Chautauqua Lake, NY – 26 Walleye FUN, Rod-in-Hand Fishing…Memorial Day Treat

Frank Shoenacker gets the net for another one of our 26 walleye caught in daylight the Friday before Memorial Day.

  • Simple Fishing, Simple Fun, NEW METHOD
  • Peaceful Fishing Fun with Time to Share Conversation
  • Braided Line, Fluorocarbon Leaders, Sharp Hooks 

By Forrest Fisher

My fishing friend, Captain Frank Shoenacker (Infinity Charters), gets the net for another one of our 26 walleye caught in 3-4 hours of daylight fishing on Chautauqua Lake the Friday before Memorial Day.  Forrest Fisher photo

“There’s one!” Frank shared, “Can you get the net Forrest.” It was actually, to be more correct, “another one.” 

We started at 7 in the morning on the Friday before Memorial Day, the sun had not yet made it over the eastern hill at Bemus Point.  Through about 10:30AM, we landed 26 walleye. Not joking.  My fishing buddy and friend, Captain Frank Shoenacker (pronounced “sha-na-kir), enjoys fishing for walleye with rod in hand.  “It’s real fishing,” he says.

When he’s not guiding for fun with guys like me to catch walleye to 6 pounds, he likes to work on his rigs, experiment with new baits, learn from other experts – like at the seminar series at the Niagara Outdoor Show every year, and also share what he knows too.

Our catch included a good number of throwbacks that were 1/8″ under the 15″ minimum, but being honest, I filled my limit fishing with fish to 24 inches long while spending a peaceful morning of conversation with this incredible fishing expert and friend. Secrets abound, some of them you need to find out from Frank himself, but think about it, 26 walleye. An amazing morning!

The future for great walleye fishing at Chautauqua lake looks really good if the 14-7/8″ fish landed are any indication. Minimum size limit is 15″, 5 fish bag per day. Forrest Fisher Photo

I felt like I was fishing in a throwback time. You remember those old days when going fishing meant leaving the rest of the world behind and just hoping to find some fish that would bite? That’s how it is was with Frank. We’ve been fishin’ friends for a few years now because we share a passion for the fun and legacy of catching walleye in Chautauqua Lake (and Lake Erie), especially with rod in hand. 

We leave the fancy toys, riggers, boards and all that behind when it comes to early season walleye fishing. I like to cast toward evening and into the night, but Frank prefers to catch fish in daytime hours (who doesn’t?) and shares his secret tactics with those folks that use his guiding services for charter fishing on Chautauqua Lake, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.

Frank says, “For the newbie fishing folks to enjoy the day and really have fun, I have learned the lesson that keeping it simple gets that done. Customers go home happy and with fish for the table if they want to keep ‘em.” When I saw how simple his tactics were, how savvy and coy they were at the same time, I was not just impressed, I was blown away. 

An 8HP, Four-Stroke trolling motor and wind sock combo allow total, fish-catching, boat control with the Shoenacker method. Forrest Fisher Photo

As we moved from spot to spot collecting three or four walleye from each fishing zone, we shared conversation with 9 other boats out there vying for a fish-catching moment. In all, there was only one fish among them! Surprising to me? Yes! We were killing ‘em. Why? Stealth. Proper colors. Proper presentation. Fishing were the fish were (perhaps the biggest reason).

Cut weeds, floating weeds, short emerging weeds, all were also present in the water, but no algae or moss. Seeing the weeds, you might agree, trolling is not an option. At least not an option that most folks might take. For Frank, it’s the one situation he likes the best. “No boat traffic this way,” he says with a smile. 

He likes to use a modified troll using his 8HP/four-stroke engine with a drift bag to make the type of motion control possible that he wants for his 17-foot Lund fishing boat. Very slow forward motion in particular places, almost negligible motion…but there is motion, fish-catching motion. 

Frank understands this motion thing quite well and can explain it. He puts the presentation on the fish where they are and then tantalizingly appeals to their sense of scent, visual attraction, lure motion and hunger using small baits. The scent of live nightcrawlers on his assortment of artificial worms in combination with vivid colors, stealth bead rigs and a unique catch-no-weeds arrangement, makes Frank rig effective on Chautauqua Lake. Quite amazing really.

The motor was running, though I couldn’t hear it. As Frank reached for a Tim Horton’s Timbit he looked over his shoulder at me and said, “It’s so good to be out here just fishing for fun today, ya know?” He tossed his line out about 40 feet behind the boat and told me to follow suit. He had the right side, I had the left looking back toward the transom. We caught one freshwater clam before moving to the next spot. “Lots of spots to fish,” Frank shared with a grin.

In similar depth water, we repeated the cast-out routine using his 7’ high tensile strength graphite St. Croix rods and Daiwa reels filled with 10-pound test Seaguar 832 braid and terminated with a fluorocarbon leader to the lure. You could feel every pebble, every bottom sensation and every nibble, tap-tap and anything else that contacted the lure. The rig provides the perfect rod-in-hand experience for every angler.

Rod feel is important when fishing simple. This St. Croix “Eyecon” rod works well. Forrest Fisher photo

Over the next two hours, we landed dozens of walleye, but we also hooked or caught other fish species too, including musky.

I raised my rod tip, there it was, one tap and a slight movement left, dragged the rod forward and wham, the fish slammed the lure, just like Frank said they would. This guy likes to share fun, that’s all I can say about this trip.

“Get the Net” was a frequent expression that morning. The net is important to keep big fish from falling of and to keep little fish getting injured. Forrest Fisher Photo

Frank catches walleye using a method with lures that he alone has perfected. Since I’ve been doing this for 60 years I can say that.  The results are amazing on even a short day of fishing. Imagine 26 walleye, a 4-foot musky and so many other fish from a lake 17 miles long that thousands of anglers fish each year.

It pays to have some secrets, right? If you’re looking to share in this fun, look him up, Google Chautauqua Lake, Captain Frank Shoenacker (585-406-5764), Infinity Charters (www.tourchautauqua.com/Go-Fishing/Charters-And-Guides/Infinity-Charters-LLC.aspx?mid=15798&c=76) for simple fishing, rod in hand. 

I enjoyed hearing that one expression we used so often, “Get the net!”

A most relaxing day!

Unforgettable.

Thanks Captain Frank.

TRIPLE-UP WINTER FUN in Chautauqua County, NY

 

  • Anglers – Ice Fish for Walleye
  • Hunters – Get Ready for Goose Season
  • Families: It’s Maple Syrup Time and Late Winter Adventures
Brock Windoft of Lakewood, NY, with a beautiful winter musky caught and released from Chautauqua Lake ice.

Chautauqua, New York – Feb. 22, 2018: Winter Fishing – Anglers on Chautauqua Lake have enjoyed one of the finest ice fishing seasons in several years. Huge crappie over three pounds, walleye over 10-pounds, lots of toothy musky – some better than four feet long, as well as bluegills and yellow perch, all have been testing the lightweight winter fishing lines of anglers from Mayville to Jamestown. Hard ice off the north side of Long Point has provided excellent fishing, though anglers accessing the lake from the Mayville Town Park parking area have enjoyed good catches as well. With spring warming trends, the once solid ice of 10-12 inches thickness will thin quickly.  Open water flows from tributary creeks will soon begin and runoffs from warming canals will initiate the onset of early crappie fishing for hardy anglers, well ahead of the usual calendar start.  For the latest fishing news, check with Skip Bianco at Hogan’s Hut, www.hogans-hut.com/, 716-789-3831 or Mike Sperry at Chautauqua Reel Outdoors, www.chautauquareeloutdoors.com/, 716-763-2947.

Shotgun Hunters: Canada geese – they abound as a golden Chautauqua opportunity for 5-bird daily bag limits with the nine-day late Goose Hunting Season that runs March 2-10. Cackling geese and white-fronted geese may be taken as part of the Canada goose daily and possession limit. Shooting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset. Snow geese season is open now too, they may be taken by special Conservation Order through April 15, daily limit is 25 birds. The geese species, possession limit is three times the daily limit, except for snow geese. Use of non-toxic shot required and hunters should remember that the possession limit is the maximum number of birds with you in the field, at home, in transit or in storage. For special hunter regulations visit: www.dec.ny.gov.

Maple Syrup Family Adventures – the sunny winter weather has been with us, maple tree sap is flowing in Chautauqua County. Maple weekends are just ahead: March 17-18 and March 24-25, 2018. There are three Sugar House Sites that will offer free, family-oriented events to learn about maple syrup making, each site offering different “See & Do Fun,” many with free samples. Mmmm! Learn about boiling tree sap, filtering, bottling, packaging and making maple sugar candy. Enjoy horse drawn wagon rides, hiking tours, other activities.  Events run no matter rain or snow or shine. Wear boots. Add these stops to your schedule: Big Tree Maple, 2040 Holly Lane, Lakewood, NY,14750, www.bigtreemaple.com, 716-763-5917; Clear Creek Farm, 5067 Morris Road, Mayville, NY, 14757, www.clearcreekfarms.us/, 716-269-2079; Fairbanks Maple, 9265 Putman Road, Forestville, NY, 14062, www.facebook.com/FairbanksMaple/, 716-965-4208.

For any of these outings, spend the weekend at a bed and breakfast, a warm winter cottage or a deluxe winter water playground hotel. Some options: http://www.tourchautauqua.com/where_to_stay.aspx.

Outdoor Media Contact: Dave Barus – Fishing & Hunting Promotions Associate, Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau, P.O. Box 1441, Chautauqua, NY, 14722; email: dbarus35@yahoo.com; Cell: 716-597-4081.  Visitors Bureau Travel/Accommodations Contact: R. Andrew Nixon, Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau, P.O. Box 1441, Chautauqua, NY, 14722; Office: 716-357-4569; email: nixon@tourchautauqua.com; web: http://www.tourchautauqua.com; www.Facebook.com/Tour.Chautauqua.   

 

Western New York Fishing Forecast for Friday, May 27, 2016

Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, Niagara River, Chautauqua Lake, Finger Lakes

Captain Vince Pierleoni and Team Thrillseeker outsmarted the bruiser King Salmon to finish in the money in the professional division of the Pro-Am Tournament on Lake Ontario last.

Weather Helps Fishing Action! 

We finally saw some west wind blow some fish into local waters, but it wasn’t easy fishing for the Pro-Am tournament last weekend for sure.  According to Capt. Vince Pierleoni of Team Thrillseeker (who placed in the money yet again for the Professional Division), transition time in the lake is rapidly approaching with the super warm weather arriving this weekend.

Combine that with four straight days of calm weather before the recent winds at mid-week – there are some quality king salmon around, but there is no set pattern for a consistent bite.  You can find fish (kings, lakers and steelhead) in 80 to 300 feet of water, from 20 to 100 feet down.

It’s been a mix of techniques and baits working. One approach that has worked better for bigger kings has been a flasher with cut bait.  N&D is one brand type that keeps surfacing around fishing circles as a good brand according to Karen Evarts at The Boat Doctors.  One interesting note is that the fish have been moving around with the more favorable west and southwest winds.  Last Saturday, tournament teams out of Wilson and Olcott all headed west in pursuit of salmon.

Capt. Jim Gordon of Olcott, who was not fishing in the tournament, headed straight out of his home port of Olcott to take a dozen nice kings for customers just a mile or two straight north.  No one did that good in the tournament that day.  In the 32nd annual Lake Ontario Pro-Am Salmon Team Tournament held May 20 to 22 out of Wilson and Olcott, it was the Shark Tank team led by Capt. Greg Gehrig of Oswego leading the way with an impressive score of 599 points in the Classic Division and 391 in the Trophy Division – based on 10 points per fish and a point per pound – to win the tournament.  They also won the ITO flies big fish for the contest with a 24 pound king salmon.  For their efforts, they won more than $29,000.  Second place was Capt. Rich Hajecki and his Yankee Troller team out of Rochester.  They were just 10 points behind the winners in the Classic or 12 fish category.  They won $8,000.  Third place in Trophy was Dirty Goose led by Capt. Casey Prisco with 341 points.  Fourth place was Team Thrillseeker led by Capt. Vince Pierleoni of Newfane with 338.  Third place Classic Division team was Thrillseeker with 505 points.  Fourth was Free Spirit with 498 points led by Capt. Paul Czarnecki of Waterford, PA.

Rochester anglers are happy with yellow perch taken from a marina waterway.

In the Amateur Open on Day One it was Abe DeBadts of Rochester and his Fishin’ Physician Assistant team with a score of 88.49 points.  Winner of Day 2 was Greg Wiacek of Lockport and his Fisherman’s Daughter team with a score of 72.52 points.  For Day Three, it was Mean Machine and Kyle Hovak of North Tonawanda taking the day with a score of 80.10 points.  However it wasn’t enough to win the Amateur Open Cup for the best two days of fishing combined.  That was reserved for Anonymous led by John Muehl of Maryland, NY, who scored 150 points over two days.

Next contest is the Oak Orchard Open set for June 10-12 out of Point Breeze.

The 1st Annual Reelin’ for a Cure is set for August 19 out of Niagara County, an event that will get the ladies out fishing on Lake Ontario and competing for fun prizes while at the same time raising funds for cancer research.

For more info call Stephanie Pierleoni at 716-481-6388.

Lower Niagara River

The first signs of the dreaded moss have started to show up to the dismay of anglers. You can still fish without much of a problem, but be forewarned – it will be here before we know it.

Trout are still available in the river – steelhead and lake trout – and smallmouth bass are starting to turn on now, too.

Shiners and Kwikfish top the list for trout; Kwikfish, tubes, shiners and swim baits will all trick smallies into hitting.  Best areas have been around Fort Niagara, Peggy’s Eddy and the clay banks for bass; Devil’s Hole for the trout and the occasional bass.  You can still pick some of these fish up from shore, too.  Spinners are taking some nice fish.

Upper Niagara River 

The shoreline bite can be good for walleye at night or under low-light conditions as post-spawn fish move in to feed.  Worms work best.  Panfish action has been good around marinas and around Grand Island bays, channels and tributaries.

A couple fishing contests to mark down on your calendar, including a kids fishing contest at the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge on June 4 at the Ringneck Overlook starting at 8 am; the City of Tonawanda kids fishing contest at Niawanda Park with registration at the bandshell along River Road on June 18 starting around 7:30 am; and a Teach Me To Fish program at the East Aurora Fish and Game Club on June 4.

Lake Erie and Tributaries 

Perch action seems to be picking back up again according to Capt. Joe Fonzi of Thumbs Up Charters.  He had customers out this week, including Salvador, James and Raymond LaChase of Rochester, and they did well between Sturgeon Point and Cattaraugus Creek in 56 feet of water.  The key is finding the fish and staying on them.

The walleye bite has been best at night with stickbaits along the shoreline, but that could be changing this week according to Fonzi, who is anticipating those post-spawn fish to turn on any day.

Bass action around Buffalo Harbor has been decent with shiners, drop shot rigs and tubes.

In the Annual Southtowns Walleye Association In-Club Perch Tournament last Saturday, Ben Slawatucki won the five-fish contest with a weight of 6.98 pounds.  Jim Dolly Sr. was runner-up with 6.81 pounds.  There were nearly 170 anglers in the fun contest that requires the weight of your 5 biggest fish in the tally.  These perch are all post-spawn now

Chautauqua Lake 

Smallmouth bass are hitting three-inch tubes in a pumpkinseed color around Warner’s Bar in 12 to 24 feet of water.  You can also pick up some nice bass by moving into the weed pockets with a black and blue pig and jig according to Craig Robbins of Jamestown.

There is also a top water bite in the mornings and evenings off the Mayville Flats, Rock Island and the point off Lakewood Bar. You can also hit the dicks in Dewittville Bay and along the condos with buzz baits or spinnerbaits in white and chartreuse.

This is opening weekend for inland musky (not Great Lakes) and you can find success throwing over-sized jerk baits and bucktails over weed beds in places like around Wee Wan Chu Cottages and trolling in the southern basin of the lake in Ashville Bay in 10 to 14 feet of water.

Finger Lakes 

Seneca Lake – This Finger Lake will see a busy weekend because of the National Lake Trout Derby that will run through Memorial Day.  Not too many people have been sharing information going into this popular contest, but going into this week lake trout were being taken in 90 to 150 feet of water on spoons, flasher-fly combos and jigs tipped with plastics or live bait.

Atlantic salmon can be found near the surface with stickbaits, spoons or streamers. Good luck! Good to www.laketroutderby.org for information.

Bill Hilts, Jr., Director, Outdoor Promotions

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