Fishing Lake Texoma: A Complete Guide
Nov 14, 2019 | 11 minute read
Reading Time: 11 minutes

We’re not exaggerating when we say that a Lake Texoma fishing adventure is something every angler should experience at least once!

Located on the Oklahoma-Texas border at the confluence of the Red and Washita Rivers, this man-made reservoir is one of the largest in the USA – and its waters are seriously fish-filled. With a variety of departure points dotted throughout both Texas and Oklahoma, you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to picking your fishing destination.

Landscape view of Lake Texoma including local nature and a bridge

Lake Texoma isn’t just limited to anglers, either. It’s home to water-accessible islands, parks, wildlife refuges, and hosts a variety of recreational activities. You can combine your fishing adventure with some family-friendly entertainment. This includes water skiing, swimming, or even relaxing on one of the lake’s many beaches. This means that guests of all ages and angling levels can experience the fun of these waters. 

In this article, we’re going to break down what you can fish for in Lake Texoma, how to catch it, and where to depart from. 

Top Catches in Lake Texoma

Lake Texoma is a truly unique fishery. Perhaps one of its most unusual features is that it’s actually made up of brackish waters. This is thanks to the saltwater Red River that leads into it. So what does this mean for anglers? Well, when it comes to the species on offer, this fishery is the perfect habitat for more than just your usual freshwater favorites. 

Lake Texoma fishing calendar

In fact, there’s one species in particular that you might be surprised to discover here. Once you do, we’re pretty sure you’ll want to head straight to the lake with your best rods and reels! Yep, we’re talking about that famous American game fish, often nicknamed Striper, Linefish, or Rockfish, but most commonly known as…

Striped Bass

If there’s a fish that keeps Lake Texoma at the top of many angler’s bucket lists, it has to be the Striped Bass. Originally native to ocean waters, this species was introduced to the lake in the 1960s. It’s proven to be an excellent habitat for them.

A man holding a big Striped Bass in front of the water

Lake Texoma is one of only seven US inland lakes where Striped Bass reproduce naturally. In fact, Lake Texoma’s Striped Bass population is considered one of the best in the entire nation. You’ll find a healthy population of them through these waters year-round!

In spite of this, Lake Texoma angling aficionados recommend visiting different parts of the lake at specific times of the year. This will help you to really experience the best of Striper fishing.

During summer, Stripers congregate in the deepest waters of the lake towards the dam. In fall, they move to shallow waters as the temperatures drop. They can be found around the longer, main lake points and humps, as well as creek arms. When winter comes, Striper tend to get slower and lazier. This means they head to shallow flats and creeks to gorge on bait fish. 

A picture of Denison Dam
Denison Dam is a Striper hotspot!

Finally, with spring comes spawning season, and the clear flowing water of Lake Texoma attracts spawning Stripers. Venture into the shallows upriver, head towards humps and points, and keep an eye out for shallow spots in the upper end of the lakes. This will lead you to a Striper bonanza!

Lake Texoma’s Stripers have access to a huge variety of bait fish, thanks to the lake’s vast size and diverse habitats. This means that these fish have the opportunity to reach seriously impressive sizes. A trip to the lake is a must for trophy fishermen! Stripers regularly reach 12 to 20 pounds here, with a lake record of 35.12 pounds caught on April 25, 1984. Who knows? Venture down here and you might be hooking the next lake record!

Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass

These freshwater favorites inhabit Lake Texoma year-round. They’re a particularly popular catch with newer anglers and families looking for a fun day on the water. They might not have the clout that Striped Bass hold for more seasoned fishermen, but they still provide plenty of exciting angling action for visitors! 

A man holding a Smallmouth Bass in front of Lake Texoma

Even better? Although both of these Bass species can be found lakewide, they prefer to lurk close to the shoreline and around structures. This gives visiting fishermen a clearer idea of where to go to hook them. It also means you don’t have to travel the entire length of the lake to find them!

Local anglers recommend visiting during spawning season if you want to maximize your chances of hooking your Bass limit. This takes place in the spring. You’ll find a wealth of Largemouth and Smallmouth species in the shallows. Other favored spots include the waters near Eisenhower State Park and Denison Dam. You can also head up the Washita River arm to the Willow Springs area.

A landscape view of Eisenhower State Park
Eisenhower State Park. Not a bad place to fish from!

Catfish

If you’re a Catfish fan who hasn’t yet cast your line in Lake Texoma, then you’re missing out! After all, the lake spans part of Texas, and we all know the famous saying that things are bigger down there. This definitely goes for the Catfish in Lake Texoma, in both its Texan and Oklahoman sides! The world record was even hooked in these very waters – a Blue Catfish weighing in at a whopping 121.5 pounds.

An angler holding a Blue Catfish on Lake Texoma

Lake Texoma is home to three varieties of Catfish species – Blue, Channel, and Flathead. Blue Catfish are by far the most common catch here. This fish can be found here in abundance from November–March, when water temperatures drop. Focus on river channel bends that have plenty of places for sneaky Catfish to hide. This includes stumps, laydown logs, big rocks, and most important of all, a muddy bottom!

If you’re looking for a trophy-sized Cat, you’ll want to explore the lake for a deep hole. There are usually signs above the water that’ll give you an indication of whether your spot is Catfish-friendly or not. Look for rocks and high bluffs, as well as any timber laying in deep water. Then it’s just a case of anchoring upstream, throwing your bait out around the obstruction, and waiting for the fish to bite!

Crappie

A child and a man holding a Crappie on a boat

This popular Panfish really diversifies Lake Texoma’s fishing opportunities. It’s beloved by everyone, from anglers looking for a quick meal to families that fish together. Crappie is fun to catch, tastes delicious, and can be found in these waters in abundance. Fall and winter are the optimal seasons.

Often considered a “bycatch” rather than a true target species, local Lake Texoma anglers understand just how important this underrated fish is. The area is often referred to as having some of the friendliest Crappie fishermen around!

A hand holding a Crappie in front of water

Crappie is sought after by bank and boat anglers on both the Texan and Oklahoman sides of the lake. Anglers who prefer to fish on foot can head to the marinas surrounding the lake to cast their line from shore. Struggle with seasickness, or prefer to fish from solid ground? Then Crappie’s the catch for you! They grow to big sizes here, too, so reeling in these Panfish is nothing to sniff at.

Alligator Gar

We weren’t kidding when we said that Lake Texoma is a seriously diverse fishery. Who would’ve thought you could target hard-fighting game fish, tasty Panfish, and prehistoric Alligator Gar all in the same waters? 

A man and two children holding an Alligator Gar on a flats boat in Lake Texoma

Does the idea of fishing for Alligator Gar in Lake Texoma sound unusual enough to you already? Wait until you hear how most anglers choose to battle this beast! Rather than your typical rod and line, local fishermen prefer to bowfish. This is especially common on the Oklahoma side of the lake. This technique yields serious results, too – in April 2019, an Oklahoman fisherman hooked a 170 lb Gar.

Although this fish can be found throughout the entire lake, the most productive spot to target them is where the lake connects to the Red River. There’s a limit imposed on how many Alligator Gar you can keep, in order to preserve this ancient fish. Currently, all anglers can take home one Alligator Gar per day, except during the month of May. During this time, fishing for this species is prohibited throughout Lake Texoma.

Where should I go?

A sunset view of Lake Texoma

With a lake as vast and diverse as Texoma, knowing where to start your adventure can be daunting! The best way to decide is by considering where you’d like to depart from (Texas, Oklahoma), and what you want to catch. Generally, the entire lake offers up excellent angling opportunities, with species inhabiting every part of its 89,000 acres of water. Below, we’ve pinpointed some of the most popular locations in both Texas and Oklahoma.

Texas

A view of Lake Texoma with trees in the distance and a picnic bench in the foreground

Denison is the departure point for you if you’re looking to explore the southeastern side of the lake. This is where you’ll find the famous Denison Dam and its healthy Striped Bass population. Denison is also located a mere 10-minute drive from Eisenhower State Park, which is located on the banks of Lake Texoma. It’s a great place to hike, explore the area’s land-based nature, and find the perfect picnicking spot before or after you cast your line!

Nearby Pottsboro is also a popular departure point. It’s located right next to where the lake branches out into a body of water named Little Mineral Arm. Here, you’ll find an abundance of Crappie, as well as Largemouth Bass and smaller Catfish. With its sleepy small town vibe, Pottsboro is a great option for families traveling with young, budding anglers!

Finally, Preston may be small, but it sure is mighty! Located in what could be considered Texas’s prime Lake Texoma fishing spot, it provides direct access not only to Little Mineral Arm, but where the Red River feeds into Lake Texoma. This means plenty of Alligator Gar, Striped Bass, and Catfish. Preston is located on the banks of the lake. You’ll have the opportunity to fish within minutes of departing on your vessel, or directly from the shoreline. The choice is yours!

Oklahoma

Lake Texoma in Oklahoma

Durant is the perfect starting point for anglers looking to explore where the Washita River runs into Lake Texoma. The waters here are home to Striped Bass, Largemouth Bass, and most prominently, Catfish. As well as Blue Catfish, local anglers regularly report hooking Flathead Catfish here. Alligator Gar are known to lurk in these waters, too.

Kingston is located west of where the Washita River river meets Lake Texoma. It’s a quick 10-minute drive from Lake Texoma State Park. These waters are often considered to be the lake’s premier Striped Bass fishing grounds. Lake Texoma State Park also offers up plenty of non-angling opportunities, including swimming, hiking, and watersports. The park has a contained marina and plenty of Striped Bass fishing guides. This makes Kingston the perfect starting point for newer anglers or visitors who have never explored Oklahoma before.

Finally, Cartwright provides quick and easy access to Burns Run, which leads into the lower southeastern section of Lake Texoma. If you’re looking for a quiet, secluded space to explore these waters from, Burns Run is an excellent starting point. It’s home to some beautiful scenery and has amenities such as a boat ramp, campgrounds, toilets, and a beach. It’s especially popular with shore fishermen, as there are plenty of good fishing spots along the banks.

How to Fish Lake Texoma

By Boat

Four anglers on a boat holding up 8 Striped Bass as the sun sets

If you’re new to angling or the waters of Lake Texoma, the most effective way to get your fish on is by casting off alongside an experienced guide or charter captain. The most common areas to locate them are around the wildlife and state parks. These are often home to contained marinas and boat ramps, where charter companies dock their vessels. Kingston in Oklahoma and Pottsboro or Denison in Texas are renowned for having a wealth of Lake Texoma guide services.

If you’d rather pilot your own vessel, there are plenty of public boat ramps dotted all over the lake. It’s common for guests to pay a daily fee to anchor near the lake, but prices start as low as $5. It’s well worth it if you feel confident in chartering these waters solo. 

Don’t have your own boat but want to cast off without a guide? There’s another way of exploring these waters: by kayak! The majority of lakeside marinas and boat ramps include rental fishing gear stands, bait and tackle shops – and, yes, kayak rental businesses. 

Lake Texoma with a kayak in the foreground by the shore

Looking for a slower, calmer day on the water or simply want to experience something a little bit out of the ordinary? Fishing from a kayak is a great option. Yes, you probably won’t cover as much ground as on a traditional vessel. However, you’ll have plenty of stories to take home – especially if you land a monster Striper or Catfish this way!

From Shore

Shoreline fishing at Lake Texoma might seem a little strange at first. Surely you need a high-powered vessel in order to make the most of these vast waters? Well, not necessarily! Shoreline or “bank” fishing has been popular with Lake Texoma natives for a long time now. Tourists and visiting anglers are starting to catch on to the magic of it.

A man fishing Lake Texoma from the shore

Think of it like this. Lake Texoma’s waters are so diverse and vast that you’ll never be able to cover them in a single trip. The most successful way to explore them is by focusing on your dream catch. As long as you visit when your target catch is heading to shallower waters, there’s no reason why you can’t hook Striper, Catfish, Bass, and Crappie from the banks. 

Even better, Lake Texoma is surrounded by beautiful nature reserves, picnicking spots, and hiking trails. If you don’t reel in that trophy catch, this type of fishing is a great way to get back to nature. You’ll spend some quality time with your friends and family, and put some real relaxation back into the sport! 

Getting a Fishing License

Bait and tackle fishing license sign

Up until 1979, getting the correct Lake Texoma fishing license caused a fair amount of strife for anglers. Fishermen had to purchase a license for either Texas or Oklahoma. This means they had to fish within the strict state boundaries their chosen license covered.

It’s still possible to fish Lake Texoma with a Texas or Oklahoma fishing license. You need to make sure you’re aware of where the boundaries lie, so you don’t end up accidentally fishing waters that your license doesn’t cover! The best way to avoid this kind of mishap is by traveling with an experienced local charter captain.

If you want to explore the entire lake without worrying about crossing boundaries, you’re in luck. A Lake Texoma fishing license was established in 1979. Purchasing one of these means that no matter where you choose to depart from, you can fish the entire lake to your heart’s content. 

A Lake Texoma fishing license costs a mere $12. It’s available at Walmart and most local shops surrounding the lake. Every angler over the age of 16 needs to be in possession of a valid Lake Texoma license. It’s common for state park rangers to ask to see them.

Your Lake Texoma Fishing Adventure: One Lake, Many Opportunities!

Lake Texoma at sunset

Lake Texoma’s sheer size and diverse habitats can make planning a fishing trip somewhat overwhelming. We hope that you now have a pretty good idea of what you want to catch, and where you should go to catch it.

Whether that’s battling huge Striper for your next trophy catch, trying to beat the world Catfish record, or having a lazy day of bank fishing for Panfish with the kids, Lake Texoma is the perfect place to cast your line on an unforgettable day out. We said at the beginning that fishing here is something every angler should experience at least once. Chances are you’ll want to come back again and again!

Have you ever fished Lake Texoma? What did you catch, and how did you catch it? Do you have any favorite fishing spots or tips and tricks to share? Let us know in the comments below!

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