Muskie Joe and the biggest of all


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G. Sam Piatt

PDT Outdoors Columnist

Soc Clay sends the following story, part of which he wrote long years ago for Fishing Facts magazine. It gives us some early history about Muskie Joe Stamper, who Soc described as “a saw miller, a fiddler, a moonshiner and a fisherman.”

“I’ve caught a muskie on every holiday of the year and had to make up a

hundred or so of my own,” the late Joe Stamper told me one cold, winter

day back in the early eighties.

Joe, whom muskie hunters throughout the country knew as “Muskie Joe,”

chased the big fish nearly every day of the year during the more than

60 years he pursued Esox in the streams and rivers of Kentucky. Until

his death in 1983, thirteen days before his 94th birthday, the late

season held a special place in his heart.

Joe said it got mighty lonely along the Kinniconick in Lewis County

during winter after all the fishermen and camp owners went home. To

entertain himself, he spent most of the holidays fishing. He recalled

that the best winter trip he ever made was in early January when he had

to break ice from around his old wooden boat before he could push it out

into the stream.

“It had gotten down into the 20s during the night, but the sun had come

out and I could feel its warmth on my back as I rowed the big boat into

the mouth of the Punchin Eddy. I had raised a big fish in a log jam a

week before, but I couldn’t get it to hit. I figured with a little sun

on the water the muskie might decide to feed.

“ I bet I cast that double plug rig of mine a dozen times before I felt

a jolt that nearly jerked the rod out of my hands. Sure enough, I had

a-hold of the big fish and he showed on the surface just long enough to let me

know I had a battle on my hands. Must have battled him for at least 20

minutes and I managed to work the fish out of the log jam twice before I could bring

it close enough to gaff, “ Joe recalled.

Later, Joe hung the fish on an old hanging scales that showed it weighed

a hair less than 34 pounds. As it turned out, it was the biggest stream

muskie he ever caught. It also established the record for muskie taken

from Kentucky’s Kinniconick Creek that has yet to be bested.

The double plug rig of Joe’s consisted of a small, two-hook crankbait

tied to the main line with an 18-inch trailer line attached to the rear

hook eyelet to which a large Jointed Pikie Minnow was tied at the end.

The idea of the double plug, Joe said, was to cash in on the muskie’s

opportunistic feeding nature by displaying a rig that made it appear a

larger fish was trying to gobble up a smaller one.

“I didn’t keep many secrets from the boys on the Kinny all the years I’ve fished except for

the double plug. That rig was too doggone good and I figured the boys

would clean out the creek if they knew about it,.


This important reminder is from the desk of Kevin Kelly, staff writer for Kentucky Afield magazine.

People are out and about in the outdoors more in June, and they occasionally come across young wildlife animals that seem to have been abandoned by their parents.

But that unattended deer fawn curled up in tall grass, the litter of baby rabbits at the edge of the backyard, a baby bird furiously flapping its wings but struggling to get off the ground – none usually need our help because momma is lurking nearby and plans on returning to care for them.

“This is the time of year when white-tailed deer and other animals have their young,” said Gabe Jenkins, deer and elk program coordinator with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “It’s best to leave them alone.”


Randy Parker made his way out to the barn, putting him within 40 yards of a huge black bear that appeared to be browsing at the edge of some woods.

“That was as close as I dared to get,” said Parker. He raised his phone and snapped a photo.

He and his wife, Kathy, had walked out onto their driveway about 6 p.m. this past Tuesday when Kathy spotted the bear.

They live on Patriot Ridge north of Wheelersburg.

“It was looking down at something and never once showed any interest in us,” said Randy.

The bear wandered on into the woods. No one else has reported seeing it.

G. SAM PIATT can be reached at (606) 932-3619 or [email protected]. Visit his web page at

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