Bill Cochran Field Reports: Turkey kill down; trout draw big crowd | Outdoors


Unseasonably cold weather for April is getting much of the blame for a 27-percent drop in the turkey kill Saturday and Sunday during Youth/Apprentice Weekend.

The reported kill was 457 bearded birds, 170 fewer that the previous year.

In many mountainous areas, hunters were confronted with snow and below freezing temperatures.

“The good news is the weather is looking a lot better for this Saturday’s regular season opener,” said Lee Walker, Department of Game and Inland Fisheries director of outreach.

Cold temperatures didn’t appear to impact Saturday’s Trout Heritage Day; at least, if anyone was missing you didn’t notice. Impressive numbers of fishermen were attracted to many of the 20 streams and impoundments stocked in remembrance of the old opening day which was discontinued in 1996.

“A lot of people were socializing, not fishing,” said Boyd Walker, who showed up at Jennings Creek in Botetourt County, not to fish but to watch and remember with fondness how it was before the state went to a year-round season.

The Rockbridge County resident said he counted 316 vehicles along a stretch of the creek.

In addition to cold-water pools holding trout, a big attraction to many was the Jennings Creek Gospel Church, where members were selling food; sausage-gravy biscuits, soup, beans, fried apple pie, Boyd Walker said. “The lot was full.”

Tinker Creek, in Roanoke City, drew a crowd of fishermen.

Lee Walker said about 50 vehicles were parked along a one-mile stretch of Rose River along the road leading to Graves Mountain Lodge in Syria.

“It’s clear from the number of folks hitting the streams this past weekend that the idea of creating a Heritage Day, similar to the old opening day of the trout season, is being well received,” said Lee Walker.

Holston High advances to bass championship

Holston High School of Damascus is headed to the 2018 high school fishing national championship, June 26-30, on Pickwick Lake in Florence, Alabama. Team members Mason Steele and Parker Newton of Damascus earned the berth Saturday by placing second in the Bass Pro Shops FLW High School Open on High Rock Lake in North Carolina. They entered a five-bass catch that weighed 17 pounds, 9 ounces.

First place went to Sheets Memorial Christian School of Lexington, North Carolina, whose team posted a 23-pound, 4-ounce total.

The top three teams qualified for the national championship.

Third was South Caldwell High School of Hudson, North Carolina. Team members weighed a 16-pound, 12-ounce catch.

Two other teams from Virginia finished in the top 10. Carroll County (Justin Carico, Fancy Gap, and Ashton Frost, Galax) was seventh with 14-13 pounds and Franklin County (Peyton Brown and Ryan Shelton, Rock Mount) was eighth with 14-4.

Outdoor briefs

  • The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries has advised anglers to use caution when ordering fishing licenses on line. The agency says there are several websites claiming to sell Virginia fishing licenses, but what you get for your money is a fishing informational guide. The official sites to order license are and www.dgif,


  • Spring gobbler season April 14,
  • Big Bass Tour tournament, Smith Mountain Lake, April 14-15,, headquarters Crazy Horse Marina, Moneta, grand prize a 2018 Nitro Z19 boat with 150-h.p. Mercury engine. Eentry fee is $160 for two days, $110 for one day.
  • Brett & Boomer’s Big Ole Bass Tournament, April 21, Claytor Lake, weigh-in Claytor Lake State Park, $10,000 first-place prize, sold out.
  • Smith Mountain Lake Striper Mafia Tournament, April 21 information from
  • Old Dominion One Shot Turkey Hunt, April 21
  • South River Fly Fishing Expo, Waynesboro, April 21-22, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., adults $10 advance, $12 at gate, kids under 15 free,
  • Twenty-eighth annual flounder tournament, April 27-May 6, Wachapreague,
  • Fiftieth annual Smith Mountain Fishing Tournament, May 4-6, prize money increased and a chance to win $50,000, sponsored by Challenger Little League Baseball program,
  • Roanoke Valley Hunters for the Hungry Sportsmen’s Banquet, Sept. 22, 5:30 p.m., Roanoke Moose Lodge 3233 Catawba Valley Drive, Salem, $25 single; $40 per couple, tickets from Garry Arrington, 434-942-9827 or Ralph and Lois Graybill, 540-427-5125.

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