This week, officials of the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries are harvesting rearing ponds at the Vic Thomas Hatchery in Brookneal, hoping to find an abundance of striped bass fingerlings for stocking Smith Mountain, Leesville, Claytor and Kerr lakes.
Times have been tough at the modern hatchery, which has suffered design flaws and other problems during recent years.
"We are working on corrections to some of the problems we have been having at the hatchery," said Nick Zaccaria, who has been the hatchery superintended for about five months.
The striper stocking requisition for Smith Mountain Lake is 350,000 fingerlings, which DGIF officials consider a large stocking. Leesville is slated to get 80,000 fingerlings; Claytor, 67,000 and Kerr, 175,000. Lake Anna's allotment is 96,000, but fish for this impoundment will come from the King and Queen Hatchery at Stevensville. They will be a strain of marine fish as opposed to the Vic Thomas' landlocked stripers which are from the Roanoke River drainage, Zaccaria said.
During the periods when there were problems at the Vic Thomas Hatchery, officials used King and Queen Hatchery as a backup, but this spring fingerlings are from brood fish collected from the Staunton (Roanoke) River and hatched in the Thomas facility.
Five of six ponds currently are being used to raise striper fingerlings. The sixth is devoted to walleye.
"We are not sure how many fingerlings we have produced yet, since the ponds have not been completely drained," Zaccaria said.
Stocking of elk completed for this year
There were 12 elk released last week in Buchanan County, when the gates to an acclamation pen were opened and the animals from Kentucky were set free to roam reclaimed mine land.
Ten elk were placed in a pen for more than a week so they could get used to their new surroundings. Twelve were released, because the two mature cows had calves. Officials hope these elk will join the herd of 24 released last year or born in Virginia. So far there have been no fatalities.
Officials of the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and members of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation report that everything is going well. Next year's stocking goal is 50 elk. Plans call for letting the herd multiply to about 400.
- A 17-pound, 6-ounce northern snakehead fish, caught from the Potomac River by Caleb Newton of Spotsylvania County, is believed to be a Virginia record. Problem is, Virginia doesn't have a record category for this ugly exotic that recently has been making a home for itself in the river. So Newton, 27, is filling out paperwork for a world record. That mark currently is held by an angler in Japan and is two ounces under Newton's fish.
- You've got to be kidding! The website Fishhound lists the top 25 catfish rivers in the nation and Virginia's James River is no where to be found on the list. The James produces exceptional blue catfish action in the Richmond area, drawing many anglers from out-of-state who come for a chance to catch a fish in excess of 100 pounds. The river is in competition with Kerr Lake as Virginia's best catfish water. Kerr holds the state record at 143 pounds. By the way, Kerr isn't on Fishhound's list of top catfish lakes.
- Omega Protein Inc., a Texas company that dominates Virginia's commercial fishing for menhaden, has agreed to pay a $5.5-million penalty for violating the Clean Water Act. The fine is for dumping oily bilge water and wastewater into the Chesapeake Bay for at least the past two years, according to the (Norfolk) Virginian-Pilot.
- Two well-known staffers of B.A.S.S., involved in grass-roots membership and conservation programs, have announced their retirement. Twenty-year employee Don Corkran will retire July 8. He has served most of his employment as national director of the B.A.S.S. Nation. Noreen Clough is stepping down as B.A.S.S. national conservation director on Aug. 9, a post she has held for nine years.
- Princeton University Press has published an outstanding book on trees titled "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Trees." Encyclopedia is an apt term. This hefty volume is more than 800 pages long, features over 2,000 species of trees and includes more than 5,000 illustrations. It sells for $50. The author is John White; the artist, David More.
Events, seasons, dates
- Department of Game and Inland Fisheries board meeting to give final attention to proposed hunting law changes, 9 a.m. Thursday at the agency's headquarters at 4000 W. Broad Street, Richmond www.HuntFishVA.com.
- Virginia Bear Hunters Association fourth annual auction, Saturday, Craig County Fairgrounds, New Castle, $5 adults, kids 15 and under free when accompanied by an adult, to benefit the association's scholarship program and kid's fishing carnival. Gates open 9 a.m., auction 10 a.m., new and used items, antiques, live music, concession, prizes, raffles, cake walk. Contact Richard Sprinkle, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Ridge Rifle Association (Botetourt County) basic pistol class, June 22, NRA certified, eight hours of class and range time, $50, contact Jim and Lucy Gaffney, email@example.com or 540-254-2813.
- National Bobwhite Technical Committee, June 22-26, Hotel Roanoke.
- Triangle Archers 3D tournament, June 23, on club range between Christiansburg and Blacksburg, $12, $25 per family, cub and pee wee $6, information from Jim Overfelt, 540-552-8023.
- Virginia Outdoor Sportsman Show, Aug. 9-11, Richmond Raceway Complex, sponsored by the Virginia Deer Hunters Association, www.sportsmanshow.com
- Triangle Archers 3D tournament, August 18, on club range between Christiansburg and Blacksburg, $12, $25 per family, cub and pee wee $6, information from Jim Overfelt, 540-552-8023.
- Friends of NRA Banquet, Aug. 24, Salem Civic Center, doors open 5:30 p.m., 25 firearms up for grabs, tickets $45 for a single, $80 for a couple, $35 for youth, information and ticket available from Mike Kessler, 540-529-7304, and Al Milton, 540-797-7777.
- Hunters for the Hungry banquet, Sept. 14, Moose Lodge on Virginia 311 in Roanoke County, tickets $25 for a single; $40 for a couple, tickets and information from Ralph and Lois Graybill, 540-427-5125, and John and Wanda Reed, 540-427-4788.
- Triangle Archers 3D tournament, Sept. 22, on club range between Christiansburg and Blacksburg, $12, $25 per family, cub and pee wee $6, information from Jim Overfelt, 540-552-8023.
Have and event? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org