Fish Barn a popular place to wet a line
For years Gerald Morgans uncle, Leonard Red Morgan,
had tried to lure him into the commercial fishing business. But Morgan
had spent 25 years building a career as a supervisor in a plant in Columbus
and couldnt just leave a good paying job with full benefits for
the idea of fishing for a living.
by Libby Richards
Fish Barn in Carrollton ofers
visitors and school groups a chance
to reel them in, seven days a week.
Then the unthinkable happened. In a trend that was to
become all too familiar, the company changed hands and down sized. A
year later they eliminated 35 management positions, including Morgans.
Gerald Morgan was a man with an important decision to make. Look for
another job in a similar work setting or take his uncles advice
and start over as a commercial fisherman.
I got to thinking, you know you work that long to make somebody
else rich and they dont think any more of you than that, why work
for somebody else, Morgan said.
For years Morgan had been coming to the Ohio River to fish and visit
with friends like Harlan Hubbard, whom Morgan says was his inspiration
for beginning a new life on the river. Hubbard and his wife were two
of the sweetest people you would ever meet according to Morgan. It was
their simple lifestyle of living off the land that Morgan said made
him realize that he could do it as well.
In 1984 Morgan decided to take his uncle Reds advice. He purchased
some property outside of Carrollton, Kentucky, moved a trailer to the
property for himself to live in, gave an acre to his parents who were
retiring and began a commercial fishing career.
In the beginning the business was a prosperous one, catching and dressing
100 pounds of fish a day, selling them as fast as he could clean them.
After the first 3 or 4 years Morgan realized he was catching more fish
than he could clean so he tried selling them to other pay lakes with
little luck. It was then that he decided to start stocking the lake
he already had on the property with the surplus of fish that he caught,
knowing that if he couldnt fish he could take them out of his
lake and dress them.
It was after the discovery of pollution in the river that Morgans
lucrative business began to die. After the studies were widely reported
in the news media, Morgan said his business dropped 90%.
Thats when somebody came up with the bright idea to start
a pay lake, Morgan recalls. So I said okay, and we started
a pay lake.
The original bait shop was a pop-up camper out of which Morgan sold
bait, soft drinks stored in coolers and potato chips. Eventually he
built the bait shop that sits on the property today. As the business
grew the bait shop expanded to carrying fishing and hunting equipment.
The volume of patrons to the lake was so large that the banks were lined
with people, new customers would stop, then leave due to lack of room
to fish. Then Morgan decided to expand, digging a second lake next to
the original one.
Morgan says that ever since he dug the second lake, neither one has
been full, a fact that still amazes him.
I guess people just lost interest, speculates Morgan.
The Fish Barn stocks catfish in its ponds along with blue gill,
croppie and bass. The cost is $7 a day, you get to keep five catfish
of any size, and there is no limit on the other fish. Kids under 10
fish free. Morgan, a grandfather himself adds, if grandparents bring
their grandchildren out for the day he doesnt charge them.
I dont believe in getting rich off someone trying to be
nice to their grand kids, Morgan stated.
The Fish Barn also hosts school groups and nursing home outings, which
he refuses to charge for as well stating that all they have to buy is
their bait. Fishing tournaments and turkey shoots, using paper targets,
are hosted by request.
The Fish Barn, 1 mile South of Carrollton on Hwy. 55 (502)
732-8254 open 7 am to 6 pm 7 days a week.
Back to October 1999