So close, Lake Conroe is to the nation's fourth-largest city, yet so far away. An hour north of Houston, this 21,000-acre lake offers channel and blue catfish to about 5 pounds year-round, as well as above-average fishing for crappies, white bass, and largemouths that average 2 pounds but occasionally crowd double digits. Full-service marinas abound, and guides charge $125 to $300 daily. Lake Conroe's southern and eastern flanks are marked by vacation properties ranging from high-rise hotels to secluded cottages. Proximity to Houston lends a cosmopolitan flair to accommodations-a plus for the traveling family-but hospitality here is endearingly country. 936-756-6644; www.conroe.org.