News » Anglers welcome at Isabella Fishing Derby


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For one weekend each spring, Lake Isabella becomes a fishing Mecca for competitive anglers. The Isabella Lake Fishing Derby, April 8 to 10, 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 Fishing Derby. Pioneer Point, Paradise Cove, Boulder Gulch and Tillie Creek campgrounds are open and have first-come, first-served sites available at $25 per 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 Camp 9 also has plenty of first-come, first-served sites available at $17 per night. Showers will not be available at any campgrounds.
In addition, visitors can camp overnight at Auxiliary Dam, Old Isabella and South Fork Recreation, 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, Red's Kern Valley Marina, and at the Lake Isabella and Kernville Forest Service offices.
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: 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). For these areas, visitors can begin to set up campsites on Thursday, April 6 at 6 a.m. If visitors set up their campsites earlier, they may be cited. The special camping areas will remain open until Monday, April 10 at 6 p.m.
Along the shorelines of the Kern River and Isabella Lake, broken glass is a hazard and an eyesore. Broken glass can be tough to pick up, can be unsightly, and can cause injury to people and animals. A glass ban is in effect for glass food and beverage containers along the Upper Kern, the Lower Kern, all of Isabella Lake's shorelines (to surrounding roadways), and for a circumference of 500 feet around the Johnsondale Bridge. Discarded fishing line, lures, hooks, and bait containers are an additional hazard to wildlife and domestic pets. We ask you to make sure this material is properly disposed of in the provide trash receptacles.
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. The Kern River Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Forest Service will be placing extra dumpsters and portable toilets around the lake for the Derby. Please make use of these restroom facilities and dumpsters to help keep our Forest looking beautiful. If you have questions about where to camp, please call Artie Colson at 661-303-2914 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.