Joey Doves Aiuppa and the Big Fish

Joey Doves Aiuppa and the Muskie

Mobsters and fishermen are notorious liars. Something about the nature of both lives lends itself to exaggeration. This is an example of where the two worlds meet.

In 1949 angler Louis Spray reportedly caught the largest Muskie ever at the Chippewa Flowage in Wisconsin. The fish was 69 lbs, 11 oz, and there is a picture of Louis in a red flannel, corduroy field hat, and the fish is as long as he is tall. There have been several claims through the years of other fish, 1992, Art Lawton’s record fish, originally thought to be 69 lbs, 15 ozz, and 64 ½ inches long was found to have been falsely reported. Throughout the years, many people have accused Louis of fishing illegally or stuffing ground-up fish parts into dead muskie mouths to increase weight. Affidavits and accusations abound. Perhaps the strangest story about Louis Spray’s muskie record comes from Chicago, from a mobster who would one day be known for his exaggerations where animals were concerned.  Other sources I found describe Spray as a Prohibition Era rum runner, familiar with Chicago gangsters throughout the Wisconsin area. The affidavits I found, are all full of stories of Spray buying record fish…he holds records from 1939-1949. When he wasn’t fishing or drinking, he was lying, and he carried a gun everywhere he went.


Joey “Doves” Aiuppa was a fisherman

He was known to editors of several fishing publications. He liked fishing for crappy, but more than anything, Aiuppa liked fishing for muskie. Aiuppa was fishing with Spence Petros of Fishing Facts magazine one day and asked if Petros was familiar with Louis Spray. Petros was familiar with Aiuppa, and Spray—he knew about the World Record Muskie. Aiuppa told Petros while fishing that he actually caught the record muskie and sold it to Spray for $50. Petros questioned him. He was fishing beneath the Winter Dam, where the Chippewa Flowage begins. Petros knew that was a restricted area. “That’s why I was fishing at night,” Aiuppa replied. Petros asked why Aiuppa didn’t just turn in the fish himself. He replied, “Do you know what ‘on the lam’ means?”

Joey Doves Aiuppa or Louis Spray?

So here we have two men, one whom multiple sources claim is a liar, who holds a record, and another who is named for his prodigious hunting abilities, who only ever told one person about his world record catch. I don’t know about you, but my money is on Doves.

Show Notes by Camillus Robinson

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2 thoughts on “Joey Doves Aiuppa and the Big Fish”

  1. Hey Gary, gangland is my favourite podcast. I love the conversational tone you bring to the subject matter. It’s just a super entertaining show. Thanks a million from Ireland. Yvonne

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