To start with a well-worn cliché, I guess I’m a sucker for punishment.
I’ll be leaving Monday for the campground at Cave Run Lake to spend a few nights under canvass and to fish the 8,200-acre lake for muskie, bass and crappie.
Aaron Brown of South Shore and I have leased a double campsite along with three members of the Cave Run Crappie Crew – Larry McGlone, Herb Maggard and C. G. Barker.
I’ll enjoy the camaraderie around the campfire and the meals together, which might even feature a good fish fry.
But the weatherman is predicting a high in the low 60s and temperatures dropping into the mid- to low-30s at night.
I nearly froze my butt off in that tent last May. One night featured a violent thunderstorm and such heavy rain that I thought it would float us all away.
Then, in October, camping with the same crew, we cut the trip way short due to cold, wind and rain.
This year I’m taking one of those twin air mattresses that are double stacked instead of having to sleep too close to the floor on the single model.
I’ll also take two sleeping bags and throw in a blanket to boot.
In the past we’ve fished for the crappie along brushy shorelines in bays across the lake from the campground; for muskie along the Zilpo weed flats and the shoreline off the bay where the eagles’ nest is located.
This year Aaron and I plan on packing a lunch and fishing up the Licking River, which feeds the lake.
I’ll perhaps give you and honest report later.
It was not a solo, but a chorus.
All up and down Kinniconick Creek their voices seemed to blend in a late night serenade:
“Jug-o-rum, jug-o-rum, jug-o-rum …”
And then, from the opposite shore, another member of the choir chimed in:
“Come on over, come on over, come on over …”
There were three of us in that 17-foot canoe. My son, Kendall, was in the bow. He held a seven-foot pole with a three-prong gig on one end. My other son, Kelly, was on the middle seat. He held a three cell flashlight with fresh batteries.
I was in the back, manning the paddle.
There was no moon in the sky. The trees formed a canopy over the stream that shut out even the starlight.
Kelly shined the light along the shore until, suddenly, its white beam came to rest on our quarry. The bullfrog sat on some lily pads at the water’s edge. He did not move. The light seemed to mesmerize him.
“Keep that light on him, Kelly. Get us a little closer, Dad,” Kendall said.
I found myself wishing we had brought the cartop boat. It was five feet shorter than the canoe, but much wider, much more stable.
“Careful now, boys, don’t get excited and tip us over,” I said. “I don’t enjoy being thrown into dark water.”
A dew quiet soft strokes with the paddle moved Kendall within striking distance. He thrust the gig and scored! The bullfrog, a foot long counting its legs, went into the burlap bag. We eased on up the quite pool, searching for our next victim.
Those frog hunts on the Kinniconick are among some of the best memories my two sons, teenagers at the time, enjoyed together.
We had arrived early in the afternoon, unloaded out gear, and set up camp – pitching the tent, pumping up our air mattresses, unrolling our sleeping bags, and gathering in wood for the campfire.
After fixing our supper on a two-burner camp stove, we cast spinning rods for smallmouth and redeyes until darkness fell.
Next morning, we skinned the frog legs and fried them in an iron skillet for breakfast, along with sliced potatoes fried to a golden brown.
Can a king live better?
Kentucky’s bullfrog season opens at noon May 19 and runs through Oct. 31. The limit between then and noon the following day is 15, with a possession limit of 30.
If frogs are taken by gig or hand either a hunting or fishing license is valid. If they’re taken by gun or bow and arrows a hunting license is required. If taken by pole and line, a fishing license is required.
Reach G. SAM PIATT at email@example.com or (606) 932-3619.
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