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Sam Rayburn, Lake Fork Among The Top 10 Lakes In America

St. Lawrence, 2019 BBL

St. Lawrence River Named Best Bass Fishery In The Nation

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Bassmaster Magazine has released the highly anticipated rankings of the best bass fisheries in the nation for 2019 and for the first time ever, New York’s St. Lawrence River earned the top spot.

Over the past seven years, this incredible smallmouth fishery has cracked the Top 10 in Bassmaster’s 100 Best Bass Lakes rankings two times. In both 2015 and 2018, the St. Lawrence (also known as the Upper St. Lawrence River) ranked eighth on the list. This year, though, the New York fishery would not be denied as the No. 1 bass fishing destination in the country. There are plenty of tournament results to back up this claim, but there is no need to look any further than the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops held June 19 through 21. In this event, a 26-pound, 6-ounce limit of smallmouth was weighed in. However, the most astounding statistic is that the average weight of the entire 149-team field was 20.3 pounds. The winning team from Sam Houston State University averaged 24-4 per day. The Carhartt Big Bass Award for that event was a 6-pound, 7-ounce giant. Suffice it to say, the St. Lawrence not only has big smallmouth swimming around the many islands dotting its waterscape but a lot of them.

“The St. Lawrence is not only healthy right now, but seems to be showing off,” said James Hall, editor of Bassmaster Magazine. “There have been years where a spirited internal debate was required to assign the top spot in the rankings. This year was easy after looking at the unbelievable weights being produced at the Upper St. Lawrence River. And on top of that, the scenery is stunning. If you are looking for the best angling experience in the country right now, the St. Lawrence River should be your next destination.”

Hall explained the process of creating the rankings takes more than two months. State fishery agencies across the U.S. are polled and rank the fisheries in their states based on stocking efforts, catch rates and angler access. Then, B.A.S.S. Nation conservation directors add to the potential lakes list based on the thousands of tournaments they hold across the country. And finally, the data from dozens of tournament organizations, as well as big bass programs from various states, are analyzed to create the ultimate list of the Top 100 lakes. The rankings are debated by a blue-ribbon panel of fishing industry insiders. The final result of this research and debate is Bassmaster’s 100 Best Bass Lakes rankings published in the July/August issue of the magazine.

Alabama’s Lake Guntersville took the No. 2 spot after producing several 30-plus-pound limits this spring. That said, the Big G was producing so many 20-pound limits that a 4-pound average quit turning heads. Even during tough tournaments, anglers had to catch at least 24 pounds to win. This historic fishery had been down in the rankings for several years, falling out of the Top 10 in both 2016 and 2017. It climbed to No. 9 last year and is now looking as healthy as ever.

Texas’ Sam Rayburn Reservoir slipped from No.1 last year to No. 3. Although production has slowed a little bit, this lake still produced a 40-pound limit and typically required at least 22 pounds to win a one-day event. California’s Clear Lake is in the fourth spot on the strength of the giant bass it is producing. A 16-pound largemouth was landed recently, and double-digit fish abound. Rounding out the remainder of the Top 10 lakes are Texas’ Lake Fork at fifth; Tennessee’s Chickamauga Lake at sixth; California’s New Melones Lake at seventh; Michigan’s Lake St. Clair at eighth; South Carolina’s Santee Cooper Lakes at ninth; and New York’s Lake Erie (out of Buffalo) at tenth.

The rankings identify the Top 10 lakes in the nation based on head-to-head comparisons, as well as the Top 25 lakes in four geographical regions. “We divide the nation into four regions and rank the lakes in each region to give anglers perspective on the fisheries they can most likely reach,” Hall explained.

As for bragging rights on which state has the most fisheries in the 2019 rankings, the title is shared. Both Texas and California have 10 lakes on the list. Florida has the next highest with eight lakes making the rankings.

2019 List Of Bassmaster Magazine’s 100 Best Bass Lakes      

RANK FISHERY STATE
Top 10
1 St. Lawrence River New York
2 Lake Guntersville Alabama
3 Sam Rayburn Reservoir Texas
4 Clear Lake California
5 Lake Fork Texas
6 Chickamauga Lake Tennessee
7 New Melones Lake California
8 Lake St. Clair Michigan
9 Santee Cooper Lakes South Carolina
10 Lake Erie New York
Northeast
1 St. Lawrence River New York
2 Lake St. Clair Michigan
3 Lake Erie New York
4 Lake Erie Ohio
5 Burt/Mullett lakes Michigan
6 Lake Champlain New York/Vermont
7 Bays de Noc Michigan
8 Saginaw Bay Michigan
9 Lake Charlevoix Michigan
10 Grand Traverse Bay Michigan
11 Potomac River West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland
12 Oneida Lake New York
13 Cayuga Lake New York
14 Presque Isle Bay Pennsylvania
15 Upper Chesapeake Bay Maryland
16 Smith Mountain Lake Virginia
17 Webber Pond Maine
18 Green River Lake Kentucky
19 Lake Cumberland Kentucky
20 China Lake Maine
21 Great Pond Maine
22 Candlewood Lake Connecticut
23 Chautauqua Lake New York
24 Lake Winnipesaukee New Hampshire
25 Kentucky Lake Kentucky/Tennessee
Western
1 Clear Lake California
2 New Melones Lake California
3 Lake Perris California
4 Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta California
5 Diamond Valley Lake California
6 Don Pedro Reservoir California
7 Lake Berryessa California
8 Lake Coeur d’Alene Idaho
9 Shasta Lake California
10 Lake Havasu Arizona/California
11 Roosevelt Lake Arizona
12 Lower Colorado River Arizona/California
13 Alamo Lake Arizona
14 Potholes Reservoir Washington
15 Lake Washington Washington
16 Brownlee Reservoir Idaho/Oregon
17 Sand Hollow Reservoir Utah
18 Elephant Butte Reservoir New Mexico
19 Lake Mohave Nevada/Arizona
20 C.J. Strike Reservoir Idaho
21 Siltcoos Lake Oregon
22 Owyhee Reservoir Oregon
23 Lake Pleasant Arizona
24 Lake Mead Nevada/Arizona
25 Columbia River Oregon/Washington
Central
1 Sam Rayburn Reservoir Texas
2 Lake Fork Texas
3 Sturgeon Bay Wisconsin
4 Toledo Bend Texas/Louisiana
5 Mille Lacs Lake Minnesota
6 Lake Falcon Texas
7 Lake Conroe Texas
8 Lake Minnentonka Minnesota
9 Caddo Lake Texas/Louisiana
10 Table Rock Lake Missouri
11 Lake Lyndon B. Johnson Texas
12 Millwood Lake Arkansas
13 Caney Creek Reservoir Louisiana
14 Lake Dardanelle Arkansas
15 Lake Ray Roberts Texas
16 Lake Texoma Texas/Oklahoma
17 Lake Ouachita Arkansas
18 Lake of the Ozarks Missouri
19 Lake O’ the Pines Texas
20 Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees Oklahoma
21 Lake Columbia Arkansas
22 Bull Shoals Lake Arkansas
23 Lake Wanahoo Nebraska
24 La Cygne Reservoir Kansas
25 Newton Lake Illinois
Southeast
1 Lake Guntersville Alabama
2 Chickamauga Lake Tennessee
3 Santee Cooper Lakes South Carolina
4 St. Johns River Florida
5 Lake Seminole Florida/Georgia
6 Pickwick Lake Alabama/Mississippi/Tennessee
7 Jordan Lake North Carolina
8 Rodman Reservoir Florida
9 Lake Murray South Carolina
10 Falls Lake North Carolina
11 Lake Tohopekaliga Florida
12 Shearon Harris North Carolina
13 Lake Eufalua Alabama
14 Lake Istokpoga Florida
15 Watts Bar Reservoir Tennessee
16 Stick Marsh/Farm 13 Florida
17 Lake Wateree South Carolina
18 Lake Okeechobee Florida
19 Wheeler Lake Alabama
20 Cherokee Lake Tennessee
21 Clarks Hill Lake Georgia/South Carolina
22 Lake Jordan Alabama
23 Fellsmere Reservoir Florida
24 Roanoke River North Carolina
25 Lake Lanier Georgia

About B.A.S.S.
B.A.S.S. is the worldwide authority on bass fishing and keeper of the culture of the sport, providing cutting edge content on bass fishing w