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KOPA Conference held at Cave Run

October 27, 2011

Eastern Kentucky writers Soc Clay, Sam Piatt honored

By Chris Erwin

MOREHEAD Every year the Kentucky Outdoor Press Association selects a location for their annual conference were outdoor writers from across Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee, and Ohio come together to improve their craft and promote the selected location.

This year was no exception. Approximately 30 outdoor writers spent three days exploring the outdoor opportunities that the Daniel Boone National Forest and Cave Run Lake have to offer to anyone coming to the area.

The writers were hosted by the Morehead Tourism group and Scotts Creek Marina.  KOPA held its annual business meetings, but the agenda left plenty of time for its writers to fish, hunt, and hike while photographing the local area.

Mike Mainheart, an outdoor writer from Ohio, said the area was rich with local culture, along with being one of the most beautiful areas to photograph that he’s seen in a while. This was his first trip to Cave Run. He drove more than 500 miles to visit the area. He told me he was looking forward to coming back and spending more time fishing and photographing the area.

Bob Epstein, a Tennessee writer, made his second trip to the area. Epstein has traveled across the world as a travel writer and spends a lot of time in the Florida Keys where he guides fishing trips. He expressed his desire to return to Kentucky to try to hook into the giant toothy critters that lurk in the waters of Cave Run Lake.

Crash and Justin Mullins, who own and operate one of the guide services on the lake also attended the conference. The pair also host a TV fishing show that, which they told me will soon get national syndication.

One of the highlights of the conference was the presentation of the Cutting Edge Awards, which were presented to two of our local writers. The Cutting Edge Award is given to outstanding writers who have made continued contributions to outdoor communication. The award is sponsored by both KOPA and Buck Knives. Only three of these awards have been given in the last 10 years, and for two of our local writers to receive this award was an outstanding event.

Photo by Chris Erwin. G. Sam Piatt (left) and Soc Clay (right) display their Cutting Edge Awards.

The first award went to Sam Piatt, of South Shore, Ky. Piatt is a 50-year award-winning veteran of  outdoor writing and has been published in magazines and daily newspapers all along the Ohio River. He was cited for a half century of excellence in journalism.

Piatt is recognized nationally as one of the most notable outdoor journalists in America. A founding member of KOPA, one of the oldest outdoor media groups in North America; He is also a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America and the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association.

The second Cutting Edge Award went to Soc Clay also of South Shore Ky.  A veteran outdoor   photojournalist with nearly 50 years of writing and still photography experiences under his belt, Clay is considered by many of his peers to be an icon in the outdoor communication industry. As a full-time freelance outdoor photojournalist, Soc Clay’s byline and photo credits have appeared in every major publication in North America that covers outdoor recreation. Over the years, he has served as a masthead editor for a variety of publications, including Outdoor Life, Fins & Feathers, Bassin, Ohio Fisherman, Fishing Facts, Action Bass, Ohio Sportsman and many others.

As the KOPA conference came to a close officers were elected, and two of our local writers were elected to key positions, Tom Clay of Greenup Ky. was elected president, and I was re-elected Secretary.

Till next time

Good Fishing!

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