The 9 Best Lakes In The United States For Fishing in 2024

Lake Tahoe
© topseller/Shutterstock.com

Written by Jeremiah Wright

Updated: October 4, 2023

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These lakes are among the best for fishing in the U.S.

The United States is home to more than 240 lakes that serve as water sources, income sources, and recreational spots. The five Great Lakes on the North American continent represent 21% of the Earth’s surface freshwater by volume!

That’s pretty impressive, isn’t it?! These numbers point to the fact that the United States is abundant in fish species. But how can you choose a fishing spot out of so many lakes? 

We’ve already done the hard part and made a list of the 9 best lakes in the United States for fishing! We’ve checked how many species they host, which of them are the most popular ones among fishing enthusiasts, and even if the lake is suitable for beginners!

1. Lake Superior

Lake Superior represents 10% of the Earth’s surface freshwater.

©Elena Elisseeva/Shutterstock.com

Lake Superior
LocationMinnesota, Wisconsin, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan
Area31,700 sq mi
Depth1,333 ft
Number of fish speciesMore than 80 
Popular fish speciesTrout, salmon, Northern Pike

Lake Superior is the largest lake by surface area worldwide. It represents 10% of the Earth’s surface freshwater and is part of the Great Lakes chain. The lake is inhabited by more than 80 species of fish, including

  • Bloater;
  • Killifish;
  • Lake trout;
  • Lake whitefish;
  • Smallmouth bass;
  • Northern pike;
  • Lake sturgeon.

Moreover, numerous species have accidentally or intentionally become part of the lake’s ecosystem, such as

We recommend choosing charter fishing on Lake Superior. This way, you’ll have an amazing fishing experience alongside enjoying some time in the tranquil waters. If you’re not up to it, you can always choose one of the fishing spots available on Lake Superior’s extensive shoreline. 

2. Lake Okeechobee

Lake Okeechobee

Lake Okeechobee hosts more than 40 native fish species and other introduced species.

©Allison Michael/Shutterstock.com

Lake Okeechobee
LocationFlorida
Area662 sq mi
Depth12 ft
Number of fish speciesMore than 40 species of native fish
Popular fish speciesLargemouth bass

Lake Okeechobee is also called “Florida’s Inland Sea.” It is the state’s largest freshwater lake. Its primary source is the Kissimmee River. Lake Okeechobee hosts more than 40 native fish species and other introduced species.

This lake is known for its largemouth bass population. The locals say that most visitors come to the lake precisely for this species. Other species of fish you can catch there include:

  • Bluegill;
  • Catfish;
  • Bowfin;
  • Black crappie;
  • Pickerel.

You can have a great fishing experience if you choose to fish on a boat. However, if you’ve already been there, you probably already know the area and can explore it on foot. Along the way, you can stop at the grassy or rocky banks or the fishing piers for fishing. The administration advises visitors to take great care if they discover the region on foot, as dangerous species of animals, such as alligators, inhabit it.

3. Chickamauga Lake

Chickamauga Lake Tennessee

Chickamauga Lake covers a large area stretching from Watts Bar Dam to Chickamauga Dam.

©bearsbrother99/Shutterstock.com

Chickamauga Lake
LocationHamilton, Rhea, Meigs, McMinn, Bradley counties, Tennessee
Area20,700 sq mi
Depth72 ft
Number of fish speciesMore than 40
Popular fish speciesLargemouth bass

Chickamauga Lake is a reservoir located along the Tennessee River. It covers a large area stretching from Watts Bar Dam to Chickamauga Dam. It is a top-rated destination for people living in the area or visiting, as it features various recreational facilities, including fishing. 

Fish enthusiasts are attracted mainly by the largemouth bass population, especially since Gabe Keen, an angler from Caryville, established a new state record by catching a largemouth bass weighing 15.20 pounds in Chickamauga Lake. 

Other fish species that visitors can catch include:

  • White bass;
  • Catfish;
  • Crappie;
  • Bluegill;
  • Yellow perch.

Moreover, the venue organizes numerous fishing tournaments you can participate in. 

4. Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe is one of the top-rated tourist attractions in California and Nevada.

©topseller/Shutterstock.com

Lake Tahoe
LocationThe Sierra Nevada of the United States, along the state line of California and Nevada
Area191 sq mi
Depth1,645 ft
Popular fish speciesMackinaw trout

Lake Tahoe is the second-deepest lake in the United States and the largest alpine lake in North America. It is considered an ancient lake, formed around two million years ago. 

Lake Tahoe is one of the top-rated tourist attractions in California and Nevada, as it provides unique recreational facilities, including fishing. However, we recommend choosing a different lake if you’re a beginner, as the facilities here are designated for more experienced anglers.

Mackinaw trout is definitely the biggest attraction for anglers since the lake, with its cold water, is the perfect environment for this species. They usually weigh up to 20 pounds, although the biggest Mackinaw Trout caught in 1974 weighed 37.40 pounds!

Other notable fish species that inhabit the lake are:

Check out what lives at the bottom of Lake Tahoe.

5. Lake Erie

Lake Erie

Lake Erie contains 50% of all the fish that inhabit the five Great Lakes.

©iStock.com/sara_winter

Lake Erie
LocationMichigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York
Area9,910 sq mi
Depth210 ft
Number of fish species107
Popular fish speciesWalleye, smallmouth bass, sturgeon

Lake Erie is one of the five Great Lakes – the fourth-largest by surface area, the shallowest, and the smallest by volume. It is known for being one of the largest freshwater commercial fisheries in the world. Lake Erie contains 50% of all the fish that inhabit the five Great Lakes. These include:

  • Walleye;
  • Largemouth bass;
  • Smallmouth bass;
  • Lake trout;
  • King salmon;
  • Steelhead.

The longest fish in the lake is the sturgeon. It can grow as large as 10 feet and weigh as much as 300 pounds. However, it’s difficult to catch it, as it’s considered an endangered species and usually lives on the bottom of the lake.

6. Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan is the second-largest lake by volume among the five Great Lakes.

©Sean Pavone/Shutterstock.com

Lake Michigan
LocationWisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan
Area22,404 sq mi
Depth923 ft
Number of fish species153
Popular fish speciesSteelhead trout, salmon

Lake Michigan is the second-largest lake by volume among the five Great Lakes. It has shorelines in Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan, covering more than 22,000 square miles. Steelhead trout and salmon are the most popular fish species that attract numerous anglers yearly. Other fish species that inhabit Lake Michigan are

  • Lake trout;
  • Yellow perch;
  • Largemouth bass;
  • Smallmouth bass;
  • Catfish.

Moreover, if you enjoy participating in fishing tournaments, you can always check out the Brew City Salmon Tournament. It is one of the biggest and most popular tournaments on Lake Michigan’s western shore.

7. Clear Lake

Clear Lake is known for its largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, carp, and catfish populations.

©iStock.com/Michael Overstreet

Clear Lake
LocationLake County
Area68 sq mi
Depth60 ft
Number of fish species31
Popular fish speciesLargemouth bass

Clear Lake is the largest natural freshwater lake in California, and it is considered the oldest lake in North America, dating as early as 2.5 million years ago. The lake is located in Lake County, California, north of Napa County and San Francisco.

Clear Lake is known for its largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, carp, and catfish populations. It has over 100 miles of shoreline, which makes fishing much easier! The lake is even called the “Bass Capital of the West” thanks to its large bass population. Even more, in 2016, Clear Lake became the third-best bass lake in the country and the first-best bass lake on the West Coast, as stated in Bassmaster Magazine.

For a better fishing experience, you can rent one of the fishing boats available. You’ll also find various fishing stores and facilities where you can buy fishing equipment. 

8. Lake Fork Reservoir

Lake Fork Reservoir features private marinas and public boat launch sites.

©Steve Price/Shutterstock.com

Lake Fork Reservoir
LocationWood, Rains, and Hopkins Counties, Texas
Area42.6 sq mi
Depth70 ft
Number of fish speciesOver 15 
Popular fish speciesLargemouth bass

Lake Fork Reservoir has over 300 miles of shoreline, making it a perfect spot for fishing! Over time, the largemouth bass population has caught the attention of many anglers in the country! Texas Parks and Wildlife established Lake Fork Reservoir as a premier bass fishing lake. By 1987, more than 700,000 largemouth bass lived in the lake. Other fish species that live in the lake include:

  • Catfish;
  • Yellow bass;
  • White crappie;
  • bluegill.

Lake Fork Reservoir features private marinas and public boat launch sites. 

Lake Fork Reservoir is undoubtedly worth visiting if you’re willing to participate in fishing tournaments! We recommend checking out the Simms Bassmaster Elite Tournament or the Bass on the Fly Wood Championship. 

9. Saguaro Lake

Saguaro Lake is located in Arizona, within the Tonto National Forest.

©iStock.com/Monica Lara

Saguaro Lake
LocationMaricopa County, Arizona
Area1.97 sq mi
Depth90 ft
Number of fish species12
Popular fish speciesBass; carp

Saguaro Lake is located in Arizona, within the Tonto National Forest. Although it is smaller than the other lakes mentioned in this list, Saguaro Lake is definitely a destination worth checking out, especially if you’re living in or passing through the western United States. Moreover, it is a perfect spot for beginners, as fishing is pretty easy. Saguaro Lake hosts some of the following species:

  • Bass;
  • Crappie;
  • Bluegill;
  • Catfish;
  • Yellow bass;
  • Walleye.

It is considered that the lake hosts bass fish that weigh more than 12 pounds and carp species weighing around 30 pounds! Saguaro Lake is also a natural treasure, so you’ll be able to enjoy its stunningly beautiful surroundings!

Bonus: Three More Top Fishing Lakes

We wanted to offer three more great fishing lakes for your consideration – all known for healthy populations of walleye. As a matter of fact – one lake is known as the “Walleye Capital of the World”!

Lake of the Woods

Lake of the Woods Minnesota

There are plenty of docks at Zippel Bay State Park on Lake of the Woods, Minnesota.

©iStock.com/milendm

Known as the “Walleye Capital of the World,” Minnesota’s Lake of the Woods offers some of the best fishing in the country. You can cast and catch one after another in early summer including:

  • Sauger
  • Walleye
  • Jumbo Perch
  • Muskellunge
  • Crappie
  • Northern Pike
  • Trout
  • Sturgeon
  • Smallmouth Bass

There are limitations to the amounts you can catch of some fish – 20 yellow perch and 10 during crappie season. There are seven boat landings and fishing tournaments galore – including an ice fishing tournament!

Lake St. Clair

Lake St. Clair Michigan sunset

Despite Lake St. Clair’s significant size and role in the Great Lakes, it is often excluded from the official list of “Great Lakes.”

©Jdkfoto/Shutterstock.com

Bordering Detroit, Michigan, Lake St. Clair offers anglers a 420-square-mile fishing paradise with a family vibe. Kids will enjoy swimming in the sandy bottom swimming holes – everyone will enjoy fishing a healthy population of these fish species:

  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Walleye
  • Perch
  • Crappie
  • Muskie
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Pumpkinseed Sunfish
  • Bluegill
  • Northern Pike
  • Stergeon

Lake St. Clair hosts approximately 50% of the total sport fishing in the region – even though it is not the biggest lake around. Trout and bass are the most abundant catches in this popular fishing spot.

Lake Champlain

Lake Champlain and the Blue Mountains of Vermont

Lake Champlain and the Blue Mountains of Vermont seen from New York State

©Guy Banville/ via Getty Images

Located between Vermont and New York, Lake Champlain is considered one of North America’s best lakes for bass fishing. Large and smallmouth varieties are plentiful in this massive 280,000-acre lake surrounded by the Blue Mountains. Cast out your line for over 93 species of fish including these sought-after varieties:

  • Largemouth Bass
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Muskellunge
  • Walleye
  • Northern Pike
  • Lake Trout
  • Landlocked Salmon

Due to its mountain location, Lake Champlain offers opportunities for scenic outdoor adventures like biking, hiking, and sailing. Nothing beats being out on the lake on a beautiful day – reeling in bass after bass!

Summary Of The 9 Best Lakes In The United States For Fishing

RankLakeLocationFish Species
1Lake SuperiorMinnesota, Wisconsin, the Upper Peninsula of MichiganMore than 80
2Lake OkeechobeeFloridaMore than 40
3Chickamauga LakeHamilton, Rhea, Meigs, McMinn, Bradley counties, TennesseeMore than 40
4Lake TahoeThe Sierra Nevada of the United States, along the state line of California and Nevada7
5Lake ErieMichigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New YorkMore than 107
6Lake MichiganWisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan153
7Clear LakeLake County, California31
8Lake Fork ReservoirWood, Rains, and Hopkins Counties, TexasOver 15
9Saguaro LakeMaricopa County, Arizona12


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About the Author

I hold seven years of professional experience in the content world, focusing on nature, and wildlife. Asides from writing, I enjoy surfing the internet and listening to music.

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