Lime Lake is located in northeastern Cattaraugus County, near the Village of Machias. The lake is an impoundment created by damming three natural, spring-fed ponds.
Elevation: 1,640 feet
Area: 159 acres
Shoreline Length: 3.6 miles
Max Depth: 38 feet
Mean Depth: 14 feet
Public access is provided by a DEC hand launch intended only for small boats that can be carried to the water (trailered boats cannot reach the water). The hand launch is located on east side of lake, off Potter Road and has parking for 12 cars.
Lime Lake provides angling for largemouth bass, tiger muskellunge, walleye and several species of panfish. Summer months bring heavy recreational boat traffic so many anglers prefer to fish early or late in the day. Anglers should note that the lake experiences oxygen depletion below the depth of 20 feet from June-September.
Panfish: Lime Lake offers fishing for several species of panfish, which have above average growth rates. The most common species are bluegill and pumpkinseed, including a decent amount of quality sized fish. Black crappie, yellow perch, rock bass and brown bullhead are found in lower numbers. Live baits such as worms and minnows produce well, as do jigs and small lures. In the springtime when sunfish are on their spawning beds, try using an 8 foot, 3-4 weight fly rod with surface poppers or wet flies for some fast action.
Largemouth Bass: Lime Lake provides good fishing for largemouth bass, the dominant predator of the lake. Growth rates are fair, with most largemouth reaching legal size (12 inches) by their fifth growing season. Some older bass in the 15 - 20 inch range are also available to anglers. Bass anglers should concentrate their efforts along the edges of weed beds and near docks and other structure. Dense beds of aquatic vegetation provide cover for predator and prey alike. When the lake was originally created, numerous large tree stumps were left on the bottom. Locating these stumps should provide angling locations for bass and panfish. Bass anglers have success with spinner baits, surface plugs, plastic worms, crank baits and live baits such as crayfish and shiners.
Tiger Muskellunge and Walleye: Tiger muskellunge, a hybrid cross between a female muskellunge and a male northern pike, have been stocked in Lime Lake since 1973. These fish are stocked as fall fingerlings, and after several years in the lake can reach 30 - 45 inches. Although tiger muskies are not abundant, they do provide anglers with the opportunity to catch a truly trophy size fish. Lime Lake is stocked with walleye fingerlings every 3 years, and adult walleye are occasionally caught by anglers. When fishing for walleye, try casting floating minnow imitations or jigs tipped with bait into shallow, weedy areas at night. Also, try trolling with a minnow imitation or a worm harness along the edges of weed beds.
Carp: Common carp are plentiful in Lime Lake, which is evident by the amount of spawning activity occurring in the shallow areas each summer. Anglers have good opportunity to catch large carp with worms, canned corn, bread dough or commercial carp baits fished on the lake bottom.
Lime Lake Fisheries Survey (2012)
In May of 2012, Lime Lake, a 154 acre lake located in Cattaraugus County was surveyed by the Region 9 Fisheries Unit to assess current fish populations. A total of 391 fish were captured during 115 minutes of electrofishing.
The catch was dominated by largemouth bass with 170 being caught throughout the entire survey. It's estimated that the lake contains 14 legal sized (≥ 12 inches) largemouth bass per acre. Furthermore, results suggest that growth rates for largemouth bass have improved since last surveyed in 1992. Most largemouth bass appear to be reaching legal size by their fifth growing season, whereas, in 1992, they didn't reach legal size until their eighth growing season.
Smallmouth Bass and Walleye
Largemouth bass captured during
Lime Lake survey.
Other predators that were sampled throughout the survey include smallmouth bass and walleye. Only 11 smallmouth bass were collected, ranging in size from 7.5 inches to 16 inches and spanning 6 year classes from age 2 to 7. Additionally, two walleye were captured during the 2012 survey. Both of these fish were age 11 and had been stocked, as indicated by a fin clip. Although few walleye were captured, water temperatures at the time were not conducive to capturing walleye by electrofishing. Lime Lake is scheduled to be stocked every 3 years with walleye to provide occasional angling opportunities for fishermen. According to angler reports, tiger muskellunge within Lime Lake still provide trophy angling opportunities. While none were sampled during the 2012 survey, past surveys indicate that Lime Lake supports a tiger muskellunge population. Yearly, Lime Lake is stocked with 500 young of the year tiger muskellunge.
Bluegills were the dominant panfish caught throughout the 2012 survey with a total of 136 being collected. Pumpkinseeds, yellow perch, black crappie and rock bass were also sampled, but in far fewer numbers. Growth rates for panfish were above average when compared to published state wide averages and when compared to past Lime Lake surveys from 1990 - 1992. Results of the survey also suggest that Lime Lake has a decent amount of quality sized bluegill and pumpkinseed.
Overall, survey results indicate that fish populations in Lime Lake are meeting the requirements for a healthy largemouth bass fishery. The panfish population provides adequate forage for predators while being effectively controlled by the predator population. In general, Lime Lake provides quality angling opportunities for largemouth bass, a variety of panfish and the occasional walleye and tiger musky. Region 9 fisheries staff plans to repeat this survey in 2017.