When the Going Gets Tough, The Tough Go Fishing!

This is a true reality on Lake Isabella. The state officials finally allowed a fishing event to be held on Lake Isabella The A.B.A. bass tournament scheduled for June 3 was a go. After 3 cancellations my partner and I were fired up and ready to go.

I arrived at the South Fork recreation area launch ramp at 4:00 A.M. to sign-up. I had a tough time opening my truck door because the wind was blowing so hard. As I staggered over to the sign-up trailer I realized I might be a spectator this day.

Since reconstructive back surgery and 4ft rollers are not a good match, this was not going to be my day. As I watched the 12 boats take off that morning for an 8-hour bass tournament, I was impressed. As the hulls of the boats slammed the waves these guys had to know they were in for 8 hours of rough waters.

At the weigh-in some nice bags of fish came in. Three fish over 8 pounds were weighed. Winning weight of over 19 pounds was brought in by the team of Jon Vanrensselaer and Brett Ege. The story on these guys was after fishing over 7 hours being pounded by wind and waves, they were able to better their limit in the last half hour to win the tournament. Staying in the game that long in those conditions – now that’s tough!

One team came in early. Eleven teams stayed out and endured the entire 8 hours. I had to send my teammate out alone. He was able to catch one fish. Team Smith and King are in the books with points thanks to tough guy Roy King. Except for the team that left early, all teams brought in fish. Very impressive, considering the conditions that day.

While at the weigh-in I heard a great crappie fishing report from a fishing buddy. While tube fishing he observed a boat taking in crappie on every cast. They were fishing stick-ups in 15ft of water. Could not get info on the bait being used. I’m sure on a bite that hot all the favorite crappie baits would be effective.

The key is finding the fish. I am sure as the lake starts dropping and water temps warm, the crappie will move deeper. Basically it’s following fish to deeper water as the lake recedes.

Shore fishing for catfish is good now. The key is finding a place to fish. The shores of Lake Isabella are lined with RV’s and shore camps from South Fork recreation area through Old Isabella Road, and Auxiliary Dam all the way around to Camp 9. Lately, every weekend appears as if it is a three-day holiday weekend. The quarantine in California has made the Kern River Valley a very busy place.

There are still some good areas to catfish if a fisherman is willing to hike. The problem with this strategy is the gear required for successful cat-fishing – chairs, sand stakes, tackle box, fishing rods, and ice chest. I think I will wait for things to calm down.

Possibly when other areas throughout the state open up it will lighten up the workload on the Kern River Valley. My brother made the mistake of coming up to do a little trout fishing this past Father’s Day weekend. We thought it would be a good idea to fish the lower river.

We have not fished the lower in a while and we thought it would be less crowded. We traveled all highway 178 down past Sandy Flat and Hobo Campground to Remington Hot Springs. As we made our way down the road we noticed several camps set up in the turn-outs along the road.

Lack of parking along the lower Kern forced us to switch our efforts to upper Kern. Same scenario as lower Kern, fishing areas were very limited. Brother Bob was able to take in some nice rainbows behind his room at the Falling Waters Resort. He used a rainbow trout pattern rooster tail late in the evening. It was low light conditions so the fish were hitting the lure as soon as it hit the surface.

For the serious angler, I would recommend fishing early in the morning or late evening during the week. Avoiding the weekends will give a fisherman a lot more options. See you on the water.

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