Lake Champlain's walleye fishery has been slowly improving, thanks at least in part to the work of a number of Whitehall-area volunteers who began helping New York and Vermont fisheries experts and the Lake Champlain Walleye Association nearly 20 years ago.
The tireless efforts to help stock young walleye has helped the lake's walleye population bounce back, and the fruit of those labors was on display last weekend on the leaderboard at the Great Benson Fishing Derby in Vermont, just over the state line from Washington County.
A 13-pound walleye landed through the ice of the south end of Champlain by Fair Haven, Vermont, resident Jay Sheldrick Sr. took the derby's walleye prize, and that is a horse of a walleye anywhere. (The New York state record is 18 pounds, 2 ounces, landed in the St. Lawrence River, but the Vermont record is 14 pounds, 8 ounces, caught in Lake Champlain in 2010.)
But almost as interesting was that the second and third place walleyes were just under 10 pounds, and there were several other big 'eyes weighed in as well. Walleyes are tough to catch, and only a handful of local waters (Hudson River, Great Sacandaga Lake, Saratoga Lake among them) are home to the delectable fish.
Those big fish are good signs for the progress of bringing back Champlain's once-renowned walleye fishery.
-- Don Lehman
Don Lehman covers police and court matters, Warren County government and the outdoors. He can be reached at 518-742-3224 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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