The Kayak Chronicles ©

by Darren Caffery

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The Wildlife of Prospertown Lake

Jackson, NJ

Sunday 4/27/03

Tranquil Prospertown Lake proved to be anything but boring.  I thought seeing the old naked fisherman was a bit wild for Prospertown Lake (DON'T ask to see the picture) but it actually got a bit more bizarre after that.

   

...and I'm glad I'm not the only one who gets approached by wildlife.  There were no killer swans on Prospertown Lake today but this plump tortoise hitched a ride on Patrick's deck.  We called Patrick's new friend 'Stinky'. I guess he didn't like that so after a short ride, he hissed a bit then took a dive.

       

Ok, so Stinky  didn't actually crawl onto Patrick's deck.  Here’s what really happened:

We had a beautifully sunny warm day for the Outdoor Expo on the lake at Turkey Swamp Park in Freehold yesterday.  Thanks to Jersey Shore Sea Kayak Association members Patrick, Rita, Tom K and Bill M for helping out at our club tent. It was also nice to see some of the new members that visited and we processed a few renewals.

At about 3:30 pm, the expo crew, joined by Diane T, packed up our club stuff and headed over to nearby Prospertown Lake in Jackson to do some paddling. Linda C was waiting for us when we arrived and we were all in the water slightly before 5.
 
The lake was calm.  There was an occasional, very slight breeze and air the temperature was a comfortable 73 at launch time.  After launching we paddled over into a small cove at the shore of the lake that borders the Six Flags theme park. We could see the huge twisted iron tracks of the rollercoaster and the roaring sounds of the coaster and people screaming could be heard as we paddled. We all agreed we were glad to be on the water as opposed to the coaster as we watched the screaming riders being twisted sideways and upside down as they winded down the track.

   

There were turtles everywhere on logs and in the water, some of which were very large and they allowed us to get pretty close to them before they dove off into the cool waters of the lake.  The light of the slowly setting sun made the colors and scenery of the lake very vivid.  I made frequent stops to take some pictures as we all paddled, chatted and absorbed the sun and fresh air.  
 
I often looked through my binoculars for wildlife and at one point saw something a bit more wild than I ever expected on Prospertown Lake.  It made me think we may have been in Padding Bares territory.  Through my binoculars I saw an older gray haired man in a small fishing boat.  He was enjoying the beautiful day in total nudity with his fishing rod in hand.
 
As I chuckled and narrated what I was seeing in the distance, Diane said, "Oh I wish I brought my binoculars! I'd like to see".  I assured her she really didn't want to see this.   As we paddled closer, a few of us noticed he inconspicuously slipped his pants back on. He gave none of us any eye contact as we passed.

   

We soon explored a few other coves and saw many more turtles and  some geese. At one point I paddled alongside a small patch of land sticking above the waterline and noticed a very well camouflaged nesting duck that didn't even flinch as I paddled by. I assumed she may have been protecting some eggs so I quickly left the area.  
 
It was then I noticed Patrick had found a rather large dead turtle. It appeared to be somewhat heavy and as a result required a few attempts to successfully get it placed and balanced on the deck of his kayak. He then decided to ride around with it like that.   A few times I caught the downwind stench of the creature and let out a few load moans of disgust.  Thinking I was in some kind of trouble, Patrick quickly turned around to see if I was ok which knocked the turtle back into the water! He was determined to get this thing back so he scooped it back up with his paddle and propped it back onto his deck. As putrid as this dead tortoise was, it was not as bad as the dead smelly beaver I experienced  on the Mullica River last year.

On the return trip to our landing,  we spotted a night heron and two great blue heron.  As the sun went down and we approached the take out, Eric Fleming appeared in his kayak.  "what time does the trip start?" he joked. He also appeared to be wondering why Patrick was parading a smelly dead turtle around on his kayak.
 
After the creature was given a proper burial at lakeside, we reached our takeout at about 7:30 pm. After paddle dinner, drinks and more laughs were had at the Inn at Millstone.  

Thanks to all who attended.  It was a beautiful day on Prospertown Lake with awesome company and a few good laughs.

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