No matter what species of freshwater fish you’re looking to catch, odds are you’ll find a lake that holds it in the United States. Sport fishing has become a sort of national pastime for millions of Americans, and for good reason. The contiguous U.S. is peppered with world class fishing lakes. Every popular sport fishing species from bass, to panfish, to catfish, and even muskellunge can be caught in great quantity if you know where to go. That said, here are five fantastic lakes that every dedicated angler should fish at least once.
Lake Okeechobee, Florida
If there’s one word that describes Lake Okeechobee, it’s big. Also known as the Big O by local residents, Lake Okeechobee is over 730 square miles in surface area. Its claim to fame in fishing is the Largemouth Bass, which congregate in the lake’s numerous patches of hydrilla. Record breaking largemouth are often pulled in here, and the favorable weather makes it a pleasure to fish at any time of the year.
Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri
“The Lake”, as it’s known to Missourians, is a world class fishing lake for multiple species. A man made reservoir created from the damming of the Osage River, the Lake of the Ozarks’ real draw for freshwater fishermen is its monster catfish. The deep water area near the dam at the head of the lake is known for holding downright huge Blue Catfish. Local legends about divers seeing catfish “as big as Volkswagens” abound.
Lake Vermillion, Minnesota
Like most Northern lakes, Lake Vermillion has its fair share of pike and walleye. Its unique quality, though, is the propensity of muskie in its waters. Known by fishermen as the “fish of 10,000 casts”, muskie fishing is what many consider the ultimate freshwater challenge. And there’s no better place to try your hand at it than in these chilly Minnesota waters.
Grenada Lake, Mississippi
This Southern lake was constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers by damming up the Yalobusha River. Though it was designed as a flood control water, it has proven itself to be one of the best crappie fishing lakes in the country. It has 48 miles of monster crappie-holding shoreline. These crappie aren’t “palm sized” big – they’re commonly Largemouth Bass big, often weighing in at 2-3 pounds.
Crater Lake, Oregon
Among fishing lakes in North America, Crater Lake is a true oddity. It was formed by rainwater in the caldera (crater) of a massive volcano. Its surface area is over 30 miles, and since there are no inlets or rivers flowing into it, it has some of the clearest water in the world. In fact, anglers can see down an astounding 80 to 115 feet on average. The lake holds Sockeye Salmon and Rainbow Trout among other species, so fly fishing and sight fishing are popular recreational styles there.
With all the great fishing lakes in the U.S. to check out, there’s little time to waste. No matter what your favorite species or fishing style is, odds are there is a spectacular lake that fits you perfectly within a day or two’s drive of you.