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Best Fishing Lakes in Texas

Texas sits on the Gulf of Mexico, so many people might be surprised to learn that many of the best places to fish in Texas are freshwater lakes. 

aerial shot of a fishing lake in texas

Texas has over 150 major lakes, but that number goes up to over 7,000 if you include the smaller ones, and most of them are located on the state’s eastern side. 

Some of the best fishing lakes Texas has are among the top places to bag smallmouth and largemouth bass in the United States. 

Texas state fishing regulations apply to all waterways, including length minimums and daily bag limits on bass and crappie and daily bag limits on catfish, trout, and alligator gar. 

Big Bass Large mouth - Fishing on lake with blue sky at dawn, sunrise

Sunfish, yellow bass, and carp have no minimums or limits in state regulations. Some of the best places to fish in Texas listed below have specific rules that are stricter than the state regulations. 

These are the best fishing lakes Texas offers, especially for people looking to find big bass and catfish. 

Top 11 Texas Fishing Lakes

  1. Lake Sam Rayburn
  2. Lake Fork
  3. Lake Texoma
  4. Lake O’ The Pines
  5. Lake Amistad
  6. Choke Canyon Reservoir
  7. Falcon Lake
  8. Lake Conroe
  9. Toledo Bend Reservoir
  10. Caddo Lake
  11. Lake Alan Henry

Lake Sam Rayburn

The Sam Rayburn Reservoir is over 114,000 acres of excellent largemouth bass, catfish, and crappie fishing 15 miles from Jasper in Southeast Texas along the Angelina River. 

aerial shot of lake sam rayburn in texas

This reservoir is the largest manufactured lake inside the Texas border, with 560 miles of shoreline and a maximum depth of 80 feet, there’s plenty of room to catch fish and some great guides that will show you how. It sits inside the Angelina and Sabine National Forest. 

Fishing and recreational boats can access Lake Sam Rayburn through one of 22 ramps, though some close when the lake level is low. Visitors can rent boats or gas up at one of several marinas and boat rentals.

Lake Fork

Lake Fork is in eastern Texas, about 65 miles east of Dallas, and was put in place to be a bass lake.

lake fork

Of the 50 biggest largemouth bass caught in the state, 34 came from Lake Fork. The lake is fed from the Sabine River and covers 27,264 acres with a maximum depth of 70 feet. 

The largemouth bass is the most common species, but the lake also has a healthy population of crappie, channel cats, trout, gar, carp, multiple types of bass, and sunfish like bluegill. Bass grow to an impressive size because they have a rich food source.

Lake Fork’s shoreline stretches 315 miles with ample camping, boat rentals, places to gas up, and lots more.

Lake Texoma

Lake Texoma on the Texas-Oklahoma border spans 74,656 acres and is one of the best fishing lakes Texas offers for striped bass. Other varieties of bass, several types of catfish, and crappie fill the lake. 

lake texoma in texas

Visitors have caught record smallmouth bass on the Texas and Oklahoma sides of the lake, so many bass tournaments occur each year. Lake Texoma has produced a striped bass over 35 lbs. Most of the lake is in Oklahoma, but about 20% sits in Texas. 

The shoreline stretches 1,250 miles, and boat rentals are available. All the state fishing regulations apply at this lake known as the “Striper Capital of the World.”

Lake O’ The Pines

This lake in East Texas is known for the Piney Woods surrounding its 19,780 acres. The lake has multiple boat ramps with places to buy gas and camp along its 144 miles of shoreline.

lake o the pines in texas

At its deepest, the lake measures 50 feet. The lake has produced monstrous catfish like a record-setting blue catfish that weighed 74.5 pounds in 2012, but you may need a bit of professional help to find a catfish of that size.

In addition to the impressive blue catfish coming out of this lake, visitors can rent a boat and fish for several carp, bass, channel catfish, crappie, trout, and sunfish varieties. 

Lake Amistad

This international reservoir is one of the best fishing lakes in Texas. The lake sits on the Rio Grande about a dozen miles from Del Rio. Lake Amistad’s surface area is 64,900 acres and reaches a whopping depth of 217 feet with 540 miles of US shoreline and 850 miles total.  

person fishing on lake amistad in texas

Several launch ramps allow access from the US and Mexico, though not all ramps are open all the time. Visitors can rent boats along the lake, but the only place to buy gas is at the Southwinds US Air Force Marina. 

The shoreline on the American side of the lake is the Amistad National Recreation Area. The fish species are catfish and bass, including a healthy population of Guadalupe bass as well as a whole host of eager guides to take you right to the fish.

Choke Canyon Reservoir

American alligators live in the Choke Canyon Reservoir in South Texas. This rocky site is the western-most place people regularly see the gators, and each year alligator hunters clamor for a permit to hunt them. 

choke canyon reservoir fishing lake in texas

The reservoir covers 25,670 acres and goes as deep as 95.5 feet with 130 miles of shoreline.

Fishing is best for largemouth bass and a few varieties of catfish, but the reservoir also holds crappie, sunfish, alligator gar, and white bass. There are plenty of fishing opportunities here, but it never hurts to have someone show you around. 

Choke Canyon State Park around the reservoir offers boat rentals, camping, and multiple access points via boat ramps. 

Falcon Lake

The maximum depth of Falcon Lake is 110 ft at the dam. Its surface area is 83654 acres with a shoreline stretching over 400 miles, split almost evenly between Texas and Mexico.

falcon lake in texas

The Falcon International Reservoir sits 40 miles east of Laredo on the Rio Grande River in southern Texas. It offers excellent fishing for largemouth bass and channel catfish. Crappie and white bass also live in the lake but have smaller numbers.

Boat rentals and access ramps are abundant in Falcon Lake State Park. Falcon Lake was the best lake for bass fishing in the United States in 2012. There are also plenty of knowledgeable guides that will help you find your trophy fish here! 

Alligator gar dropped the bass population in the years since, but it’s still one of the best places to fish in Texas for bass. 

Lake Conroe

Lake Conroe spans 22,000 Acres with 157 miles of shoreline. Texas fishing regulations apply, though the lake’s rules are stricter on a couple of species. 

lake conroe fishing lake in texas

The largemouth bass limit is a minimum of 16 inches, and no more than five of the 25 bag limit of catfish can be 20 in or longer with only one 30 inches or longer. If you’re not familiar with local regulations, you may want to talk to someone who is.

The lake has multiple ramps for access and allows fishing, boating, and other water sports with piers and marinas that sell gas. Lake Conroe is about 50 miles from downtown Houston inside the Sam Houston National Forest. 

Toledo Bend Reservoir

The Toledo Bend Reservoir sits on the Sabine River on the Texas and Louisiana border with a dam about 24 miles northeast of the town of Jasper. The reservoir surface area is 181,600 acres with a maximum depth of 110 feet. With all that room for the fish to hide, you may want to call in an expert.

toledo bend reservoir shoreline in texas

The 1,200 miles shoreline is split between 762 miles in Texas and 503 in Louisiana. Unique fishing regulations apply on the Texas side.

The reservoir is one of the best places to fish in Texas for sunfish and largemouth bass. It also offers good fishing for striped bass, catfish, and crappie. Both sides have multiple access ramps, places to buy gas, and boat rentals. 

Caddo Lake

Caddo Lake in Caddo Lake State Park in East Texas is home to over 70 species of fish and plenty of alligators. The lake covers 26,810 acres and has a pier and two public ramps. Caddo Lake is relatively shallow at a maximum depth of 20 feet.  

caddo lake in texas

The fishing regulations for bass and catfish are stricter than state regulations. Even so, it’s still one of the best fishing lakes Texas has. Johnson Branch offers gas, but the other boat ramps are launching only. 

There aren’t as many places to rent boats as with some other Texas lakes, but rentals of boats, jet skis, and other watercraft are nearby. Not to mention, all of the knowledgeable guides.

Lake Alan Henry

On the Brazos River, the Alan Henry Reservoir is 645 miles south of Lubbock. Its surface spans 2880 acres with a maximum depth of 100 feet.

lake alan henry in texas

This lake is one of the best places to fish in Texas for spotted and largemouth bass, and there’s a healthy population of catfish and crappie. The lake has a long list of precise fishing regulations that differ from the state regulations, though there are still no limitations on carp or sunfish.

Only one spot along the 56 miles of shoreline of this narrow lake offers shoreline fishing access, but it’s steep and not suitable for everyone. No jumping or swimming off the shore is allowed on this lake.

Boat rentals are available in the area, but the only access point is at the Sam Wahl Recreation Area. This is a great lake to book a fishing guide for. 

Final Thoughts

Texas lakes excel for catfish and bass fishing. All these lakes allow gas-powered boats and other watercraft, with most of them offering swimming and multiple access points, including fishing from the shoreline without a license.

Many more lakes in the state offer fishing for bass, catfish, crappie, and other popular species, but these are the best fishing lakes Texas has to offer for bagging that record catch, so gear up and get going!

Rocco Smith

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