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10 Best Bass Fishing States In America

by Matt Straw   |  June 7th, 2013 4

Bass are the American sweethearts of the freshwater world right now. Tournament popularity? Maybe—but it’s primarily because bass are found in so many states—including Hawaii. But which states are best?

Some of the best bass fishing states favor spotted bass, some are better for smallies, some are loaded with largemouths, and a few have all three. Some have phenomenal numbers, some have size, and a few have both. All contain a few “secret” spots nobody’s talking about, beyond the stark glare of media attention.

So anglers from almost any state can claim they live in bassin’ heaven. Some states, however, are obviously better than others. So, how to create a top-10-best list of states for bass fishing? Conservation efforts protecting bass and their habitat have something to do with it. Media coverage of specimens that include state and world records have an impact. Accessibility is considered. A healthy number of venues is a must. Quality and number of great bass waters hold the most weight. How many big-fish waters exist? How many reservoirs, lakes, and rivers in the state hold world-class numbers of bass, and how many harbor real trophies? And how consistent is the action, year after year?

Certainly, Utah has some world-class smallmouth fishing—but the number of venues is limited. Giant bass are caught in Arizona, but the reservoirs can dry up completely in draught years. Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Missouri have the potential to grow big bass and lots of them. Certainly, anglers from those states would include them, but timing is a factor, too. Anglers that have been around a while know that good fishing comes and goes—and right now the bass fishing in Alabama, Tennessee, and Michigan might be better than ever before.

Tourism statistics also reveal that the following states are visited often for purposes of fishing bass of one species or another. Bringing up the point— which is better? A smallmouth, a spot, or a bucketmouth? Impossible to determine. All are equal in our eyes, giving an 8-pound smallmouth about the same value as a 20-pound largemouth, or a 7-pound spot. Which further complicates the following list. So we present the states in alphabetical order. Which of the ten is best? You decide.

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  • Nathan Parker

    I must admit to bias, I live in Oklahoma, but I’ll plug it anyway. Grand lake is a perennial stop on both the BASS and FLW tours for a reason. It often takes 20-25 pounds a day to win there and 50+ fish days are a frequent phenomenon. Tenkiller and Eufaula lakes remain perhaps a fishermans best bet anywhere to catch a trifecta (all three species) in the same day. Dozens of lakes have the potential to give up an 8-10 pound largemouth on any day of the year, and 5+ pound smallmouths are becoming a more frequent occurrence every year. The state has more miles of shoreline than the atlantic and gulf coasts combined, the most shoreline of any landlocked state (including Minnesota), and nearly every inch of it has a catchable population of one or more species of bass. You can (and I do) fish for bass year round on soft water, something that can’t be said about several of the “top 10″ listed here. There’s a reason so many professional bass fisherman call OK home. So, while I’m biased, I think there’s ample reason to consider OK, and it didn’t even get an “honorable mention”! :)

    • Frcc Bass Club

      Sorry but Michigan has the most shoreline of any landlocked state. OK isn’t even in the top 3 for that. I do agree that the fishing there is great though!

      • Arklahoma

        Actually, it depends on how you define shoreline. Michigan has more if you just count Lakes. Oklahoma has more if you include ponds. This all dates backs to a PBS special about Oklahoma which defined shoreline a little differently than usual so that Oklahoma would have the most freshwater shoreline in the lower 48 (55,000+ miles which dwarfs the ~3,000 of coastline Michigan gets from the Great Lakes).

        • Scott

          What if you include the 22000 lakes Michigan has or the billions of ponds and thousand of miles of river shorelines it has. I spent a week in Kentucky fishing lake Nolan and the bass fishing is better in the manistee river than there and I was salmon fishing catching bass.

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