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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Our State's Top Five Spring Walleye Waters
Here's a look at where to go for some exciting spring walleye fishing on New York's top-rated lakes and reservoirs. (March 2006)
By Brian Krull

New York's waters provide some fantastic spring walleye fishing, and although the fishing doesn't really heat up until later in the spring, now is the time to start preparing to ensure success once the season opens May 6.

In most Empire State waters, the minimum length for walleyes is 15 inches and the daily limit is five fish. Some exceptions do exist and will be listed for the waters mentioned below. Check the 2006 freshwater fishing regulations before a trip.

LAKE ERIELake Erie is home to some of the best walleye fishing in the world, and the waters from the Pennsylvania border all the way to the Peace Bridge in Buffalo offer some excellent spring fishing.
Lake Erie has excellent boat access along its shoreline bordering Route 5. Heading east to west, the best public boat launches include Small Boat Harbor in Buffalo, Sturgeon Point Marina in Derby, Silver Creek (near the mouth of Cattaraugus Creek), Dunkirk Harbor and Barcelona.
When fishing the daylight hours, keep in mind that walleyes tend to move into 30 to 35 feet of water where they can be caught by drifting or trolling.
If you do not have access to a boat, there is some good spring walleye fishing available by wading at Wanakah Beach off Route 5 in Hamburg. There is also access for shore-casters at the mouth of Smokes Creek in Lackawanna. The daily limit on walleyes in Lake Erie is four fish.
When planning a walleye fishing trip on Lake Erie, be sure to check the weather forecast, as it can be extremely rough when the wind gets above 15 miles per hour and unsafe when the wind gets above 20 miles per hour. It is also wise to have an alternate plan to fish a nearby inland lake in the event that a prolonged windstorm blows in.
Accommodations are plentiful in the greater Buffalo area as well as in Dunkirk. Check with your favorite hotel chain because most are close to the lake.
For local fishing information, check with Miller's Bait and Tackle in Silver Creek or at the pier in Dunkirk.

CHAUTAUQUA LAKE In southern Chautauqua County, this lake offers great spring walleye fishing. The fun begins with the annual walleye tournament at 12:01 a.m. on opening day.
Chautauqua Lake, known for its great muskie fishing, has been a spring walleye hotspot for a number of years, producing excellent sizes and numbers of fish.
The Interstate Route 86 bridge divides the lake almost in half, and spring walleyes may be found in the shallows along the shoreline of both the northern and southern basins.
Daytime walleye fishing is rarely productive. Trolling or casting from dusk until sunrise will provide the best opportunities for catching a limit of walleyes, which in Chautauqua Lake is three fish with a minimum size limit of 18 inches.
Prendergast and Dewittville creeks, feeding the north basin of Chautauqua Lake, have great runs of spawning walleyes. Early in the season, the mouths of these creeks are two of the best spots for walleyes coming off their spawning beds. Other hotspots in early spring are the shoreline surrounding Long Point State Park, the I-86 bridge, and the water off Maple Springs on the eastern side of the northern basin.
Later in the spring, walleyes move away from the shorelines and into the weedbeds. They can be found by fishing the edge of any weed line, with two of the most noted hotspots being off the tower at Chautauqua Institution on the western side of the north basin and Cheney's Point on the western side of the southern basin.
Free boat access is plentiful on Chautauqua Lake, with five of seven public launches not charging launch fees. Perhaps the best and easiest of these is the New York Department of Environmental Conservation's launch at Bemus Point off Route 430, just a few miles from I-86 and a short drive from I-90. Because most of Chautauqua Lake is shallow, it can get pretty choppy on windy days, but it is rarely too rough to fish.
Long Point State Park offers some great opportunities for wading. Accommodations are plentiful in Jamestown at the southern end of the lake.

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