John Day River Smallmouth Flies?

Ed Call

Well-Known Member
Will be floating the John Day early July with family and friends. Hoping to get the fishy chicks into their share of smallmouth bass. Buggers, leeches, baitfish, poppers and sliders are on the menu.

What else should I be tying for the little ladies to be busy? Thanks.
I've done well with medium sized white poppers in the morning and evening. All colors work well, but white seems most productive. Brown or orangish weighted crawdad patterns are good. Clousers can be good to get done past the little guys in the deeper pools. Olive/greenish Makutsas(spelling?) can be fun for the little guys. Really, pretty much everything works - the little ladies will be busy. Great fun on a 3 wt.

I've also caught a couple catfish on black conehead buggers in evening, pretty fun on a flyrod.

Lots of discussion on flies for the JD on ifish.

Ed Call

Well-Known Member
Which section are you running Ed?

I'm running Service Creek to Clarno June 27-30th.
Same! Likely putting in July 10th and floating through the 12th or 13th. Hoping for 3/2 to keep the kids from getting bored. Feel free to share intel. This is new to me. One of my friends knows this river stretch well. We will have two cats and a solo boat. Maybe a stand up paddle board in the mix.
The water forecast as of now will make that super low. Normally the 3rd week of June is 2200-3100 cfs when I run it. (have done so 4 out of the last 5 years, but I haven't run it below 1800 before)

This year it's looking like it'll only be 1000ish when I go, so your looking at almost late July-August type flows when you go.

It'll take longer days on the sticks for you guys, but fishing is stupid easy...your kids will have a blast. The smallies in there are far from picky. I've caught them on black licorice, gummy worms, gummy bears...whatever I had in the boat with me to play with. A good day while being on the sticks for me was 150 fish...granted most of those are dinks but they are entertaining.

I have yet to run it since the permits were put in place last year, so I'll have to see how much "less" crowded it as far as camping locations goes. Normally the first day of the trip we blow through 22 of the 43ish miles to get ahead of the crowd, and then spend one of the days lounging around camp. (4 day 3 night) It really sucks when the wind picks up around 2-3pm everyday, so you'll do better for yourself if you get an early start...and get off the water early to relax while the wind is blowing.

Ed Call

Well-Known Member
Richard, thanks. The more you think of sharing the better. I have a friend leaving next week for a float from Clarno to Cottonwood. He's planning on joining us from Clarno to Service Creek too.

CMANN, cool pattern from Scadden. Me and the girls will whip some of those up for sure. I'm thinking they will be able to cast them with the weighted eyes if I put an ambush fly line on their reels, enough mass for turning over or at least getting that minnow out there.

Ed Call

Well-Known Member
Oh, I'll have a mondo box full of foam flies that I often use for trout on the Yakima and other places in mid summer. I figure that small mouth bass will eat those too, right?
Oh, I'll have a mondo box full of foam flies that I often use for trout on the Yakima and other places in mid summer. I figure that small mouth bass will eat those too, right?
yeah, we caught a ton of them on hoppers and chernobyls. As has already been said, nothing big, but for the girls it should be perfect, and it is a lot more fun when they see them hit on top. You will have lots of fun.
I'm normally taking Boy Scouts down the river, so i don't get much time with the fly rod. (even the boys avg 20-50 fish a day on spinning rods and plastics) Leech patterns, poppers (morning/evening), hoppers, heavy san juan type fles etc have all done well for me in the occasions I have been able to break mine out.

My largest off that stretch is 5 lbs 2 there are larger fish in there, but you have to weed through a lot of dinks...and know where they like to be.

Feel free to ask any questions you have Ed...on here, PM, or call.
I had my best luck on sort of a black woolly bugger variation with a lot of flash. One of the guys i went with had it given to him by a dude that fishes the river all the time, and it really did seem to work better than everything else. That said, while we were there the water was a little higher than ideal and off colour.

Tie a few grasshopper patterns too. I fished the JD in July. Water was really skinny. I fished mainly clousers, wooly buggers, poppers and grasshopper patterns. You'll catch enough fish even if you went with one fly

After a recent bass outing, I would include a few flatwing minnows.

Try all types of water, not only the deep pools but the pocket water in the tailouts


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