Posts Tagged Chautauqua Lake

Chautauqua Lake

chautauqua-smallmouth-4Southwestern New York is home to one of the best fisheries that I have ever been to. Chautauqua Lake has one of the best largemouth and smallmouth bass, walleye, perch, rock bass, and crappie populations that I have ever seen. Not to mention it is known for its large musky. This lake has something to offer every skill level, age group, and style of angler. Add to that the beautiful scenry and crystal clear water and you have the perfect get away.

Let’s start with some technical data. Chautauqua Lake is is approximately 17 miles long and 2 miles wide. The route 86 bridge seperates the upper and lower basin of the lake. In the upper basin you will generally find yourself in slightly deeper water and the lower basin. The maximum depth of the lake is 78 feet. There are 41 miles of shoreline and 13,000 acres of surface area. These numbers my sound quite large, but since there is an unlimited horsepower rating you can cover the lake in a hurry. The water clearity on the lake is very clear, but if an algea bloom happens you are not going to have any visability.

tank-from-the-dock1There are many types of structure to fish at Chautauqua Lake. The most abundant feature is the massive weedbeds. Weeds cover most of the shorelines throughout the lake and extends to the center of the lake in some places. Next, there is an impressive amount of boat docks that hold multiple species of fish all year round. Throughout the lake you will find small patches of lilly pads. These areas are usually quite shallow, but can hold decent amounts of bass and are often overlooked. Being the flipper that I am I found a shoreline in the creek that has a good number of laydowns. Although most of them are shallow, they can still be productive for largemouth bass. The most sought after spots on the lake are the rock piles that are scattered throughout. These will be very productive for all species. The second most common type of structure are the thousands of boat docks throughout the lake. Other structures include brushpiles and cribs.

Beaver style baits have become very popular among bass fishermen.

Chautauqua Heights that is on the Northeast side of the lake near Dewittville. They offer camp site for the entire year to just one night. The sites include tent sites, electric sites, and sites for RV’s. Chautuaqua Heights also offers multiple levels of cabin rental, from rustic to luxury. Some of the other features include well maintained bathhouse, basketball court, mini golf course, horseshoe pits, jungle gym, swimming pool, and game room. There is also a camp store. Another campground is called Camp Chautauqua. It is located on the Northwest side of the lake near Mayville. There facilities are very similar to Chautauqua Heights. Another area you can stay are the Irwin Bay cabins which are also near Mayville.

To my knowledged there are 5 public boat launchs on Chautauqua Lake. The most used boat launch is in Long Point State Park. There is a beautiful marina and boat launch that is well maintained with plenty of room for boaters to park there vehicles and boats. Another launch is located in the town of Mayville. This is a much smaller launch but typically is not as busy. It is perfect if you are staying in the Mayville area. In the middle of the lake on the West side is Pendergaust Point. This is a very nice boat launch that is maintained by the state. There is also a boat launch in Bemus Point and one where the creek enters the lake in the South. There are multiple marinas throughout the lake that have there own private boat launchs as well.

There are plenty of things to do near Chautauqua for the entire family. The famous city of Bemus Point is a festive town that always has something going on. From festivals to classic cars shows it leaves something for everyone. You can find some great restuarants around the entire lake as well. The Erie wine trail makes its way through Chautuaqua as well. Add those to all the activities on the water and in the campground, and you have a great vacation destination.

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2010 TBF State Championship Lake Chautauqua NY Oct. 8th and 9th

Lake Chautauqua was host to the 2010 PA State Championship.  Five of the six Bass Hounds team members qualified for the classic.  Brad Bressler, Brian Spencer and Rich Wolota all qualified as boaters and Derek Severns and Jeff Spencer made it as riders.  Fishing conditions this time of year can be very challenging to say the least.  A week of pre fishing was showing the guys that the patterns of the summer time were long gone.  The weather that week went from bad to worse, a few days, the highs were in the low 40’s with lows in the 30’s and the rain would not stop.  During that week Brad got on a few points that held fish, when the fish were there and they ate, they were big.  Brad caught 4 fish in practice over 5 pounds, he was hoping they would hang out till the end of the week.  Rich could only find a few keepers here and there, Brian would say the same come tournament time.  In a normal summer tournament at Chautauqua, you will need around 20 pounds a day to win.  The guys knew it would take a lot less this week, but you never know.

There were 68 boaters and 48 riders signed up, this meant that all of the boater’s names would be put in a hat and drawn.  Some of the boaters would have to go as riders for half of the day and then switch, and they would be in control of the boat the second half of the day.  At the end of day one, the fishing was what everyone thought…HARD.  69 of the 117 entries did not bring a fish to the scales and many of the guys only had one.  Brad was able to find a few small fish, his big fish just  weren’t home with a few  small fish Brad weighed 4.95 lbs, good enough to leave him in 5th place.  Brian, Rich, Jeff and Derek all zeroed that first day.  Even after such a tough first day, everyone still knew that they had a chance to be in it the next day.

Day two started out with a bang for Brad, his first stop produced the tournament lunker, a 5.97 lb smallmouth bass.  The only problem was, that was Brad’s only bite of the day.  That left Brad in 11th place, just a little under 2.50 lbs off of making the PA team.  Brian was able to find a few fish this day as well, he had 7.39 lbs, but that was only good enough for 24th on the boater side.  Rich fished hard both days but could not find a keeper; the fish he did catch were short.  Derek worked that second day but could only come up with two keepers for around 3 pounds, knowing that he needed 8 pounds or better to make the team, he didn’t weigh his fish.  Jeff also struggled to find those keeper fish and zeroed both days.  After two days, the lake brought a lot of the state’s best anglers to their knees.  It was a very humbling experience for most.

The Bass Hounds would like to take a moment to congratulate the 2011 Divisional Team on a job well done.  Best wishes at Kerr Lake at the 2011 Mid-Atlantic Tournament.

2011 Divisional Team:


1st Brent McNeal  (2010 Champ and Team Captain)

2nd Bob Gilpin

3rd Ron Wolf

4 th Aaron Kassab

5th Jesse Salmon

6th Steve Hughes

ALT-Travis Spittler


1st Jeff Miller

2nd Dave Ciarletta

3rd Dave Ciraulo

4th Brett Dalrymple

5th Rich Rushing

6th Ed Guidon

The Bass Hounds would like to take a moment to thank everyone that helped support them this year.  Valvoline Oil, Strauss Automotive, Nervous Waters, Metal Menders, Nowak Commercial Refinishes, Poor Boy Baits, Ardent Reels, and, without these companies, this year would not have been possible.  These companies supported the team in 2010 and we hope to continue with them in 2011.  Valvoline Oil has already returned as a team sponsor for 2011.  We will keep you posted this winter as to who will be supporting the team in the upcoming season.  Remember if at all possible, if you have the opportunity or need the services of any of these companies, tell them The Bass Hounds sent you, support the companies that support our sport.

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Chautauqua Lake

For years I have looked for a lake that is full of big smallies besides lake erie.  After fishing most of the lakes in Western PA I have found the lake I have been looking for just across the border in New York.  Jon and I spent this weekend practicing for an upcoming tournament on Chautauqua Lake.

On Saturday we set out to fish the spots on the north end of the lake that I had found a couple weeks prior to see if the fish were still in those areas.  We weren’t sure if the bass were still going to be on beds or even in the shallows, but once we started fishing we found that there were still a few on beds, but in the morning the big smallies were crusing the shallows feeding.  We each caught multiple 3 – 4 1/2 pound smallies.  Keeping panfish off of your line in that lake truly is impossible as we caught a ton of rock bass and perch.  After we called it a day we headed to Chautauqua Heights Campground.  For all of you campers out there this might have been the nicest campground I have ever stayed at.  The wood campsites had enough room to park the bass boat and set a tent.  These were well groomed sites with a perfect amount of privacy.  The bathroom facilities were also some of the nicest that I have came across.  It was a steal for $28 per night with electric and water hook-ups.

Sunday we decided to head to the South end of the lake and search for new water.  We were able to catch more largemouth in the south, but they didn’t match the size of the smallies from the day before.  Jon did manage a couple real nice smallies on sunday, but they came from one little spot.  Once again we found that the only thing we could get smallies to hit were small soft plastics.  The largemouth were caught on a wide range of lures.

If you have a family or are just looking to head to a lake to catch a bunch of fish and want a chance to catch a big healthy smallmouth bass I highly recommend heading to Chautauqua Lake in New York.  Camping at Chautauqua Heights is affordable and relaxing.  Let’s not forget about the beautiful water of the lake.  I know I can’t wait to get back up there.

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Memorial Day Weekend

jess-with-a-3lb-smallieThis year memorial day weekend was a truly special weekend for me.  Not only because I spent an amazing weekend at Chautauqua Lake in New York, but because it was my 1 year aniversery with my wife Jessica.  About 2 months ago I had asked Jess what she wanted to do for our aniversery and she told me she wanted to go somewhere and camp that we had never been to.  Since I am fishing the bassmaster weekend series this year in New York we decided that we should go spend a weekend at one of those lakes.  What guy gets to spend his entire aniversery weekend on the water.  The kind that marries someone that loves the outdoors as much as him. 

It didn’t take us long to find some nice fish morning on saturday.  Since we had never been to the lake we decided to just use the trolling mototank-from-the-dockr in the morning and try to find some kind of pattern.  What we had discovered was there there really was no pattern.  We caught fish in the prespawn, spawn, and post spawn cycles.  If you were going to target the spawning fish the only time your were truly able to do so was before 11 am.  The boat traffic was at a minimum, and the sun was perfect for help you see the fish.  Typically in the middle of the day we were hanging out at the campsite, but we would head back out for the evening and fish for post spawn fish with jerkbaits, soft and hard, and chatterbaits.  Dock fishing did work, but after saturday it was harder to get fish off of the docks because of the boats coming in and out of them. 

Monday morning was the best day for me out there.  Obviously it should have been because I had never been to the lake before this weekend, but my expectation were low because of the fishing and boating pr4lb-smallie-2essure of a holiday weekend.    I decided to start fishing by running to a spot that I had located a couple of spawning smallmouth bass.  The night before I had seen about 3 or 4 nice smallmouth bass on a stretch of water and when I went back the next morning, there were about 30 nice smallies on beds.  You could say that I had hit the jackpot.  I spent all morning working these fish and managed 11 nice smallies and 3 of them broke the 4lb mark and most were over 3lbs.  I lost about 5 more of these monsters, but that is bed fishing for you. 

My recommendations for Chautauqua is that everyone should go there at some point in their life.  It is a beautiful lake and everyone up there is happy and very nice.  The fish are big and the water is awesome.  The boat traffic can be overwelming, but don’t let that discourage you.  I would try fishing green pumpkin lures and baitfish colored lures.  Hard and soft jerkbaits worked well matching the shad color.  Long casts are extremely important in the super clear water.

Overall it was a great weekend and I can’t wait to get back.

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