Walleye or Musky Fishing,
Chautauqua Lake is where the Hot Bite is Happening...
by Craig Robbins



New York State
Licensed Fishing Guide #2386

Traditionally, some of the best Walleye fishing has been in the lower basin of the Lake but the past few years have seen the upper Basin like right in front of We Wan Chu Cottages has been seeing some great limits. The weed line in front of We Wan Chu offers some of the finest Walleye and Musky Fishing on Chautauqua Lake . Over the past twenty years I have found that evenings are the best. Trolling with a Worm Harness or a Floating # 7 Rapala. For the angler who likes to jig, the Mann-O-Lure is one of the most versatile and effective jigging spoons on the market. Fish it as is, or bend the lead body in different actions. Skipping it across the surface, among school fish or working it down deep.

Trolling the shallow (2-8 feet) weed lines in the late evening or the early morning hours will produce some of the best early season Walleye action anywhere in New York State . The best bet when trolling is, troll slow. I watch my rod tips, making sure they are barely moving. If you want to catch a bunch of Walleye's early in the season, slow your presentation now.

During the midday hours two of the old tried and true methods of catching Chautauqua Lake Walleye’s are on a jig and a night crawler or a leech. The jig and leech method works best when the leech is hooked through its head. The best way I have found to work both of these methods is by drifting a weed line on the southern basin.

When packing your tackle for the Chautauqua Lake Walleyes, leave your heavy duty stuff at home. Chautauqua’s Walleyes are used to seeing a lot of different lures and most folks stick with a medium action spinning outfit for 90% of their Walleye fishing.

When Walleye fishing I stick with Trilene XL, in the 8-12 pound test range. I have been asked why XL? Walleyes have thin lips, which will tear easily and Trilene XL is extra limp just for these feisty game fish. Also many times we use treble hooks on the lures and the extra limp line will help absorb some of the stress of the fight.

Teaming line with a Shimano Compre 6" 6’ Medium action spinning rod and front drag Symetre reel for your Walleye fishing on Chautauqua Lake you‘ll have the prefect Walleye outfit.

Over the years of guiding folks on Chautauqua Lake , I have found that a majority of the larger (five plus pounds) are caught by first time visitors. This has shown me that early season Walleye fishing' does not have to be a difficult outing but by using the basics most folks will catch more then their share of quality Walleye's.

Whether you fish from a twenty thousand Lake Erie boat or a Jon boat with "Orr" power, an angler would be hard pressed to find a better Walleye fishing in the Northeast, than Chautauqua Lake .

Long known as the Musky Capital of World-which it lost in the early 80‘s- Chautauqua Lake is quickly regaining its title.

Traditionally, known as only a troller’s lake, Chautauqua Lake Musky hunters are finding out that casting can catch big toothy critters also.

Heading into the northern basin of the Lake casters are doing well from Chautauqua Institution Bell Tower and Prendergast Launch. Successful anglers are concentrating in front of We Wan Chu Cottages, outside the weed lines.

Many folks still troll for Musky but many of today's top Chautauqua Lake Musky anglers cast giant size plugs, such as Reef Hogs and Swicks.

I strongly encourage my clients to cast for Musky over heavy weed-beds. Now, casting these giant size plugs is not for weak of heart, it does take some work but the rewards are well worth the effort.

Casting for Musky accounts for the largest percentage of fish caught on Chautauqua Lake in recent years. There are a couple of reasons for this, first it’s the most successful and second, it's the hardest.

Casting an over sized jerk bait (up to 8 inches long) and work it back to the boat as if you are setting the hook on each jerking motion, will put more Musky in your boat than other methods on the water.

With this casting method of working a jerk bait, one of the keys is to cast the bait out twenty or so yards, resist the temptation to throw the lure as far as you can. Often a musky will strike the bait as soon as it hits the water and the more line you have out, the harder it is to set the hook.

The best way to work a Musky bait is reel in line as you jerk the lure across the top of the water, with your rod tip pointed toward the surface of the water. Upon doing this for several hours you will either be catching Musky and/or have sore forearms.

During the low light conditions, a white / chartreuse one-ounce spinner bait works great over weed beds and along the weed lines. When the summer’s sun climb's high in the sky or during the midday hours, move off the weed beds and fish the weed lines back to the open water weed beds.

Casting jerk baits and crank baits over these lonely weed beds will most generally bring a rise out of any resident Musky. Musky tend to lurk outside the weed line, waiting to ambush unsuspecting prey.

Artificial lures that imitate injured baitfish often trigger a strike. Check with the many bait and tackle shops around the Chautauqua Lake for a full line Musky lures. Three of the best places to stop for Musky Fishermen are Hogan’s Hut with a New Tackle Shop, The Bait Pond and The Happy Hooker Bait Shop.

Look for a versatile plug which can be adjusted to simulate injured prey with the slightest bend to the lure's bill or tail. Early in the year I find that the less aggressive baits work better. When the water temperature begins to dip and the leafs begin to fall, I will switch to a more aggressive bait.

With clear water on Chautauqua Lake , anglers have had to go to a new lure color scheme. In years past, the water clarity deemed more colorful baits. Recently, we have been having excellent success with the black and purple baits.

Whether you plan on casting plugs or trolling for Musky, you will need a good stout rod and reel to match. Thirty pound test line is about the lightest you should go, but don't be afraid to go up to forty or fifty-pound test. I prefer either Fire Line or Dacron, the key to choosing a line is picking one that has little or no stretch. Of course you will need to have a good supply of steel leaders in a variety length. Remembering we don't call them toothy-critters for nothing.

Whichever method you plan on using, patience is the key. Your patience will more than pay off, when that prehistoric looking fish walks on the water in front of you. You will no doubt be in for the fight of your life.

Enjoy yourself on the water and remember, keep just enough for dinner and return the rest to be caught another day.

Craig Robbins is one of the Best Fishermen and a Charter Captain here on Chautauqua Lake. Enjoy... 

Peter Wiemer
Manager / Partner