Anglers at Lake Isabella can choose their prey. The lake is well-known for its largemouth bass, but it also has rainbow and brown trout, kokanee salmon, and smallmouth bass along with crappie, bluegill, and catfish. Lake Isabella is best fished from a boat, but shore anglers do well around the campgrounds and the dams. Wind on the lake can be a problem for fishing.
Until recently, lures were used almost exclusively by the most successful bass anglers. but, now that live bait has been allowed in Lake Isabella, craw dads are especially hot for the largemouth beauties in spring and early summer. Plastic worms and shad raps are two favorite lures for the seasoned angler. Those who know the bass in the lake say that it's impossible to fish the plastic worm too slow.
Some of the consistently favorite spots to find bass are Rocky Point, in the south fork near Freear Point and French Gulch. Float tubing for bass is especially popular in the French Gulch area with its protection from the wind and its deep water. Generally speaking, however, you can expect to have success fishing for bass anywhere around the shore where there are significant drop-offs, and don't be surprised with catching bass in excess of 10 pounds.
Success for bluegill depends upon two elements: warm weather and the spawn. Warm weather brings warmer water and a more active feeding pattern for the kid's favorite kind of fishing. Most bluegill are taken in coves from shore in the summer due to spawning and shallow water. Some coves are better than others, only because they are more heavily fished than other areas.
Meal worms or redworms by themselves or dangling from the end of small lures, mini jigs and dry flies in the South Fork attract the attention of this hand sized fish. Messes of 20 to 50 are not uncommon.
CATFISH (WHITE) & (CHANNEL)
Catfish is the most consistent fish caught in Lake Isabella with heavy hitting from February through November not uncommon. There have been countless catfish stories where the bottom dwelling lunkers have pulled boats and kept anglers busy for more than an hour. A number of 20 pound cats have been pulled from the lake waters.
As with cat fishing anywhere, the most common bait that woks most consistently seems to be anything that's stinky. Mackerel, anchovies, clams, night crawlers and chicken livers all seem to do the trick. They've also come in on meal worms. Most catfish seem to come in from shore and at night. Maybe that's because most cat fishermen work from shore and at night. Some anglers like to get out in boats in deeper water in the French Gulch, Piney Point, South Fork Channel and off Engineer's Point.
When they're hitting, one place is really not much better than another, but if you're looking for some pretty standard spots, you might try the Camp Nine area, Boulder Gulch, near the North Fork Marina, at French Gulch, Main Dam, Auxiliary Dam and almost any area in the South Fork arm of the lake, including Lime Dike, Paradise Cove, Robinson Cove and Stine Cove.
CRAPPIE (WHITE) & (BLACK)
Crappie are most active in warmer weather and water. Live bait, such as minnows, have brought a couple of record fish, one in the North Fork near Freear Point and the other in the South Fork Channel. Crappie jigs and meal worms or red worms also do the for this panfish.
Rocky Point, French Gulch, Boulder Gulch, Piney Point, over to Paradise Cove and Lime Dike are other good spots. As with other warm water fish in the lake, expect to find success in shallow waters, such as coves, that are protected from the wind.
Each year, a number of salmon are taken from both the Piney Point and the flume areas of the Lake Isabella, during spawning time, and hardly ever has the angler been fishing for them when he has hooked a salmon.
TROUT (RAINBOW) & (BROWN)
Most trout found in Lake Isabella will be of the stocker rainbow variety in the 10 to 13 inch size that have been planted within one month of being taken. However, on occasion, the Department of Fish and Game plants Lake Isabella with a number of brood suckers in the three pound range. It is also not uncommon for many of the stockier rainbows, found in the lake several years after planting, to be in the three to five pound range.
And then, there's always the story of the brown trout that have been planted in the Kern River. As the story goes, an occasional brown finds its way downstream to Lake Isabella. Another version of this story is that every 10 years or so when the Kern Plateau is inundated with snow, baby browns are washed down to the lake where they will sit in deep waters near the Main Dam getting fat as they wait for the angler looking for them.
If you're after the periodic stocker rainbows, best bets are just off shore in shallow waters with standard spinner lures or flatfish, salmon eggs, cheese, marshmallows, Berkely Power bait or nightcrawlers. Anglers hooking the five pound rainbows have most of their luck with marshmallow and nightcrawler fished together. These trophy fish have most commonly been hooked in the Auxiliary Dam, Boulder Gulch areas. Most of the successful fishermen have their best luck in the deeper waters in the Main Dam area.
Address: 4875 Ponderosa Drive, Lake Isabella, CA; CA-178 E, 5 mi NW
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