Choosing the top 10 best bass fishing lakes can be challenging. After all, different things are looked after by fishermen from a trip: a family vacation, a trophy bass, a quick bite, or beautiful surroundings. Some anglers prefer the hard-fighting smallmouth; others like to match wits and muscle with big largemouths and relentlessly powerful smallmouth bass. Some pick waters they grew up fishing. Mostly, though, anglers desire waters that are fun to fish and provide several of the motivations listed above.
Most anglers agree that several factors factor into good bass water. Size, depth, structure, and fish stocks all factor into how good a bass fishery is for recreational fishermen, who target the “big ones” for trophies and bragging rights.
There are plenty of best bass fishing lakes in the U.S., but they tend to be located on small fishing streams and ponds, not reservoirs or large lakes. Reservoirs are where the big ones are, after all. You can find some real gems in smaller ponds, too, if you know where to look and have the right gear for the job. Here is a list of some of the best bass fishing lakes in America.
- Sam Rayburn Reservoir – Texas
- Lake Erie – Pennsylvania
- Lake Okeechobee – Florida
- Santee Cooper Lakes – South Carolina
- Lake St. Clair – Michigan
- Lake Guntersville – Alabama
- Lake Fork – Texas
- Lake Mille Lacs
- Clear Lake – California
- Chickamauga Lake – Tennessee
Check out our Best Fishing Line for Bass
1. Sam Rayburn Reservoir- Texas
Sam Rayburn Reservoir is one of the best bass fishing lakes in Texas and has two distinct seasons. Sam Rayburn’s open-water season runs from April 1 to May 15 every year, where anglers can fish without having to worry about a crowded event like South Padre Island in June. The Texan state record largemouth was caught here!
We’re continuing our run through Texas and are looking at another lake. Sam Rayburn Reservoir is a beautiful lake in Southeast Texas and spans 178 square miles. This lake is also known for its big bass, with great fishing all year long.
Did you know? Sam Rayburn Reservoir is the largest reservoir in Texas and the sixth-largest reservoir in the United States. So, while it’s hard to conclude from this, there’s no doubt that it provides some incredible opportunities for anglers. Also, you can check the top 10 Best Bass Fishing Lakes in Texas.
2. Lake Erie – Pennsylvania
One of the largest and most productive bass fishing lakes in all of the United States is Erie, Pennsylvania. The lake contains one billion gallons of water and more than 1,200 islands. With this much volume, it’s no wonder why such incredible sizes are being caught regularly. Lake Erie is not just the largest member of the Great Lakes, it’s also home to some of the biggest smallmouth bass in North America.
The size of Lake Erie’s smallmouth bass is absurd. Since the introduction of the invasive gobies into this great lake, the smallmouth has been feeding heavily and growing to mega sizes. Record smallmouth is being hauled in on Erie nearly every year, most of which are over 8 pounds. Who cares about bass fishing lakes when I have so much amazing saltwater down here, I know what you’re thinking! Well, I’m with you on that one. When it comes to lake bass fishing, Erie is truly the best place in the world.
3. Lake Okeechobee – Florida
If you’re going to fish in Lake Okeechobee, you’d better know where to find the big ones. This means knowing the species you want and having an idea of how to catch them. One of the most renowned largemouth bass fisheries in the United States is Lake Okeechobee. Lake Okeechobee’s vastness also means that it has various species you can catch, but it also makes knowing where to fish a pretty daunting task. Knowing where to cast your hook and line would make Lake Okeechobee bass fishing more fun and a lot easier.
The best bass fishing lakes in Florida are a delight for those who love to fish along the shorelines and the shallow bays. The wider body of water makes it easier to reach areas that are full of natural populations of these fish. When this is combined with the abundance of vegetation that creates plenty of cover in these lakes, fishing for largemouth bass is easy.
4. Santee Cooper Lakes – South Carolina
If you are new to the world of bass fishing, then Santee Cooper Lakes is your hot spot. The 2018 bass stocking season was quite successful, with more than 60,000 fish being stocked in Marion, Laurens, and Richland Counties. This was done by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management. The lake has a good variety of fish species that make it a great chance to catch fish when it comes time to compete for the best bass fishing lake deserves.
Santee Cooper lakes are the best lake for bass fishing in South Carolina. The Santee Cooper lakes in south-central South Carolina is the top lake for serious bass anglers or a relaxing family fishing trip out on the lake. Simple target fishing is made possible by the variety of shallow cover, including grass, pads, and trees. A plethora of bass from 3 to even 10 pounds makes the Santee Cooper Lakes a no-brainer for our list of best bass lakes. You might even run into a giant catfish on the ol’ Santee Cooper Rig called after this factory!
The lake system includes Lake Marion, Lake Moultrie, and Lake Georgetown. Santee Cooper Lakes are a haven for bass fishing enthusiasts and home to some of the best largemouth in the region. – There is lots of shallow cover in the form of grass, pads, and trees, making target fishing simple.
5. Lake St. Clair –Michigan
Have you been searching for a great bass fishing lake to hit up every month? If so, Lake St. Clair might be the place for you. This is a freshwater lake famous for its large smallmouth bass population. It has been ranked in national magazines as well as by Bassmaster Magazine numerous times over the years. Whether you’re looking for big largemouth or a smallmouth, Lake St. Clair provides a chance to find them all.
Lake St. Clair is located on the border between Ontario and Michigan. This lake is a popular fishing destination for many anglers looking for big smallmouth bass, but it might just become your favorite fishing lake if you try hard enough. Lake St. Clair is a great lake for many reasons. It is free of water level fluctuations, which means that it’s hard for any unwanted fish to get into (which are great bass food). Another thing that makes this lake so amazing is that the temperatures stay constant throughout the year, which makes this one of the best bass fishing lakes around.
6. Lake Guntersville – Alabama
Lake Guntersville is legendary for its massive bass fishing opportunities. The lake has been around for decades, but when you look at some of the biggest catches ever caught from this lake, it’s no wonder why! Lake Guntersville is one of the best bass fishing lakes in America, and a rock-solid choice for any angler who wants a place to make their bass dreams come true. It has been the number one bass fishing lake in the south since the 1950s! And for good reason – The lake offers all kinds of warm water habitats for largemouth bass to spawn and raised hydrilla mats to build nests.
Lake Guntersville is a warm climate bass fishery with plenty of grass and brush. The massive size of the lake means plenty of room to work the deep holes for some big bass. It’s been known to produce over 30 pounds in tournament weigh-ins, which makes it a top destination for bass fishermen from all over the south. With such a large body of water, you are likely going to be catching bigger fish than the ones at other lakes. The giant grass mats and hydrilla provide cover for some really beautiful bass and make for a very fun fishing trip.
7. Lake Fork – Texas
Once the king of big bass lakes, Fork continues its revival. It’s an exciting lake to fish because of its structural diversity and the possibility of catching a lunker. It still produces more Share Lunkers—bass over 13 pounds used in hatchery production—than any other lake. The lunker run starts in February and peaks in March, as has moved into the shallow brush or weedy pockets. Fall fishing also can be excellent, either on the deep structures or in creek arms where bass chase shad.
When I think of big bass, my first thought is always going to be Lake Fork. Many lakes in Texas produce big bass—Trinity River, Lake Texoma, and certain dam lakes come to mind when fishing for smallmouth bass. However, Lake Fork just has an aura about it that always makes you want to come back. For its size, the variety of fish and habitat make this lake a no-brainer for any angler looking for those “Texas” sized largemouth bass.
Lake Fork has become a hotspot for bass fishing. Between its locations, there are many different things you can fish out of, but the most common is boating. Fishing off the docks on Lake Fork sometimes produces the biggest bass in Texas. With the high temperatures and sandbars in the body of water, it makes this lake extremely important to have in your bag when you’re targeting only the best bass fishing lakes list.
8. Lake Mille Lacs
If you are looking for an amazing body of water to catch large smallmouth bass, then look no further than Mille Lacs Lake. The lake is located in the southwestern part of Minnesota and has a size that makes it among the biggest lakes in the country. It’s prime time the bass fishing season has come to an end, but there is still time to catch some big smallmouth bass while they are feasting on minnows. No matter what your skill level or experience level with fishing is, you can count on this lake having some incredible fishing.
Mille Lacs Lake is a place of many legends and stories, but it’s also one of the best smallmouth bass lakes in Minnesota. Smallmouth bass fishing on Mille Lacs is a unique adventure that you can’t get anywhere else in the state. There are few places better than this to catch some trophy smallies and walleyes at the same time.
The lake has many islands with beautiful views of the surrounding landscape and it’s a must-see stop along the northwest section of Highway 61 that runs through downtown Minneapolis. Mille Lacs attracts many visitors each year due to its great fishing and beautiful scenery. Mille Lacs Lake provides anglers with excellent walleye, northern pike, bass tournaments, and musky fishing during the summer months.
9. Clear Lake – California
California, although the most populated state in the United States of America has some great bass fishing lakes that can rival any state in the lower 48. The great thing about California is that you are never far from another high-quality bass fishing lake.
Clear Lake is a city built around the lake in Northern California. It’s a bit north of the Napa Valley, so that gives you an idea of how north we’re talking here. Interestingly enough, as well as being a great bass spot, it’s the oldest freshwater lake in North America and the largest in California.
The truth is, that Clear Lake is a better place to fish than any other lake in America. It’s so good that California has awarded it a Bassmaster Classic. Of course, it’s an awesome lake and belongs on lists like this one. We don’t generally associate California with bass fishing, but we’re seeing more and more winter and spring fishing in locations like California. Clear Lake is a city built around the lake in Northern California. So one of the best bass fishing lakes in California, Clear Lake is a noteworthy spot for your next trip to catch some big fish.
10. Chickamauga Lake – Tennessee
We have talked about a few of the best lakes in the country for bass fishing and especially for tournaments. The lake that kind of sticks out at this spot is Chickamauga Lake in Tennessee. Chickamauga is one of those lakes that has exploded in popularity in the last 10 years or so.
Chickamauga Lake is one of the most sought-after bass fishing lakes in the United States. The lake has taken center stage in some of the nation’s biggest tournaments, with impressive limits being thrown out by anglers who came to Fish Tennessee.
Chickamauga Lake is a 36,000-acre Tennessee River impoundment located southeast of Chattanooga. We’ve all heard of the Bassmaster Classic tournament held at Laughlin Lake on the Colorado River. The expense and time spent to travel here show just how big of a deal this lake can be for anglers. But, what about Chickamauga? There is one Bassin’ The Rockies event held here every year. It pulls over 20,000 anglers from around the world each pretty impressive year.
Final Thoughts on Best Bass Fishing Lakes
Fishing is fun, especially when you’re going to fish on10 best bass fishing lakes. There’s nowhere like the great outdoors. Of course, you can travel across the pond and find other great lakes, but you get a lot of options when it comes to fishing in North America. Bass fishing is one of the most popular and widespread participant sports activities in the United States. Picking lakes as good for bass fishing is difficult as every lake has its qualities, positives, negatives, and all.
There are so many great places to fish for bass, and each one is more beautiful than the last. For example, the whole of Tennessee has a lot of lakes that make up their bass fishing opportunities, from Bear Creek Lake down to Lake Barkley and beyond. There may be only one other state that has a more plentiful amount of great bass fishing lakes than Tennessee does. There are a lot of really great freshwater lakes in the country.
In the end, it may be best to take a look at your situation and needs before deciding on the right lake. The best methods for one angler might not be the ones that you prefer, so do not be afraid to go out and try a new place from time to time. This will ultimately help you find the best bass fishing lakes for you! There are never enough places to fish. Even if you live very close to the ocean, you still have to travel far to find freshwater lakes. Our goal is always to both increase our angling opportunities as well as share about the best fishing in these areas, and we hope that this list will give you some ideas on where you might want to travel next!