For many, not much in life is as relaxing as going out to a favorite fishing spot on a fine day and throwing in a line. Sitting back, taking in the nature and fresh air, waiting for a fish to bite, it can be a cathartic, deeply rewarding experience. For the most part, anglers will usually come away from the day feeling relaxed, refreshed, and come back with some fish and maybe some big fish stories of the one that got away. Yet, some fishermen come back with a lot more than just fish tales, telling of bizarre encounters with paranormal forces.
Much ghostly phenomena witnessed by fishermen congregate around lakes or other bodies of water that appear to be haunted. One such place is a tidal estuary located along Northern England’s coast called the Humber. According to the site British Paranormal, since at least World War II there have been sightings of a spectral young woman with long hair and dressed in formal military attire who prowls these waters, lurking under the grey waves and foam. The ghost is called the Lady of the Humber, and is said to appear as a floating submerged apparition, gliding gracefully through the water face up and with her eyes wide open and her mane of hair lazily floating about her pale face.
The Lady of the Humber is most often sighted by fishermen in the area, who often describe being startled to see the ghostly form of this young woman and often thinking she is a drowning victim, yet when they go to try and pull her from the water she vanishes right before their eyes. Not sinking away into the gloom below or being pulled out by a current, but literally blinking out of existence. The detail of the military uniform she is said to be dressed in is a curious detail, as the region was the scene of some fierce fighting during the Second World War, and even before that there were fatalities in the area, such as the tragic crash of British airship R38, which plummeted into the estuary to kill 44 of the 49 crew on August 23rd, 1921. Is this ghostly woman one of the many dead this area has claimed, eternally roaming the waters here looking for something we will never understand? Whatever the case may be, it certainly gives one something to look out for if you are ever fishing in the Humber.
One very bizarre encounter happened at a lake located within a park in Gosfield, Essex, in England, which was once the home of a sprawling Georgian classical house called Gosfield Place, which was built in 1800 and eventually demolished in 1924. Although the house is long gone there are still hints of what once was, such as the ornate remains of a baroque style iron bridge and the manmade lake, which was created when the park was opened in 1811 and which the house once overlooked from a nearby hill. The lake, with its twisted, ancient looking trees stretching gnarled fingers across the sky, overgrown weed-choked shores, murky water, and general brooding atmosphere, looks decidedly gothic, sinister even, and it is perhaps no surprise that there have long been ghost stories from the area.
Many of the tales of strange phenomena come from the people who come to the lake to fish, and there have been reports of anomalous noises or voices, apparitions, mysterious orbs of light, gusts of wind that whip up out of nowhere seemingly from the lake itself, and a general feeling of dread and unsettling sense of being watched, which is apparently a heavy sensation that can be felt in both daylight and evening hours. One such strange account comes from a witness who was fishing for carp in the Gosfield Park lake with some friends one night when they had a rather frightening experience of their own. As they sat there fishing on this still and warm evening they were suddenly all hit with a cold gust of wind and a distinct feeling of melancholy that descended down upon them like a thick blanket, before giving way to a decidedly bizarre incident. The witness would say of what happened:
As darkness begun to fall a little light but cold breeze sprang up from nowhere, just chilly enough to make you lift the collar of your shirt and shrug the shoulders. Even more strange was that it seemed to come from a dense wooded area which kissed the edge of the lake and ran back up the hill to where the hall once stood.
We became aware of a great presence descending around us. Hard to describe it just felt heavy, dark and very sad. Now the three of us were well seasoned anglers spending much of our time fishing after dark, often alone. This was something else, something we had never experienced before or since, thank god. "I think I'll call it a night" I said "feels like a storm coming" the others agreed and said we would stop for a pint on the way home, then it happened. From out of nowhere a scream rang out, a scream so loud that you couldn't think straight, we froze to the spot and reached for our torches, they didn't work, three torches and not a glimmer between them.
The scream turned to a wail still loud and one long note drowning our voices as we tried to speak. We knew what each other were saying and within a minute all tackle was retrieved, line bitten through, stuff just grabbed as we stumbled our way along the field bank towards the iron bridge. the old driveway and the sanctuary of the car.
The wail followed our every footstep growing neither louder or quieter, Ted was the first to reach the bridge and as he set foot on it all fell silent, very silent, painfully silent. I reached for my torch and yes it worked, so did the others, we looked at each other in disbelief but dared not utter a word, what could be said? And if we spoke would the screaming start again, no we just looked then continued on the long walk to the car.
How many times I looked over my shoulder, I would be guessing but it was a lot and the same went for the other two. We didn't stop at the pub and drove home in silence, in fact it was more than a week before we spoke about it and then only for a minute.
The presence of this unearthly screaming and wailing seems similar to another account from a Reddit commenter calling himself “Eddy G.” He claims that he was out fishing with his cousin at an isolated lake in an undisclosed location and they were at their usual spot. For about a half an hour there was nothing out of the ordinary, and they enjoyed the typical quiet evening fishing until they suddenly noticed that all of the usual night time sounds, the crickets, owls, and the rest of the symphony of the night had gone completely, utterly silent. As they sat there wondering why such an abrupt wall of silence had crashed down upon them it was all shattered by very loud scream that pierced out from the night. The witness explains what happened:
Suddenly there was a loud screaming sound coming from behind us. I turned to look at my cousin – by this time his face was pale and we asked out loud at the same time, “Did you hear that?” “Yes, I did. What was it?” “I don’t know; I’ve never heard that before.”
As much as we both tried to ignore it, we kept alert but then it passed and after about an hour or so we had forgotten about the incident. We didn’t catch much so we decided to pack up and call it a night. When we were headed back to our truck, we started hearing rustling leaves behind us. We turned around (thinking it was an animal) but nothing was there. We kept on and right as we were about to hop in our truck, a woman appeared right in front of us (a few feet away). She looked dirty and a little beat up with some blood stains on what seemed to be a nightgown of some sort.
We shouted, “Are you ok? Do you need help?”
She continues to stare at us. Then the shrieking scream we had heard before came out of her mouth. My cousin and I were petrified and got into the car and drove off, haven’t gone to “our spot” ever since. We have never told anyone what happened but I can still hear that scream from time to time.
There have been all sorts of similarly strange apparitions sighted by anglers around the world, both above the waves and under them. One account from ThoughtCo. comes from a witness who claims that the only paranormal encounter he has ever had occurred during a weekend fishing trip at a secluded lake in France, where he says had once been used as a military training area and which held stoic old abandoned buildings that showed various damage from World War II. He says of his rather spooky experience fishing at the lake:
During the late afternoons, I had the feeling of being watched from the woods at the far end of the lake. Each day, at the same time, the feeling would return, usually around dusk, and from different areas, as if whatever it was getting closer. I remember waking on the last night of my trip. Outside the bivy, it was very foggy and I could hardly see the dim glow of my bite alarms (devices to alert an angler to a fish bite). I decided to make a brew, and as I flicked on the lighter the sparks silhouetted the face of a helmeted German soldier peering into my bivy from the darkness outside.
The next morning, I packed up and went home but not before speaking to an old French Estate Warden who told me that the château had seen some fierce fighting when the Americans liberated that area of France. The Germans had fled into the woods only to be ambushed by a patrol in reserve. They were all killed and buried around the lake. I don’t think I’ll fish there again.
Equally as creepy is a tale related by a Reddit user on an angler and diver forum, who says that he was once fishing off of a dock with his mother and sister when something incredibly odd came floating to the surface as he bent over to pick up some spilled bait. There directly in front of his face a creepy head bobbed up to the surface, withered and green in color, and it glared at the witness for a moment before sinking back down below the surface to disappear. He has said of the surreal incident:
I can still remember that fucking face, but I wasn’t scared the first time I saw it, I was purely shocked. But that face was terrifying, like 1990’s pennywise terrifying. These days I try and play it off as something paranormal, or spiritual, but if that was some sort of living creature, then this world is a scary place.
Another terrifying story of ghostly apparitions comes from East Beach, in Rhode Island, where another Redditor claims to have had an encounter with the ghosts of what are called “Wreckers,” basically bandits who once tricked ships into crashing into shore by using lanterns after which they would then slaughter the survivors and loot the vessel. These violent thieves were a scourge during America’s colonial days, but they would not be something one would expect to see in modern times, at least not alive. The witness says:
I was fishing with my father and as we got down to the beach we saw some odd drag marks in the sand. After about a half hour of casting, we made our way back to the truck and as we hit the parking lot, our German Shepard started acting really weird. We were loading up the truck with our gear when we saw a light coming out of the dunes. As we got a good look, we saw it was an old 17th or 18th-century lantern. We then saw two more lights and four people walked out wearing colonial clothes. At that point, we just threw everything in the truck, picked up our now growling dog, and blasted out of there. As we pulled out, our lights went right over the people and we saw they were wearing ratty colonial style clothes. It really freaked us out.
In other anglers’ ghostly encounters the presence is not directly seen, but is just as frightening. One witness was out night fishing with his wife and a friend when he decided to break off from the group and check out a secluded spot he hadn’t tried yet. He explains what happened next as follows:
I decide I want to check out a spot further downriver so I leave them behind and head off into the woods. I’m about 100 yards or so down the path, all alone, just me and the crickets, when I hear a female voice say my name. Loudly, plain as day, like someone was standing a few feet behind me and was trying to get my attention. I turn around naturally thinking one of the girls followed me into the woods, but nope, no one there. I am not really a huge believer in the supernatural or anything but this absolutely freaked me the hell out. So I just immediately head back, and sure enough, they’re still hanging out on the river bank watching the meteor shower. There is absolutely no way I could have heard them that clearly from that far away. I told them what happened and they still to this day think I was just fucking with them and trying to scare them. But I’m telling you, I still get the willies thinking about it and in fact have never been back to that spot since.
In yet another account, a witness explains that he and his friend had been out fishing at a fort in Jamestown, Rhode Island, when his friend wandered off to the boat dock around 50 yards away. He came running back several minutes later in a panic, saying that he had heard someone walking behind him and following him even though no one else was there at the time. It was apparently unsettling enough that the friend never went back to fish at that spot again, but the witness went back the following summer. He says of his scary experience:
I decided to fish this spot by myself. I had completely forgotten about my friend’s experience. I got to the dock and unloaded everything and started to soak some bait. It was a clear, moonless night with no wind or breeze. About a half hour into watching my rod, I started to smell perfume around me. I thought it was pretty weird since I was the only one there. The smell kept getting stronger and stronger, so I walked about 10 feet to my right and the smell disappeared. I walked back to my original spot, and the perfume smell was still there, stronger than ever. It was strong to the point that my nose started to burn. At that point, I said, “where the hell is this smell coming from?” Soon after I said that the smell disappeared. That’s when I packed up and left. I’ve never been back to that spot.
These are just but a few of the weirder accounts I have come across of anglers finding a lot more than fish. What did these people encounter out there? Were these restless spirits tethered to watery graves or just wild stories weirder than any big fish tale? Whatever the case may be, these are exceptionally creepy tales, and they sure do give one something to think about when settling back for a peaceful day or night of fishing.