Iliamna Lake Monster – Fact or Fiction?
By: Courtney Dowd-Stanley
Board a plane and head to the Lake and Peninsula Borough of Alaska near the northern end of the Alaska Peninsula where you’ll find Lake Iliamna (or Iliamna Lake), the largest lake in Alaska. This aquatic destination is located on the western side of Cook Inlet. Iliamna Lake is noted for its prized sportfishing opportunities, which attract fly fishermen from all around the world each year. Anglers flock to the area to chase prolific runs of salmon, trout, and grayling. While fishing fanatics go wild catching vibrant 30-inch rainbow trout, the long-debated “Iliamna Lake Monster” is the real lake dweller that’s stirring up all the attention.
The Iliamna Lake monster has been referred to by a number of names, but is most commonly known as Illie.
Throughout the decades people have reported seeing only one mysterious creature while others have spotted several at one time. Reportings on the size of the monster range from 10 to 30 feet, and many have described the coloring as dull aluminum.
While there is no physical evidence to support the claims—these underwater cryptids (animals whose existence is disputed) have been reported to use their size and power to use blunt force on things such as small boats, canoes, and kayaks. As a result, lives have even been claimed over the years due to attacks from this vicious underwater creature.
Tales from local Alaska residents describe the Iliamna Lake Monster as a large dark colored beast that would roam the waters of Iliamna Lake. The Aleut people have spoken of creatures they referred to as “Jik-ik-nak,” which were known to travel in groups, attack canoes, and kill warriors.
By 1979 the attention surrounding this legend had grown so much that the Anchorage Daily News offered $100,000 to anyone who could provide conclusive evidence to the existence of the Iliamna Lake Monster.
The show “River Monsters” on Animal Planet was lured in by the legend and Jeremy Wade, the show’s host, hypothesized that the Iliamna Lake Monster could be a white sturgeon. The Discovery Channel has also featured the infamous Iliamna Lake Monster on one of their popularly viewed series.
Now that you’ve got the rundown on all the wild legends surrounding Iliamna Lake, check out the YouTube video below of a Pacific sleeper shark in King Cove. Its movements are similar to what has been described of sightings of the Iliamna Lake Monster. What do you think… Pacific sleeper shark, white sturgeon, or is it all just a fabrication of multiple people’s imaginations? The verdict is still out on what truly lies beneath the waters of Iliamna Lake. Maybe the recent sightings reported in this article from Alaska Dispatch News will lead to solving the mystery.
If you’ve ever had an unusual run-in with suspicious creatures or the Iliamna Lake Monster itself, be sure to tell us all about it in the comments below. Or, if you just have some awesome fish tales to share… we’d love to know about those too. Reach out and tell us how you live The Alaska Life!
Looking for more where that came from? Check out these 13 quirky Alaska roadside attractions that’ll make you do a double take. If you’re an avid angler, check out Situk River fly fishing for spectacular spring steelhead in Yakutat, Alaska. You’ll also enjoy this remarkably rare story of Alaska’s whimsical Goose Creek Tower. Be sure to also check out these 17 jaw-dropping Alaska airport runways that will have you on the edge of your seat.