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ODFW WEEKLY RECREATION REPORT
Fishing, Hunting, Wildlife Viewing
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Northeast Zone Map

Weekly Recreation Report: Northeast Zone

January 20, 2015

 Northeast Zone Fishing

Wallowa River

Winter steelhead fishing
-Photo by Bob Swingle, ODFW-

Weekend fishing opportunities:

  • Steelhead fishing on the upper Umatilla River continues to be good with anglers averaging 2.8 hours per fish caught.
  • Anglers are still making successful steelhead trips to the lower Imnaha. Flows have maintained and are still providing some great conditions for catching steelhead.

If your favorite fishing spot is no longer listed

It’s probably because that river, lake or reservoir is closed for the season, inaccessible due to snow and bad roads, or offers limited fishing opportunities during the winter months. These water bodies will re-appear in the Recreation Report when they re-open next spring, or when access and/or opportunity improves.

Send us your fishing report

We’d love to hear about your recent fishing experience. Send us your fishing report through ODFW Fishing Reports -- the information will be forwarded to the local biologist who may use it to update various ODFW resources such as the Weekly Recreation Report.

BULL PRAIRIE RESERVOIR: rainbow and brook trout

Remains open to fishing all year. The reservoir has frozen but proceed with caution as the ice may be too thin to support anglers. Approximately 200 trophy rainbow trout were stocked last fall and should provide fishing all winter. Brook trout are also available.

GRANDE RONDE RIVER: steelhead

The Grande Ronde River flows jumped last week but anglers were still finding a few fish. If flows continue to drop, this great year of fishing should continue. Look for angling to continue to be good into March when flows and water conditions make fishing difficult. With cooling water temps look for fish to move to calmer water where they can conserve energy while holding. A healthy proportion of two salt fish has resulted in a large average size this year. So, expect a few larger fish and some screaming drags! Remember, only adipose-fin clipped rainbow trout may be retained and all bull trout must be released unharmed.

HOLLIDAY PARK POND: rainbow trout

Remains open all year. Trophy trout were stocked last fall and should provide good fishing for the remainder of the winter. Proceed with caution if pond is iced over. Ice may be too thin to support anglers.

IMNAHA RIVER: steelhead

Anglers are still making successful steelhead trips to the lower Imnaha. Flows have maintained and are still providing some great conditions for catching steelhead. Angling will pick up in late February and March. Both fly and gear fisherman have fared well all winter.

steelhead caught on the lower John Day
Justin Botefuhr with his steelhead
-Photo by Rick Hargrave-

JOHN DAY RIVER: steelhead

Below zero temperatures have frozen the river. Warmer temperatures are predicted and should melt the ice by this weekend. However this may result in water that is too muddy for fishing. Steelhead are scattered from the mouth up to Kimberly. ODFW encourages all anglers to keep any ad-clipped steelhead taken in this fishery. All wild (adipose intact) steelhead must be released unharmed.

Check John Day River flows

LONG CREEK POND, CAVENDER POND: trout

Remains open all year. Proceed with caution if pond is iced over. Ice may be too thin to support anglers. Trophy trout were stocked last fall and should provide fishing all winter.

MAGONE LAKE: rainbow and brook trout

Remains open all year. Proceed with caution if lake is iced-over. Ice may be too thin to support anglers.

PEACH POND (Ladd Marsh): rainbow trout

The pond was stocked with trophy-sized rainbow trout in late September. The pond has no ice cover yet.

ROULET POND: rainbow trout

The pond was stocked with trophy-sized rainbow trout in late September. The pond has no ice cover yet.

ROWE CREEK RESERVOIR: rainbow trout

Remains open all year. Proceed with caution if pond is iced-over. Ice may be too thin to support anglers. Trout fishing is fair but the water level is very low.

UMATILLA FOREST PONDS: trout

The forest ponds remain open to angling year around and can provide a good opportunity for ice fishing during the winter months.

UMATILLA RIVER: steelhead

Steelhead fishing was good late last week with upper river anglers averaging 2.8 hours per steelhead caught. Flows have been up and down for the past several week, when the river is fishable catch rates have been good.

Steelhead are distributed though out the system. Anglers are find best success using bobbers and jigs and drift fishing for steelhead. Anglers should consult the synopsis for detailed regulations. Threemile Dam fish counts

Fishing at Ollala Reservoir
Ice Fishing Today Video.
Click image to play.
- Dave Genz Ice Safety Tips -

WALLOWA LAKE: rainbow trout, kokanee, lake trout

Some rainbow trout are still available and tagged fish are occasionally being reported. Trout have been caught with a variety of methods but a simple rig with PowerBait has been most effective. If the cold weather continues and the lake freezes, ice fishing can be good for both kokanee and trout.

The lake was stocked with tagged rainbow trout in an effort by ODFW to better understand the utilization of this fishery. Tagged fish have been caught at very high rates and over $2,700 in rewards have been paid.

WALLOWA RIVER: steelhead, mountain whitefish

Reports of successful steelhead trips have been surprisingly consistent for steelhead. The best time to catch steelhead on the Wallowa is normally late winter or early spring, but there are enough fish being caught currently to keep anglers interested. Keep an eye on the weekly recreation report for more information on river conditions.

Remember the Wallowa River is a whitefish factory. Whitefish can be a great way to keep kids interested while steelhead fishing and can be great table fair. Simply tie in a small bead-head nymph dropper while fishing under a bobber rig and let the fun begin. Also, steelhead will often take a bead head nymph hanging under a jig.

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  Northeast Zone Hunting

OPEN: COUGAR, WATERFOWL (closes Jan. 25, see regs), UPLAND BIRD

CHUKAR, HUN, QUAIL hunting closed Dec. 31 in Umatilla and Morrow counties.

Hunters are reminded to purchase their 2015 hunting license.

Snake River wolf
Gray Wolf from the Snake River Pack
-Oregon Fish and Wildlife-

Wolves in Northeast Oregon

Wolves are protected by state law and it is unlawful to shoot them. Coyote hunters in northeastern Oregon need to take extra care to identify their target as wolves can look like coyotes, especially wolf pups in the mid-summer and fall. Please report any wolf sightings or wolf sign to La Grande office (541) 963-2138 or online with the Wolf Reporting Form.

Use the Oregon Hunting Map to see where to hunt.

BAKER COUNTY

Closure of Wallowa Mountain Loop Road (Forest Road 39)

Chukar, Hun, and California Quail season end Jan. 31, 2015. Hunters should expect another season very similar to last year. Chukar numbers are still low for the county, however quail numbers showed a slight increase from last year. Remember to purchase your 2015 license before going hunting after the first of January.

Cougars can be found throughout Baker County but hunters should target areas with high concentrations of deer and elk. Setting up on a fresh kill or using distress calls can all be productive techniques. Hunters are required to check in the hide of any cougar taken, with skull and proof of sex attached. Remember to pick up a 2015 tag.

Coyote numbers are good throughout the district. Try calling in early morning and late afternoon. Remember to ask for permission before hunting on private properties.

GRANT COUNTY

Cougar hunting remains open. Successful hunters should remember that check-in of the hide with skull and proof of sex attached is mandatory; see the regulations for details. Remember to pick up a 2015 tag.

Coyote numbers are good in most of the district. Coyotes may respond to distress calls. Try calling in the early morning and late evening.

MORROW, GILLIAM AND WHEELER COUNTIES

Cougar hunting is open. Cougar are well distributed in our forested areas. Calling with distress calls or cougar vocalizations can be effective. With snow coming, tracking down a cougar is a possibility. However, locating a fresh, naturally made kill has the best chance of success.

The Coyote population is healthy with good numbers of coyotes available for those who wish to pursue them. Watch wind direction to help prevent giving away your location. Calling with game distress calls can be very successful.

UMATILLA COUNTY

Cougar
Cougar
- Royalty Free Image-

Cougar are well distributed in forested areas of the Walla Walla, Mt. Emily, and Ukiah units. Hunters will have best success by finding a fresh naturally made kill and sitting on it, or by using predator calls. Some success has come from following tracks until the cougar is located.

Coyote are numerous throughout the District and hunters should have good success calling. Remember to ask permission before hunting on private lands.

UNION COUNTY

Cougars are common in Union County. Focus on game rich areas with long ridgelines or saddles that cats typically travel. Setting up downwind of a deer or elk killed by a cougar can be productive. Nonresident hunters can include a cougar tag with others tags for only $14.50. All cougars taken must be checked in within 10 days of harvest; call for an appointment before check in. Remember to pick up a tag for 2015.

Coyote numbers are good throughout the district. Try calling in early morning and late afternoon. Remember to ask for permission before hunting on private properties.

Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area

Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area is open Saturday, Sunday, Wednesday and federal holidays during pheasant, quail, partridge and waterfowl seasons. Visitors are advised to carefully read posted signs and consult game bird regulations before entering the wildlife area.

Waterfowl hunting has been slow due to the early freeze-up. Recent warm temperatures and rain is beginning to open some areas. Local bird numbers remain good and hunting should improve if warm temperatures persist.

Hunters should watch local weather reports for high winds near Ladd and Pyles canyons. This generally means good waterfowl hunting at Ladd Marsh. Upland hunting has been good for pheasants and quail. Nesting conditions were good for both this year. Hunt areas near water with dogs for the best success. Ladd Marsh harvest statistics

Note: all visitors including hunters must have in their possession a free daily permit to access the wildlife area. Permits and area maps/regulation are available at several self-check-in stations at entry points and parking lots. Wildlife hunters, viewers and anglers also need a parking permit to park on the wildlife area. Hunters receive a free parking permit with their hunting license. The $7 daily or $22 annual permit can be purchased online or at an ODFW office that sells licenses or at a license sales agent. Learn more about ODFW’s Wildlife Area Parking Permit Program. Parking permits are to be displayed on the vehicle dash. More information

WALLOWA COUNTY

Closure of Wallowa Mountain Loop Road (Forest Road 39)

Elk - Numbers of elk are strong throughout most of Wallowa County with good bull to cow ratios in all units. Most animals are now on winter ranges at lower elevations. Our last antlerless elk season for the year closed on Friday January 16th and success was moderate to high. While some elk have begun to move back out onto the Zumwalt Prairie, most are on the canyon slopes along the eastern edge of the Prairie where they are less accessible.

Chukar hunting has been poor to fair in recent years, but this year a good hatch should produce an improvement in chukar numbers. The season remains open thru Jan. 31.

Coyote: Good numbers of coyotes can be found throughout Wallowa County. Calling coyotes with rabbit distress type calls has been effective for hunters. It is important to choose areas with abundant coyote sign and little human activity.

Cougar numbers are strong throughout Wallowa County. Most lions are taken incidental to other hunting; however, calling with fawn bleat, or locating a cougar kill and waiting for a cat to return are often successful techniques.

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 Northeast Zone Wildlife Viewing

Bighorn sheep
California Bighorn Sheep Ram
- Photo by Nick Myatt -

BAKER COUNTY

Bighorn sheep can be seen in the Burnt River Canyon west of Durkee or along the Snake River Road south of Richland. The best viewing is in the early morning and late in the evening.

Bald and golden eagles can be seen along the Snake River. Take the Snake River Road between Richland and Huntington.

Deer and elk are returning to the valley to winter. Early in the morning and late in the afternoon are good times to view wildlife. Driving through the foothills of the Baker valley and through the Keating valley can turn up good numbers of deer.

Elkhorn Wildlife Area

Elkhorn Wildlife Area is known for the Rocky Mountain elk and mule deer herds that frequent the area during the winter. When snow covers the ground, ODFW staff feed elk and deer to encourage them to stay in the higher elevations and out of agricultural fields.

There are two good viewing sites. The Anthony Creek site is located about eight miles west of I-84 on North Powder River Lane. From I-84 take the North Powder Exit (Exit 285). About 150 elk can be seen here on any given day. From the overlook on Auburn Road, watch hundreds of elk and mule deer. It is on the south side of Old Auburn Road, which branches off Highway 7 about six miles south of Baker City. 12/30/14

GRANT COUNTY

Bald and Golden eagles can be viewed along the John Day River. The best time to see them is early in the morning. Watch for other raptors including Redtail Hawks and Northern Harriers, roosting in large trees and on power line poles.

For the adventurous, there is a great opportunity to snowshoe or cross country ski up the trail to Strawberry Lake in the Strawberry Wilderness area to view groups of nanny and kid mountain goats or try snowshoeing up Onion Creek trail to view the billies.

Watch for deer and elk crossing the highways. Dawn and dusk are the most active time for deer and elk and are not easily seen due to low light conditions by drivers alongside the road.

Sandhill cranes have started to migrate through the valley. They are best viewed early in the morning along the John Day River. 12/29/14.

MORROW, GILLIAM and WHEELER COUNTIES

The first of our winter migrants has been spotted, a rough-legged hawk. As winter’s bite increases so will the number of rough-legged hawks in the area. Try any of the areas in the northern portion of the District to see one in the grasslands. As raptors continue their migration into winter, take a longer look at any hawks you spot on power poles, occasionally it is a rare species. Short-eared owls can be seen along most of the grasslands along the foothills of the District. Watch for the irregular wing beat of the owl, it is quite distinctive. We have had reports of a snowy owl near the Boardman Conservation Area. Access is limited but one may be able to see the owl from Immigrant Lane.

Deer are grouped for the winter and anywhere in the foothills is a good place to watch deer, river bottoms are best.

Waterfowl are starting to show up on the waterways of the District. Canada and snow geese can be seen along the Columbia in moderate numbers. While on the Columbia you can see, mallards, buffle-heads, teal, northern shovelers, scaup, American wigeon, and gadwall. 12/23/14.

UMATILLA COUNTY

Deer and elk are starting to orient to green-up areas of annual grass in the low and mid slope areas of the Blue Mountains. Large herds of elk will be intermingled in the trees at mid elevation areas. Deer will be more widespread with small groups present from near field edge to upper forest areas.

UNION COUNTY

Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area

Note: New this year: All visitors must have in their possession a free daily permit to access the wildlife area. Permits are available at several self-check-in stations at entry points and parking lots. Wildlife viewers and anglers also need a parking permit to park on the wildlife area. The $7 daily or $22 annual permit can be purchased online or at an ODFW office that sells licenses or at a license sales agent. Learn more about ODFW’s Wildlife Area Parking Permit Program.

The Tule Lake autoroute is closed to vehicles, the Tule Lake unit and most of the wildlife area is open Sat., Sun., Wed. and holidays during the waterfowl and pheasant hunting seasons. The Glass Hill Unit is open to public entry seven days a week for foot and horse traffic only. Be aware that hunting seasons are open. Please see the note above regarding daily permits. Visitors are advised to carefully read posted signs and consult the wildlife area administrative rules. Rules that apply to all areas are at the top (at the above link), and then scroll down to page 8, #635-008-120, for additional rules specific to Ladd Marsh. Dogs are not permitted within the Wildlife Area, on or off leash except during authorized hunting seasons.

There are numerous quality viewing opportunities from county roads that pass through the area. Binoculars or a spotting scope will help as many animals are best viewed from a distance.

Water levels in ponds and wetlands are good. The wildlife area has been mostly frozen but there are open areas and it will thaw as temperatures rise. Waterfowl present in the area include Canada goose, greater white-fronted goose, common merganser and many duck species. About a dozen tundra swans were seen recently west of Hwy 203. More swans should arrive soon.

Large numbers of white-crowned sparrows have been found in shrubby areas along with song sparrows. Northern shrikes continue in several locations across the area. Feeders at HQ are hosting goldfinch, house finch, Cassin’s finch, black-capped chickadee, dark-eyed junco, song sparrow, flicker, collared-dove, house sparrow and California quail. A flock of evening grosbeaks have been at the feeders intermittently.

Sharpshinned Hawk
Sharpshinned Hawk
-Photo by Greg Gillson-

Raptors include Red-tailed Hawk, Northern Harrier, Rough-legged Hawk, Great horned and Barn Owls, Cooper’s and Sharp-shinned Hawks and American Kestrel.

A few warm, windless afternoons have given the place a spring feeling including Canada geese apparently checking out and claiming nest sites.

For more information on access rules for Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area, please consult the Oregon Game Bird Regulations or call the wildlife area (541) 963-4954. 1/20/14.

WALLOWA COUNTY

Winter is a good time to view mule deer and white-tailed deer as they are more actively feeding during the limited hours of daylight this time of year. A good place to observe mule deer is along the Wallowa Lake highway between Joseph and the south end of Wallowa Lake. Drive slowly and watch along the moraine on the east side of the lake around dawn and dusk. Be careful to use the turnouts when stopping to watch these animals, as there will be other traffic on the road. White-tailed deer can be found throughout the Wallowa Valley on or near agricultural lands.

The elk on the Zumwalt Prairie have moved off the open prairie now and are on the slopes of the Imnaha and Snake River Canyons where they are more difficult to view. Once you find a herd, use binoculars or a spotting scope to observe the animals.

Large numbers of migrant waterfowl can be seen flying into Wallowa Lake in the evenings from the county park at the north end of the lake. Canada geese and several species of ducks can be seen feeding in agricultural fields and along streams around the county. Other winter migrants have begun to move into the area including several bald eagles, hooded mergansers, goldfinches, and both cedar and Bohemian waxwings. 1/6/15

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