The Top 10 Bass Fishing Lakes in North Carolina: Expert Guide + Map

Bass Fishing in North Carolina the best lakes feature image

With its varied waterways and stunning natural landscapes, these North Carolina lakes offer an exciting opportunity for most bass anglers. Regardless of your experience level, you can explore and enjoy some of the best bass fishing in the country.

From the sprawling waters of Lake Norman to the scenic beauty of Fontana Lake, North Carolina offers a range of truly amazing bass fishing spots where you can catch big bass without wasting time on your fishing trip. Grab your gear, make sure you have your fishing license, and get ready to catch big bass on these beautiful lakes and connected creek channels.

This article takes a closer look at the top 10 bass fishing lakes in North Carolina, providing anglers with valuable information about each lake’s unique features, bass species available, and popular bass fishing techniques that will help you haul in a monster-sized lake fish.

The Best Bass Fishing in North Carolina: List of Locations and Map

  1. Lake Norman
  2. Jordan Lake
  3. Falls Lake
  4. High Rock Lake
  5. Kerr Lake
  6. Buggs Island Lake
  7. Shearon Harris Reservoir
  8. Lake Wylie
  9. Roanoke Rapids Lake
  10. Fontana Lake

Guide to North Carolina’s Top Largemouth Bass Fishing Lakes

1. Lake Norman

Lake Norman North Carolina Bass Fishing

Located near Charlotte in the central part of the state, Lake Norman is a bass angler’s paradise. As you cruise along this expansive lake, you’ll be surrounded by a stunning shoreline dotted with homes and lush vegetation. The backdrop of rolling hills and wooded areas adds to the enjoyment of bass fishing in this area.

It offers easy access from various public spots with convenient boat ramps and bass fishing piers in a few areas around this North Carolina lake. This expansive lake is perfect for boat fishing, thanks to its large size, as well as pier or shore fishing due to the ample shoreline.

You can catch largemouth bass in truly monstrous sizes and spotted bass using popular techniques like flipping jigs, crankbaits, and Carolina rigging. For largemouth, try flipping jigs around docks and vegetation, or go for shallow crankbaits along rocky points.

If you’re after spotted bass or striped bass in North Carolina, casting deep-diving crankbaits and drop-shot rigs with finesse worms near brush piles and ledges can be quite effective.

2. Jordan Lake

Jordan Lake North Carolina Bass Fishing

Situated in central North Carolina, southwest of Raleigh, Jordan Lake is a picture-perfect destination for bass fishing. It provides both shore access and boat ramps for easy entry into the water. Whether you prefer casting from the shore or venturing out on a boat, Jordan Lake has you covered when it comes to some of the best North Carolina fishing.

Similar to Lake Tillery or Lake Blewett, this North Carolina lake is home to a huge population of largemouth bass, making it one of my top three favorite lakes in North Carolina, and I often find the most success when using topwater lures, plastic worms, and spinnerbaits. You may also encounter healthy populations of smallmouth bass, blue catfish, yellow perch, channel catfish, white bass, brown trout, and other species here too.

In the early morning or evening, you might be able to catch big bass by using a topwater lure like buzzbaits and poppers. As the day progresses, switch to Texas-rigged plastic worms, and creature baits around submerged structures to make the largemouth bass take notice. Don’t forget to try spinnerbaits and shallow-running crankbaits to cover more water if you’re having trouble locating these lake fish.

3. Falls Lake

Falls Lake North Carolina Bass Fishing

North of Raleigh, Falls Lake offers a very relaxing natural setting for bass fishing enthusiasts. It features several access points with boat ramps and big bass fishing piers, ensuring easy entry onto this North Carolina lake.

Falls Lake is a versatile spot for some of the best fishing in North Carolina, allowing for both boat fishing and shore fishing around the lake perimeter, and it reminds me of either Lake Townsend or Lake Tillery. Lake anglers can target largemouth bass using techniques such as crankbaits, plastic worms, and jigs. When the lake fish are active, crankbaits along points and submerged structures are my go-to choice.

If you need a stealthier approach in this North Carolina lake due to catching bass fishing pressure during busy seasons, flip or pitch plastic creature baits and jigs into thick cover. For a more finesse presentation at this lake, Texas-rigged or Carolina rig plastic worms and creature baits around lilypad clusters and brush piles can work wonders at Falls Lake.

4. High Rock Lake

High Rock Lake North Carolina Bass Fishing

Nestled in the central part of the state near Lexington, High Rock Lake is a favorite destination for many bass anglers. This North Carolina lake is similar in water type to Lake Blewett or Lake Townsend and provides multiple public access areas and boat ramps, making it convenient to get on the water in anything from a kayak to a pontoon boat.

While boat fishing is prominent on High Rock Lake, there are also a huge number of opportunities for shore fishing if you just want to relax and stake out a little spot near a heavy-cover area. The peaceful ambiance, coupled with the scenic beauty of this North Carolina lake, provides the perfect backdrop for an exciting day of reeling in bass from the shore.

On High Rock Lake, you will primarily be catching largemouth and spotted bass, with the best results coming from using lures like plastic worms and crankbaits. Largemouth can be very responsive to jigs and creature baits around docks, laydowns, and brush piles, while spotted bass in this North Carolina lake will go for deep-diving crankbaits along main lake points and ledges.

You can also use finesse worms on drop-shot rigs in this lake for both species and get some very good results in deeper water spots, especially during hotter months when fish move deeper or when bass fishing pressure is high on the lake.

5. Kerr Lake

Kerr Lake North Carolina Bass Fishing (1)

Extending along the border of both North Carolina and Virginia and covering more than 50,000 acres, Kerr Lake offers some outstanding bass fishing experiences for beginners as well as experts, as well as being the hosting ground for a few bass fishing tournaments and contests throughout the year.

This North Carolina lake has a similar feel to Lake Mattamuskeet and features numerous access points and well-maintained boat ramps for the easy launching of bass boats, pontoon boats, and larger day-fishing boats. Whether you choose to lake fish from a boat or the shore, Kerr Lake provides plenty of space for everyone to pick out their own little spot on the water or the bank.

You can catch largemouth and striped bass here using topwater lures, jerkbaits, and swimbaits. When the sun is low, topwater lures seem to be the most effective for largemouth bass. As the day progresses, switch to Texas-rigged plastic worms, and creature baits around submerged vegetation and brush piles where largemouth bass are hiding.

For striped bass in North Carolina, try trolling this lake with swimbaits or live bait if you’re in a boat and jigging spoons near main channel drop-offs if you’re lake fishing from shore. If you’ve ever fished at Lake Mattamuskeet, the same techniques you use there will work exceptionally well at Kerr Lake.

3. Buggs Island Lake

Buggs Island Lake

Straddling the North Carolina and Virginia border, Buggs Island Lake, also known as the John H. Kerr Reservoir, presents an excellent bass fishing setting that has a lot of the same scenery you would find at Lake Chatuge or Lake Gaston. The massive 48,000-acre lake is nestled among the rolling hills of Mecklenburg County and offers a truly scenic backdrop for bass fishing, and is one of my top five favorite lakes in North Carolina.

With multiple public access areas and boat ramps, anglers can conveniently explore this North Carolina lake. While boat fishing is the most common way to lake fish for bass out here, some areas allow for decent shoreline angling.
Largemouth and smallmouth bass are the prized catches at this lake, and techniques like crankbaits, jigs, and soft plastics are some of the most effective ways to get them to bite. To catch largemouth at this lake, flip or pitch jigs and creature baits around docks, laydowns, and heavy vegetation areas.

Smallmouth bass anglers should focus on jerkbaits and finesse worms around rocky points and deep-water lake ledges. Crankbaits and plastic crawfish imitations are also good options for both species in Buggs Island Lake. 

7. Shearon Harris Reservoir

Shearon Harris Lake Reservoir North Carolina Bass Fishing

Located southwest of Raleigh, Shearon Harris Reservoir or Shearon Harris Lake is well known for its trophy-sized largemouth bass, with the largest bass being caught back in 2017, weighing an incredible 41.9 pounds. If you’re in pursuit of a big catch, this lake is the place to be!

Whether you prefer boat or shore fishing, Shearon Harris Reservoir caters to both and has some very similar natural scenery to what you might find at Lake Phelps. The reservoir offers several public access points and boat ramps for easy entry and has a decent-sized population of canoe anglers as well.

You’ll often find the most success at Harris Lake when using jigs, plastic worms, and spinnerbaits to entice the bass to strike. Flip or pitch jigs and plastic creature baits around submerged vegetation and heavy cover areas to entice those lunker largemouth. For covering more water of Harris Lake, try spinnerbaits and chatterbaits to locate and lure in the more active bass or crappie hiding in the area.

8. Lake Wylie

Lake Wylie North Carolina Bass Fishing Lakes

Located on the North Carolina and South Carolina border near Charlotte, the 13,400-acre Lake Wylie is a beautiful destination for bass fishing. This North Carolina bass fishing lake provides multiple public access points and well-maintained boat ramps. It offers excellent opportunities for both boat and shore fishing, with a maximum lake depth of around 80 feet.

Largemouth and spotted bass call these North Carolina lake waters home, and techniques like crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and Texas rigs seem to be the most popular among lake anglers that frequent this North Carolina lake. You can entice largemouth to strike with spinnerbaits and buzzbaits around shallow cover and lake docks.

If you’re targeting spotted bass in North Carolina and have ever had fishing experience at Lake Chatuge, finesse worms and drop-shot rigs around rocky points and ledges can be highly effective. Don’t be surprised if you hook into a big one since large healthy populations of largemouth bass, crappie, and white perch call this lake home!

9. Roanoke Rapids Lake

Roanoke Rapids Lake North Carolina Bass Fishing

Along the Roanoke River, northeast of Raleigh, lies Roanoke Rapids Lake. This serene 4,600-acre lake offers several public access areas and multiple boat ramps, allowing for convenient entry for anglers. Whether you choose to lake fish from a boat in the middle of this North Carolina lake or would rather keep your feet on the shore, Roanoke Rapids Lake has some very good location options for both.

While it might be considered one of the smaller lakes on the list and might feel similar to Lake Gaston or Lake Hickory, largemouth bass are the primary target here and the most popular lake fish in this body of water, and you will often find success when using crankbaits, jerkbaits, and soft plastic baits.

Most anglers say to cast your crankbaits and jerkbaits around the main North Carolina lakes’ points and submerged structures to tempt those largemouth and even some black crappie to come out of hiding. Similar to the technique you would use in other lakes, don’t be afraid to adjust your fishing techniques or move around the lake to find better fishing opportunities.

For a more precise approach, flip or pitch jigs and creature baits into shoreline cover and vegetation. Texas-rigged plastic worms and creature baits near submerged brush piles and ledges can also yield great results for shore anglers and can really entice the biggest bass out of their hiding spots and into the water body for you to catch.

10. Fontana Lake

Fontana Lake North Carolina Bass Fishing

Located in the western part of the state near Bryson City and within view of the Great Smoky Mountains, Fontana Lake (or Lake Fontana) offers a picturesque backdrop for your next bass fishing adventures and is one of my personal favorite lakes in North Carolina for bass fishing offering some of the best fishing opportunities in the eastern United States.

While shoreline access is limited along this 10,200-acre lake due to the steep banks and extremely thick forests, this North Carolina bass fishing lake provides at least five different boat ramps for easy launching around the lake whether you are a visitor to western North Carolina or one of the many local anglers.

Bass anglers primarily target largemouth and smallmouth bass in these pristine North Carolina waters but spotted and white bass, striped bass, and trout can be popular targets in this lake too. Effective techniques for the bass include spinnerbaits, jerkbaits, and swimbaits.

Flip or pitch jigs and creature baits into shoreline cover, lilypad clusters, and submerged structures for largemouth bass. Target smallmouth bass with jerkbaits, finesse worms, and soft plastic crawfish imitations around rocky points and ledges.

Crankbaits and spinnerbaits are versatile options for both species in this North Carolina lake Fontana, as well as spotted bass, trout, and other popular fish species such as crappie and perch.

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Jeff Knapp is an expert fisherman, guide and outdoor writer whose work is widely published across a range of sites including Tackle Village. Jeff is based in Pennsylvania and loves exploring the waterways of that state in pursuit of smallmouth bass, largemouth, panfish and trout.
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