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Lake Martin

Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division logo

FISH and FISHING on LAKE MARTIN

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Background:
Located on the outskirts of Alexander City in Central Alabama, Lake Martin is a 39,180-acre impoundment on the Tallapoosa River with an astounding 700 miles of shoreline. Lake Martin is arguably the most popular recreational reservoir in Alabama attracting literally hundreds of thousands of visitors annually. Alabama Power Company impounded the waters of the Tallapoosa River in 1926 near Cherokee Bluffs, on the Elmore and Tallapoosa county border, to form Lake Martin. The lake was constructed primarily for flood control and to supply hydroelectric power to Alabama residents, but it also provides ample recreational opportunities to anglers and boaters.

Wind Creek Marina has a bass weigh station.Private boating access areas and marinas are numerous on Lake Martin; however, many public facilities also exist. The State of Alabama, Department of Conservation, operates facilities at Wind Creek State Park, Smith Landing on Sandy Creek, Madwind Creek, Kowaliga Creek, and Pace’s Point near Camp Alamisco. Numerous other recreational and boating access areas are set aside for public use and listed on lake maps. Topographic maps of Lake Martin are available at local marinas and sporting goods stores.

 

Fishery:
Lake Martin is an infertile, clear water reservoir with a limited abundance of sportfish and baitfish, when compared to more fertile impoundments like those on the Coosa River. The upper region of the lake is the most fertile, especially around the Coley Creek and Elkahatchee Creek areas, while the Kowaliga Creek arm is the most infertile. Many anglers find it difficult to fish in Lake Martin due to the clarity of the water and the abundance of steep, rocky bluffs. Popular species sought by anglers include largemouth bass, spotted bass, striped bass, white bass, black crappie, channel catfish, channel catfish, flathead catfish, bluegill and redear sunfish. Special striped bass regulations apply. Due to infertility and thus limited baitfish abundance, competition among sportfish in Lake Martin is significant; therefore, the harvest of smaller fish is encouraged. If small fish abundance is reduced in impoundments such as Martin, the remaining fish are able to feed more efficiently due to a reduction in competition. Lake Martin typically ranks high in the B.A.I.T. program for the percent success category, but low in any indices relating to fish size.

Sampling:
Other recreation abounds at Lake Martin, but fishing brings smiles to all (photo by Doug Darr).Sampling performed in 2011 revealed a high abundance of smaller largemouth and spotted bass, thus the harvest of black bass below twelve inches is encouraged. Abundance of both black bass species was nearly equal, although spotted bass appear to be the dominant species caught by anglers.  Growth rates and body condition of largemouth bass were still well below the statewide average.  However, growth rates of spotted bass were similar to the statewide average.  The spotted bass population also appears to have sifted toward slightly larger and fatter fish compared to past samples.

When compared to other tournaments in Alabma in 2010, Lake Martin ranked second for percent success by anglers. Although the fishery was ranked low for average size of bass, the number of bass per angler and pounds per angler were higher than ever recorded. A 2008 survey of anglers leaving boat ramps indicated that black bass harvest is extremely low and any regulation directed toward improving the fishery would be ineffective.

Black crappie were collected in the fall of 2010 to assess the population.  Although crappie growth in Lake Martin is below average among other Alabama reservoirs, the production of moderate to stong year-classes appears to be more consistent.  This creates consistent catch rates of harvestable-size crappie each year.  A very stong 2003 year-class was still present in the population in 2010.  The sample also suggested that a strong 2008 year-class entered the fishery in 2011. 

Stocking:
Although other fish species have been stocked in the past, the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division currently stocks only striped bass into Lake Martin at the rate of 3 per acre. Unlike striped bass, other game fish species such as largemouth bass, spotted bass, black crappie, etc., are able to reproduce naturally in reservoirs; therefore, annual stockings are typically not necessary.

Fishing:
Although the most productive times to fish the lake are during spring and fall, Lake Martin is widely considered to be one of the best wintertime bass fisheries in the state. During the summer, clear water, hot temperatures, and numerous recreational boaters sometimes make fishing difficult during the daytime; thus, many anglers opt to fish at night.

Fish Art Contest Winner by Connery CarsonPopular bass lures include 4-inch finesse worms, jigs, spinnerbaits, and floating trick worms. Small lures generally produce better than larger ones, which is typical of clear water impoundments. Spotted bass usually relate to deep structure like rocky points, humps, or ledges; while largemouth bass usually remain much shallower and relate to cover like vegetation, brushpiles or log jams in the back of small coves and pockets. Spotted bass are notorious for their schooling behavior in this lake, particularly during colder months.

Lake Martin is very popular among tournament bass fishermen and is unique in that most tournaments are held at the Wind Creek State Park on the north end of the lake, near Alexander City. Wind Creek State Park has a tournament weigh-in station on site. Occasionally, small club or pot tournaments are held at the Kowaliga Creek boat ramp on Highway 63. This lake is a very popular tournament lake because most anglers find it relatively easy to catch fish; however, the fish are generally small and winning weights are low when compared to other Alabama reservoirs. Many tournament anglers find success by catching a quick limit of spotted bass and then spending the remainder of the tournament attempting to catch bigger largemouth bass.

Lake Martin has excellent crappie fishing with large fish being caught frequently. The current state record white crappie (4 lbs. 9 oz.) was caught here in May, 2000. Crappie often congregate around blow-downs or stumps during springtime and can be caught using live minnows. The best crappie fishing is in the upstream areas of the lake, particularly around Wind Creek State Park and in Elkahatchee Creek. During winter months, crappie remain in large schools in open, deep water.

drawing by Kyle McNew of a child fishing from a pierBluegill can be caught from Lake Martin much easier than in many other reservoirs due to the clear water which makes locating bedding fish much easier; however, care must be taken when approaching these areas. Peak bluegill spawning activity usually occurs near the first full moon in May, and may be repeated each month through September or October. Live crickets or tiny beetle-spins are the best choices when targeting bluegill. Shellcracker are also abundant in the lake and often reach very large sizes. This species is most easily caught using redworms fished on the bottom in shallow coves during late spring.

Yellow perch are a species that have relatively recently appeared in the Tallapoosa River drainage. They are easily identified by their six to nine black vertical saddles across the back, which extend to the white stomach region. A yellowish green coloration covers the rest of the body, while the pelvic and anal fins are orange to red. This species is in the same family as walleye and sauger (jack), but yellow perch do not get nearly as large. It is an excellent tasting fish with very firm, white flesh.

Anglers of all ages enjoy fighting a striped bass.Striped bass are also popular sport fish in Lake Martin. Being an open water species, the striped bass rarely feeds near the shoreline, like other gamefish, so anglers must learn to fish offshore in order to be successful. These fish relate loosely to structure and feed almost entirely upon shad. When water temperatures are cooler, stripers tend to be more active and can be caught near the surface using artificial baits like large white hair jigs, chrome lipless crank baits, and especially Zara Spooks. Their annual spring spawning migration takes them to the shoals located on the upper end of the lake on the main stem of the Tallapoosa River, as well as Hillabee Creek and Sandy Creek. During warmer months, striped bass spend most of their time in deep water (50-80 ft.) and are usually caught using live shad tight-lined beneath the boat. Special striped bass regulations apply.

Alabama Power Company has improved fishing by providing habitat in this lake. Coordinates of these habitat improvements are available as an Excel spreadsheet or a GPS download from www.alabamapower.com/community/lakes/fishing-information.asp.

It is illegal to possess blueback herring Duane Raver's Blueback Herring courtesy of the US Fish and Wildlife Service in Alabama. Regulations designate legal capture methods for bait and specify additional species that may not be used for bait.

Links (disclaimer):

Fishing license information may be found at: www.outdooralabama.com/fishing/freshwater/license/. Instant licensing is available via the Internet (2% fee), via the telephone by calling 1-888-848-6887 ($3.95 fee), or at 900 vendors and probate offices in Alabama. All youth age 15 and younger fish for free.

Possession and creel limits for Alabama public waters are listed at: www.outdooralabama.com/fishing/freshwater/regulations/

Bass fishing quality at Lake Martin is assessed from bass club tournament results at here.
If you are a member of a bass club, please consider being a part of our Bass Angler Information Team. We use information from clubs to help better manage your lakes for fishing.

State fish management information and Alabama reservoir location, size and elevation are listed at: www.outdooralabama.com/fishing/freshwater/where/reservoirs/.

Find official information on Wind Creek State Park at www.alapark.com/WindCreek/.
Lake Martin's Wind Creek State Park is part of the Alabama Bass Trail.

Bass fishing reports for Lake Martin may be available at: www.wmi.org/bassfish/reports/alabama/. Bass fishing tips for Lake Martin by Reed Montgomery may be found at: www.fishingalabama.com/marttip.html.

Marinas include: Wind Creek State Park 256-329-0845, Anchor Bay Marina (334) 857-2654, Blue Creek Marina (256) 825-8888, Chuck's Marina (256) 825-6871, Harbor Pointe near Stillwaters, Kowaliga Marina (334) 355-8050, Real Island Marina (334) 857-2741, River North Marina (256) 397-1500, and The Ridge Marina (334) 257-397-1300.

Boat rentals include: Wind Creek State Park 256-329-0845, Kowaliga Marina (334) 355-8050 or (866) 355-8050 (deck boats and pontoon boats), Harbor Pointe near Stillwaters (pontoon boats), Real Island Marina (334) 857-2741 (deck boats and pontoon boats), River North Marina (256) 397-1500 (deck boats and pontoon boats), and The Ridge Marina (334) 257-397-1300 (deck boats and pontoon boats).

Current water levels may be found for Martin Dam at: http://iwin.nws.noaa.gov/iwin/al/hydro.html

General information is available at www.lakemartin.com, www.alexandercity.org/ and www.wetumpkachamber.com/ Additional information is found under the "Lake Martin" and "Wind Creek State Park" listing at: al.com/parks/central.html.

Information about the Lakewatch of Lake Martin and a report on Lake Martin's water quality can be found at: www.alabamarivers.org/
The Lake Martin Home Owners and Boat Owners Association (Lake Martin HOBO) Web site can be found at www.lakemartin.org/

Some large boats and houseboats may be prohibited on Lake Martin.

Contact the following fishing guides:
Reed Montgomery, www.fishingalabama.com/ 1-205-663-1504, ALABASSGYD@aol.com
Jim Parramore, cell 1-205-533-3664, Trophy Stripers on Lake Martin 

Most of Lake Martin does not have any fish consumption advisories, but the Sugar Creek embayment does have a consumption advisory.  Information on the consumption advisory may be found at the Alabama Department of Public Health Web site, www.adph.org. Consumption advisory information is found under "A-Z Contents" by looking for "Fish Consumption Advisories."

It shall be unlawful to intentionally stock or release any fish, mussel, snail, crayfish or their embryos including bait fish into the public waters of Alabama under the jurisdiction of the Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries as provided in Rule 220-2-.42 except those waters from which it came without the written permission of a designated employee of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources authorized by the Director of the Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries to issue such permit. The provisions of this rule shall not apply to the incidental release of bait into the water during the normal process of fishing.

Charles Darr on a Craig Cat boat.D.A.R.E. Power Park-Martin Reservoir (Swimming, Picnicking, Fishing, Boat Ramp) Hours 9:00 A.M. til 8:00 P.M. Seasonal. From Dadeville, take W. Lafayette St. about a 1 mile to Youngs Perry Rd. Turn Left, Proceed approx. 6 miles to park.  For more information call (256) 825-8386 or (256) 396-5093.

The Alabama record white crappie of 4 pound, 9 ounces was caught from the upper end of Lake Martin on May 8, 2000, by Jeremy S. White of Alexander City. The former Alabama record grass carp of 70 pounds was caught April 12, 1999, by Michael White, Jr. of Eclectic. The IGFA recognized the 1 pound, 4 ounce redear sunfish (shellcracker) caught by George P. Mann on April 30, 2003, from Lake Martin as a record for a fly rod with 20 pound tippet.

The Alabama Water Watch has published a report on this water.

The Fisheries Section's District Supervisor can answer specific questions about Lake Martin by sending mail to: Dan.Catchings@dcnr.alabama.gov.

Prepared by: Fisheries Section, Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. This site is presented for information only the Fisheries Section cannot be responsible for the quality of information or services offered through linked sites, disclaimer. To have your site included, send your URL, email address, or telephone number to the Fisheries Web Master, doug.darr@dcnr.alabama.gov. The Fisheries Section reserves the right to select sites based on relevant and appropriate content, of interest to our viewers. If you discover errors in the content or links of this page, please contact Doug Darr. Thank you.

 

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