Astounded might be a little too strong a word. Let’s just say my neighbor, Jerry Scythe, and I were amazed, pleased, to see the condition of Grayson Lake on a May 14 fishing trip.
There was plenty of water, even on the head waters at Caney Creek. And it was clear, even on the Little Sandy River, which feeds this 1,512-acre lake.
The river was impounded in 1968 to create a long, narrow lake with astounding beauty featuring high cliffs for much of the shoreline, cliffs where waterfalls tumble down from the tops.
Last summer, I took my pastor, Jim Sherman of Ashland, and our friend, Arnold “Jigger” Topping of Flatwoods, down on the lake in my Bass Tracker. And even though Grayson Lake is almost in their back yard (about eight miles south of Grayson), neither one realized we have such a beautiful lake so close to home.
We three went again Thursday in the hunt for a mess of crappie.
MINNOWS FOR BAIT
But first back to the trip by Jerry and me back on May 14.
On the way, about five miles south of Grayson on State Route 7, we stopped at one of the best bait and tackle shops in the Tri-State. There we bought minnows placed in two Styrofoam buckets.
The nice thing about these bait buckets is that, if you replace the lid each time after dipping out a minnow, some oxygen makes its way through these buckets and the minnows will stay lively throughout the day.
I took my own advice from a previous column and looked for the crappie to be spawning and hanging shallow around brush close to the shoreline.
The water temperature was 61 degrees, exactly right to trigger spawning activity.
And we found the crappie. We could have had our limit of 15 each. But Jerry had to be back home early to leave on a three-day trip to northern Ohio to visit family and friends.
I bagged the crappie and placed them in the garage refrigerator overnight, then filleted all 27 of these little buggers the next morning.
Crappie on Grayson Lake have always been small, and I suppose they always will. Eight or nine inches is about as big as you’ll catch.
I bagged the small fillets and placed them in the kitchen refrigerator until Jerry and his wife, De De, returned home. On Tuesday I invited them over for the fish fry, along with my brother-in-law, Charles “Sunny” Euton.
I usually do a good job of frying fish. But this was the worst meal I’ve ever served.
I had invited my friend, Aaron Brown, to come by when he could and work on repairing my sliding glass doors in the bathroom. He came as I was frying fish. I wanted to get those doors rehung because the shower was unusable as they were.
It was not Aaron’s fault though that I messed up the fish fry. I had the fire too high once as I visited the repair project. I burned a large skillet of crappie fillets. When your grease is hot, it takes only about two minutes on each side to get them right.
Well, anyway, if it hadn’t had been for the coleslaw and hush puppies, we would all have left the table hungry. In fact, we probably did.
Somehow, I must do it again and make sure I serve my fiends a good fish dinner. Crappie are as good of a tasting fish that swims if prepared properly.
By the time Arnold and Jim and I had our trip for crappie this past Thursday the water temperature was 72 degrees. Crappie location was more difficult to figure out. The sun was boiling down, and the air temperature was in the mid-80s.
We called it quits at 2 p.m. with 15 in the live well. We also caught five largemouth bass, but none were big enough to meet the 15-inch minimum size limit for largemouth and smallmouth on Grayson Lake.
If they had been big enough, we would have kept them because Arnold is working on a fish fry. He prepares them in a large steel wop placed over a wood fie at his cabin in the woods of northern Lawrence County, Ohio.
Rigging your line with a sliding bobber is the best rig for crappie. You can tie the string in a knot on your line and slide the knot to stop the bobber at the preferred depth you want your minnow to be swimming at. You can reel the bobber all the way up to the end of the line to cast the distance you desire.
You first run the line through the small plastic sleeve that has the green thread wrapped around it. Slip the string off onto the line, tie a granny know and clip off the excess ends. Remove the plastic sleeve through the slit it has in it for this purpose.
Then run the line through the tiny hole in the top of the bobber. Run the line through the bobber and tie on your hook, adding a small split shot about a foot above the hook to take the lure down.
That’s my fishing report. And I haven’t even touched on Yatesville Lake, where I and fellow members of the Kentucky Outdoor Press Association held a May 7-9 outing.
I’ve had a busy May.
Reach G. SAM PIATT at [email protected] or (606) 932-3619.