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Weekly Recreation Report: Northeast Zone

November 24, 2015

 Northeast Zone Fishing

Chinook Salmon
Huge Buck Chinook Salmon
-Oregon Fish and Wildlife-

#OptOutside Friday opportunities:

  • Steelhead fishing has been good to very good on the Imnaha and Grande Ronde rivers.
  • The lower Umatilla was good for steelhead fishing this past week (Nov. 16-22) with anglers averaging 3 hours fishing per steelhead landed. Anglers should expect to encounter low water conditions and cold temperatures. Angers are having success with bobber and jig/bait combos.

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.

GRANDE RONDE RIVER: trout, whitefish, bass

Steelhead fishing on the Grande Ronde is very good right now. With the recent bump in flows, catch rates should remain high for the next few weeks. Fish are taking everything including flies, lures, bait and anything else you want to throw at them. The outlook for steelhead is currently very good for 2015-16 with nearly 21,000 Wallowa/Imnaha fish to pass Bonneville Dam; much higher than the average of 14,000.

The river remains open for trout whitefish and bass. Fishing for smallmouth bass will be good with lots of fish in the river, warm temperatures and low flows.

HOLLIDAY PARK POND: rainbow trout

Pond was recently stocked with trophy-sized trout. Fishing is good. Pond does have an ADA fishing dock for anglers with disabilities.

HUNTER POND: hatchery rainbow trout

This pond was stocked with 150 trophy-sized rainbow trout the lost week of September. From I-84 take Hwy 244 towards Ukiah. At the Blue Mtns summit, turn left onto USFS Rd 5160. Proceed for approximately 3 miles to the Jct. of roads 5160 and 5155. Stay on 5160. Just past this Jct. on the right will be spur 710. Take this spur. The pond is just off 5160.


The Imnaha River is fishing well for steelhead. The recent bump in flows will bring more fish up from the Snake River and fishing will remain good. The outlook for steelhead is currently very good for 2015-16 with nearly 21,000 Wallowa/Imnaha fish to pass Bonneville Dam; much higher than the average of 14,000.

JOHN DAY RIVER: steelhead

Flows are now near 250 cfs and summer steelhead are moving into the lower river. The mouth of Rock Creek and Cottonwood Canyon State Park provide the best bank access. Floating with drift boats will be difficult until flows increase to 450 cfs or over. Fly, lure and bait fishing are all producing steelhead.

ODFW encourages all anglers to keep any ad-clipped steelhead taken in this fishery. All wild (adipose intact) steelhead must be released unharmed. Water temperatures are now too cold for bass fishing and trout fishing closed Oct. 31.

John Day River flows


Both ponds are fair fishing and are open all year. Cavender pond was recently stocked with trophy-sized trout stocked.

LUGER POND: hatchery rainbow trout

Luger Pond is closed to fishing until Dec. 31 due to a recent pesticide application to remove unwanted goldfish. However, the pond will not be restocked until spring.

MAGONE LAKE: rainbow and brook trout

Lake has been stocked with both legal and trophy-sized rainbow trout. Fishing has been fair.

McHALEY POND: rainbow trout

Pond has been stocked with legal and trophy-sized rainbow trout. Fishing is fair.

McKAY RESERVOIR: closed to fishing until March 1, 2016.

MORGAN LAKE: rainbow trout

Closed to fishing as of Nov. 1.

OLIVE LAKE: rainbow trout, brook trout, and kokanee

Fishing is fair and lake has been stocked with both legal and trophy-sized rainbow trout.

Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area

Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area
-Oregon Fish and Wildlife-

PEACH POND (Ladd Marsh): rainbow trout

Peach Pond is closed to fishing until Dec. 31 due to a recent pesticide application to remove unwanted goldfish. However, the pond will not be restocked until spring.

ROULET POND: rainbow trout

Stocked with rainbow trout in the spring.


Remains open all year. Fishing is fair for carryover and stocked trout.

TAYLOR GREEN POND: hatchery rainbow trout

Was stocked with 150 trophy-sized rainbow trout the last week of September.

From Hwy 203 at Union, turn left staying on Hwy 203 towards Medical Springs. At the summit between Union and Medical Springs, turn left onto USFS Road 7700 (opposite snowpark area). Proceed East on 7700 road for about 9 miles to USFS Road 7740 on the right. Proceed on the 7740 road for about 1/4 mile. The rock pit pond are on the right.


Boundary, Keyhole, Yellowjacket, Granite Meadows, Goldfish and Windy Springs ponds are closed to angling until Dec. 31 due to pesticide applications to remove unwanted fishes. These ponds are closed to access by the public until all signage is removed. Stocking of these ponds will resume during the spring of 2016.

UMATILLA RIVER: steelhead, salmon

Steelhead fishing was good this past week (Nov.16-22) on the lower Umatilla with anglers averaging 3.0 hours of effort per steelhead landed. Salmon catch rates were 11.6 hours per salmon landed during the same period. Many salmon are dark and should be released.

Fishing should continue to be good, as steelhead return numbers to Threemile Dam continue to increase, anglers can access fish counts at the following link. Updated Threemile Dam fish counts

Anglers are reminded salmon season ends Nov. 30 on the Umatilla River.


Kinney Lake was treated with a pesticide on Oct. 5 to remove unwanted fishes. Public access has been restricted to avoid exposure to rotenone. Kinney Lake is closed to entry until all signage has been removed and is closed to angling until Dec. 31. No fish will be in Kinney Lake until restocking in spring of 2015.

Salt Creek, Honeymoon and McGraw were stocked this fall prior to rifle deer season and should produce good catch rates.

WALLOWA LAKE: rainbow trout, kokanee, lake trout

Trout fishing has slowed at Wallowa Lake. However, the pressure has dropped off with the end of the summer season. During the fall stocked trout have been in the lake long enough they start to learn to eat natural food. Try fishing with flies and other more natural baits. The lake has received additional rainbow trout stocking due to other area water bodies being too hot to receive fish. This means the lake has been heavily stocked with both legal-size and trophy trout.

Kokanee anglers have found some recent success, however the fish are still running on the small side. 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.

Steelhead fishing

Randy Johnson plays a steelhead
-Photo by Andy Martin-

WALLOWA RIVER: steelhead, mountain whitefish

Steelhead season is open on the Wallowa River, however fishing doesn’t normally pick up until later in the year and into the spring. Trout fishing has been good on the river with angers finding some nice fish. Fall caddis and mayfly hatches have been good and fish seem to be keying in on them.

Remember, the Wallowa is also a whitefish factory and can produce some large fish. Whitefish are native to Oregon and are a respected sportfish across the west. Whitefish can be great in the smoker and are a great way to keep kids interested while steelhead fishing. To catch them, use beadhead nymphs a size #12-16 hook and fish for them in quick runs that are knee to waist deep.


Winter trout fishing will begin to pick up as reservoir water levels begin to rise.

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  Northeast Zone Hunting

Black Bear
Black Bear
-Oregon Fish and Wildlife-


2015 Big Game 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.


The 39 road near Halfway is now open.

Chukar, Hun, and California Quail - The season ends Jan. 31. Hunters should expect another season similar to last years. Chukar numbers were up from last year however.

Grouse season starts September 1. Blue grouse can be found in the higher elevations while ruffed grouse are more common in wetter areas. Hunters should expect an average year for grouse. Successful hunters are asked to place the tails and wings from harvested birds in the collection barrels.

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.

Bear season closes Nov. 30. Successful hunters, remember check-in of bear skull is mandatory; see the regulations for details. Biologists recommend propping the bear’s mouth open with a stick after harvest; it makes for easier tooth collection and measuring.

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.


The Canyon Creek Complex Fire: Conditions and closures are changing and hunters are encouraged to visit inciweb for updated fire information.

Grouse season starts September 1 and grouse populations appear to be similar to last year. Blue grouse can be found on ridge tops like Nipple Butte, Aldrich Mountain or Vinegar Hill. Ruffed grouse can be found along riparian area like Murderers Creek or Camp Creek.

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.


-Photo by Sandra Amdor-


Upland Game Birds hunters are reminded that the Morrow county season does not close early this year. The upland season goes through January 31st except for pheasant which closes December 31st. The Districts brood surveys indicated our upland bird populations are steady to growing slightly with chukar increasing the most. Hunters have been having moderate success in the dry conditions. Recent rainfall and greenup should improve the hunting for Huns and chukar.

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.

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.


Forest Grouse hunters can expect a productive season. Look for Ruffed grouse in creek bottoms and Blues above 5000 feet on open ridges. Both may be found near water sources early in the season.

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.

Upland Birds are plentiful this fall in Union County. Hunters will find excellent numbers of Pheasants and quail in the valley and foothills. Look for birds near water sources.

Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area

Glass Hill Unit is open to hunting during authorized seasons except closed to all entry Feb 1st through March 31st. Vehicles, camping and fires are prohibited on the wildlife area. The Marsh (Everything North and East of Foothill rd) opens to upland game bird and duck hunting on October 10. The lack of spring rain and warmer weather this year proved beneficial for pheasant and quail populations. Nest and brood rearing success were high and should provide a great hunting opportunity.

The hot conditions and lack of spring rains caused much of the wetland to go dry this year. Waterfowl nest success was good but the lack of water did cause some mortality. Recent fall precipitation events have allowed water levels to increase and water conditions are looking good for the waterfowl season. Most areas with water are holding good numbers of birds.

Note: some areas of the marsh still remain without water. Call for further information 541 963 4954

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. All area users 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. Parking permits are to be displayed on the vehicle dash.


The public land north the FS 62 road and east of the Elk Flat Trailhead in the Wenaha Unit in Wallowa County has now been opened to public access after the Grizzly Fire Umatilla NF closure. However, several roads north of the FS62 road remain closed to vehicular traffic due to hazard trees along them. 10/26/15

Notice: Hancock Timber lands in the Minam and Sled Springs units are now open to camping, campfires, and firewood cutting.

Ruffed Grouse
Ruffed Grouse
-Oregon Fish and Wildlife-

Elk: Several antlerless elk seasons are open now. Success has been good for the Imnaha and Sled Springs hunts and mixed on the Zumwalt hunt. Many of the Zumwalt elk have moved off the Prairie and into the canyons.

Forest Grouse: Blue grouse can still be found on ridge tops near wet spring areas, but will soon be moving to conifer tree tops where they feed on buds for the winter. Once that move occurs, it will be difficult to locate blue grouse. Numbers are still below long term averages, and hunters will need to work a little harder to find birds. Ruffed grouse numbers have been more stable and hunters should have good success hunting riparian areas where these birds remain throughout the winter.

Black Bear: Season closes Nov. 30. Bear hunting is winding down for the winter as more bears enter their winter dens.

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

Bighorn sheep
Bighorn Sheep, Deschutes River
- Photo by Brad Robins -


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. 10/20/15.

Grant County

Sandhill cranes have started to migrate through the valley. They can be best viewed early in the morning along the John Day River.

Bighhorn 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.

Watch for deer and elk crossing the highways. This is the time of year when deer begin to migrate. 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. 09/23/2015


Winter is on its way and all of our summer migrants have headed south. Rough-legged hawks can be seen throughout most of the north half of the District. Short-eared owl can be seen along the grasslands of the north end of the District. Our year-round resident raptors, red-tailed hawks, Northern harriers, and American kestrels are all easily found. The remaining ravens are our resident population, the mobs have headed south. Prairie falcons can also be seen in the area, although much rarer to be found. Sharp-shinned hawks can be seen along the riparian areas of the north half of the District. As raptors continue their migration into winter, take a look at any hawks you spot on power poles, occasionally it is a rare species.

In the yards of the district one can find the common winter song birds around the feeder. Dark-eyed juncos, song sparrows, house sparrows, white-crowned sparrows are all easily found.

Golden eagles can be found along Lost Valley Creek and along the foothills. Bald eagles are starting to show up along the John Day River, try the segment from Spray to Dayville for best chance to see them.

Waterfowl are starting to show up along the Columbia River in greater numbers. The most common to be seen are mallards and Canada geese. But northern shovelers, teals, American widgeon, buffleheads, and common mergansers can also be found. Great blue herons are found along all of our streams that support fish. There are two that can be found most days between Heppner and Lexington along Willow Creek.

As the weather turns colder mule deer will become more visible as they move into rut. Any of the meadows in the forest one can spot bucks chasing does . One can also spot great grey owls in the forest as well. Try the Swale creek area, there is usually one that can be found in that area. Grey-crowned rosy finches, blue birds, western and mountain, grey jay, Steller’s jay, Clark’s nutcracker can all be seen in the forest as well. 11/10/2015


Quality viewing opportunities can be obtained in the Columbia Basin during the early hours of daylight for fledglings of various species of passerines, raptors, waterfowl, shorebirds and upland game birds.

The Columbia Basin wildlife areas (Willow Creek, Coyote Springs, Irrigon, and Power City), State/County parks, Federal and Tribal areas/refuges along with public roads access throughout the county provide great public access to a multitude of habitats and associated mammalian and avian species. Numerous spring seeps, creeks, rivers and large reservoirs distributed throughout the county provide an abundance of habitat types composed of mixed agricultural lands, savanna and shrub steppe, upland grasslands, riparian and wooded corridors and complex wetlands.

Coyote Springs: On July 22, a 165 acre grassland fire sparked by transmission lines consumed over 85 acres of the wildlife area. Currently there are no access restrictions but there has been significant upland habitat loss due to the fire. Staff will be working to conduct habitat restoration activities in the coming months.

Reptilian and amphibian species associated with these abundant habitats throughout the county can be seen amongst other species the Painted Turtle, Woodhouse and Western Toad in the wetland potholes of the Irrigon Wildlife Area.

The Umatilla National Forest, BLM and county roads provide good access to the Northern Front Range of the Blue Mountains. Heat has arrived and the perennial grass and forbs have begun to dry in the mid elevations.

Deer and Elk are moving to cooler microclimates distributed throughout the forest. Fawns and calves have been observed at heal and should be visible for viewing amongst these associated habitats. 8/4/2015

Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area

Sunset at Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area
-Photo by David Bronson-


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 $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 auto route, is closed for the season except that it is open Sat., Sun., Wed. and holidays during the game bird seasons.. The Glass Hill unit is open 7 days per week to foot 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 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 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.

Waterfowl are on the area in large numbers and using recently flooded wetlands and ponds. Great blue herons remain in the area although great egrets have left for the winter.

Local sandhill cranes have migrated south for the winter but birds migrating from farther north may still be seen in fields and wetlands in the area. Cold weather fronts may bring other migrants and winter visitors to the area.

Deer and elk may be visible in fields and meadows as they look for water and green forage. Take care not to approach them to avoid spooking them into roadways or other hazards. 9/1/15


Common raptors in the open areas of the county in winter are red-tailed hawks and rough-legged hawks. Look for bald eagles perched in the larger trees along Wallowa Lake shore.

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.

Most of the elk on the Zumwalt Prairie have left the Prairie proper and moved into the canyons. Elk can also be observed regularly along the Lostine River Road 4-5 miles south of the town of Lostine, and along the Powwatka Ridge Road between 18 and 27 miles north of the town of Wallowa. All of 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.

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 also be seen feeding in agricultural fields and along streams around the county. 11/24/15.

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