Lake O’ the Pines, Texas, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Southwest - Texas - Piney Woods -

Also known as:  Ferrell's Bridge Reservoir-historic

For many people in the Texas Piney Woods region, ‘let’s go to the lake!’ means Lake O’ The Pines. This extraordinary reservoir was built primarily for flood control and water supply, but recreation quickly claimed a spot near the front of the line. Over 70 miles of shoreline, including several arms, coves and incoming streams took the place of what had been formerly an ill-defined Big Cypress Bayou. The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) planned from the beginning to incorporate several public parks, complete with boat ramps and campsites. Private interests quickly developed resorts and fishing camps above the high water mark. And local municipalities soon had plans for locally-operated parks and boat ramps. Indeed, going to the lake quickly became a favorite pastime for area residents and was soon discovered by vacationing visitors.

Since Ferrell’s Bridge Dam was built in 1956, hundreds of thousands of people have arrived at the four USACE campgrounds in summer to enjoy a week or two of rest and relaxation. Thousands more have come to fish or spend a day swimming and picnicking at the Day Use areas. Retirees have sought out the seasonal RV camps near the lake to put down their winter roots in a more moderate climate. And boaters flock to the lake to enjoy the wide expanse of water for water skiing, tubing, sailing, windsurfing and pontooning.

Three concession marinas and several commercial facilities associated with the resort camps make boating especially easy. The marinas allow boat launching for a nominal fee, rent boats and pontoons, and sell bait, boat gas and snacks. Repairs are performed and supplies sold. Some also offer RV hook-ups and lakeside motel rooms. The Longview Yacht Club has had facilities on the lake since 1978 and holds regattas and races over the long summer season. Boating can be challenging during periods of low water due to drought, and some areas of the lake hold a large number of stumps. It is wise to check daily water levels and ask questions about specific areas at any of the marinas.

One needn’t be a boating fan to enjoy Lake O’ The Pines. Swimming beaches are available at Alley Creek, Brushy Creek, and Johnson Creek campgrounds, plus Shady Grove, Johnson Day Use and Lakeside Park. Annual passes can be purchased for access to all of the USACE-owned swimming beaches and boat ramps. Fishing is a big attraction at Lake O’ The Pines, too. The lake holds channel catfish, largemouth bass, blue catfish, crappie, spotted bass, white bass, flathead catfish, sunfish and chain pickerel. Brushy Creek Park and Johnson’s Creek Park have fishing platforms for shore fishing. Fish-attracting structures have been added in the main part of the lake and are clearly marked with buoys. Several bridges that were submerged when the reservoir was built continue to be hot-spots for crappies. The stump forests just below the surface are very often productive for anglers.

Plenty of campsites are available for nearly all types of campers. Alley Creek offers both RV and tent sites, with an RV dump, rest rooms and showers, electric and water hook-ups, picnic tables, fire rings and playground. Brushy Creek Park has all of the above plus a fishing platform. Buckhorn Creek Park is a bit less crowded but offers campsites, two boat docks, playground and restrooms. Johnson’s Creek Park has everything the other parks hold plus picnic pavilions, volleyball court and amphitheater. Wise campers make reservations in advance to be sure of getting their favorite spots on busy holiday weekends. There is plenty of room for walking, and marked trails are to be constructed in the near future. Although the USACE holds an easement to 265 feet above sea level for flood containment purposes, visitors should not assume this is public land and must respect the private property of others.

Big Cypress Bayou stretches 140 miles to the northwest from the dam. Not all of this area can be considered lake and not all is navigable. Instead, as with most bayous, the water surface gives way to swampy bottomland forests, small meadows filled with wildflowers, and tiny streams. This is fine natural habitat for a variety of wildlife and birds. The long arms of the lake also are perfect for exploring by kayak or canoe. Bald eagles, herons, pelicans, waterfowl and marsh birds can all be seen by the quiet paddler with a sharp eye. This environment also serves to produce a great deal of drinkable water for the communities of Lone Star, Daingerfield, Ore City, Hughes Springs, Jefferson, Avinger and Longview. Parts of this area are open to hunting in season.

Lest one assume that life near Lake O’ The Pines is always quiet and laid-back, one need only look at the huge number of festivals and events that occur annually in this area of the Piney Woods. One of the biggest is Mardi Gras Upriver in Jefferson. Also in Jefferson, the Annual Pilgrimage Historical Homes Tour of Civil War-era homes and churches and Civil War re-enactments draw many visitors. Nearby Marshall has the annual Fireant Festival each October. The festival is less about the annoying little pests and more about music. Marshall proudly calls itself ‘The Birthplace of Boogie Woogie’. There are wildflower tours, concerts and celebrations for anything and everything in this corner of Texas.

Lake O’ The Pines, the Fireant Festival, Mardi Gras Upriver and a million other things make this area of Texas a favorite among retirees and snowbirds. Luckily, the area is prepared for visitors, with lots of lodgings choices, from motels and hotels in the small cities and along the main highways to quaint inns, bed & breakfasts and private home rentals available both near Lake O’ The Pines and at other nearby lakes. Real estate is often available in the area, including overlooking Lake O’ The Pines. So bring the fishing rod, the sun screen and the paddles-there’s plenty of fun awaiting you at Lake O’ The Pines.

Things to do at Lake O’ the Pines

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Water Skiing
  • Tubing
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Playground

Fish species found at Lake O’ the Pines

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Blue Catfish
  • Catfish
  • Chain Pickerel
  • Channel Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Flathead Catfish
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Pickerel
  • Pike
  • Spotted Bass
  • Sunfish
  • White Bass

Lake O’ the Pines Photo Gallery

    Lake O’ the Pines Statistics & Helpful Links

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    Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

    Water Level Control: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

    Surface Area: 18,680 acres

    Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 230 feet

    Maximum Depth: 50 feet

    Water Volume: 250,000 acre-feet

    Completion Year: 1959

    Drainage Area: 850 sq. miles

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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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