Big bass
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The 15 Best Places for Bass Fishing in the U.S.

It's near impossible to not hook dinner here.

Summer is on its way, turning many freshwater anglers' minds to that well-loved species: bass. We love them because they're fun to target, often aggressive on the take and fighting well. They're not terribly fragile fish; we can hold them up by the lip to take pictures and not worry if we choose to release them; odds are they'll swim off just fine.

They're hardy and can be targeted with a broad variety of rods, poles, lures, jigs, flies, and gear. Spin, fly, topwater, deep lake dredging... whatever your angling preference is, there's likely a bass out there that will eat whatever you're throwing at it.

READ MORE: How to Fillet a Bass the Boneless Way

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Every region around the U.S. has at least a couple good or even trophy bass fishing spots—and in many areas it's easy to get overwhelmed by the choices. Bass tend to thrive in lakes and rivers with good structure, plenty of food, and relatively steady temperate. They're rugged fish who can survive a lot, which means they're found, at times, in very random places.

So, with this abundance of options for bass water, how do you find the best bass fishing near you? We've lined out 15 of our favorite bass fishing destinations around the country, showcasing fisheries that offer good access, healthy bass populations, and often options for both boat and shore anglers.

READ MORE: Post-Spawn Bass Fishing: How to Hook Them When They're Tired and Hiding

If you're ready to kick summer into high gear and start chasing bass, give these destinations a look:


Worn dock on Chateaugay lake, upstate New York in Autumn

Getty Images/Quattrophotography

1. Cobbosseecontee Lake, Near Manchester, Maine

Considered by many to be the best bass fishing lake in Maine—and maybe the Northeast— Cobbosseecontee Lake is home to large numbers of both largemouth and smallmouth. It brings solid trophy potential as well as the potential for high numbers of fish.

2. Lake Champlain, Near Champlain, New York and Burlington, Vermont

One of the most storied fishing waters in the country as well as throughout New England, Lake Champlain is worth targeting for both smallmouth and largemouth bass. The lake is home to more than 90 species of fish (including excellent gar fishing) and is large enough to spread out and get away from other anglers, even on busy summer days.


Lone fisherman at sunrise-Hilton Head,SC

Getty Images/William Reagan

3. Lake Guntersville, Near Guntersville, Alabama

This 69,000-acre lake is best-known for largemouth bass fishing, but it's also a popular target for bream, catfish, sauger, crappie, and other warm water species. Aim to target the numerous bridges around the lake and funnel areas.

4. Lake Okeechobee, Near Clewiston, Florida

Most bass anglers have heard of massive Lake Okeechobee, one of the largest lakes in the country. Topping many "top bass fishing lakes" lists, this Florida lake offers year-round bass fishing. Its waters are often calm, offering fishing opportunities for both wade and boat fishing.

5. Santee Cooper Lakes, Near Santee, South Carolina

Located in central South Carolina, the Santee Cooper Lakes system covers 160,000 acres and features two lakes, Moultrie and Marion, and is known for productive largemouth and striped bass fishing. White bass have been stocked and can occasionally be found as well. The lakes hold several catch records, including a former world record striped bass, a current state record largemouth, and—if you're looking for something different—a world record channel catfish.


Getting ready to go fishing on a perfect summer morning. Classic Smallmouth Bass and Walleye water on Crooked Lake (Wednesday Bay) in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area / Quetico Provincial Park.

Getty Images/GeorgePeters

6. The Lake of the Ozarks, Near Lake Ozark, Missouri

Most fishermen have heard of the Lake of the Ozarks, even just in passing. The 54,000-acre lake offers plenty of easy access for both boaters, kayak fishermen, or bank fishing anglers, and the Lake of the Ozarks State Park even has piers for fishing. Home to smallmouth, largemouth, and even spotted bass, the lake alone is worth a visit to Missouri.

7. Mille Lacs Lake, Near Isle, Minnesota

This large 132,000-acre lake is relatively shallow, making for prime big smallmouth bass habitat. Close to the twin cities of Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Mille Lacs features plenty of rocky cover for its healthy population of fish. It's an ideal escape for city dwellers looking for the chance to fish or enjoy a weekend with friends without undertaking significant travel.

Central / South Central

Senior man with long gray beard fishes from his boat on a calm quiet day in a bald cypress swamp, Caddo Lake, on the border between Louisiana and Texas, USA

Getty Images/wanderluster

8. Sam Rayburn Reservoir, Near Jasper, Texas

Home to several bass fishing tournaments throughout the course of the year, Sam Rayburn is a household name in Texas. Popular for largemouth fishing, the 114,000-acres reservoir fishes year-round. The upper sections can get a little murky, but the lower sections tend to remain clear and sport more vegetation, structure, and creek channels—all ideal bass habitat.

9. Lake Fork, Near Quitman, Texas

This 27,000-acre lake is known for its big bass; most of the top 50 bass in the state of Texas have come from this body of water. Bountiful vegetation and good structure provide good cover and support populations of minnows, shad, and crawfish. Access is easy thanks to several boat ramps and marinas.


Spotted Bass Fishing

Getty Images/ANDY_BOWLIN

10. Clear Lake, Near Clearlake, California

Clear Lake holds the nickname "The Bass Capital of the West" for good reason: the lake is home to large populations of bass, as well as good numbers of bluegill, crappie, carp, and catfish. Most bass found in the lake are largemouth. The lake tends to fish best in the spring, which draws anglers seeking trophy-size largemouth.

11. Diamond Valley Lake, Near Hemet, California

An abundance of vegetative cover and large numbers of baitfish mean Diamond Valley Lake is a bass haven. Diamond Valley Lake is known for its bass (both largemouth and striped bass) but trout and catfish can also be caught. With a capacity of 800,000 acre-feet and 260 feet deep, it's one of the largest man-made reservoirs in southern California.


A beautiful 30" striped bass caught in a tidal river by a teen fisherman

Getty Images/Fertnig

12. Lake Tapps, Near Auburn, Washington

Washington State has no shortage of bass water, and Lake Tapps is one of the best. Local fishing and bass-specific clubs often host events on the lake, drawn by healthy bass populations which thrive in the structure-rich body of water. Target the docks, fallen logs, and weedy shallows.

13. Big Lake, Near Mt. Vernon, Washington

Thanks to its shallow depth, this 500-acre lake warms quickly in the spring, which makes its bass population happy and active. Bountiful shoreline structure provides plenty of cover for bass and panfish, and the weedy shallows on the southern end are well worth fishing.


A high definition aerial view of the San Juan River in New Mexico.

Getty Images/Richard Phillips

14. Clayton Lake, Near Clayton, New Mexico

Looking for a trophy New Mexico largemouth? Clayton Lake should be on your list. The lake is home to plenty of bass, including some large (and potentially trophy-size) fish. Situated in Clayton Lake State Park, the lake has developed campsites nearby, as well as a boat launch and ramp. Need something to entertain the kids during a long day on the water? More than 500 fossilized tracks can be found on the northeast side of the lake... well worth a little detour.

15. Lake Havasu, Near Lake Havasu City

Lake Havasu fishes well year-round; the fish merely move pending on the water temperatures. Both largemouth and smallmouth can be found in the lake and are easily accessed from the shoreline thanks to 450 miles of shoreline, the breadth of which allows anglers to get away from the popular recreation sites and find some solitude. Seek out quieter spots with plenty of vegetation and cover, and the odds are good you'll be rewarded.