Trip Highlights

  • Float 25 – 40 miles of the Wild & Scenic John Day River in 3 – 5 days
  • Fly fish for smallmouth bass from the comfort of a drift boat
  • Drift and fish a new stretch of river each day
  • All meals and camping equipment provided
  • Oregon’s longest undammed river

Trip Overview

Enjoy fly fishing for smallmouth bass from the comfort of a drift boat on Oregon’s longest free flowing river, the John Day. We use drift boats to float 25 to 45 miles of the John Day, arriving each evening to a fully prepared riverside camp. All meals and camping equipment are provided, allowing you to focus on what is most important – fishing and having fun! The John Day is located roughly 2 hours from Bend and 3 hours from Portland, and is the ideal venue for a summer time family or group fly fishing and camping float trip.

Fishing Program

Fly fishing the John Day River for smallmouth bass is pure fun and something just about anyone can enjoy. Smallmouth are abundant and eager to gobble up just about anything they can fit in their mouths. Most bass average 7 – 12 inches, however a good number of larger fish are present and keep keen anglers on their toes. Most if not all fishing is done from the comfort of a drift boat, so anglers need not worry about wading on slippery rocks or in fast currents. The river is plenty warm enough to swim in and many people consider fishing but a part of the experience.

Our multi-day float trips cover 25 to 45 miles of river. Each day you’ll fish your way down a new stretch of river. The John Day River Canyon is dramatic and offers stunning scenery that changes around every bend. The boats stay relatively close to each other during the day so guests can socialize, breaking for a streamside lunch mid day.

John Day smallmouth are very surface oriented and most days anglers can fish on the surface all day long. Small to mid sized poppers are productive, along with foam bodies flies such as chernobyl ants and damsel flies. The river’s largest bass are most often caught sub surface with crayfish, leech, and baitfish patterns. Fishing for bass on the John Day isn’t incredibly sophisticated, so beginning anglers usually have no trouble getting into fish. Experienced anglers will enjoy hunting for big bass and the numbers of smaller ones along the way.

After fishing each day you will arrive at a fully prepared camp for hor d’oeuvres, beverages, and a thoughtfully prepared riverside meal.

Accomodations & Meals

The Eastern Oregon high desert through which the John Day flows is ideal for camping. The weather is generally warm and dry, and there are practically no annoying bugs. When you pull into camp each evening your tents are already set up and dinner is being prepared. Throughout the trip you can concentrate purely on fishing and having fun.

Guests sleep two per tent on sturdy padded cots. Please bring your own sleeping bag and pillow. Rental sleeping bags can be arranged, but that is kind of like wearing someone else’s underwear.

Camping on the river is different than being in civilization, but the food doesn’t have to be. We serve hearty and healthy meals featuring a seasonal rotation of fresh quality ingredients. We are sensitive to dietary requirements and preferences and are happy to accommodate special requests.

Our goal is to facilitate a really cool camping and fishing experience by eliminating the hassles and logistics so that our guests can enjoy themselves and each other.

Rates

Camping trips are priced per angler, minimum four. We do have options for two anglers. Four night trips are also available.

Three Day, Two Night Float:  $1650

Four Day, Three Night Float:  $1950

Season

May through July (later in the summer the bass fishing is still good, the flows are just too low to run our multi-day trips)

Included: One guide and boat per two anglers, all meals from lunch on first day through lunch on the last day, camping equipment (please bring your own sleeping bag), fly rods, flies and fishing tackle.

Not Included: Transportation to the river, vehicle shuttle, alcoholic beverages, staff / guide gratuities.

You Will Need: Fishing license, sleeping bag and pillow.

Sample Itinerary

Arrival

Fly into PDX, rent a car, and drive about 2.5 hours to Condon. Accommodations in Condon are handled independently.

Fishing Days

Meet your guide in Condon at 7:30 am and follow them to the boat launch. Three to five full fishing days, arriving at a fully catered streamside camp each evening.

Departure

Half fishing day. Arrive at the take out at Cottonwood Canyon State Park at 2:00 pm. Your vehicle will be shuttled to the take out and waiting for you when you arrive. The take out is a 2 hour drive from the Portland Airport.

Location & Travel

We float and fish several different sections of the John Day. Please consult with us before arranging pre or post trip accommodations. Guests arriving by plane typically fly into Portland, rent a car, and drive 2.5 hrs to Condon, Oregon to stay the night before the trip.

Pre and post trip accommodations should be handled independently.

Licenses & Permits

Fishing License: You will need a valid Oregon angling license (daily ($16.50 / person), three day, and five day combination angling license available online at https://or.outdoorcentral.us/or/license). You will be responsible for obtaining your fishing license.

Boater Pass: You will need a John Day Boater Pass, available at https://www.blm.gov/or/permit/. We are happy to assist you with obtaining your boater pass.

Bend Fly Shop’s outfitter, Chris O’Donnell’s Guide Service, is an equal opportunities recreation provider operating under special recreation permits granted by the Bureau of Land Management for the Lower Deschutes, Crooked, and John Day Rivers.