Discover the Newest Lake in Texas: The First in 30 Years!

Written by Mike Edmisten
Updated: May 31, 2023
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Texans will soon have a brand-new lake for fishing, boating, picnicking, and recreation. More importantly, a new water source will open for nearby growing communities. Bois d’Arc Lake in Fannin County is nearing completion.

Fannin County is located in northeast Texas on the state’s border with Oklahoma. It is roughly an hour and a half drive from Dallas.

The name of the lake comes from the native Bois d’Arc tree, also known as the Osage Orange tree. Native Americans used this tree for making bows. Bois d’Arc [pronounced bō-ˌdä(r)k] is French for “wooden bow.”

Bois d’Arc Lake is one of about 200 large artificial lakes in Texas. It is the first major impoundment built in the state since O.H. Ivie Lake opened to the public in 1990. With few natural lakes in the state large enough to source water for the nearly 30 million Texas residents, these hundreds of artificial impoundments are critical as the state’s population continues to grow.

Location map of the Fannin County of Texas, USA stock illustration
Fannin County, home to Bois d’Arc, is highlighted in black on this Texas map.

© Rodic

Planning and Cost

Massive projects such as the construction of Bois d’Arc Lake don’t happen quickly. North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD), which supplies water to two million people in North Texas, began the planning and permitting process for the lake in 2003. It would be 15 years before the project’s groundbreaking, though. Construction finally began in 2018. Treated water from the reservoir should begin flowing to homes and businesses in 2023, a full 20 years after the project was conceptualized.

The reservoir will provide water for nearly 80 communities in North Texas. The population served by NTMWD could potentially double by 2050. Those projected numbers would be unsustainable were it not for this new water source.

The price tag for the entire project is approximately $1.6 billion. This includes permitting, land acquisition, construction, and water treatment costs. While the cost is quite high, proponents insist Bois d’Arc Lake will pay for itself multiple times over. It is estimated that the lake construction pumped over $500 million into Fannin County. Once the lake is fully opened, estimates suggest it will provide the local economy with a boost of $166 million per year.

Woman pouring water from faucet into glass at the kitchen
Bois d’Arc Lake will provide water for nearly 80 communities.



Much of that expected economic impact will come from the anglers that are sure to flock to Texas’ newest lake. The entire process of creating this lake unfolded with an eye toward creating a world-class fishery.

During construction, engineers created several brood ponds ranging from three to seven acres in the footprint of what would become Bois d’Arc Lake. Those ponds were stocked with bass and catfish fry. The fish moved from these brood ponds into the larger lake as the lake filled with water. Over 100,000 Florida bass were included in the original stocking for the lake. The lake was also stocked with crappie, bluegill, and shad.

Much of the timber that was cleared for the lake’s construction was left on-site and is now submerged. This timber now forms 40 large brush piles on the lake’s floor. Rocks and large pieces of concrete were also left to be submerged. Largemouth bass, in particular, will be found around these structures as they provide cover to help them ambush prey.

Native aquatic vegetation, including coontail, has been established. Other vegetation, such as hydrilla, is sure to take hold, as well. The water is nutrient-rich and promises to become a fishing hotspot in North Texas.

Initial indications of the lake’s health are excellent. Fishery staff members have caught largemouth bass well above four pounds, which is outstanding growth in such a short period of time. Everything seems to be coming together for Bois d’Arc Lake to become a haven for lunker largemouths!

Three boat ramps will be available at the lake for anglers and recreational boaters. There will be enough parking spots to accommodate about 150 vehicles and boat trailers. 

smallmouth vs largemouth bass
Bois d’Arc Lake is set to become an elite largemouth bass fishery in North Texas.



Fishing and boating are not yet open on Bois d’Arc Lake. The date for this opening has yet to be determined.

Rainfall and flows from Bois d’Arc Creek are the new lake’s primary water sources. The lake began to impound in 2021. At that time, it was estimated that the lake would take at least two years to fill completely. Following that schedule, the lake’s water level should rise high enough to allow recreational boating and fishing to begin sometime in 2023.

Along with monitoring the water level, NTMWD will consult with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Fannin County Sheriff’s Department to determine the appropriate time to fully open the lake.


When completed, Bois d’Arc Lake will cover 16,641 surface acres or approximately 26 square miles. While the lake will certainly be large, there are still much larger lakes in the state

The average depth of the lake will be 22 feet, with a deepest point of 70 feet. The lake will provide a firm yield of 108 million gallons per day. A reservoir’s firm yield is the maximum rate of sustainable withdrawal during a drought.

All told, the two-mile-long, 90-foot-tall dam will create a lake capacity of 367,609 acre-feet (120 billion gallons) of water.

Engineer wearing a helmet and safety vest works and looks at the blueprints for construction plan and design details of the dam.
The dam that created Bois d’Arc Lake is two miles long.

© Ainkaew


Environmental Impact Mitigation

Creating a reservoir of this size certainly affects the wildlife of the area. To offset the impact of clearing forests and flooding the land,  NTMWD restored more than 17,000 acres of habitat in nearby locations. This included making improvements to more than 70 miles of stream, creating 8,500 acres of new wetlands, and planting over 6,000 trees. It is the largest such environmental mitigation project in the nation for a single permitted project.

According to NTMWD, Bois d’Arc Lake lies within a 42-mile-long wildlife corridor along Bois d’Arc Creek, extending from State Highway 78 to the Red River. Wildlife displaced during the construction of the lake will likely relocate within this corridor.

New Wildlife Moving In at Bois d’Arc Lake

Also, while some local fauna were displaced through the construction of the lake, other wildlife will certainly be drawn to these new waters. Waterfowl, for instance, are increasing in number.

The northern reaches of the lake have been designated as a wildlife management area. Waterfowl, such as ducks, are using it as a sanctuary. 

Anglers aren’t the only ones excited about the official opening of Bois d’Arc Lake. Duck hunters can’t wait to take a harvest from the newest lake in the Lone Star State.

It’s also possible that alligators will eventually show up in Bois d’Arc Lake. Fannin County lies on the edge of the alligator’s range in Texas, so the likelihood of a large population is low. But as the lake continues to establish, a small gator population is not out of the question.

Some of the native snakes in Fannin County will also certainly find a home in Bois d’Arc Lake. Among others, the northern cottonmouth, diamondback water snake, and plain-bellied watersnake will feel right at home in the ecosystem created by this new lake.

A Mallard duck in flight
North Texas duck hunters are ready for Bois d’Arc Lake to open!

©Rostislav Stach/

Lake Operations Center

A new lake operations center is also part of the overall Bois d’Arc Lake project. This center will be an informational hub for lake users when the lake officially opens. It will provide office space for the Fannin County Sheriff’s Office and Texas Parks and Wildlife. It will also serve as the control center during emergencies.

The center will include classroom and nature space for events and learning opportunities centered on water conservation, wildlife management, and other topics surrounding Texas’ newest lake.

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The Featured Image

A fishing rod during the sunset at the lake.
A fishing rod during the sunset at the lake.

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About the Author

A freelance writer in Cincinnati, OH, Mike is passionate about the natural world. He, his wife, and their two sons love the outdoors, especially camping and exploring US National Parks. A former pastor, he also writes faith-based content to encourage and inspire. And, for reasons inexplicable, Mike allows Cincinnati sports teams to break his heart every year.

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