Chautauqua County is home to several lakes, including a portion of Lake Erie, providing many opportunities for those who love to be on the water.
Boating, rowing and fishing are popular activities on lakes such as Chautauqua Lake, Findley Lake, Cassadaga Lake and Bear Lake. Recreationalists travel from far and wide to search for the wonders waiting to be discovered, and professional fisherman have even been drawn to the treasures hidden within the depths.
"Chautauqua County is in a position, and has been for the past 15 years, to attract a lot of tourists to the area because of our wildlife," said Craig Robbins, fishing and hunting director for Chautauqua County. "The county has been marketing to anglers and hunters about the great wildlife opportunities we have here in the county for quite some time now."
One of the more popular locations of the county is Chautauqua Lake. According to the Department of Environmental Conservation, Chautauqua Lake, at 1,308 feet above sea level, is one of the highest navigable waters in North America. It offers fishing for walleye, bass, muskellunge and several other species of panfish. Located in the southeast corner of Chautauqua County, the lake is about 17.5 miles long and has a surface area of 13,156 acres. In 2012, Chautauqua Lake hosted Jack Link's Major League Fishing General Tire Summit Cup competition, which was broadcast nationally from Chautauqua Institution.
Public boat launches are situated at every lake where visitors can begin their adventure. Some of the launches include: Bemus Point Fishing Access, Lakeside Drive, Bemus Point; Chautauqua Marina, Route 394, Mayville; Lakeside Park, Route 394, Mayville; Lakewood Boat Launch, West Lake Road, Lakewood; Long Point State Park, Route 430, Bemus Point; Lucille Ball Memorial Park, Boulevard Avenue, Celoron; McCrea Point Boat Landing Ramp, Route 394, Prendergast Place. For more information visit www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/23907.html.
However, fishing is permitted in certain areas including: Bemus Point Park, Bemus Point; Lakeside Park, Mayville; Lakewood Community Park, Lakewood; Long Point State Park, Bemus Point; Lucille Ball Memorial Park, Celoron; and McCrea Point Boat Landing, Jamestown. A fishing license, which can be obtained at most hunting and sporting good stores, is required.
Boats can be rented at the following establishments: Chautauqua Marina, Lakewise Court, We Wan Chu Cottages, Evergreen Outfitters, Holiday Harbor, John R. Turney Sailing Center and Smith Boys Marina.
For more information visit tourchautauqua.com.
According to Kevin Sixbey, coach and co-founder of Chautauqua Lake Rowing Association, Chautauqua County has a long history of rowing, especially on Chautauqua Lake.
"Chautauqua Lake Rowing Association began in the fall of 2005 by myself, Joe Gerace and Steve Odrzywolski," said Sixbey. "The purpose of our organization is really to foster rowing in Chautauqua County. We also have a strong focus on developing high school rowing programs, currently we have about 40 kids in the program. Our mission statement is: Chautauqua Lake Rowing Association is committed to making the sport of rowing accessible to everybody for a lifetime by revitalizing a long tradition of rowing on Chautauqua Lake. The CLRA offers unique opportunities for teamwork, fitness and competition."
The high school students participate in various competitions where they win medals, and even have the opportunity to earn scholarships through the program. One of the high school students from Southwestern, Mary Agarwala, will attend University at Buffalo and row for the women's team on a scholarship.
Rowing is an activity that is fun, builds teamwork and has health benefits associated with a full-body workout, said Sixbey.
"Something we teach our kids, and the adults that come down, is that because you're rowing in a four or eight man shell you have three or seven other people that you are trying to row in sync with - you really learn what it means to work as a team," said Sixbey. "If you're out on the baseball diamond or playing football you can have an individual who really shines, but when you get into the rowing shell you have to figure out how to get into rhythm with each other - you win and you lose as a boat."
As far as health benefits go, rowing offers a total-body workout, and it is great for students who are multi-sport athletes because they probably aren't going to get hurt, said Sixbey.
"It's great cardio, great anaerobic and aerobic workout and you don't have impact on the body - so it's a low-impact total-body workout - and you can row for life," said Sixbey. "The first thing that you do in the rowing stroke is push away with your legs, then you pull through with your back and arms."
CLRA will celebrate National Rowing Day on Saturday, June 1, with a Learn to Row program, which is part of Chautauqua In June. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. and instruction begins promptly at 9 a.m. The event is $50 for adults and $30 for students.
For more information call 665-8639 or visit www.rowchautauqua.org.
Remington Whitcomb contributed to this report.