Pond fishing is good as long as you don't go on a cold or windy day. We managed a good bag of sunfish, crappie and bass on Wednesday of last week but fishing was slower on Friday.
Lake Anna anglers are catching some nice striper and crappie uplake.
Here is a quick fishing report for the Northern Neck area. White perch are hitting in the Rappahannock River in Fredericksburg but the bite can be hit or miss. I did not catch any perch but a man fishing the same spot the day before caught 51! Shad are hitting green and white colored jigs and grubs as well as Sabiki Rigs from Fredericksburg down. One of my Hickory shad had roe in it. What a springtime delicacy! I noticed some guys catching eating sized blue catfish. Rockfish are in the river but are catch and release only.
Pond fishing is good as long as you don't go on a cold or windy day. We managed a good bag of sunfish, crappie and bass on Wednesday of last week but fishing was slower on Friday.
Lake Anna anglers are catching some nice striper and crappie uplake.
A report came out from VDGIF not long ago about summer surveys they did on turkey numbers. Apparently the juvenile birds, (poults) in our region were few in number. Informal surveys while driving in King George, Stafford, Essex, Caroline, Hanover, and Westmoreland counties have turned up few birds strutting, fanning or feeding in fields during my travels. I hope the season shows a different outcome than what I am not seeing!
A chat with Donna at Catfish Kellys in Ferry Farm on Rt. 3 shows catch and release striper action is good in the river near Fredericksburg. Some shad and herring are slowly showing up. Crappie action in ponds and the river is quite good. Bloodworms are taking some nice perch and catfish are hitting cut shad very well. Some bruisers are reportedly inhaling some baits south of town. Bass action is slow. The inconsistent weather is driving all of us nuts. Cold rain this Saturday will undoubtedly screw up some youth day turkey hunts and fishing.
I plan on hitting the river and a pond today or tomorrow. If I catch anything notable I will put it on here.
I welcome photos of fish or game that are tastefully taken. Criteria for photos to be published include:
appropriate clothing, no alcohol, cigarettes, excessive blood, or other inappropriate items. Keep trash out of the backdrop of photos. Please include name with last initial, body of water where caught or county where game is harvested, species if not easily recognized, size, and in general where on the water it was caught. I don't want others crowding your spot so make it vague like: "Denny L caught this snakehead in Aquia Creek at night on a popper. " or "Suzy Q bagged this 22 pound gobbler in Caroline County in a field. It has 1 inch spurs and was her first bird." E-mail to me at email@example.com
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Trophies for 1st and 2nd place and big fish.
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FINALLY we got a much deserved break from winter and a few warm days. While today it is cold, the temps will warm up a bit and with it the chance for some fishing. As the late winter sun begins climbing higher and higher in angle in the sky and daylight lasts a few minutes longer each day, we will see fishing improving. I suspect I was not the only one that went and wet a line last week on those two warms days. I bet some nice crappie were hauled in from local ponds and I know I took a few nice bass home using a white spinnerbait.
Look for the white perch to start showing up around Tappahannock any time now. Shad and herring will be in Fredericksburg within the month. Some yellow perch are starting to nibble minnows in Occoquan River and other tribs of the Potomac. I have already seen frog eggs in the swamp!
Local hunter, Steve Purks of King George County, was inducted into the VA NWTF Conservation Hall of Fame yesterday in Roanoke. Steve is a self taught turkey, waterfowl and deer hunter. He shared that his first turkey he ever brought home was taken with the aid of an old Lynch box call that his grandfather had given him. The old bird, as Steve put it, was not necessarily fooled by his calling but rather by the fact that another gobbler on the other side of him started gobbling that morning and the two started dueling for the affection of the "hen" between them. That was the start to Steve's passion for turkey hunting. While he won't admit it, he has become a master at turkey hunting and has guided many people to their birds, quite a few to their first ever turkey, further lighting the fire of turkey hunting.
Steve's desire to excel at hunting has brought him full circle. He now spends an incredible amount of his free time studying wildlife and game animals' habits and teaching others what he knows. He is a very unselfish man who never asks for a thing in return when he takes someone hunting. Steve has spent a lot of his time taking women from NWTF's Women in the Outdoors program hunting for waterfowl and turkey. He also has volunteered many years to help the late Buddy Fines conduct and guide youngsters for youth hunts. He also helps Rick Wilks conduct his youth hunts in the area. As if that is not enough he has become the "unofficial guide" for the youth of the King George Outdoor Club (www.kgoutdoorclub.com) for geese.
Steve is very careful when managing wildlife on properties he hunts. If there are not enough game animals to be harvested and still leave numbers to procreate for the following season, he does not harvest any game until the numbers are sufficiently restored.
To be nominated for this award and lifetime achievement, the individual must be a member of NWTF for at least 5 years and must exhibit traits and character that exemplifies NWTF’s mission to conserve, hunt and share. To be inducted is a huge honor and not something taken lightly. Three Virginians were inducted in January at the banquet. They were Kirk Gordan, Billy Thurman and Steve Purks. They join previous recipients such as Bob Duncan (VDGIF Director), Sherry Crumley (board member of NWTF), and Gary Norman (VDGIF’s turkey biologist). No one has ever been nominated, much less received an induction to the VA NWTF Hall of Fame before from our region. The fact that Steve got this honor speaks volumes about his dedication to hunting, sharing what he knows and conservation. A number of people wrote letters recommending him to include the youth that he has taken hunting. Some spoke of his generosity, others of the time he takes to help them learn, his patience when teaching them and his humor. The youth that he has impacted spans many years. We are thrilled Steve Purks was able to receive this well deserved honor and are proud to call him our friend!
By Kristy Fike
We jumped out of the truck and then we formed a semi-circle around our mentors. Mr. Spuchesi, our local game warden, conducted a safety brief and introduced us to our mentors for the day. Katelyn was mentored by Julie Abel, Courtney was mentored by Monty Clift, Kayla was mentored by Steve Abel, and I (Kristy) was mentored by Mr. Summers. Katelyn, Julie Abel, Mr. Summers and I were standing about 10 yards apart on a grassy road right in front of a huge grass, sapling, and briar thicket. Courtney and Monty Clift were standing just outside of the grass, sapling, and briar thicket towards our left in a cornfield. Kayla and Steve Abel were standing just outside the grass, sapling and briar thicket towards our right in a grassy field.
Once we were stationed in our spots, it only took a couple minutes for the pack of dogs to uncover a rabbit’s trail. All of us began scanning the terrain in front of us keeping in mind that the rabbit is way ahead of the dogs, sometimes even 100 yards. The dogs were happily trailing multiple rabbits straight up the middle into a huge briar thicket. Then the dogs looped away and trailed another rabbit into the briar thicket with their crisp howls bellowing throughout the land. Meanwhile, Mr. Summers and I spotted a rabbit in range with a safe background and Mr. Summers whispered “Shoot! Shoot! Shoot!” I pulled the trigger. I bagged the first rabbit of the day! Only a couple minutes passed, and we saw another rabbit. Once again with the rabbit in range and a safe background, I shot. With a second rabbit in the bag, I was off to a pretty good start, although I preferred that a girl that had not harvested a rabbit before would have gotten the rabbits. Finally, we heard a couple shots from Kayla’s direction…… she did not get the rabbit. Mr. Abel advised her to take off one of her jackets so it would be easier for her to get her gun in her shoulder. Two back to back shots later she had two rabbits.
We all shouted, “Good job Kayla!” She shouted back “Thanks!”
Meanwhile Courtney missed one rabbit. Meanwhile, Katelyn and I had switched spots, so I was now standing with Julie Abel and Katelyn was standing with Mr. Summers. We knew once the dogs pushed all the way through the thicket where all the rabbits where holing up, it was going to become a stampede of rabbits charging at Katelyn and me. Well it happened just like that! The scene was crazy because six rabbits came flying right through our feet. There was no real safe shot. All we could really do was stand there and look for a safe shot, but those rabbits were gone within a second. We just looked at each other with our eyes nearly popped out of our heads, and we laughed and talked about how amazing and crazy that was. Meanwhile, Kayla bagged more rabbits. She is such a great shot.
Within a few minutes. BANG! The shot came from Courtney’s direction. Curiosity was killing us wanting to know if she bagged the rabbit or not. A shriek echoed loud enough for us all to hear. We got our answer! Courtney was jumping up and down screaming in delight. While walking over, we all yelled “GREAT JOB COURTNEY! WOOH GO COURTNEY!” This was a HUGE deal, because not only was this her first rabbit, but it was also her first kill ever with her new gun! We swarmed her with hugs, high-fives, and congratulations. After taking some pictures, we made our way back to our hunting spots.
A couple rabbits darted in front of me but, I had no shot. Katelyn also had some rabbits in front of her, but she had no shot. The pack was baying and howling their way closer to Katelyn and me. I switched spots with her, putting her where the rabbit was going to cross any minute. The rabbit appeared, and it blended in with the brown grass which made it harder to see. Katelyn was struggling to see him for a few seconds. Then she recognized the rabbit’s outline in the tall brown grass, and she pulled the trigger; her shot splattered right behind him. Meanwhile, Kayla bagged yet another rabbit.
Mr. Spuchesi was calling out to the dogs “TALLY-HO, TALLY-HO!”
He was trying to get them to come to him and put them on another trail. He succeeded.
The pack was rolling. Courtney bagged another rabbit. Katelyn and I turned around facing a smaller briar patch and a hill. The dogs worked their way up the hill and were trying to find a trail. Once they did, they brought rabbits right at Katelyn and me. Katelyn was able to fire off a couple more shots. The dog ended up looping around and coming back and worked their way back up the hill. While they were trying to discover a hot rabbit trail, I took a shot on a rabbit and missed. Kayla finally limited out. The limit is six and she did it! That does not happen very often. She put her gun in the truck and broke out her food. She came over by me and sat on the ground watching.
Mr. Abel stood right behind me, being extra eyes. The dogs’ baying was getting closer and closer to the top of the hill.
“There’s one! Shoot! Shoot!” Mr. Abel said.
I put my gun up, took the shot and missed; the rabbit ran. Mr. Abel helped swing me around, so I could try to take another shot. I missed again. The packed looped back around and worked back up the hill. Mr. Spuchesi was walking up the hill also trying to get the pack on another trail. After a few moments we could hear the pack getting closer again. Mr. Abel spotted another rabbit. It was a safe shot and I took it. I bagged the rabbit. Soon after, the dogs came rolling down the hill. After a while of trying to pick up another trail, we headed for another nearby spot.
We all got stationed out in various locations and got ready. The dogs were hot on one. After a few moments we heard a shot come from Katelyn’s direction. The rabbit kept making the same loop over and over. The dogs stayed on him pretty good until, the rabbit finally went into a hole. We called it a day. On our way out, we saw a couple rabbits, but there was no safe shot on them. We headed for the trucks. Once we got to the trucks we removed layers of camo and laughing retold stories of our hunt. Surely everyone slept well that night, especially the dogs. Thanks to Mr. Spuchesi for taking us all out, our mentors, and the dogs which did a phenomenally good job. A couple of the girls experienced their first rabbit hunt, we put dinner on the table, and we all were able to have fellowship with each other. Thank you so much!
The Middle Potomac Chapter of Ducks Unlimited in Virginia hosted a field goose hunt for physically challenged hunters to include four wheelchair hunters and one ambulatory hunter. The hunt took place January 13th in Westmoreland County on a farm not far from the Potomac River and Popes Creek. Chapter Chairman, Mike Worrell and his committee members teamed up with a local group to put on this hunt. The hunters came from as far away as North Carolina to participate.
The hunters were caravanned from their vehicles by UTV and trailers to a setup in a field that was reported to be a regular feeding area for geese. The amount of goose sign in the field was proof the birds were in the area. Once at the location along a hedgerow, the hunters were then wheeled to plywood covered areas where the hunters could move their wheelchairs around. These positions were tucked into the edge of the field. Portable box blinds were then lifted over set around the hunters to conceal them. A few other blinds were also built into the edge of the field for assistants and callers.
While the hunters were awaiting some geese to sail into the spread, a local hunter and one of the hosts, Joe, went to work cooking a mighty breakfast to keep the hunters warm and happy. The breakfast included hot coffee, fried egg, bacon and cheese sandwiches. Joe did all of this cooking back in the hedgerow with a propane fueled griddle. Every once in a while he would sneak out to the edge of the field and call to the passing geese. The smell of bacon frying and hearing the symphony of goose callers working the flights was a truly unique experience. Unfortunately the wind was gusting to over 20mph and the birds were having a very difficult time even turning into the spread to take a look. One of the younger assistants sitting in the blind commented, “If I were a goose and smelled that great food cooking, I would be feet down and in this spread!”
Still, the hunters were having a good time. Jokes and stories were shared, chatter about dog breeds to include the Boykin that was with one of the hunters was overheard and a good time was had by all. Spirits were high despite the tough conditions. The Middle Potomac Chapter and their hosts and friends that put on the hunt were very much appreciated by the hunters. Who can beat good food, fellowship and hunting all rolled into one? - Mark Fike Outdoor Writer/Photographer www.fikeoutdoors.com
Field Goose Hunt Blitz
New Year’s Day was a memory in the making for me and my youngest daughter. Normally our field goose hunts are scheduled events that involve a generous invite from a friend to go partake in some great shooting somewhere locally. This day was different in that we had just received exclusive permission to hunt some farm fields that had not been hunted in a few years. We were so excited about the prospect of doing it all on our own that we were busy loading up our gear the night before so all we had to do was jump in the truck and drive away in the morning.
The forecast called for cold temperatures. Our hope was that the birds would not take forever to fly. Although I have set up my own tiny spread before, it had been years and I had no idea how this would play out. We did know that the geese tended to fly in that location around 8:30 which gave us time to set things up with some daylight to work with.
When we left the house, the thermometer in the truck was in the single digits. However, our excitement did not allow us to feel that cold. Arriving at the farm I immediately noticed that the standing corn that we planned on hiding in was bare, with only stalks and no leaves on it. Time for plan B! The layout blinds were dragged across the field and backed up to the remains of the standing corn. We needed to blend the blinds in so they did not stick out. The dog’s Switchback already was brushed up good. After putting out goose decoys to the northwest of our position, I quickly drove the truck down over the hill and out of sight, and trekked back to the layouts. Kristy was stuffing her layout and her dog, Baily, was peering out of her Switchback. Baily was probably wondering if this was going to be nap time as our hunts in the duck blind have been this year or was this going to be the real thing. While we laboriously stuffed the layout elastic straps with foliage, we tried to keep watch on the horizon for geese. Once while 35 yards from the layout I turned to see Kristy staring at me with a panicked look in her eyes. She had puffs of steam escaping her coat where her mouth was but no words came out. Then she pointed frantically to the north. There they were; bombers of the black and white kind approaching our position.
“Get in the blinds now!”
I tried to get into mine as she disappeared into hers. My gun was lying on the ground, unloaded, several feet away. My calls were in the blind somewhere, and the door on my blind would not pop up for some reason. I was wedged out of the blind and could not get in. Knowing the birds were very close I dove to the ground next to the blind and lay still. I could hear the wings of the geese as they circled our setup and eyed it curiously. They were probably thinking, “What is that fat dude doing laying on the ground near the corn?”
I hissed at Kristy to get ready to shoot. Imagine the sinking feeling in my gut when she told me her gun was not in her blind with her and it too was unloaded!
Those geese flew away, giving us time to regroup. I hurriedly used the little black leaf rake we had to pull some foliage over the ends of our blinds. Then we got in our blinds. We waited about 20 minutes before one of us noticed more birds coming. I tried desperately to find my calls but could not. I felt like a failure and a rookie. More panic set in. I knew the calls were in the blind with me, but my hands could not find them. Finally I located the lanyard and gave it a yank only to have my camera come flying out of the pocket inside the blind and thump me on the chest. I hurriedly shoved that back into the pocket as the big geese began swinging away from our set up. With no calls to assure them, I had to do something.
We had a goose flag or flapper to wave to get the birds’ attention. The purpose was to add movement to the setup. I remember telling Kristy to put it near my blind. I searched for the opening slit in the side of my layout, but could not find it. After some squirming around and peering out of the side of my fogged up glasses I noticed a zipper that would allow me to reach out and get it. As I fumbled my arm and hand outside of the blind through the slit, I grabbed what I thought was the flapper. The flapper is just a few feet long, lightweight and much like a kite. In other words, it weighs next to nothing. When I grabbed the flapper it weighed a lot and seemed awful long. Still I went to waving it best I could. It seemed to be very heavy. The geese saw it though and swung back around. I dropped it and heard it “clunk” on the frozen ground. Something was definitely not right.
Peering through the mesh area in front of my face I was locked on to the birds as they set down softly for such large creatures and then they began walking through the decoys. No matter, I forgot to load my gun again!
I had to hiss at her a few times, but she got the idea and got one immediately. I could not shoot, so I sat up as the birds flew off and was thrilled to see she knocked a bird down. Then I looked over at the flag and realized that the “flag” was the rake! I had been waving the rake the entire time. The flag was lying on the ground just out of reach. What an idiot I was waving a leaf rake high in the sky above the corn field! But, it did work in a pinch and we had one goose down to prove it.
As Kristy cut Baily loose to get the goose, I watched with great pride. Kristy had trained the dog on her own with some tips and assistance from our friend Steve Purks. The dog had come a long way. She never seemed to bark or whine on this trip as the birds came down among us.
In the small confines of the layout I began rifling through my pocket for the long 3 ½ inch shells and shoved them into my gun. I thought I shoved three in my gun but only managed two apparently which became painfully obvious on the next flight when we sat up as the geese were putting down and began firing. I knocked one bird down but ran dry on the last shot when a big goose was just taking off down the end of my gun barrel. Kristy got her second bird to limit out for the day and sent Baily out again. The dog was living it up and happy to retrieve. The look on her face was almost as if she was smiling as she held the birds as high as she could so she did not stumble or trip on them while bringing them back to us. When she got the second bird back, another small flock started our way so Baily was sent to her blind and Kristy shoved the birds in the blind with her. Ah, to be thin again and have room in your blind to hide several geese!
I was able to pick out a particularly fat bird out of the next flock and waited until they began settling in before I popped out and got the bird with one good shot. The birds were still circling and trying to come in on us. Seeing so many birds come in and want to land despite us standing there was amazing. What was more amazing was the hunt we managed to pull off despite so many mistakes. Both of us had taken our birds, the dog got some good work and we had supper to boot. It was only 9AM too!
My father in law was in town to visit for Christmas, and deer hunting and duck hunting had been extremely slow. So, I decided it was time for a fishing trip to keep the juices flowing. It had been a long time since I had fished with Chris McCotter at Lake Anna (McCotter's Lake Anna Guide Service https://www.facebook.com/McCottersLakeAnnaGuideService/ ) so I shot him a quick e-mail hoping he had a half day to get us out on the water for a striped bass.
Turns out that Chris was more than willing to take us, plus my father, out on the lake and educate me on some winter fishing. We arrived at 7 AM at High Point Marina as Chris was backing his Grizzly boat into the cold waters of Lake Anna. After taking care of business in the marina, we headed to the boat to reacquaint ourselves with Chris.
If you have never fished with Chris McCotter you are missing out. This is particularly true if you want to learn about Lake Anna. McCotter also runs Woods and Waters magazine (https://www.facebook.com/Woods-Waters-Magazine-324686819747/) which is read statewide and covers the gauntlet of the outdoors with informative articles, tips and destinations for outdoorsmen and women. Chris also knows Anna like the back of his hand.
Within fifteen minutes or so of running uplake to a location Chris thought we might see some striped bass, we were casting swimbaits to feeding stripers. It was not long before my father hung one and brought it boatside for Chris to net. Not long after that I was able to catch my first hybrid (a striped bass/white bass cross) and put him in the livewell.
Chris moved us around to try to to stay on top of the fish and we kept pecking at them throughout the morning adding another three fish to the livewell and then returning one that was just shy of ending up on the supper table.
Once the striper bite died off some, Chris took the time to tutor me on the side imaging of his Hummingbird sonar unit. I was amazed at the clarity of the unit as I watched the screen show boulders, fish, shadows of fish, pier pilings and even rocks! Chris was very patient with my rapid fire questions about the unit and its abilities and it was obvious he was well tuned to how to squeeze all the info out of the sonar that he could to put clients on fish.
We caught up on the past 15 years (Man I waited too long to get back out and fish with him!) and discussed everything from bird hunting, dog training, duck hunting and even kids. The weather started to warm up and since the striper were no longer in a feeding frenzy, Chris took us over to a dock he knew that held crappie. We picked at them for a bit with my father in law catching most of them. Since they were not ready for the pan, we decided to call it a day, get some photos and make plans for a trip in the future. Chris was kind enough to get some photos with my camera for us (ALL PHOTOS BY CHRIS McCOTTER) and I appreciate him doing so. I don't get to appear in many photos with my father, let alone my father and father in law.
I plan on booking Chris for a summer bite for the striper and hybrids.
I can tell you the fish were soooo good tonight that I was not able to get any photos of the filets after they were cooked. They kept disappearing from the plate before I could get my camera. I cooked some with Old Bay, some with Creole and some with Blackened Cajun spice from Kenny's. Not one piece was left!
Thanks Chris for your professionalism, kindness and a great day out on the lake. What a great change of pace it was to catch fish instead of pull the trigger on meat!
NWTF has been a leader, not only in conservation, but also in exposing people to the joys of the outdoors and our tradition of hunting and shooting. The Women In The Outdoors program is one of the ways that NWTF has been successful. The Virginia coordinator for this group is Julie Abel. Miss Julie, as the younger women refer to her, has encouraged my daughter, KD, to start utilizing the young ladies in the King George Outdoor Club and form a Young Women In The Outdoors group.
KD held her first event December 2nd which was an informal fun shoot. She invited 12 young ladies over to learn how to shoot pistol and shotgun. We have a very rudimentary range that will allow basic shooting on our property and it served its purpose.
KD put up Shoot N C targets provided by Howard Communications and Birchwood Casey. These targets were used for their ease of seeing where shots were going. Each young lady was given personal one on one instruction on safety and shooting stance, hold of the handgun and then minor corrections and tuning up of the shooting was done by Mark Fike, Mr. Randall (one of our dad's to a young lady). Mr. Randall was an expert shot and once was on the Army pistol team. We also had some great assistance from Mrs. Cupka whose daughter Sam was attention. Mrs. Cupka is a former police officer and was great helping the young ladies get their shooting stance and maintaining safety first and foremost.
After the girls were hitting their targets with regularity, (and that did not take long for them to do), KD put up "bad guy targets" and the girls went to work taking out the bad guy. We have heard that some of the girls now have their target displayed on their walls at home!
The shotgun shooting was next and some instruction was again given before bright orange clays were hurled skyward. The girls were all able to give the shooting a try until they were satisfied they had shot enough. The day was cold and some venison soup was on tap to warm up moms and daughters. NWTF was the sponsor for this event and it went off without a hitch. Some mental notes were made to improvements/adjustments that will be taken care of for next time and the girls were encouraged to come back again when the weather is better for more events.
If you are interested in participating in the Young Women In The Outdoors, please contact KD at email@example.com
As I type this, there is still a few weeks of deer season left. However, some hunters have lost interest until the final week citing fewer deer to be had and tougher conditions. There are a few tricks to put the odds in a late season deer hunter’s favor. First, don’t get up at the crack of dawn and freeze yourself out of your stand. Go later, stay a bit longer and if the woods are dry, sit tight and don’t walk around so much. The deer have patterned most hunters and understand what crunching leaves and slamming truck doors mean. They also know most hunters leave the woods before lunch. Go out around 9 and stick it out for the last few hours. Guys leaving the woods before lunch move deer around and maybe to you.
Go hunting on bad weather days. Few hunters are out on those days. Windy days are my favorite to hunt in late season. On those days I stalk and I do it very slowly. Deer may be bedded or they may be looking for food to warm up. Look for them on southern facing slopes late morning. Walk slowly and watch for ears flickering, horizontal back lines and odd shapes. Walk only when the wind covers your noise and walk crosswind or into the wind. Rainy days are the same. Hunting during a light rain is a bit tough but the deer cannot hear you very well. Use that to your advantage.
Rabbit and squirrel hunting
King George and the surrounding areas have plenty of rabbits and squirrels. I love to hear the sound of a pack of beagles rousting a rabbit. Find a friend that has dogs and enjoy working the dogs some. New rabbit hunters need to understand that the rabbits are almost always well out in front of the dogs. Sometimes you see a rabbit dash from cover 200 yards in front of a dog! Keep the shotguns handy, wear orange and stay within sight of your buddies while hunting so you are safe. Some light loads of #6s do the job well and a 20 gauge will be sufficient. Take the kids too. Talking is OK until the dogs strike and start moving the rabbit back to you. Then quiet down and watch for movement but never shoot until you are SURE it is a rabbit. Talk about some fine eating! The backstraps of a rabbit are scrumptious.
Squirrels are feeding primarily on leftover nuts and are scrounging on the forest floor now. A .22 rifle is better than a shotgun because you have more range, but please be mindful of using a backstop when shooting. Find a good oak or hickory lot and go sit among the trees for a half hour. The squirrels will start appearing when they think the coast is clear. Squirrel stew is a great way to warm up after some winter time outdoors! Use a crock pot to tenderize the meat right off the bones and then put that in your favorite version of vegetable soup. Add some of your favorite spices (mine is Creole seasoning) and then let it simmer slowly for a few hours. Add a side of fresh baked cornbread. YUM!
I would be remiss not to mention that on warm stretches of weather the pond fishing for bass and crappie can be spectacular. Last winter we had three days of warm weather and I hit a pond and used beetle spins and knocked out five bass over 2 pounds in an hour off steep points near shallow water. We picked up a few crappie that were nice size too! Give fishing a try under those conditions and take home some fresh fish to break up the venison routine.
November 25th was a much better day weather wise than the previous year but the host and location were once again superb destinations for the youth of the King George Outdoor Club. Kinlock Farm owner, Bruce Lee, and huntmaster Mac McLennan, run a great hunt. As in previous years, the youth that were invited were young aspiring hunters that had not harvested a deer yet. We were able to take 10 youth down from our club.
Once at the farm, the youth were given a safety brief after being checked in and then a demonstration was given by a hunter on how to skin a buck and quarter it up. The youth and adults watched closely as the gentleman explained why he was making the cuts he was making. Next, a brief by Cameron Dobyns, a VDGIF Conservation Police Officer, was given. Officer Dobyns held the attention of the youth with his quiet but professional voice that he spoke to the youth with. He encouraged them to not only be safe but make ethical choices today AND in the future. As his presentation was winding down, he got a call about an incident not too far away and as they say, "Duty calls!"
Things began to get exciting as a shooting competition was held by Mac. He runs a welcoming but safe competition. The competition was pretty tight, but once the smoke cleared, the muzzleloader bullets and slugs had punched their targets, there were three winners. Madison Long of King George had fired her trustworthy CVA muzzleloader and punched a bullet into the edge of the bullseye. Second place went to Nathan Lanham who won a knife set, and third went to Gavin Graves, who was using a borrowed Mossberg 20 gauge slug gun. He won a trail camera package.
A feast had been prepared by Mac who had arrived at 0630 to set things up. There was a huge pan of venison BBQ, mac and cheese, hot dogs, chips and assorted snacks and deserts.
A brief was then held by Mac and Bruce to discuss club hunting rules and shot placement. A quick poll was taken to determine who needed close shots due to the firearm limitations. Then stands were handed out with Mac's number on slips of paper for the mentors to call when a deer was taken.
I was fortunate enough to be able to mentor CJ Conroy whose older sister is also in our outdoor club. CJ and I drew Bruce's stand which overlooked a beautiful oat plot. A few hundred yards away from us was Gavin Graves and his stepdad in a box blind and also within our area was Alina Puentes and her stepdad Mike. CJ and Alina had visited my range a few days prior and actually sighted in two CVA WOLF muzzleloaders I was able to purchase with a grant I received from VDGIF and through a special deal I worked out with muzzle-loaders.com. These rifles are simple to operate but tack drivers to 100 yards. These two rifles came custom fitted with a youth stock and a 3x9 scope thanks to muzzle-loaders.com. Because of the attention to detail that they made before shipping them (bore sighting and torquing down everything very well) Alina and CJ were punching the bulls within a half dozen shots. The shots were touching and an intense but friendly competition was going between the two youth. And that practice paid off.
CJ took his first game animal ever with an 80 yard shot at a big spike buck. Alina took the biggest deer of the hunt with a 5.5 year old 5 point buck. Gavin was able to harvest a spike buck and Mason Long and Austin Sanders from our club also took deer.
The hard work of Bruce Lee, his club members, Mac McLennan and the youth paid off in a big way.
The Northern Neck Chapter of VDHA, Hounds F4R Heroes, Bruce Lee and his club members, and Mac McLennan are to be commended for furthering our traditions in such a great way. A thank you also goes out to VDGIF’s CPO Cameron Dobyns and the VDGIF for their grant that allowed the King George Outdoor Club members to be able to have a firearm that fit them be available to use. The parents and mentors were key in supervision and an integral part of the hunt. Last, Muzzle-loaders.com is thanked for working out a great deal on the muzzleloaders and accessories. All of us remember our first deer that we harvested and the memories we still have of it. Imagine how these young people felt that evening. With technology these days, photos of the deer were instantly shared with friends and family all over the country. Let’s hope the fire started turns into a roaring desire to hunt for the rest of their lives.
The pups are 5 weeks old and now developing very fun personalities. We have 4 males and 2 females left. Two males appear to be darker than the others. They had their first vet visit and will be getting their 6 week check up November 6th. They can start being picked up November 13th. See the post below to get the details on the mother and father. Good lines, strong hunters, retrievers and markers. Both parents are kept indoors but LOVE to go outdoors. They play hard and the pups are showing those same traits. The pups are very inquisitive and smelling EVERYTHING lately. We expect great hunters out of these. In fact, we are so impressed with the pups that we decided to keep one of them for ourselves for future hunting and retrieving.
We have seven yellow/(fox red possible on three of them) Labrador Retriever pups that will be for sale. They are now two weeks old and starting to open their eyes just a bit. The puppies are fat, healthy and have had their dew claws removed already. Momma is feeding them very well and taking good care of them. Three of the pups are a dark reddish yellow and four are yellow labs. There are three females and four males. They come from a solid hunting line on both parents' side. Both parents also are great companions and both do well in vehicles, around people and in the house. Baily is a driven retriever that marks birds extremely well, and retrieves with incredible enthusiasm. She has her AKC Junior title. We have used her for goose work, wood duck work and even some open water diver duck work. She never shies away from a retrieve. If she sees a shotgun being brought out or camo clothing being put on, she begins pacing and waiting by the door to load up and go hunt. She has seen the birds before we did! On several occasions she has been sent out to look for potential cripples and brought back birds we were pretty sure were not hit hard and had flown off.
The stud, Copper, is very gung ho in the duck blind and is an amazing hunter as well. Copper hunts upland and retrieves birds in a variety of situations. His owner loves to duck and goose hunt and we know that Copper gets a lot of work once duck and goose season arrives. The puppies definitely have the bloodlines to please any hunter.
We are taking inquiries about the puppies and deposits for the first pick of the litter very soon. The last weekend of October or the first weekend of November, we will be setting appointments for potential puppy customers to see if the yellow bundles of joy would make a good addition to your home. These pups should be ready to go around November 18th. We expect a great dog for companion at home or in the field from these pups. Give us a call or send us an email to get more info. Put "puppies" in the subject line.
Saturday was the last youth deer day my youngest daughter will experience as a youth hunter. It had been seven years since she had harvested a deer and she was certainly itching to put a deer in the freezer. Our freezer gave out a few days ago and we lost quite a bit of meat that was in there and almost all of it was our venison. I tried not to think about that as we headed out the door Saturday early AM to spend time together in the field as father and daughter.
The destination we had in mind was a piece of property behind a cemetery not far from where we live. When we got there we were surprised to see the lot had been pushed off, some container boxes were on site and some roads had been blazed through the woods. I knew that something was wrong and we probably lost that location to hunt due to a sale. I am not sure why I was not alerted by the owner but not one to take chances, I told my girl we should try to salvage the morning and run to the other property we could hunt.
Once we got onsite the wind started picking up out of the north and a hint of fall was in the air. This was a welcome change from the heat we had experienced the past few weeks. I had an idea where I would sit and wait for a deer, but my daughter had other ideas. She wanted to sit right under an old pear tree. I thought that a bit silly given there was no cover and we would be seen easily. However, she knew that tree was a deer magnet so she decided to sit right in the breakfast plate so to speak. The proof is in the pudding. She had a spike run up after an hour or so of sitting. We needed meat and she put it on him.
The gun belched smoke and bullet and the deer whipped around and ran into the pines. We had to track it nearly 100 yards, which surprised me. He had both lungs punched and a clipped heart too.
After running that deer to the local country store to check him in, we started quartering and cutting it up for the freezer, then we decided to rest a few minutes and head back out. This time we set up in a stand about 100 yards from the morning location. We made a few jokes, relaxed, enjoyed the chill in the air and settled in. The coolness crept in with the evening shadows prompting me to whisper to her, "The time is right. We will see one soon!" About 20 minutes later I spotted a brown lurching shadow creeping through the hedgerow we skirted to get to the stand. Then I saw yellow/brown antlers and a head. The deer was behind some tree branches right in front of us at 75 yards but not offering a clear shot. The bad news was that he turned away and started drifting out of range.
Almost on cue of my whispered prayer, the buck turned back to the right and started down through the field. I told my daughter to take the buck as soon as she could get a clear shot. She hissed back that he was moving and she did not want to shoot him moving.
"So you want him to stop?"
"Stand by then. I will get him to stop. You just lay him out when I do."
As soon as I saw her nod that he was clear of the brush I peered at him and let out a loud "Baahhhh" twice. The deer pulled up short, looked around and tried to figure out where that awful sound came from. His thoughts were cut short by the blast of the muzzleloader spitting a bullet downrange the 80+ yards. He humped up, ran a bit and then had a slight stumble as he reached the downhill woodline. The smoke was almost non existent in the dry fall air, so I got to watch the entire scene play out.
After tracking the spike in the AM, we were excited to track the buck but in a bit of a hurry as it was getting dark and we knew we had some work ahead of us to get him reduced to sizes to fit in the refrigerator.
I found blood first and then my daughter's young eyes started finding it faster than I could. Pretty soon we found where he crashed into the woods and saw him piled up.
What a joyful time to spend with my daughter! I am very blessed to have two girls that love to hunt. I kept telling Kristy that getting two deer in any day of hunting is a super experience. To get two on her last youth day in the same location with a clean shot and kill was unreal as far as I was concerned. She agreed. Our enthusiasm outweighed the lack of sleep and exhaustion we felt for our busy morning and afternoon. We soon had the buck in the field for a few photos and then into the truck to go to the check station. We found that Kristy was the first two check station cards in that book for the year. Again, we are blessed for such clean, lean meat on a great fall day. We are so grateful for the time we got to spend together and so glad there is a youth day in Virginia where dads, moms, and kids can go afield for a special memory.
If you live in the Northern Neck, Fredericksburg, Caroline or King George, Virginia area, and are in the the market for a registered American Labrador retriever with strong hunting/retrieving instincts, please consider contacting us. We have a litter of puppies born September 25th that are yellow labs (4) and either very dark yellow or quite possibly copper or fox red color. (3) We will know more as the pups grow to verify the coloration.
The dam, Liberty Baily, is a driven hunter that retrieves anything she is commanded to retrieve. She marks extremely well in both the sky and upon birds landing in the field (dead and alive). Her nose is exceptional. She has found birds that we thought were not dead and had flown off. Baily was trained and hunt tested here in Virginia and has achieved her Junior Hunt Title in short order. Her elbows tested normal, hips were good and eyes were clear. She is lean but muscular at 50 pounds.
The sire, Copper Kettle, came from Whiskey Hollow Kennel, and has a first class look about him. He is a large, but an excellently proportioned dog at approximately 85 pounds. He has exceptional drive and is a lean, hunting machine. His hips are good with normal elbows.
We expect the puppies will be ready to go just before Thanksgiving. One pup has already been spoken for. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or call us at 540-834-8448. We will post pics regularly as well as more information in the very near future.
This week we got a taste of fall with temperatures in the upper 60s today and just the 70's for the foreseeable future. In the Northern Neck region that means good fishing, the beginning of hunting season and pleasant times afield.
September goose season opened this past Friday and a few hunters got some birds. On Saturday the rain messed up some hunting and particularly so for dove hunters. However, while goose hunting with some great guys, Scott, Tommy and their friend Clint, we were observing a number of flying doves over our field in the rain. Had it been noon or after I think we would have tried the doves! Some farms have not cut corn yet. We need a good dry spell to allow them to get the grain out of the field and make a good area to hunt.
It won't be long before archery season is here for deer and turkey. If you bow hunt, start practicing and by all means get your bow looked over before it is too late. October 1st is too late to try to get a new string!
Squirrel hunting is ramping up with decent mast crops such as hickory, some acorns and paw paws available. I am amazed at the power of some of the newest air rifles out there. They have plenty of power to take down a squirrel, are quieter and yet have a range that does not put neighbors within range if they are a few hundred yards or more away. I will do a review on one I have in the near future. There are some things I really like about it and some that I don't. Look for the details later.
Fishing is quite good but with the blow of Irma headed our way, the saltwater bite could take a serious hit. Cold NE winds tend to run cobia, Spanish macks, croaker, spot and bluefish out of here. Let's hope Irma veers off to the east.
Pond fishing is getting much better with a great bass bite and some crappie coming on too. Look for great live bait action for bream. In the river the catfish are turning back to a daytime bite. Croaker are biting for now. Bass anglers are seeing decent catches that should improve as the cooler temps prevail. Fish grassy edges and some hard dock walls too. Spinnerbaits are said to be good right now.
New Kennel for Labrador Retrievers!
Last, a big news announcement from me about my daughter. Kristy is starting her own kennel/breeding business very soon. She has worked very hard to do this correctly and not be just some random backyard breeder. Her dog, Liberty Baily, has a retriever title, good elbows, eyes and hips certification and she was bred to a beautiful copper colored AKC lab from Whiskey Run Kennel. The pups should be gorgeous. Both dogs have solid hunting lines and are hard charging retrievers. I anticipate pups with strong instincts to retrieve. Keep checking back for details on what her website will be, puppy news, prices and so on. The pups are due at the end of the month and should be available for pick up around Thanksgiving.
The dog days are indeed upon us. However, fishing is not bad at all if you pick your times and your tides properly.
In the middle Potomac River the croaker are hitting squid and shrimp with some regularity. Fish around the 301 Bridge in 25-30 feet of water. Try up or downstream on the ledges and hard bottom areas too. We have heard of a few spot hitting but have not personally caught any ourselves.
Catfish are hitting all up and down the river even past Colonial Beach. Squid and shrimp are good baits but cutbait will focus the efforts on catfish.
There are some anglers trolling bucktails and parachute rigs and picking up rockfish. Many are smaller fish though. You have to weed through the little ones to sometimes get a 20"+ keeper. Fish the Lumps, ledges and shoals in the river just down from Colonial Beach according to our reports.
Further downriver there are scattered catches of Spanish at the mouth of the river along with an occasional bluefish. The nice news is that some anglers are taking some decent cobia out in the bay and near the river mouth!
Upriver bass angling is still concentrated early and late in the grass. Finesse worms and jigs in pockets will work. Some snakeheads are also being taken.
On the Rappahannock the fishing has been fairly slow from our reports unless you want eating size catfish. Late at night there are some nice large fish being taken. Bass angling has been a bit slow.
Upriver the angling prospects are cooler but still a bit slow. Fish oxygenated water near falls in pools for better action. Structure is key.
Pond fishing is slow midday. However, topwater action low light is pretty good. Crappie angling in some ponds is still remarkably good but you have to find the thermocline and fish that zone where the fish are holding. Any other depth is likely to be dead.
Don't forget the Outdoor Show in Richmond next weekend!
If you have pictures of fish or game you want to see on the blog, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include a name, general location---not your exact spot--what kind of animal or fish, and if a youth, an age. No inappropriate language, shirts, clothing -adequate coverage please!. No alcohol in photos, remove trash from truck beds, etc...
Yesterday we were able to enjoy a trip aboard The Midnight Sun, owned and operated by Capt. Ryan Rogers who hails from Heathsville, Virginia. Capt. Ryan is in my opinion the best charter captain I have ever fished with. His personality, professionalism and knowledge allows all ages and skill levels of anglers to enjoy a day on the water catching fish.
We went aboard his boat in Rudee Inlet for an inshore trip targeting spadefish in the Virginia Beach area. He and his excellent first mate, Doug Gray, did not disappoint. The first place we pulled up to was a buoy that he happened to know held spadefish regularly. I was topside with our captain and peered into the water after he encouraged me to do so. The fish were everywhere. It was like looking into an aquarium.
After a quick scurrying to the first deck, I got my line out as did my daughters, wife, mother and father. Doug hooked us up really well on bait and it was not long before we were hearing the squeal of the drag.
Atlantic spadefish are not easy to hook and land. They have small mouths despite their wide bodies and steering wheel like shape. They primarily enjoy jellyfish for their meals, but will nibble on clam too. My father and I love to fish and were frequently making the mistake of trying to set the hook. Capt. Ryan reminded us that we needed to simply feed line out and let the spades take the bait and more or less hook themselves. It was tough not to set the hook when we got hits but when we tried setting the hook, we ended up not getting the fish. Once we resisted the urge to hook the fish, they started getting hooked themselves.
All of us landed some nice spadefish before the bite slowed down some. At that point our excellent guide and captain moved us to a second location where the aquarium like conditions were even better. The water was a gorgeous blue crystal color and the schools of fish cruising around the boat were numerous. We were able to watch the fish take our bait and play with it. Fighting the urge to snap the rod back was tough, but when we did, we were rewarded with a hook up and a grand fight from the fish.
It was great to see my entire family really enjoy such a beautiful day on the ocean and aboard Capt. Ryan's boat. Doug was always right on top of things and had us baited up and kept the net handy for these tasty fish to be scooped up and put on ice. He also did a bang up job filleting them and getting them ready for our trip home.
On our run back to Rudee Inlet, Capt. Ryan kept in touch with some of his fellow captains and provided a great surprise for us. Just as we were nosed towards Rudee, the boat veered off to the east and towards two other boats. When we got close, Doug rigged two spinning outfits with huge bucktail jigs. Upon our arrival to the party, we could see a huge school of bull red drum cruising the surface. It was not long before my father was hanging on to his rod with a bull red fighter on the other end of it. I was casting frantically into the fray but only bumped a few fish. Dad got to have a great time hauling in a fish that likely went over 20 pounds.
Capt. Ryan will always get my business, particularly when I am taking kids or my family out. His boat is clean, fast and reliable. We always have a good time catching up on the ride in and out. Doug is very personable, knowledgeable and willing to teach anglers how to catch fish. The patience these guys display is top notch. If you ever need a great charter for Spanish mackerel, blues, rockfish, croaker, spadefish, cobia, tuna or whatever else we have in the Chesapeake Bay or Atlantic Ocean, give him a call. 804-580 -0245. Check out his website at www. fishmidnightsun.com
For those that might not have ventured out, the croaker bite is decent in the Potomac River below the Rt. 301 Bridge. Fish the edges of the river channel and don't be afraid to move if the fish are not cooperative where you are dunking squid or shrimp for bait. The fish are not that big. Our biggest was almost 16 inches and we had plenty of 12 inch fish in the mix.
During our trip out to #30 we saw plenty of anglers trolling bucktails for striper. We did not see any fish caught but reports tell of fish that are up to 28 inches. A lot of throwbacks are out there too though.
We did not see any small blues yet but they should make a showing really soon given the heat and the salinity of the water from lack of rain lately.
So far this summer the pond action has been surprisingly good for crappie and bass. Anglers are tearing into some good crappie and the bass are hitting topwater lures too. Look for the action to be best on overcast days, rainy days (if we get any) and early and late. Hot temps are undoubtedly on the way.
Fishing on the rivers is good for bass now but you have to fish late and early and be on the edge of the flow or casting into a moving tide to catch bass. Catfish action slowed during the day but nighttime action has heated up.
As the sun climbed into the eastern sky, its reflection creeping over the calm waters of the Rappahannock River near Tappahannock, Virginia, a caravan of biologists, technicians and volunteers led by VDGIF’s Ben Lewis and Dr. Gary Costanzo, convoyed out of a parking lot and onto Rt. 17 to head to the first of seven locations that the crew would visit in an effort to band resident Canada geese.
Lewis and Costanzo, VDGIF’s waterfowl biologists, along with district biologists from around the state, lead an annual effort to band roughly 1% of the state’s resident goose population, which is approximately 150,000 birds. This effort includes locating, capturing, banding and recording data from the bands of Canada geese throughout Virginia. Biologists keep track of the number of geese they capture at each site, the number of recaptures (geese that had been tagged previously), the number of adults or juveniles (which indicates the reproductive rates for this year’s population and they notate the band numbers.
If the geese are harvested by hunters, the numbers on the bands should be entered by hunters at the USGS www.reportbands.gov website and a location notated allowing biologists to keep a pulse on the non-migratory population of the geese here in Virginia. Sometimes, geese are recaptured and biologists keep track of those geese too. So, how do the biologists capture the geese?
Because the geese molt during the early summer, they don’t fly or at least they don’t fly very well. Geese are very gregarious animals meaning they tend to stick with other geese and some of the geese have young and won’t leave their young. Because of these behaviors and timing of the molt, the biologists were able to use net panels to herd and capture the geese before beginning their banding and data collection.
The work is not always a clean job. Some of the geese are wet from swimming in a lake or pond. Some get frightened and excrete their waste or poop on those handling them. A few geese get showy and display their size, wings and feathers to try to intimidate the handlers, and a few will sometimes peck. The volunteers watched the biologists show them how to handle the big birds safely and were soon getting their own experiences holding and handling the geese. An assembly line formed with two people in the “makeshift pen” catching the geese and handing them out to others. Those workers held the geese and allowed banders to place aluminum bands on the legs of the geese. The bands had unique numbers on them for future data collection. Next, the handlers took the geese to biologists who checked the sex of the bird. The sex of the bird, age, and band number was called out to a technician who recorded the data. Then the bird was released unharmed. Most of the birds immediately ran back to the nearby water to rejoin their flock.
Then the whole team broke down the holding pen, gathered the gear, loaded it back into the truck convoy before loading up themselves and headed to the next destination. In addition to biologists and technicians from VDGIF, Lauren Cruz from USFWS at Rappahannock River NWR assisted as well as a handful of other volunteers including a small cadre of youth from the King George Outdoor Club. The youth from the King George Outdoor Club came to learn more about waterfowl, careers in wildlife biology and wildlife management. They did a nice job and worked well all day long. Their day started at 6 AM with their journey to Tappahannock and the last youth got home at nearly 8 PM that evening. However, none of them wanted to stop the work. Their club leader, Mark Fike, was asked several times if they could go to one more location to band more geese.
While many of us are thinking about swimming in a pool or lake in the hot summer, biologists are still thinking waterfowl management. The work that biologists with VDGIF do to manage waterfowl populations continues even in the off season. This annual goose banding event is just one example of such work.
The weather people promised two things on Saturday and those included the rain holding off until at least the afternoon or evening and they promised it would be hot and muggy. Five young women along with some moms can attest that the rain did hold off and later in the morning the temperatures did start to become hot and humid.
By then the fun was had. Shotgun blasts reverberated across the rolling hills of an old Civil War plantation as the women tracked and smashed bright orange clays flying in all different directions in the sky. Julie Abel, Women in the Outdoors Coordinator for NWTF in Virginia, arranged a young women's and mothers clay shoot at Rose Hill Game Preserve just outside of Culpeper for the morning.
Julie seeks to bring young women into the hunting tradition at a younger age than adult so that they will have time to hone their skills and take them with them into adulthood when they will begin their own families. Abel is passionate about passing on these skills and she lights up when the girls are successful and enjoy the outdoors.
The girls all took turns as the young man running the electronic throwers sent them flying as requested. There were eight throwers sending the blaze orange disks angling towards, away, overhead, across and even a low crossing shot. While most five stand events run in a predicted order and through sequential stations, these ladies were there to have fun, hone their skills and enjoy themselves. They called for throwers that they wanted to try as their turn came. It was a relaxing and no pressure kind of fun event for them.
One of the young ladies took the time to teach her mother how to load, set up her stance and when to pull the trigger. On the first shot her mom connected, breaking the clay in half! The small crowd cheered as Miss Lisa smiled. I overheard her saying to another mom how nice it was to have her own daughter teach her how to do something that she enjoyed doing.
The women shot 25 clays before lunch and then talked for a bit as they broke down their set up. Julie Abel brought wraps, pasta and water for lunch which the women dug into between rounds. She also spoke to the girls about her vision to create a young women's group under Women in the Outdoors and she encouraged them to let her know when they wanted to do things and to also let her know what types of activities they were interested in. They were also told to invite other young women to come try the outdoors.
It appears the women had a lot of fun and enjoyed a girls' day out. Events like these are great ways to enjoy the outdoors. Thanks to Julie Abel and NWTF these ladies did have a great time.
We would also like to thank Rose Hill for hosting the event and Big Dog Outfitters in King George County for always supporting the King George Outdoor Club and now this ladies event too. Big Dog has been very helpful in supplying ammunition for the new and young shooters to use.
Fishing is entering the summer pattern around the Northern Neck. This heat spell we had put the clamps on some of the fishing unless fishing early and late.
On the Potomac below the 301 bridge there are some small croaker being caught. We also have reports from Aqua Land Marina of striped bass being caught around the bridge. Catfish are plentiful on the river too. Upriver there are gar, catfish and snakeheads in the grass. Bass are hitting frogs and finesse worms in the grass. Don't pass up on any snakeheads. Crabs are slowly coming on in the river for those interested.
On the Rappahannock, the catfish are hitting very well. Catfish Kelly's Country Store on Rt. 3 at Ferry Farm (www.facebook.com/catfishkellys/) told us about that. Local angler Jonah Kapp got his fill of blue catfish on a recent outing. See the picture...
Bass are hitting in ponds but the fishing is best at low light. Some really nice bluegill and sunfish are hitting now too. Look for smallmouth to be hitting in the upper river in shady areas or at low light.
Dad and I went down to Back Bay today. Years ago Back Bay was a national destination for largemouth bass. Then a crash in the bass population occurred and the fishery suffered. Under the guidance of Chad Boyce with the VDGIF and his coworkers, the unique impoundment is coming back strong.
While at Back Bay, Dad and I were primarily just trying to learn where to fish and pick up enough fish for a decent meal. What is unique about the place is that there are crabs, mullet, white perch, crappie and largemouth bass along with many other species of fish all living in the same water.
We put in at North Bay Shore Campground 3257 Colechester Rd, Virginia Beach, VA 23456 Phone: (757) 426-7911 http://northbayshorecampground.com/CMS/
The campground is VERY well kept and the launch is basic but good enough for small boats no problem. I put a 14 foot jon boat in. The people working the campground were super nice.
Although we were trying to learn the place, Dad and I caught crappie, white perch to 9 inches (there are perch 14 inches in there), and a few bass in a few hours of tinkering around. The bass were fat and aggressive. Mine hit a Beetle Spin intended for a white perch. We fished from 8-11 primarily while running around the northern end of the bay. If you go, fish the grass edges and any cover you find. Great place to fish and a great place to visit. Next trip I am camping and fishing!
Things to take--GPS or phone enabled navigation to find your way back through the channels to the launch, sunscreen, water/drinks, bait, hat.
Mark Fike is a freelance outdoor writer and photographer. Mark writes for Virginia Game and Fish regularly and has been published in VA Wildlife, Whitetail Times, Turkey Country, and many other publications.