Goofang. - [Fearsome critter]
• About this critter: A large river fish that evolved to swim backwards in a futile attempt to keep the water out of its eyes, usually described as "about the size of a sunfish, only larger." Very Rarely caught because it only comes out around April 1st.
•History & Early appearances:
Earliest published account of the Goofang (that I can find) was a Description based on earlier oral accounts in Paul Bunyans Natural History (1935): "This curious fish always swam backward instead of forward. This was to keep the water out of its eyes. It was described simply as "about the size of a sunfish, only larger." - It also gets a mention, with the same description in Book of Imaginary Beings by Jorge Luis Borges (1957.)
The Dictionary of Fabulous Beasts (1971) by Barber, Richard W - Makes the point that the lore is quite similar to the "Acipenser" a fish with backwards scales from Medieval European mythology. (not to be confused with an ordinary sturgeon) - so, this tale seems to go back quite a bit further than lumberjack yarns!
The Anglers Bedside Bankside and Barside Yearbook (1987) lists it as one of the "Fearsome Fish" caught only on and around April 1st. – the book also makes note that American freshwater sunfish do exist, so it's probably not as big as people may picture.
[An american freshwater sunfish.] - (i decided to keep the mola mola look for mine because its a lot funnier to imagine a mola mola swimming backwards in a river)
• Notable Pop-Culture appearances:
The Gillygoofang is a children's book published in 1968 by George Mendoza and illustrated by Mercer Mayer. – In that story: it even bewilders itself. - it also swims backwards and shares traits with, but should not be mistaken for the "Gillygaloo." - a bird which lays square eggs.
Note: it should also not be confused with "Gilli-Galoo" (aka the whiffenpoof.) the "Giddyfish" or "Goofus bird" for that matter.
it also appears in Scoobydoo's "Velmas monsters of the world - fearsome critters"
Sticker art by @samkalensky (yo, thats me!) part of my Fearsome Critters/Cryptids collection of stickers, check my shop for many more!