John Day River Fishery and Trip:
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.
This river was also home to huge runs of Steelhead and the famous Columbia River Chinook Salmon, which averaged over 100lbs. At present, the system has one of the last all-wild runs of anadromous fish east of the Cascade Mountains. 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 mid-June to the end of August. It is not uncommon to hook in excess of 75 fish per rod per day. These fish average from 8″-12′, with larger fish in the 18″-20″ range.
The big fish for 2002 was a 21.25″ 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, anglers fish with poppers and surface bugs, when the sun on the water anglers typically fish muddlers and woolly buggers.
John Day bass trips are multi-day rafting, camping 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 either the 30 mile, Twickingham to Clarno stretch or the 70 mile Clarno to Cottonwood segment. 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. The outfitter takes a lot of pride in meals. A sample dinner menu might range from Lamb brochettes with black olives and mint vinaigrette, Moroccan-spiced chicken with rosemary oil, to good old dutch oven lasagna. The outfitter provides hammocks, a unique luxury in the field, for afternoon siestas. They 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!!
John Day River Accommodations:
Camps will be set up in advance of your arrival by members of the staff.Anglers need to bring their own sleeping bag and pillow but cots are provided.
John Day River Clothing:
Quick dry shorts and pants, quick dry long sleeved shirts, Rain gear, fleece top, sun hat, river sandals, and camp shoes.
John Day River Travel:
If you have a private airplane there is a good airstrip in Condon, you will be picked up at the airport. If you are flying commercially Portland, Oregon is usually the best choice. Upon your arrival you will need to rent a car and drive to Condon, Oregon (2.5 hours). Please be sure to get fishing license PRIOR to your arrival to Condon, they may be purchased in Biggs Junction. The warehouse (541-384-6566) is located in Condon at the corner of B & Fall Street. There are two lodging
options in Condon the Hotel Condon www.hotelcondon.com 800-201- 6706, or the Motel Condon 541-384-2181.
Please make your reservations early as spaces fill up quickly. Also, please let us know where you are staying. The guides
usually meet up with you the night before at the Condon Hotel Restaurant. If not, then meet at Cafe across street as 6 am.
John Day River Climate:
Typical summer temperatures can range from the lower sixties to the mid nineties. Rain, while unlikely, can occur so come prepared.
Meals, accommodations, and guiding.
Overnight in Condon, wine, alcohol, licenses, flies, shuttles, and gratuities.