The Great Lakes Acoustic Telemetry Observation System (GLATOS), organized in 2012, aims to advance and improve conservation and management of Great Lakes fishes by providing information on behavior, habitat use, and population dynamics. GLATOS faced challenges during establishment, including a funding agency-imposed urgency to initiate projects, a lack of telemetry expertise, and managing a flood of data. GLATOS now connects 190+ investigators, provides project consultation, maintains a web-based data portal, contributes data to Ocean Tracking Network’s global database, loans equipment, and promotes science transfer to managers. The GLATOS database currently has 50+ projects, 39 species tagged, 8000+ fish released, and 150+ million tag detections. Lessons learned include (1) seek advice from others experienced in telemetry; (2) organize networks prior to when shared data is urgently needed; (3) establish a data management system so that all receivers can contribute to every project; (4) hold annual meetings to foster relationships; (5) involve fish managers to ensure relevancy; and (6) staff require full-time commitment to lead and coordinate projects and to analyze data and publish results.