Fishing Reports

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Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 11/8/18

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



Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 09/28/18

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

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

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


Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 09/13/18

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bass Pro Shops Update

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

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

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 07/13/18

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


Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 06/15/18

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can order here or drop buy the store

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 06/08/18

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

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


Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 05/24/18

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


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


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


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


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

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

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 05/11/18

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

Section 5 flows


Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 05/02/18

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

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 04/25/18

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


Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 04/11/18

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

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


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


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

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 04/02/18

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

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 03/23/18

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

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

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

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 03/16/18

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

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

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

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 02/01/18

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

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

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

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 02/01/18

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

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

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

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

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

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


Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 01/12/18

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

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