Fishing In Chautauqua County

Go fishing on five lakes and numerous waterways in Chautauqua County, including western New York’s largest inland lake and a 50-mile shoreline of Lake Erie where deep water fishing yields trophy size walleye and smallmouth bass. The inland lakes, Chautauqua, Cassadaga, Findley and Bear, are exceptional for walleye, bass, muskellunge and pan fish. Come spring and fall, anglers from the northeast and Canada head to Steelhead Alley, the tributary streams that feed Lake Erie, for the challenge of fly fishing.

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  • Posted: 8/21/2018 2:05:53 PM By: Dave Barus

    Some of the beautiful fish caught last week in Lake Erie near Van Buren Point while fishing from Dunkirk Harbor, in Chautauqua County, NY. More than 200 walleye were caught by a group of friends visiting the Northern Chautauqua County Conservation Club. 

  • Posted: 8/21/2018 1:55:07 PM By: Dave Barus


    Why We Fish…Eastern Basin Lake Erie


    ·      &nbPlentiful Walleye, Bass, Yellow Perch, Steelhead, Lake Trout, Musky


    ·         Fun, Adventure, Camaraderie, Unforgettable Memories


    ·         Tasty Eating, Extraordinary New Friends, Discovery


    By Forrest Fisher



    For all of us that fish Lake Erie for walleye from Chautauqua County, New York, this summer has been one to remember. The fish have been cooperative, close to home and more plentiful than ever before. The eastern basin has finally become much like the western basin, in that you can catch walleye by many means when 41 million fish reside nearby and you are fishing with something that represents a forage item that walleye savor.


    Boat launch action at Sunset Bay State Park, Hanover Launch, Dunkirk Harbor and Barcelona Harbor has been busy and steady. Boat trailer plates can be noted from many states in the parking lots, not something that is new to WNY, but the sheer repetitive volume each day and each weekend is new. Visitors fish for walleye, perch and bass too, and catch bonus 20pound lake trout and leaping steelhead that provides an additional test of angler durability. It’s pretty exciting to say, “Fish On!” You never know what species might be there, though walleye are the norm.


    Like kids in search of candy, these repetitive fishermen need more. They need a fish-catching refill whenever time allows and, even if they must drive a few hours, they come. Even Ohio anglers are heading to WNY! Now that’s a switch!


    If we ask the visitors or locals why they fish, the answers are far and wide. Some say, “It’s just fun, I like the way they taste.” Others say, “I eat, therefore I fish.” Many of us say the same about hunting. Still others add, “I want to fill my freezer for winter, I don’t ice fish and fish are expensive in the store.” Add, “I like just like it” or “I wanted to fish with my grandkids,” or “My wife wanted me to cut the grass so I came fishing,” or “I just love being here, I don’t care if I catch fish.” There’s more, you’ve heard them now and then.


    I asked Captain Jim Steel, a Lake Erie charter captain (Dreamcatcher Sportfishing) who works the Sunset Bay-Dunkirk area, why he fishes. The soft-spoken master captain says, “Because I Iike to fish. I like to share our incredible resource with others. My first mate is Rich Fliss, both of us never stop thinking about fishing. Even when we’re deer hunting, we text each other from the tree stand and exchange ideas for gear and new rigs to try next, to fish better with. My wife (Kim) is also a coast guard certified first mate, we are first aid/CPR certified too. We are all drug-tested. We follow the rules and people know, they’re safe here.” Captain Jim Steel has a big heart and he shares his tactics, his gear choices, line sizes, snap-swivel choices, all that. Even his thinking about strategy for the fish day and why. He explains gear choices for the day, right down to lure picks (Renosky’s, Bay Rat’s, Challenger’s, Chatterstick’s, etc.), colors, actions and depth placements. Visit his website at or call 716-983-7867 to visit aboard his 31-foot Tiara (w/rest room).


    While some people fish to simply fill their freezers, fishing for Lake Erie walleye is more than a grocery trip for most anglers. For Captain Jim Steel and so many others, it is a passion. It is a new experience to enjoy each and every time. Steel adds, “You know, each trip is such fun because so often we take people fishing that have never been here before. Watching them enjoy reeling in a big catch is an unlimited fun moment for them and for us.” 


    Steel says, “The fishing changes day to day and so while it may appear that all of our tackle rigs in the rod holders are a bit overwhelming, many are often quite different from each other. Some rod/reel rigs have light line, some have heavy line, some are rigged for lead-core line, others for downriggers, still others for other specific purpose. We use varying types of leader lines too. Whatever the fishery demands for us to do to catch fish that day, we are prepared. That’s one of the reasons why we are busy with repeat anglers using our services all summer. We use new Okuma rod-reel tackle each year, it all works and we avoid malfunctions to be sure folks enjoy the best day without problems.”


    Like a hunter looking through his binoculors for game in the deer woods, Steel and others that have stepped up to the now affordable hi-tech sonar gear, can search with down scan and side scan electronics to find fish. The sonar adds excitement to the trip. “There’s one,” says a client watching the screen. “You can sense the excitement and anticipation in their voice.”


    For many of us regular fishermen, we share our fishing spirit all summer long, all the while, in pursuit of our quarry, the wily walleye.  We share our enthusiasm. We share our reverence and respect for the fishery, big fish and little fish. We embrace the army of anglers that enjoy and share in these same things. Together we are a brotherhood of men and women and kids that love the outdoors with a passion that cannot be equaled. As a brotherhood, we define a time-worn trail to pass along to younger generations.  First encounters, indescribable moments in time – the one that got away, the one that didn’t, the one that won the prize.


    We share in orange sunrise moments, peaceful sunsets and at night, even the Milky Way and twinkling stars in their constellation positions add to our unforgettable moments during our fishing time. Each of these, we share with the same appreciation of where we are and what we are doing when we are fishing. We embrace such moments and they help make us who we are. We are fishermen. We are special, especially in today’s world.    


    Each fishing day, the goal is to encounter that first fish. Sometimes it takes a while longer, so we change lures, colors, and tactics. That’s fun too.


    For bass in Lake Erie between Dunkirk at Shorewood Shoal all the way to the Pennsylvania line, switch to rod-in-hand fishing using Heddon Sonar’s, jigging Rapala’s, drop-shot rigs with ElaszTech plastic worms in peanut butter/jelly color rigged 20 inches off the sinker with size 2 VMC hooks.  I like super-thin 20# Gamma braided line and 8# fluorocarbon leaders to cast the drop shot rigs or Storm 360GT 5-inch jig tails. It’s not unusual to land 20+ bass and a few surprise walleye fishing for bass this way. Reasons why we fish are simple. Indelible. Fun. It keeps us ageless wonders from the 50s young for a day.


    We live in an incredible time on an incredible fishery because the resource of Lake Erie is in our backyard. We are the lucky ones. Why we fish? It’s about expectations, adventure, friends, fun and working hard to make it all happen. Checking gear, camaraderie, sharing secrets and embracing the spirit of the catch, even when we don’t catch ‘em, that’s why we fish.  You might have many reasons. All good.


    The future of fishing, our clean waters and our kids depend on you sharing why we fish with that youngest generation of today. Kids today need to hear it from their master mentors. Parents. Grandparents. Charter captains. So get busy, go tell those kids you know why we fish and invite them along. Be gentle, be thorough. Laugh hardy. Create special moments not to be forgotten. This year, our fishery will help.


    Share some of the best time to be found on the planet right here in WNY fishing for Lake Erie walleye.


    For accommodations and a list of charter captains, visit:


    For the latest fish report, visit:


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  • Posted: 4/26/2018 10:50:47 AM By: Dave Barus


    It’s Inland Stream Trout Season in Chautauqua!


    Wild Brown Trout Offer Classic Inland Stream Fishing Thrills  &nb


    Chautauqua, New York – April 13, 2018: Imagine more than 825 adult wild brown trout per stream mile! That’s a fact for Clear Creek in eastern Chautauqua County near the tiny village of Ellington and the Cockaigne Ski Resort (planning to reopen in 2018). This pristine stream offers clear flowing water, riffles, pools, serenity and the fun of slashing strikes from plentiful wild brown trout. An occasional rainbow trout is also caught here.


    The inland trout fisheries of Chautauqua County offer exciting trout fishing for wild trout and stocked trout. Get your fly rod and your flies, get your spinning rod and your lures or redworms and bobber, get your kids and grandkids, but be sure to get yourself here soon!


    The kids enjoy the put and take fishery offered from the stocked trout, but it is the wild trout action that is considered a “nice secret” among trout anglers that enjoy the adventure and rivalry with the fish they find in these Chautauqua wildland streams. Chautauqua also offers world class tributary steelhead fishing in 6 streams during the cold snow months, but the inland stream wild trout fishing when the tree buds start to pop, attracts anglers from hundreds of miles away. 


    In tributary streams and inland streams, catch and release fishing is encouraged by conservation-minded anglers that realize trout fishing is a renewable resource with careful release practices from anglers large and small. Many anglers fish with barbless hooks. 


    The inland trout streams of Chautauqua County offer the challenge of exciting, small stream fishing action for brown trout, brook trout and rainbow trout. While several inland, spring-fed streams are stocked with hatchery-raised trout, the special opportunity of Chautauqua County wild trout fishing action is unique and is sought by trout anglers from across the country.


    Other inland Chautauqua trout streams that are stocked with trout (nearly 7,000 each spring), include Upper Cassadaga Creek near Stockton, Upper Canadaway Creek near Arkwright, Goose Creek near North Harmony, Bear Lake Outlet, West Branch Conewango Creek near Villenova, Farrington Brook near Cherry Creek and Mill Creek near Gerry, New York.


    Fishing Reports: Skip Bianco - Hogan’s Hut,, 716-789-3831; Nathan Queer - Westfield Bait & Tackle,, 716-239-5062; Mike Sperry - Chautauqua Reel Outdoors,, 716-763-2947; Gerry Begier - Bill’s Hooks,, 716-366-0268.


    Regulations: The inland trout streams are open to catch and keep fishing from April 1 through October 15, with a daily limit of 5 fish per person. The inland streams are also open to trout fishing from October 16 through March 31 for catch and release (artificial lures only). Anglers should always check the NYSDEC fish syllabus for regulation revisions: ( Catch and release is encouraged, trout can live decades!


    Lodging: Find a bed and breakfast, a warm spring cottage or bring the family to a deluxe water playground hotel. Some options: 



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  • Posted: 4/10/2018 11:31:22 AM By: Dave Barus


    Chautauqua County “Steelhead Alley”


    BRING A CAMERA! gin:0px">6 Chautauqua Lake Erie Trib’s, Easy Access, Fish'n Fun  



    Chautauqua, New York – Mar. 16, 2018: Anglers from near and far identify that Chautauqua County is the cornerstone of a fishing zone nationally known as “Steelhead Alley.” From the onset of winter (October) through spring (May), tackle-busting steelhead migrate from Lake Erie to enter six (6) Chautauqua County tributary streams where they provide exciting angler action.  Fish from 4 to 7 pounds are common, though 10 and 12 pound fish are not that unusual.


    The “New Number 1” noted steelhead hotspot is Chautauqua Creek in Westfield, NY, drawing anglers from near and far. A recently completed fish passage project at the Westfield Water Works Dam now provides new access for steelhead to swim an additional 10 miles upstream, winding through the picturesque and deeply carved Chautauqua gorge. More than 8 miles of peaceful, public fishing rights exist, including a new 1.3 mile “Catch and Release” section directly below the Dam where only artificial lures may be used - very popular with fly rod anglers. About 15 miles of the uppermost headwaters of 20-Mile Creek flow south and west from the eastward side of the Chautauqua Ridge before entering Pennsylvania to empty in Lake Erie. Serenity is king here.


    Just south of Dunkirk, NY, Canadaway Creek meets Lake Erie to offer excellent steelhead and brown trout fishing for nearly 6 miles from the mouth upstream to Laona Falls. Silver Creek joins Lake Erie in the village of Silver Creek, NY, to offer several miles of smaller water fishing from the mouth to the Hanover and King Road crossing. When other streams run muddy, this stream is typically less stained. Tiny Walnut Creek flows into Silver Creek near the mouth with productive fishing upstream to the falls located below Route 39 in Forestville.


    Cattaraugus Creek is the largest of all Chautauqua County Lake Erie tributaries. The first 6 miles of this magnificent steelhead waterway are located in Chautauqua County, where the mouth of the stream provides access for shore angling and boat fishing.


    Gear: Fly rods and Spinning Rods.

    Fly rods to more than 10 feet long equipped with a large arbor reel to hold about 100 yards of braided line backing and 6 to 10 weight-forward tapered fly line. Anglers tie 6 to 12 pound monofilament leaders (about 9 feet long), then add 4 to 12 pound test fluorocarbon tippets for the plentiful, but sometimes wary, steelhead. Salmon egg fly patterns, streamer flies (wooly buggers, egg-sucking leeches, zonkers) and nymphs (stoneflies, hare’s ear) are popular fly angler patterns.

    Spinning rods are also popular with medium-heavy action rods of 7 to 11 foot lengths, anglers use 6 to 12 pound test monofilament line with a fluorocarbon leader.  The same flies can be used with a drift bobber, while some anglers fish egg sacs from octopus style hooks.

    Latest fishing reports: Bill’s Hooks, 5139 W. Lake Rd. (Route 5), Dunkirk, NY, 716-366-0268 or Jerome Miller’s Bait Store, 12707 Allegany Rd., Irving, NY, 716-934-2477.


    Regulations: Trout and salmon season is open all year, 12-inch minimum, daily limit 3 per person in most streams. Fishing is permitted one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset (fishing at night is prohibited) in tributary streams. Anglers should check the NYSDEC fish syllabus for changes to regulations ( Catch and release is encouraged, steelhead can respawn for decades.


    Lodging: For any of these outings, spend the weekend at a bed and breakfast, a warm winter cottage or bring the family to a deluxe winter water playground hotel. Some options are found here: 



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  • Posted: 2/16/2018 6:49:35 AM By: Dave Barus


    Chautauqua Lake WINTER FISHING REPORT: this has been a year of giant fish from across many species.  Steve Hawkins who runs an annual ice-fishing contest at Captain Bob’s Outdoors in Clarence (716-407-3621) reports that one young angler was fishing off Long Point on Feb. 2 when he caught a huge 3.69 pound lunker crappie, the state record is 3.75 pounds. The angler was dropping lines in 32 fe


    Also in the north basin of Chautauqua, Captain Mike Sperry of Chautauqua Reel Outdoors Guide and Tackle Shop in Lakewood (716-763-2947) also runs a winter walleye contest during February and reports that anglers have been bringing in many good walleye, including some whoppers. This past weekend, Dan Gould landed a 28-1/4 inch walleye that tipped the scale at 10.53 pounds to take the lead in the contest - he was using a J-5 Jigging Rapala. The lures cost around $7 in the store. Sperry added that there is not a big crappie bite in Burtis Bay this year (yet), but the guys have been hooking up with crappie, perch and an occasional giant musky while fishing for walleye.


    Also in the north basin at Mayville with parking in the town park there, Skip Bianco of Hogan’s Hut in Stow (on Route 394 near the Route 86 bridge), reports good bluegill and yellow perch fun for kids of all ages. A little ice jig tipped with a spike grub or mousie grub is turning the trick there. Bianco adds, the walleye anglers fishing off the Prendergast boat launch, are catching good walleye by not fishing too deep, but working the edges of the dormant summer weedline in 12-13 feet of water.


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  • Posted: 9/14/2017 10:28:36 AM By: Andrew Nixon

    Great day of Lake Erie walleye fishing in September, 2016. The crew of Dream Catcher Sportsfishing  took out two members of the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers annual conference. 

  • Posted: 8/30/2016 9:54:05 AM By:

    21 pound lake trout caught off Dunkirk Harbor!

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