Loon Lake, Steuben County, NY
By Mark Dusablon
Destination Segment Contributor
Loon Lake is located in the town of Wayland, NY. To get there, take I-390 to exit 3 Wayland, head south on Route 21 for about 3 miles and turn left on Laf-A-Lot Rd. Parking is very limited on this lake. There is a bar/restaurant called Laf-A-Lot and they allow limited parking in their lot. Be sure to go in and have lunch or buy a drink as this is the only public access to this lake.
Loon Lake is a small kettle lake created by glacial deposit. It is approximately 161 acres in size. The majority of the lake consists of thick Eurasian watermilfoil and curly leafed pondweed weed beds. There is a 40 foot deep trench located along the east side of the lake. A contour map for Loon Lake can be found on the NYSDEC website.
Loon Lake is usually one of the first lakes to freeze in Western NY each year. It is common for this lake to reach 18 inches of ice thickness and can be safe to fish well into the month of March! There is a local kid's ice fishing derby and an ice fishing tournament sponsored by Avon Angler's Unlimited each winter here. It is said that the Laf-A-Lot restaurant located on this lake holds the oldest liquor license in the state!
The most abundant fish species caught in this lake are Yellow Perch and Chain Pickerel. Other species present include: Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass, Black Crappie, Bluegill and Pumpkinseed Sunfish, and Brown Bullhead. It is important to know that Loon Lake is not a Finger Lake and Bass caught through the ice cannot be kept! Most anglers jig for panfish and perch here, but don't shy away from using tip-downs or tip-ups here.....The perch are very aggressive due to large populations and limited baitfish found in this lake and will often take a 3 inch shiner!
This lake consists of a handful of distinct coves along its shoreline which creates some excellent areas to fish! Most of the perch you will catch will be in the 8-10 inch range, but if you are looking for some larger ones, try the steep drop into 40 foot of water on the east side. Given the small scale size of this lake any area you want to fish is in easy walking distance!
This is a great way to spend a day if you like to see a lot of flags popping up on the tip-ups! As a rule of thumb, shiners set 3-6 feet below the ice will produce. Keep in mind that it is important to keep your bait above the thick weeds so it can be seen! If you choose to jig for pickerel use a Swedish Pimple tipped with a waxworm anywhere between the top of the weeds and the ice. Have about 4-6 holes drilled so you can rotate to new a new hole if you go 10 minutes without any action. This technique is called "Hole Hopping".
Surprisingly, these species can be tough to find in this lake. If you do find the sunfish it is a good idea to keep fishing that immediate area. Generally they can be found if you find an opening in the weed beds. This is usually caused by a change in substrate or a drop off within the weeds. These fish are well worth targeting as it is common to catch them in the 10 inch range which makes them a respectful size in any lake!
This seems to be the most abundant fish species in Loon Lake. The perch here seem to be very good biters unlike most lakes. With perch averaging 8-10 inches this should be a destination for every perch fisherman! Perch can be caught in the weed beds 6 inches to 2 feet off bottom using any style of jig, especially in chartreuse or fire tiger colors.
If 8-10 inches is not big enough for you, try the deep trench on the east side of the lake in 30-40 feet of water...This is where your apt to run into the "Jack Perch" in the 1 pound range! Patience is key here as you will be waiting for a school to arrive. Use a Jigging Rapala or a heavier jigging spoon tipped with a waxworm or spikes to get down to the school quickly before they leave.
This is one of the best lakes I have been on for tip-up and tip-down action for perch! Have these set close by and increase your catch when the perch school arrives! Another advantage with the tip-ups and tip-downs is that if jigging is slow a tip-up may signal where the fish are for you. In the deep water, I usually set tip-ups and tip-downs about 1 foot off bottom and in shallow water, 1 foot off bottom and just above the weeds.
This lake is a great destination for a first time ice angler and a veteran ice angler. If you have never fished here, I encourage you give it a shot, you may be impressed with what this small lake holds! Don't forget to stop by the Laf-A-Lot restaurant for a drink and a meal and be sure to say thanks!
Good Luck Ice Fishing!