Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Paddlers Take to Lake Tappan

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Paddlers Take to Lake Tappan

Article excerpt

The sports fishermen who frequent Lake Tappan usually see an unbroken plane of water from shore to shore. Saturday was different. Bright yellow, orange and sky-blue specks were scattered across the gray surface of the water -- a small armada of kayaks and canoes.

It was the fourth annual family paddle day on the lake in Old Tappan, sponsored by Hackensack Riverkeeper and United Water, the company that operates the lake as a drinking-water reservoir.

The event drew about 100 paddlers -- beginners and experts alike - - for the once-a-year chance to explore a water body that sits in the middle of the suburbs of northern Bergen County but is normally off-limits to the general public.

"It's an opportunity and novelty for people who see the lake all the time and wish they could actually experience it on the water," said Bill Sheehan of Hackensack Riverkeeper. "We help fulfill their wish."

Dave and Susan Chambers of Oradell brought their son, Colin, 11 - - they had never tried canoeing together before. "I liked attempting to try to be the person who steered," Colin said, and grinned.

"Yes -- we made a few circles in the water," his dad said, and laughed.

Susan Chambers said they saw a heron, geese and some ducks during their excursion.

Rogelio Ayala of Waldwick brought his son Marcelo, 9. They, too, took in the wildlife scene.

"We saw some cool birds," Ayala said.

He said they also saw some fish jumping during their paddle -- Lake Tappan is home to largemouth and smallmouth bass, carp and white perch. It was clear that Ayala had some experience kayaking -- he had sensibly put his wallet and cellphone in a sealable plastic bag.

Diana Barral of Norwood and Ed Witkowski of Northvale shared a canoe and learned the art of teamwork.

"I was in the back at first, but I said, 'I don't know how to steer!' " Barral said, and laughed.

"We did do a bunch of S-turns," Witkowski said. "Paddling a canoe can get a little hairy. It was a good team-building exercise."

Once the pair got the hang of things and could focus on the scenery, they spotted an egret. …

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