St. Lawrence River Named Best Bass Fishery In The Nation

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


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


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


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


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