Toledo Bend Lake
Zwolle, TX
Texas Outside Rating: 8.3

Acres Of Water & Miles Of Shoreline
186,000 acres and 1,200 miles of shoreline


Brief Overview:

Toledo Bend is a huge very pretty lake with over 186,000 acres, 65 miles long, and 1200 miles of shoreline making it the largest man made lake in the south.  The lake is fed by the Sabine River which also serves as the border between Louisiana and Texas - if we didn't have to share half of the lake with Louisiana, Toledo Bend would be the largest lake in Texas. 

The shoreline is sparsely developed with gently rolling hills and lots of trees, making for some beautiful scenery.  The lake borders the Sabine National Forest.

There are several RV parks and some state and Sabine River Authority parks on the Louisiana side and several RV parks, cabins, and rentals on the Texas side of Toledo Bend.   Check out our Toledo Bend Lake Map to find places to stay, restaurants, and more.   You might also take a look at this Toledo Bend Website.

The lake is littered with tree stumps and as such there are lane markers (buoys) that run up and down and across the lake - venture outside of those markers and you'll likely hit a stump.  Maps of the lake also show recreational areas where the stumps have been removed.  Be very careful and don't venture out at night. 

The water is fairly clear and tinted a copperish color thanks to the trees - it's more turbid in the upper end of the lake and cleared near the middle to south end.  The deepest point of the lake is 110 feet.

Img_0304 Img_0273

A Typical Texas Outsider Day

When we visited Toledo Bend Lake, we snuck over to the Louisiana side to stay at Cypress Bend Resort which gave us the opportunity to enjoy the lake as well as take advantage of all of the resort amenities and specifically their fantastic golf course - a must play course. 

We enjoyed cruising the lake and were very tempted to park the boat and join a volley ball game at Cypress Bend Park.  The south end of the lake has the party cove and is a wide open recreation area - check your map - which is suitable for boarding, tubing, and skiing. 

We also found a couple beautiful calm coves to drop and anchor and swim.  After which we boated over to Fin & Feather for a late lunch, a drink or two, and a game of pool and shuffleboard. 

Img_0140 Img_0193

Other Cool Things To Do:

Toledo Bend is best known for fishing, so hire a fishing guide, or rent a boat, or launch your boat and then spend the day trying to catch a trophy or enough fish for a scrumptious fish fry. 

If you like golf, then head over to Cypress Bend Resort, they have a fantastic golf course. 

At the south east side of the lake is a good place to anchor or beach the boat and enjoy a day with some of the other boaters.  

Img_0256 Img_0307

What To Do If No Boat:

If you don't have a boat, there are several parks on the Louisiana side and a couple on the Texas side with fishing piers and sandy beaches.  Cypress Bend Park on the Louisiana side is a great place to picnic, play volleyball, enjoy the sandy beach, and fish from the bank or their pier.  There are a number of fishing guides who will take you fishing and a couple places to rent a boat.

Nearby Activities:

We didn't find a lot to see and do near by - come here to enjoy the lake.  With that said, you can hike and bike in the Sabine National Forest, play a fantastic golf course at Cypress Bend Resort or ride their challenging bike trails, or visit nearby Lufkin or Nacogdoches. 

Restaurants, Bars, & Music:

The only one on the lake that we visited was Fin & Feather on the south west side of the lake.  They have a good restaurant with an outside patio overlooking a pretty cove, a sports bar atmosphere, plus a pool and shuffleboard table.  The food is reasonable and pretty good.

Wake Boarding & Skiing:

There are several "recreational areas" that are suitable for tubing, skiing, or boarding but you need to find them on the map and make sure you stay within the marked recreational areas.  Tree stumps are everywhere.


The most popular game fish at Toledo Bend Reservoir is the largemouth bass; an excellent year-round fishery exists. Good year-round crappie and catfish fisheries are also present. Striped bass are maintained by annual stockings because conditions at Toledo Bend usually do not allow a successful natural spawn. Stripers are popular due to their large growth potential and reputation as strong fighters. Bluegill and redear sunfish are present in high numbers and provide excellent fishing, especially for youth or inexperienced anglers.

Fishing Cover & Structure

Habitat in Toledo Bend Reservoir consists of aquatic vegetation, standing timber, and flooded terrestrial vegetation. Hydrilla is the predominant plant species, although many native plants (coontail, eelgrass, pondweed, lily pads) are also present. In the lower part of the reservoir the water is typically clear; gamefish are usually 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. At periods of high water, terrestrial bushes and trees provide excellent habitat reservoir-wide.

Tips & Techniques

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 slows and fish activity is usually concentrated during early morning, late evening, and at night. Poppers, propeller baits, stickbaits, buzzbaits, and flukes are good topwater choices during low light conditions. As the sun rises, most bass concentrate 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 good year-round with jigs and minnows. However, fishing usually peaks during the spring spawn, when anglers target shallow areas around vegetation. During other times of the year, fish are typically concentrated in deeper water around brushpiles and creek channels. Anglers catch channel, blue, and flathead catfish throughout the reservoir. Channel catfish can be caught with stinkbait in areas baited with soured grain. Trotliners catch both blues and channels on cut bait, while flathead catfish prefer live bait.

The white bass fishery is essentially limited to the early spring during the spawning run above the reservoir. Anglers have good success with small spinners, jigs, jigging spoons, and small crankbaits. During the summer and fall, watch for schooling striped bass on main lake points, humps, and flats adjoining river channels. Schooling stripers can be caught on topwaters, rattle traps, and spoons. Toledo Bend has a reputation for producing lots of huge sunfish. Most of the bigger sunfish, especially bluegill and redear sunfish, are caught during the late spring or summer when fish are on spawning beds. Small jigs, spinners, and crickets are good choices.

The above is thanks to Texas Parks & Wildlife

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

*Courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife

Camping, Waterfront Lodging, and Day Use Parks

There are several options on both sides of the lake for camping and lodging.  We have stayed at Fin & Feather which offers some great cabins and good RV sites and Cypress Bend Resort which has hotel type rooms and golf villas but neither are on the lake.  Check out our Toledo Bend Resorts, Cabins, and Rentals page.

Img_0137 Img_0174

Ramps & Marinas

Check our our Toledo Bend Map or Texas Parks & Wildlife's map to find marinas and more.

Texas Outside Rating of Toledo Bend Lake
Water Clarity: 
Water Conditions: 
Skiing & Board Conditions: 
Cruising & Touring: 
Restaurants & Bars: 
Safety Level: 
Lake Lodging & Camping: 
Texas Outside Rating of Toledo Bend Lake
(scale of 1 - 10)
Water Clarity:
Skiing & Board Conditions:
Crusing & Touring:
Restaurants & Bars:
Safety Level:
Lake Lodging & Camping:

More Pictures

Img_0145 Img_0272 Img_0147

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.

Texas Outside Newsletter

© 1996-2021 Texas Outside