We studied the seasonal growth potential of opportunistic bacterial populations in Lake Zurich (Switzerland) by a series of grazer-free dilution culture assays. Pronounced shifts in the composition of the bacterial assemblages were observed within one doubling of total cell numbers, from initially abundant Actinobacteria to other fast-growing microbial lineages. Small populations with growth potentials far above community average were detected throughout the year with striking seasonal differences in their respective taxonomic affiliations. Members of Cytophaga-Flavobacteria (CF) were disproportionally proliferating only during phytoplankton blooms in spring and summer, while Beta- and Gammaproteobacteria showed superior growth at all other occasions. Growth rates of Alphaproteobacteria and esp. Sphingomonadaceae were significantly correlated to water temperatures and were far above community average in summer. Within the genus Flavobacterium, two species-like populations showed a tendency for fast growth in most experiments, while four others were exclusively proliferating either during a spring or during a summer phytoplankton bloom. Their high growth potentials but low in situ abundances hint at a tight control by bacterivorous grazers and at a consequently accelerated carbon flux to higher trophic levels.