Santee Cooper Lakes Make Bassmaster Magazine Best Bass Lakes List For 2022

emily Harley,

bass Communications Manager,


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Like the waters anglers love, the rankings of America’s best bass fisheries can surge or ebb, and this year’s Bassmaster Magazine’s 100 Best Bass Lakes list is a true reflection of those fluctuations. Anglers eager to do battle with giant smallmouth can head north to the 1000 Islands region of the St. Louis. Lawrence River, which has once more topped Bassmaster’s list as the country’s best bass fishery.

At No. 10, Santee Cooper Lakes is South Carolina’s highest-ranking fishery. There must be something special in the water of sister lakes Marion and Moultrie as they seldom fall out of the Best Bass Lakes Top 10. The March 2022 Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite at Santee Cooper Lakes saw two anglers — Drew Cook and Caleb Kuphall — eclipse the 100-pound mark for the four-day tournament, and weights were so strong that half of the field brought in bags over 20 pounds on the final day. Add the ancient cypress trees standing sentinel throughout castable bass waters and world-class sunrises, and this South Carolina jewel is a bucket list stop for any avid angler.

Lake Hartwell (No. 19, Southeastern Division) and Lake Murray (No. 20, Southeastern Division) also made the Top 100 list.

Bragging rights for most fisheries in the Top 100 rankings goes to Texas with 11 lakes. California is second with eight fisheries on the list, followed by Florida (seven) and New York and Michigan, which each place six lakes on the list.

“We are always a little surprised when going through the data how many fisheries make the rankings and then fall off, as well as by those lakes that just always make the list,” explained Bassmaster Magazine Editor-in-Chief James Hall. “Creating the rankings takes more than two months as we dig through current tournament data as well as state fishery information on stocking efforts, catch rates and angler access.

“While the fisheries may change, our goal is to point anglers toward the most productive waters so that your time is spent with rod bent. These rankings provide a bucket list of destinations for anglers.”

Spectacular scenery and feisty smallmouth meet on the 50-mile stretch of the St. Lawrence River known as the 1000 Islands. History was made on the clear waters of this seaway straddling the US-Canadian border during the Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite out of Clayton, NY, this summer. The fireworks started on Day 1 when every angler weighed within a limit and the average weight was 20.9 pounds. After four days, two anglers — Jay Przekurat and Cory Johnston — topped the 100-pound mark with solely smallmouth, a first-ever feat for the Elite Series.

Things really are bigger in Texas and that includes the bass coming out of OH Ivie Lake. This reservoir has stolen the spotlight over the last two years, producing an eye-popping 24 Legacy ShareLunker bass — a design for fish weighing more than 13 pounds.

Most commonly known as the California Delta, the No. 3 spot goes to the massive Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, a tidal fishery renowned for producing some of the biggest bass in the country over the past decade. Despite the record drought across the West, in the short term at least, reduced outflows through the Delta’s rivers, tule-lined sloughs and vegetation-filled flooded islands are having a positive impact on the largemouth community thanks to an increase in vegetation and prey.

The rankings identify the top lakes in the nation based on head-to-head comparisons, as well as the Top 25 lakes in four geographical regions — Central, Western, Southeastern and Northeastern.

“We divide the nation into four regions and rank the lakes in each region to give anglers perspective on the fisheries they can most likely reach,” Hall explained.