Best Bass Lakes 2022: Central

1. O.H. Ivie, Texas
Oh my, O.H. Ivie! Seems like only last year (Hint: It was.) that Ivie crept into the national spotlight with a 10-day stretch in February that produced six Legacy ShareLunkers weighing more than 13 pounds and a five-bass stringer that totaled a mind-boggling 60 pounds. The central Texas reservoir hasn’t let up one bit since those eye-poppers, with 11 Legacy ShareLunkers reported through early May 2022, including beasts of 17.06 and 16.10 pounds caught within a week of one another in late February/early March. Two more ShareLunker Legends (13-pounders caught from April through December) came from Ivie this year, as well as 19 more Elite ShareLunkers (10 to 12.99 pounds) and nine more that weighed 8 to 9.99 pounds or measured 24 inches long. Make no mistake, the O.H. Ivie bass are proving things really are bigger in Texas.
2. Lake Fork, Texas
The top-ranked Central Division bass lake in 2021 falls to second-best this year, but it doesn’t fall far at all. The big-bass hot spot just east of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex has produced the second-most ShareLunkers (14) in the state this year, including one that tipped the scales at 12.30 pounds. Everyone, from pros to weekend warriors, knows Lake Fork is one of America’s finest fisheries. B.A.S.S. knows Fork is where it’s at, too, with 2022 marking the fourth consecutive year the Elite Series paid a visit.
3. Sam Rayburn Reservoir, Texas
Don’t mess with Sam. Always among the nation’s best bass lakes (No. 1 in 2018 and No. 3 in 2019), Rayburn is enjoying a typical year in 2022, meaning it’s a bonanza compared to just about everywhere else. As of early May, eight ShareLunkers had come from the east Texas giant, including a 14.38-pound whopper largemouth hooked in early March. An 11.10 heavy won an angler $110,000 in cash and prizes at the Sealy Outdoors Big Bass Splash in late April.
4. Caney Creek Reservoir, Lousiana
Caney Creek Reservoir is a small fishery that produces big bass. Strike that — REALLY big bass. Six of the top 10 largemouth in Louisiana history have come from Caney, and the first few months of 2022 have produced catches right up there with the best of them. A weekend warrior caught a stringer just shy of 38 pounds in February, with the heaviest of the bunch coming in at 10.27 pounds. Later that month, partners in a team tournament on Caney Creek Reservoir caught a pair of giants — a 13.01 and a 10.77.
5. Toledo Bend, Louisiana/Texas
“The Big Bend” led the B.A.S.S. Top 100 list twice in the past decade, and it continues to be quite possibly the most consistent fishery of any in the U.S. Recent winning totals include a one-day haul of five bass weighing 32.79 in an Outlaw Outdoors team tournament and a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 48.77 in the Texas Oilman Bass Invitational. Even the high schoolers are knocking ’em out at Toledo Bend. It took five-bass limits of 23.49 and 20.99 to win recent prep events on the giant reservoir straddling the central Louisiana/Texas border.
6. West Okoboji Lake, Iowa
Okoboji is part of the Iowa Great Lakes system, one of six water bodies that total 12,000 acres in northwest Iowa. The chain produces solid fishing throughout, but West Okoboji — clear and cold — is considered by most to offer the best bassin’. That’s hard to argue, considering the 23.91 limit that won the final tournament of the Full Throttle Team Tournament late last year, with a 7.15 anchoring the bag. The 26th Annual Okoboji Open Fishing Tournament on May 1 had even better numbers, with a 27.28 limit leading the team totals and 7.29 taking big-bass honors.
7. Lake Eufaula, Oklahoma
This powerhouse lake would like to have a word with every other bass fishery in America. “I lead. You folla’.” OK, maybe that’s a bad pun on the Eufaula name, but there’s no badmouthing this place when it comes to catching bass. Winning totals for one-day events this year have included sacks of 23-6, 22-4 and 22-8, as well as big-bass catches of 9-6 and 6-4.
8. Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri
This central Missouri playground is listed by many as the Show Me State’s top bass lake of 2022, and there’s reason to believe they’re on target. The winner of a three-day MLF Toyota Series event in March needed 59-13 to hold off a talented field. A month later, at the AFTCO Spring Big Bass Bash presented by Phoenix Boats, a 7.58-pound largemouth netted a big-bass prize of $100,000 for 20-year-old Kaleb Allison of nearby Lincoln, Mo. Those are figures that catch eyes across the country, but they’re ones the bass fishing faithful have come to expect from Lake of the Ozarks.
9. Mille Lacs Lake, Minnesota
Mille Lacs, or “Thousand Lakes” in French, previously topped our 100 Best Bass Lakes list in 2017, and it remains productive today. In the catch-and-release Champions Tour Championship in September 2021, the winner caught 21 bass in one day totaling 62-12, the heaviest weighing 5-5. The second-place angler finished more than 10 pounds behind but had a higher average weight than the winner (3-4 to 2-15). Because the Minnesota bass fishing season is limited to basically the summer months, Mille Lacs anglers can endure some boating pressure, despite the lake’s size. Still, it’s a worthwhile venture for some of the best smallmouth fishing in the U.S.
10. Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin
Sturgeon Bay is another Northern fishery with a fantastic smallmouth bite. In the annual Fall Sturgeon Bay Open held last September, the top seven teams all caught limits of smallies that weighed more than 20 pounds, and the winning sack tipped the scales at 22-3. And in the 31st Annual Sturgeon Bay Open Bass Tournament held a few months earlier, it took 53-4 to win a two-day team event (with smallmouth limits of 26 and 27-4). The 2022 event held this past May was won with a two-day total of 52-12. Most impressive, however, is that a giant 7-12 took big-bass honors. And, new this year, the North American Bass Challenge will hold a Big Bass Championship on Sturgeon Bay on Sept. 11.
11. Oak Creek Reservoir, Texas
It’s by no means a big fishery, but Oak Creek certainly has fished big in recent months, staking its claim among the best bass factories in a state filled with them. Eight ShareLunkers have been caught at Oak Creek through early May 2022, including two that were Elite class: an 11.88 in early March and an 11.1 in late February. That’s up from the two ShareLunker bass that came from the reservoir in all of 2021. In fact, both of those bass came in the fourth quarter of last year, meaning this little west Texas treasure could be an up-and-comer.
12. Choke Canyon Reservoir, Texas 
Few places in the country have been as consistent as Choke Canyon in recent months, making the reservoir northwest of Corpus Christi a riser on this list. Take for instance the Texas Team Trail tournament held in March. The Top 5 teams in the derby each had five-bass limits of at least 20 pounds, including the 26.57 that won the event. The big bass in that event weighed 7.06 pounds, and that wasn’t enough to get the tandem that caught it into the Top 30 boats competing that day.
13. Table Rock Lake, Missouri
Steady as it gets, “The Rock” is on a roll again in 2022. Anglers from the Joe Bass Team Trail frequent the southern Missouri fishery and have needed five-bass limits of 21.26 and 18.78 to win early-season events this year. Those bags were anchored by 6.94 and 6.21 bass, respectively. In a Big Bass Tour stop in early April, the Top 5 fish all weighed more than 6 pounds, including an 8.02 that was the heavy of the event. That’s solid — as a rock.
14. Possum Kingdom Lake, Texas
Forget the funny name — this place is all business when it comes to bass fishing. Need proof? How about three ShareLunkers in February to the tune of 13.38, 13.2 and 13.06 pounds? Those were the first Legacy class fish to come from Possum Kingdom in 31 years, which could be a sign that the lake just west of the DFW skyline ain’t playing possum at all. It’s wide awake.
15. Bussey Brake Reservoir, Louisiana
No doubt about it: The Bayou State’s newest WMA is a big-bass beast. Once an emergency water supply for a now-defunct paper mill, the property was donated in 2013 to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, which began stocking the lake in 2017. Five years later, record-setting fish are being caught, including a 12-14 caught by Randy Howell in an MLF event in February. Bradley Roy had a 26-2 limit the same day. Pro angler Tyler Stewart caught a 12.74-pounder in mid-2021 on Bussey, another in a line of buzzworthy bass coming from this pearl tucked away in Louisiana’s northeast corner. 
16. Lake Conroe, Texas 
The site of the 2017 Bassmaster Classic has quietly ticked along as one of the better bass lakes in a state filled with some real treasures. Through early May, the lake just north of Houston had given up eight ShareLunker bass of more than 8 pounds, including one Elite class catch that weighed an even 10 pounds. In a Big Bass Tour stop in February, the top three catches weighed double digits, led by a 10.33 mule.
17. Grand Lake O’ The Cherokees, Oklahoma
Grand has hosted two Bassmaster Classics and remains a favorite of B.A.S.S. and bass anglers. There’s good reason for that, too. Consider some recent results from the lake in the northeast corner of the Sooner State. It took 42-7 over three days in May to win the TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Central Regional on Grand Lake. A Future Bass Team Trail event in March was won with a 23.34 one-day total, and the big bass of the day weighed 6.88. The winner of another team event in April required similar weights (23.06 total, 6.08 for the big bass).
18. Bull Shoals Lake, Arkansas/Missouri 
This historic fishery is near the tiny town of Flippin, Ark. — ground zero for bass boat manufacturers like Ranger, Vexus and Double XX. Boats, sure. But how about bass? Well, Ozark anglers are bullish on Bull Shoals, and rightfully so. Consider that it took more than 22 pounds to win a Joe Bass Team Trail event in January and 20 pounds to win a one-day event on the circuit a month later. In April, 22 1/2 pounds were needed to claim a Big Johns team tourney, with a 6.32 heavy taking big-bass honors.
19. Lake Texoma, Oklahoma/Texas
The sprawling lake produces quality bass bites as regularly as its location on the Texas/Oklahoma border registers triple-digit temperatures. So, what’s Texoma been up to lately? Try a 21-13 one-day winning weight in a recent Toyota Series event and 19.68 in a Texas Team Trail event, with the big bass of the day clocking in just shy of 7 pounds. The winner of a Spring Series event on Texoma earlier this year checked in with 18 pounds, as well.
20. Falcon Lake, Texas
Falcon continues to produce, however quietly, tucked away on the Rio Grande at the U.S./Mexico border. A January BassChamps event here took 27.88 to win, which included a 8.37 big fish. Interesting enough, the second-place team had 19.86, but the third-place team only landed three fish … but one of them weighed 9.21 pounds. So, Falcon is not back to crushing records like it did a decade ago, but it sure seems like it’s close.
21. Lake Minnetonka, Minnesota
It might not be as well-known as some of the powerhouse fisheries down South, but Minnesotans rave about this bass haven, which happens to be the largest lake in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. In the season-ending Denny’s Super 30 Bass Tournament last September, a six-bass limit of 24-6 was the winning weight. And in the Champions Tour stop at Minnetonka last year before the long, cold winter settled in, a field of 51 anglers hooked a total of 1,120 largemouth bass, the heaviest weighing a respectable 4-13.
22. Lake O’ The Pines (Big Cypress Creek), Texas
Another Texas lake, you say? You bet. It’s impossible to ignore the numbers that have been coming out of the Lone Star State over the past 12 months, and Lake O’ the Pines is among the most productive of the lot. Highlights include a Media Bass team tournament on March 19 where the winners weighed five bass for 31.6 pounds, and another on March 5 where the winning limit was 28.07. There have been three ShareLunkers caught on Lake O’ the Pines in 2022, as well, including an Elite class fish of 11.80.
23. Lake Erling, Arkansas 
The little lake in southeast Arkansas just across the border from Louisiana has been referred to as a “hidden gem,” meaning the place is great, just not many people have found out about it yet. Social media buzzed last spring when a young angler caught a pair of bucket-mouthed bass, both of the double-digit variety. Reports surfaced online soon after of other anglers who were making similar catches. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission reports Erling to be among the two leading lakes in the Natural State right now, along with Bull Shoals.
24. Lake D’Arbonne, Louisiana
Another north Louisiana jewel, D’Arbonne has been on the rise thanks to the success of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ stocking program in recent years. A pair of Media Bass team tournaments in March tell the tale, with winning limits of 22.85 and 22.35. Also, victors in an ARKLA Team Trail event earlier this year caught a 22.63 limit, including a 7.28 largemouth heavy.
25. Upper Mississippi River, Wisconsin
“The Big Muddy” isn’t nearly as muddy in the La Crosse, Wis., area as it is way down yonder in New Orleans (or Jackson, Memphis or St. Louis, for that matter). The sprawling watershed is a beautiful sight in its upper stretches, and the quality bass that come from the Mississippi in these parts make it particularly intriguing for anglers. A recent Phoenix Bass Fishing derby in La Crosse was further proof of the river’s productivity. The Top 12 anglers each had at least 15 pounds in a one-day event (3-pound bass on average), with the winner bagging a 17-8 limit.