Sam Rayburn Reservoir

Lakes in the East Texas Area

Map showing the location of the Sam Rayburn Reservoir in East Texas
Map showing the location of the Sam Rayburn Reservoir

In East Texas, there are over 50 lakes offering a variety of outdoor sports for vacations or weekends. These lakes provide fishing, swimming, water skiing, houseboats, jet skis, sailing and other outdoor and hiking activities.

Within easy driving distance are lakes such as Toledo Bend Reservoir, Wright Patman, Lake Fork, Sam Rayburn, Lake Livingston, Lake Tawakoni, Caddo Lake and many others..

Click for a list of all East Texas lakes, size and maps

Sam Rayburn Reservoir: Location & Characteristics

Sam Rayburn Reservoir is located on the Angelina River, and its dam is located in Jasper County approximately 15 miles north of Jasper. The lake provides flood control for the Angelina and Neches River basins, and supplies water to the cities of Lufkin and Beaumont.

The Lake Rayburn Dam stretches for 19,430 feet. The lake was impounded in 1965.

The lake has a surface area of 114,500 acres, and a maximum depth of 80 feet. It is the largest reservoir wholly contained within the state; Toledo Bend Reservoir is larger at 185,000 acres but located in Texas and Louisiana, while Lake Livingston is "smaller" at 90,000 acres.

Recreational Opportunities Around the Reservoir

Sam Rayburn Reservoir is nationally known for its large mouth bass fishery, hosting numerous tournaments each year. Recreation opportunities include camping, fishing, swimming, boating, and hunting as well as concessions offered by marinas.

With nearly 750 miles of shoreline, visitors find many areas around Sam Rayburn Lake to have a picnic, launch your boat, do some fishing and just enjoy the beauty of the lake. Other things to do in the area other than boating, waterskiing, wakeboarding, swimming, fishing, and camping, are birdwatching, nature hiking, historic tours of the local towns, and scenic drives around the lake.

overhead view of the Lake Rayburn dam in East TexasAerial view of the Sam Rayburn Reservoir dam

Visitors can find all types of lodging in the area including cabin rentals, lake house rentals, condo rentals, bed and breakfast inns, motels and RV parks.

Public Access

Twenty-two maintained access areas (including parks and private concessions) are located around the reservoir. Boat ramps are available at each of these areas. Some ramps may be unavailable for use when the lake is low, so it's a good idea to check with local authorities for current water levels and ramp conditions.

Thirteen parks are operated by the Corps of Engineers, and the rest by the US Forest Service, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, or county. Five access areas are operated by concessionaires or located in close proximity to a concession/marina.

Camping is allowed at some access areas. Contact the operating agency for availability of electrical outlets, drinking water, sanitary and shower facilities.

Angelina National Forest

Located in the heart of East Texas, the 153,179-acre Angelina National Forest is located in Angelina, Nacogdoches, San Augustine and Jasper counties. The forest lies in the Neches River Basin and on the north and south shores of Sam Rayburn Reservoir.

Visitors to the Angelina National Forest have a choice of several developed recreational areas for outdoor activities.

Fishing Sam Rayburn

Predominant Fish Species
  • Sunfish
  • White bass
  • Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth bass
Angling Opportunities

The most popular game fish at Sam Rayburn Reservoir is the largemouth bass; an excellent year-round fishery exists. Excellent year-round crappie and catfish fisheries are also present.

White bass numbers are limited, but provide good fishing opportunities during the spring. Bluegill and redear sunfish are present in high numbers and provide good fishing, especially for youth or inexperienced anglers.

Fishing Cover/Structure

Habitat in Sam Rayburn Reservoir consists of submerged aquatic vegetation, standing timber, and flooded terrestrial vegetation. Hydrilla is the predominant plant species, although many native plants such as coontail and pondweed are also present.

In the lower part of the reservoir the water is relatively clear; game fish are typically found around vegetation edges, flats, humps, and creek channels. In the upper third of the reservoir, the abundance of vegetation typically declines. Timber, brush, laydowns, and creek channels provide upper-lake game fish habitat.

A few man-made fish attractors provide additional structure. Anglers may use GPS in conjunction with a fish finder to locate these structures.

Shoreline scene at Sam Rayburn Reservoir

Fishing Tips

Anglers are successful at catching largemouth bass year round at Sam Rayburn Reservoir. During the fall, winter and spring months, fish are active for longer periods of the day and are typically found in shallow water. A variety of baits and techniques will work during these times, but crankbaits and spinnerbaits are usually the preferred choices.

During the hot summer, the bite usually slows and fish activity is usually concentrated during early morning, late evening, and at night. Topwater baits are good choices during low light conditions. As the sun rises, most bass concentrate in or around vegetation edges and man-made brush piles, or seek refuge on deep ledges and creek channels. During this time, plastic worms, jigs, and Carolina rigs are preferred baits.

Crappie fishing is excellent year-round with jigs and minnows. During the spring spawn, anglers target shallow areas around vegetation. During other times of the year, fish are typically concentrated in deeper water around brush piles and creek channels.

Sam Rayburn Water Level: Conservation Pool Elevation is 164.4'
Courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey

 

Sam Rayburn Reservoir in East Texas

 

Map of the Sam Rayburn Reservoir (Courtesy of Google Maps)


Sam Rayburn Reservoir Resources

 

Fishing Sam Rayburn Reservoir - Texas Parks and Wildlife

 

Sam Rayburn Reservoir - US Army Corps of Engineers

 

Angelina National Forest

 

Sam Rayburn at the Texas Forest Trail

 

Jasper Texas

 

Zavalla

 

Huntington Texas

 

Lufkin

 

Texas Freshwater Lakes provided by Texas Parks and Wildlife

 

Powell Park Marina

Jackson Hill Park & Marina

Shirley Creek Marina