Lake Fork, Texas, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Southwest - Texas - Piney Woods -

Also known as:  Lake Fork Reservoir

Lake Fork (also called Lake Fork Reservoir) covers an impressive 27,264 acres in northeast Texas, on the border of the Piney Woods and Prairies and Lakes tourism regions. The Sabine River Authority completed the Lake Fork project in 1985 by damming Lake Fork Creek, a major tributary of the Sabine River, for municipal and industrial water supply and recreation. Birch Creek and Big Caney Creek also flow into Lake Fork. Water levels typically vary by two to four feet annually.

Due to minimal clearing of trees prior to the impoundment of Lake Fork Creek, Lake Fork has excellent habitat for fish. Nationally recognized because of its trophy largemouth bass fishery, Lake Fork claims more than 60% of the Texas Top 50 largest bass ever caught. The state record (as of summer 2012) still resides at Lake Fork Reservoir with an 18.18 pound bass that was caught in January 1992. It surpassed the old record of 17.67 pounds caught in November 1986, also in Lake Fork.

Mid-February to April are the best months for bass fishing during the day; hot summer months call for night fishing. Bass are not the lake’s only draw for anglers. With 42 square miles of water surface, 315 miles of shoreline to fish, and depths up to 70 feet, Lake Fork anglers also catch white crappie, black crappie, channel catfish, bluegill, and redear sunfish.

Special regulations (along with the standard statewide regulations) govern largemouth bass and crappie catches. Largemouth bass are subject to a 16- to 24-inch slot limit. Bass 16 inches and shorter and 24 inches and longer can be harvested with a daily bag limit of 5 fish, of which only 1 fish can be 24 inches or greater. During the months of December, January and February, there is no minimum length limit on crappie. Daily bag is 25 in any combination of black and white crappie, and all crappie caught must be retained (culling is not permitted). In other months, crappie are subject to a 10-inch minimum length limit and a daily bag of 25.

The Sabine River Authority (SBA) operates several boat ramps and a free day-use area on Lake Fork, in addition to many private-owned access areas around the lake. Boat launch ramps are available at Lake Fork Bridge on Highway 515 and on the south shore of Lake Fork Reservoir on Highway 154. The SBA boat ramp on Highway 154 is located at a day use park that includes a fishing pier with wheelchair access, restrooms, swings, and a pavilion with picnic tables. You can obtain maps and information at the lake headquarters at Lake Forks Dam on Texas 182.

Other activities that visitors enjoy at Lake Fork include water skiing, boating, jet skiing, canoeing, kayaking, swimming, and bird watching. The Lake Fork area is home to bird species such as the bald eagle, wood thrush, Arcadian flycatcher, Kentucky warbler, and swallow-tailed kites. The ivory-billed woodpecker – thought to be extinct at one time – also makes its home in the area.

When boating, watch for debris and stumps in the shallower water along the shoreline. That’s where the larger fish like to hide. Kayaking and canoeing are becoming more popular at Lake Fork. Canoes’ shallow hulls can get you closer to the shore – and closer to big fish.

For wildlife viewing at Lake Fork, there’s no better time to see wildlife than early in the morning or early in the evening. Expect to see turkey, deer, raccoons, opossums, and various song birds.

To get a feel for the history of the area, go to Quitman, which was founded in 1850 as the county seat of Wood County. Attracting a large number of settlers from the southern states, Quitman quickly became the trading center for the county. Visit the historic downtown area with period buildings and the feel of small town turn-of-the-century America. Other towns close to Lake Fork include Emory, Greenville, Lake Fork, Mineola, Sulphur Springs, and Winnsboro.

For a bit of east Texas charm and some of the entire state’s best fishing, try Lake Fork for a day or a weekend. It just might become a lifelong friend.

Things to do at Lake Fork

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Jet Skiing
  • Water Skiing
  • Picnicking
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding

Fish species found at Lake Fork

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Black Crappie
  • Bluegill
  • Catfish
  • Channel Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Redear Sunfish (Shellcracker)
  • Sunfish
  • White Crappie

Lake Fork Photo Gallery

Lake Fork Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: Sabine River Authority of Texas

Surface Area: 27,264 acres

Shoreline Length: 315 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 403 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 399 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 407 feet

Average Depth: 14 feet

Maximum Depth: 70 feet

Water Volume: 675,819 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1985

Lake Area-Population: 7,000

Drainage Area: 685 sq. miles

Trophic State: Hypereutrophic

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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