Musky EXPO will Draw BIG FISH Lure-Makers from across the USA

  • EXPO event set for shores of Chautauqua Lake Musky Fishery
  • Baker Lures, Red October Monster Tubes, Custom Clarkey Baits, Top-Line Bait Company, Smuttly Dog Baits, Bam-Bam Bait Company, D&R Jerk Baits, LiLa Lures and many others will display their wares.
  • Expert Seminar Speakers, Lure-Swap event, and Kids Fish Corner are among the top draw attendance features 
Anglers from near and far are drawn to lure colors, lure sizes, and the mystique of certain brands of musky fishing lures. Zach Baker photo

By Forrest Fisher

Musky fishing is often considered legendary and mystical due to the elusive and unpredictable nature of muskellunge, also known as muskies. The magic of the musky fishery and related special hook-bending moments is upon us this weekend with experts in town. The hottest event for the coldest weather month of the year is focused on the biggest fish that swim in Chautauqua Lake. The New York Musky EXPO 2024 will run this Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 3-4, from the Chautauqua Suites Expo Center at 215 W. Lake Road (Route 394) in Mayville, NY. Admission is $15 for a 1-day pass and $20 for a 2-day pass; doors open at 9:00 a.m. both days. Kids under 12 and ages 13 to 17 are free when accompanied by an adult admission.

More than 75 booths will share their fool-em and hook-em wares, not to mention colorful fish fables and fairy tales about musky. It’s fun. I like that the show is open for everyone to learn more about our magical musky that calls Chautauqua Lake their home. Musky are the fish species that can provide chills and thrills on any day you drop a fishing line into Chautauqua Lake. Casting, trolling, drifting, bobber fishing – no matter, a musky might surprise you.

Knowledgeable musky fisherwoman, Katia Rivers, co-host for NY Musky Expo 2024, shares one of her Chautauqua Lake musky catches. NY Musky EXPO photo

Whether you fish or not, the biggest freshwater fish that swim in the Northeast thrive here in their native habitat of Chautauqua Lake. From Jamestown to Mayville, the 17-plus miles of Chautauqua Lake beckon to anglers of all ages and experience levels. If you are a fisherman or not, no matter where you go in western New York, northwest Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio, and even West Virginia, and in many other places around the country, there are bent-hook and broken-line fish stories about a finny Chautauqua monster locally called “Methuselah.” The “Big Flipper Fin” musky critter that got away at Chautauqua Lake.

Educational and professional seminars are included with each admission pass, and the price of admission also includes entry to the remarkable “Lure Swap Saturday” event set for Olives Restaurant (located inside the hotel) from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. Lure swap stories often provide that one missing thing that anglers were searching for. It may complete their quest for better fish-catch understanding. Such details might mention lure rattles, glow paint, extra sparkle, color, and who knows…flash from finger-nail polish. You never know. If you like pizza, the Lure Swap event will include free gourmet pizza courtesy of the show sponsors.

The seminar schedule includes famous musky people who plan to deliver a handful of fishing lore and share secrets, talking about how, where, why, and with what for catching musky.

The NYSDEC will be on hand to share talk about the Prendergast musky hatchery and can help answer any questions for visitors. News about musky biology, habitat, and the science of aquatic resource decision-making, including proactive fishery resource management, will start seminar talks off on Saturday at 11:00 a.m. with the Thousand Islands Biological Station (TIBS) Director Dr. John Farrell and Dr. John Paul LeBlanc (Aquatic/Fisheries Scientists from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry). Look for Captain Vance Kaloz from All Day Musky Charters at 1:00 p.m. to discuss the “Art of the Drift,” seasonal bait fish changes, and how to adapt. At 3:00 p.m., listen to lure modification secrets with Brian Clark of Captain Chaos Musky Guide Service.

Big lures, like these “Jammers” from Lila Lures, as well as musky fishing advice, will be plentiful at the Musky Expo 2024 set for Feb. 3-4, 2024 at Chautauqua Suites Hotel and Expo Center in Mayville. Greg Jones photo

Then, on Sunday at 10:30 a.m., an All-Star Panel of musky fishing guides that includes Hans Mann of Buffalo Harbor Outfitters, Todd Young of Muddy Creek Fishing, Ed Pascua – of Medicine Man Charters, and Doug Vanasco/Joel Morrow – Of banging Bottom Outfitters, will offer an advice-filled treat for all to hear. At 12:30, The Niagara Musky Association will provide an advice-filled Musky 101 seminar to include proper gear presentation and catch/release logic with renowned NMA Musky Magazine author Scott McKee and Niagara River musky expert Joe Wilczewski. You can ask Wilczewski to share his delicious Musky Chili recipe. There is a rumor that he made 12 gallons of the yummy chili to share.

Katia Rivers, New York Musky EXPO 2024 hostess, says, “There will be door prizes every hour of the show, courtesy of Fins Braids (Made in the USA). There will be Sunday-only specials, raffles, giveaways, and one-day-only lure deals. In addition, NY Muskies – Chapter 69 will feature the “Kids Corner,” where youth anglers will find interactive activities, a scavenger hunt, a build-your-own lure event, a coloring contest, arts and crafts, a casting game, and more. Youth prizes and pick-a-lure from our donations will be a choice for each attending youth. The goal is for every child to leave with their own lure.”

Imagine a bit, but realize and accept what lure-maker Bucko Muro shares on lure size. “A musky can consume a meal 2/3 of its own length.” Those 14 to 18-inch wall-hanger lures at the show might be too small for Chautauqua musky! But not all musky baits must be big to catch these big fish. Evan Schoss makes his famous “Meatball” lures, which are smaller sorts of lures (5-6 inches) in a variety of hot colors, including the new “insane clown.” Chautauqua Lake Charter Captain Todd Young of Muddy Creek Fishing swears by the Schoss baits. That’s the big and little of it. Maybe not.

On the flip side, Noah Clarke from Custom Clarkey Baits will have his 17-inch “Yo-Daddy rattling minnows loaded with exterior glitter and two interior knocking sound chambers. I want to shake-shake-shake those lures. Another bait-and-switch lure includes full-time carpenter Adam Mueller with Top Line Bait Company. Mueller adds a hot-color rubber tail to a lengthy XL Dipstick wooden lure to make it even longer. This year, Mr. Toothy Jim Reynolds is bringing his freshly crafted 14-inch Lex Luther crankbaits among many other show newcomers this year. Big fish, big lures, you get it – the proverbial go-get-em advice for catching big fish.

Captain Mike Sperry (R) and his guests have shared several hefty musky catches this year in Chautauqua Lake. Visitors can chat with Sperry at the Musky Expo. Chautauqua Reel Outdoors photo

Famous lure makers will fill vendor booth hallways. Mark Smith will be there with his Smuttly Dog Baits. Steve Gould with Trophy Time Leaders and Lures, Zachary Baker with his jointed cedar wood Knocker Lures. The 5-inch and 7-1/2 inch Zach Baker musky lures have been a musky “best bait” for years now. Last year, musky fishermen identified that some of the newest hot musky baits made with a glow paint finish earned an instant reputation for fooling musky during daytime hours. Look for Mike Sperry from Chautauqua Reel Outdoors with those locally famous “Leo Mojo” and “Shayla Shad” lures, and check in with Brady Martz to learn more about the BamBam Bait Company baits with his popular large rubber-like Bowfin Lures in various colors. Bucko Muro will have his hand-made “Dive & Rise” (D & R) Jerkbaits that feature his famous screw-eye construction, variable weight inserts, and epoxy coat finish. Muro uses poplar wood for his walk-the-dog baits and old-growth white pine for his D&R baits. Greg Jones will be on hand with his famous 9-inch “Jammer” made by Lila Lures. Famous musky fishing lines “Barbarian Braid” and “Fins Braid” will also be on hand for show-goers. Red October Baits has a brand new showcase with their 10-inch MONSTER TUBES.  Many of the best musky lures are made by small shops and single-person business owners making ends meet through these outdoor fishing shows. The best thing? These mom-and-pop shop lures really catch big fish. Every lure has some secret associated with it. Just ask these lure makers to explain their details. It’s a fun weekend to visit Mayville, NY.

On Sunday (Feb. 4), world-renowned musky lure maker Zachary Baker will offer a show-special 5-inch Baker Musky Rattle Tiger Lure for an unbelievably low price. That’s a deal breaker! I was once at a Niagara Musky Annual Banquet to watch my table partners, Gary and Hope Melnyk, bid $125 for one of these smaller Baker musky baits. I asked, “But why? It’s just one lure, right?” Gary said, “You don’t understand, it’s a Baker Lure! I gotta have it.” Legends begin this way, they say, especially when they work.

The NY Musky EXPO 2024 show hours are Saturday, Feb. 3, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 4, 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. For additional details on parking, hotel room availability and restaurant options, contact the Chautauqua Suites Expo Center at 716-269-7829. Every room reservation includes a breakfast buffet each morning. Show sponsors include Baker Lures, the Muskie Hanks Podcast, Chautauqua Reel Outdoors Tackle Shop, the Cortese Auto Group, and the Northwoods Sportsman’s Association, to name a few. Maybe one more “best part about this show” is the idea of fishing across the street in Chautauqua Lake to catch a panfish dinner for the trip home. Visit for free Chautauqua Lake contour maps, fishing advice in story form, winter shore access locations, secret fishing tips from local pros, fresh maple syrup outlet sources, and winter (or summer) lodging locations.

Bring a kid with you if you’re heading to the Musky Expo!

God bless tight lines.