A Story of Lake Austin


A little history on the origins of Lake Austin

Pennybacker Bridge

Lake Austin

Lake Austin is a part of the Colorado River. It begins below Mansfield Dam and is fed by the outflow of Lake Travis. The lake flows generally from northwest to southeast, with few significant tributaries. The largest are Bull Creek, entering from the north near where Loop 360 spans the lake at the Pennybacker Bridge, and Bee Creek, entering from the west just above Tom Miller Dam, where the lake ends. Its outflow through Tom Miller Dam then flows into Lady Bird Lake.

Lake Austin is maintained as a constant-level lake by releases of water from Lake Travis upstream. The other Highland Lake reservoirs on the Colorado River are Lake Buchanan, Inks Lake, Lake LBJ, Lake Marble Falls, and Lake Travis upstream, and Lady Bird Lake downstream.

mount bonnell


The first lake on the same site was named Lake McDonald, a reservoir formed by the construction of Austin Dam between 1890 and 1893. In 1900 a heavy rainstorm overwhelmed and destroyed the first Austin Dam, causing extensive flooding. The dam began to be rebuilt in 1915, but repairs were abandoned because of a contract dispute, and the unfinished dam was again destroyed in a heavy storm later that year. In 1938 the Lower Colorado River Authority began building the Tom Miller Dam which was completed and the lake filled in 1939.

water activities

Recreational Use

Lake Austin is a popular fishing and boating destination. With the constant level of the lake and moderate to warm temperatures. Lake Austin is hugely popular with water sports. On any given day, you can see for miles the lake being used by water sports enthusiasts such as wakeboarding, skiing, tubing,  kayaking, and paddle boarding. 

Nautisideboatrentals offers captained party pontoon boats for your recreational pleasures. Reserve a boat with us for your next visit to Austin, Texas.

fishing and wildlife

Fishing and Wildlife

Lake Austin has been stocked with several species of fish intended to improve the utility of the reservoir for recreational fishing. Fish present in Lake Austin include largemouth bass, catfish, and sunfish. Lake Austin is one of the Texas Highland Lakes infested with hydrilla, a non-native aquatic plant species. The Lower Colorado River Authority has intentionally lowered the water levels in the lake in the months of January and February so that freezing air temperatures might destroy substantial portions of the hydrilla in the lake each winter. 

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