7 Unique Lakes near Lufkin, TX for Fishing, Swimming, and Kayaking

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Lufkin is just one hour away from the largest reservoir in Texas and the fifth-largest in America – Toledo Bend. And together with Sam Rayburn Reservoir, these are America’s best largemouth bass fisheries.

And still, Lufkin has more to offer. There are smaller family-friendly lakes with excellent swimming and fishing. And if you want to see some alligators and photograph wildlife, there are options, too.

Check out what Lufkin has to offer!

Lakes near Lufkin:

  1. Sam Rayburn Reservoir
  2. Toledo Bend Reservoir
  3. Lake Livingston
  4. Lake Nacogdoches
  5. Kurth Lake
  6. Lake Naconiche
  7. Steinhagen Reservoir
Lakes near Lufkin Texas Comparison Table

1. Sam Rayburn Reservoir

Sam Rayburn Reservoir
Source: unsplash
  • Official Page: Sam Rayburn Reservoir
  • Distance from Lufkin: 16 miles (20 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, SUPs, Swimming, Hiking, Camping, RVs, Sailing, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing

At 114,500 surface acres, Sam Rayburn Reservoir is the second-largest lake in Texas. It’s an incredibly stunning and highly versatile recreational lake.

The best thing about Sam Rayburn is the variety of access areas. It has over 20 parks, marinas, and campgrounds spread along the shoreline. Renting an RV and exploring these areas makes for an excellent trip.

You can choose quiet swimming spots, buzzing marinas, or anything in between. Also, there are unusual places like Texas Airstream Harbor – an Airstream-only campground for short and long-term stays.

Like many lakes in Texas, there are hardly any restrictions at Sam Rayburn. From swimming and snorkeling to speed boating and tubing, it’s all great fun here.

However, where the lake stands out is fishing. According to TPWD, it hosts 400 fishing tournaments every year. 

Most people target largemouth bass, and the reservoir has been continuously stocked with Florida Largemouth since 1994; the biggest one caught here was 16.8 pounds.

Overall, it’s an incredible lake with stunning panoramas and charming woods all around. There is something for everyone here.

Related: 11 Amazing Lakes near Tyler, TX

2. Toledo Bend Reservoir

Toledo Bend Reservoir
Source: wikimedia/CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Official Page: Toledo Bend Reservoir
  • Distance from Lufkin: 61 miles (1h)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, SUPs, Swimming, Hiking, Camping, RVs, Sailing, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing

Toledo Bend Reservoir is a massive 181,600-acre lake that straddles the Texas Louisiana border. It’s the largest reservoir in Texas and the fifth-largest lake in America.

Like Sam Rayburn, Toledo Bend reservoir is an incredible recreational destination that offers dozens of parks, campgrounds, and marinas. It’s the top destination for renting an RV and enjoying lakeside camping.

The Texan side of the lake lies within Sabine National Forest, which offers public boat ramps, hiking trails, and boat-in campsites. It’s an excellent kayak camping place; you can explore the shoreline and stay at different sites every night.

And if you choose the Louisiana side, the best places to visit are North Toledo and South Toledo Bend State Parks. 

The reservoir hosts numerous sporting events and festivals throughout the year. But as you may expect, fishing tournaments dominate the lake scene.

Toledo Bend frequently tops the charts for the best bass fishing lake in America. Throw in Sam Rayburn, and you get America’s best largemouth bass hotspot.

But there is more fish in the water. For example, the lake holds three state records – Redfin Pickerel, Grass Carp, and Black Crappie. And there is plenty of cats, gar, and bluegill, too.

Lifetime isn’t enough to explore every nuke and cranny this reservoir offers. It’s hugely versatile, it’s gorgeous, and it’s vast.

Related: 9 Superb Lakes near Waco, TX

3. Lake Livingston

Lake Livingston
Source: flickr/CC BY 2.0
  • Official Page: Lake Livingston
  • Distance from Lufkin: 54 miles (1h)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, SUPs, Swimming, Hiking, Camping, RVs, Sailing, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing

At almost 90,000 acres, Lake Livingston is the fifth largest lake in Texas. And just like Toledo Bend and Sam Rayburn, it is geared towards recreation and outdoor activities.

Although there are dozens of access areas at this reservoir, Lake Livingston State Park is the best option, especially if it’s your first visit.

Like most state parks, it offers RV sites, primitive campgrounds, and miles of hiking trails. Plus, they have a paved launching ramp and kayak rentals, so the boating is covered too.

Because alligators live in Lake Livingston, swimming should be done in the designated swimming areas. Also, avoid swimming between dusk and dawn; this is when alligators are the most active.

Boating sports like wakeboarding and skiing are great fun, but Lake Livingston isn’t the best for that. There is still a lot of standing timber, and you need to know your way around to ski safely. Still, a lot of people do it.

However, all this timber provides a fantastic habitat for fish, and this reservoir is known as the top white bass fishery. Also, there is plenty of catfish and gar, but largemouth isn’t common.

Overall, Lake Livingston is a fantastic option. It has everything you may need on a lake trip, yet it’s large enough to avoid crowds and escape the hustle.

4. Lake Nacogdoches

Lake Nacogdoches
Source: flickr/CC BY 2.0
  • Official Page: Lake Nacogdoches
  • Distance from Lufkin: 25 miles (30 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, SUPs, Swimming, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing

Lake Nacogdoches is a 2,212-acre reservoir north of Lufkin. It’s a quiet place with day-use parks and pretty good bass fishing.

The city of Nacogdoches maintains two parks on the southern tip of the lake. Both are free to use and provide restrooms, launching ramps, picnic spots, and designated swimming areas. 

Unfortunately, there is no camping allowed at these parks, but there are a few lakeside houses that you can rent on Airbnb.

When it comes to water activities, it’s an excellent lake. It’s not huge, so it’s less intimidating for kayaking and canoeing. Yet, it’s big enough for wakeboarding and skiing. 

However, fishing is probably the most popular activity here. It’s a largemouth bass lake. It has been stocked almost continuously since 2008 with Florida Largemouth. 

There is little fishing pressure and plenty of space for this variety to thrive. The lake’s largemouth bass record was set in 2020; it came at 15.34 pounds.

Overall, it’s another superb option near Lufkin. It’s best suited for family picnics, swimming, and fishing.

Related: 11 Amazing Lakes near Tyler, TX 

5. Kurth Lake

Kurth Lake
Source: depositphotos
  • Official Page: Kurth Lake
  • Distance from Lufkin: 9 miles (15 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing

If you’re an angler based in Lufkin or Nacogdoches, you probably heard about Kurth Lake. It can be best described as a small lake with big fish.

Although only 726 acres in size, Kurth Lake is known for fantastic largemouth bass fishing and once produced a 13.34-pound lunker.

To fish this reservoir, you will have to get a permit from the city of Lufkin. At the moment (2021), it can only be done in person at the City Hall.

Another drawback is that there isn’t much going on here apart from fishing and boating. The lake is known for giant alligators, so swimming in Kurth Lake isn’t recommended. Also, there are no restrooms or any other facilities except the boat ramp and a pier.

Because of the big bass reputation, the lake has a lot of pressure, but it does get stocked every year. Also, it can get packed during weekends.

Altogether, it’s one of the best fishing lakes near Lufkin. And considering it’s only 15 minutes away, you can fish here every day.

Related: 9 Superb Lakes near Waco, TX

6. Lake Naconiche

Lake Naconiche
Source: flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Official Page: Lake Naconiche
  • Distance from Lufkin: 38 miles (45 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, SUPs, Swimming, Camping, RVs

Lake Naconiche is all about swimming, fishing, and having picnics with the family. It’s a cozy 692-acre reservoir north of Nacogdoches.

The best place to visit is Lake Naconiche Park. It has a pebble beach, fishing pier, boat ramp, and picnic spaces. Water is clearer here than in most other Texan reservoirs, making swimming excellent. 

Also, the lake has an RV park and cabins, so there are plenty of accommodation options if you want to make a weekend out of it.

The lake itself has a lot of standing timber and debris, providing excellent habitat for fish. Just like Kurth Lake, it’s a bass territory. Florida Largemouth has been stocked here for years, and the lake’s record is 14.12 pounds.

Although excellent for fishing, the debris make boating here challenging. So when it comes to wakeboarding and skiing, it’s not an ideal destination. However, paddlers love this lake. There is plenty of coves and poking-out timber to play with.

In short, it’s a family-friendly place that is fantastic in summer. But if you are going to do some serious boating, Sam Rayburn is much safer.

7. Steinhagen Reservoir

Steinhagen Reservoir
Source: unsplash
  • Official Page: Steinhagen Reservoir
  • Distance from Lufkin: 58 miles (1h)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Swimming, Camping, RVs, Hiking

Steinhagen Reservoir is a 10,687-acre lake near Jasper. It’s a place where tall pines meet cypress trees, and the surroundings are teeming with wildlife.

The lake has plenty of access areas. You can opt for COE parks or try Martin Dies, Jr. State Park. Both are highly rated options with campgrounds and boat launches.

Yet, the state park has hiking trails which are an excellent way to explore the surrounding forest and photograph wildlife.

The reservoir is relatively shallow and has plenty of aquatic vegetation, making fast boating difficult.

However, it’s an incredible kayaking and canoeing destination. You can hire one at the state park, which also has four designated paddling trails. It’s a unique adventure and probably the best experience on the lake.

When it comes to fishing, the last time Steinhagen Reservoir was stocked was in 2000. Despite this, the aquatic vegetation sustains a healthy fish colony. The lake is known for catfish and crappie, but you do get an occasional largemouth as well.

Overall, it’s a unique destination best suited for nature fans and paddlers. 

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