Jim Chapman Lake Information

Jim Chapman Lake and the Cooper Dam sit in Delta and Hopkins Counties two miles south of Cooper, Texas, eight miles east of Commerce, Texas, in northeast Texas. Jim Chapman Lake is 12 miles north of Sulphur Springs, Texas. It was formerly named and is also known as Cooper Lake. Dallas is 67 miles southwest. It covers 19,305 acres with a maximum depth of 50 feet. The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) manages Jim Chapman Lake. 

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) operates two Cooper Lake State Park units, Doctors Creek and South Sulphur, and maintains the Cooper Wildlife Management Area. The South Sulphur River feeds Jim Chapman Lake, which is extremely rural and undeveloped. Dense forests dominate its southern border, while farmlands surround its northern border with trees on the shoreline. 

History of Jim Chapman Lake

The USACE built Cooper Lake to control flooding on the South Sulphur River and for water supply in 1986 and renamed it Jim Chapman Lake in 1998 by order of President Clinton in honor of the local congressman from nearby Sulphur Springs. Delta County was named for the Greek letter Delta because of its triangular shape formed by the South and North Sulphur Rivers. 

The Caddo Indians were the original inhabitants of Delta and Hopkins Counties. By 1820, remnants of the Delawares, Quapaws, and Seminoles were hunting in the vicinity. Eventually, the Cherokees displaced those tribes. The first European visitor to this region was Frenchman, François Hervey, who explored the area in 1750. Indian traders followed the explorers. Under Mexican rule in 1830, an Indian agent was sent to report on Indian activities. 

Wagon trains brought families from Kentucky, Tennessee, other states, and other parts of Texas to settle the region by the 1830s. It was an isolated area bound by the North and South Sulphur Rivers, and the vast Jernigan Thicket on the west attracted horse thieves and criminals from Missouri. Originally, the land between the two rivers was a part of Red River County under the Republic of Texas. 

When Texas won its independence from Mexico in 1836, more settlers began to populate the region. Dr. Moses Hogue, and the Birdwell, Simmons, and Wilson families  established the little village of Ben Franklin by the 1830s. In 1840, the Congress of Texas formed Lamar County, which included present-day Delta County, from Red River County. In March 1846, after Texas joined the U.S., the new state legislature organized Hopkins County, which absorbed the southern two-thirds of the future Delta County. 

During the Civil War, Unionists were in the minority, and most residents favored the Confederacy. The postwar years brought growth and, eventually, prosperity to Delta County, which was formed in 1870. The county seat, Cooper, became the center of local activities. Bob Michiel published the first newspaper in the county, the Delta Courier, in 1873.

The first Texas state legislature created Hopkins County from parts of Lamar and Nacogdoches counties in March 1846. Hopkins County was named for the David Hopkins family of pioneers. The territory of the original 1846 Hopkins County was subsequently reduced several times. Today the Jim Chapman Lake region is rural with few towns and tiny communities. 

Fishing Jim Chapman Lake

The predominant game fish are largemouth, hybrid striped, and white bass, blue, channel, and flathead catfish, and black and white crappie. Other species include bluegill and bowfin. Jim Chapman Lake is known for great hybrid striped bass and white bass fishing. Special regulations govern the harvest of largemouth bass at Jim Chapman Lake. There is a minimum length limit of 18 inches and a daily bag limit of five largemouth bass. There is only one bait shop, Skinner’s Tin Top, on the northeast border. The two state park units have fish cleaning stations. 

A limited amount of hydrilla and Illinois pondweed grows in shallow areas. A substantial amount of smartweed, water primrose, cattails, buckbrush, and buttonbush can be found during periods of stable water levels. When the lake is full, American lotus is present. Along the shoreline and upper half of Cooper Lake, flooded timber lies in most of the creeks. Boat lanes and sedimentation lines allow access to the western half of the lake. 

The main river channel is a popular area for spring fishing. Numerous small islands and fencerows provide structure for largemouth bass. The only shore development is at the state park units and there are four boat ramps, but no marinas. There are two lit fishing piers in the state park units, Doctors Creek and South Sulphur. Doctor’s Creek is ADA accessible. Many areas around Jim Chapman Lake provide access to sections of the 31 miles of shoreline available for fishing from the bank.

Jim Chapman Lake is relatively small, and there are only one or two fishing charter services operating on it at any given time. 

Find experienced local guides on our Jim Chapman Lake Fishing Guides page. 

Boating Jim Chapman Lake

Four boat ramps on Jim Chapman Lake facilitate launching pleasure boats, pontoon boats, fishing boats, and kayaks or canoes. There are six-lane, four-lane, and two-lane boat ramps. The scenery around Jim Chapman Lake is low rolling hills, forests, and flatlands. There are several islands to visit and lots of beaches. There are no boat rental services, gas docks, or marinas, and only one bait shop. 

Visitors come to Jim Chapman Lake from Dallas and the neighboring states of Louisiana, Arkansas, and Oklahoma, so this lake can get busy during peak season. There’s plenty of open water for all kinds of water sports. There are a few stores in Cooper, Texas, about two miles from the northeastern shore of Jim Chapman Lake, which is a bring your own supplies and gas kind of lake.  

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

Jim Chapman Lake Real Estate

There are no lake homes or lots for sale on Jim Chapman Lake because the USACE does not allow development. If you are looking for a home nearby the lake, check out our Jim Chapman Lake Homes For Sale page.

Jim Chapman Lake Cabins 

The Cooper Wildlife Management Area, and South Sulphur and Doctor’s Creek State Park units rent cabins at Jim Chapman Lake. The parks have beaches, shelters, wildlife observation areas, and picnic areas. There are no vacation home rentals on Jim Chapman Lake. 

Camping at Jim Chapman Lake

There are three campgrounds on Jim Chapman Lake that offer restrooms, fish cleaning stations, parking, and courtesy docks with beaches, pavilions, shelters, wildlife observation areas, and picnic areas. Cooper Lake State Park’s South Sulphur Unit is a free park and open year round. Cooper Lake State Park’s Doctor’s Creek Unit is open Sunday through Thursday for day visitors only with camping available on weekends and free. 

Doctor’s Creek is ADA accessible. It has parking for 93 vehicles. South Sulphur has parking for 123 vehicles at Gull’s Bluff and parking for 63 at Honey Creek. There are hiking, biking, and equestrian trails in the parks. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department maintains the two state park units, and the Cooper Wildlife Management Area. 

These parks do charge fees for specific amenities and RV sites. There is one RV park on the northwest side of Jim Chapman Lake, The Box RV Ranch Park. The Buggy Whip Equestrian camping area at the South Sulphur unit has 15 sites with back-in concrete pads for RVs with water and electric hookups, picnic tables, fire rings, and 20-foot tether cables. 

Check out our list of campgrounds and RV parks for your family adventure on our Lake Jim Chapman Camping page. 

Hiking and Equestrian Trails at Jim Chapman Lake

A 5-mile hike and bike trail from the South Sulphur unit begins near the restrooms close to the Pecan Grove Cabin area, and and a 2 to 3-mile hike and bike trail at the Doctor's Creek unit. There is a vast network of horseback trails that total 10.5-miles and crosses 600 acres at the South Sulphur unit Buggy Whip Equestrian camping area, which has 15 camping sites. 

Miles of hiking, biking, geocaching, and horseback riding trails lead through oak forests and marshy grasslands, where you can spot birds and wild deer. 

Hunting at Jim Chapman Lake

Public hunting is permitted for white-tailed deer, feral hogs, dove, quail, woodcock, gallinules, rails, snipe, waterfowl, rabbits, hares, and squirrels on the Cooper Wildlife Management Area (WMA) on the eastern border of Jim Chapman Lake. Some animals require a tag to be won by lottery through the TPWD Texas Drawn Hunts system. The Cooper WMA is located in Delta and Hopkins Counties, and covers approximately 9,500 acres of land surrounding the Jim Chapman Lake and 4,700 acres of flooded timber. The Cooper Wetland System is a premier waterfowl production area in northeast Texas. 

Things to Do at Jim Chapman Lake

The primary attractions at Jim Chapman Lake are watersports, fishing, hunting, and boating. Jim Chapman Lake lies in an extraordinarily rural area. You can fish, picnic, swim, boat, paddle, water-ski, hike, bike, bird watch, study nature, stargaze, ride horses, geocache, and camp. There are no restaurants on Jim Chapman Lake, and just a handful in Cooper, Texas, on the northeastern border.

In Cooper, Texas, Delta Country Club is a 9-hole, semi-private track that offers an enjoyable round of golf for the average hacker, particularly the beginner who struggles with length off the tee. The short length of the course is 2,548 yards with several par 4s under 300 yards. Come to Jim Chapman Lake to enjoy nature and the lake. 

Plan your next trip on our What To Do At Jim Chapman Lake page.

Jim Chapman Lake Weather & Climate

Jim Chapman Lake sees an average of 46 inches of rain, with one inch of snow, and 231 days of sunshine per year. The winter low in January is 32 degrees with a summer high in July of 94 degrees. April, May, and October are the most comfortable months for this region.

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

Jim Chapman Lake Zip Codes

Delta County: 75415, 75432, 75441, 75448.

Hopkins County: 75420, 75433, 75437, 75471, 75478, 75481, 75482, 75483.

Flora and Fauna at Jim Chapman Lake

The four major habitat types at Jim Chapman Lake are Black land Prairie, Upland Post Oaks, Bottomland Hardwoods, and a variety of wetlands. A Wildlife Observation Deck is located near the west end of Cooper Dam on FM 1529 and CR 4795. This deck and shrouded gravel walkway provides a spectacular view of the Jim Chapman Lake. Common wildlife sightings are white-tailed deer, feral hogs, dove, quail, woodcocks, waterfowl, rabbits, hares, and squirrels.

Jim Chapman Lake Email Updates


Jim Chapman Lake Current Weather Alerts

There are no active watches, warnings or advisories.


Jim Chapman Lake Weather Forecast


Partly Sunny

Hi: 85

Wednesday Night

Rain Showers Likely

Lo: 66


Rain Showers

Hi: 78

Thursday Night

Thunderstorms Likely

Lo: 66


Chance Thunderstorms

Hi: 81

Friday Night

Slight Chance Thunderstorms

Lo: 66


Chance Thunderstorms

Hi: 80

Saturday Night

Chance Thunderstorms

Lo: 66

Jim Chapman Lake Water Level (last 30 days)

Water Level on 5/1: 441.99 (-4.01)