Trinity River Monster? Fisherman’s Encounter with Massive Aquatic Creature in Texas

Trinity River Monster gif.gif

“…there was a very large swirl in the water and up came a creature I was not prepared to lay my eyes on….”

The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word cryptid as “An animal whose existence or survival is disputed or unsubstantiated, such as the yeti.”  For the following witnesses to living cryptids, there is no dispute. In this series of National Cryptid Society’s case files, you will read what the witnesses have experienced in their own words.

Keep an open mind when reading these accounts, and also remember one’s perception and memory of an event can be influenced by the emotions felt at the time of the occurrence. The contributors to this series of articles are doing the best they can to recount what are in some cases very shocking and traumatic experiences.

If you have a personal cryptid sighting story you would like to tell us, please visit our “Make A Report” page on this site.

Trinity River watershed

The Trinity River is a 710-mile-long river in Texas, and is the longest river with a watershed entirely within the state. It flows onward to the south, into Trinity Bay, an arm of Galveston Bay that is an inlet of the Gulf of Mexico. In 1979, an avid fisherman familiar with the river and its inhabitants had a surprise encounter with a massive creature that had no business in the Texas river.

NCS Case File #81: Trinity River Monster? Fisherman’s Encounter with Massive Aquatic Creature in Texas

Location: Crockett, TX. Trinity River

Date: 1979

Submitted by Tim

This is an encounter that my older brother experienced. He was fishing on the Trinity River in Crockett Texas when this occurred in 1979. He would have been 27 at the time. We have talked about it for years with one another. In his own words, this is his encounter.

“I was just fishing on the little peninsula, like I always did because it was a good spot for bass. The water was about 5 feet down from the edge of the bank of where I was standing. The water was calm and slow moving. I never knew how deep the water may have been there.

All of a sudden, there was a very large swirl in the water and up came a creature I was not prepared to lay my eyes on. It rose completely straight out of the water to a height of about 10 feet. It was even with the top of my head. I saw its left side. It was completely black and the width of the body was the diameter of a 55 gallon oil barrel.

The eye was as large as the diameter of a coffee cup saucer. The mouth it had was approximately 4 feet long, with many sharp pointed teeth, like that of a pike or gar and were at least 4 inches in length. It had very large scales. It was as black as coal. It looked exactly like what is depicted as an Ichthyosaurus that you see in museums and books.

I never saw a fin or any other appendage it may have had, as they must have been down below the surface. I just stood there, frozen in shock, until I realized it was looking directly at me. It was only about 8 feet away and could have easily reached over to grab me up, like I was an easy pickings for a meal and that I was on the menu!

I just started slowly backing up, away from the edge of the little peninsula, toward my truck. After some paces back, making distance between the creature and I, it just slipped straight down back into the water. I got out of there and never went back to that spot again. I did not know things could get that big in fresh water. I will never forget how it looked or how it was staring right at me. “

My brother and I have discussed this encounter of his for over 30 years with one another. I have not heard of another account such as this one either, as most of the strange encounters from water are more serpent like or that of a plesiosaur.

Follow-up questions and additional information:

This is an account that was originally posted on Reddit accompanied by a video posted by the witness’ brother describing the encounter.

After reading the account and watching the video I contacted the brother who agreed to answer a few follow-up questions.

One question I asked was why he was reporting this encounter and not his brother.

“My brother does not mess with the internet… My older brother is exactly like my dad was and that is he is old fashion and comes from a different generation.  I have to call his wife and have her show him things online. I have asked him why he does not get on the computer and his reasoning is because he thinks he will mess it up! LOL! I know that sounds kind of funny but he does not want to mess with one. He is an artist, a gun smith, a fisherman and is an expert in archery. He is a big fan of the big game hunters like Bob Swinehart and Peter Hathaway Capstick.  He reads and does outdoor things. He is in his mid 60’s. That is just how it is. I called and talked to him about the submission of his story and he was fine with it. He does not have an email address and his cell phone is the old flip style clam shell one. I could go on but that kind of sums it up. It certainly is not because he is not smart enough to use one, he just has no interest in a computer.”

I also sent the individual two pictures, one of an icthyosaurus and one of a plesiosaurus just in case, which he was able to identify the difference between the two.

“Yes he said it looked exactly like the swimming fish looking ichthyosaurus thing. Not the Nessie or Loch Ness looking plesiosaur as what most others describe in lakes or large bodies of water. It had a long pointed mouth full of sharp teeth which was about 4 feet long. He never saw anything below the murky water. But what he did see he described a creature and said it was an ichthyosaurus and it looked exactly like the ones on the first example fish type body in the picture you emailed me.

He has been a sportsman since the early 1960’s and continues to do so today. He knows his critters that are out there. He has saw a few strange things in his life too. The story I shared on your site is one of them.

As far as so called extinct animals go I think there are more things out there still around. Especially under water. Like you though I feel what my brother witnessed could have been something undiscovered or rare. However I do believe this is true or I would have never thought twice about it.”

The Trinity river is known for some of the most active alligator gar fishing in Texas.  Could your brother have been witness to a massive gar? I’ve been looking at some information on alligator gar and the largest ones caught in recent history have been around 8 feet, but in 1957, there was one caught in Caddo lake at 12 feet 9 inches (below).

“Yes, we all know what the alligator gar specie[s] look like. We had them in our stock ponds where I grew up. Remember this thing exposed 10 foot of its body. 4 feet of it was just it’s mouth. The other 6 feet were from the mouth back sticking straight up out of the water. That is freaking big no matter what it was in my book. He should have saw some fins at the front in my opinion, had it been a gar. He has had one large gar show up beside his john boat while river fishing once. He said it was about 9 foot long. That one was identified as a large gar by him. Nothing like the other thing he saw.

It is possible it could be something totally else too but he said the shape of the thing was more like that ichthyosaurus and not that of an alligator gar. That picture you emailed me of that 12 foot thing is really awesome. If that picture is one of 12 foot, then it looks to me like the head on that one would be approx 3 and a half foot total and it’s mouth maybe a little over 2 foot in length and the other foot and half back to the gills. The thing he saw must have been over 25 foot long if we were to go by the scale of the one in that picture from lake Caddo. If that 12 foot gar stuck straight up like what my brother saw though, he should have noticed some front fins as that is how their body type is. He was only 8 foot away from it but he saw no fins.

I agree, we would not know what a 30 foot one would look like but, we have also observed that gar do not stick their bodies  straight up out of the water taking a look around either. Although they do have some kind of lung and can take in oxygen. But they are observed doing that while being parallel with the surface of the water and not sticking straight up out of it.

Now this so called ichthyosaurus was supposed to be some kind of reptile. But did it have scales? I do not know. My brother said this thing he saw had scales and was as black as coal. I have been fascinated with his sighting for years. I have often wondered how it looked myself. It is something I have talked to him about quiet a lot and his story has not changed one bit throughout the 30 or more years he and I have talked about it.”

NCS Notes

When at first I read this account, I automatically thought that the individual had observed a massive alligator gar.  The trinity river is home to a large population of Alligator gar, which according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, can reach over 8 feet.  Alligator gar are indigenous to Texas, and in another part of the state a specimen was hauled from the water measuring an (alleged) 12 feet 8 inches (post).

However, the witness’ brother (who is the one doing the reporting) maintained that the creature observed was unlike a gar of any type as the skin was lacking of scales, and no pectoral fins were observed.  Moreover, the height that the creature attained out of the water makes it less likely it was a gar, as suspending part or even half of its body out of the water for any length of time is not common behavior, although alligators and crocodiles have been known to do this from time to time.

Discussion and Speculation

With permission from the witness, I forwarded this report to three researchers who have had experience with reports of unidentified aquatic creatures. Each authors and researchers in their own right, I contacted Andy McGrath author of “Beasts Of Britain,”  Denver Michaels author of “People are Seeing Something: A Survey of Lake Monsters in the United States and Canada” and researcher Scott Mardis (Cryptozoologist, On the Trail of Champ) to see if they had any opinions or speculations on this matter. Below are some selected quotes from the conversation.*

Denver Michaels: “My mind tells me it’s a massive gar. On the other hand….it’s hard to discount the word of sportsmen, natives, and other folks well-aquatinted with the local wildlife. It didn’t act like a gar, and is it really that far-fetched for something prehistoric to be lurking in a river such as this? Especially when I believe in lake monsters… Also, there’s a lot of dammed up water near Crockett, TX giving a lot of room for something to lurk. Wonder if undiscovered things have become trapped in the series of dams on the river?”

Andy McGrath: “So there it is. Appearance. Size. And physiological ability, does not match a Gar. He is a sports fisherman who identified it as having a dolphin like body. Even if he’s overestimating by a few feet, still doesn’t match the monster impostor theory. A very interesting sighting.”

Scott Mardis: “Guys, I am at Lake Champlain and very busy but the location and morphology just screams “alligator gar”. They look a lot like an ichthyosaur. This is the best case I could make for ichthyosaur survival.” (shared in the following links).


*note: there was much more to this conversation over several days, but the selected excerpt of our discussion pretty much sums it up.

The Passage of Time

I would like to add is that typically over time an eyewitness statement loses accuracy over the passage of time, and a lot of time has passed in this case.  However, according to the submitter the account his brother has told him hasn’t changed over the years.

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3 thoughts on “Trinity River Monster? Fisherman’s Encounter with Massive Aquatic Creature in Texas

  1. Odd mistake in the NCS Notes:

    “the witness’ brother (who is the one doing the reporting) maintained that the creature observed was unlike a gar of any type as the skin was lacking of scales, and no pectoral fins were observed.”

    Yet the witness account TWICE stated that the thing had large scales, black as coal.


    1. I am approving this comment because it does look on its face as an error. I’ll re-visit the statements made by the witness, but at the moment I don’t recall if I left the contradictory statements in the notes to show the malleability of old memories or that I overlooked the change in skin texture. Thanks for pointing it out Charles.


  2. “Now this so called ichthyosaurus was supposed to be some kind of reptile. But did it have scales? I do not know.” He is saying he doesn’t know if ichthyosaurus had scales. Since his brother saw something with scales, he is saying that if ichthyosaurus didn’t have scales, then maybe his brother saw something else.


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