Sharlie: The Dragon of Payette Lake

There’s a monster in McCall, Idaho’s Payette Lake. At least that’s what the locals say. They call him Sharlie, but he’s also referred to as Slimy Slim.

The default “large sturgeon” explanation has been offered to explain the mysterious creature. But witnesses don’t buy that Sharlie is a giant fish. To locals, Sharlie is a lake monster, plain and simple.

Payette Lake

Payette Lake. (Credit: Jason McClellan)

Sharlie sightings have been reported since the 1920s. Witnesses typically describe the lake monster as somewhat resembling a dragon with his brownish-green or yellowish scaly skin. And he is supposedly between ten and fifty feet long. Witnesses claim that Sharlie rises out of the water in a series of humps.

The actual depth of Payette Lake is unknown, but some estimates say the lake’s deepest parts reach 400 feet. But this lake, formed by a glacier more than 10,000 years ago, occupies an ancient volcanic crater.

Maureen Elsberry and I paid a visit to McCall in March of 2015 to check out the legend of Sharlie for ourselves. A local bartender informed us that there are lava tubes on the floor beneath the lake–potentially deep channels where Sharlie might spend most of his time.

Sharlie

Sharlie at the playground. (Credit: Jason McClellan)

A plastic version of Sharlie occupies a playground on the shore of Payette Lake. But, while some of the locals might imagine their lake monster as a cute neighbor, legends of an evil spirit inhabiting Payette Lake were enough to make American Indians avoid it. Some local lore even claims that Sharlie feeds on drunk boaters who fall into the lake.

Maureen and I didn’t see Sharlie during our brief visit to Payette Lake. We would have really enjoyed spotting this interesting lake monster. But probably not as much as this lady who believes she filmed Sharlie:

Although some want to attribute Sharlie sightings to a sturgeon or some other large fish, I’m not so quick to side with that identification. Based on the decades worth of sightings and the American Indian legends, I’m happy to entertain the idea that Sharlie the lake monster is in Payette Lake somewhere, and has been for a very long time.

Sharlie