Anytime I write about the Kinniconick Creek I get letters, e-mails and phone calls – either from people with fond memories of growing up on the stream, or those wanting more information about it.
I wrote a column in this space, a number of years ago, about Soc Clay and me taking a canoe down a section of the clear, rock bottom stream, slinging lures as we went. You don’t want to waste all that paddle power without trying to do battle with a smallie.
Following are responses from two of 13 readers who wrote me. I’m not sure about what the status of these two is today, for as I said this was a number of years ago.
Virginia Seagraves Lake of Russell, who spent her childhood in the community of Stricklett, located on Ky. 344 about a dozen miles southwest of Vanceburg and maybe 30 miles up from where the Kinni empties into the Ohio River at Garrison, wrote:
“In the early 1930s, my family lived at Stricklett and worked as share croppers. My dad worked for the Fred Bates family. At first we lived on Cherry Camp. It was up a hollow and a cemetery was across the road from us.
“My aunt and uncle lived where there was a sawmill. We loved to play on the sawdust piles and jump from log to log as they floated down the stream.
“My first Christmas we rode on a sled pulled by two horses with bells on their necks. Our schoolhouse was on a bank across the road from Kinni. I got my first look at Santa Claus there.
“We later moved to a house that sat right on the bank of Kinni. Oh, what wonderful times we had there. The creek was so clear and beautiful that you could see bottom, even in the deepest parts.
“My father built a wooden rowboat. He would take us to the head of the creek, where it was just a small stream. On the way down the stream, my sisters and I would wade and hang onto the sides of the boat until the water was over our heads. Then we would climb into the boat for the rest of the trip.
“We were very poor so we didn’t have fishing gear like today’s kids have. I saved string from Bull Durham bags of roll your own tobacco. I used a small limb from a tree for a pole. I tied the string to the pole and used a safety pin for a hook.
POTATO BUG BAIT
“I would ask to go fishing and Mother would tell me I could go after I bugged the beans and potatoes. I saved the soft orange potato bugs for bait. I caught so many fish that way that soon the men started using potato bugs to fish with.
“One day I got a bass so big I thought I had Old Ironsides. He was so big and so many had hooked and lost him that they give him that name. My fish drug the ground when my daddy held it out from his side. Was I ever proud!
“My great uncle, Cecil Wilson, lived across the creek. We crossed a swinging bridge to get to his house. It was always an adventure to visit him.
“My, the hours of fun we had, fishing and watching the fish in that beautiful clear water. You could even drink from it. To me I’ll never see a more beautiful place.
“I have moved back to Kentucky after 57 years away. I always read the sports writers’ articles. In Michigan we had Mitch Albon. Now I find a writer just as good.
“I send some of your articles to my son in Alabama. I always told him about those days on the Kinniconick. He enjoys your articles. Keep up the good work.
“Also, I forgot to tell you about the fun we had on Kinni gigging for frogs. But that’s another story …”
I was not able to contact Mrs. Lake by phone, but I’m thinking that must have been a muskie rather than a bass. There was a line-breaking muskie called Old Scrapiron that haunted the dreams of old-time Kinni fishermen. It’s difficult to visualize a bass long enough to reach from her father’s waist to the ground; not so with a muskie’
Randy Mullins of Wheelersburg wrote:
“I enjoyed reading your outdoor column about Kinniconick in The Portsmouth Times. I am also a big fan of Kinni. My wife has a special connection with the area since her parents live near Camp Dix (on Ky. 59, about six miles due east of Stricklett as the crow flies, more than twice that as the creek winds). She spent a big part of her youth growing up there.
“I was introduced to Kinni about 15 years ago. I have taken a couple of float trips down the stream, and have fished a number of times in the long hole of water near the bridge you wrote about. I have always sought permission from landowners before entering the creek, which by the way can be a daunting task.
“Over the weekend, I went down to the creek to check out the area where you and Soc dropped your canoe into the creek. The road that you speak about had a gate across it along with the name and the phone number of the owner and a couple of posted signs. Does the gentleman allow people to access the creek at this location? I would appreciate any insight that you are willing to offer.”
Randy, I, too, have always sought, when possible, landowner permission to cross their land to get to the creek, and I can’t recall ever being turned down. In this case, though, I assume Soc had prior permission.
Reach G. SAM PATT at (606) 932-3619) or [email protected]