Updated: Jan 23
Cypress Trees on Lake Quitman Photo by Tiffany Tillema
The area surrounding Winnsboro, Texas, is known as lake country for a good reason. There are 19 lakes in or around Winnsboro, with tons of fishing, boating, and swimming opportunities. Many of these lakes are privately owned, and some are pretty small, but they are all beautiful and well worth visiting.
When You stay at Oaklea mansion, you will have many opportunities to visit some of these magnificent bodies of water. We will highlight the public waters in this post so that you can plan your "lake Country" trip accordingly.
Lake Fork is the largest and most famous lake in our area. It is a reservoir rather than a true lake and was created to provide water to the greater Dallas area. Located about 60 miles East of Dallas, Lake Fork Reservoir was finished in 1980 by installing a dam over a Tributary of the Sabine River and is controlled by the Sabine River Authority. After damming the river, it took 5 years to fill it to capacity. This lake is 315 miles of shoreline and, when full, is 25,264 acres of surface area. Even before this lake was created, Texas Parks and Wildlife had plans to stock it and make it into a fishery. Most of the original timber was left in place while the lake was filled to provide a natural habitat for the fish they would stock in the lake. Stocking the Lake started before the dam was finished in 1980 and was a gradual process until it was at capacity. Although Lake fork is known for its Largemouth bass, the first fish to be introduced were Channel Catfish which were added when the Dam was in the early stages of the building process in 1977 and 1978. Around 1979, they added more catfish species, the flat head, and the Blue. Finally, in 1980 and in, 1982, and 1987, they stocked the lake with its famous Largemouth Bass. The TPWD has done an amazing job managing this lake. In the planning stages, they set a slot limit (Minimum length) to ensure that the lake was not overfished. This led to some world record fish being pulled from the lake. Making it the Premier fishing lake in the State. This lake carries world-record fish in Largemouth Bass, Bowfin, Crappie (white and black), and all three species of catfish. Several tournaments are held at Lake Fork throughout the year; some are televised, including the Bassmasters Tournaments. Here is a list of some of the tournaments for 2023, each with a link to their websites:
Bass on the Fly
Bud Light Trail
Fishers of Men-Legacy
Irving Bass Club
Lake Fork Carp and Buffalo Challenge
Lake Fork Outdoor Expo
Lake Fork Sportsman's Association
Legend of Lake Fork
Ram Mega Bass
Super Slab Series
Take a Soldier Fishing
Texas Trails Bassmasters
ToyotaTexas Bass Classic
If you know of a special needs or terminally ill child who would love to fish Lake Fork, contact the
Wish to Fish Foundation
Wish to fish is a non-profit foundation that provides terminally ill children and their families the opportunity to spend time together fishing on Lake Fork. The fishing day is provided at no cost and includes lodging, meals, a 26' boat, and a "chase boat" for emergencies while on the water. They also take donations from anyone interested in supporting a great Cause.
There are State and Local rules when fishing at Lake Fork. There are both size and bag limits on:
All Bass and Catfish species
Alligator Gar (no limits on other species of Gar)
There are no minimums on:
Crappie (You must keep all crappie you catch)
For more information on fishing regulations, Contact Texas Parks and Wildlife.
Caution: Lake Fork is a fishery and was left naturally with trees and stumps, many of which are submerged. In 2014 during a drought, TPWD could see the submerged stumps and marked boat lanes on the lake with buoys. These are buoys that mark safe areas without stumps. This does not mean you should go crazy when driving. Please be cautious of other water vehicles in the lanes. If you have a GPS or fish finder on your boat, you can navigate the lanes easier. You can also buy a card to go in your GPS called Guidelanes which will make your boating much safer and easier.
Other Activities on Lake Fork
Not into fishing? That is ok. There are other fun things to do as well. There is plenty of water for those who like water activities such as skiing, boating, canoeing, kayaking, and swimming.
You can rent kayaks, canoes, jet skis, and other watercraft (including fishing boats and pontoons). For more information, You can contact :
The Boat Rental at Lake Fork
Lake Fork Marina
Swimming is allowed, although there are no designated swimming areas. This lake is a swim at your own risk as there are water hazards (rocks, fishing hooks, fishing lines, and drop-offs). It is highly recommended to stick with public areas for swimming. Stay clear of boat ramps and boat lanes while swimming.
Bird watching is an amazing adventure at Lake Fork. Hundreds of species of birds; are common: Herons, cardinals, woodpeckers, cormorants, and others are reported daily. Then there are Migratory and rarely seen birds such as Snow geese, Canadian geese, Sandhill cranes, Cara Cara, Ibis, pelicans, and everyone's favorite, the Bald Eagle.
There is one public park on lake Fork. It is the Sabine River Authority Day Use Area. It is clean and well-maintained, with trails and birdwatching. They also have a nice playground area for the kids. Fishing is also allowed here, and there is a nearby public boat ramp.
Several parks around the lake have activities such as swimming and fishing, and playgrounds; however, they are privately owned and operated.
for more information on parks and activities, contact:
Lake Fork Marina
Sabine River Authority
Black Ibis on Lake Fork Photo by Tiffany Tillema @4Tstudios
For more information on Lake Fork activities, please get in touch with Texas Parks and Wildlife at: https://tpwd.texas.gov/fishboat/fish/recreational/lakes/fork/
or the Sabine River Authority at https://www.sratx.org/sra-offices/lake-fork/
As the name of the area implies, this is a group of three lakes that connect to one another and are separated by Dams and fed by different tributaries. The three lakes are Lake Cypress Springs, Lake Bob Sandlin, And Lake Montecillo. We will cover each lake separately.
Lake Cypress Springs
Lake Cypress Springs was created in 1968 by building a dam across the Big Cypress Creek and was finished in 1971. It was created for the Franklin County Water District, which supplies the surrounding area with municipal water, and under whose authority it is still under.
Lake Cypress Springs has a surface area of around 3400 acres and a shoreline of 47 miles. The lake is located around 90 miles East of the Dallas Ft. Worth Metroplex. This lake was always intended for recreational use and is an excellent choice for a family outing.
Unlike Lake Fork, which was meant to be a fishing lake where the vegetation was left before filling, Lake Cypress was meant for multiple recreational activities and was completely cleared of vegetation before filling. This means that there is no worry of stumps when boating and swimming making it a truly multi-recreational lake.
Fishing opportunities abound at Lake Cypress. The first Fish was added in 1966: Black crappie Fingerlings and Redear sunfish. They waited until 1972 to add the next species, the Walleye. Stocking lake Cypress was done slowly, adding different species every few years. After the walleye were added, it was another decade before the next species, Blue Catfish, were added to the lake. Gradually, other game fish species were added until 2015, when they added the Largemouth Bass. Although not as big or popular as Lake fork, Lake Cypress has plenty of fishing opportunities and is locally known as "The best-kept secret in Texas."
There is a guide service for fishing here:
There are size and bag limits on all fish. A fishing Licence is required everywhere on the lake, including at all Parks, and the lake is one of the most heavily patrolled lakes in Texas.
Because there are no stumps to worry about, this is an outstanding boating lake. There is no limit to water crafts, so bring your boat, Jet ski, kayak, or canoe and explore the lake. Towables are welcome and encouraged. You can also rent a pontoon or part barge at:
Top Waterboat Rentals
Paddle boards and pontoons are available at:
Paddleboards and pontoons are also available at:
Cypress Springs Marina
The Cove and Cypress Springs Marina also have food and fuel available.
You can swim in any of the six parks on lake Cypress. Designated Swimming areas are available at:
Twin Oaks Park
Mary King Park and
Most of these parks have restrooms and fishing piers, and Guthrie park has Tennis, volleyball, Baseball, and basketball courts and showers.
Hiking and birding
Many parks offer hiking places, and the lake is a birding paradise. Some of the birds you may see include:
Several types of duck
Bald eagles and much more
Lake Bob Sandlin
Lake Bob Sandlin was built On the Great Cyprus Basin, which was a major river basin at one time and, after the Civil war, carried steamboat traffic to and from Dallas, Shreveport, and New Orleans.
Titus County Fresh water District 1 built the dam that created Bob Sandlin. The dam structure was started in 1966 and finished by 1977. It has over 9000 acres of surface water and 75 miles of shoreline. Bob Sanlin State park is located on this lake and provides many opportunities for fishing, hiking, birding, and education.
Second, only to Lake Fork, Bob Sandlin is one of the best fishing lakes in Texas. Anglers will find largemouth Bass in abundance and Buffalo, Small Mouth Bass, and warfin. Bob Sandlin State Park also has two stocked ponds, one with brim and one stocked yearly with Rainbow trout! The park will loan fishing poles to guests.
Here is the State park information page
Fishing on the lake requires a license; however, fishing within the State Park does not require a license. This means fishing from the shore or pier in the park itself is free fishing.
There are stumps in Bob Sandlin, so be aware of your surroundings. There are guides available here:
Boating can be challenging as Bob Sandlin has stumps and is also shallow in many places. If you want to play on the water, it is recommended to bring a kayak, canoe, or personal watercraft. Boogie boards are fun too.
Contact Barefoot bay Marina for information on Boat rentals
Swimming is allowed on Bob Sandlin. The State park has swimming along the shoreline, and the Marina has a small beach area.
Hiking & Biking
There are over 3 miles of hiking trails at the State Park.
There is geocaching in the State Park.
For more information on trails in the park, visit TPWD at:
Lake Winnsboro was created in 1962 by damming Big Sandy Creek. There are 806 acres of surface area on this lake.
The lake was stocked in 1974 with largemouth Bass. Through the years, they stocked the lake with catfish and Bass several more times, most recently in 2017. The normal State Fishing regulations regarding size and bag limits apply to this lake.
The Lake marina Store has live bait and a Crappie pier for a small fee.
There is a small, sandy beach with picnic tables near the marina. The beach is open to the public.
There is also swimming allowed at Pleasure Point, no beach.
Boating is allowed, and there are public ramps around the lake. Speed boats, fishing boats, pontoons, and skiing are all allowed on this lake.
For more information about lake Winnsboro, contact:
Lake store Marina
These are the most popular public lakes to visit in Winnsboro. You may need to make several trips with so many places to choose from. You and your family will love all the amazing things to do and make memories during your stay. Whether you staycation or vacation, book your next trip with Oaklea Mansion and enjoy our area lakes.
Book a stay at Oaklea Mansion Here: https://www.oakleamansion.org/