Bass angler fishes on a lake at sunrise

Top 10 States for Bass Fishing

So you want to plan a bass fishing vacation, but you're not sure where you want to go. Lucky for you, consensus has begun to form about which lakes and states offer the best bass fishing in the country. Whether you're looking for largemouth or smallmouth bass, huge trophy fish or large numbers that make your casting arm sore, we'll try to provide a list that covers it all. Most importantly, we'll support the entries with some valid reasoning, knowing full-well theses sorts of things are hard to keep objective. If you have a different opinion, or feel your favorite waters were neglected, then you're certainly entitled to that. Butt we've been around the block, pay close attention to what the big sources say, and are confident in our picks for the top bass states.

1. Texas

Lake Amistad in Texas during sunset

When anyone compiles a list of the best bass lakes in the United States, Texas can get multiple mentions. Of course, the Lone Star State has a bit of an edge over all the others in the lower 48 given its size. Still, with tons of famous bass fishing reserves and plenty of less well-known rivers, streams, and ponds spread throughout the state, it's hard to argue with Texas as one of the top fishing states - if not THE top fishing state - in the country. Take your pick between Lake Fork up north, Lake Texoma on the Oklahoma border, Sam Rayburn Reservoir to the east, O.H. Ivie, Toledo Bend, or Lake Ray Roberts. They've all got potential to be the spot where the next big Texas lunker is landed.

2. Alabama

While Texas might be able to provide the higher volume of lakes that have great bass fishing, Alabama can't be lwft too low on this list for the state's serious potential, even for casual anglers. Lake Guntersville has become one of the favorite bass fishing powerhouses in the country, a body of water that is an essential destination for most bass anglers who say they wanted to get a crack at a big one. The waters of Guntersville routinely yield massive, 10-pound largemouths. Alabama also shares some of Pickwick Lake on the border, known as a regular pro tournament series stop. The bass fishing culture is rich in these parts too, with no shortage of tackle shops and helpful locals.

3. Michigan

It would be tough to make a list of any sort of "top fishing states" list without including Michigan. The state's all-sides access to the Great Lakes in itself makes Michigan an embarrassment of riches for fishing enthusiasts. The Great Lakes are generally not considered the most significant bodies of water for bass fishing, but none of them are slouches in the bass department, and Lake Erie is a haven for smallmouths if you fish there at the right time of year. Add literally thousands of inland lakes, streams, rivers, ponds - not to mention the gorgeous Grand Traverse Bay (pictured) up in the mitten state's pinky - and Michigan is sort of a darkhorse that can feasibly give the other state a run for their money.

4. Florida

Bass anglers on a Florida lake leave at sunrise

You can bet there are more than a few bass anglers who would rank the paradise of Florida near the top of the state list. Lake Okeechobee is the state's bass Mecca, but there's a reason that Florida is the source of that special strain of largemouths you're always hearing about. Fish bred here are trucked all over the place! The Sunshine State has plenty to offer for anglers looking to take it easy in the warm weather, too, which makes it an ideal place during the winter to still smash some big fish.

5. California

Clear Lake is a natural freshwater lake located in Lake County in the U.S. state of California, north of Napa County and San Francisco. It is the largest natural freshwater lake wholly within the state. Known as the "Bass Capital of the West".


You didn't think we were going to get too far into this list before heading west, did you? Next to Texas, California is the state that can boast a lot of space, therefore providing a lot of potential. Of course, they might be cheating a bit, since the state imported Florida bass to many of its lakes and reservoirs. However, big bass are big bass regardless of where they come from, and California has become a hot spot for 15-to-20-pounders. Clear Lake and Perris Lake are the top destinations. If any state is ever going to break the world largemouth record, California is likely the one.

6. Minnesota

Smallmouth Bass

They don't call it "the Land of 10,000 Lakes" for nothing. Minnesota is yet another fisherman's paradise, seemingly filled to the brim with great freshwater fisheries. Ask 10 bass anglers for the prime fishing destination in the state, and you could easily get 10 different answers. General consensus points to Lake Minnetonka, the St. Croix River, and Minnesota's stretch of the Mississippi as the state's best fishing spots.

However, Minnesota's number of lakes is actually closer to 13,000 than the advertised 10,000, and a good number of them house exceedingly healthy populations of largemouths and smallmouths alike. Anglers in Minnesota don't always report the biggest trophies in the world, but they do routinely land dozens of bass in a single fishing trip. Call it a tradeoff.

7. New York

Lake Champlain in New York and Vermont, a bass fishing hot spot

Big city residents looking to escape the bustle of city life for some good bass fishing don't have to go as far as you might think. As a matter of fact, the Empire State plays host to a great bass fishery opportunities if you know where to look. The state's 200-plus survey of lakes is slim compared to states like Minnesota and Michigan, but New York makes up for that shortcoming in overall quality and diversity of fishing. Furthermore, Lake Champlain - which New York shares with Vermont - is easily one of the greatest lakes on the planet for any kind of fishing, bass included.

8. Wisconsin

best baits for spawning bass


Not to be left out of the Great Lakes glory pool, Wisconsin shares some of the best fishing characteristics of both Michigan and Minnesota to become one of the finest fishing states in the country. The bays on Lake Michigan and Superior - Green Bay, Sturgeon Bay, and Chequamegon Bay, especially - are the prime bass fishing spots, but a wealth of inland lakes and streams help to round out the state's impressive fishing resume. Yes, walleye is a local favorite for many, but folks in the Badger State love to go fishing for bass too.

9. Georgia

The world-record largemouth bass - a 22-pound, 4-ounce specimen fished by one George Perry - was caught in Georgia. Enough said, right? Well, the odds of that happening again in a state that's not as known to carry particularly huge, record-breaking fish (while so many other states have leapfrogged it) are slim. However, it's well known that the Peach State can produce big fish and lots of numbers, and plenty of beautiful fishing spots and towns that surround them. The state holds more fishing tournaments every year than you knew existed.

10. Tennessee

Largemouth Bass Striking A Soft Plastic Lure


Tennessee is a less-frequent inclusion in lists of the best states for bass fishing, but we've seen good signs of a positive direction for angling statewide, thanks in large part to a project spearheaded by Bill Dance. He teamed up with the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency and other state-level decision makers to improve 18 lakes across the state for better access and angling potential. "To be able to do this for my home state, and to have your name, I guess it's like having your name put on a bridge, or put on a road, or a street, or a highway, or a jar of peanut butter or something," Dance said. "It has special meaning, it really does." To us, that sounds like Tennessee is the place to be over the next five years. If you can't take Bill Dance's word for it, who's can you?!