I love researching topics about cryptozoology and educating others about cryptids.
A Cryptid Mystery
To say North Carolina's Lake Norman is the haunt of a monster or monsters is no understatement. Far too many people have reported encounters with "It" over the years, for it, or them, to be anything other than something startlingly and highly unusual.
The beginning point of many interesting speculations about this anomaly or anomalies in the water is the fact that a nuclear power plant sits at the top of the lake.
Science fiction has a habit of becoming science fact. Many of us have seen films from the 1950s such as Them or Colossal Man, to name just two Hollywood movies about unrestrained growth due to radiation exposure.
Lake Norman was created in 1963 by damming the Catawba River at a place called Cowan's Ford. The water spread out over 50 square miles, forming a shoreline of some 520 miles and in some spots going down well over 100 feet in depth.
The area of the river the lake was formed from has a long history with the Catawba Native Americans and the first settlers, along with historical sites from the American Revolutionary and Civil War eras; unfortunately, all are underwater now. The nuclear power plant went commercially operational in 1981. However, stories of gigantic fish in the lake go back before this time.
As a teenager living in a nearby town during the 1970s, I heard regular scuttlebutt about divers going to the bottom of the dam for repairs and vowing never to return after sighting fish bigger than themselves lurking about. Regardless of the accuracy of these stories or not, it does appear that the largest number of sightings concerning a surface monster date till after the power plant's debut.
So, could the creature(s) possibly be radiated mutants of some type? There could be a small chance that at least some radioactive material, in some form, has gotten into the lake over time. I know for a fact some sewage, treated or otherwise, found its way into the smaller Lake Wylie, which is right below Lake Norman in South Carolina.
Almost immediately after water-skiing in it one time, my throat swelled up like a croaking bullfrog, and in addition to that, I contracted a high fever. This is not to say that there's been any negligence on the part of the power company, no, just rationality saying it's an unlikely but possible scenario. How a tiny amount of radiation seeped in, if it even has, I won't hazard to guess; but if so, it probably applies to all of them on their bodies of water.
Speculations and Sightings
Speculations on what the monster(s) could be include an alligator, alligator garfish, catfish, lake sturgeon, fresh water eel, snakehead fish, and some other possibilities like bull sharks.
Despite a video of an alligator sunning itself on the banks of the smaller Lake Wylie, many think it couldn't be one of those because, being cold-blooded, they would never survive the chilly winters. But, for the most part, the winters do seem to have gotten a bit milder over time.
The fish then are a much more likely explanation, as it's more or less common knowledge around the lake's residents that they can grow to a very large size. Something I can attest to again from experience.
Once in the early 1990s, during a drought, I was fishing off a friend's pier, with no luck, when to relieve the boredom I walked over to an area next to the pier. It was maybe half an acre of clear shallow water, no more than two feet deep or so.
Almost at once I noticed a big fish lazily coming close to shore. It soon became obvious this was an exceptionally bulky large-mouthed bass. Excited, I ran back and grabbed the pole from the pier which had a worm on it. I then repeatedly tossed the bait right in front of the giant bass, all to no avail. If fish can turn their nose up at something, well, then that's what this one did to the wiggly worm.
Suddenly realizing Henry had some crayfish in a cage hanging off the pier, I raced back again and placed one on the hook. The second the crawdad was tossed in front of the bass, he hit it like no tomorrow and zoomed off for deeper water. After a fantastic experience reeling the ol' boy in, he turned out to be the biggest freshwater fish I'd ever caught by far, close to or maybe even 13 pounds, possibly near to or even a state record.
The temptation to keep him was strong, but in the end he went back in the water, as Henry wasn't home, I didn't have any ice, camera, scales, witnesses—anything to document it with. I just wasn't prepared for one this size, and didn't know of any weigh stations close by, which would have made it official. So when it came down to it, I simply couldn't bring myself to kill him. Maybe he's gotten lucky and is still growing in the waters of Lake Norman to this very day, if bass fish can live that long, that is.
So, here are some descriptions from eyewitnesses over the last couple of years: a large, long neck emerges five feet in the air, some distance away, after flinging a man off his inner-tube. Another account had two brothers out fishing when they heard splashes behind them; they saw a creature as big as a fully-grown bull shark with an enormous black tail.
"It's Normieee!"—the nickname given to the cryptid phenomena, shout two women who watch it traverse the lake one snowy winter's day. Another account had two girls night fishing hook something monstrous that pulled a rod into the water, and then broke the surface revealing its massive self; the surprising incident attested to by the parents and family members.
A number of friends are floating off a boat, when suddenly one goes under, only to reappear nearly frightened to death by something long and slimy, with prickly skin. On and on go these reports of what I believe are largely sincere testimonials. Most folks aren't liars, hoaxers, given to airy-fairy flights of fancy or regularly misidentify the known water fauna of the lake.
Other descriptions and encounters run the gamut from being bumped in the water by something huge and creepy, to big snake looking things with long necks and long alligator-like faces.
Some have even reported seeing a beast well over 20 feet long on Google Earth, through the satellite imagery. It's also interesting to note that a very rare species of jellyfish thrives in the waters of Lake Norman, proving that non-indigenous species can indeed find a home there.
Dozens of more sightings and encounters could be added to the above, most of them with multiple witnesses. To see more or report a sighting, one need only go to www.LakeNormanMonster.com, a website put out by the lake for the very purpose of reporting on the phenomena.
If a penultimate cryptid lake monster investigator like Jan Ove Sunberg of the Global Underwater Search Team, or GUST for short, expresses an interest in the creature(s), then surely he thinks there is something worth a serious look-see.
So, is the Lake Norman monster an atomic creation like all those giant mutated ants, grasshoppers and men from the 1950s science-fiction movies? Remember, yesterdays sci-fi becomes today's reality on occasion. Whatever the case may be, something out of the ordinary certainly seems to be happening in those waters; and it should be well noted that no one has actually been hurt by whatever, it, or they, are, just amazed, or scared a little—or a lot, blessedly rarely. So have no fears or discouragement about things like swimming, boating, fishing, or any other water activity in Lake Norman.
anthony difazio on July 24, 2018:
I was fishing on the canal that runs from the power plant I was at the base of an embankment the water is warm there all year round. I had my pole in the water but it was fairly far from shore all of a sudden a tremendous splash behind me I was facing the embankment at the time I looked at the water and it was choppy to the extreme I ran up the embankment because I thought someone threw something in the water. there was no one around for hundreds of feet in either direction. it made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I cant imagine what it could have been. also up till that point in my life I had never heard of the lake Norman monster.
Alastar Packer (author) from North Carolina on January 14, 2016:
Sure there are. Pretty large ones too. Wrote this story several years ago for Halloween, Wesman. Big Lake Murray down in SC supposedly has a monster as well. Who knows? Your probably right, though. It, or them, could be a catfish or something like an alligator gar. Although, I think, bull sharks can tolerate fresh water, that one can probably be ruled out as, thank goodness, no one, so far as known, has been hurt by whatever's causing these things in Norman. A species thought to be extinct...now that would be something!
Wesman Todd Shaw from Kaufman, Texas on January 14, 2016:
Ah local legends! Aren't there catfish in the lake? So far as the divers at the dam and their stories go, we get the same ones here, but involving catfish large as Volkswagens. Also, there are the alligator gars, which can exceed ten feet in length.
The possibility of finding something that was supposed to be extinct is proved a real possibility alla time! Love it.
Alastar Packer (author) from North Carolina on June 25, 2015:
Monster Fish can be pretty amazing, right you are. Thanks DJ. That human-toothed like fish sounds creepy. Your certainly right about the strangeness in the world. Makes it more interesting imho.
DJ Anderson on June 25, 2015:
Occasionally, I watch Jeremy Wade's Monster Fish on TV. Some of the
enormous fish are found in foreign countries, still they are frighteningly large. Yesterday, on my home page, I noticed that a fish was caught that
has teeth quite unlike fish teeth. These were more like human teeth,
although, this fish is a herbivore.
There is much strangeness in our world. Probably stranger than we can even imagine.
Very nice article.
Alastar Packer (author) from North Carolina on June 25, 2015:
Appreciate your post with your experiences, Leslie. I didn't know about this either until about 5 years ago, but knew long before stuff could get really big in that lake. The question asked on the story is just one of many possibilities. It'd be nice to know for sure what the monster(s) is and why fish seem to be unusually large in Norman. Thankfully, no one has been hurt that I know of, just surprised and amazed on occasion.
Leslie MacDonald on June 24, 2015:
I was raised in NC and lived on Lake Norman for a couple years, in the late eighties. I had no idea that such a story existed. HOWEVER I used to fish off my dock late at night on a regular basis, and there were several times whereas I hooked something so big that I didn't know if I was trying to pull up a log, etc. BUT I SAW IT. A couple of times I saw an enormous shadow in the water. I went out there night after night, and day after day, and I saw something HUGE close to the surface after fighting for hours. It makes me feel a little better knowing that I probably did not imagine this.