Discovering the Lower Kern


I’m still a new fly fishing person, yet I can now say that my knots are holding. At least the clinch knot acts as if it is going to hold. I think I now know where the fish MIGHT be holding and each fishing trip brings me closer to remembering things that just might stick in my brain and echo in my head. Although I must admit, that upon arriving at my happy place and sliding into that first run of the day, all musings to myself of being a skilled fly fisher drift downstream with my thoughts.

On the Lower Kern in January of 2018, I found a new piece of water to explore. I had known that the water flows out of Lake Isabella and forms the Lower Kern. I had driven past the raging waters on a few trips up the canyon during the winter/spring of 2017. Today after parking along the side of 178, we climbed over huge beautiful granite boulders. As we crunched our way through the brown fall leaves that had piled into the creases of the rocks, making the depth impossible to judge and a challenge to step into. I couldn’t help but smile at the thought of exploring new fishy water. At the river, my fishing buddy suggested indicator fishing as the best way to catch a fish and I was diligently trying to follow the suggestions. Although I did wonder why he continued to swing buggers after suggesting I nymph. Hmmmm…… I had used an indicator on a few other rivers and wasn’t really sure about that funky feeling of lobbing an indicator and 2 flies out and getting them located exactly where they were intended. I tried to “lob” my indicator up river and into the soft water just on my side of the rushing seam, over and over again. Often, I saw my indicator pull down or move sideways, but not always in the same place. My hook set was apathetic and when I set, my rod went way over my shoulder due to the amount of excess line on the water. With a few more suggestions from my buddy, I set the hook and was sure I had a piece of branch. Up came a beautiful sucker fish, not as splendid as a Carp, but beautiful in its own way. A long, narrow creature with mouth hooked down to the bottom, my log was a heavy weight that did not pull and flash like a trout. I discovered just what my fishing buddy had told me. If the line does something different on the 2nd or 3rd drift, SET!


The next day we explored more of the Lower Kern. Parking by a locked campground gate, we set out down the road that was long and placed alongside the Lower Kern. There was rushing white water with huge deep pools with steep edges. 1-2 feet of quick water covering drop off rocky sand plateaus, slippery round rocks of all sizes and shapes, and a mirror like stretch that looked like the water was at a standstill. As far as I could look up the river and down to the next bend, no one in sight, just beautiful gray, blue river. That second day, my muscle memory kicked in and as the indicator danced, I set the hook. I was rewarded with a beautiful rainbow trout. The thrill of the set, the patience of the strip, the flash and tug when on the reel, all stand out in my mind. And in the background of my brain I remember, the rush of the river, the pressure on my legs and the warm sun filtering through the rocks and trees. Yes, Lower Kern, I will visit you again.

Carole O.