Published in Lakes

Lower Otay Reservoir

    Lower Otay Reservoir

    Additional Info

    • Managed by: City of San Diego
    • Surface acres: 1.100
    • Facilities: Snack Bar, Tackle Shop, Restrooms, Portable Toilets, Boat Ramp, Picnic Tables, Fishing Dock(s)
    • Rental boats: Yes
    • Float tubes: Allowed
    • State license: Required
    • Fish species: Black crappie, Blue catfish, Bluegill, Channel catfish, Largemouth bass, Rainbow trout

    When pros and fishing articles mention bass fishing on the west coast, Lower Otay is likely to come up. It is one of the long standing premiere bass fisheries on the west coast that has made a name for itself through it's long history. The lake is equally matched with quality and quantity bass fishing. It has the looks of a bass lake with old dead trees sticking out of the water and booming rockpiles collapsing into the lake.

    Not as popular and possibly highly underrated, Otay is a hatching ground for HUGE catfish. Until the recent unbelievable 101 lb. record catch at San Vicente, Lower Otay held the state record for Blue Catfish at 85 lbs. 9 ozs., there have been other blues in the 80# class caught before. Try live crawdads, cut mackerel or chicken liver. Another fish that actually comes in huge numbers during the season is bluegill. The numbers of bluegill at Otay often top out in the thousands per week, and keep in mind only a small portion of people are actually fishing for bluegill in this bass ruled lake.

    Trout are stocked in Lower Otay in the winter months by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, providing a boost to the size of bass and catfish.


    thumb_otay-mapLower Otay is located about 30 minutes from downtown, 8 miles east of Chula Vista. From Interstate 805 take Telegraph Canyon Road exit east to Wueste Road south to the reservoir entrance. From 94, take Otay Lakes Rd. south to Wueste Rd, follow to entrance.


    Construction of the dam at Lower Otay was completed in 1897 and formed the 3rd reservoir in 10 years built in the county. Unfortunately, an oversight proved devastating as the dam was built with a means for shedding excess water. In 1916 heavy rains filled the reservoir beyond capacity and overpowered the dam causing it to crumble and completely wash away. Construction of a new improved dam quickly followed and the reservoir was reestablished only 2 years later. In 1990 the U.S. Olympic Committee held an official groundbreaking at the future site of the ARCO Olympic Training Center adjacent to Lower Otay. The lake is now used as a training facility for US Olympic rowing teams.

    Hours, Fees & Boating Information

    The lake is open for boating and fishing sunrise to sunset Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays from late January to the end of September. Rental rowboats and motorboats are available for fishing and recreational boating, except for the months of November, December, and January.

    Private boaters are welcome and only need pay a small launch ramp usage fee. Canoes, kayaks and float tubes are permitted, however float tubers must follow standard regulations which include waterproof waders, 144 sq. in. orange for visibility, horn or whistle and spare floatation device. Float tubers must stay within 150 ft. of shore at all times. No swimming or water contact allowed.

    Please see the Whats New section of the COSD Water Dept. website for current conditions and operating schedule. See the Permits and Fees page for current pricing.

    Facilities & Recreation Information

    There is a picnic area with 16 tables and 13 barbecues overlooking the lake that provides a perfect setting for family picnics and get-together's. There is also a full service snack bar with bait and tackle at the lake. Dogs are permitted but must remain on no more than 6 ft. leash at all times. Dogs are not allowed in boats, rental or private. There is no camping at the lake.

    Special Regulations

    Glass containers are not allowed in the park. Dogs must be kept on a leash at all times and at least 50 feet away from the water. Unfortunately, dogs are not allowed on boats (rented or private).

    Last modified on Sunday, 09 February 2014 23:49