Catching a largemouth bass that weighs over 10 pounds is a bucket list goal of mine. I’ve wanted to break this magic mark since I blew up my first backlash on a bait caster at 12 years old. Over 30 years later, I have never been closer than a few fish around the 6-pound mark. Now I’m starting to get serious about putting this bucket list item behind me.
Bassmaster recently released its list of the 100 best bass lakes in the country. They released a master list that ranks the top 100, but also categorized lists of the top 25 bass lakes in different regions of the country. When I think of big bass, I think about fishing down south. While the notion of big bass down south holds true according to Bassmaster, the region isn’t the your best big fish bet. There are waters all over the country where an angler could luck into a legendary largemouth.
In the central region, Texas dominates the list of best bass fishing waters. For the second year in a row, Bassmaster ranked O.H. Ivie as the number one bass lake in the Central Region, but this year the Texas reservoir holds the top spot overall as Bassmaster’s best bass lake in the country. On February 13, Jason Conn caught a 17-pounder out of O.H. Ivie. Texas Parks and Wildlife has recorded double-digit numbers of fish weighing over 13 pounds this year.
Missouri makes a strong appearance on the Central Region list with three reservoirs making the cut. Lake of the Ozarks is ranked as the Show Me State’s top largemouth bass fishery coming in at number 14. Bull Shoals, which straddles the Arkansas/Missouri border is ranked as the 18th best bass lake in the Central Region and Table Rock Lake comes in at number 20. These three Missouri lakes may not be ranked in the top 10 of the best fishing lakes in the Central Region, but when you add in scenic beauty and proximity to additional attractions at the Lake of the Ozarks and in Branson, they quickly rise to the top as destinations worthy of a serious fishing trip mixed with additional entertainment.
Out west, California dominates the list of best bass fishing destinations. The top four waters in the west for bass are all from California with Clear Lake taking the top spot. It’s followed by Lake Berryessa, Diamond Valley Lake and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Idaho cracks the top 5 with Lake Coeur d’Alene. I have traveled much of our country and have found very few destinations that deserve to be in the same conversation with Coeur d’Alene with it comes to natural beauty.
Although Texas and California top the list of states where one has the best bet of landing a lunker largemouth, the south, to me, just represent where giant largemouth bass should come from. It probably has something to do with watching Roland Martin on television for so many years catching giants out of Lake Okeechobee, which does make the Southern Region list at number 4 this year. It may also be because the World record largemouth bass was caught in Georgia and has stood atop the world record list since 1932.
Alabama is a state one should overlook when it comes to potential for a giant largemouth. The has three lakes included in the Bassmaster list of the 25 best bass lakes in the Southeast for 2023. Lake Guntersville is number five and Lake Eufaula is number nine. Pickwick Lake is on the list at 15.
Guntersville, at 69,100 acres, is Alabama’s largest. It has been a regular on bass tournament circuits for as long as bass tournaments have existed. Lake Eufaula, part of which is located within the Eufaula National Wildlife Refuge, is referred to as the “Big Bass Capital of the World”. There is a fishing industry around the lake. Up in Northern Alabama, Pickwick Lake has healthy populations of both largemouth and smallmouth. It consistently ranks as one of Alabama’s top bass fishing lakes.
“This recognition from Bassmaster puts a spotlight on Alabama’s exceptional bass fishing,” said Chris Blankenship, Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR). “Over the past few years we have improved boating and fishing access throughout the state to better accommodate both tournaments and anyone who has an interest in Alabama’s abundant fishing opportunities. We encourage you to visit the lakes highlighted on the Bassmaster list and explore the many other waterways that make Alabama an angler’s paradise.”
Alabama is proud of their bass fishing. To spike tourism around the bass lakes, the state has created the Alabama Bass Trail, which features 13 of Alabama’s premiere bass fishing lakes located throughout the state. This gives anglers a great way to make travel plans for bass fishing. Someday soon, I hope to hookup up the boat and head to Alabama where I’ll fish my way around the different bass lakes with the dream of topping the 10-pound mark on. my mind. Learn more about the Alabama Bass Trail at www.alabamabasstrail.org.
See you down the trail…
Pic: Largemouth bass are found across the country, but to catch a giant look to Texas, California and other southern waters.