Fishing Reports

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Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 01/18/20

Welcome to the first fly fishing report of the decade. This is the best time of year to tie flies, clean one’s fly fishing gear and plan future fishing trips. Very cold nights and below normal day time temperatures have kept the river and lakes pretty chilly. There was recent stocking at Bakersfield lakes a few days ago.  Section 4 got some trout around Kernville. Bait fisherman are doing well the first day of plants, but by the second day not a lot of trout making it to the net. Lethargic trout chilled by the cold river temperatures mean they stay in place and social media blasts assure harvesting them is quickly accomplished. Water temperature at the hatchery is just 37 degrees. It doesn’t have a lot of trout in the races and is still closed to the public and hoping to reopen by April. It will stock our county locations periodically but much lower pounds than later this spring.

The Kings River will not get large brood stock this winter as in years past, but should get hefty 3 pounders in late February. For now it is getting stocked weekly with lots of foot longs and the catching has been good but flows below Pine Flat reservoir are high for wading fly fishers at 500 cfs, however, flows have dropped to 350 cfs as I type - still very high for fly fishing.  Most waders prefer flows below 200 cfs.

Lake Buena Vista has had many lunkers landed to 7 pounds but we are unaware of any fly fishers doing well there.

Rainfall has been pretty low for January and snow packs are lower than normal. The low flow section on the Upper Kern is down to just 46 cfs. Above Fairview Dam on section 6 flows are 270 cfs and fairly clear but crossing the river is not recommended. If you fall in make sure you can get to warm clothes fast.

The snow pack for the Kern River drainage won’t be sampled until early February and preliminary estimates have it around 82% of normal for this time of year. There is little precipitation in the forecast for the remainder of January. The NOAA forecast for the next 3 months is not encouraging for California. These are the most important precipitation months of the year. Hopefully there will be a change, but healthy Kern River conditions from July to September are not likely with the current trend in place. The best places to plan for great fly fishing look to be Montana, Colorado and Northern Idaho this year.


A KRFF member came across an interesting article online from TFO that shows many manufacturers are purposely overweighting fly lines.

Give it a read here:

Conditions are very good on the Lower Owens. Pleasant temperatures and great flows around 150 cfs look to be good for the club outing later this month.

Remember to get your 2020 fishing license

Report steelhead Harvest by 1/31

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 12/03/19

It is great to see all of the moisture dropped on the Southern Sierra. We were far behind in rainfall and snowfall totals but now are in very good shape with another dumping on the way. While the precipitation is great, the colder weather has dropped water temperatures dramatically. In Kernville the Upper Kern is in the upper 30’s. The Upper Kern town locations got stocked before Turkey Day and the catching heated up but effective harvesting has put the bite down. Colder river temps are making trout lethargic. With temps well below 45 degrees stocking on the Upper Kern is likely over for a while.  See CDFW stocking water temperature protocol here   From the CDFW website, “This dynamic Fish Planting Schedule is updated in real time, directly by CDFW Hatchery staff. Although it contains current information, all fish plants are subject to change depending on road, water, weather and operational conditions”.
Catching did perk up at some of our Bakersfield Lakes the last week. On Thanksgiving Tuesday catching was on at Riverwalk , so it may have been planted even though not scheduled. More plants are scheduled for Bako lakes and the Lower Kern for December. So locally focused anglers should do well as long as you get there soon after the plant. In local lakes our experts tend to drag streamers sizes 10 to 12 the first 48 hours after the plant then as the trout begin to acclimate they take small midge nymphs around size 20 . Use a very small/light indicator and strike at the slightest movement.
Rainfall totals for Northern California are concerning and are predicted to be below average. At this writing Redding only has gotten one half of its normal rainfall total to date. Hopefully the trend will  reverse.
The Lower Kings trophies will be started later than expected  and the huge brooders of the last two years will not be part of the program. Instead there will be more super catchables planted in the 18” – 22” range. Hopefully they will start planting those early in January. We will pass along when the big shouldered trout are ready to planted. Members have helped in the past in the morning and then hook up in the afternoon. In the past the CDFW has planted brookies to 14” in January 2019 below Pine Flat Dam for a winter surprise. They have not determined if that will happen again this year for 2020. Stay tuned.

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 11/20/19

Rain finally got here and is much welcomed. This is one of the latest starts (3rd latest on record) to the rainy season ever in Kern County. That has kept the Upper Kern clear but will it mean a drought year for 2020? Good news on the potential wild fire front for sure.

We have seen much more planting in our Bako local lakes than previous years, however, the catching has been slower than usual for fly club members as well as bait anglers. Warmer lake temperatures are suspected. The Lower Kern has also been stocked, the water is cloudier than the upper, and wading more difficult in the higher river gradient. There are a few stocking locations that have some short runs that are wadeable but usually are heavily pressured. Easily finding a quite spot with numbers has always been difficult on the lower. The catching on the Upper Kern has been much better in some areas. Section 4 has been stocked regularly, especially between KR3 and Riverside Park in Kernville. Social media quickly announces when the stocking occurs and catching commences. While double digit numbers can be easily had by anglers timing their fishing within 48 hours of the stock. The caveat is you won’t be alone. The web connected quickly mass for the free food so the catching is great with a few super catchables reported to be sprinkled in with the foot longs. Get there early and camp on your spot strategically if this is your cup of tea.

Flows (50 cfs) are very low on section 5 below Fairview and there is lots of wadeable water there, however, the extremely low flows have given natural predators a distinct advantage over unwary rainbows. Not much stocking lately or scheduled the rest of 2019 for the stretch below Fairview Dam. So a lot of walking and boulder hopping are required to find some long term holdovers still surviving there. At this time water clarity on the Upper Kern has held up but the next 24 hours will tell. Snow levels down to 6,000’ and we need to start building the snow pack as we are well behind the normal trend. Section 6 above Fairview Dam has blanked most members for several weeks. It hasn’t been stocked much and flows still too high to traverse a lot of water. Water temps will drop substantially and that will put down the wild and long term holdovers, however, the recent planters on section 4 should still be eating as they are used to getting fed daily and will take a while to naturalize there feeding behavior. So expect more catching in and near Kernville to keep the locals happy for Turkey Day. If water clarity stays favorable, fly fishers could do well also near town.

The trophies are coming to the Lower Kings soon, details to be provided soon so stay tuned. Releases from Pine Flat Dam have dropped dramatically to under 400 cfs from 1,350 cfs just a while ago. Some of the trophies planted last winter are being caught and more to come soon. It is also getting typical planters weekly for quite some time. There is a long section below Alta Weir that is barbless, catch and release only and is often patrolled by stealthy CDFW wardens with binoculars to delay harvesting. Before you go any time soon check the flows on Mill Creek. Although a small creek, it can bring a lot of muddy water into the Lower Kings should this latest storm drive flows up over 50 cfs. See here

You can order your 2020 fishing license now online here

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 11/07/19

We are having an unusually warm and dry fall this year. It makes for great fishing, however, we really need rain. The threat of wild fires is still extreme as almost no precipitation has fallen in SoCal in months. Air quality in the SJV is very poor and people with allergies are wheezing and sneezing a lot. Not a problem up on the UK today!
These warmer temperatures help to keep river temps higher and trout more active. So while the warm weather is appreciated we are going to pay for it later if something does not change soon. The NOAA forecasts now predict warmer temps the next 3 months and average precipitation for SoCal and low precipitation probability for NorCal. This past wet year needs to be appreciated. The last 20 years we seem to have isolated sporadic great water years nestled within years of drought.  We will see.
NOAA 3 month forecast
Another healthy stocking of Bakersfield Lakes occurred Tuesday this week. Also a lot of stockers are going into the Lower Kern as well. Far fewer pounds are being place into the Upper Kern now. I have not found a pod of planters since August. These areas really must be getting harvested quickly or our timing has been bad.  Also the low flow section has been dropped to just 45 cfs. That’s nearly a trickle and natural predators are having easy pickings on trout that surface often and do not find good lies in deeper pools with cover. Water clarity is exceptional.  We tried above Fairview Dam where flows have dropped just below 300 cfs but we had no grabs on two spots where we could find slower water. Still very few spots where you can wade both sides of the river and the catching is poor up there. I haven’t heard of a club member all year doing well up there. We did enjoy the fall colors now nearing there prime
We had far more success on section 5. I landed 15 and my buddy landed 3. You really have to hunt for holding water. The stocking locations get picked clean quickly by harvesters, herons, and etc. Since August, I have not found a pod of rainbows stocked on the Upper Kern. Water temp was 48 degrees at 8:30 am and two degrees warmer late afternoon. That should prevail for the next week as cooler temperatures may not arrive until Turkey Day. That will keep trout active if you can find them. Most trout are now under 13” but I did manage a plump 17” in a bath tub lie. Very little surface action. I returned to some water that held nice trout two weeks ago and could not get a grab? So I fished a lot of water I have not tried in years again today. In many of those spots the runs have changed and finding trout lies were a fun problem solving adventure.
I pumped her stomach and found a lot of size 12 to 16 nymphs in her gullet. These are bigger than the last few weeks. However, my smaller #16 BH Flashback PT caught 70% of the trout I landed. The Arnerd was still hammered often as well. A double digit day is only possible for the most aggressive waders. I am beat and will sleep well tonight.

One concerning thing, there appear to be a lot of realtor “For Sale” signs sprouting in River Kern. Unsure if this is also occurring in Kernville and Lake Isabella, given the threat of power outages for years to come, probably has become the final straw for a lot of residents impacted by the emergency black outs. Lets hope a more practical solution is identified sooner than later.

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 10/25/19

Colder Upper Kern River water temperatures have been recorded in the 40’s on the 20 mile section last week. However, we got a few days of hot windy weather that threatens to shut off power to the Kern River Valley and spark wild fires (as I’m typing the I-5 in Castaic is shut down in both directions for a brush fire there). While our sympathies and concerns are extended to the unfortunate circumstances for many in SoCal, it does mean that there is a potential for more active trout and less fishing pressure on the Upper Kern. Yesterday the lakes in the Bako were stocked and social media quickly broadcast the news. So with the prospect of more angling people staying in the Bako and the warmer water up river , I thought it would be a good time to take advantage of the last best days of the year for catching on the Upper Kern.
I arrived on section 5 a little after 9:00 am and water temp was 53 degrees (flowing 90 cfs) and the forecast was to reach near 90 degrees in Kernville. I started to cover water and had a few tugs but did not land a trout until almost 10:30 am. It was a very healthy looking 17” rainbow that took a #16 BHFBPT. The BHFBPT seems to work at every western water I’ve fished this year. I kept plodding along and managed a landed trout every 1/2 hour or so.  I communicated with some other baiters, spinner, and fly fishers  an no one seemed to think the Upper got a fresh plant this week with the exception of Riverside Park in Kernville. I was expecting very little pressure given the aforementioned facts, but I saw the most amount of cars in the turnouts this year on a weekday.
Very little surface action with the cooler temps (except for some dinks). There are October Caddis hatching and the yellow leaves lining the river are nearing their prime. Trout are definitely fewer than my last trip. While I landed 13 today, I easily covered twice the amount of water and stretches as the last trip. Effectively, I landed 1/4 the trout for the same amount of effort and water covered 3 weeks ago. I moved fast and had to avoid a lot more bait and spinner fishers who have moved onto water that I only saw fly fishers on since August. I hope this isn’t  a trend, as it may explain the dramatic drop off in the catching per foot of river covered. Never the less , I did get on some water I haven’t fished in 5 years where I did find some solitude and was rewarded with several long term hold overs. The last rainbow landed wash a very strong 17”  white tipped buck. So I had 17” rainbow bookends to my day. Hard to beat that. Another observation that I made, the moss on the rocks is getting very slick. Be careful wading.

Going forward the first good freeze will arrive Sunday night with lows in the 30’s predicted in Kernville. That will drop river temps back solidly into the 40’s and expect fish to be less active and presentation will be critical as more dormant acting trout will not move readily to your flies. Sub surface nymphing will be your best tactic. The majority of the stocked trout will be going into water downstream of Lake Isabella and into Bakersfield Lakes. We have good news to report that the Mocassin Hatchery is nearly at full production and CDFW Region 4 is nearly back to planter production of 2 years ago and that is why we will see more regular planting near the Bako the next few months.     In addition the trophy trout program on the Lower Kings is going to happen again and likely will start just after Turkey Day – just a month away. Many of the KRFF help stock those brutes. Come join us and have a great time planting and catching afterward. If you want to learn more about the Kern River Fly Fishers and hear a great presentation on taking horse pack trips up into the Golden Trout Wilderness, join us at our next meeting at Coconut Joe’s Banquet Room November 6th at 7pm. No cost to come join us and check out our club. We love to meet you!

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 10/22/19

Ahhhhh the pleasantries of Fall are upon us. Much cooler temperatures in the Bako have arrived . The Kern River has not yet received any rainfall and hopefully it will sooner than later. A far lower snow pack is predicted this season than last year. We will update you as we get more definitive forecast data.  Trout can still be had for those willing to work. A lot of CDFW stocking has moved down stream below Kernville and Lake Isabella- even to Bakersfield lakes. They are hoping to get more trout into the higher flows of the Lower Kern as they can get more spread out and remain uncaught for longer periods of time. This gives more anglers a chance to catch before the stocking truck followers efficiently harvest. There is very good news for our local lakes. The first lake plants nearby are happening in October this year. On Thursday last week Lake Ming got the first load. For the first time in years we will see trout out at Riverwalk before Halloween this week. Local lakes will see a lot more plants and will resemble what we were used to seeing before extreme drought and the Moccasin Hatchery (All of CDFW Region 4 still being adversely affected)was severely flood damaged in 2018 . Power outages for wildfire season have not yet affected the hatchery but they have been on alert several times and there may be an outage later this week according to SoCal Edison. The hatchery is still closed to tours for the near term.
Back to the catching. Some nice hold overs are still around but total trout landed continues to drop off. Natural predation and harvesting are occurring faster than stocking can replenish on the Upper Kern. Flows are pretty stagnant with no rainfall yet. Section 5 is flowing very low (just 85 cfs) and deeper hiding water is becoming less abundant. Dries not getting as many grabs. Shallower water is giving herons a distinct advantage in spotting unwary planters. Section 6 is still not crossable and hasn’t been planted in over a month. Section 4 has been getting some trout mostly in Kernville proper. While the Lower Kern has been getting planted regularly no word on how the catching is there among club members. Most of us in the club don’t fly fish it ,as the water clarity is much poorer, flows much higher (+600 cfs), and wading and traversing the steeper river gradient and river banks require a youthful energy and good fitness to traverse.  Water temps have dropped into the mid 40’s on the Upper Kern and can bump the mid 50’s down on the lower stretches of section 5 in the afternoon. That means trout will be less active as we get further into Fall. We look forward to seeing a lot more local Bakersfield Lakes action for the next few months.

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 10/03/19

The big drop in SoCal temperatures made us curious as to what the catching was like. Often big temperature drops can lock up the trout for days. Today was not the case. This week sections 2,3 and 4 were to be stocked. We love section 5 to wade but flows have dropped down to just 86 cfs, above Fairview on section 6 flows are holding steady at 350 cfs. Still too high to cross.
We prefer to fly fish the Kern River above Lake Isabella as the wading is easier (much lower gradient) and the water much more clear for trout to see a fly. Below Lake Isabella the flows are +900 cfs and have dropped from 1,400 cfs a week ago as agricultural demand wanes.  The Kern River Hatchery has begun to stock that water earlier this year then in years past. Why? The higher flows can push freshly stocked trout  downstream and spread them out better. This helps avoid the rapid harvesting that occurs by the folks who follow the stocking truck around and post on social media soon after. It was a great strategy on section 5 this past summer. We will see how the Lower Kern unfolds this Fall.
We arrived on the river at 9 am. Water temp on the Upper Kern was 52 degrees and air temps in the low 60’s. Not wet wading weather for sure.  We geared up and also tried a new fly floatant that is much more wallet friendly than Gink or a facsimile.

It is called Albolene Moisturizing Cleanser. 

The fly fishing guides we used on the McKenzie River in Oregon swear by this product for their fly floatant. They have used for years. We used all day long for the best dry fly fishing I’ve experienced. I applied to my foam stone and it held up great and kept my fly buoyant. I would not use on tiny dries (under size 18) as I use silicone shakes for that. You can get a 3 ounce tube of Albolene for $6 here  You can buy a big 12 oz jar that will last a drift boat guide for years at CVS for $14, but I like the tube because I can easily squirt the floatant easily into an empty Gink bottle for on the river. It cost about one tenth the price of gink and should last the average fly fisher for years.

Back to the catching. Last week we tried as many spots as possible to located the super catchables planted on sections 4, 5 and 6 before the tourney with no big trout found. There were another 12 super catchables recently added by the hatchery, but finding those on miles of river would be extremely fortunate. We decided to try fewer stretches on sections 4 and 5. The catching was slow to start, but the harder you bush whacked the more holdovers you could find.  I managed to land the biggest bow this year that measured 19”. It took a #16 BHFBPT. A very strong hen, that required patience to land on four pound fluorocarbon Vanish (my favorite tippet). I pumped her stomach and a lot of moss came out? Also several larvae size #18-#20. We did see October caddis hatching and a lot of small midges today. All three of my staple flies did evenly well (#12 foam Stone yellow belly, #12 Arnerd, and #16 BHFBPT.
There is a lot more moss in the river, especially on section 5 where water temps exceeded 70 degrees the last month of summer. This moss had larvae strewn in it. Did this lunker consume the moss to get at the aquatics insects or just dive into the moss containing larvae trying to evade landing? Who knows?
I had a lot of action on the the foam stone after 10:30 am and landed 3 over 15” and others on it.


We spent time on section 4 and 5 until 2 pm. We found streamers working better after noon and I landed half a dozen pulling a #10 olive crystal bugger under a very fast sink tip. The dry droppers were refused even with lots of surface feeding observed. Finally tally was 22 to the net in 5 hours. About 4/hr. Few recent stockers landed. Nearly all were chunky holdovers. Water temp was still 52 degrees and gin clear at the finish. I would have liked to stay longer but was just wiped out from all of the bush whacking and wading. Glad we did not wet wade as that option is gone for us this year.   Lots of grabs at the tail outs with cooler water, now trout don’t have to hang near the aeration.   No controlled burn smoke to deal with this week and that was much appreciated.

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 09/26/19

Finally had a chance to get up on the Upper Kern since the big stock last week. We targeted areas that were stocked last week to see if any of the super catchables under 3 pounds were still around to play. We checked out 9 different spots on Sections 4,5, and 6. We started around 8:30 am and noticed a hint of smoke in the air. Water temp 60 degrees on section 4 and air temp 72 degrees. We decided to wet wade, as temps into the lower 90’s were forecasted. We searched and searched but did not locate pods of newly planted trout. We did hook and land 18 trout over the course of the day. Trout were found but not concentrated. Few appeared to be recent stockers. It appears most of the big boys have already been harvested? We saw many more fishers on the river mid week than previous weeks. No catching by others observed, both fly fishers and bait/spin fishers.
It appears harvesting has been more efficient than usual. In the past ,after a good stocking, you can usually locate small pods of planters a week later where you can take + -5 trout in half an hour in a small area once you find it. Nothing like that found today after quite a bit of searching. However, with a lot of aggressive wading, solitary trout can be found. Lots of action on the yellow bellied foam stonefly #12, but most trout landed on #12 Arnerd and #16 BHFBPT. A couple of grabs on tugged streamers but nothing landed. Total trout hooked around 30 I’d guess. Doubt stocking occurred this week yet but can’t verify. A great day to be on the water. Probably the last days of wet wading for me.
At the end of our trip it was very smoky up on Section 6 and river temps hit 62 degrees. No crossable water up there yet so that limits your the ability to reach holdovers. Nothing landed up there. We left  a bit early as the smoke appeared to come from the western peaks. We are not aware of a new fire yet but as we drove home around Lake Isabella it was obvious the smoke was coming from the western slopes. No new incident fire is shown between Porterville and Kernville? But a satellite smoke web site definitely is showing thick smoke. Don’t know what to make of it??? Check before you head out this weekend.

(webmasters note: There is a large (1000 acres or so) controlled burn in Tulare County being handled by CalFire.  This is to burn off excessive and non-native grasses and brush.  The weather pattern is pushing the smoke up into the Lake Isabella area.  Rich was advised late last night.)
Hatchery update: not a lot to report. We can’t verify if more super catchables are coming soon. There is one race with trout stored at the Kern River Hatchery Smile  . One race can be sustained by the 5 on site well system, so our guess is that the siphon is still down. There is an uptick this year in total pounds to be raised for the next year at 61,000 lbs. The Moccasin Hatchery is slowly ramping up production and this is the first time in years the Kern River Hatchery should actually increase pounds planted  baring any unforeseen issues, That’s around 20% more than last year. A good thing but far below 2006 peak planting.  Unfortunately, the Kern River Rainbow Program will be pushed back another year when another attempt to source brood stock may occur.

Hatchery Report - Rich Arner - 09/24/19

The catching up on the Kern River really has been a roller coaster. Back in mid-August is was prime time on the Upper Kern as the river was stocked for months while flows were too high for effective harvesting. Trout were swept downstream from stocking sites before they could be harvested. Then flows on Section 5 became crossable and holding water was abundant. For those who can wade aggressively, the catching was the best of the year. Catching five trout/hr was the norm for three weeks.  Flows on Section 6 and 4 remained uncrossable through September, however, the cemetery stretch had a few super catchables (under 3 lb) survive a few weeks from the July hatchery evacuation. The hatchery remained dry because power could be cut by the utilities at any time to avoid potential wild fire issues. As I am typing, utilities across the state are issuing warnings to many residents in fire prone areas that may experience power outages for days until the fire risks dissipate. So it would seem the Kern River hatchery will remain dry a while longer until wild fire hazards subside? Hope to verify soon.

Just about Labor Day the catching dropped off dramatically as a result of harvesting and the very hot weather that raised water temps into the 70’s, particularly on section 5. That makes the bigger trout lethargic and increases all sorts of physiological issues for trout. For those that are catch and release fly fishers, we avoid fishing water as it nears 70 degrees to avoid lethally stressing rainbow trout. In some waters in Montana officials close the rivers to all fishing once temps routinely hit 65 degrees. On the McKenzie River in Oregon, where we just fished, guides don’t take clients on that river when temps hit 65 degrees as well. A self preservation philosophy that sustains a healthy wild trout population that we enjoyed thoroughly last week.

Back to the Kern River. Just as many of us thought the Kern River had moved way past its peak, we got a wonderful gift. The San Joaquin Hatchery provided dozens of super catchable trout and lots of other smaller trout last week. Just in time for the big tournament in Kernville 9/21. It sounds like everyone caught trout and many super catchables up to 25.5”. The total count for about 75 fly fishers was 421 trout caught. Trout of any size counted to help people score, because the catching dropped off after sterile trout and extended drought became the norm years ago. If you do the math the average fisher caught about 6 trout in +6 hours or so. That’s one trout per hour. Not bad, as 15 years ago that was the typical catch rate for most when over 360,000 trout were planted each year out of the Kern River Hatchery. This past year the total trout planted was around 25% of that (the Moccasin hatchery flood damage last year is still negatively affecting planting for our CFDW Region 4).

No word yet if more super catchables will make it to the Kern River from the San Joaquin Hatchery. We should have an update on our website later this week.

A word of caution. While the most wadeable water, section 5, has been stable at about 115 cfs, it has bumped up dramatically without warning recently (see 9/13/19 report). It could more than double if water is not diverted for power. If you notice a flow surge or the water becoming stained, get back to the road side fast. It could be quite an adventure to get back to your vehicle as flows reach +350 cfs.

Hatchery Report - Rich Arner - 09/17/19

Good news, there appears to be planting scheduled for September. There is a planting scheduled for this week on sections 3,4,6. Temps are cooler so river temps should be fine this week. The usual patterns are productive.  Flash back pheasant tails, copper johns, hares ears, princes.... all bead heads set at least 36” below a hopper our stimulator with yellow bellies.  Nymphs sizes 12 to 18 and dries 12 to 16. Correct presentation is key, matching the hatch not as important. Remember to move your planted catches to holding water in concealed spots if possible or just toss them across the river to give them a chance to last a couple of weekends.  Be prepared to cover a lot of water to find where the trout are.

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 09/13/19

Happy Friday the 13th. Once again a heat wave is present in the Kern River Valley and much of California. There was a short window where temps dropped and cooler river temps existed. However, the catch rates continue to fall post melt as more harvesting continues and less stocking is being done. The Kern River has not been stocked for 2 weeks and is not scheduled at this time for September according to the CDFW planting web site. We hope to report on what has transpired to affect this soon.
Flows above Fairview Dam on Section 6 and below on section 4 continue to slowly fall making wading a bit more easy, but crossing the river up there is still not recommended for safety reasons. There have been surges resulting from thunder showers and more are forecasted for the High Sierra during this current heat wave.  In addition, on section 5 flows have been up and down (see gold line) likely for maintenance by SoCal Edison. While Section 5 can be very easy to wade under 150 cfs, you can see the flows were raised  above 400 cfs without warning recently. So always keep a watch on conditions while fishing section 5 this time of year as most (but the most aggressive waders) can’t cross at 400 cfs. For me the river temps are just too high on section 5 to consider fishing until we return to the 80’s again later next week.

Conclusion, expect the catching to fall quickly with the lack of stocking and the lower flows giving natural predators an advantage. Also, for the first time ever,  specific trout holding locations are now being sold online to both bait and catch and release fishers. This will make it easier to harvest what remains until stocking resumes. We will pass along when and if that occurs.
Safety Alert: This year we have a bumper crop of 17 Harmful Algal Booms (HAB’s) in California Fresh Waters as of August 2019! The water, shellfish, and fish contaminated with these algal blooms can be extremely harmful and even lethal to us and our animals.  Some of these waters are in your favorite destinations. HAB’s are currently present in Lake Isabella and trout migrating to the North Fork Kern River inlet near the cemetery could have been exposed. For more information you can check these web pages.
California HAB portal
California HAB Map of affected waters
Lake Isabella Kern County Health Department HAB hazard map (several DANGER level locations identified this week)
Please pass along to your trout consuming friends or those that take pets to the lake.
We  have noticed a dramatic increase in looks to our fishing reports web page the last few weeks. We are glad to have you check out our data based fishing reports. Also, we’d be glad to have you check out our club as well. We are especially involved with teaching people new to fly fishing and have the best mentorship program of any fly fishing club we know of. We also have one of the most involved clubs in the western U.S. and our members come from all walks of life and you will find us Bakersfield salt of the earth friendly. Our next meeting is October 2nd at Coconut Joe’s Banquet Room 4000 Easton Drive. Doors open at 6:30 pm and the meeting starts at 7:00 pm. Feel free to check us out and meet some of the 60 men and women fly fishers we typically have at our meetings. You will also be treated to a great program on the best fly fishing in Northern California.

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 08/29/19

Triple digits have been seen in the Bako and up in Kernville recently. So we have stayed off the Upper Kern as the inflows above Fairview Dam have dropped down to below 400 cfs. This is good and bad. It makes more holding water  on Section 6 but raises river temps all the way to Lake Isabella. With cooler weather predicted today, we decided to try the lower half of Section 5, even though it has not received much stocking the last month. Water temps were 65 degrees at 8 am. Far fewer grabs were experienced today with just 5 trout landed in 4 hours of aggressive wading and bushwhacking in the morning. Far fewer grabs than last week as well and few fish sighted along stretched that held a lot of long term holdovers last week. The trout that were hungry did bump the yellow bellied #12 foam stonefly. All 5 landed were 14” to 17” but noticeably leaner this week. River was 70 degrees a noon and air temp 97. Whew, I drank a lot of water.  It is clear harvesting and river temps over 70 degrees on this stretch have dramatically reduced the population of holdovers and the best catching of the year is now behind us. Precise trout holding locations are now being sold online to potentially hundreds of fly and bait anglers which clearly is having an impact as well. If that information is indeed accurate, it most certainly will accelerate harvesting over previous years.
After lunch we made for the upper end of the low flow section and recorded 67 degrees at 1 pm. We decided to try for an hour to get a sense of how many trout were still around to play where river temps were a bit cooler. Again most takes were on the dry foam stonefly and 5 trout were landed and released quickly to give them the best chance of recovery. No stomach pumping or photos taken today, making sure to return the trout back to the river ASAP. Up here the trout were clean and lean but all under 14”. Perhaps some were wild?
So for Labor Day it will likely be tough on rainbows as flows are dropping steadily and near triple digits are predicted through the weekend for Kernville. Consider letting the trout alone. Some conscientious fly fishers even break the tip off the fly and just go for the strike. I won’t be back until air temps in Kernville are in the low 90’s two weeks from now.   We noticed a lot more algae growing in the river and landed several small pike minnows that are replacing trout as the squawfish do much better in warmer water. We did see a lot of stonefly shucks everywhere we fished today.

The Lake Isabella Dam construction has made significant progress, but is still years from completion.


Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 08/20/19

I epoxied my tip top back on my 10’ 5wt Sage One and the weather got cooler, so why not get on the Upper Kern while the getting is good? I arrived on a stretch on section 5  and water was 62 degrees at 8:30 am.  I waded by some idle bait fishers staring at their rigs. They hadn’t had any luck, but the did cheer as they watched me pluck six pristine bows below and above them. These long term holdovers I’m catching may not be interested in bait???? Perhaps they have become wild in the last few months? The boys did move onto the same water I just had released trout to  but didn’t appear to have any luck. Some had surf type gear? Usually after hooking and releasing Kern Trout, I rarely see others come behind and get a trout to bite shortly after they have been snagged on a fly. I hope the harvesters don’t return tomorrow. I kept moving out of sight and I continued to do well and landed 10 in the first 2 hours. Missing quite few that spit the hook and leaped a lot. For the first time in 3 weeks I finally caught a trout with hatchery scarring. However, the fins seemed to have healed over with a lot of scar tissue, I don’t remember seeing before. Otherwise the trout was plump and spunky.
I decided to try out some water I haven’t fished in 5 years because it had blanked me so much during the extended drought. It came up big. Landed 7 and had several 16”- 18” that exploded on the Hills #12 foam golden stone point fly. Unfortunately, Hill’s no longer carries these, but here is where you can get a very close pattern for around a buck (yellow belly is critical)  I had a lot of whacks and hook ups and a lot of trout that pulled my flies after running down stream. Easily lost over 30 in the last 3 hours. The Fly  Stop has great deals on flies and ships fast. Bead Head Flashback Pheasant Tails size #16 (a go to on many western trout rivers)

I moved up to the upstream stretch of section 5 until 3:00 pm and water temp was 63 degrees and air temp 97.  Hooked a lot of nice trout but only landed one. Lots of acrobatics and trout much more active than last week when river temps hit extreme levels. More trout have moved into areas with aeration as they need more oxygen added to the water when it warms up. Trout still hang in those areas after river temps come back to good levels. Keep a thermometer with you in August and September as temps near 100 degrees and flows above Fairview Dam continue to slowly fall. Keep an eye on the river should flows come up dramatically due to maintenance or upstream T storms, get on the road side quickly . On Friday temps on the lower half of section 5 hit 72 degrees at 7 pm as recorded by a club member. Just because the sun is low doesn’t mean river temps are low as well. A heat up is on the way this weekend again. Not many tubers today , but saw my first skinny dipper today washing her hair (a very seasoned citizen), I even found a +$1,000 drone that had washed up on the river bank. You find a lot of interesting stuff post melt if you aggressively wade and bushwhack as much as I do.

Hatchery update: it continues to be dry. Unfortunately, the attempt to source Kern River Rainbow Trout last week was called off after two days. Not sure what happened. Hope to update you as information comes in. A second attempt may happen this year?
I have been wet wading and really like these Columbia wading pants. Just $33 shipped. They are very durable and dry fast with mesh liner and one zipper pocket for your driver’s license and credit card.
On a sad note two more gentleman went into the Kern River (Keysville stretch again) and didn’t come out Saturday. An 11 year old girl remains missing from June. Even though the Lower Kern flows have dropped to below 2,000 cfs, these flows are deadly for those that enter the river. If a shark had killed 6 swimmers at Santa Monica Beach it would be closed without issue, why shouldn’t we shut down the Keysville Kern River  stretch to all wading and swimming?   Hard to understand.
Story here

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 08/16/19

Flows really have dropped down in just 8 days on Section 5 , the low flow section, I finally got a day I could get away to fish. I was looking forward to getting on a lot more water this week as flows dropped from 400 cfs last week to just 150 cfs today. There were a lot more vehicles parked along the road. I really wanted to check out the same water I fished last week to assess how much harvesting has occurred. Typically 2 or 3 weeks after flows drop down on the low flow section most trout are harvested. I did well today, however, the same water that was productive last week yielded only one quarter of the hook ups I had this week. A lot more water was accessible this week and softer pocket water is now abundant. I did find many clean trout again to the net, but had to work hard and move over twice the water I covered last week.
I started at 8 am and water temps were 64 degrees and air temps around 80 degrees on their way to 103 degrees by 2 pm. The first hole I casted to I landed a pristine 16” bow on the #12 RHBH Arnerd. Much easier wading but only landed 2 more over the next 1.5 hours after covering a lot of water. I moved on to another stretch and found trout willing again in areas I couldn’t reach last week. Had to aggressively wade over a half mile stretch or more. Picked up 13 in about 3 hours most 14” – 16”. Very little surface action. I did pump a stomach again and the same small may fly nymphs were extracted. All smaller than size 20. My #12 Arnerd and #18 BHFBPT netted a lot of trout, so as usual, matching the hatch not required. Keep them deep over 3’ below the indicator. Unfortunately, at noon I did another water temp check and I recorded 68.5 degrees. This was on the lower half of section 5 so I went up stream to see how warm the water was getting up there. On the upper half I recorded 66 degrees at 1 pm. Trout were still active and disbursed but pressure was much more present as the weekend crowd had most of the turnouts occupied. Also the tubers were every where after noon and put trout down on every spot I fished. I had to quit around 2pm as my rod tip popped off when I was trying to break off some flies that found a high up tree limb. Thankfully, it looks to be very repairable.

A pretty good day. Landed 17 to the net. Most of them +14” with the largest 17”.  All pristine this week  and last week with , amazingly, no recent stockers hooked of the 33 total landed over my last two short trips. These are all clearly long term holdovers as most of Section 5 was void of wilds above 8 inches last Fall because of a very hot summer water and reduced stocking in 2018.  I don’t think section 5 has gotten any trout planted for weeks based on the trout I hooked and the lack of success that bait anglers told me. Landed one nice 12” brownie. It was very hot and I drank a gallon of water I’d guess. Can’t imagine camping in this kind of heat? Make sure you bring a thermometer with you as river temps will increase every day as flows continue to drop and an extended heat wave is coming again. Flows above Fairview Dam are at 700 cfs and leveling off. These flows are tough to wade and I don’t even bother on section 6 as pocket water and slower holding water is hard to find if not occupied. At 700 cfs the flows may keep water temps below 70 degrees on section five which is holding steady around 150 cfs... for now?  Wet wading was refreshing but that long walk to the car got pretty hot!


I was in Oregon a couple of weeks ago and most guides there  avoid any water that hits 65 degrees any time of the day. Not a bad practice and that makes for much better sustainable wild trout population. Maybe some day on the Upper Kern we might implement such regulations but for now the CDFW and others will treat the Upper Kern like a put and take fishery. More like farming, as our regional CDFW biologist describes, where a crop is planted and to be nearly completely harvested during the tourist season. As you all know the take limits have not changed even though the pounds stocked are ONE THIRD of what they were 15 years ago. Not to mention not fertile either. The means fish hard while fishing is good . No T storms in the High Sierra lately but keep an eye on weather forecasts if you plan to come up.
The Kern River Rainbow Trout brood stock were supposed to be collected yesterday and transported to the San Joaquin Hatchery. No word on how successful the collecting was. The Kern River hatchery continues to be dry and likely through the end of fire season (October?)
Stay tuned for next week’s report.

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 08/08/19

Flows on the Upper Kern have trended toward a sweet spot we have been waiting on for months. In the past when flows dip below 1,000 cfs at Kernville after the run off, the best catching of the year happens. For the past several months the river was stocked at high flows that washed stockers down river and prevents stocking truck followers from harvesting most trout soon after they are placed in the Upper Kern. Hence, that is why the CDFW calls the Kern River a put and take fishery. With air temps finally dropping below triple digits I decided to head up on Section 5 where flows are nearing wadeable levels for the first time this year after the huge snow pack. If you recall my prediction model back on May 24th, it pointed to August 11 as the first date the Upper Kern could be fished optimally.


I drove by the Kern River hatchery around 8:30 am and saw that it is still dewatered and it has been closed to the public for a while. Why? More on that later. I decided to enter the river at the first point I did not see vehicles. The UK is running a bit higher than I like. Pocket waters that hold trout are still few. It took great effort and skill to circumvent the river to trout holding spots. I was rewarded with some the best looking rainbows I can remember. Wish I had brought my camera with me. I landed 6 rainbows 14” – 17” in the first hour and missed several others. In these flows, if you hook a trout on a #16 BH flashback pheasant Tail and they go downstream they are extremely hard to land. Because the river is flowing so strong you can’t horse them upstream and wading fast downstream guarantees you will slip into the river. So I ripped a lot of lips. I use 4 lb Berkeley Vanish Fluorocarbon as tippet and never broke off a fly all day.  The bows I landed were pristine, white tipped and vibrant red banded. I pumped a few stomachs and they were eating #18 – #22 mayfly nymphs and ants. Nothing large in their bellies, but they did devour my #12 red hooked  Arnerd and #16 BHFBPT hung deep below my Hills’ foam Stonefly #12. My bottom fly was 50” below the point dry fly and that is a good foot deeper than I normally fish. These high flows require it. Weighted nymphs are required to get deep and stay deep. Water temp was 62 degrees at 9 am and rose only 1 degree at 1 pm near when I quit. I stopped at 4 locations and spent quite a bit of time bush wacking and aggressively wading. Every trout I landed was near pristine. I doubt they were wild though for several reasons I don’t have the time /space to elaborate. The trout I landed very likely were planted between March and June and have had time to recover from hatchery rash, flattened noses and grow an inch or three since they left the hatchery. Wish I had a camera.


I did manage to get 3 spunky bows that slammed the dry and all on the second or third whack (never the first). No double hooks ups this year on the first post run off trout rodeo.  All big trout grabbed the weighted #12 Arnerd.  I landed 16 in 4 hours but easily hooked and lost that many as well. Takes on nymphs were subtle and you must be ready to set quickly with flies so far below your indicator fly. Typically in years where the hatchery stocked ++100,000 pounds annually I could expect to land +10 trout/hr just after the run off dropped below 1,000 cfs at Kernville. So predictably with total pounds likely below 50,000 this year I would have predicted < 5 trout/hr.   With flows flattened just above 1,000 cfs at Kernville and just below 400 cfs below Fairview Dam conditions are still trying for most fly fishers, but the most strong/aggressive waders can find trout.  I have to say flows 100 cfs lower would open a lot more quality water. Will flows drop this weekend with a nice low pressure system to arrive soon? If so there may be a lot of happy fly fishers at our Kern River Fly Fishers club mentorship outing this weekend. You can’t find better experts to wade beside to show you how to catch on general patterns many of you have in your fly boxes. Presentation and location is the key, matching the hatch not so much.
The hatchery is down for a while but don’t fret. While the Kern River Hatchery is dewatered, things are happening. It will likely be dewatered as long as we are in fire season and there is very high fire potential at this time. As long as California utilities have to cut power at any time when the winds pick up in fire prone wilderness areas, there is no guarantee for power. So they will perform maintenance while the hatchery is dry.
The Kern River Rainbow Trout brood stock are going to be finally acquired August 15th, but they will be taken to the San Joaquin Hatchery. It is there that they will be bred and the progeny will be moved to the Kern River Hatchery  (still a planting base it would seem) at a later date when power outages due to fire prevention measures are not a concern. Probably November? The KRRT program will be still directed by the Kern River Hatchery Manager – a good thing.  Until funds for a back up generator for the siphon are procured and it is installed, the Kern River hatchery can’t keep the brood stock. That also means the trophy trout program there is on hold for the foreseeable future. In the mean time the Kern River is being stocked directly with San Joaquin Hatchery trout . For now it can be accomplished, but you can imagine how time consuming it is. The hatchery must drive north of Fresno and get back to the Upper Kern and plant trout the same day. It makes for long days, OT pay, and if river temps rise along with the long valley commutes in 100 degree weather, trout can be near lethal exhaustion by the time they are placed in the river. Their mortality could become an issue if river temps near 70 degrees. For now that is not a concern but September could be another story as the snow melt completely ends. It is great to see the KRRT program is going finally get underway, even if it will be years before we see significant numbers of catchable Kern River Rainbows in out namesake river.
Sections 4 and 6 will be stocked this week and that may keep the pressure off of Section 5. I saw two float tubers, for the first time I can recall, camped on the cemetery stretch which has become a favorite place to hook newly planted stockers lately.   If you go out on section 5 remember that if there are any issues at the KR3 power plant, up to an additional 600 cfs can be directed below Fairview Dam. If you are on the wrong side of the Upper Kern River you will only have a minute or less to get back on the road side before uncrossable flows end your fishing and may make for a very long walk to a safe crossing! Be aware if you see flows kicking up and they usually are accompanied with diminishing water clarity as the surge picks up sediment. Tight lines and look for an update next week. Make sure you have a sturdy wading staff and be safe.

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 07/19/19

Sadly the Kern River still is very high and dangerous. Most of the drowned bodies of those who perished have been recovered with the exception of the 11 year old girl who slipped off a rock and went in near Keysville. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims’ loved ones.
The river is coming down slowly, but wadeable conditions on section 5 are weeks away before flows below 400 cfs will be seen there. It is doubtful that Kern River Section 6 and waters above Fairview Dam will see crossable flows the remainder of 2019. For now please stay out to stay alive. Hopefully, there will be no more drowning victims in 2019.
Article here
Some very nice trout and footlongs were planted in section 4 this week. Many bait anglers, not wading, have done great by tossing weighted lines to deep lies where trout can hold. All of the approximate 250 super catchable rainbows (less than 19” and greater than 12”) at the Kern River hatchery and footlongs had to be planted  before a power outage occurred. This is part of the reality of the new policy implemented by all California power companies. In areas where electrical lines and equipment traverse the forest and dry, hot and windy conditions are predicted; the utilities must shut power off to all local users before the winds arrive. Without power the trout at the hatchery cannot survive long because the siphon is not operable and the 5 wells only supply 4% of what the whole hatchery needs to operate. So the decision was made to evacuate the hatchery’s trout while manpower was available and trout were not in a stressed state. It makes good sense, but none of those bigger trout will be planted when fly fishing wading conditions are safe later this year.  Thinking longer term, funds need to be acquired to buy and install a back up generator to operate the siphon, when these inevitable power shut downs will be occurring with regularity.
At this time they are removing a lot of sediment that has accumulated in the hatchery in the inflow ditch and raceways. The hatchery is looking for volunteers to help shovel it out while the hatchery is dry. The hatchery people are hoping that it can be cleaned out and up and running again to receive San Juan Hatchery footlongs again in another few weeks. That could mean a restart of the trophy trout program but will take over a year to bulk up footlongs to trophy status (> 3 lb). If you can help with the clean up you just need to bring a shovel and boots – give the hatchery a ring at 760-376-2846 .


Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 07/05/19

Conditions on the Upper and Lower Kern River continue to be much worse than tough, they are dangerous. The unseasonably cooler weather for the July 4th week caused Upper Kern River flows to recede to the 3,000 cfs from the peak at 7,000 cfs. Also the Lower Kern dropped from the 5,000’s to the 3,000’s as releases were dropped from Lake Isabella. Unfortunately people are still entering the river and not coming out. The Bakersfield Californian reports that just yesterday one woman drowned (pulled out at Rabbit Island ) and two men are missing (Granite Point and behind Lake Ming) and presumed drowned. Previously in June six  people went missing in the Kern River in both Kern and Tulare County stretches. Even with plenty of local TV news time being devoted to keeping people out of the river prior to the 4th, people still are going into a dangerous river. One 11 year old girl drowned when she slipped into the river while standing next to it , having no intention to enter it. Often after long periods of high run off river banks are eroded and slough into the river and polished river rocks are slippery. For these reasons we don’t even advise anglers to fish the river from the banks. Our prediction that flows will remain hazardous until mid-August appears to be spot on. We just don’t see flows trending below 400 cfs on Section 5 (low flow stretch) until the kids go back to school in the Bako around 8/13.   Sadly we are on track to have more than 10 people drowned in the Kern River again. +100 degree days are coming back soon, flows will climb once again, but will not test the 7,000 cfs level again. Please be wise and stay out and stay alive.
The best places to fish are lakes. We just had several folks return from Lake Almanor for the famous Hexagenia Hatch that was prolific, but trout were hard to find (both bait and fly anglers that fished around us), however, several large smallmouth were landed to 20”. We were much more successful with rainbows landed by every one at Lassen Meadows Lake. We have a Lake Crowley outing coming up where the catching is red hot right now. Also alpine streams are a safe bet to land spunky goldens, bows, and etc. at high elevations. Sherman Pass road was finally plowed opened June 24th. No reports of catching by club members on Lake Isabella that is now 61% of capacity. It has been over a decade since it was this full.
Back to the future at the hatchery. We were honored to have the new hatchery manager, Tony Holland,  speak to our club Wednesday. They have been busy getting the hatchery ready for the arrival of the Kern River Rainbow brooders to arrive in August. The Kern River Planting Base will finally become a true  hatchery for the first time in years by raising trout from eggs. In the 70’s production peaked at over 1,000,000 rainbows per year (Kern Valley Sun article) and has been declining since. In the last 13 years annual production has dropped from around 185,000 pounds to under 45,000 pounds last reported a couple of years ago. This year should be up a bit even with the issues at the Moccasin Hatchery. Tony tells us the new hatchery modifications will give it a 125,000 pound potential capacity at full production. However, it won’t be reached anywhere near that for years. It takes 600 –800 days to raise catchable trout (footlongs). The fully operating hatchery requires between 23 –26 cfs of COOL water. The size, engineering and condition of the siphon that conveys water to the hatchery is worth a future article.  The combined output of the five fresh water wells at the hatchery provide just 1 cfs. Recent low snow pack years regularly result in river temperatures above 75 degrees which would kill hatchery trout. So you can see that Plan B, C, and D for the brood stock and hatchery raised Kern River Rainbows is a priority.  The self contained Aquaculture room with filter and chiller, has the ability to hold 50 brood stock indefinitely, however, these systems have been very temperamental at other CDFW hatcheries and not reliably robust. Perhaps our local system with be less temperamental? KRRT , spawned in Kernville, will also be transported to and raised at the San Joaquin Hatchery. In addition, KRR  will be planted in isolated high elevation streams  to provide a supply of KRRT should the Kern River facility experience the inevitable lethal water temperature we see every other year it seems.
Raising the Kern River Rainbow Trout requires far more complexity than any of us would have guessed.  Three different streams in the Golden Trout Wilderness will be used to get the brood stock next month. Each fish will be tagged, named,  and evaluated genetically  to minimize cross breeding with other genetically similar rainbows – same with spawning's of future years. These wild brooder KRRT likely won’t eat the standard fish food pellets so bug zappers paced over the brooder tanks is a likely solution. A brooder likely will remain fertile and robust for about four years then another brood population will need to be sourced.
There are still a lot of challenges and learning's to be made going forward. Some members have been following this program for well over 3 decades. Our club  helped source KRRT brooder harvests only to see them die off when the siphon silted up or lethal river temperatures  killed off the brood stock and their offspring.  This time things look much more promising as Tony is equipped, experienced, committed and knowledgeable to make the KRRT a reality. It will take time for large numbers of catchable KRRT to appear in our namesake river. Even so, we all can’t wait for these fertile native trout to repopulate a very lean wild trout population on the 20 mile put and take fishery of the Upper Kern River.
Recent planting has been behind the curve as staffing issues have reduced stocking. Staffing has just been sourced to cover vacations and other issues. Trout have been concentrated into sections 4 and 5. We have not recommended fishing in or near the river during these dangerously high flows, but these high flows surely have disbursed trout all over the river system before they can be harvested by the stocking truck groupies. This should make for good catching later in August when things calm down and serene pocket water emerges again. 

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 05/24/19

Catching has really been a challenge the last weeks nearly every where in Kern County. This is driven by the unseasonably cold weather dropping to as much as 20 degrees below normal for late May. The extra precipitation is welcomed and  has actually bumped the snow pack up a bit and will likely delay the prime catching another 2 weeks on the Upper Kern. More on that later.

The crappie bite has been dramatically slowed with the cooler weather at Lake Isabella. Could it rebound when temps normalize? Who is to say? The carp bite for fly fishers has been challenging with rising lake levels moving those finicky feeders into different holding water. There was some success for some fishers at Carpfest but the carp are pretty small. The largest landed was  just 19” which was  much smaller than last year’s best even with a lot of carp fly fishing experts stalking their quarry.  How high will Lake Isabella be allowed to rise? At this time we are at 60% capacity which at last check is the maximum limit until the Lake Isabella repairs are completed years from now.   With the recent bump in snow pack that means a huge inflow is about to happen when we hit +90 degrees soon. That could mean huge flows must be released into the canyon above the Bako. Time will tell but the water master has a very challenging job ahead of him over the next month.

Upper Kern flows have dropped but that will only be very temporary and short lived.  Expect the current dangerous conditions on both the Upper and Lower Kern to get much worse very soon. Time to tie some more flies and work on your casting.
Many people have been asking me when will the Kern River be in good shape to catch rainbows again? I’ve done some data crunching and came up with a tool you can use to predict when the best catching of the year will return. The best catching has always been when the river drops below 1,000 cfs at Kernville and they are taking 600 cfs out from the Fairview Dam diversion for KR3 power generation. That puts 400 cfs on the low flow section below Fairview Dam down to the KR3 Powerhouse which is about 11 miles of water to scout. This is the first time you can cross the river (choose your spots carefully) to cover a lot of water. The CDFW has continued to stock during this high flow time and will continue to do so. Many people have been complaining that it doesn’t make sense to plant when the river is dangerous and the planters are swept away in the strong current. I beg to differ as that means planters have a much better chance to be disbursed through out the whole river system and keeps the stocking truck followers from making a quick harvest. With the severe reduction of planting for 2019 until late 2020 (down 57% from 2017 levels)in Region 4 this year because of the Moccasin Hatchery closure last year it is a much better strategy to get trout spread around. If you happen to bump into hatchery personnel give them an “atta boy” on this strategy because that will make for much better catching later this year. When you say?
This year we have a 197% snow pack max’d out near April 1st. I put together a regression analysis to help you predict when the best catching will be on the Upper Kern. I used historical data for when the Upper Kern River dropped from peak levels back down to 1,000 cfs and how much the snow pack was for that year. This data is all online. The following chart can be used to predict the best catching any year we have snow packs at 50% and better.


The Y axis shows the number of days into the year the Upper Kern recedes to under 1,000 cfs and the X axis sows the April 1st snow pack for that year. Using the regression line it shows that in a year that we get a 197% snowpack (2019) we should expect the best catching to be on day 224 of the year or August 11th. Naturally changing weather conditions can move this date up or back but is a good estimate to plan your best chance at a successful fishing trip for the Upper Kern. Plan later than earlier what this graph shows - to be safe.  As always remember that 400 cfs is not ideal for wading and is reserved for the strongest waders and they may stop diverting flows for power generation at any time for maintenance issues and etc. If that happens get on the road side of the river ASAP. The best wading occurs below 200 cfs. Above Fairview Dam I don’t attempt to wade across the river unless flows are well under 200 cfs as the river gradient is much steeper making river flows faster and many fewer crossing places on that stretch.
Up at  the hatchery they are on track to harvest Kern River Rainbow brood stock in August. Let’s hope this is true. If so the first large quantities of fertile trout in over a decade may be planted in the Upper Kern by 2021. Come to our meeting July 3rd to hear more from the new hatchery manager. Stay tuned.....

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 04/26/19

Upper Kern (+4,000 cfs rising) and Lower Kern (-2,000 cfs dropping)  are very high making wading dangerous. It looks like the next time we will see safe wading and productive catching on the Upper Kern will be in late July similar to 2017 when flows dropped well below 1,000 cfs. The Lower and Upper Kern have been planted so fish should be scattered all over the river during the summer. A great snow pack is great for the rafting companies but will be deadly for swimmers and waders. The last time we had a big snow pack in 2017 sixteen people drowned in the Kern. Three of them had no intention of entering the river but went in when eroding river banks collapsed or slipped off of rocks. Just “stay out to stay alive” as Kern County Search and Rescue preaches. Fish the high meadows most of the summer and get into those spunky wild sub foot longs with short rods and short accurate casts. Make sure you are in good shape to handle altitudes well above 6,000 feet (roads closed above 7,000’, 9 ft of snow at Blackrock). Stealth is the key as trout hit any small dry that is presented softly. I find it a great way for a newbie to learn. You get to accurately sight cast, learn where trout lay, and get immediate feedback with landing or spooking fish. Stay low and keep that shadow off the water!


The Lake Isabella crappie bite kicked in with the recent seasonably high temperatures and anglers are doing best on the South Fork arm of the lake. Hard to hook carp are active but very few fly anglers have the skill to fool them. If you do they are a fun fight. The April trout derby results were good this year and a lot of trout were caught a couple of weeks ago with the top dog landing a 25 3/8” rainbow. The trout bite on the lake has dropped off after a super harvest compared to previous years.

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 04/05/19

The melt is on and another huge (197% of normal) Kern River snow pack means hazardous conditions for fly fishing for months to come. Two years ago with another huge snow pack over a dozen people lost their lives in the Kern River including three that had no intention of entering the water but slipped on rocks next to the river or were standing near the river when the eroding river bank collapsed into the river. Please encourage friends and family to stay out and stay alive. Rafting companies will be running trips all summer long and have the expertise and safety equipment to enjoy the river – after you sign the waiver.

April 1st is the day that snow pack levels are benchmarked. Here are the totals for some of our favorite drainages. See all here

KERN                           197%                                    

KINGS                          174%

TULE                            194%

OWENS                        168%

WALKER                      207%

TRUCKEE                     153%

SAN JOAQUIN              160%

SACRAMENTO             145%

TRINITY                        132%

When valley temps hit 80 degrees it is time to scalp off your winter rye and Kern flows ramp up. The Upper Kern went over 2,000 cfs this week and was blown out. The CDFW stocked sections 1 – 5 giving the Lower Kern the first planters in months. Unfortunately, Lake Isabella releases have ramped up (1,800 cfs and climbing) and most of the holding water will not be accessible for fly fishers for months. The good news is that trout will be planted over the next few months and most will not be caught before they are swept downstream. They will be disbursed over wide areas before they are harvested in short order when flows are low. When flows drop below 1,000 cfs in August that will be prime time.

The latest from the hatchery is encouraging. Currently total pounds to be stocked are still well below previous years because of the Moccasin Hatchery disaster last year. But the hatchery is holding trout in three races for the first time in months. They have been planting half pounders + - 12” and are holding one race of trout to beef them up as trophies that will take months to reach trophy size (over 3 lbs) Hope fully by the end of this season? The hatchery is open for visits 7 days a week. No Troutfest is planned by local personnel this year for the April trout opener.

A new state of the art water quality system is in place with a chiller that has a generator back up that can assure cold clean water for up to 50 brood stock Kern River Rainbows. In the past brood stock and all trout being reared were lost because of a multitude of failures that include high river temps in below average snow pack years, silted up siphon pipe, power failures, culvert leaks, and etc.   These issues still are not eliminated for the entire hatchery and will be a concern going forward. A huge investment will be required to replace the decades old siphon pipe that is beginning to fail. It is over 1,000’ long and on hot summer days can expand and contract over 6” which has stressed the steel pipe to the point of likely failure. There are 5 water wells that can be turned on during siphon failure but COMBINED only provide ¾ cfs. That is enough to keep one race cool in summer. Deciding which areas of the hatchery would be prioritized once the KRR project is up and running will be a challenge.

Future home for 50 brood stock Kern River Rainbows with chiller

The Kern River Rainbow project could be initiated late this summer with the acquisition of brood stock. Then each portion of the rearing process will need to be proven for this species. Raising KRR will require a learning curve and constant monitoring. Hatchery manager Tony seems very prepared and excited for the challenge. It will take years though before significant numbers of foot long KRR will be place in the Kern River. We desperately need fertile trout to be continuously placed into our favorite river for the first time in almost a decade given the tremendous fishing pressure it receives. When you view the hatchery all of the facilities on the south side of the property will be dedicated to KRR including the incubation house. Currently Mt. Shasta fingerlings are being raised from eggs in the incubation house to prove the facility is capable of rearing.

Back to the fishing, Lake Isabella levels are coming up and the inflows are cold so the crappie/ bass bite is slow to come on. Not a lot of fishing boats on the lake at this time but that will change with the trout derby coming up soon 4/13-15 . No word on whether giant rainbows will be planted this year. Speaking of giant rainbows. Club members tied into some monsters on the second outing to Eagle Canyon lakes. With a near state record landed by Rich Arner at 33” length and 27” girth (estimated to be 26.5 lbs!!!) Quite a fishing story. Check out the smiles.

Rich with near state record 33”long 27” girth estimated 26.5 lbs 


The CDFW is proposing to change fishing regulations state wide and our club is providing feedback to the agency. The 4 mile stretch is at risk. We cannot lose the opportunity to give the KRR project the best chance at success. Here is our position regarding Kern River regulations going forward. Please consider joining with us to promote this change.

“We are in opposition to the proposed changes to the fishing regulations in the 4 mile regulated section of the Kern River from the Johnsondale bridge upstream to where Forest Service Trail 33E30 heads east to join the Rincon Trail. 35 years of studies and science do not support your position that the proposed regulation change would not have a negative impact on this fishery. The 14” minimum and zero bag limit season during the spawn is needed to sustain a natural fish spawn in a section of the Kern River that is not currently stocked with hatchery fish.

It has been documented that the unbalance of Trout to Pike Minnow in this section of the Kern River is at 1:100 and 2:100 in the pools above the bridge. Trout over 14” become predators and change their diet from insects to feeding on the rough fish populations and can help to naturally repair the unbalance of species. The Edison Trust Fund has spent over $1,200,000 laying the ground work to improve the fishery in the Kern River Basin. The CDFW has spent nearly $750,000 improving the Kern River Hatchery to propagate and care for Kern River Rainbow Trout. After 35 years of hard work and almost $2,000,000 of expenditures in preparation for restoration & retrieval of brood stock and all the efforts to restore native Kern River Rainbow Trout to this section of the river, protecting a 4 mile long wild nursery is more important than changing the regulations.

All the science supports maintaining the regulations in this section as they exist currently. We would suggest to you that the only beneficial change to the current regulation would be to extend the current regulation from Johnsondale bridge down to the Fairview Dam, increase enforcement and close this section of river to all fishing during the spawning season.”

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 03/28/19

Not much catching lately to report locally, however, lots of great news to report on snow pack! Riverwalk Lake finally got a huge plant for a kid’s tournament Saturday,March 9th; however, almost all of the trout were harvested by anglers or cormorants by Monday afternoon. Upper Kern flows are well above 1,000 cfs and climbing making wading treacherous on the prized pocket water. Flows on the low flow section below Fairview Dam are over 400 cfs nearly eliminating prime slow holding water and makes river crossing a danger and not recommended, especially if releases at Fairview are increased without warning. It could be a long time before you can get back to your vehicle. Near Kernville finding slow water safe to wade is in short supply and it must be stocked recently for you to get any catching. The lack of trout porn on social media confirms the trying conditions. It looks like the next time we will see safe wading and productive catching on the Upper Kern will be in late July similar to 2017. It is a sad reminder to know over a dozen people lost their lives two years ago after a big snow pack and likely it will happen again with many wading and swimming in deadly river conditions.  The Lower Kern will be finally be planted the first week in April, let’s hope flows stay safe. The Lower Kings has been blown out for weeks and some of those trophies are likely to make it through the summer.

The Kernville Hatchery is seeing progress and they are now holding trout their once again for the first time in several months. There are just 2 races with trout. The hatchery is open for visiting 7 days a week. Take a look to see the 3 year construction progress and 2 tons of foot longs.There will be a meeting in Fresno April 3rd at from 6-8 pm at the Betty Rodriguez Regional Library, 3040 N. Cedar Ave to comment on proposed fishing regulations that mean big changes for trout populations and fly fishing . Most of us see more damage coming if we don’t forward our concerns.


The snow pack is great! The rafting companies are cheering as they will have rip roaring rafting all summer and we will see the Kern River flowing in Bakersfield as well. Plan on fishing the high meadows most of the summer and get into those spunky wild sub foot longs with short rods and short accurate casts. Make sure you are in good shape to handle altitudes well above 6,000 feet.  Stealth is the key as they will hit any small dry that is presented softly. I find it is a great way for a newbie to learn. You get to accurately sight cast, learn where trout lay, and get immediate feedback with landing or spooking fish. Stay low and keep that shadow off the water!

Now about the precipitation, rainfall in Bako is 112% of normal and 99% for Fresno. However, snow pack for the Kern River Basin is better and is 150% of normal and 156% state wide for March 19.  One thing to note is that the Kern snow pack is heavily weighted toward the lower elevations so a warm rain will melt that quickly and that could cause the Kern to hit dangerous flow levels very soon and bring safer flows earlier, perhaps in July? We will update you on how the most popular CA rivers totaled when the April 1st numbers are in. April 1st is considered the benchmark and the peak of the snow season. The best fishing has been up north on the Lower Sacramento and the famed Eagle Canyon Lakes where KRFF anglers are taking HUGE trout. Check them out!


Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 02/15/19

Not much catching to report locally, however, lots of weather going on. Upper Kern flows jumped up to dangerous levels during the current storm to well over 4,000 cfs. Very cold weather has kept the trout down and now extremely poor water quality will severely hurt any catching for fly fishers- not to mention unsafe for wading. Leave the fly rods at home if you are going to Whiskey Flat Days and enjoy the festival instead.

Rainfall for this snow/rain season is improving. Rainfall in Bako is 92% of normal and 102% for Fresno. However, snow pack for the Southern Sierra is better and is 149% of normal and 141% state wide for February 15. More is still on the horizon as I am typing. So what will this mean for the Upper Kern this spring, summer, and fall?      The rafting companies will be the biggest beneficiaries for sure, but when can fly fishers expect safe wading conditions? It could be later summer if we keep trending toward a snow pack like we had in 2017. Flows did not drop to under 1,000 cfs until August that year. High Sierra meadows should be great once the snows melt and provide access in June well before the Upper Kern River recedes to safe wading conditions. Check out the flow graphs below to see how long the high flows lasted in 2017.  Of course more water means better habitat for all creatures in the river for sure. We will keep you up to date on conditions as they develop.


Stocking according to the CDFW remarkably continues to occur on sections 4, 5, and 6 on the Upper Kern according to the CDFW website ( keep in mind weather/road conditions can change where they can and do stock) and not in our local lakes for the first time anyone can recall. Why? We finally got some clarity from the CDFW below:

“Thank you for contacting the Department regarding the lack of trout stocking near Bakersfield.  It means you care about the fishery and the citizens in your area.  As you mentioned, Moccasin Creek Hatchery was damaged in March 2018, and will not be operational until March 2019.  More than a million fish were lost, representing more than two years of production. It takes approximately eighteen months to raise a catchable trout from egg to appropriate size, meaning production will not be back to full capacity until Fall 2020.

When examining reduced allotments, there are two approaches which can be utilized.  One is to reduce all allotments proportionally, the second is to prioritize allotments by angler use and/or catch efficiency.  We have found that reducing an allotment below a certain threshold creates disproportionate reduction in catch rates, meaning no one catches anything.  We need to stock enough fish so anglers catch fish at an acceptable rate, and  we believe it is better to stock those fish where there are more anglers to maximize the catch efficiency.

For this reduction, we tried to maintain efficient stocking in about 30 locations instead of doing a poor job at 70 locations.  Many of the locations are near urban area and/or major travel corridors.  As an example, in your area, we prioritized the stocking of Ming Lake over Hart Park and River Walk.  Feel free to provide feedback on whether that was a good choice, or reasons you perhaps would select another location.  I will review the logic on the upper Kern River locations in winter to see if other location may make more sense.  Lakes that are not being stocked includes Isabella, Success, Kaweah, Pine Flat, Eastman, Corrine, Manzanita, McClure, Don Pedro,  New Melones, and many others, so you are not alone in wondering why stocking is not occurring as in past years.  However, there is a reason and the goal is to maintain an acceptable level of service at limited locations under the circumstances.  Also, there still are good fishing opportunities for warm water fish in Isabella.”

The CDFW will have a great challenge for some time to please everyone who likes to catch rainbow trout. What does this mean for our Kern County area? All of Region 4 will have substantially reduced pounds for the next two fishing seasons until Fall 2020 at the earliest.  Fifty-Seven Percent LESS waters will be planted.     This is discouraging for many of us as the waters closest to us will provide much less catching. For those of you that follow these reports, you know that over the last 10 years the total pounds planted by our Kern River hatchery (statewide trend is down big too) have been reduced 75% before the Moccasin Hatchery disaster. Also nearly all trout planted are sterile as well. So that is why the catching has really dropped off the last year and will continue for some time. We do have some positive news to report that the Kern River hatchery may finally be operational after 3 years of construction. Fingers are crossed.

There are a few last projects left to complete at the Kern River Hatchery (currently still a planting base) but the end seems near. I know, I know  you have had heard this line for over 3 years. There recently was a new full time CDFW permanent manager assigned from the Hot Creek hatchery and he wants badly to become fully operational again. Hopefully a restart of a trophy trout program here could be initiated during a good water year. Kern River Rainbow brood stock could be sourced later this year as well. Stay tuned for updates. Meanwhile the Lower Kings continues to provide great catching of trophies.

The best quality catching in the state continues to be on the Lower Kings River.  The short stretch below Pine Flat Dam just got another load of 3-6 pound trophies yesterday to add to the 2,000 pounds of trophies in the last half of January. Some of our members and fly fishing friends have tied into them tugging black streamers and small nymphs to chunky bows to 6 pounds. Presentation is the key and fly type really isn’t that crucial at this time. Bait poachers on the catch and release section have been issued heavy fines by very stealthy CDFW wardens. Way to go!

Learn more on how to hook them (landing is another thing…) at the KRFF outing February 23.  Pine Flat Reservoir is still low and will be in the accumulation mode so releases should be low (been well under 150 cfs the last month). If there is a rain event (currently), watch flows for Mill Creek as it is not flow controlled and can muddy up the Lower Kings quickly and clear up very quickly as well. Check here   It spiked to +400 cfs today and has affected water clarity. Once below 20 cfs things tend to clean up nicely.

There are just two spots left for our beginners fly fishing course at Bakersfield College, see our 1/11/19 fishing report below for details and registration. It has to be the best value for a new fly fisher in our area and you will be taught by some experts that have decades of fly fishing on our Kern River and other area waters. Get a half priced KRFF membership for new members too.

Thanks for your support and we celebrate over 60,000 views this month and continue to strive to provide the best fact based trout fishing reports in our area.

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 02/01/19

Upper Kern flows jumped up to dangerous levels during the last storm to over 2,000 cfs. Very cold weather has kept the trout down but the bite may be back with the recent warming trend. Rainfall for this snow/rain season is improving. Rainfall in Bako is 75% of normal and 82% for Fresno. However, snow pack for the Southern Sierra is better and is 97% of normal and 100% state wide. Some big storms look to be on the way here in the two week horizon. We will keep you up to date on conditions as they develop.

Stocking according to the CDFW remarkably continues to occur on sections 4, 5, and 6 on the Upper Kern and not in our local lakes for the first time anyone can recall. Why? Inquiring minds want to know. The two big storms on the horizon will ramp flows up soon and muck up the river, but that will push trout further from planted areas making more enjoyable catching later when things calm down. Perhaps after Whiskey Flat Days could make for some decent catching?

For now the best quality catching in the state likely is on the Lower Kings River right now!  The short stretch below Pine Flat Dam just got 2,000 pounds of trophies in a two week stretch with the last planting January 25th.

Some of our members have tied into them tugging black streamers and small nymphs to chunky bows to 6 pounds. Presentation is the key and fly type really isn’t that crucial at this time.

Learn more on how to hook them (landing is another thing…) at the KRFF outing February 16.  Pine Flat Reservoir is low and will be in the accumulation mode so releases should be low (been well under 150 cfs the last month). If there is a rain event, watch flows from Mill Creek as it is not flow controlled and can muddy up the Lower Kings quickly and clear up very quickly as well. Check here   It has been running about 10 cfs and has not affected water clarity yet or very long with one rain event a while back.

Our club had a great outing to the Lower Owens last weekend and the fishing has turned on with water temps in the mid 40’s. Many had double digit days. Hot Creek was also fishing just as well but access was difficult as there is quite a bit of snow to traverse down the north facing trail to the the creek in the canyon. Check conditions after the upcoming snow storm blowing in up at 7,000’ this weekend.

There are just a few spots left for our beginners fly fishing course at Bakersfield College see our 1/11/19 fishing report below for details and registration. It has to be the best value for a new fly fisher in our area and you will be taught by some experts that have decades of fly fishing on our Kern River and other area waters.





Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 1/11/19

The big fish are now in entire stretch of the Lower Kings River. We helped stock and fished for 3-8 pound trophies today. These are actual trophy trout now and not the brood stock (mostly 3-4 lbs) that went in just before Christmas. The top half of the 600 pounds stocked are much larger than last month. The river is low at 100 cfs and is exceptionally clear and river temp was 53 degrees. A beautiful day. Not much rain forecasted for the Fresno area Saturday, so there should be good catching. Use strong 3x and 4x tippet. Good luck.
KRFF experts will be offering an introduction to fly fishing class at the Bakersfield College, Levan Institute beginning Feb 26. The three two hour classes are February 26, March 5, and March 9. Tuition is $30 and materials $10. In addition you get a 50% discounted first year new membership to our club. If you know any one who wants to try our our beloved sport, please pass this along to them. Online registration  at  Class is limited in size so don’t delay!

Here are some of the many trophies in the Lower Kings today. All of the barbless C&R section that has been planted in the past are planted for the first time in 2 years. Leave the 4 wt at home.


PS: Here is a reminder that your Steelhead Report Cards are due by the end of January. Failure to mail in or report online could cause you to loose the ability to purchase a steelhead stamp in the future.

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 1/4/19

Upper Kern flows are about to tick up as a week of rain events are on the way and much needed beginning tomorrow. River temps have been in the 30’s for quite a while and the bite is off even with CDFW plants past and scheduled.  In the past several years the CDFW would not stock below their own guidelines of 45 degrees on moving water during winter. If they are stocking, as suggested by their web site, it is the first time in over 10 years trout were placed in sections 5 & 6 at this time. The Lower Kern usually is planted this time of year and has no stockings planned or completed since last spring. Only Lake Ming has been  planted and no trout planted in Riverwalk, Truxton, or at Hart Park. It would be nice to know how and why this new stocking strategy is occurring? This rare opportunity to fish for freshly planted stockers on the Upper Kern in winter has lured many friends to venture up above Kernville. However, skunking's appear to be the norm in the very cold water. Hopefully we will see plants closer to home soon in + - 50 degree water of our local lakes.

The snow pack is well below normal (currently 70%) and hopefully the next week can improve it.  We will keep you up to date on conditions as they develop.

The Lower Kings River got the first 1,000 pounds of larger brooders planted just before Christmas. It was planted with half pounders (foot longs) very, very recently and is scheduled for chunky brooders next week. Our KRFF outing should have great catching before the rain swells Mill Creek. Water temps remain in the 50’s so trout will be active on the Lower Kings. Some of our members have landed several nice 20” trout in the last two weeks as have other anglers. There has been great success drifting small green nymphs to chunky bows to 6 pounds. Presentation is the key and fly type really isn’t that crucial at this time. Several more brood stockings will occur over the next few weeks. Learn more on how to hook them (landing is another thing…) at the two KRFF outings we have planned.  Pine Flat Reservoir is low and will be in the accumulation mode so releases should be low (been well under 150 cfs the last month). If there is a rain event, watch flows from Mill Creek as it is not flow controlled and can muddy up the Lower Kings quickly and clear up very quickly as well. Check here

Tight lines and think SNOW!!!

Did the Prez catch the same nice trout twice?


Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 12/14/18

There are catching reports, planting news and snow pack updates for our area. Much to discuss.

Catching on the Upper Kern has improved a bit since stocking was resumed for December even with very cold water temperatures. Buena Vista Lake has had a lot of great action and friends and family have been posting their trophies on social medial. The trophy Lower Kings brooders will soon be here again. Unfortunately total stocked pounds are reduced for the Upper Kern and has eliminated stocking for Bakersfield City Lakes because of the closed Moccasin Hatchery - more on that later.  A good sized  precipatation event for the Southern Sierra recently almost caught us up to season normal levels. Snow pack levels now are 87% of normal but no significant storms on the horizon. That will keep Upper Kern water mostly clear for the next 2 weeks but won’t help the drought situation and Lake Isabella storage is well below seasonal normal levels.


I received this statement from the regional CDFW  office recently. “For starters, you and others have rightly noticed that we have conducted less trout plants in Kern County in 2018 as compared to previous years.  The reason for this is simple and it's due to lack of trout production caused by one of our region's trout hatcheries going off-line due to being flooded this past spring.  Unfortunately this production facility (Moccasin Creek Trout hatchery) has not come back on line, and is not scheduled to come back on-line until March, 2019.  To compensate for this production loss, and try to provide at least some trout angling opportunities in the Department's Central Region Counties, we're planting fewer waters than we have historically.

Now that said, all is not lost regarding Kern County; we have planted the Lower Kern River above Lake Isabella several times this year and are planting it this month.  We also have supplied sub-catchable trout to Kern County to rear in net pens in Lake Isabella and these fish will be released in spring 2019.  Also, we will be planting Ming Lake this winter so keep checking the Department's fish planting schedule to see when this water will be planted.”

So there you have it from the horse’s mouth. It appears that Lake Ming may be the only local water planted this year before Santa gets here? In the past, before the Kern River Hatchery rebuild began 3 years ago Riverwalk, Truxton, and Hart Park Lakes were planted beginning in October. Lake Isabella net pens have been used for years to raise trout primarily for the Lake Isabella trout derby to be held next year.

Water temps are very low on the Upper Kern and that has slowed activity, however, plants will happen next week on section 4 (if afternoon water temps stay above 45 degrees)and section 5&6 should have been planted very recently if water conditions were adequate These are assumed to be foot longs. There is more news from the Friends of the Hatchery as they acquired another grant to enclose the inlet culvert to the hatchery. They also need to repair the culvert because gophers had burrowed into it and it began to leak. It will be replaced with a concrete culvert that is rodent proof. Additionally, the only two races that they have been holding trout in the last 3 years requires resurfacing. So the hatchery will not be operational for some time until that work is done. The Moccasin hatchery is targeted to be operational March 2019 but those trout will take a year to grow to foot long size. So 2019 appears to be another year of reduced total stocked trout. Hopefully the Kern River Hatchery will be fully operational by this summer after more than 3 years of rebuild work. Fingers crossed.....

Bear Valley Springs was planted before Turkey Day and trout to 20” were caught up there. Our KRFF outing was very productive for several of our members with some trophies landed and great fellowship. Action was slower today but another trophy was landed.


The low elevation Lower Kings is fishing very well and many trout survived the summer as KRFF members participated in the recent electro-shock survey. Thanks guys! In addition it has been regularly planted the last few weeks. Guide Jimmie Morales says his clients have been doing very well on small #22 and #20 Callibaetis dries and nymphs. The San Joaquin Hatchery reports that the brooders are ready to be planted soon as they require a 3 week recovery period after spawning. The trick is scheduling manpower and equipment to load and plant them. They plan to start the trophy plants late next week in time for Christmas week. If there are any upcoming rain events keep an eye on flows before you go. Pine Flat Reservoir is low and will be in the accumulation mode so releases should remain low. Watch flows from Mill Creek as it is not flow controlled and can muddy up the Lower Kings quickly and clear up very quickly as well. The trip up there is worth it because these brooder trout run from 3 to 8 pounds. Remember there is a lot of warden presence up there especially on the artificial lures, barbless, catch and release section below Alta Weir down past Avocado Lake. Citations are written to bait fishers and the unlicensed practically every time I’ve been there. Get your 2019 license now at

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 11/16/18

Over the last week experienced club members have had little catching success on the Upper Kern with no planting in weeks. There will be a planting for the Upper Kern the week of Thanksgiving and the following week. There are no plants for Bakersfield Lakes. Planted pounds for our region will be reduced for quite a while because the Moccasin Hatchery rebuild will take one to two years it seems (often these projections are much more optimistic than reality). The hatchery contained 1,400,000 trout when it was ravaged by flooding.
See article from March
We are just a few months into the rebuild and there has been some progress. However, expect lower pounds and fewer places to be planted than normal well into 2019 in our region and we will pass along when local lakes get stocked if at all.  Stay tuned.
Not much rain in the forecast.

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 11/8/18

Been a while since I was able to get up on the Upper Kern. Normally if stocking occurs in October and flows are clear and low;  double digit catching days are typical. Unfortunately, there has only been one report in the last 2 months for a large group of fishers that I survey that managed a double digit day about a month ago. So I felt I should give it a go to see what’s up.
We arrived in Kernville and no one was fishing in Riverside Park and that usually indicates very slow catching. We hit a favorite spot on section 5 that should have been stocked last week. Water was very very low and 50 degrees. We hit every spot that has held trout in the past with nary a tug nor rise. There was quite a bit of moss covering the river rocks (1/4 – 1/2” thick) that I can’t say I’ve ever seen before. Made traction better but did not seem to provide more aquatic insect activity? Not sure what biologically is going on. It was pretty obvious to us that the water on section 5 is too low to sustain trout for long. If trout planted on much of this section weren’t harvested by fishers it sure would be easy pickings for herons and hawks. There is very little holding water more than 3’ deep with these very low flows around 50 cfs. We tried another social  media posted spot further up river on section 5 to see if there were any trout left there but no trout tugs were procured. So up to section 6 where there has been some catching reported the last month.
Three times more water on section 6 than section 5. Had to wade and move around a lot. I did tangle into 6 trout and landed 4 in 4 hours on section 6 on three different runs. All were clearly wild and took a size #16 BHFBPT. Two were strong at 15” and 16”.   There were long stretches of wading that produced nothing were I found grabs weeks ago. Tried other flies with no takes. Water is very clear and lots of great looking gravel beds but no small trout to be seen .
We tried another often stocked area low on section 5 on the way home and covered a good 1/2 mile stretch  with no grabs nor trout seen scooting. The water is just too low to hold trout for long.
Beautiful day, practically no one else fishing so it was great to have the river to ourselves but the catching was way below past years at this time. It appears others have given up even though it is great weather to be out on the river. Why?
Well the hatcheries in our area are still affected by the Moccasin Hatchery disaster and total pounds stocked for the region are down quite a bit. Ongoing work on our Kern River hatchery has made it inoperable for a long while. Usually stocking in Bakersfield Lakes has occurred by now but is not scheduled any time soon nor on the Upper Kern in November. In the past just before Turkey Day stocking happen. That may not happen this year? We hope to verify soon and post here.
Looking forward at this time NOAA is projecting a normal snow pack for winter 2019 in the Southern Sierra. That’s great. However, the longer we go without a significant rain event the less likely that will happen. In BFL we have not recorded a measurable rain event in over 200 days and it shows.  There could be a small event 2 weeks out.........             fingers crossed.



Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 09/28/18

Catching on the Upper Kern has been dropping off since the last stocking two months ago. There were a couple of isolated spots that held trout through the warm river temps that were pressured once the word got out. These areas provided heavily aerated water that trout could survive the hot summer. Catching in the recent fly fishing tournament held last weekend was markedly down from last year as the best catching required covering a lot of water in hard to reach areas which were not pressured during trying summer conditions. Barbless hooks this year were not required in an attempt to increase the catching. Many participants were blanked as in past low snow pack years and substantially reduced stocking. Great to hear that they raised some funds for Casting for Recovery and Kern Valley Search and Rescue! We look forward to seeing the total funds raised for two great causes.

Things are about to change as the CDFW should have planted this week and again in two weeks. The Kern River Hatchery will be down for months so planters will be brought in from the San Joaquin hatchery. Even with the recent September heat wave water temps should be just below lethal levels and the CDFW stocking temperature guidelines for moving water. Sections 4, 5, and 6 are to be planted. Let’s hope the trout get a chance to move around a bit before the locals following the stocking truck harvest them. When releasing your trout take the time to move them around to areas that will give them a better opportunity to survive the social media driven fishing pressure. Some trout will be planted  above Fairview Dam; it can be inferred this latest batch of stockers will be sterile.

Here is a quick update on the Kern River Hatchery. It has remained fishless for quite a while and beyond. The inlet trench that feeds the hatchery is not concreted and gophers are burrowing into the side and it has begun to leak. If not addressed  the trench could have a huge failure.  Thankfully folks at the Friends of the Hatchery have procured funds to rebuild the inlet run that should last decades. Unfortunately, a bid process and scheduling the work will mean that it will likely be well into next year that the hatchery might be operational again and the a trophy trout program could be restarted before the opener in late April 2019. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.


Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 09/13/18

I’ve stayed away for 2 months because of high Kern River temps on the 20 mile section and today was a good day to check out how the fishery has fared. I only wanted to try section 6 because flows there have not been very wadeable for 2 years and I thought that I could get a sense of how the wild trout population is doing up there. There has been no stocking for 2 months. Fly fishing friends have done OK on sections 4 and 5 but were confined to only a couple of spots that seemed to retain trout during the lethal summer temps. Those areas are no longer secret it seems and will likely be pressured until stocking resumes.
As I passed the hatchery I noticed something odd and pulled over. There was a doe with a yearling who had caught its hoof at the top of the chain link fence trying to jump it. I got the attention of the hatchery workers and they were able to free it with bolt cutters. It trotted off limping but was in better shape than I would have guessed. The hatchery is still dry because of ongoing work and the workers gave me no indication that stocking will happen any time soon. It was hoped that trout from the SJ hatchery might be trucked in and stocked soon as river conditions have improved but apparently that is not in the cards either I guess? I was hoping that fertile trout stocking might be attempted again (as described in my last post) on sections 4 and 5 but I guess not.

I headed up river on to section 6. Arrived on the water at about 10 am. I had 8 grabs in the first 45 minutes on two different flies. A golden foam stonefly #12 from where I get most of my flies that I don’t tie myself and the red hooked BH Arnerd #12. I now tie it with a tungsten bead because an experiment I did in my pool showed that tungsten really helps the sink rate on bigger nymphs but has little increased sink rate on flies size #18 and smaller. Had no idea why I could not land these trout so I tied on fresh flies and my land rate went way up. I did land 13 to the net over 4 hours. However, I did cover a ton of water. Some of this section 6 water has not been reachable for 2 years. I found the river very clear and there was no soot and silt build up on the banks and shallows that often occurs when we get the muddying monsoonal rains like we had in July and August that hit some fire scorched areas well up river.  Spawning gravel beds were plentiful. All of the trout I landed today were wild and more than 2 years old I’d guess. They required a lot of wading but worth it. I was hoping to bring my 8 yr old grandson up to try the Kern as he has done very well casting and landing small wilds on the Upper Tule this summer above 6,000’. But the areas where I found fish he could never wade to. Maybe next spring when stocking resumes and trout are more accessible we can try?  I did land 2 browns today. Never landed 2 browns on the same day on the 20 mile section that I can recall. The bigger was +14” and strong. They were caught more than a mile apart.
Many fly fishing experts say that 90% of trout hold in 10% of the water. I think that usually applies to the 20 mile section. However, I think the ratio is much more extreme after lethal river temps, fishing pressure during such and harvesting of summer. Probably closer to 99% of the trout in 1% of the water. Finding that water will be productive. Water temps in the upper 50’s all day. In the am all trout were taken on the #12 Red hooked BH Arnerd and the stonefly was hit often. In the pm only the #16 BHFBPT landed trout
( I also get cheap from )  and no action on the dry? Odd.
Had a chance to fish the North Santiam in OR recently while visiting family in Salem. Did real well on purely wild trout using the same set up with the Arnerd and the Foam Stone. Used a guide one day who got us on to bows and Cutts up to 16” that took dries and droppers. Guides in that area and on the Willamette and McKenzie will not guide or recommend fishers try catching on water over 65 degrees. They have much better wild trout counts for sure. Sadly though their steelhead and salmon counts have plummeted over 90% in the last 5 years. I also spent an evening in Dunsmuir on the trip back and targeted the Upper Sac. Had a great time landing 28 bows stripping streamers to 16” in about 90 minutes before it was time for dinner. Glad we left just before I5 was closed for days because of the Delta Fire.

Fishing Report & BassPro Update - Rich Arner - 08/22/18

The very dry, windy, and hot July and August weather has spurned forest fires all over California and has pushed smoky air all over the state and beyond even to New England as seen on satellite maps.

July and August monsoonal storms have periodically generated muddy conditions on our Kern River that shut the Kern River Hatchery down in July. All of the trout (including all of the trophy trout being fattened) were removed from the hatchery. Few trophies were known to be caught by fly fishers and how well they survived in +70 degree water temperatures is unknown. If the past is any indication, most will not survive long as high water temps affect large trout adversely much more than small trout are impacted. When a trophy trout program can be restarted at the hatchery is uncertain. Therefore, catching has suffered compared to previous summers. No trophy trout fundraiser for the Friends of the Hatchery is planned for this year.

Senior people from the CDFW have told us the following.“In case you have not heard, the Department Central Region’s Moccasin Creek Trout Hatchery was flooded this past spring and we lost all trout production at this hatchery.  The consequence of this loss is that the CDFW’s Central Region, which normally has two trout production hatcheries to meet its production demands, now only has one.  Because of this loss, the CDFW Central Region made the decision to allocate its remaining trout production to the most popular fishing waters located within the 12 Counties that comprise the Department’s Central Region.  This decision was made to allow some CDFW provided trout fishing in most counties rather than having normal trout fishing opportunities occur in a few counties and no trout fishing being offered in others.  Focusing on these most popular waters unfortunately meant that about one-half of the total amount of waters the CDFW plants would not be planted in 2018 and also a large decrease in the total number of trout planted would also occur. That said, the CDFW has been able to plant the upper Kern River above Lake Isabella primarily due to obtaining some extra trout that were made available by the CDFW’s Fish Springs Hatchery.  Since these fish are genetically diploid (able to reproduce), rather than triploid (unable to reproduce), we are limited in what waters we can plant them.  Since diploid trout can only be planted below Section Six (i.e. downstream of Fairview Dam) on the upper Kern River, only sections 1 through 5 can be planted using these fish.  Given the limited availability of trout to plant, we target sections 3, 4, and 5 in the Upper Kern River.”

The Kern River hatchery will be dry for months as the final stages of the hatchery construction are completed. When completed, the Kern River Rainbow project may be able to finally begin and hopefully brood stock for rearing native Kern River Rainbows may be sourced early next year?

The bottom line is local trout plants will be down significantly for the remainder of the year and a restart of the Kern River hatchery and a trophy trout program is months away. A one time planting of fertile trout was made one week last month below Fairview Dam for the first time in several years, however, fishing pressure by both harvesters and C&R fishers during lethally high river temps on the 20 mile section mean few will survive to repopulate. Sad.

Bass Pro Shops Update

Many of us have noticed that there hasn’t been a whole lot of activity near the Hoskings exit on Highway 99 in the Bako? The giant Bass Pro Shop with an included White River Fly Shop was announced in November 2017 and is still very much alive. I had a chance to chat with the project manager in charge of the new retail development and he says, “Yes, Bass Pro Shops has been signed this entire time. We would like to kick off site work in April, and open the initial stores including Bass Pro May 2020. Bass Pro Shops is a 400-day build, and it’s 7-9 months to finalize the civil engineering, building plans, and permitting of all. We are just reaching critical threshold of signing all the other leases for Phase One that must open with Bass Pro Shops to make the economics work for the 80+ acre site. So as long as the powers-that-be don’t drive the financial economy into the ditch; and tariffs, labor shortages, and overheated construction pricing don’t blow the project budgets … we’re about ready to finally make this happen. I work on this daily. You’d be shocked at how many lifetimes can be consumed on these projects”

So there you have it from the horse’s mouth. We are still over a year away from our sportsmen’s paradise.

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 07/13/18

Been vacationing a bit but had a chance to go fly fishing again. Because there has been extended days with triple digits in Kernville and flows have been dropping (raising water temp to lethal levels) it likely was not a good idea to fly fish the 20 mile stretch above Kernville. So I took an old friend who has never caught a golden trout to a golden favorite spot above 7500’. It was good to see the meadow in great shape even with a poor snow pack year but last year’s huge snow pack really helped out a ton. Air temp was 67 degrees at 9 am, water temp 53 degrees. Perfect. We made stealthy presentations to tons of easy access small golden’s. Any small dry would work. You just have to be very stealthy. We landed +75 in 3 hours before the dark clouds began to form. There have been a lot of showers in the southern sierra and flows on the Upper Kern have come up. We didn’t want to be in a wide meadow when the bolts hit. We headed back toward home. When we arrived back down at the Johnsondale Bridge the water was chocolate milk. Air temp was 102.  Bait fishers were fishing just above the Johnsondale Bridge Sad smile as no stocking has been happening in sections 5 and 6. They are now pressuring the special regulations section without any concern for being cited.  We considered fishing the stretch if water temps were below 70 degrees. The visibility was extremely poor but I took a water temp anyway at 1 pm and it was 70 degrees. We headed down river to ascertain the extent of the poor conditions. The chocolate milk had not quite reached T-bird yet but some tubers were there putting in. I took a temp there and it was 74 degrees at 1:30 pm 104 on the car temp gauge, whew!!!.  No trout to be seen there according to baiters I talked to. Can’t imagine they survived since the last plant weeks ago.  We headed home.
Pretty obvious that the 20 mile section is done for the summer in my humble opinion if you care about the wild trout still left there. They made a slight comeback after the huge water year in 2017 but now they will be dramatically hurt this year if people keep targeting them. Sporadic mountain storms are forecasted for a while so muddied waters will be commonplace. Consider only much cooler high elevations to whet you fly fishing craving or head to tail waters way up north. 200 miles round trip driving to from the Bako so time for a siesta by the pool.
  Enjoy the photos.
Wild Golden’s above 7,500’


Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 06/15/18

Flows have finally dropped below 200 cfs and the Bako hit triple digits this week. I wanted to try before water temps get lethal. Got an early start before 8 am and flows were just 120 cfs on section 5. Water temp on lower end of section 5 was 63 degrees to start. Water clear. Stocking on section 4 only this week? I did not try section 4 as that is where people were going to apply fishing/harvesting pressure, float rafts, and flows on that stretch over 700 cfs.
Tried two spots on section 5 that I found lots of trout last week. Not much pod action in the same spots a week later as  a lot of harvesting completed already it seams. I did find trout far away from stocking points in pocket water that has opened via aggressive wading that can get you near.  #16 BHFBPT hooked about 80% (Red hooked Arnerd got the rest) of the + 3 dozen bows on the day but I only landed 11 in my net. Pretty poor hook/land ratio for me. Most trout headed downriver and took out line. I was too tired/lazy  to walk down and land them. So most had the fly pop out under the tug 50 – 70 feet down river from me. Had a lot of surface bumps but nothing over 12” on the surface.
I did chose to cover a 1/2 mile stretch I haven’t tried in years. I found trout about every 50-100 yards in some of the best hard to reach holding water. It felt like hanging out with an old friend. At 2 pm I had a trout require a lot of work to revive. I checked the water temps and it was 68 degrees so I called it quits. I was about in the middle of section 5 so the lower points likely were touching 70 degrees. Air temp was 93 at 2 pm. Wet wading was perfect. I’m pooped.

Some folks advocate fly fishing water as long as it is below 70 degrees, however, this practice can be deadly on a river like the Upper Kern that varies in water temp quite a bit in one day. It may be under 70 degrees from 7 am to 10 am but that doesn’t make it wise to fish. Why not you ask?

Think about how you would feel if you had to endure air temps above 105 to 115 degrees for 21 out of 24 hours. During that hot time you would do everything to stay cool, you would feel weak, exhausted and avoid doing any work or play at all. In the 3 hours of high but tolerable temps you would do your chores, gather/make food, and eat. Then just try to survive when the hot returns.

The same thing happens for trout. They only have a 3 hour window to eat comfortably. If we disturb that time by hooking and releasing a trout they likely will hide after being C&R’d and not feed any more during that short 3 hour window. Do that over most days for an extended period of time and a trout won’t make it after a few weeks. Not to mention playing a trout to exhaustion in near  70 degree water may kill it. Once you start seeing late morning temps nearing 70 degrees leave that water alone ALL DAY and fish up in the high elevation meadows. Stay off of the warm river and give the wild bows a chance to survive and multiply. It will be a hard summer for trout on the Upper Kern.

The weekend just ahead looks to be unseasonably cool but it likely will be the last weekend I’d consider fishing stretches of section 5.

Section 6 still is well over 400 cfs and does not offer much in the way of easy wading. Check the top line of the graphs at    to find out when flows drop in the safe range and make sure  you buy a good thermometer.

You can get a great digital thermometer I use at Harbor Freight for about $10 with a coupon.

You can order here or drop buy the store

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 06/08/18

Made a dash up to the Kern today to scout out the river for the mentorship outing we have scheduled for Saturday. My goal was to try as much water as possible to find where all the trout were planted on Wednesday. The good news is I found 38 bows in 7 hours so about 5/hr and I landed a bow at every spot I tried. However, trout were concentrated on only 3 of the 10 stops I made. Water temp was 59 at the start around 8:30 am. I was glad to see flows had dropped to under 250 cfs on Section 5 and was very cautious to call the flow phone every 2 hours in the first half of the day to confirm that Fairview releases did not spike as they did 3 times over 700 cfs in the last 8 days. I have tried to get in touch with SoCal Edison to find out when they reduce diverting water for power with no luck. I’ve also called several rafting companies to see if they know why flows on Section 5 more than double at times during prime fishing hours. They don’t know when the flows spikes are scheduled either but they are glad to get them for their rafting clients.  You can see high water marks on the shores from the spikes earlier in the week. Water is flowing over Fairview Dam this afternoon. Don’t forget to check flows on the low flow section when you are near RiverKern at or call 877-537-6356. It takes about two hours for the surge to show up at HQ once the surge starts at Fairview Dam so you have some time to cross the river and fish before you have to get back on the road side. Water gin clear today and no flow spike. These flow spikes really blacken the water the first 5 miles below Fairview Dam.
Flow Spikes the last week.

Back to the catching. If fish were found in the first few casts it was game on. Otherwise a lot of traversing required to hook up. They loved my red hooked #12 Arnerd and # 16 or #18 BHFBPT. Not much surface action but lots of hatches going on. I had many fish chase the nymphs on the pick up. Also two double hook ups.  When they got bored with those I had great grabs stripping a #12 Olive Krystal flash bugger behind a fast sink tip. Quick intermitant short strips. I got very good at strip setting!  All trout between 9” and 14”. No trophies hooked or sighted today.
Took a water temp at 3:30 pm about 9 miles north of Kernville and it was 67 degrees. It was 80’s in the air today and pleasant. Wet wading a good idea. My guess is that the triple digits next week will drive water temps to over 70 degrees at the hatchery and it will need to be dumped in the next 2 weeks. That will make for a great few days and then high elevation wilds will be the targets around the 4th and beyond. Have a great mentorship outing!


Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 05/24/18

There have been some funky flows on Section 5 this week. Weather, stocking and flows are starting to line up great. However, I was debating whether to give it a try as there appears to be some maintenance issues with SoCal Edison at Fairview Dam. This has cause huge changes in the flows on the lower flow section. Flows  2 days this week were increased nearly 200% from about 9 am to 6 pm when water normally diverted for power generation was put back into the river below Fairview Dam.


This time of year crossing the river can be very helpful to the catching but if you are caught on the wrong side of the river when flows are doubled to +700 cfs getting back can be unsafe and nearly impossible. So I made sure I checked the flow phone at River Kern before I started fishing around 9 am and I was safe. I started on the lower part of Section 5 because it would take 2 hours for high flows to reach me. Water was crystal clear. On the first cast a 12” brown took my #16 BHFBPT. This was by far the lowest down river I have ever caught a brown. Water temp was 58 degrees.


I didn’t have a lot of takes over the next 3 hours but did land the first> 20” trout in 2 years. It was a very healthy buck that measured 22” and about 4 lbs . I covered quite a bit of water and land and managed 5 trout in 3 hours.


I thought I’d try higher up river as the river was clear and dropping and drove up toward Fairview Dam. When I arrived high up on Section 5 the water was much different. Very dark, almost black, and much higher. Visibility under 2 feet. Completely different than I fished just 3 hours earlier. Tried a few casts and headed back down river. The water did not look promising for a fly fisher at all.  Driving back I did not find a clear spot until River Kern. I kept going south to Kernville. I found clear water and lots more fishers near the rodeo grounds. Not much action, flows clear but near 1,000 cfs. Baiters said fishing was slow. I would guess the dark slug of water would arrive within an hour.


Packed up and went home before 3 pm. Be very wary of flows especially if you plan to cross. Today they spiked to 500 cfs on section 5. Call the flow phone when you are at Riverkern where the last cell signal can be found. Watch the water and if you see any change in increasing flows get back to the road side ASAP no matter how good the catching is!!!

Fish on the lowest parts of section 5 to give you the best opportunity to avoid flow spikes.
Memorial Day weekend weather looks to be perfect but triple digits will be here mid next  week.

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 05/11/18

The Upper Kern peaked at 1,800 cfs yesterday and we rescheduled our club mentorship outing to early June when the catching will be better and the wading much safer. Indications are that flows will slowly decline and in a week or so they should drop below 1,000 cfs above Fairview Dam and below KR3 and on section 5 flows below 200 cfs should open up some pocket water to waders on the low flow section. Stocking will resume just before Memorial Day. River temps will be rising quickly and wet wading will be possible again for a short time. We expect Upper Kern River water temps to become lethal on the 20 mile section well before the 4th.
Come join us for our mentorship outing where newbies get a chance to fish along side one of our many experienced (some have decades on the river) Kern River experts. Learn the many common fly patterns we employ  that provide excellent results and how to present them.  The day will be invaluable to you.

Section 5 flows


Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 05/02/18

Returned to the Upper Kern for the last Trout in the Classroom field trip of 2018 for Liberty HS. Gorgeous day with T-Storms predicted in the afternoon. I was able to hit the water at noon. It was great to see that it was crystal clear and 350 cfs on section 5 (low flow section).
Not much pressure considering there was a big stocking recently?  Spent 45 minutes on one of my favorite spots but could not cross and did not get a grab. Drove up river further and bumped into the hatchery folks on their lunch break and had a great conversation with them. They were in the process of stocking section 5 where the flows are much lower. I asked why they didn’t stock section 5 last week before the opener as that is where the wading is safest. They said that this year now the higher ups in the CDFW determine when and where they can stock and they are just following orders. In the past the local hatchery people were able to determine when and where their pounds would go. At this time it isn’t clear what methodology is used to determine where the plants go but it is assumed it is where people are most like to catch them? In any event their planting directives are not issued very far in advance (days) and that is why the planting website often does not show the future planting schedule for the next 6 weeks like in the past . Also the destruction of the Moccasin hatchery means that a lot of SJV hatcheries will have their stocked pounds reduced to cover that loss.  So fewer that the + - 45,000 pounds that the Kernville hatchery was originally assigned will happen this year.
Currently they said they will have stocked over 2,000 lbs in the last week and some 3 – 6 pounders were out there for the opener. Not a lot of fish porn posts are out there...... yet? Also the free fishing for the kids day was a huge success with hundreds of kids participating at the hatchery. Great job Friends of the Hatchery and hatchery volunteers!!!
Back to the catching, sad to report I never did find the pods of recent planters this afternoon? I did not see any planted pods on the 5 stretches nor multiple rises that often accompany fresh planters that I covered quickly on 5 different runs. Nice mayfly hatch coming off all afternoon. I did manage two healthy wild trout with pointy noses and white tipped fins. One was 15" high up on section 5.  Given the conditions I severely fell below my expectations. Not sure if there was very good harvesting on opening weekend or I just didn’t find where the recent planters are? A little drizzle dropped.  No thunder happened except the F-16’s screaming up the canyon. I love the sound of freedom!
Looking forward we will hit the 90’s  in BFL the next 2 weeks so expect another mini flow surge starting this weekend and I’d guess another bump up to perhaps 1,500 cfs that won’t last long as more than half the small snow pack has melted already. Keep an eye on the rising waters and stay safe. The melt will be over well before Memorial Day. June water temps likely will be trout  lethal on the 20 mile section.
Kids day at the Kern river Hatchery 4/28

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 04/25/18

Had another great session of Trout in the Classroom high schoolers from Ridgeview HS today. We spoke to freshman, juniors  and AP Biology seniors about how we use what we know about trout biology, behavior, and habitat to catch and release trout on the Kern River.
We also emphasize the importance of the great resource we have in our National Forest and how important it is to use it wisely.
Been pretty hot lately and the Upper Kern was high and climbing this week well above 1,000 cfs as the short  melt season restarted again.
Water was off color to visibility to 4 or 5 feet. Section 5 was over 600 cfs and there was a CDFW planting today. We knew crossing the river would be impossible and were careful to pick runs that may be planted today and could be safely waded at the margins. Made trips to 4 different areas likely to meet that criteria and we both had very little luck. Landed a 14” bow likely wild but had no other grabs and did not see trout or any rising. Hatches were on though but no trout apparently to snack on them. It has been quite a while since there has been stocking.
There will be more this week but the river is still going to rise and should recede very soon with the low snow pack and more normal temperatures coming next week. My guess is that after May 1st the wading and catching could get good for a short time until harvesting depletes the opening day plants. Potentially one could wade in the more hard to access runs that can retain hold overs by then?  No stocking planned for May yet. River temp 53 degrees at noon. Slow trout holding water is minimal and favorite pocket water inaccessible. Section 5 was taken off the planting schedule this week of 4/22 so it appears that the easier wading section will continue to be a challenge to land bows until the next planting next month?
Watch the section 5 flows at Fairview Dam here   Flow below 200 cfs open up a lot of water to aggressive wading fly fishers and flows under 100 cfs are perfect for those less inclined. That is when cherished pocket water will develop again. I plan to return later next week and can update then.
Free fishing day for kids at the Kern River hatchery Saturday 4/28 with gear and lunch provided!


Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 04/11/18

We are living in interesting times!   94 degrees in one day and 60’s the next?  The 2018 snow pack season numbers are in for most of the river drainages in California and the Southern Sierra does not look good. For some reason on the Kern survey the lowest elevations have not been reported so it is fair to say they are likely at “0”. So the Kern River is likely below 46%. We had a warm tropical express come through the upper reaches of the Kern watershed and the Merced last week and much of the snow pack was melted. Flows hit 6,000 cfs on the Upper Kern and the Merced hit 8,000 cfs in Yosemite closing the valley campgrounds and attractions.
Upper Kern River today  at 2,00 cfs

Fortunately Lake Isabella was not close to full and the surge was captured for the valley users below as we will be drought driven again this summer. We may get one other storm tonight and that will likely murk things up again on the Upper Kern and the melt will continue with elevated April temperatures. With the very low snow pack, run off will end very early this year well before Memorial Day. Flows may even drop below 1,000 cfs before May 1st when most of us can wade on Section 5 (<400 cfs)to most of our favorite secret spots. That means no banking of trout and scattering across the river by the CDFW plants we’d normally get for many weeks or months in a normal year. Based on our data collection over several years it appears we will see lethal trout temperatures on the Upper Kern 20 mile section  again soon after Memorial Day and planting will likely cease . We will have a short window when planting resumes this spring (as of this writing none scheduled for April). Our hope is the “super catchable” 1.1-1.5 lb trout being held at the Kernville Planting Base to bulk up to the  3.0 pound trophies (CDFW definition) can be held successfully at the hatchery this summer with the 1 cfs that the 3 wells provide. It will be a challenge for hatchery personnel to monitor them 24/7 on their fixed budget. We’ll root for them and that the trophies can hit 3 lbs by the end of the year and released into our favorite stretches.
Here’s the link explaining the CDFW trophy program
Here’s how the Kern River snow pack has been trending this century.


Here is how some of our favorite rivers ended up for April 1, 2018. Truckee seems to be the best for now.
TRINITY                      23%
SAN JOAQUIN             65%
KINGS                         65%      
KERN                          46%
OWENS                       64%
TRUCKEE                   72%
TULE                           31%
Database can be viewed here
Members have done well stalking warm water species especially at Lake Success and other locals say the crappie bite is on at lake Isabella. Where did all of the big trout go that were stocked for the Lake Isabella derby? None posted on social media........... yet?
10 KRFF members had a chance to fly fish the Lower Sac on Friday in some of the heaviest rain in years on that stretch. We still got into trout some over 20”.  On Saturday we fished the famous Eagle Canyon Lakes. Even though they are spring fed waters they were a chocolate mess when we got there after a 2” or rain had deluged the country side. Our expectations were low, however, we managed to land about 20 huge rainbows over 10 hour period and missed more than we landed. It really speaks to the talents and perseverance of many of our club members. Enjoy the huge smiles we all had!


Looking forward to 4/28 the Kern River hatchery will host a free fishing day at the hatchery for kids 15 and under 9 am to 3 pm. All gear provided and hot dogs and sodas too. Here’s the area they have prepared for the trout catching fun.

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 04/02/18

Dramatically the weather has warmed up, however, the catching has dropped off on the Upper Kern and attention was placed on our Bakersfield Lakes. The local lakes were stocked before the bunny got here. The catching was good soon after the stocking truck drove off but trout were on the smallish side by those who reported their catches. Today there are far fewer fishers on our local waters indicating the harvesting is near completion and lake temps have risen rapidly with the near 90’s we saw in the afternoons locally.   The derby in Lake Isabella had a few huge trout caught as a result of some big planters subsidized by local Kern River Valley businesses. Thank you!    Haven’t seen or heard of any toads being caught above Lake Isabella to date yet.
The Upper Kern did not ramp up it’s flow much as a result of the big increase in air temps. This indicates that the Kern River snow pack is much lower than we were hoping. All courses on the Upper Kern have not been measured for the Apr 1st benchmark reading yet but the early indications are that most of the courses not measured likely have no snow at all? If I had to predict I would guess we will be less than 40% of normal snow pack for the Kern River April 1st once all of the readings are in. That means most of the summer on the 20 mile section river temps will exceed 70 degrees and stocking will not be allowed and holdovers and wild trout will be stressed for months again like 5 of the last 7 years. Plan accordingly.
At this writing there are no plantings scheduled for April on the 20 mile section or local lakes (will be too warm until October). Lake Isabella has one stocking currently scheduled for April.  Usually there will be plantings just before the traditional opening Saturday 4/28 and unfortunately near peak run off this year which will likely be below 2,000 cfs . Recent reports suggest most of the stockers over 12” have been harvested on the 20 mile section planted weeks ago, however, if you are willing to work and bushwhack you can still get a double digit day of sub footlongs many of which are too small for the frying pan. Keep an eye on Section 5 below Fairview Dam and above KR3 Powerhouse where flows should remain below 400 cfs for a while and wading is decent. Water cleared rather quickly than we expected last week and remains good.
Kings River has and continues to be stocked weekly and in the weeks with footlongs. A few trophies > 3 lbs are still being caught.
We hope to update the CA statewide snow pack on our favorite rivers soon. Stay tuned.

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 03/23/18

Had the opportunity to visit the Upper Kern nearly every day this week. I did fish on Monday and had some luck but not as great as last Friday. I covered twice the area of water and found trout to 16” in  3.5 hours. A lot of the runs that held trout last week didn’t get a grab this week. Landed 8 and did have two +16” jump and throw my red hooked  Arnerd #12. I even had one take on the dry. I saw larger size #14 mayflies around 2 pm too. Water was a bit clearer to maybe 5’ on Monday 3/19. But things were far different today.....
Helped +90 Kern Valley 4th graders plant their trout fry at Riverside Park as around 100 new 1” trout were stocked. The river hit 3,400 cfs this morning and the visibility is 6 inches if that. I left my rods in the car and just took a few pics today. Doubt the river will clear before Easter with another colder storm coming to add to the snow pack we desperately need. It was a chamber of commerce day with a brilliant blue sky, puffy clouds, and lots of green on the lower slopes. Not much change in the snow level as this last storm that dumped a lot of rain had a snow level above 7,500’. The preliminary snow pack bumped up to 56% with actual snow course surveys to be done the next couple of weeks. This isn’t great but far better than the 9% just a few weeks ago.

I got a chance to talk with the new hatchery lead and he passed along some more info on the trophy trout program and its current status. He said trophies are 3 lbs and over and he has none of those. His biggest trout were delivered to him  ranging from 1.1 – 1.4 lbs. He got CDFW permission to hold some of these in a race and fatten them up. It will take months though to more than double their weight and stock them as true trophies. He has planted some of 1.1-1.4’s last week and I believe caught some of them the last week. However, the bulk of them will be held until they are true +3 lb trophies. We can’t wait! They also recently installed a screen that removes leaves and debris on the inlet side of the hatchery. We also look forward to the free kids fishing day at the hatchery April 28th. Hot dogs and sodas will be provided along with fishing gear to be used by kids 15 and under.

There is a big trout tournament at Lake Isabella this weekend and the chamber has stocked Lake Isabella with +600 huge trout in the 5-15 lb range for some luck contestants.
Also + 10,000 lbs of half pounders were added as well by the chamber and CDFW. Good luck to those that try.

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 03/16/18

Spent some time with a class of 2nd graders for Trout in the Classroom this morning. They released 40 new trout to the Kern River they raised in their classrooms. They got to learn about rainbow trout and aquatic insect  biology, behavior, and habitat.  Then I had them cast on my old Orvis Clearwater fly rod that easily has had 10,000 students from 2nd to high school cast over the last dozen years. It is a long drive but worth every minute to get these Bakersfield kids on the river and in the National Forest.
When I first volunteered over half of BFL HIGH SCHOOL students had ever been as far as the mouth of the canyon; sadly now it is less than 10%. This is truly a grave concern and an indication of where parents priorities are now. Thankfully there are 30 teachers in Kern County that are making an effort to get there kids to a place that they may come back to with their families and friends to recreate responsibly in the future.

After spending some time with some inquisitive and energetic students I stopped by the hatchery to see what’s up. The hatchery is still a construction zone and much of it is closed off. There are 2 races with trout that are brought down from the SJ hatchery.

They are rearing trophies in one of the races. These are much smaller than the Lower Kings brooders that go 3-8 pounds ( by the way they are still being caught regularly  after the last brood stocking 3 weeks ago, over 5,000 lbs of them went in a 3 mile stretch over 6 weeks).
On the Upper Kern sections 4,5,6 were schedule to be stocked this week (about 1500 trout over a 20 mile stretch)so I gave it a try with ominous rain clouds slithering over the mountains.  Water clarity was better than I thought with about 4’ of visibility after recent rains and another inch of rain coming Saturday so things could go south in a matter of hours.
At noon the water temp on section 5 was 48 degrees and a very light hatch of BWO was beginning. I did not see one car in the pullouts, nor a fisher at Riverside Park, nor any tents in the campgrounds on a Friday afternoon?  My guess is between the rain predicted and the catching has been so poor for so long most have given up. That was good for me because I had a lot of river choices all to my self.   I set up my hopper dropper with a fresh Red Hooked BH Arnerd that was freshly tied yesterday at the KRFF club tying party last night. I bounced around some likely spots that might hold trout. After some searching I landed my first bow – an 18” stout planter. This was the size of the trophies that likely were planted this week.  A trophy is defined by the CDFW as a trout 3lbs or more. I think this one qualifies.
I also added a BHFBPT size #16 and started getting a lot of half pounders (footlongs). Bounced around for 2 hours and landed 15. Five were 15” – 18” and all bigs were caught on the #12 RH Arnerd. The rest on the #16 BHFBPT. None on the dry as expected but it is a great indicator fly.
None of these trout appeared to be Lake Isabella spawners like we used to see before the 5 year drought so I believe it is safe to say that ritual is now extinct even after the great water year of 2017. I have not seen any evidence or talked to anyone who has caught a lake Feb/Mar spawner in years.
One thing people ask me is how much weight do I use and what is my favorite tippet?  I don’t use any weight. My Arnerd is weighted under the dubbed body with .015 lead free wire I get here  and no split shot is needed so I have a straight line to my indicator fly. A much more efficient tug is translated to the indicator foam stonefly.  A few years ago I fished with a guide who recommended 4 lb Vanish fluorocarbon because, “it is the same stuff they put on tippet spools and charge 10 times the price because they can”. I’ve used it ever since and just $6 for 110 yards at Wal-Mart. I wrap it on old 4x tippet spools for my lanyard and buy a new spool every spring that easily lasts the year.
A pretty good day for just 2 hours and the best part...... I was the only guy on the river. Got to love that. Southern CA Snow pack has crept up to 37% (Kern a bit lower than this)of normal and we should get more snow in the next 2 storms which will be colder. We need a lot more and soon. One thing to be aware of. There is now construction on Lake Isabella dam area and the road 155 to Kernville is closed to one lane for construction near French Gulch . It looks to be ongoing for quite some time and there are traffic delays. Plan accordingly. Tight lines and hope to try again next week. There will be a hatchery staffing hiccups for the next 6 weeks and likely might impact the amount of stockings for a while. A trout fest for kids is planned for opening weekend the last Saturday in April. They get to fish the hatchery for free with equipment provided. Lucky kids we had to catch fish the hard way.

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 02/01/18

The Lower Kings is truly fishing amazing. It continues to be stocked with trophy trout in the 3-8 lb range. Over 1,000 lbs went in again this week (most in the catch and keep section) and 1000 lbs more planned this month. River levels are beginning to come up to 315 cfs as demands for water increases with the severe drought upon us again in the San Joaquin Valley. River temp 52 degrees at noon.
We had a truly epic day today. I landed 12 trophies and lost another 20 or more. Those dozen probably totaled over 300”!!!  Landed Two at 28” and one other 27” (pictured)  Most +23”.  STREAMERS were the ticket. Black color worked best late morning and flashier later in the day. Fast sink tip stripped moderately slow. The other KRFF club members had double digit fish on but netting was obtained by PATIENCE and outlasting these brutes. 3x tippet or thicker a must.  All guys had +5 in the net or more over 4 hours. I have rope burn on my stripping finger. Yes!!!!

The Southern Sierra Snowpack appears to be headed for a record low this year with no significant  snow in the foreseeable future.  Currently the snow course measurements look like this:
DRAINAGE                                    % of Annual Normal
Kern River                                             9%
Tule                                                       0%
Kings                                                   14%
Truckee                                               25%
Owens                                                 17%
Sacramento                                          23%

More February data here
On our home water some half pounders have be planted for Whiskey Flat weekend in the Kern River on the Lower sections and BFL lakes. The Kern River hatchery is holding half pounders in two of the older resurfaced races. Most of the new construction is not operational.  This week I had dialogue with a senior CDFW hatchery supervisor and the plans for the Kern River hatchery were laid out.  It will be challenging with +70 degree river temps at the hatchery inlet predicted around Memorial Day through October.  Hopefully LATE this fall the hatchery will be ready to receive the first Kern River Rainbow brooders. With fingers crossed our hope is the hatchery will plant the 50,000 pounds of trout allocated this year.  A trophy trout program is being restarted. It doesn’t mean they will be planting +3lb trout soon,  but that they can start holding the half pounders in one of the races and feeding them to bulk up. These trout will not  reach +3 lb trophy size until 2019.  They could plant some to 16” late this year though. It will be tricky as once the river exceeds 70 degrees they will have to depend solely on the 3 wells to supply a total of 1 cfs that can keep just one race cool. Let’s keep our fingers crossed it can work again like 3 years ago. The downside to well water is that it does not contain the organic elements that keep trout healthy so it is a delicate balance the hatchery personnel must monitor to make everything click. One power failure or pump failure and there are just hours to repair or all big trout go belly up. Hope failures don’t occur on weekends or late at night. Bigger trout are stressed more by high river temps than sub catchables.
For now enjoy the trout fishing that we have now and plan your summer trips for alpine elevations and tail waters , or out of state. Sounds like the Pacific NW to MT is a decent snow pack.

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 02/01/18

The first reports of snow pack and rainfall are trickling in and the results are not encouraging at all. While BFL has had one decent January rainfall day it has not shown up in the Southern Sierra snowpack. The first comprehensive snow pack data will be reported any day now but the early projections look as bad as 2015. It was one of the lowest ever recorded. Right now we are at 18% of normal for all of California and just 18% in the Southern Sierra as of 1/26/18. See the blue line in the graphs to understand the latest trends.

No rainfall is in the forecast through the first two weeks of February 2018 and record high temperatures likely will melt what little exists at this time. Pray for a change soon. At this juncture on the 20 mile stretch we will see trout lethal river temperatures in June and the end of stocking likely after Memorial Day. Sad.

Currently the only decent catching has been the weekly stockings on our local lakes. The Lower Kern has been planted about once a month according to the CDFW planting web site. With a very warm spell on the way, potentially the Upper Kern could be warmed above 45 degrees and limited planting resumed for Whiskey Flat Days weekend. With the 2017 high Lake Isabella water levels it will be interesting to see if the Feb/Mar spring run of lake fish spawners will come back? We haven’t seen those lake fish in the Upper Kern in 5 or 6 years.

Flows below Fairview Dam to KR3 are trickling at a paltry 48 cfs? The Kern River Hatchery is still not fully operational and no trophy program is in progress yet and its future appears to be uncertain. However, there is great fishing to our north a couple of hours.

Flows on the Lower Kings have remained rock solid at 270 cfs so wading is fine and so is the catching. The Lower Kings got its first planted trophies earlier this month and one of our members, Phil Elliot, helped plant rainbows to 8 pounds last week in the catch and release section. About 1,000 lbs of 3-8 pounders are being planted bi-weekly. They are very picky in this tail water preferring #20 chironomids on 6x tippet. Skill and patience is required to land these beasts. I’ve also had very good luck with a hot pink squirmy worm and tugging large dark streamers as well. If you’d like to help the CDFW stock give me a ring and schedule yourself to help out.  Get up to speed on how to be successful by attending our two club outings to the Lower Kings to learn from the experts.

Lower Owens, PVR, Upper Owens and Hot Creek catching was dramatically affected by the short term frigid weather timed just wrong for our outing last weekend again.  The Lower Owens and PVR waters were unproductive for baiters and fly fishers alike. While a few found double digits over the weekend there was some great dry fly action on Hot Creek with tiny flies on bows under 12”.Where have all of the browns gone?  There is an extreme warming trend for the next two weeks that surely will improve the catching on Eastern Sierra waters soon.


Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 01/12/18

It was great to see some moisture from the heavens in Kern County this week but we have a loooooonnnnnggggg way to go . The first snow pack survey data won’t be available until early February, however, rainfall totals in the Southern San Joaquin Valley are just 30% of where they should be this time of year. A dramatic change needs to happen soon or the 20 mile section on the Upper Kern will be over 70 degrees most of the summer and that will eliminate summer stocking completely for the 4th time in 5 years.
On the bright side we have had recent plants in town where the catching has been good at Riverwalk, Hart Park, and Lake Ming for anglers trying out their new tackle that Santa put under the tree. The Lower Kern has had some planting but catching has been slower there. The Kernville hatchery is still not fully operational and so no local trophy trout program restarted yet. If we have another low snow pack year that won’t be possible again this year. So do your rain dance!
The Lower Kings is ramping up fast and has become our clubs “go to spot” for the first three months of the year the last several seasons. The CDFW is stocking +4 lb brooders for the next few weeks.
Earlier this week the Lower Kings was stocked with 1,000 lbs of male brooders + 20”put in below Pine Flat Dam. We had a chance to tie into some of them today. Water temp 53 degrees and gin clear. Flows <270 cfs and good for wading. Trout were picky though. Why? They had been in the river a very short time. All long time successful veterans there say these freshly stocked trout are rarely pouncing on nymphs > #18’s. Funny how trout from the same hatchery when placed on the 20 mile section of the Upper Kern take much bigger flies at 3,000’ elevation? Wonder why that is? Best flies were tiny #20 zebras, FBPT’s, and stripping blacks bunnies down low with a sink tip (first 22” buck landed). I also had several hook ups and hefty wild jumpers with a hot pink squirmy wormy.
Avocado Lake is still closed and that area of the river not stocked. There should be more stocking there in the weeks to come. These are consistently big trout so leave the 4 wt at home and use 4x tippet or thicker and  +5lb or heavier!
A CDFW warden was on patrol and stopped by so remember it is C&R and barbless only below Alta Weir. Check the fog maps before you hit the road the next few days. It was not an issue today with light fog north of Visalia but could be denser this 3-day weekend.
If you want to volunteer to help stock in the following weeks let me know. Remember to get your 2018 license

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