Derby Days are upon us!

 Matt Freeman Contributing Columnist

It is that time of year again! The 2024 Isabella Lake Fishing Derby preparations are in full swing, including the stocking of thousands of pounds of Rainbow Trout raised just for this event! Living up in the Kern River Valley my entire life and participating in the Derby every year since I was in high school, I have seen over the years what works and does not work to consistently catch.

Over the years Isabella Lake has seen very low water and warm weather, very high water and snow, and everything in between during the derby. Through all the times of year and conditions and weather patterns experienced in the derby, there remains one constant that always has seemed to work to catch these tagged fish and Trout in general during the event. That is the old standby, fishing with bait. A time-tested tactic, whether from boat or shore, that consistently gets these fish. So, what is the best thing to do, how do I rig, what bait works?

Want to know a great thing about Trout fishing? It is simple. Don’t mess with what works best for success! I am just like the next fisherman, I love my boat, I love trolling lures and trying different tactics and techniques and new things, always looking for the latest and greatest. Only in the end…to oftentimes be out fished by the 10-year-old kid on the bank and his old spinning rod using bait from shore!

Bait fishing for Trout always has been, and always will be, the gold standard to catch these fish at all times of the year. The way to do it…a very simple rig. Light line, keep it 4lb or less, start with an egg sinker, half ounce or so, then a swivel, then an 18 inch leader, I like fluorocarbon, Trout are light and line sensitive.

Then add your bait…and here is a key…make sure it floats! Dough baits like Power bait or Zekes, Garlic scented is amazing… a Nightcrawler, Red Eggs with a Marshmallow, mealworms, whatever! All work…but get that bait floating off the bottom. That’s it, this rig will work!

The Derby will take place March 23rd, 24th, & 25th.