Fishing Reports

Visited since 11/12/06


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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