Thursday, July 12, 2007
Bill Cochran's Field Reports: John Smith was here -- and there
Bill Cochran's Outdoors
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- The good and bad of the 2012 saltwater fishing season
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Bill's Field Reports
- Virginia General Assembly goes soft on outdoor issues
- Quail Unlimited calls it quits
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I am a huge fan of Capt. John Smith, the often overlooked hero and forefather of our nation. Smith has been getting some well-deserved attention this year as we celebrate the 400th year of Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in the Americas. He arrived in Jamestown in 1607 with a group of high-born, ill-prepared settlers.
My personal celebration has taken several forms:
>I have done considerable reading on Smith this year. My favorite book is “Love & Hate in Jamestown: John Smith, Pocahontas, and the Start of a New Nation.” Never mind that the title is about as long as the Susan Constant. It is a stimulating work by David Price, who was raised in Richmond.
>This spring, I fished for red drum and combed the beach of Smith Island on the southern end of the Eastern Shore.
>In Cape Charles and Onancock, my wife, Katherine, and I caught up with the replica of the 28-foot shallop that Smith and his crew used to explore and map the Chesapeake Bay.
>We visited Jamestown in June, driving about in our 1931 Model A Ford.
>We have followed the progress of the new Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Water Trail that enables boaters to trace Smith’s journeys on a series of water routes covering about 2,300 miles of the Bay. That is longer than the famous Appalachian Trail that goes by our place in Catawba. The Smith trail even has “talking” interpretive buoys. It is fitting that Smith’s name be placed on a trail, just as it happened for those other explorers, Lewis and Clark.
The first maps of the trail have been produced by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. They cover the York, Pamunkey and Mattaponi rivers. The maps are available from dcr.virginia.gov. Click on State Parks, then “Visit Online Store.” Maps and information also is available on johnsmithtrail.org.
FISH DIE AT GASTON
It was meant to be a good deed, when Dominion Power attempted to plant wetland grasses at Lake Gaston, but it turned into a troublesome fish kill. The Department of Environmental Quality estimates 6,500 fish died; Dominion put the figure at 4,000.
It happened this way: The power company dammed and drained a 115-acre portion of the lake near the Virginia-North Carolina border in late June so workers could plant wetland grasses. Before the area was drained, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Dominion workers moved about 7,500 fish. But when the water was lowered, more fish remained than envisioned. These are among the ones that died as the result of low water and high temperatures.
State officials say they are investigation the kill to see if it was avoidable. Many of the fish that died were carp, sunfish and catfish.
SOME BEAR FACTS
What if a bear is attacking you? What do you do?
That can depend on what kind of bear it happens to be. If you are out West and it is a grizzly, you might play dead.
But that won’t work here in the east with black bears. You do just the opposite. You make noise. You throw sticks and rocks. Then you back off slowly. What you don’t do is any climbing, running or playing dead.
That is the advice of Mike Pelton, a black bear researcher, who was a member of a recent panel in Roanoke titled “Black Bears in the Backyard.”
There are more black bears in back yards than ever before, thanks to the clash between an expanding human and bear population. While fatal attacks by black bears once were unheard of, they now are making the news.
The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries has a program in Roanoke County designed to encourage coexistence bears and people. One of the objectives said Greg Funkhouser, enforcement officer of the DGIF, is to educate people on what to do when a bear shows up in the yard. The thing you don’t want to do is feed a bear, he said. Feeding bears is illegal and it compounds problems in urbane areas.
The DGIF has a Web site on the subject: dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/bear.
It is advisable for bears to have a respect or fear of humans, Pelton said. The bear training season is a good way to teach bears to stay away from people, he said.
A black bear can appear to be cuddly, but, Pelton said, you must have a healthy respect for any large carnivore “that you can teach to ride a bicycle.”
EAGLES GO OFF THE LIST
Bald eagles have done so well across their range that on July 28 the species will be removed from the federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. It has been protected by this act and its predecessor for four decades.
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries calls Virginia’s eagle population “very robust.” The Chesapeake Bay region probably has in excess of 1,000 pairs. There are believed to be nearly 550 pairs in Virginia’s Coastal Plain. There are places in the western part of the state, including Moomaw Lake, that you can expect to see an eagle.
At one point, the population had fallen to about 33 nests in the state.
But eagles aren’t out of the woods. There are long-term threats to their habitat from urban sprawl, say DGIF biologists. Safeguards are written into the National Bald Eagle Management Guidelines developed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and adopted by DGIF. But safeguards on paper and in reality are two different things.
By the way, eagles still get federal protection through the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, not to mention Virginia laws.
>The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has proposed new rules that would have a dramatic effect on the storage and transportation of ammunition and hand-loading components. The proposed rule treats ammunition, powder and primers as “explosives.” The public comment period ends today, July 12. For more information access regulations.gov and search for Docket Number OSHA-20007-0032.
>Signs are being posted along he Special Regulations section of the Smith River to designate it is an artificials-only stream with a two fish per day, 16-inch minimum-size limit. “I didn’t know” will no longer be an excuse to bend the rules, said guide Albert Kittredge, who is leading the effort.
>Members of the Roanoke Rifle & Revolver Club and others have been paying tribute to Wayne Lawhorne, a sport shooter and gunsmith in the Roanoke Valley who died recently. Lawhorne was well known for his knowledge of firearms and his willingness to share that knowledge with others, especially fellow members of the Roanoke Rifle & Revolver Club.
>Brook trout are a hot topic. They are the native trout of the Eastern U.S. They have been eliminated or greatly reduced in 50 percent of their historical habitat in Virginia. This fish was subject of a panel discussion during the recent Outdoor Writers Association of America conference at Hotel Roanoke. Some Web sites to check out the brookie include: tu.org; easternbrooktrout.net; brookie.org.
>The word from North Carolina officials is that bass fishing in the Chowan and Roanoke rivers this spring has been the best since Hurricane Isabel caused problems for the fishery beginning the fall of 2003. State officials initiated an aggressive restocking effort, but say that wasn’t what turned the fishery around. The fish bounced back mostly on their own.
>Word of striped bass up to 12 pounds being caught in Philpott Lake got the attention of some anglers as they read the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ fishing report. Alas, it was misinformation, according to biologist Dan Wilson. The reporter must have gotten Philpott mixed up with Smith Mountain Lake, he said. Philpott is not a striper lake.
VIRGINIA SALTWATER TOURNAMENT
The first kingfish, also called roundhead or bunker, has been entered in the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament. Here are the standings:
BLACK DRUM: 95 pounds caught by James Tran of Virginia Beach in Lynnhaven Bay.
BLUEFISH: 16 pounds, Peter Carey of Fredericksburg in the lower-eastern Chesapeake Bay.
BLUELINE TILEFISH: 20 pound, 7 ounce, Robert Holtz, Virginia Beach, ocean off Virginia Beach.
COBIA: 93 pounds, 8 ounces, Kara Maples, Hampton, lower-western Chesapeake Bay.
CROAKER: 3 pounds, 8 ounces, Calvin Taylor, Prince George, lower York River.
DOLPHIN: 31 pounds, Billy McBride, Midlothian, off Virginia Beach.
FLOUNDER: 11 pounds, 13 ounces, Barbara Sabol, Petersburg, upper eastern Chesapeake Bay.
GRAY TRIGGERFISH: 4 pounds, 10 ounces, Geoffrey Filer, Chesapeake, ocean off Virginia Beach.
KINGFISH: 1 pound, 11 ounces, Jimmy Nicastro, Chesapeake, off Virginia Beach.
POMPANO: 1 pound, 15 ounces, Sammy Hatley, Virginia Beach, off Virginia Beach.
SEA BASS: 7 pounds, 7 ounces, David Howard, Leesburg, ocean off Virginia Beach.
SHEEPSHEAD: 12 pounds, 8 ounces, Alan Bunnell, Virginia Beach, lower-eastern Chesapeake Bay.
SPADEFISH: 14 pounds, Mark Ottarson, North, lower-western Chesapeake Bay.
SPECKLED TROUT: 12 pounds, 10 ounces, Michael Tomesch, Chesapeake, Elizabeth River.
SPOT: 1 pound, 4 ounce, Edward Farrah, Virginia Beach, off Virginia Beach.
STRIPED BASS: 62 pounds, 1 ounce, Wayne Rickman, Mechanicsville, off Virginia Beach.
TAUTOG: 22 pounds, 2 ounce, Lester Johnson, Newport News, off Virginia Beach.
BLUEFIN TUNA: 573 pound state record, Bo Haycox, Virginia Beach, off Virginia Beach.
TUNA: 144 pounds, 8 ounces, Shad Hamilton, Virginia Beach off Virginia Beach.
17th annual Antique and Classic Boat Weekend, Smith Mountain Lake, Aug. 10-12, Mariners Landing, information from woodenboats.net.
The Western Regional Championship of the Virginia Big Game Show, Sept. 8-9, Rockingham County Fairgrounds near Harrisonburg, information from vpsa.org.
Hunters for the Hungry banquet, Sept. 8, Dave Sarmadi Mitsubishi dealership, Salem, inquire about tickets at Hunt4hungry@cs.com.
The Eastern Region and State Championship of the Virginia Big Game Show, Sept. 22 & 23, Southampton County Fairgrounds in Franklin, information from from vpsa.org.
David H. Horne Memorial Hunters for the Hungry Annual Golf Tournament, Oct. 3, 1:30 p.m., London Downs Golf Course, Forest, captain’s choice, $280 per foursome, includes greens fee, cart, awards, hole prizes, door prizes, beverages, catered dinner. Proceeds benefit Hunters for the Hungry.
Department of Game and Inland Fisheries board meeting, July 17, 9 a.m. at agency’s headquarters, 4000 W. Broad St.
Department of Game and Inland Fisheries board meeting, Aug. 21, 9 a.m. at agency’s headquarters, 4000 W. Broad St.
Department of Game and Inland Fisheries board meeting, Oct. 16, 9 a.m. at agency’s headquarters, 4000 W. Broad St.
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