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7 Best Bass Fishing Destinations in North Carolina

Last Updated: 12.07.24


The appeal of bass as a game fish transcends age groups, cultures, and genders. Since all the major lakes in North Carolina boast healthy bass populations, the Tar Heel State is a heavy favorite for bass anglers. Grab your top rated fishing poles and check out these are the best fishing spots in North Carolina.

  1. High Rock Lake

Otherwise known as High Rock Reservoir, High Rock Lake has a huge population of catfish, crappie, and stripers, aside from being a very productive bass fishery. A reservoir on the Yadkin River, High Rock Lake is located south of Lexington. It includes around 15,000 surface acres of water.

Despite its acknowledged fertility, this spot has not carried that much of a huge reputation as other more massive lakes such as Gaston or Buggs Island. Nor has it quite caught up with the fame of the lakes found on the outskirts of such major metropolitan areas including Falls of the Neuse, Wylie, Shearon Harris, or Jordan.

That said, High Rock Lake is not just the runt of the litter. By far, it is known for its year-round nice spinnerbait color. Fishing for bass is consistently productive and so is crappie fishery as well as channel catfish and flathead fishing. Another thing that has enticed anglers who set their sights on High Rock after ending up with nothing at other lakes is its productivity for striper as well.

This fertile, 15,180-acre lake located in North Carolina’s north central segment offers 365 miles of shoreline. You can opt to do shore fishing or fishing in a canoe, boat, or kayak. Easily one of the best North Carolina fishing places, High Rock has marinas that provide services and goods to boaters, even boat rentals when needed.

Any angler can fill up with groceries, ice, beverages, bait, and tackle prior to heading out. Boat docks can also be found on the lake, so there is ample cover for low-depth bass as well as other kinds of fish. Moreover, in the event that the fish move farther from the bank, High Rock Lake has a good number of drop-offs, humps, ledges, and creek channels in which to set up. The lake is ideal for fishing bright lures and spinnerbaits.

Predominantly an offshore fishing ground, High Rock lake offers the western edge of the old Uwharrie Mountains as well as the verdant hills of Piedmont as a lovely backdrop for fishing away from the bank. A single exception would be spring fishing when you should not be angling the banks despite there being plenty of boat docks.

You can join fishing parties operated by guide service providers for anglers who are out for crappie, largemouth bass, stripers, catfish, and white bass. Find an operator who knows the spots off the bank that hold the fish.

One of the best months to be on the water is June as it is the first month when most species are back to feed just after the spawning period. Stripers will surely have made their way back down the river and to the main body of the lake by that time, as have the bass. Crappie will also have started to cluster together on offshore cover and structure. As for the catfish, they will doubtlessly be inclined to have a bite as the water turns warm in anticipation of the summer season.


  1. Fontana Lake

The largest lake in all of western North Carolina, Fontana Lake is inarguably picturesque. All around it are the Great Smoky Mountains. That is aside from the 480-foot tall Fontana Dam being the highest one located east of the Rockies. The dam’s height is the same as that of a 50-storey skyscraper. Extending from Georgia to Maine, the Appalachian Trail crosses Fontana Dam.

Around 90 percent of the 238-mile shoreline of Fontana Lake is owned and protected by the Nantahala National Forest and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. If you take the Indian Lakes Scenic Byway during the drive, there are several overlooks on the way, which is something that campers and hikers will truly delight in.

Fontana Lake is popular for swimming, boating, and fishing. Around 400 houseboats are in the location, many of which offer vacation rentals. A lot of remote sections in the Great Smoky Mountains can be reached by boat. Adjacent to Fontana Dam and by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a year-round resort that provides camping, cabin rentals, historic lodge, outdoor pools, eateries, marina, putt-putt golf, and a lot more.

The cold and deep waters of the lake deliver ideal habitat conditions for various kinds of fish. Record-size walleye and muskie have been extracted from its depths. It is also considered a wonderful smallmouth bass fishery.


  1. Lake Phelps

Lake Phelps is a large, shallow lake proximate to the coastline of North Carolina. It can be a haven for sunfish, crappie, and bass enthusiasts. The lake measures 16,600 acres and is located two miles south of Creswell, NC. It has the shape of a big bowl with the little shoreline forming a nice contour.

There are submerged vegetation and trees on nearly all of the lake’s banks. Around the lake are boat docks as well. The public has access through boat launch ramps. A lot of spots around the lake provide launch sites for kayaks and canoes. Bigger boats have access to a paved ramp. Since a large part of the lake is shallow, boaters should be careful in navigating them.

Lake Phelps is a genuinely productive bass fishing spot nestled between the Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds in eastern North Carolina. It is the second largest lake of natural origin. There is no shortage of natural cover to accommodate big bass. Moreover, the abundance of flooded wooded areas and robust grass provides great fishing spots to use a variety of lures in.

You can easily catch a 25-pound largemouth bass on Lake Phelps on any given day if the conditions are ideal.


  1. Shearon Harris Lake

The stellar reputation of Shearon Harris Lake has remained consistent when it comes to bass fishing. Seasoned bass anglers can catch nearly a hundred bass every hour. That is way beyond the average for Piedmont lake at just 30 to 60 per hour.

The key to the productivity in the fishery of Shearon Harris Lake lies in its similar configuration to a large farm pond. The main forage is bluegills so you can utilize sunfish-like lures effectively, whether they are swim baits or crank baits. Topwater lures and soft plastics are suitable when going for the grass beds.

Furthermore, providing the ideal habitat are the Hydrilla, primrose, and lilies. There are also plenty of water lilies in the area above the bridge in the White Oak Creek channel. Around 80 percent of the fish caught in Shearon Harris Lake is bigger than 14 inches, 15 percent is larger than 20 inches, and 55 percent is bigger than 16 inches.

What’s more, the lake is operated under special regulations that ensure consistent fishery. The minimum size limit is pegged at 14 inches, even with 2 of the largemouth being less than that. You can’t keep any fish between 16 and 20 inches either. Because of the associated mortality to catch-and-release angling, a huge amount of pressure pervades largemouth bass fishing. The slot limit shields the fish from depletion.

  1. Lake Sutton

Another favorite bass hotspot is Sutton Lake. With the change in bass regulations, the lake now allows anglers to keep up to 5 fish larger than 14 inches except when 2 of them are smaller than 14 inches. Most coastal plain fisheries implement prohibitions on bass fishing if they are less than 14 inches. This evens out the small fish population to prevent stunted growth when there are just too many big bass in the area.  

Another policy that has enabled Lake Sutton to maintain its bass fishery reputation is the prohibition on keeping fish from December 1 through March 1. The lake is much more diminutive than other cooling lakes at just 1,100 acres. It is during the colder months when the bass come together in the warm water channels, so anglers tend to overdo it. The tendency of the bass to disperse around the lake later in the year makes them less vulnerable.


  1. Lake Waccamaw

The shallow nature of Lake Waccamaw makes it a nice spot for bass fishing for the average angler in the spring. However, the conditions are the opposite in the summer. That’s because the shallows warm faster compared to the other sections of the lake in the spring. The largemouth bass will be found quite close to the shoreline. That said, if the first warm weather days happen exactly during the full moon, fishing will be remarkably satisfying.

In the spring, there won’t even be a need to bring too many electronics if you simply focus on the shoreline and the visible structure there such as docks, reed grass, and weed beds.  Make sure to visit some of the stakes lining the lake, which are about 100 yards from the shoreline.


  1. Jordan Lake

During the ‘80s and ‘90s, Jordan Lake used to be the premier bass fishery for North Carolinians. However, because of heavy fishing pressure, that reputation diminished, although by just a few levels. This lake still has much to offer to bass anglers, with any cast reeling you in a catch that can break your own record.

In 1987, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission implemented a creel limit involving a daily take of just 4 fish and a minimum size of 16 inches. Since the imposition of the limit, Jordan Lake has become a genuine trophy fishery and has maintained its reputation for the last two and a half decades.



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