Lake Isabella, Calif.— For one weekend each spring, Lake Isabella becomes a fishing mecca for competitive anglers. The Isabella Lake Fishing Derby, March 24-26, has become a long-standing tradition—bringing thousands of visitors to the Kern River Valley. The Kern River Ranger District of the Sequoia National Forest ensures that the Kern River Valley Chamber of Commerce, who oversees the event, has a Forest Service Special Use Permit (SUP) in place. The SUP provides guidance to make sure this large event has no negative impacts to the environment or other users. The SUP also ensures that the Sequoia National Forest is prepared for the influx of fun-seeking, fishing-enthusiasts; and we are!
There are many camping options on the Kern River Ranger District for the 2018 Isabella Lake Fishing Derby. Camp 9, Pioneer Point, Paradise Cove, Boulder Gulch and Tillie Creek campgrounds will be open and have first-come, first-served sites available at prices ranging from $17 at Camp 9 to $28er night. Group sites at Tillie Creek, French Gulch and Camp 9 are also available. Campground reservations for these sites can be made by calling 1-877-444-6777 or through www.recreation.gov. Showers will not be available at any campgrounds.
In addition, visitors can camp overnight at Auxiliary Dam, Old Isabella, and South Fork Recreation sites, with a daily fee of $10 (or $50 for an annual pass). The required Southern Sierra Passes may be purchased at Golden State Surplus in Lake Isabella, Sierra Gateway Market and Sporting Goods in South Lake, and at the Kern River Ranger District office in Kernville.
Stine Cove and Hanning Flat are also available for camping and are free of charge. Be aware of loose sand as you drive through areas that are traditionally lake-bottom. Please stay on the designated routes, and four-wheel drive is recommended.
The Forest Service will allow overnight camping in several additional areas for the Derby. The following non-developed day-use areas will be open to camping from 6 a.m. Thursday, March 22 to 6 p.m. Monday, March 26: Engineer Point, Paradise Cove (along the beach area below the campground), Boulder Gulch (along the beach, north and south of the campground), Kissack Cove, and Rich Gulch (between French Gulch day-use and Boulder Gulch). Please be aware that the area surrounding French Gulch Recreation Area may be inaccessible during the Fishing Derby due to construction of the new French Gulch Launch Ramp and modifications being made to Highway 155 at the entrance to French Gulch.
As a reminder, camping is limited to 14 days out of a 30 day period. Visitors can set up their recreation vehicles in developed campsites prior to the weekend event; however, visitors must occupy the site and may not leave a vehicle or trailer unoccupied for more than 24 hours. Extra dumpsters and portable toilets will be placed around the lake for the Derby. Please make use of these restroom facilities and dumpsters and remember there is no glass allowed on the shores of Lake Isabella. If you have questions about where to camp, please call 760-376-3781 Monday thru Friday 8 am to 4:30 pm.