ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — Here is a look at the latest outdoors news and notes for Virginia and the Blue Ridge region.

Summer Fishing Outlook

Most fish are in their summer patterns at lakes and streams around the region.

Largemouth and smallmouth bass will often seek deeper, cooler water near structure during the heat of the day, then move back into the shallows to feed once the sun starts to drop. Soft plastics and topwater baits will produce. Striped bass have also moved deeper. Downlining is the way to go for them.

Looking to fill a cooler? White perch are a worthy target at Smith Mountain Lake. Some captains turn to white perch after picking up a limit of stripers. It provides clients a full day on the water, and it helps to protect the striped bass because striper mortality rates rise in warmer water temperatures.

Panfish and channel catfish can provide fast action. Both are easy to target with worms, cut bait, or prepared dough baits.

A nice Smith Mountain Lake Striped Bass (Photo: George Noleff/WFXR News)

Wildlife Viewing

The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) reports that this is a great time of year for wildlife viewing. Many animals are active, right now. The key is to be cautious and to watch them from a safe distance so that they are not startled.

DWR says a great way to view wildlife is to go to a Virginia Bird and Wildlife Trail (VBWT) location. There are 65 VBWT trail loops that can be accessed around the Commonwealth. You can find a list of those sites here.

Grow Your Own Pollinator Plot

Have you thought about growing a pollinator plot? Pollinators like bees and butterflies are vital to our ecosystem and our food chain. You can help them thrive by planting a pollinator plot in your backyard or on any property you own. The DWR has a web page dedicated to ways to turn part of your yard into a home for pollinators.

A butterfly in a pollinator plot (Photo courtesy: VDWR)

Improve Fall Hunting Prospects With Some Summer Work

There are things you can do now in the summer to help improve your odds of success when hunting this fall. Our hunting experts have some tips:

  • Trim shooting lanes and keep them clear.
  • Improve deer bedding areas; bucks like clear ground with nearby cover.
  • Keep trail and scouting cameras working, and study what you see.
  • Spend time behind a scope to study deer migration patterns in your area.
  • Take inventory of your gear so you don’t have to replace it last minute.
  • Study topographical maps of areas you want to hunt.

A little work now could pay off with that dream buck in the fall.

Homework now can help your deer hunting prospects later (Photo courtesy: AP Photo/Amy Sancetta, File)

Summer Fish Handling

Alex McCrickard of the Virginia DWR demonstrates how to release a fish in the summer (Photo courtesy: Virginia DWR)

Warmer water temperatures can be tough on fish when we catch them. There are ways to handle fish in the summer months that will give them a better chance of recovering and conserving the resource. The DWR has a guide on summer fish handling. Three important pieces of advice include wetting your hands before handling a fish, using a net to land a fish, and getting fish back into the water immediately after landing them. That means taking a quick photo and putting the fish back.