On Tuesday, Oct. 1 a group of fishing-fanatics gathered at the Paintsville Lake State Park to celebrate more than tall fish tales.
The event, a sort of community picnic organized by Ronnie Montgomery, Jason VanHoose and various others, drew a crowd of more than 60 people.
“We are having a community picnic for just a bunch of people generally fish here during the Thursday night bass tournament here,” said VanHoose. “It kind of started out as the end-of-the-year celebration, but it is more about community and fellowship than it is about catching fish.
“This is pretty much family through fishing, but generally a lot of people here are people we meet through the fishing community. People don’t really realize that the fishing community is more about fellowship,” VanHoose said. “There’s definitely a strong fishing community here and just outdoors in general in this area. People love fishing, people love hunting, and people just always gather around to do that stuff.”
The end-of-the-year picnic was an idea which arose last year.
“We had a good turn out this year,” VanHoose said. “The food was excellent. Everybody pitched in. Some people got the burgers, some people got the hot dogs, some people got the buns and some people made the desert and the pasta salad. Everybody brought their specialty and it has been an outstanding success.”
Aside from the food and fellowship, many participants played guitars, smoked cigars and enjoyed the melodious singing of Paula Howard.
During the event, community members Connie Clay, Donna Hitchcock and Lynn Turner offered some insight on the strong sense of fellowship the local fishing community exhibits.
“We have a bunch of benches over here (near the water) where a bunch of the men would gather in the evenings and sit and just talk and watch the water,” Turner said. “I had a brother that passed away in January (Jimmie ‘Budd’ Freeman) that sat over there all the time. Him and Ronnie Mayhan and Don Arms are all members of the group that have passed away recently.”
The fishing community has commemorated the lost members with plaques placed on the benches the men frequented by the water.
The event, aside from a celebration of fishing and fellowship, served as a way to honor these men. One of the lost brethren, Arms, was brought out on a stretcher to see the lake one last time before his passing in July of last year. He died the very next day.