Tuesday 20 October 2020

Blue Lakes Devil Fish

 Blue Lakes

There s a unique pair of  California lakes called Blue Lakes. They lie 135 miles north of San Francisco .Blue Lakes is two separate lakes ,Upper and Lower

The upper lake is 180 feet  deep  and 1.2 miles long. Lower Blue Lake is 25 feet deep. Blue Lakes is exceptionally popular for fishing having large mouth bass, trout, catfish etc.

From autumn  1870 until 1872, the Blue Lakes were inhabited  by a creature described as either  a Chinese Dragon or a thirty foot giant fish.

The local indigenous people have stories about a huge monster resembling a half fish and half horse, to which they call the Devil Fish. Different reports state the creature varies  in length from ten to twenty feet.  The monster is held in great dread. It is said to make its appearance on the surface of the water only once in ten years and heralds calamity and bad luck.

I also found this : One of those beings was called “Bagil”. This being lived at Blue Lake and made that location a danger to humans. Barrett, S.A. 1933, Pomo Myths, Vol 15, pg 1-608, Bulletin of the Public Museum of Milwaukee.


There were several articles in the Press about the sightings.

Russian River Flag, Number 4, 8 December 1870
Extract from  ‘A VOICE FROM BLUE LAKE’

It is said that there is a monster fish, or water dragon, inhabiting the upper Blue Lake. He is described as being thirty feet long and has only been seen by a few of the older inhabitants. The Indians of this country have long had a superstitious notion of the presence of his fishship and regard him as a sort of deified king of the water. They never camp close to that lake. One of my neighbors here is so strongly impressed with the belief that such a fish does inhabit the lake that he has had made a hook and is now engaged in trying to catch him. The hook is nine inches long, and attached to it is twelve feet of strong chain, which he don’t believe any fish can bite in two, and to that is attached a good large rope seventy feet long, which is firmly fastened to a tree near the water’s edge. The hook is baited with a ham of venison and is now floating in the lake awaiting the approach of this fabulous Hydra.’

A few months later a man driving a wagon on a road overlooking the upper lake shared his sighting.
Russian River Flag, Number 10, 19 January 1871

The Monster in Blue Lake
‘Your correspondent—“H.D.L.” in a most recent letter to you of this country, and among other things, mentioned a reputed inhabitant of one of those lakes. But he, like many other, myself included, discredited the existence of his fishship. My doubts were dispelled the other day, however, by an awful view of this curiosity. While coming across the grade on the bank of the upper lake last Saturday, I caught a glimpse of him swimming near the opposite shore, a distance of some four hundred yards from me. I stopped the team to have a good look at him. When I first saw him he was at a considerable depth in the water, but he soon rose to the surface, so that I could see him plainly. He moved slowly a short distance, then changing his direction swam out of sight. I should think it would measure at least twenty feet in length and five or six feet around the body.

The Indians here-abouts have the superstition that a sight of this monster devil fish, as they call him, is certain death to them. They will not fish in the lake he inhabits, (the Upper Blue Lake). I refused to believe this big fish story until convinced by the evidence of my own eyes. I find my incredulity gone but am unable to say what this huge creature is. Inhabiting the water, it is evidently a fish. Of what kind I shall make it a point to ascertain if possible. Our neighbor, who for some time has had a mammoth hook set for this monster, has never had a bite yet; but it is no wonder, since he pays no attention to his hook, and never changes the bait.’

A few months later it was seen again.


Russian River Flag, Number 26, 11 May 1871
The Blue Lake monster.
A private letter received here from Blue Lakes, Lake county, states that that fabulous monster of those waters has been seen again, and so plainly as to establish himself in the minds of those who saw him as a reality. A party of picnicers from Ukiah stopped on the shore of the lake, and the brass band [began] to play, when the fish, or whatever he is, came to the top of the water near shore and was plainly seen by all present. A member of the Ukiah brass band who was in Healdsburg on last Monday, confirms the report.

The Indians have always asserted the existence of this large fish, and they regard it with superstitious awe, believing it to be something supernatural; while the most of white men, excepting the few who claim to have seen it, have thought it too big a fish to swallow; but it has been actually seen too often, lately, by respectable, truthful persons, for the existence of the extraordinary creature to be longer doubted.’

The next recorded sighting occurred in 1872 .

“This monster, or Devil Fish, was seen by the Indians in March, 1872; hence large gatherings of all the tribes congregating in Big Valley, on the shore of Clear Lake, to indulge in a grand pow-wow and making peace offerings to the Great Spirit, to appease his anger and avert evils hanging over their wigwams.”

Whether calamity followed this appearance there is no record. I can find no reports of modern day sightings. Explanations put forward are a giant cat fish or large eel.Both plausible but unless it reappears we shall never know.


PS please excuse the rather derogatory language in the reports. It is the language of the time.

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