Monday, August 15, 2011

Lake Musconetcong Gray and Dead: Considering the Lake's New Environment

Six years ago I first took my son, Matt, to Lake Musconetcong. For five years, until May 2010, we fished the lake often in rowboats rented for 10 bucks, catching fish--largemouth, pickerel, or both--every time out. Before I took the shot above of Matt, I reminisced about these years, and when I saw the image on the camera screen, knew that this was the perfect way to end a personal history of the lake. And then I began to converse with him openly about all the good times and great fish we had caught.

Those cormorants are hawking them; you can see my close-up of a few. They eat nothing but fish, fairly good-size fish like six and seven-inch bass, even bigger. Look at those beaks and necks--they could strike and snake down a 12 inch pickerel with a moment's ease.

Not a hit this evening. We fished from 6:30 right up almost until dark. We used to catch bass and pickerel on hot August evenings after 98-degree afternoons. Plenty of clouds billowed high in the skies this evening, and temperatures remained about 68 degrees. We even saw shiners flicker at the surface in pods with nothing chasing them. Did the bass and pickerel die out, many of them?

The six fish my friend Steve Slota and I caught in May did not serve an average number, and the two bass I caught in July were far from that. I suppose I may try again next May, but I doubt this and feel I might otherwise betray the instance of the photograph I got of my son. We have other places to go, but it amazes me it's come to giving up on this lake. It was our favorite.

Water chestnuts have invaded. It's the way they're combatted here that's destroyed the lake, at least for indefinite years ahead. The chemical treatment has resulted in water, formerly of pristine clarity, off color and ugly. And the bass and pickerel which remain live in reduced habitat, while the cormorants can swim freely to eat them. 



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