25 Lakes and Rivers That Bass Anglers Must Visit
The great thing about bass fishing is that you can fish wherever you choose, including top fishing destinations. But deciding which one to fish can be a daunting task. Some website or magazine will claim their small editorial staff created the best list of lakes or rivers for bass fishing, and their lists are all different. So really, where are the best bass fishing lakes in the world?
We skipped "the staff" and asked more than 71,000 members in our bass fishing forums to nominate their favorites and vote on the nominees. Below are the results.
In celebration of BassResource.com's 25th anniversary, I present the world's 25 best bass lakes and rivers from 71,000+ real anglers just like you and me.
1. (Tie) Lake Guntersville, AL
Lake Guntersville in Northern Alabama has a well-earned reputation for largemouth bass fishing. For decades, this famous fishery has produced fantastic fishing opportunities for both numbers and sizes of big bass. Guntersville offers a variety of creek beds, drop-offs, submerged timber, and other suitable habitats for trophy bass but is most known for its vast weed beds. The water quality and abundant forage make for producing quality black bass on a routine basis.
1. (Tie) Lake Fork, TX
Lake Fork has long been known as one of the top trophy bass lakes in the nation. Despite heavy pressure from recreational and tournament anglers alike, it continues to produce double-digit bass yearly. Bass anglers know they stand a good chance of catching a true trophy largemouth at Lake Fork, making it a bucket list item for serious bass anglers.
2. (Tie) Sam Rayburn, TX
Lake Sam Rayburn is a large reservoir located in East Texas. For decades, Rayburn has routinely produced giant bass and has become a favorite destination for avid bass enthusiasts. They know that every trip to Lake Sam Rayburn can yield the fish of a lifetime.
2. (Tie) Chickamauga Lake, TN
Chickamauga Lake holds both smallmouth and striped bass but is best known for its hefty largemouth bass. Trophy bass exceeding 10 pounds are routinely caught every year, and 5-fish limits often weigh more than 30 pounds. Chickamauga is a definite "must" for serious bass anglers if you want big fish action.
3. Lake Baccarac, Mexico
Lake Baccarac in western Mexico is well-known for trophy largemouth bass. For decades, double-digit big bass have been consistently caught every year due to the abundant forage and excellent habitat Baccarac offers. If you want a good chance of catching a lunker of a lifetime, put Lake Baccarac on your bucket list.
4. Lake Okeechobee, FL
Lake Okeechobee is one of the largest lakes in Florida and has a well-earned reputation for largemouth bass fishing, which is why it’s near the top of the list for most BassResource forum members. This famous fishery has produced fantastic fishing opportunities for numbers and big bass of 10 pounds or more for decades. This is a "must visit" lake for every serious bass angler.
5. Toledo Bend, TX
Toledo Bend straddles the Texas-Louisiana border and is a consistent producer of trophy largemouth bass. Toledo Bend's reputation for producing plenty of quality bass has made it popular with recreational and professional anglers alike. It’s so popular forum members created a thread titled, “So Y’all Want To Learn Toledo Bend?” which is hundreds of pages long and growing!
6. Clear Lake, CA
Clear Lake is a large inland lake in Northern California. Lined with houses, it offers abundant docks, launches, and other man-made structures. In addition, tulles, chunk rock, submerged brush, hydrilla, and other abundant cover combine to offer a rich habitat for harboring trophy bass. Despite heavy fishing pressure, this fish factory produces quality bass every year.
7. St. John's River, FL
The St. Johns River offers good fishing all year and is one of the most scenic fishing waters you will ever experience. St. John’s is probably best known for its abundant trophy largemouth bass. Giant largemouth have been caught in recent years and are becoming more common. The varied structure and cover offer fertile grounds that support a healthy population of largemouth. Catching bass is almost guaranteed with every fishing trip.
8. Lake Champlain, NY/VA
Lake Champlain is a large reservoir that shares the borders of Canada and Vermont with New York. For decades, Champlain has routinely produced giant largemouth and smallmouth bass and has become a favorite destination for avid bass enthusiasts. It's highly regarded as one of the best bass fishing lakes in the country.
9. Falcon Lake, TX
Falcon lake is another Rio Grande impoundment along the Mexico/U.S. border and is well-known for producing trophy largemouth bass. U.S. anglers are advised to fish the U.S. shoreline for safety because many of the big bass caught on Falcon reside along the productive waters on the U.S. side. Quality bass are abundant, and access is readily available.
10. (Tie) Lake St. Clair, MI/Canada
Lake St. Clair is known for monster smallmouth bass and contains big largemouth bass. Located near Detroit, St. Clair supports a very healthy bass population in the 2-6 pound range, with trophy smallmouth growing even bigger. One hundred fish days are common, so this fishery is one of Michigan's most famous bass fishing lakes.
10. (Tie) Lake Erie, NY/Canada
Lake Erie has long been known as one of the nation's top trophy smallmouth bass lakes. Despite heavy pressure from recreational and tournament anglers alike, it produces big smallmouth bass yearly. Bass anglers know they stand a good chance of catching an actual trophy at Erie, making it a genuine bucket list item for many serious bass anglers.
11. Pickwick Lake, AL/TN
Pickwick Lake along the Alabama-Tennessee border is best known for its trophy smallmouth fishing and has a healthy largemouth bass population. Pickwick has been kicking out big bass regularly for decades, despite heavy fishing pressure. The climate and habit create an ideal environment for growing giant bass.
12. Lake Tohopekaligia "Toho", FL
Lake Tohopekaliga is within driving distance of Orlando, making it a popular destination for visitors. Toho is a legendary fishery producing numbers and sizes of giant largemouth bass every year. Anglers routinely catch bass in the 5-8 pound range, with an occasional beast at the end of the line.
13. El Salto, Mexico
El Salto has a reputation for yielding muy grande bass (10 pounds or heavier) every year; the lake record stands at 18 pounds, 6 ounces. The lake was stocked in 1985 with Florida-strain largemouth fingerlings that have grown to enormous proportions, making El Salto a mecca for trophy bass enthusiasts.
Double-digit bass can be caught any time you visit El Salto, but the prime time to catch numbers of big bass is from late May through July, when the lake is low and the fish are more concentrated.
14. O.H. Ivie Lake, TX
Due to its lunker bass population, O.H. Ivie is a bucket-list item for many bass anglers, and it takes spot 14 in our list. This 19,000-acre reservoir contains primarily standing timber. The trees and brush were not cleared from the reservoir basin before the lake was impounded, so thousands of acres of flooded trees in all reservoir parts make up a large proportion of the fish cover. Flip a jig or Texas rig into one of the thousands of submerged bushes and timber and hold on for a huge thump! Bring the big sticks and braided line to do battle with O.H. Ivie brutes.
15. Lake Kissimmee, FL
Lake Kissimmee routinely boasts a 6-pound average for largemouth bass, with trophies in the teens not uncommon. This central Florida bass factory has a big bass reputation and seems to get better every year. No wonder it ranks as one of the top bass fishing lakes by our forum members.
16. Lake Eufaula, AL
Lake Eufaula on the Alabama-Georgia border is a well-established bass fishing destination that pumps out giant bass regularly. The legendary fishery boasts an abundant above-average-sized largemouth bass population, making Eufaula a "must visit" site for serious bass anglers.
17. Santee Cooper, SC
Santee Cooper ranks among the top 25 bass-fishing locations in many lists, so it’s no surprise our members rank it number 17. The expansive fish habitat and diverse forage base make for an outstanding and remarkably dependable bass population, with excellent overall quality and plenty of legitimate trophies.
Lakes Marion and Moultrie, which cover 170,000 acres, make up Santee Cooper. Both lakes offer an excellent mix of shallow habitat and deep-water escapes and extensive cover in the form of trees, stumps, brush, and diverse vegetation. Bass forage includes six species of shad or herring, crawfish, and several kinds of sunfish and minnows. The diversity of the forage is part of what makes the bass population so stable.
18. Lake Amistad, TX
Lake Amistad is part of the Rio Grande River along the Mexico/U.S. border. Its remote location and clear, fertile waters contribute to the healthy population of big largemouth bass. True trophy bass anglers make the trip in the hopes of catching one of these giants.
19. Tennessee River, TN
The Tennessee River features some of the most renowned largemouth and smallmouth bass fishing in the Southeastern U.S. in the form of legendary reservoirs such as Lake Guntersville, Pickwick Lake, and Kentucky Lake. But the headwater areas in and around Knoxville, TN, offer plenty of bass fishing action. Whether fishing for trophy smallmouth or largemouth bass, the Tennessee River offers something for every serious bass angler.
20. Thousand Islands, NY
Thousand Islands is along the New York-Canadian border and is known for quality smallmouth and largemouth bass despite heavy fishing pressure. 100+ fish days are not uncommon, but anglers flock to this lake because the opportunity to catch a trophy smallmouth bass is very high at Thousand Islands.
21. Stick Marsh, FL
Known to most anglers as the Farm 13/Stick Marsh, the 6,500-acre shallow water impoundment is widely known for its excellent bass fishing due to largemouth bass's special no-harvest regulation. For decades, Stick Marsh has held one of the top 10 trophy bass spots in the state and continues to produce monster bass every year.
22. Kentucky Lake, KY
Kentucky Lake, straddling the Kentucky-Tennessee border, contains a healthy largemouth and smallmouth bass population. This legendary fishery hosts non-stop action for bass in the 2-6 pound class, with a real shot at bigger lunkers. Abundant bass inhabits the shallow cover, but you've found your mecca if you enjoy summertime deep-water ledge fishing.
23. Susquehanna River, NY/PA
The Susquehanna is well-known for its large population of smallmouth bass. The Susquehanna is also filled with a great variety of fish species and forage, which enable the smallmouth to reach true trophy size. If you want a smallmouth trip of a lifetime, the Susquehanna ranks among the top smallmouth rivers in the U.S.
24. The Sacramento/Joaquin Delta, CA (California Delta)
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta covers hundreds of miles in Northern California. It has a reputation for producing giant striped bass and has a very healthy population of largemouth and smallmouth bass. It consistently produces heavy limits at tournaments year-round, especially in the spring.
25. Lake of the Ozarks, MO
Lake of the Ozarks continues to produce giant largemouth bass due to the abundant forage base. The fish are getting bigger each year, and lunkers exceeding 10 pounds are now possible. Ozarks is the largest lake in Missouri and has a healthy population of spotted bass, making this a terrific destination for Missouri anglers.