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Where’s America’s Best Bass-Fishing Lake?



Things really are bigger in Texas, and that includes the bass coming out of O.H. Ivie Lake, which claims the coveted spot atop the 2023 Bassmaster Magazine 100 Best Bass Lakes standings for the first time in history. This reservoir has stolen the spotlight over the last three years, producing an eye-popping 15 Legacy Class ShareLunker bass — a designation for fish weighing more than 13 pounds — between January and March.

Like the waters anglers love, the rankings of America’s best bass fisheries can surge or ebb, and this year’s 100 Best Bass Lakes list is a true reflection of those fluctuations.

“We are always a little surprised when going through the data how many fisheries make the rankings and then fall off, as well as by those lakes that just always make the list,” explained Bassmaster Magazine Editor-in-Chief James Hall. “Creating the rankings takes more than two months as we dig through current tournament data as well as state fishery information on stocking efforts, catch rates and angler access.

“While the fisheries may change, our goal is to point anglers toward the most productive waters so that their time is spent with rod bent. These rankings provide a bucket list of destinations for anglers.”

As for bragging rights on which state has the most fisheries in the Top 100 rankings, that title goes to Texas with a whopping 10 lakes. Right behind the Lone Star State are California and Florida, each with nine lakes on the list, followed by New York and Michigan (six).

Spectacular scenery and feisty smallmouth meet on the 50-mile stretch of the St. Lawrence River known as the 1000 Islands, which dropped one spot to No. 2 in this year’s rankings. Anglers eager to do battle with giant smallmouth can head north to the 1000 Islands region of the St. Lawrence River. History was made on the clear waters of this seaway straddling the U.S.-Canadian border during the 2022 Bassmaster Elite out of Clayton, N.Y. After four days, two anglers — Jay Przekurat and Cory Johnston — topped the 100-pound mark with solely smallmouth, a first-ever feat for the Elite Series.

While long-considered a West Coast powerhouse, No. 3 Clear Lake fell out of the top spot during the past two years but is enjoying a resurgence thanks to one of the wettest springs in history. After a multiyear drought, there is now plenty of flooded vegetation providing ideal habitat, with an abundance of baitfish keeping hungry bass well fed. Combine the opportunity to catch the limit of a lifetime with a pristine setting in California’s wine country, and you have the definition of a bucket-list fishing destination.

The rankings identify the top lakes in the nation based on head-to-head comparisons, as well as the Top 25 lakes in four geographical regions — CentralWesternSoutheastern and Northeastern.

“We divide the nation into four regions and rank the lakes in each region to give anglers perspective on the fisheries they can most likely reach,” Hall explained.

Full rankings can be found in the July/August issue of Bassmaster Magazine and on

Bassmaster Magazine’s Top 10 Best Bass Lakes of 2023

  1. O.H. Ivie Lake, Texas
  2. St. Lawrence River (1000 Islands), New York
  3. Clear Lake, California
  4. Lake Murray, South Carolina
  5. Toledo Bend Reservoir, Louisiana/Texas
  6. Fellsmere Reservoir/Stick Marsh/Kenansville Lake, Florida
  7. Lake St. Clair, Michigan
  8. Orange Lake, Florida
  9. Lake Erie/Upper Niagara River, New York
  10. Lake Okeechobee, Florida

Best Bass Lakes – Central Division

  1. O.H. Ivie Lake, Texas
  2. Toledo Bend Reservoir, Louisiana/Texas
  3. Lake Fork, Texas
  4. Possum Kingdom Lake, Texas
  5. Caney Creek Reservoir, Louisiana

Best Bass Lakes – Western Division

  1. Clear Lake, California
  2. Lake Berryessa, California
  3. Diamond Valley Lake, California
  4. Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, California
  5. Lake Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

Best Bass Lakes – Northeastern Division

  1. St. Lawrence River (1000 Islands), New York
  2. Lake St. Clair, Michigan
  3. Lake Erie/Upper Niagara River, New York
  4. Burt/Mullett lakes, Michigan
  5. Lake Champlain, New York/Vermont

Best Bass Lakes – Southeastern Division

  1. Lake Murray, South Carolina
  2. Fellsmere Reservoir/Stick Marsh/Kenansville Lake, Florida
  3. Orange Lake, Florida
  4. Lake Okeechobee, Florida
  5. Lake Guntersville, Alabama

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