Uncontrollable Laughter

September 10, 2010

On a beautiful September morning, a group of three ladies fished the James River with me for sunfish, bass and flathead catfish. Lynda, my wife, her adventure buddy Suzanne and Suzanne's sister Sheron enjoyed a few of the incredible fishing opportunities the James River offers. The entire day was great, with clear water, lots of fish and fish sightings. We watched as longnose gar prowled the shallows for minnows and other small fish. We watched the some of the last osprey fly the length of the river looking for food in the clear waters. But, the day really had two highlights. Personally, one of the best things about being a fishing guide is seeing someone catch their first fish. It does not matter if it's a kid learning how to cast, and reeling in a first fish, or an adult who has lived through decades of life and experiences. That first fish is always the same and the excitement level is generally from a 10 out of 10 and up to a 12 out of 10.

As it happened, Sheron caught her very first fish ever. It was a 4" redbreasted sunfish, and for someone to have lived a life full of outdoor adventures, it truly was her first fish ever. Suzanne caught quickly caught a small bass, and she took the time to show her appreciation to that little fella. In the photo to the right, she gave it a kiss and released it back into the river. It didn't take long as all three began catching one fish after the other.  Eventually, I paddled far enough downriver to get into the catfish waters and we began casting for flathead catfish. The day got even better, and Sheron, the lady who caught her first fish ever, a 4" fish, started to wear out 15 plus pound catfish!  She caught four of the first five cats and after that she was really hooked on fishing. Before the end of the trip, Sheron was already talking about going to the saltwater and go after marlin!

The catfishing was good and it got better. A lot better. Sheron hooked into a fish, a big one. As she was fighting that fish, Suzanne hooked into another big one.  As the two ladies fought catfish and both were getting close to the raft, Lynda hooked into another one! After the first one was landed, we had a fourth bite and upon a quick hookset ... another fish was on.  The second fish was boated, and I rebaited the line during the melee of activity and it almost instantly got a bite. Suzanne took the rod, set the hook and the fifth fish in about ten minutes was on. OK, to review this moment in time, we had two fish in the boat and three fish on lines. Lynda boated her big catfish and again, I rebaited, made a cast and handed Lynda the rod .... and then ... you guessed it ... a sixth fish was hooked.  Over the course of about 15 minutes, the three ladies hooked and landed six flathead catfish with the biggest being a citation sized 27-pound flathead catfish.

As I handed Suzanne a fish, she just started laughing and it triggered the four of us to laugh as we had about 100 pounds of fish in the bottom of the raft.  No words, just laughter until it was simply uncontrolled laughter. We decided to pile the fish up on Suzanne's laps when Lynda jumped over to help hold all the fish .... both chimed in with huge smiles and I somehow happened to take the photo of moment. Sheron played a role in the photo, also helping hold a few fish in place as well (you can see her hand with a blue glove coming in from the bottom left of the photo.  This was one of the many shining moments on the river during the summer of 2010.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!! 

-- Capt. Mike