His daddy’s boat is still afloat

October 5, 2013

G. Sam Piatt

PDT Outdoors Writer

I still refer to it as “Dad’s old boat.”

The 1966 Sears Galaxy 16-foot V-nosed aluminum boat took us on many a fishing trip over the course of 20 years — trips to camps and marinas on both the Ohio and Canadian shores of Lake Erie; to Kentucky and Barkley lakes; to Lake Cumberland, Dale Hollow, Greenbo, Cave Run, Yatesville and Grayson lakes; to several lakes and rivers in Florida; and up and down the Ohio River.

After Dad died in 1995 it continued to serve me and my children and grandchildren.

About five years ago, I retired the 18-horse Evinrude it came with when the late Lynn Stephenson bought it new. I outfitted it with a brand new 15-horse Mercury.

When I acquired my new Basstracker boat in 2009 I never once entertained the thought of selling Dad’s old boat, and most likely never will.

The old boat this past week sat parked at the side of the house among the tall and thick hollyhocks and honeysuckle vines festooning plant to plant. It had not moved from its mooring there in more than a year.

Until Thursday, that is, when my son, Kelly, and I launched it on the Portsmouth riverfront.

I had stored the motor and gas tank in the outbuilding last fall. The tank was still filled with last year’s gas.

You see, outdoor writers are like men who make their living as carpenters, but never find time to restore rusty and broken things around their own home. Outdoor writers advise readers how to winterize boats and motors, but seldom follow their own advice.


It started the first pull.

We motored downstream and under the Carl Perkins Memorial Bridge and on to the sandbar on the Kentucky shore about a mile below the bridge. Here I crumbled crackers into the glass minnow trap and submerged it in knee-deep water.

I raised it 20 minutes later and was jubilant to find at least five dozen shiner minnows inside, each of them at least as long as your index finger.

We headed immediately back upriver and made our way past South Shore and on to the mouth of Tygarts Creek.

Noon to 3 p.m. is not a good time to fish the Ohio River in early October, but we had mainly gone out only to test the boat anyway. Kelly landed one nice largemouth bass and one small crappie. I caught nothing.

Motoring back down the river, I thought for an instant I saw my father on the front seat, leaning back into the V, his face filled with contentment.

And I was content that my daddy’s boat is still afloat.


Ohio’s ruffed grouse season opens next Saturday. It will run through Jan. 31 with a daily bag limit of two.

The anterless deer muzzleloader season also opens then and runs through the following day. See regulations for counties and areas allowed.


Yesterday marked the Soc and Sam Sandy Run, a two-man canoe race held on the Little Sandy River in conjunction with the 48th annual Greenup Old Fashion Days festival.

The winning team, Aaron Collier and Craig Adkins of South Shore, covered the six or seven miles of river from Raccoon to Greenup in one hour and 15 minutes.

Second place went to Philip Abbot and his father, Ed, of Catlettsburg.

Next was Tim Clay of Plain City and Jim White of Wheelersburg, followed by Anne Parrott and her husband, Alan Parrott, of Franklin Furnace.

Those were the only four boats to enter in this the first of what is hoped will be an annual part of the popular Old Fashion Days celebration.

The race was held in honor of myself and Soc Clay. The two of us together have been writing about the outdoors for nearly 100 years.

I’ve been telling the story and reporting on people and events locally for the Ashland Daily Independent and the Portsmouth Daily Times, while Soc has been publishing stories and photos about this area – its streams and rivers and lakes and woods — far and wide.

People who don’t read Outdoor Life, Bassmaster and a host of other outdoor magazines do not realize how much Soc has meant to this area of southern Ohio and northeastern Kentucky in the promotion of its outdoor resources and the people who enjoy them.

He was the first photo journalist to be named to the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame as a Legendary Communicator.

Next time you see him, you might want to say, “Thank you, Soc.”

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