Mike Goodwin

LARGEMOUTH like these taken by Mike Goodwin a few years back at Lake Havasu are now common in everyone’s bag.

Recognition that both Clear Lake and the Delta are among the 10 best tournament lakes in the U.S. should make Californians proud. (Of course, we don’t hold tournaments here between June 15 and Sept. 15–so I wonder, do the voters for the Bassmaster list know this?)

Yet, would anybody but an employee at Phil’s Propellers, even remotely believe that Lake Shasta (33rd) is one 12-inch spotted bass better than Lake Havasu–voted the 46th best and two notches behind Lake Powell?

Havasu is so productive for both smallmouth and largemouth that bass clubs regularly leave the comfort of their local home waters to make the 200 to 300-mile trek to “the River” because everyone catches nice bass! Havasu is the center for “personal best” smallmouth.

I know Bassmaster is looking at things from a big field, bass tournament perspective, but big water doesn’t equate with good fishing, or a good environment, for that matter. Lake Mohave made the list at 85–yet anyone who has battled donut-spinning Jetskis in an otherwise unoccupied cove, knows why tournament organizations (and most fishermen) avoid the place.

That NorCal’s Berryessa or Arizona’s Apache (that’s a small lake, folks) are ahead of Mead, the most perfectly neutral site in the country, really sounds like “homering” from those areas. I mean, c’mon, when was a tournament of consequence ever held at either of those ponds?

Nonetheless, there’s nothing like a good list to get the circulation going. (At least, that’s what they tell me every year).


12 Responses to “Best bass lakes list–I can take a joke, I guess”

The list is flawed in more ways than one. Here is Nebraska, Summit lake made this list two years in a row. Summit is a good enough pond at around 150 surface acres and you can catch 50 or more fish a day there. The issue in this case is that the picture that goes with it on the list is not our Summit lake. It is a picture of a lake in Colorado, with the Rockie mountains in the background.

by George Kramer

If reservoir size is not a issue, then I can see a big argument in leaving off 1500-acre El Capitan Lake in San Diego or the roughly 2000-acre Lake Perris in Riverside County.

Both of those lakes are better than Summit. I can name a dozens lakes in CA that are better. I think they wanted something from each state, except Alaska. We just don’t have any lakes of any size in this part of the state. Lake McConaughy in the western part of the state makes more sense if size is a criteria. It even has decent smallmouth fishing, but most people fish for walleye out there.

I love Apache Lake – getting to and from it via Fishcreek hill is another matter.

by George Kramer

Had that bass kill a few seasons back, but I guess it’s on the rebound. No more scenic lake in the West, and got my own best smallie there back in the 1980’s. How’s that water level these days, cc?

The good folks at Bassmaster’s ears are probably still ringing with Jimmy Houston’s famous quote from the last time they were there, “I have been to hell and its spelled Havasu”.

by George Kramer

Old prejudices die hard. 😉

To be honest George, I’m a So Cal boy and haven’t been there in a number of years. But the few times that I’ve fished it, I loved it. And you’re right – a gorgeous lake.

by Mike Goodwin

Thanks George for the photo, yeah that list is a big joke. I would put Havasu in the top 10, for sure. A great place to hold a Bass tournament. Everyone loves fish’n there. Largemouth to 10lbs and Smallmouth to 5lbs plus, and great spawns every year with winning 1 day sacks 25lbs plus. Yes, you are also right about Mead as a tournament lake.

Like Chris Carter says on NFL Monday Nite Prime Time

by Terry Foreman

There was a time in the ’70’s that Jimmy Houston was right about Havasu, but not now. The fishing, er… catching is stellar. I agree completely with my buddy Mike.

Tournaments at Clear Lake are still allowed during the 6 hour weigh in period in the summer. To me, based upon the incredible fishing all year, that’s not an issue. I do agree with the point about Shasta over Havasu. Maybe scenery was part of it and pine over salt cedar and mesquite tipped the scales?

El Cap and Perris have been incredible. Add Hodges for the fish it actually contains, although the catching isn’t as good as it could be.

Good angling on lakes comes and goes. Falcon was dinged for a drop last year. I would be hard pressed to keep up with the ups and downs of all the lakes in the country. It would be like doing a Top 40 for anglers in CA every year. Hard work.

Good points, George.

I spent the past 5 winters west and got to fish a lot of the main lakes there. I have also fished on over half of the lakes on there list. Havasu is fantastic, I fish the best smallmouth waters in the world and have spent the last 2 winters there and hope to be back again in November. On any given day no matter what the weather is you can take a 5 fish limit of smallies going from 15 to 17 1/2 lbs. a good bite your pushing 19-ish. That’s really good fishing anywhere. My problem is I’m still fishing for third to sixth place with all smallies. I can’t figure out how to beat Skinner, Bailey, Kerr, or Hawk. One of these guys are always 1st and the others 2,3 4th. I got more work to do this winter. I love it. There’s a lot of great water out West.

by George Kramer

Some pretty stout testimonials posted above–no doubt.