Outdoor / Fishing

Thursday, Feb 21 2013 06:14 PM

Steve Merlo: Decent crappie, catfish bites at Isabella

By The Bakersfield Californian

Despite ice-cold temperatures following the recent round of winter storms, there's still a decent crappie bite occurring up at the Kern River Valley's Isabella Lake. The fish are deep, hovering at the 32-35-foot mark over 40-45-feet of water, and anglers with basic electronic fish-finder knowledge are reaping decent rewards for their endeavors.

With the number of quality fish already being taken, 2013 appears to be heading for another banner year at the lake.

When water temperatures reach into the low 60s, anglers can expect the huge offshore schools to move shoreward to spawn and the fishing activity to go nuts in March, April and May.

Along with the crappie, some full stringers of catfish are also being caught by simply getting a few below the schools of papermouths with minnows, night crawlers or small jigs. A recent plant of nearly 5,000 pounds of trout has also spiked the action, with decent sized rainbows hitting power baits and lures around the main dam.

Sheriff's Activity League derby

The Kern County Sheriff's Activity league will hold its annual fishing derby from 8 a.m.-noon at Mirror Lake at Hart Park Saturday. Registration begins at 7 a.m. Fees: $10 for adults, and $5 for those 17 and younger. There will be prizes for the largest fish and trophies will be awarded as well. A huge raffle will be open to all anglers, and additional tickets can be purchased.

Proceeds from the derby will provide equipment for youth boxing programs, other youth oriented civic activities and food at event promotions and are designed to keep the SAL programs self-functioning.

According to Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood, "No county funds are used in the Sheriff's Activity League functions. We rely strictly on fundraisers and donations from the public. Our event this weekend will provide funds for youth activities which keep them off the streets and engaged in positive county activities. We hope the public will come out in force to have a good time and support such a fun and positive activity such as fishing."

Face-painting and a snack bar will also be available.

Contact Senior Deputy Marco Vazquez (661) 427-6608 for more information.

Decisions, decisions

So what's the hot ticket for fishing the SAL Mirror Lake derby? Most successful anglers will be dunking PowerBait for the planted trout, using sliding sinker rigs and light, gossamer lines in the 4-6-pond test range.

Normally, just-planted trout, after acclimating to their new surroundings, will be suckers for the colored dough. This year, Salmon peach, Garlic and Rainbow Glitter seem to be the preferred hues around the area, so make certain to carry a mixed variety.

A sliding sinker rig is easy to tie. Start by threading your line through a small 1/8-1/4-ounce sliding sinker (the one with the hole through it) then tying on a small barrel or regular swivel. Add a leader to the swivel: anywhere form 6 inches to 2 feet, depending on the fish, and then tie on a sharp No. 8 or No. 10 bait-holder hook.

Add a small ball of PowerBait and cast it out, leaving a bow in the line so the fish can run away with the bait and swallow it. The power bait will float off the bottom right before the fish's eyes, attracting them with both color and smell.

A lot of anglers dunk their baits in garlic oil to add more scent to the attraction.

Lure fishermen will also find some fish eager to strike small spinners, spoons and meal-worm-tipped mini-jigs in white, red-and-white or chartreuse. Smart anglers, those with two-rod license validations, can double their chances of catching a tagged fish unless organizers prohibit their use.

Firefighters trout derby

Not to be outdone by their law enforcement brethren, the Bakersfield Firefighters Relief Association will present its 2nd annual trout derby March 2 on the banks of the Riverwalk Park.

Cash awards of $250, $50 and $25, trophies and other prizes will highlight the action at the Stockdale Highway Lake.

Sponsored by Bob's Bait Bucket; Kern River Bait: Coca Cola; the DFG and City of Bakersfield, the event raises funds for a variety of community programs.

Tickets to play are $20 for adults, $10 for kids and free for kids under 5 years old. Event T-shirts will be available for $20 and anyone wearing one when they catch their prize winning fish will double their winning.

A continuous raffle with many prizes, bagels, donuts, coffee, hot chocolate and a BBQ lunch round out the fishing festivities.

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