Fishing & Boating

Child with string of catfish / USFWS

Reel them in on Imperial National Wildlife Refuge!

The following sport fish species are found on Imperial National Wildlife Refuge: Flathead and channel catfish; largemouth, striped and smallmouth bass; bluegill; redear sunfish; tilapia; common carp; and black crappie.

Meers Point Recreation Area
Meers Point Recreation Area, located on the northern shore of Martinez Lake, includes a free boat ramp, boat dock, and ADA accessible fishing dock. You will also find two shoreline fishing locations, covered picnic tables, and restroom facilities. No potable water is available. All facilities are offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Please remember that Meers Point is a day-use only area.

Clear Lake
Imperial National Wildlife Refuge has a primitive boat ramp located at Clear Lake, near our northern boundary with Yuma Proving Ground on Red Cloud Mine Road. To launch from this ramp, it is highly recommended that you have a high clearance, 4-wheel drive vehicle. Space is very limited at this location.

Fishing Regulations
Fishing at Imperial National Wildlife Refuge requires either a California or Arizona fishing license as long as you have a Colorado River Special Use Stamp on your license. This is necessary for any Colorado River fishing you plan to do. If you plan on fishing lakes and backwaters on just the California or Arizona side, you will need the required license for that State. All fishing on Imperial National Wildlife Refuge is in accordance with applicable state laws. More information is available from the Arizona Department of Game and Fish or California Department of Fish and Game.

Closed Areas
The Imperial National Wildlife Refuge is managed for the benefit of wildlife. To protect wildlife and the habitat they depend upon, several areas on the refuge are closed to fishing, including:

  • The western portion of Martinez Lake and the northern portion of Ferguson Lake. These areas are closed October through February to provide protected resting and feeding areas for migratory birds. 
  • The ponds and inlets in and around the refuge headquarters are closed as they play an important role in research conducted on native fish populations, including the razorback sucker and the bonytail chub.

All closed areas are marked by buoys.

Be alert for submerged hazards such as sandbars, rocks, snags, and other river debris. Visibility of hazards varies with water level fluctuations. Sandbars can be particularly hazardous. Changing water levels can hide them one day and make them visible the next. To avoid sandbars, watch ahead for “lines” on the river and go around them. “Follow the flow.” Sandbars can drop off suddenly so remember to watch children and pets as the strong currents can carry them away from shore quickly. Please be aware that cellular telephone service is weak or nonexistent on many areas of the refuge.

Keep In Mind

  • No camping or campfires are allowed on the refuge.
  • Clearing of vegetation is not permitted 
  • Travel on the backwaters is “No Wake” only. 

Helpful Information
Arizona Department of Game and Fish
California Department of Fish and Game

For more information, please contact the refuge.