Angler spotlight: Meet Riner’s Michael Early

Photo courtesy of Michael Earley
Michael Earley is an avid fisherman, spending most of his spare time on the New River or a local stream.

(Each month, the Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) is highlighting a Virginia fisherman and the role fishing plays in his life. This month’s featured fisherman is Michael Earley from Riner.)

Name: Michael Earley

Hometown: Riner

Occupation: Engine service advisor

Question: How did you get interested in fishing?

I became interested in fishing at an early age on the banks of ponds and creeks with my old man. Those memories and adventures fueled my ever-growing passion for fishing and the outdoors. Those days it didn’t matter if we catch a small bluegill or a big smallmouth. It is all about spending time together.

Question: What do you love about fishing?

What’s not to love about fishing? Fishing is an outdoor activity that I can do with friends and family no matter what age or experience level. Being on the water is my happy place. Now, when I’m on my boat, I leave all of the world’s problems at the dock. I enjoy taking my wife and daughter and seeing their excitement when we hook a big striper.

My fishing preference is striped bass. To be more specific, trophy-sized striped bass.

Question: Who was your fishing mentor?

My brother-in-law Greg Hill and good friend Charles Lee introduced me to striper fishing several years ago, and it has changed my life. Those two guys are the best in the business and took the time to share years and years of hard-earned knowledge with me. I take striper fishing very seriously, and a lot of my fishing success is because of them.

Question: What’s been your most memorable day on the water?

It’s hard to narrow it down to one day. I’ve had so many good days. But one day in May 2009, me, my wife, Ashley, and my daughter Addison were on the water at daylight, pulling planned boards with huge live gizzard shad for bait.

We were determined to catch a big fish that morning. At about 7 a.m., that wish came true. One of the bank-side boards went down with a huge splash. Fish on! I grabbed the rod and the fight was on. It felt like I had hooked a freight train.

A couple minutes into the fight one of the channel-side boards went down with an even bigger splash than the first. Doubled up! Ashley grabbed that pole and started fighting the second fish. We put both of the fish in the boat at the same time and we were blown away. I had been chasing my first striper over 40 inches and now I had two fish in that category at the same time. I have caught a handful of stripers over 40 inches, but those two were by far the most memorable.

–Molly Green, Virginia DWR

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