What lurks beneath the waters of Lake Ontario?


Many bodies of water have their own scary stories involving mysterious sightings and unexplained creatures. Lake Ontario is no different. However, I have personal knowledge through a couple friends that will leave you shaking your head, wondering what it could have been.

My grandparents had a cottage on Lake Ontario, and I can remember seeing three large fish cruising the shoreline one sunny summer day. I had never seen anything that big in the lake before and I wondered what they were. That same week, there was an article that sand sharks had been sighted in the lake. Could it have been what I saw? I will never know, but it made me wonder what else might be in the lake.

About a dozen years ago, Capt. Eric Bickel with Destiny Charters was out fishing in the lake for salmon. He was trolling out of his home port, Olcott. Fish on! The reel started to sing, letting him know that he had a salmon on his line, but it didn’t last long so it was a smaller fish in the 10 pounds class – still a nice fish though. As he battled the fish to the boat, suddenly, the fish made a 180-degree turn and started screaming out toward Toronto like he had never experienced before. What was it? After about five seconds of incredible power, the rod stopped, allowing him to continue reeling back to the boat. There was some resistance there, but he did not quite know what it was … until it reached the boat. All that remained of the 10-pound salmon was a head. The body had been ripped in two. The bite mark was not the shape of a musky’s mouth, what he first suspected. To this day, he still has the head of the salmon in his freezer.

Fast forward a couple of years to 2010. Brian Smith of Indiana was in Olcott filming the Lake Ontario Pro-Am Salmon Team Tournament Series for his program “Angling the Great Lakes.” After filming out of Wilson and Olcott, it was time to relax at the cabin he was staying at in Olcott. It was going to be a beautiful sunset as he sipped on a beverage in the back yard, next to the lake. There was no wind. As he looked to the north, he could see a small wake being made by something in the water. He spotted a serpent-like head sticking up with a long body trailing as it maneuvered through the water. Whatever it was, it was more than 10 feet in length. It took a moment to register as he wondered what the heck it was. “Grab the camera!” he shouted to whoever was within ear shot. Both his family and film crew were in the cabin, which was more like a house. By the time someone understood the urgency of Smith’s shouts, it was too late. The underwater leviathan was gone. What could it have been? After the experience, Smith was visibly shaken and when he recounted his story, he was shaking. Too bad he did not have the camera with him.

As he told the story while visiting with communities along the lake, there was one secondhand account that was told when he was in Oswego. Apparently, there was a diver who was inspecting large water intakes off a power plant there – a task that must be performed regularly. On one inspection, the diver witnessed something too scary to describe. A huge creature that startled him and created a personal panic. He vowed never to enter the waters of Lake Ontario again with his scuba gear on.

Could there be unexplained animals lurking in Lake Ontario? It does have direct access to the ocean through the St. Lawrence Seaway and through the Hudson River and the Erie Canal. When you consider other unexplained phenomena like the Loch Ness monster in Scotland or Champ in Lake Champlain in New York and Vermont, could there be something in the depths of this Great Lake? I am not sure I will be swimming anytime soon in Lake Ontario. What about you?

Categories: Blog Content, New York – Bill Hilts Jr

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