Posted by: mystery_man on June 2nd, 2010
Giant Trout of Lake Shikotsu
By- Brent Swancer
Lake Shikotsu, located in the southwest part of Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido, derives its name from the Ainu word for “Big Depression” or “Big Hollow.” It is a caldera lake, or crater lake, that was formed 40 to 50 thousand years ago. The lake has an average depth of 265.4 meters (870.7 ft), and is the 8th largest lake by surface area in Japan.
The lake is also purportedly home to mysterious giant fish said to dwell in its depths. Lake Shikotsu has become known for its sightings of what are most commonly described as giant trout reported to be 2 meters (6.6 ft) in length. These giant trout have long been reported by fishermen on the lake, and there are even accounts of whole schools of the huge fish being seen.
Lake Shikotsu is home to several salmonoid fish species, such as rainbow trout and red salmon (sockeye salmon) which were introduced in 1895 as a food fish, among others. The lake is also renowned for its brown trout fishing, and the Japanese record brown trout was taken here. The record fish was 93.5 cm (3 feet) long, and weighed 13.5 kg (30 lbs).
Could there be something even bigger? Are there unusually gigantic salmon or trout lurking in the waters of Lake Shikotsu?
One possibility is that there may be a population of large salmonoids such as the Sakhalin Taimen (Hucho perryi) lurking in the depths of the lake. These are some of the largest salmonoids in the world, reaching lengths of over 200 cm (6.6 feet), and weights of over 100 kg (220 pounds). These fish are indeed found in Hokkaido, where they are considered practically extinct due to rampant overfishing and loss of habitat.
Although Sakhalin taimen are not known to live in Lake Shikotsu, a population present there could explain the reports of giant trout there.
There could also be a possible population of the Siberian taimen (Hucho taimen), a similarly large salmonoid found in Russia and other parts of East Asia. This species is not known in Japan, however the proximity of Russia and Hokkaido could allow for an out of place population of the fish.
Could some very large species of exotic salmonoid be behind these sightings? Are these merely oversized individuals of species already known to be in the lake? Are the giant fish seen in Lake Shikotsu something else entirely?
Whatever it is out there swimming through the cold, clear waters of Lake Shikotsu, one thing that is for sure is that the mysterious stories of giant fish continue.