Back in December of 1956, the 6th day of the month actually, nine guys from Moriah got together and signed the paperwork to incorporate the newly formed Lake Champlain Fish and Game Club.
The club’s goal was to encourage and promote activities which result in civic improvement, promote and foster better fishing and hunting and to aid the conservation department in upholding and enforcing the fish and game laws. This lofty goal was not just for the residents of Port Henry or Moriah, but they welcomed members to join from throughout Essex County and the States of New York and Vermont.
Talking to one of the seasoned veterans of the area, I was given some great history and stories about the good times and events the club once had. Frank told me about the dances and parties that were given that would bring out droves of people from around the area. He told me that when the rock and roll music era came, he could hear all the “hippy” music throughout the neighborhood and the cars were parked all up and down the road.
Things weren’t just about having fun. The club was involved in Pheasant stocking with the conservation department back then. Moriah, like many areas had many more farm fields and small hay and grain operations, so habitat was everywhere. In order to raise the birds, they needed cages or some sort of building. Luckily, a local volunteer from Moriah Center came forward and offered his old cow barn to use. The club raised pheasants for release throughout the county. Frank told me about one day when the door to the barn got left open and the birds escaped, he said you could see dozens of pheasants perched up on the railroad cars that were used during the mining days. He said he wished he had a picture of that site.
That old cow and pheasant barn was torn down, recycled and slowly retrofitted into what now is the club house on Whitney Street.
Pheasants weren’t the only conservation project the guys were involved in. Stocking Trout and Walleye were also big events for members. Local brooks and the lake itself were stocked by club members and the conservation department. All part of the original clubs goal. Walleye were stocked along the piers and docks made of concrete because the conservation department said the algae and moss growing on the sides of the walls were what the young fish ate and could hide in. Manmade habitat!
Here it is 58 years later and the club is still up and running, not at full speed however. Like many organizations, volunteers and members have dwindled. Slowly over time, things fell into a state of disrepair and maintenance is needed. Vandalism has also hurt. An organization is only as good as the folks involved.
The future of the Lake Champlain Fish and Game Club is in the hands of the volunteers that make things happen. At one time there was support from over 30 local businesses’, and dozens and dozens of members that donated materials, supplies and labor to keep the club going. Its membership was strong and community involvement made it happen.
Television, computers and self-interests have taken its toll on volunteerism. Everybody is busy doing something else nowadays, and we wonder why things are falling apart, community wide.
The present board wants to change things however. It’s time to renew an interest in the club, and go back to the hunting and fishing traditions that this club was based on. Community and family come first, and we need to bring folks back together the way things used to be before television, computers and the so called smart phones starting robbing us of our time.
The club wants to get more involved with hunter education programs, archery, fly fishing, fish stocking, and all the other conservation projects available to help the youth of the area. Social events can happen once again throughout the season if folks just turn off the boob tube!
In spring, the trout are in Cheever Hole. Come summer the kids replace the trout and go swimming. Maybe it’s time for some old grey haired hippy music to start playing there once again!
The stream will keep flowing and the water falls will keep falling, but the club only stays in place due to its members.
Membership fees are collected yearly and are $10.00 for a single and $15.00 for a family. You can’t beat that, even if you only go down once a year for a picnic along the water falls. That alone is worth the price of admission.
If you are interested in becoming a member or assisting with the renewal of the club, please contact Kim and Tim Kolodzey at 546-7125 or Walt Wojewodzic at 546-7506 or membership information
Like the Fish and Game sign reads,
“If YOU carry it in, YOU carry it out!”
Special thanks to Frank Wojewodzic for the stories and fish tales!
The Essex County Fish & Game League meeting will be held May 14 Wednesday at the Schroon Lake F&G Clubhouse on Hoffman Road [rte 24-a short ways South of Schroon Lake Village on rte 9. Right past the cemetery-look for the club sign. This the annual Schroon F&G meeting featuring a Prime Rib supper which will be served at 6:30. See you there!
Rich Redman is a retired District Conservationist for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and an avid outdoorsman. His column will appear regularly. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.