Close to sunset Thursday, Steve Slota, his son Tom, and myself rowed out on Lake Musconetcong. Steve rowed. Although his shoulder had problems, my back seemed worse. As it worked out, his shoulder hurt casting and holding his rod, and not at all rowing. I have two herniated disks in my lower back, and sometimes one of them simply pops out at no provocation. This is why I fished only once all week besides Sunday evening. Sitting in the boat was OK.
Lake Musconetcong is not what it used to be, and if you like to blast about under heavy horsepower, I suppose it's for the better. I know. It literally used to cover completely over with thick vegetation for many acres and this appalled a lot of people. To some eyes--not mine--the lake looks better now with open water. But walk up to the lake's edge and look into that water and it's very ugly compared to the clarity it had before. Loads of vegetation-dispersing chemicals destroyed that implied balance, but will perhaps save the lake from water chestnuts in the end.
All that vegetation was fish habitat. The chestnuts never created the anoxic conditions they do if unchecked. Pickerel patrolled every edge of weeds around every open pocket, and bass maneuvered freely between stems under cover of pads and carpets of thriving vegetation, a plethora of healthy natural life. You could smell how good and healthy it was, really. Above all, the water was both fertile (obviously) and clear--excellent for the silver shiners these gamefish depend on for forage. Now with the cormorant population increased ten fold it may only be a matter of time before this lake becomes dirty and unproductive. A testament to a modern quick fix. They always seem to result in destruction. Will clarity return?
I truly loved this lake and I threw a spinnerbait for casting practice Thursday, depressed. I have to say my casting was pinpoint accurate to no avail at all until the wind died. I snapped on my favorite topwater--Heddon Baby Torpedo--and in minutes was amazed at a good bass leaping, about 2 1/2 pounds. I caught one other on a Rapala Skitterpop of about 15 inches. It was too dark for Steve to get a good photo. We weren't skunked but didn't do nearly as well as my son and I used to.
So here we have Lake Musconetcong. From a remove it may look more pleasing than it used to, and I would not disagree that it appeared strange with thousands of yards of total vegetation coverage with red stems rising above the surface. But I liked it, why not? Now it's an illusion, a mere appearance superficial and deceiving, since the actual water quality is bad. It's a facade like so much else in modern life.