In the middle of the night, John Weiss shook me from a sound sleep.

“Sam! Wake up!”

“What is it? What’s wrong?”

“Something’s out there. Something’s trying to come in on us.”

Sure enough, something was shaking the canvas.

It was a half-moon night. There was no wind in the trees.

As I fumbled around my sleeping bag in search of the flashlight, John unzipped the tent flap enough to get his head and shoulders out and peer around the corner of the tent.

He zipped back in like a crawdad looking for a rock to crawl under.

“Thought you said there are no black bears in this country.”

“There’s not. At least it would be very unusual to see one.”

“Well, there’s something black out there. Black and big.”

I poked my head out and shined the flashlight.

Then I chuckled.

“You’re correct, John. It’s big and black, all right.”

It was a huge black angus. We had pitched our tent in the corner of a farmer’s pasture. The cow had tripped over one of the tie-down ropes on our tent.

Miles of Streams

Since I choose to never write something that might embarrass someone, my companion on this overnighter down Kinniconick Creek will remain anonymous. We loaded the canoe very lightly, no tent or sleeping bags, just our fishing gear and a couple of army blankets we would roll up in to sleep under the stars.

The canoe had wooden slats in the bottom. Rather than spend the night on a gravel bar with me, my friend decided to take his blanket and sleep in the canoe. The bow was tied securely to shore.

I woke up first the next morning and got the coffeepot brewing and set some bacon frying in the iron skillet. It was just starting to get daylight when I heard him scuffling about in the boat. It had gotten cool during the night, especially on the water and away from the campfire. He had the blanket wrapped around him like a cocoon.

I had turned my attention back to the bacon when I heard a loud “ker-splash!”

I looked and saw, just off the rear of the boat, his blanket floating on the surface. Thankfully, he was an excellent swimmer. The water was seven or eight feet deep.

He came up sputtering and spitting. My friend was awake and ready for coffee. He worked his way along the side of the canoe to shore.

It was a while before he saw the humor in his having stepped out of the wrong end of the canoe.

Saltwater Species

What a difference there is between fishing streams and lakes of Kentucky and the salt waters of the Atlantic.

A muskie might clamp down on your hand and a catfish might run a barb in you, but generally you can feel safe in taking a fish off the hook.

But on our fishing trip on Chesapeake Bay just about everything we hooked from the depths tried to sting, pinch, bite, or in some way draw blood.

Early in the morning we boarded the Sea-Lee, a 50-foot head boat out of Shore Drive Marina and set out to try our luck drift-fishing around the wonderous Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, which spans the mouth of the bay between Virginia and Maryland for 17 miles.

The action was slow at first, but soon things were hopping on that deck.

“I’ve got a double on this time,” shouted my nephew, Mikie Allen Wright.

As he reeled up from the depths, the bottom hook held a large blue crab hanging on by one pincher and on the top hook was a fish called a Sea Robin, which features a poisonous fin. The crab dropped off and started scurrying sideways across the wooden deck, his big pincher arms flailing the air.

Mike’s brother, Danny Ross Wright, cranked up over the stern a critter that was orange and purple and ugly, looking like a catfish that had been hit head-on by a freight train.

Next to come on board was a two-foot shark, slashing and gnashing his teeth.

Salt water and fresh water, quite a contrast.

Reach G. SAM PIATT at gsamwriter@twc.com or (606) 932-3619.

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