Top 10 Best Bass Lakes of 2024

The rankings are in! Consider this bucket list for bucketmouths ... and hit the road to experience the best lakes in the nation.

“If there’s someone who can accurately rank all the lakes in the U.S., that person is a unicorn.”
That was one of the survey responses we received from a state fisheries biologist meant to help us compile the 2024 100 Best Bass Lakes rankings. I’m not saying we grew horns out of our heads, but I’d put this list up against one composed by a magical horse any day.
No, it’s not going to be perfect, but then again, I’m not sure how you could dispute our findings, either. We put in two months’ worth of research and surveyed not only every state’s fisheries department (who should be intimately aware of the fisheries they control), but also B.A.S.S. Nation members who fished in every state of the nation. Then, we looked for supporting data like tournament results and verified trophy bass submissions. The Top 100 rose to the surface very quickly. The actual rankings are a bit more subjective. If an angler can go to a lake and catch a ton of bass, that’s good. If an angler can go to a lake and expect to catch a 10-pounder, that’s very good. If an angler can expect both, that’s awesome. The more boxes checked, the higher a lake ranks, period.
So, enjoy the fruits of our labor. We believe these fisheries are your best options right now to catch a ton of fish and maybe a double-digit bass, which is a unicorn in its own right.
1. St. Lawrence River (Thousand Islands), New York
[50-mile stretch, plus eastern Lake Ontario]
This unrivaled smallmouth fishery appears to be getting even better. It took 105 pounds to win the four-day Bassmaster Elite Series tournament here in late August 2023. Each of the top four finishers tallied over 100 pounds. On the first two days, the 102 competitors weighed in an astounding 48 five-bass limits over 20 pounds. Day 3 saw 39 of 50 anglers sack more than 20 pounds. The final 10 all had over 20 pounds. We aren’t seeing that sort of production out of many largemouth lakes across the country right now, much less smallmouth fisheries.
2. O.H. Ivie Lake, Texas
[20,000 acres]
OK, y’all. Let’s face facts — O.H. Ivie is a straight-up freak show! What more can you say about a fishery that produced 35 Toyota ShareLunkers (8 pounds or heavier) in the first four months of 2024? That haul includes an astonishing 12 Legacy Class bass, meaning they must be 13-plus pounds, caught between January and March and loaned to Texas Parks and Wildlife for its (obviously successful) selective breeding program. Another 17 of the ShareLunkers made Strike King Elite Class (10-plus pounds). This is nothing new, of course. O.H. Ivie was voted the best bassin’ spot in the U.S. in 2023 and No. 2 in 2022, behind only the St. Lawrence River. There’s absolutely no sign of this phenomenal fishery slowing down, either, which should make Ivie (only a three-hour drive from either the Dallas-Fort Worth or San Antonio-Austin metroplexes) among the most popular attractions in the Lone Star State for years to come. Giddy up!
3. Orange Lake, Florida
[12,550 acres]
There’s a new king in the Sunshine State … and of the Southeast! This lake made the Top 10 in the nation last year but appears to have improved … something we thought impossible. Since January of this year (not even the past 12 months), 33 bass over 8 pounds have been reported to the TrophyCatch program, 14 of which topped double digits. Leading the pack is the second-biggest fish posted to TrophyCatch so far this year — a 13-4 swamp donkey. As for recent tournament results, an Xtreme Bass Series event held here in April took 33.93 pounds to win, which included a 10.32-pound big bass. Second place landed a mere 28.53, which included an 8.61 kicker. In all, there were nine bass weighed for big-bass honors that topped 8 pounds! So, feel free to think of this lake as a largemouth Disneyland.
4. Lake St. Clair, Michigan
[430 square miles]
Shared by Ontario and the state of Michigan, this pellucid, heavily fished lake, which averages only 11 feet deep, continues to produce loads of heavyweight smallmouth bass. A Bassmaster Elite Series tournament held here in late July 2023 should whet your appetite for fishing St. Clair. A four-day tally of 91 pounds, 8 ounces topped the 102-angler field. The Top 10 anglers all had over 80 pounds. Dozens of limits over 20 pounds were brought to the scales. The event’s big bass weighed 6-2.
5. Lake Fork, Texas
[27,690 acres]
This legendary lake produced 64 ShareLunker bass (weighing at least 8 pounds) in one Bassmaster Elite Series tournament held over four days in February and March. Don’t just gloss over that. Go back, reread it and let the gravity of that enormity sink in. “Spectacular” might not be adjective enough to describe how good Fork was that week (or just about any other stretch in recent memory, really). A total of 94 ShareLunker bass have been caught there in 2024 alone, the heaviest weighing 11.7 pounds. That’s a huge weight for a largemouth bass, but really, it’s the sheer volume of 8- and 9-pounders that amazes at Fork. That’s what the Elites tore into. Each of the 10 anglers who made the Sunday cut totaled more than 100 pounds in the derby, only the second time that’s happened in B.A.S.S. history. And Trey McKinney, the 19-year-old wunderkind who won the tournament with 20 bass for 130-15, was only 1-9 away from the heaviest total in Elite Series history. Anybody hungry? Grab a fork.
6. Lake Murray, South Carolina
[50,000 acres]
If you were lucky enough to watch the live coverage of the Minn Kota Bassmaster Elite event held here in May, you probably already have hotel reservations booked in Columbia. The cameramen could not keep up with all the fish catches … many of which were topwater strikes. Winner Patrick Walters averaged well over 23 pounds per day (his final-day limit of 26-12 was the heaviest of the event). And this derby was a postspawn event. Murray was the No. 1 lake in the Southeast last year … and some could make the argument that it should remain in the top spot.
7. Lake Erie/Upper Niagara River, New York
[30-mile radius from Buffalo]
The deep, clear, rocky eastern basin of this Great Lake continues to produce quality smallmouth, and plenty of them, revealed Lake Erie Research Unit aquatic biologist Pascal Wilkins. “We’ve had very consistent catch rates and numbers,” Wilkins said. “The average fishing trip yields 15 bass, and it’s not uncommon for anglers to experience 50- to 60-bass days, especially in the spring. The fishing is good up the entire New York shoreline. Two tournaments out of Buffalo [in spring of 2024] produced smallmouth bass weighing more than 6 pounds.”
8. Clear Lake, California
[43,785 acres]
Another year of above-average rainfall kept the Golden State’s largest natural body of water full throughout spring this year. The high lake levels, lasting through late April, forced water resource managers to implement a restriction requiring that boaters run at idle speeds within one-quarter mile of shore. Some anglers stayed home or fished other lakes as a result. The conditions, however, turned out to be a good thing, giving both bass and baitfish an opportunity to take advantage of the added habitat with reduced fishing pressure. Clear Lake remains, and should continue to be, the home to more trophy bass than any other lake in the West, with its rich waters providing opportunities for that fish of a lifetime. Big bass at each of the tournaments we surveyed in 2024 weighed in at over 7 pounds, with 8.83 the overall average. The granddaddy of the bunch, tipping the scales at 10.61 pounds, was a largemouth taken on Day 1 of the WON Bass Clear Lake Open held in April.
9. Bussey Brake Reservoir, Louisiana
[2,200 acres]
This tiny lake is so far north in Louisiana, it might as well be in Arkansas. But the Bayou State isn’t ceding Bussey Brake to anyone — no way, no how. Donated to the state in 2013 and reopened in 2020 following a complete overhaul by Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries, Bussey Brake is considered, right now, to be the best bass fishery in Louisiana. And in a state with as much water as this one, that means volumes. Sid Wilde, of Robert, La., shut the door on the argument March 8 of this year when he caught a massive 15.78-pound largemouth at Bussey, a small lake that once supplied water to a nearby paper mill before becoming a full-time fishery. Wilde’s gigantic bass was a record for Bussey and the fourth largest in state history (trailing the No. 1 bass by only 2 ounces). Need more proof of this place’s greatness? Take a peek at the Facebook page for the Bussey Brake Lunkers. It’s like a digital trophy case. Sit there, slack-jawed, as the double-digit beauties dance before your eyes. This little place has gone big-time.
10. Mille Lacs Lake, Minnesota
[132,500 acres]
It’s a bit more difficult to predict how Northern lakes are performing when our list is released, given the cold weather that makes for a shorter fishing window in states such as Minnesota. But no one needs to worry about Mille Lacs, really. The place will be as good as any when the smallmouth are biting. We’ll have to cast back to last September, before the Minnesota winter settled in, to get the best predictors of the lake’s health. So, how’d that go? At the third annual City Auto Glass Bass Classic, a tournament record of five smallies weighing 26.22 pounds took first prize. Second place caught 25.45 and third- through fifth-place teams were right behind at 25.12, 25.1 and 25.04. In all, 19 of the 41 teams entered caught more than 20 pounds of smallmouth bass. Mille Lacs means “Thousand Lakes.” There are, however, far more reasons to love this smallmouth wonderland.