The following photographic-rich article features the hairy trout which is one of the most popular monsters seen at Dime Museums (a pay-per-view exhibitions of curiosities and oddities produced by circus sideshow companies in America.) This manuscript was produced by Dr. Eriko N. Bond, an active art critic and author in New York City, as told by Yamada and edited by Diane M. Taros. 




The hairy trout can be also called hairy trout, fur-bearing trout, sable trout, furry trout or beaver trout. This monstrous animal is a fictitious creature supposedly native to the northern regions of North America, particularly Canada, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and the Great Lakes. (Incidentally, the state of Wyoming is the birth place of one of other very popular circus sideshow monsters called Jackalope.)



Examples of the hairy trout (their hairs can be black, white, brown, etc.)


The basic claim or tall tale is that the waters of lakes and rivers in the area are so cold that a species of trout has evolved which grows a thick coat of fur to maintain its body heat in cold seasons (or all year long). Another theory, says that it is due to four jugs of hair tonic being spilled into the Arkansas River. Stuffed and mounted specimens of these fish can be found in a number of museums of curiosities.



Hairy Fish in On Monsters and Marvels

A monstrous hairy fish is featured in an academic zoological book entitled On Monsters and Marvels which was written by Ambroise Pare (1510 - 1590AD). Pare was chef surgeon to both Charles IX and Henri III, and widely being considered as the best physician and true Renaissance man of the 16th century in Europe. In his book, pare wrote, “Monsters are things that appear outside the course of Nature (and are usually signs of some forthcoming misfortune), such as a child who is born with one arm, another who will have two heads, and additional members over and above the ordinary.” In this book, he gave 13 reasons that cause monsters. (At that time, word the “monster” was used to address the today’s word “freak”.) The job of scientists at the time was not the construction of model of the universe as is for them today. The job of scientists in the 16th century was to discover, translate, and understand the symbolic messages in nature sent by God. The science, nature, magic, art, politics, and religion were one.


Here are illustration and description (translation by Janis L. Pallister) of this savage sea monster called Hoga featured in the book. (Needless to say, there were no creatures like this existed in real world.)


Portrait of the Hoga


In the huge, deep, fresh water lake – on which the large city of Themistitan, in the Kingdom of Mexico, is built on pilings, like Venice – is found a fish as big as a sea-calf. The savages of the Antarctic call it Andura; the barbarians of the country and the Spaniards – who have made themselves masters of this place by conquests of their new lands – call it Hoga. Its head and ears are not different from a terrestrial swine; it has five whiskers a half-a foot long or thereabouts, similar to those of a big barbell; its flesh is very good and delicious. This fish produces live offspring, in the fashion of a whale. If you contemplate it while it is disporting itself swimming in the water, you would say that it is now green, now yellow, and then, red, just like the chameleon; it keeps more to the edge of the lake than elsewhere, where it feeds on leaves of a tree called Hoga, from which it took its name.  It is very toothy and savage, killing and devouring other fish, indeed [those] bigger than it is; that is why people pursue it, hunt it and kill it, because if it entered into the conduits it wouldn’t leave a single one of them alive; whereby the person who kills the most of them is most welcome. Which is written by Thevet, chapter 22, volume 2, of his Cosmography.” 



Reality of Furry Fish

In the world of crypt zoology, hairy fish has been searched for many decades. In reality, no fish have true hair like humans. For fish, it would not be good to have hairs as it would not keep them warm underwater and would drag as they swam along to slow them down and waste their energy. However there are a few fish with bodies covered with hair-like substances. Examples of these unique hairy fish are Mirapinna, frogfish, and nurse shark. The “hairs” of hairy frogfish (quite commonly shown at major aquariums in America) is quite dramatic. These hairs are outgrowth of their scales.


There is also species of mold grow on the body of a fish. It is called "cotton mold" (Saprolegnia) and it produces fur-like growth to the host fish. This carnivorous mold attack weak fish and literally eats them alive. A heavy infection of this mold will result in the death of the fish, and the fungus continues to grow afterwards. The dead fish covered with white "fur" can occasionally be found at washed ashore and called furry fish.


For those fish, their fur is a curse rather than blessing. It is just like the nature-created Jackalope; a poor rabbit infested by the Shope papillomavirus virus growing horn-like tumors on their heads. (For more information about this virus, read an extensive article of the Jackalope by Takeshi Yamada.)



Yamada’s Hairy Trout

In 2004, Takeshi Yamada created a three dimensional simulation of the hairy fish. Here are pictures and description of Yamada’s taxidermy artwork (gaff) entitled “Canadian hairy trout”.


Canadian Hairy Trout by Takeshi Yamada. 13-1/4 inch, 2004


Hairy Trout, pen & ink drawing on paper, digital color enhancement, by Takeshi Yamada, 2006


King Hairy Trout, pen & ink drawing on paper, digital color enhancement, by Takeshi Yamada, 2006


Canadian Hairy Trout

Other Common Name(s): Canadian Hairy Trout, Fur-bearing trout, Beaver trout, Sable trout, Furry trout

Latin Name: Salvelinus fluffudilis                 

Origin: Northwest Territories, Canada

Date: Circa 1780

Size: ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­349 x 114 x 39 mm

Description of the specimen: The Canadian Hairy Trout is a species of fish that possesses a thick coat of fur to keep itself warm in the cold waters where it lives. Canadian hairy trout can be found in most waters in Canada with the exception of Prince Edward Island and Manitoba. In Canada, three species of hairy trout are recognized. The average length of the fresh water form is 12-18 inches long and 18-24 inches in anadromous stocks. The colors of their furs are light gray, light green, light brown, dark greenish-brown, and almost black. The colors of their furs are said to be determined by the foods and chemical component of the water they live. These furry fish are primarily found in the northern regions of North America, but particularly in Montana, Colorado, Wyoming, and Canada. The species is also sometimes referred to as the Fur-bearing Trout, Furry Trout, Beaver Trout, or (incorrectly) as the Sabled Salmon. Captive breeding of this fish has not been successful.


This creature spawns in late autumn to early winter in shallow, gravelly waters. The female digs a redd where she lays about 2000 eggs.  This species is carnivorous and feeds on insects, crustaceans especially crayfish, molluscs, salamanders, frogs and rodents.  Its hairs grow significantly longer during late autumn to early spring to keep its body warm and enables it to be active all year long.  The Canadian hairy trout has enjoyed only limited success as a game fish in Canadian waters because it is difficult to catch.  Several species of these furry fish are also found in the northern regions of North America such as Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana.  Fur-Bearing trouts mounted as trophies can be found hanging on walls throughout the Great Lakes region of North America. Hairy trout mounted as trophies can be found hanging on walls throughout the Great Lakes region


A number of theories have arisen in academic circles to explain this creature's luxuriant coat unlike any other species of trout or fish groups. Some say that the creature evolved its thick coat to protect itself from the extreme cold of northern waters. According to another lesser-known theory, this species of trout owes its fur to four jugs of hair tonic that were accidentally spilled into the Arkansas River (in Colorado) sometime during the 1870s. Today, some scientists say that this creature’s fur is actually a species of fresh water algae grows on the body due to the fish’s release of special chemicals during the cold seasons. 

As the weather grows warmer during the spring the hairy trout sheds its fur, only to regrow its coat as winter returns. This is why trout with full coats of fur are so seldom encountered. During the summer months when hairy trout usually do not have fur, the ones from streams have pale markings on a dark greenish brown background. The back may be covered with wormlike marks. Lake Superior fish are more silvery with less distinct markings. In both stream and lake fish, the tail is nearly square, and the leading edge of each lower fin sometimes has a white margin.


Hairy trout require cold, clean, highly-oxygenated water.   Hairy trout, like other salmonids, have developed a rich life history diversity over time.  This means that they have evolved the capacity to take advantage of a variety of aquatic environments.   Hairy trout can live in river and stream systems, tiny first order tributaries, small ponds, large lakes and estuaries.  Like other trout and salmon, hairy trout can migrate from fresh to salt water where they live in estuaries and the ocean close to shore, called “salters.”  As a char, hairy trout spawn in the fall among loose gravel in streams and rivers, or on groundwater upwellings in ponds and lakes.


Because hairy trout are so sensitive to water quality and water temperature, they serve as a classic "indicator" species of the larger aquatic ecosystem and the watershed draining into the water body where they live. The reason that Hairy trout serve as such good “indicators” of aquatic health is that they have very specific water chemistry requirements such as pH and DO.


When Takeshi Yamada created his version of “Canadian Hairy Trout” shown above, this taxidermy fish is based on his personal experience of living 13 years in Chicago, Illinois with deadly cold weather. Although it is a sister city of Chicago, his home city of Osaka in Japan is quite warm and barely had any accumulated snow on the ground. The situation is quite different in Chicago. It is not unusual that the ice starts forming inside of the nose when one walk on the State Street or Magnificent Mile downtown in winter season in Chicago. Yamada often thought about the poor fish living in the Lake Michigan during the winter. (Yamada’s apartment was only 35-minutes bicycle ride from the Lake Michigan.)


In addition, when creating this gaff, Yamada also try to reflect the unique culture of his native country. Specifically speaking, Yamada looked into a very popular hairy creature seen everywhere in Japan. Yamada tried to incorporate the meaning of these hairy marine animals. In Japan, the hairy giant sea turtle is one of two animals featured in Tsuru-kame.



Images of Tsurukame in Japan


The picture of Tsuru-kame (the crane and the giant old sea turtle side by side), symbol of longevity and happiness can be commonly found at traditional wedding ceremonies all over Japan even today. They were also found commonly on the New Year Card (the most popular holiday card used in Japan) among the Japanese. In fact, Tsuru-kame is the most popular good luck charm in Japan.


The crane is also the national bird of Japan. It is believed to live 1,000 years. The crane is a symbol of marital commitment because it mates with only one partner in its life time. The clain is also the national bird of Japan.


The giant sea turtle it is believed to live 10,000 years. The turtle is a symbol of building a happy life one step at a time. This old turtle has long hair-like seaweeds attached to his tail because it lived for such a long time.


Just like this Japanese good-luck turtle with long hair-like seaweed growing on his body, Yamada consider this fish’s hairs to be a similar species of hair-like seaweeds grown on its body. This hair-like seaweed may grow exponentially due to the host’s metabolism change caused by the lowering water temperature. For Yamada, the Hairy trout is a good luck charm.


Technically speaking, although Yamada’s version of Hairy Trout seems life-like and believable, no animals’ body parts were used to produce this taxidermy artwork; it was constructed with wood, wax, paper, synthetic polymer, glue, synthetic fur (old fake fur coat), and acrylic. Yamada glued hundreds of furs on its body one by one, as if he glued each scale of fish one by one manually to achieve the more subtle and “natural” appearance of this monster’s taxidermy artwork. (By the same token, to create his Heart Fish and Pentagon Fish, Yamada also glued hundreds of scales one by one manually on their bodies.) In this way, Yamada created several taxidermy Hairy trout.


Note: Today, all the salt water fish and most of cold water fish taxidermy artworks processed by licensed taxidermists do not contain any actual body parts of original fish. Because of this reason, the fish taxidermy, as a hand-painted ultra-realism replica/sculpture of the original carcass, is widely considered as far more technically challenging than taxidermy of other large animals such as a deer or eagle. For more information on this, please read articles about today’s taxidermy by Takeshi Yamada.


In addition to above mentioned artworks of furry trout, Yamada also created new style of artwork simulating the relationship between consumer culture of people and hairy trout as a commodity. For Yamada, this is a pure conceptual art and new generation of Coney Island style circus sideshow gaff produced by fully utilizing today’s cutting edge computer digital illustration software and photographic printer. For more information on his over 70 varieties of Coney Island Brand Exotic Canned Foods, see following website:


Coney Island Brand Exotic Canned Animal # 70: Hairy Trout by Takeshi Yamada,

digital illustration with photo printing on photo paper, 2005






All rights reserved by Takeshi Yamada, November 2006. Museum of World Wonders in Coney Island, 1405 Neptune Avenue, Brooklyn, New York 11224, USA.

Phone: 718.714.6434          E-mail:

Special thanks to Eriko N. Bond, Lauren D. Travis, and Diane M. Taros.


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