In 1989 The Black Lake Fish & Game Assn., Inc.; with guidance and determination from Earl Cluckey (of Rossie, NY) began a walleye stocking and restoration project that is continuing to this day. Help and support were also provided by the Black Lake Chamber and Black Lake Assn. The DEC blamed the Walleye's demise, totally on the crappie. Earl remebers two other things that happened at about the same time as the introduction of crappie into the lake. The dam at Pope Mills was breached because it was unsafe - all the silt that had been held back by the dam was washed over the rock, destroying prime spawning habitat there. Additionally, the Rossie site had seen changes to the spring-time water flows. Early in the program stream-bed restoration work was done at Rossie and Pope Mills to improve these two areas for spawning fish.
Earl did a tremendous amount of research concerning walleye rearing in ponds. He remembers hearing from a camper on Black Lake about an organization rearing walleye in a pond near Silver Lake in western NY. Earl investigated and learned of a seminar at SUNY Brockport. He remembers attending several seminars. We started with a pond in Brier Hill that was never successful - Earl remembers - "I think that pond was too fertile from the dairy animals that used it". Then in 1993 a rearing pond was constructed near Rossie. The pond was dug by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service with encouragement from the St. Lawrence County Soil & Water Conservation District. Earl remembers working closely with DEC biologist Rip Colasanti (superintendent of the Constantia Hatchery on Oneida Lake, at the time). Rip convinced Earl to "give up" on all the technical (water quality) stuff he had learned and concentrate on managing a pond that would support a large growth of plankton. He told Earl that if the pond had no other fish and could grow a lot of plankton, it would grow walleyes . Plankton were seined from a nearby lake and introduced to the pond. Soybean meal and yeast were used to fertilize the pond and "feed" the plankton. The DEC did not believe the fingerlings would survive the crappies in Black Lake but in 1993 while checking the bass population, they turned up several 1-3 year-old walleyes. They had not seen that in many years of work on the lake and it convinced them to join in the stocking effort, "in a big way". Over the next nine years, 1994 - 2002, the DEC stocked over 862,000 fingerlings; some of which were over 4-6".
The total stocking of fingerlings, to date, is over 1,097,750. Additionally, many 100s of thousands of fry have been stocked into the lake, the Indian River and Fish Creek at Pope Mills. Adult, spawning fish were collected at Rossie and moved to Pope Mills in an effort to establish a run there.
In 2007 the DEC halted our stocking efforts because of VHS and again in 2009. We are hoping to find a way around this problem and continue the stocking efforts.
All fingerlings and fry, except those fingerlings "purchased" in the early years of the program, came from the NY State hatchery at Constantia.
There have been ever-increasing numbers of adult fish in the natural spawning run at Rossie and Pope Mills and walleye have once again become a primary game fish of Black Lake.