A strange looking fish pulled from an iced-over Vermont pond has ignited an online debate about what exactly made it so "ugly."
It's assumed to be a chain pickerel, which are typically green and covered in "dark chain-like patterns."
But this one looks more like a lab experiment: cream colored, with gray splotches and an odd yellow racing stripe down one side.
"Check out this odd looking chain pickerel," the online angler group Vermont Fishing wrote on Facebook Feb. 2.
"Anyone ever seen or caught anything like this? Is it a partial albino? A pie-bald fish? While it almost looks like a fish that's been laying in a cooler in direct contact with ice for a few hours, the angler ensures us that it came through the hole exactly as you see it."
College student Caden Hurley and his ice fishing buddies Dylan Partlow and Ryan Vassuer caught the fish Jan. 28 on Sabin Pond in Woodbury.
Hurley said they were definitely taken off guard by what came out of the ice.
"We saw the flag and went running," Hurley told McClatchy News. "When we pulled it out, we knew the species, (but) ... I said 'Dude look at this thing.' I'd guess 22-24 (inches) and 3 pounds. We took our fair share of pictures and released it."
Hurley hasn't weighed into the online debate.
Vermont Fishing asked its 7,100 Facebook followers if they had caught anything like it, and responses suggest its rare.
Many guessed the fish was either a hybrid or a mutant born of water contamination.
Still others suggested it was something other than a pickerel.
"One ugly fish," Sterling Pelsue wrote. "Looks like it came out of an acid bath."
"I think it's super cool. I know it's a major mutation but I think it looks awesome," Carly Buswell posted.
"I would have kept it and put it on the wall," Reva Bartlett said.
Hurley, a civil engineering major at Norwich University, doesn't think it has anything to do with water quality. They caught a handful of pickerel earlier that day and they were all normal, he says.
Still, he appreciates the interest in fishing the debate has generated.
"I didn't realize it would get so much attention, but it's great to see so many people interested in it, and a pretty cool memory for me and the boys," he said.
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