Fishing with Noble: The Ever-Changing Fishing Conditions On Kern Valley Waters

Fishing with Noble / Noble Smith

Usually at this time of year, I am rock hopping and sneaking up on trout. Now, thanks to some high country thunder storms, water clarity is an issue. No need to be sneaky when the water looks like chocolate milk. It just goes to show you how fishing can change on our water overnight.

Now instead of a stealth approach, throw something with a lot of flash and vibration. A bright colored rooster tail or a Mepps Spinner with a large silver or gold blade might do the trick. As far as bait goes, try a chartreuse or red mellow or power bait. Garlic scented salmon eggs might also draw some fish in this stained water.

The fish will seek water with more oxygen in it, so I like to fish pools of water below rapids. I will throw the lure or bait into the white water and retrieve it as it flows into the pool below. Fish will sometimes be in the pool facing up river for some food to come their way. Fish are still being stocked and they need to eat. It’s just going to take a little effort to locate active fish.

Pick your times to fish the upper Kern wisely. The hotter than hot temperatures have made the Kern one large swimming hole. Of course, early morning and late evening are the best. Also, during weekdays, if you can swing it. I made the mistake of going fishing on an early Saturday afternoon. I could have had my limit of inner tubes within minutes.

The lake is also culprit to changing conditions, with wind that can blow at any minute and also stop at any minute. I have seen the lake blow in the morning, stop at midday, and start again in the afternoon. The lake level also fluctuates like crazy. At this point, more than double the water flowing into the lake is being released out. What’s a fish to think when its shallow water hang out is gone in a couple days?

As a fisherman, you have to be ready for all these changes. I have heard so many tournament fishermen tell me they were catching good numbers of quality fish a day or two before the tournament, then the day of the tournament, the fish were nowhere to be found. Algae bloom, wind or water fluctuation could be the culprit. Same goes for shore fishermen. One week you’re catching cats or crappie on some rocks or in some trees, then the next week you’re standing on the rocks casting, or the trees on shore are in your way.

The ABA Tournament on July 28 was an interesting day on the water. Everything pointed towards a tough day on the water, like the full moon the night before. A lot of times during a full moon the fish will feed at night and go down to deep water during the heat of the day. The lake draw down and algae bloom also seem to send fish down deep during the hot summer days.

The opposite was true. Six teams showed up to fish and all six teams caught fish. Ray and I found active fish in 5 to 10 feet of water. The bass were chasing crawdads in the rocks, and we knew this because one of the fish we caught spit up a crawdad while it was in the live well. Needless to say, crawdad pattern baits were the hot tip for us.

We were able to come away with second place with a little over 13 pounds for five fish. Ray bagged a 5.5 pounder for big fish honors, and we came home with some gas money. The tournament was won by the McAbee, a father and son team. They had over 20 pounds for five fish. Those guys are really good.

Catfishing from shore has remained pretty consistent throughout the summer. I have heard many reports of 2 to 5 pound fish being caught. Have not heard of any lunkers being caught lately. Trout and crappie remain pretty slow. I imagine deep water trolling for trout would be best now. Trout being a cold water fish and surface water temps around 80 degrees make for tough fishing.
Another surprise on tournament day was catching a 2 pound crappie in 10 feet of water. It hit on 8 inch plastic worm, just when I thought crappie were in 20 feet or deeper water. I guess that’s why I take three tackle boxes and five fishing rods with me fishing. Fishing conditions can change at any moment.

See you on the water.