Martinez Lake – The Weather Now Is Fantastic
Winter is the perfect time of year to visit the lower Colorado River lakes because the weather is fantastic. 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 don’t fish, but if you do like to fish you can go after bass, crappie, catfish (channels and flatheads), carp, tilapia, sunfish, stripers, and even bullfrogs.
Martinez is highly developed – 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 River Stamp.
Before the Colorado was dammed, it was a busy waterway – 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, sight seers, fishermen, rock hounds, boaters, hunters, and skiers. The resort offers waterfront party houses for 2 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. To contact the marina for information or reservations, call them at 928-783-9589.
Fishing Guide Services
Fishing guide services are also available at Martinez. Species include bass, crappie, bluegill, stripers, and catfish. Call the resort 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.
Huge Bass, Catfish At Martinez
Boat activity on Martinez is usually heavy, and the lake is popular with Californians. But, the fishing can be worth the effort because 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 under 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 what’s biting and what to use. They have tons of photos and they sell bait.
Imperial Wildlife Refuge
Immediately to the north of Martinez is the Imperial Wildlife Refuge. There is a visitor’s 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 use the refuge. It’s well worth a side trip. You can call the Imperial Wildlife Refuge at 928-783-3371 for information on visiting the refuge or the visitors’ center.
To Get There
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 won’t pass much of anything for about sixty miles from Quartzsite until you reach the Martinez Lake Road. It is clearly marked and is paved. From I-95 it’s only about ten or twelve miles to the lake. Signs will direct you to the various launch sites and campgrounds.
For A Fishing Report
For a fishing report, you can visit the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s web site at www.azgfd.com and check out their fishing reports online. The lake averages ten 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 River from Parker Dam to Yuma, and Kym’s Guide (#3) covers the Colorado from Blythe to Yuma and includes maps and charts of recreation areas. Get maps at Wide World of Maps 602-279-2323 for central Phoenix, north Phoenix, or Tempe, or go to www.maps4u.com.