Lake Sam Rayburn

Because Life is Better at the Lake

Lake Sam Rayburn Information

Sam Rayburn Reservoir is the largest lake within the Texas borders with over 750 miles of shoreline. It covers 114,500 acres with a maximum depth of 80 feet. It is located in Angelina, Jasper, Nacogdoches, Sabine, and San Augustine counties in the heart of the east Texas Piney Woods. Lufkin and Nacogdoches are the closest towns on its north side and Jasper sits on its southern end. The Neches and Angelina Rivers feed Sam Rayburn Reservoir. The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers manages 560 miles of its shoreline and the U.S. Forest Service takes care of the remainder. Construction of the dam began in 1956, and impoundment began in 1965. 


History

Congress authorized Sam Rayburn Reservoir in 1945 for purposes of flood control, hydroelectric power, and water conservation for municipal, industrial, and agricultural uses. It was originally known as McGee Bend Dam and Reservoir. The 88th U.S. Congress renamed it Sam Rayburn Reservoir in 1963 to honor the deceased Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. Congressman Rayburn, a long-time supporter of soil and water conservation, died in 1961. 

The Angelina River which feeds this reservoir is a major tributary of the Neches River which defines the borders of 14 Texas counties. The name Neches is believed to be derived from the Caddo word "Nachawi” which means “wood of the bow”, and Spanish settlers named it Rio Neches. Sam Rayburn Reservoir swallowed Zana, Texas, when it was impounded. The Zana, Texas, post office opened in 1886 and by 1896, about 50 people called Zana home. Zana eventually had a sawmill and a general store. The post office closed in 1916, and the great depression of the 1930s shriveled up Zana’s population. Zana is known as a submerged ghost town of Sam Rayburn Reservoir. 


Fishing

Largemouth Bass is king on Sam Rayburn Reservoir. This lake frequently ranks in the top ten national bass fishing lakes. Catfish, crappie, and white bass are also angler’s pursuits. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) deems this a great lake for for youth and inexperienced anglers to learn how to fish. The John D. Parker East Texas Sate Fish Hatchery located in Brookeland, Texas, on the southeastern edge of the reservoir produces five million fingerlings a year for not only Sam Rayburn Reservoir, but for stocking all of Texas public waters. 

The financing for this fish hatchery comes from anglers who buy a freshwater stamp when they buy their fishing license. It is a 43.3 million dollar project. The hatchery produces largemouth bass, catfish, sunfish, and forage fishes. John D. Parker of Lufkin, Texas, commissioner of TPWD from 2003-2009, secured funding for the 200-acre site. The hatchery offers tours which are extremely educational. It produces Florida largemouth bass, channel catfish, blue catfish, and sunfish. Jasper County, Texas, donated the site for the hatchery, and as of 2008, it had 64 production ponds. 

Fishing tournaments are held year-round at Sam Rayburn Reservoir with some interesting names like Whack “Em Outdoors and The Average Joe. The TPWD reports that white bass numbers are limited, but catching opportunities are good in the springtime. Bluegill and redear sunfish are plentiful. Largemouth bass are the predominant species. 

Fishing guides on Sam Rayburn Reservoir specialize in finding you the fish you want on your hook. They have been fishing this lake for years and know where your catch of the day is located. Your safety is their first concern, but you fishing experience is what they excel in. Find your perfect fishing guide on our Sam Rayburn Fishing Guides page.


Boating

Sam Rayburn Reservoir is out in the country, and there are more boat ramps than marinas. There are two marinas on the north side in the fork where the reservoir splits off east and west and a few on the southern end. Visitors can find plenty of boat rental services for pontoons to kayaks. Acres and acres of surface water provide a water skiing paradise. Water skiing is absolutely the best in Texas on this lake because of its size. 

Are you looking for a boat in the Sam Rayburn region? Plenty of fish always bring plenty of boats. You are sure to find your dreamboat in this region because boat dealers abound and classified ads from local sellers are a click away on our Sam Rayburn Boats for Sale page.


Marinas

There are four marinas on Sam Rayburn Reservoir, two on the northeast side west of the town of Broadus, one on the southern end of a long peninsula off of FM 705, and a marina/resort on the southern side north of Jasper. Boat ramps can also be found around the lake. See which one suits your boating needs on our Lake Sam Rayburn Marinas page. 


Cabin and Vacation Rentals

Excellent accommodations for your perfect getaway are to be found right on the water from tiny cabins to modern homes with all the trimmings. This lake is located in a bucolic natural wonderland a long long way away from the city lights, so availability is tight. There are lake houses, cabins, bed and breakfast, and condominiums for rent. Look for your idyllic vacation home in advance at our Sam Rayburn Cabins page.


Camping

You can’t get closer to a heavenly ideal than camping at Sam Rayburn Reservoir. This region is surrounded by forests. The Angelina National Forest covers the north side of the lake. But you really can’t see the forest for the trees anywhere around Sam Rayburn Reservoir. It is an absolute pine tree paradise. This lake snakes around with two forks, one on the southeastern side, and one on the northern end. 

The campgrounds are located from around the southern fork to the northern fork on the western side of the lake. On the less populated eastern side of the lake there is a maze of county roads that all lead to the lake. Plenty of RV sites and tent camping is available. In total, there are 22 maintained access areas. Some are privately owned, 13 are managed by U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, and others by the U.S. Forest Service and TPWD. Take a look at your camping options on our Lake Sam Rayburn Camping page. 


Hiking

Nature lovers can wander through this area with serendipitous abandon. There are many trails near Sam Rayburn Reservoir and in the outlying forests. The Davy Crockett and Angelina National forests offer some exciting nature walks. The Martin Dies Jr. State Park Trail showcases a night sky lookout where you can see more stars than you can count, a cypress forest, a wildscape (native plants galore), a swamp deck for experiencing the lush swamp life, and a paddling trail. TPWD warns you that alligators are present and to take precautions by staying out of the water. Do not feed the wildlife. 

Because of the nature of this extremely undomesticated region, you have to know your limits, tell someone where you are going, make sure you have plenty of water and food, and leave only footprints. Motor vehicles are not allowed on the trails in the state park. Ebenezer Park offers some of the most beautiful horseback riding trails in Texas. It is also an equestrian campground. The ground is soft and sandy, so horseshoes are not necessary. Some of these trails have beach access. Most of these trails are on U.S. Forest Service property. 

Canoe and kayak paddling trails wind around for miles on this snaky lake. They are narrow, winding, and shaded by pine and hardwood forest trees, the paddling is slow paced, but a fallen tree might present an obstacle. 


Things To Do At Lake Sam Rayburn

People visit Sam Rayburn for nature, fishing, boating, and camping. The closest towns with a Walmart are Lufkin on the northwest and Jasper on the southeast side of the lake. You can find a few restaurants and a nice cool drink around the southern end of Sam Rayburn, but nature is the main attraction. Play a round of golf at Rayburn Country Resort Golf Course. Visit the nearby towns to soak in local color. The few neighborhoods and towns around the lake are Broadus, White City, Anthony Harbor, Brookeland, Browndell, Westwood, Pineland, Nancy, Zavalia, Huntington, and Alco. Read on at our Things to Do page. 


Sam Rayburn Reservoir Zip Codes

The zip codes serving the region for Sam Rayburn are: Broadus, 75929, Brookeland, 75931, Huntington, 75949, Jasper, 75951, Pineland, 75968, San Augustine, 75972, and Zavalia, 75980.

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Lake Sam Rayburn Current Weather Alerts

There are no active watches, warnings or advisories.

 

Lake Sam Rayburn Weather Forecast

Friday

Severe Tstms

Hi: 82

Friday Night

Severe Tstms

Lo: 62

Saturday

Partly Sunny

Hi: 76

Saturday Night

Mostly Clear

Lo: 49

Sunday

Sunny

Hi: 84

Sunday Night

Partly Cloudy

Lo: 56

Monday

Mostly Cloudy

Hi: 85

Monday Night

Chance Rain Showers

Lo: 62


Lake Sam Rayburn Water Level (last 30 days)


Water Level on 4/10: 164.14 (-0.26)



Lake Sam Rayburn

Fishing Report from TPWD (Apr. 7)

FAIR. Water stained; 66 degrees; 0.59’ low. Largemouth bass are good, moving around in depths of less than 8 feet in the Angelina River and moving out to various lake structures on spinners, worms, and topwater. White bass are fair on minnows working the points. Crappie are good on minnows and jigs in creeks timber and all mid-depth structures. Catfish are good on live and stinkbait.

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