Last year was an amazing year for bass fishing all across the country. Mild weather and healthy spawns allowed for the bass populations to improve in most bodies of water.
We compiled our list of the Top 25 Best Bass Fishing Lakes in the United States. All of these bass fisheries qualify for bucket list status, so start planning your trips.
Top 25 Best Bass Fishing Lakes
1. Sam Rayburn Reservoir, Texas
Deep in the heart of East Texas lies the 114,000 acres of bass fishing heaven that is Sam Rayburn Reservoir. The fishery here has been great for years, but the average size of bass here has been tremendous as of late. The Elite Series tournament held here in May took over 93 lbs. to win over the course of four days.
2. Lake Mille Lacs
Mille Lacs stands out as the best body of water located in the land of 10,000 lakes, and one of the best bass fishing lakes in all of the country. Smallmouth bite year round, and if you can get there when it’s hot, you’ll reel in great biggins. Chasing northern smallmouth around a huge lake can be tiresome, but this is the promised land, and you’ll really enjoy the powerful fighters that call Mille Lacs home. If you want to catch a true trophy smallmouth, this is your lake.
3. Clear Lake, California
An obvious choice for ours and other best bass fishing lakes lists, Clear Lake is well-known for the downright enormous bass it holds. The fair temperatures throughout the year at Clear Lake allow the bait fish to get big and the bass to get bigger. Many local pros throw massive swimbaits almost exclusively to target the true giants. Clear Lake should be on every avid bass angler’s bucket list.
4. Falcon Lake, Texas
Located along the U.S. / Mexico border, Falcon Lake has become one of the most notorious lakes for giant largemouth and rightfully so. This impoundment of the Rio Grande River hosted a Bassmaster Elite Series event in 2008 where 12 anglers broke the 100 pound mark for the tournament. Not only is there quality, but a large quantity of trophy largemouth at Falcon.
5. Lake Berryessa, California
There aren’t too many places where you can complete the bass fishing trifecta on nearly every fishing trip. Lake Berryessa sports a thriving population of largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass, and they grow ‘em big!
6. Lake Erie
The size of the smallmouth bass at Lake Erie is just plain ridiculous. Since the introduction of the invasive gobie into this great lake, the smallmouth have been feeding heavily and growing to mega sizes. Record smallmouth are being hauled in on Erie nearly every year, most of which are over 8 pounds.
7. Lake St. Clair
The third smallmouth factory in our top 10 best bass fishing lakes, Lake St. Clair gives you the chance to catch more big bass than you can count. St. Clair is still a very large body of water, but it is usually much easier to dial in the bite here than on the Great Lakes. Miles of shallow grass and sand flats provide perfect habitat for smalljaws to flourish. Dropshot, jerkbaits, and topwater plugs are great ways to land a big smallie here.
8. California Delta
The Dirty D is miles and miles of tules, riprap, and other hideouts that grow monstrous bass. With big baitfish and temperate weather, the climate around most of this channel is suited to trophy hunting. Topwater bites are on all year, and with the narrow nature of the delta, it is not even necessary to be on a boat to cover enough ground to catch a lunker.
9. Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin
Not to be outdone by his big brother out East (Lake Erie), Lake Michigan’s Sturgeon Bay is a favorite smallmouth destination for anglers everywhere. Vast expanses of chunk rock, crystal clear water, and abundant baitfish combine to make Sturgeon Bay an obvious smallmouth mecca. Fishing is tremendous here nearly always, but it is often best when the weather is brutal so tough out the cold and waves to catch a giant!
10. Toledo Bend Reservoir, Texas/Louisiana
The vegetation grows thick and the mondos bite often. Double digit weights are posted so often you won’t bat an eye when your new PB knocks slack in your line. Constantly at the top of best bass fishing lists, this mainstay has slipped a bit due to fishing pressure but it’s just a matter of time before it will be right back up near the top!
11. Lake Okeechobee, Florida
Lake Okeechobee has been a premiere bass fishery for a long time and it won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. Miles and miles of healthy grass and shallow water make the Big O fish just like a huge pond. Flippin’, punchin’, and frog fishing are all awesome ways to catch a new PB here!
12. St. Lawrence River, New York
A good argument could be made that the St, Lawrence River should be higher on our list, given the fact that KVD just weighed in 90 pounds of smallmouth there at a recent Elite Series event. It’s clear that the fishery here is on the upswing and should be moving up on our list in years to come. All the typical clear water techniques (dropshots, jerkbaits, spybaits) excel here, so bring your light line and get out after those monster smallies!
13. New Bullard’s Bar Reservoir, California
It’s no secret anymore that Bullard’s Bar is one of the best spotted bass fisheries in the world, and DEFINITELY one of the Best Bass Fishing Lakes. Especially in the winter, this place has been churning out mythical sized beasts for years now. The secret is out and the anglers are already lining up to give their best shot at breaking the spotted bass record.
14. Lake Fork, Texas
Good old Lake Fork may never lose it’s spot on a best bass fishing lakes list, for any year, ever. Lake Fork consistently produces for anglers both quality and quantity. With the temperatures in this part of the great state of Texas, this production also lasts through the winters and summers, as you are just as likely to pull in your PB on Christmas as you are on the 4th of July.
15. Santee Cooper Lakes, South Carolina
The Santee Cooper Lakes in south-central South Carolina is top lake for serious bass anglers or a relaxing family fishing trip out on the lake. There is plenty of shallow cover in the form of grass, pads, and trees making for easy target fishing. A plethora of bass from 3 to even 10 pounds make the Santee Cooper Lakes a no-brainer for our list of best bass lakes. You might even run into a giant catfish on the ol’ Santee Cooper Rig named for this factory!
16. Chickamauga Lake, Tennessee
This 36,000 acre Tennessee River impoundment has busted onto the radar’s of bass anglers in a big way. The fishing at Chick has been good for years, but it’s experienced a significant uptick in recent history. Several big-time professional bass tournaments have been held here and it’s taken solid 20 pound limits to win. In addition to the great fishing, like many Tennessee River lakes Chick offers some beautiful scenery.
17. Kentucky Lake, Kentucky
Kentucky Lake is a staple lake for bass fishermen across the MidWest and Central U.S. It’s most famous for it’s deep ledge fishing in the heat of the summer, but it features a vast amount of shallow cover as well. Ledge fishing might be the best way to catch a monster in the summer, but don’t shy away from Kentucky Lake if you prefer shallow flipping and pitching. There are huge bass all over this lake.
18. Mississippi River, Wisconsin
The Mississippi River near La Crosse, Wisconsin has everything a bass angler could ask for. While not quite a lake, it still makes our “best bass fishing lakes” list. From clear water smallies to frog fishing lily pads for largemouth, this part of the Mississippi offers some of the most fun you can have while bass fishing. With so much diverse habitat, you can catch fish pretty much however you choose. Head to La Crosse if you want to have a ball catching boatloads of brown and green bass!
19. Lake Champlain, New York/Vermont
Split right down the middle by the New York/Vermont border, Lake Champlain is a bass fishing mecca for the northeast. Large grass flats hold plenty of 3 to 6 pound largemouth and deep rocky parts of the lake up north offer outstanding smallmouth fishing. Whether you prefer heavy cover largemouth or finesse smallmouth fishing, you can do it all at Champlain!
20. Grand Traverse Bay, Michigan
The crystal clear waters and enormous smallmouth bass make Grand Traverse Bay an amazing fishing destination. Water visibility can easily surpass 20 feet here making it easy to spot and cast to deep structure for fish holding tight to the bottom. 4 pounders are just “decent” here, you’re going to need a 6 plus smallie before you start turning any heads.
21. Lake Tohopekaliga, Florida
Lake Toho as it’s known to locals, looks like a typical Florida lake filled with hydrilla, lily pads, other grasses, and a few docks scattered about but the bass that live there are anything but typical. Florida Fish and Wildlife’s TrophyCatch program has recorded 55 bass that qualify for it’s Trophy Club, that’s 10 to 12.9 pound bass!
22. Pickwick Lake, Alabama
Another dam off the Tennessee River created this standout lake in Northwest Alabama. Pickwick Lake is a very diverse fishery that is best known for its record size smallmouth bass. Pickwick lies just on the edge of smallmouth’s natural range which brings warmer weather and a longer growing season. The combination of warm climate with an abundance of baitfish makes Pickwick a trophy smallmouth factory, and one of our best bass fishing lakes!
23. Lake Amistad, Texas
A bass fishing oasis in the desert, Lake Amistad, slides into our list at spot 23. The largemouth here are big and mean. Flip a jig or Texas rig into one of thousands of submerged bushes and timber and hold on for a huge thump! Bring the big sticks and braided line to do battle with Amistad brutes.
24. Lake Guntersville, Alabama
Lake Guntersville has been synonymous with bass fishing for decades. The lake has gone through its highs and lows as any lake will, but it remains to be a top spot for big bass in the south. Massive grass matts and expanses of hydrilla provide the bass with everything they need here. Frogging, punching, and lipless cranks in the spring and fall dominate the bite at G-Ville!
25. Lake Oahe, South Dakota
Oahe might just be the best kept secret to smallmouth anglers everywhere. Mainly fished by walleye anglers, the 370,000 acres of Lake Oahe are stock full of great smallmouth habitat and gizzard shad for forage. There are plenty of smallies in the 18” to 20” range here that have never even seen a lure!
As with any Best Bass Fishing Lakes list, it was like splitting hairs when it came to ranking some lakes over others. There are so many impressive lakes and rivers all over the country and each is special!