John Day River? [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: John Day River?

09-15-2009, 07:42 PM
The John Day River is a river 20 minutes from the Deschutes River going east bound. I look at the maps of Oregon and the John Day looks pretty good on paper. Few roads to get to it, looks like deep canyons everywhere. So my question is are there steelhead in there or is river an irrigation nightmare? Can it be floated which looks like a two or three day float or will I go over the mystery falls or have a deliverence experience? Juro, Eric, anyone help would be helpful in our future plans on boating/ rafting.

09-16-2009, 05:59 AM
Often over-looked but plenty of privacy and steelhead is what I've always heard about John Day. Used to talk to a guide who did really well on it at the fly shows but can't remember his name at the moment. Floating it is the best way to cover ground but you can drive into the canyon w/ proper vehicle. I'd be up for exploration of it.

09-16-2009, 10:30 AM
PM sent.

You might be thinking of Marty Shepard of Little Creek Outfitters.

Take care,

09-16-2009, 10:39 AM
I've floated the John Day several times from Clarno to Cottonwood. This is a three-day run, at least. Very picturesque trip; like the Deschutes without people.

Steelhead are in after the fall rains start (November) and the fishing continues through the winter. You must wait for the rains in order to float the river, as it pretty much dries up during the summer (too low for driftboats and rafts, anyway...wonderful smallmouth fishing during this time, if you can get to them).

Do not, under any circumstances, attempt to run the falls. The falls are a very narrow, steep cleft in the basalt not too far upstream from where the John Day enters the Columbia. Take out at Cottonwood; shuttles are available.



09-16-2009, 12:55 PM
KNowing Eric, that's his professional river rafter's vernacular for YOU WILL DIE if you do the falls ;)

09-25-2009, 11:20 PM
We have always put in at Muleshoe and make a three day trip down to twickenham bridge in mid July fishing for small mouth with poppers on 2wts. Some people float the John Day in the fall fishen for Steelhead and hunting ducks and geese.


09-26-2009, 01:04 AM
Today the John Day is flowing at 88 cfs. The Deschutes is over 4,000 cfs. One source of information about visiting the John Day can be found here:

Marty Sheppard is one of several excellent licensed guides on the John Day. Here is the entire list of permitted guides and outfitters on the John Day: