Any angler worth his weight in fishing lures knows that as soon as the heat of summer rolls in, the fishing slows down. So far this season, it has not been much different. With the cooler weather this past spring and late ice-off, this season has been more productive for anglers.
This year there has been a rise in legal walleyes being caught. The deeper weed egdes in the northern basin of Chautauqua Lake seems to be producing the better quality of ‘eyes,’ while the southern basin is producing more subs.
Chautauqua Lake holds the honor of having three totally different bodies of water in one. The upper basin is known for its excellent smallie fishing. The outlet offers anglers a step back in time and many different species to case. The southern basin is home to some of the best largemouth fishing in the northeast.
The vegetation in the southern basin is custom-made for the largemouth bass. The many rocky points running close to weedlines is a great area to reach out to Chautauqua’s largemouth bass. Cheney’s Point and Warner’s Bar are an excellent example of this type of quality structure Chautauqua offers.
During a normal summer, the first part of July generally sees surface water temperatures in the mid 80s on the lake. This season anglers have been finding it hard to get a consistent water temperature. One morning it may be in the low 70s, but within a matter of a few days it may be hanging in the high 70s again.
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 consistently in the same areas. The majority of fresh-water fish like a consistent water temperature. When the water temperatures change, so does the fish feeding pattern.
Wind direction goes hand in hand with water temperature. When the wind blows out of the north north/east on Chautauqua, anglers are going to see a drop in water temperature. A west wind is generally good for fishing Chautauqua, but a south/west wind turns the fish on like no other.
Sun-up is an excellent time to throw a Zara Spook or buzz bait. As the day heats up move out of the shallows into the deeper weed pockets. By using a Texas Rigged plastic worm or jig/pig combination, bass will help beat the dog days of summer blues.
Any angler worth his weight in tackle wouldn’t come to Chautauqua without a spinnerbait tied onto a rod. Working a spinnerbait over the vegetation and around docks for bass will help fill your live well with both small and largemouth.
With three to four pounders common and some over five being caught on the regular basis, Chautauqua Lake will keep your heart rate up with every cast.
Mid-summer walleyes are being reported caught on Lake Erie in the 55-85 feet trolling range off Barcelona. Many areas of the Great Lake have that magic 60-80 feet and are adjacent to 120 feet. Once found, these honey holes will produce glassy-eyed monsters throughout August.
Lighter line and longer leaders will produce the quality of fish this clearwater fishery has. Matching your bait with popular forage base is important. Between gizzard shad and yellow perch, Lake Erie walleye have a wide range of food sources available.
So far the muskie fishing as been as good as last season, with 12 muskies being netted on my boat and only three lost before I could get a net under them. Out of all the muskies we have caught this season, only three of these toothie critters have come by casting over weed beds in the northern basin.
Over the years, we have found that as the surface temperature of the water increases, muskie will hold in areas where there is plenty of vegetation in 6-12 feet with deep drop-offs nearby.