The 13 Best Bass Fishing Lakes in the US: Guide Choices

Best Bass Fishing Lakes in the US Feature Image

Planning your next bass fishing trip can be an exciting time, and with so many choices for destinations around the country, it may be hard to decide which direction to go.

Here we will cover 13 of the best bass fishing lakes in the USA, whether you are looking for a place to take the boat out or prefer fishing from the shore. 

Lake Fork Reservoir
Lake Fork Reservoir Map

Lake Fork Reservoir

State: Texas

Size: 27,690 acres and 315 miles of shoreline

Famous for being the premier spot for trophy bass in North America.

Lake Fork is one of Texas’s number one bass fishing destinations. Not only that, but it has produced an incredible amount of premier trophy-sized big bass for bass anglers of all experience levels. 

More than 65% of the state’s trophy-sized bass, as well as the current and past state records, were caught in the Lake Fork Reservoir. 

It’s an outstanding destination if you want to fish from a boat out on the water, as well as having some beautiful shorelines to fish from.

Lake Okeechobee
Lake Okeechobee Map

Lake Okeechobee

State: Florida

Size: 451,000 acres and 135 miles of shoreline

Famous for being one of the absolute best big bass hotspots in the USA.

If you’ve ever heard Florida referred to as the “Fishing Capital of the World” it’s because of this lake. Lake Okeechobee is home to multiple outstanding fishing charter services, which can take you around to some of the best bass fishing hotspots the lake has to offer.

Both locals and visitors spend a lot of time fishing at this lake year-round, so you’re sure to find someone that can offer some great advice on where you should fish and where the biggest fish might be biting.

Lake Okeechobee is an outstanding destination for anglers that love fishing from their boat, but it also has several relaxing spots for shoreline fishing if that’s more your speed.

Lake Erie
Lake Erie Map

Lake Erie

State: Pennsylvania

Size: 6,350,000 acres and 871 miles of shoreline

Famous for the incredible amount of walleye and bass it produces.

Some people may not consider one of the Great Lakes to be a prime bass fishing location, but Lake Erie certainly is. In addition to having one of North America’s best walleye fishing, it also has some outstanding bass fishing opportunities as well.

Lake Erie is known for its smallmouth bass fisheries, but you can find healthy populations of largemouth bass as well. In fact, you can even hire a charter to take you around to some of their favorite fishing spots, or you can set out on the lake on your own vessel.

You’ll also find an abundance of shore fishing spots too with a good cover of aquatic vegetation, many of which are available 24 hours a day inside Presque Isle State Park and bay harbor.

Clear Lake

State: California

Size: 43,785 acres and 100 miles of shoreline

Famous for being the number one bass hotspot on the Western coast.

When people think of bass fishing, California doesn’t usually come to mind. But Clear Lake is changing that by being the number one bass hotspot on the Western coast, according to Bassmaster Magazine.

If you love fishing, this should be on your shortlist to check out. Not only is Clear Lake home to some of the best bass fishing in the West, but it’s also the oldest freshwater natural lake in North America, being an estimated 480,000 years old.

Clear Lake is home to populations of all freshwater bass including some outstanding largemouth and smallies, as well as some unique hybrids you’ll get a thrill hauling into the boat.

Lake Guntersville Map
Lake Guntersville Map

Lake Guntersville

State: Alabama

Size: 67,900 acres and 890 miles of shoreline

Famous for the sheer amount of prize-winning bass it produces each year.

Located in Alabama, Lake Guntersville is the largest lake in the state and is the lake where more than a dozen major fishing tournaments are held on a yearly basis. For bass anglers, Guntersville Lake is a destination they won’t want to miss!

The Lake is home to some outstanding healthy populations of smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, striped bass, white bass, and spotted bass. You can also find a small number of hybrids to be found each year as well. 

If you are an angler that absolutely loves smallmouth bass fishing, both locals and visitors to Lake Guntersville say the smallies here are very aggressive and will put up a good fight at the end of the line.

Chickamauga Lake Map
Chickamauga Lake Map

Chickamauga Lake

State: Tennessee

Size: 36,240 acres and 784 miles of shoreline 

Famous for the hundreds of 10+ pound bass that are caught here annually.

This lake in Tennessee boasts some absolutely perfect bass conditions. The water is cool, the lake has a current thanks to the dam and adjoining rivers and springs, and the bottom of the lake is rocky which bass love for their spawning grounds.

The largemouth bass population at Chickamauga Lake is outstanding, with striped bass being a close second. If you love fishing from solid ground rather than a boat, both the Chickamauga Dam and the Watts Bar Dam offer some of the best bass fishing opportunities in the state.

Anglers that love running deep crankbaits or jigs in fishing lakes can haul in some absolute monster fish, with the state record bass weighing in at 15 pounds and 3 ounces being taken from right here in Chickamauga Lake.

Bull Shoals Lake Map
Bull Shoals Lake Map

Bull Shoals Lake

State: Missouri

Size: 71,240 acres and 1,050 miles of shoreline

Famous for massive populations of white largemouth bass hybrids.

Home to a large number of bass fishing tournaments, Bull Shoals Lake has a healthy population of a variety of bass including Largemouth, Smallmouth, Striped, Spotted, White, and various hybrids.

For any anglers that are just learning to fish, the bass in Bull Shoals Lake can be caught with a wide range of crankbaits, spinners, jigs, spoons, plastic worms, and more. You’ll be able to test out different rigs and techniques and still get some successful catches.

Bull Shoals Lake is home to some good size bass, with fish weighing more than 12 pounds being caught. The current state record of 13 pounds 14 ounces for largemouth bass was caught in Bull Shoals Lake, as was a massive 68-pound striped bass.

Lake St Clair Map
Lake St Clair Map

Lake Saint Clair

State: Michigan

Size: 275,200 acres and 160 miles of shoreline

Famous for being one of the largest sports fisheries in the world.

For any angler that wants to focus on smallmouth fishing in one of the best bass lakes around, Lake Saint Clair should not be overlooked. This gorgeous bass fishing lake is between the border of Michigan USA and Ontario Canada which boasts cool water temperatures year-round.

This lake hosts a variety of annual fishing tournaments and has opportunities for fishing charters. You can fish from a boat, or find one of the many shore locations to set up a chair and grab your rod.

When ranking the best bass fishing destinations, Bassmaster Magazine constantly puts Lake Saint Clair in the top five – and for good reason. If you’re searching for a northern destination to take your next bass fishing vacation, look no further than Michigan’s Lake Saint Clair.

Toledo Bend Reservoir

State: Louisiana

Size: 181,600 acres and 1,200 miles of shoreline

Famous for incredible year-round largemouth bass fishing.

Between the years 2015 and 2017, Bassmaster Magazine had the Toledo Bend Reservoir listed as the number one location in their top 100 bass fishing destinations. 

Not only can you find a huge number of bass tournaments here each year, but you can also haul in some massive stripers and white bass on anything from a Wacky rig to a Ned rig

Toledo Bend Reservoir is great for all-year fishing and even has plenty of night fishing opportunities throughout their bass fishery as well. If you are a beginning angler, or an old pro, and are looking to haul in your next personal record – consider this bass fishing lake for your next fishing destination.

Sam Rayburn Reservoir

State: Texas

Size: 142,700 acres and 750 miles of shoreline

Famous for outstanding year-round largemouth bass fishing.

Home to a large and healthy population of largemouth bass, the Sam Rayburn Reservoir should be on any bass fisherman’s list. While this lake is known for its largemouth bass, you can also find a large amount of white bass and a few hybrids too.

One thing to keep in mind with Sam Rayburn Reservoir is that the water conditions and level can change drastically from one year to the next. That’s why you might be hauling in record-breakers every cast one year, and the next year you’re getting only juveniles.

While this is somewhat annoying to some anglers, this bass fishing lake can still deliver some record-breaking fish with a 16.8-pound largemouth being hauled out of the lake in 1997.

Lake Ozark Map
Lake Ozark Map

Lake Ozark

State: Missouri

Size: 54,000 acres and 1,150 miles of shoreline

Famous for the best bass fishing in the state.

As another lake found on Bassmaster Magazine’s top 100 list, Lake Ozark is home to some abundant populations of bass. Here you can find largemouth and smallmouth, in addition to black bass, white bass, and some striped bass.

Lake Ozark is perfect for shore fishing, with more than a thousand miles of shoreline and many public piers and docks available. In addition, you can find dozens of fishing charter boats to take you out and about for a day, weekend, or week of fishing in some of the best bass locations on the lake.

The Lake is also home to some other unique fish including gar, blue catfish, lake sturgeon, and more. There have even been reports of some anglers catching non-native fish that were dumped in the lake including koi and piranha. 

Kentucky Lake Map
Kentucky Lake Map

Kentucky Lake

State: Kentucky

Size: 160,000 acres and 2,300 miles of shoreline

Famous for being one of the best places for crappie fishing in the USA.

With a maximum depth of 75 feet, Kentucky Lake is an outstanding destination for anglers that love sending their lure deep into the murky depths to find those elusive trophy fish. 

While this lake is an outstanding source for crappie fishing, it’s also home to sunfish, catfish, sauger, bluegill, and an abundance of bass. Whether you want to focus on the largemouth bass, or would like to try your hand at catching smallmouth, white, or yellow bass, you’ll find them in Kentucky Lake.

Santee Cooper Lakes

State: South Carolina

Size: 160,000 acres and 450 miles of shoreline

Famous for their massive population of landlocked striped bass.

The Santee Cooper Lakes are actually made up of two smaller lakes, the Marion and Moultrie. These lakes are known for being the number one spot for the largest population of landlocked striped bass.

If you’re an angler that loves a challenge and loves the chance of hauling in massive trophy stripers weighing 60 pounds or more, the Santee Cooper Lakes should absolutely be on your bucket list.

If you don’t want to bring your own boat, you can find a spot on the shore and fish there. Or you can rent a boat from one of the various marinas and piers around the lakes, as well as hire a charter for the day or the weekend.

Other Bass Lakes Worth Considering

Candlewood Lake, Connecticut 

If smallmouth bass are your interest, Candlewood Lake has you covered. You’ll regularly haul in some 3 and 4-pound smallies, but there is a chance for some 8-pounders as well!

Lake O’ the Pines, Texas

With a depth of about 13 feet overall, this lake’s stained waters are home to a large number of massive largemouth bass and some year-round fishing. You may very well find fish up to 15 pounds here since that’s the lake’s record.

Noxon Reservoir, Montana

Almost unheard of by the average bass angler, Noxon Reservoir not only offers amazingly beautiful views of the mountains and forests, but it also offers a variety of great fishing tournaments in the summer months.

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AUTHOR
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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