The No. 1 fished inland body of water in New York State is also the one of the best bass fisheries in the Northeast - Chautauqua Lake.
Chautauqua Lake offers 13,100 acres of prime small and largemouth bass habitat. Chautauqua Lake is made up of three very different bodies of water - the shallow lower basin, the deeper upper basin and the outlet offers the best of all worlds for bass anglers.
Without a doubt, the most popular species of fish to pursue on Chautauqua Lake is bass. Either smallmouth or largemouth bass, it really doesn't matter to anglers.
The excitement of pursuing the most popular game in the country today is hard to overlook. This is a bold statement, but let me explain.
How many companies have been built just to make a boat designed for a particular species of fish? There are dozens of boat companies designing and selling boats just to catch bass.
There are more companies than one can count that custom make and sell lures especially designed to catch bass.
In reality there is an entire industry that has been built and has survived targeting one species of fish - bass. That, in itself, should tell anybody that bass fishing is as popular today as it ever has been and anglers from across the country come in to fish bass on Chautauqua Lake.
The more than 40 miles of dock-filled shoreline are custom made for shallow water and dock anglers. From spinner baits to 3-inch tubes, some of the most consistent largemouth bite is found in and around docks. The man-made structures are annually in place long before opening day, which is the third Saturday of June (this year it was yesterday).
The deeper upper basin of Chautauqua Lake is home to some of the best smallmouth bass fishing in the state. The deep weed edges, teamed up with a rocky bottom, is a perfect environment for growing smallmouth bass.
The shallower lower basin offers excellent shoreline fishing. The lower basin offers shallow vegetation edges and lily pads.
Not to be out done by the larger Chautauqua Lake, Cassadaga Lake offers three separate basins that bass call their home. With a 12-15 slot limit that has been in place since 1994, Cassadaga Lake is a breeding ground for big bass.
The upper basin, or the Lilly Dale basin, is the deeper of the three basins. The middle basin is the shallower of the three basins. It offers underwater shoreline structures from downed trees to lily pads. And also it is home to the two-lane, state-owned launch.
The lower basin offers some excellent vegetation that both large and smallmouth bass call home. The deeper vegetation in front of the community beach and swimming area are great mid-summer jig and pig spots.