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Fishing in the Martin Creek Lake
Copyright: - Texas State Parks & Historical Sites
Fishing in the Martin Creek Lake
Description - Martin Creek Lake State Park, which consists of 286.9 acres, is located in Rusk County, southeast of Longview. It was deeded to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department by the Texas Utilities Generating Company on June 23, 1976, and was opened to the public the same year. The park is located on 5000-acre Martin Creek Lake, constructed to provide cooling water for a lignite-fired, electric power generation plant.

The park and surrounding area have been inhabited by people since 200 B.C. Until the 18th century, Caddoan Indians and Spanish explorers lived in and traveled through this area. Later the Choctaw, Cherokee, and Kickapoo Indians migrated here in response to the increasing influx of Anglo Americans. Visitors can still see the old roadbed of Trammel's Trace near the fishing pier. It was an Indian Trail that became a major route for settlers moving to Texas from Arkansas. In 1833, Daniel Martin, for whom the park is named, settled with his family near the creek called Hogan's Bayou at the time. He and his neighbors eventually built a small fort and then a town called Harmony Hill. It reached its heyday after the Civil War, but it was deserted by 1900 and struck by a tornado in 1906. Only one Civil War era building remains today, and it has been converted into a storage shed. Traces of the old roads that brought prosperity to Harmony Hill can still be seen in the park and are part of the hiking trail.

Attractions - The Martin Creek Lake State Park offers users a wide spectrum of outdoor activities. Probably one of the more popular activities is fishing in the lake. This can be done from pier, boat or shore and is available 12 months of the year. An annual perch fishing contest is held for children ages 4 to 12 is held the first Saturday in September. Other popular water based activities include boating, paddle boating, canoeing, waterskiing and unsupervised lake swimming.

Because area has abundant wildlife there are ample opportunities for wildlife observation and photography. There is also a 1.5 mile hiking trail and a 6-mile mountain bike trail. Visitors have the choice to either camp or sleep in a cabin.

On Friday and Saturday there are interpretive programs. Lake Tours are available year-round; $15 per person; group rates for 10 or more persons. For reservations, call 903/643-7358.

During fall, usually late October through the first two weeks of November, is a particularly scenic time at Martin Creek. Visitors can marvel at the colorful foliage displayed by the many varieties of hardwoods, interspersed with loblolly and short-leaf pine trees.

This forest shelters abundant wildlife including gophers, swamp rabbits, nutria, white-tailed deer, raccoons, armadillos, and squirrels. Park visitors enjoy excellent year-round fishing, due to water warmed by the power plant. Fish include large-mouth bass, crappie, channel catfish, perch, ball, and sunfish. Among the most commonly seen birds are mallard ducks, great blue herons, green-backed herons, great egrets, northern cardinals, blue jays, red-headed woodpeckers, bobwhites, and northern mockingbirds.

Facilities include restrooms with showers; hike-in primitive campsites with no drinking water available (one of the primitive areas is located on an island accessed via a charming wooden bridge); campsites with water and electricity (all have fire rings and picnic tables); screened shelters; 2 cottages (converted screened shelters which have been air-conditioned and heated, have water, electricity and bunk beds - capacity 5; a group picnic pavilion; a 1.5 mile hiking trail; a 6-mile mountain bike trail; a 4-lane concrete boat ramp; a trailer dump station; a playground; and a lighted fishing pier. Two cabins accommodate 6; no additional persons authorized. They have central air and heat, kitchen with 4-burner stove and oven, refrigerator, coffee maker, screened back porch, and outdoor smoker/cooker. There are no fireplaces or wood-burning stoves. No bath or bed linens are provided.

Nearby attractions include Caddo Lake State Park and Starr Family and Texas State Railroad State Historical Parks; and the historic Cities of Marshall, Longview, Kilgore, and Henderson.

For reservations, call 512/389-8900. Current weather conditions, including fire bans and water levels, can vary from day to day. For more details, call the park or Park Information at 1-800-792-1112.

Recreation - Recreational opportunities offered by the Martin Creek Lake State Park include, wildlife observation and photography, interpretive programs, lake tours, fishing, swimming, canoeing, paddle boating, boating, waterskiing, camping, hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, and cabins.

Climate - Martin Creek Lake State Park is located at an elevation of 385 feet. Temperatures within the park range from an average January minimum temperature of 35 degrees to an average July maximum temperature of 94 degrees. The average annual rainfall is 46.5 inches. Current weather conditions can vary from day to day. For more details, call the park or Park Information at 1-800-792-1112.

Location - Martin Creek Lake State Park is situated within the Pineywoods area of Texas. The park is located 20 miles southeast of Longview. Travel 3.5 miles southwest of Tatum on State Highway 43, then turn south on County Road 2183.

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

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Filed By: Kyle Jurca
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: Martin Creek Lake State Park is located about 20 miles south of Longview. If you are coming from I-20, take 149 (Estes Pkwy.) south. Then, contrary to most directions you'd find, don't go all the way to Tatum. About 12 miles south of Longview, take FM 782 SW for about 2.5 miles to FM 1716. Turn left on 1716 and go about 4 miles to the park. When you get to hwy. 43, you'll do a little "jig", but basically just continue straight to the park. I really liked the way this park is laid out. It's fairly compact. As in, it's not far from the camping areas to the boat ramp, day use, etc. There are two full service cabins and 2 limited service cabins. We stayed in one of the limited use cabins. These are screened shelters that have been converted. I estimate that they are about 175 square feet. Inside, there are two bunks, one is a twin/twin, the other is a twin/full. They have mattresses covered with a plastic mattress cover. It's just a concrete floor, two windows and an air conditioner. There's an overhead light and electrical outlets. Also, plenty of room for a table and sitting room if the weather is bad. That's it for the inside. Outside, there's a porch light, water spigot, picnic table, lantern hook and fire ring with cooking grate. It worked out perfect for us (4 adults, 1 child). The bathrooms/showers are about 150 feet away. Bathrooms were quite clean and shower was hot with good water pressure. There is an island at the park where walk-in camping is allowed, via a footbridge. Its approx. 200 feet from the parking lot to the nearest site on the island. The weekend we were there, they were having "Kidfish". The staff spent about 3 hours teaching children about fishing equipment, ettiquite, and how to fish. At the end of the session, each child received a new rod and reel. My daughter loved it. The lake is primarily a fishing lake, but there are no speed restrictions and there were a few pleasure boaters (including us). Look out for stumps, though. If you stay near the dam, you'll not have any problems. Ask the staff when you check in about the safest places to ski/tube. Because it is a power plant cooling lake, the water is comfortably warm (not hot, like some other cooling lakes I've been to). The plant itself is relatively close the the park and there is a constant hum as well as a regular stream of train whistles. This did not, however, detract significantly from our outdoors experience. The camping areas are fairly well wooded. I noticed that there were some where people were able to pull their boats up at their site. I didn't write down prime site numbers like I sometimes do, but I did happen to notice that site #65 looked pretty good (not one of the ones on the water).

More Information

Contact Information:
Martin Creek Lake State Park, RR 2 Box 20 , Tatum, TX, 75691, Phone: 903/836-4336

Additional Information:
Pineywoods - The Pineywoods region covers northeast Texas. Pineywoods topography is gently rolling to hilly forested land. This region includes almost all the National Forest land in Texas.
Texas State Parks - Texas State Parks occupy more than 500,000 acres of pristine ecosystems, historical sites and facilities. The state parks, state natural areas and state historic sites are scattered throughout Texas.

Campground Reservations - Reserve your campground online here with reserveamerica.com
Texas State Parks - Official Agency Website


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