See the top 25 best bass fisheries of 2019 located in the Central United States.
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1. Sam Rayburn Reservoir, Texas
This east Texas lake rose to the top of the 2018 list thanks to the sheer number of huge sacks the reservoir produced. How has the lake changed in the past 12 months? Not much. The lake continues to pump out huge limits of bass — with some beasts included in the mix. Proof was given this April when 20 of the 21 hourly winning bass in the Sealy Big Bass Splash exceeded 7 pounds, with the one exception missing the 7-pound mark by .04 pounds. Big stringers also are common. In May 2018, a 25.78-pound stringer was required to win the Media Bass Texas Deep East Team tournament on Rayburn, with two 8-pounders crossing the scales. Oh, did we mention the Bass Champs Shootout last June, during which the Top 10 teams had more than 22 pounds, with the winner breaking 28 pounds? Big bass for that event was 10.92 pounds. Even more remarkable was the 40.28-pound sack weighed in during the June Texas Team Trail Championship. That team went on to win the two-day event with 10 bass going 64.09 pounds. And then on July 7, in the heat of the Texas summer, the lake really shone when the same team tournament produced two stringers topping the 28-pound mark — with the heaviest sack logging in at 29.4 pounds. Yeah, this lake is still best in class.
Photo: Thomas Allen
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2. Lake Fork, Texas
Probably one of the most-recognizable big-bass producers in the country, Lake Fork remains a bucket-list destination. This northeast Texas reservoir continues to pump out big largemouth, with six double-digit Lake Fork bass being entered into the Toyota ShareLunker program since January. But that’s not all. A June TTZ tournament produced three 8-pounders. And in September, the Sealy Big Bass Splash included one 11-pounder and four 9-pounders. On March 2, there were two 10-pounders crossing the scales during a Bass Champs event. And on March 16, Bass Champs produced an 11.93-pound pig. And biologists say the cold winter has resulted in an “off season.” But the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest benefiting Texas Parks and Wildlife Department really showed its potential in early May, when Elite Series pro Brandon Cobb put together a four-day total of 114 pounds to earn the victory. His 20 bass included a monster tipping the scales at 11 pounds, 1 ounce that earned him a Toyota Tundra. But he wasn’t the only pro to enter the celebrated Century Club during the event: Garrett Paquette put 101-15 together for second. And six other Elite Series pros topped 90 pounds. Don’t overlook this perennial powerhouse.
Photo: Thomas Allen
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3. Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin
Tournaments out of Sturgeon Bay continue to show just how amazing this Lake Michigan area is. A two-day Sturgeon Bay Open Bass Tournament last May produced a 10-fish stringer weighing nearly 58 pounds. The average bass in the winning total weighed 5.79 pounds. In that same event, the Top 7 teams weighed stringers including 5-pound-average bass.
Photo: Seigo Saito
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4. Toledo Bend, Texas/Louisiana
There were 49 double-digit bass logged into the Toledo Bend Lunker Bass Program in 2018, which is lower than normal. Regardless, Toledo Bend is still an exceptional fishery. At the Texas Bass Couples event on Feb. 3, the top team logged a winning weight just shy of 30 pounds. Then, on Feb. 16, the Bass Champs stop included a whopping 33.15-pound bag.
Photo: Seigo Saito
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5. Mille Lacs Lake, Minnesota
The folks at Nitti’s Hunters Point Resort say they have seen an uptick in bass catches, and results from the North American Bass Circuit prove it. Last June 16, the circuit’s event was won with a whopping 25 pounds, 2 ounces. But even more impressive was the fact that you couldn’t break the Top 20 unless you had more than 20 pounds.
Photo: Seigo Saito
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6. Lake Falcon, Texas
This Rio Grande reservoir continues to improve, according to biologists. A February Bass Champs event was won with 34 pounds, and the Top 13 teams weighed in more than 20 pounds. Big bass during that event was 10.14 pounds. And the two-day TTZ Championship in September was won with 51.63 pounds, with four bags over 23 pounds weighed.
Photo: Gary Tramontina
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7. Lake Conroe, Texas
This Houston-area reservoir definitely hosts some big bass. A CONROEBASS Weekend Series event held on Feb. 23 was won with a 23.43-pound sack. Conroe is one of the top three reservoirs in the ShareLunker program, with 65 bass weighing more than 8 pounds being entered. And the Jan. 27 Anglers Quest Team Tournament featured a 12.30-pound bass.
Photo: Seigo Saito
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8. Lake Minnetonka, Minnesota
This was rated second in the state by biologists, just behind powerhouse Mille Lacs. Tournament results don’t show beastly bass being caught, but winning stringers are often built with bass topping the 4-pound mark. Take the Denny’s Super 30 Bass Tournament held there last July: The winning eight-fish stringer weighed 34 pounds. That’s a 4 1/4-pound average.
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9. Caddo Lake, Texas/Louisiana
The lake is filled with cypress trees and aquatic vegetation, providing plenty of habitat for bass to grow — and grow they do, as proved by the 16-pounder caught in 2010. A B.O.S.S. Team Trail event last April was topped with an eye-popping 31.97-pound stringer. And every team in the Top 10 weighed in more than 20 pounds.
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10. Table Rock Lake, Missouri
While there are plenty of spotted bass in the lake, 62 percent of all fish sampled by biologists last spring were largemouth. Twenty-six percent of those bass were longer than 15 inches. The Joe Bass Team Trail event on March 9 was won with a five-fish limit of 24.72 pounds, with a MoBassFishin’ Solo Pro Series stop the next day producing a winning stringer going 26.98.
Photo: Steve Bowman
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11. Lake Lyndon B. Johnson, Texas
This Texas Hill Country reservoir continues to produce. Last May, it required more than 20 pounds to break the Top 5 during a Bass Champs stop, with two bass breaking the 8-pound mark during the event. But a January 2018 TTZ event showed LBJ could produce huge sacks: The winning team turned in a 30.75-pound performance. The Top 3 teams all surpassed 24 pounds.
Photo: Dave Precht
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12. Millwood Lake, Arkansas
This lake, which has been stocked with Florida bass, has been the most highly ranked lake in the state for the past five years, according to Arkansas’ annual Tournament Fishing Program report. And the report shows a 79 percent success rate during 2018 tournaments. Last June’s Arkansas Bass Team Trail event was won with a 24.03-pound sack, so, the potential for a big day is there.
Photo: Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism
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13. Caney Creek Reservoir, Louisiana
Good things are happening on the so-called Jewel of Jackson Parish. Biologists say hydrilla is finally returning to the lake, and they rank Caney Creek just behind Toledo Bend for Louisiana fisheries. An April Caney Lake Bass Circuit event was won with 24.17 pounds, and a 9.1-pound lunker was caught on April 12.
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14. Lake Dardanelle, Arkansas
Dardanelle’s ample population of 4- to 6-pound bass helps keep this lake’s ranking as one of the best in the state, biologists say. An April 7 Arkansas Bass Team Trail event proved that, with the top weight falling just shy of 25 pounds, and 20.03 pounds being logged in by the eighth-place team. Big bass in that event was 7.39 pounds.
Photo: James Overstreet
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15. Lake Ray Roberts, Texas
This north Texas reservoir continues to shine. As in, you better average at least 5-pounders if you want to win here. Last May’s Texas Team Trail stop included a winning weight of 28.7 pounds, but the Top 7 weights were 23 pounds or more.
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16. Lake Texoma, Texas/Oklahoma
This sprawling border lake just continues to chug along. It’s not necessarily a monster producer, but it consistently turns out 20-pound stringers. This April’s Texas Team Trail produced a 23.08-pound winning stringer, with 20 pounds required to break into the Top 20. Big bass in this event was 7.81 pounds.
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17. Lake Ouachita, Arkansas
This Arkansas lake is really coming on. Biologists say it’s simply full of bass. The state’s Annual Tournament Information report reveals a 75.3 percent success rate during tournaments. While that means anglers have great opportunities to catch limits, it’s not just about numbers. There were two largemouth weighing more than 9 pounds caught at Ouachita during a 2018 Trader Bill’s Team Trail events.
Photo: Sylvia Murray
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18. Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri
Lake of the Ozarks was on last year’s list because of its consistent production of hefty stringers. And not much has changed there: It still takes 20-plus-pound bags to earn top billing at tournaments there. At the Joe Bass Team Trail event on April 7, the winning five-fish stringer went 21.7 pounds. And the fifth-place team put together 20.09 pounds.
Photo: Seigo Saito
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19. Lake O’ the Pines, Texas
This is another Texas reservoir that tests tournament anglers’ abilities to target solid bass. As in, you have to push the mid-20-pound mark to earn top billing at most events. Last April, a Media Bass event was won with a total of 27.87 pounds, and the Top 4 teams all bested 22 pounds. Big bass was 8.23 pounds.
Photo: Joshua DeWyse
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20. Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees, Oklahoma
This great lake just keeps on producing solid bass. Winning tournament weights last year required a 4-pound average. A 21.73-pound bag took top billing during a May 12, 2018, Future Bass Team Trail event. But the lake really showed off May 20 of that year during a Nichols Marine Team Series event when a team put together a 25.06-pound stringer.
Photo: Garrick Dixon
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21. Lake Columbia, Arkansas
You’ll find great fishing in this small lake near Magnolia, Ark. Biologists report 10% of the bass they shocked up were longer than 20 inches, and 2018 creel surveys revealed 60% of anglers caught at least one bass topping 5 pounds. And to win tournaments here, you have to generally hit the mid-20-pound mark.
Photo: Dan Gregory
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22. Bull Shoals, Arkansas
Fisheries managers say winning stringers routinely top 20 pounds here, and the number of bass being caught is “astounding.” It also provides the opportunity to catch largemouth, spots and smallmouth. November’s Winter Bass-O-Thon required 19.85 pounds to win, while the circuit’s March 3 stop there was won with a 20.31-pound stringer.
Photo: James Overstreet
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23. Lake Wanahoo, Nebraska
State biologists were in on the design of this reservoir from the beginning, so it was built with water quality and fish habitat in mind. The fish population is very healthy, and Wanahoo boasts the highest sampling rate of 15-inch-and-larger bass in the state at 169 fish per hour. What about tournaments? A Cornhusker State Games Team Bass Tournament last summer was won with 20.02 pounds.
Photo: Eric Fowler
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24. West Lake Okoboji, Iowa
It’s not easy finding information about this little Iowa jewel, but what does surface is impressive. In fact, state biologists say it usually takes 20 pounds to win there, and the last 12 months the fishing has been “exceptional.” Take the 2018 Okoboji Open, for example. That event, held last May, was won with five bass weighing 20.60 pounds, with the second-place team logging 20.43 pounds.
Photo: DJ Vogele
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25. Newton Lake, Illinois
Expect to catch a lot of 2- to 6-pound bass here, with some fish up to 7 pounds thrown in for good measure. It’s important to note there is a 25-horsepower limit on the lake, but it’s worth putting in. A November Bass World Sports Tournament Association event at Newton was won with 21.31 pounds.