The weather in Western New York has had an interesting impact on friends that call local lakes their home. The summer has seen Chautauqua Lake water temperatures in the mid to high 70s since mid-June. There also have been several days when temperatures in the southern basin has climbed into the low 80s.
Now, I am fully aware that surface temperatures should only be used as gauge, but it's a good one.
Knowing where these critters go is important to your success. Understanding why fish go where will make you a angler.
The month of August is a busy one for area sportsmen. For some of us, we are attempting to get ready for the upcoming fall hunting season while others are finishing off their ''honey do'' summer lists and the die-hard anglers are still trying to getting their fill of fishing.
Any angler worth his weight in lures knows as soon as the heat of August rolls in, the fishing slows down and this season hasn't been any different.
The late ice off this year, teamed up with a fairly warm and dry summer has made fishing on Chautauqua Lake interesting, to say the least.
The great thing about Chautauqua Lake is its diversity. The lower end of the lake offers some great shallow-water fishing opportunities while the upper end plays home to some of the finest deep-water action in the northeast.
One of the first things anglers think of when water temperatures reach the 80s is deep-water action. While this is true, there are other areas that provide some great mid-day action.
There are areas in the upper basin of the lake for great summer fishing action. While some folks are trolling in 20-plus feet for that deep bite, I prefer to fish the shelves close to deep water. What makes shelves great is their close proximity to shallow and deep water.
The key during the heat of summer is the areas of deep water with shallow shelves close by. The shelves will hold good schools of bait fish, hence active larger fish in the area.
No matter whether it's bass, walleye or the elusive muskie, all species will feed at some time during the day. The above species are feeding on fry and Chautauqua Lake offers a great selection of fry. Whether it's perch, blue gills or white perch, Chautauqua Lake is a fish's buffet.
With its 13,100 acres of glacier-made lake, Chautauqua Lake holds host such a diverse fishery that anglers find opportunities for a great selection of everything from great pan fishing to deep-water trolling action.
With more than 40 miles of shoreline-filled docks, Chautauqua Lake is a dock-knockers dream come true. Generally, no matter what the weather conditions, anglers can find bass hanging around the hundreds of docks that line the shore of Chautauqua Lake.
The many rocky points running close to weedlines are great areas to search out smallmouth bass and walleyes. Ashville Bay in the southern basin and Warner Bay in the northern basin are an excellent examples of this type of quality structures Chautauqua Lake offers.
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. Being flexible with presentations and lure selection will increase your creel limits.
Wind direction goes hand in hand with water temperature. When the wind blows out of the north/northeast on Chautauqua Lake, anglers are going to see a drop in water temperature. A west wind is generally good for fishing on Chautauqua Lake, but a southwest wind turns the fish on like no other.
First thing in the morning and as the sun slides over the horizon is an excellent time to throw topwater baits such as a Zara Spook or a buzz bait. As the day heats up, move out of the shallows into the deeper weed pockets. Using a Texas-rigged plastic worm or jig/pig combination, bass will help beat the dog days of summer blues.
Bass anglers know on Chautauqua Lake in August a spinnerbait or a bucktail is a go-to bait for everything from bass to muskies. Working a spinnerbait over the vegetation and around docks will help fill your livewell.
Bucktails have seen an explosion for muskie hunters. The versatility of the bucktail allows anglers to work them over the top of weed edges. Casting parallel to rocky points and even trolling them on a short rod in the prop wash will show anglers the adaptability of the today's bucktail.
No matter which species is your favorite or if you just enjoying the day on the water with friends and family, Chautauqua Lake will keep your heart rate up with each cast.