HERE THERE BE MONSTERS1/28/2015
With a heading like "No word of a lie fish stories" it seems appropriate to begin the collection with a topic that surely no one would glance at incredulously, namely the possibility that monstrous fish or other sea creature types as yet unidentified may lurk in the murky uncharted waters of Lake Teslin.
When you have the impossible privelege of getting paid to take people from all over the world out on fishing excursions and you get to spend hundreds and hundreds of hours with the finest people in the world , "fishermen" in the most scenic watery beauty imaginable, it is only a matter of time before something odd is going to happen out there and you are going to witness a thing for which no hallucinogenic substance could have prepared your imagination.
Such was the case on a warm summers afternoon very near the quiet little village of Teslin. Today the lake lay like a pool of oil underneath a bright blue sky. It is not difficult to hook up on a decent sized lake trout near the end of June on these waters and as my client fought his fish something caught my eye. At first glance i took the eruption of spray half way across the lake to be a flock of swans, flapping there wings. But the swan explanation didnt hold water because the water beneath was all turbulent and dark. These were in fact, huge splashes of water, the sort that would occur if you drove your truck into the lake. The turbulent area of water appeared to be some 50 or 60 feet across and the splashes were all over the area. Me, I as the "guide" kept asking my client what it was and he kept reminding me he didnt know. We hastily landed the trout and headed for a closer look, but by the time we arrived the waters had calmed and there was nothing more to see. I was almost shaking with a mixture of fright and excitement as we boated over the area of action. Probably it was foolish to even go near it. Whatever it was, whether seismic event underwater or a mad feeding frenzy of something unimaginable we will have go on wondering...
Before my time a man by the name of Watson Smarch used to guide fishermen in the waters of Teslin Lake. By all accounts, he was quite good at what he did. I had the privelege of interviewing him one afternoon, and althogh I had a little trouble understanding his accent with my less-than-optimal hearing, there were a few things i gleaned that day. I thought it best to question him on the subject of monsters because of all his experience on the lake and the fact he had lived on the bank overlooking it for many years. He provided me with three stories, one involving a shot-dead floating moose which suddenly disappeared beneath the surface, another of a v-like wake coming down the length of the lake, as if caused by a large boat which suddenly disappeared. His third story was perhaps the most intriguing:
Teslin Lake is some 86 miles long and drops to a depth of 600 feet beneath the large mountain on its western shore. Some individuals were travelling by boat near the southern end when they noticed a strange serpent like creature in perhaps 10 feet of water. They prodded it with their oar or a pole until it rolled over and swam away. It had some sort of parallel bumps on its underside.
I have another story of my own experience which leads me to think there must be something to it. After all, Teslin Lake is water-connected all the way to the Bering Sea via the Teslin and the yukon Rivers. Is it therefore so far beyond the reach of credulity to suggest that something may have swum up the river and entered the lake in the last say,, oh, 10,000 years? Salmon do this every year...
Eagle Bay has seen the bottom of my boat and the splash of hopeful boatfuls of fisherpeople hundreds and hundreds of times over the last 16 years. The Nisutlin River meanders through its delta and deposits its load of silt in this Bay. Eagle Bay is named for its summer stock of Bald Eagles. Eagles are ravenous fish-eaters and love the bay thats named after them because it supports a very healthy population of northern pike, the target of our trips as well.
The boat was full as we crossed the Bay to the north shore. There is a spot here which has proven very productive of large and small pike over the years and i was eager to let the folks in the boat have a go. Avoiding an underwater obstacle I moved the boat around the island and made for the honey hole. A glance backward over the stern produced an amazing sight! The wake, rising instead of dissipating as it normally would. It grew as we watched and then began subsiding only to produce a huge dark bulge of water which rose to the height of about a yard. This bulge was now around a hundred yards from the boat and I had the distinct impression that whatever was under the water producing this enormous bulge was soon to show itself. It looked for all the world as if a large headed animal of some sort was about to emerge with the bulge of water running off its head. Alas it was not to be. If it was a creature and not some function of the wake and the bottom of the lake, it opted for deeper waters, the bulge moved on slowly losing size and disappeared from view. Six witnesses to a very weird wave which I myself had never before witnessed coming off the back of my boat...
Another native friend, Joe Bob, who has since gone the way of the swan once told me that the animal living in this lake could swallow a large boat whole, an obvious exaggeration but he sounded so sincere! Also, the man who raced into the water near the town in order to grab his daughter from the shallows as a huge reptile plotted his course for her... So many stories... The two I have personally experienced are definitely true. All I can say of the rest are I personally tend to believe well, most of them....
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