Chautauqua Fish Hatchery is located on Prendergast Point, midway on the west side of Chautauqua Lake, off State Route 394 near Mayville, in the town of Chautauqua, Chautauqua County, NY. It’s the only hatchery in the New York State that raises pure strain muskellunge – the largest freshwater sportfish in New York. Each spring, hatchery staff collect and fertilize about 1.5-2 million eggs from wild muskellunge, usually from Chautauqua Lake. Fertilized eggs are then hatched and reared at the hatchery.
The first four months of the rearing process occur in tanks inside the hatchery, where muskellunge are fed a dry pellet diet and grow to about five inches long. In August, these fingerlings are transferred to outside ponds, where they are fed live minnows until they are ready for stocking at about nine inches long in October.
About 25,000 muskie fingerlings are annually stocked in 14 waters, primarily in the Allegheny River watershed, including Chautauqua Lake. Waneta Lake, in the Susquehanna River watershed, and the Great Chazy River, a northern Lake Champlain tributary, are also stocked.
The Chautauqua Hatchery is not the first facility to take advantage of the great muskellunge population found in Chautauqua Lake. The first muskellunge hatchery here was established in Greenhurst in 1888, followed by other hatcheries established in Lakeland (Stow) in 1899; and Stoney Point (Bemus Bay) and Bemus Point in 1893. The main state hatchery moved to Bemus Point in 1904, and later relocated to its present-day location at Prendergast Point in 1950. It is the last remaining hatchery in the area.
There are 21 raceways, 10 troughs, and 12 one-acre earthen ponds on the property that house the fish raised there. Raceways and troughs receive up to 500 gallons per minute of water from Chautauqua Lake, and also from one well.
Staff at the hatchery also raise about 300,000 brown trout eggs obtained from New York State’s Randolph Fish Hatchery; Sauger (a close relatives of walleye) fry from Kentucky and West Virginia as part of the Allegheny watershed recovery program; and over 300,000 walleye fry from New York State’s Oneida Fish Hatchery.
The hatchery is open year-round Monday through Friday, 7 am until 3 pm. Call (716) 789-2705 for information.
You can read about Muskellunge Management in New York here.
Photo of muskellunge courtesy DEC.