As a Complementary Work Force (CWF) Volunteer, I recently had the great pleasure to assist Region 2 and Region 4 Fisheries personnel begin the process of obtaining more Musky for release in Commonwealth waters. During two separate trips, two teams of three or four, conducted an electro-fishing expedition on a portion of the James River where there is a very high population of Musky.
The huge, toothy fish were netted and brought on board to large live wells. Brought back to the launch ramp, the fish were sexed, weighted, and length measured. The males were immediately placed in a stocking truck loaded with fresh water. The females were checked for the presence of eggs by the very skilled hands of Fishery folks. They then mixed powdered carp pituitary gland in sterile water. Once the powder had fully dissolved, it was injected into an open pocket at the base of the pelvic fins. The purpose of this unusual concoction is to induce labor. The fish will safely lay its eggs soon after injection in a controlled environment. The females were loaded into a separate compartment of the stocking truck and all fish taken to a nearby hatchery for egg laying and fertilization. There, once the female lays eggs, the male fish are milked of sperm to fertilize the eggs. The adult fish were then returned to the place they were netted and released unharmed.
Under close monitoring of Fisheries personnel, millions of Musky eggs strive to hatch and survive. Life is rough in the world of fish eggs and not all will survive even though they are protected from predators. Of those that do hatch and survive, they will be stocked in other suitable waters throughout the state once they are large enough to fend for themselves.
Being a CWF volunteer, besides being a lot of fun, allows you to be exposed to many fascinating educational experiences you just can’t find anywhere else. If you’d like to consider joining the fun, learn how to become a volunteer today!
Turkey hunters are enjoying great hunting so far this spring. Good weather conditions and stable turkey numbers over most of the Commonwealth have certainly contributed to hunter success this year for both the Youth & Apprentice and the Spring Gobbler opening weekends. A total of 3,047 gobblers were harvested the opening weekend of the 2017 Spring Gobbler season, compared to 2,291 in 2016.
Opening Weekend 2017
Saturday, April 8th 2,019
Sunday, April 9th 1,028
Weekend Total 3,047
Opening Weekend 2016
Saturday, April 9th 1,610
Sunday, April 10th 681
Weekend Total 2,291
Harvest numbers for the Youth & Apprentice weekend – Saturday April 1st and Sunday, April 2nd, were also up. Across the state hunters enjoyed seasonal temperatures with almost no rain or significant winds. Youth and Apprentice hunters reported harvesting 624 birds. On Saturday 433 turkeys were reported killed (69% of total w/e harvest) and 191 (31%) on Sunday. The 2017 harvest was 4% higher than 2016, when 598 birds were harvested.
The Annual Graves Mountain Lodge Trout Heritage Kids Fishing Day Saturday April 1st was a big success. Fortunately, the heavy rains on Friday did not affect the water quality Saturday morning in Rose River . The ‘kids only’ fishing area had been specially stocked Friday afternoon and patrolled by a team of CPOs. Sunny skies and 50-60 degree temperatures made for smiles up and down the banks full of anxious families eager to catch trout. An estimated 200 youngsters, plus another 200 family members, spread out along the banks of the Rose River wading in the rocky shallows.
The “have fun” attitude of all the participants was just great and it was wonderful to watch the families helping the kids fish, even if they weren’t their own; putting power bait on the hooks, getting lines patiently untangled, hooks out of caught trout, and getting slippery, fidgety trout on the stringer. Lots of trout were caught, including a few Citations. The DGIF exhibit was the highlight of the pavilion [except for the delicious food served by the Graves]. The four Complementary Work Force [CWF] volunteers (John McMann, Jerry Chambers, Bill Taylor, and Bob Stover) and CPO’s gave individual attention to the kids, their parents and mentors on a variety of topics and handed out a lot of educational materials. With it being opening day of the Youth Spring Turkey Hunting weekend, TOR Editor David Coffman had a variety of turkey calls for the kids to try. The Red Corn Snake was, as always, the star of the show- with as many repeat fans as newcomers. The Rapidan Chapter of Trout Unlimited co-sponsors this event and provides fishing poles, tackle and bait for kids who do not have their own. The TU members roamed the river bank to lend assistance in catching and caring for trout. Jimmy and Rachael Graves, along with their family and staff, were gracious hosts for the event and tended to their guests every need to make a successful, fun filled day of fishing and family fun. Already looking forward to next year!
To find an upcoming Kids Fishing Day event near you visit our website.
Families enjoyed the sunny skies and fishing action at the annual Graves Mountain Lodge Trout Heritage Kids Fishing Day April 1st on the Rose River in Madison County. The event is co-sponsored by the Rapidan Chapter of Trout Unlimited, the Graves family and DGIF. Photo by David Coffman, Editor TOR.
To increase awareness of Conservation Police Officers (CPO’s-previously called game wardens) activities, the “Virginia Conservation Police Notebook” provides an overview of activities encountered by our officers who protect natural resources and people pursuing outdoor recreation in the fields, woods and waters of Virginia. These reports are prepared from the officer’s field notes by Kim McCarthy, Executive Assistant to Major Scott Naff [Operations] and Major Bryan Young [Administration] of the Law Enforcement Division of DGIF. 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 outdoor enthusiasts an undeserved bad reputation. Don’t let the actions of a few outlaws tarnish the reputation of Virginia’s sportsmen!
Region I – Tidewater
On March 30 and 31, 2017, Sr. Conservation Police Officer (CPO) Frank Spuchesi, assisted by CPO Glenn Cramer, conducted All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) training for the King George County Sheriff’s Office. Training courses were provided to both new operators as well as a refresher course that was provided for those deputies who had previously received training by the DGIF. The Sheriff’s Office recognized both CPO’s with a post on their Facebook page.
Region II – Southside
Statement Leads to Arrest – On March 28, 2017, Senior CPO Brandon Harris had just returned to his patrol vehicle from checking anglers at Conner Lake in Halifax County when a vehicle pulled into the parking area. As Officer Harris spoke to the two occupants of the vehicle, one subject stated that he was only going to watch his companion fish because he did not have a valid fishing license. Officer Harris bid his companion good luck and drove away from the parking area. Once out of sight, Brandon concealed his patrol vehicle and returned to the lake on foot to observe the two subjects. Upon returning, he observed the subject who claimed to be unlicensed walk back to the vehicle and retrieve a fishing pole. After checking the parking area several times to be sure Officer Harris had left for good, the subject began to fish and even caught one. Officer Harris approached the two individuals and discovered that the subject indeed did not have a fishing license. Brandon ran the subject’s information and found that he was also wanted out of the City of Chesapeake. The subject was arrested without incident and summoned for the fishing license violation.
Trout Heritage Day and Youth Spring Turkey Hunting Day – On April 1, 2017, Trout Heritage Day on the Pigg River in Franklin County was one of the best yet for the hundreds of participants. The weather was perfect, as was the fishing success. Blake Ingram, from Boones Mill, [shown in the attached photo] landed a trophy 9lb, 4oz rainbow trout on Saturday morning. Youth and Apprentice Spring Turkey hunting weekend was also very successful for many first time hunters as well.
Region III – Southwest
Unsafe Driving Leads to Arrest – On March 25, 2017, Senior CPO Daniel Ross was on patrol in Scott County. Officer Ross was patrolling along the Clinch River when he observed a black Chevrolet pickup traveling west on Route 72. The pickup was missing a front windshield and was occupied by two individuals wearing safety glasses. Officer Ross turned on the vehicle that appeared to accelerate to avoid apprehension. Officer Ross attempted to catch up to the vehicle. After about 3 miles, Officer Ross was able to see the vehicle and shortly thereafter got it stopped. He identified the driver and it was immediately obvious that their high rate of speed with no windshield had an impact on them. He removed the driver from the vehicle to administer field sobriety tests. Officer Ross obtained consent to search the drivers person and found 12 Percocet in the drivers pocket. The driver was unable to produce a valid prescription and was arrested for possession of schedule II narcotic along with unsafe/defective equipment and no state inspection.
Region IV- Mountains, Shenandoah Valley and Northern Piedmont
Angler Admits to Getting Greedy – On March 9, 2017 at approximately 12:15 p.m., CPO Sergeant Carl Martin began surveillance at Hogue Creek while the trout stream was being stocked. As he took notes in the early afternoon, two anglers walked downstream with their dog. They later returned to their vehicle with trout and left the area. Sgt. Martin continued surveillance and then began checking anglers in the evening. At approximately 6:30 p.m., the same fisherman from earlier, returned to his car with a limit of trout (and his dog) and opened the trunk. Sgt. Martin walked towards the angler and asked how he was doing. When the angler turned and saw Sgt. Martin, he immediately slammed the trunk closed. Sgt. Martin observed a Styrofoam cooler, and he asked the angler if he was going to put the trout in it. Sgt. Martin then asked the fisherman if there were trout in the cooler, and he replied ‘yes.’ the Sgt. explained to the fisherman his observations when they were at the stream earlier in the day. The angler, who returned alone and in a different vehicle, opened the cooler to reveal a limit of trout. When asked why the angler returned to the stream and caught a second limit of trout, the fisherman said, “I got greedy.”
CPO Educates Wolf Scouts – On March 21st, Senior CPO Rich Landers met with the Wolf Scouts of Pack 1160’s Den 9 in Reston (Fairfax County). He discussed his job, training, conservation, and safety in the outdoors. The Pack’s favorite parts of the presentation were checking out his patrol vehicle and hearing about the various ways he gets to patrol–hiking, biking, boating, and by ATV. CPO Landers discussed the many ways VDGIF helps to make outdoor sports like hunting and fishing accessible to people with disabilities. In a part of Virginia where outdoor sports like hunting and fishing aren’t as prevalent as in some other parts of the state, meeting a CPO was a great and very interesting experience for the boys. Many of them now have plans to become CPOs when they are older.
“We really appreciated CPO Landers making himself available for the scouts, and his ability to make this such a meaningful and engaging presentation”. Dan Ambrose, Den 9 Leader
Senior Officer Kenneth Williams Awarded NASBLA Boating Officer of the Year for 2016
Senior Officer Williams’ outstanding efforts in boating safety education and boating law enforcement, as well as his dedication to training as a member of the Boating Cadre, were all an integral part of his selection. Williams is assigned to Northumberland County.
“Ken engages in numerous boater education opportunities in and around the northern neck of Virginia, where he uses his expertise to provide instruction and education to the public. His knowledge and understanding of boating laws make him a very effective enforcement officer as well as an instructor and mentor for our new officers,” said Major Scott Naff of DGIF.
Senior Officer Williams has served the boating community in the Virginia’s northern neck since 2006. He conducted 35 on-water boat patrols and 101 boat inspections on the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries in a five-county area in 2016. Williams is a certified criminal justice instructor and serves on the agency’s boating training cadre. Officer Williams led his district with 30 boating arrests, 5 of which were alcohol related.
During 2016, Williams also assisted emergency management personnel with inventorying debris and placing hazard markers in the Rappahannock River in the aftermath of a tornado; assisted the Virginia Port Authority when a cargo ship lost a portion of its load in the Chesapeake Bay; and he responded to a distress call in the Coan River that resulted in the rescue of a sailboat operator through rough waters and extreme wind chill.
NASBLA is a national nonprofit organization that works to develop public policy for recreational boating safety.
The Fishin’ Report is put together from recent reports from avid anglers, fishing guides, marinas and bait shops for major rivers and lakes all across the state. We encourage you to take advantage of the unusually warm sunny days and head out to your favorite river or lake and take a kid fishing. Please use caution when planning any outdoor activities or going on the water. Always wear your life jacket and let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return. Check conditions before you venture out.
Send your fishing photos directly to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Citation Brook Trout Caught at Graves Mountain Lodge Trout Heritage Kids Fishing Day April 1st
It was no April Fool’s joke when 12 year old Zain Rehman from Ashburn in Northern Virginia, called out to his Dad, Fazal, “I think I got a big one?!?” Indeed he did- a citation sized 18 3/4 inch brook trout caught in the Rose River right in front of Graves Mountain Lodge where he was fishing with 200 other youngsters at the annual Trout Heritage Kids Fishing Day. It was an exciting day for Zain as earlier he was thrilled to hold a red corn snake at the DGIf exhibit and learn to use a scratch box turkey call. The event is co-sponsored by the Rapidan Chapter of Trout Unlimited and DGIF and hosted by the Graves family. See the TOR feature article for additional photos.
Near Record Bowfin Caught in Lake Meade
This 15lb, 8oz Bowfin was caught in Lake Meade in late March by Robert Jones from Northern Virginia. Meghann Rothgeb, DGIF Fish Citation Coordinator notes that the Bowfin is 1lb shy of the 16lb 8oz State record caught in LAke Cahoon in 2004. Robert caught the monster on 6lb test line and was fishing for Crappie. Do you know the difference between the bowfin and the similar looking invasive snakehead? Visit our Fish ID page ‘Know the Difference?’ on the DGIF website for tips.
Late Winter Trout Stocking Paying Off for Anglers as Spring Arrives
by Allen Easterly, DGIF Complementary Work Force Volunteer
The early March snow storm did not deter the Region 4, West [Shenandoah Valley] Complementary Work Force (CWF) volunteers from their trout stocking routine. They braved temperatures in the low 20s, with wind speeds to match, bringing the wind chill factor down to the low, single digits. With a fresh snowfall, they trudged through the white stuff over icy slick rocks and logs, time and time again to bring some beautifully colored Brook Trout to their new home. Before the stocking crew was finished, a few hard core fishermen were beginning to arrive at streamside to try their luck. Once a net full of trout hit the cold mountain waters they quickly scattered in all directions. I’m sure the wily trout spread out nicely so there were nice fish in almost all parts of the stream so every fisherman had an equal opportunity to catch one of these feisty fighters.
Your CWF volunteers are out there for you on every stocking, on every stream, lake and pond, year after year. As the weather warms, new challenges arise for the stocking crews. Poison ivy, ticks, chiggers, snakes, rain, and heat are all handled to fill our waterways with nice steelhead and rainbow, brown and brook trout. Any obstacle we face is well worth the friendship and camaraderie that comes from working together on a common goal. A streamside lunch together or gathering at a restaurant for breakfast as we wait on the stocking truck is memorable times for all.
This particular stocking crew, who were young, 60-80 year old’s, were all volunteers. A day of stocking can wear on anyone, so some young muscle would be very welcome. New volunteers are always welcome. Contact your regional DGIF office for more information and/or an application. The next time you see a stocking crew, take a moment to say thanks for the time they devote to giving you a nice day of fishing. It’s the only compensation we get, and it keeps us coming back.
Want to learn new hunting skills? Or hone the ones you have? If so, this workshop is for you! On May 19-21, Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center in Appomattox, VA will host the Virginia Hunter Skills Weekend in partnership with the Virginia Hunter Education Association [VHEA] and DGIF. The group of dedicated instructors will present 19 classes during the 1½ days that include archery, pistol, shotgun, bow hunting, bow fishing, predator hunting, skeet, survival, and upland bird shooting techniques. Optional evening events include demonstrations and discussions on deer skinning skills and tree stand use and safety. Participants in the waterfowl workshop can paint a duck decoy to take home. Organizers see this as a step in the right direction toward preserving Virginia’s rich hunting heritage.
VHEA Wendy Hyde advises that course descriptions and registration information is available on the Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center web site: www.holidaylake4h.comor by calling Holiday Lake at (434) 248-5444. Information can also be found on the Virginia Hunter Education Association web site: www.vahea.org. Registration deadline is May 5, 2017. The event is open to anyone age 11 and up. Class size is limited so register early!
Feedback from last years event noted, “This was exactly what I was hoping for as an adult that did not have the luxury of growing up around hunting,” and “As a newcomer to the hunting culture, I have to compliment all of the instructors on their professionalism and enthusiastic approach to teaching all levels. As the “first line of defense” in engaging a novice, they do an amazing job of increasing interest level and desire to continue learning more.” And for the entirely-volunteer staff of Hunter Education instructors, that’s exactly what they want to hear.
Mark Fike is a freelance outdoor writer and photographer. Mark writes for Virginia Game and Fish regularly and has been published in Virginia Wildlife, Whitetail Times, Turkey Country, and many other publications. He is also a volunteer DGIF Hunter Education Instructor and school teacher in King George where he mentors a student Outdoor Club.
Pheasant Hunt Provides Safe Shooting Skills Experience for Novice Hunters
March 4th dawned crispy cold as I headed my truck in the direction of what turned out to be a successful youth hunt. After picking up a few youth and a parent, we headed out towards Rose Hill Game Preserve to expose eight youth to our tradition of hunting. Most had never hunted before and the few that had, did so in the past few months. All went through a few prerequisites to include taking the VDGIF Hunters Education Course. Each of the youth were selected based on their maturity and desire to learn to hunt. As readers can imagine, taking 8 youth on a hunting trip where there are a lot of moving parts- such as dogs pointing birds, other humans moving around nearby and a flying bird, is a big undertaking. This was not a trip to take just any newbie on. After completing the hunter ed course and being selected to “try out” for the hunt, the youth then had to prove they could safely handle a shotgun and hit moving targets. We threw clays for the youth over the course of several practices for those that needed it. Several of our youth were true naturals and hit clays right away. One even was breaking clays with a Remington semiautomatic .410! Another is on the 4-H Shotgun team but had never hunted. Then, we had a few young ladies that had never shot moving targets before. One of our young women was found to be right handed and left eye dominant. I would think we had a few challenges to overcome but the youth turned that idea upside down. The young lady with the eye dominance challenge was instructed how to hold the shotgun left handed, her stance was set up and three clays later orange pieces were littering the ground! One of the other young ladies carefully listened to what I had to say about shooting clays and in less fingers than I have on one hand, her clays were flying apart. You have to love young people that listen carefully and execute the directions like that! I had two “dueling shooters,” as I started referring to them, that asked for two clays to be thrown at once at one of our practices. Both lined up next to each other and much to my amazement, they waited until the clays crossed paths close enough to be taken with one shot. Both girls waited for that moment and then tried to be the first one to break the clays. I have to say, pride surged in my chest. The youth were amazing! We worked with the others until they were hitting clays and then offered additional practices for those that needed it. The youth invested a lot of time in preparing for their hunting opportunity. Read the rest of the story and view the gallery of photos at: http://fikeoutdoors.com/blog.html
On April 1, 2017, the Lee County Strutters chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) held its 5th Annual Youth Turkey Hunt. This program is supported by the 2016 Virginia Wildlife eStore (www.ShopDGIF.com) Grant Program through a partnership between the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and the Wildlife Foundation of Virginia. The event was also sponsored by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Daniel Boone Soil and Water Conservation District, Liberty Sport and Pawn and Bass Pro Shops.
The youth participants gathered on the afternoon of March 26, 2017 for a pre-hunt meeting to pattern their shotguns and receive information regarding the upcoming hunt. Nine youngsters participated in this year’s event and each hunter was accompanied by adult mentors to provide direction and monitor safety on the various public and private properties located in Lee County.
The hunters gathered very early in the morning on the opening day of Youth/Apprentice Spring Turkey Weekend. Several of the participants had encounters with turkeys in the field and all enjoyed the sounds of gobbling and anticipation of a gobbler coming in. Three of the youth were able to successfully harvest a wild turkey during the hunt.
Each youth hunter received a camouflage hat, diaphragm turkey calls and a commemorative 2017 Virginia NWTF Jakes Turkey Hunt box call. To conclude the event, everyone enjoyed lunch provided by the Lee County Strutters.
Tosh Barnette, JAKES event coordinator and former DGIF CPO, proudly noted that this event had received the 2016 and 2015 Virginia State Chapter NWTF “Best Repeat JAKES Save the Hunt Event” for the Youth Spring Turkey Hunt. The Chapter also recieved recognition for their JAKES Event in September. Tosh acknowledged that the support of the Virginia Wildlife eStore grant allowed the Chapter to expand the event to include more young novice hunters and pass on our treasured hunting heritage and traditions important to the culture of Southwest Virginia.
Record Number of Gobblers Harvested During Youth and Apprentice Spring Turkey Hunting Weekend
Youth and novice hunters reported killing a record 624 bearded turkeys during the special Saturday and Sunday Youth and Apprentice Spring Turkey Hunting weekend, a 4 percent increase over the 2016 total of 598. On Saturday 69% (433) of the turkeys were reported killed and 31 % (191) on Sunday.
The opening of the regular spring gobbler season wekend April 8-9 was also successful for many turkey hunters. In contrast to the snow and cold windy conditions last year, last weekends opening showed a dramatic increase in both Saturday and Sunday harvests.
Spring Gobbler Opening Weekend 2017
Saturday, April 8th 2,019
Sunday, April 9th 1,028
Weekend Total 3,047
Spring Gobbler Opening Weekend 2016
Saturday, April 9th 1,610
Sunday, April 10th 681
Weekend Total 2,291
Share your photos of the fun and excitement of smiling young hunters during the spring youth gobbler hunting weekend April 1-2 with The Outdoor Report and other websites. There are three opportunities to share your photos of smiling young hunters with their trophy gobblers and possibly win some great prizes..
Remember Safety First! Because turkeys have both keen hearing and sharp eyesight, camouflage is worn by hunters. It is essential for every hunter to positively identify their target and the area beyond their target, before pulling the trigger. Most hunting fatalities are the result of the hunter not making sure of his or her target. Be safe and have fun!
The Virginia Outdoor Lovers Expo on April 22, 2017 will be a weekend full of outdoor adventure! With FREE events for the novice nature-lover, to the more advanced folks who are looking for that next adrenaline rush, this expo handles all of that. The Expo will have live music, beer, raffle tickets, giveaways, and more. The event will be held in Radford’s Bisset Park on the banks of the New River from 10am- 4pm. This third annual event raises awareness of the diverse outdoor recreation opportunities that are abundant across Southwest Virginia. DGIF Regional Fisheries Manager, Bill Kittrell, invites participants to visit the Agencies exhibit to learn about the many opportunities to enjoy hunting, fishing, boating and wildlife viewing in the Southwest region. Spend the first day learning about new destinations to hike, bike, kayak, rock climb, or try something new with the many other activities the region provides. Local businesses, clubs, outdoor organizations, and others will be on hand to share information to get you out on your next outdoor adventure.
Want more? Book an off-site trip to explore somewhere new with your family or friends by joining a guided excursion. Appalachian Spring, a 19-county, Southwest Virginia community and economic development regional initiative, sponsors the event which has more than 80 vendors and demonstrations from throughout the region.
The Bluebell Festival at Merrimac Farms on April 9th offers a spectacular display of Virginia Bluebells that carpet the floodplain along Cedar Run for nearly a mile. This is also a wonderful opportunity to learn more about Merrimac Farm Wildlife Management Area, meet local environmental organizations and the people who are working to improve our community.
A series of naturalist led tours will follow an easy one-mile walk through the floodplain from 10 am-4 pm. Each tour has a special focus; although leaders cover all interesting sights. Local organizations will share displays and activities for children of all ages. Check online at pwconserve.org for the tour schedule and a list of participating organizations.
A bake sale and a hand-painted rain barrel raffle to benefit stewardship projects at Merrimac Farm round out the event. Concessions and food will be available for purchase. Bring binoculars, cameras, the kids, and come out to join us for a day of fun!
Sponsored by VA Dept. of Game & Inland Fisheries and Prince William Conservation Alliance with support from Marine Corps Base Quantico. For more information, check online at www.pwconserve.org or contact Prince William Conservation Alliance at 703.499.4954, email@example.com, pwconserve.org
“Spring turkey hunters should enjoy quality spring gobbler hunting in 2017 throughout the Commonwealth,” according to Gary Norman, DGIF Wild Turkey Project Leader.
“The Spring Gobbler Survey report for the 2016 season gives our best forecast for the upcoming season. I don’t expect a significant change in the upcoming season harvest levels. As always, weather is a critical issue, namely weekend weather in the first 2-3 weekends,” Norman added.
The Department’s Brood Surveys suggests reproduction has been average over the past 4 years. Under these conditions populations are expected to remain stable. Given that turkeys are believed to be at record levels for the Commonwealth, stable is desirable.
Norman says one negative issue is that turkeys are not uniformly spread across our landscape. Stable but low population levels are red flags that the Department is addressing with shorter fall seasons. Unfortunately, we have not seen above-average recruitment in these problem areas for many years.
“The unseasonable warm weather in February has accelerated the signs of spring, including gobbling. Some hunters have expressed concern that we will miss peak gobbling times this spring. My thinking on this concern is that March weather generally has more impact than February on the chronology of mating, egg-laying, incubation, and hatching, and it’s presumptive to think March will be as warm as February. However, we can expect some early springs and 2017 may turn out to eventually be one,” said Norman.
While an early spring can accelerate reproduction, such conditions only move the timetable up by 10-14 days. Day-length is more critical to these biological processes than warmer temperatures.
“Starting hunting closer to nest incubation will improve, not detract from hunter success rates. Currently, we start spring hunting at the peak of egg-laying (mid-April). A 2-week advance in reproduction would start our season when most hens are on the nest and under these conditions; gobblers are typically more responsive to calling. Our long (5-week, 6 weekends) season should capture this peak gobbling period. If there is any impact, I expect to see it at the end of the 2017 spring season,” according to Norman.
“Finally, a mentor of mine, Mr. Jim Pack, retired Turkey Biologist for the WV DNR would always qualify his gobbler season forecast by saying “Good gobbling requires good weather”. You may have seen me use that line before. That’s definitely difficult to forecast but ever so true. I would like to thank everyone that contributed to this survey and I hope you find it interesting reading. Best wishes to you for a safe and enjoyable spring season.”
The 2016 SGS Results and 2017 Survey can be found on the DGIF website.
The Virginia Bear Hunters Association will hold their annual Spring Field Trial on March 25th, 2017 in Botetourt County and start time is 10:00 A.M. Food will be available and dog supplies will also be sold. VABHA President Richard Sprinkle invites all interested bear hunters to come join in the fun and excitement of this spring ritual. The event uses a scented moving mechanical bear for the baying contests. The dash race and treeing events use a scented hide in combination with a mounted bear. Trophies are awarded for First, Second, and Third place in each event. Dogs entered in each of the three single dog events will compete for the Top Bear Dog of the event. There will also be a youth bear baying contest held with the top five youth/dog competitors receiving trophies. Driving directions are : From Buchanan take Rt. 43 West for seven miles; From Eagle Rock take Rt. 43 East for seven miles and watch for signs. Visit their website at http://www.virginiabearhunters.org/ for more information or call Richard Sprinkle at 540-254-2578.
To increase awareness of the activities of our dedicated Conservation Police Officers (CPO), 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. These reports are prepared from the officer’s actual field notes by Kim McCarthy, Executive Assistant to Major Scott Naff [Operations] and Major Bryan Young [Administration] of the Law Enforcement Division VDGIF. 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 outdoor enthusiasts an undeserved bad reputation. Don’t let the actions of a few outlaws tarnish the reputation of Virginia’s sportsmen!
Region I – Tidewater
Assisting Sheriff’s Office – On February 28, 2017, CPO Glenn Cramer was on patrol in King George County, when a call was put out by the Sheriff’s office regarding a breaking and entering in progress. Cramer was close to the location and responded. He was requested by the Deputy Supervisor to stage in the driveway. Cramer and another deputy were quickly first on scene. They made contact with the victim in her home who advised them she had heard a noise in her basement and went to check on it when she was confronted by a male suspect. The suspect fled the home. When the Sheriff’s K9 unit arrived on scene, Cramer accompanied the K9 unit providing security. The suspect’s foot tracks led to a field area where he apparently left by vehicle based on the tire tracks. The incident is under investigation by the Sheriff’s Office.
DGIF CPO’s Participate in Search and Rescue Training – The 11th Annual Steven Todd Dooley Search and Rescue Forum was held February 27- March 3. This training is sponsored by the Port of Virginia and the United States Coast Guard. It had 147 participants representing 32 federal, state and local agencies. The Port of Virginia says this year’s event was the largest it has ever had. This week long training had evolutions that encompassed many aspects of search and rescue operations. Boat crews had the opportunity to hone their skills in the areas of small boat handling, oil spill boom deployment, sonar operations, and search patterns. DGIF had eight officers participate in this year’s training. These officers utilized 27’ patrol boats from District’s 12 and 13. These patrol boats are outfitted with upgraded electronics packages. These vessels allow our CPO’s to effectively operate along Virginia’s coast at any time, day or night. The boat crews use the on-board sonar capabilities to locate underwater objects, and FLIR imaging to see in the dark. Norfolk Fire Battalion Chief Worley and CPO Murray facilitated the first responder breakout session. They and their guest instructor discussed radiation detection and interagency coordination. CPO Murray also presented the 2016 Boat Incident Statistics to the group.
Honesty; The Potential Difference Between a Warning and a Summons – At the conclusion of the 2016-2017 deer hunting season, CPO Cameron Dobyns spent some time looking through the agency’s deer harvest information data related to Essex County. He detected several people with potential violations. He contacted the individuals and inquired into their hunting activities on specific days based on information in the database. One subject was interviewed and quickly admitted he knew he had made a mistake. He was given a written warning for killing an antlerless deer on a non either sex day. Dobyns met with another suspect on March 05, 2017, who admitted to a buck and doe he killed, but attempted to claim he killed the doe in Westmoreland County instead of Essex County. When Dobyns showed him in the game law digest that Westmoreland also was not an either sex day on November 25, 2016, the suspect admitted to killing a doe and a buck in Essex on a day that was not legal to harvest doe deer. A magistrate summons was obtained and the suspect was charged for killing an antlerless deer on a non-either sex day.
Westmoreland County Blind Patrol – On Sunday, March 12, 2017, Sergeant Rich Goszka and CPO Dan Rabago conducted a patrol in Westmoreland County targeting abandon stationary waterfowl blinds and offshore blind stake license. The officers detected three violations of the offshore blind stake laws for further investigation.
Region IV – Mountains & Shenandoah Valley and Northern Piedmont
Too Much Time on the Phone – While working trout enforcement on Saturday, March 4th, Sergeant Carl Martin checked an angler on the Delayed Harvest Section of Passage Creek. The fisherman carried in a plastic bag a trout with the artificial lure still in its mouth. He explained he kept the fish since it swallowed the hook. He checked his phone for a copy of his fishing license, but didn’t find it. After walking back to the vehicle, the angler said he had a fishing license and kept “looking” for it on the phone. After considerable phone time by the fisherman, Sgt. Martin asked for his ID and contacted the VDGIF Dispatch to request a fishing license check. While checking, Dispatcher Ashley Durr could tell the angler was actually purchasing his licenses as we spoke on the phone! Upon being told of this “real time” purchase, Sgt. Martin made the appropriate charges.
Sarah White’s Fishing Guide’s Notebook
Editor’s note… The Fishin’ Report is put together from recent reports from 20 plus fishing guides, marinas and avid anglers for major rivers and lakes all across the state. Sarah is off for this edition and we have gathered reports from most of the regular contributors. The websites or telephone numbers are listed for all our reporters so contact them for latest information, as with spring weather conditions and fish activity may change quickly. We encourage you to take advantage of the unusually warm sunny days and head out to your favorite river or lake and take a kid fishing. Please use caution in planning any outdoor activities or going on the water. Always wear your life jacket and let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return. Check conditions before you venture out. For more information on a particular area contact the guide or marina listed through their website, Facebook page, or telephone and please mention you saw their contact info in The Outdoor Report.
Region 1: Tidewater
Little Creek Reservoir: Park Attendant Carson Grainer reports the bass bite is good. They should be getting ready to bed soon, which will make it even better. They are going for jerkbaits, sticks and cranks. No word on crappie and bream. Cat action is slow, but with the aid of some stinkbaits a fair amount of lunkers have come in. For more info call (757) 603- 7853.
Beaverdam Reservoir: Contributed by Park Supervisor Michelle Dawn.
The water has dropped 12 degrees in a week and a half, the pattern of the fish have changed once again. Many of the crappie that have been on their beds have toughed out the cold and are holding strong, but many of the Bass have changed their patterns, depending on what side of the lake you are fishing. The pickerel have not budged and will still bite anything. The perch have been showing up around the floating dock, and a few nice sized catfish have made an appearance. Live minnows are still the most popular bait at the park, but the white jigs are having the best luck with hooking a fish. Although the water is cold, the fish still have to eat, you just need to think like a fish, and figure out what they are up to. Warmer weather is on it’s way, and the lake is about to become active with new parents and babies everywhere. The osprey have even began getting their nest together. The Bass will be next.
Saturday, March 18th we held our opening tournament for the Beaverdam Big Bash Open Bass series. The morning started off cold with a chance of rain. The water Temp topped out at 46 degrees. Many of the anglers said it was a tough day on the water, but they still managed to bring in some nice bags.
Quillie Countiss and Robert Countiss Placed first with an 18 pound 5 ounce bag. They caught most of their fish in 12 feet of water. Jerry Jenkins and Ricky West placed 2nd, with 12:3, they caught most of their fish shallow. Lorenz Branden Placed third with 11:15. Lorenz fishes solo. not too shabby. Biggest Fish of the day was caught by Jerry Hogge weighing in at 5:2.
There was no ryhme or reason to the way fish were biting Saturday. There was some bright colored big belly girls weighed in and some pale deep water bucks. Some of these big girls look like their bellies are ready to pop while others look like they are not even thinking of spawning. Every single fish caught was released and healthy. Good job taking care of the lake yesterday.
We will see everyone again on April 15th for our Next open Bass Tournament. For more information about fishing Beaverdam you can contact the ranger station at (804) 693-2107 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy and fish responsibly.
Cat Point Creek: Contributed by local guide Penn Burke of Spring Shad Charters (804) 354-3200.
Chickahominy Lake: Contributed by Captain Art Conway of Conway’s River Rat Guide Service, (804) 746-2475.
On Saturday 3/18/2017 mid-day water temperatures in Chickahominy Lake were in the mid 40’s in the main lake and up many creeks. The lake level was a few inches above the top of the dam and the water was light brown and slightly cloudy. Early spring patterns reverted to late winter conditions with the cold front last week, but should return this next week. Action over the past month has been most reliable following several days of stable water temperatures, which should return in a few days. Most blue cats and bullheads were on flats and channels in the main lake and scattered in creeks, and hitting live minnows and cut bait. Prior to the cold front, some crappie were still on mid-depth flats, along drop-offs, and in channels in the main lake, but many crappie have been moving into creeks in typical pre-spawn locations. Crappie vacated the creeks following the cold front, but should return fairly quickly. Active crappie were hitting live minnows, Wright Bait Co. and Southern Pro curlytail jigs, small tubes, Kalin crappie scrubs, and small swim baits. Small to medium yellow perch appeared to still be carrying some eggs and were scattered or in loose aggregates in creeks and along the channel at the upper end of the lake. When located, they were hitting live minnows, small swim baits, and small jigs. Most bluegill and shellcracker were still along channel edges in the main lake but a few had moved into the creeks and were occasionally hitting small jigs, Nikko nymphs, small swim baits, and live worms. Most bass were on flats, along drop-offs, or in channels in the major creeks and the main lake, but some bass have relocated to shorelines following periods of sunny moderate weather. Pickerel appeared to be mostly post-spawn but were still in many creeks on shorelines or around wood cover, especially up the lake. When active, bass and pickerel were hitting live minnows, spinnerbaits, swim baits, stick worms, crank baits, jerk baits, and jigs.
Blackwater and Nottoway Rivers: Contributed by Riverkeeper Jeff Turner. Contact the Blackwater-Nottoway Riverkeeper’s website for more information: www.blackwaternottoway.com. Jeff and Moonpie report the shad are biting hot and heavy in the Blackwater and Nottoway. Good chance to get the family out for some real fun.
Upper and Lower Tidal James: Local Guide, Captain Mike Hoke, Life’s Revenge Guide Service, (804) 357-8518, www.lifesrevengefishing.com.
Middle James: Contributed by local angler Doug Reynolds. You can find all the current river and fishing information at http://www.jamesriversmallmouth.com website. As always, let’s go fishing! Nothing this time around.
Kerr Reservoir: Bobcat’s Lake Country Store, (434) 374-8381. Bass: With water temperatures in the mid 40s to low 50s fishing has been good, most fishermen are using shallow running crankbaits, rat-l-traps, jerkbaits and jigs, fish have been holding on red clay banks and rocky points in 1 to 8 feet of water. Reports of good numbers of fish and 5 fish bags from 14 to 19 pounds have been coming in. For more info see Bobby Whitlow’s website for a full and detailed report: www.bobcatslakecountry.com.
James at Lynchburg: Angler’s Lane, (434) 385-0200, www.anglerslane.com. Tom Reisdorf reports that for brook trout in the mountain streams, water levels are low for this time of year, water temperatures are in the 40’s. Trout are hitting purple haze dry flies and elk hair caddis. Quill Gordon dry flies are getting ready to hatch as the water temperatures start to rise. Stream clarity is good.
Brown and Rainbow trout on the Jackson River: Water levels are lower than normal for this time of year, water temperatures are in the mid 40’s. Browns and Rainbows are taking Green Monster nymphs, Rubber leg Prince Nymphs, and Rainbow Czech nymphs. River clarity is good.
Smallmouth bass on the James River: Water levels low and clear with temperatures finally starting to rise out of the 40’s. Smallies are taking Crawfish imitations.
Lake Gaston: Holly Grove Marina. Holly Grove was closed until mid February. Call to get current info- leave a message at (434) 636-3455.
Smith Mountain Lake: Contributed by Captain Travis Patsell of Cats N ‘ Stripers Fishing Charters (540) 580-3487. www.CatsNstripers.com. Visit the website for latest information.
Region 3: Southwest
Special Brook Trout Stockings at Clinch Mountain Fee Fishing Area in April – Brook trout will be stocked in Big Tumbling Creek located at the Clinch Mountain Fee Fishing Area during the month of April beginning after opening weekend. The month long special brook trout stocking will include more than 400 large brook trout sized 1.5 to 2 lbs. mixed with stocker size brook trout. Brook trout stocked throughout the month will test the skills of anglers of all ages. New this year, two barrier-free trails are now open for limited mobility anglers. DGIF Regional Fisheries Biologist Steve Owens, reminds anglers that a daily permit ($8) is required of anglers; however, children 12 and under may fish without a permit as long as they are accompanied by a permitted adult and their combined creel does not exceed that of the adult (6 trout). Steve also notes that there is no longer a license agent available in nearby Saltville, so anglers should purchase their trout licenses and daily permits prior to arrival at Clinch Mountain WMA. The closest license agents are located at Walmart stores in Abingdon, Lebanon and Marion. Also note internet and cell service are not available on site, so if purchasing licenses and daily permits on-line, complete transaction while in a coverage area. Steve also advises that experienced anglers like his daughter Clara, recommend you pick up some salmon peach power bait to net that big one! Additional information may be found by contacting the Marion Regional Office (276-783-4860).
Claytor Lake: Rock House Marina . For more info call at (540) 980-1488, or go to www.rockhousemarina.com.
New River: Tangent Outfitters, (540) 257-0415 email@example.com. Shawn Hash notes the warm weather has fishing improving on the New, check the website for current conditions.
Upper New River: Contributed by Captain Forest Pressnell, (540) 818-5274. For information go to www.newrivercharter.com. The Upper New River is still suffering from the drought which has us at low levels and Gin clear water. These factors have made the walleye fishing tough except on cloudy days or at night. Muskie are hitting well as they feed up before their spawn, but the small mouth fishing has slowed as the water temp has dropped back down to 40 degrees. With the arrival of Spring it will be an exciting time shortly on the smallies. Give us a call if you want to book a trip in the “Prime” time mid April – mid May. God Bless our Woods, Waters and You!
Top New River: Contributed by local guide Richie Hughes, owner of New River Trips LLC., firstname.lastname@example.org. Needed rain has helped the water levels on the “Top New” (Mouth of Wilson to Fries), but the gauges are still below average. Water temps are around 50 which is warm for this time of year. The full moon this Sunday will help turn on the musky bite. Air temps will be closer to normal for the next few days with some possible wintry weather. Should be some good early spring fishing for smallmouth when we get the next warm up. Goto newrivertrips.com for trip info. Check out newrivertrips.com for trip info, or call (276) 236-5492, (276) 235-2514 (cell).
New, Clinch and Holston Rivers: Contributed by Tommy Cundiff of River Monster Guide Service, (844) 588-2347. If you would like to get a trip in during one of the most beautiful times to be on a river in Southwest Virginia, call 844-luv-2fish now. We have some spots available and will put you on some fish. You can also visit our website at rivermonsterguideservice.com, or like us on Facebook and send us a message. Thanks and good fishing!
Region 4: Mountain and Shenandoah Valley
North and South Forks Shenandoah River: Harry Murray, (540) 984-4212, www.murraysflyshop.com. According to Harry, both the north and the south forks of the Shenandoah are good places to bring up a fine smallie. You’ll have the best chances in deep pools. Good flies are: Murray’s Hellgrammite, size 4; and Murray’s Magnum Streamer, size 4. The water is clear, full and 47 degrees.
The action in the delayed harvest and stocked streams in the Valley is pretty hot, especially in the deep pools and below the riffles. Good flies are: Mr. Rapidan Streamer, size 10; and the Murray’s Larva, size 12. The water is 49 degrees full and clear. The mountain brookie streams are too cold to fish.
Harry will be giving his nationally renowned classes every Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon until April. It’s a good investment if you want to learn new skills or brush up on old ones. Check his website for complete details.
Lake Moomaw: Local Guide, Mike Puffenberger, (540) 468-2682, www.mapletreeoutdoors.com. “Puff” and his family are getting ready for the Highland Sugar Maple harvest and Festival in mid -March. Visit their website for current information.
Region 4: Northern Piedmont
Tidal Potomac: Contributed by local guide Captain Steve Chaconas.
Forget Last Week… Bitter cold and high winds kept us away from the river last week. But, bass feeding is already in motion. Water temperatures dropped from near 60 to around 40! A significant warm up this week and longer days combined with shorter nights will warm water, faster. 60s to start the week with mid 40s under mostly sunny skies the remainder of the week with a chance of rain Friday. Morning lows in the mid 30s to 45.
Find the warmest water and try to either stimulate feeding or reaction bites. The perfect middle of this road is a suspending Lucky Craft Pointer 78 jerkbait. Work clown patterns on Gamma Edge Fluorocarbon line with long pauses. Vary the force of twitches to present both an easy meal and a reaction bite. Lipless crankbaits like the Lucky Craft LV RTO on 10 pound Edge can be crawled along the bottom, over grass and through wood. Vary this presentation too by popping or ripping out of cover to bring reaction strikes.
As for feeding response, try a shaky head with Mizmo 1/4 ounce Barbwire heads on 6 pound Edge tied to 15-pound Torque braid. Green pumpkin 5-inch Doodle worms shaken and allowed to sit can encourage a feeding bite from even lethargic fish. Drop shot the same worm on a 2/0 Mustad Mega Bite hook and 3/16 ounce Water Gremlin BullShot weight. Mizmo tubes with insert heads can also be fished slowly or with erratic reaction strike presentations. Same line set up. Soak worms in garlic flavor Jack’s Juice Bait Spray. Target grass clumps, wood cover and docks.
Later in the day or end of the week, as water warms into the mid 50s, expect fish to be a bit more aggressive taking spinnerbaits and power cranks.
Captain Steve Chaconas/National Bass Guide Service/SEOPA Boat U.S. On-line Expert National Bass Fishing Show 8619 Camden St. Alexandria, VA 22308 home office: 703-360-3472 cell: 703-380-7119 email@example.com Visit for updated reports www.nationalbass.com “Take me fishing!”
Lake Orange: Contact Darrell Kennedy of Angler’s Landing (540) 672-3997.
Lake Anna: C. C. McCotter, McCotter’s Lake Anna Guide Service 540.894.9144, www.mccotterslakeanna.com. visit our website for curent conditions.
Lake Anna: Contributed by local guide Jim Hemby, (540) 967-3313, www.jimhemby.com.
The Youth & Apprentice Spring Turkey Hunting Weekend 2017 will take place on April 1 (statewide) and April 2 (private land only with the written permission of the landowner), making a perfect opportunity to take a young person or apprentice hunter afield for a chance of taking a gobbler. Resident and nonresident youth hunters 15 years of age and under or holders of a valid apprentice hunting license, when in compliance with all applicable laws and licenses, may hunt when accompanied and directly supervised by an adult who has a valid Virginia hunting license or is exempt from purchasing a hunting license. Nonresident youth of any age need to have the appropriate licenses (unless exempt from purchasing a license).
Hunting hours are from 1/2 hour before sunrise to sunset.
Bag limit is one turkey (bearded bird only) per youth/apprentice hunter, per weekend.
Turkeys harvested by youth or apprentice hunters count against their daily and season bag limit.
Adult hunters accompanying youth or apprentice turkey hunters:
do not need a deer/turkey license on this weekend.
may assist with calling.[electronic calls are not allowed]
shall not carry or discharge a firearm.
shall maintain close visual and verbal contact with and provides adequate direction to the youth or apprentice hunter.
Remember Safety First! Because turkeys have both keen hearing and sharp eyesight, camouflage is worn by hunters. It is essential for every hunter to positively identify their target and the area beyond their target, before pulling the trigger. Most hunting fatalities are the result of the hunter not making sure of his or her target.
Share your photos of the fun and excitement of smiling young hunters during the spring youth gobbler hunting weekend April 1-2 with The Outdoor Report and other websites. There are three opportunities to share your photos of smiling young hunters with their trophy gobblers and possibly win some great prizes..
The Virginia State Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation is hosting their 2nd annual JAKES Youth Spring Gobbler Weekend photo contestfor youngsters hunting in Virginia during the tw0-day Youth Weekend April 1-2. There will be two winning categories, 12 and under, and 13-15 year old hunters. TWO winners will receive a new 20 ga pump shotgun. You do not have to harvest a turkey to enter the contest, BUT you must post a picture of you in the field during the hunt, AND holding a sign or piece of paper, with the hashtag #VA-JAKES. The shotgun will need to be registered to your parent or guardian, and both winners must meet all FFL requirements. Visit the VA NWTF website photo contest page for contest rules and information.