Best Bass Lakes

Top 100 bass lakes of 2014

Bassmaster Magazine's annual list of the best bass fishing lakes in the world.

<p>Welcome to the annual rankings of America’s best bass fisheries. A new champion emerges, and some stalwart bass lakes fall off the list. Do you think we missed a lake, or got something out of order? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below! </p>
Welcome to the annual rankings of America’s best bass fisheries. A new champion emerges, and some stalwart bass lakes fall off the list. Do you think we missed a lake, or got something out of order? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
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100 Lake Lanier Georgia Previous Rankings- 2013: #43 | 2012: #9837,000 acres It’s revered as a world class spotted bass lake for good reason.
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.top100number .top100title 99 Lay Lake Alabama Previous Rankings- 2013: #94 | 2012: Not Ranked 12,000 acres This storied bass fishery celebrates its 100-year anniversary this year. Despite its age, it always takes 17 to 20 pounds (sometimes a lot more) to win a one-day event here.
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Photo: Bedford/Wikipedia - 98 Barren River Lake Kentucky Previous Rankings- 2013: Not Ranked | 2012: Not Ranked 10,100 acres This is a jig fisherman’s dream. Just bring your flippin’ stick, and enjoy the number of bites you’ll get.
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Photo: Richard Sheffield - 97 Ross Barnett Reservoir Mississippi Previous Rankings- 2013: Not Ranked | 2012: Not Ranked 33,000 acres This lake has a little something for everybody, so you can find water that allows you to fish to your strengths. Florida-strain largemouth have been stocked here, so fish accordingly.
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Photo: Neil Schultz - 96 Lake of the Ozarks Missouri Previous Rankings- 2013: #31 | 2012: #30 55,000 acres Like Table Rock, this lake is blooming late this year. That said, locals expect it to go from zero to hero very soon.
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95 Upper Chesapeake Bay Maryland Previous Rankings- 2013: #58 | 2012: Not Ranked The entire bay is more than 64,000 square miles, but the best fishing is in the top one-third. Touted as one of the most productive bodies of water on the East Coast, this section of the bay has a solid population of chunky largemouth. Learn the tidal movements of bass, and you’ll load the boat.
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94 Santee Cooper Lakes (Lake Marion and Lake Moultrie) South Carolina Previous Rankings- 2013: Not Ranked | 2012: #23 110,000 acres and 60,000 acres, respectively Like Table Rock, this lake is blooming late this year. That said, locals expect it to go from zero to hero very soon.
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Photo: Bard Houchins - 93 High Rock Lake North Carolina Previous Rankings- 2013: #80 | 2012: #55 15,180 acres Still one of the best bass lakes in the state, the largemouth thrive because of the shallow nature of the fishery.
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92 Green River Lake Kentucky Previous Rankings- 2013: Not Ranked | 2012: Not Ranked 8,200 acres Kentuckians call this lake “paradise.” Its up-and-coming largemouth population explains that.
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Photo: Brad Houchins - 91 New River Virginia Previous Rankings- 2013: #35 | 2012: Not Ranked Entire stretch Upstream of Claytor Lake is best for numbers of smallmouth; downstream is best for big fish.
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Photo: Don Barone - 90 Lake Dardanelle Arkansas Previous Rankings- 2013: Not Ranked | 2012: Not Ranked 40,000 According to Elite Series pros, this lake has made a serious comeback. Look out for big limits here this year.
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Photo: Linuxerist/Wikipedia - 89 Lake Strom Thurmond (Clarks Hill Lake) Georgia Previous Rankings- 2013: Not Ranked | 2012: Not Ranked 71,000 acres It took 26 pounds to win a March tourney here. The lake can be fickle, but when it’s good, it’s really good.
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88 Neely Henry Lake Alabama Previous Rankings- 2013: Not Ranked | 2012: Not Ranked 11,200 acres This may be the best numbers lake in the state of Alabama.
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Photo: Brad Houchins - 87 Lake Murray South Carolina Previous Rankings- 2013: #78 | 2012: #90 50,000 acres This lake is proving very healthy this year. January tournaments required 15 pounds to be in the Top 10, and 20 pounds to have a chance to win, with a lot of fish being caught.
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86 Chautauqua Lake New York Previous Rankings- 2013: Not Ranked | 2012: Not Ranked 13,000 acres Muskie are the draw for most anglers here, so smallmouth don’t get a lot of attention. The lack of pressure on the brown bass has created a killer fishery.
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85 Flaming Gorge Reservoir Utah/Wyoming Previous Rankings- 2013: Not Ranked | 2012: #7242,020 acres If you don’t catch a single fish on this breathtaking canyon lake, you won’t be sorry you tried. However, the plentiful smallmouth here will keep that from happening. A 4-pounder will be big.
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Photo: Louis J Maher, Jr. - 84 Chequamegon Bay (Lake Superior) Wisconsin Previous Rankings- 2013: Not Ranked | 2012: Not Ranked12 miles long and 2 to 6 miles wide This shallow section of the Great Lake produces tank smallies.
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Photo: Larry D. Moore - 83 Lake Bastrop Texas Previous Rankings- 2013: Not Ranked | 2012: Not Ranked906 acres This little power plant lake produces some true Texas giants.
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Photo: Harbor House - 82 Lake Charlevoix Michigan Previous Rankings- 2013: #40 | 2012: #3717,200 acres This is another Michigan lake that’s turned hot. It seems smallmouth in this state could grow big in a ditch.
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Photo: Brian Wentz - 81 West Okoboji Lake Iowa Previous Rankings- 2013: #57 | 2012: #463,847 acres Beat the pleasure boaters to the deep grass here, and you’ll have a banner day with both smallies and largemouth.
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80 Pueblo Reservoir Colorado Previous Rankings- 2013: #82 | 2012: #484,000 acres There are chunky bass of all varieties here (largemouth, smallmouth and spots). The desert background and numbers of fish make up for the lack of size here.
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Photo: Jan Arkesteijn - 79 Mozingo Lake Missouri Previous Rankings- 2013: Not Ranked | 2012: Not Ranked1,006 acres This little fishery is turning heads big time. Twenty-pound limits are common, and some are topping 30 pounds.
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78 Stonewall Jackson Lake West Virginia Previous Rankings- 2013: Not Ranked | 2012: Not Ranked2,630 acres The DNR just implemented a catch-and-keep regulation on this lake, which should improve its trophy potential. There are just too many bass in the lake — kind of a good problem to have.
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77 Lake Mohave Nevada Previous Rankings- 2013: #85 | 2012: #9726,500 acres Think serene 20-fish days, both largemouth and smallmouth. This is a desert oasis.
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76 Green Lake Minnesota Previous Rankings- 2013: Not Ranked | 2012: Not Ranked5,560 acres This is a super-clear lake with deep structure and massive areas of shallow gravel flats. Solid numbers of 2 1/2- to 4-pound smallies can be caught here.
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75 Connecticut River Massachussetts Previous Rankings- 2013: Not Ranked | 2012: Not Rankedfrom Turners Falls to Northampton This river produces some impressive smallmouth and is one of the most scenic floats in the Northeast.
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Photo: Seigo Saito - 74 Mississippi River Delta Louisiana Previous Rankings- (Louisiana Delta) 2013: #59 | 2012: #27300 million acres If you can find the right water, largemouth here are fat and plentiful. In the meantime, catch redfish until your arms are sore.
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Photo: Alexander Cole - 73 Lake Hickory North Carolina Previous Rankings- 2013: Not Ranked | 2012: Not Ranked4,200 acres This little lake doesn’t get the attention it deserves based on local tournament results in 2013. It took 24 to 30 pounds to win here, and 20-pound limits weren’t even getting paid. This little sleeper could make big splashes this year.
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Photo: Maine Office of Tourism - 72 Moosehead Lake Maine Previous Rankings- 2013: Not Ranked | 2012: Not Ranked75,451 acres You’ll find very little pressure and very big smallmouth here. Plus, you might really see a moose.
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Photo: Andrew Bardwell - 71 Pymatuning Reservoir Pennsylvania/Ohio Previous Rankings- 2013: Not Ranked | 2012: Not Ranked17,088 acres The chunky smallmouth here are considered muskie bait, so get ’em to the boat fast!
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Photo: Brian Stansberry - 70 Fontana Lake North Carolina Previous Rankings- 2013: Not Ranked | 2012: Not Ranked17,088 acres It’s easy on the eyes and may be the best smallmouth fishery in the state.
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Photo: Explore Minnesota Tourism - 69 Mille Lacs Lake Minnesota Previous Rankings- 2013: #74 | 2012: #35 132,000 acres Although the walleye fishery here has taken a nosedive, the smallmouth are still abundant and willing to eat. A few giants swim in the vast waters of this Minnesota lake, so don’t bring light tackle.
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Photo: Miker Barner - 68 Table Rock Lake Missouri Previous Rankings- 2013: #39 | 2012: #4243,100 acres Some Branson anglers have been singing the blues because this lake was stingy this past winter. However, recent tournament results prove this body of water is still rock solid for all three species of bass.
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67 Lake Oahe South Dakota Previous Rankings- 2013: #55 | 2012: #79370,000 acres This is a mostly unexplored smallmouth oasis.
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Photo: ncwevents.com - 66 Potholes Reservoir Washington Previous Rankings- 2013: Not Ranked | 2012: Not Ranked14,281 acres Be sure to bring your depthfinder here. You’ll see how glaciers carved out potholes before the water level was raised to cover most of them. Oh, and you’ll see plenty of smallmouth using these humps and depressions as ambush points.
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Photo: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - 65 Fort Gibson Lake Oklahoma Previous Rankings- 2013: Not Ranked | 2012: Not Ranked19,900 acres Elite Series pro Tommy Biffle calls this lake home for good reason — it’s chock-full of chunky green fish. He won here in 2010 by averaging 18 pounds per day and says it’s even better this year.
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64 Lake Minnetonka Minnesota Previous Rankings- 2013: #32 | 2012: #714,528 acres It’s hard to believe largemouth can grow this fat this far north!
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63 Lake Oroville California Previous Rankings- 2013: Not Ranked | 2012: Not Ranked25 square miles Although the action has slowed a bit on this lake due to drought, it still presents anglers with a great opportunity to catch a ton of quality spotted bass.
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62 Squam Lake New Hampshire Previous Rankings- 2013: #76 | 2012: #546,791 acres Expect to catch 50 smallmouth in the 2-pound range here, on “golden pond.”
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Photo: Heart of North Carolina Visitors Bureau - 61 Randleman Lake North Carolina Previous Rankings- 2013: Not Ranked | 2012: Not Ranked3,007 acres It’s only four years old, but some believe this is the best lake in North Carolina.
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Photo: Thewellman/Wikipedia - 60 Lake Casitas California Previous Rankings- 2013: Not Ranked | 2012: Not Ranked1,100 acres This Southern California jewel may be the best destination on this list for catching a truly giant largemouth. That said, you could get skunked here pretty easily. You might only get a few bites per day, but one of those could change your life.
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Photo: Jason Collins - 59 Chaumont Bay, Lake Ontario New York Previous Rankings- 2013: Not Ranked | 2012: Not RankedTouted as the largest freshwater bay in the world — so, it’s big Many New Yorkers believe this is the most underappreciated bass fishery in the state — and want to keep it that way. There are both smallies and largemouth here that remain mostly unmolested.
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Photo: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - 58 Leech Lake Minnesota Previous Rankings- 2013: Not Ranked | 2012: Not Ranked102,947 acres Anglers in this region prefer to target this lake’s perch, walleye and pike. In the meantime, the largemouth have gone nuts.
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57 Lake Michigan Indiana Previous Rankings- (entire lake) 2013: #29 | 2012: #3443 miles of shoreline Indiana has the smallest share of this lake compared to any other U.S. state that borders it. That said, the state’s recent shoreline development (riprap and breakwaters) has launched great smallie fishing.
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Photo: Rick Danklefsen - 56 Lake Erie Ohio Previous Rankings- (entire lake) 2013: #5 | 2012: #4Most anglers out of Sandusky stay within a 30-mile radius of the city. You’ll not catch the numbers of smallies in this corner of the Great Lake, but they are enormous.
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55 Rodman Reservoir Florida Previous Rankings- 2013: #14 | 2012: Not Ranked13,000 acres According to the Florida DNR, this lake provides the best opportunity in the state for a fish more than 10 pounds.
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Photo: Dave Jenkins - 54 Lake Powell Utah/Arizona Previous Rankings- 2013: #44 | 2012: #59108.335 acres Fishing this canyon lake is more about the scenery than the catches. Yes, the bass are making a comeback here, but the majesty of your surroundings makes this a must-fish destination.
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Photo: lvi56/Wikipedia - 53 Diamond Valley Lake California Previous Rankings- 2013: Not Ranked | 2012: #664,500 acres Built for bass anglers, these pristine waters and the fat bass that live in them are making a comeback.
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52 Cobbosseecontee Lake Maine Previous Rankings- 2013: #30 | 2012:#745,543 acres Sure, the largemouth here aren’t big, but there are a ton of them. If you’ve ever wanted to get sick of setting the hook, this is a good place to try.
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Photo: snty-tact/Wikipedia - 51 New Melones Lake California Previous Rankings- 2013: Not Ranked | 2012: Not Ranked13,000 acres A pending world record spotted bass was caught here in March (10.48 pounds). A largemouth more than 18 pounds was caught here in 2010. Trophy hunters should book tickets immediately.
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Photo: Gerald Crawford - 50 Lake Eufaula (Walter F. George Lake) Alabama/Georgia Previous Rankings- 2013: #41 | 2012: #9246,000 acres Once referred to as the “Bass Capital of the World,” this lake is looking to regain that reputation. It’s taking more than 20 pounds to win, and as much as 30.
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Photo: U.S. National Park Service - 49 Lake of the Arbuckles Oklahoma Previous Rankings- 2013: #42 | 2012: #562,350 acres This is the best big-bass lake in the state, period. A 42.71-pound limit was weighed in this past March. Last January, a 42.04-pound limit was weighed here. Florida-strain largemouth were stocked in this lake 10 years ago, and the fruits of that labor are being picked now.
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Photo: John Keene - 48 St. Johns River Florida Previous Rankings- 2013: #14 | 2012: Not Ranked310 miles long, but the Palatka launch is most popular Chris Lane weighed five fish for more than 37 pounds in March. That’s a great reason to go.
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47 Dworshak Reservoir Idaho Previous Rankings- 2013: #26 | 2012: #85 17,090 acres The Idaho state record smallmouth came from here (9.72 pounds), and its gene pool still swims in this water.
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Photo: H. G. Judd - 46 Mullet Lake Michigan Previous Rankings- 2013: Not Ranked | 2012: Not Ranked17,360 acres This northern Michigan fishery is twin sister to Burt Lake and has little pressure. This likely is the reason it produces absolute monster smallmouth.
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Photo: David Hunter Jones - 45 Fayette County Reservoir Texas Previous Rankings- 2013: #99 | 2012: Not Ranked2,400 acres Another little jewel of the Lone Star State, this power plant lake has some bruisers swimming in it. For an easy bite, drown a live waterdog.
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Photo: Dennis Curran/Vermont Dept. of Tourism Marketing - 44 Lake Memphremagog Vermont Previous Rankings- 2013: Not Ranked | 2012: Not Ranked39 square miles No giants here, but you will lose count of how many bass you catch. Make sure to check Canadian regulations before you go.
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Photo: Alpena Area Convention and Visitors Bureau - 43 Thunder Bay, Lake Huron Michigan Previous Rankings- 2013: Not Ranked | 2012: Not Ranked448 square miles Here, shipwrecks abound. Some are from the 19th century, others from just several years back. That said, all hold giant smallies.
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Photo: Stacy Twiggs - 42 Stick Marsh Florida Previous Rankings- 2013: Not Ranked | 2012: Not Ranked 6,500 acres Forget about running fast in this stump-filled pond. There’s no real reason to go fast, though, as trophy Florida largemouth could be almost anywhere here.
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Photo: James Overstreet - 41 Oneida Lake New York Previous Rankings- 2013: #38 | 2012: #14 79.8 square miles Although this lake isn’t at its best right now, you still have to average 18 pounds in a multiday tourney to reach the top spot.
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Photo: Julia Freeman Woolpert/New Hampshire - 40 Lake Winnipesaukee New Hampshire Previous Rankings- 2013: #49 | 2012: #4371 square miles You can catch smallmouth here all day long between 2 and 2 1/2 pounds. Largemouth average a little smaller but are plentiful, as well.
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Photo: Hoppie's Tavern - 39 Burt Lake Michigan Previous Rankings- 2013: #81 | 2012: Not Ranked17,120 acres This longtime secret smallmouth factory is starting to get its just desserts.
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Photo: Explore Minnesota Tourism - 38 Upper Mississippi River Minnesota Previous Rankings- 2013: #17 | 2012: Not Ranked Just north of Brainerd to Anoka Not many people can say they fished where the mighty Mississippi starts. But here, the smallmouth fishing is as unique as the situation — good numbers of smallmouth, with 5-pounders available. By the way, if it was possible for a Hula Popper to float the entire length of this river, it would take almost two months to get to the Louisiana Delta.
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Photo: Clif Read/Massachussetts Dept. of Conservation and Recreation - 37 Quabbin Reservoir Massachussetts Previous Rankings- 2013: Not Ranked | 2012: Not Ranked 38.6 square miles Smallmouth reign supreme here, but the largemouth get surprisingly big.
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Photo: Texoma Fisheries Station/Texas Park and Wildlife Department - 36 Ray Roberts Lake Texas Previous Rankings- 2013: Not Ranked | 2012: Not Ranked29,350 acres It took more than 28 pounds to win a regional event here in March. This lake is shining right now in the Lone Star State.
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Photo: Seigo Saito - 35 Mississippi River, Pools 9 to 14 Iowa/Illinois/Wisconsin Previous Rankings- 2013: #17 (upper section) | 2012: Not Ranked185.9-mile stretch Some believe that this stretch of the Mississippi River proves God is a frog fisherman.
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34 Candlewood Lake Connecticut Previous Rankings- 2013: #27 | 2012: #225,420 acres Imitate an alewife here, and you’ll catch largemouth, smallmouth and trout. Each could weigh in the 4-pound range.
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Photo: James Overstreet - 33 Bull Shoals Lake Arkansas Previous Rankings- 2013: #18 | 2012: #5145,150 acres This is the best the Natural State has to offer. Expect big numbers of above-average bass here.
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32 Shasta Lake California Previous Rankings- 2013: #33 | 2012: #3230,000 acres This is one of the best spotted bass lakes in the country. Expect to catch a bunch, and don’t be surprised when one more than 5 pounds grabs your bait.
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Photo: Seigo Saito - 31 Green Bay, Lake Michigan Wisconsin Previous Rankings- (entire lake) 2013: #29 | 2012: #34Up to Little Sturgeon Bay The southern portion of Green Bay is a very good fishery. Jonathon VanDam proved this fact when he won the Elite Series event here with almost 80 pounds over four days. Very strong, just not as strong as some nearby waters you'll see later on this list.

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30 Smith Mountain Lake Virginia Previous Rankings- 2013: #25 | 2012: #6332 square miles Whether you prefer largemouth or smallmouth, this lake has something for you. Plus, each species is above average size for the country.
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Rainy Lake

Minnesota
Previous Rankings- 2013: #36 | 2012: #11
360 square miles
One of several lakes located in Voyageurs National Park, this is one of Minnesota’s most storied fisheries, featuring world class scenery with smallmouth fishing to match.

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Rainy Lake

Minnesota
Previous Rankings- 2013: #36 | 2012: #11
360 square miles
One of several lakes located in Voyageurs National Park, this is one of Minnesota’s most storied fisheries, featuring world class scenery with smallmouth fishing to match.

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Presque Isle Bay, Lake Erie

Pennsylvania
Previous Rankings- (entire lake) 2013: Not Ranked | 2012: Not Ranked
3,800 acres
Perhaps the most overlooked fishery in Pennsylvania, this natural harbor is home to an ever-expanding population of largemouth. Throw in a killer spring run of smallies and you have a body of water that is too good to be ignored. Quality is solid, too, as anglers can expect the largemouth to average 3 pounds.

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Presque Isle Bay, Lake Erie

Pennsylvania
Previous Rankings- (entire lake) 2013: Not Ranked | 2012: Not Ranked
3,800 acres
Perhaps the most overlooked fishery in Pennsylvania, this natural harbor is home to an ever-expanding population of largemouth. Throw in a killer spring run of smallies and you have a body of water that is too good to be ignored. Quality is solid, too, as anglers can expect the largemouth to average 3 pounds.

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Lake Champlain

Vermont/New York
Previous Rankings- 2013: #16 | 2012: #5
490 square miles
Besides getting to cast in a fishery where a lake monster is reported to live (think Loch Ness Monster, named Champ), anglers should get excited about the fishing. Although many anglers assume this is a smallmouth lake (which it certainly is), the largemouth here grow fat and are more abundant than many believe.

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Lake Champlain

Vermont/New York
Previous Rankings- 2013: #16 | 2012: #5
490 square miles
Besides getting to cast in a fishery where a lake monster is reported to live (think Loch Ness Monster, named Champ), anglers should get excited about the fishing. Although many anglers assume this is a smallmouth lake (which it certainly is), the largemouth here grow fat and are more abundant than many believe.

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Sam Rayburn Reservoir

Texas
Previous Rankings- 2013: #2 | 2012: #19
114,000 acres
This lake was on fire last year, leading to its No. 2 ranking. Although it is still a crazy productive bass fishery, the new-lake effect anglers experienced in 2013 has worn off a bit. Still, expect to catch plenty of fish in the 5-pound range plus a kicker in a day’s fishing.

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Sam Rayburn Reservoir

Texas
Previous Rankings- 2013: #2 | 2012: #19
114,000 acres
This lake was on fire last year, leading to its No. 2 ranking. Although it is still a crazy productive bass fishery, the new-lake effect anglers experienced in 2013 has worn off a bit. Still, expect to catch plenty of fish in the 5-pound range plus a kicker in a day’s fishing.

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Red River

Louisiana
Previous Rankings- 2013: #79 | 2012: #47
125-mile stretch from Shreveport to Alexandria
A shallow-water fisherman’s dream: a million stumps and as many largemouth.

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Red River

Louisiana
Previous Rankings- 2013: #79 | 2012: #47
125-mile stretch from Shreveport to Alexandria
A shallow-water fisherman’s dream: a million stumps and as many largemouth.

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Pickwick Lake

Alabama/Mississippi
Previous Rankings- 2013: #20 | 2012: #12
43,100 acres
This Tennessee River impoundment is oftentimes overlooked because it lives in the shadow of Lake Guntersville, but it supports world class smallmouth and largemouth. This lake spits out monster bass in cycles, and early indications are that this year will be a great one.

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Pickwick Lake

Alabama/Mississippi
Previous Rankings- 2013: #20 | 2012: #12
43,100 acres
This Tennessee River impoundment is oftentimes overlooked because it lives in the shadow of Lake Guntersville, but it supports world class smallmouth and largemouth. This lake spits out monster bass in cycles, and early indications are that this year will be a great one.

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China Lake

Maine
Previous Rankings- 2013: Not Ranked | 2012: Not Ranked
3,845 acres
It’s hard to believe that a lake in Maine has crazy good largemouth fishing, but that is precisely the case here. Local summer tourneys require 30 pounds to win, and that’s not just one guy — ounces separate the Top 20 boats. And if you are in the mood for smallmouth, they are here, too. Of course, you have a very small window to fish here because of the weather. Otherwise, this lake would be much higher on this list.

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China Lake

Maine
Previous Rankings- 2013: Not Ranked | 2012: Not Ranked
3,845 acres
It’s hard to believe that a lake in Maine has crazy good largemouth fishing, but that is precisely the case here. Local summer tourneys require 30 pounds to win, and that’s not just one guy — ounces separate the Top 20 boats. And if you are in the mood for smallmouth, they are here, too. Of course, you have a very small window to fish here because of the weather. Otherwise, this lake would be much higher on this list.

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Lake Berryessa

California
Previous Rankings- 2013: #53 | 2012: Not Ranked
20,700 acres
This is a hot spot in California right now. The drought has had minimal effect on the fishing. Perhaps the best aspect of angling this lake is its trophy potential for spotted, smallmouth and largemouth bass. You may well catch your personal best of all three species in a single day.

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Lake Berryessa

California
Previous Rankings- 2013: #53 | 2012: Not Ranked
20,700 acres
This is a hot spot in California right now. The drought has had minimal effect on the fishing. Perhaps the best aspect of angling this lake is its trophy potential for spotted, smallmouth and largemouth bass. You may well catch your personal best of all three species in a single day.

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Kissimmee Chain of Lakes

Florida
Previous Rankings- 2013: #22 | 2012: #21
Eight lakes account for more than 85,500 acres
Although Lake Toho is considered the crown jewel in this chain, Lake Kissimmee and Lake Cypress hold their own when it comes to spitting out fat Florida largemouth.

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Kissimmee Chain of Lakes

Florida
Previous Rankings- 2013: #22 | 2012: #21
Eight lakes account for more than 85,500 acres
Although Lake Toho is considered the crown jewel in this chain, Lake Kissimmee and Lake Cypress hold their own when it comes to spitting out fat Florida largemouth.

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Lake Havasu

Arizona
Previous Rankings- 2013: #46 | 2012: #33
19,300 acres
If we were ranking the best desert lakes in the country, Havasu would win it going away. This lake is absolutely loaded with fish and simply downright fun to visit. You can catch both largemouth and smallmouth till your heart’s content. As an aside, a pending world record sunfish was just caught here — it weighed 5.8 pounds!

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Lake Havasu

Arizona
Previous Rankings- 2013: #46 | 2012: #33
19,300 acres
If we were ranking the best desert lakes in the country, Havasu would win it going away. This lake is absolutely loaded with fish and simply downright fun to visit. You can catch both largemouth and smallmouth till your heart’s content. As an aside, a pending world record sunfish was just caught here — it weighed 5.8 pounds!

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Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees

Oklahoma
Previous Rankings- 2013: #15 | 2012: #17
46,500 acres
Just look at last year’s Bassmaster Classic to wrap your head around how good this lake is. Conditions were as miserable as it gets, and the pros were still bringing in 20-pound limits. If this were a list of the best jerkbait lakes in the nation, Grand would reside at the top.

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Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees

Oklahoma
Previous Rankings- 2013: #15 | 2012: #17
46,500 acres
Just look at last year’s Bassmaster Classic to wrap your head around how good this lake is. Conditions were as miserable as it gets, and the pros were still bringing in 20-pound limits. If this were a list of the best jerkbait lakes in the nation, Grand would reside at the top.

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Kentucky Lake/Lake Barkley

Tennessee/Kentucky
Previous Rankings- 2013: #12 | 2012: #16
160,309 acres and 58,000 acres, respectively
This is one of the most consistent bass fishing destinations in the country. It will take 25 to 30 pounds to win here just about any season. And when Kentucky Lake is on fire, it’s a bass angler’s dream — think 50-fish days on topwaters, with the average fish weighing 4 pounds.

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Kentucky Lake/Lake Barkley

Tennessee/Kentucky
Previous Rankings- 2013: #12 | 2012: #16
160,309 acres and 58,000 acres, respectively
This is one of the most consistent bass fishing destinations in the country. It will take 25 to 30 pounds to win here just about any season. And when Kentucky Lake is on fire, it’s a bass angler’s dream — think 50-fish days on topwaters, with the average fish weighing 4 pounds.

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Lake Seminole

Georgia
Previous Rankings- 2013: #60 | 2012: #40
37,500 acres
This storied bass fishery is producing like crazy right now. Just ask Elite Series rookie Brett Hite, who landed more than 97 pounds of bass in four days to win the Elite event here in March. Shaw Grigsby brought in a limit that weighed more than 30 pounds, and Todd Faircloth topped the 27-pound mark with five fish.

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Lake Seminole

Georgia
Previous Rankings- 2013: #60 | 2012: #40
37,500 acres
This storied bass fishery is producing like crazy right now. Just ask Elite Series rookie Brett Hite, who landed more than 97 pounds of bass in four days to win the Elite event here in March. Shaw Grigsby brought in a limit that weighed more than 30 pounds, and Todd Faircloth topped the 27-pound mark with five fish.

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Lake St. Clair

Michigan
Previous Rankings- 2013: #1 | 2012: #13
430 square miles
Although this lake came in No. 1 last year, its production of quality smallmouth has dropped pretty dramatically. That said, there are tons of fish in this lake, including quality largemouth. It remains one of the best smallmouth lakes in the country and looks to be on the rebound to make it another Top 10 lake next year.

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Lake St. Clair

Michigan
Previous Rankings- 2013: #1 | 2012: #13
430 square miles
Although this lake came in No. 1 last year, its production of quality smallmouth has dropped pretty dramatically. That said, there are tons of fish in this lake, including quality largemouth. It remains one of the best smallmouth lakes in the country and looks to be on the rebound to make it another Top 10 lake next year.

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Toledo Bend

Texas/Louisiana
Previous Rankings- 2013: #10 | 2012: #15
185,000 acres
This border lake is starting off hot this year, with several local tournaments taking more than 27 pounds to win. And you’d better have a double-digit bass if you want to win big-bass honors (a 12.86 was landed here in February). For fun fishing, this lake can’t be beat (as long as you stay in the boat lanes to avoid hitting one of the 13 million stumps that litter this bass haven).

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15
Toledo Bend

Texas/Louisiana
Previous Rankings- 2013: #10 | 2012: #15
185,000 acres
This border lake is starting off hot this year, with several local tournaments taking more than 27 pounds to win. And you’d better have a double-digit bass if you want to win big-bass honors (a 12.86 was landed here in February). For fun fishing, this lake can’t be beat (as long as you stay in the boat lanes to avoid hitting one of the 13 million stumps that litter this bass haven).

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Columbia River

Oregon/Washington
Previous Rankings- 2013: #21 | 2012: #20
15-mile stretch between the Dalles and Hood rivers
This is a bucket-list smallmouth fishery for anyone who loves catching brown bass. The surroundings are breathtaking, and the fish are not only plentiful, but get big. Although 6-pounders aren’t common, 5-pounders are. Plus, a 10-foot sturgeon is just as likely to eat your tube as a smallie, giving you a little bonus two-hour fight.

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14
Columbia River

Oregon/Washington
Previous Rankings- 2013: #21 | 2012: #20
15-mile stretch between the Dalles and Hood rivers
This is a bucket-list smallmouth fishery for anyone who loves catching brown bass. The surroundings are breathtaking, and the fish are not only plentiful, but get big. Although 6-pounders aren’t common, 5-pounders are. Plus, a 10-foot sturgeon is just as likely to eat your tube as a smallie, giving you a little bonus two-hour fight.

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California Delta

California
Previous Rankings- 2013: #9 | 2012: #8
1,100 square miles
This is one body of water on the West Coast that will not suffer from the drought there. The Department of Water Resources must release enough water from nearby reservoirs to fight saltwater intrusion, and the bass benefit. A local tournament last March saw two 30-pound limits, eight fish weighing more than 8 pounds and two more than 10.

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California Delta

California
Previous Rankings- 2013: #9 | 2012: #8
1,100 square miles
This is one body of water on the West Coast that will not suffer from the drought there. The Department of Water Resources must release enough water from nearby reservoirs to fight saltwater intrusion, and the bass benefit. A local tournament last March saw two 30-pound limits, eight fish weighing more than 8 pounds and two more than 10.

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Falcon Lake

Texas
Previous Rankings- 2013: #7 | 2012: #1
83,654 acres
Low water and much tougher than normal fishing have plagued this beast on the border of Texas and Mexico. Still, on its worst day, it’s better than most lakes in the country. And on a good day, it’s a lot better than all of them. Although Falcon is still kicking out giants (a 15.37 was caught during a BassChamps event in February), they aren’t as abundant as three years ago. Still, it’s taking more than 20 pounds to win three-fish events here.

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Falcon Lake

Texas
Previous Rankings- 2013: #7 | 2012: #1
83,654 acres
Low water and much tougher than normal fishing have plagued this beast on the border of Texas and Mexico. Still, on its worst day, it’s better than most lakes in the country. And on a good day, it’s a lot better than all of them. Although Falcon is still kicking out giants (a 15.37 was caught during a BassChamps event in February), they aren’t as abundant as three years ago. Still, it’s taking more than 20 pounds to win three-fish events here.

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11
Thousand Islands (St. Lawrence River)

New York
Previous Rankings- 2013: #13 | 2012: #53
50 miles of the St. Lawrence River, including 1,864 islands
The only things more numerous than islands on this New York fishery are the smallmouth swimming in it. Don’t expect to enter Bassmaster’s Lunker Club by fishing here, as 6-pounders are a little tough to come by. But, expect to spend more time fighting bronzebacks than casting for them, with the average fish weighing 3 pounds.

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Thousand Islands (St. Lawrence River)

New York
Previous Rankings- 2013: #13 | 2012: #53
50 miles of the St. Lawrence River, including 1,864 islands
The only things more numerous than islands on this New York fishery are the smallmouth swimming in it. Don’t expect to enter Bassmaster’s Lunker Club by fishing here, as 6-pounders are a little tough to come by. But, expect to spend more time fighting bronzebacks than casting for them, with the average fish weighing 3 pounds.

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Lake Fork

Texas
Previous Rankings- 2013: #28 | 2012: #26
27,690 acres
This lake is a Texas legend, and for good reason. It has already produced three Toyota ShareLunkers this season, the last one being a 13.86 caught in January. The scary thing is that crazy winter storms kept many anglers off this fishery, so it has had less pressure than usual. Expect very big things (think green with fins) to come from this lake once the weather stabilizes.

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Lake Fork

Texas
Previous Rankings- 2013: #28 | 2012: #26
27,690 acres
This lake is a Texas legend, and for good reason. It has already produced three Toyota ShareLunkers this season, the last one being a 13.86 caught in January. The scary thing is that crazy winter storms kept many anglers off this fishery, so it has had less pressure than usual. Expect very big things (think green with fins) to come from this lake once the weather stabilizes.

Lake Fork is about an hour east of Dallas.
Lake Fork is about an hour east of Dallas.
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Grand Traverse Bay, Lake Michigan

Michigan
Previous Rankings- (entire lake) 2013: #29 | 2012: #34
32 miles long, 10 miles wide
Smallmouth more than 7 pounds come from this section of Lake Michigan every year. Bassmaster Opens pro Chris Noffsinger guides here and believes it will produce the next state record smallie. And don’t be surprised if you have 50-fish days.

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Grand Traverse Bay, Lake Michigan

Michigan
Previous Rankings- (entire lake) 2013: #29 | 2012: #34
32 miles long, 10 miles wide
Smallmouth more than 7 pounds come from this section of Lake Michigan every year. Bassmaster Opens pro Chris Noffsinger guides here and believes it will produce the next state record smallie. And don’t be surprised if you have 50-fish days.

Grand Traverse Bay is in the northwest corner of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. Traverse City is located at the south end of the Bay.
Grand Traverse Bay is in the northwest corner of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. Traverse City is located at the south end of the Bay.
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Lake Austin

Texas
Previous Rankings- 2013: #34 | 2012: Not Ranked
1,600 acres
This little lake in Austin, Texas, is the hottest bass fishery in the state. It took nearly 44 pounds to win a recent event here, and it is unlikely that you can fish for half a day without catching a largemouth more than 6 pounds. The lake produced the 20th Toyota ShareLunker for 2014 when Robert Whitehead caught a 13.19, which put Lake Austin in fourth place in the state for producing bass more than 13 pounds (tied with Falcon). Although grass has been mostly eradicated from the fishery, bass populations continue to thrive.

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Lake Austin

Texas
Previous Rankings- 2013: #34 | 2012: Not Ranked
1,600 acres
This little lake in Austin, Texas, is the hottest bass fishery in the state. It took nearly 44 pounds to win a recent event here, and it is unlikely that you can fish for half a day without catching a largemouth more than 6 pounds. The lake produced the 20th Toyota ShareLunker for 2014 when Robert Whitehead caught a 13.19, which put Lake Austin in fourth place in the state for producing bass more than 13 pounds (tied with Falcon). Although grass has been mostly eradicated from the fishery, bass populations continue to thrive.

Lake Austin is just minutes away from downtown Austin, Texas.
Lake Austin is just minutes away from downtown Austin, Texas.
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Chickamauga Lake

Tennessee
Previous Rankings- 2013: #6 | 2012: #61
36,240 acres
Although it wasn’t official, a reported 49-pound limit came from this lake during a guide trip in February. In 2013, a 44-pound limit was weighed in at a tournament. Teeners are coming out of this lake for guys willing to cast umbrella rigs to deep structure. Although this lake isn’t nice to everybody who fishes it, it can produce as big a limit of largemouth as any other lake in the country.

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Chickamauga Lake

Tennessee
Previous Rankings- 2013: #6 | 2012: #61
36,240 acres
Although it wasn’t official, a reported 49-pound limit came from this lake during a guide trip in February. In 2013, a 44-pound limit was weighed in at a tournament. Teeners are coming out of this lake for guys willing to cast umbrella rigs to deep structure. Although this lake isn’t nice to everybody who fishes it, it can produce as big a limit of largemouth as any other lake in the country.

Chickamauga Lake, a Tennessee River impoundment, is upstream from Chattanooga, Tenn.
Chickamauga Lake, a Tennessee River impoundment, is upstream from Chattanooga, Tenn.
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Lake Okeechobee

Florida
Previous Rankings- 2013: #8 | 2012: #2
730 square miles
The Big O is in the middle of an upswing right now, which puts it squarely in the race for the best bass lake on the planet. Recent tournament weights haven’t been the highest we’ve seen on this south Florida fishery, but the bass are still there and still as big as ever. Thirty-plus-pound limits are still being weighed in consistently, and fish more than 10 pounds are not unusual. Plus, there is something about flipping grass on this historic body of water that elevates your level of anticipation. The size of this fishery hinders its production as it can take a while for an inexperienced angler to dial in the bite. But once you unravel the secrets of the Big O, you’ll think it should have been rated much higher than sixth on this list.

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6
Lake Okeechobee

Florida
Previous Rankings- 2013: #8 | 2012: #2
730 square miles
The Big O is in the middle of an upswing right now, which puts it squarely in the race for the best bass lake on the planet. Recent tournament weights haven’t been the highest we’ve seen on this south Florida fishery, but the bass are still there and still as big as ever. Thirty-plus-pound limits are still being weighed in consistently, and fish more than 10 pounds are not unusual. Plus, there is something about flipping grass on this historic body of water that elevates your level of anticipation. The size of this fishery hinders its production as it can take a while for an inexperienced angler to dial in the bite. But once you unravel the secrets of the Big O, you’ll think it should have been rated much higher than sixth on this list.

Lake Okeechobee is the largest freshwater lake in Florida and is shallow for it’s size, with an average depth of 9 feet.
Lake Okeechobee is the largest freshwater lake in Florida and is shallow for it’s size, with an average depth of 9 feet.
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Lake Guntersville

Alabama
Previous Rankings- 2013: #4 | 2012: #3
70,000 acres
Just ask Elite Series angler Randy Howell how good this lake can be at a moment’s notice. He made one quick decision after catching 20 pounds a day during the Bassmaster Classic that put the championship trophy on his mantle. That one decision put more than 29 pounds in his livewell (as he waded through 80 pounds of bass) — the biggest sack he has ever weighed in a professional tournament after 20 years of fishing. The pressure on this lake is remarkable, and the bass fishing remains as strong as anywhere in the country.

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Lake Guntersville

Alabama
Previous Rankings- 2013: #4 | 2012: #3
70,000 acres
Just ask Elite Series angler Randy Howell how good this lake can be at a moment’s notice. He made one quick decision after catching 20 pounds a day during the Bassmaster Classic that put the championship trophy on his mantle. That one decision put more than 29 pounds in his livewell (as he waded through 80 pounds of bass) — the biggest sack he has ever weighed in a professional tournament after 20 years of fishing. The pressure on this lake is remarkable, and the bass fishing remains as strong as anywhere in the country.

Lake Guntersville, on the Tennessee River, is about 90 minutes northeast of Birmingham, Ala.
Lake Guntersville, on the Tennessee River, is about 90 minutes northeast of Birmingham, Ala.
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Lake Coeur d’Alene

Idaho
Previous Rankings- 2013: #11 | 2012: #9
25,000 acres
This lake makes a big move up this year on the strength of its trophy smallmouth fishery. The smallies have always been a rowdy group on this lake, but now they are rowdy and big. It is no longer unusual to land one over 6 pounds here. And don’t forget about the largemouth fishery. The lake record largemouth is 10-15, with average bass weighing in between 2 and 3 pounds.

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Lake Coeur d’Alene

Idaho
Previous Rankings- 2013: #11 | 2012: #9
25,000 acres
This lake makes a big move up this year on the strength of its trophy smallmouth fishery. The smallies have always been a rowdy group on this lake, but now they are rowdy and big. It is no longer unusual to land one over 6 pounds here. And don’t forget about the largemouth fishery. The lake record largemouth is 10-15, with average bass weighing in between 2 and 3 pounds.

Lake Coeur d”Alene, Idaho is about 30 minutes east of Spokane, Wash.
Lake Coeur d”Alene, Idaho is about 30 minutes east of Spokane, Wash.
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Lake Erie, Buffalo

New York
Previous Rankings- (entire lake) 2013: #5 | 2012: #4
Most anglers focus on a 20-mile radius of Buffalo.
This section of the Great Lake is truly special. Largemouth abound in the shallow bays and marinas and smallmouth are crazy thick. As of this writing, the water here was still hard. That said, once the ice goes away, the world-class smallmouth fishery will make anglers forget about the wicked winter months. And the lack of early spring pressure will make the fishing that much better, if it’s possible. When you fish here, expect a 6-pounder every cast. Of course, you might have to wade through piles of 4-pounders to hit this mark.

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Lake Erie, Buffalo

New York
Previous Rankings- (entire lake) 2013: #5 | 2012: #4
Most anglers focus on a 20-mile radius of Buffalo.
This section of the Great Lake is truly special. Largemouth abound in the shallow bays and marinas and smallmouth are crazy thick. As of this writing, the water here was still hard. That said, once the ice goes away, the world-class smallmouth fishery will make anglers forget about the wicked winter months. And the lack of early spring pressure will make the fishing that much better, if it’s possible. When you fish here, expect a 6-pounder every cast. Of course, you might have to wade through piles of 4-pounders to hit this mark.

Lake Erie is the 4th largest of the five Great Lakes.
Lake Erie is the 4th largest of the five Great Lakes.
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Clear Lake

California
Previous Rankings- 2013: #3 | 2012: #10
43,785 acres
When you catch 50 bass between 4 and 6 pounds on a tournament day, you likely feel good about your chances of winning — unless you are fishing this California bass factory. Recent rains are slowly bringing the water levels up, but it’s far from full pool now. That said, not only will anglers catch a lot of solid fish here, but they also could hook the largemouth of a lifetime.

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Clear Lake

California
Previous Rankings- 2013: #3 | 2012: #10
43,785 acres
When you catch 50 bass between 4 and 6 pounds on a tournament day, you likely feel good about your chances of winning — unless you are fishing this California bass factory. Recent rains are slowly bringing the water levels up, but it’s far from full pool now. That said, not only will anglers catch a lot of solid fish here, but they also could hook the largemouth of a lifetime.

Clear Lake is about 2 hours north of San Francisco.
Clear Lake is about 2 hours north of San Francisco.
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Sturgeon Bay, Lake Michigan

Wisconsin
Previous Rankings- (entire lake) 2013: #29 | 2012: #34
From Little Sturgeon Bay to Fish Creek
When an 8.45-pound fish wins big bass — and that fish is a smallmouth — heads turn. That’s exactly what happened at a local tournament on this section of Lake Michigan last year. In that very same two-day tournament, it took 67.13 pounds to win (an average of almost 34 pounds per day). If you want to catch a pile of smallies, Sturgeon Bay should be your next trip. Simply put, if you want to angle the best bass fishing waters that currently exist for size and numbers of fish, head to Wisconsin.

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1
Sturgeon Bay, Lake Michigan

Wisconsin
Previous Rankings- (entire lake) 2013: #29 | 2012: #34
From Little Sturgeon Bay to Fish Creek
When an 8.45-pound fish wins big bass — and that fish is a smallmouth — heads turn. That’s exactly what happened at a local tournament on this section of Lake Michigan last year. In that very same two-day tournament, it took 67.13 pounds to win (an average of almost 34 pounds per day). If you want to catch a pile of smallies, Sturgeon Bay should be your next trip. Simply put, if you want to angle the best bass fishing waters that currently exist for size and numbers of fish, head to Wisconsin.

Sturgeon Bay is located about halfway up Green Bay on Wisconsin’s Door Peninsula. Ship Canal connects the Bay to Lake Michigan.
Sturgeon Bay is located about halfway up Green Bay on Wisconsin’s Door Peninsula. Ship Canal connects the Bay to Lake Michigan.
<p><strong>Now it’s your turn! </strong>What did you think of the<em> Bassmaster</em> 100 Best Bass Lakes? Comment below! Got a photo or video of your favorite lake, whether it was on the list or not? E-mail it (or send us a YouTube link) to <a href=bestbasslakes@bassmaster.com, and tell us why it’s your favorite lake, or tweet it with the hashtag #bestlake. We may use your comments, photos or videos in an upcoming story!

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Now it’s your turn! What did you think of the Bassmaster 100 Best Bass Lakes? Comment below! Got a photo or video of your favorite lake, whether it was on the list or not? E-mail it (or send us a YouTube link) to bestbasslakes@bassmaster.com, and tell us why it’s your favorite lake, or tweet it with the hashtag #bestlake. We may use your comments, photos or videos in an upcoming story!