Top 5 Bass Fishing Lakes of the Midwest

By Outdoor America

The 5 Best Bass Fishing Lakes in the Midwest

Where do you go to catch football-sized smallmouth and giant largemouth bass? These Midwest bass lakes. It is hard to argue that historically (and backed by more recent results), that these top 5 bass fishing lakes of the Midwest are not some of the best in the country.

Top 5 Bass Fishing Lakes in the Midwest

The best bass fishing in the Midwest can be found in these 5 lakes. Ranging in size and conditions, and from smallmouths to largemouths and even spotted bass, bass lakes like these are legendary and deserve your attention.

#5 – Table Rock Lake (Missouri)

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Table Rock Lake in southwest Missouri covers over 43,000 acres and provides an abundance of opportunities to land trophy-class bass. In fact, three species of bass (smallmouth, largemouth, and spotted bass) can be caught in the lake, with many weighing in over five pounds. The lake consistently makes it to the top of bass fishing lakes nationally each year. The lake sets up in three main zones including the lower section near the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dam, the middle lake, and upper lake where the White and James rivers enter the reservoir. Top bass lakes like Table Rock provide different habitats and fishing opportunities for big bass. No matter your bass fishing style, you can put it to work here. Anything from fishing shallow with lipless crankbaits for largemouths, to fishing deep for roaming smallmouths, and fishing topwater off of ledge transitions for spotted bass, Table Rock has it all.

#4 – Lake Minnetonka (Minnesota)

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This unique fishery sits within the Twin Cities metropolitan area and consists of roughly 14,000 acres of fishable water. A system of basins varying in depth and composition are fed by Minnehaha Creek, and this interconnected system of basins produces a diverse fish community including largemouth bass in the 3- to 5-pound range. Although smallmouths are also present in the lake, largemouth bass are the dominant species in this top bass lake. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources surveys bass tournaments on the lake each year to measure bass populations. These bass fishing tournament results clearly show why Lake Minnetonka makes it to the top 5 bass fishing locations, with big bass each year well over 6 pounds.

#3 – Lake St. Clair (Michigan)

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Situated between two Great Lakes, Lake Huron to the north and Lake Erie to the south, Lake St. Clair is truly a legendary bass fishery. Lake St. Clair’s 430 square-mile basin holds some of the largest smallmouth bass in the country. Nomadic schools of big smallmouths roam the expansive, clear waters of the lake, where it takes well over 20 pounds to even be competitive in a five fish bass tournament on this lake. It’s no secret that if you can find the schools of bass, you can catch one after another in the 3+ pound range. Smallmouth favorites like swimbaits, drop-shot worms, NED rigs, and small crankbaits all get the job done on St. Clair.

#2 – Mille Lacs Lake (Minnesota)

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At #2 on our top 5 bass fishing lakes of the Midwest, we go back to Minnesota. Completely opposite from Lake Minnetonka, Mille Lacs Lake is almost 10 times the size at approximately 132,000 acres and is the state’s second-largest inland lake. Known to many Midwestern anglers as the best walleye lake in the country, the trophy smallmouth bass fishing is quickly gaining notice. This relatively shallow and clear body of water forces anglers to use drop-shot techniques on shallow reefs and rock piles along with dragging tubes to imitate crayfish, which is the number one near-shore forage for smallmouth in the lake in the summer.

#1 – Sturgeon Bay (Wisconsin)

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If recent results prove anything, then Sturgeon Bay and the surrounding Lake Michigan waters have to be at the top of our bass fishing locations for the Midwest. A few weeks ago, the Major League Fishing (MLF) Bass Pro Tour competed on this body of water, which sits between Green Bay and Lake Michigan. The winner, Justin Lucas, weighed in over 300 pounds of smallmouth bass in just three days of fishing in the MLF format. Most anglers focused on structure (rock piles, shoals, etc.) in the Bay and even out in the main lake where smallmouths can set up and feed. Drop-shot is the clear favorite to catch them here. Sturgeon Bay holds the top spot on the list for Midwest bass fishing lakes because, as evident from recent experience, it can produce both the numbers and size bass fishing anglers are looking for.


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