Chautauqua Lake Belongs To Everyone

We have lived on Chautauqua Lake for nearly 25 years. It is amazing how the lake comes alive on a good weather day.

This particular day started with a spectacular sunrise and glass-like water. A couple of fishing boats were already on the bay when the sun came up. The walleye fishing has been reported good here right along the weed line. By 8 a.m. the first ski boat had gone by, taking advantage of the smooth water.

In mid-morning, two barges from the Chautauqua Lake Association appeared with young men armed with pitchforks to clean the beach. The weeds are not bad right now where we live, but some get washed up on the shore so it was heartening to see these young people cleaning them up.

As the day progressed, the fishing boats gave way to recreational boaters, some riding jet skis. The wind had turned to the south and so boats began to gather in the lee of Sandy Bottom, a place protected by woods where it is nice to swim. Sometimes the music from loudspeakers can be noisy, but on this day, the air was full of voices talking, laughing and enjoying the lake. You realize that the lake belongs to everybody.

As on many days, the breeze quickened in the afternoon and a few sailboats appeared in the mix. One, a “hobie-cat,” apparently got going a little too fast and flipped. It looked like everyone was okay, but one of the Sheriff’s boats took the toppled rig in tow and gradually worked it toward shore where its owners would be able to right it.

As dinner time approached, boats cruised by with adults sipping a drink, eating hors d’oeuvres and enjoying the vista. Boating habits have changed since we moved to the lake, and it seems that half of the watercraft cruising the lake today are pontoon boats. They handle choppy water well and are easy to get in and out of. With enough power, they can pull swimming tubes and even water boards or skis.

Late in the day, a friend called to say that her trip on The Summer Wind cruise boat had been cancelled when the vessel became entangled in weeds in the lower lake. I had no way of verifying that but another friend, who has a boat in the area, did acknowledge that the weeds at that end of the lake had been heavy at times this year.

Despite the challenges the lake faces, it continues to amaze me how well it accommodates the many people who use it for fun and recreation. As I have mentioned to my kids over the years, “after Labor Day, the vast majority of humanoids leave the lake.” Then the lake reverts to the fishermen and to the water fowl and migrating birds as they head south for the winter.

But right now, in the heart of summer, Chautauqua Lake is a very busy place. We live in pretty wonderful place here in the southwestern corner of New York State on this gem of a lake nestled in our midst that continues to mesmerize the thousands of people who use it each year. Maintaining and protecting it is a common obligation for all of us.

Rolland Kidder is a Stow resident.

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