Here are our best guesses on where the next smallmouth bass record will be caught.
A little while back we shared with you our best guesses on where in the world the next world record largemouth bass would be caught. Today we're going to share our best guesses for another iconic freshwater fishing record, the all-tackle world record smallmouth bass as recognized by the International Game Fish Association.
The two fish have angling records that are very similar. Both have had few challengers, and both have stood for a ridiculously long period of time. David Hayes' 11-pound, 15-ounce fish from Dale Hollow Lake has stood up to all challengers for the last 64 years and counting.
In fact, no one has even caught another smallie that cracks the 11-pound mark. It's going to take a monumental, world-class fish to beat the Hayes smallmouth. But where will the next biggest smallmouth bass come from? Well, we have a few ideas.
1. Dworshak Reservoir, Idaho
This reservoir produced the state record Idaho smallmouth back in 200 (a 9-pound, 11-ouncer) and it is quickly becoming known as a smallmouth bass fishing hotspot. It also produced a 9.5-pound smallie in 2016 that was subsequently released alive to grow some more.
Every year this body of water produces 8-pounders for many a lucky angler. It may be only a matter of time before a record fish is pulled from these waters.
2. Wheeler Dam Tailwater, Alabama
This body of water is below the dam on the Tennessee River. The main reason it is on the list? A 10-pound, 8-ounce giant pulled from its waters back in October 1950. This and another 10-8 are the closest contenders to the Hayes catch in fishing records.
It just goes to show the huge mountain one will have to climb to break the record, but Wheeler Dam is likely a good place to try. If it has produced world class smallmouths before, it can do it again.
3. Dale Hollow Reservoir, Tennessee/Kentucky
Why this place? Because all the best smallmouth bass fisheries in the world wish they had the track record Dale Hollow has.
It not only housed the David L. Hayes smallmouth, but it also claims the Paul E. Beal bass from 1986. This 10 pound, 8-ounce smallmouth currently holds the world record for a fish caught on 8-pound test line. There must be something in the water that makes this lake more special than the others.
Because Beal was fishing on the border at the time, both Tennessee and Kentucky have tried to lay claim to this record holder, and no one really seems to know for sure which state it was caught in. But the fact remains that the waters of Dale Hollow are home to some real giants, and it would not surprise us at all if the lake broke its own record.
4. Indian River, Michigan
Michigan smallmouth anglers were shocked when out of nowhere, a 9 pound, 15-ounce smallie was caught from this river in September of 2016 by Florida resident Bruce Kraemer. And to think, this fish was caught in September. You just know this fish was well over the 10 pound mark, maybe close to the magical 11-pound mark in the spring prior to spawning.
The Kraemer fish is one of the largest smallies ever caught, and it certainly got us looking closer at Michigan waters for a potential record someday in the future.
5. Pickwick Lake, Alabama
Many say that if you want to catch at least a 6-pound smallmouth at some point in your life that you should go to Pickwick. Five pounders are actually pretty common and there are usually a few fish in the 7-pound range caught every year. But a handful of nearly 10-pound fish has some groups of dedicated anglers out there searching for the next IGFA world record.
6. Lake Erie, bordered by various states/Canadian provinces
Everyone knows who you're talking about in bass fishing when you drop the initials KVD, but Kevin VanDam's brother Randy flies somewhat under the radar. He really shouldn't.
Especially considering the man caught the Lake Erie record smallmouth in 1993, a 9-pound, 8-ounce monster. I've seen the mount of this fish in person at D&R Sports Center in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and it's hard to believe a smallmouth could grow that large. In any case, Randy's fish is the current Ohio state record and shows the type of big fish potential the Great Lakes can hold.
7. Lake Jocassee, South Carolina
In 2001, Terry Dodson set the South Carolina state record when he wrestled a 9 pound, 7-ounce smallie from these waters. Many anglers believe there are plenty of other fish pushing the 10-pound mark hiding in Jocassee just waiting to be captured by some lucky angler.
8. Pardee Reservoir, California
When it comes to California bass fishing, everyone usually talks about the world-class largemouths found in the state. Everyone forgets that in 2007, Harold Hardin pulled a monstrous, 9-pound, 13-ounce smallie from the waters of Pardee Reservoir. The fish holds the current state record.
If the Golden State can produce a potential world record largemouth, why not a smallmouth as well?
9. Hiawassee Reservoir, North Carolina
This lake produced a rare 10-pounder for Archie Lampkin back in 1951. Although it has been quite some time since that catch (which is North Carolina's state record), the lake's reputation as a big smallmouth bass factory persists.
This lake also produced a striped bass record back in 2012, showing these waters have what it takes to grow big fish no matter the species.
Products featured on Wide Open Spaces are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.
Enjoy the outdoors?
Don't miss a story! Sign up for daily stories delivered to your inbox.