We've all seen the guys and gals catching and tossing back bleeding trout caught on bait so they can continue fishing. With the Kern River Valley's Trout Derby on the horizon April 20-22, concerned folks are e-mailing me with questions about getting the hook out of a trout that has swallowed the hook so they can release the fish.

My answer is simple: A bleeding trout is definitely a dying trout, so I cannot recommend any method of hook removal for live release. However, most lip-caught trout, carefully handled, can be immediately returned to the water, as in the case of trout caught on lures or other artificials. Retrieving a hook from the tummy of a trout is a simple procedure: use either a hook-disgorger or one of the new hook removal guns (far and away the best of the two) to get your hook back.

Also, the limit on trout is five per person and every time a fisherman catches and releases any bait-caught rainbows, he selfishly prevents others from getting their fair share of fish, because released, gut-caught trout are a sure-enough wasted resource. Anglers wanting to practice catch and release for trout fishing need to be using artificials, flies or even barbless hooks to prevent injury to the fish.

Another method of hook retrieval in trout caught on bait is to simply cut the hook off at the fish's mouth, then put the fish on a stringer and retrieve the hooks at the cleaning station.

Next weekend's 36th annual Sportsmen's Show at the Kern County Fairgrounds looms as one of the largest in its history. With plenty of fun things to do April 5-7, the event promises a host of new attracions, including car shows, sand drags, rodeo, and lots of other outdoor related activities.

Hunting and fishing gurus and professionals will be on hand to instruct and inform sportsmen and women on how to enjoy their favorite activities.

Back by popular demand, and a real asset to the show, will be the return of the Bass Bin, where real lunker-sized bass swim around in the glass tank only inches from the crowds while pro-anglers try to tempt them into striking their lures. Also returning will be the kids' fishing pond, where children are welcome to come and catch their very own rainbow trout at no charge.

I've been asked to give several seminars at the show, dealing with crappie fishing and local light tackle angling over the weekend, so I'd sure like to see you and the kids come out. I'll be teaching basic, no-nonsense, easy-to-learn fishing skills only weeks before the Isabella Trout Derby and the subsequent crappie bite that's surely on the way.

Braun Electric Shoot

Braun Electric's first sporting clay shoot, benefitting the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life, looks like a real winner. Held April 5, at the Kern County Gun Club, the event will provide lunch and offer a huge raffle where at least 10 guns will be given away. Awards go to the first, second and third high shooters, high team and high lady. Contact Carol Crocker (661) 241-6325 or Kevin Blankenship at (661) 201-9096 for more information.

Aqueduct striped bass biting

With water temperatures moving into the low 60s at the concrete canal, striped bass fishing has improved steadily with more and more 18-inch and larger keepers being taken as the schools move into most check gate headwaters to spawn. Stripers need moving water to successfully complete the spawning ritual because their roe needs to remain suspended in a neutral buoyancy mode for at least two days before hatching. Best artificial baits seem to be a combination of weighted slugs, lipless crankbaits and Gitzits, while bait fishermen are using the old standbys of cut anchovies, sardines, chicken liver and bloodworms to entice the linesiders.

Golden Empire Bass Club Kaweah Lake results

At Lake Kaweah on Saturday, a majority of local Golden Empire Bass Club members' boats found decent fishing for the tournament. Finishing on top with 12.47 pounds of bass was the team of Mike Merlo and Duane Dalke, who also caught the big bass of the tourney (6.7 pounds). Dalke and Merlo picked up at least $640 for the win, their second in a row after topping the field at Lake Success a month ago.

Second Place went to the team of Billy Whitted and Eric Brock (9.11 pounds), and third went to David Coy and Chris Washington, who narrowly defeated fourth-place finishers Jerry Williams and Dave Simpson by only 1/100th of a pound. Richard Carrier and Kevin Dees rounded out the top five.