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Kern River Hatchery’s new mission: Plant native trout


The newly refurbished and reopened Kern River Hatchery located on the Kern River in Kernville just upstream from Lake Isabella has a new mission: To raise and plant native Kern River rainbow trout throughout the Kern River system.

Using trout to be captured from the wild where native fish still exist without interbreeding with other strains of rainbow, the hatchery will breed, collect eggs, and rear these native fish to use in both the catchable trout program on the Kern and to restore the species to other streams in the watershed throughout the Kern River basin.

The Kern River rainbow is one of 12 subspecies of trout native to the state. As a result of a statewide lawsuit that forced the Department of Fish and Wildlife to revise is trout rearing and stocking programs to protect and enhance native species, the Kern River Hatchery was targeted for revamping and to become the home of the new program to restore this native trout species.

The hatchery will also continue to be used to hold and plant other strains of rainbow trout from other hatcheries. These fish will be used to plant other waters throughout Kern and Tulare County.

“The goal is to not only provide fishing opportunity but help with the restocking of a native strain of rainbow trout to native watersheds,” said Tony Holland, Kern River Hatchery manager. “This two-fold operation has the potential to increase natural reproduction while providing continued angling opportunity.”

Prior to the restoration work, warming water temperatures and sometimes low flows in the Kern River during the summer months did not allow for full hatchery operations. Using cooler groundwater to augment the natural river supply with cooler water (plus a new chilling system has been installed), the hatchery now can hold broodstock, spawn fish, raise eggs, and rear trout through different stages year-around.

Native trout were actually supposed to be captured in a remote region of Sequoia National Park two years ago, but the DFW had not completed the hatchery work yet. Now the DFW biologists and hatchery staff plan to collect from 50 to 100 mature trout from the backcountry in the Sequoia National Forest this summer. These fish will be brought to the hatchery where genetic samples will be taken to make sure they are pure-strain fish and to select for genetic pairing to produce the best offspring.

While trout of many different strains have been planted in the roadside portions of the Kern River for decades, it is hoped that with the planting of no other strains in the future that the native trout will eventually flood out the genetics of non-native rainbows, allowing the natural traits to eventually restore the species. Many headwater stretches of the Kern already have pure-strain fish, and the DFW hopes to increase that number as time goes on, assuring only native fish are planted in the river system in the future.

Free instructional day

for youth at Raahauge’s

Learning how to shoot shotguns and archery gear and to catch fish will be the focus of a free one-day event June 1 at Mike Raahauge Shooting Enterprises.

The first 100 kids from 12 to 18 to sign-up on-line will have the opportunity to shoot a 25-round course in sporting clays (with shotguns and ammunition provided), be coached in archery shooting, and to learn the fundamentals of fishing and actually catch catfish and bluegill. Lunch is also free for the kids, too.

Funding for the event comes from a newly-formed non-profit, the Raahauges Shooting Sports Foundation. The 501c3 organization had its first fund-raising even May 4. The Mike Raahauge Memorial Shoot, named after the late founder of the shooting range, and it raised enough money, with over 100 shooters participating, to fund this first youth event in June. The event is expected to grow in the future and other youth events are in the works.

To sign up, participants must register via e-mail by writing, and requesting entry into the event. Only the first 100 youths who sign-up will be accepted this year (and as of Saturday early afternoon, the number of sign-up for 16). Parents may participate with their kids in all the events, but each parent must pay a $30 fee (which includes shotguns, ear and eye safety equipment, and ammunition along with lunch). Non-participants, parents or otherwise, can join the kids at lunch for $6.

For more information, you can call Raahauge’s at 951-735-7981.

BRIEFLY NOTED: Speaking of youth event, the annual Youth Safari Day, also at Raahauge’s but put on and run by the Orange County Safari Club Chapter, will be held July 20 this year. This is an all-day event for kids of all ages to get involves in a variety of outdoor activities with their siblings and friends for a small fee. The activities include rock climbing, kayaking, fishing, slightshot and BB-gun shooting, learning how to call quail (and make their own call), .22 and shotgun shooting, along with a slate of demonstrations. For more information or to register, go to….

Catfish planting season at all the San Bernardino County Park Lakes kicks off with plants on Thursday May 23 and all the parks open to fishing the following day. All of the county parks, including Mojave Narrows (Victorville), Glen Helen (Devore), Yucaipa, and Prado (Rancho Cucamonga), will be planted with 775 pounds of catfish each week during the summer catfish season. For more information, you can call each individual park….

The Fishin’ for $50K Trout Tournament will be held June 8-9 at Big Bear Lake and offers participants a change to catch a $10,000 tagged trout along with a host of other prizes. In fact, there are five trout planted with tags that are worth $10,000 each prior to the event. There are also awards for the biggest trout caught in men’s, women’s, and kid’s categories. Entry fees are $80 for adults and $30 for kids 15 and under and entry is good for both days of the tournament. For more information, visit or call 800-424-4232.


Jim Matthews is a syndicated Southern California-based outdoor reporter and columnist. He can be reached via e-mail at or by phone at 909-887-3444.

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