Sam Rayburn Reservoir, at over 114,000 surface acres, represents one of the healthiest fisheries in the State of Texas and one of the most popular fishing destinations in the country. The two main purposes for the existence of Sam Rayburn (flood control and hydropower generation), along with the fertile, forested river bottom that was inundated over thirty years ago, create an ideal ecosystem for fish production. The numerous, high quality and well distributed launch sites (Lake Map) around the lake, along with the multitude of creek channels, protected coves, moss beds, brushy shoreline, and standing timber create an ideal environment for the fisherman ,(Locator Map).
The fishing at Sam Rayburn Reservoir is by any standards exceptional. The opportunity is there on any fishing trip to catch most any fish in the state of Texas. Of course, the number one species of interest at Rayburn is the largemouth bass. Rayburn currently holds the #9 bass taken out of Texas waters at 16.80 pounds, and fish in the 10 to 13 pound range are definitely not rare. The lake is on most fishing tournament trails, including pro tournaments such as Bassmasters (with up to 300 contestants), amatuer big bass events such as the McDonalds Big Bass Splash (with up to 6,000 contestants), as well as the local tournament scene with anywhere from 10 to 100 entrants per tournament. For the last few years the project office at Sam Rayburn has processed permits for up to 300 tournaments per year. Even with all this pressure on the resource, Sam Rayburn continues to produce some of the best bass fishing in the nation.
Other species, such as catfish, crappie and bream are also found in abundance. During the summer white bass, stripers, and hybrids may be found in the open water on the southern end of the lake and near the outlet works when the powerhouse is generating.