Top 12 Indiana Fishing Lakes

Top 12 Indiana Fishing Lakes

This article will list the top 12 Indiana fishing lakes. Indiana has a few large lakes along with many smaller bodies of water. Largemouth bass and panfish are the most sought after freshwater game fish. Catfish are quite popular as well. However, smallmouth bass, walleye, northern pike, musky, and even trout are available.

Indiana fishing lakes

The top 12 Indiana fishing lakes are:

  • Lake Monroe
  • Patoka Lake
  • Lake Webster
  • Geist Reservoir
  • Lake Freeman
  • West Boggs
  • Brookville Reservoir
  • Lake Maxinkuckee
  • Morse Reservoir
  • Salamonie Reservoir
  • Cecil M. Harden (Raccoon) Lake
  • Lake Michigan

Anglers have many options to choose from when it comes to the top Indiana fishing lakes. These are the lakes deemed best in the state.

Check out this post on the top 18 Indiana game fish species!

Indiana fishing techniques, seasons, and species

Top Indiana fishing lakes

In an effort to reduce repetitive content, fishing techniques and species will be covered briefly here. Most of the tactics will apply to all Indiana fishing lakes.

Spring is considered one of the best times to fish in Indiana, as it is all over the country. Warming water triggers fish to move up shallow and spawn. Largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and crappie are particularly active in the spring. Bass will chase plugs, spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, and a variety of soft plastic baits. Minnows and jigs are great choices for crappie.

Fishing can be tough in the summer in Indiana. Warm water and heavy boat traffic make for a tough bite. Successful anglers change tactics. Bluegill are often targeted in summer as they bed then, particularly around the full moons. Live worms and crickets work great, as do Beetle spins and other tiny lures. Bass anglers fish early and late as well as at night. They can be caught by fishing soft plastic baits such as a finesse bait on a Ned rig slowly around deep structure and submerged vegetation. Fishing for catfish at night can be very productive!

top 12 Indiana fishing lakes

Fall is another excellent time to fish! Dropping water temperatures will have fish moving shallow and feeding up for the winter. Larger lakes with striped bass will be found feeding on the surface on shad. Bass will move into the upper ends of creeks and along steep bluffs. Smallmouth bass and walleye will be found on underwater rock piles and humps in 10′ to 25′ of water, live bait and jigs are great options.

fishing lakes in Indiana

Winter fishing can be tough in Indiana, but it can also produce some large fish. Dedicated and patient anglers can be rewarded with a trophy fish. Bass will move deeper along channel edges with structure. Species such as walleye, pike, musky, and trout remain active in colder water; successful anglers switch to these fish in the winter. Where safe, ice fishing will produce all Indiana fish species.

Top 12 Indiana fishing lakes

Indiana fishing lakes

There are many other lakes, ponds, and rivers that Indiana anglers can choose to fish. However, these this is our list of the top 12 Indiana lakes.

Lake Monroe, Bloomington, Indiana

Lake Monroe is the largest lake that lies completely within the borders of Indiana. It comes in at 10,800 surface acres and is near Bloomington, Indiana. Lake Monroe is known more for larger fish than for quantity. In all honesty, it is not an easy lake to fish. It does see a lot of recreational boat traffic. However, persistent anglers will catch some of the largest largemouth bass, crappie, and catfish in Indiana. Access to Lake Monroe is very good. There are multiple boat ramps, marinas, and parks on the lake.

Read this detailed article on largemouth bass fishing by Capt Jim

Indiana fishing lakes

Patoka Lake, Birdseye, Indiana

Patoka Lake is the second largest lake in the state, at around 8800 acres. It offers better scenery and solitude as the shoreline is less developed. However, access is good. Many anglers consider Patoka Lake to be the best largemouth bass fishery in Indiana. It also offers anglers some excellent diversity as it holds striped bass, crappie, panfish, catfish, white bass, and even some walleye.

Lake Webster, North Webster, Indiana

Webster Lake is a smaller lake in north central Indiana, coming in at 650 acres or so. It has earned a reputation as the top musky lake in the state. Webster also has an excellent population of some of the largest bass in Indiana as well. Anglers can also catch smallmouth bass, walleye, yellow perch, panfish, smallmouth bass, and pike. Access is good from shore as well as several boat ramps.

Geist Reservior, Indianapolis, Indiana

Geist Reservoir is an 1800 acre lake a bit northeast of Indianapolis. Due to it’s location, Geist gets a lot of both fishing and boating pressure. Anglers fish the off seasons as well as at night in the summer. Despite the pressure, Geist has good populations of largemouth bass, catfish, and crappie along with the chance to catch striped bass, panfish, and walleye. It is quite developed with many large homes along the shoreline. The best spot to launch is at Geist Marina on Olio Rd.

Lake Freeman, Monticello, Indiana

Lake Freeman is a 1500 acre lake that was created a hundred years ago or so. It has gone through some ups and downs, but water quality and fishing have improved of late. Like many Indiana lakes, it does get a lot of boat traffic. Aggressive stocking programs have helped a lot, particularly with walleye. It has a decent population of smallmouth bass as well as other species.

West Boggs Lake, Loogootee, Indiana

West Boggs Lake is a smaller body of water at 625 acres. It was drained in 2017 to get rid of the gizzard shad, and the lake has rebounded nicely! It is an excellent lake for anglers seeking action as bass in the 1-2 pound range are plentiful and fairly easy to catch. Crappie and bluegill are present in good numbers as well. Anglers can launch at West Boggs Park.

Brookville Reservoir, Brookville, Indiana

Brookville Lake is a long lake, over 17 miles, with 5200 surface acres. It is also quite deep, particularly near the dam. It offers anglers the opportunity to catch more “exotic” species such as walleye, trout, and musky. Brookville Lake is considered the premier walleye lake in the state of Indiana. It also has decent numbers of both largemouth and smallmouth bass as well as panfish. It is a great lake for family vacations with lodging and camping options.

Lake Maxinkuckee, Culver, Indiana

Lake Maxinkuckee is the second largest natural lake in the state, at around 1850 acres. It is the second best walleye lake in Indiana and also has a good population of the other species found throughout the state.

Morse Reservoir, Cicero, Indiana

Morse Reservoir is an 1800 acre lake located in the center of the state, just 20 miles north of Indianapolis. It is a scenic lake that offers decent angling opportunities, though it does get a fair amount of pressure since it is close to a major urban area. Bass and panfish are the main species and are found in decent numbers in this pretty little lake.

Salamonie Reservoir, Andrews, Indiana

Salamonie Reservoir is in the northeast part of the state and has a reputation as the top crappie producing lake in Indiana, and with good reason. It can rival the best lakes in the country on a good day. Fish can be caught in the spring as well as all summer in deeper structure. It is a bit larger at 2800 acres and also holds plenty of bass, catfish, and other panfish. There are a half dozen ramps that allow anglers to access Salamonie Reservoir.

Cecil M. Harden Lake (aka Raccoon Lake)

Cecil M. Harden Lake, also known as Raccoon Lake, is over 2100 acres and offers anglers great access from shore as well as boating access. It also hosts a wide variety of species including striped bass, musky, and walleye. Anglers can even catch trout at the dam and below in the tailwater. All in all, it is an excellent lake that has a good variety of species along with some great scenery.

Lake Michigan, Indiana

Last on the list of the top Indiana fishing lakes is Lake Michigan. Anglers often overlook this as a fishing option in the state, and that is a mistake! Indiana has 45 miles of shoreline on Lake Michigan, offering anglers to some of the best sport fishing opportunities anywhere. Trolling produces salmon and large trout as well as walleye. Smallmouth bass, yellow perch, and walleye are caught by anglers casting live bait and lures.

In conclusion, this article on the top 12 Indiana fishing lakes will help anglers catch more fish in the Hoosier state!



Jim Klopfer

Capt Jim Klopfer has been a fishing guide in Sarasota, Florida since 1991. He grew up in Maryland, fishing the Chesapeake Bay waters. Capt Jim has been creating an writing articles about fishing for decades, contributing to many regional and national publications. He also lives part time in the North Carolina mountains where he fishes for trout and other species. Capt Jim Klopfer is a wel rounded angler with 50 years fishing experience, and he loves to share what he has learned with other anglers!

Recent Posts