Friday, January 30, 2009

John Day River Smallmouth
Running over 500 miles, the John Day is the second longest free-flowing stream in the United States. It is protected as a “Wild and Scenic” river under Oregon Scenic Waterways Act. The country is characterized by steep basalt canyon walls, juniper, and sagebrush dotted hills, abandoned homesteads, and petroglyphs. This is one of the most culturally rich river corridors in the state. Human presence in this system spans more than 10,000 years. For thousands of years the Northern Paiute lived on this river they called the Mah-Hah. In 1805 these canyon dwellers met their first Europeans, the Lewis and Clark expedition. In 1812, the river was renamed the John Day after one of the members of the Astor-Hunt overland party. It was the discovery of gold in 1860 that advanced pioneer settlement. The John Day River is truly the Grand Canyon of Oregon. The river’s serpentine course through vertical basalt cliffs has, at times, an almost haunting feel.

The John Day River offers some of the best Smallmouth Bass fishing in the country. In 1971, approximately 75 Smallmouth Bass were introduced to the river and since then they have flourished! Bass season is at its peak from June to the end of July. It is not uncommon to hook in excess of 50+ fish per rod per day. These fish average from 8”-12”, with larger fish in the 18”-20” range. The big fish for 2008 was a 21¼” monster that weighed 6.4 lbs!! This is the perfect river to introduce new flycasters to the sport, as the fish are typically aggressive and plentiful. The majority of the fishing is done from the boat and from the banks looking for feeding fish. When the shade is on the water we fish with poppers and surface bugs, sun on the water flys are typically muddlers and woolly buggers.

If you fly in, schedule your flight for Portland, Oregon on the day before the launch date. Once in Portland you will need to rent a vehicle and meet us in Condon Oregon. Be sure to have your fishing license before arriving in Condon. You will find them online:

We have two options for accommodations; Motel Condon: 541-384-2181, or the Hotel Condon: 800-201-6706.

Our John Day bass trips are multi-day rafting, camping, fishing trips. For our day float trips we use the Twinkingham to Priest Hole portion of the river, or Service Creek to Twinkingham. For our multi day camping trips we use different segments depending on the length of stay. Priest Hole to Clarno stretch is our two night three day float and camp. Twickingham Bridge to Clarno is the perfect 4 day late season (July) adventure. We have a private ranch access($40.00 P.P. fee)
put in at 30 Mile Creek that gives us the opportunity to take you down the most wild and scenic segment of the river to Cottonwood Bridge. This trip is 4 days in June and 5 days in July. Our longest tip is a 70 mile float from 6 to 7 days from Clarno to Cottonwood. Camps are set-up each day by our baggage crew as we progress down the river. When you arrive in camp, sit back and relax, have a cocktail, or fish the camp water. Your tent for the night will be set-up and your baggage will be waiting for you. All meals are skillfully prepared streamside by our staff. We also provide all of camping gear with the exception of your sleeping bag and pillow. We carry all drinking water, however, we don not provide alcohol, you are welcome to bring your own if you desire. Please pack liquids in plastic containers only. Except good wines!!

Rivers and water are the soul of all life on our planet, so please join us in enjoying, marveling at, and protecting the river as we travel its length. With that in mind, we practice no trace camping. Footprints should be the only clue to our presence after we leave.

One guide per two clients is our standard ratio on flyfishing excursions. Our guides have both CPR training and basic first air certification. Additionally, we generally have at least one EMT on each trip. We carry a very complete series of first aid kits on each boat, as well as a cell phone for emergencies only. If you have any preexisting medical condition, please let us know in advance (bee sting or food allergies, diabetes, heart conditions, etc.). It is advised that you have a current tetanus vaccination before arrival. When you arrive at the river we will have a boat and river safety discussion. You will be issued a life jacket to be used for the trip. Camp size averages 6 to 8 guests. We can accommodate larger groups by request.

2009 rates: $350/day per angler

We look forward to showing you the John Day River canyon and fishing with you…and if you have any further questions please feel free to call or email us at any time