BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The results have been tabulated after several months of research and the 2015 rankings for the 100 Best Bass Lakes in America have been revealed. For the first time since the inaugural rankings in 2012 when Falcon Lake in Texas was No. 1, a southern fishery has claimed the title of best lake in the country. Texas again gets the claim to fame, but has to share the national spotlight with Louisiana, as Toledo Bend Reservoir, named king of all bass fisheries for 2015, straddles the border of the two states.
“The rankings this year are more reliable than ever,” said Bassmaster Magazine Editor James Hall. “The past three years, we released the list in May. However, we waited to include it in our July/August issue so we could collect catch-rate data from the spring to evaluate the health and productivity of each fishery.”
For anglers looking for a current bucket list of bass fishing destinations, this is one-stop shopping.
The rankings were created by first polling the fishery agencies of each state to produce a current list of bass-rich waters. Next, the B.A.S.S. Nation was employed to chime in on the best fisheries they compete on across the country. All 630,000 B.A.S.S. Facebook fans were polled to make sure non-tournament lakes were considered, and then the B.A.S.S. Council, a 3,500-member panel of super-avid bass fishermen, helped put the lakes in order. Finally, after scouring tournament data from hundreds of bass fishing clubs and tournament organizers, the rankings were finalized by a 15-member blue-ribbon panel from the fishing industry.
“Although many rankings on the list required a lot of debate from our panel, Toledo Bend stood out to all as a clear No. 1 this year,” Hall said. “The 185,000-acre impoundment has never fallen below No. 15 in the rankings, and between May 2014 and April 2015, 79 bass over 10 pounds were certified. Plus, it typically takes more than 25 pounds to win a one-day event — sometimes more than 30 pounds.”
Last year’s No. 1 fishery, Lake Michigan’s Sturgeon Bay, dropped to No. 2. The No. 1 fishery from 2013, Michigan’s Lake St. Clair, took the No. 3 spot. The remainder of the Top 5, in order, are the California Delta and Sam Rayburn Reservoir in Texas.
“Although you’ll see a lot of the ‘usual suspects’ on the list this year, there are some historically great fisheries that didn’t make the cut,” Hall said. “California’s Lake Oroville, once one of the best spotted bass fisheries in the nation, is still suffering from a long drought, as is the typically strong O.H. Ivie Reservoir in Texas.”
Perhaps the most interesting part of the rankings has to do with fisheries that made the list for the first time.
“Brownlee Reservoir (ranked 59th) on the Idaho/Oregon border breached the Best 100 list based on the tremendous smallmouth being caught this year,” Hall said. “It took more than 28 pounds to win a March event there, and the big fish weighed almost 7 pounds. However, Louisiana’s Lake Bistineau (ranked 27th) had the most impressive debut in the history of the rankings, on the heels of a 34.09-pound limit weighed in this past spring. A 10.9 took big-fish honors and the average bass weighed in was 3.69 pounds. ”
Texas earns bragging rights with the most lakes ranked within Bassmaster’s 100 Best with a total of nine lakes. California and New York each may boast of six fisheries that made the cut; Michigan has eight on the list. For a complete listing of Bassmaster’s 100 Best Bass Lakes, see the July/August issue of Bassmaster, or visit Bassmaster.com.
B.A.S.S. is the worldwide authority on bass fishing and keeper of the culture of the sport. Headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., the 500,000-member organization’s fully integrated media platforms include the industry’s leading magazines (Bassmaster and B.A.S.S. Times), website (Bassmaster.com), television show (The Bassmasters on ESPN2), social media programs and events. For more than 45 years, B.A.S.S. has been dedicated to access, conservation and youth fishing.
The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the most prestigious events at each level of competition, including the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open Series presented by Allstate, Old Milwaukee B.A.S.S. Nation events, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops, Costa Bassmaster High School Series presented by TNT Fireworks, Toyota Bonus Bucks Bassmaster Team Championship and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro.