Kern River

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Posted ByMatt on July 06, 2003 at 23:21:50:

We went up near Peppermint Creek on Friday. I was looking for a trail down to the Kern that my maps show from near Lower Peppermint campground. We couldn't find the trail, it looks like part of it has been gated and paved, there are a couple of houses between the road and the river. I had another trail I wanted to check out, near Needlerock Creek, also down to the Kern. Also could not locate the trail, we found a marker for it, but no actual trail. So we headed back down to the Jonsondale Bridge. Parking lot was totally full, lots of campers and kayakers. It was warm, low 90's and perfectly clear. The wind was blowing down the canyon pretty good, gusting to about 20mph. We hiked upstream about 1.5 miles, water was much higher than below the dam, and clear. Not may places to fish due to the hogh volume of water. Tried some dry flies to start, Grey Hackle Peac0ck, and Karen with an Adams. Did manage to get a couple small ones (6"). Switched to a Royal Wulff, and managed a couple more small ones. Karen had switched to a BH Hare's Ear. I moved upstream a bit, and she hooked into the largest fish of the day, at 14.5". A beautiful wild rainbow, looked more like a steelhead, olive on the back, fading to bright silver on the flanks and white underneath.I was unable to get a picture, as I was setting up the shot, he flipped out of her hand. Overall, a fair day, we landed about 15 fish between us, all of them under 8" except the one karen landed. On Saturday we went to check out Karen's "private" creek. It was not quite as hot as Friday, no wind at all. Fished a section about 1/2 mile long, lots of bushwhacking and rock hopping. We were catching fish like crazy, mostly about 6" with the occasional fish going to about 10". I came upon a small pool, maybe 10' across, and 4 ft deep at the deepest point under a 2 ft "waterfall" overgrown with small trees and long grassy banks. I crept up to the edge of the pool and immediately spotted a nice 12" fish. I was getting ready to flip my fly at him, when I saw his bigger cousin. I moved just slightly, to get to my radio to let Karen know I had found a monster, when he darted off into the "waterfall". I moved away from the edge of the pool, behind a large rock. I tried to think of what I could do to coax him out, but figured he would be back under that overhang for a while. So I tied in a BH Hares Ear, and snuck back to the edge of the pool. I stood back about an arm's length from the edge, and I could see the 12" fish was still there. I figured he was as good as any others I had caught that day, so I prepared to flip the nymph in. Just as I was doing that, I saw the big guy creep back into the eddy he was holding in before. S-L-O-W-L-Y I raised my rod tip, and flipped the fly in front of him. I was standing about 3 ft away from the edge of the pool, and my fly was about 4 ft in front of the 2 fish. I gave my rod tip a couple of twitches, and the smaller fish moved toward the Hare's Ear. He glided past it, not really taking much notice. Now, I'm facing upstream, the big fish is holding in an eddy facing me, and I twitched the nymph again. This seemed to get his attention, and he finned right towards it. Then, he just darted right at the fly, and I saw his mouth open up, I waited just a split second, and set the hook. BANG! He was on! I couldn't believe my good fortune. I radioed Karen, "I got him! I got him!" I jumped down into the pool, as he took off upstream, he was blocked by the small waterfall. With me in the water, he didn't go downstream, I would have lost him for sure if he had. Down through a few riffles and under a canopy of alder trees with no way to follow. He raced around this small pool, my only thought was to make sure I could land him. This was complicated by all the small dead branches leaning down over the water. He hooked my leader on a few of these more than once, and I was sure he was going to saw me off. I was able to get him out of the branches, and brought him to me. I was shaking, I had spooked an even larger fish about a half hour before, and I wanted to make sure I got a picture. I brought him in wile I was getting out the camera, and took about 10 photos, I wanted to make sure at least one came out. I measured him against my 3 wt rod handle, and when we got back, took out the tape measure- Just under 18", and I'd estimate to be between 2-2.5 pounds. Long and thin, a typically torpedo shaped creek dwelling brown. I cradled him for a few minutes, until he was ready to go, and off he swam into his hiding place. I had to sit down until the adrennaline shot wore off. By far the biggest fish I had caught on my 3 wt, and certainly one of the most exciting fish of my life. Matt

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