickory shad and the American shad, the first arriving first and the latter arriving last. Spawning hickory shad often weigh one to two pounds, smaller in comparison to the larger American shad that average in the three to five pound range.

Small, flashy minnow imitations like the shad spoon and famed Shad Dart are time-tested shad lures, and routinely yield the most fish. The angler will be well-equipped with one of these lures rigged with a light spinning rod and six-pound line; but don't go much lighter. Spawning fish frequent strong currents and use them to their advantage in a fight. A fisherman wielding a traditional ultra-light setup would be outmatched against a five-pound fish in heavy current.

Favored fishing spots include the tidal James River at Richmond, the Rappahannock near Fredericksburg, and the Potomac in the far northern region of the state. Brackish tributaries to these major waterways, like the Chickahominy, Mattaponi, Nottoway, and Pamunkey rivers, also provide good action.

Blueback herring and alewife follow the migrating shad on their own spawning runs, but responsible anglers should note that, as of March 2012, it is illegal to have in possession either of these two river herring.

Time for Big Bass

Shad aren't the only fish feeling the urges of the spawning season this month. Largemouth bass, too, will begin to move from their stable wintering waters to the spawning coves where they will spawn this time in April, when the water temperature climbs past 60 degrees.

Many anglers prefer this period. As nature instills a common goal in the bass' movements, they become very predictable; and, still stocky from their winter lethargy, this pre-spawn window is often recognized as the best time to catch big bass.

In lakes, these bass will relate to long, sloping points on the main lake that lead to shallow coves. These points provide transition zones for fish to move along as the surface temperature warms. In true reservoirs, a similar point providing access to the main feeder creek is a hotspot. Still, movement is largely dependent upon water surface temperature; likewise, northern banks, provided they have the correct structure, will be the most productive because they receive the most sunlight.

Productive lures include Texas-rigged soft plastics, swimbaits, jigs, and spinnerbaits. Working a lure slow, but covering water quickly and taking note of the depth at which you get strikes will help in putting together a fishable pattern.

Stay organized about your tackle and your plans, and the end of this month could hold many memorable adventures afield.

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

Little Creek Reservoir: Contributed by Park Concessionaire Diane Priestley, (757) 566-2277, hhhatlcr@aol.com. No report this edition.

Beaverdam Reservoir: (804) 693-2107. Contributed by Park Supervisor Patti McGrath. What a CRAPPIE FISHING WEEK! Mr. Whitehead, of Newport News, had another awesome week with two 5 gallon buckets full of crappie. He also caught 3 very large bass (over 5 lbs.). Another angler caught a citation crappie on the north side of the lake at 2 ¼ lbs. Beaverdam Park will host the second big Bash tournament April 20, 2013. Sign up is now available for this tournament. For more information 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. There are some tautog at the bridge tunnel taking crabs and a few speckled trout in Lynnhaven.

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

Chickahominy River: River's Rest (804) 829-2753. CCharlie Brown reports the bass bite is just starting up, but not many have come in. Some crappie are taking minnows and jigs. Small cats are going on cut bait and live shad. Perch are there, but none have been brought in. No word on bream. The water is stained and 49 degrees.

Chickahominy Lake: Contributed by Captain Art Conway of Conway's River Rat Guide Service, (804) 746-2475. Lake mid-day water temperatures were in the high 40s in the lower and upper lake and in the low 50s in the backs of major creeks last weekend, but had dropped to the mid 40s in the lower lake and creeks and the lower 40s up the lake on Monday (3/25/2013). The lake level was a little over a foot above the top of the dam and rising slowly. The water was brown and slightly cloudy in the lower lake.

A few blue cats and a few small to medium crappie were in some of the deeper channels and deep winter holes in the lower main lake. Medium to large crappie were in some of the staging areas outside some of the creeks, and have been in these locations for several weeks. Crappie and blue cats in deeper locations were hitting live minnows and drop shot rigs with small Gulp baits. Medium to large crappie were starting to accumulate in the channels of the major creeks and were hitting live minnows and trolled curly-tail grubs over last weekend, but were mostly gone from the creeks on Monday. The cold and precipitation Sunday night and early Monday apparently ran them out of the creeks again, but look for crappie to return to the creeks and continue to accumulate in the channels and backs of the creeks during the next week or two if water temperatures rise again. Most bass and pickerel were scattered on mid depth and deep flats in the main lake and were sporadically hitting live minnows, bladebaits, lipless crankbaits, and plastic worms. Fishing with Capt. Conway, Hollis Pruitt took 24 crappie.

North Landing River and Back Bay: Contributed by Ken Testorff, local blogger. Having notched two consecutive skunks, I was concentrating hard when I hit the water at 10 o'clock this morning. I first ran upriver to check out an old haunt that usually produces fairly well in spring but only felt one bump on a Bandit Footloose, and that came as I just was working my way into the area. When I didn't see, hear or feel anything in the next hour, I decided to run back to West Neck. between about 11:15 a.m. and 2:45p.m. I boated 4 bass, the best one was 2.3 lbs. The next best was a 1.6. I also had a 12 incher and 1 dink. Everything fell for the same Bandit I had the first hit with this morning. I also threw a Senko swim tail, as well as a chatterbait and a Yo-Zuri SS Minnow, without even a smell.

I made the mistake of misjudging exactly how much water was in the creek today, and about 2 o'clock, I found myself sitting atop a stump field in West Neck. I knew the stumps were there; I just didn't think the water was so skinny I would ground the boat's stern on them. Fifteen frantic minutes with a paddle hadn't produced the first results, so after testing what was beneath the prop, I lowered the outboard just enough to get a little traction, and that act proved to be the magic I was so desperately looking for. Needless to say, I made a mental note for the next time I find myself in that area again.

The water temperature today ranged from 50 when I started to 52 when I quit. Visibility was pretty decent in both locations I fished.

Steve Bailey launched ahead of me this morning and came roaring back into West Neck before I quit. He idled down when he saw me, and we compared notes. He had had an excellent day, with a total of 15 bass, 6 pickerel, plus a few others. "Just hope the pattern holds for the tourney Saturday," said Steve.

I also received an email today from Charlie Bargeman, who spent yesterday in the Alton's Creek Oxbow. His tally for the day was 5 bass in the small-to-medium-size range.

Norfolk Lakes: Dasheill's Show Room (757) 539-7854. Drew says the bass bite is "fair", with jigs and plastics being your best bet. Crappie action is picking up as the slabs are getting ready to spawn. Use your minnows and jigs in the shallows. Cats are attacking cut bait and live shad. Yellow perch angling is fair, but should become really good soon as the weather warms up. Bluegill are sluggish, but might take a cricket or small worm. The water is clear a and warming.

Blackwater and Nottoway: By Riverkeeper Jeff Turner www.blackwaternottoway.com. Contributed by Riverkeeper Jeff Turner. I spent the 21st through the 23rd on the Nottoway below Courtland. The water was fast and high at 10 ft. on the USGS gauge and 47 degrees. Air temperatures ranged from a nose biting 23 degrees to 42 and it SNOWED nearly all the first day. The fishing on this trip was ... okay. I only caught only 4 shad but talked to some crazy guys that were out there in the snow with me and they had done well with the shad at the shad hole. I could not believe there were other people out there on the river in the snow. It's nice to know there are people who are just as crazy as I am ... I think! There was also a young fellow at the boat landing fishing, though he was smart and was sitting in his car through the blizzard tending his rods. He told me he had caught a walleye. He stated he had released it so I could not verify his claim. A yellow perch looks similar, so.... . Back in the 1970s the state released some into the river but I have only seen one in my entire life and have never caught one. Anyway, I managed to scrap up a hodgepodge of a mess of fish catching 2 small largemouth, 4 speckle, 1 yellow perch, 1 shell cracker, 2 striped bass and 1 blackfish. I had to throw the striped bass back because they did not measure up to the 18 inch minimum requirement. All my fish were caught on a bladebait vertically jigged.

Blackwater & Nottoway Clean Rivers Day Scheduled for April 20th

The Blackwater & Nottoway Clean Rivers Day 2013 is set for Saturday April 20th . This is a community effort to clean up around the Blackwater Nottoway Rivers is organized by the Blackwater Nottoway Riverkeepers (BNRK). This 12th annual clean up is accomplished by teams and individuals going out on our rivers, streams and ditches, parking lots, even your yard or wherever, and picking up litter, trash and other junk. According to Jeff Turner, Blackwater Nottoway Riverkeeper, "Over 74,000 pounds of trash have been removed from our little piece of the world. CRD is a great opportunity for folks to contribute to the health of the community we live in. As always I will have litter getters and bags for those who need them. Teams or individuals can pick their own locations or I can find you one. If you pick your own location it is very important that you let me know where that is so I will not send another team there. My advice is to go ahead and start looking around at river and swamp bridge crossings or ditches etc. in your area as a place for you or your team to clean up. Teams can pick what time of day they want to work and how long. Teams need to keep count of bag and participant totals, and totals of tires etc. Make note of your "most unusual item found" and be sure to take pictures to send to me. More details will follow when you sign up. Email me at blknotkpr@earthlink.net or call me at 562-5173 to get signed up. This is a great community event to get involved in. Please put this date on your organizations Calendar now." For more information or to sign up contact Jeff Turner at email: blknotkpr@earthlink.net or website: www.blackwaternottoway.com, or call 757-562-5173.

Editors Note...

Jeff Turner reports that the VDGIF boat ramp on the Nottoway at Rt. 671 known as the 'Hercules Landing' is now closed. A new ramp is being constructed across the street, but due to weather delays the projected February 25th completion date was not possible. The closure of the old ramp was done earlier than expected due to the DOT bridge expansion project. As of posting time the VDGIF Regional Facilities Manager advised they anticipate a completion date of the new ramp by the end of March. If you want to fish this part of the river you will have to put in at the VDGIF ramp on Rt. 258 and run the 13 miles upriver. The Hercules Landing at Rt. 671 on the Nottoway River is expected to open sometime during the first week of April. VDGIF Facilities Project Manager Allester Watts noted, "The recent rain and snowstorm delayed the final grading and wet ground conditions prevented paving this week as had been scheduled. With the sunny forecast we plan to complete paving of the site and be ready to open the new ramp by April 6." Updated information will be posted on the VDGIF Facility Closures & Alerts page and the Outdoor Report as soon as new information becomes available.

Upper James: Contributed by local guide Jared Harker of Confluence Outfitters LLC, (434) 941-9550. The smallmouth bite is really heating up. Keep fishing the deeper slower pools between the moving water, but look for a shift to the moving water soon. The smallmouth will start making their break in the direction of the upcoming spawning grounds. The spawn is still sometime off with the current water temperatures, but with some warm days expect the smallmouth to start moving on crankbaits and spinners. Right now the best luck is had with bottom jigs and tubes bounced up off of the bottom like a startled crawdad or baitfish. Don't work it too fast, but don't be afraid to bounce it up off of the bottom and then let it rest. Most of the fish we are catching right now are in the 15 to 21 inch range. Love this time of year! For other up to date fishing info and reports check out https://www.facebook.com/ConfluenceOutfittersVA and give us a like on Facebook! We keep our Facebook page updated often!

Upper and Lower Tidal James: Local Guide, Captain Mike Hoke, Life's Revenge Guide Service, (804) 357-8518. Captain Mike reports that bass are going for minnows, 2 inch curlytail grubs and rattletraps. Some big crappie are coming in on minnows and jigs. The cat bite has fluctuated due to water temperatures, and should pick up very soon. For now, try cut bait. Stripers are taking rattletraps. Both white and yellow perch are attacking curlytail grubs. American and hickory shad should be here soon. Remember that American shad must be thrown back. The water is stained and warming.

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

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

Region 2 - Southside

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

James at Scottsville: Local Guide L.E. Rhodes www.hatchmatcherguideservice.com, (434) 286-3366. The James has been running high and off color this past week. The water temperatures remain in the mid 40s. The snow event we had the first part of the week will keep the conditions unstable for a few days more. The local lakes have been fishing well with largemouth up to seven pounds being boated on Pig & Jigs. Crankbaits along with spinnerbaits have also produced well. Fly anglers using crayfish and streamers have had success as well. There are reports of some shad being caught in Richmond. I'm told in a couple more weeks they should be running in great numbers. The spring creeks over in the valley have been the hot spots to fish. Fly anglers that have been throwing big streamers along the undercut banks have caught the bigger fish.

Kerr Reservoir: Bob Cat's Lake Country Store, (434) 374-8381. Bobby Whitlow, Jr. says the bass bite is good, try rattletraps and jerks around points. For crappie try slow trolling minnows and jigs in the shallows. Cats will take live or cut shad. No word on perch or bluegill. Stripers are in the streams, try live shad. The water is a good color in the upper 40s and low 50s.

James at Lynchburg: Angler's Lane, (434) 385-0200. Tom Riesdorf has no word on smallies. The rainbows and browns in the Jackson are taking minnow imitators and streamers. Brookies are "active and hungry". Try throwing a Purple Haze Dry Fly, size 14. The water is clear and in the mid 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. Ron Karpinski told me that the bass bite has been slow, with Pig & Jigs and slow deep crankbaits producing best. Crappie are picking up, fish deep with minnows. No word on cats or bream. Stripers are taking live shad, big jigs and redfins. The water is muddy and 50 degrees.

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

Smith Mountain Lake: Contributed by Mike Snead. Virginia Outdoorsman, (540) 724-4867, www.virginiaoutdoorsman.com. No report this edition.

Region 3 - Southwest

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

Lower New River: Big Z'S (540) 639-1651. John Zienius told me that the bass bite is still very slow. Muskies are fairly active with some up to 40 inches being brought up; try big hard jerks or some live trout or suckers. The water is a good green color and in the lower 40s.

Upper New River: Contributed by Captain Forest Pressnell, (540) 818-5274, New River Charter. The Upper New river remains clear, green and the water temperature 42 degrees, but will probably be dropping with forecasted cold temperatures and scattered snow the next few days. Walleye fishing has been great and should continue for a couple more weeks at least. If you are tired of the "bait and wait" throw jerkbaits and crankbaits which have been working well. The muskie are paired up waiting for the water temperature to rise so they can start their spawn and will be tough to get to hit for a few weeks. Smallie action is slow but if you want to try them look to the warming sunny banks and fish them slow. Some of our recent fish photos can be seen on the NRC "Photos" page. The smallmouth spawn will be here soon so get your trip booked before all dates are gone.

New River: Tangent Outfitters, (540) 257-0415. Shawn Hash reports that smallmouths are "not quite on fire, yet", but should pick up soon. Muskies are biting well with some 51 inchers being brought up, it is a case of quality over quantity. The water is high green and 41 degrees.

Top New River: Contributed by local guide Richie Hughes, owner of New River Trips LLC. January like conditions continue up on the Top New (Mouth of Wilson to Fries). On a couple trips this past week water temperatures were in the lower 40s. Walleye are on the spawn; some smallmouth can be had using jigs, tubes and crankbaits. Trout fishing remains quite good in the tributaries of the Top New. Hopefully, winter will release its hold soon. The first period of extended warmth we have is going to produce some huge smallmouth.

New River: Contributed by Britt Stoudenmire, 540-921-7438, owner of New River Outdoor Co. and host of The Life Outdoors w/Britt & Leigh. We have been on the river every day in March and the New River has been in excellent shape and fishing well for big, early pre-spawn smallmouth. We love the colder temps as it keeps the big smallmouth in their feeding areas longer!!! Water temps have been consistently at 41 to 42 degrees, but this latest cold front could drop them back for a few days. Water clarity has been four to six feet. We have been fishing Britt's "Smallie Snack Jig" low and slow, and that has been the key to picking up the big pre-spawners. On a recent trip, New River Outdoor Clients picked off three citations up to 21.25"!!! Musky are moving quickly into aggressive feeding locations as the March full moon approaches and signals the beginning of their spawning season. For more from the New River, please visit and "Like" the New River Outdoor Co. Facebook Page for the latest pics and reports. And don't miss The Life. Outdoors w/Britt & Leigh's March episode; "And Then There Was GIANT..." featuring the monster New River 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. Water levels have risen to almost 7 feet over the last week from the snow runoff and rains while water temps have varied from 38 to 42 degrees. With the higher waters, we have not been on the James as of recent, but look for the smallmouth fishing to pick up greatly once the water levels recede back to more normal levels. Musky were HOT before the levels rose, and you can check out our James River Outdoor Co Facebook Page for more pics, videos, and reports.

North and South Forks of the Shenandoah: Harry Murray (540) 984-4212 www.murraysflyshop.com. Harry says that the small mouth streams are too high to fish.

In the Valley stocked streams are full but fishable. Good flies to use are Murray's Black Stonefly, size 12; and Murray's Olive Caddis Pupa, size 14. The water is clear, at normal to full pool and 38 degrees.

The mountain streams are too high to fish.

Lake Moomaw: Contributed by local angler Bill Uzzell. The past several weeks on Lake Moomaw have been tough. And that is probably an understatement. None of the regulars that I have spoken with have caught very much. Most have caught nothing or just a couple small bass. Then at 3:00 p.m. last Saturday, someone rang the dinner bell! In three short hours I managed to catch 12 bass and salvage a pretty rough day. The key was the water temperature finally got close to 45 degrees and a jerkbait. I might add that the jerkbait needed to be a deep runner as opposed to the regular lineup of shallower baits. Hopefully, the weather will improve (snowing now with temperatures in the low 30s) and the fishing will improve this coming weekend. The bass want to stage and break out of their winter doldrums, maybe this will be the week! Noticed some boats trolling for trout but have yet to hear of any consistent success.

Lake Moomaw: Local Guide, Mike Puffenbarger, (540) 468-2682, www.mapletreeoutdoors.com. Check Puff's website for updates on Lake Moomaw fishing action and opportunities for guided boat trips on his steady pontoon craft. Puff invites you to contact him asap as he still has a few spots available for his highly prized "spring turkey-trout combo trips" where you can come on up to the scenic mountains for Spring and enjoy the thrill of listening for gobblers in the mornings, then casting for some whoppers in the warm afternoons. Today he reported they had another 2 inches of wet snow in the Highlands and with the cold weather they are still making maple syrup!!He reports the Lake is full with all the rain and the snow melt runoff has kept the water temps cooler than normal for end of March. If we get a few sunny days by next week the trout bite should pick up along with yellow perch. Another 2 weeks of fair weather and the bass should be “bending the rods doubled over”! Watch in the next editions for grillin’ tips from Puff for fish, fowl and other wild game.

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. No report this edition.

Occoquan Reservoir: Contributed by local angler Jim Thomas. After recent rains the lake is extremely muddy and fishing is nearly non-existent.

Occoquan River: Contributed by local angler Scott Torgerson. I haven't been on the Potomac at Quantico Bay all winter, but have been on the Occoquan River every once and awhile through this cold spell. My buddy John and I headed out this Saturday morning to find the boat launch area almost full ... guess there was a bass tournament going on somewhere! In any case, we weren't looking for the "big mouths"... we were hoping to find some "silver shadows" (a.k.a. American or hickory shad) instead. We headed inside the Route 123 bridge in search of our quarry, but unfortunately we were sadly disappointed. The Occoquan River was still very stained, with extremely limited underwater visibility of only a few inches, and water temperatures only in the 45 to 46 degree range. We did see a couple of small shad caught by other fisherman from the bank and a few herring being brought up and swallowed by cormorants; however, our offerings of multiple colored shad darts, Silver Buddies, and other silver colored spoons were all rebuffed...except for one ugly gizzard shad that I foul hooked later on in the morning. Still it was wonderful being out on the water again, and we know it's just a matter of time (given warmer water and air temperatures) before we'll be fighting plenty of shad on the Occoquan. Take care and good luck folks.

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.

Largemouth Bass: Bass anglers are enjoying a fine early March using three main lures; a suspending jerkbait, the new MISSILE Baits Fuze 4.4 rigged on a shakey head or the new MISSILE Craw rigged Texas style. Anna's largemouth bass should move into spawning coves later this month, seeking out rocks, stumps and docks as the water warms to the magic 60 degree mark. With current water temperatures only in the lower 50s mid lake, 56 at Dike III and in the upper 40s up lake anglers are ready for some warmer weather and water! Suspending jerkbait bite has been hot but will begin to fade as the soft plastic jerkbait bite fires up once water temperatures approach 60 degrees. The shakey worm bite will get even better and you should be able to pitch spinnerbaits, jigs and creaturebaits to up lake grass, rocks and docks. You might even try an oversized swimbait right down the middle of a spawning cove for a big bass. Fishing for bass has been best in the mid lake region but baitfish never left the up lake region, so monitor the upper end and hope for a quick warm up so you can fish shallow.

Striped Bass: Striper are also up lake with the bait. Heavy snow and rain left this region the color of creamed coffee so you need to fish right on the banks. If you want to cast to stripers, try an oversized pearl swimbait to imitate a big gizzard shad. Shallow diving jerkbaits tossed right to the bank are good as are medium running crankbaits. Pulling live 5 to 6 inch gizzard shad rigged with a stinger hook in the tail on planer boards is often productive too, for those that enjoy fishing with live bait. Hot zones are currently just above Stubbs Bridge, above Henry's Point, Harris Pond and around Duck-In-Hole Creek.

Crappie: Anglers are descending on Anna this month in search of the big slabs of early spring. We suggest you target crappie on wood in the mid lake region and grass and docks in the up lake region using a combination of 1 to 2 inch crappie jigs and minnows on slip bobbers. Seek out calm coves or banks out of the north wind that have willow grass in three to 10 feet of water and you should find crappie late this month. Beaver huts tend to get overfished quickly but they do hold fish earlier. A dock with rocks and/or brush underneath or nearby is worth keeping secret this month. The regions above the Holladay Mill Bridge and above Stubbs are traditionally where most of the biggest crappie are caught this month, though there are places mid and down lake where you can target crappie.

Citation Count: McCotter clients have already registered two citation fish; a length citation largemouth caught with Associate Guide John Hutchins and a weight citation crappie with McCotter (both released). So don't wait another day, call or email us to book your trip this spring!

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

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.

ODU Magazine™ launched its website in December 2011 and followed immediately with our first digital fishing magazine. From the beginning, ODU Magazine™ has 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 our 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.

Spring's fishing for many of us is always an adventure. Not only do you have to adapt to the changing weather conditions, you have to figure how those changes are going to affect the fishing. Just recently I had the opportunity to go fishing with Sean Lewis (Twin Lake Outfitters, 434-447-2710) and Terry Monteleone (Picasso Lures, 724-313-8014; www.picassooutdoors.com) on Kerr Lake and Lake Gaston both of which are on the Virginia/North Carolina border. In the period of a few days, we experienced everything from sunny 78 degree weather to high winds, and a torrential down pour to snow and a white out. The water temperature between the two lakes was surprisingly close with temperatures ranging from 44 to 51 degrees. The wind blew so hard every day that we had very little opportunity to fish the main lake, just knowing they were staging just waiting to head back into the creeks for the spring spawn.

As you can tell Mother Nature was not being kind to us this time around and gave us plenty of opportunities to overcome. However, with a little patience, we knew we were going to hopefully persevere, the emphasis in this case being on hopefully. We threw just about everything in our arsenal before we gave up and went back to our tried and true baits that we always resort to when everything else fails. Do you want to take a wild guess what the top three producing baits were? Would you have guessed a ½ oz. Copper/Brown Rat-L-Trap™, ½ oz. Picasso Chartreuse White spinner bait with gold silver willow blades, and the Picasso School-e-Rig? Every one of us just knew we could catch fish with these baits, and guess what? We did!

I guess the moral to this story is be prepared for the unexpected. And when all else fails return to your tried and true time tested baits. Confidence is an amazing thing, without it, you easily get frustrated. With it, you somehow manage to persevere. In this case, you just know that you will catch fish. You may not slay them but to me catching fish is a lot better option than getting skunked.

Larry Thornhill, Editor and Chief
ODU Magazine
North America's Largest 100% Digital Fishing Magazine
http://www.odumagazine.com/
http://www.odumagazine.com/fishingnews/
http://www.odumagazine.com/huntingnews/

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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email your material to
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Winning Outdoor Adventure Stories from Young Writers

Editor's note... For Matt Reilly, a 17-year-old Junior at Fluvanna County High School, his outdoor experiences in nature have had a profound impact on his career aspirations. Matt's article on his most memorable outdoor experience entitled "The Homecoming" won him Second place in the VOWA Bass Pro High School Youth Writing Contest 2011-12 and was featured in the April 25, 2012 edition of the Outdoor Report (OR). Upon receiving his prize of a $150 Bass Pro Gift Card and a selection of outdoor gear, Matt commented, "First, I love to hunt, fish, fly-fish, kayak, hike, camp--anything in the outdoors. Second, I have a strong desire to relate my experiences in the outdoors through the mediums of photography and writing. Matt has followed up on his passion for writing and photographing outdoor adventures and following his winning entry in the VOWA contest, began a submitting feature contributions to Woods & Waters Magazine in February 2012. In June 2012 he landed a weekly column, Adventures Afield, in The Rural Virginian, a multi county weekly newspaper covering the Central Virginia region.

I invited Matt to be my guest at last weekends VOWA and Mason-Dixon Outdoor Writers Association Joint Annual Conference in Staunton. There were many outstanding High School and Collegiate entries this year that were recognized at the conference, that will be featured in the upcoming editions of the OR. As I read several of Matt's recent columns in The Rural Virginian, impressed with his growing talent, I asked permission from the newspaper to re-run Matt's outstanding columns and they were proud to share his writing with a broader readership.

For this edition we wanted to not only recognize the writings of one of the VOWA Writing Competition winners, but also share with you Matt's stories as an example of a success story of the VOWA Competition featuring Matt pursuing his ambition and passion to be a published outdoor writer. As just a Junior in High School, Matt has already accomplished what other noted writers did not achieve until much later in their careers. We hope you will enjoy and be inspired by Matt's columns we will be featuring from time to time in the OR.

Presently Matt plans to attend college, studying fisheries biology and journalism. When not outdoors 'adventuring', Matt is a member of the "Flying Fluco's' soccer team and Blue Ridge Virtual Governor's School. With the spring warming up and the fishing action beginning to heat up with Trout Heritage Weekend April 6th, we think Matt's story of taking his older brother- new to fly fishing- on an adventure to catch 'natives" in the Valley was timely. Hopefully this story will make you want to grab your favorite rod and lure and head for the water with a special person in your life.

Reprinted with permission of The Rural Virginian Adventures Afield by Matt Reilly, February 20, 2013.

An Introduction to the Natives

By Matt Reilly

My brother, Phillip, a newly-born fisherman, was in need of a trout fix. He spent the summer bass fishing, but after receiving a fly rod for Christmas, I introduced him to fly-tying, and a desire for trout arose in him. After several unsuccessful solo attempts at locating stocked trout in a local delayed-harvest system, and even more text-messaged pictures from my brother of feathery creations and stocky native brook trout (borrowed slyly from Google Images), I planned to explore with him the coming weekend a small stream that rises just north of his home.

I met my brother at a local fly shop near the Blue Ridge foothills that Saturday ready to go; and we were on our track north before noon. The day was clear and bright, with a slightly stiff breeze, and we were in no hurry.

Talk of flies, fish, and plans for the spring dominated our conversation. He was tying solo now, his terminology improving, and we talked as two enthusiastic independent students of the same trade.

Soon the river came into view, and we parked at the head of a trail leading up the mountain, through the hollow, and towards the river's origin near the Skyline Drive, amidst a host of fellow trail-goers. Dogs and people alike found recreation around the river near the parking site, so it was decided to hike the trail upstream in search of less-pressured waters.

With the first chance to survey the water, I found it to be at normal pool and crystal clear. Those stretches lined with people surely would be sterilized of willing fish, and I was reassured of our decision to walk.

At the first hole we reached that was well away from people and promising in appearance, I strung my rod and tied on a small hand-tied black CK Nymph. Phillip, also preferring to fish a self-tied imitation, asked my opinion on fly selection, and I gave it to him—a bead-headed, gray nymph.

I managed to illicit one interested follow from one of the rainbow trout that occupy the lower reaches of the river as subordinates to the natives; and no sooner had he lost interest than a family of four with two unleashed dogs arrived, splashed about the pool, and moved further up the trail.

On the next cast, Phillip lost his fly to an overhanging tree on the backcast and had to re-tie. As the careless teacher that I can be, I had failed to introduce the roll cast, which I was naturally using.

So, taking advantage of a rather large pool, I did my best to relate what knowledge I do have of the roll cast and its execution. It's not a skill that was ever formally taught to me, but instead arrived in my hands as one of many products of necessity and imitation of others.

The run we casted to entered the pool cascading over a large boulder and around another. Another boulder framed the plunge, and it was not until I crawled over this rock that I discovered the depth of the eddy that I had been probing from the tail, which brought up another important teaching point.

It's important to know the sinking rate of your fly and manage it for the depth of the fish. In a rather deep cut, with a passing current and a deep rock ledge, a heavy, fast-sinking fly is vital in reaching fish hugging the streambed. I changed flies.

An hour later and still fishless, I retired temporarily, crunching an apple and manning the camera while coaching Phillip in fly placement and possible fish haunts. Only practiced in bass fishing, he wasn't used to the stealth involved with native trout, and I stressed concealment from a hidden vantage point.

Still fishless, and with dusk approaching, we headed back down the trail, quickly fishing any pools that looked promising that we had hiked past.

In one such, I found a nice run, too deep for the un-weighted nymph that I had tied on. Quickly changing to a beaded nymph, and using a handy boulder as cover, I swung the fly a few times through promising water. After several drifts, my fly line hesitated; I raised my rod, and out came a native brookie of a humorous size, fitting for an osprey chick's meal.

Rather unsuccessful from a traditional standpoint, our outing in search of close-to-home natives ended with four inches as the total length of fish caught. Nevertheless, for a first trip to the river, a first trout of the year, and a chance to introduce Phillip to the sport of chasing these natives, I found success in our shortcomings, and promise for the future.

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 were recognized at the joint Mason Dixon & Virginia Outdoor Writers Association Joint Annual Conference on March 16 in Staunton.

Bass Pro Shops cosponsors the High School contest, and provides 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 received cash prizes provided by Collegiate Contest co-sponsor Dominion. This year a special new cash award was initiated that includes publication by the Cooperative Living Magazine staff for the best Collegiate entry about the Virginia outdoors. A complete feature on the 2012-13 Competition winners will be posted in the April 10, 2013 edition of the OR.

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

In upcoming editions of the Outdoor Report, look for: