Lake Kemp Information

Lake Kemp sits in Baylor County, Texas, 40 miles southwest from Wichita Falls, Texas. Lake Kemp covers 15,550 acres with 100 miles of shoreline and a maximum depth of 53 feet. The Big Wichita River feeds Lake Kemp. Lake Kemp is extremely rural with a few houses dotting its shoreline and no campground facilities. Seymour, Texas, is about ten miles south of Lake Kemp and the county seat of Baylor County.

The City of Wichita Falls and the Wichita County Water Improvement District No.2 (WCWID#2) jointly own Lake Kemp. The WCWID#2 manages the conservation pool storage, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers manages flood control storage. Lake Kemp was built for flood control and water supply and operates with Lake Diversion, a few miles east, as a system. Lake Kemp is the largest water supply for the Baylor County, Texas, region. 

Salty water with high chloride levels from springs in west Texas flows into Lake Kemp. The City of Wichita Falls built a micro-filtration/reverse osmosis system in 2008 to filter salt content out of Lake Kemp water. The Corps of Engineers uses an inflatable dam to block the water flow when water levels are low and the chloride level is high, and pipe it to a brine lake near Truscott, Texas, where it evaporates.

A bunch of little islands dot around Lake Kemp’s shoreline, and three islands named Cattle Island, Rattlesnake Island, and Goat Island float in the middle of the lake. Rolling and rocky hills, flatlands, and lined with hardwood trees, plum thickets, chinaberry motts, and cottonwood groves. Game and cattle trails traverse the Lake Kemp region. 


History of Lake Kemp

Lake Kemp, named after Joseph Alexander Kemp (1861–1930), spent over three decades working for a constitutional amendment allowing the sale of municipal bonds to finance the construction of irrigation systems. After thirty-six years of speaking publicly, chairing groups, and making numerous trips to Austin and Washington, D.C., Kemp succeeded with the passage of Section 59 of Article 16. 

A later amendment to Senate Bill 267 passed in 1923 that permitted counties to issue bonds for the improvement of rivers, creeks, and streams to prevent overflow and for all necessary drainage purposes. Funds finally became available to construct two dams. Kemp and Diversion, on the Big Wichita River for irrigation and flood control purposes in the area. 

Construction on Kemp Dam began in 1922 and was completed in 1923, and impoundment began in 1922. In May 1969, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers redesigned the dam to raise the conservation pool and increase the storage of Lake Kemp. Sedimentation plagues Lake Kemp, and its dam controls a drainage area of approximately 2,086 square miles. Neighboring communities used Lake Kemp as a source of drinking water through the 1950s, but that process fell out of favor because of its gypsum taste. 

Dinosaur bones, tracks, and fossils as old as 300,000 years mark Baylor County. Before settlement, the Wanderers, a nomadic Comanche band, who relied upon buffalo for food, clothing, shelter, tools, and ornaments, temporarily camped in the Lake Kemp region. In 1848 special Indian agent Robert S. Neighbors found 250 Comanche, 50 Tonkawa, and ten Wichita lodges on Lewis Creek at the site of present-day Seymour, Texas. Indians used the area as a major hunting ground for buffalo, which made settlement almost impossible.

The Texas legislature separated Baylor County from Fannin County in 1858 and named it for Henry W. Baylor, a surgeon in a regiment of Texas Rangers during the Mexican War. Round Timber, nineteen miles southeast of today’s Seymour, became the first settlement in Baylor County. Colonel C. C. Mills, who may have been at Round Timber during the Civil War, is believed to be Round Timber’s first settler in 1870, but Indian raids drove him away until 1875.

At this time in Texas history, free ranging cattle dominated the land, and farmers and ranchers violently contested for land rights. Cowboys would run cattle over farm crops. In 1879, Eugene C. Alonzo and Hiram Millet came to Baylor County from Guadalupe County to ranch in Baylor County. The Millets used armed cowhands to intimidate settlers and the citizens of Seymour. Violence and contention ran rampant in the county during the first years of settlement. 

Baylor County's first two county attorneys were forced to resign, and saloon keeper Will Taylor shot and killed county judge E. R. Morris in 1879. The Texas Rangers entered this theatre and gradually brought peace. Seymour began to thrive with two newspapers, the First National Bank, two physicians, a dentist, three hotels, several lawyers, storekeepers, shoemakers, saddlers, and county officials who served its population of 1,900 by 1892.

Baylor County’s population decreased steadily after WWII from 7,755 in 1940 to 3,509 in 2019. Baylor County continues business with a diverse agricultural economy producing wheat, oats, sorghum, cattle, and other livestock production. There is little industry, and few employment opportunities. People enjoy mostly outdoor recreational activities in Baylor County through outdoor sports activities, including Lake Kemp fishing and watersports, and agricultural events.


Fishing Lake Kemp

Predominant game species in Lake Kemp are largemouth, striped, and white bass, blue, channel, and flathead catfish, and white crappie. Other species include spotted bass, bluegill, black crappie, green, longear, redbreast, and redear sunfish, and warmouth. 

Lake Kemp experiences fluctuating water levels at 7.6 feet annually, which can negatively affect fishing opportunities. Aquatic vegetation is not present at low water levels. Rocky shorelines, timber, aquatic vegetation at high-water levels, brush piles, and boat docks provide much of the cover for baitfish, crappie, and bass.

Lake Kemp sports good numbers of bass, crappie, and catfish. White and striped bass follow schools of baitfish which move to shallow waters in spring and fall, and go deeper in winter and summer. Shore fishing is accessible at one of the seven boat ramps, which are fee-based daily, or with an annual pass. Gate entrance fees are $15 per person for a 3-day pass or $500 for an annual pass.

The ramp at Moonshine Gate is the best option to launch your boat during low-water periods. Portaging a canoe or kayak is best at Moonshine Gate when lake levels are low. Most of the ramps are not functional when the lake is three feet or more below normal elevation. All lake roads are unpaved, and there are no marinas or camping facilities at Lake Kemp.

There are no fishing guide services exclusively operating on Lake Kemp, but you can call around to fishing guides on neighboring lakes to find a guide that will take you for that catch of the day. It is best to plan a charter far in advance due to the limited guide service opportunities on Lake Kemp. 

Find experienced local guides on our Lake Kemp Fishing Guides page. 


Boating Lake Kemp

Boaters will find plenty of open water, hundreds of private coves for swimming, and numerous islands on Lake Kemp. Three islands in the middle of Lake Kemp are popular boating destinations, Cattle Island, Rattlesnake Island, and Goat Island. Cattle Island and Goat Island are the largest islands in Lake Kemp. Lake Kemp remains uncrowded even during summer season, so there is plenty of room to ski, canoe, kayak, and play on personal watercraft. 

There are no marinas and only seven fee-based gates to boat ramps on Lake Kemp. Lake Kemp’s annual fluctuating water level of 7.6 feet affects the ability to launch your boat. The Moonshine Gate ramp is the best ramp to use at low water levels for fishing boats, pleasure boats, and canoes and kayaks. 

Boaters need to bring all their supplies with them for their every need at Lake Kemp. There are no gas docks, stores, bait and tackle shops, convenience stores, restaurants, or liquor and beer stores anywhere near Lake Kemp’s shores. The nearest Walmart is in Wichita Falls, Texas, 40 miles northeast. There are no boat rental services at Lake Kemp. 

Find or sell a boat on our Lake Kemp Boats for Sale page. 


Lake Kemp Real Estate

Lake homes and lake lots are available at Lake Kemp, but it is an extremely limited real estate market. The best bet to find a waterfront home on Lake Kemp is to call a real estate agent in Seymour, or Wichita Falls, Texas. The homebuyer price points vary widely. Lake Kemp waterfront homes and lots are an outstanding value if you are looking for a completely secluded and peaceful lifestyle with no entertainment value or services except for nature. 

The only school district near Lake Kemp is the Seymour ISD. There are no stores of any kind near Lake Kemp’s shores. The nearest Walmart is 40 to 50 miles away in Wichita Falls, Texas, depending on your location on Lake Kemp. There are no restaurants, nightclubs, or shopping centers near Lake Kemp. There is only one zip code in Baylor County, Texas. 

To find your dream lake home, explore our Lake Kemp Homes for Sale page. 


Lake Kemp Cabins and Vacation Rental Homes

There are limited cabin and vacation rental homes available on Lake Kemp. Lake Kemp is located in a very rural area with no stores or services anywhere near its shorelines. 


Camping and Day Use Parks at Lake Kemp

There are no camping facilities for tents or RVs at Lake Kemp. Only the Moonshine and Flippin Creek Gates have parking and are fee-based. Moonshine Gate has a courtesy dock. There are no picnic areas, restrooms, cleaning or weigh stations, hiking, biking, or equestrian trails, or ADA-accessible parks. People mainly visit Lake Kemp for fishing, recreational boating, and water sports.


Things to Do at Lake Kemp

The only things to do at Lake Kemp are fishing, recreational boating, and water sports. Seymour, Texas, is the closest town to Lake Kemp, with a handful of restaurants and limited shopping opportunities ten miles south of Lake Kemp. However, there are a few interesting places to visit in Seymour.

Discover the Permian Red Beds at the Whiteside Museum of Natural History located at 310 N Washington Street, Seymour, Texas, which found a 300,000-year-old elephant pelvis, and a partial articulated Dimetrodon named "Carlos", who consists of a spinal column along with fin spines, both shoulder blades, and ribs. Their “Debra” Block contains hundreds of Dimetrodon bones, reptiles, and amphibians preserved in a densely packed block of mudstone that once covered the bottom of an ancient pond. There is so much more to this museum, and it is a must visit if you are at Lake Kemp.

The Seymour Sound Garden features sound equipment from Free Notes Harmony Parks. These musical instruments are fun for all ages and stages of development. This park offers free Wi-Fi, spectacular native landscaping, and seating that is handicap friendly with continuous flat surfaces and ample navigation walk paths. It is located at 319 N Washington Street, Seymour, Texas.

The Baylor County Museum is located at 116 North Washington Street in Seymour featuring history and memorabilia from the first settlers of Baylor County through the times to the citizens of Baylor County who have served the U.S. in the armed forces during various military campaigns.

Stop by the Seymour Post Office at 210 Washington Street, Seymour, Texas, to view the mural painted by artist Tom Lea in 1941 for Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration. It depicts early life in Seymour and Baylor County when the Comanche Indians were an integral part of life before Baylor County settlement. 

Seymour became the meeting point for cowmen from all over the western part of Texas. In 1896, Seymour held a first-of-its-kind event. The organizers called it a “Cowboy Reunion”. It was so popular that it became a tradition. Today, Seymour brands this event as the “Old Settlers Reunion and Rodeo”. Seymour hosts this event each year in the third week of July. There is no known record of any “Cowboy Reunion” held earlier than the one Seymour hosted in July of 1896. 

Plan your next trip starting on our Things To Do At Lake Kemp page.


Lake Kemp Weather & Climate

Lake sees an average of 28 inches of rain, with two inches of snow, and 244 days of sunshine per year. The winter low in January is 29 degrees with a summer high in July of 97 degrees. April, May, and October are the most comfortable months for this region, and July and August are the least comfortable.

Keep an eye on the skies with our Lake Kemp Weather Forecast page. 


Lake Kemp Zip Codes

Baylor County: 76380


Flora and Fauna at Lake Kemp

Common wildlife sightings at Lake Kemp include white-tail deer, turkey, quail, wild hogs, javelin hogs, Dove, and an occasional bobcat. Lake Kemps shoreline is made up of rolling and rocky hills and flatlands, which are lined with hardwood trees, plum thickets, cottonwood groves, and chinaberry motts. 

Lake Kemp Email Updates


 

Lake Kemp Current Weather Alerts

There are no active watches, warnings or advisories.

 

Lake Kemp Weather Forecast

Tuesday

Mostly Sunny

Hi: 75

Tuesday Night

Partly Cloudy

Lo: 54

Wednesday

Mostly Cloudy

Hi: 74

Wednesday Night

Mostly Cloudy

Lo: 42

Thanksgiving Day

Partly Sunny

Hi: 54

Thursday Night

Mostly Clear

Lo: 30

Friday

Mostly Sunny

Hi: 62

Friday Night

Partly Cloudy

Lo: 39


Lake Kemp Water Level (last 30 days)


Water Level on 11/23: 1142.34 (-1.66)