A tug-of-war; remembering Crash


G. Sam Piatt

PDT Outdoors Columnist

It came to my direct attention at an early age that I was to struggle through this life with no hope of ever gaining credit for any good thing I had done.

Oh, to be sure, people have always been all too quick and happy to credit me with the accomplishment of a few bad moves, but hardly ever anything on the plus side.

This bit of unfairness first dawned on me when I was 11 or 12 and a member of Boy Scout Troop 160, sponsored by the good folk of Hooperville Methodist Church.

We had packed up and gone off to a Jamboree to pit our skills against other troops. We were a hungry, tough, wiry bunch and thus it was no surprise when we took the trophy in the tug-of-war contest.

I was a member of that 8-man team and nearly pulled my guts out as we dragged the second-place finisher steadily toward our side, until they tumbled one after another into the center mud hole created for that purpose.

I was glad that I hadn’t gotten mud on the brand new pair of All-Star tennis shoes that my mother had sacrificed and saved to buy me.

It was the last contest of the meet and soon after we were packed up and all eight boys crammed into the scoutmaster’s car for the journey home. On the way the scoutmaster began to praise the team and its individual members for our accomplishment.

Didn’t they swell with pride as he named them off?

It seemed he’d praised everybody but Raymond Rider, and me. Raymond had been our anchorman.

“The boy with the new tennis shoes,” our leader was saying, and I

squared my shoulders and leaned forward in the back seat. “Yes sir, Raymond,” he continued. “The tread on those new soles of yours is what turned the tide for us.”

Raymond grabbed the backs of his heels and raised his new tennies up for all to see. We all congratulated him, perhaps hiding just a tinge of jealousy.

I waited.

But that was it. We had reached the home of the first boy to get his backpack out of the trunk and depart.

I sunk back in my seat and a black cloud settled over my head.

Had he forgotten that I was on the team?

Oh well. We won. That was all that mattered.

But I would have gladly traded my stake in the trophy for just one word of recognition.


On a more serious note, after my frivolous writing above, I want to report that the sports fishing world recently lost a champion and a gentleman.

I last saw Carl David “Crash” Mullins on Cave Run Lake. I was there last year with other members of the Kentucky Outdoor Press Association for a get-together to enjoy some fishing and camaraderie.

We spent the weekend on a houseboat moored at Scott’s Creek Marina. Crash, whose guide service and tackle shop, Crash’s Landing, was just a half-mile away, was able to join us for the evening meal.

His son, Justin, lead guide for the business, had led a client to boat a beautiful muskie and they came by the houseboat for a much appreciated photo session.

We knew that Crash had been battling cancer for the past seven years, and the prayer of all around the table was that he would be given some more years to enjoy his family and the job he loved so much.

Crash died Saturday, Sept. 19, at home with his family around him, a little over two months short of his 57th birthday.

The job he fell in love with nearly four decades ago was as a renowned muskie guide on Cave Run as well as some of the northern muskie lakes. He hosted a television fishing show on one of the more popular outdoor channels. In 2013 he was elected to the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame as a Legendary Fishing Guide.

He gained a wide audience through magazine stories and photos published on him by my friend and fellow outdoor writer, Soc Clay.

Tim Preston, reporter for The Independent, paid a wonderful and deserving tribute to Crash in his story that ran in the Sept. 22 edition of the newspaper, beginning on Page A-3.

Tim had gone fishing for muskie with Crash in August 2013. They did not manage to catch a fish after spending most of the day running from one heavy rain and thunderstorm after another.

I’m glad Tim was able to hold onto his rain-soaked sheaf of notes he took that day.

I was a reporter at The Daily Independent when I first interviewed Crash more than 35 years ago, when he was not long out of Olive Hill High School and just getting started.

Crash will certainly be missed – and remembered – whenever fishermen gather to tell their stories of battles fought with the mighty muskie.

G. SAM PIATT can be reached at (606) 932-3619 or [email protected].

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