If you’re an avid bass angler and your summer vacation plans include travel somewhere in the good ole USA, pack up a rod, reel and some lures and wet a line at one of B.A.S.S. organizations’ top 100 bass lakes in the country. And there are some listed in most states.
“More than three months of research went onto this year’s rankings,” explained Bassmaster Magazine editor James Hall, who noted that the initial pool of top fisheries was developed with input from B.A.S.S. Nation members across the country, state fisheries biologists, the 3,500 member B.A.S.S. Council and some of the 650,000 Facebook fans of B.A.S.S.
“Then we scoured the Internet for current catch-rate data, using the results of more than two dozen tournament organizations and several state “lunker” programs to narrow the field to 100. It was a brutal process, but the results give bass anglers the ultimate bucket list of lakes for 2016,” said Hall.
The Top 10 lakes in the nation are ranked regardless of location. But instead of ranking the remaining lakes through 100, as was done in the past, Bassmaster divided the nation into four regions: Northeast, Southeast, Central and Western. Anglers can see the Top 25 lakes closest to them or where their travels take them. The list also created four No. 1 regional fisheries.
As such, the top’s are as follows. In the Southeast division, Santee Cooper lakes earned the top spot (it’s also ranked No. 2 nationally), Clear Lake took the No. 1 spot in the Western Division (No. 3 nationally), while the New York portion of Lake Erie was named No. 1 in the Northeast (No. 4 in the nation). Of course, Toledo Bend was the Central Division’s No. 1 fishery.
Said Hall of this selection, “Our judges were absolutely blown away by the production of Toledo Bend the past 12 months. The lake has yielded 139 certified bass over 10 pounds with a 14-15 pounder topping the list. Plus, a 38-pound limit and countless limits in the 30-pound range have been weighed in during tournaments over the past year.”
The top 10 bass lakes in the nation are as follows: (1) Toledo Bend, TX (185,000 acres); (2) Santee Cooper lakes, Marion and Moultrie, SC (170,000 combined acres); (3) Clear Lake, CA (43,785 acres); (4) Lake Erie, NY (30-mile radius from Buffalo); (5) Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, CA (1,100 square miles); (6) Mille Lacs Lake, MN (132,000 acres); (7) Lake Berryessa, CA (20,700); (8) Rodman Reservoir, FL (13,000 acres); (9) Falcon Lake, TX (83,654); (10) Lake St. Clair, MI (430 square miles).
If your travels will be limited to here in the Northeast, the following are the top 25: (1) Lake Erie, NY; (2) Lake St. Clair, MI; (3) Lake Erie, OH); (4) Thousand Islands, NY; (5) Saginaw Bay, MI; (6) Lake Charlevoix, MI; (7) Bays de Noc, MI; (8) Lake Champlain, NY; (9) Grand Traverse Bay, MI; (10) Presque Isle Bay, PA; (11) Oneida Lake, NY; (12) Cayuga Lake, NY; (13) Burt/Mullett lakes, MI; (14) Lake Winnipesaukee, NH; (15) Cobbosseecontee Lake, ME; (16) Candlewood Lake, CT; (17) Smith Mountain Lake, VA; (18) China Lake, ME; (19) Lake Cumberland, KY; (20) Chautauqua Lake, NY; (21) Upper Chesapeake Bay, MD; (22) Pymatuning Reservoir, PA/OH; (23) Stonewall Jackson Lake, WV; (24) Squam Lake, NH; (25) Kezar Lake, ME.
Of course southern lakes are mostly situated in Alabama, the Carolina’s, Florida, Tennessee, Mississippi and Georgia. So wherever your travels take you, check the locale and local fishing regulations where most states offer a three-day discounted fishing license. For the top 100 in the country check www.bassmaster.com and click on “Best Bass Lakes.”