Copyright 2013James Marsh
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Recommended Tackle & Gear
4, 5 or 6 weight
Dry fly: 9 ft., 5 or 6X Nymphing: 71/2 ft.,
3 or 4X, Streamers 0-2X
Dry fly: 5 or 6X, Nymphing: 3 or 4X,
Best Fly Rods:
Perfect Fly Supreme Four, Superb Five
or Ultimate Six
For 4/5/6 fly line
Fly Floatants and Misc Items:
Floatants, KISS Strike Indicators
Tools & Accessories:
Nippers, forceps, retractors, etc.
Copyright 2020 James Marsh
Recommended Tackle & Gear for
Steelhead and Salmon
7, 8 , 9 or 10 weight for appropriate type
rod, sinking, sinking tip and floating
10#, 12# in 9 to 15 feet lengths
10# and 12#
Best Fly Rods:
Perfect Fly 7, 8, 9 and 10 ft. single hand
For 7 to 10 weight lines
Fly Floatants and Misc Items:
KISS Strike Indicators, Lanyards, etc.
Tools & Accessories:
Nippers, forceps, retractors, etc.
John Day River, Oregon - Fishing Report - Updated February 16, 2020
John Day River Fishing Report - Archive:
11/18/13 Several steelhead are being caught. Customer reports seeing them caught
by one of our customers using our Giant Black Stonefly nymph who gave him our
number. Everyone else is swinging flies according to him, nymphs are working best.
12/01/13 Customer reporting he has caught a couple of wild steelhead. Ordered more
Green Sedge steelhead caddisfly larva, Green Butt Skunks, and other flies. Used our
flies last year with success.
12/18/13 River is iced over and unfishable at the present time. Wait for the weather to
warm and the ice to clear.
12/29/13 Even worse conditions exist with the ice. No reports of any fishing for
01/11/14 Still frozen in most areas but conditions may improve some during the coming
week. Levels are still below normal at 530 cfs and 2.89 ft.
01/18/14 Still frozen and no fishing taking place
01/25/14 Local contact reporting he has caught three steelhead the past few days in
the lower river. The ice has cleared but the water is still in the mid thirties. He is using
our Perfect Fly steelhead nymphs.
02/01/14 No reports from customers of fish being caught came in this week but our
local contact is still reporting a few steelhead are being caught.
02/08/14 Fishing remained slow last week but with warmer weather and lots of rain
expected, thing should improve. Keep a check on the water levels.
02/15/14 Water levels are up and conditions should improve. The ice should be gone.
More rain and rain/snow is in the forecast for the next week.
03/08/14 More rain and higher off-color water.
03/15/14 Stream levels have dropped but are still on the high side. We didn't get any
reports from anyone fishing this past week.
03/29/14 Stream levels are in good shape but there is more rain/snow in the forecast.
Right now conditions are good.
04/05/14 The catching of steelhead continues to be slow due to high, dingy water
levels. If it clear, it could be good.
05/17/15 Steelhead season closed above Kimberly on April 15th. Smallmouth bass
fishing should be getting good.
05/24/14 The fishing season in the upper river opens today. Let us hear from you.
Stream and weather conditions are good.
05/31/14 We didn't receive any reports from anyone but our local contact reports trout
are being caught and there are plenty of hatching insects. Let us hear from you.
06/07/14 One report from a trout angler catching lots of fish. BWOs, Spotted Sedges,
some stoneflies, good conditions.
06/21/14 Another good report. Stream levels still in decent shape and more hatches
07/05/14 Some hatches are slowing down making terrestrial insects more important but
anglers still catching trout consistently.
07/19/14 The water has been low at times, but other than that, conditions remain good.
PMDs and caddisflies represent the major insect activity other than the terrestrials like
ants and grass hoppers.
07/26/14 One loyal customer reported catching plenty of trout last week. He is
mostly fishing the morning PMD spinner fall.
08/10/14 Very low flows have hampered the trout fishing and the smallmouth bass
fishing in the lower river. Both are still being caught, but boating isn't easy.
08/16/14 Recent rain has improved the stream levels and temperature. One angler
reporting he caught a good number of trout yesterday (Saturday).
08/30/14 Several good reports came in the past two weeks. BWOs, Pale Evening
Duns, Spotted Sedges and terrestrials are working. Cooler weather is forecast.
09/13/14 Two more good reports from customers. Water is at a good level and
temperatures slightly lower.
09/27/14 Cooler temperatures and good stream levels have continued to improve
the fly fishing opportunities. Even so, there are very few anglers fishing.
10/11/14 Anglers are catching trout on the South and Middle Forks. Terrestrials
and BWOs are working but low water makes it tougher than normal. Rain is forecast for
the first of next week and conditions should improve.
10/18/14 Our local contact reporting that rain came and more is headed this way.
Conditions are improving and should be good.
10/25/14 The river is still low. We didn't receive any reports from the past week.
11/08/14 Still low water levels but wading anglers are catching plenty of smallmouth
11/30/14 Ice has the USGS gauges locked. Drifting the river is out until the ice melts.
12/13/14 Flows are up and you can see. The summer steelhead have begun moving
into the lower river below Clarno. Water temperature is averaging in the mid forties
and midges are you best bet for the trout. The ice has cleared and you can now float
12/20/14 More steelhead are being caught. There are plenty summers in the river
from top to bottom. Both bank anglers and drift boat anglers are reporting good
numbers. River levels remain in okay shape.
12/27/14 Stream levels are high and the river is muddy. Fishing should be good when
the levels return to near normal.
01/03/15 Steelhead are in the river in decent numbers but scattered from the mouth
to Kimberly. Warmer weather should help get rid of all the ice.
01/10/15 Two customers reported good steelhead fishing this past week but colder
weather in the forecast may clog it up with ice again.
01/17/15 Much colder conditions have had parts of the river frozen but warmer
weather is forecast and things should pick up in the near future.
01/24/15 The water has been very cold but is warming with the much warmer air
temps. If the clarity stays good, the fishing should pick up.
01/31/15 The flows are currently still on the high side. The weather has been
better but that means melting snow.
02/07/15 The river is still very high (3230 cfs) and is going to take a few days to
clear up and fall out.
02/14/15 The river is still very high and it will take a few more days to clear.
02/21/15 River levels are down and fish are being caught from the North Fork and
near the town of John Day to Service Creek. Two customers with good reports
03/07/15 Levels have remained fairly good and lots of steehead are being
caught. Most of our customers have gone to nymphs but swinging is still working.
03/21/15 The "catching" has remained mostly good and consistent the past two
weeks. Customers reporting good fishing conditions.
03/28/15 Anglers are still catching steelhead. Service Creek to John Day has been
good to most anglers.
04/11/15 The action has continued with plenty of steelhead being caught. Steam
levels remain good.
04/18/15 Steelhead are still being caught between the Service creek and Kimberely
area. The season above Kimberly closed April 15 to August 31st.
05/23/15 More good reports of smallmouth being caught.
05/30/15 Stream levels continue to drop but the smallmouth are still eating good.
06/06/15 The river is in good shape and lots of smallmouth bass are being caught.
06/20/15 Flows are down below 700 cfs and lots of smallmouth bass being caught.
06/27/15 The smallmouth bass fishing is almost as hot as the Oregon weather is this week.
07/04/15 It is hot, but so is the smallmouth bass fishing. More good reports.
07/11/15 More good smallmouth bass fishing reports from customers.
07/25/15 Beginning Saturday, July 18, 2015, fishing for trout, salmon, steelhead, and
sturgeon is prohibited at all times, including hours between one hour before sunrise and
one hour after sunset. Fly fishing for smallmouth bass is great right now.
08/01/15 Smallmouth bass fishing continues to be very good.
08/08/15 Remember, the trout, salmon and steelhead fishing is still prohibited at the
times stated below under the 7/25 report. Smallmouth bass fishing is still great.
08/15/15 Restriction continue for trout, salmon and steelhead but smallmouth bass
fishing is great.
08/29/15 The river is still very low and with great smallmouth bass fishing opportunity.
Rain is on the way and should move some fish in. The much cooler weather forecast
should improve the conditions but for now, all fishing except smallmouth is closed.
09/05/15 The weather cooled down a little but is headed back up. Stream levels are
okay but cooler water is needed for the trout and Steelhead. Smallmouth bass fishing
is as good as it can get.
09/12/15 There is a chance of rain from next Tuesday through Thursday. The river is
very low. It is still hot but will be cooling off big time next week. Smallmouth fishing
09/26/15 Smallmouth bass fishing has been superb. Our customers are catching good
numbers and some large size ones. Check out our Bass Flies..
10/24/15 Good stream levels and great Smallmouth bass fishing. Top water flies like the
Stealth Bomber and Baby Popping frog are working great. Streamers are also working.
11/14/15 Lots of steelhead are being caught. Conditions are very good.
12/05/15 The stream levels are up a little but the gauge has ice and is blocked.
Steelhead are still being caught and the warmer weather this coming week should help.
12/12/15 The river is high and headed higher. It will be a two/three days or more.
12/26/15 The stream is flowing at 1410 cfs at 3.7 feet, which is a little high. Snow is
forecast from Sunday through Wednesday. Some steelhead are being caught when the
levels allow fishing.
01/09/16 The stream levels are up just a little and that doesn't hurt. Swinging is
working. Our Spey fly patterns and nymphing is working good. Our Steelhead flies
01/16/16 There is lots of rain and rain/snow in the forecast, so be sure to check the
stream levels. The weather will be warmer and the ice about all gone.
01/23/16 Steelhead are being caught throughout the system. They are in the upper
river above Service Creek but there is a lot of ice there at this time. Ice has slowed
things down some. The North Fork is iced over. Most of the main stream is clear of ice.
02/06/16 The river was high again but is back down within the last two or three days
and steelehead are being caught. They are mostly swinging flies. The flows should
continue to drop and fishing should continue to improve.
02/13/16 The river is on the way up again at 2920 cfs and 4.05 feet high. The flows
need to drop again for the fishing opportunity to improve.
02/27/15 The river has been high and is almost back down to normal levels for this
time of the year, but there is more rain in the forecast. Steelhead are plentiful
throughout the river, even above Service Creek in the upper river.
02/05/16 The river is very high and based on the forecast, will be two to four days
receding to the point you should be able to catch a decent number of fish.
03/12/16 The river is still very high with a good chance of rain every day though next
03/19/16 The river is at 6210 cfs and normal is about 3250. You will just have to keep
checking the levels. There is rain in the forecast for five of the next seven days.
03/26/16 The river is still a little high but can be fished and anglers are doing that and
catching steelhead. They are distributed through the river and in the upper river
above Service Creek. Swinging and nymphing is working. Perfect Fly Steelhead Flies
04/09/16 The river is flowing at 5,900 cfs and at 5.56 ft. high. That is high and dingy but
falling. Hopefully, it will continue to fall. There are plenty of fish in the river.
04/16/16 The stream level is still a little high but fishable. It will keep dropping for the
next few days. Some steelehead are being caught and it should just keep getting better.
05/07/16 The river is down and angler are catching steelhead in the upper part of it
and smallmouth in the lower section of the river. It has finally got into decent shape.
05/21/16 Stream levels are down and the water clear. Customers are catching good
numbers of smallmouth bass. Conditions are very good.
06/11/16 The smallmouth bass fishing is excellent right now. Lot of fish are being
caught below Kimberly and some on the surface. Our Stealth Bomber flies are
working good. The Tequeely streamer are also producing.
07/02/16 The river is rather low, flowing at 272 cfs. Smallmouth bass fishing is still very
good. We still recommend fishing below Kimberly.
07/16/16 The river is flowing at 206 cfs at 2.23 ft., which is low. Provided you are
wading and/or have a small pontoon type drift boat, you should do well with the
smallmouth at these levels. We received some more good reports this past week.
08/06/16 The stream is very low, flowing at 47 cfs at 1.78 ft. Smallmouth bass fishing is
still very good, especially for wading anglers.
08/20/16 The water is still very low, flowing at 49 cfs at 1.79. You need a small pontoon
type boat or you should wade. Smallmouth bass fishing is excellent. Fish early and late.
09/17/16 Smallmouth bass fishing continues to be nothing short of excellent. Our
customers are catching them in high numbers below KIimberly. Perfect fly Popping
bugs, sculpin streamers, and crayfish patterns are working good.
10/01/16 The smallmouth bass fishing has continued to be exceptionally good. Our
customers are catching them on top water poppers and crayfish patterns up in the
day. The weather is going to be cooler and there is a little rain in the forecast.
10/08/16 The stream level is up enough to help small boat get around better and
there are lots of smallmouth being caught by the few fishing the river.
10/22/16 The stream levels have been up the past few days but back down in good
shape. We haven't received any reports recently but smallmouth fishing should be
very good right now. The water temperature is excellent.
11/05/16 The stream is at 523 cfs at 2.68 ft. No reports of steelhead. Smallmouth
bass fishing continues to be good except, the stream levels need to come down some.
11/19/16 The stream levels are back down to a normal level for this time of the season.
Steelhead are in the lower river. Fish below Service Creek. Smallmouth bass fishing
continues to be good.
11/26/16 The stream levels are in good shape and anglers are catching steelhead in
the lower river. Smallmouth bass can still be caught in good numbers as well.
12/10/16 The stream levels are a little low but on the way up. Smallmouth are still being
caught. Steelhead are being caught below Service Creek in the lower river.
12/24/16 The stream levels are up enough you can drift the lower river. Steelhead are
being caught below Service Creek in decent numbers. Steelhead nymphs are working
best but some are being taken swinging.
12/31/16 Anglers and customers are still catching good numbers of wild steelhead in
the lower river. We received everal good reports from the past week. Most are being
caught on SH nymphs but some swinging.
01/07/17 The cold weather and low water temperatures has the river about shut down
from a fly fishing standpoint. We recommend waiting until it warms up some.
01/14/17 No reports of any steelhead being caught. There is still a lot of ice and it will
probably remain until later next week when it warms up a little.
01/21/17 The are steelhead being caught from the mouth up to Kimberly. The water
ranges from 33 to 35 degrees. It sill has some bank ice and some slush ice in places.
01/27/17 The water is clearing up good and the levels are down in good shape. We
don't have any catch reports yet, but feel sure we will very soon. Most of the ice has
02/04/17 A few steelhead are being caught. The fish are scattered from the mouth up
to Kimberly. The North Fork is just beginning to break up.
02/11/17 The stream is high but falling. Fish as soon as it gets back down low
enough. Most of the ice is melted in the mainstem of the river.
02/18/17The river is even high, too high to fish. You will just have to watch the
stream levels. Steelhead are in the river and were being caught.
02/25/17 The stream levels are high but it is falling fast. There is no rain in the
forecast, only snow. The air temperature will be up to the high thirties and low forties,
so ice shouldn't be a big problem.
03/04/17 The stream levels are down to near normal and in good shape. Steelhead
are being caught all the way up to Kimberely.
03/11/17 It is flowing at 7640 cfs at 6.44 ft. and rising. There is rain in the forecast
almost everyday. You will just have to watch the levels. It is highly stained right now.
03/18/17 The river is still blown out flowing at 16,200 cfs at McDonald Ferry. You will
just have to check back with us and watch the levels.
04/01/17 The flows at McDonald Ferry are at 12,800 cfs at 8.00 ft. That is still too high
to fish with any realistic opportunity. Check back with us to see the flow and latest. .
04/15/17 The flows are down to 8640 cfs at 6.70 ft. which is a good deal above
normal but fine for fishing from a drift boat. The water does have some color to it.
05/06/17 The flows are at 10,600 cfs at 7.48 ft, at McDonald Ferry. Normal flows are
4870 cfs. The water is dingy and high and needs to drop for much opportunity.
05/13/17 The flows are down to 7540 cfs at 6.34 ft. That is still to high to wade but it
can be fished by boat. The water has cleared up much better. Smallmouth bass
fishing should be great. Let us hear your reports.
05/20/17 Flows are down to 4930 cfs at 5.21 ft. Smallmouth are being caught on top.
05/27/17 The flows are at 5060 cfs at 5.28 ft. This is okay for drift boats, but too high to
wade. Smallmouth bass fishing is very good with some being caught on the surface.
06/03/17 The flows are down some but still a little too high to wade some sections.
They are great for boats and smallmouth bass are being caught in good numbers.
Some were caught this past week on poppers.
06/10/17 The stream levels are just a little above normal and wading possible in some
places but many are not. Smallmouth bass are taking top water poppers and crayfish.
07/01/17 The stream levels are down in good shape for wading and small drift boats
and a lot of smallmouth bass are being caught.
07/15/17 The river is still turning out lots of smallmouth bass. We had two groups of
anglers fishing during the past few days who caught lots of fish. Crayfish imitations and
poppers are working good. Our Stealth Bombers are also catching lots of fish.
07/22/17 Customers sent in two good reports of smallmouth catches. Flows are very
low, 182 cfs at 2.13 ft. Poppers and Stealth Bombers are working good.
08/05/17 The river is very low and smallmouth bass are being caught it high numbers.
We have two good reports from customers this past week.
08/19/17 The river is very low. Smallmouth bass fishing is still very good. Fish our
Crayfish imitations during the day and our poppers early and late in the day.
08/26/17 The stream levels are still low and the water warm. Smallmouth bass fishing is
very good right now. Popper work early and late in the day and crayfish during the day.
09/09/17 The stream levels are still low, and the water warm. Smallmouth bass fishing
is still red hot. Fish poppers early and late in the day, and our Crayfish patterns during
the middle of the day.
09/16/17 Stream levels are still low and smallmouth bass fishing is still excellent from
as far up as Kimberly. Popper are still working good early mornings. Crayfish patterns
are working during the day. We had two good reports from customers.
10/14/17 The stream levels are up to normal levels and fishing from small drift boats is
possible. Wading is also safe with caution in most sections. Lots of smallmouth are
10/29/17 The stream levels are up some and more summer steelhead are entering
the lower river. Smallmouth bass fishing is good up to Kimberly.
11/20/17 We received one good report on steelhead in the lower river - none on
smallmouth. Water temperature is in the mid to low forties.
12/11/17 There are some steelhead being caught. Please release them. Smallmouth
bass fishing is very slow. The water is cold.
12/25/17 The river levels are fine but the water a little colder. Steelhead are being
caught on a regular basis. Steelhead nymphs are working better than swinging or eggs.
01/08/18 The stream levels are still in okay shape with a few steelhead being caught.
01/22/18 The stream flows are about 1930 at McDonald Ferry, and that's a little high,
but can be fished from larger drift boats. Steelhead are still being caught.
02/05/18 A few summer steelhead are being caught. The levels are down and it may
get some better. The water is too cold for good smallmouth bass fishing.
02/12/18 The levels are in good shape at this time. We didn't receive any reports from
anyone fishing this past week. The water is cold and the fish are a little sluggish.
02/19/18 Stream levels are still in good shape. A few fish are being caught but
only a few anglers are fishing.
03/05/18 Low water levels and very clear, cold water is making it tough on those
fishing for steelhead.
03/26/18 The stream levels are a little high but falling. Steelhead are scattered
throughout the river, but in low numbers. Few anglers are fishing for them.
04/24/18 The stream levels are low, but not too low to fish for the smallmouth. They
are taking our crayfish patterns, Stealth Bombers and poppers.
05/01/18 Summer steelhead are still in the river. Smallmouth bass fishing is
beginning to get very good. Fish our Crayfish patterns. Top water action should start
getting good soon.
05/15/18 The river is running a little low but this makes it great for smallmouth
fishing. Popping bugs are working great as well as our Crayfish and Stealth Bomber
05/22/18 The stream levels are still low but wading or small boat fishing for the
smallmouth bass is very good. Our new Foam Bass poppers are working good.
06/19/18 The river is a little high but good numbers of smallmouth bass are still
being caught. Crayfish patterns, especially our lead eye ones and the new Poppers
are working good. Levels should begin to fall some.
07/03/18 The stream levels are down a good bit below normal levels and good
numbers of smallmouth bass are being caught.
07/24/18 The water levels are very low. Smallmouth bass can be caught where you can
reach the water but it is really to low for boats.
08/21/18 Smallmouth bass fishing is excellent. The river is very low. Use our Perfect Fly
poppers early and late in the day, and crayfish patterns during the day.
09/04/18 The river is still very low but smallmouth bass fishing is good as it gets. Our
crayfish and poppers are catching good numbers of them.
|1. Email us (email@example.com)
with the dates you will be fishing this
stream and we will send you a list of our
fly suggestions. Please allow up to 24
hours for a response.
2. Call us 800-594-4726 and we will help
you decide which flies you need.
3. Email us (firstname.lastname@example.org)
with a budget for flies and we will select
them to match the budget and get them to
you in time for your fly fishing trip.
All orders are shipped free in the
U. S. Orders of less than $100 are sent
regular first class mail. Orders of $100 or
more are shipped via Priority Mail.
09/24/18 Low stream levels still exist. Smallmouth bass fishing is still excellent.
10/05/18 The river is still very low but smallmouth bass fishing is excellent. Popping
bugs and crayfish patterns are getting good numbers for our customers.
10/15/18 Very little change has taken place other than it is colder weather and water.
Smallmouth bass fishing is still very good but the levels are very low.
10/29/18 Smallmouth bass fishing is still very good. Just getting around in the low
water in a boat is the problem most have. Our Perfect fly popping bugs and Crayfish
patterns are working very good.
12/22/18 Sorry for the missed reports. Wild steelhead are entering the river in good
numbers and the river is up okay for boats. There are some Chinook and bull trout in
the river as well. What the levels but fish as soon as you can.
12/29/18 The stream levels vary a lot, so be sure to check them, otherwise, conditions
are very good. Good numbers of wild steelhead and being caught and released.
01/06/19 Levels have been up and down but steelhead are still being caught in good
numbers. You just have to make sure your boat will handle the level when you fish.
01/27/19 The river levels continue to fluctuate and this makes it difficult at times to
determine if a certain type of boat can be used. The river is full of steelhead with
fresh fish coming in on each pulse of high water. We are still getting some good
02/03/19 The river has been up for the past several days but back low again. You
can catch steelhead when it is low, but getting around in a larger drift boat may not
be possible. Check the levels before deciding what type of boat you use.
02/10/19 The level is down to normal at 1370 cfs at 3.20 ft. There are plenty of
summer steelhead in the river and we received some good reports this past week.
02/24/19 The stream levels are running a little below normal level. The recent
higher levels brought lots more steelhead into the river.
03/12/19 The stream level is near normal and the middle and upper river has plenty
of steelhead. We didn't receive any catch reports last week, but it should be good.
03/22/19 The upper and middle river has a good number of steelhead in it flows
good enough right now to fish. We didn't receive any reports from the past week.
04/20/19 The river is very hgh and stained. We recommend waiting until the levels
drop to fish it.
05/15/19 Stream levels are still high and the water stained. Steelhead season is
closed. Smallmouth bass fishing will be very good when the water drops some.
06/28/19 The flows are still up allowing drift boat anglers to fish for smallmouth
bass. Good catches are being reported on our crayfish patterns and popping bugs
early and late in the day.
07/12/19 Fishing for smallmouth bass is excellent. Lots are being caught on our
topwater popping bugs and crayfish patterns.
07/19/19 Excellent fishing for smallmouth bass continues. We are getting some
08/05/19 The river is flowing low, but okay for small one-man boats. Smallmouth
bass are being caught on our popping bugs and crayfish patterns as well as stealth
09/08/19 The river is low but still okay for small boats. Smallmouth bass fishing is
great. Our hair and cork popping bugs and crayfish fly patterns are working good.
09/20/19 The river is fishing very good for smallmouth bass. Wading and small
inflatable type boats work best with the current water levels.
10/01/19 Bass fishing is very good. The river is low but small, inflatable type boats
can do okay. Our Perfect Fly crayfish and hair and foam popping bugs work good.
10/20/19 The river is slighty above normal and remains in good shape. We are still
getting good reports about the Bass catch.
10/27/19 Stream levels are above normal, but they are in good shape. Bass are
biting and Trout are picking up as well.
01/25/2020 The river levels continue to fluctuate and is currently low.The river is full
of steelhead with fresh fish coming in on each pulse of high water. We are getting
some good reports. Smallmouth bass fishing is also good.
02/16/2020 The stream levels are down to normal and lots of steehead are being
caught by our customers. Smallmouth bass are also being caught.