Review of Canyon Lake
Canyon Lake, which is about 25 minutes north of New Braunfels, is one of the clearest and deepest lakes in Texas (over 120′) and it’s great for all water recreation activities, including sailing and diving. It’s small with around 80 miles of shoreline, but scenic with rolling hills (some of which are dotted with some beautiful homes), beautiful emerald green clear water, and limestone bluffs. Canyon Lake is never as crowded as some of the other popular lakes.
There are some small coves that are good for boarding or skiing and some excellent areas to drop an anchor and swim. The party cove will usually have 40 to 50 boats rafted up together and it’s typically a good time.
There are lots of ramps, several campgrounds, and plenty of lodging options but not directly on the water. This is a Corp of Engineers lake and boat docks are not allowed on the lake. The lake level fluctuates a lot but there is usually plenty of water to enjoy.
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It just doesn't get much prettier than Canyon Lake and just swimming in the clear cool water is a real pleasure. I always say, "it's a clear Texas lake if you can see your toes" - in Canyon Lake I can see well beyond my toes!
We'll start the day on Canyon Lake by finding some calm water for boarding, which usually isn't that hard to do - there isn't a lot of boat traffic and there are several coves with smooth water and portions of the lake that are protected from the wind by bluffs and rolling hills.
We've also found a couple of coves with limestone bluffs that are perfect for swimming or for the grandkids jumping off the ledge.
And we can't leave without heading over to Baja BBQ at Canyon Lake Marina for some excellent BBQ, good margaritas, live music, and an excellent view of the sun setting over the lake - doesn't get much better than all that.
Besides fishing, swimming, camping, and boating and enjoying the Baja BBQ, there isn't a lot to do on the lake. The party cove is fun and if you don't have a boat you can rent one a waverunner, ski boat, or pontoon boat at one of these Canyon Lake Boat Rentals. Or you can board the Canyon Cruiser for a dinner, music, or sunset cruise.
One of the advantages of Canyon Lake is that it is close to lots of fun things to see and do, here is just a short list of some of our favorites:
- play some golf at any of the nearby courses - our favorites include Canyon Lake Golf Club, River Crossing, and Vaaler Creek - all of which you will find on this golf map
- you can't leave this area without tubing the lower section of the Guadalupe River which starts just below the Canyon Lake Dam
- historic Gruene is close and it's great for food, shopping, and music at the infamous Gruene Hall
- Wimberley, San Marcos, and New Braunfels are all with 40 minutes or so and they have lots to see and do
If you don't have a boat there are plenty of day use areas, fishing guides to take you fishing, or boat rentals.
The only restaurant on the lake is Baja BBQ at Canyon Lake Marina. We enjoyed some good BBQ and they have music on the weekends, a great view of the lake, and a fun bar. The marina has guest slips for boat parking.
If the wind isn't blowing, you can typically find some good water for boarding or skiing. There are several small and somewhat protected coves that are also good.
Largemouth bass is the most popular and most abundant sportfish in the reservoir. White bass and striped bass also provide an excellent fishery. Stripers provide excellent angling because of their growth potential and strong fighting characteristics. An annual TPWD stocking program maintains the fishery because striped bass do not successfully reproduce in this reservoir. Crappie fishing is generally poor, although occasionally good catches can be made, especially along standing timber in the river. Angling for redbreast sunfish can provide an excellent fishing experience for the family. Channel, blue, and flathead catfish are present in good numbers. A low density smallmouth bass fishery exists. These fish were stocked in the 1970s and 1980s and persist through natural reproduction. Fishing for smallmouth is better in the lower 1/3 of the reservoir.
Fishing Cover & Structure
Canyon Lake is dominated by steep rocky banks, isolated flooded timber, and clear water typical of a highland reservoir. The water becomes stained as one moves up the reservoir and into the river. In most of the lake rock ledges, rock piles, steep drop-offs, flooded timber, and a few marinas provide cover for game fish. Cedar-tree and plastic fish attractors have been added to provide additional structure. The river portion of the reservoir is dominated by flooded timber, rock ledges, and laydowns. When the water level is high, largemouth bass anglers should concentrate on flooded terrestrial vegetation.
Tips & Techniques
Largemouth bass anglers are most successful on Canyon Lake during the spring, fall, and winter months. Bass fishing in summer on this highland reservoir can be difficult even for the most experienced anglers. Topwater baits such as buzzbaits, Zara Spooks, and Pop-R's are popular in the early morning and evening hours. On cloudy days consistent topwater action can occur all day. Crankbaits are also very popular fished along main-lake points, rocky shorelines, and flooded timber. Popular soft plastic baits include worms, spider grubs, grubs, and soft-jerkbaits. Try spinning gear and light line (6-10 lb.) in main-lake clear water situations.
For white and striped bass in the summer and early fall, look for schooling activity around main-lake points and humps. These fish can be caught using topwater baits, jigging spoons, grubs, and rattletraps. Popular techniques for striped bass are trolling with in-line spinners and crankbaits and vertically jigging white bucktail jigs. Live bait presentations for both striped and white bass are popular at all times of the year. White bass spawning migrations occur from February through April. During these months, white and striped bass can be concentrated in the river portion of the reservoir. Anglers catch them using small in-line spinners, small jigs, jigging spoons, small crankbaits, and live bait presentations.
Catfish anglers can find channel, blue, and flathead catfish throughout the reservoir. Channel catfish dominate the fishery. Stinkbait and cutbait work well for channel and blue catfish, while live bait is preferred for flathead catfish. The most consistent catches come from the upper third of the reservoir. Trotlining is very popular for flathead catfish.
Above is from the Texas Parks & Wildlife Website
We don't know of any lodging that is directly on the water but there are lots of options for cabins, homes, and more that are close or have a lake view and good access to a boat ramp.
Check out this Canyon Lake Lodging Page for some rentals or use the Canyon Lake Map to find some. We stayed at the Log Cabins at Jacobs Creek and enjoyed it - 2 bedrooms with a kitchen, 5-minute walk to the lake, good view of the sunset and a small sliver of the lake from the deck, and close to a ramp and restaurants.
There are several parks on the lake that offer either RV sites or primitive (tent, no water or electricity) sites. A few of the sites are close to the water. The Canyon Lake Map will help you find some campgrounds. Our favorite campground is Jellystone Resort Hill Country which has a variety of cabins, excellent RV sites, and lots of great amenities like swimming pools, water park, disc golf, jumping pillow, and more. Read our review of Jellystone Resort to learn more about why this Resort is one of the best in Texas. The downside is that Jellystone doesn't have lake access, but you can be on the water in under 5 minutes.
Beware, the shoreline is rocky and may not be conducive to leaving your boat in the water. Canyon Lake Marina has overnight guest slips for a fee.