Saltwater vs. freshwater fishing

By Sam Piatt



Take an ol’ northeastern Kentucky fisherman who fishes area streams and lakes for bluegill, crappie, bass and catfish, put him and a big, stiff rod and reel on a party boat on Chesapeake Bay, and you’ve got quite an experience to write home about.

Back home on such bodies of water as the Ohio River, Kinniconick Creek and Cave Run Lake the angler can feel fairly safe in removing his catch from the hook.

Oh, now and then a muskie, with those sharp teeth, might try to take a hunk out of your hand, or a channel cat might slash you with a fin.

But there, on that huge saltwater bay, your catch might try to bite you, sting you, pinch you or otherwise inflict enough pain that you call for the seasoned guide to unhook it.

The fisherman we’re talking about here was me, and the letter home was a column I wrote for this newspaper quite a few years ago. I and two young nephews, Mike and Danny Ross Wright, and our host for a two-week stay at Virginia Beach, Webber Wright, another of the boys’ uncles.

I was a Navy Reservist, first class petty officer (boiler tender) undergoing two weeks training with the regular navy on a destroyer docked at the Norfolk Navy Base learning all about boiler operations, including condensers that turned saltwater into fresh water.

At home you let the water run all through the course of a shower. On a Navy ship you run the shower just long enough to wet your body down, turn it off, soap your body, then turn the shower on long enough to rinse off. Same thing with shaving.

Webber and his wife and daughter had graciously taken Bonnie and me and the nephews into their home for our stay. That saved me from sleeping on a narrow canvass rack stacked four high on board the ship.


Anyway, the four of us early that morning boarded the Sea-Lee, a 50-foot head boat, to try our luck drift fishing around the 17-mile-long Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, which spans the mouth of the bay between Virginia and Maryland.

I’ve got a double!” exclaimed 11-year-old Mike as he reeled in his line. On the bottom hook, clinging to the bait with one nasty pincher, was a huge blue crab. On the top hook was a fish called the sea robin.

The crab dropped off and scurried sideways on the wooden deck, clawed arms held high and threatening and challenging anyone who tried to stop his abandon ship maneuver.

Capt. Joe Hayman, the retired navy chief who piloted the boat and catches and sells crabs on the side, grabbed it, pulled off its pinchers, and tossed it into an ice chest.

At the same time, the first mate, Tommy “Red” Lloyd, a young transplant from Olive Hill, was rushing to get the sea robin off the hook before it put a poisonous fin into Mike.

Then 15-year-old Danny Ross cranked up over the rail a critter that was orange and purple and ugly, looking somewhat like a catfish that had been hit head-on by a freight train.

Tommy the mate finally got the oyster toad off the hook. It gave him such a rough time that he attacked it with his filleting knife before tossing it overboard.

Now Capt. Joe grunted as something hit his bait hard. We all gave him room as he cranked in a shark! Granted it was less than three feet long, but it had all the equipment and ideas as the star of the movie, “Jaws.”

He saved part of it for cut bait.


And, believe it or not, while all this was going on, Mike reeled in a bluefish. The blue comes equipped with some very nice teeth, which he dearly loves to sink into human flesh.

But the trip wasn’t all high adventure with the saltwater species of Chesapeake Bay. We caught about 20 sea trout, spots and flounder.

Back in the Virginia Beach home of Webber ais lovely wife, Lynn, and their daughter, Audrey, I filleted them, and Webber fried up a heaping platter of golden-brown delicious fillets.

I left for home singing carry me back to old Virginny – nay!

Carry this fisherman back to Old Kentucky.


By Sam Piatt

Reach G. Sam Piatt at [email protected] or (606) 932-3619.

Reach G. Sam Piatt at [email protected] or (606) 932-3619.