100 best bass lakes: We’re No. 3! And No. 9! And No. 24 …

By Joel Shangle

Let the arguments begin.

Even though we Golden Staters are honored that Bassmaster magazine ranked two California lakes in its recently released Top 100 Bass Lakes of 2013, we’re already dialing Bassmaster editor James Hall to lobby for New Melones Reservoir- among others – as a write-in vote.

Clear Lake was ranked No. 3 in the country, which is probably right where it belongs … for this year anyway. Thanks to the recent resurgence of the lake’s famed largemouth fishery in the recent two years, don’t be surprised if Lakeport is the center of the bass fishing world in 2014.

And how were the fisheries chosen?

Last year, we developed the list by asking every state’s Department of Natural Resources (sometimes it was the wildlife agency) to give us catch rates, population studies and stocking schedules for all the fisheries they managed. From there, we sent the list to B.A.S.S. Nation presidents and conservation directors to rank each of these bodies of water based on the tournaments they held. And then we had a panel of Elite Series pros, outdoor writers and industry professionals finalize the lakes list and rankings.

This process made last year’s list solid, but not bulletproof. This year, we added another very important step to the ranking system: you!

We sent the list created by the DNR data to not only the B.A.S.S. Nation leadership, but also 3,500 B.A.S.S. members throughout the U.S., as well. We asked these avid anglers to tell us which fisheries should be deleted and which lakes should be added to the list, and then to rank the lakes in their respective regions. The response was unbelievable, and the data collected helped legitimize the ranking of each body of water.

The Delta came in at No. 9, Lake Oroville at No. 24, Lake Shasta at 33. I’m a little surprised that the Bassmaster boys snuck Bullards Bar in at No. 37 and Berryessa at 53 – nice scouting, Mr. Hall!

Clear Lake hawgs like this 10-pounder landed by Byron Velvick at the 2011 Elite Series tournament at Clear Lake are why this NorCal fishery was voted No. 3 by Bassmaster. (Seigo Saito photo)