Outdoor / Fishing

Thursday, Apr 25 2013 05:29 PM

Steve Merlo: Derby officials extend time to catch big-money trout

By The Bakersfield Californian

Unforeseen environmental conditions, including increasingly high barometric pressure and fluctuating water temperatures put last weekend's Isabella Lake Trout Derby to bed without any big money winners. With more than 20,000 recently planted trout swimming in the lake, only a very few made it on to anglers' stringers and of those, very few were tagged fish. Not only were fishermen disappointed, but tourney officials, wishing to give away as much tagged-fish money as possible, were also saddened by the dismal fish counts.

In an unprecedented move to ensure fairness for all fishermen entered into the event, derby committee chairman and President of the Kern River Valley Chamber of Commerce Fred Roach decided to extend the time limit for reeling in one of the 10 big-money fish still swimming in the lake until Labor Day. People originally entered into the derby will still be able to take home some serious cash by latching onto one of the 10 tagged fish originally worth from $10,000-20,000. The new amounts for the fish will be: Any of the nine $10,000 tagged fish will now be worth $1,000 and the single $20,000 fish will still be worth a cool $10,000.

The Kern River Valley Chamber of Commerce must be commended for stepping forward to handle an otherwise awkward and unusual occurrence and making things as right as possible for all derby entrants. Personally, I'll be up there as often as possible looking for tag #0404, worth a check for $10-grand, less taxes, of course, when the fish do start biting.

Hot Isabella crappie bite

Having seen the writing on the wall regarding the poor trout bite at Isabella Lake, my friends George Dollar, Don Crabtree, Dennis Polm and I decided to change tactics and spent two days reeling in our 25-fish limits of great- eating and fun-to-catch crappie. The fish are moving into the shallows in droves and even shore fishermen are nailing the paper-mouthed gamesters with alluring regularity.

Using 1/16-ounce plastic-skirted mini-jigs in a variety of colors tied to our 4-pound-line, we found easy limits in 3-6-feet of water all over the impoundment with or without bobbers. Crappie nibblets, the little pellets from Berkley intended to attract crappie to strike, are also working incredibly well. With the full moon rapidly approaching, anglers will continue to find plenty of action during the first of several spawning phases during the spring.

Aqueduct striper bite

Fishermen are still catching lots of striped bass as the fish continue their torrid bite out at the concrete canal. The majority of fish caught are still under the 18-inch size limit, but every fourth or fifth fish proves to be a keeper, and the bite just keeps getting better. Since the first of the year, the majority of fish have been males, but a few much larger females are also beginning to hit, including quite a few fish from 6-10 pounds as the fish approach their annual spawning run.

Artificial lures, including lipless crankbaits and flukes, are catching the attention of aggressive fish, while bait slingers are doing some serious damage with anchovies, sardines, lug- and blood-worms. Most fishing is taking place at local check hotspots, especially those across from the Buena Vista Golf Course.

Wardens on patrol

California Department of Fish and Wildlife wardens have begun citing individuals for littering and trespassing along the California Aqueduct, something that should have been done a long time ago. The trespass tickets are given mostly to anglers passing through areas posted against public access while trying to fish from the opposite banks, i.e. cutting or passing through fences near check gates.

Tehachapi sporting clay shoot

The Kern County Gun Club will host the Tehachapi Mountain Search and Rescue Sporting Clay Shoot on Saturday with awards given to Best Shooter, Best Team, Best Junior and best Female. All proceeds are used to support the organization's partnership with the community. Shooters can contact Dory (661) 300-1215, Bob (661) 972-4657 or Robin (661) 204-1760 for more information on this worthy event.

Trout Fest set for Saturday

The Kern River hatchery located at 14415 Sierra Way in Kernville will host Trout Fest 2013 Saturday, a fun-filled event that introduces folks of all ages to the ABCs of trout fishing. Participants will be instructed by Fish and Wildlife Staff and volunteers on how to tie basic knots, pole rigging, casting, trout handling, fly tying and flyfishing. Other activities include a river maze, fish feeding, bean bag toss, trout anatomy and dissection and face painting. Kids younger than 15 can try their hand at actually catching fish, and all equipment is provided. After the kids catch their fish, the event promoters will even show you how to clean and cook them. I can almost guarantee that the trout will bite a whole lot better in the hatchery than they did in the lake during the derby.

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