Friday, June 30, 2023

Barret Lake Rented Out All For Ourselves- A Bit Diappointing

 June 23, 2023

Barrett Lake is typically only open Wednesday (not all Wednesdays though) and weekends from May through September.  On Wednesday June 21st I see a Facebook post from a friend if anyone wants to fish Barrett Lake on Friday.  His casting club had rented the lake out and now it's open to nonmembers.  I hadn't fished this lake since Sept of 2014, quitting after that because of a multiple reasons: drought, low number counts, fish die offs, and the complexity of getting to fish here.  Given my nearly decade long absence and with the all the water we received this winter I was intrigued to see how the old place was fishing.  So I called my fishing partner to see if he might be interested but stated I only will go if we can find a battery for my trolling motor.  Mine has been sitting idle for the past nine years and likely dead; I was not about to spend money to buy a new one.  After a few calls he said his friend had one we could use.  So we were in and place our reservation online for $100 for the boat and an additional $45/angler.  

By Thursday I get a text stating he can't get the battery in time as his buddy is in Lancaster all day and will not be home until late.  So I go through the Rolodex to see who I could possibly ask.  Then I see Roy's number. He's got to have one if not we could pull it from his boat.  I call him and he says his boats are docked in Cerritos but he's got a spare in the garage.  He puts it in the charger and tells to come over and pick it up whenever.  I run some errands and go to his house a couple hours later to pick it up.  Go home put it in my charger and prep for the next day.  I soon realize that Barrett is barbless only and they are militant about it.  I had already placed a bunch of boxes in my tackle bag so I go through them to see how many have been debarbed.  Maybe 50/50.  I decided to start taking flies I know I want to fish out and putting them into a separate box.  I know while fishing I'll forget to check and end up fishing a barbed hook.  Last thing I need is a $500 fine.  In addition most of my bass flies are tied on Gamakatsu B10S hooks and they don't debarb by crimping.  The barb breaks and leaves a burr so they must be filed.  I spent the next hour or so dremeling all the flies I planned on fishing.  After dinner I look on the battery to see how its charging, I notice that it is missing a wingnut on the positive terminal. I remove the wingnut on my old battery and see if it fits.  It does not.  So I remove the remaining wingnut on Roy's battery and go to Home Depot.  I'm home in about half an hour and test the fitting.  It doesn't fit.  WHAT?!  I test both wingnuts, new and old.  Neither fit but both fit in the negative terminal.  The positive is larger.  I'm pissed.  Not wanting to go back to HD I start calling neighbors to see if they have a spare but none do.  After several calls I give up and head back to the store battery in hand this time.  I didn't want to do this as it costs me about of half an hour of charge time on a battery that needs very bit of time on the charger.  I get the right size rush home put the battery back on the charger.  I prep my lunch for the next day and finishing loading the truck.  I head to bed at midnight with the expectation Chul will be arriving at my house at 3:15am.

At 3am I get a text saying he's running late.  This irritates me somewhat as Barret has specific entry requirements as the road goes through private property.  Lake staff open the gate at specific times and escort you into the lake.  If you miss the specific train in you must wait until the next one usually an hour later.  Not sure if this is still the case but it used to be this way and since I've not been here in so long I have no clue.  I just wanted to make sure we aren't waiting around an hour just because we were five minutes late.  I planned some wiggle room in our time frame for such issues but not much.  The other issue is I've completely forgotten how to get there, I checked my iphone and it gave me an alternative route than I used to take, supposedly shorter and quicker.  I know from reading past threads that certain gps will lead you astray.  I didn't save the thread so I don't recall which ones do that or if that bug was resolved.  This was another reason why I gave ourselves more latitude in time in case we got lost.  These concerns though proved unwarranted as we make the gate in time.  Much of the club were already lined up waiting.  I checked in with the club lead and then spoke with Steve.  The club had rented the place from 6am-3pm.  Start time is an hour later than on normal working hours.  Which meant the very little topwater time will be even less.  Forecast called for a sunny day so we maybe only had at best an hour of popper fishing.
Luckily the staff let us in at around 5:30am.  I parked the truck and began offloading.  Chul was ready and I told him to start loading the boat but make sure to pick a boat that starts up easily since we basically have the pick of the litter.  Only three or four other anglers rented boats.  The rest were on float tubes or kayaks.  Only 14 anglers showed up for the day.  The marina staff let him know that any boat with a Yamaha motor is good and will start up fine.  Recently I purchased a mobile fish finder and the suction wouldn't stay on.  One trick I learned from my old man back in the day is to put Vasoline over the suction.  It prevents air and water from breaking the suction.  Problem is I totally forgot it on my desk.  I was pissed.  The suction simply wouldn't hold.  I decided to deal with it later and it was time to get going.  So I ripped the cord on the motor and buckled over in pain.  For the past year I've had a shoulder injury (on both shoulders).  For a long time I wasn't able to lift my should past a certain height.  Up until this week it started to feel a lot better.  Good enough to start a very light weight lifting regime.  Now I just reaggravated it.  I was in so much pain I jumped out of the boat onto the dock and leaned over the storage box that contains the life jackets. I told Chul he'd need to start the motors now.  I was worried that I couldn't cast for the day.  I began messaging my shoulder and the pain slowly dissipated.   I got on the motor and went to my usual starting spot for poppers.  By this time it was about 6am, not much time left before the sun will be shining on most if not all of the lake. 
We fished for just under an hour and I managed my first fish on a popper.  I was using a SW crystal popper 2/0 body on a 3/0 hook.  It's been my go to this year.   Finally I was able to get my first fish on my new set up- TFO BC Big Game 10 weight rod and TFO NTR reel.  When the sun was cresting above the mountains I manage another one much smaller that came loose.   Once we made our way into the Hauser arm I switched to my nine weight and an intermediate line and a spinnerbait fly but with no success.  Eventually I moved to my Scott seven weight paired with a full fast full sink line and a Iwai Minnow.  With this set up I felt a bump and set the hook.  It was a bluegill that I hooked in the head.  By this time Chul switched flies to imitate a bluegill.  Few moments later he was on a nice bass that he lost at the boat.  I then switched back to my 10 weight and changed out the reel to my other NTR lined with a sinking line.  With that set up I tied an EP bluegill fly.  It wouldn't be long before I would be on my next bass.  By around 10 am the winds began to be problematic.  By this time the trolling motor died. 
I would end up with around 10 fish for the day.  My shoulder would act up throughout the day and around midday because he hadn't landed a fish yet I spent most the next few hours trying to get him his first landed fish.  I would have to maneuver the boat with the main motor now the trolling motor was useless. By around noon in a protected cove bass began exploding on damselflies.  Of course neither of us had any damsel dries with us anyways.   So we tied on some unweighted wooly buggers to see if we could entice them.  It didn't work.  All my old spots were not producing. The lake is at 90% capacity last I checked.  I've fished it this full in the past at this capacity and still had memorable days.  This time it was much harder.  Chul would eventually get his landed fish around 2pm.  He went one for three or four for the day.  We'd quit just before three and headed home.  Around the lake fried egg poppies were in full bloom which was quite pretty to see.  On our way home we'd stop at Dana Point at Jon's Fish Market for fish "n" chips and clam chowder.  I haven't been here in ages while still good it wasn't as good a s I remember it.  It was a long day and I'd be home around 7pm where I'd shower and hit the pillow for the night.  Given we essentially had the lake all to ourselves I was extremely disappointed how poorly it fished.  Not sure why.  It's making me want revenge on the place but I doubt that will happen this year.  The hassle of the reservation system and the long hot days in the coming months will likely prevent a return but we'll see.

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