The Lower Kern River extends from below the Lake Isabella dam to the base of the canyon. The canyon is steep and narrow with controlled flows coming from Lake Isabella. River Rafting is a primary recreational use of this river during July through Sept. The commercial rafts put-in below the dam at Slippery Rock and take-out at Democrat Hot Springs. There are a number of other sites to put-in or take-out between the two. During these months the water flows are too swift for safe angling. May and June can be treacherous as well from the snow-melt runoff. Overnight camping is allowed at Hobo and Sandy Flat. October through April are the preferred times to fish the lower Kern within the canyon. Using an inflatable pontoon boat provides a good oportunity to fish many of these areas. An annual Kern River Use permit is required.
The upper section of the Lower Kern has both Brown and Rainbow Trout. CDFW stocks rainbows below Sandy Flat to Democrat Beach. Within this section, you will also find Smallmouth Bass. Below Democrat Beach to Ming Lake, there will be both Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass. The outlet at Borel Powerhouse has a large number of very fat rainbows that gourge upon the shad that are emitted through the penstock. Using a shad pattern floating on the surface as a stunned fish will take strikes. There are three sections designated by CDFW for fish planting: Section #1 is from Democrat Beach to Lower Richbar, Section #2 is from Sandy Flat to Democrat Beach and Section #3 is from Sandy Flat to the Isabella Dam. Most of the Lower Kern consists of stocked Rainbows with wild populations of Bass and Browns. All of the Lower Kern gets pressure from bait fishermen.The river gets quite warm in the late summer so that trout fishing does not really begin until October when water temps cool. Fishing continues to be good on the Lower Kern until April, prior to the run-off flows.
Fishing Regulations (Effective March 1st, 2021)
Lower Kern River:
Open all year. No restrictions. 5 trout.
Local Rivers and Streams:
From the last Saturday in April through November 15, 5 trout daily bag limit, 10 trout in possession; and, from November 16 through the Friday preceding the last Saturday in April, 0 trout bag limit, artificial lures with barbless hooks only and trout must be released unharmed and not removed from the water.
All other Lakes:
Open all year, 5 trout daily bag limit, 10 trout in possession.