After the Kern River Valley Chamber of Commerce decided to extend the time limit for catching 10 big-money trout swimming in Isabella Lake (holdovers from the recent derby), hundreds of already-registered derby participants continued their quest for some fast cash.
On Wednesday, Ridgecrest angler Edward Davis, while fishing from the main dam area, hooked a trout wearing, you guessed it, tag #0404, and went home $10,000 richer. Davis enticed the 18-inch trout while dunking green PowerBait.
On Monday, a $1,000 fish was also turned in to Isabella Market by Linda Munson of Lake Isabella. She caught her fish from the shore at Paradise Cove using Rainbow PowerBait. Fortunately for the remaining derby entrants, at least eight more tagged $1,000 trout remain swimming in the lake, ready to be caught by lucky anglers.
The overall trout bite has improved steadily over the last few days, with approximately 20,000 planted trout still available for all anglers to catch. Many anglers are reportedly catching both trout and crappie at the same location on small jigs or minnows drifted under a bobber.
Isabella's red hot crappie bite has slowed little, with most fishermen taking home easy 25-fish limits of the popular panfish at various locations around the lake. Most of the fish being caught are the vulnerable males guarding nests in the shallow 3-7-foot depths, while the larger female fish remain slightly deeper than their male counterparts.
Minnows and small jigs tipped with Berkley crappie nibblets are working their magic for larger hens in the 10-14-foot flats and rock piles near spawning areas.
Hunter safety courses
Kern Shooting Sports will hold its next hunter safety course May 18-19. It will also offer an Internet course on May 20. Since the California Department of Fish and Wildlife no longer allows sportsmen to file affidavits regarding lost licenses, prospective hunters without proof of hunter education or an old license must take or retake the course to get their hunting licenses. Once in the automated licensing system, successful graduates will forever be in the computerized system, their information easily brought up by merely showing a driver's license or other proof of identity.
Contact Jay Busby at (661) 871-9025 for more information before both classes fill up.
Taft Sportsmen's clay shoot
The Taft Sportsmen's Club will hold its first sporting clay shoot at 5-Dogs Shooting Range on Saturday. Sign in starts at 8 a.m., with shooting beginning at 9. The entry fee includes lunch and drinks, and the range has shells available for purchase.
The TSC is a non-profit organization that assists and benefits Ladies and Junior division pheasant hunts, wildlife conservation, scholarships, youth trap shoots and the popular Veterans Stand Down.
Prizes will be awarded to first-, second- and third-place teams and male and female individual high shooters. A raffle offering six guns and more will highlight the event.
Veterans free fishing derby
The Sacramento District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will hold its "Take a Warrior Fishing" day at Lake Success from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday. The event highlights our wounded warriors and gives them an opportunity to spend some time on the water catching fish with special volunteers. A host of sponsors, including Central Valley Veterans, Cast for Kids, Sierra Bass Club, California Department of Boating and Waterways, Fresno Bass Club, US Army, Walmart, Berkley Fishing, US Coast Guard and Frito Lay have donated prizes, cash and time to make this event a success. Anglers with boats who would like to participate in this very worthwhile event can contact Nicole Arbelo (559) 784-0215 or Carrie Richardson (559) 689-3255.
Drought harmful to fish?
This year's low water conditions could have a serious impact on our county's gamefish populations. Without enough icepack water flushing out our lakes and even streams, fish could become endangered by lack of oxygen, harsh lake turnovers, chemical buildups, heat waves and predatory responses to concentrated schools.
Tejon Ranch's Lake Castac has already suffered a severe fish kill with thousands of quality size bass and crappie dying within the last month. Ranch officials have been working closely with biologists to determine the reason for the kill, but it seems safe to assume that lake levels eight feet below normal and combined with other factors might have had a detrimental and very serious effect on the private lake.
Hopefully, anglers at locally popular lakes like Isabella, Buena Vista, Success and the river will spot and report any obvious fish kills to their local DFW warden or biologist as soon as possible.