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Old 05-10-2013   #1
Temecula, California
Paddling Since: 2009
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 5
Can I float the John Day in mid October?

I want to do a fishing and upland game float when all game bird seasons open up October 6th. The section that I am looking at would be Clarno to Cottenwood and from everything I have read it is sounding like it might be impossible to float at this time. There will hopefully be about 6 people total with some of us in personal fishing pontoons and one 16' pontoon to carry the gear and we are fairly minimalist as far as gear goes. I am planning for about a week long float. Does anyone have advice for me on this trip? Should I be looking at a different river instead? I appreciate any feed back and thank you in advance.

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Old 05-10-2013   #2
TriBri1's Avatar
Tigard, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 768
The power of the internet says it is unlikely, unless you don't mind dragging your boat a little. The lowest I have heard a raft floating the John Day without dragging is 500 cfs. The chart below is the historic monthly averages from 1930 to 2012. Event the highest average in October over that time is 810cfs,
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Old 05-10-2013   #3
hermiston, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1989
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 7
Try and push your trip later if you can. First week of October is deer season and the rest of the month has several bighorn hunts in this area. Yes it can be done as is done by alot of people. Its very low and slow some evenings the wind is so bad you will go back up river! November has more water lots of steelhead less people and no wind. I hate cats for low water but regardless of what you use go light and be ready to drag and a word to the wise pay landowner trespass fee and bypass clarno it really sucks in low water and theres a reason the guides do it.
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Old 05-13-2013   #4
Temecula, California
Paddling Since: 2009
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 5
Thanks for the information and I heard about the deer season before and had already planned to push the date back a week to avoid it. However, I dont know if I want to push if back as far as November cause I am guessing the weather starts to get a bit more chilly and I am more interested in the bird hunting than the steelhead. I am looking forward to catching some but have heard there will be a few around in mid-October, as well as a little smallmouth bite still. Am I miss informed about any of that?
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Old 05-13-2013   #5
hermiston, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1989
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 7
Oh no theres always lots of steelhead in October and the smallmouth begins to get hit and miss. But usually you can still get a few not the summer bite for sure. Water temps dictate the bite and it varies like the flow every year. There are sheep hunts all month long and only two tags at a time be curtious to these once in a lifetime tag holders lots of good bird hunting away from a ram stalk.
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Old 05-14-2013   #6
curlew, Washington
Paddling Since: 2012
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 7

Unless you're keen on a shorter go at it, it's worth entertaining hells canyon (other snake sections, too) lower Deschutes and the lower Salmon. Both have more water and are wilderness runs with good steelheading opps. Went down HC in November and got into some good mountain quail and chukar action on top of a couple hatchery steelies.
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Old 05-14-2013   #7
Temecula, California
Paddling Since: 2009
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 5
Ian, thanks for the other options. I am planning on making this a yearly trip so hopefully I will be able to check out all those floats. Could you give me some information on those other rivers, like put in and take out, length of trip (days) and do all of them have legal hunting through out the float? I looked into the Hells Canyon but kinda got turned off it this time since it is the boarder of two states I would have to get hunting license for both states.

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