Maybe if you were out to catch a world record fish the northern snakehead wouldn't be your species of choice, but Caleb Newton of Spotsylvania County looked pretty happy with his 17-pound, 6-ounce record pictured in the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star.
Snakeheads, you will recall, are a predatory, invasive species. A native of Asia, they showed up in the Potomac River drainage in the early 2000s amid fears they would be harmful to native species, especially smallmouth bass. They haven't been as destructive as biologists first thought; in fact, they are providing fishing opportunities. Recently they have spread to the Rappahannock River.
Newton's fish beat by two ounces the previous world record, caught in Japan in 2004. He now is listed by the International Game Fish Association as the holder of both the all-tackle world record and the 20-pound line class record for the species.
Someday the catch may appear in the Virginia freshwater record book, but not now. The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries considers the snakehead an undesirable species and doesn't mention it in either its record book or trophy fish program.
"We do not recognize the northern snakehead fish as it is a recent come-to and is considered an invasive species," said Lee Walker, director of outreach for the DGIF.
But that philosophy might change.
"Since it looks like they are here to stay and quickly becoming a popular fisheries, they might some day be added to the angler recognition program'" he said.
Newton, a 27-year old plumber, was fishing an early June tournament with 15 other boats when he caught his trophy on a crankbait. He was casting to Aquia Creek, according to the Free Lance-Star. The fish was taken to state-inspected scales at Green Top Sporting Goods near Ashland and its weight and identification were verified by John Odenkirk, a DGIF fish biologist.
State fish officials have encouraged anglers to clean out as many snakeheads as possible, and Newton, his friends and others have been doing that for several years, catching a number of fish in the 12- to 14-pound bracket. Snakeheads also are a target of bow fishermen.
- Michael Pauley of Botetourt County has been recognized by the National Wild Turkey Federation for a Grand Slam, an award that goes to hunters who kill four different subspecies of turkeys in North America. The difference this time, Pauley's slam is composed of all bearded hens, which he purposely pursued. The NWTF earlier said that hens did not count in a Grand Slam, but Pauley has insisted that bearded ones are legal targets and should be recognized.
- Low levels of young striped bass along with a downward trend in recreational catches have the Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board concerned to the point of exploring ways to reduce fishing mortality. The board is an arm of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, of which Virginia is a member.
- John Crews of Salem finished 39th in the recent Bassmaster Elite series tournament on the St. Lawrence River out of Waddington, N.Y. The event was won by Brandon Palaniuk of Idaho who took home $101,000. Crews didn't make the final-day cut, but pocketed $10,000.
- West Marine, the nation's largest specialty retailer of boating supplies and accessories, plans to open its first Virginia flagship store in Virginia Beach with special events scheduled Sept. 12 to 15. The store will be located in Loehmann's Plaza Shopping Center at 4000 Virginia Beach Blvd. The closure of a Boating World store in Virginia Beach several years ago has left a void in the area's mega-store boating business.
- A whole lot of deer spotlighting is taking place in West Virginia, and not all of it is bad. Wildlife officials are evaluating the density of the state's deer population this month by using spotlights to survey the fields and woods along roadsides in 36 counties.
- Like many anglers, George Fowler of Newport News has been enjoying fantastic tuna fishing along the coast of Virginia. Fowler landed a 310-pound catch in Norfolk Canyon off Virginia Beach that is the new leader in the tuna category of the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament. The bluefin tuna has its own category, and is led by Robert Wiggins of Virginia Beach, who entered a 358-pounder. Thus far, there have been 77 non-bluefin entries. Last year at this time only 18 had been registered.
- Approval of hunting is high and growing in the United States according to a survey by Responsive Management, a research firm in Harrisonburg. The study shows that 79 percent of Americans 18-years old and older approve of hunting. This is a five-percent increase over 2011.
- When it comes time to replace those emergency flares required of many boats, what do you do with the old ones that have reached their expiration date? Have your own fireworks show? Nope. Flares are to be used for emergencies only. Improper use can net you a class D felony. There was a series of false alarms during a recent short period in the Coast Guard's Seventh District, which includes Miami. One case involved the Coast Guard launching an aircraft and boat search that cost more than $43,000.
- The Washington Post published a recent feature on the use of fox hound enclosures in Virginia, which drew a number of comments from animal-rights advocates who would like to outlaw these facilities. One reader said: I wish Obama would end this sport by executive order." The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries recently passed new regulations to govern use of the enclosures, but that didn't satisfy the Humane Society of the United States and other anti-hunting groups and individuals.
Events, seasons, dates
- Roanoke Chapter of National Wild Turkey Federation banquet, Friday, Valley View Holiday Inn, tickets from Billy Hall, firstname.lastname@example.org, Jim Basham, 540-521-8274 or at Sportsman's Warehouse in Roanoke.
- Virginia State Catfish Championship, Saturday, Kerr Lake, 3 p.m.-1 a.m., weigh-in at Staunton View Boat Ramp, information from www.thecatfishshowdown.com.
- Triangle Archers 3D tournament, Sunday, on club range between Christiansburg and Blacksburg, $12, $25 per family, cub and pee wee $6, information from Jim Overfelt, 540-552-8023.
- Meeting of Department of Game and Inland Fisheries to establish waterfowl hunting regulations, 9 p.m., Aug. 22, department headquarters 4000 West Broad Street, Richmond.
- Virginia Hunter Skills Weekend, Aug. 23-25, Holiday Lake 4-H Education Center, Appomattox, ages 11 up, subject include hunting skills, firearms' handling, bowhunting and wild game cooking, $120 includes meals, lodging and instruction, register through www.holidaylake4h.com?upcoming or 434-248-5444.
- 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 or Sportsman's Warehouse in Roanoke.
- Western Region Big Game Show, Sept. 14 and 15, Rockingham County Fairgrounds, Harrisonburg, this is the show that measures for the Virginia record book deer, bear and turkey killed the past season. Awards ceremony 3 p.m. Sept. 15. Information from Jon Ritenour, 540-434-8028 or check www.VPSA,org. State Championship Sept. 28 & 29 (see below).
- Jakes event sponsored by Botetourt County Longbeards Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, Sept. 21, registration at noon, activities 1 to 6 p.m., seven rotating stations set up to teach youngsters about turkey hunting, no charge, but for $10 you can become a member of the NWTF Jakes program, door prizes, information from Richard Pauley, 540-992-1883 or Pauleyr@nationwide.com. Earlier this year, the Botetourt chapter won the NWTF's top award for its Jakes program.
- 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.
- Youth deer hunting day, Sept. 28.
- Eastern Regional Championship and State Championship Virginia Big Game Show, Sept. 28 & 29, Southampton County Fairground, Franklin, information from www.VPSA.org or Kenneth Pickin, 804-633-0275.
- Meeting of the Roanoke Branch of the Quality Deer Management Association, Oct. 3, 6:30 p.m., Hollins Branch of the Roanoke County Library.
Have an event? Contact email@example.com