Fishing is undoubtedly one of the best ways you can relax outdoors. Soaking up the sun’s rays, listening to the sounds of the lapping water, and finally reeling in the big one make this game of patience all worthwhile.

At least, that’s the way most fishermen would hope a day out on the water would turn out. Of course, there’s always the chance you could come across a beastly creature—something that expert fisherman and River Monsters host Jeremy Wade is all too familiar with.

Any of these 15 unsightly river monsters caught by the Animal Planet star will make you want to reconsider ever stepping foot into a body of water again. Even more terrifying? He found all of them in fresh water…

1. Giant mottled eel: As one of only a few fish that are able to survive in both fresh and salt water, eels are endlessly fascinating. Jeremy Wade of Animal Planet’s River Monsters recently encountered this frightening eel while in Fiji investigating rumors that they reach out and grab people. “I think they probably have grabbed people, but the reason a lot of fish do that is that they don’t know they’re grabbing a person,” he explained.

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“If there isn’t good visibility in the water, they just see something in front of their face, which would normally be a small fish. On occasion it might be somebody’s foot, but they don’t know that in advance.”

2. Goonch: In order to come into contact with this enormous catfish, Jeremy had to head to the foothills of the Himalayas. He’d long heard stories about people being dragged underwater by these fish and had to see one for himself. While he didn’t witness any such activity, he did have this to say: “These things don’t have much of a brain, but if it did grab someone’s foot and then swim to deeper water, you’re not going to easily get yourself out of that grip—unusually for catfish, they have very long, pointy teeth and very strong jaws.”

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3. Giant Siamese carp: Jeremy encountered this large-lipped fish at a manmade fishery in Thailand. “Normally a carp’s mouth droops downwards, as they tend to take things off the bottom, but this is like a carp with its mouth on upside down, which is indicative of feeding on stuff that’s in the middle of the water column, or maybe on the surface. They’re big; they can grow to over 200 pounds,” he explained.

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4. Congo tiger fish: People outside of the Congo have hopefully never seen this beast, because it doesn’t exist anywhere else. As Jeremy explained, “It’s related to piranhas—it’s a giant piranha, really; they can grow to the size of a large person. The teeth on this one are an inch long, which is about the same size as the teeth on a 1,000-pound great white shark.”

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5. Freshwater drum: Fishermen have long talked about being able to hear these bizarre creatures making growling sounds underwater. “If you’re in the boat, you’ll hear this growling sound, almost like a kettle boiling. If you didn’t know what it was, you’d think you were having auditory hallucinations,” Jeremy detailed.

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6. Lamprey: With their unsightly mug, lampreys are some of the most feared sea creatures in existence. Jeremy found this particular one near the border of Vermont and New York in Lake Champlain. “It’s a very primitive fish—there is question as to whether it’s even really a fish, as it has no backbone and no jaws, just a sucker with teeth in it.”

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“In the middle of the sucker is a tongue, and the tongue’s got teeth on it as well. The way they normally operate is to bore into the skin of other fish and drink the bodily fluids,” explained Jeremy.

7. Redtail catfish: Jeremy caught this rare exotic fish in a lake in Thailand. It’s particularly interesting because of its massive head. He explained, “About a third of this fish is head—it’s got a massive head and a very big mouth. In the Amazon, there are stories of these things swallowing babies, thanks to the size of the mouth.”

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8. Golden dorado: Jeremy found this particular fish in the Río de la Plata river between Uruguay and Argentina. He was there to investigate a rumor that one had attacked a young man. He was quick to admit that it was likely an accident, though it was a severe price to pay for the victim. “The story we were investigating there was about a young lad who had part of his testicles bitten off, and these were the likely culprit,” Jeremy mentioned.

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9. Longnose gar: If you were fly fishing, this would likely be the last fish you’d ever expect to reel in—unless you were Jeremy. While this particular species isn’t a threat to humans, there are others who might be. “These aren’t dangerous to people, but there is a larger species of gar in the [United States] called the alligator gar, which grows to at least 300 pounds, and there are stories of people being bitten by them,” recalled Jeremy.

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10. Kaluga sturgeon: While most sturgeon are known to be bottom feeders, this one had a mouth that extended forward, making it a predator, according to Jeremy. “What’s unusual about these is that they’re predatory: A normal sturgeon mouth is just a tube that hangs down to suck things off the bottom, but this one’s mouth extends forwards, like a catfish. These fish are now very scarce, because they’re fished for caviar.”

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11. Giant Japanese salamander: Jeremy found this bizarre creature in the Kamo river in Japan. “I was especially terrified in that moment, because I’d tied a bag of rocks to my waist as a makeshift weight belt, to help me get down to the depth I needed,” he stated. “As I was running to the shore, I felt something banging my legs and completely forgot about it—I was entirely focused on this thing I’m holding.”

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“I actually thought something else had come out of the rocks and was coming after me. So I’m screaming this gibberish, which made it very dramatic, but it was just my bag of rocks,” Jeremy laughed.

12. Queensland grouper: Jeremy caught this massive sea creature while fishing for bull sharks in the Brisbane river in Australia. He explained that they’re capable of some astonishing transformations. “They can change from female to male. If there’s one male and lots of females, if the male is removed, one of the females—the biggest, most dominant one—will become a male,” he said.

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13. Sawfish: Many experts believe these lengthy saw-like fish can grow up to 20 feet long. This one was roughly seven feet. “Sawfish used to be quite well distributed worldwide, but they’ve declined very sharply because it’s so easy for them to get tangled up in a fishing net. A commercial fisherman is not going to take the time to untangle it, they’ll just kill it,” Jeremy added.

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14. A massive stingray: You’ve seen stingrays before, but never quite like this. “I estimated this one’s weight at around 280 pounds, which is ridiculous. Catching this was the longest it’s ever taken me to get anything in—ten minutes short of four hours,” Jeremy said. “There’s no finesse to bringing in a stingray, you’re just using very heavy gear and trying to break the suction that it has with the bottom.”

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15. Wels catfish: Jeremy said that many people think such a strange-looking fish could only exist in exotic locales, but assured that this one actually hails from Europe. As opposed to the majority of other fish here, this one does present some danger to people. “They’ve been known to bite people even when the water’s clear and they can see that it’s a person. The reason is because they’re defending their nests very vigorously,” he said.

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“If someone swims too near the nest, they’ll bite just to warn them off. For people who it’s happened to, it’s pretty terrifying, because of the shock, the pain, and not knowing what on Earth bit them,” Jeremy said.

Jeremy has certainly encountered some strange fish in his day. It makes you wonder why he’s never been spooked enough to quit!

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