G. Sam Piatt
PDT Outdoors Writer
This is a story of a mighty fish called the muskellunge, and of the lake wherein it dwells and thrives.
And of a well-tested, well-proven guide who zips across the water to get a client to the most likely spot where a big muskie will most likely strike and hands him or her the lure the muskie is most likely to hit.
The lake is Cave Run, an 8,270-acre body of water just west of Morehead, Ky. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began building a dam across the Licking River in 1967 and water began backing up behind the dam in 1973. The lake has earned a reputation as the “muskie fishing capital of the south.”
HALL OF FAME
The guide is David “Crash” Mullins, who last week learned that he has been named to the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame as a legendary guide.
Mullins will be inducted in the 2013 class in January at the banquet and induction ceremony to be held in Chicago.
“A friend of mine called me on Thursday (Oct. 11) and told me I was in. I said, ‘You’re crazy!’ Then my wife went to the mailbox and sure enough there was the letter from Hall of Fame authorities at the headquarters in Haywood, Wisconsin,” Crash said.
According to the letter, he is only the 75th guide in the nation to be so honored.
Mullins, 53, began guiding as a teenager while still a student at Olive Hill High School. In 1993 he made the decision to earn his living as a full-time muskie guide.
He opened Crash’s Landing Inc. guide service and bait and tackle shop off Ky. 801, which leads up the eastern shore of the lake.
In 2007 he received some bad news we all fear might happen to us. He was diagnosed with life-threatening cancer. He has since undergone two stem cell transplants and continues the fight.
He still guides regularly on Cave Run although his son, Justin, now serves as the lead guide for the service.
Crash continues to promote muskie fishing on Cave Run and as far north as Canada. During July, when the muskie fishing becomes slow on Cave Run, he operates a Canadian school for both seasoned anglers and beginners who want to learn how to be successful at muskie fishing.
“I heard about the guide service offered by Crash’s Landing from the video featuring Crash and shown on the Sportsman’s Channel,” said Tom Imhoff of southern Georgia, who booked service the week beginning Monday Oct. 8. By Friday he had boated three quality muskie.
And Justin, doing the guiding, caught and released a muskie that was 53 inches long!
Earlier this fall, Crash, guiding two anglers from Chicago, caught and released one that measured nearly 50 inches.
“Clients are speechless when they see fish like these come into the boat,” Crash said.
For more information, or to book a guide, call Crash’s Landing at (606) 780-4260.
The state record muskie came from Cave Run three years ago. It was 54 inches long and weighed 47 pounds, breaking the previous record by more than two pounds. It was caught during the first week of November by Sarah Terry, who was then a 14-year-old freshman at Montgomery County High School. She was fishing with her stepfather, Scott Salchli, who also guides for muskie on the lake.
Sarah caught the fish on a Double Cowgirl in-line spinner with two size-10 gold blades and a purple skirt.
CHRIS MCDAVID’S FEAT
Patience is necessary for those who pursue the muskie, for its said that he’s the fish of 10,000 casts.
And yet this story unfolding here tells of a male nurse, who became hooked on muskie fishing on Cave Run Lake half a dozen years ago, and who a year ago caught four quality muskie there in three hours of casting.
And during that time span he barely missed hooking four others.
“In three hours I had a potential of catching eight muskie and caught four,” said Chris McDavid of Bellefonte.
McDavid caught those four the morning of Sept. 9, 2011. He and Jeff Hughes started early that morning casting the Big Cave Run area of the lake.
“A tropical depression from the remnants of a hurricane still lingered. I don’t know if that had anything to do with it or not. I had made just three to five casts down the right hand side of the cove with a buzz bait when I landed the first muskie,” Chris said. “This took some of the pressure off that you put on yourself to succeed.”
Ten or 15 minutes later, a little deeper into the cove, he caught and released his second muskie.
“I had another come after the lure while I did the figure eight at the side of the boat. It missed and hit the side of the boat. Ten minutes later another rolled all over the lure but missed. He was a giant. He would have exceeded 50 inches. Jeff wanted to know if I had another buzz bait like the one I was using.”
It was starting to get a little crowded in Big Cave Run so they moved across the lake to cast near the entrance of Little Cave Run.
“I raised two more there and caught a 46-incher, then moved to Donithan Hollow and caught No. 4,” Chris said.
“So from 6:30 to 9:30 that morning, I caught four quality muskie and with a little luck would have had four more.”
EVEN I HAVE SCORED
By contrast, I have caught two Cave Run muskie in fishing the lake over the past three years.
The first came in 2009 as I trolled an old-time Bomber lure I pulled from the tackle box of my late father, Bruce.
I fished with McDavid and Creighton Stephens from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. this past Friday, Oct. 12. We did no good that morning, but the next morning, Creighton and I were trolling the edge of the weed beds off the Zilpo flats. I had snapped on a green Hellbender. I could feel it really working back there 50 yards behind the boat when all heck broke loose.
The hooked fish jerked his head left, then right, then dove down deep. I felt like I was in the ring in a heavyweight match. Not until he was within 10 feet of the boat did he split the surface and become airborne. This muskie, which turned out to be 36 inches long and weighed 12.2 pounds, in typical fashion fought all the way into the dip net, which was expertly handled by Creighton.
My catch came during the Oct. 12-14 fall outing of the Kentucky Outdoor Press Association. Our stay was sponsored by the Morehead Tourism Commission and our headquarters was two houseboats moored at the Scott Creek Marina. Our meals were catered by Jeannette’s Catering of Morehead.
For information on the area, call the commission at 606-780-4342 or 1-800-654-1944 or visit moreheadtourism.com.
For information on houseboat rentals and other services offered by the Scott Creek Dock call 606-784-9666 or visit caverunmarinas.com.
For catering service in the Grayson to Morehead area call Jeannette’s Catering at 606-356-3633.
G. SAM PIATT can be reached at (606) 932-3619 or Gsamwriter@aol.com.