This strange and brilliantly camouflaged creature is allegedly responsible for scaring one teenage angler nearly to death and has got to be one of the flat out weirdest lake cryptids ever chronicled.

Sometimes known as “Carp Lake,” Lake Leelanau — which, translated from the local Ojibwa language, means “delight of life” — actually consists of two adjacent lakes, which are located in of Leelanau County, Michigan. The north lake has a reported depth of over 120-feet, while the southern lake only goes down to about 62-feet, nevertheless both lakes are the alleged habitat of a bizarre North American LAKE MONSTER, that the locals have (unimaginatively perhaps) dubbed “Leelanau.”

While the lakes themselves may be relatively nondescript, the creature that supposedly dwells beneath their muddy depths is anything but. Said to have a long, stump-like neck, an equally long tail and two abnormally large eyes, there are but a handful details from which to paint a picture of this beast. Still, in this case, the lack of particulars can be almost as telling as a plethora of adjectives.

Most notable is the fact that the animal has never been associated with the prototypical plesiosaur-like beasts or any of the other oft reported FORMERLY EXTINCT creatures that are normally reputed to live in large, freshwater bodies.

This indicates that — unlike the vast majority of Lake Monster reports — this animal may belong to an UNCLASSIFIED species or genus of “monster.”

According to local legend, the beast first appeared after the Lake Leelanau dam was built in the late 1800’s. The dam, which was designed to provide power to the Leland Sawmill, effectively sealed off the Lake’s largest outlet, and — according to various sources – also managed to seal in the monster in along with it.

After the dam was erected, the water level of the lake rose between 10 and 12-feet, flooding a large portion of land and creating a marsh-like environment around the lake. This is where the creature was said to thrive.

While there are purportedly scores of reports of this nefarious beast, the most detailed account of an encounter with this critter comes to us all the way from 1910. In the summer of that year, a teenager — who hailed from a local family of “prominence” — named William Gauthier was perch fishing from his row boat in the shallow reeds along the shores of what was then called “Carp Lake.”

Finding that his luck was threadbare, young Gauthier decided to row out a little further, toward a section of the lake where he had never fished before.

Passing several dead cedar trees, which were jutting haphazardly out of the water, the adolescent fisherman decided to moor his boat against one of the stumps and continue fishing.

Gauthier chose a tree, which he described as being approximately 5-feet tall and 6-inches wide, and pulled to a stop next to it. Little did he know that he was seconds away from the shock of his young life.

As soon as Gauthier’s rope touched the branch, two huge eyes suddenly popped open at face-level with the horrified youth. The angler was frozen in terror, and after staring into this bizarre creature’s eyes for a few seconds — which no doubt felt like an eternity to Gauthier — the animal abruptly dove beneath his row boat.

Gauthier claimed that animal’s length was so impressive that he could see the submerged head of the beast appear on the far side of the boat while its tail still remained aloft.

One of the many things that we here at American Monsters find so intriguing about this account is the fact that Gauthier was able to paddle up right next to the beast without igniting an immediate reaction. Could it be that the creature was relying on its distinctive camouflage to keep it concealed; playing possum waiting for the boat to leave? Was it simply sleeping or — more ominously perhaps — laying in wait for its unsuspecting prey?

Also worthy of note is the fact that the juvenile witness did not recognize the stump for what it was until its eyes opened.

This would seem to indicate that, much like Phasmatodea — stick bugs — the animal in question had developed an incredible epidermal disguise, which allowed it to blend seamlessly into the vast morass of its stump-studded environment.

When presented with this hypothetical evidence one can’t help but to wonder how many times individuals who believe that they are merely staring at half-submerged trees are actually — albeit unwittingly — having an encounter with a genuine cryptid?

Gauthier’s great-grandson would attest that his great-grandfather had been thoroughly terrified by his unusual encounter. He further confided that the event had shaken him so badly that he avoided fishing on Lake Leelanau for many, many years.

Other folks around the turn of the century claimed to have had equally disturbing encounters with this creature, but most were reticent to come forward for fear of what they believed would be inevitable ridicule.

It has been many years since the last reported sighting of Leelanau; this fact has — unfortunately — forced many investigators to conclude that whatever may have been trapped in Lake Leelanau at the end of the 19th century has long since expired.

Of course, one never knows how many times an unwary boater might have slowly rowed next to a rotting stump… never realizing that they were slipping past a living, breathing AQUATIC ENIGMA.

© Copyright Rob Morphy 2002 — 2011