Chautauqua Lake Walleyes
Chautauqua Lake Walleyes! I Love them!!! They are the "show-off" cousins to the Lake Erie Walleye because they live in a cleaner environment, eat better, taste better, and are more fun to fish for. You don't need downriggers, you don't need planer boards, you don't need a big boat to handle 3 to 8 feet seas, and you don't need a tackle box full of budget busting lures to catch them. Just a 5'10'' or 6' Shakespeare Ugly Stick, an open face spinning reel, 8lb. test lines, and gold hooks, with leeches and night crawlers for bait. Sound too easy? Well, my friend, it works and it makes summer fishing fun.
The best part is you don't have to go very far from the docks of We Wan Chu Cottages to have fun. In fact, how does 100 feet sound? Let's talk about the SUMMER TIME.
Outside it's another day on Chautauqua Lake, hot and hazy, with sailboats, water skiers, and windsurfers all jammed up on the water. In the meantime, the walleye need to feed and they can be caught! The warm summer water temperature raises the fish activity; their metabolism increases and as a result, they need to feed more often. Where are the walleyes? The weeds are high and thick and bait fish are hiding in the weeds. Don't you think the walleyes know this? What do you do? Concentrate on the weeds early morning and late evening!
From sun-up to 10:00 am, hit the outer edge of the weed line with leeches and night crawlers. Tie a gold hook onto the end of your 8lb. test line and attach a slip shot sinker 12 to 14 inches above the hook. With the leech hooked through the sucker end, or the night crawler hooked once through the dark end, cast to the outside edge of the weeds. Let the bait settle to the bottom with your bail open…leave the bail open, set your rod down on the funnel and watch the line for 30 seconds. If a walleye sees your presentation drop, it will pick it up, and start to run with it. You will see this when the line starts to peel off the reel. If the fish hits a leech, close the bail immediately, take up the slack, and set the hook. If the fish hits a night crawler, let him run until he stops, then take up the slack slowly, feel the resistance of the fish and then set the hook hard.
In the evening from 7:00 to 9:30, you can concentrate on the weeds with the same technique. However, some real exciting fishing can be experienced on drop offs (areas where the lake bottom makes a rapid change from 20 to 40 feet of water). These areas attract fish that are suspended during the day.
Suspended fish are fairly nomadic and very inactive during the day. However, at dusk they come into the drop offs to feed. You can find these suspended fish by cruising at 35 to 40 feet depths during the afternoon and looking for them on our LCD or chart recorder. As soon as you spot a school of suspended walleyes, pick out a landmark on shore to identify the area. Go back to that landmark at 8:00 PM, and anchor in 18 to 22 feet of water. Have both leeches and night crawlers aboard to see which bait they prefer. Use the same rig as morning fishing. Drop one line directly below the boat, raise the bait one-foot off the bottom, and set the rod down on the gunwale. Cast the second line out and drag the bait back to the boat as slowly as you can, waiting for the "tick." As soon as you feel the "tick," point the rod tip toward the fish for a couple of seconds to allow some slack. Take up the slack slowly until you feel the fish and set the hook.
Fishing weed lines and drop offs in the summer time is most successful with a Shakespeare Ugly Stik, for a very important reason. When a walleye takes a bait, it does not feel like a "bass-hit" but rather like a "pull!" If the fish feels too much resistance in its pull, it will drop the bait.
A 98 to 100% graphite rod causes too much resistance at the rod tip and causes the drop. The Ugly Stik has a 100% solid fused fiberglass tip that flexes enough to allow you to watch the tip and detect the pull before the fish feels any resistance. That's the secret! That's your edge!
Two important points to remember: walleyes are school fish and they move a lot. If you find a school one day, and it's not there the next, move down the weed line. Fish an area for 15 minutes! If there is not hit, move 50 feet and repeat.
Remember, other techniques work during the summertime, but none as successfully as weed line fishing. A big advantage of staying at We Wan Chu Cottages, is the number of other good walleye fishermen around you. If someone finds a school and is willing to tell you the location, you can save time looking and use this method to really show off.
Captain Ron Strom
USCG Licensed charter Captain
And New York State Licensed Pilot and Engineer
Mayville and West Seneca, NY