Little lures catch some big fish

December 1, 2012

G. Sam Piatt

PDT Outdoors Writer

SOMETIMES the biggest fish are caught on the tinniest lures.

That little Road Runner, hardly bigger than your thumbnail, was catching sauger in the 2- to 3-pound category day before yesterday in the Ohio River tailwaters of the Greenup Dam.

I credited the lure’s success to the work of that tinny spinner on the shaft as the lure bounced just off the bottom in the 12-feet-deep water – which was as clear as drinking water – as it spun and danced and swirled and gurgled in the tailrace.

The work of the spinner and the live minnow we tipped the hook with, a small minnow yet one bigger than the lure itself.

It was my fishing partner, Creighton Stephens, who “discovered” the Road Runner lying in a neglected nook of his tackle box. He tied it on after the old standbys for fishing these waters – sonics, leadhead jigs with curly-tailed grubs, and spoons – produced only a token fish now and then, and those on the smallish side.

He hooked and boated five big speckle-finned fish before I wised up and did my copycat thing and landed my first one. He was heavy enough that I thought I would lose him as I hoisted him over the gunwale of Creighton’s 47-year-old fishing boat. I got him unhooked and in the basket and then reached for the dip net, making certain it was free from a conglomeration of things on the bottom of the boat.

We had put in that morning on the Portsmouth waterfront at the Court Street landing. We decided to motor downstream with the 90-hp outboard first to check out the mouth of Kinniconick Creek, about 12 miles downriver.

This we found to be a waste of time and gasoline. We dropped both anchors in 16 feet of water at the mouth of the Lewis County stream and were rewarded with not one strike.


We motored back to Portsmouth and under Grant Bridge to check out a few spots upstream. Creighton said he had started with just a half tank of gas and probably didn’t have enough to make it on to the dam, which lies 13 miles upstream from Portsmouth.

We decided to take out, gas up, and drive up to the Wheelersburg ramp, three miles below the dam, and put in again.

Creighton and I have both had a problem this year with keeping enough gas in our boats. It seems they’re not manufacturing enough gas in this region to satisfy the needs of our outboards.

As Creighton let me out on the Portsmouth waterfront to get his truck and back the trailer in, he ran out of gas in the outboard.


At the Burke’s Point ramp parking lot at Wheelersburg, we counted 16 pickups and their boat trailers.

Sauger fishing at the dam is hot.

No less than eight boats were clustered around the Bull Nose of the outer guide wall and up along the outside of it. Other boats fished from the Ohio side of the tailwaters and downstream of the buoys. At least a dozen bank fishermen were pulling in sauger from the riprap on the Ohio shore.

The last two fall and early winter sauger seasons have seen high water throughout the best fishing time so that no one could fish. This year, with the water level staying at normal level, more sauger that there have been before are stacked into these tailwaters. Both bank and boat fishermen are catching limits and having fun. And taking fish home for the larder.

The daily limit if you’re fishing with a Kentucky license is six, but if you’re fishing with an Ohio license it’s 10. Either state’s license is honored in these waters, regardless of which side of the river you’re fishing, but you must go by the regulations of the license you hold.


Ohio’s seven-day gun season for deer ends at sundown today. The Ohio Division of Wildlife reported nearly 20,000 deer were taken opening day, Nov. 26.

In Kentucky, where the 16-day gun season ended Nov. 25, the statewide kill stands at 116,122 for all seasons so far, with 57 percent of the total being bucks. That’s down from last year’s final tally of 119,663.

In local counties, the Greenup County kill was 1,107, with 61 percent of them bucks; Lewis County’s was 1,156, also with 61 percent bucks; Boyd County was 926, with 60 percent bucks; and Carter County had 1,404 with 58 percent bucks.


Whose farthest footstep never strayed

Beyond the village of his birth

Is but a lodger for the night

In this old wayside inn of earth.

Tomorrow he shall take his pack

And set out for the ways beyond;

On the old trail from star to star,

An alien and a vagabond.

— Richard Hovey

Roads that are straight and that end at a gate

Are not half so enticing to follow,

As are long roads that twist and are lost in the mist

Like the path of the south-flying swallow.

— Robert F. Scott

G. Sam Piatt can be reached at (606) 932-3619 or Gsamwriter@aol.com