Jun 052018

The wind and high river water has really put a damper on the late spring/early summer smallmouth bass fishing, but we hoped for the best and headed up to the John Day River for some kayak fishing for smallmouth bass. The wind only died down for one day and the water in the John Day River was high and an ugly coffee color from all the muddy runoff. The river conditions have a major effect on the fishing and the normally wide open smallmouth bass fishing was very slow. We didn’t catch any bigger fish and most of the smallmouth bass we did catch were really small. I only caught eight or ten fish the entire day. Normally, you could easily catch that many in a half hour.

There were a lot of people camping at Lepage Park making it seem like southeast Portland rather than rural Rufus, OR. There were a few other kayak fishermen and a normal weekend crowd of power boaters, but there is usually plenty of room for everyone on the John Day. I did get the full shakedown from the river patrol officer for invasive species permit and PFD.

Kayak fishermen on the John Day River near Lepage Park

We paddled upriver looking for the fish but never really hit the jackpot that usually is waiting on the John Day River. One of the best smallmouth bass fisheries in the United States, the muddy water shut down the usually hot smallmouth bass fishing.

Kayak fishing on the John Day River

Most of the smallmouth bass we caught were small and the big one did not get away because we did not find any of the big ones.

John Day River smallmouth bass caught by watermanatwork.com kayak fisherman Ron Barbish

The high water in the Columbia River watershed looks like it is beginning to drop a bit, but the wind continues to blow, which is putting a real damper on the kayak fishing. Looks like a relatively calm day tomorrow, but after that, it looks like at least another full week of wind. We will hit the Columbia first thing tomorrow morning and hope for the best. After that, we will either have to hit the road and run from the wind or trade the kayak fishing gear for mountain bikes.

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