I’m finishing up this draft at SFO – where last night I was stranded due to a cancelled flight to get back to Bend. Reliving this day through these words and images are turning my sleepy frown, upside-down.
The native name of the John Day river almost reads as the sound I made, the giddy giggle of sorts, that was running through my head when I woke up in the back of my truck in Cottonwood Canyon the other morning. A chuckle because sometimes I can’t believe my life leads me to adventures like the one I was about to start.
Mah Hah, in the native tongue, roughly translates to river with plenty of fish and hunting. The area is steeped in history from Lewis and Clark to the Oregon trail crossing just down stream from our put in. Hopes were hight that the river would live up to its name, and be teeming with steelhead moving upstream to spawn.
The flows on the John Day this time of year are typically fairly thin – and as such navigating the gravel bars and tiny slots made for some interesting travel. Not certain if I would take my boat down this stretch of river from Cottonwood State Park – but after the days events, I could potentially be persuaded.
Fishing the John Day for steelhead is a very unique experience in many ways. First off, the sheer beauty of this wilderness is amazing – knowing you are drifting the third longest free flowing ( un-dammed ) river in the United States definitely adds to the mystique. But also while targeting steelhead, one also hauls in a fair number of nice sized bass.
Bass are fun to catch, but the goal of the day was native John Day Steelhead, and the river did not disappoint.
Mah Hah indeed. The river of plenty.