Top 5 Waters: The best bass destinations for 2001

Lake Fork

Since its impoundment in 1980, this 27,700-acre reservoir south of Sulphur Springs, Texas, has enjoyed a reputation as perhaps the best bass fishery in the United States. Lake Fork has produced astounding catches in both numbers and sizes, and it's capable of doing so today. Heavy fishing pressure has "educated" some of the bass, and a fish virus in the late 1990s depleted the population slightly. But Lake Fork still has lots of giants. Numerous largemouths weighing 13 to 15 pounds were boated last year. (The lake record is 18.18 pounds.) There are plenty of bass in the 8- to 10-pound range. Such big fish are due to this lake's fertility (plenty of timber), its combination of Florida and northern largemouths, and a strict management regimen designed to yield quality bass. In fact, if Lake Fork has a problem, it's too many small bass. Best times to fish: March for big bass, October and November for numbers. For more information about Lake Fork bass fishing, contact the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (903-593-5077; www.tpwd.state.tx.us).