Chautauqua Lake supports a varied sports fishery, with fishing for walleye, muskellunge, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and numerous species of panfish. The shallower south basin has substantial weed beds and some efficient shoals. The north basin stratifies during the summer season with a thermocline happening around 30 feet. There can be anoxic conditions listed below the thermocline from July through August. For current fishing, information checks out the Lake Erie Fishing Hotline or call 716-855-3474.
Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass: Chautauqua Lake ranks amongst the leading bass lakes in New York State. The shallow, weedy locations and docks offer remarkable cover for largemouth bass. Boaters and coast anglers do best by keying on these areas where the bass wait to ambush victim. Morning and night are the prime-time televisions for surface-type plugs. Anglers also have best of luck utilizing spinner baits, plastic worms, jig-and-pigs, crank baits and live bait, such as crayfish and black eyes.
Chautauqua Lake Muskellunge
Muskellunge: Chautauqua Lake is acknowledged as a premiere, first-rate muskellunge fishery, with lots of fish in the 40-50 inch class captured each year. Anglers utilize some productive tactics when chasing Chautauqua’s leading predator. Much better capture numbers tend to come from shallower areas along weed edges, where trolling or drifting and casting are both efficient approaches. Trollers likewise see great action for bigger, suspended musky caught at depths of 25-35 feet, in the north basin. Anglers are encouraged to launch their catch without even bringing the fish into the boat. When muskellunge are managed thoroughly, the odds of surviving to be captured again are outstanding.
Seasonal fish events such as the annual Insurance Agency Fisherman’s tournament also keep this area full of tourism traffic which benefits the maintenance and preservation of this destination.
The summer months, fish in much deeper locations of the lake where the water temperatures preferred by walleye exist. Anglers should focus their efforts in much deeper water throughout the day, relocating to shallower areas at sunset when the walleye relocation inshore to feed. Decreasing abundance in the 1990s resulted in the initiation of a walleye equipping program in 2003.
These tasty Panfish fish are enjoyable to catch for both the beginner and specialist angler alike. Throughout the summer and fall, live baits such as minnows or worms produce the finest perch and sunfish catches. Preferred equipment is an ultralight rod and reel with 4-6 pound test line. Live minnows fished under a bobber is a traditional method, however fishing small jigs tipped with bait is likewise efficient. Bullhead fishing is best throughout the spring and early summertime. Fishing after dark with nightcrawlers, crayfish or scent-attractant baits on the bottom works well. During the spring spawning duration, bullheads concentrate over areas of soft bottom. Crappie fishing is generally best in spring and fall in the shallow windward embayments, where warm surface area water attracts baitfish.
Ice Fishing: Chautauqua Lake is a top “hard water” location in western New York, using excellent opportunities for walleye and numerous panfish. Little jigs tipped with “grubs” works well for panfish. Ice fishing for walleye is typically best during low-light periods. Add a small minnow or grubs to make lures more attracting. Tip-ups set with black eyes also produce the occasional walleye catch. For walleye, fish Chautauqua’s north basin. Excellent locations include the Warner Bar, Bell Tower, Dewittville, Prendergast Point, Mission Meadows, Long Point, Victoria, and Magnolia. Public gain access to throughout the winter season is offered at sites noted in the “Public Access” area above, in addition to at the City of Mayville Park and the Village of Lakewood Park. See the Ice Fishing Basics page for novice ice fishing info.