Bear Lake is located north of the Village of Stockton, in north-central Chautauqua County. The lake formed several thousand years ago when huge blocks of melting glacial ice dotted the landscape, and is known geologically as a kettle lake. Unique among western New York's public lakes, over 70% of the Bear Lake's shoreline is wetland, providing excellent habitat for bass and other predator and prey fish.
Elevation: 1,310 feet
Area: 141 acres
Shoreline Length: 2.5 miles
Max Depth: 35 feet
Mean Depth: 15 feet
Town: Stockton, Pomfret
Public access for hand launching of small boats and canoes is provided at a DEC operated site, located on Bear Lake Road north of the Village of Stockton. Parking lot has 10 car capacity.
Bear Lake provides angling for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, northern pike, muskellunge and several species of panfish. Anglers should note that the lake experiences oxygen depletion below depths of 12 - 15 feet from June-September.
Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass: Bass in Bear Lake are fairly abundant and exhibit good growth rates, with good numbers of bass in the 12 - 15 inch size group. The lake's extensive, natural wetland shoreline offers excellent cover for largemouth bass and anglers shouldn't pass up these brushy areas. When trying for smallmouth bass, concentrate on areas with gravel bottoms and drop-offs. Bass anglers have success with spinner baits, surface plugs, plastic worms, crank baits and live bait, such as crayfish and shiners.
Muskellunge, Northern Pike and Walleye: Northern pike, which reproduce naturally, and muskellunge, which are stocked as fingerlings by DEC, provide anglers with the opportunity for a true trophy. Muskellunge in Bear Lake can exceed 40 inches in length, while northern pike over 30 inches can be caught. Large, live minnows and 8 - 12 inch imitation baitfish lures will take some nice fish. Since 2011, walleye fingerlings (2,300) have been stocked every other year to provide additional angling opportunity.
Panfish: Panfish provide plenty of action for anglers on Bear Lake. The most common species are bluegill, pumpkinseed, black crappie, yellow perch and brown bullhead. Panfish are caught year-round and ice fishing is a popular winter activity. Live baits such as minnows or worms usually produce the best catches, but small jigs and lures also work well. When sunfish are on their spawning beds in the spring, try using an 8 foot, 3-4 weight fly rod with surface poppers or wet flies. They can provide some fast and fun action. Bullheads are most active after sunset and can be taken using nightcrawlers or scented baits.
Statewide fishing regulations apply (leaving DEC website to official Fishing Regulations Guide vendor website). Ice fishing permitted.