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FISH OF THE SOUTH FORK KERN RIVER

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Mammals    Birds     Reptiles     Amphibians      Fish    Insects   Spiders     Dragonflies     Grasshoppers     Butterflies     Crayfish

NOTE: There is no collecting, fishing, or hunting on the preserve. If you see any animal or plant on the preserve, please take only pictures and memories. Do not disturb nesting birds. Do not go off trail.

There are many native fish in the Kern River Valley that have been affected by the introduction of sport fish. While fishing for the turtle project, the teams have found native Sacramento pike minnow and Sacramento. The most abundant fish though is the carp closely followed by the green sunfish. Here are 18 species (4 native - some trout may also be native) that have been found in various stretches of the South Fork Kern River within the Kern River Valley.

shad    carp    hitch     hardhead     shiner     pike minnow     sucker     black bullhead     brown bullhead    channel catfish

rainbow trout     mosquitofish     green sunfish     pumpkinseed     bluegill     largemouth bass     white crappie    black crappie

ORDER CLUPEIFORMES - Family CLUPEIDAE - herrings and shads

threadfin shad - Dorosoma petenense

INTRODUCED - Uncommon

length - 2-8"

body shape - oblong vertically flattened

mouth shape - Oblique with upper jaw longer than the lower

color - Usually silver in color often with a blue or black hue at the rear

markings - black spot behind the operculum. Long, thread like ray at the end of the dorsal fin creating a sickle shape

dorsal fins - 11-17 rays

anal fins - 17-27 rays

tail - yellowish - deeply forked

lateral line - 40-48 scales

reproduction - egg laying

lifespan - up to 2 years

habitat- sluggish backwaters, large ponds, and reservoirs  close to surface

diet - filter  zooplankton, phytoplankton, and detritus. eat copepods

temperature - prefer between 72F and 75F death occurs below 43F.

ORDER CYPRINIFORMES - Family CYPRINIDAE - Minnows and carp

common carp - Cyprinus carpio

INTRODUCED - Abundant

length - avg 15-20" largest 32"

weight - avg 9.9 lbs. biggest recorded 83 lbs

body shape - heavy bodied ellipse -

scale size - very large

mouth shape - horizontal jaw - two pairs of barbels on the upper lip rear longer than front pair

color - gold-green to bronze - pectoral, pelvic, and anal fins tinged in red - juveniles  brown to grey

markings - heavy scale demarcation on top less toward belly

dorsal fins - 1 large and 2 smaller serrated spines - 17-21 rays

pelvic fins - 5-7 rays

anal fins - 1 large and 2 smaller serrated spines - 5-6 rays

tail - 19 rays

lateral line - 32-38 scales

reproduction - egg laying

lifespan - avg 12-15 years, longest 47 years

habitat - warm, turbid waters of eutrophic lakes, reservoirs, and sloughs with silty bottoms and high vegetation growth

diet - aquatic insect larvae, small mollusks, crustaceans, and annelid worms, plants and algae

temperature - cold as 39F and as warm as 87-97F, salinities up to 16 ppt, and dramatically low levels of dissolved oxygen (between 0.5 and 3.0 ppm).

similar species - goldfish

hitch - Lavinia exilicauda

NATIVE - rare

length - 14"

body shape - elongate, laterally compressed

scale size - large

mouth shape - small, upturned

color - Brownish yellow back, progressively darker with age, juveniles: silvery

markings - spot in juveniles

dorsal fins - 10-13 rays

anal fins - 11-14 rays large

tail - large forked

lateral line - 54-62 decurved scales

reproduction - eggs

lifespan - 4-6 years

habitat - slow warm water, including lakes and quiet rivers

diet - zooplankton, crustaceans, or various forms of insects

temperature - heat tolerant of the native Central Valley fishes and can withstand water temperatures greater than 86F

hardhead - Mylopharodon conocephalus

NATIVE - Uncommon

length - 13"-23.5"

body shape - thick elongate

scale size - small

mouth shape - slightly upturned

color - brown or dusky bronze back, silvery

markings - darker lateral line behind dorsal fin

dorsal fins - 8 rays

anal fins - 8-9 rays

tail - large forked

lateral line - 69-81 scales

reproduction - eggs

lifespan - 9-10 years

habitat - small to large streams

diet - invertebrates, aquatic plants and algae, or insects

temperature - prefer above 68F

golden shiner - Notemigonus crysoleucas

INTRODUCED - Uncommon

length - 4-10"

body shape - streamlined

scale size - large

mouth shape - upward pointing

color - golden to silvery

markings - sharp naked keel

dorsal fins - 7-9 rays

pectoral fins - 15 rays

pelvic fins - 9 rays

anal fins - 11-15 rays

lateral line - 44-54 scales curves downward

reproduction - eggs

lifespan - up to 9 years

habitat - vegetated lakes, ponds, swamps, backwaters and pools of creeks and small to medium rivers

diet - aquatic vegetation, zooplankton,  algae, crustaceans, small fish, mollusks, and aquatic insect larvae

temperature - up to 97F

Sacramento pike minnow (squawfish) - Ptychocheilus grandis

NATIVE - Common

length - 16"- 47"

weight - max 6.9 lbs

body shape - thick elongate

scale size - small

mouth shape - large horizontal to slightly upturned

color - olive-brown blackish - breeding fins orange

markings - dark spot at base of tail

dorsal fins - 8 rays

pectoral fins - 15-18 rays

pelvic fins - 9 rays

anal fins - 8 rays

tail - deeply forked

lateral line -  65-78 scales

reproduction - eggs

lifespan - up to 16 years

habitat - rocky and sandy pools, small to large rivers, clear, warm streams

diet - aquatic insects, crustaceans, fish,  frogs, large stoneflies, small rodents

temperature - 64-82F,  extremes up to 100F and salinities as high as 8 ppt

Family CATOSTOMIDAE - suckers

Sacramento sucker - Catostomus occidentalis

NATIVE - Uncommon

length - 14" - 20"

body shape - heavy elongate

scale size - moderately large

mouth shape - bottom opening, fleshy lips. 5-6 rows of papillae on upper lip, bottom lip has a single row of papillae

color - Green to brown back, yellow-gold to white underside. Faint red stripe along sides, brighter in breeding males.

markings - Juveniles have 3-4 dark splotches on body

dorsal fins - 11-15 rays

anal fins - 6-8 rays

tail - moderately forked

lateral line - 57-75 scales

reproduction - eggs

lifespan - up to 10 years

habitat - diverse habitats: streams, lakes, mild estuaries. Prefer clear cool streams and lakes

diet - detritus, insect larvae, algae, invertebrates

temperature -

ORDER SILURIFORMES - Family ICTALURIDAE - bullhead catfishes

black bullhead - Ameiurus melas

INTRODUCED - Uncommon

length - 10.5" - 26"

weight - 2 lbs up to 8 lbs

body shape - cylindrical and heavy bodied

mouth shape - large horizontal opening - upper and lower barbels dark brown to black, barbels at corners of mouth about twice as long as those near nostrils

color - black to yellowish-brown, whitish belly

gill rakers - 15-21 on first arch

dorsal fins - interray webs dark

adipose fin - short, fleshy, free at posterior end

pectoral fins - 1 spine - slightly rough

anal fins - Short, round with dark membranes, 19-23 light rays

tail - square with slight notch

reproduction - eggs

lifespan - up to 10 years

habitat - sluggish current pools, backwaters, muddy creeks, small to large turbid rivers; impoundments, oxbows, reservoirs, and ponds

diet - omnivorous: aquatic insects, earthworms, terrestrial insects, clams, snails, plant material, dead fish and occasional slow moving live fish

temperature - 46F - 86F

brown bullhead - Ameiurus nebulosus

INTRODUCED - Uncommon

length - 12" - 21"

weight - 2 lbs - 6 lbs

body shape - cylindrical and heavy bodied

mouth shape - blunt horizontal opening - upper and 6 chin barbels dark brown to black, matching barbels at corners of mouth about twice as long as those near nostrils

color - yellow-brown with dark mottling on the side and white to yellow on the belly

markings - mottling

gill rakers - 11-15 on first arch

dorsal fins - 6-7 rays, 1 spine with 5-9 teeth on rear edge

adipose fin - short, fleshy, free at posterior end

pectoral fins - 1 spine - toothed on rear edge

anal fins - 21-24 rays; anal fin does not reach anterior rays of caudal fin. fin same color on both membranes

tail - square

reproduction - eggs

lifespan - up to 9 years

habitat - larger reservoirs, found deep near aquatic plants and muddy bottoms, slow moving, low gradient, muddy streams and rivers with deep pools, aquatic plant beds, and soft bottoms

diet - mollusks, insects, leeches, crayfish, plankton, worms, algae, plant material, fish and fish eggs

temperature - 39F to 99F, salinities as high as 13 ppt, and alkalinity levels up to a pH of 9

channel catfish - Ictalurus punctatus

INTRODUCED - Uncommon

length - 22" - 52"

weight - up to 58 lbs

body shape - cylindrical and heavy bodied - bony ridge between skull and dorsal fin

mouth shape - large horizontal opening - barbels at corners of mouth more than 3 times as long as those near nostrils - head appears wide from above

color - upper body bluish olive, gray or black fading to white below

markings - dark spots usually scattered along the sides

dorsal fins - 5-6 soft rays

adipose fin - short, fleshy, free at posterior end

pectoral fins - 4-5 soft rays

anal fins - 24-29 rays

tail - deeply forked

reproduction - eggs

lifespan - up to 24 years

habitat - prefer clean, warm, well oxygenated rivers and streams also in ponds, reservoirs and turbid, muddy bottomed rivers

diet - small fish, crustaceans, clams and snails; aquatic insects and small mammals

temperature - 50F - 90F

ORDER SALMONIFORMES -Family SALMONIDAE - trout

rainbow trout - Oncorhynchus mykiss

INTRODUCED/NATIVE

Uncommon - absent downstream

length - 23" - 47"

weight - up to 56 lbs

body shape - heavy bodied ellipse

scale size - small

mouth shape - large slightly upturned

color - silvery to yellowish above, pale below, red band on side, color varies with habitat, size, and sex

markings - adults heavy black spots, juveniles boldly spotted

dorsal fins - 10-12 rays

adipose fin - spotted

pectoral fins - 11-17 rays

pelvic fins - 9-10 rays

anal fins - 8-12 rays

tail - square - 19 rays

reproduction - eggs

lifespan - up to 11 years

habitat - cold lakes, moderate to fast flowing, well oxygenated streams

diet - aquatic and terrestrial insects, mollusks, crustaceans, fish eggs, and small fish

temperature - 53F - 64F

similar species - golden trout, Kern River rainbow trout

ORDER CYPRINODONTIFORMES - FAMILY POECILIIDAE - livebearers

western mosquitofish - Gambusia affinis

INTRODUCED - Uncommon

length - males up to 1.6" females up to 2.8"

body shape - ellipse

scale size - large

mouth shape - medium upturned

color - light tan, scales iridescent blue-green to purple, lighter belly

markings - 3-5 lines around eye, cheek 4-6 brown lines

dorsal fins - 7-9 rays

pelvic fins - 5-7 rays

anal fins - 9-10 rays

tail - rounded

lateral line - 38-45 scales

reproduction - live birth

lifespan - up to 3 years

habitat - standing to slow-flowing water; most common in vegetated ponds and lakes, backwaters and quiet pools of streams

diet - zooplankton, small insects and detritus

temperature - 57F - 84F

 Family CENTRARCHIDAE sunfishes

green sunfish - Lepomis cyanellus

INTRODUCED - Common

length - 8" - 12"

weight - 2.1 lbs

body shape - stiff oval

mouth shape - medium fleshy lips

color - olive green on back fading on the sides, orange-yellow breast and belly

markings - dark opercular flaps with orange-white edging, iridescent blue-green markings on body and head, dorsal and anal fins have a dark blotch

dorsal fins - 9-10 spines 10-12 rays

pectoral fins - rounded 13-15 rays

pelvic fins - 1 spine 5 rays

anal fins - 3 spines 8-9 rays

tail - round weakly forked

reproduction - eggs

lifespan - up to 10 years

habitat - quiet pools and backwaters of sluggish streams; lakes and ponds

diet - invertebrates and small fish

temperature - 64F - 90F

similar species - pumpkinseed, bluegill

pumpkinseed - Lepomis gibbosus

INTRODUCED - Uncommon

length - 12" - 16"

weight - up to 1.4 lbs

body shape - stiff oval

mouth shape - small oblique

color - greenish-gray or brownish-green, orange, yellow, blue, and green spots, and 7-10 faint blue green vertical bands, yellow to orange throat and belly, iridescent blue-green markings on cheek

markings - dark, stiff opercular flaps with orange and blue streaks, small spots on dorsal fin

dorsal fins - 10 - 12 spines 10 - 12 rays

pectoral fins - long 12-13 rays

pelvic fins - 1 spine 5 rays

anal fins - 3-4 spines 8 - 11 rays

tail - round weakly forked

lateral line - 36-44 scales

reproduction - eggs

lifespan - up to 12 years

habitat - quiet vegetated lakes, ponds, and pools in creeks and small rivers

diet - worms, crustaceans and insects, small fish, other vertebrates, fish eggs

temperature - 39F - 72F

similar species - green sunfish, bluegill

bluegill - Lepomis macrochirus

INTRODUCED - Uncommon

length - 7.5" - 16"

weight - 4.75 lbs

body shape - stiff oval

mouth shape - small oblique

color - blue or purplish iridescence, faint vertical bars, breeding males brighter blue and orange

markings - dark blue or black "ear" on opercular flap, dark blotch at base of dorsal fin

dorsal fins - 10 spines 10-12 rays

pectoral fins - long pointed 13-14 rays

pelvic fins - 5 rays

anal fins - 3 spines 11-12 rays

tail - round moderately forked

lateral line - 38-48 scales

reproduction - eggs

lifespan - up to 10 years

habitat - lakes, ponds, reservoirs and sluggish streams

diet - snails, small crayfish, insects, worms and small minnows

temperature - 34F - 97F

similar species - green sunfish, pumpkinseed

largemouth bass - Micropterus salmoides

INTRODUCED - Uncommon

length - 16" - 38"

weight - up to 22 lbs

body shape - stiff ellipse

mouth shape - large

color - Green to olive on back, white to yellow on belly

markings - black band running from the ear flap to the base of the tail fin, brown eyes

dorsal fins - 9 spines 12-13 rays

pectoral fins - 13-17 rays

anal fins - 3 spines 10-12 rays

tail - rounded 17 rays

lateral line - 58-72 scales

reproduction - eggs

lifespan - up to 23 years

habitat -  clear, vegetated lakes, ponds, swamps, pools of creeks and rivers, likes quiet, clear water and over-grown banks. Adults feed on

diet - fish, crayfish and frogs, insects

temperature - 50F - 90F

white crappie - Pomoxis annularis

INTRODUCED - Uncommon

length - 8" - 21"

weight - up to 5 lbs

body shape - stiff ellipse

mouth shape - medium oblique

color - silver

markings - vertical bands, large eyes

dorsal fins - 5-6 spines 13-15 rays

pectoral fins - 13-14 rays

pelvic fins - 1 spine 5 rays

anal fins - 6-7 spines 16-18 rays

tail - round weakly forked

lateral line - 34-46 scales contoured round towards dorsal fin

reproduction - eggs

lifespan - up to 10 years

habitat - sand and mud-bottomed pools and backwaters of creeks, rivers, lakes and ponds

diet - fish, small invertebrates

temperature - 50F - 88F

similar species - black crappie

Crappie were introduced from Illinois. The white crappie has dark green vertical mottling on a yellowish silver body. It has six dorsal spines. They do well in warm water in lakes, sloughs, and reservoirs. Adults eat fish.

black crappie - Pomoxis nigromaculatus

INTRODUCED - Common

length - 8-12"

weight - avg. 2.2 lbs, max 4.9 lbs

body shape - oblong

scale size - medium

mouth shape - oblique lower jaw protrudes slightly

color - Whitish-silvery side, dark back,  white belly

markings -indistinct black mottling

dorsal fins - 7-9 spines, 15-16 rays

pectoral fins - 14-15 rays

pelvic fins - 1 spine, 5-6 rays

anal fins - 6 spines and 16-19 rays

lateral line - 38-44 scales

reproduction - eggs

lifespan - 6 years oldest recorded 13 years

habitat - large, warm water lakes and reservoirs.

diet - young eat zooplankton and small insect larvae - adults ear aquatic insects and other fish

temperature - prefers 81F to 84F, active at 43F - 45F will die at around 100F

similar species - white crappie

The black crappie has  on a silver body. It has a very large eye and seven to eight dorsal spines. It was originally introduced to the San Diego area in California in 1891. This fish needs a good supply of small fish and vegetation. Both crappie will overpopulate slow clear water quickly.

References

2010. California Fish Website. University of California Cooperative Extension at UC Davis. http://ucce.ucdavis.edu/datastore/datastoreview/showpage.cfm?reportnumber=746

1998. Kern Fish. Nature Alley by Nature Ali. http://www.natureali.org/wildfish.htm

2000. Friends of the Kern River Fish Hatchery. 27 Local Fish Species. Worldwide web electronic publication. http://www.kernvalley.com/fishhatchery/centers.htm 11 Dec. 2002.

2002. Integrated Taxonomic Information System - ITIS * North America. World Wide Web electronic publication. http://www.itis.usda.gov. 11 Dec. 2002. Data 13 Nov. 2002.

Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors. 2002. FishBase. World Wide Web electronic publication. www.fishbase.org, 11 December 2002.

McGinnis, S. M., 1984. Freshwater Fishes of California. UC Press, Berkeley.


About Audubon Kern River Preserve

The Kern River Preserve is managed by Audubon California for the preservation of one of Californias largest contiguous cottonwood-willow riparian forests and the wildlife it supports.

Audubon Kern River Preserve supporters provide financial and volunteer support for Preserve outreach, education, wildlife habitat protection & stewardship.

 

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