The Otay Lakes County Park is a great place to chill on a weekend. Located near the Chula Vista Olympic Center, it’s a quiet getaway for picnics, hiking, biking, kayaking or boating. Also, the Olympic rowing team trains here during the week.
I did a nice biking loop around the lake and also hiked to the dam. Bird watching is popular here as well as kayaking and fishing.
If You’re Into Fishing
The Upper Otay is a catch and release only fishery. Bait is not permitted, only artificial lures with barbless hooks. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife stocks this reservoir with Rainbow Trout during the winter months and boat rentals are available on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Many other fish live in the reservoir, including large mouth bass, blue catfish, blue gill, bull head catfish, black crappie and carp. For fishermen, you can check here for weekly updated information.
A little rant over reservoir boating, but no swimming
The Lower Otay Dam was completed in 1897 and was connected to the City of San Diego’s water system in 1906 via the Bonita Pipeline. For water buffs, you can check the water levels of San Diego reservoirs daily.
What’s funny is that you can’t swim in this reservoir. Why? An odd reason. This reservoir is used for drinking water. Of course, the reservoir feeds into the nearby plant where the water is completely treated and made pure. Although boats that spew out their gasoline are allowed, people are not allowed solely for a psychological reason. Apparently, citizens of San Diego have no problem with drinking treated water that has originally been contaminated with some of the worst industrial and chemical waste products around. However, people can’t wrap their mind around treated water that was originally contaminated with human poop and urine.
Water treatment plants will tell you that human waste products are generally considered the “cleanest” type of waste around. Plus, the treatment process, regardless of the waste, is so highly effective that often treated wastewater becomes purer than distilled water and needs to have minerals put back into it. Nevertheless, the idea that a human could swim in the reservoir and possibly “do their business” in the water makes swimming off limits here.
But I digress from the pleasure of being at the Otay Reservoir and Dam.
Perhaps you’ll remember my post about the nearby Sweetwater Reservoir. Or you’ll have read my interview with the General Manager of the Otay Water District. Well, guess what? Despite it’s name, the Otay Reservoir is not associated with either of these. Instead, it’s owned by the City of San Diego.
The smallest of the City of San Diego’s impounding reservoirs, the Otay Reservoir was established in 1959 as a hatchery for the propagation and introduction of Florida-strain largemouth bass. The best part of this place is that it’s relatively unknown, so you can get most of the serene environment all to yourself.
Stay tune for more about biking and hiking because this is where the Otay Valley Regional Park has a trail that leads across eastern Chula Vista to the Bayshore Bikeway and the Salt Works!
Also, check out the extensive history of the Water districts in the South Bay.
Addendum: Parent & Child Fishing Classes
Chula Vista Recreation Department is hosting a Fishing Adventure. Here’s what they say (dated October 12, 2015):
This program is designed for one parent and one child at least eight years of age and teaches basic fishing skills and terminology. For $99, you and your child will be taught how to catch and release, tie knots, boat and water safety, Angler Code of Ethics and learn about fish habitats. Classes will take place on Saturdays, October 24 through November 21, from 10am to noon at the lower Otay Lake, 2165 Wueste Road, Chula Vista. Children must be accompanied by their adult companion at all times. The four-week class includes all equipment and instruction, but does not include a fishing license. To register, call (619) 409-1999.