Fishing Reports

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Fishing Report - 10/22/21

Our local waters have not been replenished by CDFW plants in months. Statewide stocking has been reduced heavily for October. The San Joaquin Hatchery is focused on spawning trout for next year’s crop of planters as are most of the hatcheries statewide. Many lakes state wide are extremely low and it doesn’t make sense to stock them as well. Our Riverwalk Lake is just a mud puddle at this time. However, Lakes Ming and Hart Park water levels are doing well and the Upper Kern is cool but low. Unfortunately, no plants will happen any time soon but likely will happen just before Turkey Day. The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch for the Kern River Valley as a big rain is expected and the potential for landslides from the recent fires are a concern.

So where should you go in California for some great wild trout action? The Lower Sacramento River below Lake Shasta is fishing great. The salmon are moving up to Keswick Dam and the rainbows and steelhead are close behind feeding on salmon eggs. Salmon typically go out to the ocean and return two to three years later to spawn. We had a great snow pack three years ago and those salmon are returning to the Lower Sacramento River that is very low. This concentrates both trout and salmon and made for some great catching for ten of our members last week on egg patterns in the morning and caddis imitations in the afternoon. Everyone got into quality trout over 20” and the biggest taped out at 27”! These are all wild, strong and gorgeous trout (the Lower Sac has not been stocked in decades) and the CDFW considers all trout over 16” in the Lower Sac are steelhead for reporting on your steelhead card. If that is true over half the trout we landed were Lower Sac CDFW steelhead (not my definition). Enjoy the smiles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fishing Report - 10/08/21

Good news on the Windy Fire as it is raining today. The Forest Service has opened the Upper Kern from Riverkern to Johnsondale Bridge. There appears to be significant rain happening on the Windy Fire as I type. How much soot and ash with hit the Upper Kern is unknown but if the Windy Fire is extinguished that will be great. So far no increase in river flows have been recorded.

Some folks have fished section 4 between KR3 and Lake Isabella the last few months with little success. The river has been over 70 degrees on that stretch for months and now has been cooled down to trout friendly temperatures. I made a call to the San Joaquin Hatchery to get some idea when we will see trout plants in Bakersfield Lakes and the Upper and Lower Kern River. The manager there said trout plants could return to those areas as early as November. The Upper Kern has not seen plants in nearly 3 months and trout there were extremely stressed. No restrictions were placed on trout fishing during the extremely high water temperatures so the catching likely will not be good until planting resumes. Some trout may have found cool springs to escape to and they will be critical to reestablish wild rainbows for future years. So please release any trout you land as planted trout by the CDFW are sterile and cannot repopulate the Kern River. Flows for now are very low at 100 cfs. The 4 mile wild trout section above Johnsondale Bridge and other tributaries are closed and forest service patrols are stationed at Johnsondale Bridge to prevent non-residents from accessing areas above that point. All campgrounds are closed except Headquarters Campground. You can access the day use areas to fish and picnic. McNally's Motel is open, the restaurant will open next weekend and the burger stand is open for business.

Five years ago the San Joaquin Hatchery had to be closed and evacuated due to extreme drought. This year they were able to maintain cool temperatures from Millerton Reservior and the trout are doing well. Kings River trophy trout will not be as large as previous years but they plan to beef them up for December through February and some should reach three pounds. They are stocking the Kings River below Pine Flat Dam at this time. There is no planned date this year to collect Kern River Rainbow brood stock. There is no planned reopening of the Kern River Hatchery, which has been closed almost a year, any time soon.

WINDY FIRE - 9/21/21

The WINDY Fire started on September 9th due to lighting.  The fire is currently at 27,183 acres.  There are currently evacuation orders for Johnsondale, CampWhitsett, Ponderosa and Quaking Aspen along with an Evacuation Warning for Camp Nelson.  As of earlier today, Johnsondale is still safe with fire crews using the site for one of their main staging points as well as using the lake for the helicopters to dip water out of.   There are a number of road closures in the area.  Please see the below links for updated information:

National Incident Information - Windy Fire - https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7841/

Kernvill Air Quality (zoom out on the map to see other air monitoring stations) - https://www.iqair.com/us/air-quality-map?lat=35.755&lng=-118.4175&placeId=ntihoPt2H4dtuxYz4

Sequoia National Forest Facebook Page - https://www.facebook.com/SequoiaNF

 

PACIFIC SOUTHWEST REGION FOREST CLOSURE - 8/30/21

All Pacific Southwest Region Forest Lands have been closed until at least Sept 17th, 11:59pm.  For further details, please see the below link to the official closure notice.

https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd949149.pdf

 

 

FRENCH FIRE INFORMATION AS OF 08/26/21 7:30PM

As of Thursday morning (8/26), the French Fire was at 22,030 acres and 19% contained.  Evacuation warning and alerts have been updated today.  Please see the Kern County ARCGIS Map link below or go to https://experience.arcgis.com/experience/ae9708aeeeec4268a3813ea2be191db4/page/page_1/?draft=true

Sequoia National Forest has posted the following on their Facebook page this evening (Aug 26th):

Upper Kern River Area and Trails Closure Order issued due to the French Fire
As discussed during the Wednesday, August 25 virtual public meeting, Sequoia National Forest Supervisor Teresa Benson is issuing the Upper Kern River Area and Trails Forest Order No. 0513-21-26 to close an area 1,000 feet wide on each side of the Upper Kern River from the Riverkern Day Use area south of the Tulare/Kern County line and extending north for approximately 17 miles to the north side of the Johnsondale Bridge.

County Road Mountain 99 (M99), which runs along the upper Kern River and through this area closure, remains open, and serves as the main evacuation route in the event the French Fire changes direction and burns toward Kernville and the upper Kern Canyon.

The Upper Kern River Area and Trails Closure Order is needed to provide for public safety. The French Fire, south of this area, continues to exhibit extreme fire behavior due to dry fuel conditions, gusty winds, and short-range spot fires and is therefore very dangerous for the public. This wildfire could threaten human life, property, and resource values. The Order is effective from August 27 through September 13, 2021.

https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd947897.pdf

https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd947898.pdf

For other Sequoia Forest Alerts and Closures visit this page:  https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/sequoia/alerts-notices

WILDFIRE INFORMATION AS OF 08/20/21 8:30AM

FRENCH FIRE

The French Fire started on Wednesday, Aug. 18th about 4:30pm near Sawmill Rd and Wagy Flat, near Woffard Heights, west of Lake Isabella.  As of 8:30AM today (Aug 20th), the fire was 4,272 acres in size and 5% contained.  Several evacuation orders and alerts are in place.  Please see the links below for more information:

National Incident Information System - French Fire - https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7813/

Kern County ARCGIS Map of fire and evacuation boundaries - https://kcfd.maps.arcgis.com/apps/instant/interactivelegend/index.html?appid=cd18207578044581a9a9a1255fc88417

NBC Los Angeles Article - https://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/california-wildfires/evacuations-kern-county-french-fire-california-wildfires-lake-isabella/2675213/

Bakersfield Californian Article - https://www.bakersfield.com/news/updated-day-2-french-fire-continues-burning-5-percent-containment/article_363eeb70-0113-11ec-a014-6705d9962af0.html

Kern Valley Sun Article - https://kernvalleysun.com/stories/606758023-update-evacuation-order-issued-for-keyesville-south

Alert Wildfire Webcams - Shirley Peak 1 - http://www.alertwildfire.org/sierra/index.html?camera=Axis-ShirleyPeak1&v=fd40729

Alert Wildfire Webcams - Shirley Peak 2 - http://www.alertwildfire.org/sierra/index.html?camera=Axis-ShirleyPeak2&v=fd40729

Alert Wildfire Webcams - Rocky Point 1 - http://www.alertwildfire.org/sierra/index.html?camera=Axis-RockyPoint1&v=fd40729

Alert Wildfire Webcams - Rocky Point 2 - http://www.alertwildfire.org/sierra/index.html?camera=Axis-RockyPoint2&v=fd40729

 

 

WALKERS FIRE

The Walkers Fire started Sunday, Aug. 15th about 11:30AM.  As of 10:45AM on Aug 19th, the fire was at 1,890 acres with 10% containment.  More information can be found at the links below:

National Incident Information Systems - Walkers Fire - https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7807/

Visalia Times Delta Article - https://www.visaliatimesdelta.com/story/news/2021/08/18/sequoia-national-forests-walkers-fire-continues-grow/8180007002/

Porterville Recorder Article - https://www.recorderonline.com/news/walkers-fire-up-to-nearly-2-000-acres/article_c2f5ddd0-0087-11ec-bc66-97a3d42d8995.html

Alert Wildfire Webcams - Tobis Peak 2 - http://www.alertwildfire.org/sierra/index.html?camera=Axis-TobiasPeak1&v=fd40729

Alert Wildfire Webcams - Blue Ridge 1 - http://www.alertwildfire.org/sierra/index.html?camera=Axis-BlueRidge1&v=fd40729

 

 

 

Fishing Report - 7/23/21

Conditions on the Upper Kern River will be bleak for the foreseeable future. Extreme drought continues to make flows on the Upper Kern very low and lethally warm for trout. No stocking has occurred for some time and based on the past, we likely won't see any until late September. The recent Monsoonal storms have pushed soot and sediment into the Upper Kern murking things up. Flows are trending back to 120 cfs after having bumped to around 170 cfs.  Just a 50 cfs surge made a big change. More T-storms are in the forecast for our local mountain areas. Some white water companies have stopped guided raft trips until flows return (probably next year). Wisely KRFF members have not fished the Upper Kern as the few remaining wild trout are under extreme environmental and constant angling pressure. Fishing regulations and Hoot Owl  CDFW restrictions still are NOT in place on the Upper Kern. Several trout waters in the Eastern Sierra have been designated for "Hoot Owl" restrictions to protect trout populations .  If the CDFW designates a water as under " Hoot Owl" restrictions it is recommended that the water is not fished after noon.      "When these select fisheries begin to achieve sustained afternoon water temperatures exceeding 67° Fahrenheit, CDFW will add the water(s) to a “Hoot Owl” watchlist below and will work with local stakeholders and CDFW staff to help with outreach to inform anglers.

The waters listed for protection at this date are :

    The Lower Owens River (Pleasant Valley Dam downstream to Five Bridges)
    Hot Creek
    Mill Creek (Walker Basin)
    Lower Rush Creek (From Grant Lake to Mono Lake)
    Bridgeport Reservoir
    Deep Creek
    Crowley Lake
    Truckee River (From Lake Tahoe to Nevada Stateline)
    East Walker River (From Bridgeport Reservoir to Nevada Stateline)

You can learn more at the CDFW web page https://wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Inland/Hoot-Owl

Unfortunately, the Upper Kern River has been managed poorly again during extreme drought and the degradation of this once great Kern River Rainbow water continues its further decline.  During frequent extreme droughts, it is hard to comprehend why the 24 miles above Lake Isabella and a designated wild and scenic river with three threatened unique native species just doesn't seem to garner any common sense measures to improve and protect it by the CDFW and USFS.  Hoot Owl restrictions are rather new to CA waters but have been in place in many other western states like Montana and  Oregon to name a couple. Hoot Owl restrictions in those state are ENFORCED not simply recommended. In some cases trout waters are closed to fishing any time of day. As a result thriving wild trout populations do much better in those states than California. The CDFW is way behind the curve on Hoot Owl restrictions in a state that has been impacted by extreme droughts for decades. According to Caltrout's latest study 45% of our state's native salmonids (like trout and salmon) will be gone in 50 years and 78% in  the next 100. Check out the 2017 study here https://caltrout.org/sos
 

Upper elevation tributaries are very low and warming also. Please consider fishing only warm water species locally. Insure you take a water temperature before you toss a fly any where you are stalking trout. If over 65 degrees play fish quickly with heavier tippet (I like inexpensive 6 lb fluorocarbon Vanish), keep them in the water when releasing. If river/stream waters exceed 70 degrees leave them alone.  Lake Isabella bass and crappie are still providing good catching. Not much being posted about carp catching and the Lower Kern Canyon Bass. Some locals have landed some bass on the Kern River near town and local lakes are producing early and late in the day.

Fishing Report - 6/10/21

The summer furnace turned on last week with triple digits. Upper Kern River temperatures were 75 degrees at HQ campground and pushing 70 on the upper half of section 5 just after Memorial Day as predicted. However, we got a great stretch of cool weather that put the Bako and Kernville in the 70's in the afternoon with lows in the 50's. So we headed up to take advantage of trout safe water conditions before the furnace kicks back on this weekend. We made our way to the Johnsondale Bridge and noticed very few cars in the pull outs and campgrounds along the 20 mile section even after school is out for the summer? No one was fishing at Riverside Park in Kernville so the Memorial Day stocking likely has been harvested or many trout went belly up? So the catching on the 20 mile section is noticeably down and so is the pressure.

We decided to get a weekday on the special regulations section before weekenders crowd in. We had good luck with the typical stuff. Stimulators, #12 foam golden stone, #12 red hooked Arnerd's (very few grabs on the steel hooks), and BHFBPT size 16. It requires a lot of work to get where fish are accessible and to catch to them. Above the JD bridge the river gradient is steeper and so are the canyon walls making entry to the river and wading a much more physical challenge compared to below Fairview Dam. Definitely a young man's (or someone who thinks they still are) stretch of river to fish. Water clarity was a bit off, not gin clear, as we expected at 250 cfs. Water temp at 10:30 am was 57 degrees and a bit chilly to wet wade in the morning. We fished until 3:00 pm. I was able to land 19 with five 14"-15". The three man team landed 30 total in about 4.5 hours. All trout are super clean and much stronger than stockers of the same size that pervade the 20 mile stretch. We were pretty worn out by the time we made it back to the car and several more vehicles were parked than when we arrived earlier this morning. A really special day and conditions like this won't exist until October and hopefully the trout can survive until then. We got a great airshow too with F-16's, F-18's , F-22 Raptors and one huge  C-17 booming just above us into a bright blue sky.

Predictions of temperatures exceeding 110 are forecasted next week in the Bako and 107 in Kernville. Water temps will again be lethal on much of the 20 mile section. It is imperative that catch and release anglers know what water temps are and please consider leaving the river alone above 70 degrees. Also, land and release  trout quickly above 65 degrees (no photos please). The CDFW has taken sections 4 and 5 of of its stocking plan for June. Section 6 likely will be unstocked soon as well. The stocking truck has to travel from north of Fresno over 3 hours to reach the Kern through extreme heat and trout have a hard time making that trip and then being dumped in a river nearing 70 degrees.

We feel every measure should be taken to ensure the survival of trout remaining in the Upper Kern. One easy way is to put the 35 cfs that is currently dedicated for power generation and the Kern River Hatchery (closed) back into section 5 below Fairview Dam where water temperatures have already exceeded 75 degrees. We encourage all concerned anglers to email the CDFW Region 4 Director Julie Vance at JVANCE@dfg.ca.gov and or reg4sec@wildlife.ca.gov to implore her to release these 35 cfs that are not needed for the Kern River Hatchery that will be closed the next 2 years (at a minimum) and put this 35 cfs back into an extremely impacted 16 mile stretch of the Kern River between Fairview Dam and the KR3 Powerhouse. Seems like a no brainer huh?

Fishing Report - 5/12/21

The catching has been good for most while flows have remained very low for May. The usual go to patterns are working well. A salmon fly hatch was on for a short time but soon golden stones and hoppers will predominate. Any dry fly with a yellow belly will work. #12 - #18 bead head pheasant tails, copper johns, BH princes and BH hares ears set 30" below the dry will get grabs. Upper Kern River temperatures have remained healthy for trout along the 20 mile section and it appears we have already reached peak flows last week at 800 cfs. So likely there will be just a few weeks of good trout temperatures on the most pressured stretches of the Upper Kern River. The low flow section below Fairveiw Dam has been near 100 cfs with easier wading. Just remember that those flows could ramp up over 500 cfs if SoCal Edison has a mechanical issue with power generation. If you notice that the river is rising and getting dirty you must cross to the east side of the river within a minute or you risk being stranded on the west side. It can be a long walk to a crossable stretch.

Summer is approaching fast and there are some things to be aware of. First there have already been two fires flare up in the past week along the Kern River drainage. The tinder is dry and if a strong wind is present, making a quick exit is imperative. I always have a full tank of gas in case I have to drive north to escape a fire south of me. Second, the 20 mile stretch and 4 mile wild trout section above Johnsondale will be severely stressed this summer. The Kern River drainage has received one of the lowest snow packs on record at just 29% following a 50% year. Kern River temperatures will exceed 70 degrees starting soon in June on the most popular sections 24 miles above Lake Isabella. It addition much of the Golden Trout Wilderness and the Sequoia National Forest were ravaged by the huge 174,000 acre Castle Fire last year and many of those areas are CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC for all of 2021 including the Forks of the Kern. These areas are wisely being allowed to rest while the long natural rehabilitation of those devastated areas slowly begins. The extreme drought has prevented the huge soot and ash loads to remain on the slopes of the national forest but a huge monsoonal summer thunderstorm could change all of that. I encourage any one considering fishing the Kern River this summer to bring a stream thermometer with them and avoid catch and release fishing when temperatures exceed 70 degrees and never allow a trout to be lifted out of the water above 65 degrees. These are special trout in special places. The wild trout on the heavily pressured stretches above Kernville are at risk.

Fish surveys conducted over the last 23 years on the 20 mile and wild trout sections above Lake Isabella show that very few wild trout over 9 inches (229 mm) exist. Most are under 6 inches (152 mm). The surveys are conducted in early Fall. In all of the surveys almost no stocked trout are found via elctro-shocking and snorkeling. It confirms what many of us already know, that in the 24 miles upstream of Lake Isabella Dam any trout big enough to fry is harvested quickly. Especially when the amount of CDFW stocking has been dramatically reduced over the last 15 years. Suckers and Pike minnows are thriving - approximately +30 of those combined species for every single trout found.  You can view the raw survey data and studies at the SoCal Edison KR3 Powerhouse Relicensing website https://www.sce.com/regulatory/hydro-licensing/kr3 .  A chart below shows one of the best surveys (2011)during a good water year (195% of normal).

The CDFW Kern River Rainbow project that has been over twenty years in the making and over $1,000,000 spent has been delayed another two years with the closing of the Kern River Hatchery to replace a mechanical failure of the inlet siphon. While many of us applaud the CDFW's intentions to reintroduce pure strain Kern River Rainbows into the highly hybridized trout located in the 24 miles above Lake Isabella, we must take care to protect this heavily pressured fishery under great stress this year. Last summer the Kern River saw over an estimated 20,000 visitors each weekend. Not all were kind to the forest and some areas were devastated and had to be closed for rehabilitation like Chico Flat-it will reopen soon. In addition, glass containers are now prohibited from being in your possession on much of the 20 mile section and Lake Isabella with fines up to $5,000. It is time to get serious about the trashing of our wild places and I am glad to see the Forest Service taking actions.  See https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd902967.pdf

I encourage all campers, hikers and anglers who intend to target Golden Trout and Kern River Rainbows to visit the Sequoia National Forest website to see all of the 2021 closure information before you enter for the latest conditions and to view the closure areas as a result of the FOREST ORDER NO. 0513-21-08 https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd886774.pdf

The Lake Isabella Trout Derby has had less than 100 0f the 500 tagged trout caught . Total prize money awarded so far is just over $10,000 with over $25,000 of tagged prized trout still swimming around the lake. The grand prize $5,000 has been caught. You have to pay a fee to enter. Lots of pressure will be on the lake for trout this summer it appears. Crappie and bass are moving into the shallows and the bite is good there.

 

Fishing Report - 4/9/21

Spring is upon us and we have the April 1st bench mark snow packs recorded for all of the California drainages. It ain't pretty. The further south in the Sierra the bleaker it looks. The April 1st measurement for the Kern was 29% of normal which follows a 50% 2020. What does this mean for trout fishing on the Upper Kern. Flows will not reach 1,000 cfs unless there is a huge thunderstorm before May 15th (that would be a very rare event). Expect no banking of disbursed stocked rainbows over the runoff period for 2021. The run off will peak well before Memorial Day and the peak in the flow curve will definitely be flattened this year. Upper Kern River temps will exceed 70 degrees in early June or even before Memorial Day on sections 4 and 5 to be sure. About 2-3 weeks later they will exceed 70 degrees on section 6 and the wild trout special regulations section. All of these predictions can be made with the data I have collected for over 20 years that are available from various government agencies.

It will be a very stressful summer and well into fall for trout on the 20 mile stretch.  Please consider using a stream thermometer and avoid fishing on the 20 mile stretch when river temperatures rise above 70 degrees. The fertile trout population is already in jeopardy with no fertile trout plants of significance in well over a decade on the Upper Kern. The CDFW already has indicated that because of the mass trout kill at SoCal hatcheries last year plantings will be down 50% from normal numbers in 2021. There is every indication that wild places will be heavily visited again this year based on all of the travel surveys which also means there is and will be heavy fishing pressure on all waters in California.

For now the Kern River is rising daily during this unseasonably warming trend that is predicted for most of April. Water is slightly off color. Flashier flies are working better like brassies and copper johns of different bright colors. Water temps are perfect for now.  Catching numbers are about half of what they were recorded last year, inline with the reduced SoCal CDFW stocking mentioned above. In addition all stocking is now done by the San Joaquin Hatchery  which requires a 7 hour round trip drive so there isn't a lot of time to make broad distributions of planted trout. So the best catching is concentrated in those spots. See a recent video of how plants are made https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNeBxiAEl9s  please avoid hot spotting on social media to give these planters a chance to disburse.  Until the Kern River Hatchery is restarted more than 2 years from now, this likely will be the modus operandi for planting the Upper Kern.  The Lake Isabella crappie bite has come up nicely in 5' to 15' of water.

The Lake Isabella spring fishing derby has been changed from prior years. It will not be just for a weekend but will extend from April 24 to September 6 and 500 tagged rainbow trout will have prizes ranging from $20 to $5,000 for those that pay the entry fee. This will ensure there will be additional pressure on the lake for months and likely means fewer solid sized rainbows will migrate up river this year. I have spoken with volunteers that are feeding the trout being raised for the tournament and they are getting near 3 pounds.  More info here https://www.kernrivervalley.com/copy-of-isabella-lake-fishing-derby-1  Stay safe and wear your mask when you camp or fish closely around others.

How does the snow pack look for the rest of California? The northern most waters are in decent shape compared to the Kern River. Most NorCal watersheds are near 70 percent.

State wide the average is 62%. See database here http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cgi-progs/snow_ss/COURSES

Below is a table showing some of our favorite watersheds


KERN                        29%

TULE                         30%

KINGS                        44%

OWENS                     47%

WALKER                    78%

TRUCKEE                    66%

FEATHER                    72%

TRINITY                       69%

SACRAMENTO            69%       


For now enjoy trout waters and pan fish for the next two months locally before we move into a tenuous period for rainbows in June through September on the 20 mile section and 4 mile special regulations section of the Kern.

Fishing Report - 2/26/21

I finished my taxes and recent stocking on the Upper Kern plus the beautiful weather begged me to get up on my favorite water. Usually, I don't consider going up there when morning air temperatures are consistently in the 30's as that means water temps are  in the low forties and a sluggish bite. I arrived around 10 am and the air was crisp but water temperature on section 4 was 45 degrees. So I had good hope for later temperatures in the upper forties at least. There were several folks hooking up near the bridge in Kernville so that always confirms very recent stocking and I was told by the happy anglers the trout were planted yesterday 2/25. There were over a dozen bait/fly anglers there so I moved on  as I prefer my solitude. I spent the next four hours covering the most water I have ever fished in one trip on section 4 without one bump, no insect life buzzing around at all. I spoke to 6 other fly fishers on section 4 and no one had a take either. I hit some areas that were planted a couple of weeks ago on section 5 and got nary a bump as well. I fished dries, nymphs big and small, ever tugging streamers. I got a good airshow from screaming fighter jets in a cobalt blue sky. No snow remains on any of the peaks that I could observe from the 20 mile section.

Speaking of snow the pack year to date in the Kern drainage is not encouraging. The Kern River snow pack is poor at 42% of normal as of today. We had one of the driest February's ever recorded, so March has to be big to have any chance of a decent April 1st benchmark. We still have not had a big enough rain event to erode the huge soot and ash areas in the Kern River drainage that had over 170,000 acres burned last fall. The river is running clear and cold around 200 cfs and no diversion at Fairview Dam for the last several days. Snow packs in the Northern Sierra are better - running just under 70% of normal for this time of year and just 60% of the April 1st peak benchmark. Unfortunately, the 3 month forecast shows another year of drought will affect many of our state waters again.

The CDFW provided an update for plans at the Kern River Hatchery last week. They reported, “The Kern River Hatchery will remain closed until the siphon in feed pipeline replacement work is complete and the improvements can provide a reliable water supply. This will involve major construction that is anticipated to take a minimum of two years to complete. The timeline could be longer and will be determined once initial planning for construction is complete.  State funding has been allocated for pipeline replacement. Additional improvements are proposed for completion while the facility is closed. Funding for additional improvements has yet to be identified”.

“Recent studies carried out by CDFW show that there are unique strains of Kern River rainbow trout present in the Kern River watershed that can assist with development of a native fishery. This is an exciting opportunity that will rely upon modern fish hatchery techniques which is a major factor in closing the hatchery to ensure the facility can satisfy this need. CDFW will be developing a broodstock program to reintroduce Kern River rainbow trout into the Kern River watershed in conjunction with reopening of the Kern River Hatchery. All fish production will cease until the facility becomes operational. The facility will continue to be closed to the public.”

Sadly it appears that the Kern River Rainbow Project (KRRP) will be deferred until the Kern River Hatchery reopens. We were told last year that the San Joaquin Hatchery would get the first brood stock while the Kern facility was closed so that the KRRP program could get initiated. Unfortunately, it indicates that we are years away from catchable native KRRT being planted in the Kern River. The statement above says there, “are unique strains of Kern River Rainbow Trout (KRRT) present in the Kern River watershed”. However, they are located above 8,000 foot elevations. CDFW biologists do not believe there are many or pure KRRT on the 20 mile section or the 4 mile special regulations above Johnsondale Bridge. Why? Because decades of CDFW planting fertile Eagle Lake and McCloud rainbows on the 20 mile stretch moved up river and hybridized with the native KRRT. That is why the CDFW started planting only sterile trout the last 10 years to reduce further hybridization. To give you some idea of how much planting was going on the Kern River Hatchery was planting over 180,000 pounds of fertile rainbows every year +15 years ago (even higher pounds are reported in the 1970's). Recently, sometime years they annually planted under 50,000 pounds of sterile (triploid) rainbows before the hatchery closure. That is why the CDFW uses the term “reintroduce” Kern River rainbow trout as pure KRRT essentially don’t actually exist in the stretches most anglers target on the 4 mile wild trout (trout born in the river) stretch and the 20 mile stocked stretch below Johnsondale Bridge to Lake Isabella according to their biologists. That is why the brood stock have to be collected above 8,000' nearer the headwaters of the Kern River to initiate the KRRP and reintroduce pure strain native KRRT into their historical watersheds at lower elevations above Lake Isabella.

Covid-19 infections in Kern County are still very real with over 25 deaths reported in Kern County just yesterday 2/25/21, it is imperative to prevent further spread in the vulnerable Kern River Valley and here in Bakersfield. Many of us are on the cusp of being fully vaccinated, but I continue to protect the community up there by wearing a mask and having all the food, water, fuel, and flies I need packed before I leave home, making sure I have no reason to closely interact with anyone or contact public surfaces while fly fishing. Hope you all stay healthy and safe.”

 

Kernville Fish Hatchery Temporary Closure Q&A - 2/18/21

The California Fish & Wildlife department has released a two page Question and Answer PDF on the Temporary Closure of the Kernville Fish Hatchery.  Below is a link to the document for your review:

Kernville Fish Hatchery Temporary Closure Q&A

 

Fishing Report - 2/12/21

Catching will and has been driven by weather and primarily stocking. The CDFW has made a dramatic shift from its stocking policies of the past with few Bakersfield lakes and Lower Kern River plants but far more plants occurring on the Upper Kern. Not sure why the dramatic change from years past but local lake plants draw a lot of people that often aren’t masking and socially distancing, that may be the reason? Upper Kern River temps have been in the upper 30’s and low 40’s so the bite has been slower (except on pressured stocked runs) and flows are running clear around 250 cfs. A weak and warmer storm is approaching this weekend so runoff could be significant and worth watching.

Cope's Tackle & Rod Shop paid to have a private hatchery stuff Riverwalk Lake with lightning and rainbow trout up to 10 pounds on Tuesday. There are a lot of social media post with PB's and happy smiles. Prizes are being offered by Cope's as well. These are big trout but are sterile and will die off when lake temperatures exceed 70 degrees in April. The best fly fishers have landed dozens a day using small midges patterns like #18-20 zebras hung 2' below a "press on" indicator in water less than 4' deep. Set on any twitch! There is a lot of pressure so these trophies likely will not survive the holiday weekend.

The Lower Kings will continue to get trophies planted through next week. Catching has been good on small nymphs as well. Flows have been clear and low (just 150 cfs) concentrating foot long and big rainbows alike.

The Kern River snow pack is poor at 39% of normal as of Feb 12 and a weak storm is coming soon. Bakersfield will get a projected .07" of rain and Kernville 0.25". Snow levels will likely stay well above 4,000’. We still have not had a big enough rain event to erode the huge soot and ash areas in the Kern River drainage that had over 170,000 acres burned last fall.

 

Snow packs in the Northern Sierra are better running about  70% of normal for this year and 67% state wide. Unfortunately the 3 month forecast is not encouraging and a second year of drought will affect many of our state waters again.

You can see all California snow pack surveys here http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cgi-progs/snow_ss/COURSES and graphs here http://cdec.water.ca.gov/reportapp/javareports?name=PLOT_SWC

The Lake Isabella spring fishing derby has been changed from prior years. It will not be just for a weekend but will extend from April 24 to September 6 and 500 tagged rainbow trout will have prizes ranging from $20 to $5,000 for those that pay the entry fee. This will ensure there will be additional pressure on the lake and likely means fewer solid sized rainbows will migrate up river this year.

Whiskey Flats Days has been cancelled because of the huge numbers of Covid-19 cases in Kern County and full ICU’s in our local hospitals. Stay safe and wear your mask when you camp or fish.

The Sequoia NF is seeking public comment  on the proposed Castle Fire Ecological Restoration Project  impacted by the huge 2020 fire. See more information here https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/sequoia/home/?cid=fseprd879990

Fishing Report - 12/22/20

Winter is pretty much here. The Upper Kern is running pretty cold in the 30's on the 20 mile section. It is clear and just 170 cfs in Kernville and just 60 cfs below Fairview Dam.  It is still getting stocked but the cooler temperatures are slowing the catching way down. Pounds to be stocked are much lower than last year throughout Kern County and SoCal because of the huge bacterial trout kill this past summer. Also the Kern River hatchery appears to be down indefinitely as the large siphon line that feed river water into it needs replacing at very high cost and planning it seems. You can read an article recently published in the Californian here  https://www.bakersfield.com/news/hatchery-closes-down-again-following-three-years-of-renovations/article_c24d71b4-2dd7-11eb-a774-276cf8699ec7.html .  It is too bad because if it were open more local control over where trout are stocked would be in play, it is a tourist destination for many, and the highlight of the Trout in the Classroom field trips each year. One wonders if the facility will operate in the next couple of years or ever at all. The Kern River Rainbow project still has not been implemented and likely won't be any time soon. It has been well over a decade since any Kern River Rainbows were reared at the Kern River Planting Base. KRR brood stock are scheduled to be obtained next year (fingers crossed).

Trout are being planted in Bakersfield Lakes but in fewer spots because of the huge loss of hatchery trout this summer in SoCal. Lake Ming and Riverwalk are getting trout (Truxton Lake and Hart Park will not recieve any), catching had been slow and the cormarants are doing better than many anglers. No stocking is scheduled for the Lower Kern it appears this winter. Lake Bueana Vista has some huge trout missing a lot of their tails being caught up to 10 pounds for their annual derby.

The Lower Kings trophy trout program started two weeks ago. It has been a bright spot. It also is having both CDFW and private hatchery plants made to bring stocked levels to more normal levels.  Some members have tied into several big bows to 24" and hefty. Black zebra midges are the ticket sizes 18 and 20. These + 3 pounders will be stocked weekly through mid - February. In the past our club has helped with the stocking but because of Covid infections volunteers are not being utilized.

One of many nice KINGS RIVER trophies taken this past weekend

Covid infections in Kern County are at extremely serious levels. Practically all ICU beds are filled. At this time 1 in 36 residents in Kern County have an active Covid -19 infection isolating at home according to our Kern County heath department. If you are going to fly fish make sure you are isolated from others and you wear a mask. As always  it is imperative to prevent further spread in the vulnerable Kern River Valley and here in Bakersfield. I continue to protect the community up there by having all the food, water, fuel, and flies I need packed before I leave home, making sure I have no reason to closely interact with anyone or contact public surfaces while fly fishing. I wear a mask. Hope you all stay safe.


Going forward the precipitation to date and forecasted for the Southern Sierra appears to be bleak. Lake Isabella is just 61% of its normal December level and rainfall totals season to date are just 24% of normal in our area. State wide totals are similar especially in SoCal. Snow pack is 30% of normal for this date in the Sothern Sierra and a bit better up north. The NOAA three month precipitation forecast for California is the lowest I can remember. Unfortunately, it looks like another drought year is ahead of us again for 2021.  It looks like MT, WA, OR and ID should be in great shape for summer 2021.

Fire Alert - Canyon Fire - 12/06/20

The Canyon Fire started on the Upper Kern River on Saturday, Dec 5th around 1:00 PM.  Mountian 99 north of Kernville is currently closed.  The fire is currently 70% contained but high winds are expected over the next couple of days. You can monitor the fire at the below link:

https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7276/

Additionally the Forest Service has extended their forest closures through 12/31/20 due to the SQF fire complex.  Full details can be found at the below link:

https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd859775.pdf

 

Fishing Report - 11/19/20

I haven't had a chance to get away for a couple of weeks and wanted to get above the fog in the Bako today. Recent reports from members suggested that skunkings were more common on the 20 mile section recently as water temperatures declined and more weekend harvesting occurred. The good news was that the Upper Kern was running clear even right after the rain we got two weeks ago. Apparently there was not a lot of precipitation at higher elevation (we got almost half an inch in BFL) as the SQF fire was not quenched and is still burning. Hard to believe huh?    See here https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7048/    At this time the Sequoia National Forest area, including trails, is still closed north of the Johnsondale Bridge because of the SQF fire. See here  https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/sequoia/alerts-notices

The 20 mile section is open to fishing, however, Chico Flats disbursed campground is closed for rehabilitation because people completely trashed the area.

See story here https://kernvalleysun.com/chico-flat-campground-shuts-down-for-season/
 

Back to the fishing. I decided to start at a wild stretch that I covered two weeks ago and got a dozen grabs and landed a nice wild 16" bow to see how it was doing. On my way there I saw no people fishing Riverside Park and only 2 cars in the turnouts on the drive up. I was glad to know I would have solitude but it also means...........      The river was 46 degrees at 10 am and no insect activity. The sun was bright and it was warm enough to wear waist waders and a fishing shirt without a jacket. I only got one small grab in an hour over a stretch that held at least 12 feeding wild trout last week. In addition I could see many footprints where there were none last trip. It became obvious to me, given the reports of skunkings, that I would have to search for trout if I wasn't going to be skunked myself. I made the decision to drive a lot and go right to my favorite wild spots and try some often stocked spots. I managed 4 rainbows (largest 16" and 3 clearly wild) in 4 hours. I stopped at 9 different spots on sections 4,5 and 6 and fished at the best water I know and did not find any trout grouped together. It was obvious that there was no stocking this week or they were already harvested (I doubt that because very few were fishing). I only saw 3 vehicles on the 20 mile stretch but there were 10 vehicles at the Johnsondale Bridge Parking lot. I'm guessing those people don't realize they could be in for a big fine if they are on the trail above the bridge (fire zone closed area)when it is being patrolled.

Water temps were between 43 degrees and 47 degrees and when below 45 degrees those waters should not be stocked by the CDFW. That also may be why there wasn't evidence of recent stocking. The only bugs I saw were midges in the # 20 to #26 size. I did try hanging some midge larvae patterns sizes #20 and #22 without any grabs. The red hooked Arnerd and #18 BHFBPT landed trout. I have been tugging streamers as well but have not had any luck with them in over a month. Cooler water makes trout less active and likely to chase a streamer. I think I will leave my streamer rod at home next time. I can say the river is beautiful with golden trees lining its banks. There was a deep blue sky and not even a hint of forest fire smoke in the air. With the clean atmosphere the fighter jets are back and I had five F-22 raptors and three F-18's thunder over my head well under 1,000' during the day. Awesome!

As colder temperatures return we will see more planting in our local BFL lakes. The Kern River Hatchery is still dry and no reopen date has been communicated.  Riverwalk and Ming Lakes will see trout right before Turkey Day from the San Joaquin Hatchery. In the past we saw them show on Tuesday. Have a safe holiday!


Covid-19 infections in Kern County are back in the severe "purple" range, it is imperative to prevent further spread in the vulnerable Kern River Valley and here in Bakersfield. I continue to protect the community up there by having all the food, water, fuel, and flies I need packed before I leave home, making sure I have no reason to closely interact with anyone or contact public surfaces while fly fishing. Hope you all stay safe.”

Fishing Report - 11/5/20

To be honest I really didn’t think I would return to the Upper Kern for a while but a few new developments this week urged me to take a trip today.  First, stocking was to resume this week directly from the San Joaquin Hatchery. Second, warmer weather could mean warmer river temperatures. Third, a dramatic drop in flows (just 44 cfs) on section 5 would mean trout concentrated into less water and water would warm up during the day at slower flow speeds over section 5. Fourth, and most importantly, cold/rain/snow is coming this weekend to the Southern Sierras. This likely means the huge 170,000 acre  SQF fire will finally be quenched after 2 months of devastation, but soot and ash will soon murk up the pristine gin clear 20 mile section for some time to come. So I headed up the canyon this morning likely to partake in the last good fly fishing of the year.
 
I arrived at Riverside Park in Kernville around 9 am. No one was fishing so it was clear the CDFW had not planted the 20 mile stretch this week. So I focused on wild areas on section 5 to start. The water temp was 53 degrees and 7 degrees higher than last week. That was encouraging and much higher than I would have predicted. However, the water levels were very low and deeper holding water pools were few and far between. Wading is very easy.   I covered a long stretch and managed to hook two small bows in the first two hours and headed further up river. There were very few cars in the turnouts so I could fly fish most anywhere I wanted. I decided on a stretch I hadn’t fished in quite some time and started on some new water for me. I landed several 8 – 11” wilds over the next hour and one 16” pristine bow that made my day and worth the effort to find it. Both the #12 Arnerd and #18 BHFPPT caught rainbows. Little insect and surface action to report. I decided to head further up on section 5 for one more try on a longer run. I stopped in the McNally's’ area and asked around if they had seen a stocking truck and they said not yet. However, a minute after I inquired and headed up river I spied the CDFW planting so I pulled over to chat. The driver from the SJ Hatchery was in the process of planting 600 pounds of rainbows along the 20 mile section and he was on the back half of a very long day for him. He planted 2 buckets and I decided to see if they were hungry. After 20 minutes I had hooked and landed five 15” bow clones on the foam golden stone and droppers but another + – 35 trout had no interest in my flies. My guess is many were in thermal shock as the +200 mile drive through the valley had warmed up the tank and when tossed in the the 54 degree water it locks their jaws for a bit. Unfortunately, I needed to head home and didn’t have the time to wait a few hours for them to begin feeding.
 

 
The local Kern River Hatchery is unmanned at this time and likely won’t be through March according to my last email with the CDFW. The San Joaquin CDFW driver doesn’t plant the Kern directly very often so as I drove back down to Kernville and stopped along the way to check out where he may have stocked. Would it be similar to Kernville employee and volunteer stockers? I found several places where trout were placed in ankle deep water and did my best to  chase them into deeper and more protected runs. Hopefully, they will avoid being eaten by herons and scatter a bit more before the weekend harvesting pressure arrives.
 
What comes next?  It’s probably not going to be great for fly fishers. The forecast shows a big temperature drop with 2” of snow predicted for early Sunday morning in Kernville. For the weekend, high’s in the 40’s and lows in the 20’s. In addition the first rain is going to transport a lot of ash and soot into the Kern River from the huge SQF fire or maybe not? Much of the SQF fire burn area  is above 4,000’ (the projected snow level) and if the precipitation comes down mostly as snow in those areas, the runoff could be minor. I doubt it but fingers are crossed.  Going forward I would not expect river temperatures to be in the 50’s for months but likely in the low 40’s starting this weekend. That may end stocking on the Upper Kern for next week as . Stay tuned.
 
With Covid-19 infections finally low enough to make Kern a “red “" county”, it is imperative to prevent further spread in the vulnerable Kern River Valley and here in Bakersfield. I continue to protect the community up there by having all the food, water, fuel, and flies I need packed before I leave home, making sure I have no reason to closely interact with anyone or contact public surfaces while fly fishing. Hope you all stay safe.”

Fishing Report - 10/29/20

More seasonal temperatures have finally returned to our area. I checked to see the progress of the SQF fire before I left the house. Even with recent high winds the SQF fire has not grown much. We dodged a bullet! The air quality showed that it would be in the moderate range. I was hoping to get another week like last week, however, reports from the weekend indicated things were changing. As I drove north of Kernville it was obvious there were far fewer vehicles in the turnouts and that no one was fishing at Riverside Park at Kernville. This meant I would have no trouble finding solitude and/or the catching has gone south. I hit the river just before 10 am. Water temp was 46 degrees. Uh oh. I was wet wading just two weeks ago when it was 55 degrees and much warmer. My expectations were lowered quickly. I did cover the same water as last week plus another stretch with a lot less success. Landed just 3 rainbows in 4 hours, far lower than 21 last week.  Just two rises seen in 4 hours. A dramatic drop in catching and bug life is less numerous. Is it river temp or harvesting that ended the good catching for this year it seems? My guess is both. Here’s my rationale.
 
When river temperatures drop in the 40’s all life in a river slows down including insect life. Trout become lethargic and conserve energy because food will be less plentiful. A former hatchery manager told me that even hatchery trout won’t eat food pellets when there are big drops in water temperature for days afterward. How about harvesting’s role in the reduced catching?  I did not see trout holding in water that I observed last week. More bait containers are present. I did not see a single heron today, the last few weeks they were present everywhere I fished. Their lunches are harder to come by now.  Unfortunately, several bait fishers saw me landing nice trout last week. So I’m sure they focused on those areas if they came back the next day. Reports from other skillful KRFF members and friends said that the catching had dropped off big time. In the past, once stocking is halted on the Upper Kern the catching drops way down in three weeks like clock work. In this case the stocking has been halted for months , but the SNF has been opened to fishing on the 20 mile stretch for three weeks. Those wilder trout likely lost their natural wariness over that time frame and fattened up a bit. Big enough to go in a frying pan. So my trips up river likely will be less frequent going forward. There still is no time frame to restart the Kern River Hatchery an no plan to stock from the San Joaquin Hatchery has been communicated.
 
I did get some more information related to CDFW hatchery operations after the huge trout kill of 3.2 million trout (see here https://cdfgnews.wordpress.com/2020/08/12/fish-plants-continue-in-eastern-sierra-waters/ )  I was wondering what percentage of the state’s hatchery population was lost at the affected Mojave River Hatchery, Black Rock Hatchery and Fish Springs Hatchery? Here is the reply I got from the CDFW,”The total number of trout and kokanee released to inland waters in calendar year 2019 was 5.9 million fish. Keep in mind that a large portion of those 3.2 million were juvenile fish that were hatched last winter and slated to be released in 2021, and some losses from juvenile fish up to adult fish are normal at hatcheries. In all it’s a fairly significant impact.  Fish Springs and Black Rock are responsible for producing about 85% of the fish for the eastern Sierra and Mojave is responsible for producing about 75% of the fish for Southern California. “    Wow, 3.2 million lost out of 5.9 million fish planted state wide is  54%. That’s huge! I wonder if this could be a typo? Also, this will affect planted trout plantings well into 2021. Hatcheries around the state will have their production moved around to supply the areas that the affected hatcheries lost. From the CDFW planting web  page, “Three CDFW hatcheries in the eastern sierra and Southern California have had to be depopulated due to a bacterial outbreak. Stocking schedules in the South Coast Region and Inland Deserts Region will be affected for the remainder of the 2020 and into the 2021 calendar year as CDFW works to disinfect and repopulate the hatcheries with fish. Fish from other hatcheries are still being planted in these areas, but the numbers and locations have been greatly reduced.”
 
All anglers on the 20 mile stretch of the Upper Kern clearly will have their challenges for the next year. The big drivers will be the reduced stocking and the immense soot and ash load from the 170,000 acre SQF fire that is on mostly steep slopes of the Kern and Tule River Drainages. In addition a lot of vegetation that would normally hold back erosion had also been lost. The first big rain will murk up the Kern likely for a very long time and settle on wild trout spawning beds. Let’s hope the carnage won’t be irreversible.
 
And now for something completely different – an update on my favorite fly floatant, “Albolene” moisturizing cleanser. You may remember I talked about a trip to the McKenzie River in Oregon last year where a fly fishing guide was using a large tub of Albolene to dress our dry flies. He had been using it for years. I bought a tube when I got home. I squeeze it into my old Gink bottle and have been happy using it for the last year. I keep a tube of Albolene in my fly fishing gear bag which gets baked in my vehicle while fishing. The floatant has retained its buoyancy properties for a year and at this rate it will last me at least two more years of fly fishing. Not only that, it is great for dry cracked chaffing hands. When I fish in cold water, low humidity's and at high elevations my hands hold up much better on long days on a river or lake. It served me well today in cold dry weather. I really recommend this stuff and you can get the 3 ounce squeeze bottle at many drug stores or here 
https://www.amazon.com/Albolene-Moisturizing-Cleanser-Ounce-White/dp/B07FL7MM7K/ref=sr_1_5?dchild=1&keywords=Albolene+Moisturizing+Cleanser+Travel+Size+Squeeze&qid=1604079509&s=beauty&sr=1-5

With Covid-19 infections finally low enough to make Kern a “red county”, it is imperative to prevent further spread in the vulnerable Kern River Valley and here in Bakersfield. I continue to protect the community up there by having all the food, water, fuel, and flies I need packed before I leave home, making sure I have no reason to closely interact with anyone or contact public surfaces while fly fishing. Hope you all stay safe.

Fishing Report - 10/23/20

Perhaps fall is finally here? The last two months have been extremely warm and I was able to wet wade last week as the Sequoia National Forest was opened up to the Johnsondale Bridge and the 20 mile stretch was made accessible. Today I arrived on the river around 9:30 am and it registered 52 degrees. It was smokier than Bakersfield but tolerable. As I drove up river from Kernville it appears that dispersed camping areas are accessible but there were few campers. Headquarters Campground was open and I think so was Fairview. The others fee areas were locked shut. I saw far more vehicles in the turnouts this week than last week. Fishers were disbursed all along sections 5 and 6. Most of the anglers I observed were fly fishers. No bait fishers were at Riverside Park and few up river. The lack of stocking for many weeks likely has kept the harvesting pressure off on weekdays I’d guess, the weekends  may be another thing? I do have some information on future stocking, more on that later.
 
I decided to cover my best stretch last week first. Although I landed half the numbers of last week on that stretch, I did find my three biggest rainbows in the same lies as last week. The beautiful seventeen inch buddy I made last week came out to play again, although he did not run down river like last week. I am using my #12 Arnerd 36” below my #12 foam stone  and a #18 BHFBPT 12” below that. I have stopped using my red hooked version of the Arnerd and gone with a traditional scud hook because I believe I am casting to mostly wild trout and some very long term holdovers. Extra flash might be too unnatural for these mostly wild fishes. All trout are clean and free of fin rot , pointy nosed and most are white tipped fins.
 
My 17” friend I met last week showed up to play again.

 


 
The most interesting and satisfying part of my day was something very noteworthy. I landed three browns within 30 minutes over a 150 yard stretch. I don’t think I ever landed 3 browns in one year before, let alone in one day on the 20 mile stretch! They were 14” – 16”, not together, very slim but appeared healthy. This is spawning time for browns and my guess is they may be moving to spawning areas although I did not hook them anywhere near a spawning gravel bed? May be just coincidence but this was a very unusual occurrence for me. Can’t say I’ve ever heard anyone else experiencing this the last 20 years I have frequented the Upper Kern. I believe the huge snow packs in two of the last three years has something to do with this and two months of forest closure was a blessing to the fishery as well. The browns all took the #18 bead head flash back pheasant tail. The flash back pheasant tail has been a great fly for me wherever I have fished for trout in CA, OR and UT the last five years. We recently had guide, Chris Leonard,  from Mammoth speak at our club about winter fishing on the Lower Owens. He had some great insight and he said if he could only have one fly to fish the rest of his life it would be a pheasant tail. I have become a believer too. If you want to check out his presentation it is available here https://kittredgesports.com/fishing_slideshows/Wintertime%20techniques%20and%20tactics%20Lower%20Owens%20in%20Bishop.pdf
 
One of three browns landed today.

 

 
I covered two other stretches with good success. Several other very clean bows +16” and were netted on both the Arnerd and BHFBPT. I had no bumps all day on my foam stone. I did not see one rise all day to my dry or any other bug on the surface. Bug activity has slowed significantly from last week. I ended up landing 18 rainbows and 3 browns between 9:30 am and 1:30 pm. A pretty good four hours (+5/hr), but I was beat after a lot of walking, wading,  and boulder hopping. I wore chest wader which were very comfortable until noon , then I began to perspire quite a bit as temps hit 80. Still no jets seen as the smoke and visibility creates issues for both pilots (navigating) and aircraft (mechanical wear) it would seem. There was an F-18 from China Lake Naval Air station that went down on the eastern slopes opposite where I was fishing this week. Thankfully the pilot bailed in time and  survived, but was engine failure from smoke particulates to blame? Time will tell it seems.
 
Going forward  the forecast still shows no rain ahead for another two weeks so the SQL fire will continue to burn. It is nearing 170,000 acres and 75% contained. The huge soot and ash loading of the Kern River likely will not occur any time soon. So we have a short window for some good catching. I did observe some bait fishing today and they weren’t doing well. My guess is these wilder trout aren’t easily tempted to power bait and worms? The subsurface insect activity is still pretty viable in the lower 50 degree water. River temperatures will likely be in the 40’s soon as more seasonal weather is on the way.
 
Several +16” like this were had today. Wild or very long term holdovers not predisposed to synthetic bait.

 

 
The loss of 3.2 million trout in the SoCal hatchery system has really made stocking all of California challenging.   Some areas will not be stocked and others with reduced pounds. This will drive total pounds stocked lower over the next two years until the Mojave River Hatchery, Black Rock Hatchery and Fish Springs Hatchery get back to full production and footlongs mature for planting. I have contacted the CDFW people in Fresno and they are trying to work out a plan. There is no time frame to restart the Kern River hatchery. They are in the transition between seasons, switching from mostly stream plants to the winter lake and urban water plants, though the Kern River will still be in the mix. I was to be updated on the plan this week but am still waiting to hear something. No planting is scheduled in our area at this time. So don’t expect the numbers to be great for very long and I always practice catch and release. Most of the trout in the river now I believe to be 8” – 11”wild and fertile. I sure would hate to see these last fertile trout that managed to survive a very hot and dry summer and then get consumed.
 
The CDFW proposed new fishing regulations are near final approval. There were some modifications made to the proposals after input from the angling community. Sadly the overall regulation changes will increase harvesting even as state wide trout stocking pounds continue to decline, only sterile trout are planted, and legal take rates remain the same or increase in number or season duration. As far as I can tell no where are they going to decrease take limits. Simply math tells you our trout populations statewide will continue to decline. Even more disconcerting is that very little science is driving these changes. Our October speaker, Chris Leonard, said he asked the CDFW officials in charge of the changes at community feedback meetings if there were any fish surveys done to support the changes and the answer was a firm “no”. They also saw no need for it. As a guide, he must report his clients’ catches every day he guides. There is a huge database containing these fish counts by every licensed guide in the state. Asked what they do with that data, he was told “nothing”, the reporting is only used for compliance. What a tragedy that we have this huge data source that guides diligently report year in and year out and our CDFW doesn’t even look at it? It would be nice if the CDFW would use some science to guide their decision to change many special regulations that took years of data collection and study to establish.
 
With Covid-19 infections finally low enough to make Kern a “red “" county”, it is imperative to prevent further spread in the vulnerable Kern River Valley and here in Bakersfield. I continue to protect the community up there by having all the food, water, fuel, and flies I need packed before I leave home, making sure I have no reason to closely interact with anyone or contact public surfaces while fly fishing. Stay Safe.

Fishing Report - 10/15/20

News that the 20 mile section was now open all the way to Johnsonville Bridge was great to hear yesterday. I wasn’t sure what to expect because I hadn’t been up in two months because of the national forest closure and the high level of smoke between Kerrville and Johnsondale. The forecast was to hit the mid-90’s in Kernville today and I thought the water temperatures would likely be in the low 60’s given the very warm weather the last two months. Flows at Kernville are around 140 cfs and 95 cfs on the low flow section. Good for wading most anywhere on the 20 mile section.

I drove past River Kern and noticed a lot of orange cones inside every large pull off parking area that I like to fish was closed.??? There was very little fishing going on. There was no one fishing at Riverside Park in Kernville. The area has not been stocked in a couple of months. Typically any trout over 11 inches that fits in a frying pan are harvested within about three weeks once stocking stops. The lower part of the 20 mile section waters had reached +70° for most of the summer. So I just avoided those areas and reports over the last few weeks suggested the fishing was tough on section 4. I really didn’t find a spot that wasn’t closed until I got above Fairview Dam. Then I began seeing a lot of cars, unfortunately they were all within a mile of each other because it was the only stretch where there were not orange cones and signs marking off parking lots, dispersed camping areas and turnouts. Also none of the fee campgrounds are open, they’re all locked shut. So the first couple of hours of fishing it was hard to find a run to myself. But when I did, hook ups came right away. Water temperature was 55° and remained there most of the day. A lot of October caddis are in the air, however, my #12 Arnerd nymph and a beat head flashback pheasant tail #18 got a lot of grabs all day. In the first two hours though, I only hooked four fish (two landed) none over 12 inches.

I got a sense by 11 o’clock most people gave up due to crowding as most vehicles were gone. I found a stretch that I don’t think anyone had fished and had to walk quite a bit to get to - keeping my fingers crossed I wouldn’t get a citation. A fisher I bumped into said that a county sheriff tried to cite him. He told him that the SNF was opened yesterday. After some spirited discussion he got a warning. I did see on the national forest website before I drove up that the area between River Kern and Johnsonville Bridge was supposed to be a wide-open for fishing. I found a lot of nice fish mostly under 12 inches as well. But was blessed to land a 15 and a 16 inch holdover - both taking the Arnerd #12. I thought about bringing my 4wt rod today because most people who had fished before the closure said they were finding wild trout on the upper part of the 20 mile section and few were over a foot long. I’m glad I brought my 5 wt because I tagged a beautiful 17 inch wild buck trout with a deep red band. The fish was strong and ran down stream at least 30 yards. It was a bit difficult because I had to boulder hop down stream because a #18 BH pheasant tail likely is going to get ripped through a strong trout’s mouth. After a good fight I finally found a way to get him to come to the net. It was a clean male and my guess in spawning colors. Rainbows typically don’t spawn in fall but I’ve heard it does happen.
 

Total today were 18 to the net and I had on at least 30 trout in four hours. I even managed to catch a nice brownie. It was pretty obvious that these bows were not fished to in the last two months and have moved up river quite a ways from anywhere I have been fishing this summer. My foam stonefly got a lot of grabs after noon so fish are still thinking about chomping on hoppers although I did not see any flying around.There were swarms of October caddis and small midgets. A fair amount of bigger critter scat along the river and camping areas as the lack of people has not scared them off.

I headed home around 1 o’clock very tired from all the bushwhacking. I also wet waited and at 55° I don’t advise it. My feet were very cold and I did not spend much time wading in water above my knees. I did have to ford some water that was waste deep. I couldn’t stand in water above the belt for more than two minutes at a time. It was just too cold even when air temperatures hit 90 degrees. I advise anyone coming up, especially as temperatures drop next week, to bring your waders. When I drove home most of the orange cones and closed area signs were removed but not all. So you may want to contact the Forest Service office to see if your favorite spots are open to use again. Their number is 760-376-3781. Check the air quality forecast here https://wildlandfiresmoke.net/outlooks/SouthernSierra-Sequoia   It is getting better but that could change. There still is no rain likely in October and the potential for more fires is very real.  I have not seen fighter jets in a while. My guess is the visibility and ash plugging jet turbines are keeping those cool flybys from happening for a while.
 

This is really good fishing and the water is gin clear for now...... It hasn’t been hit much in the last two months. I believe that’s about to change. When we get our first rain the 170,000 acre SQF fire is going to make things pretty bad for a while. Soot and ash will foul the waters. So we have a nice window for the foreseeable future as there is no rain in the forecast. The fire continues to burn and there was a fair amount of smoke, but it got better as the day grew on.

I am concerned about what is going to happen at the Kern River Hatchery. The major biological issue at three Southern California hatcheries has resulted in a loss of over 3 million trout system wide. A lot of things are changing to provide trout to the areas where there was devastation. Many waters are not going to be stocked at all and some at very reduced levels. The Kern River Hatchery is dry and closed, the hatchery manager has been permanently transferred to another facility. At this time there is no indication from my sources that the hatchery will be operational anytime soon. So don’t expect the numbers to be great for very long and I was always practice catch and release. Most of the trout in the river now I believe to be 8” – 11”wild and fertile. I sure would hate to see these last fertile trout that managed to survive a very hot and dry summer get consumed.
 
 


With Covid-19 infections finally low enough to make Kern a “red “" county”, it is imperative to prevent further spread in the vulnerable Kern River Valley and here in Bakersfield. I continue to protect the community up there by having all the food, water, fuel, and flies I need packed before I leave home, making sure I have no reason to closely interact with anyone or contact public surfaces while fly fishing. Stay Safe.

Fishing Report - 09/24/20

Fishing on the 20 mile section continues to be a struggle where it is allowed. Much of the stretch is closed due to extreme fire potential. The Castle (or SQF) Fire has grown to over 144,000 acres and is only 33% contained. The hatchery has shut down planting until the Sequoia National Forest is reopened. They are considering stocking Bakersfield Lakes as conditions permit. Typically the first BFL stockings occur in mid October. If we return to typical temperatures as expected, that likely will occur.
 
The SQF Fire now has +1,400 personnel, 103 engines, 35 dozers and 9 helicopters dedicated to fighting it. At this time 191 structures have succumbed and 3,188 structures are threatened. Air quality in Kernville has been over 300 AQI most of today. Sadly no precipitation is in the forecast  for the next two weeks and this fire could reach reach over 200,000 acres at the current spread rate.  We are praying for rain! Check this web page for an interactive map to monitor fire spread https://nifc.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=9e80e202cae24dfebfa206541c49ed07
 
What will be the effects of this huge fire? We can look at the last giant fire in the Kern Drainage, the McNally Fire (150,000 acres), to get some idea of its consequences. The McNally Fire occurred in the summer of 2002. Of the acreage burned in the McNally Fire, over 73,000 acres were burned at a high to moderate severity. This left much of the soil dry and stripped, making parts of the Sequoia National Forest vulnerable to soil erosion and flooding. The first big rain in November of 2002 caused a huge amount of erosion and soot/ash flows in the Upper Kern. The sediment quickly plugged up the siphon pipe that brings river water to the Kern River Hatchery. At that time the first Kern River Rainbow brood stock harvested for the Kern River Rainbow project had finally reached mature size to create the first generation of Kern River Rainbows reared at the hatchery. These brood stock were collected by members of our club the year before with great effort by the CDFW and our volunteers. They were packed out in milk cans on mules and fattened up at the Kern River Hatchery. Unfortunately, these brooders began to go belly up as the hatchery water in feed plugged and dissolved oxygen levels began to plummet.  They were emptied into the Kern River and we have not had brood stock collected since. The Kern River hatchery was closed for months as it took a lot of work to remove all of the sediment,ash, and soot from the siphon. Hopefully that can be avoided later this year.
 
In addition to the severe impact to the hatchery and the loss of fertile KRR brood stock , the Kern River was carrying a heavy suspended sediment, ash, soot load that existed for nearly a year. Water clarity was less than two feet during that time. It took a long time for rain storms to flush the sediment, soot and ash downstream into Lake Isabella. Fly fishers had a hard time hooking up but baiters did much better as planted trout could smell out the bait. I never had a double digit day during that year as one had to place a fly right in front of a trout’s nose to get a take. Only flashy flies like the Kern Murky seemed to get a grab.  By the late fall of 2003 gin clear waters returned to the 20 mile section.
 
There is no word on when the Sequoia National Forest will reopen, but it appears to be when the first fall rain comes. If it is not a big storm we may get a a short period of fly fishable river if the SNF reopens. However,  when the first storm that dumps more than an inch hits, expect some pretty lousy fly fishing conditions. Start tying those favorite patterns of yours with lots of flash.
 
Reports from the Lower Kings River are encouraging. Flows are now below 250 cfs and they can draw water from Pine Flat Dam in a way that can keep downstream flows temperate for rainbows and the + foot long brookies they planted at high flows earlier this year. The Lower Kings has continued to be planted all summer. Much of that time the Lower Kings was flowing at +3,000 cfs and at unsafe conditions for wading. That big stock pile of trout can now be accessed much more safely by wading fly fishers. Remember that special regulations exist below Alta Weir and it is patrolled regularly by CDFW wardens enforcing catch and release barbless regulations.

Forest Service Temporary Closures and Restrictions - 09/07/20

On Monday, Sept 7th, the US Forest Service issued temporary closures on many National Forests in California and added restrictions on the National Forests remaining open.  The National Forests closed include: Stanislaus National Forest, Sierra National Forest, Sequoia National Forest, Inyo National Forest, Los Padres National Forest, Angeles National Forest, San Bernardino National Forest, and Cleveland National Forest.  Please see the link below for the official closure and restrictions information.

https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/sequoia/news-events/?cid=FSEPRD799174

 

Fishing Report - 09/03/20

The SQF fire (originally the Castle Fire) originating near the Forks of the Kern on 8/19  has dominated the environmental conditions on our favorite river.  The fire now has spread to +46,000 acres (72 square miles) and shows no signs of slowing. It has been consuming more than six square miles each day. It is only 1% contained and very dry/hot conditions coupled with steep terrain is making control of this fire very difficult. It is now expected to be contained by 9/30, however, that seems very optimistic. The road is closed beyond Johnsondale and Sherman Pass Road is also closed. Extreme heat is coming this weekend. The 7th heat wave of the summer will hit +104 degrees in Kernville starting Friday and last beyond the Labor Day weekend. San Joaquin Valley temperature will hit 110 degrees. Air quality has been “very unhealthy” in Kernville and progressively worse as you travel north toward Johnsondale Bridge. In Kernville the AQI has easily exceeded 250 (peaks near 500) the last few days and likely with get worse as this fire expands. At these hazardous levels you can see in the chart below “Everyone should avoid any outdoor activity”. This chart comes from the US Interagency Wildland Fire Air Quality Response Program and you can see more location data and forecasts here https://wildlandfiresmoke.net/outlooks/SouthernSierra-Sequoia
 
 

 
I have avoided fishing the last two weeks and likely will for a while until these unhealthy air quality conditions abate.  It is tempting to try as the smoke has reduced the overcrowding in the free camping areas. Those that have tried to fish with masks have found others pressuring the waters. So I have not even considered making a trip up. There is 0% chance of precipitation in the 14 day forecast at this time. The huge volume of soot and ash produced could really be the issue driving fly fishing in 2021. The last big fire , McNally, burned  150,000 acres in  2002 and the Kern River took over a year to clear up. Given the two week forecast these fire seems destined to exceed 100,000 acres. Hopefully property and lives will be spared!
 
It is confirmed that the Kern River Rainbow project will be delayed another year. The brood stock could not be collected again as Covid-19 had shut down the project for 2020. Kern River Rainbows no longer exist in significant numbers on the 20 mile stretch nor the 4 mile special regulations stretch according to the experts at UC Davis who did the Kern River Rainbow genetic studies. There have been decades of CDFW fertile rainbow strains stocked resulting interbreeding, so pure Kern River Rainbows are only found at the upper reaches at high elevations of the Kern River now. In anticipation of the Kern River Rainbow project, only sterile rainbows have been planted on the Upper Kern for over a decade. It is hoped that these sterile rainbow trout will die off and not interbreed with the fertile Kern River Rainbows that the CDFW will produce years in the future. The project hopefully will be initiated in 2021 if the brood stock can be collected. The experts tell us it may be 2 –3 year after that the Kern River Rainbows will be stocked on the 20 mile section. Our fingers are crossed as this project has been in progress literally for decades.

Fire Alert UPDATE 7:30AM - Castle Fire - 08/30/20

The Sequoia Fire Complex, as of 7:30AM this morning, was listed at 34,283 acres.  Current estimated containment is Saturday Sept 12th.  The air quality is very bad in the mornings in the Upper Kern, Johnsondale & Kernville areas.  Here is a link to air quality forcasts for those areas:

https://wildlandfiresmoke.net/outlooks/SouthernSierra-Sequoia

Taken at Fairview Dam on Wednesday. Less than 1/4 mile visibility.

 

Fire Alert UPDATE 8PM - Castle Fire - 08/24/20

The Castle Fire jumped from 5000 acres earlier today to 12,000 acres as of the 7:30PM report on the Inciweb website (see below).  All trails into the Golden Trout Wilderness have been closed.  Also, the communities of Ponderosa and Camp Nelson have been put on voluntary evacuation status.  More information and maps are available at the Inciweb site link below.

Fire Alert - Castle Fire - 08/23/20

The Castle Fire started on the 19th of August and is burning in the north fork of the Kern, in the Golden Trout wilderness, east of the Giant Sequoia National Monument, in Tulare County.  Crews are working today to protect the Forks of the Kern Trailhead, Jerkey Meadow Trail, and the facilities in the Lloyd Meadow.  This fire is on USFS land and is managed by a Federal Incident Command Team.

Here is a website for people to check on the fire from day to day.

https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7048

 

Fishing Report - 08/20/20

The extreme heat and smoke of the Bako the last week is really becoming annoying so I thought I would head up to the Upper Kern to find better conditions wading in the river. I knew that Kernville has also registered triple digit heat the last week so I wasn’t even sure I could find trout friendly water temperatures on the 20 miles section. Flows had dropped to 150 cfs above Fairview Dam and had risen to 200 cfs the last few days because of thunderstorms way up river. So I was concerned water clarity could be an issue. The water clarity turned out to be fine today, however, the air quality wasn’t much better than the Bako which exceeds 150 and is unhealthful due to fires all around us.
 
I arrived at Riverside Park in Kernville to find the river at 72 degrees at 8 am. The air quality was poor. I was surprised to see several anglers there and asked if they had stocked this week. The people there said they thought so.  I headed further up the 20 mile section stopping to take a river temp at 69 degrees and kept moving upstream. I arrived on the top third the 20 mile section and recorded 66 degrees. I decided to wade and fly fish even though the air was still very smoky.  The catching was very slow today. I did manage 7 to my net. I covered a lot of water and a new spot for me. All trout were 12” and smaller and definitely wild. I tried a lot of different techniques and flies. I got one grab on an olive crystal bugger stripping. All other trout grabbed a #18 BHFBPT. Saw no rises and very little insect activity. I quit fishing at 1 pm. It was 102 degrees and I was getting a headache from the smoke and a very dry/scratchy throat. For the first time in well over a year I saw no fighter jets thunder through the canyon. My guess is the low visibility has postponed all of the training flights until the smoke clears . There are fewer campers than two weeks ago likely because of the extreme heat and smoke I’m sure.
 

 
Before you go up check these webcams to get a sense of how bad conditions are. We will have extreme heat for at least another week.  KRV Web Cams http://webcams.lakeisabella.net/
 
The crowds are still large for mid week and historic numbers of people have shown up on weekends. Estimates exceeding 20,000 people have been reported. The difficulty finding trout confirms the extreme fishing pressure the 20 mile stretch is experiencing.

 

I am personally still concerned about the huge amount of people coming up to camp on the 20 mile section.  At this time several of our Bako hospital ICU’s are very full and hopefully may have peaked. There seems to be a slow decrease in hospitalizations so we must take care not to reverse this. Currently, over 16,000 people in Kern County are at home recovering from Covid-19 in quarantine. This is up from two weeks ago and may have finally started to decline for the first time since this pandemic hit us. Back in April the number was less than 200 county wide. So we need to keep up the concern. Kern County infections/deaths numbers can be found here https://kernpublichealth.com/covid-19_dashboard/   Check the case status button to see the trend graph. With Covid-19 infections remaining at these very high levels, it is imperative to prevent further spread in the vulnerable Kern River Valley and here in Bakersfield. I continue to protect the community up there by having all the food, water, fuel, and flies I need packed before I leave home, making sure I have no reason to closely interact with anyone or contact public surfaces while fly fishing. Stay Safe.

Fishing Report - 08/06/20

The recent heat wave abated for a few days, so I was chomping at the bit to wet my fly line on the Upper Kern for the first time in two weeks. I wasn’t sure what to expect given that the 20 mile section has seen +70 degree water temps for days. I was glad to hear that the CDFW has not reduced stocking yet after the Kern River Planting Base (KRPB) had to be shut down for high river temps two weeks ago. They have been driving to the San Joaquin Hatchery and back in one day and stocking twice a week. The stocking web site was not updated to reflect any stocking on the 20 mile section for August when I last checked. It now shows only stocking for this week. I sampled seven stocked sites today but never hooked a trout on any of them? I did get into some nice trout though, when I did a lot of aggressive wading.
 
I arrived on the upper end of section 4 and measured 65 degree water temp at 7:30 am. I could not find an unoccupied spot even at this early hour so I moved up on the lower portion of section 5 to see what was up. I sampled 4 usually stocked spots for 10 minutes each without a grab.  I used my foam stone / dropper rig and got no grabs or surface bumps. Since March I have only found one honey hole recently stocked after sampling at least +50 times? Fishing pressure has been extreme both on week days and weekends according to many reports from fishing friends. It is apparent that these fresh stockers make it to the frying pan in short order. However, less than 10% of fresh stockers actually move a significant distance (> 100’) from the stocking site according to a King’s River tracking study some years ago. I seem to be good at finding those few wanderers, but it takes a lot of aggressive wading and bush whacking to find them.

After about 3 hours I finally found my first trout and it was wild bow grabbing a #16 BHFBPT. I drove to another spot up on section 6 and waded through a chest deep run in 62 degree water to get my first head shaker in weeks. It clearly was a hefty stocker (right pectoral fin rubbed off and no white tips on the fins) that taped out at +18” and grabbed my red hooked #12 Arnerd. He was all by himself and worth the effort to reach him.
 

 
 
I continued to wade aggressively further up river and found two 15” bows about 100’ apart in pocket water. They had pointy noses and white tips on  their fins like this.
 

 
 
I kept wading with a focus on pocket water and landed some more trout that clearly were wild and between 10” and 12”. One nice 14” slammed the foam stone. I was interested in sampling stomach contents but I had left my mini stomach pump at home, I figured the water would be too warm to attempt, so I left it at home. I did see a number of freshly hatched hoppers on the river today and most of the stonefly shucks are gone at water level. So hopper patterns are worth a try now. Overall a good day with 9 to the net and a really nice 18” buck who smiled for the camera. The wind came up at 1:00 pm making casting difficult and I actually got very chilled. Also the tubers and rafters began to hatch so I decided to return home earlier than usual even though air temps were in the 80’s.
 
 
I am personally concerned about the huge amount of people coming up to camp on the 20 mile section. On a Thursday a lot of the free camping areas were jammed full. It is clear there is little social distancing going on and there doesn’t seem to be any concern for the huge increase in Covid infections in Kern County. At this time several of our Bako hospitals have exceeded their ICU capacity and there is real concern all county hospitals will exceed capacity soon. Currently, over 15,000 people in Kern County are at home recovering from Covid-19 in quarantine. Back in April the number was less than 200 county wide. It is baffling that there isn’t more concern?  Kern County infections/deaths numbers can be found here https://kernpublichealth.com/covid-19_dashboard/   check the case status button to see the trend graph.
 

 
 
With Covid-19 infections at these very high levels, it is imperative to prevent further spread in the vulnerable Kern River Valley and here in Bakersfield. I continue to protect the community up there by having all the food, water, fuel, and flies I need packed before I leave home making sure I have no reason to interact with anyone or contact public surfaces while fly fishing. Stay Safe.

Fishing Report - 07/24/20

With a brief respite from the high heat wave of mid-July I hoped to make a trek up on the Upper Kern and fish some water that was more favorable for trout survival. I landed on section 4 early and found the water to be 67 degrees and air temp in the 70’s . That was encouraging given others have seen mid 70’s on this stretch last week in the afternoon. The catching was slow and fishing pressure increasing, so I headed up river where trout should have been less stressed over the last two weeks. Up on section 5 and 6 I found some unpressured water and covered quite a bit of ground. Catching again was hit and miss along three long stretches. I did see a lot of stonefly shucks at water level. My #12 foam stone with a yellow belly got a lot of hits, especially after 10 am. During the course of my day, ending at 2 pm, I landed 3 on it. Total to the net were 12 in about 6 hours. It was better than 2 weeks ago. I landed 8 wild trout and  4 foot long recent stockers. I never found more than two trout in a run. The air temp was in the low 90’s when I quit and the tubers were making catching difficult. Water temp 69 in the middle of section 5. This was on a relatively cool day. A new heat wave is on the way. So the weather and very low flows are going to make trout survival tough. Flows at Fairview Dam are 200 cfs and drop to 160 cfs in Kernville. That means 20% of the water evaporates or sinks into the aquifers on the 20 mile stretch.
 
The warm water closed the Kern River Planting Base for the summer. Trout began going belly up and all of the trout were planted earlier this week on the 20 mile stretch.  Some of these trout exceeded 4 pounds. Unfortunately, big trout will succumb to the higher water temps much faster than dink trout. So you can expect the catching to drop off quickly with another heat wave ramping up. Typically the San Joaquin Hatchery will supply the Kern River with planters when the Kern River Planting Base has to be shut down for high water temperatures in low snow pack years. However, this year this it may not happen. Why?
 
 
 
There was a major bacterial infection at other SoCal hatcheries that resulted in the euthanizing of all of the trout there.  See story here https://caltrout.org/news/cdfw-euthanizes-3-2-million-trout-to-halt-bacteria-outbreak
 
CDFW Region 4 (our region) hatchery trout will now be allocated to the areas that those closed hatcheries normally supply. This likely will occur for the next two years until the SoCal hatcheries that are closed can raise trout to catchable sizes. In addition with a 2020 drought in progress the CDFW will allocate trout were they have the best chance of survival. If trout are driven to the Kern River from the San Joaquin Hatchery north of Fresno they have to survive several hours in a truck tank as it drives through the +100 degree San Joaquin Valley. Then they have to survive +70 degree Kern River temperatures.  So one can see the that the remaining summer catching will drop off substantially because there will be little or no plantings and wild trout will be struggling to survive in the 20 mile stretch. So if you must target trout make sure you take a thermometer to avoid catching above 70 degrees. Also, do not play trout long to the point of exhaustion where they will expire even after you try to revive them. I know some fishers who cut the hook off at the bend of a dry fly and just fly fish for the strike. Not a bad idea.
 
It is imperative that we try to minimize the pressure that wild trout on the Kern River feel more than ever. We are still waiting for the Kern River Rainbow brood stock to be collected so that fertile trout can be planted in the Kern River for the first time in over a decade. It appears that the Covid-19 pandemic will delay this project another year. It is the only way forward to provide a healthy self sustaining trout population.
 
Remember that the Covid – 19 resurgence has escalated to extremely concerning levels. The Governor has tightened up restrictions for Kern and Tulare Counties and much of California. The county hospitalizations are up substantially and in some California areas ICU bed capacity could be an issue.  With Covid-19 infections rising fast in LA and Kern County we need to prevent further spread in the vulnerable Kern River Valley. I continue to protect the community up there by having all the food, water, fuel, and flies I need packed before I leave home.

Fishing Report - 07/10/20

The Upper Kern has dropped another 100 cfs since last week to just 270 cfs. I was looking forward to accessing more water above Fairview Dam and sampling the waters on sections 4 and 5 which were heavily stocked for the July 4th weekend. Unfortunately, I was unable to locate any of the bigger trout that were planted last week.  Nor was I able to reverse the downward trends in the catching the last few weeks as the river continues to recede. I tried  a favorite half mile stretch on section 5 first. Water temp was 65 degrees at 8 am. I landed two footlongs in the first 10 minutes but didn’t get a grab the next two hours of wading upstream. I headed further up river checking out three other stretches on the low flow section with two more netted. One of the trout was a long and lean 15” bow that I thought looked like a Leopard Bow. I’ve never seen so many spots all over a rainbow. I believe this may be a new strain of CDFW planters as I’ve seen more of these on social media posts.
 

 
 
I then went up on section 6 and covered two runs over the next hour with two more to the net. The water was easier to access because flows dropped quite a bit since last week. However, I hooked up 75% less than last week. The shallower water is more accessible to harvesters and birds of prey.  I did get some surface grabs on a #12 yellow bellied foam stone fly but the bows weren’t big enough to get their mouths around it. I saw a lot of stonefly shucks recently abandoned at the water line. Didn’t see any flying around though. Five of the six trout I landed today took a #16 bead head flash back pheasant tail (BHFBPT). At $0.59 each I buy 3 dozen at a time to last me all year here https://www.flydealflies.com/flies/pheasant_tail_flash_back_b.html   I like to carry #16, #18, and #20 BHFBPT where ever I fish for trout in California, Utah and Oregon.
 
Up on section 6 above Fairview Dam the water temp was 67 degrees at 1 pm and is up five degrees from the same time last week. It was very hot nearing 100 degrees so I headed home. I decided to stop by Riverside Park in Kernville to rig down and took a water temperature there just before two o’clock. It was 72 degrees.  Yikes!
 
The Upper Kern River flow reduction of 33% in the last week coupled with a rising heat wave is beginning to have an effect. Bigger trout are impacted first by high river temperatures. My guess is that the heavy July 4th harvest coupled with extreme temperatures is taking its toll on the bigger trout, especially on section 4 and the lower half of section 5. This weekend will see the highest temperatures of the year and the AC units in Bakersfield and the Kern River Valley will be running full time. If you choose to fish the 20 mile section please make checking river temperature a part of your routine before you cast a fly. I avoid fishing any trout river when temperatures exceed 70 degrees. I don’t use a 4 wt above 65 degrees, but use a fast 5 wt and land trout as quick as possible. You don’t want to exhaust them to the point of death by playing trout with light tackle. Trout should also be quickly returned to the river and revived before they are released.  I did not even attempt to pump a stomach today to reveal what trout are feasting on.
 
Remember that the Covid – 19 resurgence is very much in progress. The Governor has tightened up restrictions for Kern County and much of California. The county hospitalizations are up substantially and in some California areas ICU bed capacity could be an issue.  With Covid-19 infections rising fast in LA and Kern County we need to prevent further spread in the vulnerable Kern River Valley. I continue to protect the community up there by having all the food, water, fuel, and flies I need packed before I leave home.

Fishing Report - 07/02/20

Made a trip up before the 4th weekend today. Friends have reported that river temps have dropped since the heat wave last week. I arrived on Section 5 before 8 am and the river was 64 degrees and much healthier than the previous week. Typically the 20 mile section gets planted heavily for the July 4th weekend. This year is no exception. The hatchery has been able to continue operations with the increasing river temperatures. They are planting 2,000 lbs of rainbows ranging from 1 to 3 pounds. I never found a planter today?  I spent the first 2.5 hours on a longer 3/4 mile run on section 5. Not one trout bit but I did land three small squaw fish. Landed 20 on this stretch less than a month ago. So the temperature spike last week and the huge fishing pressure last weekend did deplete this long stretch.  I moved much further up river and decided to give section 6 a try. It has dropped to 350 cfs and will drop another 100 cfs by next week based on the trends.
 
 
 
I did some aggressive wade/swimming in 60 degree water to reach some water I don’t think has been casted to in two years.   I was glad to see an absence of footprints and hooked up right away. I did find trout disbursed over a 1/2 mile stretch. I tried another 1/2 mile stretch and also found some rainbows. Only one over 12”. He was a pristine 15” bow with a chunky belly. This was the only trout big enough to consider sampling stomach contents the last two weeks for me. Surprisingly there wasn’t much to view and only nymphs were present.
 

 
I was very beat by 1 pm and wading in deeper water in the low 60’s actually had me shivering and tightened up some old worn out muscles. Total landed for the day was 14 and I probably had a half dozen LDR’s (long distance release). I did not see or hook a trophy trout. Hope you can. Not much surface action and most trout hooked on a #16 BHFBPT. Not much luck reported by the spin fishermen I talked with. Quite a few people fishing Riverside Park. Huge number of campers and cars parked on the Upper Kern for a weekday. Have a great 4th of July . Remember that the Covid – 19 resurgence is very much in progress. The Governor has tightened up restrictions for Kern County. The county hospitalizations are up 40% from 2 weeks ago. With Covid-19 infections rising fast in LA and Kern County we need to prevent further spread in the vulnerable Kern River Valley. I continue to protect the community up there by having all the food, water, fuel, and flies I need packed before I leave home.

Fishing Report - 06/25/20

It has really been hot in the San Joaquin Valley and up in the Kern River Valley. The first extended heat wave of the summer is ongoing. I left the Bako just after 6 am to get on the Upper Kern as early as possible. I wasn’t sure how bad things had gotten, because there has been an uptick in flows. Probably the last remnants of snow pack well above 12,000’. I decided to take a river temp on the lower end of the low flow section 5 and it was 70 degrees at 7:30 am. So I moved further up river. I found river temps at 67 degrees on the upper half of section 5 (low flow) well before noon. I covered water that I had luck (landed 12)with last week with only one hookup. It was a good sized fish but never tried to run. It just hunkered down. It was exciting for about five seconds until I realized what I had hooked on my Arnerd nymph. I put some pressure on it and netted a 22” squaw fish. Didn’t fight half as much as rainbow would. This species will thrive this summer on the 20 mile section.
 

 
I managed to cover a long stretch and pick up a 10” brown and 9  rainbows before lunch. None of the bows exceeded 12” many were wild trout around 8-10”. Bigger trout really suffer much more in warm water than small rainbows. Takes were subtle and tugging streamers was not productive today. Trout are becoming lethargic and not interested in launching on dries nor chasing streamers. I decided to try a spot above Fairview Dam on section 6. Flows up there are 420 cfs, so wading is not easy. I managed to land four bows, one 14” the rest under a foot. I was curious to see what river temps were like just below the KR3 powerhouse. Last week it was 62 degrees today 70 degrees at 1 pm. There were a lot of fishers along Riverside Park in the early morning and at 2 pm when I left Kernville. Pretty crowded compared to the rest of the Upper Kern with much less pressure this week.  I talked with several spin fishermen today. All reported very slow catching. Perhaps the hatchery may have needed to be emptied of planters and planted them at Riverside Park this week with temps exceeding 70 degrees? I can’t confirm, but seems likely.
 
For the day I landed 1 brown, 16 rainbows and a good sized squawfish.  Probably had 25 hook ups. Roughly half of the week before. Drank a lot of water to stay hydrated. Lots of tubers and kayakers on section 4 and 6. 100 degrees when I quit at 2 pm. Thunderheads were building fast as I rigged down to head home. It appears the best catching for the summer is behind us as river temperatures climbed 8 degrees from last week. We will get a couple of cooler days next week and then the furnace is forecasted to come on again. Make sure you bring a stream thermometer. With Covid-19 infections rising fast in LA and Kern County we need to be prevent further spread in the vulnerable Kern River Valley. I continue to protect the community up there by having all the food, water, fuel, and flies I need packed before I leave home.

Fishing Report - 06/18/20

Made my 3rd trip post runoff today. Usually the best catching of the year occurs for three weeks post runoff (total flows below 1,000 cfs) as harvesters and birds remove a lot of the disbursed trout. After this point the catching is directly related to how much stocking occurs in concentrated areas. I had success again today  with over 40 rainbows hooked. However, there was a big difference in how that was achieved this week. I spent the morning covering two separate half mile beats that I hit last week. The first beat got me 6 landed (half of the week before) and the second, Old Friend, just 2. With total hook ups on the first two runs about 30% of the previous week.   I did land a 17” long term holdover and pumped a stomach. Definitely not a recent stocker with white tipped fins and pointy nose. A lot of small nymphs size 18 to 20. I was doing fine with a size #18 BHFBPT. The Arnerd got a few too. River temp was 62 degrees at 9 am.
 
 
 
Around noon I decided to move up river trying to find water that might have low angling pressure. That was not easy and there was a lot more cars in the turnouts today. I decided to try a spot known for stocking and it appears that happened recently as I started hooking up every other cast. Rainbows were taken on the BHFBPT again. Then as the catching subsided I tried stripping an olive crystal flash bugger # 10. It got slammed. The secret is to get your streamers down fast and keep them there. I dip and strip with my rod tip 2’ to 3’ under water. I use a 12 ips super fast sink tip with 8 lb Vanish to tug my bugger. I get my 4lb (nymph rig) and 8lb fluorocarbon vanish in 110 yard spools for $6 that fit on my tippet holder here https://smile.amazon.com/Berkley-VPS8-15-Vanish/dp/B000309ZNK/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=8%2Blb%2Bvanish%2B110%2Byard&qid=1592545858&sr=8-1&th=1&psc=1   110 yards easily lasts me for a whole year.
 
I hit another likely recently stocked spot and picked up another dozen in the same manner. I tried to move again further up river but had real trouble finding any open water to wade so I pulled a U turn at Fairview Dam (flows over 400 cfs and not crossable) headed down river. I snapped a photo at the recent Ant Canyon fire burn. Nothing is smoldering and no sign of fire potential there. Not sure why the InciWeb website doesn’t show it fully contained?
 


I stopped by a stretch on the lower portion of section 5 that did not have vehicles. Took a temperature at 2 pm and recorded 70 degrees. So I moved on. Many tubers were using the area as well. That was surprising for a weekday. I headed down to section 4 to find some shade where I could rig down and remove my boots and rehydrate for the ride home. Just for the heck of it I took a river temperature just below KR3 powerhouse and it was 62 degrees. So the Fairview Dam diversion water seems to be keeping things healthy on the top end of section 4. So I decided to try and find a spot that I could try for the last hour of my afternoon. I didn’t have much luck with the dry/dropper but the deep strip got a lot of grabs and several made it into my net. The biggest went aerial and tossed the hook after several leaps. So a very good day again. I landed 31 rainbows and several small squaw fish. I’d  say a half dozen pike minnows on the warm part of section 5. I also had a double hook up of squaws as well. As river temps rise to 70 degrees it has been my experience to catch more and more pike minnows. They will dominate the lower half of section 5 soon.
 
Finally I have landed 3 rainbows in the last three weeks with cutt marks like the ones below. Not sure if these are golden hybrids, but they were all 15” – 17” and appeared to be wild. Glad I had my camera with me today to capture one of them. As always I am trying to protect the community up there by having all the food, water, fuel, and flies I need. The Governor pronounced today that an uptick in Covid-19 cases requires we all were masks in public. Triple digits are going to be with us the next 2 weeks. It will be very important to know river temperatures, so bring a thermometer with you. I would also suggest that anglers avoid the lower half of section 5 for the rest of the summer.

 


 

FIRE ALERT - Ant Fire - 06/14/20

A wildfire started last night on the 20 mile section of the Kern River.  The fire is designated the Ant Canyon Fire.  The fire was on both sides of Mountain 99 and both sides of the river.  As of late this morning the fire was at 10 acres.  Status updates can be found at the below link:

Ant Canyon Fire just north of Goldledge Campground web page    https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6771/

Please use caution if traveling through the area.
 

Fishing Report - 06/12/20

We have had some very unusually cool weather lately with record lows recorded for Bakersfield.  The origin of the Kern River is Mount Whitney about 60 miles north of Kernville, so it typically take about 36 to 48 hours for flows to change in Kernville as a result in temperatures or precipitation. Flows on section 5 is 120 CFS and much lower than just a week ago when it was pushing 200 CFS. That means trout are concentrated in 40% less water volume and I expected to improve my catching today. On the down side, lower flows on a hot day could spike river temperatures. So I made sure I brought my stream thermometer and headed up making sure to have all I needed with me (lots of water, fuel, food, flies and etc. to protect our mountain community). I arrived on section 5 around 8:30 am. Water temperature at 60°. On the first cast I hooked a 16 inch pristine rainbow and it really was the beginning of a very good day.
 
There are quite a few more vehicles parked in turnouts and in corporative camping spots, but it didn't seem to translate into angler pressure today. The first two hours I covered about a half a mile and picked up a dozen rainbows and one brown trout. I did not have as much action on the surface even though air and water temperatures should have hatched more bugs. There were many dragon flies but noticeably less insect activity flying around. I had quite a bit of action on the red hooked #12 Arnerd and the #16 flashback bead head pheasant tails. I always hang them 3 feet to 4 feet below my indicator fly. That is where most trout are hanging in the water column this time of year, especially when the pocket water is very productive. Trout were disbursed and I never picked up two fish from the same spot all day. I wade far and bush whack a lot  to obtain solitude and get a work out.
 
I covered a lot of water on three different half mile long runs and landed 33 rainbows with about a dozen 16 to 17 inches. Several trout had fresh scars indicating bird strikes. When flows drop this low herons and raptors begin to feast. I’m sure I hooked another dozen rainbows that I couldn’t get to my net. So at least 40 grabs/day the last 2 weeks. The flows were much lower this week and I could wade to a lot more holding water. Conditions couldn’t be better. Especially if you like to wet wade a lot and be by yourself away from other anglers.  By the way, do you need a good idea (instead of a bad tie) for Father’s Day? Simms hard bite studs for felt wading boots. I have tried many different types and these are the best for traction and longevity  https://www.sportsmans.com/simms/simms-hardbitetrade-felt-studs/p/1408657
 
I did try one stretch I haven’t fully covered in about five years. Typically I start at the bottom of it and after covering a couple hundred yards I’d be lucky to pick up anything and give up on it. But today it was great finding a trout every 50 yards. None of the fish appeared to be stocked recently - having pointy noses and white fins tips. I had a blast and it felt like getting together with an old friend I hadn't seen in a while. It brought back some good memories. It used to be my favorite spot 10 to 15 years ago but it has languished, it just doesn’t seem to get fish stocked in it any more. Probably because of the 65% drop in stocked pounds the last 15 years.  There was no indication it recently got planted, but I believe a fair amount of holdovers from the great water year of 2019 has made it very productive for now. I look forward to going again, however, when I chose to quit at 2 o’clock water temperature was 67°. So water temp had come up 7° in just 3.5 hours on a 95° degree day. That is concerning.
 
Most trout begin to really suffer above 65° and I avoid fishing the Kern River when it gets above 70° on the 20 mile section. California Department of Fish and Wildlife guidelines state stocking cannot happen above 75°. So we aren't very far from it on section 5. As predicted with a 50% snow pack this year, we will see those lethal temperatures before the Fourth of July. My guess is the hatchery will have to empty trout before the 4th.  I personally hope they will have time to distribute them all along the 20 mile section before that. However, usually a mechanical issue or some other power problem (power shut down In case of high wildfire potential) will cause the power to be shut down on short notice. In that case, as the planters become extremely stressed, they have to be removed fast and planted quickly. That usually means a lot of fish go into Riverside Park in Kernville or Lake Isabella. It makes great fishing for the locals in a concentrated area for a short time frame, but not exactly a good social distancing circumstance. Of course we fly fishers would love to see them disbursed everywhere so we can catch and release them later in the fall. CDFW stocking guidelines here  https://wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Hatcheries/Criteria
 
If you go up just be aware of how warm the water is getting so you can give the fish a chance to survive this summer should you hooked up. The larger rainbows are more susceptible to heat stress. I didn't bother stripping a streamer today because the dry/dropper rig was exceptionally effective.
 
If you visit Lake Isabella to swim or fish be aware that toxic algal blooms are there again. Many fishers will stalk carp in the shallows, so be aware of the hazard. See map here    https://kernpublichealth.com/cyanobacteria-blooms-blue-green-algae/

Fishing Report - 06/03/20

It appears that the snow pack is close to gone as flows dropped dramatically as predicted below 400 cfs on section 5 the first week of June. There has been some Fairview Dam diversion flow surges on this section with a dramatic increase on Sunday which took flows from 400 cfs to 700 cfs between 7 am to 7 pm. To avoid being caught on the west side of the river in high flows, I always call the flow phone at 877-537-6356 before I leave the house and when I arrive in River Kern where there is cell reception. Being able to cover a lot of river is the key to double digits on the Kern River between Johnsondale Bridge and Kernville. About half of the NFS campgrounds are open and there are a lot of portable toilets along section 5 for those that are interested. Personally, I still bring all I need with me and fill up the tank before I head up to potentially avoid transporting Covid-19. We all need to stay safe and healthy and we need to do our part to keep our mountain & river communities safe & healthy. Progress on the Lake Isabella Dam is impressive and two years away from completion.

One of the most visible aspects of the project happening now is the construction of a much larger emergency spillway. Workers will remove 2.8 million cubic yards of material to make room for the spillway. That's nearly as much material as it took to build the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. Whoa! See story here https://www.bakersfield.com/news/project-manager-on-isabella-dam-provides-update-on-progress/article_686f2cf8-aff9-11e9-a36e-37d34aad1e76.html

I arrived at the river at 8:30 am and rigged up. My first five casts were rewarded with two spunky rainbows. Then moved around with little success the rest of the first hour. The second hour I pushed through more pocket water and began finding rainbows disbursed in pockets at + - 50 yard intervals. Water temp was 60 degrees at the start and air temp 72 but climbed fast. I had trouble landing trout as the #16 BHFBPT just kept pulling through lips in heavier current. Had 12 grabs in the first 2 hours with 5 to the net. If trout took the #12 Arnerd I got them landed.  Most trout I hooked the first 2 hours likely were planted for the Memorial Day weekend as they were 10”-12”. One was a pristine 15”buck with spawning color (seems late in the season for that). I had quite a few grabs on my #12 foam golden stonefly but none got the hook. Often a recast to the same spot where the dry was munched resulted in a hook up on the dropper nymphs. Had a bunch of takes on the pick up too. Fish are aggressive.

I moved onto another stretch that I had to myself. Lots of bush whacking and the brush on the river is getting pretty thick, so I came home with some scrapes but it was worth it. I got into chunkier rainbows, ironically the 17th rainbow I landed was 17” and the 18th was 18”.

I found that the predictable post runoff catching to meet my expectations. I was buzzed by a pair of F-35 raptors and a pair of F-18’s. A real air show my grandsons would love. I landed 20 by noon but it was getting pretty hot. Wet wading is the way to go now. I tried another spot where I could run a #10 olive krystal flash wooly bugger deep and pulled 3 footlongs out of a long run. No really big rainbows on streamers today like earlier this year. I really like using a fast sink (12 ips) to get my streamers down fast in the Upper Kern.  For the day I landed 26 rainbows in about 5 hours. Probably lost 15 others. There was all kinds of insect activity from tiny midges to large crane flies. I pumped a 16” bow’s belly and found both tiny nymphs and larger dries. I think nearly any pattern will work just present the fly in front of the trout and the next three weeks should be excellent before river temps become lethal.
 
 
 
Today, just before I left the river, I measured 63 degrees river temperature at 1:30 pm. I had to quit before I wanted to as I had consumed 3 liters of water and had just a half liter to drink on the way home. Thunder was rolling in close and dark clouds moved in just before I quit. My temp gauge on my car read 103 when I headed home and it was 100 even when I pulled in the driveway. A very good day and I will sleep well tonight after covering a lot of river and working up a sweat. Hope to return again soon while the catching is the best of the year and the trout are in a healthy place.

Fishing Report - 05/21/20

Normalcy is beginning to return to our favorites streams, rivers, and lakes. Fishers are encouraged to continue to social distance while enjoying their favorite pursuit. Conditions for wading fly fishers on the Upper Kern are still not recommended because of high flows over much of the 20 mile section. The north fork at Kernville is still in runoff mode and today is at 1,200 cfs after some very cool temperatures. However, we a ramping up to the century mark in the Bako on Memorial Day and  90’s in Kernville.
 

 
The river temperature at the Kern River Hatchery is in the mid 50’s as the melt continues and it will elevate as the coming heat wave impacts the fishery. Expect another surge to 2,000 cfs over the next few days and then as the low snow pack is rapidly depleted, safely wadeable flows should return the first week of June. We like to see crossable flows below 400 cfs on section 5 before we head up to stalk rainbows.
 
There is some news to report at the hatchery. They have continued to stock during the runoff and especially this week before Memorial Day. The hatchery had few sediment issues with the runoff, but nothing like last year, which shut the hatchery down. They are operational, however, no visits are allowed at any hatchery statewide because of Covid-19. That could change soon as we slowly reopen the state. Chinook salmon fingerlings were planted in Lake Isabella back in November. A total of 25,000 fingerlings were planted, with the hope many would survive to grow to catchable size. Some could be as large as 15” by now. Most are being caught in Lake Isabella near the auxiliary dam, but a few have entered the river inlets and are moving up river. No word yet if the Kern River Rainbow brood stock will be collected later this summer. We eagerly await their arrival, perhaps in the next year to the Kern River Hatchery. It has been well over a decade since there were Kern River Rainbow brood stock and fertile KRR trout reared at the hatchery. Nearly all trout planted the last 10 years have been sterile.
 
When flows drop in the next week or two, keep in mind that flows can intermittently fluctuate significantly on Section 5 for maintenance diversion at the KR3 Power plant. Check out the flow fluctuations below Fairview Dam this past week. See yellow line fluctuate between 850 cfs and 400 cfs often.
 

 
Forest Service campgrounds are not open yet and no word if public bathrooms are open yet. There has been problems with people camping along the Upper Kern in non designated areas. Fines and removal will result. For more information call the forest service at 760-376-3781 or check web site here    https://www.fs.usda.gov/main/sequoia/home

05/18/20

The Kern River Fly Fishers encourage everyone to follow the current orders of the State and County Health Officers. We all need to stay safe and healthy and we need to do our part to keep our mountain & river communities safe & healthy.

Fishing News - 04/24/20

The CDFW acted on its proposal to delay the trout opener in Alpine, Mono, and Inyo counties after the public meeting April 15. Now Sierra County is included.  Today the CDFW issued this additional announcement below:

As much as it pains us, CDFW has delayed the start of the trout opener in Alpine, Inyo and Mono counties and on the Downie River in Sierra County as requested by county officials due to the public health concerns of COVID-19 and limited heath care facilities in these counties. In addition, CDFW has temporarily postponed fishing on the North Fork Yuba River in Sierra County.

The trout season was scheduled to open in these counties tomorrow, Saturday, April 25. The delay to the opener extends through May 31, 2020.

Specifically, this means all waters in Alpine, Inyo and Mono counties not currently open to fishing will remain closed to fishing through May 31. CDFW is also making minor adjustments to bag and possession limits in waters that are currently open for fishing to protect and conserve the existing fisheries that may be affected by increased angling pressure or harvest. Additionally, fishing is now temporarily suspended on the North Fork Yuba River from Yuba Pass downstream to the confluence with Goodyears Creek and the trout opener on the mainstem of the Downie River is delayed, both through May 31, 2020.

These decisions do not affect the trout season in any other county.

The adjustments to bag and possession limits for the four counties in question can be found here:  https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=178544&inline

The CDFW is no longer posting the stocking schedule online. Why? Over the years fishers have congregated on stocking spots and using social media have pulled in lots of fishers (mostly catch and keepers) right after stockings occur. This is not good for social distancing, so the policy has changed. Hopefully the practice will be considered permanently and would greatly improve the distribution of planted trout on all of our waters. This should give trout a better chance to survive and disperse while escaping the onslaught of Facebook hot spotting harvesters and posters that have become common now on the Kern River and Bakersfield Lakes.  See CDFW statement here https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FishPlants/Default.aspx

The snow pack totals are in and there does not appear to be any more snow in the forecast. Our first heat wave of the year is here and the runoff has started. The Kern River drainage snowpack is 50% of normal. The total state snow pack is at the same level of 50% of normal. That means many rivers will be lethal to trout that are in the Southern Sierra by summer’s start soon after the peak runoff.

Here is a graph of the Kern Snow Pack for the last two decades

If we look at the runoff trends it shows that there will be a very short window of about 5 weeks where trout will be planted in the Kern River and the fast current will sweep them down stream to be disbursed. Last year the CDFW planted for over four months in high flows that gave us great disbursed catching for quite a while after the Kern River runoff ended. Peak flow this year will likely be well below 4,000 cfs. If we get a heat wave pushing 100 degrees for a few days in May 4,000 cfs might be reached for just a day. Based on previous years we will see 70 degree river temps at the hatchery shortly after Memorial Day. So not a great trout season for trout survival expected this summer on the 20 mile section. As we have seen in the past, the hatchery likely will not be operational most of the summer, as the five wells on site can only supply 1 cfs total. Time will tell. The Upper Kern should be at flows under 500 cfs by July 4th.  That should keep a lot of rafters and fishers away from Kernville and Riverkern that could bring Covid-19 with them should the Govenor’s stay at home order remain in place into the summer.

Here is how some of our favorite rivers ended up for April 1, 2020. Truckee River seems to be the best for now.
 
TRINITY                      35%
SAN JOAQUIN             42%
KINGS                         45%    
KERN                          50%
OWENS                       51%
TRUCKEE                   72%
TULE                          22%
SACRAMENTO          38%
MCCLOUD                 16%

 

Database can be viewed here http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cgi-progs/snow_ss/COURSES

 

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 04/15/20

Summary Fish and Game Commission Emergency Fishing Closure Webinar April 15, 2020

Today the CFGC held and emergency webinar to discuss Emergency regulation concerning suspending, delaying or restricting sport and recreational fishing. There were a huge number of people who participated. During the call, over 460 people were connected to the webinar and most remained on the
call for the first three hours.

To start out the webinar, the CFGC spent a lot of time asking people to be professional and considerate of all points of view and the seriousness of the current health situation.

It is their proposal to surgically close three counties Alpine, Mono, and Inyo Counties to sport fishing. These are areas that receive large numbers of anglers beginning the day of the trout opener and weeks thereafter. These anglers would require lodging, food, tackle and other services and could bring the Covid-19 virus into these areas with limited health services.

The commissioner provided several comments before public input was allowed that are noteworthy.  No hunting closure/restrictions are being considered. This proposal would limit the CFGC’s ability to restrict or suspend fishing until May 31, 2020 in three counties. There is no statewide closure being considered. There has only been one closure in history that the CFGC implemented, which was on the Merced River in 2015 related to salmon during the extreme drought.

The first people to comment on the proposed change were only public officials after 20 minutes of technical issues. They emphasized that just these three counties be closed to all outdoor activities not just fishing for the beginning of trout season. A Sheriff from Inyo County said they did not have the manpower to handle and monitor the large crowds of fisherman and others that will congregated at harbors, boat ramps, lakes and river banks. The FFF of Northern California supported the protection of these
three counties.

There were several public officials to comment in most of the first two hours. Here are some of them. A Siskiyou County official wants the CFGC to be aware that these actions would push more anglers into his region, especially the Upper Sacramento River. Other counties wanted to make sure their areas would not have any restrictions placed on them and that normal fishing would continue to occur. They want their own residents to have the ability to fish. A Plumas County official thanked the CFGC for not placing a
statewide ban on all fishing like Washington State did. He asked that the CFGC consider ending non-resident licenses temporarily and limit fishing in counties to the residents of the specific county only. Nearly all said they want a fishing ban to be for a very short time and very specific locations. No public official commented on the Kern River any Kern County concerns.

After almost 2 hours the public was allowed to comment and 394 callers were still on the webinar. They were only allowed to comment for one minute each. The first caller from the public was concerned that San Diego has closed all fishing from harbors and she was not allowed to go out in the ocean in her own self contained vessel to feed her family. Other public commenter’s believe that closing one area to fishing will crowd people into other areas. Others thanked the CFGC for not closing fishing state wide and  romoting that people can fish while practicing social distancing. Several people need to get meat by fishing because they can’t get meat in their local grocery stores. Many were upset that locals could be allowed to fish and are petitioning that they should be the only ones allowed to fish their waters. They were emphatic that if waters are restricted by the CFGC to fishing the water should be closed to everyone. Several said they think that the California Constitution states we can fish and that any restrictions on fishing should be up the each individual county or municipality not the CFGC. No one commented on Kern River or any Kern County waters.

The CFGC wrapped up with comments well after three hours with over 250 callers still connected. They emphasized that if your local harbor is closed to salt water fishing,  that it is not in the CFGC’s jurisdiction, that is a municipality issue. The CFGC is working to open up ocean fishing particularly for salmon. The new proposed restrictions language would be in effect until May 31, 2020 and would expire after that time.  A legitimate request (made by Bart Hall of the Fred Hall shows) to extend the fishing season, because of this short term ban on the front end of the season, should be considered. The CFGC is not practicing martial law or violating our state laws. The CFGC was pleased with the technical challenge to
accommodate so many people who wanted to participate and thanked all who participated. The CFGC hear the concerns of local officials and the challenge to balance the economies of fishing communities as well as their health concerns. There was a minor amendment passed  regarding ocean fishing.

It would appear that the proposal to invoke Emergency regulation concerning suspending, delaying or restricting sport and recreational fishing for Alpine, Inyo, and Mono Counties through May 31st will go forward. Stay tuned for the latest.

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 04/14/20

The California Fish and Game Commission has announced today that the potential Emergency regulations to suspend or close areas to fishing will be discussed starting at 10 am (not 9 am)  April 15.
Click here and select “Live stream of Commission Meetings while in session” tab at the upper right portion of the web page https://fgc.ca.gov/
 
 
Dear fish and wildlife stakeholder,
 
The agenda for the April 15-16, 2020 Commission meeting has been revised to add Item 2 to consider an emergency regulation regarding sport and recreational fishing. All general public comment for items not on the agenda will be heard under Agenda Item 14. Agenda Items 9 and 24 have been combined. Additionally, staff will recommend that Items 3(B), 4, 5, 6, 7, 13 and 31 be continued to a future meeting.

The revised agenda is now available on the Commission's website at http://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=177983&inline.

This meeting will be held by teleconference only. Please refer to the agenda for important meeting information, including registering for the teleconference. As always, a live stream of the meeting will be available at www.fgc.ca.gov on the day of the meeting.

Sincerely,
Melissa Miller-Henson
Executive Director
California Fish and Game Commission

 

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 04/12/20

There is a lot to report while we are off of our favorite waters and I hope to keep you up to date on some big issues that are driving our fly fishing for 2020.

The most urgent topic regards the California Fish and Game Commission Emergency Meeting that was cancelled last week. Many of you tried to participate. Because of huge participation it had to be rescheduled. The CFGC oversees the CDFW.

On April 9th the CFGC wanted to discuss whether or not to temporarily grant authority to CDFW to decide whether to delay, restrict, or suspend sport or recreational fishing in order to prevent and mitigate public health risks that may arise when people travel for fishing trips or congregate while participating in available fishing opportunities.

At this time the CFGC shows a meeting for April 15 beginning at 9 am on their web page, but there is no time allocated to address this critical topic? So I made inquiries and got an email this morning that reads below.

April 9 Emergency Meeting

If you are contacting the Commission regarding the April 9, 2020 emergency meeting, please note that due to the high public interest in the meeting, we exceeded the capacity of our teleconference technology and postponed the meeting. The Commission is rescheduling the agenda item to April 15 at 10:00 a.m. Please check our meetings webpage for updates or visit our homepage at www.fgc.ca.gov to join our electronic mailing list (select Agendas: Business Meetings).

 

It is unclear to me if there is a separate meeting to discuss CDFW fishing closures at 10 am or is a part of the 9am meeting/webinar? Given the EXTREMELY high interest you would think this topic would dictate its own meeting. To insure that you get a link to the meeting/webinar sign up for an email notice soon, before the system is overloaded again. To do this, go to this web page and check the first box that says AGENDAS: Business Meeting at this webpage:

https://visitor.r20.constantcontact.com/manage/optin?v=001lLYlTIgswvICn2RVsw1wyXxfwSyy8mOqbM0UN6MKwadrBWLmlPcVPQ%3D%3D

 

Then check your email or junk folder for the invite email from the CDFG. Hopefully that will allow you to listen or participate.

There will be lots to report on going forward and I look forward to keeping you updated. Here is just a list of topics to be covered: the outcome of the webinar, proposed NEW Fishing Regulations for the Kern, Golden Trout Wilderness and other top waters, KRFF recommendations for those new regulations, the COVID-19 delayed snow pack surveys state wide, predicted peak flows for the Kern, when trout lethal temps will pervade (sadly) the Upper Kern in 2020, potential start of the Kern River Rainbow project in 2020, updates for the Kern River Hatchery, best fly fishing videos, great Kern fly ties and lots more…..

At this time we’d like to give a big thank you to all of the heroes out there that are taking on a lot during these challenging times: especially medical workers, first responders, grocery employees, truck drivers, utility workers, farmers/laborers, medical supply providers and so many more....

Stay safe and informed.

04/09/20

The Kern River Fly Fishers encourage everyone to follow the Governor's "Stay at Home order". We all need to stay safe and healthy and we need to do our part to keep our mountain & river communities safe & healthy.

 

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 03/28/20

I think that you will all agree that we are living in most interesting times. Most of us are hunkered down at home tying flies because of the COVID-19 virus induced social distancing. However, things have improved somewhat for our local fisheries over the last month. We were far behind in rainfall and snow pack, but March will have higher than normal rainfall in Bakersfield by the time it concludes. N.O.A.A. had forecasted a much drier than normal March through May. It could still play out that way or perhaps not? Short range geographic climate prediction continues to be a very inexact science. 

There has been a slight bump in the Southern Sierra river drainages snow pack (see bottom plot above) which ticked up a bit to 43% of normal. The Kern River drainage has had just two physical snow pack measurements the last month; rather estimates from satellite imaging are interpolated for the plots below. Typically there are physical measurements taken near April 1st, as that is the historical benchmark for peak snow pack. You can view the measurements of all of the rivers in California here http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cgi-progs/snow_ss/COURSES . Even with the good March rainfall total, it appears that the snow pack level will fall below 50% in 2020. What does that mean? After a very good 2019 there was a lot of good trout catching and vegetation grown in the Southern Sierra, now it appears it will be very dry and extreme fire potential will concern residents, campers and fishers all summer. Once we have the April 1st snow pack, stayed tuned for a prediction of peak flows and when the Upper Kern drops to 1,000 cfs (400 cfs low flow section) post run off.

According to the CDFW Region 4 office hatcheries, where our Kern River hatchery trout come from, are now closed to the public and many CDFW employees are working from home. However, trout plants are still going forward. The Kern River Hatchery siphon is repaired and trout should be back in the races in April. They expect to hold trout again and stock in April, most of the schedule is not posted online yet. Direct stocking from the San Joaquin Hatchery was lower pounds than usual during March. Water is off color and river temps in the upper forties. Our Governor has locked most of us in place, but has encouraged us to continue outdoor activities, especially those that involve exercising, while social distancing. So if you plan to go fishing with a friend, make sure you don’t ride share, unless you are going with a member of your household.  In the past few months the stocking strategy drew pods of bait and fly fishers and it was hard to get multiple catches unless you were around a lot of other fishers. That might improve, if they start stocking in more stretches outside of Kernville. They stocked sections 4 and 5 two weeks ago and section 4 should get some trout next week. The hatchery manager has said fishing pressure has been light and that may be because of the lighter poundage? A few members have made the trek up to the Kern the last 3 weeks and those that did had few landed. More rain is on the way and that may cloud things up?  Section 5 is very low at 77 cfs. Check out the 19” buck that a KRFF friend landed about a month ago on the Lower Kern. We just hit over 70,000 visitors to our fishing reports. Thanks for your interest!

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 02/22/20

Lots of news to discuss in addition to catching conditions. There were some nice plants just before Whiskey Flat Days in Kernville (the plant was not on the planting website schedule). Hatchery manager Tony says the average trout size in the latest lot is the biggest he’s seen since he arrived at the Kern River Hatchery. He said that there were a lot of fishers concentrated where he planted around Kernville. Some were up to 16 inches. How many lasted the three day weekend? Who is to say. Next plant not on the schedule yet. The Kern flows are still low and Section 5 is still almost a trickle at 45 cfs. The snow indicates that we will have a drought year unless some big storms arrive soon. We will have one of the driest Februarys recorded. The NOAA forecast is for warmer than normal temperatures and lower than normal precipitation through May and that means low snowpack and faster snow pack melt. Current snow pack measurements for the Southern Sierra is just 46% of where it should be now and just 52% for the whole state. The graph trend is distressing. What does this mean? Based on past years I’ve tracked, expect trout lethal water temps on the Upper Kern 20 mile section before the 4th of July and flows will be wadable on the low flow section about June 10th. That gives you just a 3 week window to wade safely and not lethally exhaust rainbows if the current bleak precipitation trend holds.

 

 

How’s the Lower Kings River doing? The CDFW still has not fattened up their super catchables (3 lbs) to size yet. Cold river temps (48 degrees) at the San Joaquin Hatchery have slowed the weight gaining process as cold trout don’t eat as much as trout in warmer water. They do hope to plant super catchables by mid-March. They have planted the Lower Kings weekly with +footlongs and few lucky fishers have tagged some sizeable holdovers from last year. Flows have been staying below 300 cfs, which is a bit high, but fishable and the catching has been good with the weekly plantings for months. Remember that the Lower Kings below Alta Weir is barbless, artificial, catch and release with heavy fines for those that don’t comply.


The CDFW is going to change regulations statewide and is soliciting feedback from the public. It has published their recommendations for your comment. At this time they appear to have essentially ignored our suggestions for the Kern River and its tributaries in the GTW. Size limits are being removed and the catch season is increased. Bait would be allowed in the GTW tributaries to the Kern (formerly artificial barbless). The only positive we perceive is that the opening of many waters to trout fishing will be delayed to the Saturday before Memorial Day. Many trout waters and the Kern are too dangerous to fish that time of year during the runoff and will help save some lives on the Kern and it will give the few wild/native trout a longer time to spawn before harvesting commences. Unfortunately, NONE of the rainbows being planted in our home river and Lake Isabella have been fertile for a decade now. That won’t change for years until the native Kern River Rainbow Project is actually started. A second attempt to collect native brood stock in August in the High Sierra is being planned .  Then it will take another 2 years to raise the first KRRT to be planted in the Kern in any significant quantity. That’s if everything goes to plan. Fingers crossed.  You can view and comment on the proposed regulation changes here https://wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Inland/Trout-Plan/Regulation-Simplification     Please consider sending feedback to the CDFW. Contact info is provided on the link. Our club will be sending our conservation chairperson to Sacramento for the Wildlife Resources Committee March 5 meeting to convey our disappointment with the proposed changes that will assure Kern River Rainbow Trout will be harvested at an even greater rate than now. Email your comments by February 28th to the committee by reviewing this link  https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=177431&inline and email your feedback to fgc@fgc.ca.gov

 

 

Finally the Kern River Fly Fishers are sponsoring the INTERNATIONAL FLY FISHING TOUR FILM FESTIVAL in Bakersfield March 21st at 2:00 pm at the Maya Cinemas. This is the first time it will be held in Bakersfield. If you haven’t been to one of these events you are in for a real treat. The festival consists of several short high quality films about fly fishing all over the world. We will have great prizes that you can win. All proceeds to benefit Casting for Recovery. For more information see the links below. The event should no last more than a couple of hours
 
 
Check out some movie trailers https://www.flyfilmfest.com/films/
 
Buy your tickets before they sell out    https://www.showclix.com/event/if42020bakersfieldca
 
Casting for Recovery  https://castingforrecovery.org/

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: https://tforods.com/the-predicament-of-buying-the-right-fly-lin/

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 https://wildlife.ca.gov/Licensing/Online-Sales

Report steelhead Harvest by 1/31   https://www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/InternetSales/CustomerSearch/Begin

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 https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Hatcheries/Criteria   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 https://www.dreamflows.com/graphs/mon.480.php

You can order your 2020 fishing license now online here https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Licensing/Online-Sales

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   https://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/long_range/seasonal.php?lead=1
 
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  https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B00QF1YORS/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1  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  https://mywaterquality.ca.gov/habs/resources/human_health.html
 
California HAB Map of affected waters https://mywaterquality.ca.gov/habs/where/freshwater_events.html
 
Lake Isabella Kern County Health Department HAB hazard map (several DANGER level locations identified this week)   https://kernpublichealth.com/cyanobacteria-blooms-blue-green-algae/
 
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)  https://www.theflystop.com/fly-fishing-flies-discount/dry-flies/terrestrials/foam-terrestrial-olive  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)  https://www.theflystop.com/fly-fishing-flies-discount/nymphs/beadheads/beadhead-flashback-pheasant-tail
 

 
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.
 
https://amazon.com/gp/product/B01GUG9JGS/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&th=1&psc=1
 
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   https://ktla.com/2019/08/19/another-l-a-man-found-dead-in-kern-river-2-others-including-11-year-old-girl-still-missing/

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 https://ktla.com/2019/07/18/bodies-of-2-san-bernardino-teens-2-young-men-recovered-from-kern-river-11-year-old-girl-missing/?fbclid=IwAR2AkFitZ2pB8CGSeGj9KDVAbsulYkxYehs4vscV5GEOqsfiBBc0L5DB1kg
 
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 http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cgi-progs/snow_ss/COURSES

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.

https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Inland/Trout-Plan/Regulation-Simplification

 

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 http://www.dreamflows.com/graphs/mon.480.php   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 http://www.dreamflows.com/graphs/mon.480.php   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      https://levan.asapconnected.com/ClassDetail.aspx?pk=1344820  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 http://www.dreamflows.com/graphs/mon.480.php

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  https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Licensing/Online-Sales

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   https://www.modbee.com/news/article207013744.html
 
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 http://www.flydealflies.com/ 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 http://www.flydealflies.com/flies/pheasant_tail_flash_back_b.html )  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    http://www.sutronwin.com/scedison/tw/jsp/    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   https://www.harborfreight.com/non-contact-pocket-thermometer-93983.html

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   http://www.sutronwin.com/scedison/tw/jsp/ 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  http://www.sutronwin.com/scedison/tw/jsp/

 

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  http://www.sutronwin.com/scedison/tw/jsp/   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 https://cdfgnews.wordpress.com/2018/02/28/cdfw-trout-hatcheries-announce-angling-opportunities-for-trophy-trout-in-2018/
 
 
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 http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cgi-progs/snow_ss/COURSES
 
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   https://www.basspro.com/shop/en/round-lead-free-wire  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   http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cgi-progs/snow_ss/COURSES.02
 
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  https://www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/InternetSales/

Click Here for Prior Years Fishing Reports

 

 

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