The Kern River Watershed encompasses about 3,612 square miles. The main branch of the river (referred to as the North Fork Kern) is fed by snowmelt originating in the Sequoia National Park west of Mount Whitney.
It runs about 164 miles to where it terminates near the city of Bakersfield.
The Kern River Watershed hosts native California golden, Little Kern golden and Kern River rainbow trout, as well as non-native brown, eastern brook and rainbow trout.
While the native trout are protected by state and federal laws (wilderness areas, endangered species act, sensitive species list), they are threatened by habitat degradation and competition and hybridization with non-native fish.
Inter-agency and nonprofit programs including artificial migration barriers to keep non-native species from migrating into native species habitat and chemical treatments to eradicate non-native species have been applied to protect the genetic integrity of the native trout.
Further opportunities exist to restore degraded habitat and improve the health and viability of the stream and associated fisheries.
Golden Trout Creek
Golden Trout Creek is fed by runoff from the southwestern Sierra Nevada starting at the headwaters of Big Whitney Meadow and Rocky Basin Lakes and is tributary to the North Fork Kern River. Golden Trout Creek is host to the California state fish, the golden trout.
Little Kern River
The Little Kern River flows from the northwest into the Upper North Fork Kern River at Forks of Kern. The river is within Sequoia National Park and Sequoia National Forest.
The Little Kern River Basin is home to the native Little Kern River rainbow trout.
South Fork Kern River
The South Fork Kern is part of the Kern River Watershed. The South Fork Kern River drains about 982 square miles and runs approximately 95 miles from its headwaters in Inyo National Forest to its confluence with the North Fork Kern River at Isabella Dam.
The river hosts native California golden and Kern River rainbow trout, as well as non-native brown, eastern brook and rainbow trout.