B.A.S.S. has put out its list of top bass fishing lakes in the U.S. again, but this time it has taken it a step further by making it a list of the top lakes of the decade.
Usually the organization makes four regional lists using information like tournament results, stocking information, catch rates and angler success. This year it decided to look at the rankings from the past eight years to come up with the decades’ top 25 nationwide and four regional best-of-the-rest listings.
Texas showed well with four lakes, Toledo Bend, Sam Rayburn, Falcon and Lake Fork, making the top 25, with Ray Roberts and Caddo Lake making the Central region’s listing.
Something of a sleeper, California’s Clear Lake ranked No. 1 overall even though it has never been ranked No. 1 in any of the B.A.S.S. lists. The 44,000-acre lake is considered a big bass fishery and produced a 16-pounder in 2019. The lake record is 17.52.
A less-surprising Lake Guntersville in Alabama ranked No. 2. Rounding out the top 10 are 3. Lake Erie; 4. Lake St. Clair, Mich.; 5. Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta, Calif.; 6. Toledo Bend (which Texas shares with Louisiana); 7. Sam Rayburn; 8. Falcon; 9. Lake Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; and 10. Lake Okeechobee, Florida. Lake Fork came in at 16th.
Normally I have trouble with most comparison lists when things are not comparable. Sure you can compare fishing reels or rods, but I am not sure how you compare a southern largemouth bass lake to a northern smallmouth fishery, or a lake where bass populations are determined by stocking rates compared to one where it is stocked solely for genetic purposes.
With that in mind I reached out for help from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Inland Fisheries to see what they thought. The department manages hundreds of major public reservoirs, but for comparison this list does not include park lakes, urban fisheries, rivers and others.
Through the years, 70 major lakes have produced ShareLunkers weighing 13 pounds or more, indicating no matter what lakes make the top 10, there are at least 60 others out there with potential.
The TPWD top 10 is the list and explanations they provided B.A.S.S. this year. The top four are pretty much written in stone, just subject to change in order depending on conditions. The remainder are more year-to year.
1. Rayburn; 2. Lake Fork; 3. Lake Falcon; 4. Toledo Bend; 5. Athens;6. Choke Canyon; 7. Conroe; 8. Lake Texoma; 9. Lake O’ the Pines; 10. O. H. Ivie.