Adirondack Fish Hatchery, c. 1920, New York State Archives The Adirondack Fish Hatchery is located near Saranac Inn Station, just south of Little Clear Pond, on the original route of New York Route 30, now the Fish Hatchery Road. It was one of nine hatcheries in the state. It was built in 1885, shown in a photo dated June 1899 by Chs. A. Balcom, which was published in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise on April 15, 2000.

The Plattsburgh Republican, Saturday Morning July 18, 1908


(Adirondack Enterprise),

The State fish hatchery at Saranac Inn has this spring turned out the greatest number of fish in its history. It is in charge of Milo Otis, who, together with a corps of assistants, has been busy for several weeks with the hatching of the fry and the shipment of fry and fingerlings to the waters of the state which are being restocked. The Saranac Inn Hatchery has produced 1,400,000 lake trout and 1,500,000 brook trout fry and fingerlings; 4,000,000 white fish and 400,000 frost fish. The brook and lake trout have been sent generally to all parts of the Adirondacks and in some instances shipments have been made to remote parts of the State. The white fish have been deposited in the waters of Hoel Pond, Lake Clear and Lake Placid. Several thousand trout fry remain at the hatchery. All applications have not been filled, however. Some of the handsomest fish in the hatchery are albino trout, several of which are five years of age. Two of these trout are lake trout and the others brook trout. All have been kept at the hatchery for experiments and some albino trout have been brought from Michigan with the object of propagating, if possible albino trout. The hatchery men have not succeeded in this, however. As a rule all albino trout fry and fingerlings die.

Written on the reverse: "Fish Hatchery Vats and flower beds, N.Y. State Fish Hatchery, Saranac Inn, N.Y." (undated) Tupper Lake Free Press And Herald, September 29, 1949

State Fish Hatchery At Saranac Inn Will Be Doubled in Size

Albany—Capacity of the Adirondack state fish hatchery at Saranac Inn will be doubled by the construction of 21 new concrete ponds, it was revealed by Conservation Commissioner Perry B. Duryea. When completed, the plant's annual production will be 1,500,000 trout of all sizes, totaling about 30,000 pounds.

Work by Contractor Howard A. LaRose of Lake George was begun last week. The ponds will use water piped independently from both the surface and bottom of Little Lake Clear so that temperatures in the ponds may be regulated in order to obtain optimum growth rate, the commissioner said.

Adirondack Daily Enterprise, April 1, 1970

Little Clear Destined To Be Site of Trophy Trout Pond

On the eve of the opening of the 1970 trout fishing season the New York State Conservation Dept. has revealed its plan to establish the waters of Little Clear as a “Trophy Pond” for sportsmen who utilize this area of Franklin County for .fishing.

Martin H. Pfeiffer, Associate Aquatic Biologist of the department issued the following information on the plan which calls for the temporary closing of Little Clear.

Hopefully, the September 1969 rotenone treatment of Little Clear Pond cleansed the Adirondack State Fish Hatchery water, supply of yellow perch. Heretofore, the established perch population posed a longstanding threat to our Adirondack lake and pond trout management program due to the perpetual danger that this undesirable competitive species could be accidentally distributed into both natural and reclaimed trout waters during the course of routine trout stocking operations.

Evaluation Census

Following reclamation, Little Clear Pond was originally scheduled to be managed for wild strain Canadian brook trout, wild strain rainbow trout and landlocked salmon. These wild strains of fish allegedly have the ability to attain a large size due partly to more delayed sexual maturity than domestic (hatchery) stocks a s well as greater longevity. Following detoxification, it was planned to plant fall fingerlings, late in 1969.

Beginning in 1970, research personnel from Ray Brook were scheduled to conduct a creel census designed to evaluate the performance of the wild strains and Canadian brook trout in particular, in this relatively large, deep body of water, under routine angling regulations. However, similar research conducted on a much smaller body at water, Black Pond near Paul Smiths, has already given indications that the full potential of these trout cannot be realized under the relatively liberal size and creel limits which are routinely in effect.

Year Lost

Since the above management plan was conceived, a very damaging event transpired within our fish-cultural system. The Warrensburg experimental State Fish Hatchery, which had been devoted to propagation of wild strain and hybrid brook trout, became infected with a pathogenic organism, diagnosed as miectious pancreatic necrosis, or simply I.P.N. This is a virus caused miection which is frequently fatal to small trout and is transmissible from the adult to the egg. Thus, these fish had to be destroyed thereby losing a complete year class of wild Canadian strain brook trout destined for planting in Little Clear pond, in the late Fall of1969.

Subsequent communication with Mr. William Flick, Cornell University Research Associate at Brandon Park, indicated that most of their brood stock ponds containing Canadian wild strain trout, were I.P.N.  free and that some uninfected eggs from this source might be .allocated-for the State program at Little Clear.. Pond. However, the first available fish would be tiny spring fingerlings, considered for planting in 1970. Obviously, these could not be expected to furnish any serious angling opportunity until late in 1971 fishing season. This fact, coupled with the pressing need for a State controlled Canadian wild strain brook trout, brood stock pond, made it appear desirable to completely review our thinking on future management plans for Little Clear Pond.

Ban Indefinite

The revised management program calls for closure of the pond to all angling for a period of several years but anglers could still legitimately boat through to fish adjoining waters. The Ray Brook Research unit is scheduled to periodically monitor the developing brood stocks of all salmonid species in anticipation of egg collections for fish cultural purposes.

At this point it is not known just how long the ban on fishing in Little Clear Pond would have to remain in effect in order to develop spawning populations which would yield significant quantities of eggs. Very likely, the prohibition on fishing would have to continue until the Fall of 1974. Not only would the pure Canadian wild strains become available for distribution in selected Adirondack State owned ponds but fish culture personnel would also increase production of the, so called, Canadian cross.

The latter variety represents a promising type of hybrid developed by utilizing milt from wild strain males and eggs from domestic (hatchery) females. Culture of wild strain rainbow trout and salmon would logically also be attempted.

Trophy Status

Finally, when initial hatchery production needs have been satisfied, it is planned to open up Little Clear Pond to public angling under special “Trophy” regulations, drastically restricting size limits, creel limits and terminal tackle. At its inception, this might limit the kill to .one fish per day per angler of not less than 18 inches in length, in an effort to reduce hooking mortality of released sub-legals, angling would be limited to the use of artificial lures only. This type of management is obviously geared toward creating a unique, high quality sport fishery. A partial creel census would be conducted for the sake of monitoring trout harvest, angling pressure and angler reaction to this novel program.

In summary, the Franklin County Federation of Fish and Game Clubs has previously gone on record as favoring the establishment of a “Trophy” trout pond within the County. Due to the ever present danger of epidemic disease outbreaks effecting our State trout hatchery system, it is considered of high priority importance to establish a good source of disease free brood stock in an effort to perpetuate the Canadian wild strain of brook trout as well as other superior wild salmonids. At the present time, Little Clear Pond seems to be the most logical choice among Franklin County waters which can most conveniently fulfill both goals.

Obviously, signs denoting the special regulations and restrictions would be posted at all carrys and access points. However, to make this unique management plan a success it is absolutely necessary that we receive whole-hearted public support and compliance during both the no fishing and “Trophy” fishing phases of the experiment.

A good fish story
Glen Corl stands outside the Adirondack Fish Hatchery's new building in Lake Clear, and below, shows the incubation tanks that have replaced the old troughs and raceways. The renovations are but halfway over; next year, a new series of outdoor ponds will be installed and a visitor's center built.

Press-Republican, July 20, 1985


Fish hatchery gets facelift after 100 years

Press-Republican, July 20, 1985
(P R staff photos by Liza Frenette)

By LIZA FRENETTE Staff Writer Sara-Placid Bureau

LAKE CLEAR — At the Adirondack Fish Hatchery in Lake Clear, starting over is a piece of cake — even after 100 birthdays.

The hatchery has reached the century mark, and it is now in the midst of a two-phase total renovation project. The fish center cultivates land-locked salmon for stocking in waters all across the state.

A new hatchery building has been built across the road from the old one under a $600,000 capital construction project funded by the Department of Environmental Conservation. New pipes and a water supply system have been installed.

Future renovations, to begin next spring, call for new outdoor, covered ponds, new pipelines in Little Clear, an ultraviolet filtering system, and the creation of a visitors center.

This $2.6 million Phase II project will require tearing down the old fish hatchery, a now-shaky green and white building which was built in 1885. Most of the contents of the old, barn-like building have been replaced by modernized equipment in the new culture station across the road.

Culture station manager Glenn Corl reports that the new equipment has just been through its first season, withstanding the care of almost a half million fish with near perfection. “It's a 500 percent improvement over the way we did things,” said Corl, a long-time fixture at the hatchery himself.

Easy to maintain

Most noticeable to visitors is the new building itself and the equipment inside.

Adirondack Fish Hatchery (undated) ''There's a minimal amount of maintenance,” Corl said, slapping a fiberglass start tank, “Everything is concrete or plastic.”

Fish eggs, netted from the salmon brooding ground in nearby Little Clear, are stored in the modernized building in incubator trays which now have the capacity to hold more than one million eggs.

Rows of shiny, fiberglass start tanks fill another room, replacing the metal troughs and concrete-covered raceways of earlier days.

The fish are taken from incubator trays and placed in the start tanks when they are ready to feed.

Weeks ago, the 20 aqua-blue linear tanks were each filled with 20,000 fish. The salmon have now been removed to outdoor ponds, where they will swim about in the summer sun and winter snowfall until they are stocked in state waters next spring.

It's easy to see that the new system is more modern and efficient. But it does not tell the whole story of just what these improvements mean to the fish, the hatchery employees, and next spring's fishermen.

Fish grow faster

The new piping system provides ground water for the fish, versus lake water. Lakewater temperatures usually stay at the 37 degree mark in the winter, while groundwater averages 50 degrees.

This warmer water cuts the incubation period of the eggs almost in half, from 190 to 90 days.

As a result, the salmon were fed fish food in March this year. Usually they are not ready to be fed until the end of May.

These fish, now outside at the station, are almost a month ahead of usual growth.

Corl said the new process will result in bigger fish for the catching. Not only does the new equipment allow for more and bigger fish, but it's also cleaner. Corl said.

“We're still in the learning process of how to use this equipment,” said Corl. He will have a tough task to equal last year's performance, when 96 percent of the salmon survived from the eggs to the stocking stage.

A fish story

Corl likes to talk fish: he warms to it like an angler with a fresh catch does to a frying pan and a campfire. While the hatchery is a fascinating forum for establishing salmon, Corl notes that more complicated processes exist elsewhere, where some countries are mass-producing Atlantic salmon by artificial means called aquaculture.

The salmon nurtured here are stocked in Lake Ontario, the Finger Lakes, the Catskill region, and in Lake Champlain, where the lamprey eel is threatening both salmon and trout.

Next year's salmon being raised in Lake Clear will be a debut crop for another reason. This year's salmon made it through the first season using all the new indoor equipment, but next year's baby fish should be the first to use the new outdoor facilities.

New outdoor ponds

The crumbling, cement outdoor ponds will be replaced by circular units making better use of a limited water supply. They will be covered to prevent predators from transmitting diseases.

The ground water is backed up by a lake water system, but still, Corl says the fish need 2,000 gallons per minute.

Corl said that an ultra-modem visitor's attraction center will house live fish, panoramas, and provide literature on the program.

The center will be erected on the site of the 100-year-old hatchery building.

In replacing the old, Corl has not neglected its history. He took down a century-old mounted fish from the old building and has it flying high on a pole on the new building.


Adirondack Daily Enterprise, June 3, 1993

War of words heats up in fish hatchery dispute

SARANAC INN, N.Y. (AP) — Charles Ritchie says there is more at stake in preserving Upper Saranac Lake than the gorgeous view from the deck of his lake front house.

"This is the headwaters of the Saranac chain, of the Saranac River and of Lake Champlain," Ritchie said Wednesday as chipmunks and red squirrels frolicked around the legs of his deck furniture. "If the Adirondack waters become degraded, the adverse economic impacts on the Adirondacks will be absolutely devastating. The Adirondacks are synonymous with pure water."

Talk of economic and environmental disaster seemed out of place as the Upper Saranac's waters lapped against the shore a few yards away. But Ritchie and other property owners on the lake say the Upper Saranac is being systematically polluted — by the same state agency that's supposed to be protecting New York's waters from contamination.

A group Ritchie heads, the Upper Saranac Lake Association, has sued the state Department of Environmental Conservation demanding that the DEC stop releasing wastewater from its Adirondack Fish Culture Station into Hatchery Brook, a stream that spills into the Upper Saranac.

The residents group contends that the discharges are laced with phosphorous from fish food and wastes, resulting in a nutrient imbalance in the Upper Saranac that's promoted the formation of algae blooms and robbed the lake's north basin of enough oxygen to allow trout to thrive.

The runoff has also clogged Hatchery Brook, once a popular trout stream, with weeds and algae, the group contends.

The state counters that other phosphorous sources around the lake have also contributed to Upper Saranac's problems. It says it is working to improve the quality of discharges from the hatchery, where the DEC grows baby Atlantic salmon for stocking in Lake Ontario and the Finger Lakes.

Since 1989, when a slimy green algae bloom first appeared on Upper Saranac and stayed for nearly a year, the state and nearby residents have been at odds over the condition of the 8-square-mile lake.

Richard Handler, another property owner on the lake, said that first bloom was vivid illustration of their suspicion that something was going wrong in the Upper Saranac.

"It was like the local Chernobyl," he said. "It was something everyone could see. It was not laboratory-based. It was gross." The residents contend in their suit that the DEC did not follow its own procedures when it renewed a pollution discharge permit for the hatchery in November 1992.

Among other alleged violations by the DEC was its failure to perform an environmental impact study on the effects of its discharges in light of the algae bloom and of a shift from growing trout to growing salmon at the hatchery, the suit argues.

The suit is scheduled to be heard starting in August in state Supreme Court in Malone.

"They didn't have hearings about this. We didn't have the opportunity to discuss it," Ritchie said. "That's why we felt we had to litigate because there were no other remedies."

The DEC and the association did, in fact, try to reach a settlement out of court. But a state proposal to monitor hatchery emissions and phosphorous levels in the Upper Saranac for five years was rejected in May by the association, which wants discharges slashed and more waste treatment apparatus installed at the hatchery.

The state has argued that it's spent $500,000 between 1983 and 1991 on improving the hatchery's wastewater treatment system. The phosphorous content of food fed to the Atlantic salmon at the hatchery has been reduced by about a quarter since 1990 and the state wants to cut it by another quarter, according to the DEC's executive deputy commissioner, Langdon Marsh.

The state acknowledges, too, that the Upper Saranac is a fragile lake. It has listed the lake for years as a "problem" in need of close watch. But it blames the cumulative effects of development, including leaking septic systems, and runoff from a nearby farm and golf course, for also contributing to the problem.

"DEC believes that a hatchery that has been there for more than a century should not become the scapegoat for cumulative impacts of other development," Marsh said.

A study conducted for the association and Paul Smith's College shows a more direct link between activities at the hatchery and the presence of algae-inducing nutrients in the lake.

Curt Stager, an associate professor of biology at Paul Smith's, said distinct layers of the lake floor were examined and dated on a year-by-year basis. That study showed that nutrients surged beginning in 1953, when the hatchery began operating full time.

"I've become convinced by the data that there's nothing else that could have caused this big shift in this time except the hatchery," Stager said.

Other studies conducted through Paul Smith's have shown that oxygen needed by trout in the north basin of Upper Saranac has all but disappeared due to the surplus of nutrients, said Michael R. Martin, executive director of the Adirondack Aquatic Institute at Paul Smith's.

Fish Hatchery, 2011 Adirondack Daily Enterprise, October 4-5, 1997

Lake study

Draft report released concerning Upper Saranac

By THOMAS ABELLO Enterprise Staff Writer

UPPER SARANAC LAKE - Following the release of a report detailing the water quality of the Upper Saranac Lake, the Adirondack Aquatic Institute and the DEC have differing views of the role a state-owned fish hatchery played in a 1990 algae bloom on the lake.

Michael Martin, USLA lake manager and director of the Adirondack Aquatic Institute, indicated the results of the study concluded the water quality of the Upper Saranac for 1995 to 1996 is appropriate and has remained stable. However, the study could not address the water quality at the time of the bloom in 1990.

The purpose of the study, said Martin, was to identify all of the nutrients entering the lake over a 18-month period. Although the phosphorus level in the lake has remained stable, manmade nutrients continue to enter the lake through septic systems and the fish hatchery. But the study concluded that the fish hatchery represents only 4 percent of the annual phosphorus load into the lake.

Martin asserts nutrients dumped into the lake by the hatchery since 1952 led to decline of the water quality of the lake, causing the bloom in 1990. He added the 4 percent is misleading as the hatchery discharges the majority of its nutrients in the summer and taper off in the winter months.

"It was a significant contributing factor to the bloom," concluded Martin.

Jim Sutherland, Department of Environmental Conservation Division of Water biologist, noted that the report was still in the draft form and that would be difficult to ascertain the exact cause of the 1990 bloom. He said there were initial assumptions that construction at the fish hatchery caused the bloom but there has been not proof to the theory

Sutherland indicated that probable cause of the bloom was a natural sequence of events ignited by a large spring runoff.

"My impression is that there has been a trend for improvement of the water quality at the lake since the bloom," said Sutherland.

In July 1990, an algae bloom on the lake turned the water pea green causing shore owners to investigate the source of the phosphates which feed the water and threatened water quality.

Water quality tests by the institute fingered the Adirondack Fish Hatchery as the prime source of the bloom, and the members of the Upper Saranac Lake Association sued in 1993, alleging the hatchery was operating under an improperly granted permit. The suit sought the closure of the hatchery.

The suit is still pending, according to Martin. He stated the USLA would drop its suit if the DEC built a treatment center at the fish hatchery which would cut the discharge of nutrients by 50 percent. The cost of the treatment center is $60,000.

In regard to the suit, Sutherland said the DEC has fulfilled the requests of the USLA and added that he could not speculate on the litigation further.