Click here to continue 1 / 25 1. Shearon Harris, North Carolina [4,100 acres] When one 40-plus-pound limit comes from a lake, heads turn. When two limits this size are produced two weekends in a row, it’s time to gas up the Tundra and head that way. This is precisely what happened here in March. And what is even more amazing, the same pair of anglers caught both of these record-breaking sacks (41.93 and 46.89). The bigger of the two limits included both a 10.38 and 10.91. The slot limit on this lake has obviously worked (no bass between 16 and 20 inches can be kept). Look up the results of nighttime wildcat tournaments and it takes 18 pounds to win. This little lake is on fire right now. If you are looking for a personal best in the 8- to 10-pound range, this should be your next destination. Photo: Harris Lake County Park 2 / 25 2. Santee Cooper Lakes, South Carolina (Marion and Moultrie) [110,000 acres and 60,000 acres, respectively] When you weigh in 20.99 pounds and finish 10th, getting beat by almost 10 pounds, you know you have fished a special lake. That happened here this April when the Carolinas Bass Challenge tournament was held. The winners had 30.68 pounds, while second place weighed in 29.52. Photo: Gerald Crawford 3 / 25 3. Chickamauga Lake, Tennessee [36,240 acres] This Tennessee River impoundment is on fire. In the late April Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open, it took more than 23 pounds per day for John Cox to win the event. On Day 1 of that tournament, if you didn’t have 15 pounds, you were not in the Top 50. Plus, The Chick is still banging out giants, as an 11-5 was caught during the event to take big-fish honors. Photo: James Overstreet 4 / 25 4. Lake Okeechobee, Florida [730 square miles] It seems the Big O is on an upswing. After a few tough years and a battle or two with water-quality issues, the giant limits of largemouth have returned. The Bassmaster Elite Series event here in February saw Ott DeFoe weigh in a 31-3 limit, Tim Horton weigh a 30-4 limit and Jesse Tacoronte weigh a 28-4 limit; four other limits topped 25 pounds. All but seven anglers weighed in a limit on Day 1 of this event, so the bass population seems to be on the rise. This lake may not be the best it has ever been, but it is heading that way. Photo: Seigo Saito 5 / 25 5. Pickwick Lake, Alabama/Mississippi/Tennessee [43,100 acres] This border fishery is kicking out some impressive limits this year! During an Alabama Bass Trail event in March, it took 25.89 pounds to win. More impressively, 15 teams eclipsed the 20-pound mark, while it took almost 16 pounds to make the Top 40. Perhaps the most exciting reason to fish this Tennessee River impoundment is the possibility of catching both a smallmouth and a largemouth that top the 6-pound mark. And double-digit largemouth swim here, as well, as proved by the 10.36 big fish weighed in during the March event. Also worth noting, the three fisheries agencies that manage this lake (Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee) all ranked the lake as either No. 1 or No. 2 in their states. If ever you wanted to fish this body of water, the time to go is now. Photo: James Overstreet 6 / 25 6. Lake Murray, South Carolina [50,000 acres] This lake appears to be in fantastic condition, as a Carolinas Bass Challenge event here in February took 26.53 pounds to win (including the derby’s big fish, 8.49 pounds). Second place had over 26 pounds, as well. Actually, you had to catch almost 21.5 pounds to be in the Top 5! Yes, Murray is spitting out some impressive limits and doesn’t look to quit producing anytime soon. Photo: Scott Lamprecht 7 / 25 7. Lake Seminole, Georgia/Florida [37,500 acres] A three-day FLW event held here in March required almost 22 pounds per day to win. Four limits topped the 23-pound mark. So, this border lake appears as healthy as it has been in a while. Plus, the legend and lore surrounding this historic bass factory adds to the experience on the water. Photo: Gary Tramontina 8 / 25 8. Watts Bar Reservoir, Tennessee [39,000 acres] The Tennessee reservoir program coordinator rates this lake just behind Chickamauga in terms of quality of bass populations in the state. A glance at the results of the Volunteer Bass Trail team tournament held here in March supports this claim. It took 25.66 pounds to win, and you didn’t crack the Top 6 unless you had at least 20 pounds. A 7.23 took big-fish honors, but don’t be surprised to land a double-digit fish here. Photo: Tennessee Valley Authority 9 / 25 9. Lake Guntersville, Alabama [69,000 acres] If you ask any of the Elite Series pros who live on Alabama’s Lake Guntersville, they will say the lake is struggling. However, you have to keep this in perspective. Instead of taking 100 pounds to win a four-day derby, it’s taking 80. That’s still 20 pounds per day, a 4-pound average. That’s almost exactly what it took to win FLW’s opener here in February (79-11). For single-day tournaments this year, 24.59 appears to be the biggest limit weighed in (Buster’s Bait & Tackle Wildcat in April). So, although Guntersville isn’t red hot at the moment, it remains one of the best fisheries in the Southeast. Photo: Helen White 10 / 25 10. Bay Springs Lake, Mississippi [6,700 acres] The locals likely will not appreciate this lake being included in the rankings, as it has been a secret in Mississippi the past several years. However, a March 25 derby here shed light on the bass fishing gem that is Bay Springs Lake. It took 22.68 to win, with nine teams bringing in over 18 pounds. This Tennessee-Tombigbee waterway does not have a lot of development on its shorelines, so the angling experience is picturesque. Photo: Ben Davis 11 / 25 11. Lake Tohopekaliga, Florida (plus Kissimmee Chain of Lakes) [22,700 acres] An American Bass Anglers event here in January took 23.01 to win, with an 8.84 taking big-fish honors. The Lakeland Bassmasters had a February derby here, and it took 22.8 to win, and a 10.25 big fish was weighed in. However, weights dropped quickly, and the majority of anglers were not weighing in limits. So, Toho is currently a fickle beast. If you get on the right fish, it could change your life. It’s just as likely, though, that you would have preferred spending the day at Disney. Photo: Ronnie Moore 12 / 25 12. Cherokee Lake, Tennessee [28,780 acres] If you look at the results of this year’s Elite Series event held here, it’s startling how many limits over 15 pounds were weighed in. You have to go down to 84th place before you find an angler who didn’t surpass that threshold at least one day. Eventual winner Jacob Wheeler had a four-day total of 69-13, averaging well over 17 pounds per day. This fishery is healthy and full of 3-pound-class fish. Photo: Seigo Saito 13 / 25 13. Lake Istokpoga, Florida [26,762 acres] A Lakeland Bassmaster club event here in April took 20.92 pounds to win, with a 7.24 big fish. Of all the lakes in Florida, the fisheries director for the state ranks this lake in the Top 5 based on catch rates and recruitment. Plus, based on the Florida TrophyCatch program, it’s one of the hottest bodies of water for catching an 8-plus-pound bruiser. There have been 47 entries this year for fish weighing over 8 pounds, with an 11-8 caught in January leading the pack. Photo: Jim Reed 14 / 25 14. Cooper River, South Carolina [30-mile stretch below Lake Moultrie Dam] This is a tidal estuary with breached rice fields that fishes much like a reservoir, save the daily water fluctuations. According to the Region IV freshwater fisheries coordinator, it is likely the most productive system in the state. So productive, in fact, that it may suffer from too much recruitment (too many fish), although the only place in the state that can boast of more trophy-size bass is Santee Cooper reservoir. Photo: Scott Lamprecht 15 / 25 15. Stick Marsh/Farm 13, Florida [6,500 acres] If you want to go hawg hunting, this may become your favorite destination in Florida. It’s small but packed with big fish. For those who aren’t too proud to use wild shiners, expect 30- to 40ish days with a lot of 5-pounders in the mix. Double-digit bass are here, as well; a 10-pounder was submitted to the Florida TrophyCatch program in March. Photo: Dustin Everitt 16 / 25 16. Fontana Lake, North Carolina [10,230 acres] This lake is a rare find, as you can catch the three main species of bass here (smallmouth, largemouth and spots). Although you are not likely to catch giant fish here, the scenery more than makes up for it. Fontana is not easy to get to, and therefore does not receive a ton of fishing pressure. Remember, dumb fish are fun fish. Plus, the regional fisheries supervisor for North Carolina ranks it as the best lake in the state. Photo: Fontana Village Resort 17 / 25 17. Clarks Hill Lake, Georgia/South Carolina [71,000 acres] Also known as Lake Strom Thurmond, this giant border fishery on the Savannah River currently has an epic population of bass. A February FLW tournament here saw more than 90 percent of anglers catch a five-fish limit. And this wasn’t a dink-fest, either. The winner brought in 22-10, and more than 20 anglers breached the 15-pound mark. Photo: B.A.S.S. 18 / 25 18. Wilson Lake, Alabama [15,930 acres] This fishery is often overlooked because nearby Pickwick Lake steals the headlines. However, it has become one of the best bass fisheries in the state of Alabama. A March team tournament here took more than 25 pounds to win. You were not in the Top 5 unless you caught more than 17 pounds. The big fish of that derby was 7.12, but much bigger largemouth lurk here. Photo: Damon Abernethy 19 / 25 19. Kenansville Reservoir, Florida [2,500 acres] It is likely that you have not heard of this fishery. Don’t feel bad, as nearby Lake Toho overshadows this small destination (plus the name recently changed from Blue Cypress Reservoir). That said, you might want to become familiar with it. Since the Florida TrophyCatch program was initiated, 97 fish between 8 and 9.9 pounds have been caught here, as well as 12 bass between 10 and 12.9 pounds, plus one over 13. This is a catch-and-release-only fishery, so all of those bass are still swimming in the hydrilla-laden shallows. Photo: Dustin Everitt 20 / 25 20. Lake Wateree, South Carolina [13,250 acres] It usually only takes about 18 pounds to win a one-day derby on this reservoir (which isn’t anything to sneeze at), but a recent Carolinas Bass Challenge event in March saw a five-fish limit weighing 26.24 pounds. This fishery is on an upswing, so you’ll want to catch it while it’s hot. Photo: Discover South Carolina 21 / 25 21. Lake Hartwell, Georgia/South Carolina [56,000 acres] As goes one Savannah River Impoundment, so goes them all. And the going is good this year! Much like Clarks Hill just to the south, Hartwell is alive and well. An early April event here saw a smooth 22-pound limit winning the title. There were 13 anglers with more than 15 pounds, but, again like Clarks Hill, the magic here is in the number of limits that were weighed in. Only 3 percent of the 145-boat field failed to land five keepers. Photo: James Overstreet 22 / 25 22. Kerr Lake, North Carolina/Virginia [50,000 acres] Also known as Buggs Island, this border impoundment of the Roanoke River has seen a surge in bass recruitment over the past several years and is now producing impressive limits. An Anglers Choice Marine team tournament here in April was won with 21.9 pounds, but more than 15 teams weighed in more than 15 pounds. More impressively, a vast majority of the 150-boat field weighed in a limit. Photo: Vic DiCenzo 23 / 25 23. Logan Martin Lake, Alabama [15,263 acres] If you love spotted bass, this lake is for you. It is loaded with them. That said, don’t expect to catch the fish of a lifetime at this fishery. The average winning weight here is around 18 pounds, although a February event here did take almost 19 to win. Still, this Coosa River impoundment is easy on the eyes and easier on the livewell, if you are simply looking for an easy limit. Photo: James Overstreet 24 / 25 24. Lake Lanier, Georgia [38,000 acres] If you are willing to fight the Jet Ski crowd here, feisty spotted bass will be more than willing to fight you. You may need to wade through some stripers, but there is little doubt you will have a successful day on the water. Look at just about any tournament held on Lanier this year, and you will find that it took between 16 and 17 pounds to win. That said, it typically took at least 16 pounds to be in the Top 10, as well. Photo: Pat Snellings 25 / 25 25. Davis Lake, Mississippi [200 acres] We were hesitant to rank this lake because of its small size. However, special considerations were made to benefit those anglers who want to go trophy hunting. There were five bass over 10 pounds caught here on five consecutive days in the beginning of February. Another double-digit fish was landed at the end of February, and an 11-8 was caught in March. This tiny fishery produced a 17.34 in 2013 and is expected to produce a 20-pounder soon. Anglers should only come here looking for one life-changing bite. Photo: Trevor Knight Bassmaster Magazine ranks the top 100 Best Bass Lakes each year, split by region. Look at the Top 25 Best Bass Lakes for the Western, Northeastern and Central regions and the Top 12.