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delilah

Newbie to fishing Chautaugua Lake

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Looking to go try to catch some muskies any tips? What basin should I zero in on? Any dephs that work best? Thanks in advanced 

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How do you like fish for muskies? Do you prefer to cast or troll? I looked through some of your previous posts. Are you new to muskie fishing or just new to Chautauqua lake? Did you take any of the previous advice offered to you...did you join a club like the NMA or Muskies Inc? Have you caught some muskies or are you looking for your first one?

There are always muskies to be caught in both basins. The north end is deeper and clearer water, while the south end is shallower, darker water. One of the great things about Chautauqua is it's so diverse. You can literally catch muskies doing just about anything there...casting, trolling, jigging, deep, shallow, north, south.

If you are more confident fishing structure/objects, there are nice weed lines to cast or troll. If you don't mind open water, there are also plenty of suspended fish to target. If you are looking for some specific techniques, depths, etc, read through some of Captain Larry's Chautauqua reports on this site from the last couple years. Just keep in mind, there's more than one way to skin a cat. What works for Larry, isn't how I fish the lake and may not be the best techniques for you. In my experience, you are always best off doing your own thing.

Another good way to learn techniques and the lake would be to hire a guide for a day:

Todd Young, Muddy Creek Guide Service

Larry Jones, Mostly Muskies

Mike Sperry, Chautauqua Reel Outdoors

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Edited by Ivan

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I will be at Chautauqua Lake tomorrow, I will report what works or does not work for us tomorrow night.

As Ivan stated muskies are caught on many different trolling & casting programs at Chautauqua Lake.It changes back and forth there are times one program can out produce another.I live and die by my leadcore program have been using it since 1975 and most days it does produce for me.I do best when fish are down 20 to 25 ft suspended over deep water.But then again that is the program I'm use to using and know at all times how deep and how far from the boat my crankbaits are for placement and when to make structure change moves.Ivan and others also have great programs and they also know where their crankbaits are at all times for proper fish catching placement.Some crankbaits work better slow and others work better at faster speeds,I just seem to catch more fish going only 3.7 mph with 5 1/2" Wiley's, 4.5 mph with 5"Tuff Shad and 5 mph with 7" Warner Baits!I have caught & released 67 muskies between Chautauqua & Niagara River over 30" to 51" so far this year using leadcore program.A friend has caught 61 muskies over 30" and 20 muskies under 30" using leadcore at Chautauqua Lake this year so far.

Edited by mostlymuskies

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WOW Larry those are some impressive numbers, congrats to you and your buddy!! PAP

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Thanks for the information. I have a few more questions. Do Muskie ever hang around the thermocline and which boat launch would you recommend using.

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The best boat launch is at Long Point State Park.2nd best is Prendergast NYSDEC Launch in behind the Hatchery.The muskies will be just above the thermicline.The only thermicline I marked were near the deeper holes and it was around 28 ft down.Cloudy covered days the muskies have been suspended in the upper 15 ft over 23 to 27 ft of water.Bluebird high sunny days the muskies have been suspended down 20 to 25 ft over 32 to 37 ft of water.

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Larry is successful with his program...no doubt. There are definitely muskies at the depths Larry is talking about. But, don't feel like you need to fish 15-25' down in order to catch Chautauqua muskies. They are literally everywhere, and those depths wouldn't be the easiest to target...especially for a newer guy . Fish to your strengths. Guys have been doing well casting weeds too. We also just released a big fish trolling on Sunday. It was only 7 or 8' down and that day was blazing hot, little wind, and very few clouds.

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Also the water visability up north is getting greener with algae now.Some places you can only see your lure down 3 feet.Surface water was 76.5 degrees,temp down 20 ft was 72.3 degrees and that was were the bait fish were suspended over 30 ft + water.Over 25 to 27 ft water the bait fish were suspended 15 ft down.Weeds were not much of a problem in 30 to 37 ft of water,but closer in to shore the Cutters were working from Irwin Bay to Bell Tower and with a West wind the weeds were bad in 25 to 27 ft water yesterday.I did not go south of Prendergast Point so I have no info to help for those areas.

Edited by mostlymuskies

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We went out all day Saturday. We had two hits all day but lost them both. Are First hit was at the point of Dewittville bay in 35ft and the second was around 35ft over by Prendergast point. We did launch at long point and trolled north up the east side to Dewittville. We just went across from there to the west and went back up. The only lure they liked out of all we tried was a Ernie.

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We went out all day Saturday. We had two hits all day but lost them both. Are First hit was at the point of Dewittville bay in 35ft and the second was around 35ft over by Prendergast point. We did launch at long point and trolled north up the east side to Dewittville. We just went across from there to the west and went back up. The only lure they liked out of all we tried was a Ernie.

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2 hits your first time there is good. 0% catch to hit ratio is unfortunate. Often while muskie fishing, you don't get many chances in a day, and capitalizing on a single opportunity can mean the difference between success and failure.  Why do you think you lost both fish you had hooked?

Edited by Ivan

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Both fish I could feel there head shakes when I had the rod in the air but then then they were gone after a few seconds. Must of not been hooked good my guess

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Both fish I could feel there head shakes when I had the rod in the air but then then they were gone after a few seconds. Must of not been hooked good my guess

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Sometimes that happens.  Are you sharpening your hooks with a file?  What type of line, rod, and reel are you using?

 

Don't slow down or take the boat out of gear until the person fighting the fish has the rod out of the holder and in their hands. Also, not a good idea to hold your rod up in the air or pump it while reeling in muskies trolling. (not saying you did that, but just some advice) You are better off keeping your rod tip closer to the water or just horizontal, keep a good bend on the rod/pressure on the fish, and steadily crank them in as fast as they will let you. Headshakes create slack in your line and release pressure from the bait/hooks...gotta take it to them when they do that. It's usually bigger fish that headshake too.

Edited by Ivan

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We were running 60# wire line and and not sure the make of the rod but it's a trolling rod with a okuma line counter real. Which is best to run dipsey's or down rigger?

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The dipsey rod would definitely be better. A downrigger rod is pretty soft/slow to get a good hookset on a muskie if using it to troll a flatline. Why the wire?...I assume thats your wire dipsey setup for salmon or something. 80 pound braided line, like power pro, and a good fluorocarbon leader work well. I understand that maybe you just want to catch one, but ethical/responsible muskie fishing requires some specialized equipment.

I have to be honest man, you scare me a bit. Don't want to preach, but as dedicated muskie fisherman, we all want what's best for our fish and their safe release after they are caught. So we can catch them again. That's why guys suggested you join a club when you asked for advice last year or whenever that was...so they can show you the proper way to fish for, handle, and safely release muskies.

Not to be too critical, but you sound like you may be just dangerous enough to go out there and do some damage if you dont know how to properly handle the fish. These aren't salmon...you dont net them, flop them on the floor of your boat, unhook them, and then toss them in a cooler. Please read through the release thread on this page and be prepared with a big net with a deep coated bag so you can keep the fish in the water while unhooking, etc. Bolt cutters would probably be a good idea for you too.

Guys would be more willing to help you if you understand what Im talking about. Joining a club or hiring a guide really is the best way to learn fishing techniques and how to safely handle the fish. Also a good way to meet people who know what they are doing.

Good luck to you...just dont be killing fish out there that the rest if us could be re-catching and releasing.

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That's cool steelie...maybe you just don't get it. I'm sure I may come off sounding like a know it all, entitled ass to some, but there's nothing unreal or untruthful about what I said, and I don't care what you may think of me because of it.

 

Why do you think nobody else besides me and Larry have offered up any advice to delilah? There are plenty of guys that are thinking along the lines I am, but are too nice to say. Larry is certainly too nice of a guy to do it. I'd be glad to help him more, as would other guys I'm sure, if I knew he was prepared,etc and wasn't just looking for quick answers on the internet. Maybe meet some people in person, get some useful advice, learn the ropes, etc. What a few people do can affect the rest of us in this sport.

 

Do you know how old a big mature muskie in Chautauqua lake may be, and how long it would take to replace a fish like that? When you have invested the time and effort many muskie hunters have, you would understand why we are so protective of the fish and fisheries. A slogan of Muskies Inc has always been "Americas most conservation minded anglers".

Edited by Ivan

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Ivan,I'm certainly not one to shy away from talking about the safe handling and equipment needed for muskies.I did not see that I needed to bring it up since you covered most of it in your post.For many years a lot of us also used wire line for catching muskies.The reason was we could get more depth out of lures like Depthraiders and could feel everything from the crankbait to the rod handle,knowing instantly if one hook gets just a very small piece of moss.There is nothing wrong with using wire line as long as one is aware of its weak points.First is a twist in line can mean a kink and instant break off,so the best thing is to have a cone shaped Twili-Tip that will turn in the direction of the twist to straighten line before going through the rod eyes.One must also have a looser drag when using wire line because it does not stretch and can break on bigger fish or snag.Because of the looser drag you will need a stiffer rod for helping set the hook,so the normal downrigger rod is a little to limber.The other problem with wire is when your putting line out you must keep good tension on the reel spool so as to not allow the line on the spool get loose,when a fish gets hooked the wire line can cut into loose wraps on the reel spool,causing back lash and instant break off.In the late part of November a wet spool of wire line will freeze together,so needs to be sprayed down with silicone spray to stop freezing.Hooks need to be lazer sharp,stick into your finger nail with ease.Now with the water temps being closer toward 80 degrees it is important to not play the muskie to total stressed exaustion,bring them to the boat as fast as possible.Once in the net,remove hooks and get the lure out of the way.Now if the fish can't keep upright on its own it is to stressed for an out of water picture at that time.Grab the muskies tail and upright it keeping it's head and gills completely under the water until the fish can stay upright on its own.Then look at the fishes eyes if they have a glossy look do not take the fish out of the water for a picture, take the picture with the fish in the water.If you lift a fish out for a picture have the camera ready ahead of time before taking the fish out for the picture,quick picture of only seconds out of the water.I put the fish back in the net keeping the fish always upright under the water,if you loose control of the fish and it turns on its side,it's not going anywhere because you have it in the net.Just grab the fish by the tail and keep upright and under the water again.The fish will begin to fight your grasp and the little fin on the back top of the fish will start to waver from side to side.Dip the net and let her swim home.On very stressed fish I have placed frozen bottles of water in the net with the fish to cool water down around them and also have used a C-pap hose on my live well airator with the other end putting oxygen into the water near the fishes gills.They come back very fast doing this.I also like to see each new muskie fishermen get the correct information on how to have the correct equipment and how to handle the muskies safely as well.

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I have been Casting for Muskie for 3 years so I didn't just jump right into this year. I have done months on top of months of research so proper release and equipment that's just my buddy's Trolling temporary trolling gear. I have 80# power pro with steel and Fluorocarbon leaders on my casting rod. Even though I don't get out there much I'm always researching to know how to do things.

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This is are first for trying to troll for them but I am getting proper line and everything else I need for trolling

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I am looking to book a charter soon to get some hands on advise from a expert. Larry do you still charter?

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And I have all proper release gear net pliers spreader and hook cutter. I know you don't bring the fish into the boat in the net.

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Thanks for clearing that up delilah.  I tried to find out some background on you by asking a few of those questions initially, but you didn't seem to want to answer. Hey...for all I know, you could be looking to fill your freezer with muskie meat, and I'm certainly not going to help you do that.

 

Have you caught any muskies yet?  

 

Larry would be a great guy to help you, as would either of the other two guides I recommended.  I learned most of my information about muskie fishing when I started by joining a Muskies Inc chapter and making friends with people who had more experience than I did at the time. Most of my best friends today are through muskie fishing.

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Just to clear more things up delilah my buddy's

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Delilah is my buddy's account. My name is Brandon and he lets me use his account. Any post about Muskie are from me and the rest are him. Me personally I am strictly catch and release on any fish. I would love to join niagara Muskie but my week schedule is so tight with work and my 3 year old that my only free time is some weekends.

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