Chatsworth Lake and the Bog of Dead Turtles

woodjin

Piney
Nov 8, 2004
4,341
327
Near Mt. Misery
I got out this morning to do some fishing and to investigate the large bog just north west of the lake. I only spent a small amount of time in Chatsworth lake as I needed to allocate plenty of time of the bog. However, the fish were biting in a big way. I had approx. 12 catches, mostly small to medium in size but for a lake known for fish in this size range, I mangaged to get a couple large ones also.

Here is a medium catch.

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this guy was a beast. He pulled my kayak in circles for a while before I mangaged to get him close. He was too large to manage into the kayak without risking injury to him in his already exhausted state. Fish that large have been know to brake there own backs thrashing around in a boat so I had to estimate his length at about 24", perhaps a little more.

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this guy I was able to get in the kayak and control. He was released unscathed. He is 21". The reason my legs are so dirty will be explained later.

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Here is a link to the bog north of the lake.
http://maps.njpinebarrens.com/#lat=39.822660974788&lng=-74.55753564834595&z=16&type=k&gpx=

The bog is accessable on foot but not by vehicle (because it is on Franklin Parker property and vehicles are not allowed) and to drag a kayak through a mile of trails did not seem practical I decided to attempt to access the bog by following the lake to it's North western tip and draging it up to the bog. This was a large bog and I really wanted to access it in a kayak to take full advantage of any fishing opportunities not availble from the banks.

Well, it was a short distance as the crow flies, but a very, very difficult task for the kayaker. I dragged that kayak through very deep black mud and over downed cedars and between swamp maples. It was not fun and I will never do it again. But, I did do it. Here is my leg in knee high mud. this was every step for quite aways.

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I should also add that that mud was a bit#$ to get off. I was in the shower for like an hour.

Coming to the bog

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I was happy to get there, but not so happy knowing i would have to go through the same hell to get back. Here is the bog.

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Beaver

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Upon my arrival I noticed a turtle shell, then another, and snapper shell also. the area was filled with dead turtles, some shells were empty, most still contained some remains of the turtles themselves. Most were red bellies but one was a snapper. This was not all in one spot. They were all over the banks of the bog. I have no idea why and it was a little unsettling. I took some pictures and I will put them up if anybody wants to see.

As I came up to the bog I noticed a humming noise. It was very loud. there was clearly a hive somewhere nearby but I could not locate it by sight. The abundance of honey bees in the bog was further evidence.

Here is a shot of the bog. there was a land bridge since blown out but I could not photograph it well. Also, if you look at the aerial photo, there appears to be a road going into the bog. historic aerials confirm it. here is was it looks like today. It is the grassy area mostly submerged in the foreground.

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The bog was very shallow despite the lack of spaghum and lilly pads. I only caught one fish here. the only deep spots are along the banks where the old water control channel was. An osprey kept me company from above. the beaver activity was evident everywhere with surprisingly large trees taken down my them. Here is a work in progress, I have never seen beaver attempt a tree of this size.

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Very odd, and I should mention, despite the dead turtles everywhere, there was still a very heathy popultion in the bog. Maybe someone has some theories on that.

Kind of a long report, hope you enjoyed it.

Jeff
 

piker56

Explorer
Jan 13, 2006
641
53
67
Winslow
Jeff,
I hiked to that bog from the lake over the winter (it's a lot easier when the ground is frozen). It's one of my favorite bushwacking areas. Maybe this fall I'll carry my back pack rod and fish the bog. I did see some turtle shells, but it sounds like now there are more. I also wondered about them. Nice fish, 24" is a monster for Chatsworth. Thanks for the report.
Greg
 

dragoncjo

Piney
Aug 12, 2005
1,538
247
42
camden county
Jeff, you are seeing the works of raptors, more then likely bald eagles.....but pancoast theory of otter could apply also. I've seen a ton of shells throughout the preserve, is a little unsettling sometimes.
 

woodjin

Piney
Nov 8, 2004
4,341
327
Near Mt. Misery
Jeff,
I hiked to that bog from the lake over the winter (it's a lot easier when the ground is frozen). It's one of my favorite bushwacking areas. Maybe this fall I'll carry my back pack rod and fish the bog. I did see some turtle shells, but it sounds like now there are more. I also wondered about them. Nice fish, 24" is a monster for Chatsworth. Thanks for the report.
Greg

Thanks Greg. Yes, I could see how frozen ground and not having to drag a kayak behind you could make the trip easier. I can assure you that the best fishing in that back bog is from the bank.

The otter theory is a good one for the dead turtles, however, these were large turtles, 13"+ . Would an otter bother with turtles that large?

Jeff
 

piker56

Explorer
Jan 13, 2006
641
53
67
Winslow
Thanks Greg. Yes, I could see how frozen ground and not having to drag a kayak behind you could make the trip easier. I can assure you that the best fishing in that back bog is from the bank.

The otter theory is a good one for the dead turtles, however, these were large turtles, 13"+ . Would an otter bother with turtles that large?

Jeff

The turtles I saw were big. I may have a picture of one at home. I think I'll try that bog this fall. I've been back there often over the years, but never with my fishing stuff. I used to bow hunt that general area with my oldest brother (died in 1997). I go there once or twice a year now to visit our old haunts.
Greg
 

tom m

Explorer
Jan 9, 2006
271
0
Hammonton,NJ.
I support the raptor theory about the turtles, I've Seen Bald eagles there and Osprey, although i;'m not sure an Osprey would swoop on a turtle. I'd love to see some otters on the lake , the last ones I saw were on a lake in Indian mills we knew as Zimmies
 

Furball1

Explorer
Dec 11, 2005
378
1
Florida
Otter

I'm supporting the Otter theory. Where there's Beaver there's Otter, usually. If there's an abundance of turtles they would provide a ready source of protein, and bigger ones would be easier to catch. And if there are kittens, well, more mouths to feed. Great photos and nice fish. Hey TomM, maybe that's the biggun you lost last week on your ultralight that had the bail set too tight! Hahahaha!!!
 

Teegate

Administrator
Site Administrator
Sep 17, 2002
25,751
8,385
Nice adventure Jeff. I just looked at our Chatsworth North hike and we completely skirted that bog. We should have went there. :bang:

Guy
 

LARGO

Piney
Sep 7, 2005
1,552
132
53
Pestletown
Jeff,
A great sharing. You go to such beautiful places but take a crapload of pains to get there. That was some serious sloggin' you did dude. You ain't no lightweight for certain. I remember sloggin' around in some serious stuff down in Port Norris years ago as a Yout, and at some nearby swamps local but you're still doing it at our age. Cool.
I'm not quite the fisherman but that seemed a pretty hefty one at a glance. I never could feel the comfort zone of fishing from a canoe much less a kayak. I've watched many a fellow standing up in a canoe casting his heart out or wrangling a fish. I've not the knack for it. I think it's a little cool sitting down and holding one and seeing that when on the same playing field, the fish can move you around in the canoe.
For you to do it in a kayak... wow!
Good day.

g.
 

whippoorbill

Explorer
Jul 29, 2003
675
121
66
Bridgeton
Indeed, there is something to be said in regard to being isolated in the wilderness, battling the elements, yet encompassed in such beauty. Great trip and report, Jeff; but them's two ugly legs. :)
 

glowordz

Explorer
Jan 19, 2009
585
8
SC
www.gloriarepp.com
Loved following this trip of yours, Jeff, and the turtle discussion too. Once again, from your way-out-there-wild exploration I get a sense of the lavish and fierce beauty of the Pines.
Any chance of your posting those dead turtle shots?

Glo
 

woodjin

Piney
Nov 8, 2004
4,341
327
Near Mt. Misery
Great trip and report. Thanks for sharing.

I must say though the photo of the pickerel on the floor of the kayak between your legs would have made me a little nervous! :cry:

Fortunitely, I had a can of sun screen, my fishing rod, and an emptly coffee cup between those sharp teeth and my, ummm..."business". I admit the picture makes it look a lot more threatening.:)

Jeff
 

woodjin

Piney
Nov 8, 2004
4,341
327
Near Mt. Misery
Great trip and report, Jeff; but them's two ugly legs. :)

When I got home my wife looked at me and said "ewwww, gross". My son (who is two) said "Daddy's very dirty!"

The raptors and/or otter theories make sense but I am surprised to see either was successful in taking out a snapping turtle. If you see an otter without a paw or eagle with out a talon, you know what happened. The important thing is that it is a natural predator relationship. If this was the result of some sadistic person or chemical or abnormal turtle plague it would be far more disturbing.

Jeff
 

woodjin

Piney
Nov 8, 2004
4,341
327
Near Mt. Misery
Loved following this trip of yours, Jeff, and the turtle discussion too. Once again, from your way-out-there-wild exploration I get a sense of the lavish and fierce beauty of the Pines.
Any chance of your posting those dead turtle shots?

Glo

Thanks,
As for the turtles, ask and ye shall receive. BE ADVISED THAT SOME OF THESE PHOTOS SHOW DEAD TURTLES IN VARIOUS STAGES OF DECAY.

for perspective, my foot is about 13" long in a sneaker.

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This is along the bank along the now disfuntional land bridge which once crossed the bog.
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The snapper. It was medium small, about 14" the large maple leaves make it appear smaller.
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There were more, but the dead turtle thing was getting a bit redundant and I stopped photographing every one.

Jeff
 

dragoncjo

Piney
Aug 12, 2005
1,538
247
42
camden county
Jeff, per the land steward out there the bald eagles are feeding mainly on Northern Redbellies. Also in talking to biologists Ospreys(which I don't see out there) take out turtles, and piles can be found around nests. I've seen osprey take out spotted turtles. As for the snapper that is a bit more unusual but here is possible scenario. After emergence from hibernation turtles often wake up with respitory infection. In an effort to get warm earlier in the spring they sit in the open sun for days until the sun heals them. Often times a predator will eat them during this time period or a cold spell will come and kill the turtle. My guess is that is what happened to the snapper. Jeff did you notice any intact cedar swamp back there by any chance?
 

woodjin

Piney
Nov 8, 2004
4,341
327
Near Mt. Misery
Jeff, per the land steward out there the bald eagles are feeding mainly on Northern Redbellies. Also in talking to biologists Ospreys(which I don't see out there) take out turtles, and piles can be found around nests. I've seen osprey take out spotted turtles. As for the snapper that is a bit more unusual but here is possible scenario. After emergence from hibernation turtles often wake up with respitory infection. In an effort to get warm earlier in the spring they sit in the open sun for days until the sun heals them. Often times a predator will eat them during this time period or a cold spell will come and kill the turtle. My guess is that is what happened to the snapper. Jeff did you notice any intact cedar swamp back there by any chance?

Interesting infromation Dragoncjo. I did have an osprey flying about most of the time I was out there. I noticed lots of cedars but not a bonifide cedar swamp. The approach from the south was maple/gum swamp.
 
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