The Fish Barn

The Fish Barn a popular place to wet a line

Staff Writer

For years Gerald Morgan’s 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 couldn’t just leave a good paying job with full benefits for the idea of fishing for a living.

Fish Barn

Photo by Libby Richards

The 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 Morgan’s. Gerald Morgan was a man with an important decision to make. Look for another job in a similar work setting or take his uncle’s 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 don’t 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 Red’s 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 couldn’t fish he could take them out of his lake and dress them.
It was after the discovery of pollution in the river that Morgan’s lucrative business began to die. After the studies were widely reported in the news media, Morgan said his business dropped 90%.
“That’s 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 it’s 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 doesn’t charge them.
“I don’t 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 Articles.



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