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jigstick

Chautauqua Lake Sucks

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I have a cottage on chautauqua, and have fished it for muskie for over 15years.  I am yet to catch one.  Lures foul with seaweed in less than 5min of trolling.  Ive tried casting the weed beds, trolling the weed edges with crank baits, and trolled deep with my downriggers.  every time.....weeds weeds weeds and fouled lures.  WTF is the trick to keeping the baits running clean?  I am lake front, and love my place....but have all but given up ever fishing on that lake again.  Now i tow my boat to barcelona and fish lake trout and walleye.....

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Key isnt how to avoid weeds but to prevent them from fouling the lure...keep rod tips in the water, use large swivels at the leader to mainline connection and leave an inch or two of the tag end on at that swivel to catch weeds that otherwise slide down to the lure. That will help, but you're right...this isnt like trolling the big lakes, you gotta check em often until you learn how the rod 'thumps' from the lure: when that stops or changes, time to clear weeds.

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How does keeping the rod tip in the water help keep weeds off of the lures?  I would think the weeds would get caught on my downrigger cable just as easily as on the rod tip???  What is the typical setup?  Troll 2-4 rods along the weed edges and deeper, 3-3.5mph?  How far of a lead from the ball? 

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Chautauqua does suck, how much for the cottage?  Send pics.  :)

 

Just kidding.  I can't really help you with the weeds because I'm not a hardcore musky guy and haven't fished Chautauqua seriously for quite a few years but I've always really liked the lake and used to do quite well on bass, walleye and even caught a few musky when I was fishing it frequently. 

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There is not a doubt in my mind that I could catch a muskie on Chautauqua IF I could keep my lures running CLEAN.  But I am yet to figure out how to do it to get more than 4 min of run time.  And I am used to dealing with the sealice on Ontario, and have no problem checking lures every 10-15min or so and resetting them.  But having my lures fouled before I get the downrigger ball sunk to the desired depth is just a waste of time.  I know there are tricks to get them running longer...ie the rod tips in the water.....but the way my boat is set up, there is no way to get the rods that low so I have to rely on my downrigger cables to catch the weeds....I dont know. Totally frustrated.

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jigstick try running a snap wait 25 ft or more for desired depth that will catch your weeds and allow for longer lure time but weeds are part of the experience 

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Probably need to set your boat up differently to be able to dunk your rods.  Most of those weeds that give you trouble are floating on the surface.  By dunking your rod tip, the floating weeds collect on the rod instead of running down your line to your lure. As mentioned, a big barrel swivel at the top of your leader will catch the weeds that do make it down your line.  And then, just check often as you see weeds build on your rod.

 

There really isn't any reason to run downriggers at Chq. I've done it and caught fish off them, but it isn't the most effective way to catch muskies at Chq. 

 

The weeds have been very light, almost non-existent on Chq this year.  Myself and several of my friends have been running our big boards on Chq this year because there aren't many floaters. I haven't been up there for a couple weeks but last time I was there, I could go over an hour without checking my baits for weeds, which is almost unheard of for Chq.  My typical trolling set up at Chq for 2 people is 4 boat rods and 2 planer board rods. There are fish in open water, in the weeds, and everywhere in between. Also, I usually troll 4 to 5mph at Chq. I've even caught fish in 40 degree water there going over 5mph.  Muskies like speed.

 

What kind of boat do you use at Chq?  Do you have track on your boat to mount rod holders?  Do you have Down East rod holders?

Edited by Ivan

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Im up visiting/fishing from Harrisburg. Yesterday I caught 5 up to 41".....and 11 fish total since friday. I fished with Larry Jones 2 summers ago. He taught me everything I needed to know, where and how (thanks Larry). Hire a guide for 1 day.....worth its weight in gold in the musky world. Weeds arent too bad on north end. Ive had very little weed issues the past few days. Im fishing deep.

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Ok. Maybe i will give it anothet shot. I think i can put my rods in my gunwale rod holders instead of in the downrigger holders and be able to get the tips close if not in to the water. Any tips on musky lures? I only have 3 and they are made by "hammer lures" in PA.

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Should really put your rod tips in the water to avoid the floating weed problems. Close to the water wont stop weeds from running down your line.

Those Hammers will catch you fish. Paul that makes them catches fish at Chq.

Not to sound like an ass but... Are you prepared if you actually catch a muskie to safely handle and release it? Muskies can be tricky for a newbe to handle sometimes. There is a sticky post on the site with catch and release techniques. Look it over well please and try to follow the suggestions. The biggest thing is having a net to keep the fish in the water while unhooking. If you net a muskie, bring it in to your boat, flop it on the floor of your boat like a salmon, try to unhook it, take pictures, etc, it probably wont swim away when you put it back in the water. No muskie fisherman will want to help you if you aren't prepared to handle them properly. These fish are very valuable to us.

Again... Not trying to be a jerk. Take it for what it's worth.

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Hello my name is Steve this is a reply to Jigsticks problem. I have been fishing Chautauqua this year for muskie and what I use on my lines for the weeds is a 1/1/2 in long peace of clear fish aquarium air hose with 1/4 in cuts on one end. You can pick this stuff up at wal mart for about 3 bucks just put your line thru the tubing with the slices towards the reel the slices open up like a shot gun was an catch the weeds

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Yeah Paul is the name of the guy that made my lures. Yes i know how to handle muskie. I have no problems handling large fish. But i know what u mean and understand.

Why does the rod tip stop weeds from tracking down to lure better than downrigger cable?

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Your downrigger cables, balls, and releases will all help catch weeds. I just think of downriggers as a tool to get your baits deeper, not a weed catcher. Most muskie lures will go as deep as you need on a flatline, but i also understand you are trying to do the best you can with your current set up.

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There was a show about 4-7 years ago where Pete Maina was trolling Chatauqua. I want to say that they had there rod tips in the water but can't say for sure. One thing I do remember was they had a long trolling leader with an extra long tag end (8" wire maybe?) to catch weeds just before the lure.

I would love to watch the show again, I think it is The Next Bite season 7 episode 11 by the preview but I cannot seem to find the whole show.

Edited by Tigerhunter

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That was probably the second chq show he did with Chris Depaola. I never got to see that one but I talk with chris And know those guys did well.

The original poster may also want to go down to Lakewood and stop in Chautauqua Reel Outdoors. Mike Sperry is a good guy, owns the store, and guides on the lake. He carries some good local baits like Bakers etc. You might also consider hiring him for a day of trolling. I think mike is more of a caster, but im sure he could teach you quite a bit about trolling chq for muskies also.

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15 years is a long dry spell. My advice is start casting. I know trollers get more fish but they miss out on boatside hits;nothing like it. Stay in 10 fow and cast whatever looks good to you. When you run into a hungry one it will eat anything. I catch one there about every other time i go. I caught my first and biggest musky trolling but after catching my first casting i was done with trolling. And when casting you will never pull a fouled bait around for an hour.

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Just got back from Chautauqua Lake (love that place) picked up 2 today one nice one on a perch Prowler. Casting jerk baits get me 2-3 fish per day , this year with the water temps still in the mid 70's the big fish are still shallow. Just get yourself on the edge of the weeds and cast away and you will find fish.post-149590-0-01977200-1407290191_thumb.jpg

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In the keys for shallow trolling i have 2 small riggers just to put ball down 2 ft ..surface weeds are the norm there (out to 300 fow) yes you do have to clear balls but you get 10 more x trolling time before clean rig and i troll 4.5 to 6mph with no issues...

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Please don't take this the wrong way, but I find hard to believe you hadn't caught a muskie in 15 years out of that lake.  As others have mentioned, I would bail on the trolling and cast.  It shouldn't take long to hook up with a fish that way (2 full days tops).

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Go down and talk to mike speery he is a muskie Jedi fished with him twice last year got my boat up there on my 1 st solo muskie mission and we boated 5 fish and lost 2 he had all the rod holders tackle and knowledge and he is an awsome guy to talk muskies with

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Like I have said before…I have spent countless hours drifting the weed edge casting over the weeds with jerk baits, crank baits, etc….I had one follow in 15yrs….tried the figure 8 BS when it was following but no joy.  Ive casted until I couldn't move my shoulders anymore.  I am done trying to catch them that way.  Trolling only now.  I think I found a way to get my rod tips in the water, but I will HAVE to use my down riggers to run the lures.  The Hammer lures I have aren't really meant to be run off of a down rigger….more long lining.  I have no idea how deep they would run if I ran them off the riggers.  But I am going to try anyways.  What kind of lead is common to use from the ball to lure?  

 

Has anyone ever trolled spoons for muskie on chautauqua?  What speeds?  I will be back up at my cottage either this weekend or next, and Im going to give it a try using the advice I got here.

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Good luck jigstick, that's got to be frustrating if you've really put in that sort of time.  I hope you get one this weekend.

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One trick I have tried is take an old treble hook - cut the hook points off just below the barb and also snip the "O" where you'd normally tie on toward the bottom of the shank.  You can then quickly put the opened "O" onto your swivel or leader 3 feet ahead of the lure.  As weeds slide down the line, they get caught by the treble.  I've found some hooks that have an open eye that you just pinch down.  Been doing this for a few years and seems to work great and cheap too.

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Larry Jones website taught me what I needed to know about fishing Chautauqua for musky. Unlike wire, braid or mono, leadcore follows the path of the boat, snaking through the water as it's trolled. With DownEast rod holders and your tips in the water, you can manuever the boat around those floating weeds. He's a great guy and with the knowledge he shares on his website, we've been successful the first and each time we've fished it. Baker, Wiley and Legend Perchbaits crankbaits on leadcore and 50 lb floro leader trolled fast, 3-3.5 mph.

Edited by Thun

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