Wind and water: two of John Slunt’s favorite things

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John Slunt displays the 8.9 lb. fish he caught at Salem Reservoir in 2017.

By Carol McIntire


Ask John Slunt what he’s doing on any given day of the week and the reply you’ll likely get is, “Going fishing!”

When Slunt, a Harlem Springs resident, is not on an area lake in his bass fishing boat, he’s likely on the water sailing one of his three sail boats.

“I love the water and I love being outside,” Slunt enthusiastically stated during a recent interview. His love for the water comes naturally as his father introduced him to fishing before he was two years old near where the family lived in Maryland.

“I grew up fishing for saltwater species of the fish: striped bass and spot bluefish,” he noted. Following high school, John enlisted in the Navy and, as he says, “had the opportunity to fish off the boat and see the world.”

Three years of active duty afforded him the opportunity to fish off the side of the Navy ship in the Black Sea, fish for barracuda in Puerto Rico and cast his fishing line at several locations throughout the Mediterranean Sea. It also provided the opportunity to hit the water in a sail boat.

“We had four sunfish sail boats on the ship and we did some sailing in the Mediterranean,” he explained. “It wasn’t until I returned home, married my wife, Patti, and she purchased a sail boat that he bought his first sail boat.

“She bought a sail boat but wouldn’t let me drive it,” John admitted as a smile spread across his face saying there was more to the story. “So, I went out and bought my own catamaran. Then, I bought a bigger one, an O’Day 2+2 Mariner, and then I bought a catamaran for parts.”

He moved to Carroll County in 1976 and began to explore local fishing opportunities. His first stop was Highlandtown Reservoir with a Jon boat and an electric motor.

He soon began to explore Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) lakes in the area.

“I love Leesville Lake and have caught a lot of fish there,” he said referring to the more than 40 years he’s fished there. “I competed in a lot of bass tournaments there in the 1990s. I caught a 22-pound Muskie there and a seven-pound bass.”

He also enjoys the waters of Atwood Lake, calling it one of his favorite spots today to fish for saugeye and, if the saugeye aren’t biting, for bass.

“It’s one of my favorite places to fish,” said Slunt, who still approaches life as if he were a youngster at the age of nearly 70. “A typical day for me is to go fishing in the morning. At about 11 a.m. then the sun creates the wind, I go sailing and then, after the wind dies down, I go kayaking in the evening.”

Other favorite spots include Salem Reservoir, Tappan Lake, West Branch Reservoir, Chesapeake Bay and even the pond at the Carroll County Vet’s Club and even farm ponds. It’s evident from the enthusiasm in which he talks about fishing the water that he’d be happy anytime he was on the water with a fishing pole in his hand.  

Time for fishing, sailing and kayaking is more plentiful now that he’s retired from Fusion Ceramics in Carrollton. Slunt spent 30 years at the Carrollton industry full- time as the maintenance specialist and five years part-time, retiring in 2013.

He and Patti have a permanent camper on Guilford Lake, which provides easy access for his water hobbies.

“We spend most of the summer there. Once I get all my toys in the water, that’s where you’ll find me,” he acknowledged. “I love the water and love to sail. When you sail, it’s just you and the wind.”

When John is not on the water, he can be found on the golf course, spotting tornadoes as a trained spotter and even bringing cheer to families during the holiday season as Santa Claus.

He admits rheumatoid arthritis has slowed him down, so when it’s below 45 degrees, he’s forced indoors, where he spends time lifting weights.  As soon as the sun begins to warm the earth in the spring, he heads back outside to the water and wind.

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