Toledo Bend retains top spot on Bassmaster’s 100 Best Bass Lakes list

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — For the first time since the creation of Bassmaster’s 100 Best Bass Lakes rankings, a fishery has reclaimed the No.1 spot in the nation. Toledo Bend Reservoir, which straddles the Texas and Louisiana border, keeps the crown and is the only lake to earn the title more than once. 
“More than three months of research went into this year’s rankings,” explained BassmasterMagazine editor James Hall, who noted that the initial pool of top fisheries was developed with input from B.A.S.S. Nation members across the country, state fisheries biologists, the 3,500-member B.A.S.S. Council and some of the 650,000 Facebook fans of B.A.S.S.
“Then, we scoured the Internet for current catch-rate data, using the results of more than two dozen tournament organizations and several state ‘lunker’ programs to narrow the field to 100. It’s a brutal process, but the results give bass anglers the ultimate bucket list of lakes for 2016,” Hall said.
There is one big difference in the rankings this year. The Top 10 lakes in the nation are ranked regardless of location, but instead of ranking the remaining lakes through 100, as has been done in the past, Bassmaster divided the nation into four regions: Northeast, Southeast, Central and Western. Now, readers will see the Top 25 lakes closest to them. This also created four No. 1 regional fisheries.
In the Southeast division, Santee Cooper lakes earned the top spot (it’s also ranked No. 2 in the nation). Clear Lake took the No. 1 spot in the Western division (No. 3 nationally), while the New York portion of Lake Erie was named No. 1 in the Northeast (No. 4 in the nation). Of course, Toledo Bend was the Central division’s No.1 fishery.
“Our panel of judges who finalized the rankings were absolutely blown away by the production of Toledo Bend the past 12 months,” Hall noted. “The lake has yielded 139 certified bass over 10 pounds with a 14.15-pounder topping the list. Plus, a 38-pound limit and countless limits in the 30-pound range have been weighed in during tournaments over the past year.”
The 185,000-acre impoundment was the site of the A.R.E. Truck Caps Bassmaster Elite at Toledo Bend in May, which Kevin VanDam won with almost 100 pounds, even though the anglers were fishing in tough conditions after regional flooding had occurred.
A couple of other highlights from the rankings include Texas’ Falcon Lake climbing back into the nation’s Top 10 with a No. 9 ranking. This lake was ranked No.1 in 2012 and then very nearly fell off the list when drought plagued the region. Plus, a couple of new lakes have cracked the rankings, including Mississippi’s Okatibbee Lake, Arizona’s Saguaro Lake and Florida’s Lake Rousseau.
Texas earned bragging rights for the state with the most ranked lakes, boasting eight fisheries on the list. Florida and California tied for the second most with seven ranked lakes, while New York and Michigan each have six lakes in the Top 100.
Bassmaster’s 100 Best Bass Lakes will be published in an eight-page section of the July/August issue of Bassmaster Magazine. The complete rankings will also be featured on
The Top 10 In The Nation
1. Toledo Bend, Texas/Louisiana [185,000 acres]
2. Santee Cooper lakes, Marion and Moultrie, South Carolina [110,000 acres and 60,000 acres, respectively]
3. Clear Lake, California [43,785 acres]
4. Lake Erie, New York [30-mile radius from Buffalo]
5. Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, California [1,100 square miles]
6. Mille Lacs Lake, Minnesota [132,000 acres]
7. Lake Berryessa, California [20,700 acres]
8. Rodman Reservoir, Florida [13,000 acres]
9. Falcon Lake, Texas [83,654 acres]
10. Lake St. Clair, Michigan [430 square miles]
Central Division
1. Toledo Bend, Texas/Louisiana
2. Mille Lacs Lake, Minnesota
3. Falcon Lake, Texas
4. Sam Rayburn Reservoir, Texas [114,000 acres]
5. Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin [from Little Sturgeon Bay to Fish Creek]
6. Lake Palestine, Texas [25,560 acres]
7. Caddo Lake, Louisiana [25,400 acres]
8. Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees, Oklahoma [46,500 acres]
9. Lake Ray Roberts, Texas [29,350 acres]
10. Newton Lake, Illinois [1,775 acres]
11. Rainy Lake, Minnesota [360 square miles]
12. Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri [54,000 acres]
13. Green Bay, Wisconsin [up to Little Sturgeon Bay]
14. Lake Fork, Texas [27,690 acres]
15. Lake Minnetonka, Minnesota [14,528 acres]
16. Lake Bistineau, Louisiana [15,500 acres]
17. Minocqua Chain of lakes, Wisconsin [six small lakes up to 3,600 acres]
18. Squaw Creek Reservoir, Texas [3,275 acres]
19. Mississippi River, Pools 4-8, Minnesota/Wisconsin [from Lake City past La Crosse]
20. Lake Hudson, Oklahoma [12,000 acres]
21. Leech Lake, Minnesota [103,000 acres]
22. Lake Dardanelle, Arkansas [40,000 acres]
23. Lake Texoma, Texas/Oklahoma [89,000 acres]
24. Table Rock Lake, Missouri [43,100 acres]
25. Brushy Creek Lake, Iowa [690 acres]
Northeastern Division
1. Lake Erie, New York
2. Lake St. Clair, Michigan
3. Lake Erie, Ohio [30-mile radius from Sandusky]
4. Thousand Islands (St. Lawrence River), New York [50-mile stretch]
5. Saginaw Bay, Michigan [1,143 square miles]
6. Lake Charlevoix, Michigan [17,200 acres]
7. Bays de Noc, Michigan [Escanaba to Little Summer Island]
8. Lake Champlain, New York/Vermont [490 square miles]
9. Grand Traverse Bay, Michigan [32 miles long, 10 miles wide]
10. Presque Isle Bay, Pennsylvania [5.8 square miles]
11. Oneida Lake, New York [79.8 square miles]
12. Cayuga Lake, New York [43,000 acres]
13. Burt/Mullett lakes, Michigan [17,120 acres and 16,630 acres, respectively]
14. Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire [20 miles long, 9 miles wide]
15. Cobbosseecontee Lake, Maine [5,540 acres]
16. Candlewood Lake, Connecticut [5,420 acres]
17. Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia [20,600 acres
18. China Lake, Maine [3,845 acres]
19. Lake Cumberland, Kentucky [65,530 acres]
20. Chautauqua Lake, New York [13,156 acres]
21. Upper Chesapeake Bay, Maryland [The entire bay is more than 64,000 square miles, but the best fishing is in the top one-third.]
22. Pymatuning Reservoir, Pennsylvania/Ohio [17,088 acres]
23. Stonewall Jackson Lake, West Virginia [2,630 acres]
24. Squam Lake, New Hampshire [6,791 acres]
25. Kezar Lake, Maine [2,510 acres]
Southeast Division
1. Santee Cooper lakes, Marion and Moultrie, South Carolina
2. Rodman Reservoir, Florida
3. Chickamauga Lake, Tennessee [36,240 acres]
4. Kentucky/Barkley lakes, Tennessee/Kentucky [160,309 and 58,000, acres respectively]
5. Lake Guntersville, Alabama [70,000 acres]
6. Lake Istokpoga, Florida [26,762 acres]
7. Pickwick Lake, Alabama/Mississippi/Tennessee [43,100 acres]
8. Falls of the Neuse Reservoir (Falls Lake), North Carolina [12,410 acres]
9. Ross Barnett Reservoir, Mississippi [33,000 acres]
10. Lake Murray, South Carolina [50,000 acres]
11. Lake Tohopekaliga, Florida [22,700 acres]
12. Dale Hollow Reservoir, Tennessee/Kentucky [27,700 acres]
13. St. Johns River, Florida [310 miles long]
14. Randleman Lake, North Carolina [3,007 acres]
15. Watauga Lake, Tennessee [6,430 acres]
16. Okatibbee Lake, Mississippi [4,000 acres]
17. Lake Okeechobee, Florida [730 square miles]
18. South Holston Lake, Tennessee/Virginia [7,580 acres]
19. Clarks Hill Lake (Lake Strom Thurmond), Georgia [71,000 acres]
20. Lake Rousseau, Florida [3,700 acres]
21. Lake Eufaula (Walter F. George Reservoir), Alabama/Georgia [46,000 acres]
22. Lake Hartwell, Georgia/South Carolina [56,000 acres]
23. Smith Lake, Alabama [21,000 acres]
24. Lake Seminole, Georgia/Florida [37,500 acres]
25. Lay Lake, Alabama [12,000 acres]
Western Region 
1. Clear Lake, California
2. Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, California
3. Lake Berryessa, California
4. Lake Havasu, Arizona/California [19,300 acres]
5. Dworshak Reservoir, Idaho [17,090 acres]
6. Lake Casitas, California [1,100 acres]
7. Tenmile Lake, Oregon [1,626 acres]
8. Lake Washington, Washington [21,747 acres]
9. Don Pedro Reservoir, California [13,000 acres]
10. Saguaro Lake, Arizona [1,267 acres]
11. Snake River, Idaho/Oregon [100 mile Hells Canyon Wilderness reach]
12. Potholes Reservoir, Washington [14,281 acres]
13. Lake Coeur d’Alene, Idaho [25,000 acres]
14. Roosevelt Lake, Arizona [21,493 acres]
15. C.J. Strike Reservoir, Idaho [7,500 acres]
16. Lake Mohave, Nevada/Arizona [26,500 acres]
17. Banks Lake, Washington [26,886 acres]
18. Columbia River, Oregon/Washington [191 miles from Portland to McNary Dam]
19. Brownlee Reservoir, Idaho/Oregon [15,000 acres]
20. Lake Mead, Nevada/Arizona [158,080 acres]
21. Lake Powell, Utah/Arizona [108,335 acres]
22. Shasta Lake, California [30,000 acres]
23. Flaming Gorge Reservoir, Utah/Wyoming [42,020 acres]
24. Apache Lake, Arizona [2,568 acres]
25. Sand Hollow Reservoir, Utah [1,300 acres]