Lake Musconetcong is located in northern New Jersey, between Sussex and Morris counties. It is actually part of Hopetcong State Park, and doesn't receive the notariety of its bigger brother Hopetcong or Greenwood Lake or any of the central Jersey waters. Yet, it is one of the best bass waters in northern New Jersey
Years ago, this area was just swampland. It was flooded a long time ago to allow coal transporting barges to make their way to New York City along the Morris canal system. Efforts are being made right now, by the Lake Musconetcong Regional Planning Board, to insure that nature does not reclaim the land as a swamp. Their goal is to preserve the lake's recreational capabilities, bass fishing being one of them. They dredge the lake each year and perform weed harvesting. Even so, in the late spring, the weed growth in Musconetcong is very heavy. Thick mats of vegetation grow almost to the surface in most of the lake, and there are large boulders mixed in this, which makes fishing with a bass boat hard to say the least. More than one trolling shaft and outboard prop have been broken here.
You won't see a lot of boaters, anglers, and water skiers here. The lake does not receive the publicity the other lakes do. In fact, even in the spring and summer on weekends, surprisingly few people will be on the water at any one time. The lake is open to the public and has a good launching ramp. It is located right in the town of Netcong. It is a beautiful 329 acre lake loaded with a variety of cover and some real nice bass. There are reasons for the lack of traffic on Musconetcong. For one, it is pretty shallow. It's average depth is about 4 feet, with the deepest water being only 6 feet. Since the bottom of the lake gets a lot of sunlight, there is tremendous weed growth. In fact, this lake is probably the “weediest" you'll see in this region. The shallow water also allows for rapid warming and cooling of the water compared to deeper lakes, so Musconetcong is usually a few weeks ahead of the other lakes in its seasonal warming and cooling. The daily temperature changes are more pronounced.
For the bass, this is an ideal habitat. There is a lot of food and cover to hide in. The bass we catch in Musconetcong are usually about 2 1/2 to 3 pounds on average, and some much bigger have been taken. It is not unusual at all to catch 8-10 bass in the 3 pound range, and one 5 pounds or over on a good day. Last year, we even took a 6 1/4 pounder from here.
LURES AND EQUIPMENT
You should have plenty of weedless lures at Musconetcong. Tournament frogs, Bass Rats, Top-Props, and weedless spoons, along with Senkos and worms rigged Texas style are a must. There are some open pockets where you can cast some buzzbaits early in the year, but they disappear quickly as the water starts to warm. Most of the time, we rig the plastics without any weight, as the grass is just too thick. It is actually counterproductive because the water is only 4-5 feet deep. We like to use a spinning rod in 6 - 6 1/2 foot lengths in medium actions and a 6-8 pound test Stren line. In the baitcasters, we use a 7', med/hvy action rod, such as a G. Loomis Crankin’ Stick and a Shimano Chronarch, spooled with 20-25 pound test Stren or Spiderline.
The best areas to work these lures is the edges of the lily pads, right in with the frogs and rats, and the edges of the thick slop and mats of grass that accumulate on the surface. If you get there early in the year, you can learn where all the boulders and underwater objects are, which will aid your boating and fishing later. It is also worth searching the small drop-offs or depressions, many of which are right in the middle of the heavy grass. These areas will concentrate the fish, and at times we catch several from a small area before moving on.
Two areas that are really good are the edges of one small island, and the length of the tow path used by the old barge system. If you picture a line drawn from the public ramp to the far side, passing through a point about midway between the island and the right hand shore, you'll have a good idea of where it is.
Some other good baits to try in Musconetcong are soft plastic jerk baits like a “Sizmic Flu-Go or Toad", Bearpaws Jerkbaits, or Sluggos and Bass Assassins. All in all, Musconetcong is a good time lake for all. Hopefully, it will be there for many years to come. Practice catch, photo, and release and you can assure the future of fishing and Lake Musconetcong for everyone.
Steve is sponsored by Gary Yamamoto Custom baits and owns Anglers Radio at http://www.anglersradio.com and Delaware tackle at http://www.delawaretackle.com . He has fished tournaments for 20 years and is a book author and Big Bass World Champ. http://www.reeltimeanglers.com