Think the legendary fur-bearing trout is a hoax? Well a fisherman in Wisconsin claims to have actually caught one.
Fur-bearing trout. Photo credit: George Weber
In the Great Lakes, according to legend, trout grew coats of fur to stay warm in the cold depths. In the Colorado River, folklore says it was because of hair tonic being dumped in the water. In Iceland, they are a scourge sent to punish humankind for their wicked ways.
As fantastic as it sounds, the mythical fur-bearing trout may not be as closely related to the jackalope as we think. Maybe this furry abomination isn’t as much of a hoax as we think. Last week a fisherman in Wisconsin claimed to have actually caught one, but, he claims, it’s not actually fur covering the fish.
He posted his story to a local news outlet:
Wanted to share a rather remarkable catch I had this afternoon. I was fishing the Menomonee River where some trout were packed into a bottleneck. I caught a few and nothing was out of the ordinary until I reeled this one in. I have never seen anything like it. I contacted a local wildlife official and they referred to it as a rare fur-beating trout. They went on to explain that this was an extreme case of Saprolegnia, or cotton mold. Apparently old Great Lakes legends spoke of these as a uniquely evolved trout species that existed only in the deepest, coldest parts of the lakes and needed the fur to stay warm.
A friend of mine has a saying:
“In Wisconsin we have nine months of winter and three months of crappy sledding.”
While it does seem likely that every living creature in Wisconsin will eventually evolve thick coats of fur to stay warm, this cuddly-looking trout is not growing hair. It may actually be cellular necrosis. Not so cute, right?
But it would still look great on the wall.
Vintage postcard of a fur-bearing trout taxidermy mount
Hoax or not, anyone who spends enough time on the lakes here in Wisconsin is sure to have a story or two about something strange they spotted in the water. What do you think? Is the legend of the fur-bearing trout grounded in real, albeit unpleasant, scientific fact?
Share your view in the comments below.