It's fishing season. There are more than 7,500 freshwater lakes, ponds, and reservoirs in New York, providing plenty of places to drop a line. But where is the best place to reel in the big one this season? Two of the 10 Best Bass Lakes can be found in New York.

Bassmaster has compiled their annual list of the 10 Best Bass Lakes in the country and two of those lakes are in the Empire State.

Compiling Best Bass Lakes

After contacting fishery departments, B.A.S.S Nation presidents, conservation directors and digging into tournament results and surveys, a panel of insiders vote on the best of the best.

After months of gathering data on hundreds of the best lakes in the nation, the cream of the bass fisheries has risen.

Read More: First Time Angler Reels in 35 Pound Monster


#10 Lake Erie/Upper Niagara River, New York

Lake Erie is home to one of the world's largest freshwater commercial fisheries. The fish populations are the most abundant of the Great Lakes.

Fishing on Lake Erie can almost guarantee that you'll reel in something. You can expect 30 to 50 smallmouth a day with 15% of them weighing over 4 pounds if you believe New York B.A.S.S. Nation President David Repman.

A Bass tournament in May 2023 brought in several over 6 pounds. The bigger fish can be caught from mid-September to mid-October.

Lake Erie’s eastern basin continues to thrill smallmouth anglers with trophy bass and plenty of action.

Credit - Richard R via Unsplash
Credit - Richard R via Unsplash

#2 St. Lawrence River (Thousand Islands), New York

After being been named the best bass fishery in 2022, the St. Lawrence River is Bassmaster's second Best Bass Lake in 2023.

"It could be the best smallmouth fishery to ever exist."

A Bassmaster Elite tournament in 2022 brought in a winning 102 pound, 9 ounce whopper, the first time an angler took home the trophy with over 100 pounds of solely smallmouth. The second winning bass tipped the scale at 100-5.

Credit - Karl Heinz Muller via Unsplash
Credit - Karl Heinz Muller via Unsplash

See all 10 of the Best Bass Lakes at

Here are the Top 10 lakes in New York where you're sure to catch a fish worth talking about, bass or otherwise.

10 Best Lakes in New York To Reel in the Big One

Fishing License

If you want to fish in New York State, you'll need a fishing license if you are 16 years of age or older:

  • Freshwater fish by angling, spearing, hooking, longbow, and tip-ups.
  • Frogs by spearing, catching with the hands, or by use of a club or hook.
  • Freshwater baitfish for personal use.

Read More: Fishing Records in New York State

No Fishing License Required

  • Fishing on a licensed fishing preserve.
  • Fishing during the free fishing weekend.
  • Fishing at a free fishing clinic.
  • A resident landowner primarily engaged in farming (including lessees and members of their immediate families) when fishing on farm lands they are occupying and cultivating.
  • A farm fish pond license holder (including members of their immediate families) fishing on waters covered by the license.
  • A Native American living and fishing on reservation land.
  • A patient residing at a qualifying U.S. Veterans Administration hospital or facility in New York State.
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Map & Fees

Want to see all the places you can fish across the state? The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has a map of all the spots where you can drop a line.

Fishing License Fees

$25 for the year
$12 for 7 days
$5 for 1 day

Prices double for out-of-state residents who want to fish in New York.

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