When you have a conversation with Pete Runyon, it will almost immediately turn toward fishing on the Tug Fork River. Runyon, a resident of Belfry, Kentucky, has fished the waterway for years and watched the quality of fishing improve.
“I’m 60 years old and the river is now cleaner than it has been in my lifetime,” he explained. “The best smallmouth I’ve seen this year is 23 and a half inches. We’ve got catfish and even a few musky in the river now.”
Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist Kevin Frey would agree.
“In the early 1980’s our electro fishing sampling on the Tug Fork when we were looking for smallmouth bass we’d get about seven to ten fish an hour,” Frey explained. “Today, in 2016 and 2017, a lot of times in different areas of the Tug Fork we’re looking at 35 to 45 and maybe 50 fish an hour.”
Despite the improvements, there is still plenty of work to do. Runyon decided he wanted to help move that process along. He started knocking on doors and making phone calls…