OUTDOORS: Look for summertime memories on the waterways

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Fishing, canoeing, kayaking can all make great family outings

By Jeff Lilly

The first day of summer was officially last Wednesday, June 20. Up until the last couple of weeks, however, we have yet to really see the typical Bluegrass summer that brings heat and humidity. It’s building up to be a fairly warm summer, though, and with that comes the human instinct to head to water in order to quench our internal thirst or sooth our external overheating. Whether it be in a cool glass for drinking or between the banks for swimming or fishing, water is an amazing thing. In my opinion, water is second on the list of God’s most unique creations only being outranked by the human body and spirit. I would probably put fire as third on my list of most unique creations.

Water makes up the majority of the human body and is an absolute necessity to pretty much all animals, plants and insects to one extent or another in order to maintain life. I know from a personal standpoint that water has always been a source of not only sustenance but of entertainment in many ways. 

The Lilly clan has always enjoyed the water whether it be swimming, boating, wading or fishing. As far back as I can remember, Mom and Dad took me and brother Keith fishing and swimming. Taylorsville Lake Dam had not been constructed and was still Salt River then. Beaver Lake didn’t allow motors over 10 horsepower. We ran up and down the Kentucky River from Tyrone to Lock 6 beach throughout the summers as we were growing up.  In those days the locks still operated and barges still ran the river hauling coal and other cargo up and down creating huge waves to ski over. 

The beach in below Lock 6 was a meeting place of families to share picnic foods, fellowship and watch the barges lock through to the next pool in the river. I’ve never forgotten Mom’s steamed bun hot dogs in the Tupperware containers. She’d work no telling how long before leaving home so “her boys” would have lunch for the beach trip up the river. Good times and memories there. Now, that the ramp at Tyrone is in such good shape, I think I just came up with a great day trip for the family and our Ranger bass boat.

Fishing has always been another treasured pastime in our family. We went fishing as much as possible growing up whether it be on the bank or on the lake. We spent long hot summer nights that sometimes turned pretty cool on Herrington Lake catching crappie and white bass under the lights and lanterns handing over the side of the boat. 

For those that don’t know, the light at night over the side of the boat draws in the insects which in turn draws in smaller bait fish to feed which then draws in the crappie and white bass to feed on them. We have always done a lot of fishing for trout in West Virginia and Kentucky streams as well as bass and catfish in other lakes and ponds. 

Canoeing and kayaking have always been another relaxing past time for me and the family. Yes, now I usually end up with more sore muscles than when I was younger but I still enjoy it. These methods of boating require very little expense once you have the basic equipment. All you need are a canoe or kayak, paddles and life jackets and a way to haul them to the water and you’re good to go. 

We kayak lakes, rivers and streams when we can and always have a great time. Just a couple of weekends ago, my brother Keith purchased a couple of kayaks and paddles for his crew. Leigh and I loaded our kayaks up and met Keith and his son Simon at the Van Buren boat ramp on Taylorsville Lake to try their new purchases out. Simon caught on quick as we paddled up into the lake’s headwaters which is Salt River. We spent about three hours paddling up to and under the highway 248 bridge that crosses Salt River. Along the way we found a couple of cold water springs spilling into the river from the rocky banks and enjoyed watching Simon learn how to turn around as well as paddle straight with the double ended kayak paddles. We had a great time, got a little sun and some great exercise.

Try not to miss opportunities to get on or in the water with family and friends. You’ll not regret it and the memories will last a lifetime.

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources will be out in force during the summer to patrol the Kentucky waterways. Check with their office or pick up a copy of their boating regulations wherever you buy your hunting and fishing licenses to avoid breaking the rules.  Always wear your life jacket and be safe in, on and out of the water. 

Happy Fourth of July and thanks to our service men and women past and present for all their sacrifices so we can enjoy the freedoms we enjoy.

Take a kid hunting and fishing (or boating) soon!

See ya outside (and maybe on the water)!