El Capitan Lake

El Capitan Reservoir is located in central San Diego County, California about 30 miles northeast of the city of San Diego and two miles north of the town of Alpine. The reservoir is formed by El Capitan Dam on the San Diego River and has a capacity of 112,800 acre-feet. The 237-foot dam is composed of hydraulic fill and was completed in 1934. The dam is owned by the city of San Diego and its primary purpose is to supply drinking water. It is the largest of the city's reservoirs.

The recreation area has three barbecues and eight picnic tables. Self contained gas barbecues are allowed in the picnic area. Ground fires, glass containers and camping are not allowed at the park.

El Capitan's concession is open on Friday - Sunday, 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. You can purchase snacks and drinks, bait and tackle, fishing permits and California State fishing licenses. Boat rentals are available on a first come basis.

Fishing is allowed all year. El Capitan Reservoir is stocked with largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill, channel catfish, blue catfish, green sunfish, and carp. The minimum size limit for bass is 15 inches and 10 inches for crappie. Fish limits are five bass, five catfish, 25 crappie and bluegill in aggregate, with no limit on other species. Fishing from the shoreline, boats, float tubes, or waders is permitted.

Permits are available at the concession and ranger pay stations. You must be have a California State Fishing license if you are 16 years of age or older.

Boating, water skiing, wakeboarding and personal watercraft are allowed from May through October. Personal water craft are limited to a designated zone, except when towing someone. Also, the long and narrow north arm of the lake is only open to watercraft on Sundays.

Rental rowboats and motorboats are available for fishing and recreational boating. Private boaters are welcome and pay a small launch ramp usage fee. Canoes, kayaks and float tubes are permitted. Float tubers must follow standard regulations which include waterproof waders, 144 sq. in. orange for visibility, horn or whistle and spare floatation device. Any float tube that uses oars or has a motor must purchase a private boat use permit. No swimming is allowed.

Drivers License and Deposit are required on all boats. $10 Late Fee applies to all boats returned after time due back. All boats are rented on a first come basis.  

4 Passenger (Max) FISHING BOAT with Motor  
2 Hours (Minimum) $25.00
Each Additional Hour $7.00
Deposit $60.00
All Day  $53.00
2nd Anchor Deposit $10.00
4 Passenger (Max) ROWBOAT  
Half Day $15.00
Full Day $30.00
Deposit  $30.00
LAKE PERMITS (Cash only)  
Adult Fishing Permit  $8.00
Youth Fishing Permit $2.50
Senior Fishing Permit  $4.00
Boat Launch Permit $7.00
Advance Boat Launch Permit  $3.00
Advance Fishing Permit $1.00
Prices are subject to change at anytime.  

Dogs must be kept on a leash at all times and at least 50 feet away from the water. Dogs are NOT allowed on boats.

From Interstate 8, take the Lake Jennings Park Road exit north, turn right on El Monte Road, and travel approximately 8 miles to the reservoir entrance.

Concession & Rentals
Open Friday-Sunday
6:00 am to 5:00 pm
Open February-May
(619) 443-4110

Operating Schedule
El Capitan is open on its summer schedule (May - Oct) one half hour before sunrise to sunset:

Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun - open for fishing, general boating and water contact (waterskiing, jetskiing, wakeboarding, etc.)

Monday open for fishing and general boating only (no towing).

Tues & Wed - closed

For more information, visit the City of San Diego's website.

For information on trails please check the San Dieguito River Park's website at sdrp.org

CA Fish & Game
Licenses Sold Here



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