Amateur Little Kern GT Survey

My buddy Colin and I decided to get away for the weekend. Late Friday night we blasted our way up to the Kern River basin and entered the Golden Trout Wilderness. We wanted to see how the low water levels were affecting the distribution of Little Kern Golden Trout and rainbows that were planted into the Little Kern River way back when….

He is an environmentalist and sustainable ecologist. Me, I just love fly fishing and research trout way too much. By no means do we pretend to be scientists. We’re just amateurs having fun in God’s country and documenting what we find.

We made camp for the night and blasted down into a couple of the more accessible tributaries to the Little Kern. We knew the upper reaches of the streams would be too low and warm to safely fish and that any LKGs seeking refuge there should not be disturbed. After a few hours of downward hiking we found moving water that held good numbers of trout. Unfortunately, the presence of rainbow genetics (alleles) was very evident. A couple of the trout we caught looked to have strong LKG characteristics but the majority were heavily ‘bow.


After hours of delightful fishing we made out way back to the Subaru and made the drive over to the Forks’ trailhead. We spent the night there and at first light once again made our way down a negative trail. We hiked a good 6 or so miles back up the Kern working every hole we encountered. The fishing was good, not great. Colin brought some snorkel gear and dove into a deeper section to survey the presence of any carp in the system. His find was discouraging. There were strong numbers of them and they seem to make their way further and further upstream every year. Hopefully future winters will be long and cold which will drive this invasive species back toward Lake Isabella.

The KRRs we caught technically qualify for the CA Heritage Trout Challenge though their appearance is more representative of colored up planted rainbow trout. In my opinion, the really good stuff happens above Hole in the Ground. All in all it was a fishy weekend but too many rainbow trout for my liking in these watersheds and way too many carp for anyone’s liking.

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