G. Sam Piatt
PDT Outdoors Writer
The fish-rich waters of the tailrace at the Greenup Dam attract fishermen from far and wide.
Some are occasional casters who land a big one – hybrid, sauger, walleye, smallmouth, flathead cat – that brings them back again, when they can get time off from work, that is.
And then there are the regulars. Many of these are old enough that they draw a pension from the railroad or the steel mill.
And, of course, most of them get a check from Social Security. This is money given to keep their minds on fishing and off the shenanigans going on in Washington.
“I’m here everyday,” said Gene Mullins of Greenup County.
He exaggerates only a little. There are days when the unpredictable Ohio River pushes muddy water up over the concrete pier, lost days when no man can fish.
You’ll find Mullins and the other regulars there on the pier, casting or jigging, just about every day.
There are days when the fishing is hot, and days when it’s not.
On the latter, the dam fishermen lean their rods against the railing and recall the fish they caught yesterday, or talk about the big one that took the plug and didn’t even slow down, just swam off and broke the 30-pound test line without even saying thank you.
On Tuesday morning of this past week conditions looked favorable for good fishing – the river level was normal and the water broiling up and swirling along the pier wall was running clear. The water temperature was in the upper 60s.
But the fish weren’t hitting, although there was hope that would change before sundown.
Mullins took a break and recalled that day he had here on the wall on the third day of June.
The big flathead catfish were coming off the nest and starved.
“I jigged a spoon straight down to the bottom,” he said. “I caught one big cat after another – some over 10 pounds, some I estimated over 20 pounds.”
Then he hooked the granddaddy of the clan. He walked it down the wall and around the piling to where he could get it out onto the rocks. It pushed a set of store scales down to 57 pounds.
A little farther up the wall, another regular, Earl Spears of Argillite, made one long cast after another. He had caught just one small sauger.
But two months ago, he stood on that same spot and caught one prodigious Asian carp.
These unwanted and unloved fish feed on plankton and other small marine life and seldom are known to hit an artificial lure. Some are caught when fishermen accidentally snag them in the body.
But this one bit down on Earl’s lure and was hooked in the mouth.
He said it was weighed on digital scales, which showed it at 47 pounds, 14 ounces.
The Greenup Dam regulars hope to continue fishing and to live a long life, and they’ve read somewhere about how God does not subtract from the allotted span of man’s life those days spent at fishing.
OH DEAR, DEER
Here it comes, ready or not.
Kentucky’s 16-day gun deer season opens one-half hour before sunrise Saturday. Those who hope to be successful in bringing home venison for the family larder are ready – ready with landowner permission; have hunter orange clothing visible from all sides on the head, back and chest; have their hunting license and deer permit; have read the regulations concerning prohibited hunting methods; know how to fill out a hunting log and telecheck their animal; know how to field dress; and have the number and location of a meat processor.
There are many steps the deer hunter will have taken in mapping out a game plan that will allow him or her to take a stand in a favorable spot for bushwhacking that big buck.
This includes knowing the bedding and feeding areas and the well-worn trail between them, a trail featuring fresh rubs and scrapes.
Big bucks did not get that way by being dumb. Some trophy bucks are so well educated and wary they’re considered to be unkillable.
The exception is the peak of the rut, which is coming now upon us. At that time these big smart bucks will almost always do some goofy things, and their carelessness could lead to your putting his Boone & Crockett rack on the wall over your fireplace.
One piece of worthy advice: Know to engage every precaution you know when hunting from a tree stand.
Some members of the deer camps like to eat the liver or the heart of the deer, but please, don’t eat it raw. Yuck! Instead, try this:
Cornelius’ venison liver
6 tablespoons butter or margarine
½ cup dry white wine
2 large onions, chopped
1 can (4-ounces) sliced mushrooms
8 slices venison liver, 1/8th inch thick
salt and pepper
Melt butter in skillet over slow heat; add wine. Add onion, and saute for 15 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook for 10 minutes. Remove mushrooms and onions from skillet, but keep warm. Season liver and cook in skillet for 1/2 minute on each side for rare, I minute on each side for medium well. Remove liver to warm platter; top with mushrooms and onion.
Yield: 4 servings.
Note: Venison heart may be cooked the same way.
G. Sam Piatt can be reached at 606-932-3619 of firstname.lastname@example.org.