GIANT LIZARD LURKS IN NEW JERSEY POND.

Back when I lived in the not-so-great state of New Jersey (sorry, but the taxes suck, the CCP laws bite, and even the fishing regulations are totalitarian), I used to fish a couple of local ponds – or lagoons, as I called them. They were certainly murky enough. This was especially useful if I was pressed for time, too lazy to take the boat out, or doing some editing and wanted to wet a line or two while polishing a chapter. They were small bodies of water – a few acres at most – but highly productive if one knew where and how to work them. There wasn’t anything giant, but they had plenty of sunfish, keeper-size bass and pickerel, with the largest fish in each invariably consisting of carp and channel catfish.

One scalding July day, with the thermometer hovering around the 100-degree mark, I took my brother and nephew to one of these ponds. It was the little man’s first fishing trip, and I wanted to make sure it would be productive.

When we pulled up in an adjacent parking lot, we found it to be a good 400-foot walk to the pond’s edge, through a nearby field. We walked over to inspect the area, before committing to lugging our folding chairs and tackle there. When we got to the water’s edge, I gave the area a quick once-over. Despite the oppressive heat, I had a feeling fishing there would be productive.

Before I could relay this to my brother, my eyes were drawn by a sudden movement to my left. There, laying on the hot clay that bordered the pond, was an enormous lizard. Annoyed by the sound of our voices, it had decided to give up on sunning itself and grudgingly got to its feet. Its massive belly dragging, it sauntered down to the water’s edge and waded right in. A few strokes of its long, whip-like tail and it was gone.

I knew at once that it was some sort of huge monitor lizard. In fact, it resembled a Komodo dragon, which was obviously impossible. Still, I estimated its length at a good 7 feet, if not more. I would say its head and boy alone were at least a yard in length and it was heavily-built.

Wondering if my mind was playing tricks on me, I turned to my brother and asked, “Did you see that?” He gave me a guarded look and replied, “See what? What did you see?” I shook my head and spouted, “A big *%#)& lizard!” “Yes!” he answered, obviously relieved he wasn’t the only lunatic standing there.

We then proceeded to discuss what it was, eliminating a crocodilian based on shape, saunter and tail design, and agreed it must’ve been a very large Nile or Water monitor – presumably someone’s pet that had escaped and now made a living on the unwary fish and fowl that inhabited the depths of its new home. It had to be; how else could a giant, tropical reptile survive in a NJ pond that undoubtedly froze over every winter?

Undeterred by our saurian nemesis, we agreed to fish the spot, and my brother told my nephew to wait there while we went back to the truck and carried all the gear over (my nephew was too small to help, not to mention he had a cast on his leg at the time) I stared at my brother and said, “There’s a giant, carnivorous lizard in that water, and you’re going to leave your 4-year-old son standing here, alone?” He saw my point and took to lounging, while I made the obligatory two trips to cart our stuff over.

As it turned out, the fishing was good, which surprised me. I thought for sure that damn dragon would’ve cleaned the place out!

-Max

 

 

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