When water levels reach record lows here in the Kern River Valley, many places are exposed, especially in Lake Isabella. Many ideas have been written about spotting exposed areas now to provide better fishing success later when the waters rise. However, not many anglers who view these sites understand what these sites are and what they can offer now and in the future.
The attached image shows one of the various channel stains now exposed. You can see the old water level mark on the concrete towers and when you walk along the shore you can see the water level marks on the surrounding rocks and boulders and see the rows of empty shells forming a straight line . Just because the water level is extremely low and exposing all these areas doesn’t mean the fishing isn’t good. In fact, it can be quite the opposite, depending on the skill level of the angler and the target species.
In this one spot, the water is still quite deep, leading to the concrete piles and beyond. However, the steep sandy shore tells you that it does indeed drop sharply in most places. Fishing in these areas is a good idea because many of the small baits and fish are right inshore. This brings in the larger predatory fish and provides better fishing success if you can read the shoreline correctly. The further you travel towards the end of the now smaller bay, you will see how these sections have a gradually sloping shoreline that provides a long, shallow place to fish.
This place was just full of jumping tents all over the area. Large, jumping golden carp gather in groups and eat insects on the surface. These large predatory fish leave large wakes around and feed, fattening up for the coming winter months. This area is full of these freshwater giants waiting to be hooked and pulled out of the lake. These giant carp are considered “junk” fish with not much fanfare due to their taste, large number of bones and smelly flesh. However, they are in fact the most difficult freshwater fish out there.
Carp fishing is the ultimate fighting challenge, and doubly so if caught on the fly! Lure fishing is the best overall method to catch these lake giants, and there is no state limit either. Most anglers set up multiple lines (two is the maximum any angler can use in California with a special two-rod stamp endorsement). This is the traditional “bait and wait” type of fishing, so don’t expect super fast action, just long battles that will tire your hands and arms. The best bait is the one you can make yourself and there are thousands of recipes available on the internet. These lures are cheap and easy to make, last hours on the water and can also be frozen.