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Angler Spotlight: Meet Michael Earley

By Molly Kirk

Photos by courtesy of Michael Earley

Each month in the Fishing Notes from the Field email, we at the Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) are going to highlight one of our constituents and the role fishing plays in their life. Are you an avid angler who would like to be featured or know someone who would be great to feature? We’d love to hear from you! Just email social@dwr.virginia.gov and let us know!

Name: Michael Earley

Hometown: Riner, VA

Occupation: Engine service advisor

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 caught a small bluegill or a big small mouth. It was all about spending time together.

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.

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.

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

It’s hard to 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″ and now I had two fish in that category at the same time! I have caught a handful of stripers over 40″ but those two were by far the most memorable.

Are you an avid angler who would like to be featured or know someone who would be great to feature? We’d love to hear from you! Just email social@dwr.virginia.gov and let us know!

Fishing During the COVID-19 Outbreak

  • If you choose to fish during the pandemic it is essential that you follow CDC guidelines.
  • Purchase your fishing license online instead of in-person.
  • Fish alone or with family members or others that you live with and are isolating with during the Governor’s “stay at home” order.
  • Do not fish if you feel sick or think you might be sick.
  • Stay at home when you are sick, except to get medical care.
  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for 20 seconds or using alcohol-based sanitizer even while afield or afloat.
  • Do not share equipment with anyone, and wash your equipment when you’re done.
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from other anglers you encounter and try to avoid crowded access points.
  • Do not float in a raft, drift boat, john boat, or canoe with friends that you are not isolated with during the “stay at home” order.  If you choose to float please do so with individuals that you live with and are isolated with.
  • Try to fish near home as much as possible and avoid traveling long distances.
  • September 10, 2020