Lake George Mirror
Now in its fifth year, the King George Fishing Derby is achieving what its creators intended: a boost in tourism and more funds for invasive species protection.
This year’s tournament was held September 14 and 15. Winners were announced at the American Legion Post in Lake George on September 15.
Outdoors writer Dan Ladd served as Master of Ceremonies. Eric Siy, executive director of The Fund for Lake George and Captain “JJ” Jeffrey Johnson, who with Lake George Village Mayor Bob Blais spearhead the event, were present for the awards ceremony.
According to JJ Johnson, fishermen come from throughout the eastern United States to take part in the tournament, which awards $15,000 in cash prizes for the biggest fish in three categories: Lake Trout, Small-mouth Bass and Large- mouth Bass. A junior class awards prizes for those aged 16 and under.
“The youth participation is especially important; they’re the up and comers,” said Johnson. “That’s what will keep fishing a vital sport.”
Johnson said fishermen are drawn by the tournament’s purse and by the opportunity to fish Lake George.
Eric Siy said the tournament’s growing popularity is a testament to the health of the Lake George fishery.
“This tournament demonstrates just how serious the fishing is in Lake George; it speaks to the size of fish, the health of the fish, the diversity of species. It's all here,” said Siy.
According to Siy, the fishing derby aligns nicely with the mission of The Fund for Lake George.
“One of the issues we're focused on is stopping the spread of invasive species,” Siy told the fishermen. “Your participation in this tournament is critical to the financial underwriting that activity.”
Siy said the protection of Lake George from invasive species “ensures that the fisheries of Lake George remain outstanding.”
Nearly all the fishermen trailer their boats to Lake George, launching at Mossey Point or Million Dollar Beach, both of which host inspection and boat washing stations.
“While the fishermen are doing what so many people here love best – fishing - they're participating in the protection of the lake,” said Siy. “These are the people we need to keep engaged in the protection of Lake George. So in addition to everything else, this tournament builds awareness.”
“The fishermen get it,” added Johnson. “They understand what we’re up against in the fight to protect Lake George from invasive species.”
Johnson said it was a group fishing from his charter boat that discovered that Lake George was infested with the spiny water flea, a half-inch-long barbed flea that poses a long-term threat to established fish populations.
The latest aquatic invasive species to reach Lake George, the spiny water flea population appears to be dormant or to have been suppressed, said Johnson.
“I haven't seen evidence of them in four years; perhaps cold winters have produced a die-off,” said Johnson, who has a degree in biology from Union College.
“That's important information,” said Siy, stating that Johnson’s observation was one more example of the important role that anglers can play in lake protection.