Lake Texoma Information
Look at a map of the United States and look closely at the border between the states of Oklahoma and Texas. There you will see the Red River, and you will also see the 12th largest lake in the United States spanning that border in the area east of I-35 and west of I-75. That’s Lake Texoma, aptly named after Texas and Oklahoma where it is located.
The Denison Dam Forming Lake Texoma
The Denison Dam created Lake Texoma as a reservoir to control flooding back in 1944, during World War II. The dam was a unique feat of engineering by the Army Corps of Engineers because it was, at the time, the largest rolled, earth-filled dam in the United States. That means it was not formed by pouring concrete, but by bulldozing dirt into an enormous, compacted embankment.
In addition to flood control, the Denison Dam was also designed to generate electricity. The first hydroelectric turbine began producing electricity 1945 and continues to operate regularly, depending on the lake level and energy consumption.
Lake Texoma also provides water for several north Texas communities connected to the North Texas Municipal Water District’s pipelines. They have been in service since the 1980’s and now extend as far south as Wylie, Alle, and Frisco in Texas.
Besides providing flood control, hydroelectric energy, and municipal water supplies, Lake Texoma is a well-known recreation spot. Over six million visitors from all over the world come for fishing, boating, camping, hiking, hunting, 4-wheeling, bicycling, horseback riding, golfing and locating fossils of ancient sea creatures in its limestone cliffs every year. There is so much to do in and around Lake Texoma, it’s a world-class recreational playground, conveniently located between Dallas and Oklahoma City.
Fishing Lake Texoma
Naturally-occurring mineral salts in the soil surrounding and under Lake Texoma provide just the right conditions for Striped Bass to spawn and grow naturally to 15-20 lbs at maturity, and that’s why Lake Texoma is known as the Striper Capital of The World. Literally, hundreds of Striper fishing guides offer all-inclusive services providing tackle, bait, and cleaning, which makes for a great day on the lake any time of year. All you need to bring is your Lake Texoma fishing license (available at local convenience stores) so that you’re legal in both Oklahoma and Texas waters.
But Stripers are not the only fish you are likely to pull out of Lake Texoma. At least 70 species inhabit the waters, including largemouth, spotted and white bass, black and white crappie and channel, blue, and flathead catfish. Big cats of 70 to 100 pounds can be found by those who know where to look for them. Once again, there are plenty of commercial fishing guides to show you the way. Weather conditions contribute to your success fishing Lake Texoma, but most guides offer a guaranteed catch to keep their customers happy and coming back each year.
If you have your own boat and gear, and you want to be prepared to catch Striper and other fish on Lake Texoma, you’ll want to see how the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department describes it: “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.” Now, that’s good information for sure, but may not be as important as this sage advice from local fisherman, the late Ron “Prune Picker” Ludwig of Mead, Oklahoma who manufactured his own slabs and top-water lures:
“If you have a locator, find the fish using it. If not, watch for fish surfacing on top (on a calm day you will be able to see their splashes quite a way off). If the seagulls are in, watch for them feeding on the shad the fish are chasing, and fish below the gulls. If you are in shallow (15′-20′) water, try casting you slab out into, or beyond the fish. Then work the bottom by reeling in and dropping back to the bottom as you retrieve your line. The bigger fish are below the fish feeding on top, picking up stunned shad as they fall. The only problem with this is, you will lose some slabs on the bottom if you happen to be in a rocky or stumpy area, and can not get your slab loose.
Check your line often for cuts by running your thumbnail down the last couple feet of line. Stripers have sharp fins and they can nick your line, causing you to lose your lures (and fish), whether it be a slab or an expensive topwater plug.”
Jugline fishing for catfish is legal in Lake Texoma with the use of free-floating white-tagged buoys or floats (usually recycled plastic jugs) with a drop-line that holds three to five baited hooks. Any Striper or other fish caught on juglines must be released.
Sailing, Cruising And More on Lake Texoma
More than two dozen marinas with boat slips designed to accommodate sailboats and powerboats are available on the shores of Lake Texoma. Cedar Mills on the West End of the lake and Grandpappy Point at the East End by the Denison Dam are well-known by enthusiasts who come to sail nearly 90,000 surface acres of water. Both marinas have service shops, restaurants and lodging as well.
If you want to put your houseboat, powerboat or jet skis into Lake Texoma, you’ll have plenty of public boat ramps and private marinas to choose from, on both the Oklahoma and Texas sides of the lake. And you’ll enjoy the scenic shoreline as well several islands in the center of the lake.
Besides the private marinas, The Army Corps of Engineers maintains 10 campgrounds with over 700 campsites, 25 miles of equestrian trails, a rugged 14-mile Cross Timbers hiking trail through rocky and wooded bluffs overlooking the lake, boat rentals, slip rentals and concessions.
Two wildlife refuges flank the northern and southern ends of Lake Texoma, Tishomingo National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma and Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge in Texas. Visitors often see eagles, ducks, geese, heron and egret during their annual migrations, as well as resident white-tail deer and wild hogs. Hunting permits are available from the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
Whether you come to see bright fall foliage reflected in blue water along the red-dirt shoreline or bask in the summer sun on the beach of Treasure Island, you’ll find plenty to enjoy at Lake Texoma year-round.