In 1942, the Lower Colorado River Authority started construction of the Mansfield Dam, forming a reservoir we know today as Lake Travis. The purpose of Lake Travis is to provide water supply, generate electric power, recreation opportunities and flood control to the region – but it’s not the only one of its kind.
Lake Travis is part of a string of reservoirs called the Highlands Lakes – each lake with its own individual dam to control the water levels throughout the Colorado River Basin. Lake Travis however, is by far the largest of the lakes with the ability to contain up to 256 billion gallons of flood water. As one of the clearest lakes in Texas, it spans 65 miles upriver from the western end of Travis County up to the Max Starcke Dam and southwest of Marble Falls.
The Lakes and Dams
Due to its massive size, Lake Travis is the primary flood control management reservoir of all the Highland Lakes. Thus, its water levels can greatly fluctuate by 10 – 20 feet from rainfall in the Colorado River Basin. This creates a challenge for boat slips that are not true, deep water floating marinas like the Northshore Marina at the Hollows. The Highland Lakes and contributing dams consists of:
Lake Travis – Mansfield Dam
Lake Buchanan – Buchanan Dam
Lake Lyndon B. Johnson – Wirtz Dam
Lake Marble Falls – Max Starcke Dam
Lake Austin – Tom Miller Dam
Inks Lake – Inks Dam
The Rivers and Creeks
The Colorado River is the main artery that pours into Lake Travis controlled by the Mansfield Dam. However, the Pedernales River upstream contributes substantially. Throughout the Lake Travis reservoir, you can find 8 contributing creeks including:
Double Horn Creek
Big Sandy Creek
Cypress Creek Arm
Long Hollow Creek
Lake Travis and Tributary Recreational Opportunities
What does all this mean for the vacationing and residential recreation on Lake Travis and its contributing rivers and tributaries? Plenty for boaters and watercraft lovers looking for some fun in the sun or on the water. The lake, rivers, creeks and coves – like the infamous party hot spot called ‘Devil’s Cove’ – provide opportunities for leisure boating and scuba diving, water sports, including wake boarding and skiing, personal watercraft and tubing, swimming and some of the best fishing in the state. No wonder many of the lake’s residents have traded in their conventional land bearing homes for houseboat living!
The Lake Travis reservoir gives endless chances to indulge in watercraft recreation and exploration throughout these waterways, but the fishing is unprecedented! Lake Travis is frequently stocked by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission with the most sought after freshwater fish including the Florida Largemouth Bass, Striped Bass, Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass, Blue Catfish, Channel Catfish, and even Walleye! It’s truly a fisherman’s paradise. Whether a novice or pro, there is a golden fishing hole just waiting to be discovered in every shaded nook with grassy or wooded cover, shallow muddy loll, or in the wide open sunny waters.
We invite you to come discover what Lake Travis and it’s tributaries have in store for you!