Compiled By Margie Anderson
By Margie Anderson
Martinez Lake is typical of the southern Colorado River Lakes.
Reedy and shallow, it still holds plenty of fish of all different
species. You can have fun at Martinez even if you donít fish, but if
you do like to fish you can go after bass, crappie, catfish
(channels and flatheads), carp, tilapia, sunfish, stripers, and even
Martinez is highly developed Ė there are stores, resorts,
cantinas, restaurants, campgrounds, and several launch sites along
the lake. You can rent a boat or charter a river trip with a guide.
If you want to fish, you need a fishing license and a Colorado
A Bit Of History
Before the Colorado was dammed, it was a busy waterway Ė
steamboats carried cargo and passengers up and down the river. Gold
and silver mining meant that river traffic was heavy, and a lot of
towns grew up around the mines.
There are still active mines along the river in the southern
counties. Martinez Lake Resort was started as a fishing camp in 1955
and is now a year-round resort that caters to snowbirds, sightseers,
fishermen, rock hounds, boaters, hunters, and skiers.
The resort offers waterfront party houses for two to 12 people,
trailers, motel cabins, RV spaces, a gift shop, convenience store,
cantina, restaurant, and rentals of canoes, kayaks, pontoon boats,
and aluminum boats.
Fishing guide services are also available at Martinez. Species
include bass, crappie, bluegill, stripers, and catfish. Call the
resort or 1-(800) 876-7004 for information on guide trips.
If you just want to paddle a canoe from Martinez to Imperial, it
will take about one day, and you will be rewarded with views of
gorgeous scenery and a variety of wildlife and birds. The resort
will deliver the canoes and pick them up, and even shuttle your car
Call them for information on rates and services.
Day-Long Boat Trips Available
For a boat trip with a lot less work, call Yuma River Tours at
(928) 783-4400. They have boat trips down the river from Fisherís
Landing at Martinez Lake to Imperial Dam, with side trips through
back channels and lakes.
You can even get lunch or dinner on the trip. A four- to
five-hour trip is $59, and that includes tax and lunch. A longer
trip (16 more miles and taking the whole day) is only $75.
Boat activity on Martinez is usually heavy, and the lake is
popular with Californians. But, the fishing can be worth the effort.
Huge bass and catfish live in Martinez.
For the bass, try spinnerbaits and crankbaits along the channels
or pitch worms or jigs to the reeds. The lake only covers about 640
acres, but it is all fishy stuff.
The elevation is less than 200 feet, so summers are very warm.
Winters are awesome.
Be sure to stop in at the store near the boat launch at the
resort and ask them whatís biting and what to use. They have tons of
photos and they sell bait.
Immediately to the north of Martinez is the Imperial Wildlife
Refuge. There is a visitorsí center near the lake (the turnoff, just
before reaching the lake, is clearly marked).
The refuge covers 55,000 acres and fronts both sides of the river
for nearly 35 miles. An amazing variety of birds and mammals uses
the refuge. Itís well worth a side trip.
You can call the Imperial Wildlife Refuge at (928) 783-3371 for
information on visiting the refuge or the visitorsí center.
To get to Martinez, take I-95 to Martinez Lake Road. If you are
coming from the south, you will pass the Imperial Dam road. If you
are coming from the north, you wonít pass much of anything for about
60 miles from Quartzsite until you reach the Martinez Lake Road.
It is clearly marked and is paved. From I-95, itís only about 10
or 12 miles to the lake. Signs will direct you to the various launch
sites and campgrounds.
Weekly fishing reports are available by calling 1 (800) ASK-FISH
or (602) 789-3701. You can also visit the Arizona Game and Fish
Departmentís Web site at azgfd.com and check out their fishing
The lake averages 10 feet deep, and as far as I know, there are
no maps specifically for Martinez. But the Fish-n-Map company has an
excellent waterproof map of the Lower Colorado Rive from Parker Dam
to Yuma, and Kymís Guide (#3) covers the Colorado from Blythe to
Yuma and includes maps and charts of recreation areas.
Get maps at Wide World of Maps in Phoenix: (602) 279-2323) or
Mesa: (480) 844-1134, or go to www.maps4u.com.
For more information, contact Martinez Lake Resort: (928)
783-9589 or (800) 876-7004, reservations: (928) 783-0253, e-mail:
firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit