Lake Sam Rayburn, known affectionately as 'Big Sam' among regular fishermen and visitors, is an example of a lake which had instant success, yet has stood the test of time. Opened in 1965, the 114,000-acre Lake Sam Rayburn immediately became a popular bass fishing destination and has held a prominent spot in the minds of bass anglers ever since. In the nearly half a century since it first filled, Sam Rayburn has remained every bit as popular as it was during the early years, largely because it continues to produce amazing numbers of large bass.
Located just outside the town of Jasper in Deep East Texas, Rayburn became an instant legend and established itself as one of Texas' top bass lakes. Over the decades, the legend of Lake Sam Rayburn has only grown -- due to both the quantity of quality bass caught as well as the number of professional bass fishermen who hail from the area. The BASS tournament trail has long been well populated with fishermen who consider Big Sam their home lake. It has also been a favorite tournament location for a variety of tournament circuits for decades.
The largest lake located entirely in the Lone Star State (nearby Toledo Bend is larger in total surface acres but lies partly in Louisiana), Sam Rayburn features an amazing amount of structure. Having flooded thousands of acres of East Texas timber when it filled, it is little surprise standing timber and brush is Big Sam's signature structure is flooded timber. Areas such as the famous Black Forest on the lake's north end are intimidating for boaters, but attract an unbelievable amount of big bass. Sam Rayburn also has miles of attractive shoreline, bridge pilings, hydrilla beds, lily pads, boat docks and just about any other type of structure imaginable for fish to hide behind.
Thanks to the incredible amount of structure and nutrient-rich water, Sam Rayburn has always produced good numbers of trophy bass. However, good numbers of trophy bass turned into great numbers of trophy bass after the introduction of Florida-strain bass some four decades ago.
Another reason for Sam Rayburn's popularity among bass fishermen is the number of fish caught in relatively shallow water throughout the year. From mid-January through mid-April, most of the fish will be shallow. Once the water temperature gets over 80 degrees, they'll start backing off to the deeper water. But, they'll start coming back shallow as the water starts cooling down again in September and remain there except for the coldest part of December and January. So, most of the year, a shallow water bite is possible on Sam Rayburn.
As good as the fishing is on Sam Rayburn, this sprawling reservoir offers much more than fishing. For one thing, it is one of the most scenic lakes in the nation. Secondly, it is a great spot for a variety of water sports. Sam Rayburn is also located near some of the state's best natural attractions. A short drive away is Martin Dies Jr State Park, located on BA Steinhagen Reservoir (which looks somewhat like a mini-Sam Rayburn). Adjacent to Lake Sam Rayburn is the sprawling Angelina National Forest, which offers a number of outdoor activities. In addition to fishing, canoeing, hiking, camping, swimming, bird watching and more is available within the National Forest.
Additionally, nearby Jasper and several other East Texas communities such as Lufkin and Tyler offer great historical attractions, as well as a number of quaint shops and restaurants. And, when it comes to historical attractions, Texas' oldest town, Nacogdoches, is only a short drive away as well.