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Legends and Lore: The Fur Bearing Trout

Updated on February 26, 2018
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An artist and writer from Pittsburgh, Lindsey has been a scholar of the dark and creepy since childhood.

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The Fur Bearing Trout

Have you ever tried to pet a fish? For those of you who have and succeeded, I’m sure it was rather scaly, wasn’t it? Imagine a fish covered in thick fur like a mammal. Well you don’t have to imagine it, because I’m going to tell you all about the Fur Bearing Trout.

Origins

An old North American folk tale, the Fur Bearing Trout has its origins in the 17th century, described by settlers as having a thick fur coat. The first actual publication of this story was in 1929 in the magazine, Montana Wildlife, despite no evidence of the trout actually existing. It is said that the fish evolved to grow fur to combat the harsh cold climate of the lakes in whatever area the story is being told. Another origin story describes a hair tonic being dumped into a lake, causing the fish to grow fur.

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Stories

One story of the Fur Bearing Trout claims that a Scottish immigrant to Canada wrote home of the different animals he encountered, one being a furry fish. His family asked for proof, so he caught one and sent it home.

A more whimsical tale of the Fur Bearing Trout was told be S. E. Scholosser. The story goes that hair tonic was dumped into the Arkansas River. Fisherman offered the fish a free shave and hair cut in order to catch them.

There is also similar tales of the Fur Bearing Trout in Iceland. In Icelandic lore, there is a Fur Bearing Trout called a Lodsilungur. This fish was the work of demons and embodied the evilness of humans. It’s possible that this tale could have inspired the North American version as Europeans immigrated west.

Hoax

Along with such tall tales come the hoaxes. In the 1930’s, a man by the name of Foshay had a taxidermist create a Fur Bearing Trout using a regular trout and rabbit fur. He then went on to tell people that the best time to catch them was in January, but since there was a fishing ban in the winter, they wouldn’t be able to catch any. The town went as far as to discuss lifting the fishing ban. This same fish along with newspaper articles can be seen at the SalidaMuseum in Salida, Colorado and was featured on an episode of Mysteries at the Museum.

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Science!

The idea of a Fur Bearing Trout is fantastic, but not entirely outlandish. Other fur bearing sea life have been found in various parts of the world, including a furry lobster that was discovered in 2005. Known as the Kiwa Hirsuta, the furry lobster was found off the coast of Easter Island in deep water. Perhaps fish and crustaceans are growing fur to combat the cold?

As science evolves and scientists continue to discover new species, the Fur Bearing Trout may be found to be real after all.

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