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

Weekly Recreation Report: Northeast Zone

May 19, 2015

 Northeast Zone Fishing

Chinook Salmon
Spring Chinook
-Oregon Fish and Wildlife-

Weekend fishing opportunities:

  • The spring Chinook fishing has been good on the lower Umatilla, anglers should concentrate on the area upstream of the Hwy 730 bridge and Threemile Dam. 
  • As spring continues, fishing for holdover trout in Wallowa Lake can be good, with fish in the 15 to 20-inch range.
  • Irrigon and Umatilla hatcheries will be closed May 25 through July 15 for renovations.
  • Visitors to the Umatilla National Forest this spring should pack a rod for fishing some of the many stocked forest ponds.

 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. Approximately 200 trophy rainbow trout were stocked last fall and should provide fair fishing. Brook trout are also available.

GRANDE RONDE RIVER: trout, whitefish, bass

The Grand Ronde River will open for fishing on Saturday, May 23. Trout fishing early in the year can be good. Fly fishermen will find good hatches of caddis and stoneflies.  Recent rains have increased flows and should set up well for a weekend raft or drift boat trip. 

HATROCK POND: trout

The Hat Rock State Park provides a trail system with easy angler access to the pond for the entire family. Fishing for rainbow trout should be good.

HOLLIDAY PARK POND: rainbow trout

Pond has been stocked and fishing is good for both newly stocked and carryover trout.

IMNAHA RIVER: trout, whitefish, bass

The Imnaha River will open to fishing on Saturday, May 23. Fishing for whitefish in the upper river can be very good. Whitefish are abundant and can often reach lengths over 16-inches. Trout fishing can be good early in the season with all types of gear. Bull trout will begin moving through the system soon – remember, all bull trout must be released unharmed. 

Spring chinook are currently moving up the Columbia River toward the Snake River. ODFW managers are closely monitoring returns do determine the possibility of a salmon fishery on the Wallowa River. This fishery would open in early to mid-June provided a strong run of spring chinook bound for the Wallowa. Check the ODFW website for fishery openings.

Flow data for the Imnaha can be found on the Idaho Power website.

JOHN DAY RIVER: steelhead

River flow levels are just right and steelhead are biting on jigs, flies and bait. Fishing for steelhead in the upper rivers above Kimberly is closed April 16 through Aug. 31. Most of the steelhead being caught are kelts and are between Service Creek and Kimberly. ODFW encourages all anglers to keep any ad-clipped steelhead taken in this fishery. All wild (adipose intact) steelhead must be released unharmed.

John Day River flows

A few bass are now being caught below Kimberly during the warmest days.

Jubilee Lake
Jubilee Lake
- Photo by Bob Swingle, ODFW -

JUBILEE LAKE: rainbow trout

The main road to Jubilee Lake is open, but anglers must walk into the lake as the camp ground remains closed. This is one of the earliest dates for access to Jubilee Lake; fishing should be good for carryover rainbow trout. 

LONG CREEK POND, CAVENDER POND: trout

Both ponds remain open all year. Long Creek Pond was stocked on April 13 and should provide good fishing. Carryover trout up to 18-inches are being caught at Cavender Pond.

MAGONE LAKE: rainbow and brook trout

Remains open all year and is currently accessible by vehicle. Water temperatures are still cold and fishing is fair.

McNARY PONDS: trout

The ponds have been stocked and fishing should be good for rainbow trout. A trail system provides access to both pond and stream fishing and the area also has several handicap accessible fishing platforms.

PEACH POND (Ladd Marsh): rainbow trout

Stocked with rainbow trout for the first time this season during the first full week of April.

ROULET POND: rainbow trout

Stocked with rainbow trout for the first time this season during the first full week of April.

ROWE CREEK RESERVOIR: rainbow trout

Remains open all year. Fishing is good for carryover trout and the reservoir has been stocked.

TATONE POND: trout

The pond has been stocked and fishing should be good for rainbow trout.

UMATILLA FOREST PONDS: trout

The forest ponds have been stocked and should provide good fishing for rainbow trout.  

Umatilla River Park Boat Ramp

Umatilla River Park Boat Ramp
-Photo by Kathy Munsel-

UMATILLA RIVER: spring Chinook

For the week of May 11 to May 17, anglers averaged 3.9 hours per spring Chinook caught. The catch has been early and late with fish and anglers dealing with the high water temperatures. Returns and catch rates should pick up quickly within the next couple of weeks. To date a total of 3,500 spring Chinook have returned to Threemile Dam. Low water levels and high water temperatures are likely going to have major impacts on the fishery, trap and transport of all spring Chinook was started on April 26 and will likely continue for the remainder of the return season. This will effectively end the upper river fishery, there have been 160 fish released into that area and fish may drop back into the fishery area. Anglers should consult the synopsis for detailed regulations. Anglers are reminded steelhead season ended April 15.

Threemile Dam fish counts

WALLOWA LAKE: rainbow trout, kokanee, lake trout

Holdover trout from last season stockings are available and often range 15 to 20-inches long and can be caught in multiples. Early spring anglers have reported catching a few of these fish and one reward tag worth $50 has been returned from a heavy 18-inch fish. The lake will be stocked for the first time this year before the Memorial Day weekend. Once stocking begins, catch rates are generally very high with many anglers taking home limits early in the day. 

Some experienced fishermen are picking up large lake trout trolling at depth with downriggers. While lake trout aren’t abundant in Wallowa Lake it’s not uncommon to find fish over 25 pounds.

Biologists have received few reports on the kokanee fishery; however, late spring and early summer is usually best. Lend a hand to local biologist and report your kokanee fishing experience at ODFW Fishing Reports.

In 2014 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. Some of these fish have likely held over from last year and are available to anglers. If you catch one of these tagged fish, please report the number, location, date, where in the lake the fish was caught and the size to the ODFW office in Enterprise or online.

WALLOWA RIVER: steelhead, mountain whitefish

Some salmonflies and caddis have been hatching and will put the fish on the bite; however, many techniques will catch fish. Whitefish will also be available and can offer up some fun when fishing for trout is slow. Remember, below Rock Creek only adipose-fin clipped trout may be harvested. All bull trout must be released unharmed.

Spring chinook are currently moving up the Columbia River toward the Snake River. ODFW managers are closely monitoring returns do determine the possibility of a salmon fishery on the Wallowa River. This fishery would open in early to mid-June provided a strong run of spring chinook bound for the Wallowa. Check the ODFW website for fishery openings.

WILLOW CREEK RESERVOIR: trout, crappie, bass

Anglers are reporting good catches of rainbow trout from 12 to 20-inches. Best catches are falling for PowerBait and night crawlers fished on the bottom. The Reservoir was stocked last week with larger than legal-sized trout. Warmwater fishing is picking up as water temperatures increase.

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  Northeast Zone Hunting

Black Bear
Black Bear
-Oregon Fish and Wildlife-

OPEN: COUGAR, SPRING BEAR (see regs), SPRING TURKEY

See the turkey hunting forecast.

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

Check the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest website or call them for the latest on Forest Service Rd 39 construction and detour route information. Remember it is a designated snowmobile route until April 15 and is not maintained for passenger travel until mid-June. The southern 18 miles may be closed due to construction, please call or check the website ahead of time.

Black Bear The warm and dry winter has left much more country snow free than usual. Green up has begun to appear in the lower elevations. The mild weather will have bears out and more active in the early part of the season. Look for bears close to timber stringers feeding on open ridges. Successful hunters need to remember to check in their bear within ten days of harvest. It cannot be frozen and propping open the mouth will help in aiding tooth collection later.

Turkey season is here. Look for spring turkeys to be moving from wintering grounds to their nesting areas. Listen for males to be calling early and late in the evenings to help locate gobblers. With snow levels higher than normal expect turkeys to be at slightly higher elevations this year.

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

The P.W. Schneider Wildlife area is closed February 1st through April 14th. Herbicide application to stop spread of invasive annual grasses is happening on the wildlife area, more information.

BLACK BEAR: Most of our snow is gone from mid and low elevation areas of the district, roads can be easily accessed. The best strategy for finding bears this time of year is to sit on a spot with a good view of open canyon sides and use binoculars or a spotting scope to locate them. The animals will feed off and on during all daylight hours and patience is the order of the day when spotting spring bears. Hunters are reminded all bears are required to be checked in within 10 days of harvest.

TURKEY numbers have been on the rise for the past few years in the district. Most of our snow is gone from mid and low elevation areas of the district. By opening day the turkeys will begin to move from their wintering areas up into nesting areas. The best strategy for finding them this time of year is to travel the forest roads or hike into areas where turkeys might be and call for them or just listen for their calls early in the morning.

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

TURKEY numbers have been rising slightly in the district. All our snow is gone from the timbered parts of the district. Turkeys have mostly moved up into the forest from their wintering areas. This year’s very mild winter has allowed turkeys to disperse throughout the forest.

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.

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
 
Bears are distributed along forested stringer areas throughout the mid elevations of Umatilla County. Upper elevation forest roads are accessible from numerous access points throughout the county, thus providing earlier access to those timbered stringers amongst the mid elevations. Foraging bears can be observed by glassing open hill slopes with a south/southwestern aspect. Earlier in the season bears can be observed throughout the day. Bear numbers are increasing as we enter into May and should persist until the end of the season. Hunters are reminded all bears are required to be checked in within 10 days of harvest.

tom turkey

A tom on the south fork of the John Day River
-Photo by Mark Kirsch-

Turkeys are scattered throughout the forested areas of Umatilla County, look for turkeys along ridge tops crossing between drainages. Listen for gobbling turkeys within early hours of daylight from atop high elevation spots above those drainages. Less than average snow levels have provided earlier access to upper elevations.

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 County and hunters should have good success calling. Remember to ask permission before hunting on private lands.

UNION COUNTY

Bear numbers are strong in all of Union County and hunters have a good chance of filling a tag. Look for bears on open South slopes. Access to national forest lands should be excellent due to the light snow pack this winter. Many forest roads will be soft with early snow melt, take care not to cause unnecessary ruts.

Turkey numbers look good in Union County and chances of finding a Gobbler should be better than last year. Hunters will increase their chances of success by staying out in the field all day. Walking into hunting areas that are not reachable by vehicles can produce enjoyable, uninterrupted hunts. Birds are well distributed by midseason.

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

Hunting now closed. 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/regulations 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

Check the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest website or call them for the latest on Forest Service Rd 39 construction and detour route information. Remember it is not maintained for passenger car travel until mid-June. The southern 18 miles may be closed due to construction, please call or check the website ahead of time.

BLACK BEAR: Spring bear season started April 15. The early spring weather this year has allowed our bears to move into their summer mode of behavior 3-4 weeks earlier than usual this year, many bears are already at higher elevations and only active mornings, evenings, and at night. Consequently, the bear hunting has been slow. Although a good density of black bears exists throughout the district, bear hunters should try hunting them with predator calls rather than the usual spot and stalk techniques.

TURKEY: Spring turkey season also started April 15. Turkey numbers have increased this year in the district and they over-wintered very well with the warm winter that we had this year. Hunting has been very good with several toms taken and hunters seeing many toms, especially young jakes. Turkeys have spread into nesting areas throughout the forested areas at this time. The best strategy for finding them is to travel the forest roads or hike into areas where turkeys might be and call for them or just listen for their calls early in the morning.

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 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.

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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.

American Bald Eagle
American Bald Eagle
-Photo by Chuck Gardner-

Bald and golden eagles can be seen along the Snake River. Take the Snake River Road between Richland and Huntington. 4/21/15.

GRANT COUNTY

Countywide

Songbirds have arrived in the valley and are beginning to nest. Redwing blackbirds can be seen and heard as you drive from Prairie City to Dayville on Highway 26. Western meadowlarks can be heard singing in and around pasturelands. Great horn owls have been hatching young (owlets) over the past month, when walking through the forest be on the lookout for a “witches broom,” a typical great horn owl nest found in large fir trees.

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.

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. 4/26/2015

MORROW, GILLIAM AND WHEELER COUNTIES

The last of our winter migrants are still around but not many. Merlins and rough-legged hawks can be seen in the northern part of the district, but not for much longer. All the early migrants are here or passing by, Say’s phoebe, long-billed curlew, white-crowned sparrow, Rufus sided towhee have been seen in the yards of the District. Sandhill cranes have been seen passing overhead headed north for the summer.

Our year round raptors are easily found, American kestrels, northern harriers, red-tailed hawks, and barn, short-eared and great horned owls. Golden eagles and ferruginous hawks can be seen near their nests. Swainson’s hawks should be showing up fairly soon in the northern portion of the district.

In the grasslands grasshopper sparrows, horned larks can be seen flying. Snakes are starting to get more active with gopher/bull snakes being the most common.

Canada geese should be hatched by now; one can see adults with their young on the major waterways of the district.

Deer and elk can be seen in the forest, try meadows at daylight and dusk for the best chance for seeing an elk. 4/28/15.

UMATILLA COUNTY

Early spring conditions have provided early green up of annual grasses in mid elevations along the Blue Mountains. Deer and elk are distributed throughout the mid and upper elevations foraging on the new growth of perennial grasses, shrubs and forbs. Large groups of elk can be viewed for the next few weeks during early and late hours of daylight along south facing ridges. These groups will be on or near the boundary of the Forest Service intermingled between open grass slopes and timbered drainages. Deer will be more widespread and dispersed in smaller groups amongst the mid and high elevations. Bears will be distributed in similar areas of the Blue Mountains and are many different colors other than black and provide a unique viewing opportunity.

Migratory passerine and raptors can be observed nesting throughout Umatilla County. Federal, State and Tribal wildlife areas and refuges along with public road access throughout the county provide good viewing opportunities for Ferruginous, Rough-legged, Red tailed, Coopers and Swainson’s hawks, along with both Bald and Golden eagles. Riparian and wooded corridors and large grassland areas can also provide good viewing opportunity for Warblers, Robins and Sparrows. 5/11/2015.

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 unit, including the autoroute, is open for the season. 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.

Canada geese have hatched and goslings can be seen throughout the area. Duck broods are also being seen in several locations. It is the season for babies on the marsh!

Great Horned Owls

Great Horned Owl Chicks
-Photo by Chuck Gardner-

Great horned owl chicks are venturing out of their nests onto nearby tree limbs so they can be difficult to spot. Barn owls appear to be having a good nesting season. New fledglings seem to be everywhere. Other raptors include Red-tailed Hawk, Northern Harrier, Cooper’s and Sharp-shinned Hawks and American Kestrel.

Shorebirds are using mudflats and both American avocet and black-necked stilt are getting ready to nest. American white pelicans have been seen both in the air and on ponds. A single white-faced ibis was reported Monday east of Peach Rd. This species occasionally nests on Ladd Marsh.

Resident sandhill cranes are on their territories and non-breeding birds are using meadows and fields. Several of the crane nests have hatched; the pairs may be seen, from a distance, with their young in meadows. Please report any sandhill cranes wearing leg bands to the Ladd Marsh staff (541-963-4954). If possible, note the color and order of bands on each of the bird’s legs (e.g., pink above white on left leg; silver above black on right leg). The specific combination and order can identify individual birds. 5/12/15.

WALLOWA COUNTY

Spring is a good time to find raptors in Wallowa County, and many of them are incubating eggs now. Particularly common are red-tailed hawks, with occasional ferruginous and Swainson’s hawks also present. Some migrating bald eagles are still in the area. Look for them around the agricultural fields as they are primarily feeding on ground squirrels at this time. A resident pair of bald eagles is again using the nest at the south end of Wallowa Lake. Look for them in a large cottonwood tree near where the Wallowa River runs into the lake.

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.

Many elk have returned to the Zumwalt Prairie now. Try driving the Zumwalt and Pine Creek Roads and looking carefully at ridge tops. Once you find a herd, use binoculars or a spotting scope to observe the animals.

While most of our migrant waterfowl have already headed north with the advent of warmer weather, some can still be seen flying into Wallowa Lake in the evenings from the county park at the north end of the lake. Canada geese (including new goslings) and several species of ducks can also be seen feeding in agricultural fields and along streams around the county.

Other migrants and summer residents are moving into the area including, western tanagers, Say’s phoebes, horned larks, killdeers, and robins. Mountain bluebirds are also arrived back from their southern haunts and can be seen in open grassland areas near trees. 5/20/15.

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