Department of Environmental Conservation

D E C banner

Bear Lake

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.

Physical Features:

Elevation: 1,310 feet
Area: 114 acres
Shoreline Length: 2.5 miles
Max Depth: 35 feet
Mean Depth: 15 feet
County & Town: Chautauqua County, Towns of Stockton and Pomfret


Bear Lake hand launch located on Bear Lake Road north of the Village of Stockton. Parking for 5 cars.

For more information on this launch including Google Maps driving directions, visit the Boat Launch Sites for Chautauqua County page.

Accessible Features:

Bear Lake fishing access site offers an accessible canoe and kayak launch platform, paved walkway and designated parking.

Full listing of DEC's Accessible Recreation Destinations.

Fish Species:

Largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, muskellunge, northern pike, walleye, bluegill, pumpkinseed, black crappie, yellow perch, brown bullhead.


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.

Ice Fishing:

Ice fishing is permitted on Bear Lake.


Statewide Fishing Regulations Apply.

  • Important Links
  • PDF Help
  • For help with PDFs on this page, please call 518-402-8924.
  • Contact for this Page
  • DEC Region 9
    182 East Union Street
    Allegany, N.Y. 14706
    Send us an email
  • This Page Covers
  • Page applies to Region 9