South Fork Kern River

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South Fork Kern River

Suggested Flies for South Fork Kern:
Southern Sierra Hatch Selection

Other Local Favorites:

Dry Flies:
Parachute Adams #16
Elk Hair Caddis #14-16
Stimulator #12
Madam X #10-12
Royal Wulff #12

Nymph Flies:
Pheasant Tail Nymph #14-18
Gold Ribbed Hare's Ear #14-18
Prince Nymph #14-18
Bird's Nest #14-18
Bird's Stonefly Nymph #8-10
Copper John, Black #16-18

Streamer Flies:
Muddler Minnow #8-10
Woolly Bugger, Black or Olive #8-10

Directions: You can reach the South Fork of the Kern River either by taking Sherman Pass Road or Hwy 395 to Nine Mile Canyon Road, about 10 miles north of Ridgecrest. Hwy 395 gives you the more direct route. Taking Nine Mile Canyon Road (road name changes to Kennedy Meadow Rd. at county line) about 20 miles, you'll arrive at Kennedy Meadow. Monache Meadows can be reached by taking Road 22S05 further past Black Rock Ranger Station to Road 21S03 which dead-ends at Granite Knob. A Jeep Trail for 4x4's will take you down to Monache Meadows.

Notes:
South Fork Kern RiverKennedy Meadows is a good stop-off point as it has a restaurant, store, and camping facilities. The Pacific Crest Trail follows the river canyon with side routes to the river. Along this stretch of river , you'll find Rainbows and Browns. Goldens will be present above Monache Meadows.

The South Fork Kern is a designated Wild Trout stream above the southern bounsdary of the South Sierra Wilderness just above Kennedy Meadows. The season is the last Saturday in April to November 15th. There is a 5 fish limit with the use of artificial lures or flies with barbless hooks within the desiginated Wild Trout area.
The South Fork Kern has been an ancestral home for the Volcano Creek Golden. About 70,000 years ago, the South Kern was linked to Volcano Creek (which is now called Golden Trout Creek) and the South Fork Kern had an extensive population of Volcano Goldens from it's headwaters to Manter Creek. A lava flow near Little Whitney Meadow diverted Volcano Creek to the Main Kern and the South Fork Goldens became isolated. The population of Goldens had the stream pretty much to itself until rainbows were planted during the last century. Since the Goldens are related to the Rainbows, they were able to hybridize freely and much of the original pure Golden strain was lost. Brown trout were also introduced to the South Kern within the Kennedy Meadows area and, by 1969, only the headwaters above Ramshaw Meadows still had the original pure Volcano Golden strain. Below Ramshaw Meadows, surveys found that the Browns in some areas outnumbered the Golden-Rainbow Hybrids 50:1 .

From Kennedy Meadows you can access the South Fork in a southerly direction by taking a dirt road to the southern portion of Kennedy Meadows near the landing strip. The Pacific Crest Trail is nearby and provides access to the South Fork for 3 miles downstream until it diverts to the east at the upper portion of Rockhouse Basin. Another trail picks up from PCT and follows the river south until it diverts towards the headwaters of Manter Creek. Tributaries worth checking out include:
Fish Creek: A trail heads west near Fish Creek off the SF Kern at the top portion of Rockhouse Basin. This trail crosses Fish Creek and provides access. Consists of Rainbows. Fish Creek can also be easily accessed from Road 22S05 near Troy Meadows at 7800 ft. ele. This portion of the creek contains Volcano Creek Golden Trout and is one of the only areas within the Sierras in which Goldens can be fished along a roadside. It is outside the Golden Trout Wilderness, so a 5 fish per day, 10 in possession rule is in force without the barbless restriction. Some of Troy Meadows contains private ranchland and is fenced off. Please respect their property.
Trout Creek: The same trail heads up into the upper portions of Trout Creek below Sherman Pass Road. The creek consists of Rainbows, Browns, and Brookies.

Rockhouse Basin can also be reached by Long Valley Loop Road. The northern portion of Long Valley Loop Road is closed so you need to use the southern portion that junctions with Canebreak Road. It is about 15 miles to the end of the road with a gated dirt road that you can hike for 5 miles down to the river. The PCT trail is about one mile above this gate. Rockhouse Basin contains Browns and Rainbows mostly in the 8-13 inch size class. The river flows slowly through the basin with some riffles and runs. Banks have considerable willow covering. Watch out for Rattlesnakes!

From the Long Valley Trailhead, you can also get access to areas south of Rockhouse Basin.
Manter Creek: Take the trail west from the SF Kern about 3.5 miles to Little Manter Meadow. This is a grueling hike with a 1800 foot gain over the ridge before dropping into Little Manter Meadow. Consists of Rainbows, Brookies, and Browns.

Going north of Kennedy Meadows, a trailhead is at Kennedy Meadows Campground which lies on the PCT. The PCT will take you along the South Fork for 2 miles to the footbridge. You can follow the river from here or continue on the PCT for another 5 miles where it meets the trail to Dutch John Flat. It is about 3.3 miles to Dutch John with a 1000 feet drop to 7500 feet elevation at the River.

Fishing Maps Available


South Fork Kern 1 & 2, Lake Isabella to Rockhouse Basin

Covers the water between Lake Isabella and Rockhouse basin. Shows camping areas, trails, and creeks. Special Features are the Hatch Chart, Fishing Season and Regulations, and Stream Etiquette guidelines. Printed on Rite-in-the-Rain Paper that will allow you to write those special notes. Waterproof and Durable.

$12.95 pkg



 


South Fork Kern 3 & 4, Rockhouse Basin to Clover Meadow

Covers the water between Rockhouse Basin to Clover Meadow. Shows camping areas, trails, and creeks. Special Features are the Hatch Chart, Fishing Season and Regulations, and Stream Etiquette guidelines. Printed on Rite-in-the-Rain Paper that will allow you to write those special notes. Waterproof and Durable.

$12.95 pkg



 


South Fork Kern 5, Monache Meadow

Covers the water of Monach Meadow. Shows camping areas, trails, and creeks. Special Features are the Hatch Chart, Fish Identification, Fishing Season and Regulations, and Stream Etiquette guidelines. Printed on Rite-in-the-Rain Paper that will allow you to write those special notes. Waterproof and Durable.

$12.95 pkg



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