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Weekly Recreation Report: Northeast Zone

January 17, 2017

 Northeast Zone Fishing

Frozen Grand Ronde River
Winter weather makes for challenging fishing on the Grand Ronde.
-Photo by Kyle Bratcher, ODFW-

Weekend fishing opportunities:

  • Steelhead catch rates on the Umatilla River have been good when the river is ice free.
  • Anglers fishing through the ice at Kinney Lake have reported good catch rates.
  • Recent warm temperatures have melted enough ice on the John Day River for angler to have fishing access.

If your favorite fishing spot is no longer listed

It could be the area is closed, inaccessible due or currently offers limited fishing opportunities. These water bodies will return to the recreation report when conditions change. If you believe something is missing, contact us and we’ll find out why.

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.

ALDRICH PONDS (Roosevelt and Stewart Lakes): trout

Aldrich Ponds are located on the Phillips W. Schneider Wildlife Management Area which is currently under vehicle travel restrictions. The road to the ponds is closed to vehicle access Dec. 1- April 15. Non-motorized access is still open with an 8 mile hike in snow conditions to the ponds. The Wildlife Area will be closed to all access from Feb. 1 –April 14 to protect big game wintering. A WMA parking permit is required. Bag limit: 2 trout per day; see pg. 56 in the regulations book.

BULL PRAIRIE RESERVOIR: rainbow and brook trout

The reservoir has frozen and ice fishing is available. Fishing should be fair since trophy sized trout were stocked in September but no reports have been received. Road access may be limited due to snow.

GRANDE RONDE RIVER: trout, whitefish, bass, steelhead

The Grande Ronde is currently very icy making the river unfishable. Similar to other Columbia basin runs, the Grande Ronde stock is tracking below expectations this year.

On the upside, a large majority of the returning fish are two-salt meaning larger average size. Harvest is limited to three hatchery steelhead per day and must be recorded on the Combined Angling Tag. A Columbia River Basin Endorsement is also required.

HOLLIDAY PARK POND: rainbow trout

The pond has frozen but ice is likely to thin to support anglers. Holliday Park Pond was stocked with trophy sized trout the last week of September and fishing should be fair once ice thaws. An ADA fishing dock for anglers with disabilities is available.

IMNAHA RIVER: trout, bass

The Imnaha is currently affected by ice and may not be fishable. Similar to other Columbia basin runs, the Grande Ronde stock is tracking below expectations this year. On the upside, a large majority of the returning fish are two-salt, meaning they are larger average size. Harvest is limited to three hatchery steelhead per day and must be recorded on the Combined Angling Tag. A Columbia River Basin Endorsement is also required.

Wallowa River

Winter steelhead fishing
-Photo by Bob Swingle, ODFW-

JOHN DAY RIVER: wild steelhead

Recent above freezing temperatures have opened the river up for fishing access. River edge ice and free floating ice are still present in most sections of the river. The majority of steelhead are scattered from the mouth up to Kimberly. Most John Day steelhead are wild and must be released without removal from the water. There are however some hatchery steelhead strays in the river and anglers are encouraged to keep up to three hatchery fish per day. Fish are being caught on flies, jigs, lures and bait.


The pond has frozen but ice is likely to thin to support anglers. Fishing should be fair once ice thaws. Cavender Pond was stocked with trophy-sized trout the last week of September.

MAGONE LAKE: rainbow and brook trout

The lake is iced over and should provide fair ice fishing. The forest access road to the lake is likely deep snow conditions and not accessible by vehicles.

McKAY RESERVOIR: Warmwater species

Closed for the winter; area reopens March 1, 2017

MORGAN LAKE: rainbow trout

Closed to fishing Nov. 1.

PEACH POND (Ladd Marsh): rainbow trout

The pond is covered with ice and snow. Access is poor due to snow accumulation. The pond was stocked with pounder and legal-sized rainbow trout mid-October.

ROULET POND: rainbow trout

No recent report on conditions. The pond was stocked with pounder and legal-sized rainbow trout mid-October.


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.


During last week’s deep freeze no anglers were checked.

For the week of to Dec. 26 to Jan. 1 steelhead anglers on the lower river averaged 2.1 hours/steelhead landed, and for the week of Jan. 2 – Jan 8 anglers averaged 1.5 hours per steelhead landed. There were a few very successful anglers and a number unsuccessful anglers for the week. Freezing conditions have shut down fishing for several days. Anglers are concentrating on the river downstream of Threemile Dam. Anglers can access fish counts at Threemile Dam fish counts. Flow data


Kinney Lake was stocked at the end of September and should fish well throughout the winter. Anglers have recently reported good catch rates through the ice of healthy fish range 12 to 14-inches. This is the first year Kinney has been open for ice fishing and pressure has been very light. While driving access in not possible, a short walk on snowshoes or drive via snow machine will get you there.

Wallowa Lake
Wallowa Lake in the Winter
- Photo by Bob Swingle, ODFW -

WALLOWA LAKE: rainbow trout, kokanee, lake trout

Wallowa Lake has frozen for the first time since 2013. Fishermen have started taking advantage of the rare opportunity to ice fish. Trout and kokanee are being caught on bait and jigs.

Kokanee size appears to be improving with reports of fish in the 8 to 9-inch range and some fish as large as 12-inches.

WALLOWA RIVER: steelhead, mountain whitefish

The Wallowa River is currently affected by ice and fishing will likely be difficult.

Steelhead season opened Sept. 1. A few steelhead are available in the fall however the best fishing is in late winter and early spring. Harvest is limited to three hatchery steelhead per day and must be recorded on the Combined Angling Tag. A Columbia River Basin Endorsement is also required.


Fall and winter provide a good opportunity for trout fishing. The water level is at its lowest of the year, so most fishing is from the shore or with small boat. Anglers fish the lower end of the reservoir, with night crawlers and Powerbait on the bottom.

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  Northeast Zone Hunting


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.


Chukar, Hun, and California quail - The season ends Jan. 31. Chukar numbers were up for a second year in a row in surveys earlier this year. Conditions will limit access in many areas; check access conditions before heading out.

- Royalty Free Image-

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 a 2017 cougar tag and hunting license is needed to hunt as of Jan. 1.

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.


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 a 2017 cougar tag and hunting license is needed to hunt as of Jan. 1.

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

Upland Game Bird number are good this year as brood routes indicate a good production year. Chukars can be found is steep areas along the South Fork John Day River. Snow will limit access; check conditions before heading out.


Cougar hunting is open. Cougar are well distributed in our forested areas. Calling with distress calls or cougar vocalizations can be effective. However, locating a fresh, naturally made kill has the best chance of success. Remember a 2017 cougar tag and hunting license is needed to hunt as of Jan. 1.

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.


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. Remember a 2017 cougar tag and hunting license is needed to hunt as of Jan. 1.

WATERFOWL are in the Columbia Basin in adequate numbers when weather permits.

UPLAND GAME BIRDS including pheasant and quail continue to provide some good hunting as the season winds down. Wintery conditions are making birds set better for flushing dogs.

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


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 a 2017 cougar tag and hunting license is needed to hunt as of Jan. 1.

Coyote hunting in the snow
-Photo by Charlotte Ganskopp-

Coyote numbers are high 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

For specific water conditions please call the office at 541 963 4954.

Hunting waterfowl in and around the grain food plots can be an alternative to hunting wetlands. The wildlife area is closed on non-hunt days but birds can be scouted from county roads.


Cougar: Populations are moderate 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. Remember a 2017 cougar tag and hunting license is needed to hunt as of Jan. 1.

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.

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 Northeast Zone Wildlife Viewing

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.

Winter bird species are starting to migrate through the area.

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

Early in the morning and late in the afternoon are good times to view wildlife.

Anthony Creek Feedsite Tour

Anthony Creek Feedsite Tour
-Photo by Nick Myatt-

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.

Grant County

Bald Eagles are starting to move into the John Day Valley, they can be observed along Hwy 26 between Prairie City and Dayville.

Bighorn sheep may be viewed from the South Fork near the Murderers Creek road. Early mornings are your best chances for catching them out on the rocky outcrops.


Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area

Note: 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 $10 daily or $30 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 Unit, including the auto route, is closed to daily access. The area, and the rest of the wildlife area, is open Saturdays, Sundays, Wednesdays and holidays during the pheasant quail and waterfowl hunting seasons. The Glass Hill unit is open 7 days a week to foot and horse traffic only. 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 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, including the Glass Hill Unit, on or off leash except during authorized game bird 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. As hunting seasons continue, wildlife viewers should be aware of other users and consider avoiding locations where hunters are set up.

Northern Harrier
Northern Harrier
-Photo by Cathy Nowak-

Red-tailed hawks, rough-legged hawks and northern harriers can be seen perched on poles and fences. Great horned owls can often be seen on power poles at dawn or dusk. American kestrels are common throughout the area and are often seen hunting from perch sites. Other raptors using the area include Cooper’s and sharp-shinned hawks, prairie falcons, and both bald and golden eagles.

White-crowned sparrows are present in good numbers and song sparrows are widespread and abundant. Northern shrikes, while not common can be found at various locations on the area.

Nearly all ponds and wetlands are locked in ice. Ducks can be seen using grain fields and in flight to and from feeding and loafing areas off the wildlife area.

Elk and deer have moved to lower elevations. They can often be seen from county roads by glassing the slopes of Glass Hill or across the flats to the east. Use caution to avoid spooking wildlife into roads or highways for their safety and the safety of the traveling public. 12/13/2016


Columbia Basin Wildlife Areas

Willow Creek and Coyote Springs Wildlife Areas are both found next to interstate 84 and the Columbia River and have excellent viewing for wetland and riparian obligate bird species. The upland areas are also available for savanna and shrub steppe species of birds. Willow Creek has an ample deer herd and the evidence of beaver activity can be seen on the Willow Creek delta area of the wildlife area.

The Irrigon Wildlife Area holds riparian and wetland habitat and hosts a number of species of birds associated with each habitat. One can see a number of waterfowl and wading bird species in the pothole pond areas. Painted turtles are also common in the pond areas. White pelicans can be commonly found along the Columbia River as well. Geese and ducks are beginning to build along the Columbia River and will be commonly trading back and forth along the river.

Hermiston area

Recently, locals report seeing American robins, black-billed magpies, belted kingfisher, downy woodpecker, bohemian waxwings, northern flickers, white-crowned sparrow and yellow-rumped warbler. Raptors in the area include American kestrel, bald eagles, northern harriers, and red-tailed hawks. Waterfowl seen include American Coot, American wigeon, Canada geese, common merganser, hooded merganser, northern shoveler and snow geese. Shorebirds and other waterbirds observed include American white pelican, Great blue heron, Black-crowned night-heron, ring-billed gull and Western grebe.

Umatilla County Uplands

Upland and forested riparian areas will have a number of wintering birds using those areas.

Rocky Mountain Elk Calves
Rocky Mountain Elk
- Photo by Brian Ratliff, ODFW-

ELK will be more common in the early morning and late afternoon in mid and lower elevation areas. Roads moving upslope from the valley floor to the mountain areas would be best to see these animals.

WHITE-TAILED DEER are common along the foothills of the Blue Mountains and can be seen either early morning or evening in those areas. Mule deer are found in better numbers in the desert and mountain areas.


Common raptors in the open areas of the county in winter are red-tailed hawks, rough-legged hawks, prairie falcons, golden eagles, and occasionally a gyrfalcon. And a merlin was seen this week in residential Enterprise. Look for bald eagles perched in the larger trees along Wallowa Lake shore or on power poles near water in the valley.

Most elk have left the Zumwalt Prairie now and moved onto the breaks above Little Sheep Creek or the Imnaha River. Try driving the Lower Imnaha River Road and looking carefully on slopes west of the river on Long Ridge. These areas are county roads that run through private property, so please respect the landowner’s privacy and remain on the county road and park out of the traffic lanes while watching the elk. Once you find a herd, use binoculars or a spotting scope to observe the animals.

The breeding season birds have moved south now, but we have a number of interesting migrants from the north still in the area. Wallowa Lake is frozen now and all water birds there have moved south or to local creeks where there is still some open water. Seen recently on valley creeks or feeding in farm fields were Canada geese, mallards, widgeon, wood ducks, common mergansers, and pied-billed grebes. Other winter migrants include grey-crowned rosy finches, snow buntings, horned larks and a few Lapland longspurs that regularly winter on the prairie areas north of Enterprise. 1/10/17

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