Caddo Lake, located between Texas and Louisiana less than an hour's drive north of Shreveport, is the south's second largest freshwater lake and features the largest Cypress forest in the world. On the Louisiana side of this lake, the waters can support nearly any size boat and motor. On the Texas side of the lake, however, limited depth and hazards call for pontoon boats, flat-bottom boats, or canoes. Ancient Cypress trees draped with Spanish moss, marked and unmarked waterways, islands, canals, and bayous make up the Texas side of Caddo Lake.
It is estimated that this lake came into existence between 1770 and 1780, possibly with a log jam on the Red River in Louisiana. When that jam was removed, the lake lost ten feet of water. To improve conditions, especially in Texas, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers erected a dam near Mooringsport, Louisiana.
In one of the best fish stories ever, Keith Burns broke the lake record with a 16.17-pound largemouth bass in spring 2010. Just one year later, Burns' buddy, Sean Swank, ended up catching the same bass -- only it was two inches longer and skinnier. Catch and release and tagging the fish in the ShareLunker program proved the catch was the same. Burns still holds the record by .10 pounds in Texas at 16th place, and his buddy Swank holds 20th place with that same fish.
Be sure to learn about reciprocal license agreements between Louisiana and Texas. As of September 2011, limits for catfish, crappie, and white and black basses apply to the entire lake. Regulations for other fish vary by state.
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Boaters might look for wooden boat lane markers on the Texas side of Caddo Lake, which can help avoid massive underwater stumps. Average depth on Texas waters is just four-five feet. Boaters can pick up maps sold at the Caddo Lake State Park in Texas, and these maps are highly recommended for the shallow portions of this lake. On the Louisiana side of the lake, boaters can find waters that are 20 feet or more in depth. Texas provides several boat launch ramps. One ramp in Louisiana is located near Mooringsport at the Caddo Lake Dam Recreation Area, and boaters can find another ramp at the Earl G. Williamson Park.
The Caddo Parish Department of Parks and Recreation in Louisiana operates several parks on the lake. The Earl G. Williamson Park maintains campgrounds for tents and RVs, and visitors can enjoy a public boat ramp and a 450-foot fishing pier. This campground also contains picnic areas, two playgrounds, lighted tennis courts, and a swimming area.
Caddo Lake State Park is located in Harrison County, Texas just off Highway 43 on Big Cypress Bayou. This park provides several cabins that can accommodate up to six people, and several campsites with water or with water, electric and sewer. Other fish camps, vacation rentals, and campgrounds are located around the lake in both states. Hotels are easy to find on the south side of the lake nearing Shreveport along Highway 1 in Louisiana.
Review the Lake Resource Guide for additional lodging.
Caddo Lake is located in Harrison and Marion Counties in Texas and in western Caddo Parish, Louisiana. Nearby towns include Karnack in Texas and Vivian, Mooringsport, Oil City, and Shreveport in Louisiana. Shreveport maintains a major airport, located less than 24 miles from Caddo Lake on the Louisiana side.
Fun times at Caddo Lake
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