photo of mourning doves


1 DIAMOND VALLEY LAKE Southern California, 4,500 acres

Add Diamond Valley to the list of California waters vying for the next world-record bass. It’s been open to fishing for only two years and is already producing 10- to 12-pounders and an average weight of 3½ pounds per bass. Contact: J&T Tackle Guide Service (805-630-4711;

2 CLEAR LAKE Northern California, 44,000 acres

After a bad winter that froze baitfish and a later hydrilla problem, Clear Lake hit the skids through the 1990s. But the natural lake is back on the upswing, producing quality bass and 50-fish days. Contact: Clear Lake Guide Service (707-349-1427;

3 ALAN HENRY RESERVOIR Southern Panhandle, Texas, 2,880 acres

Alan Henry was constructed and stocked with Florida-strain largemouths nine years ago. In 2005 it produced more 13-plus-pound bass than renowned Lake Fork. This young lake’s largemouth record is 14.6 pounds. Contact: Hook ‘Em Guide Service (806-470-7958;


Years of drought brought this Rio Grande impoundment some 40 feet below normal pool, but since water levels began to recover two years ago, the fishing has been incredible. At a January 2006 tournament, the winning five-fish limit went 39.66 pounds. Contact: Angler’s Lodge (830-775-1586)


Another Rio Grande impoundment back from drought, Falcon is like a lake reborn. Its exposed shoreline had grown in with brush; now, the flooded wood provides great cover to more than 35 feet deep. A 2005 tourney produced a bag of six fish weighing 36.7 pounds. Contact: Deb’s Guide Service (210-241-1959;

6 ROOSEVELT LAKE Central Arizona, 13,000 acres

This Salt River impoundment now floods acres of new vegetation after years of drought and an elevation of its dam. Fisheries biologists expect 7- and 8-pound bass this spring. Contact: Art Chamberlin C&C Guide Service (928-479-3208;

7 LAKE POWELL Southeastern Utah and north-central Arizona, 120,000 acres

This Colorado River impoundment is yet another fishery recovering from drought. Rising waters are combining with accidentally introduced gizzard shad to produce arm-wearying action for bigger bass, including hordes of 2- to 3-pound smallies. Contact: Bubba’s Lake Powell Fishing Guide Service (928-645-3506;

8 BROWNLEE RESERVOIR West-central Idaho, 15,000 acres

An established fishery still on its way up, Brownlee has produced incredible numbers of quality smallmouths in recent years. An area biologist says that for catch rates and average size, Brownlee is second to none in the Pacific Northwest. Contact: Brownlee Reservoir Charters (208-866-2868;

9 HORSETOOTH RESERVOIR North-central Colorado, 1,800 acres

Drawn down five years ago for dam repair and refilled in 2004, Horsetooth holds smallies that are making the most of new cover and nutrients. There’s great action, with some bronzebacks topping 20 inches. Contact: Lory State Park (970-493-1623 or 800-678-2267 for camping reservations)

10 LAKE MEAD Southeastern Nevada, 150,000 acres

Smallmouth bass have long been in the Overton Arm of Mead but until now have never really taken off. Both here and in the Boulder Basin, the number of bronzebacks in tournament bags has doubled, with plenty of 2- to 4-pounders that should only grow heftier. Contact: Callville Bay Marina (800-225-5561;


11 EUFAULA LAKE East-central Oklahoma, 102,000 acres

You may know Eufaula as a largemouth lake, but smallmouths were stocked here for the first time in the early 1990s. Their numbers are exploding, and 7-pounders are being caught. Contact: Eufaula Cove Marina (918-689-7723;

12 CHIPPEWA FLOWAGE Northwestern Wisconsin, 15,000 acres

Home of the world-record muskie, this remote impoundment is beginning to make its name as a bass fishery. Since a 14-inch minimum-size rule was placed on black bass, both largemouths and smallmouths are thriving, with lots of 3- to 5-pounders. Contact: Wildes Guide Service (715-266-2529;

13 MISSISSIPPI RIVER Pools 9, 10, and 11; northeastern Iowa; 92 river miles

With zebra mussels clarifying the famously muddy waters, sight-feeding smallmouths are booming in Iowa’s upper reaches of the Mississippi. According to area fisheries biologists, a good angler can battle 40 to 50 bronzebacks per day, many in the 12- to 18-inch range. Contact: J&L Bait Shop (563-586-2557)

14 LAKE JACOMO East-central Missouri, 980 acres

Jacomo has long been a good white bass fishery, but improved management and habitat make it an up-and-comer for 1- to 5-plus-pound largemouths. Expect lots of bass over 15 inches this year and next. Contact: Lake Jacomo Marina (816-795-8888;

15 LAKE SHARPE Central South Dakota, 56,000 acres

When biologists recently turned their focus to smallmouths at this regionally known walleye fishery, they produced outstanding numbers of small bronzebacks. So three years ago, they went to a slot limit. Now it’s paying dividends in the form of large numbers of increasingly fat fish. Contact: South Dakota Walleye Charters (605-366-1875;

16 REND LAKE Southern Illinois, 19,000 acres

Fisheries managers have put over 200,000 bass in Rend Lake over the past four years and instituted a 14-inch minimum-size limit. Anglers are averaging 1- to 4-pound bass and consider 6-pounders to be somewhat routine. Contact: Rend Lake Resort (618-629-2211;

17 SOUTH TEN MILE LAKE West-central Minnesota, 1,411 acres

A 21-inch minimum-size limit stamped on both largemouths and smallmouths in 2001 is starting to deliver. Now, the average size is way up, both species are more abundant, and some bass are already going 6 and 7 pounds. Contact: Happiness Resort (218-675-6574;


18 LAKE MURRAY Central South Carolina, 51,000 acres

Drawn down in 2003 and refilled last year, this Saluda River impoundment has been rejuvenated with shoreline vegetation and nutrients. Biologists expect great catches of largemouths and stripers. Contact: Norm Attaway Palmetto Fishing Guide (803-442-9484;

19 LAKE GUNTERSVILLE Northeastern Alabama, 69,000 acres

In the ’90s, Guntersville went from having too much grass to having too little. Now it’s among the country’s best bass lakes, with lots of 3- to 6-pounders and even 8- to 10-pounders. A 2004 tournament produced a three-day, 15-fish limit weighing 99 pounds. Contact: Tee’s Guide Service (256-859-1465;

20 LAKE EUFAULA Southeastern Alabama, 45,000 acres

Big bass are back at Eufaula after being severely depleted by a bout of largemouth bass virus in 1996 and ’97. Since then, recruitment has been excellent. There are lots of 4- and 5- pounders, and they’re growing. Contact: Eufaula Guide Services (770-884-9421;

21 CROOKED LAKE Central Florida, 5,538 acres

Crooked Lake shrank through the 1970s and ’80s due to drought and was in poor shape for 20 years. But water levels have rebounded and you can wear yourself out on 2- to 4-pound fish, with a real shot at an 8- or 9-pounder. Contact: A#1 Bass Guide Service (800-707-5463;

22 ORANGE LAKE North-central Florida, 13,000 acres

Drought reduced Orange’s roughly 10,000 acres of open water to a mere 1,500. But since the rain-soaked year of 2003, the lake is back at full pool, holding loads of 1- to 3-pound largemouths that should only get bigger. Contact: Sportsman’s Cove Resort (352-591-1435)

23 PARADISE PUBLIC FISHING AREA Southwest Georgia, 528 acres

Two of the larger lakes in this collection of small waters were renovated during the early 2000s and are already producing huge bass. Nine- and 10-pounders have been caught, and last February, an angler boated an 11-pound 5-ounce monster. Contact: Paradise PFA (229-533-4792 or 912-285-6094;

24 LAKE LANIER North-central Georgia, 38,000 acres

Not to encourage bucket biology, but illegally introduced spotted bass and blueback herring, along with a minimum-size limit passed in 1999, have added tons of 2-pound-plus spots to this well-known largemouth lake. Stripers are on the upswing, too. Contact: Lake Lanier Striper & Bass Fishing Guide Service (770-967-6582;

25 CHATTAHOOCHEE RIVER Northwest Georgia, 12 river miles

Native to the Chattahoochee, shoal bass had virtually disappeared in Atlanta-area waters by 1970. But since stockings began downstream of Morgan Falls Dam in 2003, a rare, growing, and virtually untapped fishery exists for feisty 1- to 4-pound shoalies. Contact: Bill Vanderford Guide Service (770-289-1543;

26 CHICKAHOMINY AND JAMES RIVERS Southeastern Virginia, 11,500 acres combined

The Bassmaster Classic was here in 1988, ’89, and ’90 but hasn’t returned since drought pinched the fishery through much of the following decade. After a wet 2002, the tidal rivers have been roaring back. Now you can catch lots of 12- to 15-inchers, with a shot at 5- to 6-pounders. Contact: River’s Rest Motel and Marina (804-829-2753;

27 LAKE LINCOLN Southwestern Mississippi, 550 acres

Drawn way down and restocked in 2000, Lincoln was reopened in 2002 and is now on line to pump out some behemoths. Biologists expect to see 8- to 10-pounders in the next few years. Contact: Lake Lincoln State Park (601-643-9044; View/parks.asp?ID=5853)

28 LAKE OUACHITA West-central Arkansas, 40,000 acres

Already the “Striper Capital of the World,” Ouachita could soon become a great smallmouth fishery. Lake managers have planted almost 100,000 Tennessee reservoir-strain smallies in the lake and plan to stock up to 100,000 more each year for the next four years. Contact: Lake Ouachita State Park (501-767-9366;

29 KENTUCKY LAKE AND LAKE BARKLEY Southwestern Kentucky and northwestern Tennessee, 218,200 acres combined

Bass fishing in these twin lakes went downhill when vegetation died off in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Now, the grass is back and the action is soaring for largemouths and especially smallies. Contact: Captain Kirk’s Guide Service (270-354-6017;

30 CEDAR CREEK LAKE South-central Kentucky, 784 acres

This brand-new lake is the first in Kentucky built and managed specifically for trophy bass. Cedar Creek is already producing fish topping the 20-inch minimum-size limit, and the lake’s biologists hope to eventually see 8- and 9-pounders. Contact: Cedar Creek Lake Outfitters (606-355-0100)

31 BIENVILLE PLANTATION LAKES Northeastern Florida, 4,000 acres

Twenty years ago, miners hit the last of several aquifers, filling the last of these 12 connected lakes. Eight years later, Bienville Plantation started offering guided bass fishing and has since created hawg heaven. A year and a half ago, the plantation started a grass management program. Now, a good day means 50 fish from 2 to 10 pounds, with a shot at a 15-plus-pounder. Contact: Bienville Plantation (478-621-0951;


32 SPEDNIK LAKE Eastern Maine, 17,000 acres

If you’ve been reading F&S for over 40 years, you might remember this boundary water as an oft-publicized smallmouth destination. After competition with sea-run alewives all but decimated its bronzeback population in the 1980s, Spednik is back. Now you can go out and catch 50 to 60 smallmouths in a day. Contact: The Village Camps (207-448-7726;

33 THREE RIVERS Ohio, Allegheny, and Monongahela Rivers, southeastern Pennsylvania, 150 river miles

Don’t laugh. Sure, the 2005 Bassmaster Classic held here is now infamous for small fish. But the catch rates were good, and those bass will soon be topping the 15-inch range. Plus, an outstanding year class in 2005 should mean fast action through at least 2010. Contact: Matthew Geppert Guide Services (412-841-2222;

34 ONEIDA LAKE North-central New York, 51,000 acres

Over the past 10 years, zebra mussels have improved the water clarity and helped boost aquatic vegetation in this regionally celebrated walleye fishery. Now, smallmouths are taking off in both numbers and size. BASS pros are comparing Oneida favorably with Lake Champlain. Contact: Oneida Lake Marina (315-762-4865;

35 UPPER CHESAPEAKE BAY Northeastern Maryland, over 30,000 acres

Biologists aren’t sure exactly why aquatic grasses are suddenly taking root here. But all anglers need to know is that it’s creating great fishing. Some FLW pros now call the entire Upper Bay–including the lower Susquehanna, Elk, Bohemia, and Sassafras Rivers–better than the celebrated lower Potomac. Contact: Karl’s Bassin’ Adventures (410-459-7445;