Lake Texoma
Denison, TX
Texas Outside Rating: 8.9

Acres Of Water & Miles Of Shoreline
89,000 acres and 580 miles of shoreline


Brief Overview:

Lake Texoma was formed when the Denison Dam, a 3 mile long structure, was built in 1944. The lake is fed by the Red River and Washita River which have created 89,000 acres of water and 580 miles of shoreline. Lake Texoma is the 2nd largest lake in Texas and the 11th largest man made reservoir in the united states. The lake is deep, the water is clear (closer to the dam), and there are lots of coves, sandy beaches, campgrounds, resorts, restaurants, and more to enjoy.

The topography surrounding the lake varies from gently sloping flats to rocky and precipitous cliffs and steep wooded hillsides. The majority of the lake is not developed. The lake is fed by the Red River and Washita River. Lake Texoma is best known for its stripers (stiped white bass) and is one of only eight inland fresh water lakes in the entire world where striper spawn. The largest striper caught in the lake was 38 pounds. The lake is host to a variety of regional, national, professional, and amateur fishing tournaments.

Lake Texoma is a fantastic sailing lake with good winds, plenty of marinas, good anchorage, and an active racing/regatta community.

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A Typical Texas Outsider Day

We will start the day by looking for a cove to swim, ski, and just relax. There are some excellent small coves on the south side of the dam or by Mill Creek and Cedar Mills. After skiing, you can't beat a few hours on the sandy beaches of North Island, Wood Island, or Treasure Island, both provide outstanding sandy beaches to anchor or beach the boat and enjoy the fun crowd and clear refreshing water. Take a grill or pack a lunch and make it a day.

It's also fun to cruise to Lowes' Highport Marina and marvel at all the big boats. Pompono's is an excellent stop for food, drinks, and live entertainment - check to see if they are open, the flood of 2007 did significant damage.

We also love golfing at Tanglewood Golf Course, Northern Challenge, Chickasaw Pointe, and Buncombe Creek. Click here to find a course close to where you are staying and to learn more about it.

Depending on where we are staying, for nightlife, we enjoy Gene's Hamburger Heaven or Buzard's Too (Pottsboro) for live music or Carlotta's Cantina at Texoma State Park for live music and a lively crowd.

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Other Cool Things To Do:

Lake Texoma Life's 2007 readers voted the following the Best of Lake Texoma:

  • The Point at Grandpappy's won best dining with a view and Pompanos won best margarita and best bar
  • Longhorn Ranch in Whitesboro had the best steak, Buzzard's Too in Pottsboro had the best burger, and Hucks in Dennison had the best catfish
  • North Island was voted best beach and island for partying
  • Carlotta's Cantina won best place to dance
  • best hotel was Tanglewood, best cabin rental was Last Chance Hideaway was voted best place to camp

You can't leave Lake Texoma without spending some time on the sandy beaches at Wood Island or North Island.

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What To Do If No Boat:

Don't let not owning a boat stop you from exploring and enjoying beautiful Lake Texoma - there are several places where you can rent a boat for a couple hours or more.  Or take a day, sunset, or dinner cruise with Fastrac Charters or go sailing with Texas Charters. Island View Boat Rentals at Mill Creek (903 786-2312) rents pontoon boats but the also over a taxi service to the islands for a one day picnic or overnight camping.

Nearby Activities:

At Juniper Point Recreation area is Cross Timbers Hiking Trail a 14 mile trail that winds west along the southern shoreline of scenic Lake Texoma. As mentioned earlier, there are a number of great golf courses around and nearby the lake - you can find one on this map. Visit one of the casinos and try to win some money to pay for the trip. We have heard there is good antique shopping in Denison. You can visit Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge or drive across the dam for a great view of the lake. 

Restaurants, Bars, & Music:

Carlotta's Cantina is Texoma's largest floating night club at Catfish Bay Marina and features live entertainment and dancing on the dock, air conditioned bar, and open sun decks.

Wake Boarding & Skiing:

There are plenty of coves for skiing or boarding, depending on which side of the lake you are on. Typically, the wind seems to blow from the south, so along the south side of the lake beside some of the bluffs is typically calm. Big Mineral and Little Mineral cove are usually good for skiing and boarding


Lake Texoma Fishing Guides is the place to look to find a fishing guide to help you land a big one.

According to Texas Parks & Wildlife, free-flowing current in the Red River makes Texoma one of the few lakes in Texas with a self-sustaining population of striped bass, and one of only eight inland freshwater reservoirs worldwide where this species has spawned. A cousin of the white bass, striped bass were first stocked in Lake Texoma by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation in 1965. They began spawning in 1974.

While Texoma has little aquatic vegetation, it does offer cover in structures such as rocks/boulders, standing timber, submerged stump beds, channels, rocky bluffs, sandy flats, and rip-rap along Denison Dam and elsewhere. Of the 580 miles of shoreline, there are approximately 9 miles of rip-rap, 50 miles of standing timber, and 50 miles of submersed aquatic vegetation. The remainder is cut banks, sandy beaches, rocky shoreline, and bluffs. A shoreline development ratio of 13.88 indicates an irregular and branched shoreline, which also increases habitat for fish.

Tips & Tactics: Channel catfish are taken near the mouths of creeks after a rain, especially in spring and fall. In late spring and early summer, they are found around rocky shores and areas of rip-rap. Best baits are shrimp, blood bait, cut bait, dough bait, and shad gizzards. In summer, try drfit-fishing shrimp across flats. Sunfish and large minnows also pay off here. Blue catfish are caught on many of the same baits; however, these fish migrate downstream or into the main pool area in winter and upstream in the spring.Try jug lining with live gizzard shad for bait. A rod and reel baited with live shad on windless winter days works well, too. Flathead catfish are infrequently caught by rod and reel anglers, but most often by trotlining with live sunfish for bait.

Crappie fishing is best in fall and winter, when fish tend to school in large numbers and concentrate around boat houses, submerged trees, creek channels, and brush piles. While minnows are the bait of choice, crappie are caught on a variety of jigs. The spring spawning season, when they move in shallow, is also an excellent time to fill your creel.

White bass are vulnerable to angling when they migrate upstream on the Red and Washita Rivers or the many tributary streams around Lake Texoma. Two to three weeks prior to the migration, they concentrate around the mouths of the tributary streams and become easy prey. At other times of the year they can be found surfacing around the lake and feeding on threadfin shad. Effective baits include small surface baits in silver, white, yellow or chartreuse; silver spoons; slabs; and minnows. Striped bass migrate up both major river arms in February, and can usually be located in or near the river channel in the vicinity of the Willis or Roosevelt Bridges. They may take surface lures, but most often they are caught on heavy jigs, slabs, plastic shad, and live gizzard shad. After the spring spawning run, stripers can be caught with shad over flats near the river channel in the main part of the lake. Trolling with deep running lures can also be productive. Stripers surface frequently in summer, fall, and winter, attracting diving sea gulls, who also like to feed on threadfin shad. Surface baits can produce some mighty tackle bustin' strikes, and so can plastic shad retrieved rapidly just under the water's surface.

Largemouth, spotted, and smallmouth bass can be caught pretty much year round, but they are caught closer to the shoreline and around structure. While largemouth and spotted bass are found lakewide, smallmouths are mostly limited to the bluffs around Eisenhower State Park, Denison Dam and up the Washita River arm to the Willow Springs area. Since all three species spawn in the shallows, that's the best place to fish for them in the spring. Fish around grass and brush with crank baits, surface lures, spinners, and Carolina rigged worms. As the water warms and bass move offshore, switch to Texas rigged worms, deep diving crankbaits, and surface baits early in the morning. Concentrate on submerged structure such as rocks, boulders, stumps, logs, channels, and secondary points. Fall bass fishing can be very exciting on Lake Texoma. Work crank baits around brush and off rocky shorelines for largemouth and spotted bass. Try free-line, live threadfin shad off the rip-rap at the dam for smallmouths, or fish at night by the bluffs near Eisenhower State Park.

Species Poor Fair Good Excellent
Largemouth Bass
White Bass
Hybrid Striped Bass
Smallmouth bass

*Courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife

Camping, Waterfront Lodging, and Day Use Parks

The best resort on Lake Texoma is Tanglewood Resort & Conference Center. They have fantastic accommodations, great amenities, good food, championship golf, and lots more at reasonable rates. Read our review of Tanglewood to learn more.

Some of the campgrounds where we have stayed and can recommend include: Thousand Trails, Lighthouse Resort & Marina, Paradise Cove, Juniper Point, Preston Bend Resort, Eisenhower State Park, Burns Run, Platter Flats, and Lake Texoma State Park. 

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Ramps & Marinas

See Texas Parks and Wildlife for a listing of marinas and ramps.

Texas Outside Rating of Lake Texoma
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Texas Outside Rating of Lake Texoma
(scale of 1 - 10)
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Crusing & Touring:
Restaurants & Bars:
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More Pictures

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Texas Outside Lakes Rating Scale

Texas Outside rates lakes on a 1 to 10 scale based on:

  • Beauty: high scores are given for lots of trees, hills, or pretty houses
  • Water Clarity: if you’re standing in two feet of water and can’t see your toes or the water has a deep brown color, we’re talking a 1
  • Water Conditions:  rough water with waves over a foot (good for PWCs or surfing) due to consistent wind or boat wakes don’t rate high on our scale
  • Skiing & Board Conditions:  on the weekends if you can typically find a good cove or part of the lake with glass, we’re talking a 10
  • Beaches:  don’t you hate those beaches when you step into the water you sink in mud up to your knees and loose your flip-flops or it’s all slime and weeds or small rocks – if so, that’s a 1
  • Fun Scale: lakes scoring a 10 have fun restaurants and bars, great coves for raft ups or swimming, and fun rental toys
  • Cruising & Touring:  if you can cruise the lake and look at beautiful houses, nice marinas, pretty coves, or anything similar it will score high
  • Restaurants & Bars:  nothing better than cruising over and having some good food and listening to some great music on the deck of a fun restaurant – the ride back with smooth water and a fun moon is also pretty cool – we’re talking a 10
  • Safety Level: lakes with lots of wild and crazy jet skiers or fast cigarette boats will score low
  • Camping:  we’re looking for beautiful spacious sites right on the water with a nice sandy beach to swim and park the boat
  • Fishing:  the bigger the better and they have to be easy to hook


*Fishing information was provided with permission of the Texas Parks and Wildlife ( in 2006. Texas Parks and Wildlife does not endorse Texas Outside or information presented on ©Copyright Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

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