- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Reports of improper spending of public funds and questionable travels and personnel action within the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) resulted in the resignation of the department’s director, William Woodfin.

Woodfin submitted his resignation before last week’s specially convened board meeting in which state auditor Merritt Cogswell released a critical report concerning the management of the department.

A VDGIF inquiry began in late 2004 after a Freedom of Information Act request discovered apparent misspending of hunters’ and anglers’ funds and resulted in detailed complaints to a state fraud, waste and abuse hotline.

Cogswell said his investigation supported 24 of the 29 allegations. His report found improper purchases made by agency employees, including gear used for an African safari. The equipment, including bulletproof rifle cases, shoes, boots, hats, cameras and DVD players, cost nearly $12,000.

Meanwhile, better financial oversight and clearly defined procedures have been promised by board chairman Tayloe Murphy.

Woodfin’s resignation is the second among the VDGIF hierarchy. Former board chairman Dan Hoffler of Eastville resigned when the African safari story was widely circulated in early spring.

Learn to fish in Virginia — If you live in Loudoun County, set aside June 11 for the Family Fishing Day and Bassmaster “Casting Kids” contest to be held in Franklin Park on East Loudoun Street in Purcellville.

There will be a 10 a.m. to noon fishing contest for children in the park lake, followed by a hot dog and hamburger picnic and a “Casting Kids” competition for ages 7 to 14. Trophies and prizes will be awarded. Any interested child or adult will be taught about the joys of fishing. Bring your own fishing tackle or use loaner rods and reels.

For additional information call Michael Hall, 571/236-1918, or Franklin Park manager Mike Horner, 540/338-7603.

Learn to fish in Maryland — The Montgomery County Department of Parks & Planning and Black Hill Regional Park will present an advanced fishing camp for ages 12 to 17. It will happen in three stages: June 14, 7 to 9 p.m.; June 16, 4 to 7 p.m.; and July 5 to July 8, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

If you have some fishing skills but are looking for that extra edge, this is the camp for you. A professional fishing staff will build upon your existing skills, teach you new ones and refine your technique so you can reach the next level.

Included in the camp is kayak and pontoon boat fishing at Little Seneca Lake, C&O; Canal fishing, Monocacy River fishing and special hot spots, including a secret stream and pond.

The first two sessions will be check-out/skill-building nights, followed by four full days of fishing. To register, go to ParkPass.org and set up a ParkPass account, then register and pay online. Or you can use the automated telephone registration system, 301/962-1477. For more information, contact camp director Glenn Cumings, 301/444-3143.

Rockfish and flounder need survey help — Howard King, the director of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ Fisheries Service, is asking the fishing public to assist the state in a striped bass cooperative angler survey and a summer flounder volunteer angler survey.

“This [striped bass] survey is absolutely crucial to the continued management of our striped bass fishery,” King said. Apparently, public participation has been waning in recent years, but King reeminds us how important it is.

The survey collects length and fish health data on stripers whether you keep it or release it. The survey data is the only source of information on recreationally caught and released undersized fish available to Maryland and Virginia fisheries managers. To help out with the survey, go to dnr.state.md.us/fisheries/survey/sbsurveyintro.shtml. If you would rather have a packet of forms to return through the mail, call 877/620-8367.

The same applies to the summer flounder. Fishermen who want to help in the rebuilding of the Atlantic and Chesapeake Bay flounder stock are asked to go to dnr.maryland.gov/fisheries/survey/sfsurveyintro.shtml or phone 877/620-8367.

I wished I’d said that — Fellow outdoors writer Curt Wells said it so perfectly when he explained why he hunts: “Hunting isn’t some kind of revenge against the animal world. It’s a pursuit as old as the dawn of mankind when hunting meant survival.”

c Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday and Wednesday and his Fishing Report on Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com.

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