There was no one left in the boat

By Sam Piatt - Contributing Columnist



It’s not often, but now and then we hear reports of a fisherman – caught up perhaps in the excitement of fighting a fish – falling overboard and into the drink.

One of the most notable events I’ve reported on involved Muskie Joe Stamper taking a preacher out on Kinniconick Creek in pursuit of the muskie that inhabits the Lewis County stream.

Sure enough, the preacher soon set the hooks into a nice one. When the fish rolled on the surface, Joe’s client lost his balance and fell in, dropping his throbbing pole into the bottom of the boat.

Joe scooped up the rod and continued the battle. “I didn’t know if he could swim or not, but it was a nice fish and I couldn’t stand to see us lose it,” he said.

By the time he got the gaff in the big fish’s lower lip and hauled it over the gunwale, the preacher was going under for the third time. Keeping one leg draped over the flopping muskie, Joe grabbed him by the collar and pulled him in.

You can still see today, on the wall of the preacher’s den, the mount of that mighty muskie. And you should hear his tale of how he battled it in.


Here’s the highly unusual report on two fishermen who left the boat for the lake at the same time.

“Who’s in the boat, Kendall?”

“Nobody, Dad, nobody. I’m right behind you.”

That was the exchange between my son, Kendall Ray, and me as we tread water and watched our bass boat drift away toward the far side of the narrow cove.

Kendall swam over, grabbed the rope on the front of the boat, and side-stroked it back to where we could climb back in, which was no easy task.

Trouble was, we were both laughing so hard we could barely manage the strength to pull ourselves up over the side.

The day had started innocently enough. Kendall and I were staying in a cabin on a hill overlooking Jack Huddleston’s Horse Creek Dock on Dale Hollow Lake. We were scheduled for an afternoon trip for smallmouth with guide Bob Coan.

He was to pick us up at the dock. While we waited, I suggested to Kendall that we take the boat and work the cove (covering about three acres) behind the dock to see if we could pick up a smallmouth.

As we cast the shoreline, I tied on a small Clown spinnerbait that had belonged to my late father, Bruce. I soon got it hung up in a bush that projected partly out over the water. I got closer and saw that it was a thorn bush, with some very ugly thorns just waiting to taste human flesh.

I did not want to lose that lure. I took up all the slackline and jiggled the end of the pole in the bush. I was leaning far forward.

Kendall, casting the far shoreline, soon saw what was happening with me. He laid his pole down and moved up to the front of the boat to help me.

The boat started moving slightly away from the shore. I was now leaning out over the bush at the point of no return. Kendall grabbed my belt. I was falling, in slow motion, partly into the thorn bush. Kendall refused to let go of his daddy’s belt.

I landed with a great splash. He landed with an even greater splash behind me. We surfaced, looked at each other, and, trying to stop laughing, I asked the question that I already knew the answer to.

There was nothing left to do but to go back to the cabin and change into dry clothes. As I walked up the dock toward shore, I met, coming in the opposite direction, one of Jack’s dockworkers, a man who for some reason did not like me. I think he just didn’t like writers, nosing around, asking dumb questions.

Anyway, I thought perhaps I could pass him without him realizing that I had just fallen into the drink. I had weeds hanging from my head, blood running down my arm, and my tennis shoes sounding off with a great “squishhh” with each step.

“How you doing?” I said, calling him by name.

He tried to keep a straight face. But he was enjoying this immensely. I heard him giggling like a schoolgirl long after I had passed him.


By Sam Piatt

Contributing Columnist

Reach G. SAM PIATT at [email protected] or (606) 932-3619.

Reach G. SAM PIATT at [email protected] or (606) 932-3619.