I knew he was coming to Paint Lick weeks in advance of the visit. My good friend over the last decade or so, Bob Kennedy, showed up on Charlie Brown Road in his Chevy Silverado pick-up with the camper mounted on the long bed and reaching out way over the cab. It was like mid-afternoon last Tuesday and the temperature was approaching 100 degrees.
Not a great time to be welcoming out-of-town company to what I had promised him would be fall of the year in central Kentucky. Let’s face it folks. This late September has been hotter than we normally get in mid-August. And far more dry.
But, at least in my case, you take what the Gods give you and keep on trucking. I had promised Bob some excellent small mouth bass fishing, cool weather, strolls in ankle-high riffles and deep pools filled with bass on the lower end of Paint Lick Creek, plenty of bait there for the taking and a time of leisure to cover three or four days.
Bob was with me for the better part of four days and the outside temperature never dropped below 90 degrees after the sun came up.
On day one of his visit, we went to a friend’s huge pond, semi-lake, and Bob caught a dozen or so small bass and bluegill on a small plastic gig that I would die for. I caught a blue catfish in the 6-pound range on a pole that I had anchored on the bank, and we boated with paddles around in Ralph’s old V-bottom skiff. Bob caught crappie. I caught nothing. We turned the crappie loose because we already had supper, and crappie are almost too pretty to keep and fry when they are so rare in this particular pond.
Much better, Bob and I agreed, to let the crappie loose and hope they keep on breeding there in the depths where the old oak and pine tree limbs lay rotting on the bottom some 12 feet below the surface underneath our boat.
Finally, Bob snagged a limb down deep, and twist as we might and maneuver the boat, it became obvious that he was permanently snagged. The little silver-specked jig was lost and he did not have a replacement. Bob tugged his line to high heaven, but it finally broke off and we just looked at each other and knew the day was over.
Bob had caught trout in Washington and Oregon on that little jig. He’d caught a very nice bluegill within two seconds of putting it in the water at Ralph’s Pond and subsequently filled our frying pan. And now all he had to show was limp line and the saddest face I’ve ever seen.
We spent the next two days on Paint Lick and Silver creeks without catching any keepers, and we figured out how to put my truck in four-wheel low and creep around the countryside there on the lower end of the ridges that run into Paint Lick Creek.
We found that creek to be, by far, the driest of my life in Garrard County and we found Silver Creek to be ravished by the May flood. We were there but we caught no fish.
But we, Bob and me, had wonderful company with one another for the short time he was here.
I really needed the gift that Bob is to me.
He is easily the best baritone opera singer I will ever know up close and personal. He has toured all the best venues in Europe. He just retired from teaching biology at one of the finest private schools on the east coast. And he is the finest fellow that I know.
If you don’t believe me, ask Loretta.
Columnist Ike Adams can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.