The second annual list ranking the country’s best bass lakes has been released by Bassmaster Magazine. The list appears in the May issue, which hits newsstands today. Michigan’s Lake St. Clair took the No. 1 spot, while Falcon Lake, which was last year’s No.1, fell to seventh.
“It is truly amazing how much a fishery can change in the span of 12 months,” said Bassmaster Magazine Editor James Hall. “Most bass anglers, including me, figured Falcon would be ranked No. 1 for the next decade. However, the fishing there has been tough because of drought and fishing pressure. And based on the metrics we use to create the list, then rank the lakes, Lake St. Clair deserved the title of best bass lake in America.”
St. Clair’s smallmouth population is legendary, but it is the emergence of its largemouth fishery that solidified its No. 1 ranking. Elite Series pro Jason Christie won the most recent B.A.S.S. event there with a three-day total of 67-4. But the most astounding fact from that July tournament was that 135 of the 147 pro anglers boated five-fish limits every day, with more than 2 tons of bass being weighed in.
The metrics used to create the rankings included catch rate and shock data from state wildlife agencies; a survey of B.A.S.S. Nation conservation directors and presidents based on tournaments held across the country; and a survey of 3,500 B.A.S.S. members across the country to detail nontournament lakes. To finalize the rankings, Bassmaster enlisted a panel of outdoor writers, Elite Series pros and fishing industry insiders.
“The process is as all-encompassing and data-driven as we can make it. Our goal is to identify the hottest lakes in the country so fishermen don’t have to worry about doing the research,” Hall said. “An angler can look at this list and know that the lakes are very healthy, and the odds of having a fantastic day on the water are high.”
Texas’ Sam Rayburn Reservoir took the second spot, while Clear Lake (Calif.), Lake Guntersville (Ala.), and Lake Erie (Mich., Ohio, New York, Pa.) landed in third through fifth, respectively.
“One of the biggest jumps was Chickamauga Lake in Tennessee,” Hall said. “That body of water is on fire right now with 40-pound limits being caught. It was 61st last year, and climbed to the sixth spot this year.”
Lake Okeechobee (Fla.), San Joaquin Delta (Calif.) and Toledo Bend Reservoir (Texas) round out the Top 10. For the complete listing of lakes and details on the fisheries, visit Bassmaster.com/top100.