"Weeds - Walleyes - Welaxation "
We have been going to Chautauqua Lake for twelve years. The consistently good fishing and first class accommodations at We Wan Chu Cottages brings us back two and three times per year. In recent years our first trip is right after Memorial Day, then early July and again in early August. The first two trips consist of a group of fathers and sons and are strictly fishing with a little afternoon golf thrown in. The last trip in August is with the wife and family. This trip is a combination of fishing, relaxation, sightseeing and taking in the local attractions. We particularly look forward to attending one of the Friday night open air concerts at the Chautauqua Institution. They host som
e top name performers like Kenny Rogers, Travis Trit, Abba, etc.
We target Walleyes, but also catch other species of fish including various pan fish, Large and Small Mouth Bass, and Muskies. There are many techniques to catch Walleyes. However, we have had continued success fishing the weeds with jigs tipped with either a leech or half of a night crawler. We have also had some good days with jigs and a 3” twister tail both with and without live bait. You just have to experiment with various combinations to determine what the fish want.
We always fish near or in the weeds that begin in about ten feet of water and grow in toward and become denser toward the shoreline. These weeds can be found around the entire shoreline of this lake as well as in many bays, off the end of points and along deep drop-offs. In the spring we will spend the first day fishing the north end of the lake (north of the bridge at Bemus Point) just because it is closer to We Wan Chu Cottages. If we locate fish on the northern weed beds we will stay in those areas all week. However, if the spring has been wet and cold, the majority of the Walleye action will be on the weed beds south of the bridge where the lake is much shallower and the water warms faster. As a result the weeds at the south end mature before those at the north end. Year to year we have not been able to predict where the fishing will be best. We just have to check it out and adjust accordingly. If we find fish in the northern half of the lake we will fish the weed beds all the way to the extreme end of the lake near Mayville. Conversely, if they are on the southern half we will fish it all the way to Celoron. Don’t wait for the fish to come to you. Keep moving until you find good numbers of fish and can develop a pattern to consistently catch them.
As stated the weeds start in 10 feet of water and we will hold the front end of the boat in 12 feet of water with the electric trolling motor and cast 20 feet or so toward the weed edge. We are making just half of a cast and letting the jig land along the edge of the weeds to 2 or 3 feet inside the weeds. Let the jig fall to the bottom of the lake. We start off with 1/16 oz. Northland Fire-Ball jigs tied to 6 or 8 lb. Trilene XL line. Reel the slack out of your line while lifting your rod to the 11 o’clock position. Continue to work the jig slowly back to the boat. I can’t emphasize slowly enough. Sometimes the Walleyes won’t touch the jig unless it is stopped or barely moving. Let the live bait on your jig wiggle and entice the walleye to take it. We found that you don’t have to pop or yo-yo the jig to get a fish to take it. If the jig hangs up on a weed continue to slowly pull it with the rod tip until it breaks the weed or snaps off the weed and let it immediately fall back to the bottom on slack line. If you feel a tick on the line, wait a second or two and take up the slack. When you start and move the jig again, if you feel even the slightest weight on the end line set the hook with an upward stroke. Don’t set the hook side ways as you want to hook the fish in the top of the mouth where it’s hard and less likely to work loose while your playing the fish. Do not set the hook when you first feel the tick you will usually pull the jig away from the fish before it has closed its mouth on the jig. A lot of ticks will be pan fish. However, a lot of them will be Walleyes too. If the fish are aggressive and hit the jig and take off with it then it’s OK to set the hook immediately. As you work your jig through the weeds Walleyes will often come up and just hold onto the jig. You don’t feel a tick or a strike it is just a slight weight on the line. Set the hook. If in doubt set the hook. It may just be a weed, but it may be a Walleye as well.
We use the Northland Fire-Ball jig because it has a short shank wide gap hook which equals easy hook-ups and fewer lost fish. We usually tip the jig with a leech or a half of night crawler. We like leeches better because they are more lively, tougher and the pan fish don’t bother them quite as much as they do night crawlers. Don’t spend a lot time in the weeds that look like long strands of grass and grow only 2 or three feet off the bottom. Look for the coon-tail type weeds which grow all the way to the surface and resemble a fern. You’ll find this coon-tail in sparse patches on flats and in very tall dense areas along the shoreline. Both can and will hold fish.
As the sun rises higher in the sky the Walleyes will move into the weeds or pass through and hang out in 3 and 4 feet of water on the inside edge of the weeds closest to shore. Both areas are worth checking out. To fish these areas move your boat into the weeds, use a good pair of polarized sunglasses to find holes and pockets in the weeds and hover over them. Drop your jig into these pockets and let it sit on the bottom for 5 to 10 seconds. You don’t have to put a lot of action on the jig. Let the live bait do the work. If a walleye is near-by it will find it. If there is nothing in that pocket pick your jig up and drop in a another pocket. It is more like dipping here and there and no casting is involved. You’ll be surprised how many Big Walleyes make their home deep in the weeds. If your jig isn’t heavy enough to drop through the weed growth or it is windy go the 1/8 or ¼ oz jigs. Just go heavy enough to get the job done. Walleyes will drop a heavy jig when they are being finicky. It takes patience and persistence to fish in the weeds. It seems like I am always hung up on a weed and no fish will ever find your jig. And then, how do I determine whether it is a fish or a weed. It takes practice, practice, practice - but once you learn how to catch fish in and around the weed beds it can be very rewarding.
We like Black, Fire-Tiger, Orange / Chartreuse and Glow / Watermelon color Jigs. Some of our favorite weed-beds on the north end are Mayville, Dewittville, between We Wan Chu and the Bell Tower, Prendergast Point and Camp Chautauqua . On the south end Cheney Point, Ashville Bay , out in the middle of the lake just North of Grass Island, White Wall and Arnold Bay .
We like We Wan Chu because it is clean, quiet and relaxing. The Docks are well lighted at night which adds to the convenience and security. We never have to worry about our boats and equipment. There are power outlets on the docks making charging your boat batteries a piece of cake. They sell Night Crawlers and Ice for your coolers etc. on the premises. The fish cleaning station is big and clean with running water and is lighted for night use. Your cottages are close to the water and docks. You can be as social as you wish with nightly bonfires or as secluded as you wish. The cottages come with cable TV, dishes, pots and pans, silverware, refrigerator with freezer, coffeepot, microwave, toaster and all the comforts of home without the phone. If you must use a phone there are two conveniently located on the premises. They have coin operated washers and dryers on the grounds and come in handy after you have been caught out on the lake in a rainstorm. The grounds are well kept and the staff is both helpful and friendly. All you need to bring is your clothing, food, (lots of fresh fruit and vegetables close by in season) paper products and your fishing gear. We Wan Chu will rent you a boat, motor and fish finder if you need it.
Please take only what you can use and put the rest back....