Two friends, (Mike and Jason), and I headed up to the Kern river this weekend to take advantage of a weather window and do some trout fishing.
We packed up and left town about 7:30 Friday morning. After a quick stop at the Kern River Fly Shop to pick up the hot flies and some local info, we headed over to Sierra Gateway Market, (The old James Store.), for some last minute groceries. Then it was up river to find a campsite and get set up so we could fish. Camp was set up quickly and we went out in search of fishy looking water.
We used Jason's tent, a Cabela's Big Horn III. Very comfortable and lots of room!
The fire area.
Snow on the high peaks and ridges above us.
The river was not high at all due to very little melt off up high, (There is very little snow to melt up high!), and not enough recent rain to have any effect on flow. The flow rates were between 550 and 650 cfs and very fishable. Water cla was not the best but it was only lightly colored up from a recent rain, and still not bad at all. That's far better conditions that the previous two years have been around this time of year!
The water by our site. Fishing started for us right in these riffles.
Another view, upstream.
We started out fishing some riffles in skinny water just down stream from the campground. Mike and Jason both had hip waders and so opted to start out with fly gear. Mike was getting bit almost immediately but couldn't get the hook set. The funny thing was that the fish were hitting his darn strike indicator instead of his fly! He was beginning to get irritated with that so he changed the style of indicator he was using......and the trout kept hitting it anyway! Jason was having similar problems so he over to an ultralight spinning rod using crickets and immediately connected with a chunky rainbow of about a pound or so!
I went a bit farther down stream looking for a good spot. I'd decided I wanted to catch a couple of fish before I began aggravating myself with fly gear. Starting out with ultra light spinning gear and using Berkley Power Eggs in the bubble gum color, a #8 Gamakatsu salmon egg hook in the red color, and a small piece of Sticky Weight that was maybe 1/8 oz., I picked out a good hole below a riffle and cast. I wasn't in the water 10 seconds and hooked my first fish of the day! But this was not going to be as easy as it sounds. This first morning I only caught two fish maybe 3/4 lbs. a piece, and I lost the only fish I hooked in the afternoon. Mike was snake bit and got the big goose egg for the day. Jason had the hot ticket with his crickets but Mike declared he was cheating using live bait! However Jason did return to the fly rod that afternoon and caught his first ever fish on a fly rod! I only managed one hit in the afternoon. I got a good look at it and this would have been my best of the weekend, but it came unbuttoned as I was trying to bring it to the net. Oh well, it happens.
Down river a ways.
A couple of nice trout for the morning's effort!
After a dinner of grilled deer loins and elk steaks, corn on the cob, and some Ranch beans, we retired to the fire for some adult libations. The female portion of the couple camped next to cam over and offered us half a lemon meringue pie which we gladly accepted and consumed! We all hit the sack in anticipation of the next day's action.
Waking e, I got up and started breakfast with coffee being the first item on the agenda. As soon as that was almost ready I began frying up a large chunk of home made venison sausage to use in the biscuits and gravy that was most of our breakfast!
.....and gravy! Good stuff!
Jason and Mike were soon up and after breakfast began readying their tackle as did I. We started fishing basically the same waters as the first day. I went a bit farther down river this time while looking for productive water. Several tries in several spot gave no results at first. There was a likely looking spot I wanted to try but there had been a couple fishing there ev time I went by. Finally they left after having caught nothing and I got a shot at that pool. It was fairly deep and narrow and I felt certain there were fish there. I first tried the fly rod as I had in many other spots that morning but with no results. I switched back to the spinning gear, cast once and then again. On the second cast I got a solid hookup with a regulation size stocker rainbow. (The size fish that are being stocked this year seems a little larger than usual.) About 4 or 5 casts later I was hooked up again and another rainbow came to net.
We all came back to camp for a lunch of some outstanding elk chili with all the fixin's. (By now you can see we eat pretty well on these trips. Our mottos is: There's no reason to eat poorly if you don't have to! LOL!
) The chili was supplemented by some foil wrapped trout that Jason cooked on the small wood burning stove he'd brought along. Pretty good eats!
After relaxing into the afternoon we decided to go upriver and give that a shot. Jason and Mike took their fly gear and waded across and went up the opposite bank while I stayed on my side. Due to the heavy brush I left the fly rod in camp as the shorter spinning rods was easier to maneuver around with in the bushes. Mike was still skunked at this point but not for lack of trying. He's also one of the best sticks I know and has e a wide variety of experience from tournament bass fishing to long range. I felt confident that his fishless status would soon change.
Mike, (left), and Jason, (right), both hard at it!
Jason was directly across the river from me when I connected with my first fish that afternoon. It was a small yet beautiful Kern River native rainbow of about 8" or so. I didn't even use the net, wanting to release the fish in as good a shape as possible. The hook was removed from his mouth and he was dropped right back in the water in a matter of a few seconds. Jason was getting bit on the fly and hoked up just after I did. Mike was doggedly determined to catch a fish from what looked like a beautiful pool down stream from us. In the meantime I'd gone a little further up and managed one more stocker of between 1/2 and 3/4 pound or so. Just then we heard Mike make a loud whoop and we saw that he was hooked up! After a quick fight on his 5 weight, he netted a nice rainbow of about 1 1/4 pounds! About 5 to 10 minutes later he did it again with a fish that was almost a carbon copy of the first one! His two would be the biggest of the trip!
Mike's first of the day!
Jason holding up Mike's two trout. (Mike reminded him whose they were! LOL!
It was getting late so we started back to camp for a cold beer and to get dinner started. More corn on the cob was made ready along with some fresh asparagus in foil and put on Jason's stove. I fired up the BBQ for the feature; bacon/swiss/avacado elk burgers! Yeah buddy, that's eating!
In the morning after breakfast included fresh baked blueberry muffins, we got camp rolled up quickly knowing that rain was on the way. (Jason had already spoken with his gal and was told it was already pouring in Bakersfield!) We still had some time before the rain got to us and went to see if we might catch a couple more trout. Mike and Jason manged one each and it was my turn for the skunk. But all in all it was a fun trip and nice to get away. The fishing wasn't wide open at all, but sometimes the challenge makes the catching that much sweeter.