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Red Dead Redemption 2 fans spent over a year trying to find a fish

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The Wild West has its own version of the Loch Ness Monster

In the age of data-mining and viral posts, it’s easy for wrong information to proliferate on the internet. But when you read something in an officially endorsed strategy guide, you expect the information within to be right — that’s the whole point.

And so, when the Red Dead Redemption 2 guide stated that the western featured a legendary “channel catfish,” people believed it. Hell, there are countless online guides out there that seem to repeat what the official book says: It’s an enormous creature that weighs in at nearly 200 pounds. You need a swamp lure to get it. OK, great. Sounds easy enough.

So why has nobody caught this thing, even now, over a year later? For months, nobody knew the answer to this question. But now that the PC version of Red Dead Redemption 2 out there, players can peruse the game files to see what’s hidden. And, as it turns out, the channel catfish is in the game. There’s a model and everything, although it doesn’t look quite right.

A channel catfish from Red Dead Redemption 2. Red Dead Redemption 2 via MrBossFTW

But there’s no actual way to catch the behemoth. Instead, all you can do is partake in the associated quest, where a fisherman named Jeremy Gill asks you to accompany him while he goes hunting. Gill wants you to take a picture of him capturing the channel catfish, so that others might believe his stories about being a skilled fisherman. Gill does indeed get the catfish to bite ... only to be sucked into the water, never to be seen again.

The implication is that the catfish ate him, leaving nothing behind but a feathered hat. From there, people assumed that the quest would trigger the release of the catfish, which you might be able to find on your own. Perhaps the catfish might put up a fight, given the cutscene and known weight. Perhaps the bounty might be hard to find, given that it’s supposed to be a catfish in a desert. But if the guide says it’s in there, and the game outright has a quest about said catfish, you should be able to catch it, right?

Unfortunately, the whole thing seems to be a mix-up — PC players are able to force the game to spawn the fish, but as far as they can tell, it doesn’t ever appear naturally. Actually, the game files have two different channel catfish, so it’s possible that Rockstar did indeed intend to do something more with the bottom-feeder, but perhaps the final content got cut. Alas, the channel catfish remains but a myth, never to be caught.

The fish isn’t the only mystery that players have resolved since the release of Red Dead Redemption 2 on PC. The ever-elusive Gavin has also been a person of interest for data miners, who have uncovered more files pertaining to the lost friend. While most of these forays have led to unsatisfying answers relating to apparently unfinished content, it’s great that we can finally put some mysteries to rest.

Don’t try looking for the channel catfish. It doesn’t exist!