Here we are at episode 6 of River Monsters : Season 5. This one is titled “Vampires of the Deep” and was shot in North America. Jeremy fishes on Lake Champlain which sets on the USA/Canada border. The episode centers around an attack that happened on the lake which left a man with a strange circular wound. Jeremy gets right to fishing, with a fly rod of all things.
He fishes in what had to be the most gar filled stream I have ever seen. They were piling over each other and coming out of the water. It was nuts, I think anyone would kill to fish there. He quickly lands a Longnose Gar (Lepisosteus osseus) but dismisses it as a possible suspect. He next hooks up a Bowfin (Amia calva), another awesome ancient predator fish but not something capable of leaving a circular wound. These are both really cool fish though, something many people rarely see if ever.
Jeremy with the Bowfin (Amia calva)
Jeremy with the Longnose Gar. (Lepisosteus osseus)
He does notice a circular wound under the fin of the Bowfin though, certainly left from the monster he is after. He then catches a few Lake Trout which also show similar signs of attack. He also spoke with a swimmer who claims to have been attacked by one of these blood suckers. It was a Sea Lamprey, which attach to other fish or even a person and suck their blood. They can stay attached for days or weeks. They can reach a few feet long, so not that big but still pretty large. The thing is, they suck blood so using a lure to catch one simply won’t work. So Jeremy has to get creative.
He visits a dam where he is able to net them by the dozen. They attack so quickly he is able to pull one out of the net just by dipping his hand in it. The fish are killed here because they are not native to the lake, so the fish and wildlife service culls them as they try to navigate into the lake. They have traps in the dam where the fish essentially just pile up for the taking. He then lets one of them attach to his neck, it is a pretty creepy display. He has to pull very hard to get the fish off. It leaves a small spot of blood where it had already began to suck his blood in the short amount of time he let it remain attached.
Jeremy pulls a Lamprey off his hand.
That is a lot of blood suckers…
He travels to the Pacific Northwest of the US to see about an even larger Lamprey. The Colombia river is his destination, where the Lamprey is found as it travels to breeding grounds. He actually visits with a man who eats Lamprey, even trying a small piece himself. He compares it to Mackerel.
He then dives into a huge rapids at the river, where he attempts to catch then by hand. It is a crazy scene, he says the sound of the rushing water is deafening. He tries reaching under a rock face at the base of a massive waterfall. It doesn’t take long before he is able to grab multiple Lampreys. The group he is with are pulling them out in huge numbers. The fish climb up the waterfall in search of breeding grounds. So it is packed with the Lamprey, like pulling apples off a tree. If the tree was a massive waterfall.
The mouth of the Lamprey.