Welcome to the 2013
Spring Fishing Guide
Northeast Zone (pdf)
Check this out:
Peach Pond anglers: As of January 1, 2012 a parking permit is required to be on the Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area. More information.
- Photo by Rick Swart-
- Find trout stocking schedules and Google maps with driving directions to all stocking sites on the ODFW trout stocking page.
- 2013 Family Fishing and Free Fishing Weekend events.
- Take a friend fishing during Free Fishing Weekend June 1-2 – no license required!
Most rivers and streams open May 25. Rivers and streams are not stocked so anglers will be fishing primarily for native rainbow trout, with opportunities to harvest adipose fin-clipped residual steelhead smolts. Fishing for bull trout is prohibited except for the Wenaha and Imnaha rivers where it is catch-and-release only. Check the 2013 Sport Fishing Regulations for bag limits and gear restrictions.
Trout stocking of lakes, ponds and reservoirs begins in April and May and usually continues through June (see the full stocking schedule). Warm water temperatures and weed growth often slows trout fishing by late July, especially in the smaller ponds. Trout fishing in these waters usually picks up again with the onset of cooler fall weather. The exceptions will be large lakes such as Wallowa Lake and higher elevation lakes in the Wallowa and Strawberry mountains, which can fish well throughout the hot summer months. High elevation lakes are not accessible until early to mid-July in most years.
SALMON AND STEELHEAD
Pre-season forecasts suggest a smaller return of spring chinook to northeast Oregon streams this year. If the runs materialize, there will likely be opportunities to harvest adipose fin-clipped spring chinook in the Imnaha River in Wallowa County and Lookingglass Creek in Union County. Seasons, bag limits, and open areas will be announced in May or June and will be posted on the ODFW website. Chinook begin showing up in northeast Oregon rivers in late May but angling success is usually best in June and early July, as river flows recede from snow melt runoff. The Umatilla River opens to spring chinook fishing April 16, with peak returns occurring in mid-may. Season length will be dependent upon run size and harvest rates.
The summer steelhead season opens Sept. 1 and peaks in October or November, depending on the river. Many of the best steelhead rivers in Northeast Oregon offer adequate access for both bank and boat anglers. Summer steelhead remain in the rivers until March or April and there’s often quality steelhead fishing through the winter and early spring. However, winter and spring fishing opportunities and success are dependent on weather conditions and water levels – so consult the weekly Recreation Report and river flow web sites (USGS or OWRD) -- for the latest conditions before making a trip.
-U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service-
The Northeast Zone offers excellent warmwater fishing for bass, channel catfish and crappie. The Columbia and John Day rivers have world-class smallmouth bass fisheries and fishing usually “heats up” in May when water temperatures reach 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Fishing for bass, panfish, and crappie is best during the spring when they are moving into shallow water to spawn, the timing of which is largely determined by water temperatures reaching 50oF.
Bass and crappie fishing generally slows down following spawning as the fish disperse to deeper water, although the schooling nature of crappie makes them easier to find and fish for during the summer (usually jigging for them in water up to 30-35 feet deep). Fishing for catfish during evenings and at night starts picking up about the time when bass and crappie have finished spawning, continues to improve as water temperatures warm and remains fairly consistent until the water begins to cool in the fall.
To learn what’s biting and where, check out the ODFW Weekly Recreation Report. Each week our biologists update fishing conditions on rivers, streams, lakes, reservoirs and ponds throughout the state.
Aldrich Ponds: Located 5 miles east of Dayville on the Phillip W. Schneider Wildlife Area, these ponds open for trout fishing May 25 with a two fish bag limit. Access is difficult, requiring a 4WD for 6 miles and a 2 mile hike. Draining and deepening of the upper pond was performed in summer of 2011 with the use of R &E funds. Fish up to 18 will be available this summer. The lower pond was not rehabilitated and will be producing rainbow trout up to 18-inches long.
Cold Springs Reservoir: The reservoir is open to fishing from March 1 to Sept. 30. The reservoir contains white crappie and largemouth bass and brown bullhead. White crappie grow quite large with many fish in the 12 to 14-inch range. The best fishing is in spring and early summer, prior to irrigation drawdown of the reservoir. The reservoir is approximately 4 mile east of Hermiston.
Grande Ronde, Wallowa, and Imnaha basin streams: Open for trout May 25. Spring runoff results in high flows which generally make trout fishing a challenge early in the season. However, anglers do find some success on the slow margins of the rivers where fish are seeking refuge from turbulent water. Best success occurs after early June in the lower reaches of the Grande Ronde, Wallowa and Imnaha rivers.
The canyon section of the Wallowa River offers great access from Minam State Park to Rock Cr. where there’s good fishing for rainbow trout and whitefish throughout the summer. This section is popular with local fly anglers and can produce some quality hatches throughout the season. Adipose fin-clipped trout are available to anglers who wish to harvest a meal.
Fishing for trout in the lower Grande Ronde can produce quality fish during early summer and in the fall when water temperatures are low. During mid to late summer, a healthy population of smallmouth bass provides some quality fishing in the lower river. Public access is abundant below Wildcat Bridge.
The lower Wallowa and Grande Ronde rivers from Minam downstream to Wildcat Bridge offer opportunities in the late spring and early summer for floating and fishing trips on wild and scenic water. Information on floating the rivers can be obtained from U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Baker Field Office (541) 523-1295 or on line. River flow information can be found here.
-Oregon Fish and Wildlife-
The lower Imnaha River has good public access along the road within the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area. A trail follows the river through a stunning canyon from the Doug Bar road downstream to the confluence with the Snake River. Trout fishing can be good the entire season throughout the lower river. Access to the upper Imnaha is equally as good and provides catch-and-release opportunities for large bull trout during the summer months; it’s also a whitefish factory.
The lower Grande Ronde, Imnaha, and Wallowa Rivers are open for adipose fin-clipped summer steelhead from Sept. 1 through April 15. Angling success is dependent on river flows and weather but is usually best in October and November in the lower Grande Ronde and the lowest reaches of the Imnaha River. The Wallowa River and the Imnaha River near the town of Imnaha are usually best in late February and March. Please check the angling regulations for details on steelhead fisheries. Creel surveyors are present during the steelhead season to collect data that helps ODFW manage for a quality fishery.
Pre-season forecasts of spring chinook run strength suggest the likelihood of opening sections of the Imnaha River for adipose fin-clipped spring chinook fishing in 2013. If the run materializes, a news release announcing the fisheries, open areas, and regulations will be published in late spring.
Holliday Park Pond: This is a relatively new fishery created by ODFW in 2009 between the towns of Mt. Vernon and John Day. The pond is located within Holliday State Park and is stocked with legal-sized rainbow trout each spring and fall. The pond is open year-round, though fishing can slow during the hot summer months. Features include a handicap accessible fishing dock and nearby camping sites, but there is no boat ramp.
Hat Rock and Tatone Ponds: Hatrock Pond is located in Hatrock State park East of Hermiston and Tatone Pond is 5 miles west of Boardman. These ponds are open year-round are stocked with catchable-sized trout during March, April, May and June, and provide easy access for young anglers and families.
John Day Basin Streams: Stream trout fishing opens May 25 and is best on the Middle and South Forks where public lands are abundant. Hooks larger than 1/4 inch gap and all lures are prohibited in the North and Middle Forks above Highway 395 to protect holding spring chinook salmon. All rainbow trout 20-inches and larger are classified as steelhead and must be released unharmed.
Steelhead fishing is open from Sept. 1 to April 15 in the upper John Day River and year round below Kimberly. Steelhead normally do not enter the river until fall when river flows rise above 300 cfs. This usually occurs toward the end of October. The fall steelhead fishery is best from Cottonwood Bridge to Tumwater falls. Steelhead slowly advance up the river for the next 5 months providing a fishery in January through April above Service Creek.
The John Day
-Photo by Jessica Sall-
The John Day steelhead are a wild stock, with some hatchery strays coming from upper Columbia hatcheries, so most fish must be released unharmed. Anglers are strongly encouraged to keep any adipose-clipped steelhead they catch to assure they don’t spawn with native fish.
Smallmouth bass fishing is best below Kimberly with limited access below Service Creek. Below Service Creek is best accessed by boat. In 2011 boater restrictions were imposed requiring boater to pre-register at the Bureau of Land Management website to float between May 20 and July 10 from Service Creek to Cottonwood Bridge. Bank fishing for bass is best between Service Creek and Kimberly where Highway 19 follows the river. A slot limit is in effect for smallmouth bass in the John Day River from Service Creek Bridge downstream to Tumwater Falls. Bass between 12 and 16-inches must be released unharmed. Channel catfish are also available from Spray downstream in the tail outs and deep holes.
Jubilee Lake: The lake is located 10 miles north of Tollgate near Highway 204. It is open year-round, but access can be limited due to snow until late June or early July. Fishing is expected to be good for stocked and carry-over rainbow trout and stocking rates have been increased to provide increased angler opportunity. The lake is stocked with legal-sized rainbow trout as soon as access allows. A 2.8 mile National Recreation Trail (foot and wheelchair accessible) circles the lake, providing outstanding angler access. Boats are allowed but the use of gas motors is prohibited.
ODFW will host a youth Fishing event at Jubilee Lake on July 13 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Call Bill Duke at (541) 276-2344 for more information.
Kinney Lake: Will not open until May 25 at the landowner's request. It will be stocked with legal-sized and trophy rainbow trout before opening. We expect good fishing for stocked and hold-over rainbow trout. Kinney Lake is located on private property, about seven miles east of Joseph, and the landowner allows public access for fishing. Please help maintain the privilege of fishing at Kinney Lake by respecting the property, cleaning up your trash and restricting vehicle travel to existing road. For safety reasons, no fishing from a floating device is allowed at Kinney Lake.
Long Creek Pond: This pond is located 5 miles east of the town of Long Creek on the Kimberly to Long Creek Highway. It is stocked with legal-sized rainbow trout each spring and is open year-round. Several illegal introductions of bullhead, goldfish and bass have occurred here over the years compromising the trout fishery.
Rowe Creek Reservoir: Located 10 miles north of Twickenham this reservoir is stocked with trout yearly. Bullhead catfish were illegally introduced 10 years ago and have compromised the trout fishery. The pond and adjacent land are privately owned but fishing is allowed by cooperative agreement. Continued public access depends on considerate angler conduct.
Anson Wright Pond
- Photo by Rick Swart, ODFW -
Anson Wright Pond: This pond is located 45 miles south of Heppner on Highway 207 and is operated by Morrow County Parks. Access to the pond is gated until mid-May but it will be stocked with legal-sized trout by then and provide good fishing for kids.
Magone Lake: Magone is located 20 miles northeast of Mt. Vernon on Highway 395 and Forest Road 32. It is open year-round, and has a boat launch, picnic area and Forest Service campground. It was stocked with fingerling rainbow last year which will have grown to 9 to 12-inches by this spring. It will also be stocked with trophy trout this spring.
Bull Prairie Reservoir: This reservoir is located 21 miles north of Spray on Highway 207 and Forest Road 2039. It is open year-round and is stocked with fingerling and trophy rainbow each spring. There is a boat launch, fishing docks, a hiking trail and a Forest Service campground at the reservoir.
Marr and Wallowa ponds: Will be stocked with legal-sized and trophy rainbow trout in mid-April. Marr pond is on the edge of Enterprise and offers a good opportunity for after work or after school fishing ventures. Wallowa Pond is adjacent to the Wallowa River three miles northwest of Wallowa.
There will be Free Fishing Weekend event at Marr Pond on Saturday, June 1 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Call Wallowa Hatchery at (541) 426-4467 for more information.
McKay Reservoir: Located 4 miles south of Pendleton, the reservoir is open from March 1 to Sept 30. There is good trout fishing in March and April and outstanding warmwater fishing for yellow perch and black crappie in spring and early summer. The lake also provides good fishing for large and smallmouth bass. Anglers are reminded of the special regulation: 3 bass per day, 15-inch minimum length. The reservoir is on track to fill early this year and a full reservoir provides good fishing throughout the summer months.
McNary Channel Ponds: These ponds area near Hermiston and are open year-round. They are stocked with catchable-sized trout during March, April, May and June and also support bluegill, crappie, bullhead and largemouth and smallmouth bass. Fishing for trout is good in the spring months and warmwater species provide fair fishing throughout the summer. There is a series of eight ponds connected by stream channels which are accessible by a series of hiking trails. There is good vehicle access to the ponds and hiking trails.
ODFW will be hosting a free Family Fishing event at McNary Channel Ponds on May 18 from 9 a.m. to noon. Call Bill Duke at (541) 276-2344 for more information.
Morgan Lake: There should be good fishing for 8 to 12-inch rainbow trout when the lake opens on April 27. Crappie and catfish are also available. The lake should be ice-free in time for an April 27 opening day event sponsored by the local Optimist Club and including a fishing derby for kids and stocking of legal-sized and trophy trout. The lake is on a high plateau 5 miles southwest of LaGrande.
A Free Fishing Weekend event (including a fishing derby for kids) will be held at Morgan Lake Saturday, June 1 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Call Tim Bailey at (541) 963-2138 for more information.
Olive Lake: A high mountain lake open year-round but not usually accessible until June. Olive is 22 miles east of Dale on Forest Service Road 10. Rainbow trout and kokanee are available. Triploid legal-sized trout are stocked each year. There is a boat ramp, dock and Forest Service campground at the lake.
Peach Road Pond (Ladd Marsh): Located on Peach road, approximately 7 miles southeast of La Grande. It will be stocked with legal-sized trout several times throughout the spring.
As of January 1, 2012 a parking permit is required to be on the Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area. Go to the ODFW website for more information.
|Rainbow Trout on a stringer
- Photo by Bob Swingle, ODFW-
Penland Lake: Located 25 miles SE of Heppner off Forest Service Road 53. Open year-round and fishing is expected to be good for rainbow trout. The lake is stocked with fingerling and legal sized rainbow trout annually. The lake is very productive and trout grow quickly. Fly fishing is particularly good in this shallow weedy lake.
Roulette Pond: This pond three miles east of Elgin on Highway 82 will be stocked with legal-sized trout several times throughout the spring.
Strawberry Lake: Located 10 miles south of Prairie City in the Strawberry Mountain wilderness, this lake can be reached only after a 1 1/2 mile hike. There is a Forest Service campground at the trailhead with water and toilets. Its high elevation allows fishing during the hot summer months. Strawberry is not stocked but natural reproduction produces 10 to 13-inch rainbow and brook trout each year.
Tepee, Honeymoon, Salt Creek Summit and McGraw ponds: Will be stocked with legal-sized and trophy rainbow trout in late May or early June depending on access. These ponds are located on National Forest land and provide good opportunity for family day trips and camp outs. Tepee and Honeymoon ponds are adjacent to USFS Road 46 about 35 miles northeast of Enterprise. Salt Creek Summit and McGraw Ponds can be accessed by USFS Road 39 (Wallowa Mountain Loop Road) southeast of Joseph. Salt Creek Summit is about 18 miles from Joseph and McGraw is about 40 miles from Joseph.
Umatilla and Walla Walla Forest Ponds: The ponds are scattered in the Umatilla National Forest in the Ukiah, Meacham and Tolgate areas. They will be stocked with legal-sized trout in May and June and fishing should be good. The ponds provide anglers the opportunity to get out, explore and fish a number of different ponds in one day. Some carry over larger fish each year. Maps are available from the Umatilla National Forest Service offices or the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife office in Pendleton. Maps are also available online.
Umatilla River: Open for trout May 25. The upper Umatilla River provides fair to good catch-and-release fishing for rainbow trout. An estimated 3,700 spring chinook are expected to return to the Umatilla River this spring, and fishing should be good. The spring chinook season is open April 16 to June 30 (depending on area). Consult the 2013 Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations as special regulations are in effect. Adult spring chinook return information can be found on the ODFW website.
Victor Pond: Will be stocked with legal-sized and trophy rainbow trout later in the season. Stocking time depends upon water conditions, but generally occurs in early May. Victor Pond is located at the intersection of Oregon Highway 82 and Promise Road, two miles northwest of Wallowa.
Walla Walla River and Tributaries: Opens to trout fishing May 25. All streams within the Walla Walla basin are restricted to flies and lures only. A trail follows the river upstream of Harris Park providing anglers access to the upper Walla Walla River. Fishing for bull trout is prohibited.
- Oregon Fish and Wildlife-
Wallowa Lake: Wallowa Lake froze during winter and anglers were catching rainbow trout through the ice. This suggests larger holdover fish are available from stocking last summer. Recent surveys of kokanee funded by a Restoration and Enhancement grant, suggest that numbers of small fish are increasing and catch rates should increase as well. Although average size may be smaller, a few larger fish may still be around. Kokanee fishing is usually best from late April through late June although ice-off may affect timing of the fishery. Stocking of legal-sized and trophy rainbow trout will begin in mid-May. A number of anglers do find success targeting the small population of large lake trout found in the lake. While not abundant, ODFW net samples have yielded fish exceeding 25lbs.
Wallowa Mountain High Lakes and Streams: Snowpack and ice make high lakes inaccessible until mid-summer (early to mid-July). There are approximately 60 fish-bearing lakes in the Wallowa Mountains providing a variety of fishing opportunities for brook, rainbow and lake trout. Lakes are located in the Eagle Cap Wilderness area and are accessible only by foot or horseback. Many of the lakes contain brook trout and some are stocked by helicopter periodically with rainbow trout fingerlings. Many of the high mountain streams emanating from lakes also contain brook trout that are vicious, easy to catch and can provide a great opportunity for young children. There is no limit on size or number of brook trout in Wallowa Mountain lakes and streams. Maps and other information about the Eagle Cap Wilderness are available from Wallowa-Whitman National Forest offices in Baker City, La Grand, and Joseph.
At a number of trailheads, ODFW has placed survey boxes to gauge angler success, preferences and satisfaction. Please take this survey along and record your experiences. Your input will help us monitor and evaluate these fisheries and possibly make management changes to improve your fishing experience.
Willow Creek Reservoir: This reservoir just outside the town of Heppner is open year-round and fishing is expected to be good for trout 10 to 14-inches in spring and early summer. The lake is stocked with legal-sized trout in April and fingerlings in May. Good fishing for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, black crappie, bluegill, pumpkinseed and brown bullhead will also be available.
To increase the reservoir’s potential to produce large crappie, an 8-inch minimum length and a 25 fish bag limit was put in place beginning in 2011. Anglers are also reminded of the catch-and-release only regulation for largemouth bass.
There will be a Free Fishing Weekend event at Willow Creek on SUNDAY, JUNE 2 from 1-4 p.m. Call Allison Johnson at (541) 427-5305 for more information.
Willow, Rhea and Butter creeks: Open April 27. Willow Creek will be stocked with legal-sized trout in April and May where it flows through the cities of Heppner, Lexington and Ione. These streams run through mostly private land so anglers should request permission before fishing.
Weston Pond: This pond is located just off Highway 204, approximately 10 miles east of Weston. Weston Pond is stocked from April to June and provides easy access for young anglers and families.
For more information about fishing opportunities in the Northeast Zone, contact the nearest ODFW office:
Grande Ronde Watershed District Office
LaGrande, OR 97850
John Day Field Office
John Day, OR 97845
John Day Watershed District Office
Pendleton, OR 97801
Enterprise Field Office
Enterprise, OR 97828