Barrett Lake, California, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - West - California - San Diego County -

Also known as:  Lake Barrett, Barrett Reservoir

Tucked away in a solitary fishing hole, a fisherman casts and pulls in a trophy-sized Northern-strain large mouth bass. The opportunity to catch trophy fish is why anglers reserve their tickets months ahead for their chance to be one of the few allowed to access the lake

Barrett Lake, or Barrett Reservoir as it is also known, sits 35 miles east of San Diego, which owns and operates the lake. The reservoir is formed at the Barrett Dam, which is built at the junction of Cottonwood and Pine Valley Creeks. Completed in 1922, the dam and Barrett Reservoir’s primary function is to store water for the domestic water supply. After completion of the dam, the lake was kept private and inaccessible by the public for 72 years.

In 1994, Barrett Lake was opened to the public on a very limited basis. Anglers wishing to fish the lake’s secluded 811 acres must make reservations and buy tickets. Boats are provided by the City of San Diego Water Department, and there are no other boats allowed on the lake. The approach to Barrett Lake is through private land so tickets holders are escorted to the lake through two locked gates.

It is Barrett Lake’s careful management that makes it worthy of tickets and reservations. The lake is quiet, secluded and full of fish. There are abundant populations of bluegill, small mouth bass, crappie and catfish. It is the large mouth bass, however, that are the most sought after. Almost all the largemouth bass in southern California are the Florida-strain; Barrett Reservoir is one of the only places with a healthy population of Northern-strain large mouth black bass. Catch and release fishing only is permitted; anglers must artificial lures and barb-less hooks, Water contact is prohibited and fishermen must wear hip boots or waders.

Hunters keep both eyes open for waterfowl and turkey at Barrett Lake. Hunting is either by reservation or mail-in lottery. Waterfowl season runs from mid-October through mid-January, and turkey season is from late March through early May. Hunters may use dogs for bird retrieval.

Barrett Lake lies within 460,000-acre Cleveland National Forest. Cleveland is the most southerly national forest in California and Barrett Lake is found it its southwestern corner. Part of the forest was created in February 1893 by President Harrison. In 1908, President Roosevelt added other parcels of land, and together they became the 1,904,826-acre Cleveland National Forest. Over 700,000 acres were returned to the public market in 1915, and in 1925 part of the forest was transferred to the San Bernardino National Forest, resulting in the forest as it exists today. There is plenty of room for hiking, wildlife viewing and lots of recreational opportunities. Due to its national forest location, a wealth of wildlife surrounds Barrett Lake. Deer, mountain lion, coyotes, osprey and golden eagles are often sighted here.

Barrett Lake itself has no private development or vacation properties for rent, but campgrounds in Cleveland National Forest allow for overnight visitors to the area. Nearby in the town of Alpine, there are hotels, restaurants and other amenities. Just 45 minutes away, San Diego has all the amenities of a large city, including shops, museums, and a world-famous zoo.

Barrett Lake’s highly productive fishing and scenic seclusion make tickets to fish worth waiting for. Surrounded by Cleveland National Forest and conveniently close to San Diego services and amenities, a visit to Barrett Lake deserves a place near the top of your outdoor wish list. You wont be disappointed.

Things to do at Barrett Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Hiking
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • National Forest
  • Museum

Fish species found at Barrett Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Sunfish

Barrett Lake Photo Gallery

Barrett Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: City of San Diego

Surface Area: 861 acres

Shoreline Length: 12 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,607 feet

Water Volume: 45,000 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1922

Drainage Area: 239 sq. miles

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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