Texas' Best Bass Fishing
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||Texas' Best Bass Fishing
In a state known for its outstanding bass fishing, it's hard to key on the very best spots . . . but we're willing to try!
By C.C. Risenhoover
from outside the Lone Star State are always surprised to learn that
Texas has 4,959 square miles of inland water, ranking it first in the
48 contiguous states.
Just so you were wondering about the
states trailing Texas, Minnesota is second with 4,780 square miles of
inland water; Florida is third with 4,683 square miles; and Louisiana
is fourth with 4,153 square miles.
There are about 6,736 reservoirs in Texas with a normal storage capacity of 10 acre-feet or larger.
is it any wonder that Texas is one of the best, if not the best,
bass-fishing states in the country? Bass, as you know, are dependent on
water - and this remarkable state supports that dependency quite well.
What's more, a majority of the state's water is fertile - meaning
there's plenty of baitfish, crawfish, little snakes (and more) to
tickle a bass' palate.
While all of the aforementioned puts a
smile on the face of an angler, you're tickling the ire of many Texans
when you put a "best" title on some lakes and leave their favorite(s)
off the list. Nevertheless, here are this angler's choices for "best"
lakes throughout the state, along with this warning: Lynching is
against the law.
To give you an idea of what we're dealing with
here, Texas has a land and water area of 267,277 square miles, which
means it occupies about 7 percent of the total land and water area of
the United States. The longest straight-line distance in a general
north-south direction is 801 miles, and it is 773 miles in an east-west
direction. If you're wondering what this has to do with bass fishing
... absolutely nothing. But it gives you an idea of the vast area to be
covered in selecting Texas' Best Bass Lakes.
Photo by Tom Evans
than trying to rank Texas' best bass lakes in order of importance, it's
probably best to go alphabetical and geographical. From a geographical
standpoint, the state can be broken down into 10 areas: (1.)
Pineywoods, (2.) Gulf Prairies and Marshes, (3.) Post Oak Belt, (4.)
Blackland Prairies, (5.) Cross Timbers and Prairies, (6.) South Texas
Plains, (7.) Edwards Plateau, (8.) Rolling Plains, (9.) High Plains,
and (10.) Trans-Pecos Mountains and Basins. These are pretty
self-descriptive in terms of the type of terrain where a lake is
The telephone numbers of chambers of commerce near the
lakes mentioned are also included, because these are people who want
you to visit their areas. They know you will leave some cash.
So here's how one fisherman sees it, with apologies to anglers if their favorite lake didn't make the cut.
is a 64,900-surface-acre reservoir fed by the Rio Grande River, which
divides Texas and Mexico. It's about 12 miles northwest of Del Rio,
located at the northwestern tip of what is known as the South Texas
Plains, and at the southwestern tip of the Edwards Plateau.
is an excellent topwater lake in spring and fall, but in the early part
of the year, anglers often have to deal with strong winds. Fortunately,
there are many coves that provide some protection, but there's also
lots of open water that can be especially dangerous for smaller boats.
Rio Grande is a fertile stream and helps provide an abundance of
baitfish and other edibles for bass. Knowledgeable anglers can easily
read the terrain and discover areas most likely to hold bass. However,
an always-good bet is to run crankbaits through submerged mesquite and
vegetation, and to work points with plastic worms. For more
information, contact the Del Rio Chamber of Commerce, (830) 775-3551.
from Amistad to Caddo Lake is quite a culture shock. You are suddenly
transported from desert-type terrain to the Pineywoods area, near
Marshall and the Louisiana border. This area of some 16 million acres
ranges from about 50 to 700 feet above sea level in elevation, and
receives 40 to 56 inches of rainfall annually. Many creeks, rivers and
bayous drain the region.
Caddo was originally a natural lake
whose surface and capacity were increased to 26,800 acres by
construction of a dam on Cypress Creek near Mooringsport, La. It is a
maze of cypress trees, Spanish moss, lily pads and other types of
vegetation. It's full of bass, but catching one 7 pounds or better is a
The lake is a great place for catching numbers of bass.
The tranquil setting and always-deep shadows make it a year-round
topwater lake, although the action is hotter is spring and fall. A
spinnerbait is also good year 'round. Best hot weather bet is a plastic
worm and winter calls for a jig-and-pig. You can fish a crank in the
channels, but the bases of cypress trees seem to always hold fish.
For more information, contact the Greater Marshall Chamber of Commerce, (903) 935-7868.
San Antonio and Corpus Christi anglers, the popularity of
25,733-surface-acre Choke Canyon Reservoir on the Frio River has never
waned. Located near Three Rivers and west of Beeville, the reservoir
offers practically everything that makes a lake exciting - a quantity
of good, solid bass and plenty of bait to support their growth. Cover
is adequate and terrain ideal for working points, coves and other
Topwater fishing is OK in spring and fall, but cranks,
spinnerbaits and plastic worms will more readily fill an angler's
livewell. For more information, contact Three Rivers Chamber of
Commerce, (512) 786-4330.
COOPER (JIM CHAPMAN)
Hot, hot, hot
is the best way to describe this 19,280-surface-acre reservoir
northeast of Dallas. It does not matter what day you choose to fish
Cooper; you will have company. But this lake, like many in the eastern
part of the state, can handle crowds - and it's loaded with quality
There's lots of cover, so go with topwaters and
spinnerbaits in early spring. It's also an excellent lake for fishing
the jig-and-pig, plastic lizards and buzzbaits. For more information,
contact the Cooper Chamber of Commerce, (903) 395-4314.
has for years been one of Texas' best bass lakes, but its location (the
western side of the southern tip of the state) and an abundance of bass
reservoirs near large population centers has resulted in less fishing
pressure on this Rio Grande River impoundment. The result has been a
steadily increasing bass population, though water fluctuation can be
irritating to anglers and cause bass to be finicky. Wind can also be a
Still, this is a great hole of water for quantity and
quality - many solid 2- and 3-pound fish that will smash topwater lures
in spring and fall, and stretch the lines of anglers using plastic
worms and cranks.
Like the newer Texas/Mexico border lake
upriver, Amistad, the 78,300-surface-acre reservoir suffers from lack
of proper management by Mexican authorities. For more information,
contact the Zapata Chamber of Commerce, (956) 765-4871.
is simply the best lake in Texas for big bass. Lake Fork has produced
most of our state-record bass simply because the Texas Parks and
Wildlife Department did a beautiful job of management before the
reservoir was ever inundated. Throughout the area that would be covered
by water when the dam's gates were closed, big Florida brood bass were
placed in small lakes and ponds. The result was that the lake started
producing state-record fish almost immediately.
At various times
of the year, practically any lure will work in this 27,690-surface-acre
body of water, but diligence to detail and hard fishing is often
required to catch bass weighing more than 10 pounds. Many lunkers are
taken at night after the waters quiet from all the boat activity.
this lake is only a couple of hours' drive east of Dallas, it gets lots
of fishing pressure. Its reputation also draws anglers from throughout
the nation. For more information, contact the Greater Quitman Chamber
of Commerce, (903) 763-4411.
All but forgotten
by most Fort Worth anglers, 15,250-surface-acre Hubbard Creek reservoir
near Breckenridge in Northcentral Texas is an excellent bass hole -
particularly in early spring and fall. Directly west of Fort Worth
(where the West begins), Hubbard Creek is considered a West Texas
Geography aside, a jig-and-pig is very good there
early in the year, along with spinnerbaits, worked through submerged
brush and trees. For more information, contact the Breckenridge Chamber
of Commerce, (940) 559-2301.
Lake Kemp, a
16,540-surface-acre lake near Seymour, attracts little attention except
from anglers in the Wichita Falls area, including parts of Oklahoma.
Southwest of Wichita Falls and north of Seymour, the reservoir is fed
by the Wichita River and is typical of lakes in the state's Interior
Lowlands and Rolling Plains.
It lacks the type of cover and
vegetation that makes the state's eastern waters so appealing and
productive, but abundant bait and good spawns make it a first-class
reservoir for catching quantities of bass. You might have a problem
hooking a bass of more than 7 pounds, but bass in the 2-pound range are
Watch the wind and use the terrain to locate points
that yield fish. For more information, contact the Seymour Chamber of
Commerce, (940) 888-2921.
LAKE O' THE PINES
An oldie but
goodie bass hotspot, Lake O' The Pines is still yielding good catches
of quality fish, especially in spring and fall. The good news is that
because of all the "newer" bass lakes in East Texas, it doesn't get the
pressure it once did.
There's ample vegetation for good spawns
and the protection of bait to help fish grow. A lot of people still use
crawfish to fill a stringer, but throwing topwaters, buzzbaits and
spinnerbaits around submerged timber and vegetation can get your string
The lake is located in northeast Texas, not far from
Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma. For more info, contact the
Daingerfield Chamber of Commerce, (903) 645-2646.
an angler thinks about Lake Livingston, it's difficult not to think
about "The Jungle" and buzzbaits. The Jungle is an area of the lake
that is hard to negotiate because of fallen timber and vegetation, but
it's loaded with good bass. With buzzbaits or floating worms are about
the only ways to fish the area.
Because this 90,000-surface-acre
lake is in the southeastern part of the state and close to Houston, it
has always known fishing pressure. However, because of its size and
cover, it has handled that pressure quite well.
numbers of bass, this can be one of the most productive bodies of water
in the state. For more information, call the Polk County Chamber of
Commerce, (409) 327-4929.
Out Amarillo way, in the
northernmost part of the state, near Borger is one of the state's
premier bass lakes. Lake Meredith, all 16,505 surface-acres, does not
get any serious fishing pressure from Texas' major metropolitan areas.
It only takes a look at a map to dissuade most big city anglers from
making such a trek. However, Meredith is a fine bass lake, especially
for smallmouth bass.
Best bet for catching smallmouth bass are
grubs and small cranks worked off gravel points. If you visit, be
careful of high winds - and watch for rattlesnakes! For more
information, contact the Borger Chamber of Commerce, (806) 274-2211.
about rave reviews - O.H. Ivie is getting its share! Near Paint Rock,
east of San Angelo, south of Abilene and southwest of Fort Worth, this
19,200-surface-acre reservoir is producing both quality and quantities
of good fish.
With a limestone base and rocky terrain that grows
mesquite, small oaks, cedar and cactus, the lake has more than adequate
cover and is fed by several creeks. Because of the many productive
lakes in the eastern part of our state, few D/FW Metroplex anglers
drive west to fish, but O.H. Ivie is winning its share of converts from
Surface lures work well early and late in the spring
and fall, but during the rest of the day work cranks and worms off
points, and spinnerbaits in submerged trees and vegetation.
For more information, contact the San Angelo Chamber of Commerce, (915) 655-4136
25,500-surface-acre lake has ample productive water, thanks to the
Neches River and a number of creeks that feed it. The reservoir has
fallen and standing timber and plenty of aquatic vegetation. Bait is
plentiful and so are good, solid bass.
Lunkers here are in the
7- to 10-pound class, but not that easy to catch. You will, however, be
able to put together an excellent stringer in the spring with plastic
worms or lizards and with surface, buzz-, spinner- and crankbaits.
good approach is to work the edges of the river and creek channels. If
the wind forces you off the lake, and you have a small boat, the river
below the dam offers excellent fishing. For more information, contact
the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, (903) 586-2217.
Roberts is just outside Dallas' north door, and it's loaded with big
bass. It's certainly ready for prime time, and capable of challenging
Lake Fork for a state-record bass.
The big 'uns that occupy this
29,350-surface-acre reservoir have plenty of cover, deep water and
natural bait to nibble on. Fed by the Elm Fork of the Trinity River and
some good creeks, Ray Roberts has the type of structure you would want
if you were building a lake specifically for bass fishing.
doesn't mean fishing there is easy. You can have a fishing day that
most people only dream about, or you can get skunked. But this is a
place to "think big" instead of about numbers, though if it's numbers
of fish you want, they're here. For more information, contact the Pilot
Point Chamber of Commerce, (940) 686-5385.
Richland-Chambers as one of the state's best bass lakes is an "iffy"
choice because it's not a personal favorite, but it is at Dallas' south
door along I-45, and is home to lots of bass. The 44,000-surface-acre
reservoir also has lots of open water, which looks dead to an angler
used to the heavy cover of East Texas lakes.
The key is to go up
the arms of the lake fed by Richland and Chambers creeks, which is
where you will find most of the cover. Anglers adept at fishing open
water can work the humps, points and creek channels - primarily with
plastics and cranks.
This lake lends itself to quantity bass
fishing. You can catch a few big ones here, but it's no Cooper, Fork or
Ray Roberts. For more information, contact the Corsicana Area Chamber
of Commerce, (903) 874-4731.
Surely no one would
argue about Sam Rayburn being on the list of Texas' Best Bass Lakes.
This 114,500-surface-acre lake has been one of the state's best for a
long, long time. Located in deep East Texas, the sheer size of this
reservoir fed by the Angelina River and numerous creeks and bayous,
makes it a favorite of anglers statewide.
The lake has wonderful
arms - fed by creeks - that are loaded with standing and fallen timber,
brush and vegetation. Big Sam has unbelievable structure for bass,
ample natural bait and . . . well, frankly, everything you would want
in a bass lake.
Depending on the structure you choose,
practically any artificial bait you use can be effective. Because of
its proximity to major population centers in southeast Texas, it gets a
lot of pressure on weekends - but the lake's size accommodates a crowd,
and if you can hit it on a weekday, it can be downright serene.
For more information, contact the Jasper Chamber of Commerce, (409) 384-2762.
going to be some flak on choosing Somerville as one of the best, but
this 11,400-surface-acre lake has been good to anglers who know how to
fish it. Located northwest of Houston and Brenham, it used to attract
much more attention, but Houston-area anglers are now more likely to
head to Conroe, Livingston, Sam Rayburn or Toledo Bend.
offers some cover in the form of fallen timber and brush, but ridges,
cuts and channels in open water offer the best chances for taking fish.
It's a wonderful lake for 3- to 5-pound fish, most of which are taken
on plastic worms. For more information, contact the Somerville Chamber
of Commerce, (409) 596-2383.
Most bass anglers will
pass over 36,700-surface-acre Tawakoni in search of waters that offer
bigger and larger quantities of bass, but this is still a good lake.
Located east of Quinlan and west of Emory, the lake has been an
excellent producer of bass for many years.
Again, this is not
the type of lake where you are likely to catch a monster bass, but a
good day's fishing can produce excellent results off points and
mossbeds. Surface lures work great in spring and fall, and the plastic
worm is practically always good.
For more information, contact the Quinlan Area Chamber of Commerce (903) 356-4703
it comes to the best bass lake in Texas, how can anybody quibble with
the selection of Toledo Bend? Of course, part of this
185,000-surface-acre reservoir is in Louisiana.
cover, this body of water has every conceivable type. Fed by the Sabine
River and many creeks on both the Texas and Louisiana side of the lake,
these waters are a virtual paradise for bass.
Schools of quality
bass ravage shad along the rivers and creek channels, and there's no
lack of standing and fallen timber, brush and aquatic vegetation.
Depending on structure and time of year, practically every artificial
works here. For information, call the San Augustine Chamber of
Commerce, (409) 275-3610.