Interesting post... perhaps the bass fisherman saw an oversize flathead catfish or a big alligator gar? Maybe the creature is a "hodgepodge" of brief glimpses of various native critters, including 'gators.We had a similar situation in Lake Conway in central Arkansas, where I went to college. It was a manmade lake created by damming a small stream and was very swampy. It had its own lake monster tradition. The local paper ran a photo in 1991 (I believe) of an alligator snapping turtle (caught by fisherman) that must have pushed 100 lbs. Maybe that explained at least some of the "real" reports?
AWT:I think "normal" animals - large catfish and sturgeon, for example, definitely explain many reports, and certainly snapping turtles too.There was a case in Britain a few years ago that got the media all hyped up, but that turned out to be a crocodilian released into a pool by an exotic pet owner who couldn't cope with it anymore.I think where that scenario falls apart, however, is re the long-necked variety of lake monster.I think there's something different at work in these cases, that takes it beyond the realm of catfish, sturgeon, snapping turtles etc.
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