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Steve Merlo

The Kern River Fly Fishers Club, despite low, drought-induced river flows and plunging lake levels, plus frigid mornings, spent a memorable last weekend catching lots of rainbow and brown trout in the Eastern High Sierra. More than 20 members made the trek to the Bishop area in hopes of tangling with wild, fly-caught fish, and they were not disappointed.

Drifting small, No. 18 midges and larger muddler and wooley bugger flies beneath the surface, most anglers reported excellent fishing for small to medium fish with an occasional lunker thrown in for good measure. Club member Rich Arner indicated the club fished the upper and lower Owens River, Hot Creek and Pleasant Valley Reservoir. He tallied a 22-inch hen spawner rainbow that weighed more than 6 pounds and a 19-inch buck brown to headline the action.

He also indicated that the Bishop/Mammoth communities are suffering due to lack of snow, and several once-popular restaurants, including Whiskey Creek and BBQ Bills, have gone out of business.

The Kern River Fly Fishers meet on the first Wednesday of every month at 7:30 p.m. in the Veterans Hall at 400 Norris Rd. The public is welcome to attend and join the popular club. Call (661) 599-5333 for more informtion.

Anglers are finding plenty of striped bass action out at the California Aqueduct, and although most fish are sub-keepers, plenty of take- home fish are being caught. Best bait for the linesiders seems to be cut sardines fished below any of the gates along the cement canal.

Lure fishermen are also tangling with their fair share of fish, with the golf course offering consistent action. Gitzits and swimbaits fished in the current are accounting for most of the artificial lure action.

Anglers are reminded that the legal limit for striped bass in the Valley District is still two fish measuring 18-inches each on a flat board from the tip of the nose to the tip of the tail. That means that the fish must be measured while laying flat, and not hung from a lower jaw while being measured. Our local game wardens have little time for silly errors like that and will cite fishermen trying to stretch their shorts into keepers.

Some fish to 20-plus pounds are also starting to show, with some of the huge stripers swimming in the clear waters attacking hooked, under-sized fish as they are being reeled onto the shore.

Return to Bass Lake

Trying to duplicate last year's incredible trip, my wife, Candy, friend Daryle Lamonica and I returned to Bass Lake this week in high hopes of catching some lunker spotted bass. While we did total 11 nice fish to just under 3 pounds, none came close to approaching the magical 6-pound mark like they did on our last trip. Water temperatures in the low 40s, coupled with high pressure, kept the schools well down in the water column and basically shut off. We're already planning our next trip when water temps approach the 50-degree mark and larger spots become active.

Police Activities League

There's still plenty of time for both sponsors and shooters to sign up for the Fourth Annual Bakersfield Police Activities League sporting clay shoot and auction set for Feb. 22 at the Kern County Gun Club. A huge lunch and raffle, staged by the Budweiser Girls, will also be available. Guns, outdoor gear and other great prizes will headline the gala event.

The BPAL raises funds to support local sports and youth programs, including educational and social development for at-risk youths. The League's youth center provides a safe haven for underprivileged kids to participate in after school and summer programs in danger of being cut by state-funded budget cuts. These programs give them the opportunity to become educated, disciplined and productive citizens and should be supported by anyone and everyone concerned in the overall growth of our city and the citizens within. Contact PAL (661) 283-8880 for more info.

Attention bass fishermen

Rusty Brown, winner of the prestigious 2013 WON Bass US Open Bass Tournament held each year at Lake Mead, Nev., will be on hand Feb. 28 and March 1-2 at the 37th annual Central Valley Boat, RV and Sportsman Show at the Kern County Fairgrounds.

Rusty will be on stage discussing his winning ways and strategies during his popular seminars and will take the time to talk to the general public afterwards. Brown, one of tournament fishing's rising stars, is one of the most open andsharing individuals on the tourney circuit and any fisherman worth his salt would be happy to meet and learn his secrets.