New Fishing Tournament Linked to Lake Protection Efforts
Anglers are eagerly looking forward to a major Lake George fishing contest that’s designed to promote tourism and raise funds for the lake’s environmental protection.
The inaugural King George Fishing Derby, with $15,000 in prize money, is scheduled for Friday, July 10 to Sunday, July 12, with a $2,500 grand prize in each category.
Lake George Fishing Alliance members met recently with Mayor Robert Blais, Lake George Park Commission Executive Director Dave Wick, and state DEC aquatic biologist James Pinheiro to discuss plans for the event, and how the lake’s mandatory boat inspection and cleaning program will factor into the derby.
“We’re going to try to make this one of the premier fishing derbies in the Northeast,” Blais said. “It’s all part of the effort to bring a whole new group of people here.”
Many activities will surround the event — headquartered at the new Charles R. Wood Park — for fishermen’s families including live music, cruise boat rides, a children’s bounce house, fireworks, chicken barbecue and closing awards ceremony.
Organizers are encouraging anglers to arrive on Friday, to prevent backups at boat inspection stations. The contest runs from 6 am to 6 pm Saturday and 6 am to 2 pm Sunday.
Last year, the Park Commission, with funding from the state, local municipalities and non-profit groups, oversaw a mandatory new boat inspection program designed to keep invasive plant and marine animals from entering the lake. Stations were set up at key locations around 32-mile long Lake George, from the South Basin all the way north to Ticonderoga.
Inspectors found 167 boats with visible invasives. Twelve percent of boats inspected did not meet “Clean, Drain and Dry” standards.
Last year, inspections did not begin until May 15 because of the many details involved with setting the program up. This year, inspections will start on April 15 and run through Nov. 30 again.
Half of the $700,000 raised for last year’s program came from the state. The rest came from the SAVE (Stop Aquatic inVasives from Entering) Lake George Partnership, comprised of town and villages around the lake and non-profit environmental groups such as The Fund for Lake George.
Inspections were initiated on a two-year trial basis, although officials hope the program will continue and expand to other lakes in the Adirondacks, too.
By running the program more efficiently, the cost of running it can be reduced to $600,000 this year and $500,000 in 2016, Wick said.
For example, stations don’t have to be staffed at times when usage is very low. Also, it makes sense after this year, to shorten the inspection season. Invasives don’t become active until May and boat usage is negligible after Nov. 1, Wick said.
The goal, he said, is not to eliminate the possibility of invasives reaching Lake George. If that was the case, the lake would simply be shut down. The intent is to minimize the spread of invasives as much as possible, with the money program managers have to work with.
“This is risk management,” Wick said. “We think we’re doing as well as we can for the cost.”
Boat inspection equipment is mobile, and stations will be temporarily moved wherever needed to accommodate this summer’s fishing derby, Wick said.
However, he said it would be much easier to inspect boats in the daylight on Friday, instead of in the dark early Saturday morning.
Anglers will have multiple launch sites, and Blais said it’s hoped that some fishermen will visit Lake George prior to the derby to scout out prime fishing sites, further enhancing the event’s tourism component. But the derby isn’t just designed to benefit Lake George village. Anglers will also visit places such as Bolton, Hague and Ticonderoga, he said.
Prize money comes from bed-tax money Lake George gets from Warren County. Also, Jeff Goldberg, owner of the tackle store Fish307.com, has put up $1,000 as an event sponsor.
The contest has two divisions – adults and youth – and three categories: lake trout, largemouth bass and smallmouth bass.
There is an early registration fee ($40 adults, $30 juniors) by July 1. After that the fee is $50 for adults, $40 for juniors.
Any proceeds generated by the event will go to the SAVE Partnership to support the Park Commission’s boat inspection program and invasive species control efforts.
Penheiro discussed the DEC’s Lake George policies with anglers. At present, only salmon is directly stocked into the lake. All lake trout reproduce naturally. Brook trout are stocked in lake tributaries.
Penheiro said it’s possible the DEC would consider a one-time stocking of other species, such as rainbow trout. Sometimes fisheries have too many fish and need places to put them.
However, it might take a couple of years for such ideas to work their way through the DEC’s review process, he said.
“All of us want to see more diversity in this lake,” fisherman Doug Frost said.