The Fish Highway

By: Noble Smith
Special to the Sun

Back in the day, sometime in the late sixties or early seventies my family and I were vacationing in the Kern River Valley. We were having breakfast at Dam Korner Restaurant in Kernville. Dad asked our waitress about the fishing. He wanted to know if she had any suggestions on where to find and catch fish. She then grabbed a handy map of Lake Isabella. The map just happened to be on sale at the restaurant. Opening up the map, she began talking about the Edison Flume. She referred to it as the fish highway. Her story had us all hooked real good. She talked about this deep concrete channel that ran the entire length of the north fork of the lake. As she drew a line on the map of the proximity of the flume, our waitress explained “the fish will travel this channel in search of food.” We were all hooked.
The next morning my dad, my two brothers and I were the first customers at Scotty’s Marina. We rented a customary aluminum fishing boat. We headed out to open water and opened up our map. We soon realized we were going to have to make a guess as to where the flume was. Unfortunately, the rental boats were not equipped with electronics to show the contour of the bottom. We tried a couple of spots and soon gave up. We headed over to good ol’ reliable Rocky Point. Now that the lake is up and over the flume, it is a great structure to fish this time of the year. It starts around free air point and continues west past Boulder Gulch, then shoots across to Engineer’s Point. It ends up at the middle of the auxiliary dam.
My favorite areas to fish the flume are free air point, Arrick’s Cove, and a couple of areas from Boulder Gulch towards the main dam. The flume is fenced in this area because it transitions from an open trench into an enclosed pipe. I do not know if I would call the flume a fish highway. What I do know is that our lake fish love structure and deep water access. The flume creates a natural channel that could create lake current. Especially the way the wind blows on Lake Isabella. I have also observed a lot of shad schools in or around the flume. The flume is easy to find with basic electronics. It is a definite depth change. It looks as if the flume will be under water for a while depending on outflows. The outflow should slow down this time of year.
There are some great advantages to being a fisherman living in the Kern River Valley. One that I appreciate is fishing the upper Kern in late October in short pants and a short sleeved shirt. My favorite time of year to be up river. The seasonal color change is taking place. The river is fishable everywhere. Even on a Saturday the fishing crowd is light.
I talked to several anglers on the Kern. The word is the action was a little slow the further up we traveled. The hot action seems to be in the lower section. I believe the D.F.W stocks more fish where they believe there will be more fishing pressure. I really hope the D.F.W will distribute more fish throughout sections 5 and 6. There is so much great fishable water in these sections. If all the fish are stocked in sections 4, anglers will miss out on the beautiful scenic Kern this time of year.
Time to launch and go this week. I am going to take the boat out and chase the bass, that is if I remember how to drive a boat and cast a baitcaster. I need to get into shape for the upcoming A.B.A. Tournament at Lake Havasu. My first stop will be the fish highway. See you on the water!