Clear Lake Catfish

Odd Fish of California.

Physical description: Coelacanth-like fish with leglike lobed fins. Doglike head. Barbels. Distinctive scales. Horizontally oriented tail. Distribution: Clear Lake, California. Significant sighting: In October 1993, Lyle Dyslin caught a strange-looking, dog-headed fish; after taking photographs of it, he released it back into the lake because it reminded him of his dachshund.

Possible explanation: Malformed catfish or, less likely, a dramatic new species. Clear Lake is known for its large Channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus), which put up a struggle when hooked. Catfishes are not native to California but began to be introduced sometime in the 1870s.

Sources: San Francisco Examiner, October 3, 1993; Karl Shuker, "Sounds Fishy to Me!" Strange Magazine, no. 17 (Summer 1996): 23.

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