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Location: On the Angelina River; dam is located in Jasper County approximately 15 miles north of Jasper.
Surface area: 114,500 acres
Maximum depth: 80 feet
The most popular game fish at Sam Rayburn Reservoir is the largemouth bass; an excellent year-round fishery exists. Excellent year-round crappie and catfish fisheries are also present. White bass numbers are limited, but provide good fishing opportunities during the spring. Bluegill and redear sunfish are present in high numbers and provide good fishing, especially for youth or inexperienced anglers.
Habitat in Sam Rayburn Reservoir consists of submerged aquatic vegetation, standing timber, and flooded terrestrial vegetation. Hydrilla is the predominant plant species, although many native plants such as coontail and pondweed are also present. In the lower part of the reservoir the water is relatively clear; game fish are typically 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 game fish habitat. A few man-made fish attractors provide additional structure. Coordinates are available on our fish attractor download page.
Due to water level fluctuations, habitat conditions change seasonally and yearly. Drastic water level changes can decrease the amount of vegetation. At high water levels, inundated trees and bushes provide excellent habitat. Anglers are successful at catching largemouth bass year round at Sam Rayburn Reservoir. During the fall, winter and spring months, 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, but crankbaits and spinnerbaits are usually the preferred choices. During the hot summer, the bite usually slows and fish activity is usually concentrated during early morning, late evening, and at night. Topwater baits are good choices during low light conditions. As the sun rises, most bass concentrate in or around vegetation edges and man-made brush piles, or seek refuge on deep ledges and creek channels. During this time, plastic worms, jigs, and Carolina rigs are preferred baits.
Crappie fishing is excellent year-round with jigs and minnows. During the spring spawn, anglers target shallow areas around vegetation. During other times of the year, fish are typically concentrated in deeper water around brush piles and creek channels.
It was formerly known as McGee Bend Dam and Reservoir until 1963. In September of that year, the 88th Congress adopted a special resolution changing the name to “Sam Rayburn Dam and Reservoir,” in honor of the recently deceased Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn, a long-time champion of soil and water conservation. Dedication ceremonies were held on May 8, 1965.
Another name for the Sam Rayburn Dam, during the initial phases of proposal and construction was “Dam A”. For many years, the lower dam on the lake that was formed over the congruence of the Angelina and Neches Rivers was known as “Dam B” by the locals before it was officially named Steinhagen Reservoir.
The lake is a popular recreation destination, both for boating and fishing, with game fish species in the lake including largemouth bass, bluegill, and channel catfish. Due to the abundance of Bass it is home to more than 300 tournaments annually which include tournaments such as ESPN/BASS Masters, BASS Champs, Wal Mart BFL, FLW Outdoors, Angler’s Quest, Bass-n-Bucks, and McDonald’s Big Bass Splash.