John Day Float, Service Creek to Clarno, 2016

Posted on Posted in Fishing, River, Uncategorized

So much for plans.  The plan was to take advantage of spring flows and spend Memorial Day weekend on the North Fork John Day.  Well, spring must have ended a few days early, the snowpack was gone and the flow dropped like a rock during the week leading up to the launch.  The night before departure the flow dropped below 800 cfs and we pulled the plug and looked downstream for an alternative.  Friday we found ourselves at Service Creek and off we went.

John Day River
John Day River

Service Creek to Clarno is a popular float for Memorial Day, the flows are usually good and the weather hasn’t turned out quite too hot yet.  This is the perfect recipe for crowds.  Fishing wasn’t red hot the first day but there were definitely bass to be found.  We caught a few and floated a few miles and before long we were to camp number one with time enough to spare for a quick hike.

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We scared up a bit of wildlife and enjoyed the views.

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We enjoyed the rest of the night, except for the neighbors across the river who were so busy telling their dogs to shut up they didn’t realize they were the annoying ones.  Luckily the frogs would occasionally chime in and we could pretend they weren’t there.

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Day two started early.  We needed to be well past Twickenham before we started to look for another site and so we started to put the miles behind us.  It was a good thing we got an early start, it ended up being a 19 mile day, which is a long one on the John Day.  Once we started looking for camps it seemed every one was occupied.  We finally found a decent one, it was a long carry from the river but we had come so far that we decided it would be a two-day camp.

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John Day camp, nights 2 and 3

We woke up the next day and it was already hot in the sun.  We figured we better get a hike in before it got any hotter.  We headed uphill until we couldn’t go anymore.  Good views all around of the John Day country, and we were thankful we weren’t battling it out for campsites as we saw the crowds on the water.

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Camp is down below at the upstream bend in the river

 

The views were nice but the noxious weeds in this country are everywhere, namely to make your hiking less than enjoyable there is plenty of cheatgrass for everyone.

 

Last day for this pair of socks!
Last day for this pair of socks!

The rest of the day we enjoyed the sun and the view of the river.  Well, at least until our last set of neighbors arrived and made a “camp” below us on the gravel bar.  It wasn’t enough to crowd in, they decided to be as noisy as possible well into the night.  I guess I knew what to expect, Memorial Day weekend is the amateur hour for folks that may only do a trip like this once a year or less.  Still it was an enjoyable weekend, lots of fish and sunshine along with good views.

Last morning had us launching with the crowds.

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We fished for a while and then left them behind to enjoy a quiet end to the trip.  It’s always good to be on the water….

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