John Day River smallmouth bass

scched
scched
Hi! After growing up an avid bass fisherman in Georgia and moving to Oregon, I spent the last 6 years immersing myself in the world of Salmon and Steelhead. But, sometimes you want to go out and catch 20+ fish, which is calling me back to bass a bit. I'm familiar with the John Day having world class smallmouth fishing, and have actually been out there steelheading a couple times.

My question is around Cottonwood Canyon -- is this a decent spot to search for smallies this spring into early summer? Do I need to be in another part of the river? Thanks in advance for your help! Any other tips are obviously welcome, but not expected :)
 
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troutdude
troutdude
@scched I'm not sure where, in Oregon, you reside...but the Umpqua River also has a STELLAR population of smallies. Many have reported an excess of 100 fish per day. No joke.

Here's a page from my friend's website, for your perusal.

Good luck and tight lines, TD.

P.S. I just got back into bass fishing last year, with one of my coworkers. I'd forgotten how much fun it can be!
 
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scched
scched
That's your friend's website?! How cool - I use it all the time, it's an amazing resource to begin gathering info/be introduced to a new river. I'll check out the umpqua for sure, I'm in Portland so it's a bit of a haul. Though it's not like the John Day is close, really, either. :)

Thanks for the response!
 
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pcstock
I do not know the river well but there is a temp closure.

  • January 1 through May 31, 2022: Closed to angling for steelhead.

  • March 1 through May 21: Closed to all angling except from the Mainline Railroad Bridge upstream to the North Fork John Day confluence is open to angling for Bass, Bluegill, Catfish, Crappie, Shad, Other sunfish, Walleye, Whitefish, Yellow Perch, Sucker, Carp, Chub, Northern Pikeminnow, Sculpin, and other Nongame fish.
 
Irishrover
Irishrover
Cottonwood is a great spot. Was there last summer swinging a fly rod and using a green Wooly Bugger. On the west side of the river, south of the bridge there is a trail that follows the river. North of the bridge in the campground there is access along the river too. I'm not much of a bass fisherman, having grown up here in Oregon fishing for trout, salmon and steelhead, but I really enjoyed that Cottonwood trip and plan a return trip. I have also heard the North Fork John Day near Kimberly has smallmouth too.

There used to be a fellow here on OFF that lived near there and would fish for them using a crayfish fly. He used to catch an incredible number of fish. Good luck.
 
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Diehard
Diehard
River is high and muddy right now not sure on the closure but the hole river has bass in it pic a spot 👍
 
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troutdude
troutdude
scched said:
That's your friend's website?! How cool - I use it all the time, it's an amazing resource to begin gathering info/be introduced to a new river.
Yep. He based it OFF of Maddy Diness Sheehan's book "Fishing in Oregon". Which I often refer to myself. Good luck!
 
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fromthelogo
fromthelogo
If you have a boat or kayak, the Willamette from West Linn to downtown Portland or above the falls has great smb fishing. Search for @bass reports on this forum.
 
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scched
scched
I appreciate all the replies! Will be sure to 2x the regs but seems like I should be okay if targeting bass.

I, unfortunately, do not have a boat (yet!). I have been out to Henry Hagg though, beautiful spot. I’ve also had some (unintentional) luck with bass while tossing spinners for salmon on the Willamette down around George Rogers Park!
 
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Fred
scched said:
I appreciate all the replies! Will be sure to 2x the regs but seems like I should be okay if targeting bass.

I, unfortunately, do not have a boat (yet!). I have been out to Henry Hagg though, beautiful spot. I’ve also had some (unintentional) luck with bass while tossing spinners for salmon on the Willamette down around George Rogers Park!
On the Willamete and the lower sections of some of its tributaries like the yamhill and tualatin I’ve had good luck using ned rigs, swimbaits, and senkos.
 
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D
DonF
have fished the John Day quite a bit over the years but mostly at Clarno. What I'd say about bass in that river is it's over rated. I have never seen anyone claim to have caught 100 a day there and if they did, the size would be very small. Now and then I hear of someone catching a fish that will go a couple pounds but that is a rare thing! Lots of those little fish around but 100 a day? Not likely. Fished Cottonwood Bridge a few times and did fairly well there, better than at Clarno. Also better access at Cottonwood Bridge! If it wasn't so far over there I'd go there before Clarno. Have been there a couple times since they put in that campground and that campground pretty much ruined the atmosphere of the place for me but on the good side you can walk up and down the river to escape it! There are a few other places on the river I'm gonna try one of these days for cats and bass but long way off and dirt road most the way! Good looking water though!
 
D
DonF
pcstock said:
I do not know the river well but there is a temp closure.

  • January 1 through May 31, 2022: Closed to angling for steelhead.

  • March 1 through May 21: Closed to all angling except from the Mainline Railroad Bridge upstream to the North Fork John Day confluence is open to angling for Bass, Bluegill, Catfish, Crappie, Shad, Other sunfish, Walleye, Whitefish, Yellow Perch, Sucker, Carp, Chub, Northern Pikeminnow, Sculpin, and other Nongame fish.
There's catfish on the Umpqua? I might have to take a trip over there some day!
 
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beerheaven
If I go to fishing Cottonwood for smallie then which month is the best time?
 
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Snopro
Do you want quantity or quality?
 
B
beerheaven
are they different seasons?

i’m sorry, i’m long bass fisherman but new here.
 
D
DonF
Which ever month you can make it! Probably do best late spring and early summer.
 
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Snopro
beerheaven said:
are they different seasons?

i’m sorry, i’m long bass fisherman but new here.
Early season for the big girls. March-May = cold water temps, before the little dudes can get there metabolism at high speed. June on for numbers, but they will average dinky. The JD can get huge spikes of run off when we have a large snow pack. I'm expecting a ton of snow this season so plan accordingly.
 
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DonF
Snopro said:
Early season for the big girls. March-May = cold water temps, before the little dudes can get there metabolism at high speed. June on for numbers, but they will average dinky. The JD can get huge spikes of run off when we have a large snow pack. I'm expecting a ton of snow this season so plan accordingly.
Hope your right about expecting lot of snow. Last I heard it'll take about three years of above average snow in the mountains to get Prineville Res filled again! Really have missed fishing there this year!
 
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beerheaven
Thanks for very helpful comment! :)
i’m very much looking forward to try next spring!!
 
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DonF
I was talking to a lady at the store in Spray last year and she told me about a local kid that caught a 20 something inch bass in the river there!
 

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