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Weekly Recreation Report: Northeast Zone

February 9, 2016

 Northeast Zone Fishing

-Oregon Fish and Wildlife-

Weekend fishing opportunities:

  • Steelhead angling is good in the Umatilla River.
  • Steelhead anglers are still picking up fish on the Grande Ronde River and Imnaha below Horse Creek.

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.

Ice-fishing safety

With several water bodies beginning to ice over, it’s a good time to be reminded that anglers should always use caution during first-ice conditions. Take the following precautions: use the “buddy system,” wear a PFD in case of thin ice, carry a throw-rope, and use a heavy metal staff to check for thin-ice. Vexilar’s Ice Fishing Today website has a quick 2-minute video describing how to be safe during early ice.

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

The Grande Ronde River is no longer locked in ice and flows are at a desirable range for catching steelhead. Water temperatures are still cold so look for fish in slow tail outs where fish can rest. This year’s run of steelhead is one of the best in recent years and catch rates have been good throughout the season.

Remember, the new closure date for the Grande Ronde River steelhead fishery is now April 30. Year-round fishing for hatchery trout will also be allowed beginning Jan. 1, 2016.

HOLLIDAY PARK POND: rainbow trout

Pond was stocked in September with trophy-sized trout. An ADA fishing dock for anglers with disabilities is available. The pond may be ice covered and unsafe for ice fishing.

HUNTER POND: hatchery rainbow trout

This pond was stocked with 150 trophy-sized rainbow trout the lost week of September. The pond will now be ice covered. 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.


Anglers are still finding success for steelhead on the Imnaha River. Most of the success is currently below Horse Cr. however a few fish have been caught just below the town of Imnaha. Fishing will pick up as winter progresses into spring Remember, the new closure date for the Imnaha River steelhead fishery is now April 30. Year-round fishing for hatchery trout will also be allowed beginning Jan. 1, 2016.

JOHN DAY RIVER: steelhead

Steelhead fishing has been slow on the John Day River since flows are high and water clarity poor. Flows are near 2,800 cfs at Service Creek and are predicted to increase by the weekend. Steelhead have dispersed throughout the system and numbers are increasing above Service Creek in the upper John Day.

Anglers have success primarily drifting with jigs, shrimp or eggs with a bobber. Another popular method is drifting a worm along the bottom. Fly anglers are primarily nymphing with lower success.

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


Both ponds may be iced over so proceed with caution for ice fishing. Cavender Pond was stocked last fall with trophy trout.

LUGER POND: hatchery rainbow trout

Luger Pond was treated with the chemical fish toxicant rotenone in the fall and all fish were removed. The pond with be restocked with legal-sized rainbow trout in May 2016.

MAGONE LAKE: rainbow and brook trout

Lake is iced over so use caution for ice fishing. Access road to lake is covered with a foot or more of snow and will require 4-wheel drive to reach.

McHALEY POND: rainbow trout

Pond was recently excavated to improve capacity and to remove aquatic weeds. Very few fish are in the pond post excavation treatment and fishing will be poor.

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

Lake has been stocked with both legal and trophy-sized rainbow trout. Lake is iced over and the access road is covered with several feet of snow. It will require a snowmobile to reach lake.

Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area

Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area
-Oregon Fish and Wildlife-

PEACH POND (Ladd Marsh): rainbow trout

Peach Pond was treated with the chemical fish toxicant rotenone in the fall and all fish were removed. The pond with be restocked with legal-sized rainbow trout in May 2016.

ROULET POND: rainbow trout

The pond was last stocked with rainbow trout late September 2016 and is now ice covered.


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. The pond will now be ice covered.

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.


Steelhead fishing on the upper Umatilla was fair last week, with anglers averaging 6.4 hours fished per steelhead caught. Steelhead are spread throughout the river system, creel surveys are now concentrated on the upper river area, but good angling opportunities are still available in the lower river. Water levels are dropping after last week’s higher flows, drift fishing techniques can be effective during high flow conditions. Anglers can access fish counts at updated Threemile Dam fish counts. Flow data is available


Kinney Lake was treated with a pesticide on Oct. 5 to remove unwanted fishes. ODFW testing has determined the area is safe to entry and the reservoir has been filled. New regulations for Kinney Lake will be in effect for 2016. ODFW, Triple Creek Ranch, and the Wallowa Valley Improvement District #1 (WVID#1) have collaborated to open Kinney Lake for year-round fishing starting Jan. 1, 2016. However, catchable trout will not be available until the lake is stocked in the spring. Non-motorized watercraft will also be allowed at Kinney Lake for 2016. Remember, to be respectful of the private land access that the Triple Creek Ranch and WVID#1 have provided and pack out any trash you bring or find.

WALLOWA LAKE: rainbow trout, kokanee, lake trout

Some holdover trout will still be available for the hardy trout fisherman willing to brave the cold weather. Kokanee can also be caught by jigging deep during the winter months. Wallowa Lake does not reliably freeze every year. However, when the lake does freeze, ice fishing can produce good catch rates for trout and kokanee.

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

The Wallowa River is free of ice and a few anglers are finding steelhead. As winter progresses and fish move toward the hatchery facilities fishing will improve. This year’s run is one of the best in recent history and catch rates are expected to be high when the peak fishing arrives.

Steelhead season is open on the Wallowa River and anglers are picking up a few fish. Winter fishing between Minam and the mouth at Rondowa can be very good for anglers willing to walk. Remember, the new closure date for the Wallowa River steelhead fishery is now April 30. Year-round fishing for hatchery trout will also be allowed beginning Jan. 1, 2016.

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


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 2016 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.


Cougar hunting remains open. Remember you need 2016 tag to hunt as of Jan. 1. 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 2016 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. However, locating a fresh, naturally made kill has the best chance of success. Remember you need 2016 tag 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.

- Royalty Free Image-

Cougar are well distributed in forested areas of the Walla Walla, Mt. Emily, and Ukiah units. Hunters will have best success by finding a fresh naturally made kill and sitting on it, or by using predator calls. Some success has come from following tracks until the cougar is located. Remember you need 2016 tag to hunt as of Jan. 1.
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 2016.

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

With winter settling in and temperatures regularly below freezing, most of the water on Ladd Marsh has frozen up. Ducks and Geese can still be seen flying over the area. What waterfowl is still sticking around have been seen using some of the food plots around the area. Hunters looking for waterfowl might consider changing their tactics to field hunting. Duck hunting closed Jan. 24 but goose is open until Jan. 31.

Upland bird hunting has been great this year. Pheasant numbers are still good but conditions and the birds are getting more challenging. Hunters can expect birds to run and fly early. There are still lots of hen Pheasants around so hunters should use caution. Season closed Dec. 31.

Glass Hill Unit is open to hunting seven days a week during authorized seasons except closed to all entry Feb 1st through March 31st. Vehicles, camping and fires are prohibited on the wildlife area.

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. Permits can be purchased at any location that sells hunting and fishing licenses. Parking permits are to be displayed on the vehicle dash. For more information about the Ladd Marsh and current conditions, please call 541 963 4954

Young Coyote
-Photo by Simeon Eichmann-


Elk: Our last antlerless elk season is open now. Success has been mixed on this Zumwalt hunt. Those with permission to hunt on the Little Sheep Creek and Imnaha canyon sides or on The Nature Conservancy property have done fair, while those hunting the top of the prairie have had a hard time finding animals.

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. Remember you need 2016 tag to hunt as of Jan. 1.

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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.

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.

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.

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 person, 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.

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.

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. 12/7/2015


Although the calendar lists Dec. 21 as the start of winter, it feels like winter is here. Hoar frost can be seen in the Condon area and the hills just above Heppner. It does make trees and shrubs look quite majestic in white. 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. Tundra Swans can be seen at Willow Creek Reservoir.

The cold weather has mule congested in the valley bottoms. During a quick drive from Heppner to Lexington the average viewer should be able to spot lots of mule deer. 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. 11/30/2015

Umatilla County

Winter has come to Umatilla County and winter residents can be seen in the various habitats around the county. Wintering rough-legged hawks will be in grassland areas near the hills and throughout the agricultural areas of north Umatilla County. Juncos can be seen along the riparian and brushy areas. Pigmy owls have made a good showing in riparian areas in timbered and timber stringer habitats.

Flocks of ducks and geese can be seen along the Columbia River and large reservoirs in the County. Elk will still be common along the upper open areas of the west slope of the Blue Mountains. Deer will be seen in herds from the valley floor to the upper Blue Mountains. The riverine and agricultural areas near the base of the mountains will be dominated by white-tailed deer. The desert and mountain areas will be inhabited primarily by mule deer. Elk can be viewed throughout the day while deer will be most visible in the first and last two hours of the day.

Gulls and raptors can be seen along the Columbia River. Visit local wildlife areas to see shore and marsh birds in addition to perching birds and raptors. Wood ducks, mallards and mergansers can be seen traveling in flocks up and down the river systems that have cottonwood trees along the banks. 12/8/2015

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 $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. It will reopen March 1st. The Glass Hill unit is closed to all use and will reopen April 1. 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.

All ponds and wetlands on the area are frozen. Waterfowl using grain fields off Pierce Rd and Hot Lake Lane can be seen entering those areas in large numbers near dusk. A few tundra swans have been in the area. Canada geese are showing signs of pairing up; the first nests should start within the next few weeks.

A few wintering rough-legged hawks have been using the area in addition to red-tailed hawks, northern harriers and bald eagles. Large concentrations of northern harriers have been seen recently. American kestrels frequently hunt from utility wires along county roads and a single prairie falcon has been seen along Pierce Rd. Sharp-shinned and Cooper’s hawks have also been observed.

Flocks of small birds include song sparrow, white-crowned sparrow, dark-eyed junco, American goldfinch and house finch. Northern shrikes have been seen in a few locations. American tree sparrows frequent shrub and tree rows and can often be seen from roadways.

Elk herds coming down from Craig Mountain and Glass Hill may be seen in fields and meadows. They may also be encountered as they cross roads so use caution in the area.


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 or on power poles near water in the valley.

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. These are county roads that run through private property, so please respect the landowner’s privacy and remain on the county road but 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. 1/5/16

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