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Weekly Recreation Report: Northeast Zone

February 21, 2017

 Northeast Zone Fishing

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

Weekend fishing opportunities:

  • Wallowa Lake has frozen for the first time since 2013 and anglers have been catching kokanee and trout in good numbers and size.
  • Fish numbers on the Umatilla are picking up – once water levels come down, anglers should find fish throughout the river.
  • Enough ice has melted on the John Day River that steelhead anglers will have access to most of the river.

If your favorite fishing spot is no longer listed

It could be the area is closed, inaccessible due to mud or snow, or currently offers limited fishing opportunities. These water bodies will return to the recreation report when conditions change. If you believe something is missing, contact us and we’ll find out why.

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.

ALDRICH PONDS (Roosevelt and Stewart Lakes): trout

Aldrich Ponds are located on the Phillips W. Schneider Wildlife Management Area which is currently closed to all access from Feb. 1 –April 14 to protect big game wintering.

BULL PRAIRIE RESERVOIR: rainbow and brook trout

The reservoir has frozen and ice fishing is available. Fishing should be fair since trophy sized trout were stocked in September but no reports have been received. Road access may be limited due to snow.

GRANDE RONDE RIVER: trout, whitefish, bass, steelhead

The Grande Ronde ice is beginning to break up and a few anglers are trying their luck and a few fish are being caught. Similar to other Columbia basin runs, the Grande Ronde stock is tracking below expectations this year.

On the upside, a large majority of the returning fish are two-salt meaning larger average size. Harvest is limited to three hatchery steelhead per day and must be recorded on the Combined Angling Tag. A Columbia River Basin Endorsement is also required.

HOLLIDAY PARK POND: rainbow trout

Holliday Park Pond was stocked with trophy sized trout the last week of September and fishing should be fair once ice thaws. An ADA fishing dock for anglers with disabilities is available.

IMNAHA RIVER: trout, bass

The Imnaha is currently affected by ice but a few areas may be fishable. A few steelhead are typically present throughout the winter but the best fishing tends to start in late February and early March. Similar to other Columbia basin runs, the Grande Ronde stock is tracking below expectations this year. On the upside, a large majority of the returning fish are two-salt, meaning they are larger average size. Harvest is limited to three hatchery steelhead per day and must be recorded on the Combined Angling Tag. A Columbia River Basin Endorsement is also required.

Wallowa River

Winter steelhead fishing
-Photo by Bob Swingle, ODFW-

JOHN DAY RIVER: wild steelhead

Recent above freezing temperatures have opened up the majority of the river for fishing access. River flows are high but are predicted to reduce some by the weekend. The majority of steelhead are scattered from the mouth up to Kimberly. Most John Day steelhead are wild and must be released without removal from the water. There are however some hatchery steelhead strays in the river and anglers are encouraged to keep up to three hatchery fish per day. Fish are being caught on flies, jigs, lures and bait.


The pond has frozen but ice is likely to thin to support anglers. Fishing should be fair once ice thaws. Cavender Pond was stocked with trophy-sized trout the last week of September.

MAGONE LAKE: rainbow and brook trout

The lake is iced over and should provide fair ice fishing. The forest access road to the lake is likely deep snow conditions and not accessible by vehicles.

McKAY RESERVOIR: warmwater species

Closed for the winter; area reopens March 1, 2017

MORGAN LAKE: rainbow trout

Closed to fishing.

PEACH POND (Ladd Marsh): rainbow trout

Due to unseasonably warm weather over the past week, ice on the pond has partially thawed and now refrozen. Conditions are not safe for ice fishing. Access to the pond is good. The pond was stocked with pounder and legal-sized rainbow trout mid-October.

ROULET POND: rainbow trout

The pond is covered with ice and snow. The parking area is not accessible due to snow. The pond was stocked with pounder and legal-sized rainbow trout mid-October.


Remains open all year. Proceed with caution if reservoir is iced-over. Ice may be too thin to support anglers. Trout fishing is fair but the water level is very low.


The river has been high and mostly unfishable for the last two weeks. Fish numbers picked-up last week with several days of 20 to 30 fish per day passing Threemile Dam. Once the high flows subside fish should be spread throughout the system.

Anglers can access fish counts at Threemile Dam fish counts. Flow data


Kinney Lake was stocked at the end of September and should fish well throughout the winter. Anglers have recently reported good catch rates through the ice of healthy fish range 12 to 14-inches. This is the first year Kinney has been open for ice fishing and pressure has been very light. While driving access in not possible, a short walk on snowshoes or drive via snow machine will get you there.

WALLOWA LAKE: rainbow trout, kokanee, lake trout

Wallowa Lake has frozen for the first time since 2013. Fishermen have started taking advantage of the rare opportunity to ice fish. Trout and kokanee are being caught on bait and jigs. Anglers have reported catching kokanee to 13-inches which is much improved from previous years.


WALLOWA RIVER: steelhead, mountain whitefish

The Wallowa River ice is mostly broken up. A few anglers have tried they’re luck for steelhead with some success. Look for fishing to begin picking up into February. Remember, trout fishing is now available on the Wallowa all year and can produce some large fish.

Harvest is limited to three hatchery steelhead per day and must be recorded on the Combined Angling Tag. A Columbia River Basin Endorsement is also required.


Fall and winter provide a good opportunity for trout fishing. The water level is at its lowest of the year, so most fishing is from the shore or with small boat. Anglers fish the lower end of the reservoir, with night crawlers and Powerbait on the bottom.

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  Northeast Zone Hunting


Snake River wolf
Gray Wolf from the Walla Walla 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 a 2017 cougar tag and hunting license is needed to hunt as of Jan. 1.

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.


- Royalty Free Image-

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 a 2017 cougar tag and hunting license is needed to hunt as of Jan. 1.

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 a 2017 cougar tag and hunting license is needed 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.


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 a 2017 cougar tag and hunting license is needed 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 a 2017 cougar tag and hunting license is needed to hunt as of Jan. 1.

Coyote hunting in the snow
-Photo by Charlotte Ganskopp-

Coyote numbers are high 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

All hunting seasons authorized on Ladd Marsh are closed. Beginning February 1, the wildlife area, including the Glass Hill Unit, is closed to public entry. The Glass Hill Unit will re-open April 1.


Cougar: Populations 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 a 2017 cougar tag and hunting license is needed to hunt as of Jan. 1.

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.

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 Northeast Zone Wildlife Viewing

Baker County

Bighorn sheep can be seen in the Burnt River Canyon west of Durkee or along the Snake River Road south of Richland. The best viewing is in the early morning and late in the evening.

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.

Early in the morning and late in the afternoon are good times to view wildlife.

Anthony Creek Feedsite Tour

Anthony Creek Feedsite Tour
-Photo by Nick Myatt-

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

Bald Eagles can be observed along Hwy 26 between Prairie City and Dayville.

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.


Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area

Mark your calendar: Ladd Marsh Bird Festival begins May 19 with Mark Obmascik, author of Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature and Fowl Obsession, as featured speaker.
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.

At this time all of Ladd Marsh, including the Glass Hill Unit, is closed to public entry. The Tule Lake Public Access Area will open to visitors March 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 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, including the Glass Hill Unit, 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.

Great horned owls have begun nesting. Watch for the incubating bird’s head showing above the nest.  Some red-tailed hawks are “staking out” nest sites and performing nest repairs. Egg laying won’t be far behind. American kestrels remain common throughout the area and are often seen hunting from perch sites and may now be seen in pairsA single prairie falcon is still using areas along Pierce Rd.

White-crowned sparrows are present in good numbers and song sparrows are widespread and abundant. Northern shrikes, while not common can be found at various locations on the area.

Ponds and wetlands have thawed and are full of bot water and birds. Tundra swans have been using the refuge below Foothill Road as well as Schoolhouse Pond east of Peach Road.  Greater white-fronted geese are in and Canada geese are paired up. Canada geese will be on nests soon. Thousands of ducks are utilizing the area including mallard, gadwall, northern pintail, bufflehead, scaup and American green-winged teal.

Elk and deer have remained at lower elevations. They can often be seen from county roads by glassing the slopes of Glass Hill or across the flats to the east. Use caution to avoid spooking wildlife into roads or highways for their safety and the safety of the traveling public. 2/21/2017


Columbia Basin Wildlife Areas

Willow Creek and Coyote Springs Wildlife Areas are both found next to interstate 84 and the Columbia River and have excellent viewing for wetland and riparian obligate bird species. The upland areas are also available for savanna and shrub steppe species of birds. Willow Creek has an ample deer herd and the evidence of beaver activity can be seen on the Willow Creek delta area of the wildlife area.

The Irrigon Wildlife Area holds riparian and wetland habitat and hosts a number of species of birds associated with each habitat. One can see a number of waterfowl and wading bird species in the pothole pond areas. Painted turtles are also common in the pond areas. White pelicans can be commonly found along the Columbia River as well. Geese and ducks are beginning to build along the Columbia River and will be commonly trading back and forth along the river.

Northern Harrier
Northern Harrier
-Photo by Cathy Nowak-

Hermiston area

Locals report seeing American robins, black-billed magpies, belted kingfisher, downy woodpecker, bohemian waxwings, northern flickers, white-crowned sparrow and yellow-rumped warbler. Raptors in the area include American kestrel, bald eagles, northern harriers, and red-tailed hawks. Waterfowl seen include American Coot, American wigeon, Canada geese, common merganser, hooded merganser, northern shoveler and snow geese. Shorebirds and other waterbirds observed include American white pelican, Great blue heron, Black-crowned night-heron, ring-billed gull and Western grebe. 1/3/2017

Umatilla County Uplands

Upland and forested riparian areas will have a number of wintering birds using those areas.

ELK will be more common in the early morning and late afternoon in mid and lower elevation areas. Roads moving upslope from the valley floor to the mountain areas would be best to see these animals.

WHITE-TAILED DEER are common along the foothills of the Blue Mountains and can be seen either early morning or evening in those areas. Mule deer are found in better numbers in the desert and mountain areas.


Common raptors in the open areas of the county in winter are red-tailed hawks, rough-legged hawks, prairie falcons, golden eagles, and occasionally a gyrfalcon. And a merlin was seen this week in residential Enterprise. Look for bald eagles perched in the larger trees along Wallowa Lake shore or on power poles near water in the valley.

Rocky Mountain Elk Calves
Rocky Mountain Elk
- Photo by Brian Ratliff, ODFW-

Most elk have left the Zumwalt Prairie now and moved onto the breaks above Little Sheep Creek or the Imnaha River. Try driving the Lower Imnaha River Road and looking carefully on slopes west of the river on Long Ridge. 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.

The breeding season birds have moved south now, but we have a number of interesting migrants from the north still in the area. Wallowa Lake is frozen now and all water birds there have moved south or to local creeks where there is still some open water. Seen recently on valley creeks or feeding in farm fields were Canada geese, mallards, widgeon, wood ducks, common mergansers, and pied-billed grebes. Other winter migrants include grey-crowned rosy finches, snow buntings, horned larks and a few Lapland longspurs that regularly winter on the prairie areas north of Enterprise. 1/10/17

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