Skip to main content

Top Bass Lakes to Visit Across the Country

Top Bass Lakes to Visit Across the Country

Most states across the country have at least a few quality largemouth bass lakes. Others are blessed with countless hotspots. No matter your locale, many anglers get the itch to explore new waters, see iconic fisheries, or pursue trophies of the caliber not found in home waters. Here are some top-notch fisheries across the country to set your sights on this season.

Clear Lake California

//content.osgnetworks.tv/infisherman/content/photos/Larry-Hemphill-Clear_Lake.jpg

Located 100 miles north of San Francisco, this nearly 44,000-acre natural lake sitting at an elevation of 1,329 feet offers cool water throughout much of the season. Good numbers of 3- to 7-pound fish can be caught here throughout the season. Double-digit giants are targeted on 8-inch swimbaits throughout winter.

Bladebaits and underspin jigs can be effective when working the lake’s rock structure, as can be slow-rolling spinnerbaits. A frog bite with Strike King Rage Toads sets up in the tules in the northern portion of the lake. 

Contact: Larry Hemphill, 530/674-0276, lunkerlarry.com


Delavan Lake, Wisconsin


//content.osgnetworks.tv/infisherman/content/photos/Steve-Everetts-Delavan-2.jpg

The wonder of this heavily used lake is that it continues to produce quality largemouth bass while being located within 90 minutes of Chicago, Milwaukee, and Madison. At just over 1,900 acres, Delavan is manageable for newcomer anglers. Its distinctive flats, points, and weedlines make it easy to locate bass in the 2- to 5-pound range, along with trophies topping 6 pounds.


The spring opener in early May finds bass on quick-warming flats. Here, Senkos and flukes can provide fast action for bass of all sizes. If cold fronts push bass off the flats, neutrally buoyant lures like Rapala Shadow Raps produce, even in the toughest conditions. Work them slow along the edges of flats.


Contact: Capt. Steve Everetts, 847/707-1827, finseeker.com

Sam Rayburn Reservoir, Texas



//content.osgnetworks.tv/infisherman/content/photos/Bill-Rogers-Sam-Rayburn.jpg

The damming of the Angelina River in 1965 at Jasper, Texas, lead to this 114,000-acre bass-fishing paradise in East Texas. This impoundment offers every type of cover for bass to hide and feed. Standing timber, brush, and laydowns are more prevalent in the upper section of the lake, while abundant hydrilla and coontail make for clearer water in the lower sections.


January and February bring fast action for largemouths in the 3- to 4-pound range. Bill Lewis Rat-L-Traps in Rayburn Red, ticked across weedtops or ripped through grass, put big numbers of bass in the boat. Productive areas in spring include Caney Creek, Veach Basin, and Harvey Creek.


Contact: Bill Rogers, 409/383-7930, Bill Rogers Guide Services on Facebook


La Cygne Lake, Kansas

//content.osgnetworks.tv/infisherman/content/photos/La-Gygne-KS.jpg

This 2,600-acre power-plant cooling lake 60 miles south of Kansas City supports a bass population with good numbers of fish topping 5 pounds, and double-digit fish are present. A year-round supply of warm water makes for a longer growing season and larger bass than most other fisheries in the Plains states. Previous stockings of Florida bass may also still be boosting the gene pool for oversized fish.


Riprap shorelines set up a good crankbait and jig bite through winter. Another option is to fish deep-diving crankbaits along bluff banks, or swimbaits that mimic the robust shad population in this lake.


Contact: Brian Ondrejka, 913/484-9055, kansasanglingexperience.com


Chickamauga Lake, Tennessee


//content.osgnetworks.tv/infisherman/content/photos/Richard-Simms-Chickamauga.jpg

Chickamauga Lake was created by the TVA by damming the Tennessee River at Chattanooga in the 1940s. The lake extends 59 miles north on the Tennessee River to Watts Bar Dam and encompasses about 36,000 acres. Bass habitat varies from the main river channel, where sections plunge to 75 feet deep, to shallow coves and sandbars, as well as vast areas choked with a variety of aquatic vegetation types. Annual stocking of Florida bass since 2000 has turned Chickamauga into a big-bass factory.


In 2018, the one-day winning weights (five bass) in the Chattanooga Bass Association tournaments were 34.77 pounds (February), 42.91 pounds (March), and 42.48 pounds (May). The February 2018 Big Bass Splash tournament saw eight bass over 9 pounds weighed in, with a 10.86 taking top honors. While trophies topping 10 pounds can potentially be caught year-round, your best odds are in February or March. The standard “go to” bait is an umbrella rig (limited to three baits with hooks) worked across flats and points holding schools of baitfish near deep water.

Contact: Capts. Richard Simms and Ben Hayes, 423/509-4655, sceniccityfishing.com

Candlewood Lake, Connecticut

//content.osgnetworks.tv/infisherman/content/photos/Top-Bass-Lakes-Hero.jpg

Candlewood Lake is a 5,420-acre artificial lake in southwestern Connecticut. A pumped-water storage reservoir providing electric power, it’s the largest lake in Connecticut and one of the best bass fisheries in New England. When the lake was created in 1928, whole towns were flooded, including numerous stone walls, roadbeds, house foundations, and bridges—a structure fisherman’s dream.

In addition to the structure, deep milfoil grows around the lake perimeter. The lake has an abundance of largemouths in the 2- to 5-pound range, with 6- to 8-pounders turning up in tournaments.


The two best periods to catch trophy largemouths on Candlewood are prespawn and summer. During prespawn, target bass in submerged vegetation and shallow rocks with jerkbaits, jigs, and Ned rigs. Throughout summer, bass are caught on topwaters, soft-plastic jerkbaits, Texas-rigged creature baits, and flipping jigs in milfoil and around boat docks.


Contact: Paul Mueller 203/910-3676, paulmuellerfishing.com

Lake Fork, Texas

//content.osgnetworks.tv/infisherman/content/photos/Jason-Hoffman-Lake-Fork.jpg

This premier trophy bass fishery has benefited from an abundance of fish-holding habitat and heavy annual stocking of Florida bass with strong genetics. Lake Fork has produced 33 of the top-50 largemouth bass ever caught in Texas, including the state record of 18.18 pounds. Lake Fork has also accounted for 260 of the 573 ShareLunkers donated to that program. The next closest number of entries is 27. As the most renowned lake in Texas, this 27,264-acre impoundment located 90 miles east of Dallas gets plenty of angling pressure but continues to produce fish of a lifetime.


Dragging jigs and creature baits along creek ledges is a productive winter pattern for trophies. As spring sets in and fish relate to vegetation, lipless crankbaits and vibrating jigs are among the top-producing lures.


Contact: Guide Jason Hoffman, 903/456-3691, lakefork.us

Newton Lake, Illinois

//content.osgnetworks.tv/infisherman/content/photos/Tab-Walker-Newton-Lake.jpg

Newton Lake is a 1,775-acre power-plant lake located in southern Illinois midway between St. Louis and Indianapolis. The artificially warm water allows bass to grow more quickly here—rates similar to bass in Texas or Florida but at a more northern location. Year-round open water makes it a great retreat for bass anglers in the Upper Midwest who prefer to cast a line instead of ice fishing during the winter. Spring tournaments routinely take limits averaging 5 pounds per fish.


Since nearly the entire lake is lined with reeds, one of the most productive spring patterns for prespawn bass is pitching jigs up to and into gaps in the reeds. With no major commercial developments on the lake and a 25-hp motor restriction, Outdoor Sportsman’s Lodge offers convenient nearby lodging and complete fishing packages.

Contact: Tab Walker, 618/752-5075, outdoorsportsmanslodge.com


St. Johns River, Florida

//content.osgnetworks.tv/infisherman/content/photos/infisherman2.jpg

The St. Johns River in east-central Florida is famous for producing double-digit bass. Hurricane Irma flooded this river system in 2017, making it more difficult to target bass in the short term but also providing lots of new forage and strong recruitment of bass. The population currently has robust numbers of 3- to 7-pound bass, along with trophies topping 10 pounds a daily possibility.


Fishing the edges of lily pads in the 2- to 5-foot depth range is productive year-round. Pitching jigs in open weedpockets works well, as does working topwaters along edges or soaking live wild shiners under floats. By midsummer, deep-diving crankbaits fished near midriver points and drop-offs that concentrate migrating schools of shad entice big bass.

Contact: Bob Stonewater, 386/717-6289, bobstonewater.com

Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Simms Flyweight Wader

Simms Flyweight Wader

Constructed of three different kinds of Gore-Tex fabric, the Simms Flyweight Wader is durable, breathable, and features stretch in key areas of movement and stress that happen during a day of wade fishing out on a fast flowing trout stream.

What

What's Next for ASA & ICAST?

American Sportfishing Association president talks ICAST, coronavirus and the fishing industry.

Daiwa Saltiga Lever Drag Saltwater Reel

Daiwa Saltiga Lever Drag Saltwater Reel

In this ICAST Fishing Gear Guide video, Mark Mills with Daiwa and Florida Sportsman's Jeff Weakley talk off-shore fishing gear.

New from Old Town: Sportsman Autopilot 136 and Discovery 119 Solo Sportsman

New from Old Town: Sportsman Autopilot 136 and Discovery 119 Solo Sportsman

Brand ambassador Ryan Lilly highlights the features of the Old Town AutoPilot 136 motorized kayak and the Discovery 119 Solo Sportsman canoe.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Do pike under ice cover choose the same types of habitats they use in summer?Pike Movement and Habitat: Summer vs. Winter Pike & Muskie

Pike Movement and Habitat: Summer vs. Winter

Dr. Rob Nuemann

Do pike under ice cover choose the same types of habitats they use in summer?

One angler's forgotten, overlooked, underutilized musky lure is another fisherman's all-time favorite.Forgotten (Or Temporarily Overlooked) Muskie Lures Pike & Muskie

Forgotten (Or Temporarily Overlooked) Muskie Lures

Cory Schmidt - August 25, 2020

One angler's forgotten, overlooked, underutilized musky lure is another fisherman's all-time...

Introduced species often directly or indirectly adversely affect native species.Questioning Fish Introductions Other Fish

Questioning Fish Introductions

Dr. Hal Schramm - July 06, 2020

Introduced species often directly or indirectly adversely affect native species.

It is buoyant and enhanced with garlic and salt.Venture Lure's Finesse Worm Midwest Finesse

Venture Lure's Finesse Worm

Ned Kehde - August 25, 2020

It is buoyant and enhanced with garlic and salt.

See More Trending Articles

More United States

Here are some top-notch fisheries across the country to set your sights on this season.Top Bass Lakes to Visit Across the Country United States

Top Bass Lakes to Visit Across the Country

Steve Ryan - June 12, 2019

Here are some top-notch fisheries across the country to set your sights on this season.

18 Top Southeast Bait Options18 Top Southeast Bait Options United States

18 Top Southeast Bait Options

Jeff Weakley - May 05, 2015

18 Top Southeast Bait Options

Here are three great getaways that will provide the ultimate fishing road trip.3 Top Summer Fishing Vacations Your Family Will Love United States

3 Top Summer Fishing Vacations Your Family Will Love

Todd Smith - July 15, 2016

Here are three great getaways that will provide the ultimate fishing road trip.

For the majority of fish in Maine, September means three things: migrate, spawn, and eat.

It's anFall Fishing And Adventure In Maine United States

Fall Fishing And Adventure In Maine

Dave Sherwood - September 15, 2016

For the majority of fish in Maine, September means three things: migrate, spawn, and...

See More United States

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All In-Fisherman subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now