Nature’s Fishing Paradises: The Best Freshwater Lakes in the USA

Top 25 Best Fishing Lakes in the United States Ranked

The United States has an abundance of wonderful bodies of water where avid anglers can enjoy their favorite hobby. Many of the finest lakes are man-made and provide water for urban centers.

Varieties of fish occur naturally or have been introduced into the reservoirs for your fishing pleasure. Largemouth bass is probably the most targeted lake fish, followed by various species of trout and salmon as well as perch, bream, crappie and catfish.

All the lakes offer diverse outdoor recreation for non-fishing family members, including camping, swimming, bird-watching, hiking and water sports.

1. Toledo Bend Reservoir, Texas-Louisiana

The Toledo Bend Lake lies on the Sabine River, on the border between Texas and Louisiana.

It is the largest man-made reservoir in Texas and offers a wide variety of recreational facilities all year round.

There are four marinas on the lake where avid fishermen can launch their boats and make use of fish-cleaning facilities.

The lake plays host to several annual fishing competitions including the Sealy Outdoors Big Bass Splash Tournament in May.

The lake is home to largemouth bass, catfish, crappie, striped bass and white bass. Bluegill and sunfish are also commonly hooked.

If you need a little help to get started you can employ the services of a professional fishing guide.

Hiking, biking, boating, camping and golf are other poplar activities at the lake. More lakes in Louisiana

2. Lake Erie, Ohio

Lake Erie is one of the Great Lakes located on the border of Canada and the U.S.

Although the lake is enormous, it is relatively shallow which allows the water to warm up thoroughly during the summer months.

Similarly, it also freezes over quickly in winter.

Lake Erie is one of the most popular fishing lakes in the US, attracting many fishing enthusiasts.

The most prominent species of fish in the lake include perch, salmon, carp, pike and rainbow trout. The best time to fish the lake is early morning.

You will find many bait stores and fishing supply stored dotted around the lake.

3. Clear Lake, California

Clear Lake is a natural lake located in Lake County, north of Napa and San Francisco.

The entire Lake County area is a draw-card for outdoor enthusiasts who visit the area to hike, bike, camp, kayak and fish.

What makes Clear Lake stand out from the crowd is its’ nutrient-rich clear waters which provide ideal conditions for bass.

In fact, Clear Lake is often considered to be the country’s premier destination for bass fishing.

The largest bass caught on the lake weighed in at a massive 17.52 pounds and was caught in 1990.

In addition to bass you will also find crappie, catfish, bluegill and carp. There are several outfitters who provide tackle, bait and fish guiding services.

4. Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin

Sturgeon Bay is located in Door Peninsula where it has become one of the most popular and rewarding fishing destinations on Lake Michigan.

The bay is home to a diverse selection of fish species including smallmouth bass, (strict bag-limits apply), Chinook salmon and trout.

The area is home to several fishing outfitters which offer charter fishing excursions for salmon and trout in summer and will take you ice-fishing in winter.

When you are not out on the water you will find a good selection of other area activities including the Door County Maritime Museum, Whitefish Dunes State Park and much more.

Sturgeon Bay, Lake Michigan, WI 54235

5. Lakes Near Me: Lake Dora, Mount Dora, Florida

© Photoman/

© Photoman/

Situated in central Florida, Mount Dora attracts tourists to its scenic lake views, antique shops, and plethora of outdoor activities.

The city sits on Lake Dora, a part of the Harris Chain of Lakes which offers some of the country’s best bass fishing.

The lakefront Gilbert Park has playgrounds for children to play and picnic pavilions to host an outdoor barbeque. Visitors can explore the park’s trails, boardwalk, and fishing pier.

Lake Dora offers freshwater fishing year-round. Visitors can catch Largemouth bass, Black crappie, and Channel catfish. More day trips from Orlando

6. Delta Reservoir, Ohio

© smiltena/

© smiltena/

This reservoir is located in Fulton County, approximately 6 km from Swanton.

The man-made lake is home to a fairly wide variety of fish species including rainbow trout, largemouth bass, blue gill, smallmouth bass and catfish.

Anglers come to this lake to try their hand at fly-fishing, bait casting or spinning and there is reported a good chance of hooking something good.

You will need a valid Ohio fishing license to fish here (remember, your fishing license helps to maintain the State’s fisheries) and there are strict bag limits in place to help protect the lake for future generations.

Should you hook a lake sturgeon you need to release it unharmed as quickly as possible – these fish are protected in Ohio waters.

Delta Reservoir, Pike Township, OH 43515

More ideas: Ohio state parks

7. Falcon Reservoir, Texas

© Dmytro Titov/

© Dmytro Titov/

The Falcon International Reservoir is a main-stream reservoir on the Rio Grande River, about 40 miles east of Laredo.

This body of water has a reputation for offering the best largemouth bass fishing in the State of Texas.

Other species which may find their way onto your hook include blue or flathead catfish, while crappie and while bass numbers have been adversely affected by drought conditions.

Bass fishing is most successful (and more comfortable) during spring, autumn and winter when the hot Texas summers are at their height.

Catfish can be caught all year round. Boating, camping, paddling and fish-cleaning facilities are available. More great Texas lakes

Falcon International Reservoir, Falcon State Park, Texas 78545

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8. Lake Fork, Texas

© pressmaster/

© pressmaster/

Located about 90 miles east of Dallas/Fort Worth, Lake Fork is a popular fishing and recreational lake on the Sabine River.

There are four public boat launch sites and many private marinas on this lake.

If you plan to fish from the shore you will need to head to the fishing pier and public day-use area which offers limited access from the shoreline.

The lake has always had bag-limits in place for largemouth bass, which has resulted in record numbers of trophy bass (over 13 pounds) being hooked in various competitions.

Crappie, catfish and sunfish are other species which are regularly hooked.

The lake also offers recreational boating and paddling as well as accommodation options. More day trips in Texas

Lake Fork Marina, 275 Co Road 1558, Alba, TX 75410, Phone: 903-765-2764

9. Lake Mille Lacs, Minnesota

© johnsroad7/

© johnsroad7/

Avid fishermen (and women) come from near and far to Lake Mille Lacs, MN to take a chance at hooking a trophy walleye.

The large lake covers over 135,000 acres, which means these walleyes have plenty of room to grow. It not all plain sailing however, these walleye are old and wise and know where to hide.

To ensure you have a fun and rewarding day out on the water you can check the latest fishing report on their website or hire a fishing guide.

There are a number of convenient boat launch sites on the lake where you and also stock up on bait and clean your catch.

The surrounding area offers a great choice of comfortable accommodation and family activities.

10. Lake Champlain, New York-Canada

© jiawangkun/

© jiawangkun/

Lake Champlain lies on the border between the USA and Canada. This enormous natural lake is believed to be home to over 90 species of fish, which make the Lake Champlain area a Mecca for all fishing enthusiasts.

There are over 500 miles of scenic shoreline where you can cast a line.

The lake has often been cited as one of the best lakes in the US for bass fishing and trout fishing is also excellent.

If you are new to the area you would benefit from the services of one of the many fishing guides in the area.

There are also many outfitters who offer chartered fishing excursions for families, beginners or seasoned fishermen. More weekend getaways in New England

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11. Lake Okeechobee, Florida

© Naoufal/

© Naoufal/

Lake Okeechobee is one of the most popular fishing lakes in Florida.

The name is derived from the indigenous words “oki” and “chobi” which mean Big Water, and this is another of the great US lakes where big water means big fish.

The enormous lake covers over 700 square miles in southeastern Florida and offers anglers a huge selection of spots from which to last a line or launch a boat.

Commonly caught species include largemouth bass, crappie, bream and bluegill.

Depending on your level of skill you can use bait or flies to tempt your catch onto the hook. Bag limits are restricted to 5 bass and 20 crappie per day. More day trips from Naples, Florida and Florida Lakes

12. Lake Michigan

© driftwood/

© driftwood/

Lake Michigan is renowned as one of the best bodies of water in the U.S. for salmon fishing.

Salmon were introduced into Lake Michigan in the 60’s to control numbers of invasive alewife bait fishes.

The salmon not only survived but thrived in Lake Michigan and today anglers come here from all corners of the states to hook a big one.

The prize catch would be a Chinook salmon (considered to be the finest species in the lake) but the smaller and more prolific Coho salmon are just as good to eat and put up a good fight on light tackle.

Fishing methods include spinning/casting and trolling. There are several excellent spots for anglers to explore and a selection of outfitters and guides to bring it all together.

13. Lake Near Me: Sam Rayburn Reservoir, Texas

© Scott Strickland/

© Scott Strickland/

Located in East Texas, about 11 miles northwest of Jasper, the Sam Rayburn Reservoir is a favorite destination for a family fishing vacation.

The lake offers year-round fishing for largemouth bass, crappie and catfish, but you can also catch white bass if you visit in spring.

You can fish off the shoreline or have a great day out on the lake on your boat.

There are four marinas on this reservoir, all of which offer boat launching facilities.

If you don’t have your own boat or gear you can rent everything you need at one of the marinas. First-timers would benefit from the services of a fishing guide – these guys know exactly where to go to drop your line.

The lake offers great camping, accommodation and activities for the whole family to enjoy. More Day Trips in Texas

14. Santee Cooper Lakes, South Carolina

© Jacob Lund/

© Jacob Lund/

Santee Cooper Lakes is a favorite South Carolina destination for fresh-water anglers, providing not just one but two excellent fishing lakes.

The shores around the lakes are fully equipped for recreation, providing loads of activities for non-fishing family members.

The most commonly hooked species in these lakes are blue, flathead, white and channel catfish, which are plentiful all year round.

Other catches include bass (striped and largemouth) and delicious white and black crappie.

You can fish from your own boat or from the shore. However, hiring a fishing guide or joining a charters fishing excursion will greatly enhance your chances of hooking a big one. South Carolina Beaches

15. Lake Berryessa, California

Lake Berryessa, California

© Frankie/

Lake Berryessa is the largest lake in California’s Napa County, formed to take the overflow from the Monticello Dam.

The lake offers excellent fishing opportunities, close to all the wonderful activities on offer in the Napa Valley.

The fish to seek on this lake include largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and striped bass, catfish, carp, crappie, rainbow trout and salmon.

Although large parts of the lake are utilized for motorized water sports there are some more peaceful spots to cast a line – consider heading to Markley Cove, Capell Cove or Portuguese Point.

If you are not planning to eat your catch you are requested to use barbless hooks and practice “catch and release” sport fishing.

16. Kentucky Lake, Kentucky

Kentucky Lake, Kentucky

© Andrew/

Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley are the prime fishing waters in Kentucky, as well as being home to a wide selection of outdoor recreational facilities in the Land between the Lakes area.

Together, these man-made lakes cover over 218,000 acres and offer every facility an avid angler could desire.

There are dozens of marinas and access points around the lakes – you can easily find a boat launch or hire whatever you need from one of the marinas.

The most-commonly hooked fish include largemouth bass, catfish, crappie, bluegill, redear and bass. Due to the excellent fishing conditions, the lake host many fishing competitions each year.

Fishing guides are available to point new-comers in the right direction.

17. Belgrade Lakes, Maine

Belgrade Lakes, Maine

© KennyOPhoto/

If you are looking for a great place to cast your line in Maine, you need look no further than the Belgrade Lakes in Kennebec County.

Here you will find a string of 7 enticing fresh-water lakes of differing sizes.

Each of the lakes offers anglers a fun day out with excellent changes of landing a good catch.

In addition, each of the lakes has a well-maintained boat launch.

You may fish from the bank or on the open waters and ice-fishing is allowed in winter.

All the ponds have largemouth and smallmouth bass and the majority of them are also home to trout and perch.

The lakes are all lined with vacation cabins and cottages and there are plenty of recreational activities for non-anglers. Maine Beaches

18. Lakes Near Me: Sebago Lake, Maine

Lakes Near Me: Sebago Lake, Maine

© Kristina/

Covering 45 square miles and reaching a depth of 316 feet, Sebago Lake is the deepest and second-largest lake in Maine.

Located in the south of Maine, this mighty body of water has over 105 miles of shoreline and is home to both warmwater and coldwater fisheries.

Anglers love Sebago Lake for the variety of fish species and the abundant numbers which are carefully maintained by stocking.

Many anglers come here specifically to try and look a landlocked salmon, but various species of trout are also commonly caught and you will also find largemouth and smallmouth bass and perch.

There are a number of excellent fishing guides who can help you land a big one.

19. Cobbosseecontee Lake, Maine

Cobbosseecontee Lake, Maine

© Dmytro Titov/

Widely known and respected in fishing circles for its largemouth bass populations, Cobbosseecontee Lake in Kennebec County, Maine is a dream destination for a fishing vacation.

Conveniently located close to Augusta, the lake attracts many recreational anglers year round. There are boat launching facilities at Monmouth and Manchester and there are several other areas along the long shoreline where you can launch canoes and kayaks, or fish from the bank.

The services of a local fishing guide are highly recommended to newcomers to the lake.

The area around the lake boasts camping, lodging, restaurants and everything else you need for a great fishing vacation.

Cobbosseecontee Lake, Kennebec County, Maine

20. Utah Lake, Utah

Utah Lake, Utah

© vitaliy_melnik/

Located in the Utah Valley and surrounded by the Provo/Orem metropolitan area, Utah Lake is an easily accessible freshwater fishing lake.

The shallow waters of the lake provide the ideal temperature for a warm-water fishery.

The most commonly-hooked fish on this dam include white bass, catfish, largemouth bass and a variety of other pan fish.

There are several good spots to cast your line including Lincoln Beach at the south-eastern corner of the lake, Bird Island and the Knolls, to name but a few.

The lake has several marina areas and no fewer than 27 public access points where you can launch your own boat, have a picnic or stock up on bait and gear.

Utah Lake, Utah Lake State Park, Provo, Utah

21. Lake Sinclair, Georgia

Lake Sinclair, Georgia

© mayabuns/

Located 2 hours southeast of Atlanta, Lake Sinclair is a vast man-made lake which covers over 15,000 acres.

The Lake is home to many large stretches of open water as well as dozens of attractive coves which beckon anglers to come and try their luck.

There are several marinas on the lake which provide boating access and facilities including boat rentals, bait, tackle, campgrounds, swimming beaches and more.

The mild Georgia climate allows fishing to continue into the fall and winter.

The most commonly caught species on the lake include largemouth bass, striped bass, hybrid bass, crappie, bream and catfish. More day trips from Athens, Georgia

Lake Sinclair, 3069 North Columbia St, Milledgeville, GA 31061

22. Lake of the Woods, Minnesota

Lake of the Woods, Minnesota

© Aliaksandr Marko/

Sometimes referred to as the “Walleye Capital of the World”, Lake of the Woods is a very popular destination for avid anglers.

The lake is home to a wide variety of fish species including walleye, muskie, smallmouth bass, sturgeon, northern pike and crappie.

However, it’s the trophy walleyes which pull in the crowds of trophy hunters. In winter you are allowed to enjoy ice fishing in all its forms – fish from the comfort of a cozy cabin or heated fish house out on the ice and get driven to your spot in a heated transporter.

In summer you can launch your boat at a variety of public or private (small fee) boat ramps on the lake. More Day Trips in Minnesota

Lake of the Woods, Decatur, Minnesota

23. Lake Leelanau, Michigan

Lake Leelanau, Michigan

© Maridav/

Lake Leelanau is a large Michigan lake located near Traverse City in Leelanau County. The lake has various depths ranging from 121 feet in the northern lake to 62 feet in the southern lake.

Anglers can expect to find a large variety of fish species in the lake including largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, pike, perch, brown trout, lake trout and sunfish.

The best way to find your way around this very large lake is to make use of the services of one of the many Lake Leelanau fishing guides.

Fishing aside, the lake offers a great recreational area for the whole family. You can enjoy camping, swimming, jet-skis, paddling and much more in between heading out to the open waters to fish for your supper.

Lake Leelanau, Leelanau County, Michigan

24. Lake Guntersville, Alabama

Lake Guntersville, Alabama

© JudyK/

Located between Bridgeport and Guntersville in northern Alabama, Lake Guntersville is Alabama’s largest lake and her most popular fishing destination.

The long perimeter of the lake is dotted with convenient boat ramps and private marinas which offer easy access to the open waters.

Lake Guntersville is primarily noted for its abundance of largemouth bass, which are most commonly targeted. However, many other species are also hooked on the lake including sunfish, bream, redear, bluegill, crappie and catfish.

The second quarter of the year sees many fishing competitions and tournaments.

The surrounding Lake Guntersville State Park offers a wide variety of accommodation options and fun outdoor activities for the family.

Lake Guntersville, 1155 Lodge Drive, Guntersville, AL 35976, Phone: 256-571-5440

25. New Bullards Bar, California

New Bullards Bar, California

© fotofabrika/

Located in Northern California, scenic Bullards Bar Reservoir offers some of the best fishing in the state.

The reservoir is home to many species of fish including Kokanee Salmon, largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass, crappie and blue gill.

You can stock up with all the gear you need at the Emerald Cove General Store and spend some quality time pursuing your favorite hobby.

If you are travelling with the family you could consider hiring a houseboat – the ideal family adventure. Fishing for Kokanee Salmon is especially good during fall and the experts advise that powerbait and nightcrawlers are the bait of choice.

New Bullards Bar, Emerald Cove Marina, 12571 Marysville Rd, Dobbins, CA 95935, Phone: 877-692-3201

The 25 Best Fishing Lakes in the United States near me today according to local experts are:

  • 1. Toledo Bend Reservoir, Texas-Louisiana
  • 2. Lake Erie, Ohio
  • 3. Clear Lake, California
  • 4. Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin
  • 5. Lakes Near Me: Lake Dora, Mount Dora, Florida
  • 6. Delta Reservoir, Ohio
  • 7. Falcon Reservoir, Texas
  • 8. Lake Fork, Texas
  • 9. Lake Mille Lacs, Minnesota
  • 10. Lake Champlain, New York-Canada
  • 11. Lake Okeechobee, Florida
  • 12. Lake Michigan
  • 13. Lake Near Me: Sam Rayburn Reservoir, Texas
  • 14. Santee Cooper Lakes, South Carolina
  • 15. Lake Berryessa, California
  • 16. Kentucky Lake, Kentucky
  • 17. Belgrade Lakes, Maine
  • 18. Lakes Near Me: Sebago Lake, Maine
  • 19. Cobbosseecontee Lake, Maine
  • 20. Utah Lake, Utah
  • 21. Lake Sinclair, Georgia
  • 22. Lake of the Woods, Minnesota
  • 23. Lake Leelanau, Michigan
  • 24. Lake Guntersville, Alabama
  • 25. New Bullards Bar, California

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Fishing Life