North Fork of the Kern
The EcoAngler Report
Researching the Kern River Rainbow? Get scientific based angling intel in The EcoAngler Report - Kern River Rainbow.
Detailed information on it's range along with a map and directions to put you in reach of this native rainbow can be purchased here.
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North Fork of the Kern River - Funston Meadow to Kern Lakes
Been there, done that is a phase you won't hear from me about the upper Kern River. After spending five days fly fishing here in 2006, I searched my mind for a similar angling experience to do last summer. I'll just say no other comparisons came to mind, so I returned for another week.
From the Lewis Camp Trailhead, we covered the 17 plus miles in a solid day's ride by horse to the upper Kern. Three friends accompanied on this trip - including one guy who had learned to fly fish just months earlier. The Kern's wild rainbows (esp. the larger adults) can be tough to hook on a dry presentation in slower flows, but for a rookie caster it can be a terrific experience and you'll always manage hookups with an indictor-nymph-rig.
For five, glorious days we fished. We encountered far more rattlesnakes then other anglers. Come to think of it, I counted maybe two other rods. The same day snake tally just within our trail was also a pair. From our basecamp we pushed up the canyon and crossed into Sequoia National Park. The section just below the Kern Ranger Station is a steep and narrow canyon. Hiking further upstream and into the southern portion of Funston Meadow does present a variety of opportunities to wet a fly, ranging from excellent pocket water to glassy runs holding bows just below the surface.
This section of the North Fork is situated far enough up (and within the Golden Trout Wilderness) to support a truer population of native Kern River rainbow trout than what exists further downstream (i.e., below Durrwood Creek).
Where to Locate Natives within the Kern River Watershed
As a general rule, anglers searching for the truest forms of any of the three native subspecies are better served by going into the top reaches of the Kern watershed. This rule applies today for populations of California Golden Trout in the South Fork of the Kern as well as the Kern River Rainbow Trout.
What many anglers I've talked with aren't aware of is the above rule also applies to the Little Kern Golden Trout. Something to keep in mind if your trip to the Forks includes fishing the lower reach of the Little Kern River.