The best bass lakes in west Texas include a huge expanse of land and three of the best bass lakes in the world. Any serious angler looking to catch giant largemouth in 2023 and 2024 should give consideration to west Texas as their destination of choice.
I grew up fishing in west Texas. Fishing there can be somewhat infuriating. The wind on an average day can blow you off the water. Additionally, a lake can be 20 feet or more low for 4 years and barely produce anything. Then, in a matter of hours, it can get an influx of water at the right time and becomes an entirely new fishery! This means many of the best lakes in the west experience the ‘new lake effect’ every 5 to 7 years.
While this can make it frustrating for locals, if you plan your trip right, it can mean epic fishing for you!
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The Best Bass Lake in west Texas is O.H. Ivie Reservoir
By far, this is the trip to make if you have time and resources. O.H. Ivie is having one of those magical years and as temps start to cool this fall, it could mean some amazing days on the water. Expect big numbers of fish and some huge bass to come across the news feeds.
Electronics play a big role on this reservoir in locating and catching bass during the summer and winter months. Moderate temps should even the playing field for less sophisticated electronics a bit as shad and bass move shallow.
As fall progresses, look for bass to move shallow for the early morning bite. Moving in from the depths, bass will relate and transition between standing timber and any grass. Key baits for fall on O.H. Ivie include crawfish and 10″ worms in pumpkinseed (a chartreuse tail can be magic). Topwater poppers can be great early and late in and around shallow timber. Crankbait fishermen can also experience an outstanding bite when shad are present.
Truly just a gem of a reservoir. Lake Amistad boasts beautiful scenery and the water closer to the dam is so clear you can see bass spawning in 10 feet of water in January. However, water levels fluctuate greatly at Amistad. It is currently 46 feet low. That is not a typo forty-six feet low.
Knowledgeable anglers can still find bass stacked on the right tree when levels are this low. Even though the lake fishes well at low levels, the real potential for the next few years is if she fills up. Watch the weather along the Rio Grande and, if you see a tropical storm moving to southwest Texas, be prepared for some amazing fishing in the near future.
Other awesome facts about Amistad include experiencing fall fishing patterns into December! Additionally, Amistad’s location in southwest Texas means warm winters can create some truly remarkable fishing patterns. In rare years, there have even been reports of spawning activity a week or two into a warm-up after a big December cold front.
In the fall, check the forecast and start your search accordingly. Depending on recent temps you could start deeper if temps haven’t dipped yet but, following cold nights, fish activity in the shallows can really pick up. Great search baits should include square bill crankbaits, Carolina rigs, and of course at least one topwater rod.
Lake Alan Henry
Alan Henry is a phenomenal fishery and a beautiful lake to boot. This lake has produced more than its fair share of lunkers over the last 20 years. It is not without controversy as Alabama bass were introduced here and have thrived. While some enjoy the numbers, others feel it has hurt the trophy bass production of this lake.
Nevertheless, if you are visiting the Lubbock area, this is the lake to fish. Fall comes early to Alan Henry. The Texas panhandle is known for some brutally cold winds. When the first fronts arrive the wind and low humidity combine for some very cool nights. As the temperatures start to drop the bass move to the shallows and sunlight.
At Alan Henry, the most consistent producer in the fall is the trusty spinnerbait. Work it along the edge of grass or timber throughout the day.
This doesn’t mean you should neglect topwater’s early or soft plastics to target some lunkers if you have located the largemouth. Fishing a square bill crankbait is often a great way to locate and catch fish on tough days.
Lake Fort Phantom Hill
Located just north of Abilene, Phantom as the locals call it is capable of producing some giant bass. 2022 is a year for the record books as Phantom is producing lake record after record.
Although a much smaller reservoir, this lake is known to hold some monsters. Late spring rains left Fort Phantom over the spillway and primed for a great fall and spawn. Phantom making it through the summer months above the full pool is a great sign for the coming year.
Fort Phantom has huge boulders that can hold some truly monstrous fish. Docks also provide good cover and crankbaits fished in and around them can be productive. If you have electronics, look for humps (especially gravel humps) in the main lake. White spinnerbaits and buzzbaits can locate and catch numbers.
When fishing soft plastics, it is tough to be blue fleck or blue-black baits. In fact, Fort Phantom’s new lake record was caught on a Blue craw swirl strike king cutter worm.
I cannot go to Phantom without a topwater tied on. The biggest largemouth I have personally witnessed come out of Phantom was on a chug bug fished over boulders in the spillway cove. Two giants were competing for it and an 8 lb 8 ouncer won the hooks. Admittedly, I was just the net man for this one but I will never forget that explosion.
Lake Leon is located midway between Abilene and DFW just south of the town of Ranger. Undoubtedly, we are stretching the boundaries of “west Texas” but to neglect this little gem because it is in between is just wrong. Lake Leon is a phenomenal bass fishery. It has varying structure and cover. As a result, this is a great place to explore different techniques and presentations for varying conditions.
Numbers are great here and the lake record is only 2 years old at 13 pounds even. A rarity in Texas. Really, you can’t go wrong taking your favorite fishing tactic and then choosing your fishing location to match. The varying structure means you can explore the various habitats and baits of fall all with one trailering.
The Best Bass Lakes in West Texas | One Last Cast
While west Texas is not thought of for its water, it holds 3 world-class fisheries and numerous other lakes with the potential for 13+ pound bass. Whether you are headed to Lubbock, Abilene, Weatherford, or Del Rio. These lakes have your fishable regions of west Texas covered. Bring your rods and watch the wind forecast.
If you are looking for other lakes in Texas to fish check out:
If you are headed to the DFW area:
As always, tight lines and fin times. We hope to see you under the big west Texas sky, searching for thePerfectCombo Fishing.