Understanding why fish go where and why they go there, will make you an angler.

Any angler worth his weight in fishing lures knows that as soon as the heat starts affecting the fishing, anglers need to know how to make the changes that will tighten their line.

The late ice-off this year, teamed up with a wet spring, has made fishing on Chautauqua Lake interesting, to say the least.

The great thing about Chautauqua Lake is its diversity. The lower end of the lake offers some great shallow-water fishing opportunities, with the upper end playing home to some of the finest deep-water action in the Northeast.

Traditionally, the first things anglers think of when water temperatures reach the 80s is deep-water action. While this is true, there are other areas that provide some great mid-day action not necessarily all in deep water. I have seen that situation many times and have gotten in good, well-meaning arguments on the issue of warm temperatures/deep water. While the traditional rule of thumb is just that, a rule, it is one that is meant to be broken.

There is no better proof of rule-breaking than what happened late last August when 24 million folks had the opportunity to watch Chautauqua Lake bass being caught in shallow water at the end of August.

Shallow water/dock fishing on Chautauqua Lake is no secret, but the amount and quality of the bass the Major League Fishing bass pros pulled out of the lake was overwhelming and amazing.

So when it comes to rules, only use them as a guide. Again I say, there are no hard-and-fast rules when dealing with wild critters that swim below the water, fly and walk above it.

Know matter whether it’s bass, walleye or the elusive muskie, they all must feed at some time during the day. The above species are feeding on fry, and Chautauqua offers a great selection of fry. Whether it’s perch, blue gills or white perch, Chautauqua is fish’s buffet.

During a normal early summer, surface water temperature is in the low to mid 70s on the lake until the end of June. With the wet spring and high water, the next couple weeks will help dictate the remainder of the season.

Water temperature is one of the keys to where the fish are holding. When the water temperature on any body of water is yo-yoing, fish aren’t going to hold consistently in the same areas. The majority of fresh-water fish like a consistent water temperature. Their bodies will make changes depending on the water temperature.

Wind direction goes hand in hand with water temperature. When the wind blows out of the north northeast on Chautauqua, anglers are going to see a drop in water temperature. A west wind is generally good for fishing Chautauqua, but a southwest wind turns the fish on like no other.

Keeping an eye on surface temperature and how fish are reacting during particular moon phase, will help increase your success.