Located on a cold, muddy tributary of one of upstate New York’s renowned Finger Lakes — not far from the Montezuma Wildlife Refuge — is a modest fishing hole, which the locals refer to as “May’s Point.” Renowned miles over for its prodigious carp, catfish and bullhead populations, there is one May’s Point resident that does not seem to neatly fit into any of the traditional classes of indigenous, aquatic animals. It is a unique cryptid which locals dubbed the “Mystery Fish,” or what is more colloquially referred to as the “What-is-it-fish?”
This large and bizarre ichthyologic anomaly has been likened by at least one eyewitness to the heavily armored and FORMERLY EXTINCT dino-fish known as the COELACANTH. This is due to the fact that observers have claimed that the creature had thick, almost dinosaur-like scales… with one eyewitness claiming that it looked like it had “strange markings” on its epidermis.
Just a handful of nocturnal anglers have claimed to have been startled by this creature while it lurked just beneath the surface of the water next to the rusted steel doors which channel off the mud locks from Cayuga Lake near May’s Point, but one fisherman (who requested to remain anonymous) got more than he bargained for when he attempted to catch the beast in early July of 2002.
According to local legend, this intrepid angler noticed a reflection in the blackened surface of the river and realized that a substantial portion of this animal’s spine was exposed above the waterline. The creature large was evidently leaning against one of the lock dams and “scratching its back against the steel door” — a decidedly unfish-like maneuver.
This brave (or foolhardy) sportsman cautiously made his way out onto the crumbling concrete of the precariously steep dam and attempted to snag the creature’s spine with his hook. As soon as his bait touched the animal, however, its reaction was swift and violent.
The terrified fisherman could only cling to the rusted metal framework of the dam and watch as the creature plunged beneath the water with what the angler described a tremendous backwash, which he stated “soaked me to the bone.”
Although the — admittedly few — accounts of this animal almost always refer to the creature as being fish-like in appearance, there are some eyewitnesses who believe that this creature could possibly be a mutated form of the primordial salamander Necturus — a genus of aquatic salamanders found only in the eastern U.S. and Canada — which are more commonly referred to as a “waterdogs” or “mudpuppies.” These amphibians are known to bite savagely, especially if they are feeding, which makes the thought of tangling with a larger than normal version of this critter intimidating to say the least.
Still other investigators have suggested that this “Mystery fish” may be nothing more than a rogue sturgeon, a species which is occasionally encountered in the Cayuga Lake area, which is, itself, said to be the home of a LAKE MONSTER Affectionately dubbed OLD GREENY. Whether it be a vicious amphibian, a throwback to another epoch or just a rarely scene example of indigenous fauna, the so-called “What-is-it-fish?” is a mystery monster worth pursuing.
Rob Morphy is an artist / journalist / filmmaker / designer / crypto chronicler / pod host / cult movie lover and co-founder of American Monsters.