Sam Rayburn Reservoir, at over 114,000 surface acres, represents one of the healthiest fisheries in the State of Texas and one of the most popular fishing destinations in the country. The two main purposes for the existence of Sam Rayburn (flood control and hydropower generation), along with the fertile, forested river bottom that was inundated over thirty years ago, create an ideal ecosystem for fish production. The numerous, high quality and well distributed launch sites around the lake, along with the multitude of creek channels, protected coves, moss beds, brushy shoreline, and standing timber create an ideal environment for the fisherman.
The fishing at Sam Rayburn Reservoir is by any standards exceptional. The opportunity is there on any fishing trip to catch most any fish in the state of Texas. Of course, the number one species of interest at Rayburn is the largemouth bass. Rayburn currently holds the No. 9 bass taken out of Texas waters at 16.80 pounds, and fish in the 10 to 13 pound range are definitely not rare. The lake is on most fishing tournament trails, including pro tournaments such as Bassmasters (with up to 300 contestants), amatuer big bass events such as the McDonalds Big Bass Splash (with up to 6,000 contestants), as well as the local tournament scene with anywhere from 10 to 100 entrants per tournament. For the last few years the project office at Sam Rayburn has processed permits for up to 300 tournaments per year. Even with all this pressure on the resource, Sam Rayburn continues to produce some of the best bass fishing in the nation.
Other species, such as catfish, crappie and bream are also found in abundance. During the summer white bass, stripers, and hybrids may be found in the open water on the southern end of the lake and near the outlet works when the powerhouse is generating.
Excellent year-round crappie and catfish fisheries are also present. White bass numbers are limited, but provide good fishing opportunities during the spring. The hybrid striped bass population is maintained by TPWD through annual stockings and is popular due to this fish's growth potential, schooling nature, and fighting characteristics. Bluegill and redear sunfish are present in high numbers and provide good fishing, especially for youth or inexperienced anglers.
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 gamefish habitat. Due to water level fluctuations, habitat conditions change seasonally and yearly. Drastic water level changes can decrease the amount of vegetation. At high water levels, inundated trees and bushes provide excellent habitat.
Anglers are most successful at catching largemouth bass during the fall, winter, and spring months. Due to cooler water temperatures, 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. When fish are active, crankbaits and spinnerbaits are usually the preferred choice. During the hot summer, the bite usually slows and fish activity is usually concentrated during early morning, late evening, and at night. Poppers, propeller baits, stickbaits, and flukes are good topwater choices during low light conditions. As the sun rises, most bass are concentrated in or around vegetation edges, or seek refuge on deep ledges and creek channels. During this time, plastic worms and jigs are the 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 brushpiles and creek channels.
Address: From Jasper, 15 mi NW on TX 63, then E on TX 255
Our Email: CESWF-OD-SR@swf.usace.army.mil
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