Only adipose fin clipped steelhead (hatchery fish) can be kept on the NFJD River. The best time to fish for steelhead is in the spring, just prior to April 15th when the season closes. Be sure and promptly release native steelhead and other species of fish that are caught while steelhead angling. Spring Chinook salmon and bull trout may occasionally be caught while angling for steelhead. There are no open seasons for these species in the area described. Small mouth bass are also present downstream of the 395 bridge. The further downstream you go, the more bass you’ll find. The best angling for bass is in the early summer when water temperatures begin to warm up. Upstream of the 395 bridge, special restrictions on gear and open seasons are in place. Consult state fishing regulations to determine restrictions and open seasons. Upstream of the 395 bridge, rainbow/redband trout and mountain whitefish are the target species for anglers.
Map + Directions
The North Fork John Day (NFJD) River is open to steelhead fishing downstream of the highway 395 bridge north of the town of Dale. The area downstream of the bridge is a mix of Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and private land, so be sure you check ownership before you fish. The upper reaches of the NFJD River (upstream of Big Creek) are entirely within wilderness, so no motorized equipment is allowed in these areas. Three developed campgrounds and numerous unimproved campsites are present upstream of the Highway 395 bridge.