“That’s a fish!” said Erich Faber, jumping up from his camp recliner, setting down his beer and hopping to the spot where his rod protruded from its holder.
Erich started cranking and a minute later I was sliding the net under a 15-pound flathead catfish.
High-fives were exchanged all around.
Less than 24 hours later, fellow TU staffer Jeff Yates and I were exchanging the same gesture of triumph.
We’d been leapfrogging up a tiny mountain creek, taking turns casting delicate dry flies for native brook trout.
The fishing had been challenging, which made it that much more rewarding when a trout slashed at my tiny parachute hare's ear dry fly as it drifted alongside a semi-submerged log at the head of a pretty pool.
The colorful brookie was 10 inches long, barely snack-sized for the fish we'd been catching the night prior.
The opener and nightcap of this Virginia summer fishing weekend doubleheader couldn’t have been much more opposite, but they were still both immensely satisfying.
Forced to pick between the two, I’d take brook trout fishing, of course.
But there’s nothing wrong with stepping away from the trout creek from time to time to target big -- some might say ugly -- fish with big -- some might say ugly -- tackle.
At least once every summer Erich invites me and another friend, Rich Dorsett, out to his dock on Smith Mountain Lake for what we dub the Catfish Campout.
We stay out all night, sipping a few frosty beverages while waiting in the dark for the clickers on our heavy baitcasting reels to signal that a catfish has the bait and is running for the deep.
We’ve got a tent set up out there but we don't get much sleep, especially when the fishing is good.
It’s a blast and one of my most-anticipated fishing outings of the year.
I'm not going to do them regularly, but hose big water, big fish trips help provide context for the little creek, little fish outings.
Opposite on the surface, yes.
But at their core they share the traits that draw us to fishing.
The challenge of fooling a finned quarry.
And the thrill and satisfaction of having that quarry put a bend in our fishing rod, whatever the size and type of rod it may be.