The battle rages on! Hit on Port Allegany resident Rob Lilly's first cast, the 7-inch creek chub used as bait never had a chance! Could this be a grandson of Old Joe himself? (See legend at bottom of page).

2002 T L McCormick


Landed! The proud fisherman poses with his trophy, a 42 inch, 25 lb "muskie", native to these waters.  2002 T L McCormick


Live Free, Not Die!  Rob let's his catch return unharmed to the deep, dark waters of the Allegheny River. The next angler to hook him will have an even bigger tussle on his hands! 2002 T L McCormick


Old Joe was this huge musky that every young lad with a fishin' pole and older men too, would set out to catch every time they went fishing (usually Brooklynside bridge) the Allegheny river. Kevin Burford ( Thos Burford's son) used to go everyday after school with a top water plug given to him by his grandfather, and his grandfather actually had a hold of one like Old Joe with this plug. So, this plug would surely lead to Old Joe's demise.

George Smithmyer and I saw two huge muskies atop a submerged tree along the banks of the Allegheny, but this couldn't have been Old Joe, Old Joe was a loner, vicious and mean, probably eat the other musky. Rumor had it Old Joe almost took a man's leg off down river somewhere. Last I heard Old Joe was over five feet long. Bill Bloss used to know where Old Joe mainly did his feeding. You didn't wade across the river without keepin' a keen eye out, lest Old Joe was in the territory, hungry, you might be in mortal danger.

Now Old Joe was said to be swimming the river with probably twenty plugs in him and those were mostly probably bitten in half or mangled. He could snap a steel leader like a twig. "steel leaders with hooks dangling from his mouth", someone said who supposedly saw him from the pc bridge. Why some people wouldn't even get out of their canoe or raft (PC Foamthane) for fear Old Joe might be lurking near by.

Now Kevin Burford and I were fishing by the Brooklynside bridge late one afternoon and all the sudden "bam"!, something hit Kevin's grandfathers plug like a freight train. I thought surely the pole was gonna break.

The line just kept going out as Kevin fought it and then "bing" there was nothing. The line went limp, but at least we got the plug back. Now that had to be Old Joe, because we fished there with grandpa Burford's plug for months and this plug was huge. Only a killer would go after a plug like that.

There was even a rumor Old Joe was caught, but no one ever seen a picture, nor were there any eye witnesses. Why if someone caught Old Joe there would have been a ruckus in town and he would have been on display at "the square" or fire hall.

I don't know how long muskies live, but I'll bet ya Old Joe settled down and had a boy or two along the way and they are out there scouring the waters looking for some other poor fisherman to try his luck.

Now, this could be perceived as a "fish story," but you just ask Donny Bickford, Billy Taylor, Skeeter, Bob Barrett, Mark Bressan, Scott McDowell, Joe Michelitsch, Matt or Doc Shelley, Bob Stauffer or Bill Barnett and others too numerous to mention.

If you go for Old Joe I suggest you use twenty pound test line, a piece of guitar string for a leader, a deep sea fishing rod, and bring a gaff.

Fish from the bank at all times.


Scott Manning

Another Old Joe Report...or is it Josephine?

I just read your story about the fabled Muskie of Brooklyn side.

I had never heard the story but have seen the fish! I had her (most large muskies are female) on about 20 years ago on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. I had floated down from Coleman Mills and was waiting for my wife to show up to take me home. It was one of those really beautiful days that turned ugly later on and ice was forming on the eyes of my fishing rod.

I was down to my last minnow and figured I might as well fish while I waited. Wouldn't you know, I snagged a log and was pulling it in when a couple of kids who were walking across the bridge shouted "Hey! Look there!"  I looked and the log moved! This thing had to be 7 or 8 inches between the eyes. I tried to back off on the tension I was applying but my 10 pound line didn't have a chance. She took one look at me, shook her head, the line parted, and she swam off.

I've seen some pretty big fish, but this one was the largest.

Just thought I'd add some additional truth to the story.


Rick Greene