Barrett is a special fishery, a favorite among a loyal following of regulars that include anglers of all backgrounds and skill levels. It is dominated by the aggressive Northern Strain Largemouth Bass, unlike the other lakes in the county which are dominated by the larger but less aggressive Florida-Strain.
In 1998 Lake officials planted large amounts of threadfin-shad and silverside minnows in response to a major shortage of forage in the lake. Bass are now much healthier and heavier than before. Although most anglers target largemouth, it houses bluegill of 2 pounds or more and a growing population of smallmouth sass. Barrett also houses plenty of crappie and catfish. Just keep in mind, ALL fish must be released unharmed and by artificial baits only.
Barrett operates on a ticket/reservation system through Ticketmaster. Reservations are sold beginning at 7 PM on the second Tuesday of the month for the succeeding month. Reservations for the season opener, and the opening weekend typically sell out in a matter of just a few seconds. The opening month, May, is usually sold out in less than an hour. About 20 reservations are available each open fishing day, and a reservation is good for up to 4 people, 2 parking spots, and 1 rental boat. Reservations are $80+ ticketmaster fees. Each angler also must purchase a daily fishing permit for $20 at the lake.
Location / Directions
Barrett Lake is located in a remote area approximately 35 miles east of San Diego. From Interstate 8, turn south on Japatul Road, left on Lyons Valley Road, 6 miles to gate. From Highway 94, turn west on Honey Springs Road, right on Lyons Valley Road, 1.7 miles to the gate. Access is available only through Lyons Valley Road, Barrett Junction Road is CLOSED.
Construction of the dam at Lake Barrett was completed in 1922 and formed an important midway control point for water flow into Lower Otay downstream. Barrett is fed both by drainage from Morena Reservoir upstream and Pine Creek. For 72 years the reservoir was used solely for water storage, however over the years became populated with various gamefish most likely through run-off from Morena. The lake was finally opened to the public in 1994, where in it's first year the lakes popularity exploded. Anglers from all over the country were talking about this lake and couldn't wait to dip their lines into it. The lake proved to be a top quality bass fishery with anglers catching and releasing up to 30 or more bass in one day. In it's first couple of years the lake was so popular that in order to fish here anglers were required to send in postcards which were randomly drawn in a lottery. Once that system was deemed obsolete, reservations were handled through Ticketmaster.
Hours, Fees and Boating Information
Private boats are not allowed, however rentals are included in the price of the reservation. There are 25 boats available for rent, one for each party. The rentals are 14 feet long and come with 8 horsepower outboards. You may bring your own motor if so desired, max. 25hp. Most people like to bring their own electric trolling motors to use while fishing.
State and Local Regulations
- State Fish and Game regulations require the use of "barbless artificial lures" exclusively, while fishing for ALL species of fish, and that all fish must be released immediately after capture. They may not be retained in any fashion, or for any purpose, even though it may be the angler's true intent to release them later. Barbs can be bent down or broken off. All baits that are tied onto your rod, whether used or not, must be barbless. DFG officers inspect barbs with a "cloth test" by running a piece of cloth or glove over the barb - if the barb snags the cloth, you'll receive a steep citation.
- Only artificial lures may be used at the lake. No bait of any kind, live or dead. This assures a quick release. Most fish caught off bait usually take the hook deeper.
- Each person 16 and older is required to have a valid California fishing license in their possession. Licenses are not sold at the lake. License must be worn and visible at angler's waist or above, as required by DFW regulation.
- Each person must have a valid daily use permit ($20.00 per person regardless of age - cash only) in their possession while at Barrett to avoid being cited for trespassing. Any angler picking up a non-permit holder from shore may be ejected from the lake.
- No more than 2 vehicles per party will be allowed, and no motor homes, due to limited parking and low overhead on the entrance road.
The entrance road to Barrett passes through private property, and in accordance with the property owners, all visitors must be escorted by lake staff while traveling to and from the lake on the entrance road. In order to comply with the request the staff at Barrett have set up times throughout the day in which anglers can be escorted to or from the lake.
Anglers will be met at the gate and those possessing a ticket will be allowed to enter with the rest of their party, photo id may be required. The gate will be opened at 5:00 AM (except for the months of April and September when it will be 5:30 AM) and anglers there at that time will be escorted to the boat dock to pick out their boat. The attendant will continue to make trips to the gate (on the hour at 7:00 and 8:00 AM) to let in late arrivals until all parties have entered or 8:00 AM, whichever comes first. After 8:00 AM no anglers will be allowed to enter. Occasionally due to lack of attendance, lake staff will allow anglers without reservations to pay the regular fees at the front gate and enter with regular ticket holders.
There may be some delay when leaving the lake. For your convenience and planning purposes, escorted departures are scheduled at 12:00 noon, 2:00, 4:00, 6:00 and sunset.
Waders (or hip boots) must be in sound condition and completely cover the immersed portion of an angler's body so as to prevent sustained, directly body contact with the water. Wetsuits are not allowed. Waders must be worn at all times while float tube fishing. Waders or hip boots must be worn at all times while wading for the purpose of fishing. Float tubes are restricted to within 150 feet or less from shore. A U.S. Coast Guard approved floatation device must be readily available at all times while float tubing, and a whistle or horn is required to warn approaching craft. At least 144 square inches of international orange material must be displayed or worn at least 12 inches above the water line at all times (most float tubes all ready meet this requirement.)