Alabama - Illinois

The top 96 waters from coast to coast.

Field & Stream Online Editors

Alabama
State record: 16 pounds 8 ounces, Thomas Burgin, 11/3/87, Mountain View Lake
Best water: Lake Guntersville. "We're not sure why, but Guntersville escaped the problems that largemouth bass virus caused in other lakes, so it's been the best lake for bass and big bass for several years, and its future looks good as well."
-Nick Nichols, assistant chief of fisheries, Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries
Contact: Covenant Cove Lodge and Marina, 888-288-COVE; www.covenantcove.com
Sleeper: Lake Weiss. "It has the highest angler success rate in the state, and now it's producing some big fish thanks to Florida stockings."
Contact: Hawg's Den Marina, 256-779-HAWG or 256-779-FISH

Arizona
State record: 16 pounds 14 ounces, Randall E. White, 4/22/97, Canyon Lake
Best water: Canyon Lake. "It's a very productive system because the water doesn't fluctuate a great deal and it gets just enough fishing pressure, but not too much."
-Larry Riley, chief of fisheries, Arizona Game and Fish Department
Contact: Jim Warnecke, AGFD, 480-981-9400; or Canyon Lake Marina, 602-944-6504
Sleeper: Fools Hollow Lake. "It sits up between 5,000 and 6,000 feet, so it gets overlooked as a producer of big fish. But if you have patience, you can get some real trophies."
Contact: Fools Hollow Recreation Area, 928-537-3680

Arkansas
State record: 16 pounds 4 ounces, Aaron Mardis, 3/2/76, Mallard Lake
Best water: Arkansas River below Little Lake Pine Bluff. "The river here is basically a series of lakes between locks and dams, and it's consistently the best big-bass water in the state."
-Jeff Williams, assistant editor, Arkansas Wildlife magazine
Contact: Island Harbor Marina, Pine Bluff, 870-536-3288
Sleeper: Austelle Lake, Cross County. "It's in an out-of-the-way spot in the northeast corner of the state, so it doesn't get much pressure, but it's steadily been producing bigger and bigger bass."
Contact: Village Creek State Park, 870-238-9406

California
State record: 21 pounds 12 ounces, Michael Arujo, 3/5/91, Castaic Lake
Best water: Sacramento Delta. "If you're talking about the best chance for catching something over 10 or 15 pounds, the Delta is it because this is a dynamic system that just keeps producing more big bass than anywhere else."
-Walt Beer, associate fisheries biologist, California Department of Fish and Game
Contact: Delta Bay Marina, 916-777-4153
Sleeper: Diamond Valley Lake. "This is a new reservoir in the southern part of the state using Colorado River water. It was stocked with forage and Florida bass, and our tests showed the growth rate has been phenomenal. And it just opened to fishing in October of 2003."
Contact: Diamond Valley Lake, 800-590-5253; or Mike Guisti, CDFG biologist, 909-926-7561

Colorado
State record: 11 pounds 6 ounces, Jarrett Edwards, 1997, Echo Canyon Reservoir
Best water: Bonny Reservoir. "It has good structure for bass, and it's always been a good place for big largemouths."
-John Bentz, president, Colorado BASS Federation
Contact: Bonny Lake State Park, 970-354-7306
Sleeper: Navajo Reservoir. "The reservoir doesn't get a lot of pressure from Front Range people."
Contact: Navajo State Park, 970-883-2208

Connecticut
State record: 12 pounds 14 ounces, Frank Domurat, 1961, Mashapaugh Lake
Best water: Candlewood Lake. "Most likely its large size (which makes overfishing difficult) and its general productivity (it's a very ¿¿¿fishy' place) are the causes."
-Bob Jacobs, Connecticut Bureau of Natural Resources Fisheries Division
Contact: Echo Bay Marina, 203-775-7077
Sleeper: Moodus Reservoir, East Haddam. "It''s difficult to find a sleeper lake in a small state, but this might be close. Moodus is a smaller lake (486 acres). It is shallow and weedy and difficult for less adept anglers to fish in the summer."
Contact: Moodus Sports, 860-873-3362

Delaware
State record: 10 pounds 5 ounces, Tony Kaczmarczyk, 6/12/80, Andrews Lake
Best water: Broad Creek Complex on the Upper Nanticoke River (Seaford) "It's probably got our most diverse habitat, with some deep water, and just a lot more freshwater habitat as well as a lot of juvenile anadromous fish."
-Craig Shirey, fisheries biologist, Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife
Contact: S&K; Guide Service (Wilmington), 302-545-9634
Sleeper: Trap Pond State Park. "Recently we've had an introduction of redear sunfish that are now up to 2 pounds, and the bass population has taken off nicely."
Contact: S&K; Guide Service (Wilmington), 302-545-9634

Florida
State record: 17 pounds 4 ounces, Bill O'Berry, 7/6/86, private lake, Polk County
Best water: Stick Marsh. "With catch-and-release regulations and excellent habitat, this is a dynamic fishery with plenty of trophy bass."
-Ed Moyer, director of fisheries, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Contact: Stick Marsh Bait and Tackle, 772-571-9855
Sleeper: Lake Walk-in-Water. "It's a smaller lake in a chain of better-known, larger lakes."
Contact: Uncle Joe's Fish Camp, 863-696-1101

Georgia
State record: 22 pounds 4 ounces (World Record), George Perry, 6/2/32, Montgomery Lake
Best water: Dodge County Public Fishing Area. "The number of 10-pound fish we counted here was outstanding."
-Bert Deener, regional fisheries supervisor, Georgia Department of Natural Resources
Contact: Dodge County PFA, 478-374-6765
Sleeper: Fort Stewart Army Base. "There are quite a few small lakes with not a lot of pressure."
Contact: Tom Bryce, fisheries manager, 912-767-5477; www.stewart.army.mil/dpw/fish/default.htm

Hawaii
State record: 9 pounds 9.4 ounces, Dicky Broyles, 1/26/92, private lake, Kauai
Best water: Lake Wilson. "Also known as Wahiawa Public Fishing Area, it's the best and only bass water that we manage in our state."
-Glenn Higashi, biologist, Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources
Contact: Glenn Higashi, 808-587-0112; glenn.r.higashi@hawaii.gov
Sleeper: None.

Idaho
State record: 10 pounds 15 ounces, Mrs. M.W. Taylor, date unknown, Anderson Lake
Best water: Coeur d'Alene Lake. "The dam flooded some shallow waters that get warmer and produce better largemouth habitat, and we have relatively low exploitation."
-Bill Horton, fisheries biologist, Idaho Department of Fish and Game
Contact: Coeur d'Alene Lake Recreation Management Area, 208-769-5000
Sleeper: Lake Pend Oreille. "It's a very big body of water, and the fourth deepest in the United States. But its dam also flooded shallow habitat in a few locations that provide refuge for some largemouths. And people just don't go there for that kind of fishing."
Contact: IDFG, 208-769-1414

Illinois
State record: 13 pounds 1 ounce, Edward Walbel, 2/15/76, stone quarry lake, Lake County
Best water: Lake of Egypt, Marion. "Based on tournament statistics from the BASS Federation, Lake of Egypt is the best for big fish."
-Steve Pallo, lakes program manager, Illinois Department of Natural Resources
Contact: Vienna Ranger District, 618-658-2111
Sleeper: Pool 13 on the Mississippi River. "It's kind of a transition zone between the lake environment and a river system. It's very productive, excellent for largemouth bass."
Contact: John Pittlow, Iowa DNR, 563-872-4976