G. Sam Piatt
PDT Outdoors Writer
One of the very first newspaper columns on outdoor recreation I did was about Cave Run Lake.
That was almost 50 years ago.
And here I am today still writing about Cave Run Lake.
Myself and other members of the Kentucky Outdoor Press Association gathered there Nov. 1-3 for our fall conference, some fellowship, and a fresh look at what the area has to offer to outdoors orientated folks.
KOPA pays for its own travel and other expenses when possible, but w accept help when offered to help us gather information for our outdoor stories,
We stayed in the A-frame cabins at Cave Run Lodging (606-783-1234).
Joy Brown, executive director of the Morehead Tourism Commission 606-780-4342, hosted us. The toll-free number is 855-270-8733. These are the numbers to call for planning a trip to the area.
Cave Run Lake lies about 10 miles west of Morehead by taking either I-64 or U.S. 60 to Farmers.
More on what the lake has to offer in a minute.
The lake is probably the main attraction for visitors, but Morehead, home of Morehead State University, which now enrolls more than 9,000 students from 42 states, and turns out some of the best teachers in the nation, has much more to offer.
Such as: the Kentucky Folk Art Center, the Pine Grove Framing & Gallery of Fine Arts, the Cave Run Arts Association, and the CCC Trail Vineyard, with six acres of vineyards and offering wine tasting and sales.
You’ll probably want to stay a night or two just to find time to visit all of the fine antique stores. These include Shaving Horse Antiques, The Old Schoolhouse Antiques and Craft Mall, the Old Thyme Sweet Shop and Antiques, Frieda’s Antique Shoppe, Farmer’s Mercantile Antiques & Craft Mall, and Frizzer’s Past & Present.
Businesses associated with the lake and its activities include the Mountain Bike & Canoe/Kayak Rentals, which offers guided tours; and the Cave Run Sailing Association, open to new members.
DIDN’T HAVE TO COOK
Our breakfast, lunch and dinner served in the big front room of one of the A frames at Cave Run Lodging was provided by Jeanette’s Catering. They are good. To gain their services, call 606-356-3633.
Our conference was held at the Morehead Conference Center. Located downtown, it offers 18,,000 square feet of floor space for events, conferences, banquets and trade shows (606-780-9694). All totaled, the building covers 32,000 square feet.
Many members of the Morehead Tourism Commission turned out to be with us and to participate in our auction of outdoor items held afterwards.
People I met for the first time included Mike Patrick and his wife, Donna. They have a diamond and gemstone broker business, and they also design and build and sell lures to attract the mighty muskellunge of Cave Run Lake.
If you want to equip yourself for the big ones, give Mike a call at 606-356-5225 or 606-286-1658, or look for his lures on the shelves of area tackle shops.
Our delicious meal that evening was catered by Lundy’s of Lexington. To use their services, call Katherine Gordon, event designer, at 859-255-0717.
BUILDING THE LAKE
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers started construction of the dam in 1965. It was February 1974 when the waters of the Licking River backed up behind the dam, forming a lake of 8,270 surface acres for multipurpose use.
It provides flood protection for the Lower Licking River valley and helped to reduce flood stages on the Ohio River from Cincinnati on down.
And in a very short time the lake was attracting fishermen in pursuit of muskie, bass, and crappie, which inhabit the flooded timber, which was left standing.
And there’s room for sailboats and motorboats, and those who love to water ski, on the broad main lake behind the dam.
Management by the corps, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources over the past 50 years has seen development of the Scott Creek and Longbow marinas, Twin Knobs and Zilpo campgrounds, and the Pioneer Weapons Area.
The Minor E. Clark Fish Hatchery at the base of the dam is one of the largest warm-water hatcheries in the United States. It covers 300 acres and features 111 rearing and brood ponds. The six sport fish varieties produced for stocking are largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, walleye, rockfish, rockfish hybrids and muskellunge.
It’s the latter that is the lake’s mainstay, attracting fishermen from throughout the Midwest. The Kentucky record muskie, 47 pounds, was caught four years ago.
Most anglers return them to the lake alive, but for those who want to keep a muskie, for the wall or to eat, it must measure an even three feet in length to be legal size.
MY OWN EVENTS
My adventures over the years at Cave Run Lake include a deer-hunting trip with my two sons, who were teenagers then.
The lake is surrounded by the Daniel Boone National Forest, where white-tailed deer and other creatures thrive.
We stored our rifles in our boat, along with our rods and reels, motored across the lake to a wooded point, climbed out and made our way up a gentle slope to the top of the ridge, where our tree stands were waiting.
We didn’t score, but it was a memorable trip just the same.
More recently, we rented a houseboat from Scott Creek Marina for a week’s family vacation.
My son, Kendall, and his son, Elijah Luke, stepped into the small boat tied to the rail and set out for a morning of fishing. Luke cast a spinnerbait toward the shore and hooked and boated a 6-pound largemouth bass.
On that same trip, my daughter, Cindy Cole, and I sat in the fishing boat one early morning and watched a mother eagle teach her two young to dive for fish. They were all three perched in the top of a dead oak near the shoreline.
In the last four years of fishing on Cave Run I have boated three keeper muskie.
And then there have been those wonderful tips in spring and fall camping in Twin Knobs campground with members of The Old Crappie Gang.
There were no trips by the group this year. Sadly, Boyd Noble, who caught the record crappie, died of cancer in September.
Perhaps The Old Crappie Gang will be resurrected next spring.
Only time will tell.
But Cave Run Lake and its fish will be waiting.
G. Sam Piatt can be reached at 606-932-3619 or firstname.lastname@example.org.