Lake O’ the Pines is located in Texas — more precisely on Big Cypress Bayou, sometimes called Big Cypress Creek, in Marion County. It is located 25 miles northeast of Longview. However, a small part of the reservoir is located in Morris and Upshur counties. This isn’t a natural lake but rather a reservoir, meaning an artificial lake formed upon the construction of a dam across a river. The dam can be either a natural or an artificial formation that stores fresh water.
How Deep Is Lake O’ the Pines?
The maximum depth of Lake O’ the Pines is 49-49.5 feet, which makes it a suitable habitat for abundant aquatic life.
The lake has a surface area of 18,680 acres and a water volume of 250,000 acre-feet. Its dam is 10,600 feet long, while the spillway crest is 249.5 feet above mean sea level.
What Is Lake O’ the Pines Known For?
Lake O’ the Pines is known in Texas and throughout the country for its diverse fish population, thus attracting anglers from all U.S. states!
However, the most notable species is the giant catfish. When we say “giant,” we’re not kidding! The word goes that they’re so big they can be called monstrous catfish! Unfortunately, though, no consistent evidence can prove these statements. Still, who knows what lurks at the bottom of Lake O’ the Pines in Texas?
Lake O’ the Pines History
What if we told you that Lake O’ the Pines wasn’t always known by this name? It was formerly called Ferrell’s Bridge Reservoir because it was formed by the Ferrells Bridge Dam around 81 miles upstream from where Big Cypress Bayou meets the Red River.
The construction of this reservoir was part of a larger flood control plan in the Red River Basin, which was accepted in 1946 by the Flood Control Act. The dam’s construction began in January 1955 and was completed five years later, in December 1959. The construction was the responsibility of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Besides controlling floods in the area, authorities were trying to preserve the wildlife, establish recreational areas, and ensure water supply — all of which ended up on the project’s list of purposes.
Can You Swim in Lake O’ the Pines?
Yes, you can swim in Lake O’ the Pines! However, don’t just choose a random spot for swimming. Search the area first and find some designated places to swim. For example, there are swimming beaches at Brushy Creek, Alley Creek, and Johnson Creek campgrounds. Even if you’re not planning to swim, you can visit them just for the views, the fresh air, and the pleasant weather!
What Fish Live in Lake O’ the Pines?
Lake O’ the Pines is a true natural gem in terms of its fish population, which is why you’ll undoubtedly spot anglers hoping to catch the biggest fish of their lives there! If you’re among them, you must know the lake is home to spotted bass, blue catfish, white bass, channel catfish, sunfish, largemouth bass, crappie, flathead catfish, and chain pickerel. The authorities say you have an excellent chance to catch largemouth bass, crappie, and channel catfish, while the other species’ populations aren’t as abundant.
In fact, there are significant fishing records on the lake. For example, on February 25, 2017, angler Travis Luttrell caught and released a largemouth bass measuring 24 inches long. He used a ChatterBait (a type of bladed jig) to “trick” the fish. Considering the fact that the maximum recorded largemouth bass length is 29.5 inches, this is a pretty significant catch!
On March 18, 2013, angler James R. Walker caught a smallmouth buffalo measuring 44.25 inches in length and weighing 75.10 pounds! On average, smallmouth buffaloes measure only 16-24 inches long, which indicates that this specimen was extra large!
Stacy Stringfellow caught a large grass carp on May 11, 2005. The fish measured 46 inches and weighed 60 pounds. This species typically measures around 23.5-39.5 inches long.
Which is all to say that there’s a high chance you’ll catch a large fish at Lake O’ the Pines and maybe even set a record!
What Plants Grow in Lake O’ the Pines?
Lake O’ the Pines is characterized by inundated timber, creek channels, brush, and riprap. According to a survey taken in 2018, 3% of the reservoir was covered in native plant species, and 1.5% consisted of non-native species like water hyacinth, giant salivina, and hydrilla. Moreover, some sources say that the predominant vegetation consists of buttonbush, water primrose, hydrilla, and American lotus.
Lake O’ the Pines Recreational Amenities
If you’re planning a weekend getaway to reconnect with nature, you should consider Lake O’ the Pines recreational area. The lake is surrounded by several boat ramps, where you can rent a boat and explore the lake and its surroundings yourself!
Besides, since the lake is filled with tall pine trees, we’re sure you’ll enjoy some stunning natural views! You’ll also find beautiful parks and campgrounds where you can spend the night in a tent or an RV!
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