Umarex Gauntlet


Blake Warren – ON THE HOOK

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Friday, January 25, 2019
A well-placed (pod) cast
Friday, May 31, 2019
‘Irvine Fake,’ revisited

Gem of Diego
Tucked away in the foot­hills of East San Diego County just a few long and winding roads and a handful of miles outside of the quaint town of Alpine, Barrett Lake is certainly as unique a bass fishery as there is here for miles in every direction. Chock full of the South­land’s lone major population of Northern-strain largemouth — and its population is in fact major — amid a beautiful alpine setting, fishing Barrett is more so an experience than just an­other fishing outing.

YET ANOTHER SEASON is dawning at Barrett, and it certainly appears the stage is set for it to be a good one.

Open just five months a year (May through September) and just three days a week during the season, opportunities to fish Barrett are indeed treasured by those who understand its unique potential. That’s only approximately 67 to 70 days of fishing at the reservoir each year, and with a limited number of rental boats and reservations available for each of those days, it’s all that much more of a treat to get on its alpine waters on any day.

It’s akin to the contrast between the NFL and Major League Baseball: 16 games versus an allotted 162 of those rascals, respectively. Those 16 football games are hyped up and highly anticipated events, while the 162 near-daily contests in the baseball season are more so glanced at in passing as the long flipbook turns page after page through the dog days of summer and beyond. Point is, often times, less is more. Such is exactly the case with Barrett Lake.

And then you get to the fishing itself. The majority of San Diego bass anglers, both young and old alike, have heard the Barrett glory day tales through the years. Those of 100-, or even 200-plus-fish outings. Epic topwater bites marathoning from first light through the afternoon. Days where the term “plastics” doesn’t even breeze across one’s cerebral cortex. Sure it’s had its down years — some might suggest that last year was somewhat of a “down year” by Barrett’s traditional lofty standards — but more often than not, it’s generally a solid producer on most occasions.

Then there’s the quality of fish at Barrett. Having heard a fair share of the previously mentioned glory tales myself, a rare and recent personal visit to Barrett just a couple weeks ago was surely an impressive reminder. Catch numbers were up from the previous year’s pre-fishing by most accounts, and between our boat’s 60 to 70 fish that were caught and released, the vast majority of them were running 2 to 4½ pounds, a few bigger, a few smaller. Stout, healthy and awfully aggressive, those Northerns. Try having a mid-April day like that at San Vicente, or up north at Castaic. Sure it’s possible, but Florida-strain bass just simply don’t usually treat us to that type of frenzied action with a heavy helping of quality for good measure.

BARRETT’S AGGRESSIVE BASS aren’t usually too shy about whacking baits.

To back up the quality claim at the lake, when California Department of Fish and Wildlife staff assessed Barrett in January of 2018, a metric used that compares length, width and relative weight to measure ideal growth curves showed the reservoir’s bass scoring phenomenally, with the vast majority of Barrett specimens assessed scoring in the top 8 percentile. After my recent day on the lake a couple weeks back, I can definitely see why. Most of these bass, regardless of each one’s particular weight, were fat, stocky footballs.

This week marks the kickoff to yet another promising Barrett season — May 1 being 2019’s opening day — and the anticipation is palpable in high hopes for a “bounce-back” year for the alpine reservoir. And it certainly seemed to me that could very well be the case indeed. I’m looking forward to seeing the trickle of reports from opening week myself (feel free to send any Barrett photos/reports to Barrett is the region’s proverbial box of chocolates, and it’s always fun to see just what she yields in the top of the first inning each year. It can also fire an arrow of jealousy into your gut should you happen to see you missed out on one of those particularly classic “glory days.”

It is ‘game on’ now. Hope you’ve got your opening month reservations. Enjoy the gem of San Diego if you do. Shouldn’t be an issue, it’s damn near impossible not to.

Fishing reservations for Barrett Lake can be obtained via Reservations ($80 for rental boats, $20 for float tubes / kayaks) go on sale at 7 p.m. the second Tuesday of each month for the following month’s fishing dates. The month of May is currently sold out.

NOW OPEN FOR the season through September, Barrett Lake offers a unique bass fishing experience quite unlike most in the Southland, along with the only major population of aggressive Northern-strain largemouth in SoCal. WON PHOTOS BY BLAKE WARREN

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