For the first time in its history, the Great Sacandaga Lake Fisheries Federation on Thursday released walleyes into the lake, a move hailed as helping to promote the area’s fishing and tourism industry.
“People have talked about it, they wanted walleye, but we could not get a permit for it. We got it now,” said Jack Smith, a member of the federation. “Walleyes are very good fish to eat, and they fight.”
Smith said Sacandaga Lake is known as a “walleye lake.” The lake also contains pike, trout and bass.
Smith said the federation released 4,000 walleyes measuring 5 to 8 inches in length into the lake near Cranberry Cove in Mayfield. Walleyes can grow to 22 inches and weigh up to three pounds.
The federation annually stocks the lake with rainbow and brown trout. It had tried to put walleye into the lake for years, but the state Department of Environmental Conservation always refused to provide the group with a permit. Smith said. “They said there was a sufficient amount of walleye in lake.”
This year, the federation got a permit for the first time since its creation in 1988. Smith did not give a reason. The DEC did not immediately respond to a request for information.
Bob Campbell, owner of Edinburg Marina and Powersports, said the walleye restocking will benefit the area’s fishing and tourism industry.
“Walleye are the preferred fish for people who keep fish and eat them. They are absolutely phenomenal,” he said. “They are a great recreational fish. I know guys who come here to catch walleyes, and this will bring more fishermen up here.”
Campbell is also president of the Great Sacandaga Lake Business Association, which promotes a year-round tagged fish contest. He said he has noticed a trend in the catches over the years.
“I think the trout have become food for the bigger fish in this lake, and the state is focusing on walleyes as a sustainable fish,” he said. “Pike are getting bigger and bigger, and I got to think they are getting bigger because of the trout.”