Fishing is the fourth most popular participatory sport in the United States. More Americans fish than play golf and tennis combined. So, what species of fish do anglers in this country like to target the most? Well, when it comes to freshwater fishermen, the answer is clear: black bass (Micropterus), the genus that includes both largemouth and smallmouth. According to the American Sportfishing Association, one out of every three anglers in the U.S. fishes for largemouth bass, making it the most sought-after game fish in the country. “It’s not difficult to understand why anglers love fishing for bass,” said 2011 Forrest Wood Cup Champion Scott Martin. “They’re great fighters, they can be caught on a variety of baits and lures, and they inhabit a huge number of lakes and rivers across the nation. The challenge of figuring out how to catch one of the smartest fish that swims is what makes bass fishing so popular.”
Some bodies of water are known to produce more and bigger fish than others, however. Fishhound.com, the Web’s fastest-growing angling community and provider of real-time fishing reports, conferred recently with expert bass anglers, tournament organizations, veteran outdoor writers and other top fishing authorities to create a comprehensive list of the 100 top bass waters. Focus your efforts on these honey holes and you’ll stand a good chance of landing some quality bass, perhaps a trophy-sized fish, or if you’re really lucky, even a place in the record books.
Below are the top 10 bass waters on Fishhound’s list of 100. To view the entire list, click here.
1. Lake Guntersville (Alabama)
Not many waters offer a fat chance at both monster bass and 100-fish days, but this 69,100-acre bass factory has yielded many of both! The”Crown Jewel” of a series of fabled Tennessee River impoundments and the site of the 2014 Bassmaster Classic, Lake Guntersville is as breathtaking as it is productive, with haunting hills at sunrise leaving as lasting an impression as the blow-ups of monster bass through the matted vegetation. Learn more about Lake Guntersville at Fishhound.com
2. Lake Okeechobee (Florida)
Located at the headwaters of the Florida Everglades, Okeechobee has long been one of the world’s great fisheries and is argued by many as the best bass lake in the country. Lake Okeechobee is known for its abundance of 7-10 pound bass and very high catch rate. Many travel to the “Big O” for a once-in-a-lifetime bass opportunity. Learn more about Lake Okeechobee at Fishhound website.
3. Clear Lake (California)
Near the top of most “best bass waters” lists, this 44,000-acre natural lake has a compelling history too. Scientists estimate its age at roughly 2.5 million years, with tectonic plate activity credited for the geothermal springs and constant renewal with fresh water that contribute to the lake’s incredible fish-per-acre output. Learn more about Clear Lake at the Fishhound website.
4. Falcon Lake (Texas)
Credit Texas Parks and Wildlife for maintaining many of the world’s best bass fisheries, but this Rio Grande River Tex-Mex border lake rises above them all. “Falcon is one of the greatest lakes in the U.S., says Texas bass pro Zell Rowland. “I don’t know that any other lake compares to it.” Learn more about Falcon Lake at the Fishhound website.
5. Lake Erie/Upper Niagara River (New York/Ontario)
If a six- or seven-pound smallmouth is on your bucket list, this is the place! The Buffalo-Niagara area offers, arguably, the best trophy smallmouth prospects of any fishery in the world. Three- and four-pound bronzebacks are typical; five-pounders hardly raise an eyebrow. Learn more about Lake Erie at the Fishhound website
6. Choke Canyon (Texas)
The ranking of this body of water may surprise many, but it comes as no surprise to those that have had the opportunity to fish it. Fishing pressure is light, but the forage base of shad, bluegill and crayfish is abundant on this 25,670-acre water supply reservoir between San Antonio and Corpus Christi. That’s why bass grow fast and bass grow big. Learn more about Choke Canyon Reservoir at the Fishhound website.
7. Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (California)
Fishing this fish- and wildlife-rich delta of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers makes for a rich sensory experience. “Where else will you catch a bass and see a sea lion pop up next to you and then a beaver a few minutes later?” asks Randy Pringle, who guides on the 15,000-plus acres of this fertile tidal fishery, which flows past Martinez into San Francisco Bay. Learn more about the San Joaquin Delta at the Fishhound website.
8. Lake Amistad (Texas)
Catch ‘em high; catch ‘em low. Clear water and diverse habitat make this Rio Grande River reservoir a multi-tiered bass fishery that has factored into some of the highest weigh-in totals in Bassmaster competition. As a Bassmaster Elite Series Rookie, Derek Rimitz posted a four-day total of 111 pounds, 7 ounces at Amistad in 2007! Learn more about Lake Amistad at the Fishhound website.
9. Oneida Lake (New York)
Located just east of Lake Ontario and New York’s Finger Lakes region, Oneida Lake has a character all its own – along with some of the best bass fishing in the Northeast. The lake boasts excellent populations of both largemouth and smallmouth bass, as well as abundant panfish, northern pike, walleye and tiger musky. Learn more about Oneida Lake at the Fishhound website.
10. Lake St. Clair (Michigan/Ontario)
If sportfishing opportunity were the measure of a city’s prosperity, there’d be no reason to dwell on Detroit’s auto industry woes. Lake St. Clair and the connecting waters of the St. Clair River to the north and Detroit River to the south comprise an incredible smallmouth bass fishery – and the musky fishing is almost as good. Learn more about Lake St. Clair at the Fishhound website.
Kay Donaldson, Vice President of Marketing for the Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association is pleased, but not surprised, about Lake Guntersville earning the top spot on Fishound’s list of the best bass waters in the country. “Lake Guntersville is the crowning jewel of Alabama’s fisheries if not the country,” she said. “The pressure this lake receives year to year and it just keeps producing 30-pound bags of bass. We are extremely proud to have Lake Guntersville designated as the best bass lake in the country by Fishhound.com.”
Syracuse Convention & Visitors Bureau’s Sports Development Director, Jeff Mickle, is also thrilled that his state’s renowned smallmouth destination, Lake O’Neida, has been named one of the top 10 waters on Fishhound’s list of 100. “This is a great honor for all of us who have worked so hard to make Oneida Lake a premier fishing destination, said Mickle. We think Oneida offers the best bass fishing in the U.S., and we encourage everyone to come out and experience it for themselves. We’re dedicated to keeping Oneida Lake one of the finest fisheries in the nation.”
Fishhound’s Vice President, Operations, Rick Patri, points out that every body of water on the list is a true standout among bass fishing destinations. “They represent the very best locales this country has to offer when it comes to bass fishing,” noted Patri. “Wet a line on any one of these waters and you’re likely to encounter some of the finest angling action you’ve ever experienced.”
Logo courtesy Fishhound.com