Steve Fleming (Mah-Hah Outfitters)

Steve Fleming of Mah-Hah Outfitters

     It started back a couple of generations ago with Steve’s Dad, Bob Fleming, and Grandfather, Everett Fleming. They were into fishing and hunting and broke Steve in at an early age. Early family vacations were taken fishing and hunting, and the first seed was planted.

     Then in 1968 Steve got married and started coming to Fossil, Oregon to fish and hunt. Steve’s Father-in-Law, Floyd Zimmerman, lived in Fossil and was one of the most beloved fellows in the area. He owned the only Bar and Restaurant in Fossil, The Shamrock, and introduced Steve to many ranchers who invited Steve out to “fish and hunt”. The second seed was now planted.

     The last seed was sown in 1988 when Steve moved to Fossil and was befriended by three great outdoorsmen. The first was the Best Fisherman in the area, Andy Greenfield. Andy gave Steve his first smallmouth bass drift boat trip down the river, and Steve was hooked. The second was the Best Hunter and John Day River historian, Donnie Carter. Donnie was very patient with Steve and took him down the river showing him all the old Indian campsites, trapping areas, and good hunting spots. The third was a seasoned John Day River Guide, John Laing. John spent time with Steve showing him the line to take on Class III rapids, and helped in the early planning stages of the guide service. The locals accepted Steve and showed him this prize jewel of smallmouth bass fishing, the John Day River.

     Steve started Mah-Hah Outfitters in 1990 with the help and support of the local fishermen and hunters. The early techniques were mostly crankbaits, and produced lots of big fish. When you start a business you have “no business”, so Steve hired on as the local fuel driver for Fossil Fuel. The owners of Fossil Fuel, Mehrten and Glenda Homer, allowed Steve to guide whenever he had bookings as long as the fuel customers were kept full. Steve owes them a lot for letting him develop his guide business, and for all the local contacts he made. Because of those contacts Steve has private put-ins and take-outs that allow him to run trips when others cannot, and get where the big ones are.
     The early years were learning years, and things just kept getting better. The guide service kept trying new techniques, and perfecting the old ones. The clients were catching more and bigger fish each year. The client base was growing and within six years it was up to 300 client days a year.

     The “Catch of a Lifetime” came in 1996, and Steve married Linda. Steve had a life threatening accident with a fuel truck that year, and Linda talked him into going full-time guiding. By 2000, Steve and Linda were booking 500+ client days a year, and had logged over 20,000 river miles on the John Day River.

     There has been a steady growth in the number of clients, fishing techniques, and returning clientele over the years. Now Steve guides between 150-200 days a year taking between 600 – 750 client-days per year. When you read a story about the John Day River it’s typically about a trip the writer did with Mah-Hah Outfitters and Steve. Mah-Hah Outfitters has the most experienced guides on the John Day River with a few over 40 years on the river, best Master Angler Smallmouth Bass (20”+) record of any guide service since 1990, highest returning client base of any guide service on the river, only guide service to offer a “Fish-On” Gurantee, have a fish catching backup plan if the river is unfishable, and is always looking for ways to provide better fish catching trips. Mah-Hah Outfitters does one-seven day trips, provides all the fishing gear and tackle, cooks hot Dutch-oven meals in the boat while you fish down the river, uses the best equipment for the river, takes pictures of your trip, and tries to make every trip the “trip of a lifetime”.

     So, if you are interested in a smallmouth bass catching trip, native steelhead trip, cat fishing, catching largemouth bass on a Private Lake, catching native red band trout on another Private Lake, or all the above and want to hear stories from someone who has been guiding for over 20 years, and 35,000 miles of floating on the John Day River – call Mah-Hah Outfitters and book a trip with Steve.

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