In June of this year, a monster-sized fish was briefly spotted by two astonished and terrified anglers on the River Nene, in the Fens, Cambridgeshire, England. One of the fishermen provided BBC Radio Cambridgeshire with an incredible account: “I enjoy going out on my boat. One day we were on our boat going up towards Whittlesey and the boat suddenly juddered as if there was something large in the water. My friend and myself looked at each other and I looked down to see what we had hit. I saw the most extraordinary thing.”
He continued with the story: “I saw the biggest fish I have ever seen in my life. I like boating and I like wildlife, but I had never seen a fish like this before. It was absolutely huge – it was over six-foot long. It was swimming alongside us and our boat had struck it and it was as if it was showing us the side of itself where the propeller had hit it and we could see the white flesh. My friend saw it and exclaimed ‘Blimey is that a dolphin?’ It was so big. We’re going to go out again this year and see if we can see it.”
The two men speculated that what they had seen was quite possibly a sturgeon. Such a scenario is not at all impossible, since sturgeon can indeed grow to impressive and extraordinary sizes. A friend of mine in the field of Cryptozoology suggested that a catfish might very well have been the culprit. This is something which closely echoes the Center for Fortean Zoology’s experiences at Martin Mere, Lancashire, England, where a very large fish was seen on a number of occasions in 2002 (for the full, strange story see Jon Downes’ book, Monster of the Mere).
Then there was the intriguing theory that the creature could have been an eel, albeit one of gigantic proportions. Such a creature has, on occasion, also been suggested as a potential candidate for the Loch Ness Monsters. It was a theory specifically prompted by yet another sighting of the beast of the River Nene. The witness was forty-one-year-old Michelle Cooper, who was prompted to come forward by the June 2015 encounter reported to BBC Radio Cambridgeshire. Her sighting, however, had actually occurred one year earlier.
She spoke out to the Cambridge News and said: “I told people about it last year and they just took the mickey but now that these anglers have seen it too I know what they mean by being terrified. I am 5ft 4 inches tall and it was bigger than me. The water was crystal clear and I had a good look at it. I didn’t see any white like the fishermen.
“I saw dark brown and when I researched what it could I found it looked exactly like the giant eels you get in America. I was really shaken up by it. It was terrifying but I don’t think it would hurt anyone. It seems to just stay low down on the river bed. It was so big it did create a wave and knocked my boat. I’ve seen pike and catfish and it definitely wasn’t that. I went for my camera to get a picture of it but it moved too fast and was gone before I could get a shot.”
That Michelle had seen catfish before and was able to rule out that theory, suggests something along the lines of a large eel just might be the answer to the riddle. Whatever the true nature of the immense leviathan of the River Nene, its identity still remains tantalizingly unknown. At least, for now it does.