Texas remains the best state for bass anglers across the country, with Bassmaster Magazine again backing the Lone Star State with the most selections on its annual list of top lakes.
The magazine recently released its list of the best 100 U.S. bass lakes and Texas again led the way with eight selections, tying with California, a year after leading the list with nine. The selections were narrowed using state fisheries department rankings and B.A.S.S. members across the country to offer their input.
Lake Michigan’s Sturgeon Bay, a noted smallmouth bass fishery, took the top spot this year.
Other Texas bodies of water that made the list are Falcon International Reservoir (No. 12), Toledo Bend Reservoir (No. 15), Sam Rayburn Reservoir (No. 26), Ray Roberts Lake (No. 36), Fayette County Reservoir (No. 45) and Lake Bastrop (No. 83).
Sam Rayburn was tabbed No. 2 last year while Falcon came in at No. 7. Falcon took the top spot in the previous year’s rankings but fell this year, mainly due to drought that has cut water levels down and somewhat diminished fishing.
Austin, Toledo Bend, Fork and Fayette County also all made last year’s list.
Austin is a well-deserved entry, pumping out big bass after big bass, including multiple ShareLunker entries the past few years. Donnie O’Neal, a tournament angler from Pflugerville, was fishing on Lake Austin last spring looking for one of those fish exceeding 13 pounds. He did even better, hooking 19 pounds of bass on one cast – a 7.8-pounder and an 11.8-pounder – using a YUM Flash Mob Jr. umbrella-rigged bait.
The Texas bodies of water are situated in a variety of locales and climates, but all feature one similarity – excellent habitat for spawning and ambushing prey – the things bass do best. Each lake has produced entries 13 pounds or larger into the ShareLunker program, a selective breeding effort by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department that ultimately is aimed at eclipsing the state record largemouth of 18.18 pounds. That fish was caught from Fork, which has produced more than half of the state’s 50 heftiest largemouths..
Texas’ bass fishing success rests almost solely on the efforts of fisheries biologists, who in the early 1970s began producing and stocking Florida largemouth fingerlings. Those fledgling efforts have amped up into mass production – TPWD stocked more than 11 million Florida largemouth fingerlings across the state last year – and the big bass craze only will continue to expand.