The GSLFF – Honoring Over Three Decades of Service

By Rachel Vickers
Secretary and Active Chair member for the GSLFF,  Field Expert/The Angler Magazine

The first meeting I attended in fall of 2015’ for the GSLFF. I walked through the doors of the Fish House Fish & Game club, to a small room. Before I had a chance to feel awkward, I was immediately greeted by Randy Gardinier the acting Chairman of 15yrs for the GSLFF. I  explained to them what brought me there. I have been a life -long resident of the area, and through the years I have enjoyed the recreations that the GSL has to offer, but none more than the fishery. I knew little to nothing about what a Fisheries Federation did other than stock fish and host fishing contests, but I was dedicated to learning more about the organization and the very unique nature of the lake itself.  I earned My B.A. in Fisheries and Aquaculture from SUNY Cobleskill, worked in the Hatchery there, and studied Lake and Reservoir Habitat Management. Randy and the other Chair-Members happily welcomed me into their group.

To understand why a Fisheries Federation was needed for the Great Sacandaga Lake we must first go back to the late 19 th Century, The Sacandaga was River that ran into a small lake surrounded by a gigantic vlei or Marshland. Perhaps this is where the native name for Sacandaga meaning “Land of the waving Grass” came from. When the Hudson River would repeatedly Flood during snow melts and heavy rain as far away as Albany and Troy it caused massive repeated devastation. In 1924 they proposed to construct an earthen Dam & hydroelectric Power Plant in the town of Conklinville, and was finished in May of 1930, which in turn created NY States’ largest man made reservoir, The Great Sacandaga. The reservoir has a surface area of about 41.7 square miles, with a length of about 29 miles with over 200 miles of shoreline. Over the years, the term “Lake” became preferred. This did not change the fact that large man-made impoundments pose multiple significant fishery management problems that natural glacial lakes do not. The Biological production is greatest in the early phase of an impoundments existence due to the surplus of available nutrients and organic material present when flooded. As a reservoir matures productivity tends to decline as competition reduces food availability. As time passed it was clear that to sustain the GSL as a productive fishery, active management efforts were needed on a consistent basis.

In 1984, the GSLFF was formed, and was originally made up of various Fish and Game Club members. The GSLFF is a Non-Profit Organization dedicated to the preservation of the Great Sacandaga Lakes fishery. Through Stocking, monitoring tagged fish, and habitat protection and enhancement. The first action taken by the GSLFF was placing 2 million smelt eggs in burlap sacs in tributaries. In 1985 The GSLFF obtained a permit to stock smelt in the GSL from Indian Lake & Lake George. In 1986 the GSLFF installed 300 artificial reefs for fish habitat in the Reservoirs Southern Basin. In 1988 the GSLFF received a 3 year permit from the DEC to stock Rainbow and Browns thus starting our annual trout stocking program. In 2012 the annual stocking program expanded to include Walleye for the first time.

The GSLFF has expanded & continued its stocking efforts for 33 years now, all throughout the GSL. A total of 152,523 fish have been stocked, and approximately $412,148.36 has been sent to reach this milestone. Funds for our stocking programs comes from the membership in the GSLFF, fishing contests, and raffles held each year. The major problem that the GSLFF is facing now is that we need more active Chair participants to help with the growing responsibilities. We are down to a handful of Active Chair Members, with myself being the youngest, we desperately need more younger members to help carry on the work that these men started, and dedicated decades of their time and efforts too. If there is no one to “ pass the torch” on too  so to speak then in a few short years their legacy will be gone.

One of our last founding members Jack Smith passed away this February, after over 30 years of selfless service to the Fishery he loved. He will be greatly missed and his service never forgotten. So please if you are a current member of the GSLFF, I urge you to come to our meetings  and lend a helping hand, encourage your teenagers and young adults to help support their local Lake and its fishery, it costs nothing but your time. Our meetings are held every 3rd Tuesday of the month, 7pm at the Fish House Fish & Game Club on Fayville rd. in the town of Providence. You can also join to support us at Thank you.