California Department of Fish and Wildlife
Kern River rainbow trout

Kern River Rainbow Trout (native)

Onchorhynchus mykiss gilberti

Recent genetic testing reveals that this golden trout subspecies is present in the mainstem Kern River from the headwaters in Sequoia National Park downstream to the confluence of Durrwood Creek (about 5 miles below the confluence of the Little Kern River). We know that these trout in the mainstem Kern River are genetically similar and distinct from the rainbow trout that are present further downstream.Genetic sampling reveals that the trout at the Johnsondale Bridge are hybridized with introduced rainbow trout from past stocking. One view of the origin of the Kern River rainbow is that it is an intermediate form between the native Kern golden trout and coastal rainbow trout or redband trout which gained occasional access to the upper Kern drainage during prehistoric periods of colder, wetter climates. The status of the Kern River rainbow today is complicated by extensive stocking of nonnative rainbow and golden trout in the drainage during the past century. We consider the trout that are found upstream of Durrwood Creek to represent the best examples of what a Kern River rainbow is today.