The Trout Also Rises

"A blog upon my estutcheon" A weblog about fishing, hunting, hiking, cycling, books, beer, and other random musings. Any humor contained in this site is entirely unintentional and has not been tested on animals. e mail aaaaargh at msndotcom

Location: California

A hunter and fisherman, fascinated with books and history.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Fishing the upper Kern River

Near the end of September I headed up to the Kern River for a four day backpacking trip. The goal was to fish the waters of the river in a remote area above Kern Flat.

Leaving LA after work, we spent a chilly night at the Johnsondale bridge, and then drove up to the Forks of the Kern parking area in the morning. By 10 am we were heading down to the Forks, and crossing the Little Kern River, followed the trail along the Kern. There were few people around, this being a weekday morning. The scenery was very pleasant.

By 2 pm we had found a packer campsite next to the river below Kern Flat. There were tables, plenty of tent spots, and even a toilet seat lashed to some trees for private contemplation.

I set my tent up in a hurry, and set out for the water. By the dinnertime, I'd landed four fish, including a chubby 14 incher. Mike landed another from the same run. My old favorite fly, the Mormon Girl, was a hit with the trout here. I'd had pretty good luck with the same fly two years earlier, just a mile or two downstream. The afternoon was windy, and there were a lot of long pine needles in the water. These tended to snag on the fly and on leader knots.

Another chilly night and a rude awakening. Somehow I'd forgotten to turn off my stove completely after heating water for dinner, and the fuel had all leaked out over night. We had two other stoves, so I was able to make that all important cup of morning coffee.

We did not fish that morning, but packed up our gear and hit the trail again. We travelled a few miles further, crossing the stock bridge, and finding a nice campsite near some fantastic looking runs. I did not even bother setting my tent up, but started fishing right away. We used smallish dry flies (size 12 EHC), nymphs, and wet flies. By the time the sun set, we had landed 33 fish. The evening was warm and calm, with little wind.

Saturday dawned cold. Another stove started acting up, but fired up after some coddling. We loafed until 10, then hit the river. We hoped that we had the place figured out by now. I worked the area around the stock bridge with little success.

After lunch I waded into the run above camp, and was soon into a fish that felt like a salmon. The reel sang and my heart palpitated. After a furious seven minutes, the tippet snapped, and some choice Anglo-Saxon expletives pierced the serene skies above the river. After that, I tied my flies directly to the leader, which did not slow the trout down. I had a great ninety minutes of action, and staggered back to camp for some food after the bite tapered off.

We fished a bit more after dinner, ending the day with twenty-six fish, and sixty-four for the trip.

Sunday morning we started back to the trailhead. The second stove failed that morning, leaving us with one. Lots of folks had moved into the area, starting at Kern Flat. Fishermen, and hunters there for the opening weekend of deer season. We reached the Little Kern by lunch time, and moaned and groaned up the 2.2 miles to the parking lot. The first of our group of three to reach the top had the foresight to leave some beer in his truck which was amazingly cold and tasted like nectar.

We took the long road down to Kernville and treated ourselves at the new Kern River Brewing Company. The food is excellent, the staff friendly, but the beer needs a little work. The porter was a letdown.

Notes to myself for next year's September Kern trip: takes long underwear, lots of leaders and no tippet, and a fleece cap.