Appeal tribune. (Silverton, Or.) 1999-current, June 24, 2020, Page 6, Image 6

Below is the OCR text representation for this newspapers page. It is also available as plain text as well as XML.

Continued from Page 1B
Yes, dad. That’s me.
Happy Father’s Day.
Stop me if you’ve
heard this one
When she was the
chairwoman of the Ore-
gon Fish and Wildlife
Commission, Marla Rae
of Salem used to cite the
Oregon Liquor Control
Commission and the, if
not contradictory, at least
mixed message in its mis-
sion statement.
To paraphrase, among
the OLCC’s goals are “to
increase revenues … and
promote sobriety.”
Not to nit-pick in these
times of minimal staffing
and working from home
for employees at state
agencies, but it seems as
if the Oregon Department
of Fish and Wildlife has
fallen into a similar con-
Exhibit A: “ODFW is
putting the weekly Recre-
ation Report on hiatus for
a few weeks.”
That’s been the boiler-
plate on the department’s
website since April 8.
So you can’t get the lat-
est information about
where fishing is hot or
where trout are being
Exhibit B: “If you do go
fishing, stay close to
home, keep your social
distance, and travel safe-
ly,” the message con-
Excellent advice that
I’m trying to heed.
But if you don’t know
about trout stocking or
hot spots, the alternative
is to drive to lots of places
looking for full parking
Human nature vs. self-
preservation … don’t
make me choose.
Angling has become a
pastime in which you
wear a mask, and carry a
fishing rod with a mini-
mum length of 6 feet.
wife picked up on the old
line that “fishing consists
of a jerk on one end of a
line waiting for a jerk on
the other end.”
Contact Henry via
email at HenryMillerSJ@
Continued from Page 1B
to the combination of
warm weather and river
flows high enough to keep
you moving. The BLM re-
leases the permits in two
batches during the spring
onto, so
be prepared and act fast
to get the desired date.
Overnight permits cost
$26 each and can include
up to 16 people.
(There are six different
river segments on the
John Day that are permit-
controlled, so take your
pick. I’m focusing on just
44 miles, but there are
charms on every section).
It’s also important to
watch the river’s flow.
Above 6,000 cfs, and it’s
dangerously high. Below
1,200, and it’s pretty low,
slow and rocky. We put-
on at 2,600 cfs, and that
felt about perfect.
A toilet system is an-
There are no bathrooms
at the campsites, mean-
ing Leave No Trace is a
must. And yes, that in-
cludes your poop. You’re
required to have a toilet
system that travels with
you to remove waste.
They’re easy to find on-
line and at some river
gear shops.
Finally, once you’ve
got the right boat, permit
and toilet system, the fi-
nal step is getting a shut-
tle. Trust me, getting
someone to drive your car
from the put-in at Thirty-
mile to the take-out at
Cottonwood is well-
worth the $100 it costs.
The shuttle provider I
went with was Thirtymile
Shuttles — contact them
Hungry smallmouth
Lucy wanted to fish,
and she was no longer
to accept any excuses
My 5-year-old daugh-
ter had endured a long
and rough drive, a long
wait as we packed the
Jim Heck fly-fishes for smallmouth bass on the John Day River while Lucy Urness watches on a multi-day rafting trip from Thirtymile
Creek boat access to Cottonwood Canyon State Park in Eastern Oregon. ZACH URNESS / STATESMAN JOURNAL
boat and finally, getting
soaked by a thunder-
storm on the first river
I rigged a blue fox lure
onto her pink fishing rod
and helped her toss it into
the water, not really ex-
pecting her to catch any-
thing right away.
“Dad!” she said a few
seconds later. “I think I’ve
got a fish!”
I figured she’d snagged
the bottom and grabbed
the rod, but instead of the
dull pull of a snag, the line
was alive. I quickly hand-
ed the rod back to her.
“That’s your fish!” I
She reeled it in, and I
helped her bring a dimin-
utive but feisty small-
mouth bass into the raft.
It was our first but no-
where close to our last
fish of the trip. I’d heard
bass fishing was good on
the John Day, but it was
downright hot during our
float, as we landed a fish
about every five casts. My
pal Jim, fishing with a
popper on a fly rod,
caught the biggest of the
group — a few maybe in
the 16- to 18-inch range.
We saw larger ones swim-
ming near the boat.
Lucy caught and land-
ed three fish, and fought
many others, establish-
ing fishing’s place as her
new favorite thing.
“This is a good sign,”
said Jim, after Lucy
pulled in that first fish.
A long trip first day
Due to the holiday,
our offi ce hours and
obituary placement
times may vary.
Please contact us at
503-399-6789 or
for further details.
Lucy’s first fish was a
great moment during a
long first day. The road to
the new Thirtymile boat
access was rough and
took forever, leading to a
late start. As soon as we
started loading the raft, it
started to rain.
But once we were on
the water, the scenery
Simple Cremation $795
Simple Direct Burial $995
Church Funeral $2965
275 Lancaster Drive SE
(503) 581-6265
8970 SW Tualatin Sherwood Rd
(503) 885-7800
832 NE Broadway
(503) 783-3393
12995 SW Pacifi c Hwy
(503) 783-6869
1433 SE 122nd Ave
(503) 783-6865
16475 SE McLoughlin Blvd
(503) 653-7076
Privately owned cremation facility. A Family Owned Oregon Business.
“Easy Online Arrangements”
John Day River: Thirtymile to Cottonwood
In a nutshell: Multi-day wilderness river float through desert canyons.
Length: 44 miles
Difficulty: Class I rapids, but very remote so a swim could lead to major problems
Boats: Non-motorized (raft, drift boat, kayak, canoe, SUP)
Permits: Required between May 1 and July 15. Must be purchased in advance at
Camping: Plenty of established campsites along the river. Campfires not allowed
after June 1. Traveling toilet system required to haul out waste.
Shuttles for Thirtymile: Thirtymile Shuttles, or
Additional information: For more information call the BLM Prineville Office
(541-416-6700) or see:
made up for it. The long
road deposits you right in
the middle of the John
Day’s iconic canyon-
lands, and as the river
curved around every new
turn, we entered a new
and more spectacular
wall of layered basalt, en-
casing the river in walls
that rose thousands of
feet high.
Even so, we had to row.
On a three-day trip
from Thirtymile, you
have to make at least 15
miles per day. And while
the John Day does move
along, with occasional
rapids, there are plenty of
slow spots where you
need to dig in and row.
After the late start, we
stayed on the river until
around 5 p.m., looking for
that were mostly located
below clusters of juniper
trees that provided shade
in the otherwise barren
We didn’t have to wor-
ry about getting baked by
the sun on the first day.
But that would change
with day two.
Bright sunshine, lots
of fish
and lots of swimming
The second day ar-
rived with bright sun-
shine and quickly warm-
ing desert air. One reason
the John Day is such a be-
loved trip is the weather
is typically warmer and
drier in the late spring
than rivers in Western
On our second day, it
lived up to the hype. We
made a camp breakfast of
scrambled eggs and oat-
meal before loading up
the boat. As we did, the
river ranger stopped in to
check our permit.
I’m always happy to
see rangers enforcing
permit limits, and the
ranger who visited us was
friendly, checked out pa-
perwork, and headed
“You’re going to enjoy
the next few river miles,”
he said before leaving.
He was right. We float-
ed around a horseshoe
turn and below steep can-
yon walls. When it got too
hot, we jumped into the
river, and even floated
through the rapids. When
clouds covered the sun,
we focused on fishing.
Lucy was outraged
that we didn’t keep the
fish to have for dinner,
and that might have been
a mistake. I’ve never
cleaned or cooked bass.
Other boaters we passed
said the fish tasted good.
We fished two ways.
Jim tossed his floating fly
into the slow eddies of
marshy water along the
river edges, while Lucy
kept her spinner in the
deeper water, basically
trolling as we rowed
downstream. Both meth-
ods worked well, but the
bigger fish were in the
marshy water.
That night we camped
above a rocky beach, once
again, below juniper
trees. Campfires aren’t al-
lowed on the John Day af-
ter June 1, so we roasted
marshmallows over the
camp stove.
Final stretch and final
The last day brought
more fishing and swim-
ming, and a final 15 miles
of rowing. Gradually,
power lines become visi-
ble on the tops of the can-
yons and the sensation of
civilization closes in.
The take-out is a busy
boat ramp full of kayaks,
canoes and rafts all trying
to get off the water. Not
everyone was happy. The
canoeists who’d lost their
keys were trying to figure
out how to start their car.
Another person had mis-
communicated with their
shuttle driver, and had ar-
rived to find his keys
locked in his car without a
(Tip: always bring two
keys, one for you to keep
on the river, and one for
the shuttle driver to lock
in the car. It helps avoid
these calamities).
But mostly, the sad
faces were due to having
to leave the canyons of
the John Day River.
As for the new float be-
tween Thirtymile and
Cottonwood Bridge, I’d
say it presents a nice new
option for people with
less time and small chil-
dren, but with only three
days, we also felt a bit
hurried. Four days and
three nights would have
allowed for more fishing
But such questions are
a luxury to consider. Just
the chance to enjoy the
whether for three, four or
five days is a glorious
thing not to be missed.
Zach Urness can be