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Wanted: info on the John Day between Dayville and Kimberly

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  • Wanted: info on the John Day between Dayville and Kimberly

    Hi All:

    I've been doing a lot of Googling and asking around, and it appears there is a near-total information vacuum regarding the 30-mile stretch of the mainstem of the John Day between Dayville and Kimberly. I'm really curious to know if anyone fishes that stretch and what fishing is like there?

    Nearly all info on the John Day is about one of these locations:
    • The mainstem from Kimberly downstream to the mouth
    • The North Fork (smallmouth)
    • The South Fork (trout and whitefish)

    But I can't find anything about the 30 miles between the South and North Forks. And it's hard to believe that with healthy fish populations in the South Fork and North Fork, some fish wouldn't also be in the 30 miles between the two.

    To help with location—I'm talking about the stretch of river along Rt.19 from Rt.26 to the north—that runs past the Sheep Rock Unit of John Day Fossil Beds National Monument.

    I even emailed Steve Fleming, a local guide, and he said "I know absolutely nothing about that stretch of the river." (It seems like there is an "invisible barrier" preventing people from fishing 30 miles of the river...)

    If anyone knows anything about this stretch or has any experience fishing it, please post up!

    I'm asking partly out of curiosity...but also because I'll be camping this holiday weekend in Ochoco NF and would like to do some fishing in the John Day—and the section downstream of Dayville is the closest and most easily accessible part of the river (I'd rather not drive all the way up to Kimberly on this particular weekend.)

    Thanks!
    Scott in Eugene

  • #2
    Mostly it is access from north fork and south fork, another is water flow. If your coming from the Ochocos the area between Spray and service creek has the best bank access. The water is low but the small bass are there.
    DON'T BELIEVE EVERY THING YOU THINK!

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    • #3
      I just got back from spent a few days camping at Sheldon Wayside on Hwy 19. We ventured down the John Day to Sheep Rock and Picture Gorge. We saw a few folks fishing the North Fork up by Kimberly and from Spray to Service Creek. I didn't see anyone fishing from Kimberly to Picture Gorge. A friend of mine who lives in the area said there's a ton of bass in the river now.

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      • #4
        Hi——just back from John Day country.

        I scouted out most of the river from Sheep Rock (junction of 26/19) downstream to Kimberly. And it immediately became obvious why nobody fishes that section—as some pointed out above, access is a pain in the a$$.

        Seems like 90% of the whole river in that 30-mile stretch is owned by one guy—the owner of Longview Ranch (who has a fancy paved airstrip in the middle of it all for his LearJet). I had previously scoped out a few stretches of river that are clearly BLM-owned, but even those were next to impossible to get to due either to crazy-steep and gnarly banks by the road...or they were obviously leased to someone and fenced off.

        Alas, I didn't have time to fish even the scant few spots where there was access, so the fishing remains a mystery.

        While the river was indeed low, there were still plenty of 3-4' deep pools above riffles or narrows that could hold fish...and for all we know the fishing might be stellar in some of those areas.

        Kind of a shame that this much of the river is basically "walled off" to fishing...but hey—it's not like there isn't plenty of other river on the John Day to fish! :-)

        Scott

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        • #5
          My biggest Smallmouth ever came from the upper river region in territory that you covered on that trip. It was 7.5 lbs. Caught it in August when flows were low,
          slow and warm like bathwater. I caught 3 others in the 3-4lb range. Other than that I caught hundreds of half pound to one pounders.

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