Trolling the Mighty Waters of Chautauqua Lake

Written on 05/28/2022
Vance Kaloz

Chautauqua Lake a beautiful 18-mile long glacier yielding lake formed after the Ice Age. The unique geological history has created in this lake three distinct areas, each of which present different challenges for trolling: the north basin, the narrows and the south basin. Here, we will take a closer look at each section. 


First is the north basin, which lends itself to structurally sound and technical trolling. Perhaps the basin’s most notable feature is its 75-foot-deep hole that drops just off of Dewittville Bay. But the area also features underwater humps, points and breaks. It is loaded with baitfish throughout specific times of the year. When trolling in the north basin, the best way to ensure success is to key in on the depths at which bait balls are found.


The next section to explore is that which we call “the narrows.” Here, the north and south basins neck down, creating a two mile stretch of fishable waters that are protected from the weather. The narrows include a wide range of depths – some places are 50 feet deep, while in other areas you can stand up with barely your legs submerged. In this diverse ground, it is important to key in on those spots where the lake bottom gives way to extreme depths. Remember though that because this is the most protected part of the lake, you will want to keep your eyes forward and alert for those pesky pleasure boaters.  

Finally, the southern basin is like a completely different lake. At its deepest, this section is a mere 18 feet. Think of this basin as about an eight mile long, three miles at its widest, shallow flat. Because of its shallow depth, this basin tends to have more aquatic vegetation annually than the narrows and the north. Successful days on the water here come from focusing on the weed edges. You can troll right on the edge of the weeds or you can bump out and go a little bit deeper. The choice is yours, but keep in mind that where there are weeds, there are baitfish. The weeds create a perfect ambush spot for these Muskies.


I have the joy of working on this water every single day. While keeping the three basins in mind, I believe that the most important consideration for trolling on this lake is the weather and wind direction. Although the southern basin is the one most dominated by vegetation, weeds are all over the lake.  Come prepared to dunk your trolling poles in the water and clean your lines often. When trolling this beautiful aquatic habitat, I like to think that trolling becomes casting because of how often you are setting your baits out and retrieving it to see if the weeds have covered the bait.

Best of luck, and I will see you on the water.

Vance Kaloz, Fat A.Z. Musky Products & Muddy Creek Fishing Guides