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Weekly Recreation Report: Northeast Zone

March 4, 2015

 Northeast Zone Fishing

Wallowa River

Winter steelhead fishing
-Photo by Bob Swingle, ODFW-

Weekend fishing opportunities:

  • Steelhead continue to enter the Umatilla River in record numbers and anglers should be able to find fish scattered throughout the river. Last week anglers averaged 3.6 hours per steelhead caught.
  • Water conditions in the John Day are in great shape and steelhead are being caught between Service Creek and the town of John Day and in the North Fork up to Monument.
  • The Wallowa River had catch rates below 4 hours per fish recently!
  • One hundred surplus hatchery steelhead have been stocked in Marr Pond, offering a great opportunity to get young anglers into some big fish.
  • Fishing for holdover trout from last year’s stocking should be fair to good in Holliday, Long Creek and Cavender ponds, and Rowe Creek Reservoir.

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 is 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.


After a big influx in flow, the river has come back into shape. While the river is still a bit high, anglers should have good success. Fishermen have had a lot of success on the Grande Ronde this year and that success is expected to continue when flows subside. 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. The pond is now free of ice. Carryover trout are being caught and should provide fair angling until stocking occurs in April.

IMNAHA RIVER: steelhead

The Imnaha is very high and will likely be very difficult to fish over the next week. Watch the flow gauge on the Idaho Power website. Expect the action to pick up when flows drop below 700 cfs. This high water may draw some fish up into Big Sheep Creek which will clear first.

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

JOHN DAY RIVER: steelhead

River flow levels are just right and steelhead are biting on jigs, flies and bait. Most of the steelhead being caught are wild and have been holding between Service Creek and the town of John Day and in the North Fork up to Monument. Water temperatures are cold so steelhead are holding in slack water along the current edge. A few bass have been caught below Kimberly during the warmest days. 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


Remains open all year. Both ponds are now free of ice.  Several trout stocked last year survived the winter and will provide good fishing until both ponds are re-stocked again in April. 

MAGONE LAKE: rainbow and brook trout

Remains open all year. Portions of the upper lake are ice free so proceed with caution if attempting to ice fish. The ice may be too thin to support anglers.

MARR POND: surplus steelhead

Marr pond has been stocked with 100 surplus steelhead that returned to Wallowa Hatchery. Once these fish are placed in still water fisheries they are considered “trout” and do not need to be recorded on a harvest card. This is a great opportunity to get young anglers into some big fish. Try catching these fish by floating bait under a bobber mid water column. Brightly colored lures and spinners may also be productive.

PEACH POND (Ladd Marsh): rainbow trout

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

ROULET POND: rainbow trout

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


Remains open all year. The pond is now free of ice. Fishing is fair for carryover trout but the water level is very low.


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


Steelhead continue to enter the system in record numbers, anglers should be able to find fish scattered throughout the river. Steelhead fishing was good last weekend with upper river anglers averaging 3.6  hours per steelhead caught. During the three days creeled last week, 78 anglers caught 43 native and 2 hatchery steelhead.

Water conditions in the Pendleton area dropping quickly back into shape, flows are about 500cfs and water temperatures are in the low 40s. 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

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

WALLOWA LAKE: rainbow trout, kokanee, lake trout

As spring approaches anglers will start to find some stocked trout that held over from last season’s stocking. These fish often range 15 to 20 inches and can be caught in multiple numbers. These fish are normally more common later in the spring; however with the warm weather and early spring anglers should start seeing these fish soon.

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.

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

The steelhead season is in full swing on the Wallowa River. Catch rates dipped below 4 hours per fish last week! Fishing is good and there really is no good excuse to not be out there. Anglers are finding fish in good numbers and the ratio of two-salt fish to one-salt fish is high. This means there are a lot of larger fish available so, oil your reels and make sure that drag is working well.

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.


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.

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  Northeast Zone Hunting


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.


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.


The P.W. Schneider Wildlife area closes February 1st through April 14th.

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.


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.

- Royalty Free Image-


Bears will be distributed in forested stringer areas throughout the mid elevations.  Low to mid elevation forest roads are accessible from numerous access points throughout the county, thus providing an earlier opportunity for scouting those mid elevations for upcoming spring bear season.  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 will begin to increase towards last half of April 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.

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 may provide earlier access to mid and 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.


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


Closure of Wallowa Mountain Loop Road (Forest Road 39)

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 -


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


P.W. Schneider Wildlife Area

The P.W. Schneider Wildlife area closes Feb. 1 through April 14.


Early mornings wild turkeys can be viewed throughout the county. The best viewing areas for the wild turkeys are around Fields Creek Road off highway 26 and Holmes Creek Road off highway 19.

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. 2/2/2015.


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.


Spring like conditions through January and February have provided early green up in mid elevations along the Blue Mountains.  Deer and elk are distributed throughout the mid and upper elevations foraging on early green-up of annual grasses.  Large groups of elk can be viewed for the next few weeks during early and late hours of daylight. 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 low to mid 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 birds are migrating north and have been observed in the low to mid elevations habitat of the County.  Federal, State and Tribal wildlife areas and refuges and 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. 


Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area

Sharpshinned Hawk
Sharpshinned Hawk
-Photo by Greg Gillson-

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 auto route, is now 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 are pairing off and selecting nest sites. Large numbers of Tundra swans and greater white-fronted geese are on the marsh and in flooded fields throughout the valley. At least one snow goose has been seen as well. Common mergansers are present on several ponds in the area. Northern shrikes continue in several locations across the area. American goldfinch and pine siskins are conspicuous at natural seed sources.

Great horned and barn owls are nesting. Great horned owls can be seen sitting in nests at several locations. Other raptors include Red-tailed Hawk, Northern Harrier, Cooper’s and Sharp-shinned Hawks and American Kestrel. Bald and golden eagles have been seen soaring on the thermals. 3/3/15.


Winter is a good time to find raptors in the Wallowa Valley. Particularly common are red-tailed hawks, with many rough-legged hawks and bald eagles also present. A gyrfalcon has also been seen in the Upper Prairie Creek area NE of Joseph for much of this winter. Look for it perched on power poles along the farm roads or near farm ponds.

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.

Many elk have returned to the Zumwalt Prairie now. Try driving the Zumwalt and Pine Creek Roads and looking carefully at ridgetops. 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 and several species of ducks can also be seen feeding in agricultural fields and along streams around the county. Other migrants have begun to move into the area including bald eagles, hooded mergansers, goldfinches, and both cedar and Bohemian waxwings. The first mountain bluebirds have arrived back from their southern haunts and can be seen in the lower areas of the Imnaha Canyon. 2/24/15.

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