7 Best Lakes near Odessa, TX for Fishing, Kayaking, and Boating

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Located deep in the shrublands, Odessa isn’t known for its lakes. But even here, you can find reservoirs for fishing, kayaking, and boating.

Most of the options are over an hour’s drive away, but they offer camping, so multi-day trips won’t be a problem.

Some reservoirs are family-friendly, while others are best suited for seasoned outdoor enthusiasts. 

Read on to find out what Odessa can offer.

Lakes near Odessa Texas Comparison Table

Lakes near Odessa:

  1. Moss Creek Lake
  2. Comanche Trail Lake (Big Spring)
  3. Comanche Trail Pond (Odessa)
  4. Lake Colorado City
  5. Lake J. B. Thomas  
  6. Lake Balmorhea
  7. Red Bluff Reservoir

1. Moss Creek Lake

Lake with bluffs and shrubs
Source: unsplash
  • Official Page: Moss Creek Lake
  • Distance from Odessa: 76 miles (1h 15min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Swimming, Hiking, Water Skiing, Wakeboarding, Tubing, Camping, RVs, OHV Trails

Moss Creek Lake is a 400-acre reservoir east of Big Spring. It’s the nearest recreational lake without any restriction, although it’s over an hour away.

The reservoir is managed by the city of Big Spring and offers boat ramps, beaches, campsites, and picnic shelters; everything you may need for a weekend on the lake.

Despite its modest size, the lake is an excellent place for wakeboarding, tubing, and jet skiing. Also, kayaking and canoeing are great ways to explore the shoreline and get close to the gorgeous sandstone bluffs.

Swimming is allowed at Moss Creek Lake; it’s a great spot to cool off in summer. 

However, the most popular activity here is fishing. Common carp is the most typical catch, but largemouth bass and bluegill are present too. The bite is quite good, but the sizes are modest; you won’t catch any lunkers here.

What makes this location different from others are OHV trails. It’s an excellent spot if you want to combine off-roading with relaxing by the lake.

Related: 9 Epic Lakes for Recreation near Lubbock, TX

2. Comanche Trail Lake (Big Spring)

  • Official Page: Comanche Trail Lake
  • Distance from Odessa: 63 miles (1h 5min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Kayaking, Canoeing, Hiking, Camping, Sports Grounds, Aqua Park

Comanche Trail Lake is a small spring-fed pond in Big Spring. Although not a typical recreational lake, it offers excellent fishing and paddling.

The lake is part of the Comanche Trail Park, which has sports grounds, disk golf, picnic shelters, and miles of hiking trails. It’s a versatile destination with lots to do.

Another great thing about the park is the Family Aquatic Center which is the perfect opportunity to cool off in summer and keep kids busy. However, make sure that it’s open before traveling as the center tends to close early.

Fishing is fantastic at Comanche Trail Park. It’s stocked regularly with channel catfish and rainbow trout. You can expect largemouth bass and yellow bullhead in addition to the stocked species. The bite is excellent, but trophy-size fish is rare.

Another surprise here is a small campground. Although primitive and right by the road, it’s free to use and allows for multi-day trips. There are just six campsites here, and large rigs will find it impossible to park, but smaller campers will be OK.

Overall, Comanche Trail Lake is an excellent choice for families and anglers. But if you’re looking for a lake to wakeboard and jet ski, this isn’t it.

Related: 7 Amazing Lakes and Ponds near El Paso, TX

3. Comanche Trail Pond (Odessa)

Comanche Trail Pond (Odessa)
  • Official Page: Comanche Trail Pond
  • Distance from Odessa: 2 miles (5 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Hiking, Picnics

Comanche Trail Pond is a small lake just 5 minutes from downtown. It’s the nearest place where you can cast a rod and unwind.

The pond is part of the Comanche Trail Park, which has picnic shelters, disc golf, and a walking trail, but that’s pretty much it. It’s not an exciting destination, but it’s the nearest, making it great for afternoon fishing and walks.

The lake is stocked with rainbow trout multiple times a year. The bite is good, and you can keep up to 5 trouts. 

Also, it’s a picturesque place with lots of birds and well-kept grounds, which stands out in Odessa.

Although not as versatile, Comanche Trail Pond deserves its place on the list, especially for fishing and proximity.

Related: 11 Superb Lakes near San Angelo, TX

4. Lake Colorado City

  • Official Page: Lake Colorado City
  • Distance from Odessa: 101 miles (1h 45min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Swimming, Hiking, Water Skiing, Wakeboarding, Tubing, Camping, RVs

Lake Colorado City is a 1,618-acre reservoir some 100 miles east of Odessa. Although it’s quite a drive, the lake offers plenty of activities and is certainly worth visiting.

The best way to access the lake is to visit Lake Colorado City State Park on the western shore. It’s a modern and well-kept park with over a hundred campsites, as well as cabins, boat ramps, and a few trails.

You can hire kayaks and canoes during the season to explore the reservoir. Also, fishing is popular here, but it isn’t great. Fish stocks are too low, and the last time the lake was stocked was in 2008. Still, many anglers catch a fish or two.

Swimming is allowed at Lake Colorado City, too, and the park maintains a swimming area, making it a perfect summer destination.

The boat ramp allows for the use of personal craft, and many people enjoy jet skiing and tubing. However, the lake is very sensitive to draughts. In 2021, for the first time in many years, the reservoir got a good amount of water. If you’re planning on boating, check with the park before traveling.

Overall, it’s a versatile and family-friendly destination with an excellent choice of accommodation, perfect for weekend getaways.

Related: 9 Epic Lakes for Recreation near Lubbock, TX

5. Lake J. B. Thomas

Lake J. B. Thomas
  • Official Page: Lake J. B. Thomas
  • Distance from Odessa: 95 miles (1h 35min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, SUPs, Swimming, Camping, Wakeboarding, Waterskiing, Tubing

Lake J. B. Thomas is a 7,282-acre reservoir near Snyder. It’s a full-on recreational lake with hardly any restrictions.

The reservoir has plenty of access areas, including a marina on the southern shore with basic boating facilities and a campground.

Swimming is allowed at Lake J. B. Thomas. However, the designated swimming areas are hard to come by, but the access to the water is easy. In many cases, you can drive right to the water to set up camp.

Fishing is excellent at this lake. It is stocked frequently and enjoyed new records in the last couple of years – 10-pound largemouth bass in 2020 and 19.6-pound channel catfish in 2021. 

Other activities include kayaking, canoeing, wakeboarding, and tubing. Plus, there are plenty of trails for exploring the shoreline, although they’re not designated.

The drawback to this lake is the lack of shade and rental facilities; you have to bring everything you might need. Hence, it’s better suited for seasoned outdoor enthusiasts rather than beginners.

Related: 11 Best Lakes near Abilene, TX

6. Lake Balmorhea

  • Official Page: Lake Balmorhea
  • Distance from Odessa: 113 miles (1h 50min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Kayaking, Canoeing, SUPs, Swimming, Camping

Lake Balmorhea is a 556-acre reservoir southwest of Odessa. It’s an undeveloped lake with simple amenities in the middle of nowhere.

The reservoir is spring-fed, and the water here is clearer than in other lakes. However, it’s adjacent to the farmland where cows roam free and frequently visit the lake. Some would find this off-putting, but most people swim here anyway.

If swimming is your priority, you may want to drive a few miles further to Balmorhea State Park. It has the world’s largest spring-fed swimming pool with Caribbean-like water. It’s the best swimming hole within a 300-mile radius.

The only access point at Lake Balmorhea offers a bait shop and a primitive campground, so the facilities are pretty limited. Still, it’s a great place to kayak, canoe, and SUP.

Fishing is excellent at Lake Balmorhea, too. It’s stocked frequently and has plenty of largemouth bass. And although the sizes are modest, the bite is usually strong.

Overall, the lake is best suited for anglers and seasoned outdoorsmen, as most folks will find it too run-down and primitive.

Related: 11 Superb Lakes near San Angelo, TX

7. Red Bluff Reservoir

Red Bluff Reservoir in Texas
Source: USGS/ public domain
  • Official Page: Red Bluff Reservoir
  • Distance from Odessa: 115 miles (2h)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, SUPs, Swimming, Camping, Wakeboarding, Waterskiing, Tubing

Red Bluff Reservoir is 11,193 acres when full. It’s located near Orla and offers a remote experience and decent fishing.

Years ago, the lake used to be a prime fishing spot with a bait shop and basic amenities. Yet nowadays, it’s a desolate place that needs taking care of.

The only access area is on the southern tip of the reservoir. You can drive right to the water to set up camp but be mindful of the surface; trucks get stuck here all the time.

Although there are no restrictions on recreation, there are no boat ramps; launching is done from the shore. Also, water levels aren’t as high as they used to be, so wakeboarding and tubing may be dangerous; stick to kayaking, canoeing, or jon boats.

Swimming is allowed at Red Bluff Reservoir, but when the water level is low, the lake tends to smell. Check the levels before traveling.

Fishing is the most common reason to visit the lake, and it’s pretty good here. The reservoir used to be stocked with bass and catfish, but the last recorded stocking was in 2016. Still, the lake isn’t overfished, and there is plenty of white bass here; 4lbs+ fish is pretty common.

Overall, Red Bluff Reservoir isn’t a family destination. It will suit seasoned anglers with good trucks. And if you’re looking for a more civilized lake, there are better options on the list.

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