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. [caption id="attachment_9708" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Flickr - Alaska Fish Habitat Partnerships Story Map Content[/caption]
The Iliamna Lake monster has been referred to by a number of names, but is most commonly known as Illie. [caption id="attachment_9712" align="aligncenter" width="830"] YouTube - Cryptic Nexus[/caption]
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. [caption id="attachment_9707" align="aligncenter" width="735"] YouTube - Cryptic Nexus[/caption]
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. [caption id="attachment_9711" align="aligncenter" width="450"] YouTube - Cryptic Nexus[/caption]
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. [caption id="attachment_9709" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Flickr - chuck t[/caption]
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. [caption id="attachment_9713" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] YouTube - Storyful Rights Management[/caption]
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. [caption id="attachment_9706" align="aligncenter" width="848"] YouTube - Cryptic Nexus[/caption]
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. https://youtu.be/24QCOegcZ0E
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![caption id="attachment_9710" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Flickr - Jeremy Brown Photography[/caption]
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.
Written by Courtney Dowd-Stanley
2 years ago in Minnesota we were bass fishing near a boat dock when my son and I saw a HUGE sturgeon … longer than our Tracker fishing boat … one flip of the tail and he was gone. Not uncommon in Alaska but not widely seen. It left an impression. Who knows what could be in that lake … every day creatures are found that no one knew about or that people thought were extinct. Just this week a giant turtle was found. God is an awesome creator!
Never heard it referred to as “Illie”, at least not from the locals.