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ODFW WEEKLY RECREATION REPORT
Fishing, Hunting, Wildlife Viewing
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Northeast Zone Map

Weekly Recreation Report: Northeast Zone

December 6, 2016

 Northeast Zone Fishing

Fishing the Grand Ronde
Fishing the Grand Ronde
-Photo by Azura Dee Gaige-

Weekend fishing opportunities:

  • Steelhead on the Grande Ronde River with anglers now finding fish on a more consistent basis.
  • Fishing for steelhead on the John Day should be good below Service Creek.
  • Fall is a great season for trout and whitefish on the Wallowa River.

If your favorite fishing spot is no longer listed

It could be the area is closed, inaccessible due 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, located east of Dayville, OR. A WMA parking permit is required. The ponds are hike in access only (1.75 to 2-mile hike). Bag limit: 2 trout per day; see pg. 53 in the regulations book.

BULL PRAIRIE RESERVOIR: rainbow and brook trout

Bull Prairie Reservoir was stocked with trophy sized trout the last week of September, fishing is good. A campground and a boat launch are available. Bait, lures and flies are all producing.

GRANDE RONDE RIVER: trout, whitefish, bass, steelhead

Steelhead season is in full swing on the Grande Ronde and anglers are finally finding fish consistently with the most recent creel report indicating catch rates of about 10 hours/fish 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, fishing is good. An ADA fishing dock for anglers with disabilities is available.

rainbow trout
Katherine's first Trophy Trout in Grandpa's boat.
-Photo by Nathan Jones-

HUNTER POND: hatchery rainbow trout

Hunter Pond was stocked with 150 one pound rainbow trout the last week of September. Fishing should be good.

From I-84 take Hwy. 244 towards Ukiah. At the Blue Mountains 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.

IMNAHA RIVER: trout, bass

Anglers are finding steelhead in the lower sections and some PIT-tagged fish have been detected in the river. 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.

JOHN DAY RIVER: wild steelhead, smallmouth bass

River flows are high enough for boating access on the lower river (John Day River flows). Steelhead are holding in the lower river and fishing will be good below Service Creek. The majority of the 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.

LONG CREEK POND, CAVENDER POND: trout

Cavender Pond was stocked with trophy-sized trout the last week of September; fishing is good.

LUGER POND: hatchery rainbow trout

Luger Pond was stocked with 150 one pound rainbow trout the last week of September.

MAGONE LAKE: rainbow and brook trout

The lake was stocked the second week of June with legal and trophy-sized trout and fishing is good.

McHALEY POND: rainbow trout

The pond has been stocked with legal-sized trout and fishing is good.

McKAY RESERVOIR: Warmwater species

Closed for the winter; area reopens March 1, 2017

MORGAN LAKE: rainbow trout

Closed to fishing Nov. 1.

Olive Lake
Olive Lake
-Photo by Rick Swart, ODFW-

OLIVE LAKE: rainbow trout, brook trout, and kokanee

Umatilla Forest Service has closed portions of Olive Lake due to a mechanical failure in the water release gate on Olive Lake Dam. The area closed to public entry is approximately one-half acre and will be signed, fenced and defined by a string of buoys extending from the dam into the water.

The campground and hiking trail around the lake remain open as well as all other water activities outside the restricted area, however the drop in the lake may impact access to the boat ramp and docks. The gate will remain open until the lake drops to a level where it is safe to repair, approximately 27 feet. ODFW will continue to monitor the situation.

PEACH POND (Ladd Marsh): rainbow trout

The pond was stocked with pounder and legal-sized rainbow trout mid-October.

ROULET POND: rainbow trout

The pond was stocked with pounder and legal-sized rainbow trout mid-October.

ROWE CREEK RESERVOIR: rainbow trout

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

TAYLOR GREEN POND: hatchery rainbow trout

Taylor Green Pond was stocked with 150 one pound rainbow trout the last week of September. Fishing is good. 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.

UMATILLA RIVER: steelhead

For the week of Nov. 28 to Dec.4 steelhead anglers on the lower river averaged 5 hours/steelhead landed. Anglers are concentrating on the river downstream of Threemile Dam.

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

WALLOWA COUNTY PONDS: rainbow trout

New to Kinney Lake this year, the lake in now open to fishing year-round and non-motorized watercraft are now allowed. The lake was stocked at the end of September and should fish well throughout the winter.

Salt Creek Summit still has fish available and they were actively rising during a recent visit by the local biologist.

Kokanee Salmon
Ron Campbell landed a 9 lbs. 10.7 oz. kokanee from Wallowa Lake
-Photo by Ron Campbell-

WALLOWA LAKE: rainbow trout, kokanee, lake trout

As the fall and winter progresses the remaining stocked fish will begin switching to more natural food. Try natural baits and natural imitations to attract these fish. Bait should be either hung under a float or set just off bottom. Kokanee size appears to be improving with reports of fish in the 8 to 9-inch range and some fish as large as 12-inches.

WALLOWA RIVER: steelhead, mountain whitefish

Trout fishing should continue to be good through the fall in the Wallowa River. Mountain whitefish are also very abundant in the Wallowa and are readily caught on small bead-head nymphs.

Steelhead season opened Sept. 1. A few steelhead are available in the fall however the best fishing is in late winter and early spring. 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.

WILLOW CREEK RESERVOIR: trout

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

OPEN: COUGAR, UPLAND BIRD, WATERFOWL

FALL TURKEY: Hunters with a Blue Mtn or Northeast unfilled fall turkey tag can hunt on private lands by permission from Dec. 1-31. Turkey hunting closef on public land on Nov. 30.

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.

BAKER COUNTY

Chukar, Hun, and California Quail - The season ends Jan. 31. Hunters should expect a good season similar to last years. Chukar numbers were up for a second year in a row.

Grouse season continues. Blue grouse can be found in the higher elevations while ruffed grouse are more common in wetter areas. Hunters should expect an average year for grouse.

Cougar
Cougar
- Royalty Free Image-

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.

Bear season ends November 30.  

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.

GRANT COUNTY

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.

Coyote numbers are good in most of the district. Coyotes may respond to distress calls. Try calling in the early morning and late evening.

Upland Game Bird number a good this year as brood routes indicate a good production year. Chukars can be found is steep areas along the South Fork John Day River. Turkeys are doing well but are scattered because of mild and wet condition with good green up throughout the county. The birds have not concentrated on private land like most years.

MORROW, GILLIAM AND WHEELER COUNTIES

Cougar hunting is open. Cougar are well distributed in our forested areas. Calling with distress calls or cougar vocalizations can be effective. However, locating a fresh, naturally made kill has the best chance of success.

The Coyote population is healthy with good numbers of coyotes available for those who wish to pursue them. Watch wind direction to help prevent giving away your location. Calling with game distress calls can be very successful.

UMATILLA COUNTY

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.

Turkey

Wild Tom Turkey in Eastern Oregon
-Photo by Lance James-

Fall Turkey hunting continues to be good in forested areas of the Walla Walla, Mt. Emily, and Ukiah Units.  The season will be closed on public lands on Dec. 1 and hunters will need to seek hunting permission on private lands in December.  Good bets during that month would be McKay Creek, Texas Bar Creek, and Pearson Ridge in the Ukiah Unit.

WATERFOWL are in the Columbia Basin in adequate numbers with duck and goose hunting in river blinds producing some results.  River hunting produces best when there is some wind to agitate the water. Field blinds near the Columbia River for geese are producing well especially when the river corridor is fogged in.

UPLAND GAME BIRDS including pheasant and quail continue to provide some good hunting as the season winds down.  Wintery conditions are making birds set better for flushing dogs.

Coyote are numerous throughout the County and hunters should have good success calling. Remember to ask permission before hunting on private lands.

UNION COUNTY

Rifle Elk hunters can expect to find good numbers of animals in all Union County units. Spike hunters will find yearling bulls with cows in herds. Bull hunters should focus efforts on areas of steep terrain and heavy cover adjacent to water and feed. Older bulls often seek solitude to recover from the rut. All general seasons have ended.

Forest Grouse should be plentiful this season. Look for ruffs in moist canyon bottoms choked with Alder and Hawthorn trees. Blues can be found above 5000 feet elevation on ridge tops.

Fall turkey season continues for those hunters who already have a tag; tags for 2 Eastern Oregon hunts have sold out. Birds are plentiful everywhere in Union County. Hunt around water sources and in areas with wild fruit trees.

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.

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

Rains and late irrigation water has allowed us to get some water in most of our wetlands. Hunting has been decent with the majority of hunters getting birds and a few getting limits each week. The recent cold snap will extremely limit huntable areas. If La Grande receives a couple days of above freezing weather and wind, water will open up and hunters can have some great opportunities.

For more specific water conditions please call the office at 541 963 4954.

Hunting waterfowl in and around the grain food plots can be an alternative to hunting wetlands. The wildlife area is closed on Non hunt days but birds can be scouted from county roads.

Upland: Hunters are finding pheasants but success has been slow.

Cow Elk

I got a cow elk with my youth hunt.
-Photo by Jacob Lehrback-

WALLOWA COUNTY

Elk: A few antlerless elk season are running now. Some elk have begun to move to winter ranges, however lack of snow cover at mid elevations means that many elk are still on or near their summer ranges.

Forest Grouse:   Some ruffed grouse can still be found in draw bottoms with dense brush. Blue grouse are now moving up high into conifer trees to find buds to eat for the winter and so will be hard to find.

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.

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.

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.

Grant County

Bald Eagles are starting to move into the John Day Valley, they 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.

Mule deer are in rut and big bucks can be seen along Hwy 26 just before dark. 11/15/2016

UNION COUNTY

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 to daily access. The area, and the rest of the wildlife area, is open Saturdays, Sundays, Wednesdays and holidays during the pheasant quail and waterfowl hunting seasons. The Glass Hill unit is open 7 days a week to foot and horse traffic only. Visitors are advised to carefully read posted signs and consult the wildlife area administrative rules. Rules that apply to all areas are at the top (at the 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. As hunting seasons commence, wildlife viewers should be aware of other users and consider avoiding locations where hunters are set up.

Red-tailed hawks and northern harriers are more visible as trees lose their leaves. Great horned owls can often be seen on power poles at dawn or dusk. American kestrels are common throughout the area and are often seen hunting from perch sites.

White-crowned Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow
- Photo by Kathy Munsel, ODFW-

White-crowned sparrows are present in good numbers and song sparrows are widespread and abundant. The first northern shrikes of the season have been seen along roadsides. A single prairies falcon was also observed using a power pole next to a county road.

As many as 300 tundra swans have been seen on the area recently. They have been using numerous ponds and wetlands across the area. Waterfowl numbers have increased, including a large flock of snow geese that has been using fields and wetlands in and around Ladd Marsh. 11/22/2016

UMATILLA COUNTY

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.

Umatilla County Uplands

Fall migration is over and the uplands 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 now that wintering conditions are in place. 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.

Snowy Owl

Snowy Owl
-Photo by Greg Gillson-

WALLOWA COUNTY

Common raptors in the open areas of the county in winter are red-tailed hawks, rough-legged hawks, prairie falcons, golden eagles, and occasionally gyrfalcons or snowy owls. Look for bald eagles and ospreys perched in the larger trees along Wallowa Lake shore or on power poles near water in the valley.

Many elk have returned to the Zumwalt Prairie now. Try driving the Zumwalt Road and looking carefully on distant ridge tops to the east, especially 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.

Many of the breeding season birds have moved south now, but we are getting a number of interesting migrants coming through from the north. Seen recently on Wallowa Lake were mallards, wigeon, mergansers, common loons, western grebes, pied-billed grebes, as well as both Barrow’s and common goldeneyes. Although the large flock of about 250 tundra swans that was resting on the Wallowa Lake last week has moved on, there are still a dozen or so swans there.  Other winter migrants include a large flock of about 300 grey-crowned rosy finches that was seen this week on Ant Flat Road near Enterprise. 11/29/16

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