11 Superb Lakes near San Angelo, TX for Fishing, Swimming, and Kayaking

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San Angelo has some of the best recreational lakes in West Texas. And when it comes to activities, there isn’t much between them. All of the options are full-on recreational reservoirs with hardly any limits. 

Yet, the differences come from how these lakes are developed. Some are remote and wild, with just primitive camping and no facilities. At the same time, others have marinas, resorts, and rentals. 

No matter what kind of mission you’re planning, there is a lake for your needs here. It’s a fun selection; check it out!

Lakes near San Angelo:

  1. O. C. Fisher Lake
  2. Lake Nasworthy
  3. Twin Buttes Reservoir
  4. O.H. Ivie Lake
  5. Ballinger City Lake
  6. Brady Lake
  7. E. V. Spence Reservoir
  8. Oak Creek Reservoir 
  9. Elm Creek Reservoir 
  10. Hords Creek Reservoir 
  11. Lake Brownwood
Lakes near San Angelo Texas Comparison Table

1. O. C. Fisher Lake

  • Official Page: O. C. Fisher Lake
  • Distance from San Angelo: 7 miles (15 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, SUPs, Swimming, Hiking, Water Skiing, Wakeboarding, Tubing, Camping, RVs

O. C. Fisher Lake is a 5,440-acre reservoir just 15 minutes from San Angelo. It’s a versatile destination with hardly any limits.

The best way to access the lake is to visit San Angelo State Park, which offers boat ramps, hiking and MTB trails, and various accommodation types like campsites, cabins, and lodges.

On the water, you can enjoy kayaking, canoeing, and boating. However, the lake is very sensitive to draughts. It dried up entirely in 2011 and 2013, and since 1988 has never been more than 50% full. 

In recent years, boating has become possible again, but it’s better to check with the park before traveling.

Swimming is allowed at O. C. Fisher Lake, and the closer you are to the dam, the cleaner the water is.

Also, fishing is very popular here. Since the drought, the lake has been stocked with largemouth bass, cats, bluegill, and crappie. According to the 2020 and 2021 fish surveys, the stocks are recovering quickly, and anglers report good catches.

The unique thing about this destination is the wildlife. Many bird species populate the lake, and you can spot bison and Texan Longhorns. In fact, the park is home to the Official Texas State Longhorn Herd.

Overall, it’s a fun destination with lots of space and hardly any visitors. And it’s close to home.

Related: 7 Best Lakes near Odessa, TX

2. Lake Nasworthy

  • Official Page: Lake Nasworthy
  • Distance from San Angelo: 8 miles (15 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, SUPs, Swimming, Water Skiing, Wakeboarding, Tubing, Camping, RVs

Lake Nasworthy is a 1,380-acre reservoir south of San Angelo. It’s a popular recreational lake with eleven access areas and developed facilities.

The reservoir’s shoreline is a mix of public parks and private businesses like boat clubs and recreational camps.

Swimming is allowed at Lake Nasworthy, and some parks provide designated swimming areas. It’s an excellent place to cool off in summer and enjoy picnics with friends.

Boating is very popular at the reservoir, too. There are a dozen boat ramps to launch your own craft, or you can hire jet skis and pontoon boats from local rentals.

Fishing is quite good at Lake Nasworthy. It’s the prime spot near San Angelo to cast and unwind; it boasts more fishing reports than any other lake on the list, most of which are about largemouth bass, but there is plenty of cats, crappies, and drums, too.

Overall, it’s an excellent lake destination with lots to offer. It’s even more developed than O. C. Fisher Lake and has a more stable water level, too.

Related: 9 Superb Lakes near Waco, TX

3. Twin Buttes Reservoir

Twin Buttes Reservoir
Photo: USDA/ wikimedia
  • Official Page: Twin Buttes Reservoir
  • Distance from San Angelo: 10 miles (15 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, SUPs, Swimming, Hiking, Water Skiing, Wakeboarding, Tubing, Camping, RVs

Twin Buttes Reservoir is a 9,080-acre lake next to Lake Nasworthy. It can be reached in just 15 minutes from San Angelo.

Compared to the first two options, this reservoir is largely undeveloped and remote. When it comes to facilities, it offers just boat ramps, restrooms, and picnic shelters, and that’s pretty much it.

Also, unlike Lake Nasworthy nearby, Twin Buttes Reservoir is sensitive to droughts, making the water level fluctuate a lot. You can check current conditions here.

Boating and fishing are by far the most popular activities here, but many folks come to enjoy swimming and paddling, too.

Fishing is relatively good at Twin Buttes Reservoir. It scores above average among anglers, and the selection of fish is excellent. Largemouth bass, longnose gar, common carp, and various types of catfish are at home here.

Also, primitive camping is possible along the shoreline, making this lake an excellent option for seasoned outdoor enthusiasts. However, the city is just 15 minutes away, giving you plenty of options.

This is a superb destination if you like staying away from crowds and keeping it rough.

Related: 11 Best Lakes near Abilene, TX

4. O.H. Ivie Lake

O.H. Ivie Lake
Photo: pexels
  • Official Page: O.H. Ivie Lake
  • Distance from San Angelo: 53 miles (55 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, SUPs, Swimming, Hiking, Water Skiing, Wakeboarding, Tubing, Camping, RVs

O.H. Ivie Lake is a 19,149-acre reservoir east of San Angelo. It’s a highly-rated lake and the premier fishing spot in West Texas.

There are three recreational areas at the lake. Two of them are very well developed with lodges, cabins, campgrounds, bait shops, and even restaurants, everything you need for the perfect weekend on the lake.

Like many lakes in Texas, the reservoir has no restrictions on recreation. You can swim, paddle, boat, and fish to all your heart’s desire. And considering the size of the lake, it’s an excellent spot for fast water sports like wakeboarding and jet skiing.

However, where O. H. Ivie stands out is fishing; it’s fantastic here. The species selection is excellent, and they come in decent sizes, too. 

For example, the largest blue catfish came in at 71 lbs, and the largest largemouth was 17 lbs. The reservoir is stocked frequently, and you can hire fishing guides to learn the local tricks.

Overall, it’s a classic recreational lake with something for everyone. It’s definitely worth the 1-hour drive.

Related: 7 Best Lakes near Odessa, TX

5. Ballinger City Lake

Ballinger City Lake
Photo: Josh Hild/ pexels
  • Official Page: Ballinger City Lake
  • Distance from San Angelo: 36 miles (40 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, SUPs, Swimming, Water Skiing, Wakeboarding, Tubing, Camping, RVs

Ballinger City Lake is a 591-acre reservoir 40 minutes from San Angelo. It’s a small lake with relatively clear water and simple amenities.

The only way to access the lake is to visit Ballinger Municipal Lake Park. It has a boat ramp, picnic shelters, and a campground with RV hookups. It’s a no-thrills place, well regarded by locals.

Although it’s a touch too small for wakeboarding and skiing, there are no restrictions on recreational activities. Kayaking and canoeing are great ways to explore the reservoir, but swimming is probably the most popular activity here.

When it comes to fishing, Ballinger City Lake is OK. The bite is average, and you’re unlikely to land any lunkers, although it’s stocked frequently. 

Overall, the lake has a little bit of everything. If you’re learning to swim, paddle, or boat, it’s an excellent choice as its size isn’t intimidating. And it’s great for beach BBQs, too.

Related: 15 Superb Lakes near San Antonio, TX

6. Brady Lake

Brady Lake
Photo: Larry D. Moore (CC BY-SA 4.0)
  • Official Page: Brady Lake
  • Distance from San Angelo: 76 miles (1h 15min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, SUPs, Swimming, Water Skiing, Wakeboarding, Tubing, Camping, RVs

Brady Lake, also known as Brady Creek Reservoir, is 2,020 acres when full. It’s a fantastic option for families and beginners.

The lake has one access point – Lake Brady Park. It boasts picnic areas, a boat ramp, a campground, and kayak rentals. Although small, it has everything you may need on a lake trip.

Like most reservoirs in Texas, swimming is allowed at Brady Lake; it’s a popular activity here in summer. Also, boating activities like wakeboarding, skiing, and tubing are possible.

Although it’s not a famous destination, local folks love fishing here. Surprisingly, the reservoir scores the highest marks for that. Partly because the bite is quite good, but also because you tend to get decent size largemouth; 4lb+ bass is common.

Overall, Brady Lake is cozy and well-kept. And considering easy fishing and kayak rentals, it’s an excellent option for your very first lake trip.

Related: 11 Best Lakes near Abilene, TX

7. E. V. Spence Reservoir

E. V. Spence Reservoir
Photo: pixabay
  • Official Page: E. V. Spence Reservoir
  • Distance from San Angelo: 36 miles (40 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, SUPs, Swimming, Water Skiing, Wakeboarding, Tubing, Camping, RVs

E. V. Spence Reservoir is a vast 14,640-acre lake north of San Angelo. It’s not as developed as others on the list, so it’s better suited for seasoned adventurers and people who enjoy remote getaways.

Although huge, the reservoir hasn’t been full for a long time. It suffered greatly during the 2011-2013 drought and, for the last five years, has been 25% full. 

Still, even at this capacity, it offers 6,000-acres of surface area, which is more than enough for lake activities. 

The reservoir has four recreational areas, but Wildcat and Paint Creek are the best two. These have shops, boat ramps, and primitive campgrounds. Other spots are much simpler and provide only shore access and restrooms.

Jet skiing, boating, paddling, and swimming are all great fun, and there is plenty of space to find your boat’s limit. Some sections of the shoreline have gorgeous bluffs and layered cliffs, making kayaking and canoeing here especially pleasant.

However, fishing is average at E. V. Spence Reservoir. Although it has been stocked with almost 500,000 largemouth fingerlings since 2013, the stocks are having a difficult time due to the golden algae bloom. Still, some anglers find success here.

Challenging fishing, remoteness, and the lack of developed facilities make this destination one of the least visited. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you’re looking for solitude and gorgeous sunsets, this is the place.

Related: 15 Superb Lakes near San Antonio, TX

8. Oak Creek Reservoir 

Oak Creek Reservoir
Source: depositphotos
  • Official Page: Oak Creek Reservoir 
  • Distance from San Angelo: 45 miles (45 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, SUPs, Swimming, Water Skiing, Wakeboarding, Tubing, Camping, RVs

Oak Creek Reservoir is a 2,375-acre lake north of San Angelo. It’s a highly-rated destination with a mix of full-time residents and visitors.

Locals are proud of their lake and keep it tidy, making it a pleasant spot for everyone. They even have a designated website with information about the lake and a local business directory. 

There are two primary access areas to the reservoir. Both offer RV parking, cabins, boat ramps, and shops.

When it comes to activities, everything goes at Oak Creek Reservoir. It’s excellent for swimming, paddling, and boating. Plus, the water is clearer here than at many other Texan lakes.

However, fishing is average. The largemouth bass is the only fish that was stocked in the last decade, but it does come at a decent size. Also, you can expect crappie, carp, and cats.

Overall, Oak Creek Reservoir is a pleasant destination that attracts families and people who enjoy more developed lakes. After visiting, the only danger is that you may decide to buy a house here.

Related: 9 Superb Lakes near Waco, TX

9. Elm Creek Reservoir 

Elm Creek Reservoir
Photo: pexels
  • Official Page: Elm Creek Reservoir 
  • Distance from San Angelo: 59 miles (1h 5min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, SUPs, Swimming, Water Skiing, Wakeboarding, Tubing, Camping, RVs

Elm Creek Reservoir, also known as Winters Lake, is a small 337-acre impoundment east of Winters. It’s another cozy spot with a nice selection of facilities.

The only access point is Elm Creek Reservoir Park on the southern tip of the lake. It has a launching ramp, a fishing pier, RV sites with hookups, and cabanas to hire.

Swimming is allowed at Winters Lake, and it’s a popular spot to cool off in summer while grilling with friends and family.

Although the lake isn’t large, there is plenty of space for boating activities like wakeboarding, tubing, and skiing. 

However, when it comes to paddling, it’s pretty dull. The shoreline is uniformed, without any coves or bluffs. Unless you are fishing from the kayak, there are better lakes to paddle at.

Talking about fishing. It’s average at Elm Creek Reservoir. You won’t catch any lunkers or fill a boat with fish, but if you’re patient enough, you’ll get a few.

Overall, it’s just another reservoir in Texas. It doesn’t really stand out or has many unique features, but it’s well worth popping in if you’re in the area.

Related: 11 Best Lakes near Abilene, TX

10. Hords Creek Lake 

Hords Creek Lake 
Source: depositphotos
  • Official Page: Hords Creek Lake 
  • Distance from San Angelo: 68 miles (1h 10min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, SUPs, Swimming, Water Skiing, Wakeboarding, Tubing, Camping, RVs

Hords Creek Lake is a 510-acre reservoir near Coleman. It’s a well-kept place with clean facilities and high ratings.

There are four recreational areas around the lake. Three of which are parks with campgrounds, RV hookups, showers, and picnic shelters. 

The unique thing about the area is that deer roam free here. They are not shy of people and frequently come over to check on them carrots.

As you would expect, swimming is allowed in Hords Creek Reservoir, and the parks offer designated beaches. The water’s clarity is typical of Texan lakes; it’s neither transparent nor muddy.

Boating activities like wakeboarding, skiing, and tubing are allowed, too. And kayaking and canoeing can be fun as well, especially on calm days.

When it comes to fishing, it’s OK at Hords Creek Reservoir. It’s not specifically known for that, but in the last five years, the lake has been stocked with largemouth bass and channel catfish. Shore access is excellent, and there are ADA-accessible piers, too.

Overall, this destination is a hidden gem. Unlike many lakes on the list, it’s very well-kept and civilized, but summer weekends tend to get busy.

Related: 7 Best Lakes near Odessa, TX

11. Lake Brownwood

Lake Brownwood
Photo: pixabay
  • Official Page: Lake Brownwood
  • Distance from San Angelo: 101 miles (1h 35min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, SUPs, Swimming, Water Skiing, Wakeboarding, Tubing, Sailing, Windsurfing, Hiking, Camping, RVs

Lake Brownwood is a 6,490-acre reservoir a hundred miles from San Angelo. It’s probably the coolest destination around, with the perfect mix of public parks and private marinas.

If it’s your first time visiting, the best place to start is the state park. It offers a fantastic selection of accommodation, from primitive camping and RV sites to cabins and lodges. Also, you can have a wedding or stage a reunion in one of the CCC-built halls.

In summer, the lake is buzzing with activity. You can choose popular developed spots like Wild Duck Marina and hire pontoon boats or jetskis. Or, opt for a more remote experience at Jim Ned Park with its fantastic kayaking and undisturbed wildlife.

Wakeboarding, tubing, and skiing are great fun here, but you can also try windsurfing and sailing, which few lakes offer.

Fishing is pretty good at Lake Brownwood. Although it doesn’t hold any state records, the fish size is decent. However, like at any large lake, you need local knowledge to get trophy lunkers. So, hiring a guide can be a good idea.

Overall, it’s a fantastic recreational lake with lots of space and activities. It can be an exciting trip for seasoned lake-goers as well as newcomers who just want to hire a rod or a boat and relax.

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