What Are Your Chances of Sighting the Monster?
By Laney Hanzel
From the Flathead Lake Monitor, July, 1995
You have a better chance of winning the Power Ball Lottery than experiencing a rare opportunity of sighting the Flathead Lake Monster.
As we approach the summer season, we are entering the most opportune season to see an unusual large-sized creature in the lake. Since the first sighting reported in 1889, 79 accounts of a large-sized objects have been documented (click on the map for a larger map). Most (92 percent) observations have occurred during the months of April through September.
What is it the people see? The object most frequently (70 percent) described is a large eel shape creature that reachs in length from 20 to 40 feet. It is round, brown to blue-black in color, and possesses very obvious stee-black eyes and undulating hips. Others identify it as a large-sized fish from 6 to 10 feet in length.
The most obvious point made during the recorded narratives is that the sighters were not drinking or on drugs and that they hate to talk about it to anyone for fear of being identified as a “weirdo” or worse.
Since I worked on the lake more than 30 years, one of the most often asked questions was, “Have you seen the monster yet?” While conducting year around fisheries investigations on the lake with nets and using sophisticated acoustic sounding equipment or during my 17 years of sailing on the lake, I have yet to see my first Flathead large creature. Although, I have stated many times that I have observed several unexplainable large sized holes in the nets we pulled from the lake.
It wasn’t until I met Dr. Eugene Lepeschkin (a proclaimed Cyptozoologist) did I take more than a casual interest in the monster issue. When visiting the Flathead on his journeys to Scotland’s Loch Ness and other large lakes obtaining first hand accounts, he asked me to collect and report any future sightings to him.
Much to my surprise, within a week I received a letter from a person hearing of my interest on the subject and he describred his sightings of the creature. He had observed not once but twice a creature swimming next to shore in 1985 and 1987.
Thereafter, not much happened in the monster line until 1993 when I received 7 reports of creatures in the lake. Because of the unusual high number of reports, I contacted Paul Fugleberg of Polson, a long time historian of monster sightings and a former editor of the Flathead Courier. He stated that he also had several reports for that year. We collectively massed thirteen reports of creatures during 1993, which was by far the most productive year of sightings.
Was there anything different about the year, weather, lake conditions, etc? Nothing — perhaps more interest in the subject. Sightings have only occurred in 36 or 31 percent of the 113 years of record. Normally sightings number less than two per year.
The majority (80 percent) of the sightings were made while there was more than one person present, with over 100 persons sighting a school of large fish off the Lookout Point. Sightings while on land or from a boat occur with equal chance of seeing the creature. The frequency of large fish sightings were most frequent within ten years of the 1954 report of an angler catching the fictitious 6-foot sturgeon from Flathead Lake.
There are several interesting facts about the sightings in 1993. The only sighting of two creatures together was reported on May 24 in Big Arm Bay. One of the creatures was considerably larger than the other. Both were swimming in the same direction and suddenly separated, each going off in its own direction. Two reports describe sightings that occurred on the same day.
On July 13th, two sightings occurred within 25 minutes of each other but were some 15 miles apart. On July 17, both reports were from the same area, but were seen 13 hours apart. Six sightings during 1993 describe bait fish swarming near the vicinity of the creature. They appeared to be jumping out of the water to avoid being eaten by…whatever.
Reports have been submitted by first time visitors as well as from life-long lake residents and from drinkers and non-drinkers. Details of the creature have been described by mothers, doctors, lawyers, biologists,engineers, anglers and policemen. No one seems to be exempt, so keep your eyes open and be extra alert when traveling in the areas around Skidoo Bay, Polson Bay, The Narrows and along the west-shore road. You never know when it could happen!
Be sure to contact me, Laney, or Paul if you are so inclined. That can be to just talk or relate your experiences about the lake. I promise we shall not laugh or make fun and will sincerely enter your comments into the historical archives of THE FLATHEAD LAKE MONSTER.