The History of Kern River Hatchery

Kern River 1927 - 1928

Experiments for a hatchery on the Kern River began in July 1927 as recommended by George A. Coleman, a biologist for the Bureau of Fish Culture. Experiments commenced in October, and by the summer of 1928 it had become apparent that rearing fish below Kern No.1 Powerhouse was not efficient.

Planting trout at the head of Kern River, 1914. men and pack mules gathered around a small alpine lake

In June 1928 the facility was moved to the Kern County Sportsmans Club (near Kernville), where water was of a better quality. The hatchery was enlarged and improved from time to time and in 1950–51, $47,588.64 from Wildlife Conservation Board funds was spent for further expansion and improvements.

In 1966 the highest recorded flood occurred on the Kern River (100,000+cfs) which destroyed most of the Kern Hatchery and its water supply. Following this event the facility was rebuilt and a levee was constructed around the hatchery to protect it from future floods.

The Kern River basin is the home of three of the eleven remaining native trout species or subspecies of California. They are the California golden trout, the Little Kern golden trout, and the Kern River rainbow trout.

Due to their threatened status, from 1985-1994 native Little Kern golden trout were brought to the hatchery from the wild to be spawned, raised and re-introduced back to the Little Kern River for restoration purposes.

At present the hatchery has 12 concrete raceway type ponds and a nursery or early rearing building with tanks and troughs and other necessary appurtenances. Over the last 40 years this facility has been utilized as a fish holding and distribution center or planting base for recreational fish distribution in the Southern Sierra and Southern San Joaquin Valley. The average number of catchable size fish released per year is 250,000 trout for the Kern River and surrounding area.

Future plans for this facility includes production of another native trout, the ‘Kern River rainbow’ for their eventual re-introduction to the roadside Kern River.

Kern River Hatchery main page

Fisheries Branch
1010 Riverside Parkway, West Sacramento, CA 95605 |