Eric and I first fished together Election Day this year, May 8. I was a nervous wreck as a I always am election day. It was my first Day of meeting Eric. We had PM'd each other many times talking muskies and planning trips that never came together until that Tuesday. He came to Huntington and rode with me from there and we drove an hour to Cave Run. Craig was spot on when he said Eric was not shy but quiet and reserved. It seemed that when he spoke it was well thought out. I was impressed by his fishing skills, he hadn't been musky fishing that long but had seemed to master it. We had a very windy May morning to fish out the the famous "flats" where we pounded the weed beds with every lure in the boat. All the sudden BOOM Eric had a fish on, a fat 33" in the net. He caught her on a grim reaper spinnerbait. I remember feeling relieved that he had caught one since he had driven all the way from Clay that morning. It was a good day on the water and off getting to know a fine man.
I didn't know what he did for a living and we shared a laugh when I told him I was a Magistrate and he replied, "Well Judge, I am Trooper". It seemed to fit him well being a trooper and we as citizens of this state were fortunate to have him watching out for us and upholding the laws of our great state. He and I stayed in touch and and fished the elk a couple of times. Ive been fishing twice since hearing the news about Eric and have thought about him, a smile comes to my face as I'm typing this because I have faith he is in a better place. We live in a strange world where the good die young and bad things happen to good people, I'm sure i will struggle to understand this for the rest of my life. I remember watching a Musky DVD once and the guy was talking about when he died he didn't want pearly gates, he wanting a musky lake. That makes me think of Eric, ill bet he has found his Elk river in the sky and is burning a black cowgirl right now. I will come say goodbye to you tomorrow Eric, RIP.
Mike Woelfel, "muskymike" Huntington, WV
The first time I met Eric in person....
As you guys know I spend most of my time on the water chasing muskies. A couple years ago I had the go ahead from my wife to spend Saturday on the water. My buddy that normally fishes with me calls me Friday evening and says he just got called out to work and wouldn't be able to go. I still wanted to go but didn't have anyone as a backup plus it was getting late. I figured what the heck and posted here on WVAngler that I wanted to go and my back seat was open. Within 20 minutes of posting Eric and I were on the phone making plans. At this point Eric had never fished for Kanawha river muskies. We decided on the upper Kanawha and planned to meet the next morning.
4am Saturday morning I pull into the South Charleston Bob Evans and Eric was already there. He jumps out of his truck and says "hi Jeff I'm Eric" he grabs his rods tosses them in my boat and off we go. We talk a bit going up the road about muskies and how we had high hopes for the day. The first few hours on the water were fairly quite but as the day went on we spoke of baseball and his time at WV state. We also talked about him getting ready to attend the Trooper academy. Mostly though he couldn't get over fishing the big river making the super long casts or working a dropoff or some off shore structure. He just couldn't get over how different it was then fishing the Elk. By the end of the day we had raised a few fish and even though we never boated one we had became buddies.
This spring I had posted some photos of some lures that I had made. Eric quickly posted back looking for something specific. He had a hunch about a color but couldn't find what he wanted anywhere so he asked if I could custom make the color. I said sure. A couple weeks later I sent him a photo of what I had come up with and he loved it. We were having a hard time getting together with our schedules and just kept putting it off. We both figured we had all the time in the world and there was no hurry. I wish that were true. Eric never got to test his custom color on the Elk muskies. I don't fish the Elk much but I just might this fall to see if he was on to something with this color.
Jeff Cantley "spinnerbayt", South Charleston, WV
I learned a valuable lesson about spending time with people when you get the chance from Eric's death. Eric and I texted or talked about every day. A few weeks ago we were both having a bad day and he asked me to meet him at Pies and Pints in Charleston for some beer, pizza and talking about our women problems! lol
I was tired, depressed, and just didn't feel like driving to Charleston. I told him we would another time. Well of course another time didn't happen and never will. Make time for those you care about. You never know when your time or theirs is up.
Eric and I were texting the day he was shot about fishing this past weekend. I will always treasure that text. Last one I got from him said, the Elk looks great.
Scott Smith "muskiecrazy" Hurricane, WV