Cuba Lake in Allegheny County

Cuba Lake is a reservoir that falls within Cattaraugus and Allegheny counties. There is a long history attached to this reservoir. Today, it is a famous recreational spot for people across the country. Fishing is the primary activity that people indulge in at Cuba Lake. With a sheer variety of fish swarmed in its waters, it is hard for you to say no.

In the following paragraphs, we will dig deep into the history and geography of this beautiful place. We will also discuss the species of fish found here, so stay tuned.

History of Cuba Lake

Cuba Lake was originally called Oil Creek Lake. Its construction took place between 1852 and 1858. Initially, it served as the main feeding reservoir for the Genesee Valley Canal. It was then impounded by a dam that was 60 feet tall. The construction of the dam cost $150,000.

Right after its construction, the reservoir covered an area of 480 acres. Between 1864 and 1872, the deepening of the reservoir took place. After its deepening, its covered area expanded to a staggering 708 acres. At the time, it was known to be the largest artificial lake in NY.

In 1878, after the completion of the Genesee Valley Canal Railroad, the railroad replaced the canal. However, a portion of the reservoir was retained. The purpose of the retained portion was to provide water to the Erie Canal, thus maintaining its water level.

In the coming years, New York State expressed its plans to drain the reservoir. However, the canal superintendent Charles Wyvelle interfered, saving the reservoir after some lobbying.

Till 1889, the reservoir maintained its high water mark. However, to minimize the likelihood of flooding, the water level in the reservoir was lowered by a few feet.


Cuba Lake is located in the northern part of the Cuban village. It falls within the town of Cuba in Allegheny county. However, a small portion of the reservoir falls within Cattaraugus County. The lake covers an area of 454 acres and is 49 feet deep. The average depth of the lake is 17 feet.

The lake is drawn down by a few feet during the cold winter months. Towards the north-western side of the lake, it is fed by Rawson Creek. Moreover, it drains out of the Cuba lake outlet. This outlet is a tributary that goes all the way to the Oil Creek. Furthermore, the watershed of this lake covers a total of 16.316 acres.

Cuba Reservation

The Cuba reservation was established in 1912 by a New York State legislature. According to this legislation, the reservoir and the surrounding areas were placed under the control of  New York State Conservation Commission.

It is worth noting that the New York State Conservation Commission was the predecessor to the Department of Environmental Conservation as we know it today. This shift in authority took place after the former was charged for encouraging recreational activities in the area.

When the reservation took place, this lake covered a total of 501 acres. Also, the state controlled a little over 221 acres of land surrounding the reservoir. Before it was recognized as a reservation, many people had built vacation cottages on this land.

The owners of these cottages were mainly squatters. Later on, their land use was codified, and the Conservation Commission offered five-year leases on their lands. The Commission also devised several land use guidelines in this area.

By 1919, 114 acres of land had been sold off by the state. The sold pieces of land were no longer needed for recreational purposes. In 1928, the control over the reservoir was handed over to the Allegheny State Parks Commission. This body would report to the Conservation Department’s Division of Parks.

The duties executed by the Division of Parks were later assigned to the New York State Office of Parks. They managed the duties till 2011. However, since 2015, the New York State Office of General Services has controlled the reservoir and surrounding areas.

Fishing at Cuba Lake

Let’s look at some of the most popular species of fish found in Cuba Lake.


Cuba Lake offers angling for a variety of Panfish species. Some of the most famous types of panfish found in Cuba Lake are the Bluegill, Pumpkinseed, Rock Bass, Black Crappie, Brown Bullhead, and Yellow Perch.

As far as Rock Bass are concerned, they are lower in number. The same goes for the different varieties of Sunfish. However, they still provide a decent angling opportunity. You can use live bait such as worms, minnows and jigs to catch panfish.

Ice fishing is also a great activity at Cuba Lake. It offers a good opportunity to catch Panfish, as well as Walleye. If you are fishing for Sunfish in the spring season, try using a long rod with wet flies for faster action.

As for Bullheads, they are most active after the sun goes down. They can be caught easily using scented bait, as they are attracted to the strong stench. Sometimes, anglers can also have the pleasure of catching a common carp, which might weigh a little over 20 pounds.

Northern Pike and Walleye

The Walleye is the more significant predator in Cuba Lake. they can grow up to 20 inches in length within the first three years of their lives. It is worth noting that Cuba Lake has an oxygen deficiency in extreme depth, and it becomes impossible for fish to survive in those areas.

Therefore, it is easier to catch the Walleye or the Northern Pike in shallower waters. The good news is that the Northern Pike population is increasing, making it easier for anglers to catch them.

Final Word

Fishing at Cuba Lake is fun, but it can be challenging for beginners. Doing your research well before throwing your bait into the water is important. Not only will it help you fish better, but it will also make the experience more enjoyable. Lastly, make sure to follow the local laws and don’t harm the wildlife and the natural resources within the area.

The McClain Family

We hope we helped. Please let us know of any place that you want to know about in NYS or if we did a poor job with any part of this. Our goal is to help as many people as possible.

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