The Hoosier State provides a lot of great options for bass fishing. Whether you prefer to target deep bass around rocky drop-offs with finesse worms or scoot a floating frog among shallow lily pads, there are a lot of big bass waiting to be caught in Indiana.
Big ones too. Any given day, you have a reasonable shot at a 5-pound bass, and lunkers over 8 pounds are well within the realm of possibility.
But Indiana’s bass fishing is impressive not just because of the size and numbers of the bass that live there but also the diversity of its fishing opportunities. You can choose from sprawling reservoirs, deep glacier-carved natural lakes, and even one of the Great Lakes.
Indiana Bass Fishing
Largemouth bass are the dominant black bass species in most Indiana lakes, but quite a few lakes in the northern part of the state harbor excellent smallmouth bass populations. Spotted bass are also on the table at many Southern Indiana lakes.
Bass also provide year-round fishing opportunities. That said, springtime is the best time to catch one if you’re out after trophy bass in Indiana.
During the pre-spawn period in spring, the biggest bass in these Indiana lakes will be in shallow water, getting ready to spawn. Bass spawn when the water warms to about 65 degrees. The water may warm enough to trigger the spawn anytime from early May to the end of June in different parts of the state.
As with bass fishing anywhere, there are plenty of fun ways to catch bass in the state, from finessing soft plastics to blitzing them with topwaters. We have suggestions that work at these lakes, as well as a great how-to guide for bass fishing linked at the bottom of this article.
Regardless of the season, if you want to catch big bass in Indiana, the following lakes are the best places to do it.
Top 6 Indiana Trophy Bass Lakes
First, we’ll narrow it down to the half dozen Indiana lakes with unquestionably great bass fishing. Later we’ll show you a selection of other very good Hoosier bass bets.
Located about 10 miles southeast of Bloomington in Southern Indiana, 10,750-acre Lake Monroe is the largest lake in the state. Created with the construction of a dam on Salt Creek, Lake Monroe is also one of Indiana’s most consistent lakes for big largemouths.
Anglers catch largemouths in the 7- to 8-pound class here almost every year, and “keepers” measuring around 15 to 17 inches are incredibly common.
But Lake Monroe (a.k.a. Monroe Lake) also has a reputation for being a tough lake to fish, especially for newcomers.
Part of that is due to the intense fishing pressure and heavy boat traffic that Lake Monroe receives. It also doesn’t help that there’s not a ton of aquatic vegetation here. So anglers who are accustomed to working grass beds must adapt.
One thing Lake Monroe does have going for it is an abundance of great bass-holding structure. Underwater points, rocky shorelines, and a distinct creek channel are all features that hold bass here.
Lake Monroe also has an abundance of flooded brush and timber, and there are also some old submerged road beds, culverts, and bridges that act as fish magnets. Check a depth map for places where the creek channel swings close to a point or cove.
Lures that mimic gizzard shad tend to be effective here, though, with so much fishing pressure, the key to success is often throwing something the bass haven’t seen before. So at times, an oddball color choice can be surprisingly effective.
In addition to largemouths, Lake Monroe also has a growing spotted bass population. Most of these fish weigh a pound or two and often gravitate more to rocky structures than largemouths do.
Fairfax Recreation Area is one of several state and federal recreation areas around Lake Monroe, and it provides easy access to some great bass water. Camping, boat launch facilities, and bank fishing access are available here.
Another great Southern Indiana hotspot, Patoka Lake is a popular bass tournament lake and an excellent lake in which to target trophy largemouths. This lake doesn’t support quite the population density some other Indiana lakes do, but bass sizes are impressive.
Patoka Lake produces a ton of 3 to 5-pound bass, and anglers boat a few weighing over 7 pounds every year. A 15-inch minimum length limit is in place to encourage bigger bass.
With a maximum depth of 52 feet (about 22 feet average depth), Patoka Lake is a reservoir that covers 8,800 acres. It’s a sprawling, meandering lake with numerous coves and creek arms where bass spawn every spring.
And while there are certainly bass fishing opportunities here in every season, spring is when Patoka Lake really shines. Bass seek out the warmest water they can find in early spring and often smack crankbaits in just a few feet of water.
A lot of bass also head up into the Patoka River in spring. The stretch between Walls Lake Ramp and King’s Bridge is highly productive this time of year. By May, bass are most common at 8- to 10-foot depths as they prepare to spawn in Patoka Lake’s many coves.
Once summer rolls around, bass usually transition out to deeper main lake points. This lake has a lot of stumps and standing timber, which is reliable bass cover. There’s a great timber area just west of Route 145 and across the lake from the Newton-Stewart Boat Ramp.
Shad imitations work well here, as do buzzbaits and spinnerbaits, especially for big spawning bass. A wacky worm often does the trick on days when bass are shy to bite.
Most of Patoka Lake’s shoreline is undeveloped, with forest right down to the banks. When the water is high and shoreline trees and brush become inundated, focus your efforts on the flooded wood.
Largemouth bass are the main target in most Indiana lakes. But the Hoosier State’s section of Lake Michigan offers exciting opportunities to target another species: smallmouth bass.
Indiana can lay claim to 43 miles of Lake Michigan’s shoreline and about 1% of the lake’s total area. That’s by far the smallest share of the four states that border the Great Lake, but there are still some pretty impressive fishing opportunities here.
Indiana’s portion of Lake Michigan produces tremendous numbers of smallmouths. Most weigh between 1 and 3 pounds, but there are also plenty of 5-pound smallies to go around. They inhabit these waters all year, but the best smallmouth fishing is in spring and fall.
Lake Michigan’s southern tip is unique. Before people industrialized the lakeshore here, it was shallow, sandy, and featureless. Unfortunately, that type of habitat offered little to no ideal cover for smallmouth.
Today, however, artificial structures—piers, breakwalls, and breakwaters made of steel, chunk rock, and concrete—provide almost all of the smallmouth habitat.
The fishing in these areas gets going in April every year (steel and rock walls warm up quickly). By May, smallies are seemingly everywhere in Lake Michigan’s harbors and around near-shore structures.
They don’t go far in summer. Smallmouths are deepest during post-spawn and late fall, but even then, they’ll be hanging around rock piles and reefs about 25 feet deep in this part of the lake.
Another game-changer has been the introduction of invasive round gobies to Lake Michigan in the late ’90s. Today, these small bottom-dwelling fish are a key part of smallmouths’ diets. The most effective lures are dark-colored soft plastics like tube jigs that mimic gobies on the bottom.
Anywhere you find rock, concrete or steel in southern Lake Michigan, you’re likely to find smallmouths. Some of the best areas are toward the west, like Hammond Marina, Whiting Lakefront Park, and Gary Harbor. Burns Harbor has largemouths as well as smallmouth.
Lake Michigan also harbors some of Indiana’s best yellow perch fishing.
Spanning 245 acres in North-Central Indiana, Bruce Lake offers some of the best trophy largemouth fishing in the northern part of the state. This fertile natural lake is known for producing bass weighing over 6 pounds.
That said, it would be a stretch to call this a great numbers lake. Instead, Bruce Lake is the kind of water where anglers put in their time and pay their dues to target a modest bass population that includes some seriously massive fish.
It’s also clear that numbers and sizes have both been on the rise in recent years. An electrofishing survey in 2017 found six times as many 18-inch-plus largemouths than the previous survey five years earlier.
The pre-spawn period is the best time to target big bass on Bruce Lake. From March through May, largemouths forage heavily in shallow areas near the banks and on the shallow humps near the middle of the lake.
Bruce Lake’s water clarity is quite stained, and vegetation only grows out to a depth of about 8 feet. The maximum depth of the lake is 34 feet, but the majority of it is 15 feet or less.
You seldom have to fish deep water to catch bass here. Targeting weed lines and lily pads is a great tactic. Pitching and flipping soft plastics under docks is also effective, especially first thing in the morning.
Gizzard shad and bluegill are the primary forage species for bass in Bruce Lake, so choose lure patterns that match. If the lake is especially turbid, try a spinnerbait or buzzbait.
You can launch at a public access ramp at the northwest corner of the lake.
Franklin County’s Brookville Lake is unique because it’s one of the few lakes in Southern Indiana that offers excellent fishing for both largemouth and smallmouth bass. Both species are abundant, though they tend to inhabit different parts of the lake.
Brookville Lake is a somewhat long and narrow reservoir, oriented north to south, with the dam at its southernmost end. That lower part of the lake is where most anglers catch smallmouth.
The lower third of Brookville lake (below the Fairfield Causeway) has steep, almost bluff-like banks and an abundance of boulders and rocky structure that smallmouths love. Some of the best fishing is along the dam’s riprap face, especially during May.
Smallmouths up to 18 inches are very common, and anglers have landed some up to 5 pounds here.
The best approaches tend to be jigs and drop-shot rigged soft plastics. At times—especially in summer—smallmouths may also suspend and strike jerkbaits and topwaters.
Largemouths are more common in the upper part of the lake and also in the coves and creek arms in the lower portion. Lots of largemouths are caught in the Templeton and Wolf Creek arms and among the flooded timber near the Bonwell Hill Boat Ramp.
Brookville Lake is deep and surprisingly clear, with up to 20 feet of visibility at times, especially in the lower part of the lake. The best fishing is often on days when there’s a bit of cloud cover or some breeze to break up the surface.
Brookville is also not just a bass lake. The Indiana DNR has stocked stripers here, and there are some massive walleye in the lake too. So there’s a good chance you’ll catch all of the above, especially in springtime along the dam.
Located just southeast of Syracuse in Northern Indiana’s Kosciusko County, Lake Wawasee is a large glacial lake that encompasses approximately 3,000 acres. It’s the largest natural lake in the state and a very popular fishing destination.
Largemouth and smallmouth bass are both common in Lake Wawasee, with largemouths being the prevalent species. The lake has great habitat for both species, including ample shallow weed beds and deep, rocky drop-offs.
Anglers catch plenty of 5-pound largemouths and smallmouths up to 3 pounds.
In early spring, some of the first places to warm up are the residential canals off Johnson Bay on the north end of the lake and Conklin Bay on the west end. These are great places to try in April.
Once bass shift into spawning mode from May into June, those two bays remain prime areas to catch big spawning largemouths. Look for bass around the cattails and lily pads at the back of the bays.
Aside from those two bays, Lake Wawasee’s shoreline is almost entirely developed. Bulkheads line most banks, and hundreds of boat docks and boathouses extend into the water.
Fishing these kinds of manmade cover can be great from spring into summer. Bass often seek shade under boats and docks, and flipping a tube jig or soft jerkbait under these structures is a fun way to pick off fish.
Deeper structure is also worth exploring during the warmer months. For example, several mid-lake humps hold a mix of largemouths and smallmouths, which often fall for diving crankbaits and drop-shot rigs.
Drop-offs near Ogden Island and Morrison Island are also prime smallie spots.
A state-owned public access site with boat ramps and fishing platforms is located at the lake’s southeastern end just off Turkey Creek Road.
Lake Wawasee offers a range of other fishing options, including some of the better crappie fishing in Indiana.
Countless lakes across the state of Indiana offer good bass fishing. And while the lakes listed above may be the best of the best, you also have a shot at catching some very impressive fish from these honorable mention lakes.
West Boggs Lake
A 633-acre impoundment in Southern Indiana, West Boggs Lake is in the heart of Indiana’s “big bass region.” Lake Monroe and Patoka Lake are each less than an hour away.
But West Boggs Lake also has an impressive largemouth population, which includes a healthy spread of fish in every age and size class. Anglers catch a lot of bass in the 12- to 16-inch range, but there are bigger fish too.
Still, West Boggs Lake is generally more about numbers than size when it comes to bass.
It’s a great place to bring kids to introduce them to bass fishing. West Boggs Park provides excellent access, boat launch facilities, and a campground.
West Boggs Lake is mostly shallow, with two main arms and numerous smaller coves that attract bass in springtime.
In summer, bass typically transition to main lake points. They are likely to strike on a wide range of lures, from crankbaits to finesse worms.
West Boggs Lake is also known for its excellent panfish populations. Lots of big crappies prowl the weed lines, and bluegills over 8 inches are common.
Eagle Creek Reservoir
There’s great bass fishing at Eagle Creek Reservoir, a 1,350-acre impoundment in Central Indiana. The lake is located on the western outskirts of Indianapolis, making it one of the state’s best urban bass fisheries, even though intense fishing pressure can make it challenging.
Eagle Creek Reservoir is full of 2- and 3-pound largemouths, and there are certainly some 5-pounders out there too. Bass numbers and sizes tend to be cyclical in this lake, with a few lean years typically followed by a major bass boom.
The reservoir has several excellent spawning coves that are productive from late April through May. Largemouths here are usually done spawning by June and start transitioning to deeper summer haunts.
Even so, plenty of bass are caught shallow in summer, especially in the morning and evening. You’ll probably pick up bass targeting riprap and chunk rock banks, including along the 56th Street causeway that spans the lake near its midpoint.
Areas at the upper end of the lake have a lot of laydown trees, stumps, and beds of water willows. Anglers often deploy creature baits, wacky worms, and spinnerbaits to catch bass in these spots. This end of the lake is accessible through Eagle Creek Park.
Eagle Creek Lake also is an excellent place to go catfish fishing in Indiana.
Nestled in the northeasternmost corner of Indiana, Clear Lake is a natural lake that covers about 800 acres. It’s a deep glacial lake that supports healthy populations of both largemouth and smallmouth bass.
True to its name, Clear Lake has excellent visibility, which can sometimes make fishing challenging. The best bite is usually on days with cloud cover, and finesse fishing is usually the ticket to catching bass.
A few patterns consistently work on Clear Lake. There’s often a really good topwater bite early in the morning, and you can usually pick off a few largemouths using poppers and walk-the-dog style surface lures.
Drop-shotting with finesse soft plastics is also a great tactic. Clear Lake has a lot of rocky ledges, drop-offs, and points between 12 and 24 feet of water, and drop-shotting often yields both smallmouths and largemouths, and possibly a toothy northern pike or two.
Bank access is limited, but the Clear Lake Public Boat Ramp at the east end of the lake offers a little bit of shore access and a fishing dock. The lake’s shoreline is highly developed, and fishing boat docks can also be productive.
Dogwood Lake is an often-overlooked bass lake in Southern Indiana. Spanning 1,200 acres, it’s a productive fishery that routinely puts up some of the highest catch rates in this part of the state.
Granted, the numbers are more impressive than the sizes here. While you do have an outside shot and hooking into a bass close to 8 pounds, the most abundant size class at Dogwood Lake is almost always bass in the 12- to 14-inch range.
Still, you can often catch them here until your arms are sore. Dogwood Lake is mostly shallow, with moderately steep drop-offs along most of the shoreline plunging to between 20 and 30 feet. During summer, anglers hook loads of bass along the drops.
Running crankbaits and spinnerbaits right over the tips of the weed beds that grow along the drop-offs is a great way to put some bass in the boat. Dogwood Lake also has numerous coves that are absolutely loaded with stumps and timber.
Dogwood Lake is within Glendale Fish & Wildlife Area, which also contains several smaller ponds.
A campground and boat launch facilities are available in the Fish & Wildlife area; the area’s rules limit boat motors to 10 hp.
Turtle Creek Reservoir
Turtle Creek Reservoir has gone through some interesting cycles over the years, to say the least. There was a time when this 1,550-acre reservoir in Southwest Indiana would easily have ranked among the state’s finest bass lakes.
Few lakes in Indiana produced more big bass during the 1980s. But the largemouth population collapsed in the ’90s and never fully recovered. Many anglers blame vegetation loss due to warm water discharge from the adjacent power plant.
Today, bass fishing at Turtle Creek Reservoir has improved dramatically, even though it may never be as good as it once was. Bass weighing 5 pounds are available, and there are great numbers of smaller fish.
In early spring, the best bass fishing is closest to the Merom Generating Station’s warm water discharge.
Anglers also catch bass on points and in coves all over the lake, especially around submerged timber. A ton of flooded brush and laydowns along the shoreline hold fish.
The public launch on the lake’s south shore just off West County Road 300-S is the primary access to Turtle Creek Reservoir. A strict 20-inch minimum length restriction is in place on this lake, with a one-bass limit per day.
Worster Lake is a fairly small reservoir that covers 327 acres in Northern Indiana. The impoundment was created in 1976 with the damming of Potato Creek and has become an excellent largemouth bass lake.
Surveys have found bass over 5 pounds here, and smaller fish right around the 14-inch legal limit are abundant. Worster Lake is loaded with cover, from flooded brush and timber to grass and old sunken road beds. Its small size makes it easy to pattern quickly.
Worster Lake is in Potato Creek State Park, which offers launch ramps, camping, and several fishing piers. Boats are restricted to electric motors and non-powered craft, making this an excellent destination for kayak anglers.
Like many Indiana reservoirs, Worster Lake has had issues with the proliferation of invasive gizzard shad. Although the shad provide an abundant food source for largemouth bass and other predatory fish, they also tend to overpopulate, stunting the growth of other species.
The DNR has introduced hybrid striped bass, known as wipers, into Worster Lake to help combat the shad. The wipers have reduced shad numbers and allowed largemouths to continue flourishing while providing another unique angling opportunity.
Located just north of Richmond and a stone’s throw from the Ohio border, Middlefork Reservoir is an excellent bass lake in East-Central Indiana. The lake’s clear, clean water is a water source for the nearby city and is also the source of some big bass.
At just 177 acres, Middlefork Reservoir is small and easy to fish. Unfortunately, anglers might overlook this fishery, partly due to being just 20 minutes away from the much larger Brookville Lake. But despite its diminutive size, Middlefork consistently produces largemouths up to 7 pounds.
Middlefork Lake doesn’t have a lot of vegetation or natural wood cover. But quite a few brush piles have been sunk throughout shallow portions of the lake, particularly along the southeast shore.
Those brush piles attract schools of bluegills, and bass are seldom far away. The bridges toward the upper end of the lake are also among the best bass fishing spots.
The city of Richmond operates a public park on the lakeshore. Park amenities include boat launch facilities, a bait shop, boat rentals, and plenty of bank access. Boats are allowed with unlimited horsepower, but the lake is best suited to smaller craft.
Geist Reservoir spans 1,890 acres just northeast of Indianapolis. The lake supports an abundance of largemouth bass, including some impressive fish.
This reservoir produces a ton of 4- and 5-pound largemouths, and a recent DNR survey found that 80% of the bass sampled in this lake are over the 14-inch legal limit. Real trophies are rare here, but suffice it to say that Geist Reservoir has a lot of quality fish.
There are several productive coves on this lake, which offer some of the best bass fishing in springtime. The Feather Cove and Fall Creek areas on the lower end of the lake are great options, along with Cocktail Cove and Cambridge Cove farther up the lake.
Boat docks and bulkheads along the shoreline also produce great bass, as do rocky banks near the bridge. Look for areas where docks extend out into near-shore weed beds. Try tossing a topwater in the morning or working a plastic worm along docks and grass.
Geist Reservoir has a couple of public boat ramps, and development of Geist Waterfront Park at the upper end of the lake is underway at this writing. Boat traffic can get heavy between Memorial Day and Labor Day, so avoid weekends and get an early start to beat the crowds.
Beaver Dam Lake
Sometimes referred to as Beaver Creek Lake or simply Beaver Lake, Beaver Dam Lake is an excellent and often-overlooked bass lake in North-Central Indiana. Part of the reason it’s often overlooked may be due to its small size or middle-of-nowhere location.
But don’t let Beaver Dam Lake’s dainty 205 acres trick you into thinking there are no big bass here. While you might not catch a trophy, this lake is loaded with largemouths, including many that top 18 inches.
Beaver Dam Lake is a great place to target bass in shallow cover. The lake has some productive spawning coves with plenty of weed growth near the banks. Topwater frogs can produce some big blowups in summer.
Much of the lake’s western shore is undeveloped, but private homes with boat docks dominate much of the eastern shore. Try casting soft plastics under docks and around nearby sunken brush piles.
A concrete boat ramp is at the west end of the lake.
Beaver Dam Lake is in Kosciusko County, known for its abundance of small glacial lakes. Several offer quality bass fishing as well. We suggest also checking out Winona Lake, Carr Lake, and Palestine Lake if you fish in this area.
Catch More Bass
If you’re new to bass fishing, or you want to increase your knowledge to catch more, check out our simple guide to bass fishing techniques and tips, with lots of lure suggestions and tactics.