Time for record muskie on Cave Run

By G. Sam Piatt - PDT Columnist



Submitted Photo

It’s been eight years since Cave Run Lake gave up the Kentucky record 47-pound muskie, so it would seem past time for some lucky angler to get lucky.

And October is a good time to go.

If all went as planned, I’m on Cave Run trying my luck as you read this. I’m there with members of the Kentucky Outdoor Press Association.

I’ve caught several muskie on Cave Run over the years, but nothing bigger than 38 inches and 16 pounds.

Now if David “Crash” Mullins was still working the lake, I might feel at least that I could have a chance to photograph a 50-incher.

Crash, voted four years ago to the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame as a legendary guide, died last year after an eight-year battle with cancer.

There’s nothing to improve your chances like having a well-tested, well-proven guide who zips across the water to get a client to the most likely spot where a big muskie will most likely strike and hands him or her the lure the muskie is most likely to hit.

Crash, in his mid-50s at the time of his death, began guiding as a teenager while still a student at Olive Hill High School. In 1993 he made the decision to earn his living as a full-time muskie guide.

He opened Crash’s Landing Inc. guide service and bait and tackle shop off Ky. 801, which leads up the eastern shore of the lake.

In 2007 he received some bad news we all fear might happen to us. He was diagnosed with life-threatening cancer. He underwent two stem cell transplants.


The state record muskie from Cave Run was 54 inches long and broke the previous record by more than two pounds. It was caught during the first week of November by Sarah Terry, who was then a 14-year-old freshman at Montgomery County High School. She was fishing with her stepfather, Scott Salchli, who also guides for muskie on the lake.

Sarah caught the fish on a Double Cowgirl in-line spinner with two size-10 gold blades and a purple skirt.


Patience is necessary for those who pursue the muskie, for its said that he’s the fish of 10,000 casts.

And yet this story unfolding here tells of a male nurse, who became hooked on muskie fishing on Cave Run Lake half a dozen years ago, and who, on the morning of Sept. 9, 2011, caught four quality muskie there in three hours of casting.

And during that time span he barely missed hooking four others.

“In three hours I had a potential of catching eight muskie and caught four,” said Chris McDavid of Bellefonte.

McDavid and Jeff Hughes started early that morning casting the Big Cave Run area of the lake.

“A tropical depression from the remnants of a hurricane still lingered. I don’t know if that had anything to do with it or not. I had made just three to five casts down the right hand side of the cove with a buzz bait when I landed the first muskie,” Chris said. “This took some of the pressure off that you put on yourself to succeed.”

Ten or 15 minutes later, a little deeper into the cove, he caught and released his second muskie.

“I had another come after the lure while I did the figure eight at the side of the boat. It missed and hit the side of the boat. Ten minutes later another rolled all over the lure but missed. He was a giant. He would have exceeded 50 inches.

Jeff wanted to know if I had another buzz bait like the one I was using.”

It was starting to get a little crowded in Big Cave Run so they moved across the lake to cast near the entrance of Little Cave Run.

“I raised two more there and caught a 46-incher, then moved to Donithan Hollow and caught No. 4,” Chris said.

“So from 6:30 to 9:30 that morning, I caught four quality muskie and with a little luck would have had four more.”


I fished with McDavid and Creighton Stephens during mid-October one year. Creighton and I were trolling the edge of the weed beds off the Zilpo flats. I had snapped on a green Hellbender. I could feel it really working back there 50 yards behind the boat when all heck broke loose.

The hooked fish jerked his head left, then right, then dove down deep. I felt like I was in the ring in a heavyweight match. Not until he was within 10 feet of the boat did he split the surface and become airborne. This muskie, which turned out to be 36 inches long and weighed 12.2 pounds, in typical fashion fought all the way into the dip net, which was expertly handled by Creighton.

Cave Run is an 8,270-acre body of water just west of Morehead, Ky. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began building a dam across the Licking River in 1967 and water began backing up behind the dam in 1973. The lake has earned a reputation as the “muskie fishing capital of the south.”

https://www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2017/10/web1_RGB_sammugnew-1-1-2.jpgPiatt Submitted Photo

By G. Sam Piatt

PDT Columnist

Reach G. SAM PIATT at gsamwriter@twc.com or (606) 932-3619.

Reach G. SAM PIATT at gsamwriter@twc.com or (606) 932-3619.