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ODFW WEEKLY RECREATION REPORT
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Willamette Zone Map

Weekly Recreation Report: Willamette Zone

January 27, 2015

 Willamette Zone Fishing

Weekend fishing opportunities:

  • Walling Pond
    Walling Pond
    -Photo by Rick Swart, ODFW

    Trout stocking resumes in the Willamette Valley this week, with releases at Huddleston Pond, Mt. Hood Pond, Sheridan Pond, EE Wilson Pond, Junction City Pond, Walling Pond and Walter Wirth Lake. These stockings are in addition to the release of extra-large brood trout Jan. 5 at Huddleston, Sheridan, Timber Linn pones and Waverly Lake.
  • An unscheduled release of 9,300 one-pound rainbow trout took place Monday, Dec. 29 at six Willamette Valley fishing sites as the result unexpected low water levels at Leaburg Hatchery. The fish were distributed as follows: Cottage Grove Reservoir – 2,000, Dorena Reservoir – 2,000, Hills Creek Reservoir – 2,000, Junction City Pond – 1,700, Walter Wirth Lake – 1,200, and Walling Pond – 400.
  • Walter Wirth Lake will be stocked with 100 7 to 10 pound brood trout this week for a little bonus fishing opportunity.
  • Winter steelhead fishing is heating up on the Clackamas and Sandy rivers and Eagle Creek, with a sizeable uptick in angler effort and some nice catches being reported.
  • It’s not too early to consider spring Chinook fishing in the Willamette River, as a few of these prized fish have already been caught.

Send us your fishing report

We’d love to hear about your recent fishing experience. Send us your own 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.

2015 trout stocking

The 2015 trout stocking schedules for the North Willamette Watershed (pdf) District and the South Willamette Watershed (pdf) District are now posted on the ODFW trout stocking page.

Check out the new trout stocking map

Find the location and details about the many lakes ponds and streams that receive hatchery trout from ODFW’s fish hatcheries on the new Google-based stocking map.

ALTON BAKER CANOE CANAL: trout

The Alton Baker Canoe Canal was last stocked for the season in early November. Stocking will resume in early February 2015. The canal is located within Alton Baker Park and can be accessed off of Club Road in Eugene. A 4-acre pond at the midpoint of the canal is a good spot but it can be fished all along its 2-mile length from Day Island Road in Eugene to Aspen Street in Springfield. The Canal is open to angling all year.

BENSON LAKE: rainbow trout, white crappie, largemouth bass, brown bullhead

This is a 40-acre lake located in Benson State Park in the Columbia River Gorge. From Portland, head east on I-84, park is located on the south side of the freeway approx. 1/2 mile west of Multnomah Falls.

Rainbow Trout
Rainbow Trout
-Photo by Jim Yuskavitch, ODFW-

BETHANY POND: rainbow trout, largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill, bullhead

This is a 10-acre pond located at Bethany west of Portland. The pond is maintained by Tualatin Hills Park and Rec. Amenities include picnic tables, restrooms, and a paved, ADA accessible trail.

BLUE RIVER: trout, steelhead

Blue River both above and below Blue River Reservoir is closed to angling until April 25, 2015.

BLUE RIVER RESERVOIR: trout, warmwater species

Blue River Reservoir has been drawn down for winter flood control. Blue River Reservoir is located east of Eugene near the town of Blue River, north of Highway 126 and is open to year-round fishing.

BREITENBUSH RIVER: trout

This fishery is now closed for the year and will re-open on April 25, 2015

CANBY POND: rainbow trout

Canby Pond is a 1-acre pond located on the south end of Canby in Canby City Park. The park is south of Hwy 99E and adjacent to the Molalla River. Angling restricted to youth age 17 and under or holders of one of the Disabled Anglers permits.

CARMEN RESERVOIR: trout

Carmen Reservoir is accessed via FS Road 750 off Hwy 126, about 2 miles south of Clear Lake, and is open to fishing all year. Motor boats are prohibited on Carmen Reservoir.

CLACKAMAS RIVER: winter steelhead

The river has settled down considerably in the last week and the good fishing conditions have really bumped up the effort. All of the boat ramps along the Clackamas were busy over the weekend with the overall catch rating in the fair to good category. The forecast shows little significant rain in coming days so the river could actually get a bit too low and clear for some folk’s taste.

Good bank access for winters can be found in many locations along the river from Gladstone, Cross Park, Riverside Park, along Clackamas River Road, Carver, Barton, and McIver Parks. If you’ve got a boat you can put in at Riverside Park, Carver Park, Barton Park, Feldheimer’s off Springwater Road, and at both lower and upper McIver Park ramps.

Monday, Jan. 26 hydrological data shows river flows at 2,820 cfs, a gauge reading of 12.60 ft., and the water temperature up some at 44°. All of the readings come from the Estacada gauge near McIver Park.

Clear Lake
Clear Lake
-Photo by Rick Swart, ODFW

CLEAR LAKE: trout

Clear Lake is open to fishing all year. In addition to seasonally stocked hatchery rainbow trout, naturally reproducing brook trout are also available. The lake is accessed from Highway 126 approximately 70 miles east of Springfield.

Cabins and row boats are available for rent from Clear Lake Resort.

COTTAGE GROVE POND (ROW RIVER NATURE PARK POND): trout, warmwater species

To access Cottage Grove Pond, travel east from Cottage Grove on Row River Road. The pond is located behind the truck scales and may be accessed via an asphalt pathway. Only the pond with the dock is stocked with hatchery trout. This pond also offers wildlife viewing opportunities and is open to fishing all year. The pond will be stocked in early February.

COTTAGE GROVE RESERVOIR: trout, warmwater species

This reservoir was stocked on Monday, Dec. 29 with 2,000 one-pound rainbow trout during an unplanned release prompted by unusually low water levels at Leaburg Hatchery. The reservoir is south of Cottage Grove and is open to fishing all year.

NOTICE: The Oregon Health Authority has issued a health advisory updating information about eating fish caught in Cottage Grove Reservoir. Under the advisory issued June 5, 2012 people can safely consume up to nine meals per month of hatchery-grown rainbow trout month that are 12 inches in length or less. People can distinguish hatchery-grown rainbow trout by the absence of the adipose fin, which is clipped before hatchery fish are released into streams and reservoirs. Despite the new exception for rainbow trout, mercury contamination for resident warm-water fish, including bass, bluegill, crappie and bullhead continues to be a concern. Women of childbearing age, particularly pregnant or breastfeeding women, children under six years of age and persons having liver or kidney ailments should avoid eating any fish from this reservoir other than rainbow trout. Healthy women beyond childbearing age, other healthy adults and healthy children six years of age and older should eat no more than one 8-ounce meal of fish other than rainbow trout per month.

CRESWELL POND (GARDEN LAKE): trout, warmwater species

The pond is located in Garden Lake Park on the east side of I-5 in Creswell and is open to fishing all year. The pond and park offer additional wildlife viewing opportunities. The pond will be stocked in early February.

DETROIT RESERVOIR: trout, kokanee

This reservoir receives over 100,000 trout throughout the year. Over 12,000 legal-size trout were stocked during Sept.-Oct., and further stocking will resume come spring. Currently the reservoir is about 95 feet below full pool. There are no boat ramps open for use as of this time (1-26-15). Check with local outfitters in the town of Detroit for fishing conditions.

DORENA RESERVOIR: trout, warmwater

This reservoir was stocked on Monday, Dec. 29 with 2,000 one-pound rainbow trout during an unplanned release prompted by unusually low water levels at Leaburg Hatchery. The reservoir is east of Cottage Grove on Row River Road and is open to angling all year. Trout and warmwater fish are available.

Eagle Creek
Eagle Creek
-Photo by Rick Swart-

EAGLE CREEK: winter steelhead

The creek is in great fishing shape but starting to get a bit low and clear for some anglers preference. Effort was up over the weekend with several rigs parked in the usual roadside turnouts and at Eagle Fern Park. Spot checks by ODFW are finding several fish being landed.

The Eagle Creek winter steelhead stock is a later returning fish from what anglers may remember several years ago so it’s a bit early to see any winters coming back in big numbers yet. As well, the reduced smolt releases in recent years have had an impact on numbers of adult steelhead returning.

Long stretches of Eagle Creek run through private property, particularly up near the hatchery and from an area below the lower ladder on down past Bonnie Lure to the mouth. Anglers are advised to pay close attention to where you fish and we encourage you to ask permission prior to accessing or crossing private lands on your way to your favorite fishing hole. See Page 15 of the Oregon Sport Fishing Regulation pamphlet for more information on “Your Rights to Use the Surface, Bed, and Banks of Oregon’s Rivers and Lakes.”

EE WILSON POND: warmwater, trout

Following a complete draining over the summer to facilitate removal of aquatic vegetation and reworking of the levee, the pond has recently been refilled to within 4 feet of full pool. This popular fishing pond will reopen on Feb. 1 and will be stocked with 800 legal-sized trout just prior to opening. Please respect the regulation -- no angling until Sunday, Feb. 1.

ESTACADA LAKE: trout

Closed to trout fishing until May 23, 2015. Estacada Lake is a 150-acre reservoir on the Clackamas River behind River Mill Dam. There is a boat ramp in Milo McIver State Park at the lower end of the reservoir. A fishing dock next to the boat ramp provides non-boating access to the lake.

FERN RIDGE RESERVOIR: largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill, brown bullhead

This 9,000 acre lake just 12 miles west of Eugene is the Willamette Basin’s largest water body. This reservoir is 15 feet below full pool at this time, so there are no longer any boat ramps available. For local information regarding the lake and available boat ramps, contact the Lane County Parks Department at 541-682-2000. This lake is mostly shallow with a band of deep water from the original channel of the Long Tom River.

The reservoir produces crappie over 12 inches and bass angling has been very good in recent years. Best time of year for crappie is in spring after the water temperature reaches the mid-50s, but fish can still be found in deeper water year round. July and August are peak months for largemouth bass. Fish the shoreline along the southern part of the reservoir, especially the sloughs and inlets where there is underwater structure.

FOSTER RESERVOIR: trout, bass, perch, catfish

Foster Reservoir
Foster Reservoir
-Photo by Rick Swart, ODFW

This scenic 1,200-acre reservoir on the South Santiam River is located just 30 minutes from Interstate 5. There is good bank access at several rest stops and campgrounds, and three seasonal boat ramps. Currently, only the boat ramp at Sunnyside County Park is barely in the water, exercise caution if using.

This popular fishing destination has received 10,000 legal rainbow trout this fall. Further trout stocking is scheduled to resume around mid-March, 2015. Please remember that only kokanee and adipose fin-clipped trout may be kept and there are no limits on size or number of bass. From I-5 take US 20 east from Albany to the town of Sweet Home. The reservoir is 3 miles past the town on the left.

GREEN PETER RESERVOIR: kokanee, trout, bass

This large reservoir east of Sweet Home is a premier kokanee fishery with a bag limit of 25 fish per day. It also supports stocked rainbow trout and a good population of smallmouth bass. Kokanee fishing is done for the year, but bass and trout are still available. Smallmouth bass can be found near underwater structure and at drop-offs. The reservoir level has dropped to approximately 85 ft. below full pool – only Thistle Creek low-water boat ramp is currently available. Storage season begins Dec. 1 after which the water levels will begin to rise but will remain lower than normal during the ongoing spill gate repairs.

HILLS CREEK RESERVOIR: trout, warmwater fish

This reservoir was stocked on Monday, Dec. 29 with 2,000 one-pound rainbow trout during an unplanned release prompted by unusually low water levels at Leaburg Hatchery. This reservoir is located about 4 miles southeast of Oakridge. Catch rates on these fish have improved as the reservoir water clarity has improved.

HILLS CREEK above HILLS CREEK RESERVOIR: trout

Hills Creek above Hills Creek Reservoir is closed to all fishing and will re-open April 25, 2015.

HUDDLESTON POND: trout, bluegill

Stocked the week of Jan. 26 with 300 legal-sized rainbow trout. The pond was also stocked Dec. 5 with 80 rainbow trout brood trout, weighing from 7 to 15 pounds, and some of those fish should still be available.  Anglers are reminded that the bag limit on trout over 20 inches is one per day. Huddleston is a 5-acre pond located within Huddleston Pond Park in the city of Willamina, Ore. A former mill pond, it contains woody debris that provides habitat for bass and bluegill. It reaches a maximum depth of about 10 feet, with shallow "kid-friendly" edges. It is ADA accessible in places, with a restroom and picnic areas nearby. There is paved parking lot and small ramp for people who want to launch small, non-motorized boats.

JUNCTION CITY POND: trout, crappie

Junction City is a popular stocked trout fishing pond located about 2 miles south of Junction City on 99W on the west side of the highway. There is excellent access around the entire 8-acre pond. It was stocked Monday Dec. 29 with 2,250 larger size rainbow trout and is scheduled for 700 legals during the week of JAN 26. There may also be a few large brood trout and steelhead around from previous stockings. As a reminder, zone regulations apply: five trout daily may be kept and only one over 20-inches.

LEABURG LAKE:

Leaburg Lake is closed to all fishing until April 25, 2015.

McKenzie River
McKenzie River
-ODFW Photo-

MCKENZIE RIVER below Leaburg Lake: trout, salmon, steelhead

The McKenzie River below Leaburg Lake is open to catch and release trout fishing. This river reach is open to retention of adipose fin-clipped steelhead and non-adipose fin-clipped steelhead greater than 24 inches in length. A Columbia River Basin Endorsement is required for anglers targeting salmon and steelhead in the McKenzie. Gear use is restricted to flies and lures.

Leaburg Dam is currently scheduled to be open before 8am, after 4 p.m. and from noon to 1 p.m. Jan 26 through Jan. 28. The dam is open on weekends. Check EWEB’s website for updated information.

MCKENZIE RIVER above Leaburg Lake: trout, steelhead

The McKenzie River above Leaburg Lake is closed to all fishing until April 25, 2015.

MOLALLA RIVER: winter steelhead

The Molalla is in great shape and anglers should anticipate improved fishing once the Willamette settles down and winter steelhead begin passing through the falls ladder again.

Winter steelhead passage at Willamette Falls is still in its early stages but has shown recent improvement when the flows are stable. Reliable reports indicate a few winter steelhead have been hooked down low in the Molalla River.

MT HOOD POND: trout, crappie, bluegill

Stocked the week of Jan. 26 with 500 trout weighing approximately a pound apiece. The pond was also stocked Dec. 15 with 95 extra-large rainbow brood trout, and some of those fish may still be available.

This is a 5-acre pond on the campus of Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham. Angling is restricted to youths age 17 and under and holders of ODFW's Disabled Anglers permits from April 1 - Aug. 31.

SALMON CREEK: trout

Salmon Creek is a tributary to the Middle Fork Willamette River east of Oakridge and is currently open to catch-and-release angling only while using flies or lures.

SALT CREEK: trout

Salt Creek is a tributary to the Middle Fork Willamette River east of Oakridge and is currently open to catch-and-release angling only while using flies or lures.

SANDY RIVER: winter steelhead

The Sandy River is very susceptible to freezing levels and run-off due to its headwaters coming off the slopes of Mt. Hood. Anglers can typically expect that when the snow level is over 4,000 ft. the river could be off-color, while if under 4,000 ft. conditions should be good. The lack of any significant rain or snow has led to the river getting low and clear with no change in sight.

The catch for winter steelhead on the Sandy has improved in recent days, with some good catch seen at Cedar Creek and it should get better as the weeks go by, but the overall numbers of fish have yet to arrive. The Sandy River winter steelhead are a later returning fish in recent years due to the broodstock fishery management program. This fishery doesn’t usually get cranked up until late January or February, but the hatchery has had a decent number of fish already swim into the holding ponds.

The Oxbow to Dabney drift remains a good bet by drift boat. If you’re bank fishing, try along the Old Columbia River Hwy between Lewis and Clark Park and Dabney Park, Oxbow Park, Dodge Park, and the confluence of the Sandy and Cedar Creek below the Sandy hatchery. Be very cautious if you decide to ford the river – PFDs, good footwear, and walking sticks are always a good idea, especially during periods of higher flows we can expect over the next several months.

Hydrological data for the Sandy River on Jan. 20 shows flows up considerably at 5,860 cfs, a gauge reading of 11.64 ft. and the water temperature steady near 41°.

SANTIAM RIVER (NORTH FORK): steelhead, Chinook

Recent rains have brought river levels up again, making for challenging conditions. Some summer steelhead are still being caught, mostly in the upper sections above Stayton. Winter steelhead numbers are still low at Willamette Falls, but are beginning to ramp up. Numbers of winter steelhead passing above Willamette Falls stand at 839 as of Jan. 24 when 96 fish were counted. They should arrive in good numbers in the Santiam basin by February.

When the ‘bite’ is on, bobbers and jigs are the preferred angling method with spoons, spinners and egg clusters also being effective. Currently the entire river below Packsaddle Park (near the Minto Fish Facility) is open year-round to adipose fin-clipped steelhead. Trout fishing is closed until May 23, 2015.

River levels best for fishing are below 3,000 cfs at the Mehama gauge (currently the gauge is around 5,230 cfs as of Jan. 26).

Current conditions

CAUTION: The section between Shelburn and Green’s Bridge remains hazardous for boaters because of downed trees and multiple side channels. Better bets are the floats below Green’s Bridge and above Stayton.

NOTE: The gate at Green’s Bridge near Jefferson has been opened and will remain open until the next seasonal closure in June 2015.

SANTIAM RIVER (NORTH FORK) above DETROIT:

This section of the river is closed to trout fishing until April 25, 2015. This section of river is closed to salmon fishing.

SANTIAM RIVER (SOUTH FORK): steelhead, Chinook, bass

Flows in the South Santiam below Foster dam are at 4,760 cfs as of Jan. 26. The flows are dropping a bit and fishing conditions will continue to improve. Summer steelhead can be found primarily in the upper river. Best sections to fish are from Wiley Creek to Pleasant Valley boat ramps, around Waterloo County Park, and from Lebanon down to the confluence with the North Santiam. There are still quite a few summer steelhead in the upper reaches. Closed to trout fishing until May 23, 2015.

Sheridan Pond
Sheridan Pond
-Photo by Rick Swart, ODFW-

SHERIDAN POND: trout

Stocked the week of Jan. 26 with 500 legal-sized rainbow trout. The pond was also stocked Dec. 5 with 80 rainbow trout brood trout, weighing from 7 to 15 pounds, and some of those fish may still be available.

Sheridan Pond is a 2 ½-acre pond located on the edge of town. An old mill pond, it has plenty of bank access, parking, and a restroom. To get there take Hwy. 18 to Exit 33 onto Balston Rd. Go south on Balston Rd. approximately half a mile and turn left onto a gravel road leading about a quarter mile to the pond.

SMITH RESERVOIR: trout

Smith Reservoir is north of Trail Bridge Reservoir and is accessed by turning off Hwy 126 at Trail Bridge Reservoir and following FS Road 730 north to Smith Dam. The reservoir is not visible from the highway and is open to year-around fishing. Native fish are available for harvest.

ST. LOUIS PONDS: trout, bass, crappie, bluegill, yellow perch, channel catfish

Stocked in November with 90 brood trout weighing 10-plus pounds each. The fish were released in Pond #6. Anglers are reminded the gate to the park is closed for the season but the site is still open to fishing for those who are willing to hike in. Hikers are encouraged to follow the road from the gate to the main parking lot to avoid areas that may be inundated with water following cross-country paths. St. Louis Ponds is located 13 miles north of Salem and west of I-5. To get to there from the north, take the Woodburn exit off I-5. Then go east to Hwy. 99E. At Hwy. 99E, head south to the town of Gervais. At the light, go west on Gervais Rd. through Gervais. Gervais Rd. changes to St Louis Rd. Continue west on St Louis Rd. as it crosses over I-5 to Tesch Lane, at the railroad crossing. Go left on Tesch Lane and follow the signs to the ponds.

TIMBER LINN POND: rainbow trout

This beautiful, family-friendly fishing pond is located within the 8-acre Timber-Linn Memorial Park in Albany. It was stocked recently with over 140 brood rainbow trout between 5 to 15 pounds each. Please keep in mind that only one fish over 20-inches may be taken per day. Timber-Linn Lake can be reached by turning east off I-5 onto the Santiam Highway (Hwy. 20), then immediately turning north onto Price Road and proceeding to the park entrance.

TRAIL BRIDGE RESERVOIR: trout

Trail Bridge Reservoir is open to year-round fishing. This waterbody is adjacent to Hwy 126 and is approximately 60 miles east of Springfield. Only adipose fin-clipped trout may be harvested from Trail Bridge Reservoir. Flies and lures only may be used.

WALLING POND: trout, crappie, bass

Another batch of brood trout has become available and 50 were released in the pond on Monday, Dec. 22. These very large 8 to 12-pound rainbow trout were stocked at the same time as 400 legal and 50 larger size trout. It was also stocked again Monday, Dec. 29 with 400 one-pound rainbow trout. As a reminder, zone regulations apply: five trout daily may be kept and only one may be over 20 inches. This is an 8-acre privately owned pond located in Salem at the northeast corner of McGilchrist and 16th Streets, S.E.

WALTER WIRTH LAKE: trout, crappie, bass

The lake will be stocked this week with 100 7 to 10 pound brood trout for a little bonus fishing opportunity. This is in addition to 50 brood trout that were released in the lake on Monday, Dec. 22 and 1,700 one-pound trout that were stocked on Monday, Dec. 29.

As a reminder, only one fish over 20-inches may be kept. Walter Wirth is a 20-acre lake located within the City of Salem’s Cascades Gateway Park.

WAVERLY POND: trout, bluegill, catfish

Waverly Pond is located in Albany and is regularly stocked in fall, winter and spring. It was stocked recently with 140 extra-large brood rainbow trout averaging between 5-15 pounds each. Please keep in mind that only one fish over 20-inches may be taken per day. From I-5 take exit 234 west towards Albany. The pond is located a quarter mile down Pacific Boulevard on the right. A paved ADA-accessible path runs all the way around the pond.

WILLAMETTE RIVER: sturgeon, coho, winter steelhead

For anglers interested in sturgeon fishing, the “catch-and-release” sturgeon fishery continues to provide some steady action with the St. Johns area and Milwaukie offering the best chance for success. The winter Willamette water conditions don’t really have an impact on the sturgeon fishery and some say the turbid water improves catch.

Conditions are gradually improving after the rains from a week ago so anglers can anticipate better angling as fresh winter steelhead make their way towards the Clackamas River; an occasional winter steelhead has been landed along Meldrum Bar and near the Clackamas River mouth at the “blacktop.” Also of considerable interest is the fact that a handful of spring Chinook has already been recorded in the catch.

Passage counting at Willamette Falls for coho is about over, although a late straggler or two could swim by. There has been one coho pass at the falls in the past month. Counts are well underway for winter steelhead and are were showing renewed signs of life now that the turbid conditions are subsiding. The total passage of winter steelhead through January 24 stands at.

Hydrological numbers for the Willamette on Jan. 26 show flows down at 51,600 cfs, a water temperature in Oregon City near 47°, and visibility much improved at 2.2 ft.

Back to the top

  Willamette Zone Hunting

OPEN: COUGAR, GROUSE & QUAIL (closes Jan. 31)

EVENTS:

See ODFW’s calendar and sign up now for upcoming Learn to Hunt events, including several Controlled Hunt seminars at the Pacific Northwest Sportsman Show in Portland in early February.

Mentored Youth

First buck on a Mentored Youth Hunt
– Photo by Kwcin Ruwea–

Hunter orange required for youth

Don’t forget: hunters age 17 and under must wear a fluorescent orange upper garment OR hat when hunting upland game birds (except turkey) and game mammals (deer, elk, bear, cougar, pronghorn, goat, sheep, and western gray squirrel) with a firearm.

Industrial forestland owners will usually have information regarding access to their property posted on their gates and usually have a “hotline” devoted to providing up-to-date access for hunters. In addition, many private timberlands use the following link to provide information regarding the access policy for their private lands. Hunters need to have permission to hunt or make sure hunting is allowed before accessing private lands.

BE PREPARED

Hunters are reminded to be prepared for emergencies by keeping survival equipment such as food, water, signal mirror, whistle, sleeping bag and first aid kit with you and in your vehicle during your outdoor adventures. Don’t forget to wear the proper clothing; it is your first defense against the elements. Let someone know where you will be and when you expect to return just in case your vehicle becomes stuck or breaks down.

Upland Game Birds

Quail, Mountain / California – Open season from Sept. 1 to Jan 31. Mountain quail can be found scattered through brushy clearcuts in the coast range. These brush loving birds are often found running between hiding and feeding areas in both brushland and riparian zones. While the use of dogs will improve your chances of locating and quickly recovering birds, hunters without dogs can easily get into the action with a little extra hiking. California quail are typically located in lower elevation agricultural fields and clear cuts that provide both cover and food sources. Please respect private landowners and ask for permission before entering their lands to hunt. Please remember that the daily bag limit is 10 birds singly or in aggregate when both California and mt. quail seasons are concurrent and the possession limit is 30 birds singly or in aggregate when both California and mt. quail seasons are concurrent.

Remember that wildlife laws state that the feathered head must be left attached while you are in the field or transporting the bird(s) home.

ODFW is conducting a survey to determine Mountain Quail locations east of the Cascade Mountains in Oregon. Please report and observations, including the date, specific location, county of observation, and number of quail to your local ODFW office.

Sooty Grouse

Sooty Blue Grouse
- Wikipedia-

Forest Grouse open until Jan 31. The forest grouse group collectively includes the Ruffed and Blue (dusky/sooty) grouse species. Forest grouse hunting success has slowed as rainy and stormy weather conditions persist. Look for grouse along the edges of timber patches and riparian areas during morning and evening times. Blue grouse will begin to move towards higher elevation timber stands to winter so hunters shouldn’t overlook those habitats. Hunters are reporting good numbers of Blue and Ruffed grouse in the Mt. Hood National Forest. Remember that the daily bag limit is 3 of each species and possession limit is 9 of each species.

Remember that wildlife laws state that the feathered head must be left attached while you are in the field or transporting the bird(s) home.

Your participation is greatly needed

ODFW would appreciate your help in obtaining important information about the health of populations grouse and mountain quail populations. To do so we would like the tail and one whole wing off of any grouse or mountain quail you harvest. Look in the 2014/15 Oregon Game Bird Regulations for specific instructions for removing wings/tails and sending them in.

Turkey -- Staff started an emergency turkey hunt just north of Veneta. There were two other landowners that requested a turkey emergency hunt for properties near Marcola and Eugene. It is likely that turkey emergency hunts will be initiated on these properties next week. Only 19 hunters signed up for the Lane County emergency hunt list for turkeys this year. It is possible the list could be exhausted.

Migratory Birds

Duck hunting is now closed. The Northwest General Zone and Northwest Permit Zone will reopen February 7, 2 015. Reports suggest average hunting conditions and success this season. Hunters are reminded that a NW Goose Permit is required to hunt either of these zones. Please refer to pages 16 – 19 of the 2014-2015 Oregon Game Bird Regulations for bag limit, open area, and other restrictions. Remember to obtain permission before hunting on private lands.

Big Game

Cougar
Cougar
- Royalty Free Image-

The 2015 Cougar season opened on January 1, 2015. Snow at the higher elevations provides hunters a chance to try and track a cougar. The best time to track a cougar is following a fresh snow. Hunters can use predator calls that mimic an animal in distress to draw cougar into the open. Approaching cougar can be difficult to see when you are predator calling so hunting with a partner is advised.

Hunters will need to purchase a 2015 hunting license and a 2015 cougar tag to hunt cougars. Successful cougar hunters will need to check-in any cougar taken at an ODFW office within 10 days of the kill. Hunters are reminded that biologists located in field offices may be out in the field handling other issues so call ahead to make arrangements to have your cougar checked-in. The hide and skull must be unfrozen and the skull and proof of sex must be attached to the hide. Hunters are required to submit the reproductive tract of any female cougar taken. Pick up the Big Game Hunting Regulations before your hunting trip to ensure that you are familiar with all of the requirements.

Field Care of Harvested wildlife

The proper handling of harvested wildlife is the most important criteria to ensure its value as table fare. After properly tagging the animal, the hunter should remove the entrails and get the hide off to start the cool-down process. Wipe down the carcass with a dry cloth to remove any foreign material and keep the carcass clean by placing it into a cloth game bag. Warm weather conditions (greater than 50 degrees) can increase bacteria loads so hunters need to get the carcass cooled/refrigerated as soon as possible. Never place the carcass inside of a plastic bag, tarp or in water since wet or damp meat spoils more quickly. Talk to your local meat processor or butcher to get additional information concerning the proper care of wildlife or go online to find websites that cover this topic.

Bobcat
Bobcat
-Oregon Fish and Wildlife-

FURBEARER trapping and hunting season for bobcat opened Dec. 1. Gray fox, red fox, muskrat, mink, raccoon and river otter are currently open. Trappers and hunters are reminded that all bobcat and river otter pelts need to be checked-in at an ODFW office within five (5) business days after the season ends to obtain an ownership tag. The lower jawbone, including both canine teeth, must be surrendered to ODFW and information on sex, date of catch, and county of harvest must accompany each individual bobcat or river otter to qualify for an ownership tag. A record card with required species, sex, date of possession and county must be presented to obtain an ownership tag. See page 5 of the Oregon Furbearer Trapping and Hunting Regulations (July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2016).

Trappers are reminded that waters within the exterior boundaries of the Mt. Hood National Forest are closed to beaver trapping (see page 4 of the Oregon Furbearer Trapping and Hunting Regulations).

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 Willamette Zone Wildlife Viewing

Watch for Bald Eagles

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

This is a great time to see bald eagles. Several eagles are active in the lower Columbia River near Sauvie Island and Deer Island. Bald eagles are often found near water with large numbers of waterfowl or fish.

In the South Willamette Watershed, bald eagles can be seen in the Harrisburg, Halsey, and Brownsville areas. Eagles are generally seen sitting in grass fields or in trees. Viewers driving on rural roads can often spot eagles in these areas. Bring along good optics as viewing often occurs from a long distance.

ODFW staff recently completed the mid-winter bald eagle surveys along the Columbia River. The survey route extends from Scappoose Bay to Wauna, and a total of 79 bald eagles were observed throughout this stretch of the river. Most observed adults were pair bonding and in close proximity to their nests. Surveys in 2015 documented 91 bald eagles in this area, while 55 eagles were observed in 2013
Winter is a good time to see wintering raptors in the Willamette Valley. Raptors, which include hawks, eagles, falcons and harriers, are easily recognized by their talons and distinctive hooked beaks. Seeing raptors can be as easy as driving through farmland or even down I-5.

Large concentrations of Canada geese can be seen in grass fields ponds and parks throughout the Willamette Valley. Although they look very similar, there are actually 7 different subspecies of Canada geese that winter in the valley. The smallest subspecies, the Cackling Canada goose, is darkly colored and only half again bigger than a duck. The Western Canada goose is very light colored and is about twice as big as the Cackler. There are more geese wintering in the Valley now than at any other time in recorded history. Although most people enjoy the sights and sounds of these abundant birds, under certain conditions geese can do a lot of crop damage. Farmers are concerned about the growing goose populations and the increasing damage problems.

Corvallis Area

EE Wilson Wildlife Area

Turkey Vulture
Turkey Vulture
-Photo by Dave Budeau-

ODFW staff observed several turkey vultures on a carcass near the Adair Village district office on Jan. 12. They are being observed elsewhere in the valley as well. The turkey vulture’s yearly appearance from the wintering grounds signals the hope of spring.

Many wintering waterfowl are taking advantage of the full ponds at EE Wilson Wildlife area. The close of duck season on Jan. 25 should improve viewing conditions.

From Albany, take Highway 20 toward Corvallis and after 5 miles turn right on Independence Highway. Go 3 miles and turn left on Camp Adair Road, then proceed 2 miles to the wildlife area. Directions to EE Wilson Wildlife Area.

Chip Ross Park

This is 125 acres of forested hilltop, mainly in oak and conifers, which adjoins the southeast corner of McDonald State Forest. The oak trees with mistletoe in the canopy should be checked for bluebirds during the winter. Rare sightings include ruffed grouse, an immature spotted owl and a red-naped sapsucker which is rare west of the Cascades. Other birds that can be seen include sharp-shinned hawk, hairy and pileated woodpecker, olive-sided flycatcher, brown creeper and wrentit. Drive west on Lester Avenue off NW Highland Drive, where you will find ample parking space at the park boundary. A superb view of the city is to the south.

Eugene Area

Fern Ridge Wildlife Area

Fern Ridge Wildlife Area

Viewing Platfrom at Fern RIdge
- Photo by Chris Schubothe, ODFW-

Wintering concentrations of waterfowl can be observed on the lake and surrounding mudflats and wetlands. Several thousand Canada geese use Fern Ridge Lake for an evening roost site and the sunset and sunrise departures and arrivals of the large flocks of geese provides an outstanding viewing opportunity. Observant visitors may also catch a glimpse of black tailed deer and furbearers including beaver and otter, mink, red fox and coyotes.

Royal Avenue and the trail to the Fisher Butte viewing platform remain open all day every day year round. There is a second elevated viewing platform in the Fisher Butte unit located 1/4 mile north of the Fisher Butte unit parking lot on Hwy 126.

The majority of Fern Ridge Wildlife Area is open daily for public use providing great wildlife viewing opportunities. Visitors are reminded there are seasonal access restrictions in place in five units during the fall and winter to provide wildlife sanctuary. The East and West Coyote units are closed to all public use until the end of January except for a limited 3 day per week reservation waterfowl hunt program. The Fisher Butte and Royal Amazon units are open daily through the end of duck season; however the units are closed to hunting at 1 PM daily and closed to all public use at 2 PM daily to provide rest periods for waterfowl. 

The Kirk Park unit is open daily for public use and hunting is limited to 3 days per week (Sat-Sun-Wed) plus holidays. The entire Fern Ridge lake water area and surrounding mudflats remain open daily year-round. The mudflats surrounding the lake low winter pool can provide for excellent hiking on a sand-bar type lake bottom that extends for miles.

Delta Ponds

Many different types of waterfowl and raptors currently use the area. With the higher water and earlier dusk, now is a good time to see beaver and muskrat. Best viewing time is around 4:30 p.m. When viewing wildlife, please remember to be respectful and try not to disturb the animals’ natural behaviors. Sometimes, the best way to view animals is from inside your vehicle as to not frighten the birds/animals away. For more information on Delta Ponds visit the City of Eugene website.

Golden Gardens Park

River otters may be found in ponds and canals around Eugene. Last week two river otters were observed in the pond at Golden Gardens Park in northwest Eugene. For more information on Golden Gardens Park visit the City of Eugene website.

Salem Area

Walling Pond

Walling Pond in Salem is a fishing pond created by Walling Sand and Gravel near 16th St. and McGilchrist St. It is west of Interstate 5 off the U.S. 22 exit. In addition to good fishing, visitors to the pond can enjoy seeing a good selection of sparrows, swallows and wintering waterfowl.

Portland Area

Mid-winter waterfowl counts

ODFW staff recently completed mid-winter waterfowl surveys in Multnomah County.  The total number of dabbling ducks (2,092) and geese (3,565) observed this year were nearly half that seen in 2014.  Diving species comprised the majority of ducks with nearly four times as many birds observed in 2015 than in the previous year, and was the highest number recorded over a 10- year period (2005-15).

Rooster Rock State Park

It is fairly common to see large groups of swans and a plethora of pintails at Mirror Lake across from the park this time of year. Just remember to bring your valuables with you.

Sauvie Island Wildlife Area

Snow Geese at Sauvie Island

Snow Geese at Sauvie Island WA
-Photo by Kathy Munsel, ODFW-

Waterfowl viewing is phenomenal at the Sauvie Island Wildlife Area. More than 100,000 waterfowl are wintering on the island, and huge flocks can be seen on Sturgeon Lake from ODFW’s Coon Point viewing station. The recent cold weather and shortage of rain has reduced the usual abundance of open water and wetlands available to birds. As a result, huge flocks are finding refuge on the 3,000 acres of water available to them at Sturgeon Lake.

Access to the lake itself is closed this time of year in an effort in an effort to minimize any human impacts on the birds. However, they are still quite visible from the viewing station, which is located next to Reeder Road across from Sauvie Island Kennels. Huge flocks of ducks and geese can likewise be seen from many other points around the island, as can raptors, including bald eagles, northern harriers, red-tailed hawks and American kestrel.

Sauvie Island is a main stopping point for migratory birds as they travel along the Pacific Flyway, and ODFW actively manages the Wildlife Area to provide food and cover for these creatures.

In addition to Coon Point, the best viewing opportunities can be found at the Eastside Viewing Platform and Rentenaar Road. All three require a Sauvie Island Parking Permit.

Sauvie Island Wildlife Area is located on Sauvie Island, only 10 miles north of Portland off Highway 30. A parking permit is required for the Sauvie Island Wildlife Area and can be purchased at ODFW License vendors or at the Sauvie Island ODFW office, Monday through Friday during office hours. For more information, call (503) 621-3488.

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