Fishing Reports

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Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 12/21/17

Uh oh 2018 isn’t looking so great even with the new Bass Pro Shop coming to town. The first reports of snow pack and rainfall are trickling in and the results are not encouraging. BFL has had just barely a trace and by now almost a quarter of the annual rainfall/snowfall should have dropped on the Sierra. No rainfall in the forecast through the first week of 2018 is forecasted. Sierra snowpack is just 37% of what it normally is this time of year. Pray for a change soon.
Currently the catching has been down since the last local planting before Turkey Day and up on the Kern River where harvesting was nearly complete in a matter of days. A lingering high pressure system has kept the nights very cold and the afternoons warm. Water temps on the Kern River have been very cold below 40 at night and catching has virtually ceased. These cold water temps mean no scheduled CDFW plants for the upper river for a while now that after noon it is firmly below 45 degrees in the Kern. The Kern River Hatchery is still not fully operational and no trophy program is in progress yet and its future appears to be uncertain. Santa dropped of some trout in BFL lakes yesterday afternoon but not on the Lower Kern. However, there is great fishing coming to a water near you soon.
Flows on the Lower Kings dropped to 250 cfs yesterday so wading should be much better now. The Lower Kings is scheduled to get the first trophies planted before Christmas. Last year was great as literally tons of 3-4 pounders were dribbled in for weeks. This year they should be larger as the great water year of 2017 made rearing trout excellent.

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 11/17/17

Turkey Day is almost here. The catching has been fairly slow since September as there has only been one non-web posted CDFW stocking we know of in October. However, our CDFW contact has confirmed  Brite Lake was just stocked before this post and Riverwalk and other Bakersfield Lakes will be getting stocked just before Turkey Day. No word on whether the Kern River will be stocked. It often is for the holiday crowd, however, no word on that. The first good rain and snow of November today has raised the Upper Kern to 1,000 cfs and climbing so murky conditions will like prevail for a time up river.
Another huge development is the  announcement that a Bass Pro Shop will finally be in Bakersfield very soon. It will be a large 100,000 sqft store that will be a “destination” for sportsmen well beyond Kern County. No details on the specific details of the store,however, the artist rendering of the proposed store shows it will have a “White River Fly Shop”. This is great news as we haven’t had a fly shop in town in over a decade.

Here are some links to learn more
Bass Pro Shop News
Have a great Turkey Day (it should be very pleasant in the upper 70’s here)


Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 10/20/17

Wading conditions have been excellent the last three weeks and recent storms bringing snow to the higher elevations could bring higher flow as warmer temperatures return next week.  It has been very smokey during October mornings and hopefully the recent precipitation will alleviate that. There has been no stocking made or planned in October or November according to the CDFW website. Construction still not complete. Normally we would see the first stocking of Bakersfield lakes by now and we hope that may occur soon?

Once stocking drops ends it takes about three weeks for most of the trout to be harvested or taken by raptors. Probably less than 5% actually move away from the planted areas and survive more than 3 weeks based on discussions with previous hatchery managers. Members who have fished the last three weeks have seen fish counts drop and a double digit day is now exceptional. Anglers willing to wade a lot to find fish can do better than one or two a day now. Low catching means less pressure :-)

At this time NOAA forecasts a warmer but normal precipitation for early 2018 in SoCal. Montana and Colorado to get a big snowpack. Last year was supposed to be a low snow pack year and look what happened. Check out forecast here:

 So who knows what will happen? Hopefully by Christmas the hatchery will again be able to hold planters and that could mean a good start towards a trout trophy trout program for 2018 and local lake plantings from Santa. Stay tuned.

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 09/29/17

Recent reports haven’t been that great but the weather has been near perfect for fly fishing. We debated about waiting a while because the TOP 3 teams in the Cal Fly Fishing open averaged just about 1 trout per hour per angler a week ago. Total inches not reported so average size is unknown. It has been our experience in decent water years that +5 bows an hour is a good day in late September. So we just planned to just enjoy the day and potentially land a handful of foot longs after a lot of wading. Boy were we wrong.
We stopped at Riverside Park before we headed up river and noticed there were quite a few anglers rigging up in the park. One guy said he hooked a huge +8 lb bow. We were skeptical and thought it was maybe a squawfish because he had a surf rod with him and 30 lb mono with worms.
We had a late start and finally got rigged up to fish around 9:30 am and considered wet wading but it was reported that water temps were in the low 50’s. When we got to the river it was 57 degrees and flows below 100 cfs on section 5. A baiter said the river had been stocked earlier in the week. Yes!!!! It has been a while since stocking did NOT occur late on a Friday just before the weekend harvesters dunked their worms and Powerbait. Maybe the trout would get a chance to disburse for a change?  We were right.
Not only were fish disbursed but they were NICE trout. I only landed 4 trout under 14” most were 15” –16”. The largest 19”. Not much pressure. Some campgrounds are now closed. Rainbows loved a #16 BHFBPT and the #12 red hooked BH Arnerd too. We had to be back in town so we quit at 2:00 pm (wish we could have stayed later). Lots of action, I landed 29 in < 4.5 hours. My buddy did almost as well; he had the biggest on the Upper Kern he has ever landed at 19”. We had some surface action and lots of smaller midges hatching but trout weren’t focused on them and they were disbursed over a large areas. No pods of trout. Water gin clear.
What made it the best day in years? I’ll postulate that these we bigger trout that could power around a lot more than footlongs. Also trout were planted on a weekday before weekend harvesting and could move about. Trout still have to be hauled from the SJ hatchery in a single day, but valley temps are much cooler that a month ago so the planters aren’t nearly as stressed and they are active, ready to eat and move shortly after being planted.  They also may be in a spawning mode (not common for rainbows in fall)  and willing to move and seek out a mate?
The hatchery still does not hold trout yet but construction completion looks to be sooner than later (fingers crossed). Typically planting begins for Bakersfield Lakes mid-October. The stocking schedule as of today is not projected into October yet. Colder weather coming very soon so get out while the getting is good!


Fire Report - Caldwell Fire - 09/02/17

The Caldwell Fire started on 09/01 near Caldwell Creek above the Kern River.  As of 8PM on the first, the fire was at 150 acres in rugged terain.   For more information see the link below:

 National Incident Information System - Caldwell Fire -

Fire Report - Pier Fire - 09/02/17

 The Pier fire, in the Tule River watershed, started on Aug 29th.  As of noon today, 09/02, the fire stands at 10,311 acres with 0% containment.  The fire, believed to be human caused, has caused mandator evacuations for Camp Nelson, Pierpoint Springs and other communities up the mountain.  Road closures are as follows:

* Hwy 190 closed between the Balch Park turn off and Ponderosa

* Balch Park Rd closed at Bear Creek Rd

Find more information at the links below:

National Incident Information System - Pier Fire -

Fresno Bee -

Porterville Recorder -

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 08/10/17

I have been waiting for nearly 10 months for low Fairview Dam flows that are now below 400 ft.³ per second. This means there are a handful of places you can wade across the river with some effort and fish water that hasn't been touched all year. Given that the river has been stocked the last few months this usually means lots of catching. Typically catching +10 trout/hr happens for the first 2 weeks before aggressive harvesting depletes the bounty. So with months of stocking during very high flows the LONG anticipated catching should be well worth the long wait.

Heading to Kernville there were several large fire scorched areas along the upper canyon from BFL. Nothing was smoldering but the air was smoky up river from Kernville. Not sure where it is coming from? I got an early start because the temperatures in Kernville we're going to be well in the 90s and hit the water about 7:30 am. My thermometer wasn't working as it had been a long time since I used it and the battery was dead but I'm guessing water temperature was in the low 60s. I could quickly get on the other side of the river to begin what I believed to be a great season of fishing after waiting so long to let the dangerous flows subside. When I arrived on the west side of my first location I was immediately struck at the lack of footprints all along the river and that put a big smile on my face knowing I would be the first to fish this water in 2017. I went down to some nice pocket water and knew I would get a hook up right away. Well that didn't happen, I moved up river to lots of holding water and pockets that were just waiting for my casts but saw no rises to my dry nor any takes down below. I thought, “Well I started early and they're still was shadow on the water from the mountains so maybe it will get better when the light hits the water”. Water clarity was excellent but that never improved the catching?

I moved down river to where lots of stocking probably occurred thinking maybe the fish have been swept down below. I crossed the river again with no one in sight, no footprints again on the west side and it is easy to traverse because the high flows swept out a lot of brush that normally would take a lot of bushwhacking. Again nothing took my flies. After about two hours I finally put a nice bow that was pristine and likely in the river a long time it measured +13 inches was healthy so I pumped a stomach. It contained very small midge larva probably size 22 or 20 gray in color. So I went smaller on my bottom fly.

I fished another half hour with no tugs nor sighting of fish. I moved to another spot further up on section 5, one that has always been productive for me. Again I crossed to virgin water. Not a bite after 45 minutes? Where are all the fish that were stocked the last few months? Maybe we’ll learn but I finally found some fish at the fourth spot I tried that was downstream from another prime stocking location. One took a red hooked Arnerd and he was 16 inches but probably a recent stocker because his nose was not pointy and had a fungus on it. The other fish about 13 1/2 inches , stubby tail, took a black woolly bugger that I had stripped in front of a nice large boulder. I gave it some more time at another spot where I didn't even bother to cross the river and pretty much was casting practice.

So on the day I landed three trout in about six hours and after the huge runoff - previous years +10 trout/hr has been very typical. I hope this is not an indication of the Fall we are going to have?

I stopped by the hatchery on the way home; it is still dry and construction not completed. Personnel there are not enthusiastic about it being completed anytime soon (they hear the complaints from fishers on the delays but do not have anything to do with the actual reconstruction) so they are really tired of trying to explain to anxious anglers what is up. They have spent long +12 hr days driving trout and planting on the same day to/from the SJ Hatchery above Fresno.  However, they do think they may be able to direct some water to two of the races so they can finally hold trout there on a monthly basis rather than having to make a weekly long trek to pick up trout at the San Joaquin hatchery north of Fresno. The long-haul in +100° valley heat is not great for the bows and maybe one of the reasons why I didn't catch very many post snow melt?   It makes sense that the fish are very stressed and weakened after that kind of transport and their mortality rate is not great? The SJ hatchery waters are cold, then trout water temps elevate during the long transport, then they were planted in cold Kern River water. Were trout so exhausted and temperature shocked that many didn’t survive long in high flows?    This may be just speculation. Hopefully by September, if they get water into the hatchery, they can avoid these long one day desert drives and plantings that take more than 12 hours. When the hatchery becomes fully operational a trophy trout program can be restarted and hopefully provide lunkers for summer 2018?

Unfortunately, the flow phone for Southern California Edison no longer seems to work well but I found a website where you can see a graph or table of the flows below Fairview Dam on the low flow section where most of us will target trouting as the flows are much safe on section 5.

You can check it out here

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 07/28/17

Sadly the 2017 death count on the Kern River is ELEVEN and 3 are still missing. There have been over 60 swift water rescues this year by Kern County search and rescue teams and more to come as incredibly foolish people continue to enter the river often to escape these prolonged heat waves. Last week another rescue was required at the Limestone Campground when flows were in the 1,800 cfs to 2,100 cfs range. The flows are trending down but will slowly decline non-linearly like an oil well with flows likely to exceed 1,000 cfs well into August. Many of us see 1,000 cfs as the time to consider fishing, BUT that is when flows on the low flow section drop below 400cfs, IF SoCal Edison is producing power by diverting 600 cfs from Fairview Dam to KR3 powerhouse.  So the REAL FLOW RATE we feel is fishable is below 400 cfs . Currently, daily fluctuations now can add another 300 cfs peaking at midday so be aware. However, remember that SoCal Edison can stop diverting up to 600 cfs at any time and if you are on the wrong side of the Upper Kern River you may have to walk MILES to safely cross and get back to your vehicle. When super safe flows measured at Kernville drop below 200 cfs then you can wade nearly the entire 20 mile section reasonably safely. Unfortunately, Kernville flows like that clearly will not happen this year even in late fall. Rafting companies are in heaven though!

Additionally the high mountain temperatures likely will spur monsoonal thunderstorms that bring with them lightening strikes (forest fires) and flash flood conditions that can murk things up for weeks. It is very important that you check the latest conditions before you head out. Thankfully nearly all of us have stayed out of the Kern River and avoided following the pied piper into a dangerous situation. Thanks to those who are working with families who have lost loved ones to the deadly Kern River to increase awareness in the Sequoia National Forest with increased signage where people often foolishly enter the river. Just stay out and stay alive. Nuff said!  Pass along and post on social media to your fly fishing friends. For the ones who always take your favorite spot………

Lake Isabella and Lake Success have been slow on trout, bass, and crappie. Why?  A lot fewer fish, record drought mortality related, disbursed in a lot more water this year.  Higher elevation streams and meadows are far healthier than the last 5 years. Fly anglers have had some success stalking small wild trout with light rods in areas where the snow pack finally melted and opened access roads. However, the mosquitoes can be numerous and nasty. Go very prepared to fight them off, cover up, wear a head net and take your DEET spray with you. There is a lot of standing water in the higher elevations.

No updates from Kernville on the hatchery rebuild progress. No news usually means bad news it seems as the project likely is barely moving along. No trophy trout program at the Kernville hatchery until 2018 at the earliest. As you can imagine the triple digit temperatures have made it difficult to transport planter trout all the way from the San Joaquin hatchery in one day and is very stressful on the trout. The Upper Kern River temps have stayed in the low 60’s even though Kernville air temps have exceeded triple digits often this summer. The river continues to be planted with foot longs periodically to satisfy many Kernville vendors and high flows have washed them down river. When things become sane later there should be trout disbursed throughout the 20 mile section and good pocket water catching. However, make no plans to wade for a while and don’t expect the Upper Kern Flows to drop below 1,000 cfs for some time.

Fire Report - Schaeffer Fire - 07/06/17 - PM report

As of 5PM, the fire is currently 10,674 acres and only 8% contained.  Full containment currently is not expected until July 31st.  See the below link and the links from the 1st for further information on this fire.

Fire Report - Schaeffer Fire - 07/01/17

The Schaeffer Fire, located 17 miles north of Kernville, started June 24th.  It is currently 1467 acres with 0% containment.  Here are some links with more information

National Incident Information System -

Porterville Recorder Article -

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 06/28/17

The 2017 death count on the Kern River is six and counting with another person (Rap Artist Michael Ramirez) missing and presumed drowned over the weekend. High temps in the Sierra drove flows to +8,000 cfs and daily flows deviated daily up to 3,000 cfs in a matter of hours. Stay out and stay alive on the Kern River. Thanks to those who are working with families who have lost loved ones to the deadly Kern River to increase awareness in the Sequoia National Forest with increased signage where people often foolishly enter the river. Just stay out and stay alive. Nuff said!  Pass along and post on social media to your fly fishing friends. For the ones who always take your favorite spot………

Lake Isabella and Lake Success have been slow on trout, bass, and crappie. Why?  A lot fewer fish, record drought mortality related, disbursed in a lot more water this year.  Higher elevation streams and meadows are far healthier than the last 5 years. Fly anglers have had some success stalking small wild trout with light rods in areas where the snow pack finally melted and opened access roads. However, the mosquitoes are numerous and nasty. Go very prepared to fight them off, cover up, wear a head net and take your DEET spray with you. There is a lot of standing water in the higher elevations propagating hungry swarms.

Progress on the Kernville hatchery rebuild continues to be slow with little progress and a summer completion is unlikely. No trophy trout program at the Kernville hatchery until 2018 at the earliest. As you can imagine the triple digit temperatures have made it difficult to transport planter trout all the way from the San Joaquin hatchery in one day and is very stressful on the trout. The Upper Kern continues to be planted with foot longs periodically to satisfy many Kernville vendors and high flows have washed them down river. When things become sane later there should be trout disbursed throughout the 20 mile section and good pocket water catching. However, make no plans to wade for a while and don’t expect the Upper Kern Flows to drop below 1,000 cfs until late August at the earliest.

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 04/02/17

Huge snow packs statewide are providing challenging water management strategies. The Lower Kings River was closed to recreational activities a few days ago. The Upper Kern is ramping up with summer like temperatures forecasted this week driving unsafe and unwadeable murky flows at over 3,000 cfs and the Lower Kern is also unfishable and flowing above 4,000 cfs.  The April 1st snow course measurements are about 50% complete and the numbers today show a HUGE 227% of normal!!! Locally Lake Isabella has been draining to make room for the coming historical run off. The contract for the Lake Isabella Dam Repair Project will soon be awarded. Check out this site to see a detailed description of the huge project and time lines:

The latest snow pack data shows a huge snow pack remains in the High Sierras even with the relatively dry March we have had.  It appears that most of our favorite rivers are going to largely be unsafe to wade for months to come and the Upper Kern likely will not drop below 1,000 cfs until after Labor Day. In 2011 we had an April 1st snow pack of 195% (much lower compared to this record season)and river flows did not drop below wadeable 1,000 cfs rates until early August in 2011. See the graph to get an idea of likely flows we will experience this summer- albeit even higher than 2011. In that year a dozen people drowned and WE HOPE THAT THE FLY FISHING COMMUNITY WILL HEIGHTEN AWARENESS to avoid any tragedies this season. The huge snow pack will mean severely stressed alpine meadows will be on the road to health once again.

The Kernville Hatchery is still non-operational and little progress has been made recently. It has been inoperable since August 2016 and most believe it will not be operational before Memorial Day. Troutfest 2017, which usually occurs for the trout opener the last Saturday in April, has been cancelled. While it is frustrating to know that the catching won’t be great this year, this facility had structures built in 1928 that soon will be state of the art and will provide the means to finally stock fertile native Kern River Rainbows in a few years. Planting may finally occur in April, a long haul from the San Joaquin hatchery, but we think it wiser to wait until things become safe in late summer. In the mean time strong flows should distribute the planters more widely further down river. Plantings will come directly from the San Joaquin Hatchery which makes for a long 14 hour day for hatchery personnel and stressed trout. The total CDFW pounds for 2017 have been held to 45,000 lbs which is down from 2016 as last year had a bonus of about 10,000 lbs of trophies that were fed by funds raised by Friends of the Hatchery. Their main fund raising event Fishstock will again happen in September to drive trophies for 2018. The Friends of the Hatchery report that a trophy trout program will be restarted once the hatchery reopens. However, it will take a year or more to beef up footlongs to 4 lb trophies like we had in 2016. So if you want size on the Kern it looks like 2018 will be hog heaven for us. Local BFL lakes trout stocking ended last month but warming temps are bringing the panfish alive here and Lake Isabella.

The Lower Kings is now closed to recreation and high flows (+9,000 cfs recently). When flows drop (months from now?) there will be a lot of +4lb trophies worth safely targeting on the Lower Kings after over 10,000 lbs of them were introduced into the catch and release section this past winter.


The CDFW conducted a fish survey on Hot Creek 8/25/16 which concluded that the fish populations are much lower than surveys from 10 years ago. This past fall the CDFW stocked fertile “12,000 sub-catchable fish, of which 8,000 were Hofer-strain rainbow trout and 4,000 brown trout”. The fish had to be sub-catchable size because the river is a designated wild trout stream. Some details here

The CDFW will also now stock diploid (fertile) fish in the Mono Basin and other Eastern Sierra watersheds that do not have native trout in them.   These will come from the Hot Creek Hatchery. Will other areas in the state be considered? Stay tuned.

This is big news that environmental groups have realized that a “sterile trout only stocking policy statewide” for years has likely negatively impacted trout populations. More study is required, but early evidence suggests that sterile male triploids have often  pushed out fertile trout from trout hens laying their eggs.   Perhaps more waters, like our own Kern River below Fairview Dam, might be considered for fertile plants once again before the Kern River Rainbow project is implemented years from now?

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 02/19/17

The unprecedented 5 year drought has morphed into a historically wet winter. Huge snow packs statewide are providing challenging water management strategies. The big question is how best to capture the all of this water and mitigate flooding at the same time. Locally Lake Isabella will soon reach the peak safety level of 63% capacity established by the Army Corps of Engineers a few years ago after leakage was discovered. Once the safe limit is reached, any day now, one would think they would need to release as much water from the dam as is inflowing. Some of the storms this winter have fed up to 25,000 cfs into the lake and releasing that much water would be unprecedented and destructive. Many remember releases touching 5,000 cfs six years ago that resulted in the collapse of some portions of highway 178 in the Kern Canyon that closed it for several weeks.  The next few weeks will be interesting to watch. We think, “A River Runs Through It” in Bakersfield all summer long.

The latest snow pack graphs show a recorded setting trend is still in place and as of February the Kern River snow pack was at 271% of normal February levels and already 165% of  the usual season peak of April 1st. See the trend graphs of the 3 Sierra regions, the Kern is in the south region. It appears that most of our favorite rivers are going to largely be unsafe to wade for months to come and the Upper Kern likely will not drop below 1,000 cfs until late August. In 2011 we had an April 1st snow pack of 195% and river flows did not drop below wadeable 1,000 cfs rates until early August. In 2011 a dozen people drowned and we hope that the fly fishing community will heighten awareness to avoid any tragedies this season. The huge snow pack will mean severely stressed alpine meadows will be on the road to health once again. We are so glad the long term weather forecasters got it wrong in 2017! The rafting companies must be in heaven.

Locally the catching has been slow on the Lower Kings as unsafe flows now are +4,500 cfs and likely for weeks/months to come but trophies up to 8 pounds are still being planted weekly by some of our members and the Kaweah club. When flows drop (months from now?) there will be a lot of +4lb trophies worth safely targeting on the Lower Kings. The Kernville hatchery is still non-operational and we are hoping for construction completion before April. No planting has and likely will occur on the Kern for a while and flows have been too high to consider. There has been some local lakes stocking by the San Joaquin hatchery personnel the last month. The Friends of the Hatchery report that a trophy trout program will be restarted once the hatchery opens again. However, it will take a year or more to beef up footlongs to 4 lb trophies like we had in 2016. So if you want size it looks like 2018 will be hog heaven for us.


Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 01/21/17

Several of us have done very well tangling with the trophies planted on the Lower Kings. Members and others have been consistently landing trophies from 17” to 24” from the San Joaquin Hatchery and they will continue to be planted through the end of February. To make sure you pick the best conditions,  make sure you check TWO different water flow charts before you go. While the outflow from Pine Flat Reservoir has remained low (65 cfs) and fairly constant, unregulated flow from Mill Creek (normally dry most of the year) has been huge at times since 1/7/17 with these latest monster storms. Mill Creek enters the Lower Kings about 2 miles downstream from Pine Flat Dam. Check out these flow charts before you head out especially after a recent rain. While the water clarity has been poor most of this winter (<2’ visibility) that has not hurt the catching but high flows (up to 3,800 cfs) can make it difficult and UNSAFE to access the best water. Total flows from both charts below 300 cfs are best according to Sierra Fly Fisher guide/owner Jimmie Morales. Best flies are flashy nymphs size 16 – 20 BHFBPT, Red or Green Copper Johns or micro mayflies, and dark streamers. Dries come out between 11 am and 1 pm and small 22 BWO can get grabs.
Outlet Pine Flat Reservoir Flows
Mill Creek Flows
More big rains and snows on this weekend are driving all Southern Sierra water flows to dangerous levels. Snow levels could drop to 1,500’ so drive with chains if heading anywhere above the San Joaquin Valley.
No short term  planting is likely on the Upper Kern because of cold temperatures and the BFL lakes as the hatchery is still very busy with all of the construction and will continue to be inoperable for the near future. This activity and road/water conditions will likely impact planting as well. With the huge sediment filled flows on the Upper Kern it is very fortunate that the inlet pipe to the hatchery was sealed for the construction before the deluge. In the past flows like this completely clogged the inlet pipe and shut down the hatchery for months until it could be cleaned out.  We are still waiting for a CDFW potential approval for a trophy trout program for 2017 at the Kernville Hatchery.
California snow packs are on track to be HUGE. The current trend suggests we will exceed the monster snow pack of 2011. That’s great for the fish and the farmers, but that will mean dangerous high flows for those who wish to wade from March through August on the Upper Kern if we exceed 2011 levels. Check out the amazing trend below.



Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 01/08/17

Huge weather events are rocking our world this week. The NOAA and other forecasters really blew it as the predicted longer range winter drought appears to be well over. Here in  BFL we will likely hit our average annual rainfall total before you  get your W-2s in the mail. Last year we actually hit average rainfall totals in the valley but the snow pack ended up much lower than normal and the snow pack is what gives us trout friendly temperate river conditions in July through September. The storms hitting the Sierras today are very warm and heavy  rain levels are moving up to +9,000’ so extreme flooding is going to occur where reservoirs do not exist . Will we have a super snow pack above 9,000’ or will the amounts below 9,000’ that melt offset? Time will tell and at this time it is very hard to predict what the summer of 2017 will look like on the Upper Kern.  The river in BFL is flowing for the first time in years and Lake Isabella is filling up gradually but is still below average for this time of year. We all are eager to see the latest snow pack plots but none are available at this time. Check here in a week to see the snow pack  impact of these recent massive storms    The Upper Kern reached 15,000 cfs last night wow!

The Lower Kings continues to be stocked with 3-5 lbs trophies at a rate of 1,000 lbs/wk even with the drop in water clarity. Flows still remain well under 100 cfs on the Lower Kings below Pine Flat Reservoir. Check out Bill’s latest trophy (one of many) he recently landed on smaller zebra midges, streamer tugging also gets hook ups too.

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 12/24

Santa delivered a welcomed deluge of rain and snow in Southern California. Snow levels got down below 4,000’ and a second cold snap will follow. The last stocking for a while happened on the Upper Kern just before Christmas and a fresh  planting of foot longs went in to section 4 below KR3 to town. River temps are in the low 40’s and dropping as flows begin to rise (so that will mean stocking can’t happen up here for a while). It is doubtful flows will retest the 3,000 cfs of a week ago because most of the precipitation is snow for a change but could murk things up again? Lake Ming was planted closer to home on Wednesday with foot longs.
In contrast there is some special catching that is happening on the Lower Kings. The river was freshly stocked over a 4 mile section with 1,000 lbs of 3-5 lb male brood stock so we decided to get a trip in before Christmas break. There was a tiny BWO #22 and #24 hatch coming off between 11 am and 1 pm. Nice toads were sipping. We landed the first of +20 toads on large #4 black bunny leeches.  Given the recent stocking it was surprising that the trophies weren’t as cooperative as you might think and it took a bit of patience and skill to get them hooked. The later in the day the better the hooking. Nearly all of the fish we landed were nice fish in the 17” to 22” range and I managed several spunky foot longs as well on small nymphs. The river has been packed with these 3-5lb trophies the last 4 weeks and local experts say they move around quite a bit. The area is heavily patrolled by CDFW wardens so make sure your pinched barbs are double checked. We spoke with a warden and observed him as he scoped baiting poachers  with binoculars a 1/4 mile away and he made off to deliver their freshly authored citations. It is great to see such aggressive enforcement. Additional funds raised by a recent BBQ benefit run by Sierra Fly Fisher owner/guide Jimmie Morales provides funds to have wardens patrol the catch and release section after hours and on weekends. Warm and sunny below Pine Flat reservoir. The water was murky and 50 degrees with about 2’ of visibility so flashy green and red nymphs sizes #12 - #20 were important. We have a planned club outing in February but you can bet we will be back much sooner than that!
Lower Kings flows are graphed here 
First catch of many - 19” on a black bunny leech with some flash.

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 12/16

Riverwalk and Brite Lake (Tehachapi) were planted Wednesday and it was good catching for a short time, however, the last 24 hours has dropped off dramatically, perhaps related to the drop in temperatures associated with the latest storm.
The Upper Kern drainage is coming up very fast as it has risen 3,000 cfs in just 6 hours this morning so conditions have gotten unsafe and very poor. Not sure if this will affect the last scheduled stocking (for quite a while) the week before Christmas as river temperatures have dropped dramatically and could likely be below CDFW stocking protocol 45 degrees. The hatchery will be inoperable likely through March with all of the upgrade construction to prepare for the long awaited fertile Kern River Rainbow rearing.

The Lower Kings is the place to be as it has been stocked with lots of 3-5 pound brood trophies that will continue well into February. These piggys will not be planted here in Kern County Sad smile . The catching has been good on the Lower Kings and flows below Pine Flat Lake are around 100 cfs  According to Jimmie Morales, owner of Sierra Fly Fishing, the huge flows (15,000 cfs) going into Pine Flat Reservoir at this time will not cloud the Lower Kings as the length and size of Pine Flat Reservoir will settle out sediment well before the discharge. Rains were huge north of Fresno as roads into Yosemite were closed yesterday and snow up to 5’ dropped over night in places. A very good thing. The trophies are best hooked with 6x 12’ leaders to 7x tippet and small #20 and #22 midge nymphs.


Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 12/02

Brrrrrr……baby it’s cold outside. Frigid temperatures arrived after Turkey Day to upper elevations and snow levels below 4,000’ have put the trout down on much of the Upper Kern. There was a fresh stocking on section 4 close to/in Kernville that made a few anglers happy just in time for Turkey Day. As usual future winter stockings will be dictated by the CDFW temperature limits and the ongoing construction at the Kernville hatchery. Locally the last stocking of the year for Bakersfield local lakes will occur just before Christmas when trout will be driven directly from the San Joaquin hatchery. CDFW planting is not allowed when moving water temps are below 45 degrees and still waters below 42 degrees. You can view at

The Kernville hatchery likely will be inoperable through March provided there are no more unforeseen construction or weather delays. We hope the hatchery will be functional by opening day in late April and that a trophy trout program can be initiated again. However, it will take many months (or year) to beef up half pounders to match summer 2016 trophies and sadly there appears to be lethal river temps again for summer 2017 beginning in June – more on that below.

The best fishing of the winter season soon looks to be found just a short trip north of us.  The Lower Kings River will be stocked with trophy brood stock rainbows beginning the week of December 19th. These trout will be in the 3 – 5 lb range. Not quite as big as previous years (check out member photos from Jan/Feb 2013 below) due to the extended Southern Sierra drought but definitely some rod bending trophies for sure. Be mindful of the special regulation barbless, catch and release section that is patrolled heavily by CDFW wardens. The fly fishing community has raised over $80,000 over the years to provide additional Kings River patrols on the stretch to combat poaching.  This is a low elevation tail water fishery which requires different tactics but has some big rewards for the observant and persistent fly fisher.

Map here

NOAA and Accuweather forecasts still point to a low snow pack (= drought) for the Southern Sierra this winter. However, NorCal has been blessed with a very wet fall so far, here are some of the rainfall totals for CA cities so far as of 12/2/16

City                 Total (in)                     Percent of Normal

Eureka             17.9                             221%

Redding          12.7                             188%

Sacramento     5.84                             187%

Bakersfield      0.62                             65%

San Diego       0.68                             42%



Going forward, extremely stressed trout habitat again appears to be in store for waters in the Southern Sierra for the summer of 2017. Hopefully measures will be taken to help mitigate these impending severe conditions and organizations, agencies, and communities are developing plans in advance to effectively address years of prolonged drought to help sustain healthier trout populations.


Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 10/27

I decided to go and try and fish the Upper Kern today before the first rainstorms muddy up the river. Flows were just 61 cfs on section 5 and 100 cfs above Fairview Dam. So it is easy for birds to pluck bows out of the river even with the low fishing pressure. I had low expectations because the catching has been so poor for sometime now. As I turned the corner near Lake Isabella it became apparent that there was a lot of smoke in the area. I had no idea that the newest fires had created so much smoke. I considered turning around but coming this far I just thought I'd stop by the hatchery to see the latest construction.

But with decent water conditions for the rest of the year likely to end this weekend, I decided to give the catching a try and drove all the way up to JDB. I did not see one single car in the pull outs along the Upper Kern on the 20 mile section. I can't remember an October when I've observed this so it appears most folks have given up? I spent most of my time on section 6 where I thought I'd have the best chance of catching trout that survived the high water temperatures of this summer. I targeted my four favorite wild trout spots on section 6. Over the course of three hours I did not get one take and was really surprised to not get any action at all. The water temperature was 49° at 9 AM when I started and didn't change.

I thought for old time sake I might try one of my spots I like to target wild trout on section 5. I expected to ake a few casts into the best water I know there and call it a day but to my surprise I landed five rainbows in about 30 minutes all definitely were wild and two of them actually had faint orange thumbprint sized spots on their bellies, the largest trout was 14 inches. They liked my red #12 BH Arnerd nymph and I did land two on a size 18 FBBHPT. The water temperature never changed and it remain at 49° when I stop fishing just before 1 PM. I was willing to try another spot that might hold some wild trout on section 5 but all of the wading in the smoky air was irritating my eyes and throat so I called it a day earlier than usual.

I stopped by the hatchery on the way home and they are moving ahead but had some delays because the shallow water table bubbled up into the excavations so they're having to pump water out before they can do more concrete work. I snapped a few pictures and had a great conversation with the hatchery manager as they are making a lot of upgrades to the incubation house with brand-new plumbing and state-of-the-art equipment that should provide the first wild trout to be planted in the next few years. At this time it appears that construction will extend beyond February so here's hoping that the hatchery may be functional by March - an important time frame before we see high spring melt flows (IF there is an unexpected decent snow pack this winter).

There is no planting that will occur for the next few weeks but could be a possibility for Bakersfield lakes for Turkey Day. Currently lake temperatures are cool enough for trout now. There will be some rain coming very soon increasing flows significantly and bringing soot and ash from the fires up river that occurred this summer and are in progress today. Hopefully the rains will be put out fires because the locals in Kernville are tired of the smoky conditions of the last week.

FIRE ALERT - Jacobsen Fire - 10/23

The Jacobsen fire started around 5PM on Thursday (10/20).  The fire is currently around 950 acres and is burning north east of Sequoia Crest, which is near Camp Nelson.  More information can be found at

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 10/16

Many of us fished for monster trout on the Lower Kings River not so long ago. Last year because of the severe drought the San Joaquin hatchery was emptied and there was no winter trophy trout program. Fortunately the SJ hatchery brood stock easily survived the summer (hatchery intake water comes from the bottom of Millerton Reservoir) and that winter trout trophies will be planted again. These trout will be between 3 and 5 pounds and the first should be planted in the Lower Kings River hopefully around Turkey Day. The Lower Kings currently has been getting some weekly plantings of footlongs at this time.  A KRFF outing to the Lower Kings might be in the cards sooner than later.

One other important development is that worth sharing. There is growing sentiment that limited fertile (diploids) planted trout may occur again. Many environmentally sensitive groups are changing their minds as there is more and more evidence that wild trout populations are being negatively impacted by triploids(sterile) rainbow trout being in the fisheries. You may have read that CalTrout helped spearhead a fertile fingerling rainbow trout planting recently on Hot Creek to revive a very depleted fishery there. There may be expanded fertile plantings, hopefully closer to home, in other areas that provide the right conditions.

The Kern hasn’t been planted for months. Locally we usually have BFL lakes planted in mid-October but high lake temperatures, toxic algae, Kernville hatchery construction, and low winter planting pound allocations mean local fall and winter stocking will be substantially delayed/reduced from last year. The construction at the Kernville hatchery is underway and will mean the hatchery will be inoperable through February (provided no further delays). The high cost to drive all the way to the SJ hatchery and then back to BFL and Kernville  makes biweekly plantings very expensive. So probably it won’t be a great winter season in our local waters this year.

Trophy trout plantings on the Upper Kern likely will be much smaller from 2016 as the hatchery will be inoperable for the early part of 2017. It takes TIME, effort, and extra trout pellets to raise bigger rainbows. The 2016 +4lb crop was raised from eggs over a two year period. There will be a much shorter window to lengthen and fatten the 2017 trophies by summer. We praise all of the efforts made to make the trophy trout program for next year – we are waiting anxiously.

Old Kernville hatchery races demolished recently (hope to be finished construction by Feb 2017)

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 09/16

The fishing report for fall 2016 is not encouraging. The hatchery was under duress during the recent Cedar Fire but came out fine thankfully. Nearly all of the trout allocated by the CDFW to be planted this year have been planted already. So there will be a little stocking for the rest of the year. Planting of Bakersfield lakes will occur much later this year because there are far fewer pounds and likely won't be stocked until Turkey Day and Christmas week. The 20 mile section above Kernville has not seen significant planting in almost 2 months and will likely not be planted for quite some time. The continued drought, demise of wild trout (especially below Fairview Dam) and the non-fertile planters on the 20 mile section combine to dramatically reduce the catching within a couple of weeks once CDFW planting ceases. Sadly another lower than normal snow pack is forecasted for 2017. On a positive note the CDFW trout pound allocations for next year are the same as this past year,  although dramatically lower than previous years, it is good to to hear it won't get even worse for 2017.

Fishstock overcame a lot of obstacles with the Cedar Fire and unfortunately raised far less than in 2015.Considering all of the difficulties the people of Kernville endured this is a remarkable achievement and hopefully will help supplement the stocking with trophy trout for 2017. The hatchery construction has been delayed and likely won't start until October now. Planting will be significantly affected until the construction is completed. This will be a negative impact on the catching but in the long run will get us closer to native fertile trout being planted with the Kern River Rainbow trout project (still years from planting large numbers on the 20 mile section). Funds (about $80,000) to provide an inlet water filtering system were finally approved from the SoCal Edison Trust.

If you are interested in hearing about the latest for the Kern River Rainbow Trout project the next  committee meeting for the Upper Kern Fisheries Enhancement Fund will take place on in Bakersfield Monday, September 26 at 11am. The meeting will be hosted at Kern Community Foundation (3300 Truxtun Ave., Suite 220, Bakersfield). If you are unable to attend in person, the conference line is 661-616-2616.

Documentation to provide more information can be found

Please respond to this invite as to whether you will attend, in person or on the conference line. If you have any questions, feel free to contact:

Rachel M. Evey |  Coordinator of Development and Donor Services
Direct 661.616.2603 | Main 661.325.5346 |

Kern River Rainbow Trout (KRRT) Broodstock Development ProjectPacket.pdf

Sequoia Prioritized Meadows Restoration ProjectPacket.pdf

Fish Committee Minutes_03.14.16.pdf


River Conditions - Rich Arner - 08/25

It really has become very concerning for several reasons on our favorite water. Today all of Kernville is holding its breath as the Cedar Fire is being driven down the mountain slopes towards town by the NW winds. The hatchery and many residents have been evacuated. There is less than a 1/4 mile visibility and the smoke is bad on the 20 mile section. Thoughts and prayers are sent their way. The grasses in the Bull Run Creek drainage are of particular concern as the fire will move rapidly through them (now in progress). It is reported that the fire is now near the Kern River at Halfway/ Camp3/ T-bird campgrounds. The western fringes of Kernville are bracing for the worst.  It really sounds like a war zone up there. See the links below for the latest and Eyewitness news has been carrying the most thorough coverage daily and reports on its website often. Containment is now hoped for by September 15th. Sadly there has been very little monsoonal shower activity as well to help dampen fire risk.
There also is a health concern in Lake Isabella and on the Lower Kern as far down stream as Bakersfield. A toxic blue green algae has been proliferating in the warm waters driven by the very hot weather we have been experiencing practically the whole summer. Slow moving pools on the Lower Kern water could contain the toxic algae (with the harmful cyanobacteria) and will make you and your pets very sick, “Exposure can cause rashes, skin and eye irritation, allergic reactions and gastrointestinal symptoms. At high levels, exposure can result in serious illness or death, according to the California Department of Public Health. For animals, the toxins can cause diarrhea, vomiting, convulsions and death.”
Public health officials upgrade Isabella algae warnings
Health officials: Stay out of Lake Isabella and Kern River

FIRE ALERT - Cedar Fire - 08/24

As of this evening, the Cedar Fire has burned 23,239 acres and is only 10% contained.  The forest service this evening has announced a partial closures on the Upper Kern.  Campgrounds will be closed for overnight camping but some day use will still be allowed.  Some ember, and a lot of ash and smoke, have been covering the Upper Kern Areas.  Parts of Kernville have also been put under a precautionary evacuation alert.  For more up-to-date details, please visit the links below. - National Incident Information System - Cedar Fire  and - Southern Sierra Fire Lookout web cams

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 07/29

The last trophies were stocked more than a week ago and the very low flow coupled with numerous +100 degree days prompted me to try one last summer trip to the Upper Kern today.  110 degrees were likely over the weekend so I wanted to see for myself what conditions were like on the 20 mile section and if they matched the low catch rates reported lately. I first tried an upper section 5 spot. Water was 66 degrees at 8 am and the first tubers were already floating down the river as air temps were in the 80’s. I couldn’t believe all of the tents already erected early on Friday morning. Some of these overflow campgrounds must have had 40-50 tents crammed onto less than  a 1/2 acre of space with just one porta pot(yikes!). Forecasts of +100 degrees appears to have little affect on the the amount of camping. I can’t imagine what it was like sleeping in the hot stagnant air filled with boom box music and intoxicated revelry. Not my style of camping for sure.
I covered a good 1/2 mile over river that should have held at least one trout but had no bumps despite lots of hatching going on. I moved above Fairview Dam to section 6 and covered another 1/2 mile stretch. Only a short 50 yard wild spot yielded 6 to the net. All clean wild trout under 11”that were landed and released immediately. Trout pics in water over 65 degrees should be avoided for sure.   I drove up further on section 6 and covered another 1/2 mile stretch that included wild and routinely stocked water without a bump trying both dry/droppers and streamers. The water temps were pushing 70 degrees at noon and it was very hot and I had consumed a half gallon water so I was done for the day. It was disappointing to not find more trout spread around because at 140 cfs above Fairview Dam I could wade in places that were unreachable since last fall.
The new stocking strategy that places most of the planters on Friday and the weekends means they have a much less chance of surviving the heavy weekend pressure before some of the trout can move around. It does mean that weekenders are finding a lot more success and finding their photos on the James Store and Facebook trophy walls. That in turn is helping to improve the tourist traffic and the revenue that follows. That will mean once stocking ends the catching will decline rapidly as I found today.
As I drove home and past the river on section 5 air temps were 105 and there were hundreds of tubers of all shapes and sizes floating happily towards Kernville. Cumulonimbus clouds were building fast and T storms were likely to follow. In my experience an uptick in flows greater than 25 % at this time means there has been T-storms at higher elevations and dramatic drops in water clarity ensue for days afterward. Keep that in mind if you decide to consider fly fishing water near and well above JDB. For today the waters were gin clear.

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 07/25

Upper Kern flows have dropped below 2015 (worst flows ever recorded) lethal levels and river temps at the hatchery meant that the trophies were emptied into the 20 mile section last week (7/17).

By noon river temps are above 70 degrees on most of the 20 mile stretch. Most trophies were taken on section 4. Some may still survive on sections 5 or 6. There are a few sub footlongs that can still handle the hot hatchery conditions for now but will have to be planted very soon. To take advantage of the hatchery down time work on the hatchery upgrades has been pushed up the calendar earlier since no trout can be held during construction. Later this fall as water temps remain below 70 degrees all day, plans are to bring planters directly from the San Joaquin hatchery to resupply the 20 mile section until construction is completed. If flows remain below 2015 levels no significant stocking will occur until October.

Members have been catching a lot of squaw fish as they appear to be thriving. Squaw fish are now the dominate fertile fish on the 20 mile section of the Upper Kern River. If you are lucky enough to catch a wild trout (most < 10”) make sure it goes back in the water asap. Larger trout are far more susceptible to exhaustion death due to heat stress. Remember that river temps are above 70 degrees for most of the day and trout simply just try to stay alive in water that warm and often don’t have the energy to even feed. In the morning there is a short span of time when temps stay just below 70 degrees and is the only time they can feed. Please give them every chance to take advantage of this time undisturbed so they can feed enough to survive. It would  be nice to have some decent trout make it to fall if possible. Consider fishing other waters much higher in elevation. NorCal and state north have  had a great water year. Think about those places to cast a line instead.

There will be another Fishstock fundraiser September 3rd to raise funds to raise trophy trout going forward. The 2016 trophies we targeted the past few months were raised from eggs spawned in April 2014 so it takes about two years to bring rainbows from eggs to +3 lbs. Here’s looking to 2018!

When you do fish during this stressful time remember the CDFW recommendations should be followed to make sure as many wild trout survive this drought. They currently are the only trout (fertile) that can provide long term sustainability for trout populations. Make sure you carry an accurate thermometer. We need to make sure we take care of them; the criteria is below:

Protective measures for catch-and-release fishing during the drought include:

• Avoiding fishing during periods when water temperatures exceed 70 degrees Fahrenheit (likely afternoon to late evening)

• Playing hooked trout quickly and avoiding extensive handling of fish

• Keeping fish fully submerged in water during the release

• Utilizing a thermometer and checking water temperatures every 15 minutes when temperatures exceed 65 degrees Fahrenheit

• Stopping angling when captured fish show signs of labored recovery or mortality

• Utilizing barbless hooks to help facilitate a quick release

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 07/08

Had an itch to fish the Upper Kern as flows on section 4 and 6 have dropped quickly below 400 cfs that means safer wading and the potential to cross the river on those sections for the first time in months. I talked with the hatchery manager to see how things were doing before I headed up. He said they had stocked a lot of bows on Friday, Sunday and Monday (July 4th) but were stocking the Lower this week for the last planting until late fall. He also said that the trophies can not be planted with the footlongs because the trophies are much more delicate to move around and particularly as river temps exceed 65 degrees which is occurring daily now. So that is why last Friday no trophies were seen or caught by anyone I talked with or observed. However, a lot of campers wedged into the campgrounds for the July 4th weekend had a great feast on Sunday and Monday as the CDFW worked the weekend to keep the tourists happy.
I expected  it to be hard to find trout today as the river was heavily pressured last weekend and the upper river was not replenished this week. I arrived on lower section 5 at 9:00 am with water temps at 64 degrees and spent an hour and half casting to some of my favorite lies with no luck, so decided to bushwack into an area I knew hadn’t seen much pressure lately. I did get scraped up and but it was worth it as the first take of the day was a strong 4 lb trophy 19” hen that latched on to a bead head red hooked Arnerd #12. So glad I brought the 5wt as the 4wt would have never been enough. The toad fell in the net and the tippet snapped at the same time. Whew! Snapped a photo and spent 5 minutes reviving and she was on her way again. I replaced my tippet with 6# Vanish fluorocarbon. It was good I did.
I continued to cover some very hard to reach water but only managed one other trout over another 1/2 mile of wading. I saw temps now were 66 and rising so I made the long trek back to the car and headed to above Fairview Dam and section 6. There was a lot more pressure up there as the lower flows probably were attracting more angles. I did manage to find some water to myself and had no luck with the dry/dropper. So I tried tugging a olive flash bugger and got into some footlongs and had a toad grab and bend my hook out as it swished its tail “adios” to me. Tried some other stretches with no luck? I doubt any one was on the west side of the river here and expected to get into a lot more trout.

I was pretty  tired from wading in 350 cfs but it was 60 degrees (water temp; 95 air temp)up here at noon on section 6. So I decided to chug a liter of water and go back to section 5 where I had good numbers a week ago. The first two spots I revisited only provided 2 grabs from footlongs I likely landed and moved last week. So I tried another spot I hadn’t visited since last year before I called it a day as I was pretty tired and had a sore shoulder. That is where things got great. I found a stretch that had many active feeders both on top and bottom. Trout ranged from 13” to 20”. I landed 3 more toads here and had 3 other toads on that went aerial and threw my flies.  The #12 Hills BLT tan and orange and yellow bellied stone ( several in stock at )was hit hard and often both drifted and twitched. Landed the largest trout I have ever tagged on a dry fly. I had my first double hookup this year and I was lucky to find this stretch that some how wasn’t harvested over the holiday weekend?
#18 BHFBPT was the most popular fly with the Red hooked Arnerd a close second. 19 to the net (I need to buy a new net, one of trophies snapped the net I’ve used for the last 10 years). I have to agree with Steve Merlo's article out today that there are still big trout in the river but you just have to keep moving until you find them. The hatchery will be planting the remaining trophies over the next few weeks out of necessity because the river temps on section 4 will be lethal soon in the river and at the hatchery outlet. I’d guess by Aug 1st the hatchery will be emptied.

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 07/01

Wanted to check out conditions for some friends and family that were coming up for the July 4th holiday so I thought I might have some water to myself before the crowds arrived. I definitely didn’t beat the crowds! The free over flow camping areas were packed full on Friday morning at 8:00 am when I arrived. Water temp was 64 degrees on lower part of section 5 and triple digits have and are going to be around for a while. The first hour was casting practice and I decided to head way up river. Campers said that the catching was slow all week. I moved on and stumbled onto a spot that locals said was stocked less than an hour before I got there. I managed to land eight quickly and could sight fish to them. None looked over 13”. Then tried several other spots that likely would be stocked today. Most spots were already pressured hard when I got there and I just used the time to watch and chat with the bait fishers that all were camped around the small pods of fish trapped between power bait rigs. Most sites reported three buckets or about 20 trout per site. They clearly weren’t going to survive the day given the number of anglers. I stopped at a half dozen spots before I came upon a site I had to myself. I quickly hooked up on my #18 BHFBPT and brought a 16” bow to the net. That was  the biggest trout anyone landed I had talked to today. I had expected that some trophies would have been planted but I don’t think that happened on Sections 5 and 6.  I enticed 7 more on the same spot with a #12 Arnerd and #18 bhfbpt before they seemed to tire of it. Then switched to #10 olive crystal flashy buggers on a sink tip to land several more. I took care to spread my trout around after netting them. I did try to find trout beyond stocking locations and came up empty. It was easy wading on Section 5 at just 140 cfs. Above Fairview on section 6 the wading was still unsafe and near 800 cfs  so I didn't spend much time there.
Totaled 22 for 6 hours.
Lots of pressure (expected) before the weekend. It was hot 102 degrees at 2 pm and I drank 3 liters of water today and really didn’t wade much. Water temp at 2 pm was 68 on Upper Section 5. So lethal temps aren’t far off. Bring a thermometer with you and consider ending your fishing BEFORE you see 70 degrees.  Have a safe and sane 4th of July!

Fire Report - Erskine Fire - 6/29 PM

The Erskine fire is currently 46,684 acres in size and 70% contained.  There are approximately 1,300 personnel fighting the fire, along with numerous other agencies assisting the residents.  257 structures have been destroyed.  Continue to monitor the links previously provided below for updates on the fire.

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 06/27

The flows finally have dropped below 1,000 cfs and stayed there this week. Prior to today Section 5 which benefits from power diversion was moving from a low of 300 cfs to +700 cfs in just hours making it unpredictable and unsafe to wade effectively. Flows now appear to be much more stable and should drop off provided no thunderstorms change things. So a safe trip up to the Upper Kern was very promising today. In the past landing +50 bows in 6 hours of casting has been the norm after the melt subsided. The Upper Kern continues to be planted by the CDFW even though high melt flows make it difficult for land bound fishers (wisely staying out of the dangerous current) to harvest trout. When the river recedes there are a lot of trout concentrated in much less water and hopefully the trout will have been dispersed well beyond the routinely planted locations.

This week lower sections of Section 5 flows were 200 cfs, gin clear, and water temps at 8 am were 62 degrees. While water conditions were great the expected numerous trout scattered throughout pristine pocket waters was not evident. Double hook ups usually occur at this time and none were had. Landed 14 bows between 8 am and 2 pm until the heat hit 105 and water temps hit 67 on the lower stretches of section 5. The numbers just aren’t there as in previous years and given that total pounds have been reduced from over 90 tons a year to 25 tons a year you would expect a 72% reduction in the catching post melt. If you do the math one could have predicted a catch of exactly 14 bows compared to the 50 post melt trout caught in years past. Amazing how predictable this math turned out to be?

The best part, I hooked four trophies, landed three that were all around 18” and they were lacking the hatchery fungus and fin rot that trophy trout landed in early May exhibited. According to the hatchery manager trout will heal quickly after being planted in the river. These trout were very strong having swum in strong current for weeks and took quite a while to net. Trout like this require a 5wt weight or better I will leave my trusty 4wt at home next time.  All were taken on nymphs #12 Arnerd and #18 BHFBPT. There was some top water action too but mostly smaller fish that had a hard time swallowing a  #10 foam golden stone imitation (Hill’s golden BLT). More surface action should occur on hopper patterns soon. There were midges, caddis and may flies showing but not much sipping going on.

Traveling up the canyon was not a problem and I passed a lot of fire trucks and Kern County officers heading back to Bakersfield. The burn area did not look that bad from the highway 178 and 155 intersection. Except for the red fire retardant blanketing the hills, I would not have guessed there was extreme carnage there. Thoughts and prayers go out to all of the people of that area.

There will be heavy planting for the 4th but the hatchery is seeing inlet river temps in the upper 60’s already in the afternoons and given the +100 degree long term forecasts the whole hatchery likely will need to be emptied sooner than later. Stay tuned......



Fire Report - Erskine Fire - 6/26 PM

As of mid-day Sunday (6/26), the Erskine fire was up to 36810 acres in size, with only 10% containment.  At least 150 homes have been destroyed with another 75 home damaged.  Damage assesment teams are still making their way through all the communities impacted by the fire.  Highway 178 is closed from Highway 155 to Sierra Way.  Current wind directions have the smoke moving North through the Kern River Valley.

Fire Report - Erskine Fire - 6/24 PM

This fire started about 3:51PM on  June 23rd.  The fire crew extremely rapidly to several thousand acres, with 50+ homes lost in just the first few hours.  As of 6:30PM Friday (6/24) the fire was at 30,000 acres and only 5% containment. Approximately 100+ homes have been lost, but this number is expected to rise as assessment crews are able to enter the areas.  Multiple roadways are closed in this active fire area as well as power outages to a large portion of the valley. Below are links to some of the fire websites.  All Bakersfield and Ridgecreast news outlets also have information and pictures.

National Incident Information System -

Kern County Fire -

Kern County Fire Facebook Page - - Along with updated information, there are several videos posted, including a 1 hour video shot live Thursday evening.

Kern County Fire Twitter Page -



Fire Report - Chimney Fire - 06/03 Mid-day

As of mid-day today, the fire was holding at 1826 acres with little movement predicted for the day.  Containment was at approximately 33%, with full containment expected Tuesday (6/7).  Some resources from the Chimney fire were sent to a fire in Monterey County.   

Fire Report - Chimney Fire - 06/02 PM

Here are some more links to sites providing information on the Chimney Fire: - National Incident Information Website - Ridgecreast Daily Independent News


Fire Report - Chimney Fire - 06/02 AM

According to the Ridgecrest High Desert News Facebook page, the fire is burning in the Owens Peak and Chimney Peak Wilderness Area, near Kennedy Meadows.  The first is reported to have started in the Chimney Peak Campground.  See more on the story and pictures at:  Also visit the Kern County Fire Facebook page for more pictures:

Fire Report - Chimney Fire - 06/01

A fire started Wednesday afternoon (6/1) about 15 miles North of Kernville.  As of 5:30pm on Wednesday, the fire was listed at 200 acres.  At 9:30pm the fire was listed at 1000 acres in size.   The fire may be visable from some of the Sequoia Fire Lookout webcams at  More information will be posted as is becomes available.

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 05/13

The melt is on and fly fishers will be challenged for a while. A good fly fisher contact reported yesterday,”The river was completely blown out, muddy… logs floating downstream.  It was dangerous.  Didn't even take the rod out of the case.” Check out the recent trend and what an average year looks like below. Likely we will be well above 1,000 cfs for the next few weeks until July. Time to stay safe and tie flies and dream of post melt opportunities.


Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 05/04

Today 5/4 was a much better day. I saw T storms to arrive Thurs/Fri so realized that today was my only window before things could deteriorate for a while.  Got on the water at 9:30 am and was warmer at 54 degrees. Been hot the last few days. Flows on the low flow stretch (section 5) were 160 cfs when I left the house. Wading was easy and water was clear. I was surprised to have several on the hook and spread out in pocket water. Exactly the way I like to fly fish. Had the whole run to my self too. Same flies worked as usual. I tie the Red Arnerd with a #12 Daichii 1153 and weight the fly too. Had about a half dozen in the net the first hour hoping to tag a trophy trout. The trophies now average just over three pounds according to the hatchery manage and about 500 were sprinkled along the 20 mile section Friday.  Near hour two I hooked the first one and I had a 10 minute fight with my 4wt and 4lb Vanish tippet. Must have weighed 4 lbs and measured 20”. I moved upstream and gave that spot a rest after all of the splashing and chasing. Had a few more grabs over the next 30 minutes and went back to see if there was another trophy hanging out. I snared and landed another 3 lb trout and released where I think they had a chance to last a while (try to release your trout on the west side of the river please). I moved on to 3 other spots up river (many more fishers were now parked in the turnouts) and was able to land 3 more trophies !!!  Four on the RH Arnerd and one on BHFBPT.  At about noon I noticed the water level coming up and water getting dirty. My guess is that T storms up river or a change in power diversion was occurring. Only had one take/landed after that. Total was 15 to the net all before noon. Section 5 flows came up to 230 cfs (40% increase)during the day. Typically if flows go up just 20% I observe clarity issues. First time I have been in double digits in a long time. Five chunky rainbows between 17”-20”, been years since I’ve seen bows that big on the 20 mile section of the Upper Kern. Enjoy the pics.


Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 04/29

Last week the CDFW planted 2,000 lbs (see Trout Nerd Data below to put in perspective) for the traditional “opener”. I had my last Trout in the Classroom trout fry release trip to support on Friday 4/29. Great group of students that got a lot out of being beyond the Kern Canyon mouth.  I left Upper Richbar at about noon and arrived on the Upper Kern at 1:00 pm. Water temp was 50 degrees. There was quite a bit of fishing pressure but I found a spot to myself. Landed 2 skinny trout in the first 30 minutes but not where they usually stock. I raked over water that should have had strikes if they planted but neither streamers or nymphs produced a hit? I headed down river and stopped at 4 spots giving them about an hour each. Saw no one catching fly or bait angler. Talked with several folks who had seen the stocking truck but no one was catching. I did manage to land 4 more trout away from where all of the pressure was. Found out they stocked the river on Tuesday so I managed to catch some that managed to migrate a bit. I hadn’t fished to 6 pm in a long time and was hoping to catch a late afternoon hatch but saw nothing today. Totaled 6 bows in the net 8”-13” . Liked the red Arnerd and #18 bhfbpt.

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 04/26
and Other Trout Nerd Data and Arithmetic

The final April 1st snow pack numbers are in for California. The good news is that Northern California  had a good year. The bad news is the Southern Sierra fell well below normal snow pack for the fifth straight year. Here’s how many of your favorite watersheds did below:

2016 SNOW PACK BY RIVER BASIN (April 1st snow course measurements)                   

SHASTA  100%
TRINITY  98%               
SACRAMENTO  115%             
FEATHER  81%   
TRUCKEE  107%             
KINGS  81%
KERN  71%
TULE  68%
OWENS  58%

For our own Kern River the July, August and September temperate river flows are critically influenced by the snow packs above 10,000’. As of 4/1 those measurements ranged from 49% to 78% before some very warm days earlier this month. So it is likely we will see lethal Upper River temperatures return for the last half of the summer and the hatchery will be challenged to operate again.

Click here for details:

Reports from fly fishing contacts fishing runs on most of the 20 mile section of the Upper Kern River continue to have very low catching. That may change soon as the first of the trophy trout reared on Fishstock contributions will finally be placed in the river this week.  However, flows soon will become dangerous to wade, so be safe if you choose to go.  Call the flow phone at 877-537-6356 to see if the low flow section is running below 400 cfs (currently 220 cfs); above and below the low flow section flows are about 800 cfs and cold. Hot  temperatures forecasted next week and this will really kick up the flows in May.

In the past catching well into double digits this time of year was the norm but it is hard for the CDFW to keep up with the harvesting with plants. Typical prime time stocking has dropped from 5,000 lbs/wk down to 1,000 lbs/wk over the last few years. If people can legally take 5 trout per day every day on a Friday thru Sunday weekend and there are +500 fishers (25 fishers/mile or more) on the 20 mile section that means at least 7,500 trout or 3,750 lbs of half pounders(foot longs) can be harvested on a weekend legally. As we all know many people exceed the legal take limit. So in the past a 5,000 lb/wk stocking (10,000 half pounders) at 500 trout/mile could keep a lot of trout fisherman happy. In 2016 when just 1,000 lb/wk is being stocked (2,000 half pounders/wk) or about 100 trout/mile on the 20 mile section the catching has dropped off dramatically per angler.  Additionally, most of the locals have learned to camp on the stocked locations and harvest in short order before trout can migrate.

In addition none of the stocked rainbows are fertile, the ones that survive can’t reproduce. This is creating a very precarious impact on the Upper Kern trout populations and also on many other “put and take“waters in the Southern and Eastern Sierras as we experience more drought years.

Many concerned and forward thinking fishers believe that the CDFW should take measures to address these trends to protect trout populations and improve the catching as well as protect the interests of those that rely on fishing for recreation and their livelihoods. The CDFW should consider reducing legal daily take limits, enforce them, actually shut down drought stressed waters to fishing that meet their published heat stressed  guidelines, raise and stock fertile native trout species, and consider closing or implementing “catch and release only” stressed trout waters during the spring spawn. Smart communities have funded additional stocking through fund raisers like Fishstock and purchased trout from private hatcheries.

We realize that these measures would create some short term turmoil at the outset but the long term benefit could be huge for a river with amazing potential like the Upper Kern. It has been done in many western states like Montana and others that no longer rely on massive trout planting programs to sustain great trout waters.

Kernville Hatchery News

The hatchery is getting a $ 750,000 face lift! Should start in August. New races to rear Kern River Rainbow someday…….      Average trophy trout now more than 2lbs and will be stocked Friday 4/29; also a heavier than normal stocking is in progress as I type.  Tight lines!

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 04/01 & 04/16
Lower Sac and Eagle Canyon

Given the paltry catching close to home we decided to venture north where the rain and snow pack has been more than generous this year. On April Fools Day several from the club took on the Lower Sac and the Upper Trinity. The Lower Sac was fishing great. The sucker spawn usually extends from mid-March until June on the Lower Sac and bright yellow egg patterns got a ton of grabs on the Lower Sac, Also #6 sinking girdle bugs yielded the biggest rainbows. We averaged about 80 grabs per boat and netted about 50 as well. Trout were all healthy and 15” – 20”. The Lower Sac is in great shape at 5,200 cfs,  our guide said on a scale of 0-10 the clarity was running about a 4. The river was up at 20,000 cfs the prior week and was beginning to clear up 2 or 3 days before we arrived.
The Upper Trinity opened up on 4/1 but the higher flows did not help the fishing. It can be great dry fly fishing for Steelies but not this year so fishing was tough.
The next day (4/2) seven of us trekked out to Eagle Canyon for the first time not knowing what to expect. None had fished it before. The private lakes are open from 12/1 to 4/15 and are fished hard. They have some monsters but they had seen a lot of flies the last four months and were getting pickier near season’s end. We inflated our tubes and were on the water by 9:30 am. Less than an hour later the first trout was on and the trout rodeo had commenced. We couldn’t believe the size of that pig – easily 9 lbs and many more were to come. They don’t feed the fish so the spring fed lakes must be extremely rich in biomass as these fish were FAT!  The next 2 hours small sparse streamers elicited scores of takes and lots of dream photos. By noon things had tapered off but we found micro mayfly nymphs (tie shared with us from our Skeels KRFF club pro) and blood worms doing the trick under indicators. What a trip to be tugged 50 yards from where you hooked a toad to where you finally landed your prize with the biggest grin you can imagine.   As the sun got lower the #12 sparse streamers turned on again. On the day we averaged about 10 to the net per trout nerd and broke off a lot of #18/20 flies we had tied.

Our guide was extremely impressed with our success and said we had had one of the best days of the season. The first day the lake is opened there is a huge auction to see who gets the first shot at the lakes. I can see why people have paid a lot for the privilege!   I must say we really have a great group of anglers that worked together to have an amazing day of camaraderie and fly fishing.  Clearly we have found a new appreciation for what “EPIC” really means.  Teresa you are a hero to find and organize this KRFF outing!!!!

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 03/31/16

On 3/31 I fished the Upper Kern while I was supporting Trout in the Classroom with Liberty HS. They were a great group of students. I also got a peak at the new plans for the $1,000,000 redo of the races. It is an excellent well thought out plan by Danny Zide. Construction scheduled to start in August. So future plants for Aug to Nov likely with be impacted. The +7,500 lbs trophy trout are hogging up nicely to an average of 1.8 lbs/ea. Danny says that for every pound of feed he applies he usually gets one pound of trout mass produced at this time of year. In another month they will be huge. He should be very proud of what he has accomplished as these are the first large trout raised from eggs at the Kernville planting base in years under very trying drought conditions. None of the trophies have been stocked yet this spring and he won’t stock them until the opener which is the last weekend in April. I did manage to get some time on the water today and was skunked in spring for the first time ever. Looks like the drought continues on the Kern with just 70% of normal snow pack. Will lethal July water temps return again this year? Focus on the +10,000’ elevation measurements because that is where the mid/late summer water will come from, final numbers will be posted next week

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 03/24/16

On 3/24 I fished the Upper Kern from 9am to about 3pm, they stocked the Upper last Friday 3/18. I hit every primary stocking site on sections 5&6 without a single strike on 8 different spots. Talked to at least 10 baiters and 1 fly guy, only one person hooked one trout all day. They were all disappointed to learn the stocking happened a week ago because they planned their trip from LA around what was posted by the CDFW on the stocking website (should have been stocked this week). CDFW business prevented the stocking to occur Easter Break week. I did manage one 11” wild on a remote run. One stretch that I landed a dozen same time last year from HQ to Halfway didn’t yield a strike and none of the runs that hold wilder fish had any scurry out as I waded through them. I haven’t caught a wild trout below Chemise Flat since last June.  They will stock the Lower 3/25 so the skunked were happy to hear that.
UK still clear and just 80 cfs on section 5 but above Fairview it is running +500 cfs and hard to wade anywhere. I stopped at JDB and there were 10 cars in the lot there on a Thursday? I didn’t see anyone fishing close to the bridge.

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 03/17/16

I spent some time today with two Trout in the Classroom  schools at Upper
Richbar and what a change has taken place! There has been a lot of silt that
has built up and now has created a lot of cattails where once there was a
nice clear sandy beach to practice fly casting with students. Afterword I
decided to give fishing a try on the Upper Kern, before the rising
temperatures initiate the Spring run off. It has been very challenging for
months according to my contacts. I decided to target areas where there were
some nice trout planted back in November for the Fly Fishing tourney (just 6
of 800 trout caught) thinking maybe I had a chance at catching some of the
survivors. Flows now are above 500 CFS above Fairview Damn and below KR3 so
I wanted to avoid wading in water that fast so I concentrated on section 5
(low flow section).

As I drove up north of Kernville I didn't see one fishermen on the water so
I knew that things still had not improved a whole lot. Rising temperatures
today (high reached 80°) when I arrived at noon water temperatures were 48°
and I put in about four hours of wading and covering LOTS of water.
Temperatures came up about 2° in that time and I was able to land five
trout. Three I'm sure were wild and two were probably 15" trophy trout
planted last November that managed to survive. They both took a red hooked
Arnerd nymph and I had success landing the 3 wilds with one of my favorite
flies on the Upper Kern the last two years-  a bead head flash back pheasant
tail size 18. March browns started showing at 1 pm and other midges. Not
prolific and no risings seen so I left my dries in the fly box. I must say I
had to cover a lot of water that was very difficult to access. On water that
often sees pressure I had no luck so most of those areas likely were
harvested long ago. Numbers way down for March compared to before only CDFW
sterile trout stocking only policy and drought started.

The Spring melt will soon be in full force as 80° temperatures are going to
be the norm for a while. Stocking of sections 4, 5 and 6 will happen next
week but not sure how many trout the hatchery has remaining as they have
planted a lot of Bakersfield lakes for tournaments and a good portion of the
trophy trout likely were used for those. Big trout tourney at Isabella this
weekend. Lots of RV's already parked at the lake edge on Thursday before the

Water on the Upper Kern was pretty clear (a bit tannin stained) but that
will soon change as the melt is in progress so be very careful. Before you
go check the SoCal Edison flow phone (877-537-6356) for real time flows to
see if flows stay below 400 CFS on the low flow section between Fairview Dam
and KR3 powerhouse. Remember that the flows can rise suddenly at any time
should SoCal Edison decide to divert water for power generation. They can
divert up to 600 CFS at anytime to the flume that powers the KR3 powerhouse
so flows can rise very rapidly if that is the case. If so you may have to
walk miles to get back on the road side of the Upper Kern.  Average flows
chart here

Snow pack for the Kern Drainage has not been updated with March numbers yet
but I'm guessing that the benchmark April 1st number will fall around 70% of
normal. NorCal snow packs look very healthy. See all drainages at

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 03/06/16

Reports from fly fishing contacts fishing sections on the Upper Kern continue to be poor. For Whiskey Flat Days Feb 12/15 weekend nice trophy trout stockers were planted and quickly caught in Kernville and section 4 below KR3 in a matter of days.  No CDFW planting is planned in March as water temps on section 5 and 6 remain very cold, also this is keeping the bite down since last November. Three years of sterile trout stocking and drought has eliminated the annual February spawning lunker trout that used to move up out of Lake Isabella. Will annual trend ever return? We doubt it until endemic fertile Kern River Rainbow are planted by the CDFW  years in the future. Flows on the river have come up quite a bit (melt started)so wading is now much more difficult above Fairview Dam and above JDB, however, flows between Fairview Dam and KR3 power generation station are just 50 cfs today.  That’s as low as we can remember. Any trout left (very few survived 80 degrees temps last summer)on that stretch are going to find it hard to avoid being taken by natural predation and other harvesters.
CDFW hatcheries update: the hatchery budgets state wide are still far lower than just a few years ago and the pounds to be planted in 2016 have been severely reduced. Talked with San Joaquin hatchery personnel a couple of weeks ago and they had only 16% of the trout pounds raised as last year. Why? They are still trying to recover from all of the trout that had to be dumped because of high water temps from last summer. The SJ hatchery provides about 90% of the pounds annually that the Kernville hatchery will stock. This will improve with time but will take several months to normalize. They are doing all they can to get pounds up for the opener but will fall far short of last years quota.
The Kernville hatchery will soon have a major upgrade and new races installed in August! We look forward to this because it will bring the long anticipated native KRR project a little closer to reality. Unfortunately, that will mean that there will be little room to store any trout at the Kernville hatchery after Aug 1st through the prime fly fishing season Aug – Nov. Sad smile  Planting likely will be impacted negatively then as well. So for 2016 the season doesn’t look very promising even with better snow pack.
Currently the Southern Sierra Snow Pack has fallen well below normal after the dry/warm February. We are at 65% of normal and snow pack which usually peaks April 1st. We need some big storms and quick!  Interestingly the El Nino effect has been dramatic everywhere but California. Oregon and north has gotten lots of rain and snow.  Check the latest graphs here


Lake Isabella is at 8% capacity about 33% of normal this time of year.
The fly fishing has gotten extremely good after recent tournaments at Riverwalk Park. There are a reported 2,000 lb of planters in there as I type. They will be gone in a week so get after ASAP Smile steamers work good the first few days then switch to micro midges. Folks continue to do very well on the Lower Owens since our KRFF outing back in late January.

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 02/02/16

Over the past month there has been local stocking of Bakersfield lakes, however, the cold water temperatures made trout sluggish and few anglers using fly fishing or spinners were successful in landing any of the trout planted. Additionally, Kern River water temperatures remain below 40° and that means very little activity for the dwindling numbers of trout in the river that survived the most severe drought recorded.

So the timing is perfect to go to Bishop, CA and fish the many waters there that have an abundance of wild trout that survived this severe drought because they are at a higher elevation or tail waters that could maintain healthy water temperatures for brown and rainbow trout.

The Lower Owens produced a lot more grabs on dries this year, tiny flies worked best and we found that changing flies out every 20 minutes or so usually produced more strikes. All productive flies were size #20 or smaller using fresh 7x tippet. Size #22 Griffith gnat fished behind a larger indicator fly with a parachute to help see where my tiny flies were. The hatches of tiny midges were coming off between 9 AM and 1 PM consistently each day. Not much BWO happening this year?


Our group of five did very well also on Hot Creek fishing small nymphing. The dry fly fishing here was poor but all of us got well into double digits with nymphs we tied at the last mentorship tying session. Unfortunately, late on Friday a large rainstorm up on Mammoth Mountain drove a surge of water into Hot Creek and it became chocolate milk for the rest of the weekend so we concentrated on the Lower and Upper Owens River. We all agreed that Hot Creek really needs a good flushing as many of the few deeper holes are silting up. The mostly spring feed water temp before the surge was 51 degrees.


A couple of us were able to fish the Upper Owens special regulations section during the annual migration of large Crowley Lake Snow Bows moving up river to spawn. The techniques to catch these big fish are different and it requires patience and willingness to endure some tough weather conditions but it was well worth it as you can see. Make sure you handle these hens and bucks carefully as they are the only remaining fertile rainbows in the system - the CDFW now only plants sterile rainbow trout statewide the last 3 years.


We are encouraged to see that the snow pack has been favorably affected by the El Niño this year and that our snowpack is a little above normal for the first time in years. Hopefully this trend will continue throughout April stay tune......


Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 12/19/15

Cold water temperatures have kept the trout on the Upper Kern basically dormant since early November. No stocking on the Upper Kern can occur for some time. The CDFW stocking criteria states, “Catchable trout shall not be stocked in lakes or reservoirs until water temperatures reach 42°F or higher most afternoons, or in streams until water temperatures reach 45°F or higher most afternoons.” At the hatchery near Kernville the Upper Kern River has not exceeded 40 degrees for quite some time and January likely will be even colder.  However, there will be one planting for 2015 in Bakersfield Lakes, Ming and Riverwalk early next week. No trophy trout are planned to be stocked but maybe Santa will bring some nice bows to good little girls and boys? Have great Christmas and Happy New Year.

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 11/13/15

It has been a week since the Upper Kern was stocked (+ – 800 trout) the afternoon before the FFF 11/7 fly fishing tourney. It was reported that only 6 trout were landed by the 50 participants all day. Why was that? Was the water murky after the rains? Did harvesters get to them before the tourney started? We decided to take a trip up the canyon to find out.
There have been great reports of feet of snow at CA ski resorts. Outstanding! We could see significant snow accumulations on the eastern facing slopes as we headed well above Kernville.  We arrived on the Upper Kern at 10 am and water temp was just 37 degrees! Uh oh. Water was gin clear and we went to work covering a lot of different water with nymphs large and tiny as well as streamers. We tried hard for four hours and got just one grab or maybe not? Not one dink came to play? River temp was 40 degrees at 2 pm. Tired of wading and bush whacking we called it a day. We could wade anywhere, unfortunately, we found a lot of fresh Styrofoam worm cups in places I’ve never seen before opposite the highway. Yikes. It was  great fishing in the crisp clean air. No catching today. We saw others fishing but no one caught. Little insect activity. The first significant snow melt in a long while appears to be keeping the river very cold. Kernville air temps have stayed above 40 degrees for the most part with a high over 70 today. Warmer than BFL.
We stopped by the hatchery to get a look at the Fishstock planters. They are now 14” – 17” and we heard that there was a steep temperature drop of almost 15 degrees and the hatchery trout had stopped feeding for days and now were beginning to actively feed again in the races. We didn’t see that in the river nor could we see trout in the crystal clear water in some of our favorite trout holding water. Saturday should be one last warm day with potential for some trout to start feeding then a cold wet snap will be in place beginning 11/15 perhaps through Turkey Day.

CDFW Town Hall Download - Rich Arner - 10/30/15

For months the lack of stocking from the Kernville hatchery as a result of the devastating drought the last four years got a lot of people in Kernville and Lake Isabella concerned about the financial health of their area. Fred Roach, who organizes the huge trout derby at Lake Isabella every Spring, recently found out that the CDFW just won't have large numbers of “catchable trout” available for his annual tournament.

This is a result of the San Joaquin hatchery which supplies the Kerrville hatcheries losing all of their trout to high river temperatures. Greg Kollenborn of the CDFW says that no catchable sized rainbows can be grown fast enough to stock until at least May 2016. For this reason town hall meetings were requested of senior CDFW personnel to discuss what could be done to improve the planting of sizeable rainbow trout in our favorite waters. There were three different town halls set up in Weldon, Tehachapi, and here in Bakersfield. There were over 50 people at the Bakersfield event. What we found out is that the dramatically reduced stocked pounds statewide are being driven by the high cost of trout food. Apparently trout pellets cost almost as much as labor and the price of pellets have gone up 70% in the last year while the revenues from fishing licenses that support the budget for the hatcheries has going up just 3%. It would seem that there must be a way to find a different lower cost supplier? The “Friends of the Hatchery” already has, let’s hope the CDFW can do likewise.

Sadly it appears there's no plan to stock fertile trout again below natural or manmade barriers on the Upper Kern River to revive wild trout numbers below Fairview Dam any time soon. The Kern River Rainbow Project was not discussed at the meeting here. Only 45 minutes was allocated to Q&A and hunting questions filled half of that time.  If nothing has changed, we can assume that KRR are still going to be stocked as fertile sub-catchable trout. The first stockings will be planted in isolated high elevation areas where a secondary supply of KRR brood stock can be accessed should another drought or sediment event failure occur at the Kernville hatchery. The plantings of sub-catchable KRR that grow to over 12” in the Kern River below JDB are still years away.

There is some good news on the hatchery front in that CDFW Fisheries Branch Chief Stafford Lehr promised the hatchery to make significant ($800,000) capital improvements very soon. They will redo the ancient raceways so the new raceways will actually be circular in shape rather than the existing long rectangular races. Circular raceways use less water and are much easier to clean so it will become a more efficient hatchery.

For now the $30,000 raised for trout feed from “Fishstock” is dedicated to the one race of 5,000 trout  set aside for a trophy trout (they are about 12” now) program. That sounds like a lot of fish. However,  just two or three years ago the hatchery would stock almost 5,000 fish this size every week in summer. For now these 5,000 fish will have to be spread out over the next six months. Those trout will be concentrated toward special events like tournaments, Whiskey Flat Days, and major holidays so that at least there will be some sizable trout worthy of a photograph on the wall of the James Sierra Gateway Market. This will help to bring more people up into the Kern River Valley to fish for rainbow trout and hopefully buy more licenses that can provide more revenue for more sizeable planters going forward. No trout plants are planned in Bakersfield lakes this year. Where will all of the cormorants get their dinners now?

Fishing News - CDFW townhalls - Rich Arner -  10/21/15

Apparently there are a lot of people upset with the new CDFW trout stocking policy (mostly small 8” sterile trout). Also many of the Spring trout derbies are being told they won’t have foot long and larger trout supplied for their events because both the San Joaquin and Kernville hatcheries had to be emptied of trout because of lethal river temperatures. Decent sized trout in significant numbers can’t be raised fast enough it seems or a strict adherence to the small trout policy? One thinks they could import from other hatcheries not affected by the drought?  In any event we keep paying more for fishing licenses and the CDFW is providing far less for our buck. No stocking of local lakes is planned any time soon. No stocking of the Upper Kern in months even as water temps have dropped to healthy levels. Economies of recreational focused communities are suffering dramatically.
Shannon Grove’s constituents demanded some answers from CDFW and town hall meetings are scheduled in Tehachapi 10/24, Weldon 10/23, and here to address the issue. High level CDFW officials are scheduled to attend. More detail here   Riverlakes Ranch Community Center is located at 3825 Riverlakes Drive, Bakersfield, California 93312.

Fishing Report - Rich Arner -  09/21/15

The historic drought continues to deliver historically poor water levels. Flows now have dropped below 65 cfs and falling...

If you want to see underwater structures on the Upper Kern that haven’t been exposed in over a century now is the time to take a camera and record for yourself and posterity. There is an enormous El Nino brewing in the Pacific that suggests huge rainfalls are just around the corner. One wonders if that will mean extreme erosion to come? As they say when it rains it pours.

At the Kernville hatchery there is good news that Danny Zide has been finally appointed hatchery manager. He was the acting manager for over a year and budget uncertainties delayed his appointment. Danny has been extremely communicative and proactive in managing the hatchery in some very trying budgetary and extended drought conditions. He has blazed a trail to get the hatchery rearing trout from eggs that hasn’t been done successfully in years at the facility. It also has been done on well water that presents new challenges as well. Danny will speak at our club in November to review the history of the hatchery and what comes next.

Water levels so low your grandkids may never see again?


The September 5th Fishstock event successfully raised $25,000 ($500 came from the KRFF) to provide fish food which is crucial to the quality of the catching on the Upper Kern River. There is only one remaining trout race at the Kernville Hatchery surviving on well water. It is the only supply of trout for the rest of 2015. Why? The CDFW San Joaquin hatchery (which supplies the Kernville Hatchery with trout) had to be emptied of all trout because Millerton Reservoir could no longer provide cool water to the facility. In addition the SJ Hatchery has spent all of the trout food budget for the rest of this year so not even ¼ pounders will be supplied to the Kernville operation or other areas served by the SJ hatchery.

At this time, even with improved Fall water temperatures, there is no scheduled planting going forward until it is decided what is the best course of action with the relatively small number of planters remaining. This one race of trout will need to be spread out over several months. My guess is few if any will make it to Bakersfield Lakes. Normally local planting starts a couple of weeks before Halloween. Plan to be spooked often this year.

Cabin Fire - 08/10/15

The Cabin Fire is reported to be at 96% containment at 5,871 acres.  Areas of the Golden Trout Wilderness will remain closed through this coming weekend for the safety of any back country hikers.  Check the National Incident Information link below for further details.

Cabin Fire - 08/02/15

The Cabin Fire was reported to be at 2,619 acres as of 11AM Sunday morning.  Some rain helped firefighters while they built containment lines.  Areas of the Golden Trout Wilderness are closed.  The fire is visible from some of the Forset Service Web Cams.  See Link below.

Forest Service Fire Lookout Web Cams -


Cabin Fire - 07/31/15

The Cabin Fire started on July 18th due to lightning.  The fire was remainin in a two acre containment line until July 29th.   The fire is currently at 1900 acres.  Due to the area where the fire is located in the Golden Trout Wilderness, mechanical equipment and fire retardant is not allowed.  Crews are currently walking into the area to battle the fire.  More information can be found at the below links.

National Incident Information System - Cabin Fire -

Fire in Golden Trout Wildernes rages on - Porterville Recorder -

Fishing Report - Rich Arner -  06/10/15

A big drop in air temps from the triple digits this past weekend made me want to try and get some trouting in before things get lethal. Flows dropped to 210 cfs above Fairview dam and 110cfs below it. Got on the water at 8:30 am and water temps was 64 degrees on section 5. Catching was slow and water still murky here same as last week. Really thought visibility would have improved on the low flow section 5 but it did not. We landed 3 bows in 2 hours (including a large 23” squawfish)and headed far up river. Slow on three different spots there and talked to campers who said no stocking had occurred this week. Moved up on section 6 and found several footlongs after dry dropper not working and switched to a fast sink tip and stripped an olive crystal bugger with a #18 BHFBPT behind it. At 1:20 pm I landed a 14” trout and quickly returned him to the river. He went belly up. Took a minute to revive him and I think he made it. Took a water temp (on section 6) and it was 68 degrees so I quit for the day as I didn’t want to lethally stress any trout. Was very surprised that the river temp came up that fast when the air temps were just at 80 degrees. Landed 15 bows today (non on dries). Triple digits ramping up again for a while. I likely am done fishing the Upper Kern until October.
When I got home I returned a call to the hatchery and found out that there won’t be stocking this week and likely the last stocking will occur next week. They are seeing river temps climb 10 degrees during the day on a routine basis. So that’s roughly an increase of one degree per hour. Keep that in mind if you are fishing and carry a thermometer with you at all times. The hatchery will be emptied next week and should make for good catching for a very short time. Most of the trout they are getting now are 1/4 pounders under 10”. They will keep one race cold with well water (the 3 wells only provide 1 cfs) but won’t plant those trout until they grow larger and likely will be planted after October 1st when river conditions become healthy again.
Whirling disease has been found in three CDFW hatcheries. Heat stress is believed to be one of the contributers to this outbreak. Hatcheries affected are the Shasta, Darrah Springs, and Hot Creek. See latest news here

Fishing Report - Rich Arner -  06/04/15

Upper Kern River peaked at 520 cfs on 6/2 just after the heat streak. Was hoping for clearer water than last week with flows dropping fast. Our first stop on section 5 was murkier than last week? Fished water planted earlier in the week as told by some campers. No one catching including us. We head up river a lot further and water was a bit clearer and 65 degrees at noon. Picked up seven bows over a 1/2 mile stretch but had to find them again well away from stocking locations in a two hour trek. We then went to section 6. We covered a lot of water on two areas again covering a good 1/2 mile of river with just one landed between us. Far fewer squaws today (zero) for some reason (friends on Saturday all were landing more squaws than bows)and the water was a bit cooler today. 65 degrees on section 6 at 2 pm. Air temps around 80 degrees and very pleasant. River still high up here just above 300 cfs and was 110 cfs on section 5.

Fishing Report - Rich Arner -  05/28/15

Spoke with the hatchery manager about the Kern River Rainbow project and the public feedback solicitation yesterday. More on that later. I asked him about how things were at the hatchery and he said the river temp is climbing fast with the first triple digit heat wave in progress. He was able to pack the Upper Kern with trout for the Memorial Day weekend and he said the campgrounds were packed full and fishing pressure was extreme and there was lots of catching with the large plant. He had planted this week too. However, he said river temps were pushing 70 degrees late afternoon. He feels he can only stock 2 more weeks. The flows are coming up again and he said water clarity had begun to get murky. I decided to try anyway even with the poor results I had last month when flows bumped up just 100 cfs. Flows on section 5 this year will be far lower than last year because last year no flows were diverted for power generation as the flume was under repair practically all year. So I decided to give this stretch a try because flows would still be wadeable, contains my favorite pocket water, and likely will be lethally warm very soon. I arrived on the river at 8:30 am and river temp was 65 degrees. Air temp about 70 with a predicted high of 90. River was cloudy with about 3’ of visibility. There were many campers on many sites and BFL schools are out for summer. I decided to concentrate on wilder areas because the river was hammered on the weekend and stocked areas have been harvested quickly the last month. 
It took quite a bit of effort to find trout. I used flashy flies. Lots of tiny midges hatching but no caddis, may flies, or stones.  The best fly was a #20 BHFBPT and the #12 red hooked Arnerd. Not much surface action (trout that is) but a ton of small squaw fish attacked my nymphs and dries. I spent 2 hours covering a good 3/4 mile stretch and landed 5 rainbows to 14” and 23 squaws all under 10”. Then picked up and tried two other long wild runs way up river. On the first I was skunked on the second I landed 6 feisty wild bows but another dozen small squaws. Trout were only found where lots of bush whacking required off the beaten path. At 1 pm river temp was 68 degrees on the upper stretches of section 5 and I was too pooped to try and wade the cooler and the 3x higher flows on section 6 so I called it a day.
The NFS is looking for comments on what the public feels about the Kern River Rainbow Project. You can provide feedback online, FAX, or snail mail. This project is crucial to restoring the wild trout populations that have decimated much of the Upper Kern below Johnsondale Bridge by the historic drought. Sadly the CDFW was forced to stock only sterile trout state wide about 3 years ago and the timing couldn’t have been worse for the heavily pressured Upper Kern. While we applaud reducing cross breeding with native wild trout strains above Fairview Dam, the negative impact on wild trout populations below Fairview Dam has been substantial.
The Kern River Rainbow project will provide large numbers of native trout fingerlings hopefully  in the next two years and we can’t wait any longer to start rearing Kern River Rainbows at the Kernville Hatchery.
You can provide feedback before June 3rd here
Description of the KRR project here

Fishing Report - Rich Arner -  04/29/15

Returned to the Upper Kern after a great week last week. Covered the same water with much different results. Landed just 6 trout  even with flashy flies? Was there a lot of harvesting on opening weekend? Or was it because water visibility less than 3’. Few others catching we talked to. Flows were 240 cfs above Fairview (section 6)and 120 cfs on the low flow section (section 5). Just a 100 cfs bump in flows really clouds things up. There is a lot of silt built up over the last 3 years of minimal flushing. So just 1/10 of the trout landed this week. None appeared to be wild. No top water action today. Likely peak flows will be far below 1,000 cfs and occur very soon. River temp on section 6 was 62 degrees at 2 pm. Soon you will need to carry a thermometer to know when to stop fishing. My guess is the first 100 degree days in BFL = lethal water temps above 70 degrees on the Upper Kern Below JDB.
The CDFW has warns that, “Avoiding fishing during periods when water temperatures exceed 70 degrees Fahrenheit (likely afternoon to late evening)” and “Utilizing a thermometer and checking water temperatures every 15 minutes when temperatures exceed 65 degrees Fahrenheit

Fishing Report - Rich Arner -  04/23/15

Another great day on the Upper Kern today. We were concerned because of all of the thunderstorm activity we could see from BFL the last few days but the river was clear and warming. 54 degrees at 10 am on section five. We had action on the Hill’s golden foam stone, red hooked Arnerd, and #18 fbbhpt. Landed 28 in the first three hours. The best part.............    I was landing +80% of those in isolated pockets, pools, and runs over a 1/2 mile stretch. Wild and planted trout between 10” and 15” and toward the bigger end!
We stopped at a couple other spots that were basically dead, then hit a pod of trout way up river during a T-storm. We landed many there and I kept moving up river as my less able friend stayed on the hot spot. Again I landed healthy trout on the dry and dropper in every piece of water that looked great. In the last 2 hours more than doubled the first three hours over a 3/4 mile stretch. Never thought I ‘d catch more than my age in the severe drought but it happened today. Fishing pressure low and the catching (+10 landed/hr) and fishing was the best in a year. River temp was 58 degrees on exit. Low flow section at 110 cfs and Upper Kern around 200 cfs above Fairview and below KR3. Thunder rumbling up river when we left.
A downer was a big wad of graffiti since last week on one spot. A lot of no camping signs along the river, I hope that is enforced this year.

The Kernville hatchery is looking for fly fishers and tiers to be a part of Troutfest 2015 that will be held this Saturday April 25th from 10 am until 2 pm.  If you’d like to get involved with Troutfest  let the hatchery know asap at (760)376-2846.
On Thursday April 30th there will be a meeting to discuss fund raising efforts toward acquiring additional dollars to provide trout food for an additional 20,000 lbs of trout to be raised at the hatchery. Currently the CDFW will only allocate enough funds to plant 45,000 pounds of trout this year (down to less than 30% of what was planted 4 years ago). Owner of the Sierra Gateway Markets, along with the hatchery manager are spearheading this cause along with others in Kernville. Contact the hatchery for time and place.

Fishing Report - Rich Arner -  04/16/15

Stocking is now focused on the Upper Kern until river temps become lethal in June. I fished two dasy before Easter last month (didn’t report) with odd results after finishing Trout in the Classroom sessions with some great kids. On the first day we found two spots freshly planted and we landed 30 trout in less than 2 hours. The next day we tried different planted spots and only manage 2 trout in 4 hours. People told us the river was stocked the first day and the second day few were left to catch.

Today I had a chance to get out before the heat kicks up flows. Arrived at the river around 9:30 am and river was 52 degrees on Section 5. Found a few stockers about 100 yards up river from a location stocked earlier in the week. The baiters were skunked this morning and so was I when fishing just up stream from them. I decided to try and cover some wilder water well above them and was surprised to land a dozen rainbows over the next 2 hours. Many hit my #12 foam golden stone or took my #12 bhrh Arnerd and no takes on smaller flies. Five on the dry and most trout were 13 –14”. A real treat I did not expect. This was the best fishing (not catching) I ‘d done since last spring. I was catching trout over a 1/2 mile stretch some stockers some wild on section 5 below Goldledge. I don’t see how the stockers got upstream that far with the low water and significant barriers. My guess is that they are in spawning mode and extra motivated to move up river. I decided to try and drive to some other spots that were wilder and harder to reach. Again I managed to pick up decent sized rainbows but with less frequency. I had a lot of attacks on my foam stonefly and some landed on it. Often they would take the dry on the first cast, if not hooked and then I’d get them on the red hooked Arnerd within the next five casts. River temp was 58 degrees when I quit at 2:30 pm. Best fishing in a year but not the best catching (landed 18). It is great when you don’t have to camp on stocked spots to get a trout! Nice change and hope it continues for a while. Not much pressure today. Lots of bug activity midges, caddis, dragon flies, and damsel flies. No may flies seen? No stonefly shucks anywhere but they loved my golden stonefly from 10 am until I quit.

Fishing Report - Rich Arner -  03/13/15

Had a chance to talk with the hatchery manager recently and he said that the catching has been dismal even though he has been planting the Upper Kern for weeks but there has been little catching. He believe the cold river temps below 42 degrees have made trout lethargic. He was scheduled to plant this week of 3/9 but couldn’t because of mechanical issues with his vehicles so he planted all sections the week of 3/2. With river temps cold I waited until today to give it a try as a heat wave is on. We arrived on section 4 at 9:30 am and water temp was 49 degrees (a very good sign). However the catching was dismal. We covered a ton of water working our way up to section 6 on seven different pieces of wild and planted water as river temps warmed to 52 degrees at 2 pm. We saw a lot of bugs hatching, Caddis size #16, march browns, and midges. Managed just two takes from two 9 inch wilds on a dry. Landed one. My buddy got no takes all day. Stripped streamers in deeper runs, nymphed, and dried. Walked through a lot of runs that usually would hold wild trout and nothing scurried out. Not sure what has happened to all of the planters??? Is the water so low that the trout just aren’t moving around and they were harvested earlier this week when river temps increased. Are birds getting them? We saw just one heron all day. Who knows but we saw quite a few spin fishers and some fly guys but not one catching. No trout rising either. The sterile trout stocking and lethal summer temps really have ravaged the Upper Kern below JDB. Weather was excellent, wading easy, practiced casting a lot.

Information on 2015 planting reductions - Rich Arner - 12/11/14

I was troubled to hear that there will be significant planting reductions for 2015. I see that pounds state wide will drop to 1,600,000 pounds in 2015. That’s 50% less than 2014 poundage at 3,200,000.

This is really concerning. Read the CDFW alert newly posted here

The Kernville planting base is allocated just 45,000 pounds in 2015 down from 85,000 pounds in 2013 and down from 145,000 pounds in 2005. That’s a huge drop in just a few years on a river that is getting ever increasing fishing pressure. Also, all of the trout being planted in California now are sterile and won’t be able to replace the extreme drought devastated wild trout populations. For the heavily pressured Kern River below Johnsondale Bridge I don’t see how a sustainable, healthy, and fertile rainbow trout population is possible going forward. Imagine how many more poachers will be moving up into stretches above JDB! The hatchery budget statewide is being slashed even though California tax revenues are up, the budget is much more sound, and fishing license revenue continues to grow at a good clip. How is this possible that the Sacramento politicians are dramatically slashing the budgets of all CDFW hatcheries?

For license revenue see

The Kernville hatchery is going to have to mostly rely on volunteers to plant trout next year. Can you imagine if the Sacramento politicians slashed the DMV’s budget by 50% and asked the public to volunteer to man the service desks to issues vehicle registrations? This is pathetic.


Fishing Report - Rich Arner -  11/13/14

Many people have told me that there are very few wild trout on sections 4 and 5 over the last 2 months. Also the catch totals were very dismal at the recent fly fishing tourney held 11/8. Many of the region’s best fly fishers were involved and they dropped the stringent international rules to improve the catching. As one participant put it, “ While they somehow were able to provide everyone outstanding weather and water conditions, someone forgot to put fish in the water. “

So with that I set out to really find out how wild trout had survived the lethal Upper Kern River temps on sections 4 and 5 of these past 3 summers. My expectations were low but my hopes set high. My strategy was to bushwhack into the spots that have been productive for me over the last decade. I started close to Kernville and worked my way up river. At the start river temp on section 4 was 50 degrees at 9 am. I went right to the best wild areas and methodically covered the best 100 yard stretch or so then moved on to the next spot. I watched for scurrying trout as I waded through good runs after casting to them. Used a variety of small and larger nymphs. I spent maybe 30 minutes at each site and hit 9 spots of the best wild trout water I know. I did not get a tug or see a trout scamper below sites I traversed below Goldledge camp ground. I did manage to land 5 wilds to 13” on my favorite waters on upper portions on section 5 below Fairview Dam. Spoke to a half dozen fishers on section 5 (none on section 4) all were skunked but they were all focused on stocked water. I was told by one set of spin/bait fishers that they follow a Facebook/Twitter network to share and learn of catching conditions both on the Upper Kern and Bakersfield Lakes. I guess that may be why the planters seem to vanish so quickly the last year or so especially on BFL Lakes. Anglers are getting sophisticated on their use of technology.

I was very tired by 2 pm and a bit beat up after trudging through some very rocky and creating some of my own brushy paths. The low water flows allowed me to wade to any water I wanted to assess. Most of the water I did traverse provided solitude on a gorgeous day in fall splendor. I love finding those hard to reach and often unpressured spots I can have to myself and almost ear shot away from the highway and boom boxes. I found a common thread to where I could or could not locate wild trout. Gin clear waist deep pocket water and shallower did not hold trout at all - not even dinks. Find spots hard to reach that are not conducive to bait plunking, near highly aerated water, and where water depth or rocks must provide cover. They are there but requires a lot of effort to find.

Previous reports since Oct 1st have led me to believe the wilds on section 6 are slowly being taken out and are slightly more plentiful there, though I did not fish section 6 today when I saw more pressure on them. Sadly the state of wilds below JDB in my humble opinion is really concerning. As many of you know the CDFW only plants sterile trout statewide(last two years) and once the wild trout that can reproduce are extracted they are not being replaced by the CDFW. Only the remarkable tenacity of the few remaining wilds can provide sustainable trout populations on our club’s home water. Please try to communicate this to any angler you know and encourage them to handle trout under 10” with care and release them. I think few of the harvesters are targeting wild spots as they camp out mostly on planting areas and that is a good thing. The effect of the last 3 summer river temps hitting 80 degrees on sections 4/5 has been very troubling.

There will be good catching if you time a trip soon after a planting but often expect the Facebook/Twitter generation to accompany you on the areas where trout are concentrated for a day or two before they are pulled for the frying pan. If you can move them around after you release them you might give them a chance to hang around until 2015. I often toss trout +30 feet away from where I take them on stocked runs to give others a chance to recatch and release for a while at least. Sadly though they can’t reproduce.

BFL Lakes to be stocked before Turkey Day next week. No planting scheduled on the UK at this time.,Tulare&time=All

Fishing Report - Rich Arner -  11/06/14

Headed up to the Upper Kern with high expectations because of the great conditions provided by low gin clear water and 80 degree November highs. We tried 3 spots on section 5 with no luck. Headed to section 6 where we found nearly every turnout with a vehicle on a Thursday? We poked around 4 different spots for 2 hours and I managed 2 nice 13” wilds well off the beaten paths. We helped stock (didn’t fish)an area two weeks ago with +80 trout two weeks ago and didn’t get a bump there after covering it very methodically? No rises seen and no trout seen scattering. We then revisited a different spot that I landed 30 in an hour two weeks ago and you could clearly see +100 hunkered down. Not one trout there either just two weeks later. Harvesting and/or natural predators on sections 5 and 6 apparently are extremely effective. The paucity of catching really was unusual for the outstanding wading conditions. Some midge activity going on. At one camp site we saw one baiter pluck a couple but 6 others including ourselves were skunked. We observed and chatted with more than 3 dozen other fly/bait fishers today and we learned the river was planted earlier in the week. We finally tried 3 different normally planted spots in Kernville area hoping to get our nets wet. Same disappointing catching for both baiters and fly guys. What’s up? Bakersfield lakes to be planted week of 11/10 and we’ll try UK again week of 11/17 when it may be planted again. Cobalt blue sky and golden trees made up for the lack of catching for sure today.

Reports of the Lower Owens Wild Trout section (120 cfs) continue to be extremely good for those who want to catch +10/hr wild browns wild on small dries from 10 am to 3 pm. Hefty Crowely spawners have moved up into the Upper Owens earlier this year. Easy to reach them now before snows start soon.

Fishing Report - Rich Arner -  10/24/14

Talked with hatchery manager earlier this week. He indicated that he is still waiting for authorization to place where he will plant trout on the CDFW planting web page. He said that he planted Brite Lake in Tehachapi recently and will begin planting BFL lakes the week of October 27th. Pounds will be alternated each week between BFL lakes and the Kern River for the next several weeks. He planted the Upper Kern this week for Whiskey Flats Fall Days. We covered quite a bit of water and found two trout willing(few in the river is my guess) on section 6. We tried 6 different spots and talked with others who had fished over the last week with very low takes. However, the stocking truck was sighted today. At about 2 pm we finally found a spot with trout and landed 30 in an hour and a half on the same run. It was fun for a while but not my kind of catching. Too easy. Most took the #16 BHFBPT some on the Arnerd. There was no way to spread trout around where we were so we may retry next week to see how many remain to get some idea how quickly the river is harvested on an October weekend. Stay tuned for the follow up. River temp at 8:30 am was 48 degrees.

Fishing Report - Rich Arner -  10/16/14

Given the cooling trend we though we would try fishing on Sections 4,5, and 6. Catching was way down from 2 weeks ago. We first tried two section 5 spots. Waded over 1/ 2 a mile on the first stretch. Only landed two in 2 hours (trout were 1/2 mile apart from each other). Skunked on 2nd stretch both nymphing and tugging streamers. No wilds to be found on our flies or scooting through normally great runs. Given what I’ve learned from my own adventures and others reports there are, few wilds that survived the summer below Goldledge. Then went to Section 6 and covered 3 spots with much wading again landing a dozen bows in 3 hours. Some wilds, some planters I think.

Stopped at an upper Section 5 planters spot made famous recently on a double hook up video. We managed to land one 15”planter missing one eye there tugging a streamer with sink tip. It appears the popular video drew in some harvesting recently. We covered a lot of water below and above that spot but managed just one other tug between two of us. We then headed down to a run on section 4 in Kernville proper that had quite a few baiters camped on it. We didn’t get a take and the other six baiters said they were skunked. No one fishing at Riverside Park. We talked to campers today on sections 5 and 6 and they said catching was very slow in the campgrounds. My guess is that stocking is now going to happen biweekly as in the past between mid-Oct through Turkey Day and that Bakersfield Lakes may be or are being stocked on alternating weeks? Hope to be able to provide you with more information soon as many KRFF members are looking forward to prowling trout water 5 minutes from home. Total to the net today was 15 and am very tired as I landed half the trout as two weeks ago but waded a lot farther to find them. Water is very low still at <100 cfs and clear. Trout best found in water more than 4’ deep or trout that can hide on the underside of boulders. Many many herons seen today on all sections and I think they have easy pickings for any trout trying to hold in pocket water less than 3 feet deep. We caught 90% of bows on a #16 BHFBPT. Not one surface strike today for both of us. Little insect activity. Water temp on section 5 at 8:30 am was 52 degrees and 62 degrees when we finished at 3:30p on section 4.

Fishing Report - Rich Arner -  10/03/14

Got word that the recent cooling trend has finally made retaining trout at the Kernville Planting Base possible early this week. We headed up to check out where some of them may have been planted. We skipped section 4 because we noticed a fair amount of pressure on those spots including folks fishing at the Riverside Park in Kernville - a good sign that decent sized trout are being planted near town and the fly shop. We saw some 5 wts casting to them but unsuccessfully wlEmoticon-sadsmile[1].png (1090 bytes)

We continued up along section 5 to try our luck and take some temperatures. River was 60 degrees at 9 am here. The river is very very low and many of the best pocket water pools are shallow. We didn’t get a tug on two of our favorite spots nor did we see trout scamper in typical holding spots. On a third spot on section 5 we did land 3 chunky trout but no wilds along two hundred yards of our favorite spots on that run that normally produces many tugs and hits to our surface presentations. Not a good sign for the future as our little (too small for the frying pan) wild trout are the only trout in the river that can reproduce. We did see some dead trout recently planted and some heads and fish guts from foot longs (likely planted recently). We also noticed many more herons this trip and they must be able to easily spot and feed on planted trout.

We then headed up to section 6 to cover a lot of water we tried last week to see how it had changed. We also added some new stretches up there that we hadn’t tried before. We noticed a lot more pressure going on from about Goldledge to JDB for this weekday; so the locals know trout are being planted even though not being advertised online or in the newspaper. The catching on section 6 was much better. Both wilds and planters to 16” were had. Very little insect activity was noted to 3 pm and I haven’t seen one stonefly shuck anywhere on the river in the last two trips? The nice pod (16 landed planters) I found last week only provided me with just one bump today even though I had tried to spread them around a 100 foot area after I caught them last week. I wonder what happened to all of them? Herons and harvesters I guess. We did find wild trout still more numerous up here as well as chunkier planters with blunted noses. We did have to cover even more water this trip but it was worth it. I needed a nap when I got home. Weather was near perfect with a high of 88 degrees and I netted 28 bows. Not much surface action for October? One wild bow on a foam stone, the rest divided between the #12 Arnerd (no red hook worked best) and a #16 BH Flash Back Pheasant tail. The wild trout are still located mostly near areas where there is a lot of aeration - trout found better oxygenated water the last three years when river temps became lethal.

We stopped, just for kicks, on the way home at an upper section 5 stretch that usually is productive and managed a half dozen wilds there to 10” Water temp was 62 degrees at 3 pm.

Fishing Report - Rich Arner -  09/24/14

Heard that interim hatchery manager, Danny Zide, was going to try to plant for the first time since 4th of July. He has been regularly recording river temps to make sure he is in compliance with CDFW planting regulations, “Catchable trout shall not be stocked in streams when water temperatures reach 75°F and it appears that such temperatures will continue to occur regularly” On 9/18/14 he finally recorded afternoon waters temps that didn’t exceed the maximum limit above Fairview Dam. In addition +100 degree days were not in the foreseeable forecast. So I decided to head above Fairview Dam today with two goals in mind. Find out if the river was planted and how are the wild trout doing?

I hit the water at 8:30 am and water temp was 60 degrees. I covered a 1/2 mile stretch and landed 16 bows to 16” in about 1.5 hours. But it was really odd. I picked up two nice/wild 12” and 14” in a tough to reach spot. Covered three areas on that 1/2 mile stretch that usually are planted frequently with no bumps? I found a pod of 14 trout all sitting in one spot probably not more that 6 feet apart from each other. Also not in a spot I’ve ever known to be planted? Two were >15” and all were planters mostly taking the #12 Arnerd and some on a #16 BHFBPT. One feisty 14” bow swallowed a yellow bellied foam stonefly. I then I covered 5 pull outs that often get planted between Fairview and JDB. Didn’t get any planters on those spots but did land several wild 9” trout often in areas far from heavily pressured runs. Talked with several baiters and all were skunked for the day. I quit when water temps hit 65 degrees t 1:00 pm. Places where I usually count on multiple strikes from wild dinks were few and far between wlEmoticon-sadsmile[1].png (1090 bytes)

Total 22 landed bows for about 4 hours of fishing. I did decide to do my own temperature survey on the way home. Above Fairview I recorded 65 degrees at 1 pm, at Salmon Creek 67 degrees at 1:15pm , and 70 degrees at T-bird at 1:30pm. All with a calibrated thermometer. River temps appear to rise at about 1 degree per hour so they probably peaked at 3 – 4 degrees higher than I was measuring around 1 pm. I talked to anglers where I made temperature readings (I took them where I saw people fishing) below Fairview Dam all had the same dismal catching results. Usually Bakersfield Lakes are stocked starting in mid-October. The lakes are extremely low and may delay planting? I hope to update everyone soon.

When you do fish during this stressful time remember the CDFW recommendations should be followed to make sure as many wild trout survive this drought. They currently are the only trout (fertile) that can provide long term sustainability for trout populations. Make sure you carry an accurate thermometer. We need to make sure we take care of them; the criteria is below:

Protective measures for catch-and-release fishing during the drought include:

• Avoiding fishing during periods when water temperatures exceed 70 degrees Fahrenheit (likely afternoon to late evening)

• Playing hooked trout quickly and avoiding extensive handling of fish

• Keeping fish fully submerged in water during the release

Utilizing a thermometer and checking water temperatures every 15 minutes when temperatures exceed 65 degrees Fahrenheit

• Stopping angling when captured fish show signs of labored recovery or mortality

• Utilizing barbless hooks to help facilitate a quick release

Fishing Report - Rich Arner -  09/09/14

Been very few reports of club members since mid-July. Trout are few and far between and none above 9”. Smallish squaw fish are being caught in greater numbers where the warmer the river flows. There is news to report that will help understand what is and will be going on the Upper Kern. We have been trying to contact the hatchery for two weeks and finally got an update today. The Kernville hatchery manager retired recently and the water temps are still hitting the mid 70’s at the hatchery even with the cooling trend the last few days. Triple digit air temps are forecasted later this week. At this time hatchery personnel don’t project any stocking will occur for another two weeks at the earliest. They intend to restart planting Bakersfield Lakes in just over a month starting in mid-October like years past. So planters will be divided between BFL lakes and the Upper Kern to about Turkey Day and then most of the planter pounds will be allocated to the Lower Kern and primarily BFL lakes. Looks like we still have to wait some more for decent sized trout catching to return.

Wonder why there was no water diversion at Fairview Dam this year (especially this past May)? SoCal Edison has been reconditioning the flume that carries water from Fairview Dam to the KR3 powerhouse since last winter. So no water will be diverted for KR3 power for nearly a year. The work likely won’t be complete until after Turkey Day. This reconstructive work was timed well considering the “low flow” stretch needed as much water as possible on it.

"Way" Fire - 08/25/14

The "Way" fire is currently at 96% containment and sits at 4045 acres burned.   While all evacuations and road closures have been lifted, fire fighting personnel are still in the area.  Please keep an eye open for their vehicles when driving in the Wofford Heights/Kernville area.  This will be the last update on this fire unless there are significant issues that arise.

"Way" Fire - 08/20/14

The "Way" fire sits at 3,367 acres as of 4PM Wednesday.  The fire is only 15% contained. It is in some rugged terrain, making access difficult for firefighters.  All evacuations have been lifted but fire equipment continues to patrol Wofford Heights and Kernville.  Currently it is believed that 8 residences and 10 out buildings were damaged or destroyed but firefighters won't be able to confirm the numbers until the area is safer. 

KVSun article -

KGET NBC News - closer look at Way Fire damage -

Bakersfield CBS News -

"Way" Fire - 08/18/14

The "Way" fire started around 3PM on Monday August 18th in, or near, Wofford Heights.   By 10PM the fire was at 3000 acres and growing.  Evacuations are in place in portions of Wofford Heights and recommended evacuations are advised for portions of Kernville.  Portions of highway 155 are closed.  Please read the information posted on the National Incident Information website (Inciweb) link below.   Also, provided below, are some links to news on the fire.

Inciweb Way Fire information -

Bakersfield 23 ABC news -

Kern Valley Sun -

Bakersfield CBS News -


Fishing Report - Rich Arner -  07/07/14

Today I had a discussion with the hatchery. All remaining adult trout at the hatchery were planted before the fourth of July and there was significant harvesting over the holiday weekend. The last week has been very hot in Kernville and will be over 100 degrees for the foreseeable future. Inlet temperatures at the hatchery now hit 78.5 degrees in the afternoon therefore conditions have become lethal and likely no more stocking will occur until Fall at the earliest and trout are very stressed on the Upper Kern after 3 years of historic drought conditions. The CDFW only plants sterile rainbow trout, so essentially any wild trout left in the river are the only rainbows that can sustain future generations and must be protected. Stressing trout in these warm conditions often prove deadly. For this reason I will wait until Fall before I cast a line on the Kern.

The hatchery wells do not provide enough cold water to sustain trout in the races outside. Even with the new wells drilled last year, there is only enough cool well water to operate temperate conditions for eggs and fingerlings. The golden trout fingerlings will be placed in Balch Park Lakes and monitored. Sadly the best catching of the year appears to be behind us. Pray for snow in 2015; current longer range forecasts are encouraging.

Fishing Report - Rich Arner -  06/26/14

The Upper Kern flows finally have come down to a point where crossing the Upper Kern is doable in several spots. I decided to take advantage of a short term cooling trend (high of just 85 predicted today) and make one of my last trips to the Upper Kern until October as water temps rise.

Got on the river early at 8:30 am on a spot on section 5. River temp was 66 degrees and covered a large area that was productive 2 weeks ago. Took a footlong bow on the first cast but nothing else except a 21” squaw fish that was very lethargic for its size. I was there for an hour and covered every trout holding lie for a ¼ mile with just one grab. Water clarity was slightly improved to maybe 5 feet here. I used a weighted Kern murky and red hooked Arnerd both BH and #12. Flashy seems to be still required below Fairview Dam.

Headed to a spot near McNally’s area and tagged several planters and water temp there was 67 degrees around 10 am fishing pressure was much more present in the area. So I headed upstream.

Above Fairview the water was near gin clear for the first time in months and at noon it was 66 degrees up here. I had to cover a lot of water and avoid many fishers up here. Tagged quite a few and a lot of surface action on my #12 Hills BLT Foam Golden Stonefly. For the first time I landed a wild brown on a terrestrial on the UK that was about 12”. I changed from flashy to a regular hooked BH Arnerd and #16 BHFBPT. Landed 18 bows on a ½ mile stretch and also several smaller squaw fish. Never remember catching squaw fish up that far before and in large quantity?

Things got kind of crowded up there, especially for a Thursday, so I went back down river to an isolated spot in zone 5 again. Spent an hour there by myself for a change. Tagged 5 smallish bows here and more squaws too. Water temp 69 at 2 pm. Just for kicks decided to try a Kernville spot on the way home because the CDWF website shows that zone 4 was planted this week.

At 3:30 pm the area was crowded with swimmers and tubers. Took a temp and it was 73.5 degrees. Yikes! Bait fisher there said no one was catching after noon. I didn’t bother as I knew that was deadly for stressing trout. Was very surprised that on such a pleasant day(high around 85 degrees) the river temps were so high. There will be another heat wave heading our way Sunday so I think I’m done with the Kern for summer.

Summary for the day. I landed 28 bows in 6 hours and another 11 squaw fish. Zones 4 and 5 trout are stressed and or being fished out. Squaw fish are replacing bows in warmer water. Nice top water action above Fairview Dam on stonefly imitations even though no stonefly shucks seen on the river. My guess is no or little stocking will happen after the 4th of July as CDFW stocking protocol demands . Consider giving the trout population a break after 3 years of very lethal river temps.

Something odd… the flows reported by SoCal Edison are different from the past. At Fairview Dam flows are not being diverted yet and at about 220 cfs, down in Kernville they are 180 cfs which is + - 50 cfs lower down river? I can’t recall this phenomenon before. Is over 20% of the river evaporating between Fairview Dam and Kernville even with the inflows of other creeks like Bull Run, Tobias, Salmon and etc.? Is a gauge failing? If so I’d guess the Kernville gauge is reading lower that actual based on my experience wading the Upper Kern.

Fishing Report - Rich Arner -  06/05/14

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The first day where flows have dropped below 400 cfs occurred yesterday so we decided to give it a try. Hit the water at 9 am and water temps 59 degrees. Water was not clear but we had about 4 ft of visibility and the water is a tan color below Fairview Dam. Wading at 400 cfs makes covering a lot of water difficult and crossing the river can only be done at a handful of spots. We found foot long trout in many places where water was slow and the Kern Murky caught nearly all trout. Tried Arnerds, small FBHPT’s, and even used a Kern Candy I found on a stick but they did not land a fish except for one 15” trout that took the RH Arnerd.

We saw no stonefly shucks but quite a few small mayflies hatching before 11 am. We fished above Fairview Dam where the water was a bit clearer but had few takes. Had no surface action all day. In fact we tried 4 spots after 11 am until 2:30pm with no takes on top or bottom anywhere? Stripped streamers quite a bit too without results. Not sure why the catching went south after 11 am but quickly rising river temp may have something to do with it. When we quit at 2:30 pm the water temp was 67 degrees and probably peaks around 5 pm - I’m guessing near 70 degrees. That mean water temp came up 8 degrees in less than 6 hours. That is pretty rapid. Air temp was 95 degrees when we drove home through Kernville. Landed 10 in about 5 hours of fishing. Way lower that the +10/hr we always experience after the river spring run off drops off. Not a good indication of things to come. There is no Low Flow Section as there has been no diversion for power in months. We talked to a SoCal Edison employee to find out when they will generate power again at KR3 (creating an easy to wade low flow 10 mile stretch) and he said there was nothing planned as far as he knew in the near term. Currently I wouldn’t recommend wading aggressively on the Upper Kern because there is no low flow section and often you can’t delineate the bottom clearly. We both nearly went swimming several times. Be careful or just wait a couple of weeks for flows below 250 cfs. Temps will be rising fast though. I’d guess they may be able to plant trout as late as the first week of summer?

Some of the dispersed camping areas seem to be changing. There are several new barriers constructed but there is also camping occurring right at the river’s edge. Fees being collected? One campfire was smoldering right near the water in plain site of the highway. A forest service vehicle drove right by it without stopping to inspect? We took measures later to put it out when we reached it as the wind was coming up. Who knows what devastation WE PREVENTED. More enforcement of fire restrictions is clearly needed!

Fishing Report - Rich Arner -  04/10/14

The tepid melt is on and nasty. I went to the Kernville hatchery with about 100 high school students for Trout in the Classroom today. Great teachers and students (many had never even been to the mouth of the Kern River canyon). Our first stop was the raft launch area down stream of KR3 to release trout fry the students had raised in their classes. The Upper Kern River which has been murky for the last 3 months is now dark chocolate with less than a foot of visibility. Flows topped 400 cfs (rising)and river is about 52 degrees. Conditions for fly fishers have really gotten tough. On Saturday the Kernville fly fishing club held their annual tournament and the best fisher only landed 7 measurable trout all day to win top honors. The biggest caught was just 14”. There won’t be a trophy trout program this year at the Kernville hatchery as there has been to little water (high water temperatures to come) to give them confidence that bigger trout can be sustained/raised. The hatchery manager speculates that river temps this year will reach lethal levels even earlier and that he may be lucky to stock for Memorial Day weekend. So don’t count on any stocking for the whole summer this year.

The Crappie bite is good on Lake Isabella if you fish wooly buggers and other jig type flies below indicators while tubing. The kayakers were invading Kernville today for a competition and they should be happy with flows coming up. We can hope the flows might flush the dark sediment out of the river but back in January flows of 600 cfs did nothing to improve the muck. Keep your fingers crossed.

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Fishing Report - Rich Arner -  03/28/14

Got to fly fish with a couple of experienced fly fishers today. They haven’t had a lot of hours on the Kern so I took them up to the same spots as last week. Noticed many more vehicles at the turn outs this week all the way to Limestone. According to the CDFW stocking occurred between Kernville and JDB. Water levels and temps were the same as last week. However, the increased fishing pressure clearly had an effect on the number of bows we landed. I put my friends on the 3 hottest spots from last week and they only managed one trout each for the day using different presentations. I covered a ton of water 1/4 mile up or below them managing to land 14 (less than half as many as landed last week). No trout over 13”. A few wilds taken above Fairview Dam. Talked with several baiters (all skunked) and fly fishers above Fairview and no trout over 10” and they were few and far between. For me a #16 BHPTFB got 3 wilds to hand above Fairview Dam. The 11 chunkier planters taken in the murk below Fairview were all on the #12 Kern Murky. A few March browns were spotted hatching but little other insect activity noted. More rain coming soon! A gorgeous day to be on the river and was punctuated with 10 fly by’s from the jet jockeys based at Edwards!

Fishing Report - Rich Arner -  03/20/14

Finally finished tax returns and honey do’s and had a chance to try the Upper Kern on the last day of winter. Flows have come up a bit in the last month to around 200 cfs. I didn’t have high expectations because I didn’t know anyone who had gotten close to a double digits day since last November. My trip last month was for just hour and there was poor water quality which was rumored to persist. The last two years there have been almost no reports of people landing decent sized lake rainbow spawners in February on Kernville area stretches. I hope this isn’t the new norm but the very warm summer lake/river temps plus the new CDFW policy of only stocking sterile rainbows may be ending this annual chance at a good sized rainbow lake spawner in late winter?

I stopped in Kernville Park to check out the river. No one was fishing there even though stocking had been restarted this month? There was less than 3’ of visibility like a month ago. I thought that there would be mostly casting practice today. I headed up river and settled into a run that usually is productive for me. Campers told me that the river was stocked early in the week and that they had only managed 15 trout in 5 days of bait fishing. No trout over a foot long.

I managed to pick up 3 to hand in about an hour all on the #12 Kern Murky I tie. Picked up and tried 2 more spots below Fairview Dam. The first was nada. Then covered ¼ mile of another stretch and landed a dozen (largest 16”)in two hours all on the Kern Murky. Nothing landed on the Arnerd RH which I fished in tandem with the Kern Murkey. Water temps stayed just under 50 degrees. Wading was tricky as you can’t see bottom when wading waist deep. So I stuck to areas I’m very familiar with and took a wading staff with me.

Where is the murk coming from? I decided to head all the way to JDB and snapped a photo. Water is much clearer there. So I tried four different spots between Fairview Dam and JDB for about 15 minutes each. Didn’t see or land anything on some water that usually is productive. It’s clear there are few fish above Fairview Dam and that CDFW isn’t stocking up there as is displayed on their planting web page. Not sure why, the water is only 1 degree cooler up there but the water quality is night and day better up there.

I fished two more different sections below Fairview Dam where clarity was fair but not gin clear as is normal for March and flows < 200 cfs. Had no luck nymphing these two spots but had a blast tugging a flashy olive WB with a sink tip. Total landed for the day 31, all but two were chunky 10” -12” recent stockers. Very little insect hatching; just a few midges seen. Called it a day at 4 pm after 6 hours of fishing(spent at least 1 hr driving around to different spots).

Not sure what is causing the murk but the Upper Kern between JDB and Kernville needs a real good flush. Within 10 feet of the edges of the whole river there is a lot of fine silt that is easily stirred up and you need to be aware of it especially for downstream fishing buddies and streamer tugging. Very light fishing pressure today. Bright and flashy ties are best. Pray for more snow!

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Fishing Report - Rich Arner -  02/13/14

Was up in Kernville to drop of trout eggs for Trout in the Classroom this afternoon. I got a late start but had enough time to sample the Upper Kern before Whiskey Flat Days. A small army of carney’s were setting up for the weekend. I was amazed to read in the BFL Californian that 50,000 people show for this festival! I called the hatchery to see if they planned to stock above Kernville as recent reports suggested the Upper Kern River temps were below allowable limits. Turns out the river is up and murky. Air temps hit 78 today and headed over 80 tomorrow. There is melt starting and not sure where the murk is coming from – perhaps the Soda Fire drainage way up river? River temp was 51 degrees at 4:00 pm and gauge says 160 cfs but seems much higher than that to me. The hatchery confirmed that the river was stocked up to Limestone but fly fishers are going to be at a disadvantage in the murky water. I tied on a#12 BH red hooked Arnerd and one of my Kern Murkys under an indicator foam stonefly. My 1st cast hooked a 16” on the RH Arnerd, but then had to work hard to get two others in the next hour over quite a bit of wading. One was 15” on the Kern Murky. So 3 to hand in about an hour. No surface hatch or feeding observed. Warm weather will likely raise flows and murk the water further. Wading was definitely more difficult than my last trip in November as it is hard to see bottom below 3’. Go bright if you want to try.

Fishing Report - Rich Arner -  11/14/13

Wanted to take advantage of the great weather we’ve been having. No Upper Kern River stocking this week. We covered the exact same water as last week. Conditions were no different with water temp still 47 degrees. Catching was far lower on the stretches we fished last week. We caught 1/8th the bows as last week and none over 13”. I also trudged through water trying to make fish scoot with no action so I really think fish are either being harvested or the herons are feasting. The shallower pocket water doesn’t provide much cover. Numerous video and web postings of successful catching helps identify for more C&R and harvesting fishers the stocked stretches, unfortunately they will soon be purged once stocking is halted.

However, I did cover a long mile stretch I hadn’t fished in 3 years and picked up quite a few trout that appeared to be wild to 15” and strong. Totaled a dozen to the net in about three hours on the long mile stretch. Many of these were the first wilds I’d caught below Fairview Dam since the high river temps of July-September. Funny though I’m not catching any dinks under 8” on any stretch below FD? Gorgeous day on the river. The last stocking of the year above KR3 is scheduled for next week. Then a good holiday stocking for BFL lakes the week of Turkey Day! For the Upper Kern River as river temperatures go below 45 degrees the CDFW stocking guidelines prohibit trout planting on moving water.

Fishing Report - Rich Arner -  11/07/13

Been itching to fish the Upper Kern but the latest data hasn’t been encouraging. There were two big fly fishing tournaments in the last month and the actual catching was very low. The winners caught just 7 trout (10/5)and 2 (11/2) trout in the one day tourneys. Many skilled fly fishers participated and they were challenged. Normally only trout +9” inches are considered scoreable trout. The rules had to be relaxed to allow any trout caught counted to the participants score. Most of the summer there was no stocking due to high water temps and wild fish were stressed to water temps exceeding 80 degrees at KR3. Nearly all trout that can bend a 4wt between JDB and Kernville were planted twice in October and many have been harvested. Additionally water clarity has suffered putting fly fisherman at a disadvantage too. when you walk the sides of the Upper Kern you really murk things up so be aware of down stream fishers below you.

Given the great weather and the prospect of unpressured water I thought I ‘d get some casting practice in today and may be catch a trout or two in some pocket water before the last two stockings of the year above KR3 occurred. We found a nice stretch to ourselves and found the river to be much clearer than one month ago below Fairview Dam. We began casting to pocket water and started hooking up in various pools avoiding areas typically pressured by harvesters. Water temp 47 degrees at 9:30 am. Over a 100 yard stretch we tagged some fat trout with 5 in the 16” class. I had put away my red hooked Arnerd and glo bugs early on when the clear water indicated more subtle colors required. I went with the #12 BH Arnerd standard steel scud hook tie and a #16 BHFBPT below. I had solid action for 3 straight hours over a quarter mile. I found that the Arnerd produced in the riffles/faster water and the BHFBPT worked best in the flat water. We went through zones of skinny/lean trout and fat recent stockers. We then tried another spot, but there fat trout were concentrated in 30 yards (landed 6) and the next 1/4 mile produced one wild 10”. No surface action all day and few bugs flying around (a few midges after noon).

Almost no wind at all. Lake Isabella looked like glass at 1:30 pm when we headed home. A real treat today as I landed 48 bows in about 4 hours and my partner landed a couple dozen while covering far less water than I had. Going forward the catching on BFL lakes has picked up as has the stocking so most of us will be targeting those areas after Turkey Day. Also the Kings River is slated to get some monsters again in the not too distant future.

Fishing Report - Rich Arner -  10/11/13

With good weather predicted again headed up to see if the fishing would be good even with the storms Wednesday. We went above Fairview Dam and the water had cleared some more. We felt sure we would land even more than last week. Water temp was 5 degrees cooler than last week at 47 degrees around 9:30 am. The conditions looked much better but the catching was way down. We covered the same water as last week and I only landed two 10” bows where I had landed 26 the week before. Talked to 6 other fly fishers who were skunked at noon. Where did all of the wild trout all go? Is the clearer shallow water easier for raptors to hunt? Are more harvesters lured by the news of restarted stocking taking wild trout if planters aren’t available? Who knows?

We then headed down below Fairview and hit 2 spots that yielded lots of fat planters last week but we got no strikes on dries, droppers, or streamers. We stopped at 5 different spots that often are planted and there were no fishers on them nor could we get one take over 2 more hours. We finally got on a run below KR3 that had several bait and fly anglers on it. Bright spinners were taking planters regularly but the fly guys struck out as the low visibility just couldn’t allow the trout to see a fly below or above the surface. For now it appears stocking is only occurring in town and those spots get crowded quickly. A beautiful day to get some casting in!

Low Lake Oct 2013

Lake Isabella is very low

replacement portapotty

USFS portapots closed by privately constructed available


Fishing Report - Rich Arner -  10/3/13

Been itching to fish the Upper Kern since last June when river temps went lethal and stocking was halted. Stocking is scheduled to start again this week so I headed to Kernville. Got to the park at 8 am. Lots of upgrades going in there but no bait fishers? That usually is an indication that no stocking has occurred. The river was very murky with about 1 foot of visibility. Looked like a lot of casting practice was in store for the day. I stopped at two campgrounds to chat with worm dunkers. They said the fishing was slow but that there was a Monday stocking in Kernville. I didn’t even toss a fly as the water was very murky. I headed to above Fairview where I was told the water was clear. Work on Fairview Dam seems to be the source of the murk. I stopped at two more camping areas below FD with tents to take a look and chat. Again bait fishing was slow the last two days. No stocking appears to have been done there either.

Above Fairview Dam the water was clearer but definitely not gin clear. Four feet visibility. Where is the sediment coming from? I took a temp, it was 52 degrees around 9:30 am. I covered some good looking water and landed 4 8”-10” rainbows in the first good hole. Moved up river and had a talk with a fellow fly guy. He had fished the last two days and landed about 10 each day and all were small. Many he didn’t even see his indicator move. I found this to be true also. I kept my casts short and waded close to the best looking water and set on any drift change. There is a muck zone on the sides of the river that really needs a flush and creates a lot of cloudy water downstream of your footsteps. I landed 26 small bows and one small brown by about p.m.. Almost all took a #16 BHFBPT. Tried a lot of different flies but that worked.

Headed down river to try one more spot below Fairview just to see what could land trout. I spoke with some baiters who had a string of nice planters they took with worms. They watched me try and work several different nymphs and dries for about an hour without much success. I did land 2 on a Kern Murky suspended 5’ below a point fly – both footlong planters. I decided to put on a fast sink tip and a very bright green flashy wooly bugger. That was the key, give them something they can see in the murk. I landed 18 hard hitting bows between 12”-15” and they were all fat planters. I missed more than I landed. On two different spots I kept fishing until I had 5 casts in a row without a take. That lasted until 4:30 pm which is very late for me. Totaled 44 bows and 1 brown. No net needed above Fairview Dam. Good to see some wild fish survived up there. Below Fairview Dam? Hard to say, I didn’t tag a wild trout at all on that stretch nor did I see any scurry or feed on the surface (very odd). So that stretch may be severely wild trout depleted? Only time will tell.

Kernville Hatchery Update - Rich Arner - 9/8/13

A discussion with the Kernville Hatchery today reveals that surface facilities are not quite completed. The CDFW doesn’t plan to stock the Kern River until October and will only stock once or twice and then stock BFL lakes. They still have +70 degree water temps at the hatchery all day. The water flow there for weeks has been very low, warm, and very dirty. Recent wild fires may delay the sourcing of brood stock Kern River Rainbows until next year. The Upper Kern River desperately needs a cleanup as the Labor Day crowd left the river trashed. Unfortunately, the lack of high flows the last two years prevented the annual spring flush the river.

See yearly river flow comparisons here

Fire Report "Angora Fire" 9/8/13

Updated mapping overnight dropped the number of acres for the Angora Fire to 109 acres.   The fire is spotting outside of the main fireline.  See the National Incident Information website below for updates on the fire.

Porterville Recorder article 9/8

Fire Report "Angora Fire" 9/8/13

The "Angora" Fire was notice Sunday morning (9/8) in the Golden Trout Wilderness.  The fire is progressing uphill on Angora Mountain and was approximately 150 acres by 7PM.  The cause is lightning from several weeks ago that didn't appear until today.  Currently 150 firefighters are battling the fire, which is north of the Fish Fire.   See links below for additional information and news articles on the fire.

National Incident Information website - Angora Fire -

Sierra Fire Lookout Tower Web Cameras - Fire visible from the Sherman Peak Cameras #1 & #2 and Bald Mtn Cameras #1 & #2

Fire Report "Fish Fire" 9/1/13

As of Sunday morning (9/1), the "Fish" Fire was reported to be 2060 acres in size and 75% contained.  Some helicopters and crews were released on Saturday to fight a new fire on the Tule Indian Reservation called the Windy Fire.  A B.A.E.R. team is already working on rehabilitating  the fire lines of the Fish fire.   Click on the National Incident Information link below for further updates on the fire and foreset closure.

Fire Report "Fish Fire" 8/28/13

As of Wednesday evening (8/28), the "Fish" Fire was reported to be 2050 acres in size and 25% contained.  The fire managers of this fire believe there is still a potential for significant growth of this fire.  Additional news reports are listed below:

Porterville Recorder article 8/28 - Fire Behavior Challenges Firefighters

KERO 23 Bakersfield 8/26

Fire Report "Fish Fire" 8/25/13

This "Fish" Fire was reported on Friday 8/23 in the Golden Trout Wilderness about 50 miles East of Springville, just NorthEast of Ponderosa.   As of Sunday (8/25) morning, the fire was reported to be 1000 acres in size and 5% contained.  The fire was being worked by 125+ firefighters, including 3 helicopters.  See links below for additional information and news articles on the fire.

National Incident Information website - Fish Fire -

Porterville Recorder article 8/25

Sierra Fire Lookout Tower Web Cameras - Fire visible from the Sherman Peak Camera #2 and Bald Mtn Camera #2

Also please be aware that the Shirley Complex of fires in the Greenhorn Ranger District are still being worked.  More information below:

National Incident Information website - Shirley Complex


Fishing Report 06/06/13 - Rich Arner

Saw that triple digits were forecasted today and that the Upper Kern flows bumped back up to 550 cfs above Fairview Dam. The flow phone indicated that the low flow section was running 120 cfs so headed up early to get there before the furnace kicked in. In the water at 7:30 am and I was pleased to see the river at 66 degrees on the lower low flow section. Water clarity had dropped since last week to about 4’. Fished for four hours with 19 trout to hand but all under a footlong. I fished over a mile on 3 section between KR3 and Fairview Dam. I wanted to avoid the higher flows above the dam as that area is not crossable until it drops below 250 cfs or so. Lots of action on the foam stone but no hookups on trout under 12” that can’t seem to get stuck on the hook. I did need to wade in areas off the beaten path because there were a lot of cars (school’s out for summer)on the turnouts for a Thursday. I was very tired and thirsty. Gulped a liter of ice water and drove down river. Stopped by a stocking hole to chat with a half dozen baiters stacked on it. They did have some success (trout planted earlier that morning) but said that the trout had stopped biting after 11 am. I could see 30 trout in waist deep water but they weren’t feeding. I headed much further down river to get solitude. I picked up the best trout of the day on the dry at 13” brought him to the net. The hook popped out and I flipped him into the river. He went belly up after 4 seconds out of the water???? I scampered down river after him and netted him. Tried 5 minutes to revive him with no luck . I took a water temp and it was 72 degrees at noon! Who knows how hot it would be at 4pm? I wasn’t going to stress/kill any more trout so I packed it in. Got home and saw temps hit 104 in Kernville today. I knew it was hot but was surprised to see that.

Given that no more fertile stocked trout are being planted and things are going to get far warmer/worse for the remaining fertile wild rainbows I don’t plan to return until late September. The long term health of the fragile wild trout population on the Kern River this summer is in serious jeopardy.

Fishing Report 05/30/13 - Rich Arner

Made sure I got on the Upper Kern one last time before the triple digit temps become the norm. Noticed there are now a lot of porta pots placed on the road side. It appears that campers are avoiding the NFS campgrounds and using the free areas more. Hope the NFS can keep up with the coming mess. Few folks fishing the river at the Kernville park so not sure if it is fished out quickly or stocking has been reduced. Landed 33 trout in about 4 hours. Stopped at several spots. Did best when I bush wacked. Finally seeing stonefly shucks on river boulders. Landed 3 trout on the Hills BLT Foam Golden Stone/hopper. Lots of action on it after 10am but few of the trout landed/tempted today exceeded 12 inches so they aren’t big enough to get their mouths around the #12 stonefly. For the first time hooked a squaw fish over 13”. It was 20” and was surprised a fish so streamlined didn’t fight much nor did it try to run. Felt like a 14” rainbow head shaking. Nearly all trout landed on the #12 BHRH Arnerd. Gorgeous day and very temperate. Saw an osprey today! River running clear.

I had a chance to fish the Upper Kern the Saturday before Memorial Day 5/18. Whoa what a zoo; it was hard to find a spot without a fisher every 200 yards for the entire length of the low flow section. I managed to land 4 bows on a 150 yard stretch in less than an hour of aggressive wading all were about 10” and appeared wild.

Fishing Report 05/16/13 - Rich Arner

My favorite time of year to fish the Upper Kern is after the spring melt is over and flows are dropping below 1,000 cfs. In years past I could count on landing 10-15 trout/hr in this prime time. Trout would be in every piece of holding water I could wade to. This was because during high water the river is banked with 1,000’s of trout per mile as high flows dramatically reduce the harvesting while the river is consistently stocked. The period usually lasts 10 weeks or more. Typically the river, with turbulent flows, scatters planters throughout the river and they get a chance to add an inch per month while they are being banked. Each year, like clockwork, I could count on 50 – 70 landed trout in 4 hours of wading to spots that were inaccessible for weeks and evens months between April and July.

Today I set my expectations very low because the high flow period lasted just one week and never exceeded 400 cfs on the low flow section. My expectations were met. We arrived around 8:30a and fished a solid seven hours with no break over several different stretches of water. I landed 26 bows between 14” and 8”. That’s less than 4/hr which is one fourth of my take the last few years. Most were fat and without white tipped fins in the 10”range. Twenty on the #12 RHBH Arnerd and three on a #16 BHFBPT and three on the foam stonefly. Lots of pokes by dinks on the dry. Waded more river today than I can remember. Something puzzling, I have not seen a stonefly shuck in months anywhere??? What has happened? There is a silt layer throughout the lower part of the low flow section that was not flushed this spring; maybe that has played a part in the stonefly population?

This is the worst snow pack ever recorded and current decent conditions will be temporary. I spoke with the hatchery manager and he doesn’t think he’ll be able to plant through the end of June because of expected lethal river temperatures. The trout he is getting from the San Joaquin hatchery are unusually small compared to previous years. He says if you are landing trout over 14” they must be wild or holdovers from a while ago. Water temps 58 – 62 degrees. Air temps low 70’s and overcast. Water clarity 4’ deep.

You can compare this year’s dismal flows with the previous two years here

The dispersed areas don’t have porta-pots and dumpsters yet. Could it be that they are sequestered? Who knows? Nastiness has already started.

Trash along the Kern

Fishing Report 04/11/13 - Rich Arner

A wild day for sure. I thought with an extended warming trend I could make one last trip to the Upper Kern before the spring melt commenced. I ran over four different runs covering 1.5 miles of river. Landed 19 in 3 hours and they were all wild fish between 4” and 12”. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t catch a single stocked trout? I was fishing well above KR3 and was on the way home and noticed a lot of cars parked in a spot near Kernville. I dropped by to chat with the spin and bait fishers and talked to 4 guys who were landing “3 for 1”’s every other cast. They said the river was stocked today and apparently mostly below KR3. Three for one’s are 3 trout when weighed together equal 1 pound. They were pleased to put them on a stringer but I have to say a string of 5 wouldn’t feed two people. There were far fewer cars in the turnouts this week on the low flow section. It is amazing how quickly the locals know where harvesting has occurred and where the newest plants are.

A sobering note. The snow pack this year in the Kern drainage is dismal. It is just 29% of normal which is down from last years 47% reading.

That means the Upper Kern River will have trout lethal water temps likely from the beginning of July through the end of September on the low flow section for an even longer time frame than last year. The good thing is that the Kernville hatchery should be able to keep their trout cool (but won’t plant the river) during the heat with the 5 new wells they’ve drilled. In the past, when river inlet temps at the hatchery exceeded 74 degrees, they would dump all of there stock at once with over half of the trout going belly up. For those trout that survived it made for hog heaven for two weeks but severely reduce stocked pounds in August and September.

As you can see flows should peak below 2,000 cfs again and within the next 30 days.

See graph

Fishing Report 04/04/13 - Rich Arner

Hit the Upper Kern at 9:30 am. Had 18 in the net in the first hour covering a 200 yard stretch. Trout all 5” - 12” with the exception of one 15” bow that munched my foam #12 Hill Stone Fly. Water temp 55 – 58 degrees. Not much hatch activity. Was expecting more stone fly cases on rocks. Didn’t see one. We covered 4 other runs over n 11 mile stretch. Landed 26 on the day but am pooped from all of the wading required to find fish. Quite a few fishers in the turnouts for a Thursday. I landed 5 on the foam stone. and the rest on nymphs. Half on a #16 BH FB PT and the others on #12 RH BH Arnerd. Few March browns today? River a bit dirtier. Flows up to 120 cfs on the low flow section so there is 50% more to hold fish so they aren’t as concentrated as the last month. Median trout weight definitely les than half of the rainbows caught in March. Friends fishing the Lower Kings have told me they are still catching 6lb – 10lb lunkers there even with flows up to 700 cfs.

Fishing Report 03/19/13 - Rich Arner

This morning I met with a great group of students from BHS. Afterward I made a trip up to the fish the Upper Kern and checkout the incubation room at the hatchery. They have 250,000 new trout hatched! They really had to hustle last week and they got it done. They are very excited to be raising trout for the first time in many years. However, they aren’t sure how long they will have the babies and when and if they might be transferred back to the San Joaquin hatchery. Hopefully we will find out more soon.

I hit the river around noon. There were a lot more cars in the turnouts than last week. At Boombird there were 4 cars parked on a Tuesday! It took me a while to find solitary water. While flows above Fairview and below KR3 have recently exceeded 500 cfs the low flow section has been under 100 cfs.

Water clarity is noticeably darker from a week ago (gin clear then) on the low flow section. Four/five feet of visibility now. Water temp 50 degrees. I chose to go with my flashier #16 red hooked arnerd and trailed a #16 BH FB PT and did quite well but not as good as last week. Thirty-two to hand. Six trout 15”-17” many more sub footlongs this week so significant harvesting is occurring. I did cover a lot more water today than last week too. No stocking of the Upper Kern River is noted on the CDFW website since 3/3/13 however they did say they were stocking the BFL lakes today and might stock again soon up river. I saw March brown activity but only one trout rise in 3.5 hours of fishing. No bumps on my indicator either. Several last week.

If you go make sure you watch the flows. While for the most part the low flow section is easily waded at under 100 cfs a change at the KR3 powerhouse or Fairview dam those flows can be tripled at any time. If you are on the wrong side of the river you may walk miles before you find a safe place to cross at +400 cfs. That surge would also produce much darker water as well, I’ve had it happen to me before. Yuck!

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Fishing Report 03/13/13 - Rich Arner

I got a chance to visit the KR3 area with two schools participating in the Trout in the Classroom project on Mon and Wed where they released trout fry. I thought I might have a chance to get some decent fishing in because the CDFW showed on their web site they finally planted in the low flow section again last week. The recent good rain this weekend did not affect flows. I assumed the moisture was deposited as snow and it didn’t have a chance to melt yet. When I got up there Mon morning it was chilly and river temp was 42 at KR3 but little snow on the peaks around Kernville even though they got flurries in Kernville on Friday? So where did the moisture go? In the ground I guess. I had an hour to kill and fished a lot of the area near the powerhouse and didn’t get a bump covering a lot of water. No surface activity seen either. I had a doe and yearling walk across the river during casting practice. After my session with the school I decided to head up river as several cars were parked on the hot spot at the cemetery and looked crowded. I covered about a mile of river on the low flow section (just 80 cfs) and netted 13 in a couple of hours on Mon 3/11. I have to say half the trout landed were 14” – 17”and very strong.

I spent time doing fly fishing demonstrations at the hatchery on Wed and then got out on the river near noon. Air temp was 80 and water temp was 52 degrees. A big move up in just two days, however, there was minimal insect activity? I hit three spots on the low flow section and landed 46 of the best quality trout I’ve ever landed up there. In one hour stretch I landed 15 trout to 18” and none were under 15”. On the day at least 20 fish 16” – 18” with only a handful 12” or smaller. Almost all of the fish were stocked last week I’d guess. Some milted while I was handling them and had that greyish hue. so the spawn is on. The river is the lowest I’ve ever seen but no doubt the melt will kick in any time so I’d call the flow phone before I’d go because rates exceeding 400 cfs on the low flow section I completely avoid because wading becomes dicey at that level. The flow phone is operational at 877-537-6356. Few fishers seen above KR3. I caught quite a few trout today with a #18 BH PT hung below the #12 RHBH Arnerd nymph. Lake Isabella is also at the lowest level I ever remember

Hatchery Update – I talked with Saul, president of “Friends of the Hatchery”, and he said that the CDFW ordered the hatchery to take 120,000 trout eggs Friday. He thought there might be some sort of emergency at the San Joaquin hatchery and the Kernville hatchery has to hold the eggs but for how long? The incubation room is not ready to go and they were frantically trying to get it ready. They were welding stainless tanks today. Kern River Rainbow eggs are not going to be delivered so we’re are all curious how this might impact the KRR project.

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Fishing Report 02/12/13 - Rich Arner

The Kings River continues to be good for KRFF members. Smaller nymphs fished through holding water have yielded Hog Heaven for nearly all who have traveled up to the Fresno Fatty Factory. With help from the Visalia and Fresno fly fishing clubs there have been approximately 1,200 trout between 5½ to 6 lbs. each, for a total of approximately 7,200 lbs. of trophy sized trout that have been released in the Kings River on the catch and release section below Pine Flat Dam. A word of thanks is due to the members of the Kaweah Fly Fishers and The Fresno Fly Fishers for Conservation who assisted in the release of the fish. Without their assistance, the fish would likely have been released in far less of the river. In addition CDFG wardens concentrate patrols on the catch and release section to strictly prohibit harvesting – a model for what is possible on other waters we’d like to fish more productively.

Happy Smiles of our Club Members

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Fishing Report 01/28/13 - Rich Arner

Great fishing was had in both the Bishop Area and the Kings River by club anglers. Lower Owens hatches have made dry fly fishing outstanding especially early and late in the day and when overcast skies prevail. Flows on the Lower Owens dropped again to 100 cfs the last day of the club outing 1/27/13 concentrating fish and making for ideal wading conditions. The scenery is fantastic as well.

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For the last several years the Lower Kings River has been stocked with brood stock to provide the best opportunity to land a +4 lb trout near us. Usually the “trophy trout” stocking begins just after Turkey Day and continues into March. Nearly every KRFF member I’ve talked who has fished the Lower Kings catch and release section recently has a hog story to tell. Also, wardens have been checking licenses and barbs of anglers as well. This really appears to have reduced poaching in the area dominated by fly fishers, something that is sorely needed on the Upper Kern especially in summer months. Below are some of the pig pics our members landed recently.

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Kings River   Kings River +8lb Fatty
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Kings River 1/26   Kings River Surprise 1/26
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After a series of issues the past six months stocking appears to be on the rebound locally. Bakersfield Lakes were stocked last week but going forward no stockings are planned at this time for other areas on the CDFG web site. No Lower or Upper Kern stockings have been noted so far this year as well. Likely very cold river temps especially above Kernville have eliminated stocking on the low flow section. Snow pack readings are encouraging and if the trend continues high spring flows later this year will literally “flush out” much of the human detritus left on the banks of the Upper Kern this past low water year.

You can check this CDFG web site below to see when/where trout stocking will occur next.,Tulare&time=All

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Fishing Report 12/07/12 - Rich Arner

Catching above KR3 to the JDB has been down significantly with reduced stocking and river temps. The cause for the lack of stocking was reported in the Californian today in the trout plants section, “Trout plants in the Bakersfield area have been temporarily suspended because the Kern River Hatchery had a pump fail, and the hatchery has been unable to hold fish. There have been no plants for the past three to four weeks and the hatchery's reopening date has not been set.”

I chatted with hatchery manager this morning. He last planted the week before Thanksgiving in the Kernville area and BFL lakes. He is hoping to get his pump fixed next week but no plants will occur in BFL lakes until the week of 12/17 at the earliest if possible. Longer term cold water temps likely will prevent significant stocking on the 20 mile section. Another concern is that his large stocking truck has been “red tagged” to comply with new California emission standards that are going into effect. He will not be able to use it for months until it is retrofitted at significant cost which will need to be appropriated. This means he will stock lower pounds with his smaller vehicle for quite a while.

CDFG water temp planting criteria can be found at this web page

Fishing Report 10/18/12 - Rich Arner

The CDFG updated their stocking schedule for the rest of this month early this week and they decided to stock the Upper Kern this week and will begin stocking BFL lakes the week of 10/22. River temps were up today and started at 57 degrees at 10a. Landed more fish in the 12”-15” range this week in 5 different areas. They were also chunkier from the slim boys last week. We had to walk a lot more this week but the searching paid off with 30 landed in about 4 hours of fishing. Arnerd #12 RHBH fished deep landed every single one of them. Even with the warmer river temps there was a lot less surface activity than last week. River hit 64 degrees at 2p. Air temp around 90 degrees. Very sunny and light winds. A lot more fishing pressure this week compared to a week ago. The best fishing for the next few months likely will be closer to BFL as more pounds of trout are going to be planted in the still waters here. Also it is forecasted to get cold quickly this coming week. In the past the first real chill of the year usually puts fish down. Given the increased pressure, high gas prices, reduced stocking pounds, and cooling river temps soon to come our focus will be closer to home.

Fishing Report 10/11/12 - Rich Arner

Saw that the CDFG stocking website indicated that they will stock for two weeks beginning last week. The catching has been pretty slow the last two months so I was itching to see how it was before the first rains of Fall got here. I was amazed how low Lake Isabella was as I dropped into Wofford Heights. Never seen it this low. Also the Lower Kern was at a near trickle as I drove up the canyon. Hit the water at 9:30 am. Landed a 12” rainbow on the first cast. Water temp 54 degrees. Landed 19 in 2 hours scattered over a half mile of river. Then covered 4 more likely spots until 1:30 pm when the sky got dark, winds picked up, and rain started. Total 25 to hand. All but 2 on the #12 RHBH Arnerd. Lots of action on the foam stone most couldn’t get it in their small mouths I guess. The first trout was the largest. Most skinny, aggressive and 9”-12”.

I’ve been told they are doing a lot of work at the hatchery so they don’t have a lot of time to plant. The further I got away from Kernville the tougher the catching. So I believe they are stocking close to the hatchery and not making stocking runs very far along the river. For October mid-week there was almost no one fishing. Practically had the 20 mile section to myself. Can’t remember that ever happening in October before. The best way to fish. Lots of green moss on the rocks, much more than I ever remember and probably a product of the very warm water temps the last 2 months. Campgrounds practically empty. High gas prices and the lack of stocking really are having and impact on fishing pressure. Great for the solitude though. Gasoline in Kernville is 10 cents cheaper than BFL? Go figure. I should have waited to fill the tank when I got up there. LOL! Stocking should occur at BFL lakes soon but not indicated on the CDFG planting web site at this time.

Lake Isabella Oct 2012


Fire Report 09/08/12

As of Friday, Sept 7, the Slides Fire is 95% contained.  The fire size remains at 254 acres.  The trails listed below remain closed at this time.  Please see the web link below for more information.

Fire Report 09/03/12

On Sunday, Sept. 2nd, a fire started on the East Side of the North Forks of the Kern River.  The fire is north and east of the Johnsondale bridge.  The fire is currently about 246 acres with 10 percent containment.  Fire crews are having to walk in about 1 and one-half hours to get to the fire.  At this time, portions of the Rincon OHV Trail (33E23), the Cedar Canyon OHV Trail (33E26) and the River Trail (33E30) have been closed.  For more information please check the link below:

National Incident Information System website -


Fishing Report 08/28/12 - Rich Arner

There is good news and there is bad news, first the bad news. The late July and August fishing has been tough with the high river temperatures driven by warm weather and low flows. Temperatures at the hatchery became lethal last month and the hatchery was forced to dump all of the trophy trout (larger fish are more susceptible to heat stress) before they all died. Half of the trout went belly up when placed in the river as the stress of transporting and stocking was too much for the hogs. By mid-August the standard foot long trout were succumbing to +80 degree water temps. Hatchery personnel were challenged just to keep their smaller trout alive. Trout stocking was suspended entirely for the month of August to preserve the foot long inventory. Unfortunately, fishing pressure driven by favorable reports like those in the Bakersfield Californian kept many anglers in a harvesting mode even though trout clearly are suffering. Naturally, this has reduced pan sized trout density along the 20 mile stretch.

This week Friends of the Hatchery confirmed stocking likely won’t resume until October even if river temperatures drop to more trout conducive levels. Why would that be? Hatchery resources will be focused solely toward completing the upgrades to the hatchery. Drilling/completion of the cold water wells and surface facilities began this week. Good news for sure!

For the next month the catching will suffer until stock from the CDFG San Joaquin Hatchery can be resupplied to the Kernville operation that will supplement the dwindling stock at the Kernville facility. The San Joaquin hatchery can draw its water supply from two different levels in Millerton Reservoir. San Joaquin hatchery manager, Greg Paape, says they have been just fine with optimum 55 degree temperatures all summer long and look forward to supplying the Kern River with its normal allocation of trout soon. One could conclude because the Kernville facility will not take deliveries for two high volume summer months, there should be a lot more pounds allocated to the Kern River in October and November compared to last year. Let’s hope so! Have a great Labor Day and tight lines!

Fishing Report 07/26/12 - Rich Arner

There’s good news and bad news. Spoke with the hatchery manager Monday and he said he would be stocking early this week (good news), but that river temps at the hatchery were hitting 74 degrees in the morning when the air temps hit +100. Therefore he will not take any more trout deliveries until September if river temps improve. He will not stock after this week (bad news). We had high expectations today. I assumed he was going to empty the hatchery and that would mean good catching before things really go south next month. I was helping a friend learn to fly fish so I thought I’d get him on to fresh stockers early in the morning. Well after trying 7 different spots that should have been stocked we caught none in any of them. I spoke with one camper that said they had stocked this week but the catching was slow. I only saw one hook up all day that wasn’t ours. We netted 11 in six hours for the two of us but had to find spots way out of the way. All fish but one was sub foot long. Many of my favorite runs had no trout scurry when I walked through them. Not sure where most of the fish stocked this week went (into Lake Isabella perhaps?) Had some action on the foam stone fly. At 2 pm the river was 74 degrees and still climbing near Kernville.

If you do go be careful to land trout quickly and make sure they are revived well before you release them. Focus on early morning fishing. Larger trout are stressed more severely by high water temps than smaller trout and continued harvesting of pan sized trout has driven numbers of +footlong sized rainbows way down. So for now the tubers and rafters enjoying warm tranquil flows will likely enjoy the best recreation on the Upper Kern.

If you have been by the hatchery this month you’ve noticed that there is a lot of activity there. Currently, enclosures are being erected around all of the races. This will prevent birds and other critters from harvesting chunky trout. Lots of construction equipment and workers pervade the property. To protect hatchery visitors the grounds will be closed to visitors Monday through Thursday until work is completed. Final permitting and approvals for five new water wells should be completed shortly and drilling should commence in September. Surface facilities and backup systems will need to be installed. Then as water is pumped from the aquifer below, flows will be monitored to record the impact (if any) of hatchery withdrawals to others tapped into the same underground cold water source. It looks like even if everything goes as planned the CDFG will need to defer sourcing Kern River Rainbow brood stock until next year. Logically, it doesn’t make sense to harvest brood stock at significant cost until the whole new constant cooler fresh water system and facilities are functioning properly and robustly confirmed. For now we’ll have to wait a little while longer for the Kern River Rainbow project to ramp up to producing significant quantities of this prized native species.


Fishing Report 07/12/12 - Rich Arner

We had great cool June but now the heat of summer has arrived in July. Higher river temps have been reported so I thought I’d give it a try today even though a high of 104 degrees was forecasted for Kernville. I was glad to see cloud cover in the Sierra as I headed up the canyon. Drove by the river park in Kernville and was told by harvesters the river was stocked this week. Drove up in the low flow section.When I stepped into the river the river smelled a bit rank (not the crisp and clean of last month). I read 71 degrees at am on the low flow section. Yikes! The catching was zilch on a spot I landed 62 in 90 minutes two weeks ago. Four baiters were skunked too. Two men said they saw fish stocked earlier in the week and that the trout were in shock when they were planted and that kids were scooping many of them up with their nets rather than fishing poles????? I saw several whole dead trout lying in the river. So I moved up river a ¼ mile and picked up 9 in an hour but all were less than 11”.

Drove to two other spots on the low flow section with 4 to the net and again small over two hours. Noticed pressure was much lighter that 2 weeks ago and so I’d guess the lack of catching or heat was keeping people off of the river. I tried a spot above Fairview Dam and finally caught trout of size and all on the Hill’s #12 Foam Stones fly. Saw a lot of stonefly shucks at water level. River temp up there was 70 degrees around noon. Quit at about 2 pm as I needed a break from the heat even with the overcast skies. Final tally 17 to my net in 5.5 hours of wading. With the area in a tinder box state and river temps becoming stressful to trout I think I will stay off the Upper Kern until September when or if we get some relief. Trout were landed easily (not much fight)as the higher water temps have stressed them out. I was careful to land/release trout quickly. Stay cool!


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Fishing Report 06/28/12 - Rich Arner

Today the catching was ridiculous. I thought I’d try to fish the Upper Kern before 7/4 as people had told me the CDFG stocks heavily before the holiday week. A stop at Riverside Park and a chat with numerous harvesters suggested that there had been heavy stocking recently. Last time up was two weeks ago and I was helping a beginner land their first dozen rainbows on my #12 Arnerd nymph. I got to land another dozen too in 4 hours.
Today I was on my own and pulled into the first open spot I could fish as pressure has increased each week over the last month. I landed 0.688 trout/min for the first 90 minutes! Barely moved and all on the #12 BH RH Arnerd dropper. River temp 62 degrees.

I then moved up river to two other spots and tried spots that should have been stocked and clearly they weren’t with few takes. The river is definitely being harvested in most places faster than trout are being stocked.

With total flow now below 300cfs I headed to spots that haven’t been waded in over two years. The fishing was great there as trout were taken with regularity in every trout holding water I casted to. Most were wild looking and I landed 2 browns within 10 minutes of each other 50 yards apart. I usually land a brown every 5 years or so. These were both healthy 12” clean brownies. When I had landed 70 trout today on #12 BH RH Arnerd I decided to retire it to my lucky hat. In addition to 70 trout it survived three trees as well! In 5 hours of fishing landed 93 trout for a personal best. Thought about going for triple digits but the wading in faster water tuckered me out. The average fish was skinny and 10” – 11”. Landed a dozen 12” – 14” only 4 on the Hill’s BLT foam stonefly. The foam stone was struck often but these small stockers have trouble getting their mouths around it.

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Fishing Report 06/08/12 - Rich Arner

Got up on a Friday and there was a lot more pressure on this weekday than I’ve seen this year. A hint of forest fire in the morning air. Campgrounds weren’t very full even when I got off the river around 2 pm but turnouts were usually stacked with multiple vehicles. I drove way up river until I finally found a secluded spot. Picked up a dozen in the first hour, then I got a big tug. You know when you set and the head shaking starts you are into a big trout. This hen stayed deep so I couldn’t get a good look but my line was singing in the current. I played her for easily 10 minutes and finally she started to tire. A couple of jumps and a down river run I just let her run. When I got her in the net she barely fit. The lb. Berkley Vanish fluorocarbon tippet ($5/110 yards and about 4x at Wallyworld) held up on my St Croix Legend Elite Ultra 4wt again and I was glad that the red hooks on my #12 Arnerd didn’t bend (now tied with Daiichi thicker gauge hooks). Landed 32 today in 5 hours and half were stuck on the Hill’s #12 BLT foam Stonefly. I also missed a lot of trout today. You have to hunt much harder to find trout. Again most 8”-11” but one fatty can make a season. This was the first +4lb trout I’ve landed on the Upper Kern in 3 or 4 years. She taped out at 23” length and 24” girth. Had to be 6lbs and easily the fattest looking rainbow I’ve ever landed. Oink oink.

GEORGE Fire Information - 06/08/12

The George Fire is currently at 1800 acres and 70% contained.  Lloyd Meadow Road (FS22S82) north of Lower Peppermint Campground, the Freeman Creek Trail (32E20) and both Jerky Meadow and Forks of the Kern Trailheads are currently closed.  See the links below for further information.

Lines holding around George Fire - Porterville Recorder

GEORGE Fire Information - 06/03/12

The George Fire was found by visitor about 4PM on Friday, June 1st, in the Sequoia National Monument near the Freeman Creek Giant Sequoia Grove.   The fire has grown to approximately 1000 acres by 5PM Sunday evening.  Lloyd Meadow Road (FS22S82) is currently closed, including the Jerkey Meadow and Forks of the Kern Trailheads.   For more information, see the links below:

George Fire - National Fire Incident Information System - (

Porterville Recorder - Sequoia Fire grows to 1000 acres in Sequoia National Monument

Fishing Report 05/31/12 - Rich Arner

The low flow section on the Upper Kern is now under 150 cfs. Water temps 60 degrees at 8:30 am and with the air temps in the 90’s wet wading should be fine. Water now gin clear with low flow section very wadeable. Fishing was very good again but harder to find trout than a week ago. Looks like there was significant harvesting in typically heavily pressured areas over the Memorial Day weekend. Landed 36 in 5 hours. Most 8-11” but did have two 15” torpedoes around noon. Several on the hopper and had to change out the #12 dropper every 10 fish because they were falling apart. One double hook up.

The hatchery manager gave me a ring yesterday to say the wells work is commencing (outstanding!) and stocking would not occur this week (5/27, CDFG planting web site this week was wrong indicating stocking happened) and probably would not occur next week as they are focused on the new wells. Stocking could be delayed beyond June 10th depending on how the well drilling and other associated plumbing progresses.

Pumped some stomachs for those that like to match the hatch (for those inclined, not important for me). Most bugs about a size #18-#20

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Fishing Report 05/25/12 - Rich Arner

The near record low Kern snow pack has resulted in the earliest and lowest peak spring flows in decades. Additionally the record low Memorial Day weekend temps meant the best chance to catch this year is now. It also is the first gauge of how the catching will be this summer/fall. We hit the upper river just before 9am and it was good to finally see the soot layer deposited last September on the Upper Kern scrubbed off.

We waded in the low flow section at around 300 cfs with water temps a chilly 55 degrees and visibility good but not gin clear yet. As expected, trout were in the net on the first and subsequent casts. This year flows above 1,000cfs in Kernville only lasted 6 weeks. At flows <1,000 cfs trout are essentially banked by the CDFG because they continue to stock trout and the harvesting fishers are confined to just a few areas that are fishable/productive. That means fewer people are successful taking fish out of the river and fish counts/mile go way up at this time. The last two years this trout banking lasted 4 to 6 months. In 2010 I landed nearly 70 bows and 2011 80 bows on the first day the low flow section dropped to where I could access most of the river. With the dramatically lower and shorter banking period I knew that those kinds of catch numbers would be unlikely but we should have a very good day. It was important for me to get on the river ASAP because very low flows and lethally high river temps for trout likely will exist in less than 8 weeks.

I was glad I put new studs on my felt soled wading boots because the wading was not easy and the wading staff came in handy often. Trout were found most everywhere but they are much smaller than Mar/Apr 2012 and last year. Likely because trout did not have much time to lengthen and fatten up this spring. Back in March the average fish was 13”-14”, today of the 51 landed in 6 hours only 5 were > 12”. I had one spirited torpedo at just under 16”. All of the others were 8”-11” and spunky. I had 3 double-hookups on the RH #12 BH Arnerd and the Hill’s foam Golden stonefly #12. I landed a dozen on the dry. The river was loading up with campers and boom boxes everywhere. It was downright cold with air temps around 60 degrees and very windy. We had to warm up in the car twice as we did not bring wading jackets with us. It was a great day to be on the river and the fishing pressure was less than I expected for the Friday before Memorial Day. Gasoline prices were cheaper in Kernville than BFL? Have a great time celebrating the start of summer and remember our fallen heroes that make so much of what we enjoy possible through their sacrifices.

Fishing Report 04/19/12 - Rich Arner

Thought I’d try to fish the Upper Kern one last time before flows topped 1,000 cfs. When I left this morning the low flow section was at 330 cfs. Just a couple of weeks ago the low flow section was perfect and fishing great at 100 cfs. Unfortunately the river is now dark chocolate with less than 1’ visibility all the way up to Johnsondale Bridge. Landed 3 sub-footlong trout in 5 hours of casting practice. Tried lots of techniques nymphing, streamers, dries to little success. River temp 52 degrees at noon. Good amount of insect activity but no rises seen. Best fly was Kern Murky and Cabelas red glow bug. Hard to find slow water. I’ll be staying away from the Upper Kern until flows drop well below 1,000 cfs and wading is much safer and more productive. The lean snow pack indicates flows will peak by mid-May and sub 1000 cfs flows should occur mid-June. August river temps likely will be lethal to trout > 12” and the hatchery will be challenged to keep their stock alive. Crappie bite on Lake Isabella should pick up very soon.

Fishing Report 03/29/12 - Rich Arner

Headed up to the Upper Kern after the last Trout in the Classroom event for this year. We hit the water just before noon. Tied into several hefty bows again all on the dropper. After 5 to the net I saw the CDFG putting trout in the river. I took my time wading toward them. When I got there I was surprised to find dozens of trout huddled in ankle deep water. They wouldn’t take my typical foam stone and Arnerd dropper. Finally got them to take a size #20 bh zebra. All stocked trout small 8 – 10 inches. Not much of a challenge. First time in years I’ve been on the river when trout were being planted. Went back to the #12 Arnerd but just placed it a foot below the top fly. Quickly landed 17 bows and tossed them into deeper water to spread them around and give them a chance to survive the weekend. We headed up river to a spot where not stocked often. Fishing was even better. Lots of size variation, pointed nose wilder fish 8” – 16”. After 2:30pm lots of surface activity. Red hooked Arnerd more effective than traditional steel hook. Caddis hatch going. Water temp 53 degrees at 3:30 pm on low flow section, flows holding at 80 cfs and you could wade practically every where. Lots of F-18’s thundering over head. Excellent day with 52 to the net in just over 4 hours. 8 on the foam stone fly. Most fish stronger than normal? My fishing buddy did great on the opposite side of the river. Covered a bunch of water today, we’ll both sleep well tonight. Lost a couple of +17” wilder fish too. A trout plant happened this week on the Upper Kern even though not scheduled on the DFG website. Heavy winds today on Lake Isabella and I’d guess for the upcoming trout tourney.

Fishing Report 03/21/12 - Rich Arner

Back up on the Upper Kern again today after spending time with a large group of 4th graders from a Lake Isabella elementary school and another well behaved group of Trout in the Classroom students! We got on the water just after noon and I was glad to see a substantial warming from yesterday. River temp 44 degrees (5 degrees warmer than yesterday’s skunk tour) well up river from Kernville. Saw caddis and may flies flying around today as opposed to none yesterday. We hooked up often in both spots we tried today. I landed 18 in 3 hours and half of those were chunky strong 14”-15” rainbows. The first 15” fish of the day slammed my Hill’s #12 BLT stone in a hard to reach area. The rest were taken 40” deep on my #12 bh Arnerd (tiemco hooks). Brian A. got into double figures as well on his nymph rig and had a great day even with the limited mobility that prevented him from getting to a lot of water he’d normally wade with ease. Gorgeous day with F-14’s and F-16’s screaming overhead 6 times to break up the zen. LOL! The flows in Kernville (570 cfs peak today) are beginning to ramp up with the melt commencing. The low flow section was still very wadeable below 100 cfs but once the river exceeds 700 cfs flows will have to begin rising quickly on the low flow section because the maximum diversion SoCal Edison can make at Fairview Dam is 600 cfs. Water below KR3 visibility (about 4’) is half of what it is on the low flow section today. Watch the flows when you go as things warm up and another rain is predicted for this weekend.

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Fishing Report 03/20/12 - Rich Arner

Had another date with a good group of Trout in the Classroom students from Arvin High today. Broke away around noon to try the Upper Kern River again. Things looked promising when I walked up on the river and was pleased to see the Upper Kern running clear and at about the same level as last week after the heavy storm this past weekend. Unfortunately as soon as I stepped in the river it became obvious that things would be different today. The river was very cold. I measured 39 degrees which is 10 degrees cooler than last Thursday in the same spot. Went over some new water and some that produced lots of bows last week. After 2 hours not a single bump and absolutely no bug activity at all. Headed home early. May take a while to warm things back up and get bugs hatching again. Lots of new snow dusting the mountains but we need a lot more.

Fishing Report 03/15/12 - Rich Arner

I was doing volunteer work with Trout in the Classroom today and met with some well behaved North High Students. I took my fly gear with me because the conditions should be very good finally. For the first time since November the Upper Kern has been stocked weekly. Flows below Fairview Dam are just 80 cfs and that usually means great fishing. I wasn’t disappointed. Landed over 7 trout/hr for four hours. The average bow was 14” with just two under 12”. The Hills #12 BLT Stone with the #12 Arnerd underneath worked all afternoon. I landed 5 trout in the first 25 minutes all on the red hooked Arnerd but every hook was bent when I got the trout in the net. All very strong and around 14” Not sure if I got a batch of weak red hooks but switched over to Tiemco Scud hook ties and didn’t have an issue with bending hooks afterward. Many of the fish landed were grey hued. A sign that trout were spawning. Some were hatchery bred but others I’m not sure. Five were hook jawed. All were strong, water temp 48 degrees. Fished between Brush Creek and Kernville. A lot more pressure the closer to Kernville I moved. Conditions felt like October but the fish were in different spots. Many times fish were stacked up in areas that provided barriers to up river migration. I suspect the river spawn urge is still present in many fish. Since we really haven’t had a big rain this winter to trigger the normal February up stream trout migration, I believe that the spawn is running later this year. The river still has a bottom silt layer and clarity was good but not gin clear. Big rain to show up this weekend so conditions probably will murky up and flows may become much more treacherous. Call the flow phone 1-877-537-6356 before you go and flows below 200 cfs at Fairview mean great fishing and wading this time of year. I have to say the average fish length and heft was the most I can remember. Maybe my measure net shrunk over the winter?

Fishing Report 11/03/11 - Rich Arner

Had a chance to talk with the hatchery manager this week. He confirmed that there has been and will be less stocking this Fall and Winter. He took nearly all of his weight allotment this summer when the upper river was running cooler this summer because of the high flows. Often in August when river temps hit the 70’s he’s not given trout but this year he took more pounds in August because the river was cool. He is very weary from all of the calls he’s been getting. Not much he can do about it now. Going forward he said he planned to only stock the Upper Kern one more time before Turkey Day. He did stock the lakes in BFL late 10/27/11 but will not be stocking bi-weekly this winter like last year but every third week or monthly. I hope next year the stocking plan does a better job of allocating trout to the Upper Kern in Oct/Nov when flows are much more wadeable and safe!

With this knowledge in mind I planned to fish areas that produced well for me during the stocking ban 2 years ago. Two of the four runs I fished produced 11 to the net in 4 hours of aggressive wading. Not sure why two of the runs had no strikes and fish did not scoot out of runs I waded through or tossed rocks in? One of those fishless runs produced 6 trout over a 200 yard stretch last week. I suspect they may have been harvested by fishers or birds who are taking advantage of the very low flows. I am pretty sure I saw a bald eagle today! The wading was very easy on the low flow section as it was just 52 cfs this morning on the flow phone. I went with red hooked #12 Arnerd and did land one on the foam stone. Insect activity way down and I didn’t see any surface feeding. Water temps were mid 40’s no wind! Was off the water by 2 pm.

Stopped at Kernville Park to talk with two baiters that said the fishing was slow. An absolutely gorgeous day to be on the river. A cold snap is rapidly approaching and some rain/snow is forecasted. That will no doubt slow the catching down.

Fishing Report 10/28/11 - Rich Arner

Hoping to finally get a newbie friend on some decent rainbows for the third straight week. We thought we’d finally catch the Upper Kern after the river was resupplied with trout. As we pulled through Kernville again no one was fishing in the park. Is it possible they hadn’t stocked again? We found out quickly that our suspicions were confirmed. No easy trout finding again. Had to cover about a mile of river on three runs to land 15 rainbows between 8” – 12” above KR3. Didn’t see any one else catching (baiters included). We thought we’d head down to Kernville and maybe fish would be stocked in the afternoon. We noticed a lot of fly fishers pulling into the turnouts all along the road and on popular runs around Kernville. Most just getting to the river (must be a fly club outing this weekend?). No one catching and no one even fishing Kernville park at noon. We stopped by the hatchery to inquire as to why there hasn’t apparently been stocking for a while. No one home at the office but the hatchery is full of fish. Not sure why they don’t seem to be stocking them. We thought perhaps they were stocking BFL Lakes and the Lower Kern today (scheduled on the stocking web site)? As of 10/27/11 BFL Lakes were not stocked. So for now finding fish is still tough below Fairview Dam and Kernville. Wonder what is going on? We didn’t even try above Fairview today. The Upper Kern primarily is a put and take fishery and for now there’s not been much putting it appears. We are running out of prime time weather/flow conditions; it’s too bad the catching hasn’t matched the idyllic setting. Color change starting on the trees. Rain in the long range forecast for next week. Hopefully it won’t muddy the Upper Kern again. Water temps 48 – 55 degrees, fewer Caddis hatching this week. Little surface action seen and only one bump on the dry today. Bring wading fleece if you go.

Fishing Report 10/19/11 - Rich Arner

With flows dropping slowly to 500 cfs and the hope of more stocking on the Upper Kern we headed up on a Wednesday. When we drove through Kernville there was no one fishing the park – always a bad sign. Last week according to the DFG website stocking was not scheduled nor did we see any evidence it was planted either when we fished it. We stopped at the first spot and talked with some locals and they said there had not been stocking this week and that the fishing was really slow again for the second week. We headed to another spot and prepared ourselves for a lot of wading in hard to reach spots. Our second stop had a few fly fishers on it in the prime holding areas but they had no success. I went down river 1/4 mile and hooked into fish right away with the #12 Arnerd. Had three to hand in the first 15 minutes but none over 11” all were skinny. That was true of nearly every fish I landed the rest of the day with both wild and planters. Waded another 1/2 mile at least and picked up 3 more. Very tough finding fish. Water temp 56 degrees. Lots of October Caddis in the air both this week and last. No sign of surface feeding between 9am and 2pm.? We stopped at some more places on the low flow section (easily wadeable around 100 cfs I’d guess) with the same results. Given that the river above Fairview Dam is down to 500 cfs and that it has been very high for months and hard to fish we decided to head up there to find trout. Water temp was 51 degrees up there at noon and most of the river is moving fast and there are few slow spots holding bows. Crossing the river is still out of the question on most of this stretch. I landed a bit more frequently but again fish skinny again? I’m guessing the soot/ash layer on the river bottom must be negatively affecting the aquatic insects in some way? Wrapped up the day near Kernville and picked up one lone footlong (biggest of the day) after traversing a large area. Total 13 landed today and I slept well. One on the surface. Checking my records this is definitely the slowest October I’ve experienced in the last 10 years ( with the exception of the stocking ban year). Perhaps the DFG will stock later in the week for this weekend and revive the fishery? Next week 10/24 Bakersfield lakes scheduled for the first plants of the year. River Walk Park is pretty weedy at this time. We were hoping that the solar powered circulator that has been in place all summer would reduce the weeds, not sure it had much effect compared to last year.

Fishing Report 10/13/11 - Rich Arner

Fished the Upper Kern for the first time in 3 weeks after flows peaked at 2,000 cfs last week. Was hoping the rains would have flushed the Upper Kern but it is in about the same shape as three weeks ago with fewer trout in the river. A thin layer of soot and ash still is present and is easily stirred up. Hard to read the bottom in spots as it is dark most places where the is slower holding water. No sign of significant stocking noted anywhere? Trout spaced out over long distances. Bait guys not around Kernville stocking spots either. Most camp sites nearly empty. I landed 15 today and had to cover lots of water. Had one +18” red striped lunker on for 5 minutes that I got within 2’ of my net twice but finally pulled out on a downstream run. Wading pretty tough and limited to much less of the river outside of the low flow stretch with flows around 750 cfs (mini snow melt occurring right now). I’d guess a comfortable 120 cfs on the low flow stretch. Gorgeous day to be on the river for sure. Think next week catching should be better with needed trout plants. Water temps in the low 50’s, air temps pushing 90 degrees. Saw several other fly fishers on the river today. We were the only ones catching. Red Arnerd still producing. This time of year finding the fish is the key.

Fishing Report 9/23/11 - Rich Arner

Heard things were clear on the Upper Kern and with diversion again at Fairview Dam ( flows back down to 120 cfs)seemed like a good idea. The upper river has changed quite a bit from 2 weeks ago. The water is dark and has 3’ – 4’ of visibility at best. The bottom has a coating of dark brown soot/ash. You kick it up when you wade (so don’t wade up stream of some one you like). We checked out 7 different spots and covered a lot of water. It is clear that the Upper Kern River has not been stocked for a while. Last week trophy trout were not stocked due to conditions as reported by KVCCCF . Two of us landed 35 in 5.5 hours and we had to really focus on hard to get to places to hook up. The red hooked Arnerd landed 80% of the trout, we tried BH: red copper johns, Kern Murky's, brassies, princes with some success. Not much top water action. We hit spots between Fairview and Kernville. Saw no bait guys catching and very few of them. It is clear the locals know something about the tough fishing and lack of stocking it appears. Usually the DFG stocks the Upper Kern above KR3 bi-weekly after October 1 and it appears they may have started early this year? Kernville wasn’t very good either. My last fish of the day was a thick 17” on the red arnerd and it was a challenging test to get him out of strong current and to the net after 2 aerobatic leaps. Water temp 63 degrees at 2 pm. Lots of cars in turn outs as pressure definitely up from two weeks ago. Pumped stomach of a wild 14” trout. They are nibbling on some very small nymphs. San Joaquin hatchery robbed of trophy trout last month

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Fishing Report 9/01/11 - Rich Arner

Fished Upper Kern today and I landed 29. My bud into double figures. The surface takes were markedly less this trip from last week. Landed 3 on #12 foam stonefly. Did loose a big boy on the dry though. Few stonefly cases observed on rocks near water level. Surprisingly light pressure for a Friday. T-storms moved in at 1:00PM and we packed up. Not sure what they will do to water clarity. Started fishing after 9 am. Lots of clouds to keep us cool. I bet I had +40 LDR’s. Saw an Osprey dive in and take a trout 50 feet in front of me. Way cool. One hog bent my red hook on the #12 Arnerd and popped off after 1 minute of a lot of runs. Was great day on the river but fish definitely harder to find each week over the last month.

Fishing Report 9/01/11 - Rich Arner

The Upper Kern had the most pressure I’ve ever seen on a weekday today. To give you an example over 20 cars were at T-bird, and between 6 and 10 vehicles were at Old Goldledge, Salmon Creek, Half Way. Nearly every turnout had vehicles in them. Ironically campgrounds HQ and Hospital Flats weren’t even 1/3 full? Since two weeks ago the catching dropped off dramatically as I did land 41 rainbows in 6 hours. I landed 1/2 the fish/hr as two weeks ago and I bet I waded twice the runs as well to catch those 41. Best action on the Hill’s #12 BLT I’ve had ever with every other trout landed on the foam golden stone/hopper imitation. Lots of newly shucked stonefly casings on rocks on the river. Also the size of this foamy stone imitation prevents a lot of dink hook ups and all of the fish slamming/landed on the foam fly were 12” – 15” The low flow section was at just 120 cfs. If this Thursday before the Labor Day weekend is any indication there will be a ton of harvesting this weekend. Lets hope the CDFG stocks well after the weekend to sustain a decent population of trout for the rest of September.

Fishing Report 8/18/11 - Rich Arner

Today was the first day I was on the river where you could wade nearly every where since last November. Low flow section 220 cfs at 6am and stayed in that range all day. I concentrated on areas I know no one has fished since flows rose above 1,000 cfs months ago. Predictably the fishing was awesome. Landed 79 bows between 8 am and 2 pm. Several between 14”- 17” Many pointy nosed and clean indicating long term hold overs and/or wild fish. The further away from stocking spots the better the fishing. Lots of surface slams and landed 14 (12” – 16”) on the Hills #12 BLT foam stone fly , the rest on the #12 weighted Arnerd red hook. Arnerd hung 3’ below dry. A lot more insect activity than last week and smoke much better but still present. Twice had double hook ups landing 28” and 27” of fish at a time . Water temp up 5 degrees from last week. Fewer autos in the pull outs Get up there before the harvesting gets in full swing.

CAUTION: Be aware that the low flow section can rise for a number of reasons including maintenance, mechanical failure, change in power demand, and thunderstorms miles above Fairview Dam. SoCal Edison has the ability to divert up to 600 cfs for power. Currently it is max’d out. If you are caught on the west side of the river and flows are increased you may have to walk miles to find a place to safely cross and get back to your vehicle.


Fishing Report 8/11/11 - Rich Arner

Up early today and made it on the Upper Kern around 8AM. Very smokey in the air and I imagine air quality is well over 200 until noon. The flow phone said 450 cfs below Fairview Dam so below Tobias and Salmon Creek I'd guess it was +500 cfs. Had a good day considering I could only cover 1/3 the water I normally could reach at 200 cfs. So I worked the banks at 6 different spots and landed 31 bows in about 6 hours. Some surface takes after 11 AM, few insects airborne? Hung red hooked Arnerd 4' below foam stonefly. Missed a lot of fish and had to mend a lot to maintain drag free drifts. Two bows were +17" - one probably would have been 20" if it had all of its tail :-) Water clear but not gin clear. No stocking this week yet as of today (Thurs). Water temp I'd guess was around 60 degrees. This time next week I would think much more water would be wadeable and twice the fish can be had? Quite a bit of pressure for a Thursday on the low flow section. I did not attempt above Fairview because flows there still +1,000 cfs.


Lion Fire Information - 08/01/11

The Lion Fire started as a lightning fire and was allowed to burn to help reduce the fuel load in an area that had not burned in about 90 years.  Over the last week or so the fire has grown to a little over 19,000 acres.  The fire is now in the Sequoia National Park, Sequoia National Forest and the Golden Trout Wilderness.  The recent weather patterns have pushed a lot of the smoke into the Kern River Valley and Lake Isabella area.  Several wilderness roads and trails have been closed in the area of the fire.  Below are some links to information on the fire.

Inciweb - Lion Fire

Visalia Times Article


Needles Lookout Burns Down - 08/01/11

Many of our members, and people from Kern and Tulare Counties, are familiar with, and have even hiked to, the Needles Fire Lookout near Ponderosa in Tulare County.  This historic structure overlooking the Upper Kern River Valley, burned down on July 28, 2011 after the roof caught fire from an ember from the stove.  Here are a couple links to information on the fire.



Fishing Report - 7/26/11

Flow Rates

The Upper and Lower Kern River continue to flow well above normal levels. The rafters and kayakers are in heaven! Sadly we are on a record pace this summer for drownings on the Kern River. The first fisherman was claimed earlier this month. Fortunately for our club members nearly all of us have stayed out of the river even with the increased marketing by Kernville vendors that have encouraged folks to enter the river at treacherously high flow levels in direct conflict with public safety official's recommendations to "stay out and stay alive".

The Upper Kern is one of the most difficult California wading rivers even at low flows because it has mostly bowling ball sized boulders strewn on the majority of 20 mile section. Just about every one of us has slipped and fallen in knee deep water on the Upper Kern. At flows below 400 cfs you can usually recover and return to fishing a bit soaked and embarrassed. However, one slip in +2,000 cfs and you may be taking your final dip in the Kern River.

It appears that the Upper Kern will not reach the magical sub 1,000 cfs level until mid-August given the cooler summer climate and the slower melting that has occurred. SoCal Edison has continued to divert +500 cfs at Fairview Dam to generate electricity at KR3 and that section should hit more wadeble flows once the Upper Kern drops well below 1,000 cfs at Kernville. You can call the SoCal Edison flow phone at 1-877-537-6356 to get the latest, the online graphs have not been updated recently as this newsletter goes to print.

Many of us are anxious to finally see flows that expose the myriad of the solitary classic pocket water that makes the Upper Kern a delight to traverse. The hatchery has had one of its best trophy trout rearing seasons since 2006 and we expect it to continue. However, many of the bigger planted stockers have been harvested by bait and spin fishers keying in on online photo postings shortly after the stocking truck arrives. In the past the continuous summer stocking in high flows built up a large mass of planters that was concentrated once flows dropped below 1,000 cfs and made for the best fishing of the year.

This year could be different as fishing pressure has been increased through increased marketing during the high flow period. Only time will tell. Get ready to get geared up with #12 BH pheasant tails, princes, and hares ears hung well below big hopper/stone flies. Wading above Fairview Dam and into the GTW will be very difficult likely well into September until flows below 400 cfs in those areas open up pocket water and areas where crossing the Upper Kern is doable. Make sure you have a good wading staff this year!

Fire Season 2011 Declared - 5/23/11

The Kern County Fire Department, BLM & Forest Service declared the 2011 Fire Season to be started Monday May 23rd at 12:00pm.

Please remember as you are out on the area lakes, rivers and streams to stay aware of your surroundings and make sure you know what your escape routes are.


Fishing Report - 04/01/11

January through March flows on the Upper Kern continued to be much higher than average since the huge rains of December making for the most challenging March wading in years. The snow pack continues to build to excellent levels and recent storms appear to be setting off the biggest spring/summer runoff we’ve seen for quite some time. Restrictions on Lake Isabella storage capacity will provide an interesting challenge for water management teams and suggest very heavy flows on the Lower Kern into Bakersfield and beyond this year.

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Last year we had to wait until late July before the Upper Kern receded to flow levels that expose a myriad of the solitary classic pocket water that makes the Upper Kern a delight to traverse. It appears this year we will be waiting much longer into August for those productive slow moving pockets to present themselves again. This summer if you have limited time to get away and fly fish plan your trips for late summer especially if you plan to fish the GTW. Currently only a few stretches below KR3 are available to wade carefully, however, expect a lot of company with both C&R’s and harvesters on those few runs. These areas likely will become treacherous the next few weeks so be extremely cautious and check the flows (most of our membership avoids the Upper Kern above 1,000 cfs). Local lake stocking will cease soon as water temps elevate.

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The CDFG trout planting schedule phone number for our region (559)-243-4005 ext 183 and on line you can peruse at


Fishing Report - 11/19/10

Flows remain over 300 cfs for the last month on the Upper Kern. Fortunately flows have remained clear and there has been no diversion at Fairview Dam observed. Wading is no longer easy in most of the Upper Kern. More rain is on the way this weekend. Stocking above KR3 is scheduled to end after Thanksgiving week. River temps are now under 50 degrees and fewer holdover planted footlongs remain. As in past years by December a great deal of effort and knowledge is required to catch double digits on the Upper Kern by the most experienced anglers above KR3. Stocking will occur in the Kernville area; however, you will likely have lots of company to fish with you.

There is disturbing news to report; recently 7 accounts of vandalism have been reported against vehicles parked near the Upper Kern River. The locations were Salmon Creek, Camp 3, Rodeo grounds, and the Airport parking areas. None of the vehicles had items taken from them and they just had windows bashed. One vehicle had fly rods and shot guns left untouched? Law enforcement believes that fly fishers are being targeted. They are taking measures to increase security. As this letter goes to press the perpetrators had not been caught.

With lower water temps at lower elevations local Bakersfield Lakes are now being stocked regularly. This means fewer fish for the Upper Kern but more on the Lower Kern. River Walk Park Lake often has KRFF members tossing a line. Small bead head streamers seem to work the best early in the day.

Fishing Report - 9/16/10

Drove up through the smokey canyon and once you get west of Lake Isabella the smoke dissipates. The Lower Kern will definitely be running black with the first autumn rains. I had a few friends do very well yesterday when they focused on a recently stocked spot on the upper. I was more interested in getting a perspective on how the overall 20 mile section was fishing since flows dropped below 200 cfs and air temps were well below triple digits.

Unfortunately the remarkably good catching since the first week in August has really gone south in the last couple of weeks. There were a lot more fishers on the river mid-week than I've seen in two years. Only one pair of fly fishers observed between KR3 and JD bridge. Most spin fishers were not holding limits and just a couple fish on each of the dozen stringers I observed. Most said they hadn't done well. I covered lots of my favorite out of the way spots (9 total) that usually hold long term hold overs. I landed 20 in 4 hours and two were fat pointy nosed 16" bows with lots of tug. Both in very difficult spots to reach. Few surface rises observed and only 2 fish landed off of the foam stonefly. Action on the indicator fly was drastically less this trip. If you aren't camped on a pod of fish you're going to have to work very hard for a double digit day and hopefully the mid-week crowds will thin as the catching has slowed significantly.


Canyon Fire - 9/15/10

The Canyon Fire was at a little over 6000 acres this morning and was only 10% contained.  Old Kern Canyon Road remains closed.  Highway 178 is now open but please be aware that fire fighters and equipment are still stationed and patroling the Highway.  All river activites have been closed for the Kern River between Keysville and Democrat.  See the below links for further updates.

Canyon Fire - 9/13/10

The Canyon Fire started Sunday afternoon (9/12) near Delonegha and quickly shutdown Hwy 178 and Old Kern Canyon Road.  Highway 178 reopened this morning but there were still some lane closures in the 4 lane section of the road.   The road could be closed again if the wind shifts direction.  The forest service has setup a phone number to call for updated inforation.  It is (760) 379-5646 x564.  You can also monitor the following websites for updates on the fire:

Brekenridge Lookout Web Cam pointed towards fire -


Fishing Report - 9/2/10

Catching today was excellent, however, rainbows are no longer scattered throughout the Upper Kern River. I haven't fished the Upper Kern in 3 weeks and now trout have been harvested throughout the drainage. We picked up fish in more concentrated pods this week and other fishers we talked with said the river was stocked heavily earlier in the week for the Labor Day weekend. Both of us found great holding spots with many fish pounding our foam yellow bellied stoneflies between 9am and 2pm. The best top water action yet, but few fish were over 13" and could get the mouthful of foam in their lips. I wish made them in a size #14. Around 10am a nice fat 14" trout snapped a BLT off my tippet and I caught him again 20 minutes later. How he thought he could get another BLT foam stone fly in his gullet I'll never know but it was a good laugh and great to get my fly back as these are becoming harder to order as the summer progresses.

Nearly all of the trout we landed were definitely fresh from the races with stubby noses and white fin tips rubbed off. After spending four days fishing high elevation wild water in Utah last week the first dozen to the net seemed very lethargic to me and not nearly the tug of the same size fish in the bee hive state. I assumed it was because river temps must be +70 degrees. My accurate temperature gauge said 66 degrees at 10 am so the bows should have been just fine.It was dramatically apparent to me that fresh stockers clearly pervade the drainage now. Unfortunately, the stronger and more naturalized long term holdovers from Apr-July plants have found their final resting place in frying pans and freezers.

The #12 BH modified Arnerd nymph was still very potent with the exception of one recently stocked area. After 30 minutes of switching out different sized and colored nymphs I tied on a #12 Twin Lakes Special (olive) and stripped it over the pod. Bang! The trout came to life and in 30 minutes most of them all got a chance to visit my net. Other sites we tried which usually very fish well were very tough and I suspect large groups of non-paying campers likely had poached them out. Only smaller 8"-10" wild frisky trout sparingly distributed appeared to remain active in those areas because they were pretty skimpy to eat and have thus far avoided power bait and salmon eggs.

Together both of us landed triple digits for the first time netting 103 rainbows in just under 6 hours. I'd prefer to spend more time stalking trout in pocket water but those efforts only brought about 20% of today's catch to hand. With the air temps also topping triple digits those fish were a lot of sweat and we couldn't wait to get a cool drink and have a knap when we got home. Few fishers seen on the river again mid-week. A lot of tubers shut down a lot of pockets as well. Water is crystal clear and sight fishing is the best yet this year.

Fishing Report - 8/26/10

The confluence of conditions that create the best trout fishing of the year occurred the week of August 9th. When flows drop below 200 cfs nearly 90% of the Upper Kern River low flow section can be accessed by wading. Many of the fish stocked since flows exceeded 1,000 cfs back in April that managed to avoid near-to-the-bank harvesting are now accessible.

Fat fish that have eaten well this summer and have become “naturalized” by a more lengthy stay in the river combined with fresh plants in a much smaller volume of water create the optimum conditions for the best catching of the year. Cooler August temps also made for a great relief from the summer heat. River temps were in the mid-60’s but now reach 70 degrees in the late afternoon down in Kernville. The weekends have been very crowded and some unseemly elements have moved in to pilfer unattended vehicles. Take your valuables with you to avoid a break in (car windows smashed) that our members experienced on our mentorship outing. Law enforcement stated that crooks are targeting car/house keys, wallets, and registrations to no doubt rob your house while you are vacationing on the Upper Kern. They pretty much leave expensive fishing equipment alone…….. for now?

The fishing will drop from outstanding to good through September if the harvesting isn’t prolific, however, in recent years huge marketing efforts have brought both catch/release and catch/keepers in
abundance. As we move into October the CDFG stocking mass is cut in half with bi-weekly plants and the number of catchable +foot long rainbows drop dramatically until the last plants of the year go into the river above KR3 before Turkey Day. Enjoy it while it is good and catch a weekday if at all possible.

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 08/12/10

Checking the flows we noticed upper flow rates have come down below 500 cfs now and the flow phone indicated flows below Fairview Dam were in the 200 cfs range. We had seen thunderheads earlier this week above the Sierra to the east so we weren't sure what to expect. Normally the first week that flows drop below 200 cfs on the Upper Kern guarantee +50 fish days. When we got on the river at 8:30am flows were noticeably lower than a week ago and clear. Given that temps will increase over the next few days T-storms are going to be more likely and no doubt will murk things up downstream of Springhill campground so we decided to cover that water because it may be unfishable sooner than later.

We were rewarded with lots of fish in pockets and runs that could be waded with little issue. When you can cover 90% of the holding water for the first time in months lots of good things happen. Additionally takes on the #12 Hills BLT stone/hopper

were markedly higher this week. Had two occurrences of fish on both the dry and the dropper (modified Arnered nymph) . Double hooks ups are a treat but landing both in the same net rarely happens ;-)

We both combined had 40 rainbows to the net over a 250 yard stretch in the first hour. Many were white tipped healthy long term holdovers. I didn't see a rising fish all day (we basically quit by 1pm), however, the foam stonefly was beat hard every 10 minutes. Pumped stomachs of both LTH's and fish likely stocked the last few weeks and both were munching grey baetis nymphs size #20/18 if you want to match the naturals. The Arnerd was just doing fine with 65 to the next in just 5 hours (20% on the stone/hopper) and probably a mile of river covered. A half dozen trout 14"-15". Lots of footlongs and the average fish were not as long as the average fish we landed last week above Fairview dam (Triploids?) We talked with some campers and spin fishers who were camped on a well know stocking spot and they said no plants this week yet. Also they said that the hatchery races were all dry. Hope that there isn't another mechanical issue with the hatchery again? Just hope if we get a down pour the inlet tube isn't silted/ashed up again like after the McNally Fire. The new fresh water wells will not be drilled for some time because of land use negotiations between the CDFG and Kern County. One last important note. We saw few fishers on the river today. This is remarkable considering the temperate conditions in mid-August. Water temps 62-65 degrees.

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 08/05/10

The trip today was very encouraging. From what we could see the Bull Fire did not extend north (upriver) of the Goldledge Campground. The campgrounds were closed in the morning but were opened when when we left :-(. That means a lot more fishers. Cleary the river will be murky weeks/months after the first rains below Goldledge when they occur but for now the river is gin clear but not easy to wade. Flows above Fairview are around 600 cfs and I'd guess around 400 cfs below. There are few spots you can cross the river on the low flow section and I wish I had not brought waist waders and no wading staff. Trout were caught all over the place you just had to find some slow water and fish deep. My modified Arnerd nymph worked great with some taken on the #12 foam BLT stone fly from Hills. One strike was magnificent by a fat +16" buck 10' from me and a lengthy battle in the current was required to net him - just perfect. My buddy was tossing a yellow bellied Chernobyl ant and was getting strikes every five minutes. Most fish were LTH (long term holdovers) very clean, noses not very blunt and all fins intact. Clearly the drop in flows has concentrated planters stocked the last 3 months into a reduced volume of water.

Above Fairview crossing the river is impossible. Fish were either 9" natives or 14"-16" LTH. I believe they must be the new sterile triploids that the DFG has planted above Fairview to prevent interbreeding with natives. They are bigger fish, torpedo like, and hold deep. Triploids are supposed to have faster growth rates and I believe it. I landed 8 of them the last hour in much deeper water on a #18 copper john suspended under my modified Arnerd nymph. A total of 42 landed in 6 hours with maybe just 5 ldr's. Not a lot of fishers on the river but with camping opening up that will change fast. Enjoy the river before the first T-storms muck it up. Hopefully SoCal Edison will drop flows further so more of the low flow section is wadeable but for now the kayakers are happy I'm sure.

8/4/10 - 8:00 AM - Kern River Valley Fire (Bull Fire)

The Bull fire is about 96% contained.  Roads are open in the area but please keep an eye out for fire fighting equipment still patroling the fire area.  We will not update anymore about the fire on this site.  Please monitor the links below for any further updates.

8/2/10 - 6:00 AM - Kern River Valley Fire (Bull Fire)

The Bull fire is currently about 85% contained.  The Forest Service is expected to lift the restrictions in the Bull fire area except for campgrounds within the fire perimeter.  Mountin 99 is expected to open completely around 9AM today.  Monitor the Forest Service, Kern County Fire and local news outlets for the latest updates on the closures.

7/31/10 - 8:00 AM - Kern River Valley Fire (Bull Fire)

The Bull fire is currently 81% contained at 16,460 acres in size.  Mountain 99 is still closed between Brush Creek and Headquarters camp.  The river is still closed in approximately the same area due to fire fighting helicopters taking water from the river.    The forest service has closed a portion of the Kern River Ranger District within the Bull fire.  See the link below for more information.

Sequoia National Forest Website

The Kern County Chapter of the Red Cross is currently supplying support to the victims and firefighters of both the Bull fire and the West fire near Tehachapi.  You may visit their website to see reports on what they have been doing during these fires.

Kern County Red Cross

7/28/10 - 8:00 PM - Kern River Valley Fire (Bull Fire)

The Bull Fire is currently reported as being just under 16,000 acres.  Mountain 99 is still closed between Brush Creek and Headquarters camp. 

Bakersfield Now (KBAK-TV) Photo Gallery from Bull Fire

7/27/10 - 5:00 AM - Kern River Valley Fire (Bull Fire)

The Bull Fire is currently around 4200 acres in size.  Hard road closures are in place around Kernville including Mtn 99 between Kernville and Fairview.

National Incident Information System - Bull Fire

7/26/10 - 7:00 PM - Kern River Valley Fire (Bull Fire)

There is a large fire burning north of Kernville in the Bull Run drainage area.   It is being called the "Bull Fire".  As of 7:00PM this evening (Monday) it is reported to be 2000 acres and growing.  Parts of Kernville and River Kern are being evacuated.  We will provide links to information on the fire as they become available.

KGET News Breaking News Link

Kern County Fire Twitter Link

Kern County Fire Incident Page - Bull Fire

May 2010 - 2010 Fire Season Declared

The BLM, USFS and Kern County Fire Department have already declared the 2010 Wildland Fire Season to be in effect.   We would just like to remind our everyone to be aware of their surroundings while you are on are lakes, rivers and streams.  Wild fires can start at any time and move very fast, as the McNally Fire showed us in 2002.  We want to see everyone come back from their fishing trips safe and sound.


Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 05/01/10

The first stocking for the Kern occurred last week since the mechanical failure at the Kernville Planting base March 13th. Nearly 10,000 pounds of planters were loaded into the Upper Kern for the trout opener. This is the first planting for sections of the Upper Kern River between Johnsondale Bridge and KR3 in more than a year and a half. Finally significant numbers of plus foot long fish will be catchable in this section.  Most wading fly fishers will have to wait as the spring melt is on and the river is now + 2,000 cfs on its way to +5,000 cfs by June 1st.

Most safety minded fly fishers will not venture back up on the Upper Kern until flows drop below 1,000 cfs again probably sometime in mid to late July. We received a good amount of rain and snow in April and the snowpack is well above average for the first time since the summer of 2006. Repairs have been made to the Kernville hatchery and it should be back to normal operations very soon. Local city lakes have not been planted in weeks because of the hatchery mechanical issues and warming water temperatures in the valley. No more planting locally until Turkey Day.

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Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 04/01/10

More stocking issues for the Kern have surfaced because of a mechanical failure at the Kernville Planting base March 13th. Fish at the hatchery began going belly up and the hatchery was forced to plant every fish it had. Most of those fish went into the Upper Kern at the bridge in Kernville and by KR3. There was great catching and lots of pressure on those stretches. Trout were hitting anything colorful placed 1 foot off the bottom for several days and the harvesting was on. The spring melt has begun in earnest as flows on the Upper Kern have exceeded 1,000 cfs in Kernville and +700 cfs below Fairview Dam. Wading is difficult on most stretches of the Upper Kern as a result. Unfortunately, no stocking was made between Fairview and KR3 which would have given the river a much needed infusion of foot long trout in this scoured section of the river which has not been planted in a year and a half. The hatchery manager indicated that the repairs should occur in a couple of weeks provided repair funding can be acquired in a timely manner so we'll keep our fingers crossed for now.

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The Southern Sierra snowpack was well above average going into March which is our wettest month of the year. The month did not live up to expectations and subsequently April needs to be above average for the drainage to have a much needed above average year after 3 years of drought have plagued our home river.

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 02/11/10

Thought I should try the Upper Kern today on the second day after stocking resumed. Got a late start and arrived at Kernville Park around 10am . A dozen happy guys were there stacked along the river. It was good to see catching again but not the crowd. I guess it's a good problem to have. The Upper Kern is flowing clear (400cfs) and cool at 42 degrees. I had to poke around a while to find a secluded spot above Kernville Bridge. I settled in where I saw some rising. I looked around and saw no bait cups or any trash. I figured this was the spot for me. Boy was it. In just the first hour I landed 28 rainbows 12" - 15". Thankfully no other fisherman had seen me or I would have had a lot of company I'd guess. Over the next 2 hours I landed another 35 rainbows mostly on the Arnerd BH nymph I tie on a #12 red scud hook ( I think a BH PT or BH Prince would work too). I redistributed trout as best I could as I fished to give them a chance before others got in the area. Takes were subtle often and and every drift hesitation produced a hook up. No surface hook ups today. My arm is sore and I'm glad I took a pain reliever before I started! A gorgeous day on the river with a serene spot to myself. I'd guess there won't be many like it now. Best fishing day since '06. Trout do bite when it's cold ;-)

I stopped by the park on the way out and the fishers there said a lot of +4lb trout were planted there. May be you can catch one of them?

trout derby kernville

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 10/01/09

The Kern River has not been stocked since Nov 2008 and the summer harvesting season has now been completed. The quality of the catching has been down significantly based on reports of many different fishers in and out of our club.

We now have our first qualitative understanding of the impact of the stocking ban on the Kern River. The Kernville fly fishing club, the Southern Sierra Fly Fishers, recently held their annual fly fishing tournament and the results are very distressing. Typically 60 anglers participate and usually one or two are "skunked". This year 35 (58%) blanked. Keep in mind in the past only fish 10" or larger could be scored, this year they relaxed that standard so that smaller fish could be scored. Even with the ability to score smaller fish the fishing was much worse.

A total of 154 fish were counted by the other 25 participants and the total length of the scored fish was 1,268 inches. That was an average of just 8.2" per fish. This was down substantially from average of 12" - 13" from previous years. In fact none of the top ten fly fishers averaged 11" or more per fish with the winner averaging just 7.9". It appears that few trout large enough to bend a 5wt are left in the Upper Kern above Kernville. Either the participants have been using far less effective tactics and flies this year or the lack of stocking has been very detrimental to the trout population. I believe the latter is in play. Harvesters have nearly taken all of the trout large enough to eat.

Upper Kern Fishing Report (A lot of Firsts) - Rich Arner - 08/06/09

I nearly fainted when I saw that the weather forecast called for sub 80 degree temps for early August. Flows have dropped below 250 cfs on the Upper Kern so I thought I should give it try.New Orleans Delight

I’d never explored the high water mark of Isabella where the DFG has been dumping planters regularly so that was my first stop. I pulled over to the parking area and was surprised to see 12 vehicles parked in the lot and across the river that had spewed out 20 fishers lined up on a 200 yard run. This was just before 8am on a Thursday????? I knew that this was no place that I’d enjoy fishing so I moved on.

I decided to use today as a fact finding mission to find out what really has been going on. Several fly fishers I know were skunked recently and others who had landed trout did so with numbers 80% below where they were this time last year. I decided to check several spot where I know wild fish have thrived because of inaccessibility in the past but was worried that baiters had harvested everything that could fit in a frying pan.

The first run I went through yielded several bumps to my #10 foam stonefly but these fish were too small (8”) to suck in a larger foam fly. I didn’t get a trout landed for 2 hours until I tied on a #12 brown Arnerd nymph (no red hook). Attractor colors didn’t seem to work. Water temp 65 degrees at 9am. The top of this area used to be heavily stocked and some fresh worm containers were left on the banks but no other fisher was to be found. The area appeared to be scoured of pan sized trout. I did net 3 pike minnows. The first two hours were not encouraging.Pike Minnow

I did try 5 other spots for about an hour each. The brush was a lot thicker than in March when I last netted 5 trout in an hour. Results were much better as I got off the beaten paths and placed my Arnerd nymph in holding water. I netted 16 rainbows (10”-13”) all on the nymph and several tries at the foam stone but none big enough to hook.

I DID NOT SEE ONE OTHER ANGLER ON THE ENTIRE UPPER KERN BETWEEN FAIRVIEW DAM AND KR3 -the first time that I have ever seen this in summer. Many campgrounds were filled. I landed 10 pike minnow – more than I’ve landed in all of the last 4 years and all on the nymph. They were caught in every area I fished. I did not catch any hardheads ;-)

I tried pumping a couple trout stomachs with no results as this is hard to accomplish on 13” fish. But all trout were clean, plump, and feisty. I saw no fish rising. River temp was 70 degrees at 3pm.

Around noon I was roll casting to an inviting trout lair and saw some vegetation moving out of the corner of my eye. When I looked to my left I saw a beaver was pulling it down river - another first!Oregon State Mascot

Sixteen trout in about six hours translates to less than 3/hr which is one fourth of where I am usually this time of year and I had to work a lot less in previous summers. I’d have to say most of the fellows I’ve fished with would not traverse the ground and river I waded to get to these spots so the fishing really is very tough. ah but the solitude is well worth it.

Heading home I took a glance at the (LIHWMCFZ) Lake Isabella high water mark combat fishing zone as I drove by and it still had quite few angles stacked in it so I kept moving home.


Fire Report - Rich Arner - 07/05/09

Two fires have been ignited in the Golden Trout Wilderness.  The extremely dry conditions in the Southern Sierra mean you must be extremely cautious if you intend to head into those areas.  For more detailed information, see the following web site links below. 

Shotgun Fire Links

Lion Fire Link


Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 5/28/09

The Upper Kern's trout fishing short term future has gone from bad to worse over the last month for several reasons. Currently flows exceed 2,000 cfs and peaked around 3,400 cfs on May17, 2009. No stocking above Kernville Park north to the Johnsondale Bridge has occurred since early November as a result of the environmental law suit agreement. Many fly fishers have reported that many harvesting fishers continue to fish the Upper Kern unaware of the no stocking policy and continue to take legal trout out of the river. Clearly if this continues remaining holdovers will dissipate in short order post-Memorial Day.

A recent press release May 15, 2009 by the California DFG announced several waters where the stocking ban was lifted and now can be stocked with hatchery rainbows. Unfortunately the North Fork of the Kern River was not one of these waters. In addition stocking of the South Fork of the Kern at Kennedy Meadow will no longer be stocked as of 5/15/09 -presumably because of the presence of California Golden Trout. The DFG had been planting sterile rainbows in this stretch to reduce hybridization but was forced to change course as the planters are potentially reducing the food load for Golden Trout (and other species?) in this watershed.

Flows in 2009 should parallel those of 2008 and river temps likely will rise above 75 degrees in July. These are lethal water temperatures for rainbows. The last couple of years trophy trout held at the Kernville planting base had to be released to avoid a massive kill. In the past these plump trout could be placed in cooler water as far upriver as JD bridge with the potential to survive but that option is gone now. Hopefully new supply wells can be drilled to alleviate this unfortunate circumstance but likely won't happen this summer season. At this time Lake Isabella is being stocked heavily.

Increased marketing of waters above JD into the Golden Trout Wilderness which entices anglers with the ability to take two trout per day will also stress the Kern in wilder areas as the third year of drought is upon us. Clearly the potential for a massive fire concerns all of us and thunderstorms are forming as I type this report. Be very wary if you plan an extended trek into the Southern Sierra this summer and stay tuned to the latest conditions before and while you go.

Our area DFG biologist has compiled and submitted her study to the DFG hierarchy which documents hardhead minnow populations. The study shows catastrophic sedimentation has reduced their numbers and is unrelated to trout planting. A compilation of electro-shocking studies in that report shows some dramatic declines in wild and planted trout in some areas. Many believe this is a result of the strong fishing pressure that has impacted the Kern the last few years. The DFG reported that last year the Kern was impacted by 150,000 man-days annually. Most of those fishing days occurred between March and October and on weekends. That translates to over 1,000 fishers/day that can and do take 5 fish/day legally (we've seen our share of 5 gallon bucket loads exit the river also). It is easy to see how quickly the river can be nearly depleted once stocking is curtailed.


Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 12/11/08

I think this is the best fishing of the year for the Upper Kern. Never thought I'd be saying that. The canyon walls are green on the drive up. Air temps still near 70 degrees. Water temp 39 degrees at 9AM and 43 degrees at noon. Water clear on low flow section and still less than 100 cfs. NO ONE IS FISHING!!! Landed 21 between 9am and 2pm. Some on the surface. Fish are 10" - 14" and wild or very long term holdovers. They are very aggressive on takes - I think I missed 2 fish all day. I'll leave my catch and release net at home next time. I doubt few if any stockers are left. These fish are all colorful torpedoes with pointed noses. It is 3wt and 4wt fishing with many aerials. I can pick and choose where I want to fish but they are not easy to find making it more rewarding. All the scrambling over boulders will make sure I'll sleep well tonight. It has been 4 years since I caught double digits in December and was able to achieve this the last two weeks. The pressure is definitely off now that stocking has stopped and the harvesting folks are staying home. The usual set up working like a charm. Hope forecasted rains for Saturday don't murk things up ;-)

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 12/4/08

How bad has the fishing gotten since stocking ceased on the Upper Kern? We'll I wanted out of the fog and headed up the canyon. I fished the Upper Kern yesterday and landed 16 wild fish. Much better than I expected as the Turkey Day crowd usually depletes the upper river of pan sized and greater rainbow trout above KR3 every year as planting ceases in this area. The river hasn't been stocked for almost a month. In the past they would continue stocking in the Kernville area below KR3 powerhouse and the catching was still good regardless of water temp. You just had to beat the crowds who congregate around the stocking points on stocking day ;-). Not my idea of wonderful fishing conditions, in fact, I avoid it. I landed four fish at 13" that were heavily colored and a real treat to land. They weren't anything like the fat 14" - 16" stockers of a month ago, but clearly a more satisfying challenge. Fish this size will be considered trophies on this stretch if stocking isn't resumed. #12 bh Arnerd nymph works year 'round. Water was clear and very low below Fairview on the low flow stretch, I'd guess 80 cfs or less. We were the only ones fishing but fish were very hard to find. 68 degrees sunny, clear, and warm. Water temp 44 degrees at noon. Not much hatching before 2pm.


Stocked and Will Not Be Stocked Lists from DFG

Click the below links to download PDF files from the DFG.

Waterways & Lakes to Be Stocked

Waterways & Lakes that will not Be Stocked


Judge Approves Trout Stocking Ruling Made Friday 11/21/08 - Nov 22, 2008 - From R. Arner

Below are some articles to inform you on what has been decided. The detailed listing for which waters will be stocked again will be posted on the California DFG website early this week.

Essentially the stocking guidelines are:

The deal allows stocking in reservoirs larger than 1000 acres and smaller ones not connected to rivers or streams. It bans stocking where 16 native fish species and nine frog species are found.

I spoke with Christy McGuire Saturday. While she did not know exactly where in the Kernville area stocking could resume, the info she shared does not bode well, in my opinion, for the Kern River. The Kern River is home to two protected species, golden trout and hardhead. Therefore it indicates continued stocking could impact 2 protected species and stocking could not resume until an EIR is completed and shows resuming stocking would not harm the two species. This typically takes years and millions of dollars which the state can ill afford with the current budget crisis.

Trout in the Classroom fry rearing and planting is unaffected.

The prognosis for Lake Isabella is potentially better because it is over 1,000 acres and man made. Stay tuned.

Articles you may find worth a read are:

Judges Ruling

Redding Article

CSPA Article more details on future stocking parameters

Pacific River Council (one of two parties) that flied the law suit


Fishing Report - Rich Arner - Nov 20, 2008

Just got off the Upper Kern River. The fishing has dropped off considerably. This is typical when stocking drops off. While I netted 18 between 8am and 1pm. I had to try 7 spots and bushwhack to get to most of them. Most fish were 8"-10" wild fish in very out of the way spots I'd not fished before. The 3 spots I tested in the Kernville area were much slower this week. I did land 2 @15" that likely were planted last week. Fishing pressure was high for a Thursday as practically every turnout to the Johnsondale Bridge had a vehicle parked on it.

I spoke to one set of baiters and two sets of fly fishers and they all had very slow days. They mentioned that no stocking had occurred this week up there. I know they stocked Lakes Truxton and Riverwalk on Tuesday here in BFL. Between Nov and Feb they usually stock the Lower River and BFL lakes consistently and bi-weekly in the Kernville area below KR3 to Riverside Park (and rarely above KR3). Water temp 45 degrees and very little hatch activity. Air temp around 65 degrees at noon.

I just got some news on stocking from a friend while typing this and it is not good. Apparently legal action has been filed against the DFG to stop stocking until EIR's are done. I suspect stocking may be affected on waters like the Upper Kern with protected native species like the Kern River Rainbow, Golden Trout and etc.? Check out this web site This could be a huge issue locally and its extent far reaching. Stay tuned.

If you head up this weekend be prepared to enjoy the scenery because landing fish will probably be a bonus. I got some nice pics of gold on the river.

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - Nov 13, 2008

The forecast for today was a warm 79 degrees in Kernville. In mid-November that means do what you can to go fishing on the Upper Kern. As I drove up 178 in the canyon things were foggy on the river from Richbar all the way to Kernville. Lake Isabella was covered in a 500' thick white blanket. At about Kernville it dissipated. The first 2 runs I stopped at in Kernville were already taken before 8am. I went to a third and tossed a dry dropper and tugged streamers for an hour without a bump.

Hit a fourth spot and landed 21 with 3 over 16" in about an hour. Then the spinners/baiters showed and casted all around me and over me. This is typical Nov - Feb as few spots in Kernville are planted and everyone congregates to those areas. Makes for a lot more elbow to elbow fishing. I marched off on my own and had a long stretch to myself. Landed 5 more up to 14" and they were not as chubby but there was far more satisfaction in landing these wary fish that had escaped the pressure of the last two months. I quit around noon as I was very cold (didn't think I needed wading fleece). Water temp 45 degrees and air temp didn't exceed 65 degrees so the weather man was off by almost 15 degrees. KR3 is generating power and flows are down substantially below Fairview Dam (I'd guess < 100cfs) and the Upper Kern River is running very clear. 26 in the net in about 4 hours. Pretty good for November if you don't mind crowding.

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - Oct 23, 2008

The weather continues to be warm and conducive to wading on the Upper Kern this week. I covered the same water as last week and there was a marked drop in fish in the river over the same two 1/4 mile stretches of river I fished last week. Last week I took 30+ and on the same stretches this week took just 6. So we trekked over some new water on the low flow section. I found a 1/4 mile stretch that produced a dozen fish in an hour but only 2 were over a foot long most were thin 8" -10". I assumed that stocking has been reduced above KR3 as is usual after mid- October. We decided to head toward Kernville and went to try a favored spot that usually produces in winter. I went over it thoroughly with out a bump. We looked way down stream and saw some baiters having some luck. Had a great conversation with two of them and they are part of the Friends of the Hatchery and they said that stocking this week was below the town of Riverkern and will likely be that way through spring :-( We poked around a new area for us and found a great little stretch with aggressive fatty's taking dries and nymphs.

It was a great finish to a beautiful warm fall day that will be harder to experience over the next few months. Landed 31 on the day in about 6 hours and kept a string of 4 straight +30 days. I suspect that it will be hard to extend the string much longer as the stocking is focused below Lake Isabella and the lakes in Bakersfield. We observed fishers on every turn today and the pressure is very high from JDB to Kernville. The river on this stretch will quickly be depleted over the next few weeks and has been typical the last 4 years. Kern Murky worked in the before 11 AM and the brown #12 BH nymph was the ticket in the PM.


Fishing Report - Rich Arner - Oct 16, 2008

With a drop in gasoline prices and air temps I decided to head up and had the best day of 2008. Landed 50 rainbows in about 5 hours. The average fish is heavier and longer this year. The last few years 12" was the median and now I think it is 13.5" or maybe my measure net is shrinking? The largest was 18" and another dozen 14" -17". The water below McNally's has cleared to 5' again and water temp 50 degrees at 10AM near Kernville. Hatches started coming off at 11AM. Not much surface feeding action observed and I only took 3 fish on the surface. This is normal heading into late October.

My #12 BH KernMurky worked great until 10AM when the light was less direct on the river. Then switched over to my bead head brown #12 stonefly. The pressure this year has caused me to try and explore more areas on the Upper Kern. Fish seem to be in different areas and favored spots of years passed are increasingly less productive?

October 15th usually marks the peak fishing on the Upper Kern as more fish are stocked below Isabella and less above KR3. After Turkey Day no stocking has occurred above KR3 and most of the fish are stocked below Lake Isabella. Too bad, above KR3 is a much easier and enjoyable fishery for most fly fishers even if it is a longer drive. I'm surprised the businessmen of Kernville don't lobby to continue stocking above KR3 even while they continue to stock in Kernville below KR3 through the winter.



Fishing Report - Rich Arner - Oct 2, 2008

Fished the Upper Kern today and landed 36 in 4 hours. At least 10 fish 15" - 16.5". Very few fish under 13". My buddy landed his biggest two fish ever today on the Kern. Air temp around 80-85. The river below Fairview is getting much murkier. Visibility less than 2'. May be some storms recently dirtied things up again? Hard to wade. I did very well on my KernMurky. Fishing pressure less below Fairview but many folks still hammering above Fairview Dam where it is clearer (6' visibility) . Water temp was 55-60 degrees. Pumped stomachs and fish were taking #20 -#18 baetis nymphs where I was. My #12 bh KernMurky worked just great; few hits on the surface stonefly today.

Oh I forgot to mention on one of my last drifts of the day I thought I snagged a tree limb. I pulled up a brand new ultra light Shakespere Ultralight Rod and reel. First time I came off the river with an extra rod and reel ;-)


Fishing Report - Brian Adams - Oct 2, 2008

I spent 5 days last week in the Mammoth area. I fished the lower Owens the Big Springs, Rush Creek and Hot Creek. Hot Creek by far the best with 14 fish landed and 4 over 16 inches. I did some side trips to Mono Lake, Bristlecone Pine Forest and up to Whitney Portal Road for some great photos. My fishing partner was the fish dog Cricket.


Fishing Report - Rich Arner - Sept 28, 2008

Broke away on Thursday hoping to avoid crowds on the Upper Kern because high air temps+95 degrees were forecasted. It was hot above the water and so was the fishing. Finally a good fishing day closer to what normally occurs in September. I was able to find a couple runs below Fairview that had few fishers on them. Landed 35 in about a 4.5 hour time frame. Averaged 8/hr. At least 6 bows were +15" and chubby so recent plants no doubt. Had to cover a lot of river but was picking up a trout every 20 yards or so on both stretches. Lots of top water action on a foam stonefly after 10:30 am. Missed one 4 pounder who smacked my indicator fly; he just didn't snag the hook :-( Got the blood pumping for sure. Water temps around 67 below Fairview. Above Fairview around 63 but lots more pressure and harder to find a quiet place. #12 bh stonefly nymphs working as usual hung deep. Still no diversion by SoCal Edison to generate power in months. That is very good for the fishery because flows below 100 cfs would likely be very bad for trout below Fairview Dam. Water not crystal clear below Fairview but flashy flies not required to get lots of hookups.

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - Aug 21, 2008

I thought I'd fish the Upper Kern expecting markedly better conditions (based on some web postings) than what I observed 3 weeks ago while rafting below KR3. As we drove passed the KR3 powerhouse few cars were pulled in the turnouts and I thought, "Wow no one knows how good it is". No one parked at Thunderbird in August in low flows?"

We geared up and when we got to the river it was still dark brown and visibility less than 2 feet. Bummer, absolutely not "clear and beautiful - very wadable" . No wonder few were parked on the turnouts. After dinking around for 30 minutes I started landing footlong trout on bh nymphs tied with green crystal flash that worked well for me 5 years ago after the McNally fire kept the Upper Kern murky for a year. Water temp was 67 degrees at 9 AM. I got bumps on the point fly - #10 foam stonefly every 10 minutes as I waded around. Braille wading is required below McNallys as you can't see bottom when in over your knees.

We rigged up and started driving up river stopping every 2 miles and the river remained murky and less than 2' visiability above McNallys. Above Fairview Dam the Kern was clearer and about 5' visibility and was more of a green cast not dark brown. We parked and hit the water where it looked much better. I spent the next hour fly casting as I only got one bump. I coverd a 1/2 mile of water and as I went up river a half dozen spin casters next to the road were trying their luck without success. This was an area that was very productive last summer but nada today for anyone. I believe just like last year fisherman are concentrating in the 3 miles between Fairview Dam and the Johnsondale Bridge because it is good looking water compared to water below Fairview. I'd guess this will be true through Labor Day.

We got back in the car headed up further and pulled over at a new spot I'd never considered before. It was much better here and I landed a fat 4lb pristine 20" male stocker on the 5th cast. I took 3 fish +15" over the next 1/4 mile all on my bh arnerd nymph and on one the #10 foam stonefly - by the way Cabelas is out of them for the rest of the season :-(. I averaged 4/hr landed which is great in January but my lowest count in August I can remember. The air temps were around 85 degrees and it was a good day to be on the water. I hadn't taken a fish over 16" since 2006. Think I'll wait to go after Labor Day when the pressure is off a little and maybe it will clear some ? below Fairview Dam. Let's hope the heavy pressure won't push more baiters above Johnsondale Bridge. I suspect web postings for that area will lure more poachers into the special regs section and when they find out regulations enforcement has been lackluster they will have a field day :-(

Tight Lines,

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River Report - July 19, 2008

Heavy thunderstorms above the Piute fire, and above areas on the upper Kern affected by fires a couple of years ago, have turned both the upper and lower river into a silty/sooty mess.  Water clarity on the upper Kern River was under 1 foot early this week.  The power plants shutdown due to the high volume of silt in the water, so no water was being divereted between Fairview Dam and Kernville meaning higher water in the low flow section of the river.  The hatchery reports that they are still operating and the fish are fine.  They have a dirty mess to clean up though.

Click on the link below to see footage shot by Kern County Fire Department's helicopter.  They were diverted from working the Piute fire when the thunderstorms started and shot video footage of the first flash flood coming down the creek into Lake Isabella.


Fishing Report - Rich Arner - July 1, 2008

I took a trip up on the Upper Kern today because flows dropped to 900 cfs at Kernville and I assumed that electricity was being generated to power all of our AC units. SoCal Edison usually diverts 600 cfs on the low flow section and that would drop flows to 300 cfs below Fairview to KR3 Powerhouse. Well I got to the Upper River around 8:30 AM and it was pretty clear little or no diversion is occurring today. I did a great deal of searching to find any slow water but when I finally found some trout were willing. I had to fish very deep to +4' below an indicator foam stone fly to begin hooking up. Water visibility was less than 5'. I hooked fish on my brown #12 bh stonefly imitation and I added a more visible # 14 bh red copper john. It worked to get me 5 bows/hr to the net but I LDR'd more than I netted. With flows this high the nymphs were swirling around below and I think that made it hard to detect strikes and set the hook. My stonefly got bumped 6 times around midday but I couldn't hook them.

I bumped into campers who said every available camp area (including all of the overflow spots by Mountain Route 99)was occupied this past weekend and fisherman were everywhere along the river. Today I saw few anglers. I guess the high cost of gasoline isn't affecting the weekend crowding or perhaps LA folks that normally would drive to Mammoth/Bishop can buy less gas and visit the Kern? I visited the Mammoth area this past weekend and the crowds were down from last year according to the fly shop there.

The Upper Kern River was 64 degrees at 11 AM. I pumped some stomachs and most fish were taking #18-20 adult midges and larvae. Most fish were lean and under a foot long (hope the hatcheries aren't feeding them less with the budget crunch) but the last fish of the day measured 15.5" and was portly. If anyone knows how to reach SoCal Edison to get the latest diversion data let us know. Right now the SoCal Edison flow phone number has not worked for months. There are few places that can be waded easily at this time and I won't be back up until things settle down more. Let's hope the fire situation improves as it is moving north toward Isabella and Kernville but thankfully is several miles away at this time.

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 11/15/07

Went up today to scout the river for my Turkey Day guests next week and enjoy the great warm weather. Unfortunately the fishing has gone south quickly. The last two trips netted 41, 23 and 19 today. However more of my fish were wild fingerlings 6" - 8" this trip. I've never caught so many wild fingerlings over the last 3 weeks which is a very good thing. I've been fishing between Fairview Dam and KR3 and this area got very warm in July-Sept but these fish survived. One thing to keep in mind is that because of the low water conditions SoCal Edison has not diverted any water for months off of this stretch so it has received >120 cfs all year. The last 3 years flows typically dropped below 80 cfs on the low flow section stressing the natural reproduction in this area. It appears even with the higher summer water temps the extra water flows over compensated for the warm water temps.

The hatchery web site indicates there has not been any stocking since the week of October 28th. Based on my observations I think it may be true and not just an oversight to update the web page, it's possible that I could be wrong. However, there is a lot of evidence to support my conclusion. My fishing buddy and I checked out 6 different spots and couldn't find evidence that the Upper Kern was stocked recently anywhere. Normally in these spots you can see fish and we couldn't find any. We even checked out the stretch between KR3 and Kernville where stocking has been concentrated in late fall and winter and no fish or fisherman seen. Where I did find success it occurred on hard to get to spots that aren't stocked. I've talked to a dozen bait/fly anglers in the last week and the majority of them have been skunked. The heavy pressure on the last few weekends coupled with the apparent decrease in stocking has nearly purged a lot of the popular easy to wade spots. I waded through areas that have held fish the last 2 months and no fish scoot out - another indication that fish aren't there either. Water temp 50 at noon and has dropped very little over the last month. Air temp and blue sky perfect. BWO hatch at mid day. No signs of surface takes though. A lot fewer vehicles in the pull outs this week so the local regulars must know the stocking has dropped off in this section and the best fishing is over for the year I'd guess. I hope an indication of restocking occurs soon. My guests next week aren't strong waders so stocking those easy to wade spots is important to them. If not given the likely crowds for next week's holiday we just might stay home - last year was a zoo. The Lower Kern may be where the river may be improving quickly as the stocking truck moves down river.

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Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 10/21/07

Weather perfect and water conditions still perfect (temp 52 degrees at noon). Landed 31 in 4 hours. Started before 8:30am to beat the pressure. First hour was great 22 landed. We estimated 50 hook ups in an hour for 2 of us. Fish dispersed over 200 yard section. Then 4 other car loads showed up. Went to next spot few fish over 3/4 mile stretch. Third spot above Fairview loaded with vehicles. Covered 1/2 mile and picked up 6 fish in 50 yard stretch. Three fish 15 -16" and fat here. Others fly fishing there did the same. The area above Fairview is still getting extreme pressure even on a Friday? I'd guess people who were successful this summer(the only place the DFG could stock) are still drawn to the upper area even though stocking is halved now that lower and BFL lakes being stocked. Many fish taken on the surface. Few insects in the air. I'll be fishing Mon - Thurs from now on. Fri - Sun just too crowded - even in Oct?

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 10/18/07

Fishing on the Upper Kern has been excellent the last 3 weeks. Beginning this week the DFG is planting rainbows in Bakersfield in Lakes, Ming, Hart Park, Truxton, and the Lake at River Walk Park. For more details on stocking that is updated weekly check the web site below:


Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 10/12/07

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Finally could get away for a day this month and try and fish the upper. Fishing was much better. Between 9:30am and 1:30 pm I landed 47 and my buddy landed 18. 2 weeks ago (+30 landed) we could only find fish in two pods in 4 different spots we tried and after wading 2 miles. Today fish were more scattered around the river which for me is much more enjoyable/challenging fishing. I was concerned because in July and August the lack of stocking and continued fishing pressure during the low flows and high temps had made a big negative impact on the fishery below Fairview to KR3. Today waded 1/2 mile. The fish were also thinner so I'd guess they were in the river a while. All fish fought hard and lots of aerials. Takes were very subtle and most of the nymph takes were not noted at the indicator fly. Because the upper Kern is running so clear I saw almost all of the subsurface takes before the indicator fly twitched.

My #10 Cabelas foam stonefly was hit often by foot longs and bigger but only landed 2 up top. The #12 BH nymph hung 36" took +30 fish. I tried stripping a #10 bh olive bugger after noon through deeper pools and took the rest. I netted 4 fish 14"-15". I doubt any trophy trout planted in the last month. Fishing pressure was definitely up from my last weekday trip 2 weeks ago so I'd guess the LA crowd is starting to make the pilgrimage and this weekend will be crowded all over the river. If you go this weekend get up early and stake out your spot. Water temps were 53 at 1pm. I pumped 6 stomachs (am and pm) and got very little out of any fish. What little I got were #18 baetis nymphs. A small mayfly hatch occurred after 11 am. Saw just 2 fish rising and they were around 9" and I suspect wild fish?

Fishing Report -Rich Arner - 9/27/07

Conditions on the Upper Kern have finally turned for the better but not great especially compared to this time last year. Cold weather has dropped water temps back to a range where more areas of the Upper Kern can be stocked below Fairview Dam into Kernville. The DFG started planting this stretch on Sept 20th in time for the "California Free Fishing Day" on Saturday, September 22nd . If you weren’t aware there are 2 days each year that no license is required to fish in California. Fish are finally being taken again on our favorite "low flow" section but not in great numbers. Planting ceased for the last 2 months on this
stretch while it continued to receive fishing pressure this resulted in a lot of "skunked days" on this stretch. Prior to the planting last week fish over 10" were scarce there and you had to fish above Fairview to get into sizeable rainbows. As you are aware the recent rains have lifted upper flows from 120cfs to the 160cfs range as we go to print. No word yet on how the rains have affected water visibility. This hot/dry
summer spurned several fires of less than 3,000 acres (way to go fire fighters!!!). Most of these fires occurred near the banks of Upper Kern and its tributaries producing ash, sediment, and debris that will be a concern going forward during the rainy season. We can all breathe a sigh of relief that we did not experience a huge fire like the devastating McNally Fire in the Kern drainage this summer – knock on wood. Enjoy the cool fall weather and get on river mid-week if possible because the weekends have become very pressured well into fall the last 3 years. Improving conditions won’t remain a secret very long.


Conditions on the Upper Kern are still very tenuous, as flows have dropped to 120 cfs. Water temps have dropped a little since July but are still in the 70-degree range after noon. No stocking has occurred below McNally’s to Kernville in weeks as the DFG is focusing on cooler stretches - few fish have survived this stretch. Above McNally’s stocking continues and both baiters and fly fishers have concentrated in those areas so be prepared for close company if you go. Some trophy trout were added recently and caught. Well sort of. Ron G. netted a 28” bow but his story illustrates the river status. He had walked to the river and saw a large fish barely able to keep itself facing upstream and upright. He netted it and spent several minutes trying to revive it. Ron released it near a deeper hole, but doubts it survived very long. I was on the river last week when I spied a pod of planters that wouldn’t take anything. I walked right up to them and they didn’t scatter? I was able to easily net 2 and they barely were moving. I put them in deeper water away from the roadside of the river where they would be less likely to be hooked by baiters. I assume they were recently planted and were stressing over the recent transportation and the warm water (71 degrees at 1 PM). They were only able to remain in a suspended state to avoid overheating and they were near complete exhaustion? I did land 25 fish in 2 hours over a half-mile stretch but I’d guess most of those fish were planted days or weeks before and had acclimated to these warmer conditions. Air temps are forecasted to reach near records for Labor Day weekend and there will be a lot of pressure as well. Several thunderstorms have muddied the kern to visibilities less than 1' as of 8/30/07 and ignited fires in the Golden Trout Wilderness. Let’s hope the rainbows can survive another few weeks.

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 6/7/07

Went up yesterday despite Goldledge fire. Flows are very wadebale below Fairview (140 cfs). Water clear. Fish were scattered and much harder to locate versus a month ago. Covered 1.5 miles of river on 3 of my favorite runs. Glad it was cool ;-) I've been told the fishing pressure is very extreme now on the weekends; about 50% of the turnouts had vehicles today. Landed 25 up to 16" and my buddy landed 14 in four hours. Doubt river stocked this week as of yesterday may be today? Mayflies everywhere, not much surface feeding observed but my foam golden stonefly took 1/3 of the fish landed. Water temp 60 degrees at 1 PM. The fire seemed to be nearly put out but helis shuttling water were constantly flying overhead. Glad they got this under control (see pic below). Hope the first thunderstorms to come don't wash a lot of soot and sediment into the river.

Tight lines,

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Fire Updates Online

Here are a couple of websites to keep up to date on this, and other, fires. - Be advised this site is heavily visited and can be slow or non-responsive at times.   If that occurs, just return to it in 15 or 20 minutes. - National Daily Fire Summary Report


Fire Report - GoldLedge Fire 6/5/07

Below is the latest on a fire growing fast on the Upper Kern

Kernville, CA - Firefighters continue to battle the more than 2400 acre Goldledge fire burning approximately 10 miles northeast of Kernville in the Sequoia National Forest. Fire activity increased today when erratic winds shifted causing the fire to grow in size. This prompted Forest Service Officials to initiate a voluntary evacuation for property owners in the Horse Meadow area on the Kern Plateau, including the Campground Host at Horse Meadow Campground. Approximately 25 private property owners have
summer cabins, trailers and out buildings in this area.

Officials have temporarily closed three forest trails including Salmon Creek, Rincon and Pack Saddle trails for public safety due to the fire. In addition the Cherry Hill road at the intersection of Sherman Pass road south to the Horse Meadow area is closed temporarily.

The Forest Service is asking the public's assistance in locating person's of interest that were seen yesterday leaving the Goldledge campground north of Kernville, driving a white Chevy S-10, with a sliding rear window. Please help the Forest Service by giving us your information at 559-294-4894 or 559-294-GUYI (give us your information).

Customers and employees at the Kern River Golden Trout Resort have not been allowed to return for public safety due to the loss of power and telephone service. Southern California Edison is working on restoring power to the Resort and McNally's Fairview Lodge, located north along Mountain 99.

With the fire continuing to burn in an easterly direction fire officials say the biggest threat is the Horse Meadow community and natural resources in the forested area on the Kern Plateau including valuable wildlife habitat for the California spotted owl, northern goshawk and Pacific fisher.

Firefighters took an aggressive stand yesterday and were able to protect the Kern River Golden Trout Resort from the fire. Mountain 99 remains open but visitors are advised to drive with caution due to emergency vehicles in the area.

Some residual smoke is expected to drift into the Kennedy Meadows community and off the Kern Plateau down to the Ridgecrest and Inyokern areas along Highway 395. Smoke is visible from the Kern River Valley and Kennedy Meadows area.

Approximately 450 firefighters are battling the blaze including fire engines, hand crews, patrols, helicopters, air tankers, and dozers along with miscellaneous support personnel representing the U. S. Forest Service, Kern County Fire Department, Bureau of Land management, CAL-FIRE and Los Angeles County Fire Department.

The cause of the fire is human caused and remains under investigation.


Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 5/10/2007

Made the way up to Kernville today - road construction completed ;-)  Got up in the Upper at about 9:30AM and water was clear and flows very wadeable. The flows were about 700 cfs above Fairview Dam and 160 cfs below it. Landed fish right away on top and bottom. Had 37 to the net by  noon covering 3/4 mile. At least 10 of them were 14" -16" and fat. A fourth of the fish were taken on the dry. Lots of surface activity and bugs flying around everywhere. March browns still prominent. Fish were very strong. The water temp was 62 degrees at 10 am.  Fish were holding in more turbulent water and under rocks like the picture below. We broke for lunch and went up river to a 2nd spot. Hooked up again right away but then things changed around 1pm. Water visibility dropped to 3' or less and river level came up a bit. In the span of 30 minutes the surface activity stopped and the fish stopped biting. Took a water temp of 66 degrees at 2pm when we quit. Landed 41 in just over 4 hours and the air temp was about 85 degrees when we quit. Saw few anglers - with the exception of two bait guys who took 8 each and were going to take as many as they could  :-(   

I think a significant melt is on and we got the last great hours on the river for a while.  As I type this (5pm) the upper has surged to over 900 cfs above Fairview and 330 cfs below Fairview dam (that's more than double the flow we started with today)  It may be time to hit other waters now. The high flows probably won't last a month but I'm concerned that water temps are going to hit +70 degrees as soon as the melt ends. This could be a very stressful season for trout.

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Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 4/13/07

Had a final outing for Trout in the Classroom today which wrapped up around 11am. Thought that the Upper Kern might be worth a try because SoCal Edison started diverting water at Fairview Wednesday 4/11and the "low flow" section had been dropping 100 cfs daily and was 150 cfs before I left this AM. When I finally hit the river at noon the water was nearly clear as September on the low flow section and I knew I'd have a good day even though it's Friday the 13th. Additionally, the river has been stocked regularly the last month and the fly fishing has been lackluster because of the high flows reducing visibility. When the flows dropped the sediments fell out and the fish could see a fly again. I could wade wherever I wanted to in waist waders. I believe the flows were below 100 cfs by noon below Fairview. I put away the bright flies and went back to the reliable bh nymphs and fished 3' deep. Landed 24 in and hour and a half. The takes were strong and only had 2 LDR's. Had to leave around 1:30PM for a swim meet. Lots of insects (mayflies) flying around. No stoneflies. Had some bumps on top but the bh nymph was doing great (16 fish/hr) so why change ;-) Caught the fish in pockets over a half mile of river. No pods of fish. Some fat some slim so I was catching recent stockers and others that probably were in the river a while. Water temp 52 degrees and air temp 74 degrees with slight wind. Get up there before half of LA finds out !!! I doubt these conditions will last long once things start heating up again and the melt resumes. Check the flow phone first 1-877-537-6356. Kern basin snow pack at just 19% which is the worst in 3 decades from what I've been told. Let's hope summer isn't too hot and we get a late spring snow storm up high!


These guys everywhere. March Brown mayflies I'd guess  Clear Water Again!!!

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 03/15/07

Mike I. and I were up in Kernville today to support the Trout in the Classroom at the hatchery. We decided to fish a little before the 1PM class and hoped to tie into a sizeable spawner. When we arrived at the river around 1100AM the water temp was 51 degrees below KR3 ... ... that's the good part. Visibility has dropped substantially. The water is dark brown and visibility is less than 2'. Folks who fished as late as Monday reported the Upper Kern was running clear and cold. I immediately knew I should fish bright flies. We had no bumps at all the first hour. We went above KR3 and tried again. I managed to cross (flows above 500 cfs) and landed 5 in an hour on a Cabelas red glow bug and had 4 LDR's. Other bright flies didn't get a take. Aggressive wading required. No diversion at Fairview yet to generate power for all of those AC units kicking on in SoCal? Go figure

We had to meet our group at 1pm where we met with the hatchery manager and he shared some additional disappointing news. First the snow pack is less than 50% of normal and the high altitude pack (which supplies the mid-summer flows) is at just 28% of normal. The next 10 days have no sign of moisture and March typically averages the highest precipitation of the year. I also asked him if we will be seeing some of the whopper fish that have been placed in the Kings the last several weeks. He was disappointed to report it looks like we won't be getting any of those any time soon. That's a mixed bag; less excitement but could reduce some of the increasing fishing pressure on the river - a good thing IMHO. The Lower Kern was chocolate milk on the way home.

This hot weather could usher in one of the earliest peak flows in decades and it could be very low again well before the 4th of July. Greg will be planting the same numbers of fish so that more fish per cubic yard of river but the high sierra streams and wild populations will be very stressed this year in the GTW. Handle with care if you fish there.

Think snow,

Fishing Report - Brian Adams - 02/17/07

Saturday Feb. 17th was our outing to the Kings River. With one wrong turn, a tire blow out and a scenic tour thru the foot hills we finally made it to the parking area at Avocado Lake. There were 12 of our club members in attendance as well as the Fresno club so there was no shortage of people. As I said in the last newsletter this would be a learning experience as none of us had fished this area before. Thank you to the Fresno club for the tips on how to fish this river. We had a few hook ups but I think the only fish landed was a very nice rainbow around 6 or 7 lbs by Teresa. A few of us got to witness this and photograph the fish and figure out we need a bigger net. The Fresno club has been catching fish to 30 inches using tippet down to 3x and still breaking these pigs off. The river is really nice because rocks and boulders have been placed through out it for structure but I recommend fishing this mid week because of the crowds on the week ends.

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Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 01/28/07

Thirty members of the Kern River Fly Fishers ventured up to the Lower Owens for the weekend before the Super Bowl to hook into feisty wild browns. This is a great spot to fish while we wait for the "fished out?" Kern to be re-supplied with rainbows, hopefully before the spring runoff. The weather was gorgeous Thursday through Saturday with sunny 65-degree afternoons. While baetis were hatching everywhere all day the mid-day sipping fest that usually pervades the lunch hour really never occurred this trip. However around 4:30 pm daily fish rose for a dry fly treat to wrap up the day. Deep nymphing tiny baetis imitations proved to be the best technique, which allowed one of our lucky members to take 26 browns on Friday. Fishing pressure was moderate and has been greater in February. Just a great time to experience one of the most picturesque fly fishing venues in California. In addition to the great fishing we had a grand time feasting on fine dining Friday and Saturday night while we reminisced over the day's quarries and compared notes on what flies worked, when the fish feasted, how deep, and tried to pry out where those honey holes were found. We all learn more every time we go.

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Remember that the New Zealand mud snails are prevalent in all the waters in this areas and the surest way to eradicate them from your waders is to put your waders in the freezer for 24 hours (they can survive a month out of water on your waders and boots). We don't want to introduce these buggers to our beloved Kern or the Bakersfield lakes. A big thanks goes out to John Kidd (The Lower Owens Master) for organizing this outing and providing a ton of fishing/tying demonstration and advice to our group. We couldn't have half the fun and learning without your contributions. I'm already thinking about next year when we will also have a chance to fish Hot Creek on the same trip, as it will become a year 'round fishery soon. Enjoy some of the photo memories I captured on the club's most popular fun fish fest.

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 11/21/06

The low flow section on the Upper Kern remains very low at just 50 cfs and easy to wade, however, it has not been stocked consistently but has received a lot of fishing pressure because of the attraction of the occasional large fish being caught and posted on popular web sites with heavy traffic. The number of fish taken has dropped significantly but the river is lined with golden splendor and is warm and sunny when it's cold and clammy down here.  No trophy trout have been planted since September but some have survived the heavy worm and powerbait harvesting ;-)  Perhaps some large fish have moved up from Lake Isabella below Kernville as well?  This week local lakes Truxtun, Ming, and Hart Park will have trout planted.

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 11/14/06

Got some time freed up and went fishing on the upper Tuesday. I decided to try some new water again and worked great the first hour landed 7 up to 14" and 4 of those on dries. The next 2 hours were slow and I netted 3 more. Had a chance at another half dozen. Few fished spooked out of holding water while wading. No stocking above KR3 now for 3 weeks. Water temp was 53 degrees at 11 AM. Almost every fish I landed went airborne. Last week I don't think a single hooked fish jumped? Weird. Very breezy and casting was difficult for much of the 3 hours I fished. I saw quite a few baiters and spin fisherman for a Tuesday. Several camped out at Hospital Flat so I completely by passed that area. From what others have told me it has been fished hard the last 2 weeks. Weather was great and I managed to net double digits in 3 hours, however, I covered more water than any trip this year. The reduced planting coupled with the higher than normal number of fishers (for November) probably has made things pretty tough. The Lower Owens can be very good in December and that may be a better spot to consider. Unfortunately at this time the Lower Owens is at 600 cfs so not very wadeable now. Drifting  there may be productive?

Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 11/07/06

Low flows section just 47 cfs today so decided to get up on the Upper Kern on the last warm day of the year. Landed 12 in about 3 hours. I had 3 nice trout between 11AM and 2 PM attracted to my foam golden stonefly but they wouldn't bite. So I tied on a #20 para adams with an olive body and they sucked it in each time. Because of the very low flows below Fairview I decided to fish a lot of new water for me. I had plenty of spots to choose because I think I only saw 5 different vehicles pulled over to hunt or fish today. After fishing for about 20 minutes and landing 3 healthy bows to 14" I came upon a deeper pool that looked real fishy. I was able to stay behind a large boulder and cast up stream to a riffle that dumped into the larger pool. My first cast was right on target. After a 6' drift the indicator fly hesitated and I set. No fish but I noticed a large tail deep below the riffle I was trying to exploit. I made a second cast that was too far left and quickly recasted to the sweet spot. I waited for a take and I got it but the hook didn't penetrate. The trout moved his head to the left slightly and I got a chance to see his head. It was a big fish and I had got him to take twice and I knew that I'd probably spooked him. I was bummed but wasn't going to give up yet.  I persisted and made another cast right in the sweet spot again and focused on any minute twitch on the dry. The third strike was a charm!   When I finally hooked him and he turned broad side and took off, my heart just stopped at the size of him. I thought for sure I'd have no chance to land him on my 9ft 4wt Avid fly rod and 4lb Vanish fluro tippet. I let him run. I think I held my breath the whole time and walked down stream 50 yards just holding on for dear life. It was a good thing the river flows were low. He made several runs up and down stream and did the head shake shuffle. After 10 minutes of tugging near the breaking point I got him in the net .....       ..... he barely fit.  Snapped this picture and took a video (visit our photo page to see the video). He was thick and beautiful (25" and 6 lbs I'd guess); I just didn't want to let him go. I sat there helping him resuscitate calmly in my cradled hands and I thought of the movie scene in "A River Runs Through It" where Brad Pit is standing in the river holding a large trout and his brother said, " I stood there looking at my brother standing there and I realized I was watching perfection." I didn't think there could be a more beautiful moment in time holding a wonderful creature on a perfect autumn day standing in the sun on at clear river lined in golden splendor. Is this sappy or what?  Just a beautiful day to be on the river. Water temp 52 degrees at 11:00 AM. I've spoken with the hatchery manager since and found out that no bonus trout have been planted since September. I've been lucky enough to land a dozen of these trophies from 17" - 25" since mid-August. I always go back to the same spot usually a week later to see if I can recatch them but have never hooked up big fish in the same place twice. These fish must move around a lot. I've hooked them all on my bh nymph. I would have thought many would have been harvested quickly. In the last month the total fish I land has dropped to 1/3 of the numbers in Sept/Aug but the number of fat boys has stayed roughly the same. Perhaps the herons are taking a lot of the footlongs but the fat boys are too big to swallow? Stocking on the upper has been every other week since September too. That's driving the number of fish available to land down quickly.  While the river is cooling down fast the solitude of the thinning crowds still make the Upper Kern great place to spend the day even if you don't hook up.

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Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 10/27/06

The flows on the low flow section below Fairview dam were dropped yesterday. Not sure how long the flows will be below 100 cfs but I decided to give it a try. Fish were much harder to find today. Many of the runs that usually hold fish did not have trout scurry away as I waded through them. The Upper Kern River was not planted this week.  One of the highlights of the day, I was able to take 3 bows to 14" on dry flies(#12 para adams) that were sipping flies around noon. Air temp about 45 at 10 am and the water temp was 46 degrees. No takes the first 2 hours. I decided to fish an out of the way spot and landed two  on bh nymph. Even though wading is much easier than last week, I took a slip and went in. Thanks goodness things warmed up later because the water is cold!!! We moved on to two other spots and the fish seemed to become more active after noon. I managed to land a dozen and was ready to call it quits after four hours when I decided to try one more run in a spot I haven't fished in 2 years. Got a hard set in some foamy water and the fish just head shaked and didn't move much. After about two minutes of staying in a small 10' circle  he practically swam into the net but when I touched him it was like someone touched him with an electric cattle prod. The fish took off taking line into fast water and went down stream several pools.  After lots of boulder hopping and 15 minutes of tugging I got to a point where he was either going into rapids or I was going to break him of. I decided to pull hard. Good thing I was using 4x flouro because the line held. I put my camera on a rock and set the timer and snapped this shot.     20" fatty -great finish to the day.

Fish were fewer this week (caught 9 fish/hr after noon last Friday) and the last guy was worth it. Before you go you can check the latest flows at the SoCal Flow phone on the North Fork of the Kern River at 1.877.537.6356 to get some idea if you want to take on the river if it is higher between Fairview and KR3.

Tight Lines,

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Fishing Report - Rich Arner - 10/20/06

Decided to try the upper Kern  on Friday even though the flows were 3 times higher on the low flow section. Fishing was much tougher. Nearly went swimming twice. My legs are shot from all of the power wading but the effort was worth it. The first two hours I only landed two footlongs.  Tried a lot of different tactics. Fishing deeper, different nymphs, high stick euro-nymphing, extra weight. Didn't have a sinking line to strip streamers and that might work well too?Hard to find spots with drifts > 5'. Went with large #8 foam stonefly pattern(my #10 kept bobbing under and I may have missed a lot of strikes) and one single weighted bh nymph and finally started hooking up when I managed to wade to hard to reach spots. Landed   28 the last 3 hours. All on nymph and the foam fly got bumped a lot but was too big to fit in a footlong's mouth. One fatty a hair under 20" . Glad I swithced to my 5wt and 4x flourocarbon tippet. I'd have no chance at landing him with the 4wt and 4# flouro in the heavier current. Flows were increased 3X last Sunday. After talking to campers/fishers most of the areas stocked on Thursday were not fishing great. Most of the fish I caught were not chubby and I suspect were in the river at least 2 weeks since the last stocking or before. Water temp 49 degrees at 11AM. They will stop stocking the upper when river drops below 45 degrees and that may be sooner than later because water temp last week was 54 degrees. If the trend continues we could be below 45 degrees by the next scheduled stocking in 2 weeks. Bummer. Lower is flowing at a trickle. If they stock it fish will be concentrated there ;-) If you go to the upper aggresive wading with a staff and cleated wading boots are essential for success.

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Fishing report - Rich Arner -10/18/06

I got a confirmation today from John Descary who fished the low flow section yesterday. Thanks for the update!!! He said the wading is much more difficult and he fell in twice and that the water is cold too!!! The SoCal Edison phone line says flows below Fairview are up to 288 cfs from just 94 cfs last week.  If you go up and try to fish the areas that have been placid the last 2 months be prepared for a big change. Make sure you take your wading staff, wading belt, and I highly recommend studded felt soles on your wading boots. If you want to try something different where the wading is easy and the fish plentiful. The Kern River in town is drawn way down and carp fishing couldn't be easier. Carping isn't a activity I've taken up yet but in some spots it's like shooting fish in a barrel because the river is so low. I snapped a photo from the bike path Sunday of a large pod of them (largest pushing 30 inches).

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Fishing report - Rich Arner -10/06/06

Went up today 10/12 on the upper Kern  because rain in forecast for Friday. Flows below Fairview 94cfs. I went back to last week's 25" hog spot and saw two styrofoam worm cups emptied next to a tree that wasn't  there last week. Held my breath and casted to the hog hole. No fat boy but landed 4 in 8 casts; one had a egg hook in the gullet with mono leader attached. I cut off all I could and released it. Fish were far apart and we had the water to ourselves. I was ready to call it a day around noon when I had a footlong rise to my dry and missed it. Then I recasted to the same spot and a big fish came from no where and grabbed the nymph. I can't believe I couldn't see the fish as it lay in a foot of water before it struck. This fish was strong and headed up river with me following behind. After five minutes of stumbling upstream I finally got close enough to try and net him. Net touched tail fin and off he went across the river then down to a lower pool I had to give him line. He stopped for 10 seconds and I put some pressure on him and he shook head hard. Then he took off down stream toward another pool! I went down after him and after a 50 yard run/stumble I caught up with him and he was exhausted (me too). He barely fit in the net width wise. My fishing buddy snapped this photo. He fished the same spot I hooked him in 30 minutes earlier.  Needless to say he was bummed he hadn't hooked him. I wish he had, he's been very persistant and moved up the fly fishing learning curve fast. This fish had the reddest band I've seen and he was 20" and every bit of 4 lbs. We fished another spot below KR3 and I hooked an even bigger fish for 5 seconds but he rolled off. Two spinner fisherman witnessed it and immediately moved in on my spot and I didn't get a second chance. They agreed it was +5 lbs. I was ready to call it a day but we fished 30 more minutes and I landed some footlongs and a wild fish. 22 landed today and the river was not stocked this week. They will alternate lower and upper weekly stocking until water drops to 45 degrees and then only the lower and BFL lakes will be stocked. Not very many great days left up there I'm afraid. The rains may murk things up Friday too? Check the flows before you go. This season has been excellent and it's hard to imagine a better year. I've been lucky enough to land 8 trophy (17" - 25") fish in 9 trips.

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Fishing report - Rich Arner -8/04/06

Saw that flows had dropped to 750 cfs on the upper kern so called the SoCal Edison number and found the flows were 170 cfs below Fairview Dam. I left the house at 7:30 AM and hoped that the traffic construction on 178 wouldn't be too much of a delay. Lucked out and only had one minor stop above Democrat where they were constructing some more turnouts. All the other construction near Rio Bravo took the day off. As I finally neared my favorite spots on the Upper Kern my stomach felt queasy because there were multiple vehicles at every turn out from below River Kern beyond Hospital Flat. The Kernville Park river stretch was lined with bait fisherman. I realized everyone was here to start their weekend early on Friday in anticipation of the improving conditions. Most of the campsites were near full too. So I started at the first spot that seemed uncrowded.

I went to the water and it was fairly clear with 8' visibility and tea stained. Wading was OK but has been better - a lot of deeper holes gouged out in areas I could cross with ease last year. I wade using waist waders primarily to keep me from wading deeper than I should ;-) It was hard to find spots to cross and I should have brought my wading staff in hind sight. I wanted to cross over to where the "take" fishers had not harvested for much of the summer. It proved to be a good strategy.

I used my usual set up with #10 foam stonefly pattern and the #12 bh nymph I tie 40" below the top fly and started hooking up in the slower pools in 4-6' deep areas. Water temp was 65 degrees at 9:30AM. Averaged over 12 fish/hr for four hours with about 1/5 taking the foam Cabelas stonefly. Takes were more subtle but many fish pulled hard up river. Landed a dozen fish in the 14" - 16" range and a handful of wild fish too. Most 11-13 inches and chubby. No skinny fish all day. I took a temp at noon and it was 70 degrees ;-(. I could tell the bows were starting to stress and I released quickly after reviving so no photos of the biggest fish that I caught after noon. Covered about ¾ mile stretch of river and had to return home at 1PM. My shoulder was sore from all of the mending and tugging and still beat up from a Maui surfing day with my kids earlier in the week.

Attached are pics of stomach pumpings earlier in the day from 9am - 11am. Most fish were taking midge larvae at about size 18. If this is any indication of what the fall is going to be like we're in for a great time. When I walked back to my car on the road all of the vehicles in the turnouts were gone by 1PM? I walked by 8 spin and bait fisherman as I waded up river and didn't see any one hook up? I had the river to myself at noon and the air temp was around 90. Not sure if fishers limited out or didn't have any luck. Didn't see a fly fisher all day?

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Fishing Report - Steve S. - 07/01/06

Something unusual for people this year.  People were actually able to fish the Kern River from Stockdale Highway all the way to the California Aquaduct.   Because the flood gates were open to let the Kern River water flow into the Aquaduct, the stripper bass found new waters to swim.  I heard some reports of people catching very nice size stripper in the Enos Lane (Hwy 43) area.  A co-worker took his grandson fishing in that area last weekend and they caught around 30 fish in the river and water retension pond in just a couple of hours.  All of the fish were on the smaller size.  The river was still running decently then.

I went fishing this morning (7/1) for a few hours in that area and found that the flows of the river had been basically turned off sometime this week.  The water is not flowing under Enos Lane anymore and is just ponding between the Aguaduct and the weir about 1/2 mile upstream from Enos Lane.  There are still stripper in the ponded areas (I saw several jumping during a small hatch).  Above the weir the river still has some moving water.  Between the river and the pond I caught a blue gill, several baby stripper and a few small mouth bass.

River Update - 7/1/06

Earlier this week the Army Corp of Engineers turned control of the Lake Isabella Dam back over to local authorities.  The peak of the snow melt has past and the lake is leveling off near their desired level.  Because of the conerns of seapage at the Auxilary Dam, the Corp wants to keep the lake at 63% of capacity or lower while they study the problem and work towards a solution.  Lake Isabella is still around 67% of capacity so the flows in the Lower Kern River, below the dam will remain high for a little while longer.  Peak flows were kept at 4500-4900 cfs for several weeks during the peak snow melt time period.  The flow on the lower river has been dropped to around 2900 cfs as of today.

As we learn more about the situation with the dam or the flows on the river, we will post the information here.

Highway 178 Update - 06/01/06

Cal-Trans has added some pavement and done some lane adjustments so that there is two way traffic around the damage in the highway near the RichBar area.  The lower river is still flowing in the 4500cfs range and will for several weeks to come.   The lane diversion could be long term until the Army Corp of Engineers have been able to drop the Lake level down to a point they can then lower the river flow.  They Highway could be closed entirely if further damage occurs.  Monitor road conditions at the California Department of Transportation's website at

For information on the ongoing situation with the Lake Isabella Dam, visit the Army Corp of Engineers' Lake Isabella Dam Home Page -

If we learn more, we will post something here.


Highway 178 Update - 5/11/06

Due to the high volume of water being release from Lake Isabella (4500 cfs as of Wednesday), road damage has started to occur along Highway 178 in the Kern River Canyon.  The highway has been put down to one lane in the area of Call Box #2.   The lane closure could be long term until the Army Corp of Engineers have been able to drop the Lake level down to a point they can then lower the river flow.  They Highway could be closed entirely if further damage occurs.  Monitor road conditions at the California Department of Transportation's website at .  For pictures of the damage, visit some of the local news websites for a link.

KUZZ Radio News -
KGET TV News -
KBAK TV News -
KERO TV News -

For information on the ongoing situation with the Lake Isabella Dam, visit the Army Corp of Engineers' Lake Isabella Dam Home Page -

If we learn more, we will post something here.


Fishing Report by Rich Arner - 4/6/06

Fished the Lower Kern yesterday for 3 hours after a Trout in the Classroom presentation  with Don H and Larry M from the club. I landed  4 on bright streamers and a day glo orange egg pattern(red didn't work). My buds were skunked Larry M was using a KE which should have worked because I think the fish were keying on those fluorescent powerbait yellows/green/pink colors. Less than  2' visibility so naturally colored flies probably can't be seen?  They didn't get me any strikes. No surface activity at all and few bugs flying around. There were few people fishing the lower so we could go where we wanted;-) . Even with the fresh stocking this week on the Upper Kern it wasn't enough to lure me up to try the Upper Kern which is running at +2,000 cfs. Bet the rafters are happy.

Fishing Report by Rich Arner - 3/31/06

John T and I headed up the 178 to support the Trout in the Classroom project Friday. The flows had settled in at about 1200 cfs on the Upper Kern and there was drizzle all the way up the canyon. We weren't exactly prepped for a great fishing day too. We left early enough to get an hour in before meeting the Arvin High School biology class. We decided to try the Steelhead run for about an hour and as luck would have it the rain ceased when we pulled up and we were the only guys there??? When we got to the river we knew why. It was flowing very strongly and we couldn't wade out very far making it impossible to cast to the areas where fish typically hold. I did manage to have a footlong take my foam stonefly fly on about the fifth cast. John T hooked up 4 with an PKE imitation as he was picking up on the swing from his drifts. I tried horsing an olive bh wooly bugger through the fast moving water and almost could cast it far enough with my 6wt rod and 7 wt sinking line into the holding water. I didn't produce a strike after about a half hour. Tried some pink and red egg patterns. Started fishing the arnerd nymph again and picked up another foot long in fairly shallow and slow moving water and got some more strikes. The water clarity has dropped significantly and is less than 4' when the sun pokes through. We had to leave at 10AM to meet the biology class and took a water temp which was 45 degrees.

Spent real quality time with some great kids who weren't skipping school to protest ;-) Hope we had a chance to potentially bring some kids over from the Darkside (bait and take) too. They had some great questions and got a kick out of casting.

After noon we decided to try above KR3 where the flow might be more wadeable. Was very surprised at how many cars were pulled over at the turnouts given the conditions. We settled in at a spot that didn't appear to be fished. The first glance at the river was not encouraging it probably is the highest flow I've tried to fish on the Upper Kern but the water appeared to be slightly clearer. I managed to find a way to wade across (not recommended) and John took the road side. We had just under two hours to fish because I had another swim meet to attend (glad I'm not the one swimming brrrrrrr). I managed to land 4 on the arnerd nymph and one huge attack on the stonefly. Missed 6 others. Saw very few bugs in the air all day. John T worked his nymph rig for over an hour without results then started working a BH green flashed WB netting about five before I had to go - sorry John. I'd guess the Upper Kern below Fairview is flowing at about 600 cfs. I managed to land 7 in just over 3 hours so the 18 month double digit string is broken :-( but I think John T. may have kept his double digit string going. The lower looked very low and last check it was around 400cfs. It may be the better place to be but another pineapple express is on the way and soon they are going to have to make room for the impending snow melt in Isabella I'd guess.


Fishing Report by Rich Arner - 3/22/06

Had an old work buddy call me last night and he said he took a weeks vacation. He did his penitence standing in line with the kids at Disneyland the last 2 days and had a day free to fish. Glad he called. We left about 8:45 AM and got on river about 10AM. We decided to try for the spawning pigs at Guy/TroutHunter's spot. Should have guessed there would be 3 guys on the water when we got there. Hooked up on the 3rd cast (arnerd nymph) then nada. The other guys had been there an hour and landed 2 foot longs. Another fly fisher showed up and 3 more bait guys arrived at the best fish holding area so we decided to move on away from the gathering crowds. Got to next spot above KR3 and found a pod of fish. Landed a fat 18" (biggest YTD) in about the first 15 casts then we landed 20 fish in about an hour. Water temp 50 degrees at noon. Almost all fish were hard to land. We missed at least a dozen more. Then after hooking every fish in the pool things quieted down. We moved up river at stop #3 expecting another stocked spot but no hookups in 45 minutes. I fell in knee deep water and had a quart of water down my waders. Brrrrrr. Digital camera stayed nice and dry in Ziploc (Whew!!!!!!) but 2-way radio wet but still works ;-). Moved up river to spot #4 and fishing picked up again. Covered lots of water and about 1PM Landed another fat 16" horse everything on the arnerd nymph at that point. Then at 1:30PM they started taking the stonefly aggressively. Fished until I started shivering so we quit before 2PM. I landed 22 and we probably landed of 30 between us in <3 hours above KR3. Water was very clear and wadeable again below Fairview. Wading a little tough below KR3 but very clear. Looks like great fishing before the melt and more stocking to come up river ;-) Enjoy the pics.


Stone Fly




More Kern Bliss

Fishing Report by Rich Arner - 3/16/06

Wasn't sure what to expect on the Kern today given the rains and the lack of quality data on Kern flows and stocking. Wanted to give the Lower a try because that's where all the stocking and catching has been posted. Didn't look great meandering up the canyon because there were cars/pickups parked at turnouts, Upper Richbar, Delonega and Borel. folk no doubt taking advantage of the great weather before the next storm and flows below 300 cfs. Most stocking and not much reported has been on the lower the last 2 months too. Wanted to try Black Gulch but road was closed so pondered for 10 minutes and decided to head up. Made up my mind to try lots of spots from Kernville and up river. Didn't think catching would be great. Stopped at HQ just to fish the routinely stocked riffle to see if there were any holdovers and get some sense as to how much recently stocked trout may be in the river above Kernville. The water was low, I'd say 100 cfs, clear with +7 feet visibility, and very wadeable. That was very encouraging I left the wading staff in the car the rest of the day. Not a hit in 10 casts so I knew that the cupboard was bare at the HQ stackable riffle. Water temp 43 degrees. "Not too bad", I thought. Decided from that point on to concentrate on areas removed from the normal stocking spots. Those areas probably fished until the last "soon to be freezer burned trout" was harvested.

Moved up river and landed 2 perfect trout, one 11 incher had to be wild it was colorful and had some orange spots on its belly. Only after 20 casts and just before 10 AM. Then nada for 30 min so moved on. Covered another spot up further and no takes for 30 minutes and was resigned to have had the best fishing behind me. Replaced flies and tried different nymphs and egg patterns. Then just before noon insects started fluttering by me so went back to the old reliable rig with a golden foam #10 stonefly and the arnerd # 12 bh weighted nymph. Started hooking up and then they started hitting the dry?? Had eight by noon. Tried a stimulator and madamX but got several hits on #12 para-adams. Size #12 BWO and Caddis were coming off regularly.

Then the game warden showed up. I've never seen one on the Kern before. Glad to see there really is enforcement. I must have been the only guy fishing the Upper Kern today. He asked to check my license. Was a pleasant fellow hope he continues to be diligent in enforcing the regs ;-) Moved up river again to a stretch I've not tried in over a year and hooked up 2 in the first 10 casts. One was +14" and healthy, clean, but not fat. About 15 minutes later I had another 14" fish come from below and launch itself 2' in the air as he grabbed my foamy. I've not seen that aggressive a take since the spawning rainbow trout at Mammoth Pools reservoir were going ballistic 2 years ago April. About 10 minutes later I hooked another 13" trout that went aerial 7 times before I got him to the net. Check the temp before I had to quit at 1PM (daughter had swim meet) and it was 48 degrees. Cold fish do have energy!!! Kept my double digit streak intact for over 18 months ;-) by landing 12 pristine and one roughed up bow. Not bad for 3.5 hours. Three were definitely wild because of their color, spot pattern, and orange on the belly. I don't think I've caught that many wilds in the last 6 months. Hope the Upper Kern stays this clear and fishable because the next rain will be warmer and the melt may begin? Glad I took a chance on the Upper today. It was gorgeous up there and I had the place to myself.




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