In the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains - The Great Sacandaga Lake is close to Saratoga and Lake George!

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The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan - Jeremy Baldwin, left, of edinburg holds the heaviest walleye caught at 6.1 pounds,
along with Corey Cross of schenectady with his walleye at 4.8 pounds,
stand on the Great Sacandaga Lake in Mayfield with Lanzis on the Lake in the background Saturday


The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan
Cody Cameron of mayfield releases one of the walleye back into the wateer through a hole in the ice durring the first Walleye Challenge Saturday in Mayfield

The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan
Luca lanzi serves stew for a customer durring the Walleye Challenge at Lanzis on the Lake in Mayfield





Walleye Challenge
Event draws more than 1,000 to ice fish

By ZACH SUBAR, The Leader-Herald
POSTED: February 1, 2009

MAYFIELD - Conditions on the Great Sacandaga Lake were windy and cold for ice fishermen during the first Walleye Challenge, but that did not stop the roughly 1,000 contestants from coming in droves to the lake on their snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles.

"We love fishing. This is what we do," said Travis Jones of Dover, N.H. "It's never too far."

The event was primarily organized by Lou and Nancy Stutzke of Route 30's Fuel & Food and was the brainchild of Beaver Ross, from Ross' Bait Shop in Hagaman. Prizes of $500, $300 and $100 were given out each hour respectively for the heaviest, second-heaviest and third-heaviest walleyes caught, and the contest lasted eight hours, from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

It attracted fishermen and women from Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont and New Hampshire. Lou Stutzke said one contestant had come from Maryland.

Vergennes, Vt. fisherman Daniel Barrows said he had heard about the event from his friend, Gary Varmentte, in Crown Point, Essex County, while Varmentte said he had heard about it from a friend in Saratoga.

"Fishermen chit-chat," said Barrows, who left at 1 a.m. and survived a vehicle breakdown before he made it to the event's staging location at Lanzi's on the Lake. "They spread the word."

Ross said organizers had distributed 3,000 fliers advertising the event, and said tournament organizers had to turn away hundreds who attempted to sign up after the 1,000 slots had already been filled. Even with the big numbers, participants praised the tournament's coordination.

"As a fishing event, it was very good," said Barrows, who also fishes often at Tupper Lake. "It was very well organized."

"Couldn't be better," said Ross, as he surveyed the final participants coming in to the weighing tent on the ice below Lanzi's. "Everything went right as planned."

Lou Stutzke said credit for the event's smooth operation was also due to roughly 35 volunteers who patrolled the lake to ensure everyone was obeying the rules. He praised the state Department of Energy Conservation for allowing municipalities around the lake to plow their boat launches, and lauded the towns of Northampton, Mayfield, Broadalbin and Edinburg for plowing them to allow contestants easy access to the lake.

Not all aspects of the program were fishing related. Organizers raffled two all-terrain vehicles and two snowmobiles as well as power augers and gift certificates from local restaurants. A table inside the weighing tent held trays filled with hot dogs, chili and pulled pork, and a line containing hungry patrons consistently snaked through the tent. Others stopped by to admire the biggest fish caught during the day as they swam around in a tank.

Edinburg resident Jeremy Baldwin, who caught the day's biggest fish, called his achievement "long overdue."

Baldwin has been fishing since he was two, but has never won a competition outright. His fish weighed in at 6.1 pounds and was 27 inches long.

"It's awesome," he said. "Pretty much, we were expecting to catch some 17-inch fish or something like that, but nothing that big."

The Great Sacandaga Lake Fisheries Federation, which stocks the lake with fish each year, received a $2,000 check from the event. Federation Chairman Randy Gardinier said analyzing the walleyes that came in throughout the day was, for him, more than just pure entertainment.

"It kind of gives you an idea of the overall health of the lake," he said.

Next year, Stutzke said, he hopes to have two weigh stations and an unlimited number of entrants, which would be welcome to some at the event who complained about the long distance they had to travel to weigh their fish at Lanzi's.

Still, those who spend plenty of time around the lake were pleased with the way things went.

"It brought a lot of people in from all areas, people who might not come here [otherwise]," said Gardinier. "There's no question."

Zach Subar covers rural Fulton County news. He can be reached at

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The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan
Wearing an Alaskan rabbit hat, John "Laker" Moynihan of Malta "jiggs" (fishes) durring the Walleye Challenge Saturday.





The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan
The crowd of participants and observers gathers near the deck of Lanzis on the lake to await the drawings, awards and giveaways at the conclusion of the Walleye Challenge Saturday.
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