In this edition:

Celebrate Freedom Responsibly

This June 26th edition of the Outdoor Report posts just after Fathers Day and just before the 4th of July Independence Day holiday. These two holidays have special meaning to all of us who enjoy and appreciate our rich outdoor traditions of hunting, fishing, boating, and seeking adventure and inspiration in our wonderful wild places. We have some great stories of families sharing outdoor adventures that may give you some ideas for future summer outings. As we prepare to celebrate our Nation's birth of freedom July 4th, remember that with freedom also comes responsibility. Do your part to ensure our freedom to pursue our great outdoor traditions is not jeopardized by irresponsible actions of a few.

Safety and courtesy are free, use them generously as you share the outdoors with others. Our Conservation Police Officers will be concentrating efforts to enforce Boating Under the Influence (BUI) to protect responsible boaters and anglers from those who act irresponsibly and break the law. Remember they are there to protect your freedom to enjoy the outdoors - support them in their important work by setting a good example and seeing that others around you do their share to enjoy the outdoors safely and responsibly.

David Coffman, Editor

Carol Tarkowski poses with her first gobbler while hunting with her husband Jonothan who had recently returned from deployment in Afghanistan. More and more young couples are discovering the joys of creating great memories while hunting and fishing together and sharing the passion for these new family traditions, for it is vital to the passing on our outdoor heritage to a new generation. It is especially significant for this 'together' time for couples like Carol and Jonathan after the months of deployment in the service of our Nation to protect our freedoms. To all our military families as we celebrate the July 4th Independence Day Holiday we send a very special THANK YOU for your service, your courage and your sacrifice. DC

New 2013-14 Hunting & Trapping in Virginia Digest Available on Website July 1st

VDGIF will be uploading the new 2013-14 Hunting and Trapping in Virginia - Digest on the VDGIF website by July 1st. The digest contains information on the 2013-14 seasons and bag limits and new regulation changes passed by the Board of Game & Inland Fisheries at the June 13th Board meeting. The printed version of the digest will be available by August 1. An overall summary of the changes is found at the beginning of the digest on page eight, "What's New" and will be highlighted in more detail in the next edition of the Outdoor Report. This year's hunting seasons overall will be very similar to last year. One new change that is sure to be popular with sportsmen is hunters of any age with an Apprentice License can participate in the special youth days for deer, turkey and the newly established bear youth and apprentice hunter day. The ten-hour Hunter Education Course has been replaced with a new format with a self-study requirement for students, followed by six hours of classroom instruction. The new course should allow students more flexibility in scheduling and will focus on safety, hunting ethics and conservation. Hunters interested in applying for the early Quota hunts, such as New Kent Forestry Center dove hunt, Radford deer hunts, Hog Island deer hunt and others should print off, complete, and mail in the quota applications found on pages 67-69 so not to miss the early application deadlines.

Operation Dry Water


Increased BUI Enforcement
June 28-30, 2013

Never Boat Under the Influence!

Virginia boaters, take note that June 28th-30th, Conservation Police Officers with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) will be patrolling Virginia's waterways looking for boat operators with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher. Boating Under the Influence (BUI) is dangerous. Nationwide, over 17% of boating-related fatalities are a result of alcohol use. Sun, wind, noise, vibration and motion intensify the effects of alcohol, drugs and some medications. They can slow reaction times, impair vision and lead to boating accidents. In Virginia, operating a boat with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher is illegal. Penalties may include fines, jail, impoundment of boats, and loss of boating privileges. Curbing the number of alcohol and drug-related accidents and fatalities is key to achieving a safer and more enjoyable environment for recreational boating.

For more information on Operation Dry Water, visit

Wild Events You Don't Want to Miss

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. In May, Kid's Fishing Day events are scheduled in the counties of Wythe, Russell, Washington, Smyth, Pr. William, Craig, Floyd, Grayson and Buchanan!! Click on link for details. 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!"

Virginia State Parks and Outdoor Nation to Host National Outdoor Summits June-August at 3 State Parks

Virginia State Parks in partnership with Outdoor Nation, the millennial-led movement championing the outdoors, will host three youth summits this summer where millennial leaders will connect with local peers to identify regional outdoor issues, develop strategies and receive leadership training. The three-day Outdoor Nation Summits will gather more than 100 attendees. Participants must be between the ages of 18 and 28. "Millennials" is a term generally used to describe young people born between 1980 and the late 1990s. The summits are being held in partnership with America's State Parks Foundation's Ambassador Program and Outdoor Nation. Summits will take place at Natural Tunnel State Park in Duffield June 7-9, First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach July 12-14 and Pocahontas State Park in Chesterfield August 1-3. During the Pocahontas State Park event, summit participants will be invited to work with the nonprofit Virginia Museum of Radio Entertainment during a performance by Dark Star Orchestra, Saturday, August 3. There is no cost for participants to attend the Outdoor Nation Summits – food and materials will be provided. Participants are responsible for their travel to and from the event. Campsites are available for summit participants, but they will need to bring a tent, sleeping bag and personal items. Tents can be provided upon request. To register for a summit, visit For more information visit,, or

FOX-Family Outdoor Experience Set for Holiday Lake June 28-30

Bring the family and join us for a weekend of wilderness discovery at Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center located at 1267 4-H Camp Rd. Appomattox, VA 24522. Our Family Outdoor Experience -- FOX weekend is scheduled for June 28-30 and will include classes in Animal Tracking, Archery, Camouflage, Canoeing, High Ropes Challenge/Climbing Tower, Hiking, Kayaking, Map and Compass, Outdoor First Aid, Riflery, Shotgun, Wild Edibles and Wilderness survival. For more information or to register visit or call Kelsey Duncan at 434-248-5444.

Ducks Unlimited Family Sporting & Conservation Day at VA Beach June 29

The Virginia Beach Chapter of Ducks Unlimited is hosting a DU Family Sporting & Conservation Day for kids (Greenwings) and their families on June 29th, at the NAS Oceana Skeet & Trap Range in Virginia Beach. The event is from 10 AM - 1 PM and tickets are $25/Adult and $15/Child under 15. The ticket price includes a one (1) year DU membership or membership renewal, Lunch, and one (1) Free Round of Skeet. Outdoor activities include Skeet & Trap Shooting (bring your own gun and ammo, but the round is free), Archery Range Shooting, Competitive BB Gun Shooting Range, DGIF Law Enforcement K9 Demonstration, Conservation Education, games and prizes. Tickets can be purchased online. For additional information call John Lipscomb at 757-434-7510 or Lynn Hightower at 757-286-3092.

The Arthropods of the Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve - Overt and Covert

Join the Friends of Dyke Marsh and the Georgetown Center for the Environment for an arthropod adventure on Saturday, July 27, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. to see many interesting arthropods other biota. There are over 6,000 known arthropods in Dyke Marsh. Arthropods are invertebrate animals with an external, jointed skeleton, usually known as a carapace. This phylum includes insects, crustaceans, centipedes, millipedes, spiders, scorpions and horseshoe crabs.

Dr. Edd Barrows, Insect Ecologist, Professor of Biology and Director of the Center for the Environment at Georgetown University, will lead a walk and introduce us to many of the natural wonders in the Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve that we often overlook. Meet at Haul Road entrance.

Dress for the weather.  The walk will take place unless there is heavy rain or thunderstorms.  Information: and

30th Annual Sportsman Show Returns to Richmond Raceway Complex August 9-11

The 30th Annual Virginia Outdoor Sportsman's Show features a lot of new, exciting exhibits and demonstrations this year returning to the Richmond Raceway Complex! There's plenty of parking, more space for the 350 fun and exciting new exhibits, demonstrations and seminars- something for everyone in the family. The show has expanded into a third building- The Green Top Pavilion which will include an archery range sponsored by Parker Bows, decoy exhibit and contest, VDGIF K9 teams and much more.  Experienced and novice sportsmen and sportswomen can try the latest in new equipment and learn about new places and techniques to enjoy Virginia's great outdoors. At the three-day show August 9-11, Conservation Police Officers and Wildlife Biologists will be on hand to answer all your hunting, fishing and wildlife information questions. DMV Direct van will be on-site so you can conveniently purchase your hunting and fishing licenses, or the new 2014 Virginia Wildlife Calendar, even title a boat or other DMV business. Pick up your free copy of the new 2013-2014 Hunting Regulations & Information booklet that features descriptions of new regulations and opportunities to enhance your hunting experience this season. The new Wildlife K 9 Team will be there to demonstrate their unique skills assisting officers in wildlife investigations and search and rescue.

Hunting SAFELY & RESPONSIBLY is always foremost when afield. Hunter Education Instructors will have exhibits and demonstrations on safe firearms handling, tree stand use, waterfowl hunting and safety reminders for both experienced and novice hunters. This is your chance to see the biggest bucks harvested in Virginia. Deer hunters throughout Virginia will bring their mounts to this prestigious contest, organized by the Virginia Deer Hunters Association (VDHA). The Virginia Open Turkey Calling Championship will be held on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. sanctioned by the National Wild Turkey Federation. Celebrity guests include Pat & Nicole Jones Reeve of Driven TV and Co-Hosts of Inside Outdoors TV Dave Poteat & Tim Anello! Also, Lizard Lick Towing will be on hand Saturday & Sunday only, don't miss out!

Show Manager and Founder Hugh Crittenden notes he is giving away a special door prize- a 6-day pre-rut Kansas Bow Hunt valued at $2950 with Midwest Finest Whitetails! You must come to the Show to enter. Check the Show's website for information and to view videos on numerous seminars, exhibits, demonstrations, sportsmen celebrities, and contests.

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

Flat Out Catfish Workshops on the James River July 11 & August 6

Would you like to learn the secrets of catching Flathead Catfish on the James River? Join DGIF Angling Education and Captain Mike Ostrander for a day of instruction and fishing on the James River at Pony Pasture in Richmond. Workshop involves wading in the river and terrain can be challenging. Tackle, bait and lunch is provided. For ages 16 and older. To register or for questions, contact Chris Dunnavant by email,, or by phone, 804-283-7327. Registration Fee: $40 - register today, space is limited! Workshop dates: Flat Out Catfish I, Thursday, July 11 and Flat Out Catfish II, Tuesday, August 6, times are 8am – 4pm.

Hunter Skills Weekend at Holiday Lake August 23-25

This unique program open to ages 11-90+ 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, game processing, bow fishing 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 and is held at the 4-H Center near Appomattox.  Registration is open until August 9, 2013 and the cost is $120.00 (meals and lodging included); a discounted fee is available before August 2, 2013. Completion of a Hunter Education course is preferred but not required; children under 18 must attend with a parent. For more information visit, call Holiday Lake at (434) 248-5444 or e-mail

Ed's Virginia Outdoor Blog Report

Editor's note... With the increasing popularity of blogs and other social media in outdoor communications, Virginia blogger Ed Felker offered to share his blog and those of fellow bloggers with our readers in the Outdoor Report. Ed is a graphic designer, writer, photographer, artist and outdoorsman. A native Virginian, Ed can most often be found near his studio overlooking the Potomac River, usually with a camera, often with a fly rod, always with a dog. In his blog, "Dispatches from the Potomac," he writes about fly fishing, hunting, hiking, kayaking, photography and simply enjoying the outdoors. Ed serves on the Board of Directors for the Mason-Dixon Outdoor Writers Association and lives in Loudoun County with his wife and many, many animals.

Do you know where this waterfall is?

No doubt many of you identified this as the upper falls of White Oak Canyon, part of a very popular hiking trail inside the Shenandoah National Park. The falls, a nearly 90-foot drop, are a thing of beauty any time of the year. It's one of my favorite areas to hike, and there are some beautiful brook trout to be caught in these waters as well. On Father's Day, though, I opted to leave the fly rod at home and bring the dogs instead. Read more in Happy Father's Day on Dispatches from the Potomac.

Elsewhere in the Virginia outdoor blogosphere...

In western Loudoun County, I heard a handful of cicadas but never even saw one. I was disappointed because it is such a fascinating natural phenomenon. If your area failed to deliver cicadas too, you might enjoy seeing them through the lens of Stephen Tabone in Cicadas! Were Here, Mostly Gone Now, and Return in 17 Years.

The main reason I was looking forward to cicadas this summer is I've heard that smallmouth bass and even carp love 'em! I've been trying to catch a carp on a fly rod, and some friends even tied up a few cicada flies for me. Did I miss the action? Mark Taylor wonders, Is there still time for carp on cicada flies? on The Wild Life.

Speaking of fishing I want to do and haven't done, I've encountered several outdoor bloggers who explore the Virginia Beach area with kayaks and fishing rods. I hope to weasel my way into an invitation to come down there and throw a fly or two, but in the meantime, Nomad's Kayak Fishing Odysseys reviews a helpful guide to some VA Beach water, and shares his experiences and photos in Exploring Virginia Beach Back Waters.

Do you write about outdoor life in Virginia? Send your fishing, hunting, hiking, photography or other outdoor blog to Ed at, and your blog may be featured in an upcoming Virginia Outdoor Blog Report!

People and Partners in the News

Captain John M. Hutchens Receives National Law Enforcement Award

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) is proud to announce Conservation Police Captain John M. Hutchens has been named as the 2013 recipient of the Guy Bradley Award. Presented by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Guy Bradley Award is presented to one state agency and one federal agency officer "...whose dedication and public service to protecting the nation's natural resources demonstrates outstanding leadership, excellence in implementation, knowledge, and a lifetime commitment to the field of wildlife law enforcement, and whose actions have advanced the cause of wildlife conservation". This prestigious lifetime achievement award is given in the spirit of Guy Bradley, the first wildlife law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty while protecting the nation's wildlife in 1905. Captain Hutchens was formally recognized during the June V DGIF Board Meeting by Director Bob Duncan for this great achievement.

Hutchens joined the department in 1972 and was assigned to Greene County as a Game Warden. After being promoted to Sergeant, Hutchens was given the opportunity to become involved in covert operations involving illegal wildlife and fish sales in 1980. Due to the success of the operation, DGIF created a formal Special Operations Unit which focused primarily on the unlawful commercialization of wildlife. In 1983, Hutchens was named as supervisor of that unit and remains in that position to this day. In the 30 years since, Hutchens' leadership of the Special Operations Unit has led to the successful arrest and prosecution of numerous poachers involved in everything from the illegal sale of rockfish and the illegal sale of black bear gallbladders to the illegal importation of dangerous animals into the Commonwealth. In addition to the myriad wildlife related offenses observed by Hutchens in his covert career, he has been exposed to stolen automobiles, stolen guns, automatic weapons, explosives, stolen appliances, illegal whiskey, prostitution, illegal gambling, arson, and illegal drugs. It quickly became apparent to Hutchens that most hardcore wildlife violators were also involved in other illicit activities and his investigations often branched out to allow other state law enforcement agencies to curtail other crimes with his information and assistance.

For the majority of his life, Captain Hutchens has faithfully served the citizens of the Commonwealth by putting his life on the line and infiltrating groups of some very hardcore poaching rings. Due to his more than 30 years covert status, he has never been publically acknowledged for his contributions and has remained quietly in the background, content that he has made a difference for Virginia's wildlife. Hutchens is still as passionate about wildlife law enforcement today as he was 41 years ago when he began his career. The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is honored that Captain Hutchens' selfless dedication and lifetime contributions to the wildlife law enforcement field have been nationally recognized with his presentation of the 2013 Guy Bradley Award.

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 75th anniversary of the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program (WSFR), we are featuring VDGIF partner organizations that support our Mission in each edition of the Outdoor Report. WSFR is one of the most significant and successful partnership approaches to fish and wildlife conservation in U.S. history. The WSFR is a milestone program that brings together federal and state fish and wildlife agencies; the hunting, shooting, angling, and boating industries; and conservation groups to create a successful partnership that has led to quality wildlife-related outdoor opportunities. Through fostering and maintaining these partnerships, conservation and outdoor recreation will continue to future generations of outdoor enthusiasts.

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."

Archery Instructor Course Held for Kingsboro Bowmen

A Universal Basic Archery Instructors' Course was conducted on 9 February, 2013 for the Kingsboro Bowmen Archery club at their facilities located in Suffolk, Virginia. The course was attended by six members of the club, Wilt Baker, Justin M. Elam, Matt Nixon, Bryan F. Poovey, Jon Robertson and James A. Willman. Course Instructor Jerry Wenzel noted, "It may seem unusual that experienced and accomplished archers would want to take the Basic Archery instructors course. And, indeed some of the material presented was, well, basic. But, there is a reason. Having an instructor certification provides benefits to both the instructors and their organization, including some insurance coverage. The Basic Course is the least expensive and time consuming way to become certified, so it is the way some choose to become certified. Both NFAA and USAA insurance covers certified instructors and coaches for sanctioned archery instruction. Certification also provides credentials that are understood and respected by several groups such as the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, 4H, and Youth Groups that may be recipients of archery instruction by the newly certified instructors."

Since those attending the course were experienced archers, they were able to grasp the material rapidly, allowing time to present more advanced supplemental material. This is how my wife and I try to present the Basic Course to more experienced archers. The basic material must be covered for certification, but since the time allows, we try to cover as much advanced material as we can.

For other VBA clubs who may wish to certify instructors for their clubs, there are NFAA Advanced Certified Instructors and Master Coaches as well as USAA advanced level instructors/coaches in VBA willing to work with you.  If you want more information, you can contact Instructor Jerry Wenzel by email at

For further information about the VBA regarding our archery and bowhunting classes, our clubs and their locations, what the VBA does for the Archery's and Bowhunters in Virginia,  working with the VDGIF on their hunting issues and and/or volunteers, go to  You may also contact the VBA, Publicity Director, at

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

Editor's note... The future of our hunting and fishing heritage and traditions is in the hands of the sportsmen that take the time to mentor new outdoor enthusiasts- 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. The following is an example of sportsmen organizations, businesses and VDGIF staff and volunteers parting to provide exciting, educational and fun opportunities for getting anglers and 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

Trout in the Classroom Grows to Reach Students in Over 200 Classrooms

Students from all over Virginia released fingerling trout during March, April, May, and June. The trout were raised through the Trout In the Classroom (TIC) program. Chuck Hoysa, TIC Coordinator explains, "TIC is a cold water conservation education program sponsored by Virginia Chapters of Trout Unlimited and VDGIF. Students receive trout eggs in October and observe the hatching process, then raise the fish until spring time releases in VDGIF approved streams. Students from elementary grades through high school participate in the program. This last year, TIC had tanks in over 200 classrooms in Virginia."

Raising trout takes some specialized equipment. Most schools use 50 gallon aquariums, but unlike tropical fish aquariums which often use heating elements to keep the water warm, TIC tanks use specialized chilling units to keep the water about 50 degrees.

During the school year, students feed their fish, clean the tanks, conduct regular water testing, and learn about the environmental needs of trout. TIC also connects students to their local environment and local watersheds. For many students, attending a trout release is their first visit to a cold water stream, and for some, it is their first time viewing the mountains in Virginia. Teachers incorporate TIC across the curriculum with trout related activities in reading, writing, art, and math. Though next year's eggs won't be delivered until October, plans are already under way as equipment is cleaned up and inventoried for next year. For information on TIC or how your school can participate contact:

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.

National Dove Hunter Survey Announced

Virginia dove hunters will be asked to participate in a nationwide survey this summer. The National Dove Hunter Survey will ask dove hunters to share their experiences and opinions about dove hunting. The survey is a cooperative effort by the many state fish and wildlife agencies, all four flyway councils, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Objectives of the survey include learning about dove hunter characteristics: time spent hunting, perceived constraints to hunting, and thoughts about potential effects of spent lead from hunting ammunition on mourning doves and other wildlife.

The National Dove Hunter Survey is scheduled to be mailed out in late June, and will be compiled by the end of 2013. The survey is being undertaken because many issues and concerns of dove hunters are largely unknown. The survey will help state and federal agencies make more informed decisions on issues important to hunters.

"Nationally, there are more than one million dove hunters in the United States. This survey will encompass all regions of the country and will give us an excellent picture of hunter opinions and needs," says Dr. Ken Richkus of the Service's Population and Habitat Assessment Branch. "The Service and the states want to make sure we use the best science-based information for the management and conservation of our migratory bird resources and take hunter opinions and preferences into account whenever possible."

More information about the survey, including a "Frequently Asked Questions" page can be found on our website.

New 2013-14 Hunting & Trapping in Virginia Digest Available on Website July 1st

VDGIF will be uploading the new 2013-14 Hunting and Trapping in Virginia - Digest on the VDGIF website by July 1st. The digest contains information on the 2013-14 seasons and bag limits and new regulation changes passed by the Board of Game & Inland Fisheries at the June 13th Board meeting. The printed version of the digest will be available by August 1. An overall summary of the changes is found at the beginning of the digest on page eight, "What's New" and will be highlighted in more detail in the next edition of the Outdoor Report. This year's hunting seasons overall will be very similar to last year. One new change that is sure to be popular with sportsmen is hunters of any age with an Apprentice License can participate in the special youth days for deer, turkey and the newly established bear youth and apprentice hunter day. The ten-hour Hunter Education Course has been replaced with a new format with a self-study requirement for students, followed by six hours of classroom instruction. The new course should allow students more flexibility in scheduling and will focus on safety, hunting ethics and conservation. Hunters interested in applying for the early Quota hunts, such as New Kent Forestry Center dove hunt, Radford deer hunts, Hog Island deer hunt and others should print off, complete, and mail in the quota applications found on pages 67-69 so not to miss the early application deadlines.

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 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

Carol Tarkowski's First Gobbler a "Tree Top" Experience

Carol Tarkowski sent us this unique story about her first two turkey hunting adventures with her husband Jonothan...

Last year when my husband, Jonothan, returned from deployment in Afghanistan we went to visit his family in Oklahoma and to go turkey hunting in Kansas. It was my first time hunting turkey and I was anxious, excited and not quite sure what to expect. Growing up in Western Maryland, I am no stranger to hunting and fishing and being outdoors, I have just never been to the mid-west or hunted turkey.

On our first morning out, the weather was beautiful so we got set up and waited. Not long after daylight a coyote came up and stood not twenty feet away just watching us. It was so amazing I couldn't bring myself to do anything but watch it in awe. Within minutes of it running off, my first turkeys came into view. Keeping in mind what my husband taught me, I stayed as still as possible until they were close enough to shoot. Unfortunately, I hesitated and when I did shoot I missed – twice!! It was frustrating, but we went out two more days and I still didn't take a bird, though my husband tagged out. I told him wait until next year!

This spring season we decided to hunt close to home and found a guide, Muddy Bottom Outfitters, nearly four hours away from us on the Eastern Shore. We made arrangements and set out in my quest for my first turkey. The weather was cool but sunny, a great day to hunt. We set up and waited. This trip produced no bird for either of us and I was beginning to get very frustrated. The guide offered us to return and we did, Mother's Day weekend.

On Saturday morning we left the house around 12:30AM and headed down the road. It had rained hard most of the night and was still lightly coming down that morning, but I was excited and determined that this was going to finally be my day. We met our guide, Chris, and headed out to one of his leased farms. Just after daylight we heard a few Tom's gobbling on the roost to answer a rooster calling off in the distance. The birds would gobble every few minutes or so, which is one of my favorite things about turkey hunting. As it got a little lighter, I heard a rustle near me and saw an opossum trying to crawl up beside me thinking I was a tree stump. Chris decided it was time to move in closer to the birds in hopes of catching them flying down. There was ridge behind us and we wanted to make sure to see which side of it the birds went once they hit the ground. It was well after 7:30AM and the birds were still vocal, but not on the ground yet. We moved even closer to where we heard them hoping to catch sight of them still on the roost. As we began to look into the tops of the pine trees I saw the most beautiful tom in full strut on a tree limb with a hen sitting in the tree with him. I had never seen anything like that, not even on any hunting shows. While watching, we heard another bird again and suddenly the hen took off and flew from one tree to another that had a second Tom roosted in the tops. The hen kept flying back and forth between the two toms as we sat about forty yards away and watched for what seemed like hours. It was finally decided around 8:30AM if I was going to get my turkey I was going to have to take the shot while it was in the tree. That moment is one I'll never forget; I focused on my target, took one long breath, let it out slowly and pulled the trigger. I saw the bird falling and was so excited when Chris took off running and my husband followed him saying "you got it". There were feathers everywhere but I had my first turkey.

When we got the bird back to the truck we measured it and found it to have a 10 and 1/4 inch beard and one and a half inch spurs. I laughed and said Happy Mother's Day to me! We are mounting the fan next to one of my husband's and I am anxiously waiting for a return trip to Kansas so I can get my Rio and for deer season to come around - my bucket list also has a Mule deer on it!

Editor's note... I met Carol and Jonathan at the C&E Nation's Gun Show in Chantilly last month and as we were "talking turkey" she related the stories of her hunts with her husband and what special experiences they were as they could share time together in the great outdoors. I am meeting more and more young couples that are discovering the joys and memories of hunting and fishing together and sharing the passion for this new family tradition, for it is vital to the passing on to a new generation. It is especially significant for this 'together' time for couples like Carol and Jonathan after the months of deployment in the service of our Nation to protect our freedoms. To all our military families as we celebrate the July 4th Independence Day Holiday we send a very special THANK YOU for your service, your courage and your sacrifice. DC

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

Elk Restoration Update

ONE YEAR AGO... Elk Release in Buchanan County Made History when 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 placing them 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.

June 2013 Update: Allen Boynton, VDGIF Terrestrial Wildlife Biologist Manager for Region 3 – Southwest notes that, "The transport and release of ten elk – 8 yearling bulls and two pregnant cows was successful with the elk being released from the acclimation corral June 6th. The elk already released are all alive and within 3-miles of the release site in Buchanan County.

The 5 resident bulls from last years group shed their antlers in April and have begun growing them back (see photos). Most of the adult cows separated from the herd and gone into seclusion to calve. We will report on the number of calves in the next Outdoor Report.

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

For more information on elk restoration in Virginia:

The Virginia Quail Team is on Facebook

The Virginia Quail Team is on Facebook! Like us at . 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."

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."

Webpage Developed to Update Virginia Wild Turkey Management Plan

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

Update as of June 2013

The Wild Turkey Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) gathered for its third meeting on June 6, 2013, in Verona, VA. Before this meeting convened, SAC members drafted preliminary goals for consideration in the proposed management plan; these goals considered the suite of values expressed by stakeholders during earlier public involvement efforts. The Wild Turkey Technical Committee, composed of DGIF technical staff with turkey expertise, met on May 30, 2013, to review these goals and offer suggestions for clarification and consistency with DGIF policies. The Technical Committee also developed draft management objectives and potential strategies that would achieve the goals and objectives.

At its third meeting, SAC members reviewed, discussed, and ultimately approved a set of broad management goals for inclusion in the draft Wild Turkey Management Plan. In addition, members discussed and evaluated the draft objectives and potential strategies created by the Wild Turkey Technical Committee; SAC members offered additional potential strategies for consideration in the plan.

Currently, the Wild Turkey Technical Committee is incorporating SAC input into a draft for final review by the SAC. The draft plan will be released for broader public review in July; copies of the draft plan will be available for review via the VDGIF Turkey Plan webpage, and other media outlets (e.g., press release, VDGIF Outdoor Report). Public comments will be solicited in public meetings to be held at various locations around Virginia, and via the VDGIF website once the plan is ready for review. Please continue to monitor the VDGIF Turkey Plan webpage for future updates, including dates and locations of public meetings. The goal is to have a finished 10-year Wild Turkey Management Plan available for consideration by the DGIF Board of Directors sometime during the fall, 2013.

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!


Increased BUI Enforcement
June 28-30, 2013

Never Boat Under the Influence!

Virginia boaters, take note that June 28th-30th, Conservation Police Officers with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) will be patrolling Virginia's waterways looking for boat operators with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher. Boating Under the Influence (BUI) is dangerous. Nationwide, over 17% of boating-related fatalities are a result of alcohol use. Sun, wind, noise, vibration and motion intensify the effects of alcohol, drugs and some medications. They can slow reaction times, impair vision and lead to boating accidents. In Virginia, operating a boat with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher is illegal. Penalties may include fines, jail, impoundment of boats, and loss of boating privileges. Curbing the number of alcohol and drug-related accidents and fatalities is key to achieving a safer and more enjoyable environment for recreational boating.

For more information on Operation Dry Water, visit

Paddling Class Available Online

VDGIF Boating Safety Education Coordinator Stacey Brown notes that one of Virginia's boating education partners is offering a free online paddling class for people who kayak, canoe, or enjoy stand up paddleboard. Whether you are new to paddle sports or are a veteran, this course provides important skills for being safe on Virginia's waters!

Be Aware of Lyme Disease and Prevent Tick Bites

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

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

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!

Does Your Life Jacket Really Fit?

How do you know if a life jacket really fits you? First, check the label to make sure the life jacket is U.S. Coast Guard approved wearable. Life jackets (or PFDs) come in a couple of basic sizes: infant, child, and adult. Within those basic sizes, there will be a range (Small, Medium, Large, etc.). The label will indicate the basic size and the size range, which will include a weight range and usually also a chest size range. After you check the label, make sure you move on to the second step, try it on!

Before every boating season, try on your life jacket. Make sure that it fits correctly. What does a correct fit mean? It should be snug, but not tight. Lift your arms over your head, can you turn your head left, right, and over your shoulder or has the life jacket ridden up and in the way of moving your head? For a child, have them stand with their arms to their sides. Lift the life jacket up by the shoulders. The life jacket should not move more than 3 inches, no higher that the child's ears. If the life jacket does move up more than 3 inches, it is too big and the child can slip right out - get a smaller life jacket! A younger child's life jacket should also include a crotch strap - this will help insure the life jacket stays on. Finally, practice using the life jacket in shallow water. Make sure it is snug enough to stay put and not ride up over the chin and ears when in shallow water. Have children practice in shallow water with their life jacket so they don't panic in case of emergency. Check out this informational video about properly fitting a child's life jacket.

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

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

"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.

Snakes Alive! Leave Snakes Alone

Snakes have been the focal point of folklore for centuries. The word "snake" itself often yields a strong emotional response ranging from awe and wonder to shock or fear. These individual responses originate from the diverse values people associate with snakes. While some people find them fascinating, others are not very fond of snakes because they do not appear and behave like any other animals we know. Additionally, there are numerous deeply rooted tales and myths about the extraordinary powers and abilities of snakes. Regardless of the source of our response, misconceptions about snakes have made them among the most feared and misunderstood of all animals. Once we begin to learn more about snakes, our misconceptions usually fade with the facts and our fears give way to curiosity.

There are many different control strategies for dealing with snakes, whether in a residence, a business setting or other occupied space. Regardless of why a snake may have entered a residence or work area, most people just want to know how to remove it. How-to information and literature on dealing with snakes is available from different sources. Under Virginia law, snakes are classified as a non-game species and are afforded protection under non-game regulations. While killing snakes is not a permitted activity, they can be taken (along with certain other species of wildlife) when classified as a "Nuisance species" (29.1-100); when found committing or about to commit depredation upon agricultural or property damage, or when concentrated in numbers and manners to constitute a health hazard or other nuisance. For example, if a blacksnake is found in your chicken coop, you have the legal right to kill it; or if a copperhead is found in your garage, you have the legal right to kill it. Basically what this means is that, for example, if a snake crawls into a chicken coop or into someone's house, the individual is allowed to take some action to protect livestock or family.

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF), along with many other governmental, nongovernmental agencies and private citizens, has worked diligently to dispel the belief that "the only good snake is a dead snake." Snakes play a valuable role in nature and help control insects and rodents that damage crops and carry diseases harmful to humans. Millions of dollars in crop damage is avoided every year as a result of the free pest control service that many snakes provide. In order to help citizens better understand the ecological value of snakes and identify snakes in their areas, the Department has developed "A Guide to the Snakes of Virginia". This publication covers many interesting facts regarding Virginia's snakes including their contributions to the ecosystem. This publication is available for purchase at

If you do encounter a snake in the woods, simply leave it alone, it'll get out of your way or you can walk around it. SNAKES DO NOT CHASE PEOPLE. Here are a few tips to avoid the possibility of being bitten when hiking in the woods"

  1. Stay on the trail.
  2. Watch where you place your hands and feet, and where you sit down.
  3. Do not attempt to capture snakes.

Nuisance & Problem Wildlife

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

Notes for Young Nature Explorers

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

Virginia Naturally Website Link to School Environmental Learning Programs

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

Nature Observations from the Virginia Wildlife Calendar

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

Answers to June 12th edition quiz for nature events for early June...

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...

CPOs Host Firearms Safety Program for Wal-Mart Sporting Goods Associates in four states... On June 11 and 12, 2013 Senior Conservation Police Officer Randy Hurst and Conservation Police Officer Jason Harris conducted a firearms safety program for Wal-Mart sporting goods associates. The program brought in associates from a four state area that included Virginia, North Carolina, West Virginia and Maryland. The associates were divided into two groups with one dealing with training while the other met with vendors of the sporting goods industry. Officer Hurst handled the training duties on the first day and Officer Harris conducted the training on the second day. The training that Officer Hurst and Officer Harris presented was videotaped and will be mandatory for all new hires working in the sporting goods department.

Region I - Tidewater

CPOs Provide Security for Triathlon... On June 2, 2013, Conservation Police Sergeants Paul Atkins and Rich Goszka provided security for swimmers at the annual Naylor's Beach Triathlon. The sergeants utilized a marked patrol boat to patrol the triathlon swimming area keeping boat traffic from entering the area.

CPO Carries the Torch... On June 6, 2013, Conservation Police Officer Josh Jackson represented the agency on his own time at the Special Olympics Torch Run in Colonial Beach, Westmoreland County. Josh carried the torch during the last leg of the mile long run.

Region III - Southwest

Courtesy Boat Checks on Claytor Lake Promote Safety and Good Public Relations... On June 8, 2013 Conservation Police Officers Francis Miano, Lee Wensel, Gene Wirt, Jay Dowdy, Sergeant Charlie Mullins, Sergeant Roland Cox and Captain Clark Green conducted courtesy boat safety equipment checks at the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries public Boat landing at Hidden Valley on Claytor Lake. During the 8 hour operation, over sixty boaters had their equipment checked for compliance. The voluntary checks were well received. That evening, District 31and 33 Conservation Police Officers assisted Claytor Lake State Park with the Annual Claytor Lake State Park Festival. Conservation Police Officers David Peake, Mark Brewer, Jay Dowdy, Gene Wirt, Larry Walls, Ricky Salyers, Lee Wensel, and Sergeant Charlie Mullins patrolled the area around the park beach where a fireworks display was given. The officers were given the task of keeping all boaters 600 feet away from the barge where the fireworks were deployed. The event went safely and the officers detected few violations.

Kids Fishing Day at Crooked Creek... On June 8, 2013 Senior Conservation Police Officer Randy Hurst conducted a Kids Fishing Day at Crooked Creek Fee Fishing Area. Forty kids were in attendance for the annual event. Other Department employees assisting with the event were Bureau employee Jonathan Howard, Sergeant Rolland Cox, and Senior K9 Officer Wes Billings and K9 Josie. Door prizes were provided by Walmart of Galax and Maurice Sporting Goods. The event was a success as represented by all of the smiling faces even with high water from recent rains.

K9 Team

CPOs Support Kids Fishing Day at Sandy Point State Forest... Sergeant Gary Horner, Virginia State Police Tactical Operations Unit sent in these complements on a recent Kids Fishing Day. "To: Col. Dee Watts, I want to bring to your attention the outstanding job that Sgt. Paul Akins, K9 Officer Frank Spuchesi and Comet and Officer Greg Hall did during the Kids Fishing Day June 9th at Sandy Point State Forest in King William. This was the first event of this type that I have attended and I do not know of another like it in the 10 years I have lived in King William. This opportunity provided a great day of fun for the children and it provided my 7 year old daughter Anya her first fish! I just want to take this time to thank you for allowing these types of events to be held and having helpful and professional officers like this to spend their time with the community. Once again thank you, Gary."

Sgt. Paul Atkins added a special note of appreciation for the Gloucester Wal-mart that provided all prizes, food and drinks. Also thanks to Roxanne Hall wife of CPO Greg Hall for volunteering to assist with the event. The State Forest provided the site and the event was advertised through the County Courier newspaper and King William Parks & Recreation. There were 25 kids registered and many parents and grandparents with over 75 people in attendance. We will definitely need a few volunteers to assist next year.

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:

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

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


Increased BUI Enforcement
June 28-30, 2013

Never Boat Under the Influence!

Virginia boaters, take note that June 28th-30th, Conservation Police Officers with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) will be patrolling Virginia's waterways looking for boat operators with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher. Boating Under the Influence (BUI) is dangerous. Nationwide, over 17% of boating-related fatalities are a result of alcohol use. Sun, wind, noise, vibration and motion intensify the effects of alcohol, drugs and some medications. They can slow reaction times, impair vision and lead to boating accidents. In Virginia, operating a boat with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher is illegal. Penalties may include fines, jail, impoundment of boats, and loss of boating privileges. Curbing the number of alcohol and drug-related accidents and fatalities is key to achieving a safer and more enjoyable environment for recreational boating.

For more information on Operation Dry Water, visit

Grants to Localities for Public Boating Access Facilities

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries announces the availability of grants for fiscal year 2014 and requests applications.  Eligible to receive grants are Virginia localities (counties, cities, and towns).    The purpose of the grants is to assist localities in providing public opportunities for boating access facilities for new development or the renovation or improvements to existing public boating access facilities.  For more details, visit to download the following information:

Recreational boating is a popular activity and there are approximately 250,000 registered boats in Virginia. Many more watercraft (canoes/kayaks) that are not registered use existing facilities or are in need of additional sites. This grant program provides up to 75% of the approved project costs to construct or renovate boating access facilities for trailer or non-trailer hand-launch facilities. Applications are due by October 1, 2013 and award is anticipated by January 1, 2014. Upon notice of award, the local jurisdiction will have until April 1, 2014 to sign a Cooperative Grant Agreement. Funds are provided on a reimbursement basis.

This is the second year the Department has funded this grant program.  Last year the Department awarded $390,900 to 10 localities for the development or renovation of 14 sites on 7 different river systems. To learn more about hunting, fishing, boating and other outdoor opportunities in Virginia, visit the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries' website:

Flat Out Catfish Workshops on the James River

Would you like to learn the secrets of catching Flathead Catfish on the James River? Join DGIF Angling Education and Captain Mike Ostrander for a day of instruction and fishing on the James River at Pony Pasture in Richmond. Workshop involves wading in the river and terrain can be challenging. Tackle, bait and lunch is provided. For ages 16 and older. To register or for questions, contact Chris Dunnavant by email,, or by phone, 804-283-7327. Registration Fee: $40 - register today, space is limited! Workshop dates: Flat Out Catfish I, Thursday, July 11 and Flat Out Catfish II, Tuesday, August 6, times are 8am – 4pm.

Attention Boaters! Your Help Is Needed For the 2013 Mid-Atlantic Recreational Boater Survey!

As a part of the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program's efforts to document important areas for boating and the value of Virginia's recreational boating industry, your assistance is needed to ensure collection of accurate information about recreational use of Virginia's coast. From May to October, a select number of recreational boaters will receive a survey in the mail to document the location, duration, time, activities, and money spent on recent boating trips. The information gathered in this survey will provide a better understanding of how and where recreational boaters use the ocean so that those uses are included in future planning efforts. It also ensures that recreational boating areas are accounted for during evaluations and review processes of other ocean projects. For more information about the survey, go to:

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!"

Hercules Landing on Nottoway River NOW Open

The Hercules Boat Landing at Rt. 671 on the Nottoway River is NOW OPEN. The closure was necessary because the ramp at Hercules sat adjacent to a VDOT bridge that is being expanded and will occupy the area where the old ramp was located. The new ramp is much improved and will provide service far into the future. In addition to better boating access, the new ramp offers improved safety to vehicles and trailers entering and exiting the facility.

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.

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!

A Better Rig for Beginners

What did you catch your first freshwater fish with? I bet an overwhelming majority of you remembered pulling that first fish in with a worm and a bobber or float. That's my answer; my granddaddy made me a cane pole painted red and white and had me catching bluegills with worms we dug in the garden and yes, with a bobber. The floater rig as we call it is the staple for freshwater fishing. But I believe I have found a better rig for beginners.

Before you throw your hands up and scroll to the next article, please hear me out. I have for years, in my educational role, rigged up the floater rig for countless events and beginners. It's the rig I have used to teach my sister and niece and other friends and family how to fish with. I am personal believer and user of this rig, but I believe I have found a better rig for beginners.

There are good and bad things about the bobber. No one can argue that watching a bobber quake and disappear with the strike is pure excitement. It is a great thing, but missing fish is not fun. Beginners and kids miss so many fish with a floater rig. They are either too late with the hookset, too early, there is too much slack in the line or they are not paying attention and miss the strike. What if all those missed fish could be caught? How much of a better experience would that be for a first time angler? Again, I believe I have found a better rig for beginners.

The great outfit for beginners, the one that could revolutionize the way we think of fishing for newcomers. The set-up that could literally bring in thousands into the fold of fishing due to experiencing immediate success is; the drop shot rig. The drop shot rig? Isn't that a bass rig used in deep, clear waters with tiny little plastic worms? Yes, but it can be used for so much more!

The beginner drop shot rig is simple. Tie on a gold Eagle Claw #1 Aberdeen hook using a Palomar knot with a long tag end, about 12 inches in length. Once the knot is tied, hold the hook by the bend with the point up and thread the tag end of the line down through the eye of the hook. This allows the hook to set-up straight when fishing. Next attach weight to the long tag end, about 8-12 inches from the hook. A bell sinker can be tied on or split shot crimped on the line. If using split shot, tie a little overhand knot at the end of the line so the shot does not slip off. Use just enough weight for the angler to be able to feel it on the bottom and keep it there.

For bait; I primarily use red wigglers or night crawlers or both at the same time. Anything can be used; including 2" plastic grubs and tubes or plastic worms for bass. I primarily use spincast outfits and they are rigged with 10# test. The great thing about the gold wire hook and using 10# line is that when the rig is snagged underwater, point the rod to the snag, tighten the line and pull. The hook will bend out slightly; bend it back with needle nose pliers and continue fishing.

This technique is easy to learn how to use. All that is required of the beginner is learn how to know the rig is on the bottom and keep a semi-taught line. It cannot be fished incorrectly and it can catch a fish at the end of a cast or right under the boat or dock. The big advantage is that the angler can feel the bait and the strike. Once they feel the bite, the fish is hooked. The rig is a proven winner. It is easier to cast and at two recent events aboard The Floating Fishing School we caught over 70 and 45 fish. We would not have caught that many using bobbers! Next time you are introducing someone to fishing, consider the drop shot rig; I believe I have found a better rig for beginners!

Learn more about the drop shot from the Fishing Spot November 14, 2012 edition Try a Drop Shot Rig by Chris Dunnavant.

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, call 1-866-721-6911, or visit your nearest license agent.

If you have already purchased your 2013 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, The water temperature is at 83 degrees, and the visibility is at 14 ft. Bass are still hitting on the creek. Dinks were on the shoreline cover, but the larger fish come from points & humps. Drop shot, Carolina rigs, and Shakey head jigs will work. You can fish the same baits you fished last winter and in the same spots. As the water heats up the bass will keep moving into deeper water so you need to try new ways of fishing. Try a 3 in. grub bumper along the grass. Stop by the shop and I'll help you. Crappies are starting to show up in there summer haunts along the outside grass line in 15 to 20 ft. of water. Try small jigs or minnows, but look for something different on the grass line like a ditch, hump, or a hole, and concentrate on those spots. Yellow perch, and gills were caught using in line spinners, in 8 to 12 ft. of water. A couple nice long ear sunfish fell to 1/12 in. jigs trolled long the shore but not too fast. At least 4 eyes were caught one $20.00 fish. Scot told me that 74 or more of those tags have come into his office, so more eyes then I know of have came off the creek. Cats are eating crawlers up, but now that the grass is up you should put a small sinker on the bottom and the hook a foot or more up the line. This will allow the sinker to rest on the grass and your bait to stay just above the grass. This also caught some eyes last week. We are now accepting applications for Archery Classes for youth 7 to 12 years old. If you know of a mother that would like to take her children fishing, but just doesn't know where to start I am planing on doing Me And Mom Go Fishing class mid-July. Call (757) 566-2277.

Beaverdam Reservoir: Contributed by Park Ranger Eddie Hester, (804) 693-2107. Winners for the June 22, 2013 Bass Tournament were; 1st place, Quillie and Robert Countiss. They also had the Big Fish at 3 lb. 13 oz. 2nd place was Jerry Jenkins and Ricky West. 3rd place was a tie between Clarence Jenkins with Chuck Conger and Bubba West with Matt Marshall. 5th place went to Al Bowles and Russell Holmes. Congratulations to all the winners and thanks to all the participants! Join us for Night Fishing July 5th from 6 p.m. to midnight. Our next Big Bash Bass Tournament will be on September 21, 2013. Registration is available now. For more information 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. For update on current conditions, please see our website or call.

Virginia Beach: Contributed by local guide Skip Feller of Rudee Inlet Charters (757) 425-3400. Fishing has been pretty good at the Mouth of the of the Bay! Spadefish and sheepshead are starting to make a good showing; try fiddler crabs for the sheepshead and clam for the spadefish. Red and black drum are attacking crabs and clams. Flounder will take gulps and cut bait.

Back Bay: Local angler Tom Deans. For update on current conditions, please see our website or call.

Chickahominy River: River's Rest (804) 829-2753. Alton Williams says that the bass bite is "fairly decent", with spinners as the winning lure. No word on crappie. Local cats will take cut bait and shrimp. No word on bluegill. The water is slightly stained and in the 70s.

Chickahominy Lake: Contributed by Captain Art Conway of Conway's River Rat Guide Service, (804) 746-2475. Mid day water temperatures ranged from the low to mid 80s in the lower lake and slightly higher in the backs of the major creeks on Monday (6/24/2013). The lake level was about eight inches above the top of the dam. The water was medium brown and slightly cloudy in the lower lake.

Blue cats and a few channel cats were widely scattered in a variety of depths in the lower main lake and in the creeks and were hitting live minnows. A mix of sizes of crappie were scattered on submerged wood cover, along channel edges, near some lily pads, and on weed flats near shoreline cover in the main lake and creek mouths. Crappie were hitting live minnows, Roadrunners, Kalin crappie scrubs, tubes, swim baits, and Wright Bait Co. and Southern Pro curlytail grubs. Larger bluegill and shellcrackers were in loose clusters on many shorelines in the main lake and in some areas up the creeks and were hitting flies, especially wet flies and nymphs, small tubes and jigs, and live worms. A few bass were around creek mouths and on flats in the main lake, and were hitting fly rod bugs, top-waters, crankbaits, jerkbaits, and plastic worms, particularly early and late in the day.

Fishing with Capt. Conway, Becky and Jimmy Bogese caught 32 bluegill, 5 shellcrackers, 4 crappie, and 5 yellow perch. Robert Harmon, Stephanie and Nathan Castle had 25 bluegill. Mickey Cleveland had 27 bluegill, 1 warmouth, 18 crappie, 1 yellow perch, 1 white perch, and 1 bass.

North Landing River and Back Bay: Contributed by Ken Testorff, local blogger. A personal best - that's how my friend Donald described this 5-lb. 13-oz. bass that he caught last summer. The story unfolded like this: After reading about his friend Charlie's success in Godfrey's Creek, Donald had launched at West Landing Marina with plans to try Godfrey's for himself. As luck would have it, though, his outboard wouldn't start. Because he was forced to rely entirely on the trolling motor, he simply headed straight across the river, and once there, he started fishing at the dead tree located just off the bank on the edge of the channel. His first cast with a motor oil-colored Senko went right up next to the tree, and the monster nailed it. After landing this fish, Donald started trolling a Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnow toward the creek and caught a 16-inch striper and another small bass. "It was then," said Donald, "that I realized why the outboard motor wouldn't start, the emergency cutoff switch had gotten pulled out. I felt a bit silly, but I think the fishing gods were looking out for me that day," he concluded.

If it's of any consolation, Donald, let me share my own little personal embarrassing moment. I just had turned left out of West Neck and started downriver when, without any warning, my outboard suddenly sputtered and died. I subsequently cranked and cranked with no luck at all. Finally, I hailed a passing boater and his wife, and they happily agreed to tow me back into West Neck. It was after I had thanked them and they had gone their way that I took a good look at the outboard and realized my problem: I had forgotten to hook the gas line to the outboard. Back in earlier days, I always disconnected the gas line after an outing but no longer do. I simply had gotten as far as the gas already in the motor would get me. I hooked up the line, and after priming the bulb, the motor fired right up. Rather than go back out on the water and perhaps have a lot of explaining to do to the good folks who had towed me, I decided the better part of valor was to put my boat on the trailer and call it a day.

Norfolk Lakes: Dasheill's Show Room (757) 539-7854. Drew Dixon told me that bass are going for cranks and soft plastics. Crappie are taking minnows and jigs. Lots of cats are attacking cut bait. Bluegill like red worms and crickets. The water is clear and in the 60s.

Blackwater and Nottoway: By Riverkeeper Jeff Turner I spent the 21st through the 23rd on the Nottoway below Hercules. The water was low and around 73 degrees and it RAINED! I did not see any water quality issues and trash was light. The fishing on this trip was great, at least for largemouth bass. I guess I caught 15 with one going 5.13. All were caught on top water, but I can't tell you what kind because it was a homemade lure. I also caught some nice bream. Once again I failed to catch any catfish on rod & reel at night! New boat ramp access to ramp and ladder fix work real nice.

Upper James: Contributed by local guide Jared Harker of Confluence Outfitters LLC, (434) 941-9550. The James River has been difficult to fish over the last week. During the periods of higher water fish are being caught in protected areas near the bank, behind large structure, etc. You will want to fish these areas deeper and slower than normal for this time of year. Now that the levels have come back down, the smallmouth will begin feeding harder than in previous weeks. They are hungry coming off of a long spring. If they aren't biting your favorite go-to bait be wise enough to change to something they are biting. I see guys refuse to catch fish because they aren't biting what they are comfortable with throwing. Don't be that guy! Good luck.

If you want to book a trip with Confluence Outfitters give us a call or look us up on facebook and send us and email. July is filling up fast. 434-941-9550 /

Upper and Lower Tidal James: Local Guide, Captain Mike Hoke, Life's Revenge Guide Service, (804) 357-8518. While the James has been muddy, Captain Mike has been on the Pamunkey and Mattaponi. Spot and croaker are going for squid. Puppy drum will take crab. Cats are biting cut eel. The water is moderately clear and 77 degrees.

Upper and Lower Tidal James: Contributed by Capt. Mike Ostrander, James River Fishing School, Discover the James, (804) 938-2350. For update on current conditions, please see our website or call.

Swift Creek Reservoir: Contributed by local angler Archie Spencer. For update on current conditions, please see our website or call.

Region 2 - Southside

James at Scottsville: Local Guide L.E. Rhodes, (434) 286-3366. Well, the rain has continued to keep the river high and muddy. For about two weeks now it has been either near flood stage or bouncing up and down. We have been hitting the local lakes fishing for the grass Carp. The Carp have been sucking down the Cicada bug giving us some great action with fish up to 20 pounds. The Cicadas are all about gone now but you may still hear a few for the next couple days. Hopefully we will get a break and be back on the river by the time the next report is due.

Kerr Reservoir: Bob Cat's Lake Country Store, (434) 374-8381. Bobby Whitlow says that the bass bite has been fair; try cranks, soft plastics in dark colors and top-waters. Crappie fishing has really picked up with the slabs to be found at bridge pilings, deep laydowns and underwater structures. Minnows are outfishing jigs. Cats are going for cut bait. The water is slightly stained and in the upper 70s to low 80s.

James at Lynchburg: Angler's Lane, (434) 385-0200. Doug Lane says that local bass are taking baitfish and crayfish imitators. Rainbows and browns in the Jackson are going for mayflies, caddis and terrestrials. Mountain brookies are biting Green Monsters, yellow stone flies and sulfurs. The water is clearing and in the upper 60s.

James near Lynchburg: Contributed by Jared Harker, owner of Confluence Outfitters, (434) 941-9550. For update on current conditions, please see our website or call.

Lake Gaston: Holly Grove Marina, (434) 636-3455. According to Ron Karpinski the bass bite is very good after dark; top-water lures will get you good results. Crappie are in deeper water taking minnows. The same is true of bluegill and perch. For cats it's cut bait for the lunkers and stinkbait for the "edible" size ones. The water is clearing up and warming up.

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, For update on current conditions, please see our website or call.

Region 3 - Southwest

Claytor Lake: Contributed by Mike Burchett of Rock House Marina, (540) 980-1488. For update on current conditions, please see our website or call.

New River: Contributed by Britt Stoudenmire, 540-921-7438, owner of New River Outdoor Co and host of The Life. Outdoors w/Britt & Leigh web show. For update on current conditions, please see our website or call.

Lower New River: Big Z'S (540) 639-1651. John Zienius told me that the smallmouth bite is good. Try tubes and small jerks. Muskies are active, and often will bite a bass angler's lure. To land your monster, try big tubes or big inline spinners. The water is stained to clear and near 70 degrees.

Upper New River: Contributed by Captain Forest Pressnell, (540) 818-5274, New River Charter. After several weeks of muddy water the Upper New River is finally clearing up! Catfishing has been great during the muddy water but now it is time to get after the smallies and muskie. Normal summer patterns should be used to target both species with top water good for the early morning and late evening. During the day tubes, cranks and inline spinners should work well. Let's keep our fingers crossed that the T-Storms avoid us this week and don't forget your PFD especially when wading. You can follow us on facebook.

New River: Tangent Outfitters, (540) 257-0415. Shawn Hash says the smallmouth action is on fire. They will bite "everything" so come prepared to land a few. Muskies are not as active but will take a smallmouth. The water is high green and in the 70s.

Top New River: Contributed by local guide Richie Hughes, owner of New River Trips LLC. The river is clearing up very nicely on the Top New, Mouth of Wilson to Fries. On a fly fishing trip Saturday over 30 fish were caught on the fly, mainly on crawfish flies. Top-waters, soft plastics and crankbaits are working well. Trout fishing remains relatively good in the tributaries due to the cool, wet weather we have had. Enjoy your summertime fishing!

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. For update on current conditions, please see our website or call.

North and South Forks of the Shenandoah: Harry Murray (540) 984-4212 According to Harry, both north and south forks give good fishing, either floating or wading. Good flies are Shenandoah Blue Popper, size 6; the Shenandoah Chartreuse Popper, size 4; and the Murray's Black Mad Tom, size 6. The water is at a good level, clear and 72 degrees. Fishing for rainbows and browns in the Valley is also good. The best flies are: Murray's Flying Beetle, sizes 14 and 16; Shenk's Cricket, sizes 14 and 16; and Murray's Delta Wing Olive Caddis, size 14. The water is clear, at a good level and 70 degrees. To get your brookie, park on the Blue Ridge Parkway or Skyline Drive, and hike up to the stream heads. Best flies are: Mr. Rapidan Ant, size 16; and Shenk's Cricket, size 14. The water is clear, at a good level and 56 degrees. Don't forget to check out Harry's webpage for the most up to date information.

Lake Moomaw: Contributed by local angler Bill Uzzell. Lake Moomaw continues to offer anglers opportunities to catch a multitude of species depending on your choice of fish. Bass fisherman are experiencing consistent action throughout the lake. A wide variety of baits are taking numerous largemouth and smallmouth bass. Crankbaits, spinnerbaits, top-water, drop-shots, shakey heads, Texas rigs, Carolina rigs, not hearing much about umbrella rigs, all have been popular. Daytime as well as nighttime fishing is productive. Main lake points and flats are your best bet. The lake is teeming with forage and the fish are responding with heavy feeding activity. The trout have seemed to taken on a nocturnal preference with anglers catching fish with live shad. Some trolling activity has also been successful.

The lake is in great shape with full pool level and water temps in the low to mid 80s. The upper end has some color due to the heavy rain last week but the majority of the lake is clear. The summer weather has increased the boat traffic significantly. Please be careful, I have witnessed several close calls by boaters not knowing the rules of water navigation particularly when right of way is involved. If you are not sure, then come off plane and avoid a problem. I have also witnessed boats without the proper lights after sunset. This is particularly dangerous. Please check your equipment and prevent potential injury, or worse, a fatal result. The Fourth of July is almost here so please enjoy our beautiful lake, but keep the alcohol out of the boat and do not consume then operate a boat; please.

Lake Moomaw: Local Guide, Mike Puffenbarger, (540) 468-2682, For update on current conditions, please see our website or call.

Upper James: Contributed by Andrew Fenstermaker, 540-921-7438, owner for James River Outdoor Co. For update on current conditions, please see our website or call.

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. Well I tried some "new" and "old" fishing locations and partners these past two weekends. Smith Lake is the "new" water with a new fishing buddy Carl and Quantico Creek/Bay on the Potomac is the "old" one with my good fishing buddy, John. Smith Lake is a small reservoir on the south side of Quantico Marine Corps Base on the edge of Stafford County. Access is via two boat ramps found on the Marine Corps Base, but also key is the fact boats are not allowed to use gasoline engines on the lake, electric motor or paddles only. It is a nice little reservoir with a good mix of steep banks, deep water, 25 to 40 feet, a fair amount of flooded timber, and two main reservoir branches fed by creeks with good 4to 8 foot channels. I found the water slightly stained last weekend and clearer this weekend, with water temperatures in the mid to high 70s. We fished mostly with shallow running crank baits and soft plastic worms, wacky and Texas rig styles, but also tried spinner baits and top water Pop'R plugs, catching lots of small bass between 1 to 2 pounds, a few nice bass in the 3 to 4 pound range, and even some Rock Bass, red eyes, yellow perch, and bluegills. It made for some nice action and a very enjoyable day on the water.

Quantico Creek/Bay on the other hand was shallow, weedy, hydrilla and spatterdock, and warm with high 70 degree stained waters the norm. We fished hard for bass and snakehead in and around the spatterdock, mostly on high, outgoing tides in the morning, using top water Pop'R plugs and shallow running crank baits. We did OK with the bass, catching about a dozen or so over the two weekends...but nothing more than 3 pounds. We also caught a few snakeheads in the 3 to 6 pound range, so it's apparent that the Quantico Marine Corps Base "snakehead" tournament from a few weeks ago didn't get all of the snakeheads in the area. Of course we got very, very wet this morning with the long, slow rains, but it was still a good day to be out and about with friend and fish!

Potomac and small ponds around Ashburn: Contributed by local angler Tyler Folts. For update on current conditions, please see our website or call.

Occoquan Reservoir: Contributed by local angler Jim Thomas. Fishing on the reservoir has been fantastic. The cicada hatch has had largemouth and bream taking just about anything thrown on top-water. As the hatch has diminished many fish have continued to remain near the shore and spinnerbaits have been on fire. When the spinnerbait bite slacks off, turning to a crankbait has almost been automatic. I have recorded my best June in years. Because the bite has been so good, I have not visited the river in several weeks.

Lake Orange: Contributed by Darrell Kennedy of Angler's Landing (540) 672-3997. The water is stained with 3 to 4 ft. of visibility. The water temperature is in the upper seventies. Largemouth bass have moved into their summer patterns. Bass are feeding on top water baits early or during low light periods of the day. Your slow moving soft plastics are best during the middle of the day in 8 ft. depths to draw the bass bite. Crappie are also in their summer pattern hanging out in 10 to15 ft. depths near brush piles, minnows are the bait of choice. Catfishing remains strong throughout the lake with the upper end being most productive on chicken liver and night crawlers. Noteworthy: Jimmy Seymour of Orange caught several catfish while bass fishing using a crank bait, one catfish weighing up to 8 lbs.

Lake Anna: Contributed by C. C. McCotter, McCotter's Lake Anna Guide Service, (540) 894-9144. Bass : Bass fishing trips this month will target schooled fish from the 208 region down to the power plant with soft plastic jerkbaits and top-water plugs as well as bass on off-shore structure like rocks and brush in the mid and up lake regions with crankbaits and worms. If you've not had good success with deep water structure fishing, this is a good month to learn from a guide as boat traffic and warm water will push bass from the shallows for most of the day. The best schooling spots are next to 40 feet of water. The best off shore spots tend to consist of natural cover. You can still catch bass shallow early in the morning using buzzbaits and wacky-rigged worms, mostly in the mid and lower up lake regions.

Striper: - It's time to tune up your depth finder and interpretation skills and start looking for fish in the region from Rose Valley to Tubbs Bridge on down to the mouth of Sturgeon Creek this month. The fish will roam around a bit, possibly even feeding on the surface from dawn to about 7:30 a.m. some mornings then they will school up deep where you can target them in 25 to 35 feet of water using trolled Redfin 917s with a bucktail, swimbait or grub dropper, umbrella rigs and Toothache spoons. Live bait will catch them but keeping the bait alive and away from catfish is difficult now.

Crappie: Fish have moved deep, from 15 to 25 in most areas of the lake. Bridge pilings, deep brush, channel edges and cool tributaries are where the best action will be this month. Get a couple dozen small minnows, some slip bobber rigs and head for a bridge like Stubbs or Holladay Mill and fish from 7 a.m. until 9 a.m. for your limit. Some up lake Crappie will take small crankbaits on rocky channel bends if you are up for a challenge and looking for bigger fish.

Good luck and see you on the water!

Lake Anna: Contributed by Local Guide Jim Hemby (540) 967-3313. For update on current conditions, please see our website or call.

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

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

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.

Summer fishing is upon us and anglers are hitting both salt and freshwater honey holes from the Gulf to Canada. Kids will be out of school soon and what else makes for a great family outing than a fishing trip. Your local town pond, trout brook, catfish hole, ocean jetti or a boat trip will get you to the best summer fun you can get.

This edition of ODU Magazine covers many types of fishing and destinations to get your angler bucket list growing. Striped bass, muskie, mahi-mahi, bass, walleye, marlin, carp, tarpon, catfish, pompano and redfish are all covered. Does your bucket list include fishing in Costa Rica or Australia; we might just have what you need to make the trek a little bit earlier.

Checkout any of these titles and enjoy – Click the title to be connected:

  1. Crocodile Bay Lodge - Costa Rica, My Return, Part 1, Pg. 6
  2. Tarpon Tides, Moving Water Stimulates the Silver King, Pg. 9
  3. Tweaking Big Lake Tactics for Teensier Water 'Eyes, Pg. 12
  4. Pompano are available and you do not have to have a boat, Pg. 18
  5. Stripers On The Hudson, Pg. 21
  6. Net Your Fish, Pg. 26
  7. Northern Adventure Cajun-Style, Pg. 28
  8. Making Those Aussie Fishing Dreams A Reality, Pg. 33
  9. A 350 pound Marlin, The Modern Version of The Old Man and the Sea, Pg. 40
  10. Planning Your Dream Alaskan Vacation, Pg. 46
  11. Wild Striped Bass: Their Value and Management, Pg. 50
  12. Heavy Weekend Traffic Fishing, Pg. 55
  13. Chairman of the Boards, Pg. 57
  14. DAN'S FISH 'N' TALES®, "Fishing With Mulberries", Pg. 63
  15. Esox Explosions in the Prop Wash, Pg. 66
  16. Develop muscle for salt water fishing, By Jake Bussolini, Pg. 70
  17. Is There a Fishing Phenomenon for the Bass Fisherman?, Pg. 74
  18. Youth Fishing with PotashCorp, Pg. 75

And please, enjoy the outdoors!

Larry Thornhill, Editor and Chief,
Bill Schwarz, Assistant Editor,

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

View video about the snakehead

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Winning Outdoor Adventure Stories from Young Writers

As summer 'officially" begins outdoor enthuisiasts head to the mountains, rivers, lakes or ocean beaches for adventure. For Clark DeHart, a junior at Virginia Tech, his experience with sharks during a summer scuba dive was a very moving experience. Clark notes, ". I grew up in Blacksburg, Virginia, and ever since I have been fascinated about the natural world around me. My experiences in nature have led me to pursue a degree in Wildlife Science in the College of Natural Resources and Environment and have given me a passion for conservation. Some of my favorite outdoor activities are photography and wildlife filmmaking, but I also enjoy hiking, camping and all aspects of nature. In the future I hope share the beauty and wonders of nature with others, whether it is through nature documentaries, conducting research on wildlife populations or writing a series of nature books." Clark's story placed in the top 15 in the 2011-12 VOWA Collegiate Outdoor Writing Contest.

Sharks Among Us

By Clark DeHart

A shadow passed over my head for a second, blocking out the rays of sunlight that reached forty feet down to where I knelt in the coarse, white sand. There was a part of me that sensed its presence before I saw it, some kind of primeval intuition that recognized the arrival of a shark.

I thought back to a few minutes earlier, where the waves gently rolled beneath me as I bobbed like a cork in the azure blue water. My dive partner and I exchanged a simple nod and we both began our descent. We deflated our BCD's and watched the warm 78 degree water envelope us. Leaving the surface world behind is always a surreal experience, both daunting and breathtaking. I gazed up at the shimmering rays of sunlight as the surface slipped farther away the deeper I got. Ten feet ... fifteen feet... twenty feet, the pressure steadily increased as I descended deeper than I ever had before. Peering out through my plastic dive mask through a steady stream of bubbles, I took in the world around me.

Soft green corals covered the bottom like an undersea garden of swaying grass. Silver fish with a racing stripe of brilliant yellow, swam back and forth across the seabed. Twenty five feet down, I spotted the first shark. It materialized out of the blue water, swimming between me and my dive partner. My breath hitched in my throat for a second as the shark swam around me then disappeared out of sight. It would be the first of many.

The safety diver directed us to a sandy spot, forty feet below the forgotten surface. I was assigned a rock, specifically placed next to others, which made up a large circle. We were to be spectators in the arena. My dive partner and I exchanged looks, possibly wondering what we had gotten ourselves into, and if it was not too late to back out.

As soon as our dive master arrived with a bait box, the water was suddenly full of sharks. Ten feet away from a real life feeding frenzy of apex predators can make one's heart feel like it may beat out of one's chest. Kneeling in the sand, I watched as the multitude of sharks circled our party, patiently awaiting their turn at the food placed inside a metal box the dive master held. A barrier of chainmail was his only protection from their sharp teeth and a potential outcome of a few missing fingers. Gray bodies twisted to maneuver closer to the food at the end of a metal pole. Eyes closed, mouth agape, each jockeying to get a prize.

Sharks were all around me. Leaving the fray, a few swam straight towards my face, to nonchalantly swim over my head, clearing my mask by mere inches. Several approached the scene from behind me, alerting me to their presence by a sudden movement and a large object grazing my shoulder with long strokes of its tail.

The sleek, pale gray six-foot long Caribbean Reef Sharks moved with an agile grace I couldn't help being captivated by. Torpedo-shaped bodies effortlessly moved through the water in fluid motions. The fast and frantic appearance of the frenzy was like ordered chaos. Each shark showed perfect coordination and as they darted around the circle without bumping into one another. Appearing to have a pecking order, each awaited their turn to feed, and circled about until they had their chance at the food.

Amongst the many sharks, I began tell individual sharks apart. Smiley was a large shark with a broken jaw that gave him a permanent, awkward grin. One had a white spot on his head, while another had a red fishing hook stuck through his bottom jaw. The dive master swam closer, the feeding sharks now only six feet from my face. My breathing quickened as I realized I would be even closer to the action, without any protection. Trying not to run through my air too quickly, I focused on relaxing, not an easy task in such circumstances. But the longer I knelt there, the more I understood. The intense glances from the shark's golden eyes were not those of malice, but an unconcerned acknowledgement of my presence as they went about their daily lives. I was just another sea creature, which shared their space with peaceful respect.

Unfortunately, there have been shark attacks on people with tragic outcomes, which generate negative opinions about sharks in general. Over the years sharks have been deemed evil, bloodthirsty animals. We obsess over news headlines of shark attacks and like to scare ourselves with nail-biting horror movies with shark antagonists. In reality, over 500 species of shark inhabit our planet, and they play important roles in maintaining a healthy ocean ecosystem. When I was amongst the sharks, I didn't feel that I was in any danger from them. Their demeanor towards us was never of aggression. From my point of view, all the hysteria about sharks was wrong. In that moment, forty feet below the waves, it was just us and the sharks. I felt as if we were let in on a secret, which few other people ever get to know. The dive master said it is something that can change a person.

After all the bait was gone, the dive master swam away, the remaining sharks following him off into the blue. The fray over, I collected my thoughts and let go of my rock. Checking to make sure all the sharks had left to follow the empty bait box, I floated over to where the action had taken place a few moments ago. There in the fragments of coral were tiny teeth, white as the sand that they rested on. Picking one, I tucked it under the wrist of my wetsuit and joined my friends on our ascent towards the rays of sunlight, streaming down from the sparkling surface.

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:

In upcoming editions of the Outdoor Report, look for: