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10 Things to Know About Grand Lake, Site of the 2016 Bassmaster Classic

Carol VanBrunt

With the 2016 Bassmaster Classic almost upon us, here are a few things about Grand Lake in Oklahoma that you need to know.

With bass fishing's elite ready to descend upon the great state of Oklahoma and the iconic Grand Lake, the eyes of the outdoor community are focused on the Sooner State.

With everything to gain and nothing to lose, these tried and true professional anglers will all bring their A-game with them to Grand Lake in an effort to win what is most often called the "Super Bowl of Bass Fishing"

With everything set and the gears of the fishing world turning it would be nice to know a little bit more about this great fishing lake. For instance, is it a natural lake, has the classic been here before, and how do you fish it?

Sit back, relax, and enjoy a little shared info here because the classic is upon us and the anglers set to fish it on this tremendous bass fishing lake are as nervous as a cat by the swimming pool.

1. The actual name is Grand Lake O' the Cherokees

Grand Lake Oklahoma
Grand Lake Oklahoma

The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture says that it was Henry Holderman, a member of the Cherokee tribe, as first seeing the Grand River as a possibility for hydroelectric power for the Cherokee Nation as far back as 1907.

Sometime in the 1860s, Cherokee Indians settled in the area, after having made the infamous Trail of Tears relocation from the Carolinas. Families began to settle in the Grove around 1868.

2. Grand Lake is an impoundment

Grand Lake Fishing Guide
Grand Lake Fishing Guide

The lake came to be in 1940, when the Pensacola Dam on the Grand River impounded 43,500 acres. There are over 59,000 surface acres and 1,300 miles of shoreline on the lake. It has a maximum depth of 164 feet and an average depth of about 36 feet.

3. The water level fluctuates

Gene Gilliland the ODWC Assistant Chief of Fisheries says, at about the 8:30 mark of the ensuing video, "When we get big rains up in Kansas and Missouri this is one of the first lakes on the system that they have to hold a lot of that water back, and so the lake does go up and down quite a bit as a result of that. "

4. This amazing bass lake has no aquatic vegetation

Grand Lake is known as the best 'non-grass' lake in the country. Since the water level fluctuates so dramatically it's very difficult for aquatic plants to establish themselves.

Check the above video, which was made right before the first Classic here in 2013, from the 8:50 mark to about the 9:25 mark. Unlike other Oklahoma lakes, it is a deep and rocky body of water.

5. Pensacola Dam


The first hydroelectric facility ever constructed in the state of Oklahoma. It produces approximately 120 MW of power. The dam, which lays claim to be the longest multiple arch dam in the world, has 51 arches totaling over 5,100 feet.

6. Consistently ranked as a top 10 fishery in the country

Grand Lake continues to be host to some 300 other tournaments throughout the year and bass pros everywhere are always eager to fish here. Largemouth bass is king at Grand Lake, but also available is a wide variety of other gamefish such as black and white crappie, white bass, flathead and blue catfish.

Ever fish for paddlefish? Grand Lake boasts the largest population of 'spoonbill' in the world. An average paddlefish in the lake is around 60-80 pounds with some topping a whopping 100 pounds!

7. Second time the Classic has been held here in four years

You Tube
You Tube

In 2013, during the practice round, the pros had to deal with snowy and cold conditions. In spite of the cold weather, the bass fishing was great and the eventual winner brought in some 54 pounds of lunker bass!

8. Cliff Pace ruled the day


The first time Classic winner in 2013 held the lead wire to wire, but shared the first day lead with Mike Iaconelli. After that it was all Pace.

Eventual runner up Brandon Palaniuk made a furious run at the end, but his 51 pounds fell just short.

9. Fan attendance at the Grand Lake classic in 2013 was the second highest in the history of the tournament

The classic based around the beautiful city of Tulsa, Oklahoma in 2013 saw some 106,850 fans visit and take part in the venues, second only to the amazing 137,700 seen in Shreveport, La. That classic was also held in February.

10. Top 5 lures to use

Bass Pro Shop
Bass Pro Shop

The most fun, most important question we all ask and want to know: what didja' use and where didja' use it? It's probably true that most of the men fishing in the 2016 Bassmaster Classic have at one time or another have asked this question! What they are saying about Grand Lake is this:

5. Good old spinner bait.

4. Peanut butter and jelly jig and craw.

3. Chartreuse deep diving crankbait.

2. Soft plastic shad imitation swim bait.

1. Suspending jerk bait.

Obviously the powers that be were so enamored with this lake that it had to host the Super Bowl of Bass Fishing again, but who knew that it would be so soon? Even the Native American Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker was excited saying, "We're proud that we could help bring the Bassmaster Classic back to Oklahoma, and to beautiful Grand Lake. Everything between Tulsa and Grand Lake is part of the Cherokee Nation, and we are delighted to showcase our magnificent scenery to the thousands of visitors this event will bring"

With a total purse of over $1 million and bragging rights of no less than forever, we'll all be watching the big tournament this year. Now as you enjoy the classic with your friends you'll have a little more to talk about and you can say you saw it here.


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10 Things to Know About Grand Lake, Site of the 2016 Bassmaster Classic