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Fish for Smallmouth Bass on

Oregon's John Day River

Enjoy the high desert landscape and meandering water along Oregon's longest free-flowing river.
John Day River panorama river view 2

Looking for a unique experience that combines high volume fishing with gorgeous high desert landscape and camping in a wilderness setting? This is the trip for you.

Your trip can be reserved for three, four or five days. Boat configuration is two adult guests and a guide per boat. For trips with children, and we can fit a child in the boat as well for a total of three guests and a guide. Catches of 30-50 smallmouth bass per day are common depending on your casting skills. The record is 139 fish by 1 PM set by J.W. Morton, from Louisiana.

One to one and a half pound fish are average size fish, but five to six pound fish are available. We will send you a list of proven lures, flies, spinner baits, jigs, plastics, and plugs. Fly fisherman have had very good results, so don't forget your fly rods. Catch and release practices are emphasized to continue a high population of fish.

This trip operates on the traditional territory of the ancestral lands of the Tenino, Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, and the Numu (Northern Paiute).

Your John Day River wilderness adventure begins the day before the trip start date, either at the Bend/Redmond airport, or in the town of Prineville. We'll meet at a hotel for a brief orientation and hand out dry bags for you to pack that evening. Bright and early the next morning, we will drive through the high desert landscape to our boat ramp on the John Day River, about two hours away. 

Inflatable rafts and catarafts are the boats of choice due to their many advantages. Rafts offer you more floor space, increased stability, and added freedom of movement. Our unique frames have comfortable bass seats in the front and rear of the boat. This places you high off the water for easier and more precise casting. Greater vision of the water helps you to locate those lunkers. The rotating bass seats allow you to pivot 360 degrees so that you may easily fish either side of the boat and still be very comfortable. Fishing from rafts also extends our season into the low water periods when fish are concentrated and more aggressive.

We make every effort to make your outdoor experience in the Central Oregon wilderness a comfortable one with high quality camping equipment. We use spacious six-person tents, with two people or a family per tent, so you have plenty of space. We provide inflatable sleeping pads and cozy sleeping bags for nights under the stars after a long day on the water. Camp chairs are provided for relaxing on shore while you view the beautiful scenery and sip on a cold beverage.

Meals are prepared by our talented river guides. Burgers, french toast, stir fry, and cheesecake will give you the energy for fighting the bass each day. You will be served three meals a day plus snacks. We can accommodate most allergies and dietary restrictions, although the purchase of specialty food items my require a small additional fee. Give us a call or email with any specific questions.


June 7-9, 2023

3-5 days

Contact for additional date availability


Starting at $2,040/person plus 3% public lands use fee


Age 3+


John Day River near Mitchell, OR.

Nearest airport is Bend/Redmond (RDM)


Camping in tents, all equipment provided.


Mellow: Class I-III rapids

John Day River sittting in the water
Breakfast on the river
rafting the john day river bass fishing arrowhead river adventures


  • All fishing rods, tackle and lures.

  • Patient, experienced, entertaining guides who are fun to fish with.

  • Instruction in all types of fishing methods, just tell us if you plan to spin or fly fish.

  • Water, hot drinks, and powdered sports drinks.

  • Dry bags provided for transporting your personal items.

  • Satellite communication device in the event of an emergency (there is no cell service in the river corridor.)

  • Transportation from and to the Redmond/Bend Airport (if needed).

  • Three delicious meals a day, plus snacks

  • All camping equipment including tents, sleeping bags, inflatable sleeping pads etc.

  • All boating and safety equipment, including life jackets.

  • The most smallmouth bass you will ever have access to (4000+ per mile).

  • Pre-trip hotel accommodation (post-trip hotel not included).


  • Personal clothes and toiletries (a packing list is provided)

  • Fishing license.

  • Beer, wine, spirits, and soft drinks.

  • Tips for guides.

john day river smallmouth bass fishing rafting arrowhead river adventures
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