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Weekly Recreation Report: Northeast Zone

October 6, 2015

 Northeast Zone Fishing

Weekend fishing opportunities:

  • Walleye fishing continues to be excellent on the Columbia River from McNary dam downstream to Boardman.
  • Look for Umatilla River salmon and steelhead fishing to pick-up as water flows increase.

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.

Steelhead on the Grand Ronde
Steelhead on the Grand Ronde River
-Photo by Nathan Goodrich, ODFW-

GRANDE RONDE RIVER: trout, whitefish, bass

Steelhead season on the Grande Ronde River opened Sept. 1. The Grande Ronde River Rd. is open in the Troy area where the fire danger has passed. Fishing will likely be slow until later into the fall when steelhead start arriving in more substantial numbers. Steelhead have been slow to move up the main stem Columbia and Snake rivers so far. Counts have been good at Bonneville Dam for Grande Ronde fish however observations at Lower Granite Dam on the Snake River have be slow.

The river remains open for trout whitefish and bass. Fishing for smallmouth bass will be good with lots of fish in the river, warm temperatures and low flows.

HOLLIDAY PARK POND: rainbow trout

Pond was recently stocked with trophy-sized trout. Fishing is good.  Pond does have an ADA fishing dock for anglers with disabilities.

HUNTER POND: hatchery rainbow trout

This pond has been stocked with 250 legal-sized rainbow trout. 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.


The Imnaha River is currently low with some very warm temperatures. However a few steelhead have passed the lower PIT tag array indicating some fish are making their way upriver. Watch for a bump in flows to bring some fish in from the snake.  The outlook for steelhead is currently very good for 2015-16 with nearly 21K Wallowa/Imnaha fish to pass Bonneville Dam; much higher than the average of 14,000.

Flow data for the Imnaha can be found on the Idaho Power website.

JOHN DAY RIVER: smallmouth bass

Smallmouth bass fishing is good. River flows have doubled and are near 200cfs at Service Creek. Bass anglers may try their luck higher in the North Fork below the town of Dale. Bass are present up to Dale but in lower numbers.

John Day River flows

Please check the sport fishing regulation updates on the ODFW website for new regulations on the John Day River.

JUBILEE LAKE: rainbow trout

Fishing has been best in the early morning and late evenings, bank anglers should also look for the deep water areas near the dam or bring a non-motorized boat and fish deep in the middle of the lake.

The lake has been stocked and should provide good fishing for rainbow trout.


Both ponds are fair fishing and are open all year. Cavender pond was recently stocked with trophy-sized trout stocked.

LUGER POND: hatchery rainbow trout

Lugar Pond is closed to fishing due to a recent pesticide application to remove unwanted goldfish. This closure will last until Dec. 31.  However, there will be no fish present until stocking resumes in the spring.

MAGONE LAKE: rainbow and brook trout

Lake has been stocked with both legal and trophy-sized rainbow trout. Fishing has been fair.

McHALEY POND: rainbow trout

Pond has been stocked with legal and trophy-sized rainbow trout. Fishing is fair.


McKay Reservoir closed for all fishing access on Sept. 30. Access will reopen March 1, 2016.

MORGAN LAKE: rainbow trout

The City of La Grande has closed access to Morgan Lake due to extreme fire danger.

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

OLIVE LAKE: rainbow trout, brook trout, and kokanee

Fishing is fair and lake has been stocked with both legal and trophy-sized rainbow trout.

PEACH POND (Ladd Marsh): rainbow trout

Fishing restrictions will be relaxed on Peach Pond in preparation for an upcoming fish removal project. Starting Sept. 1, fish may be harvested by hand, dip net, or angling. Daily bag and possession limits will also be lifted. These relaxed regulations will be effective until Sept. 25, when the pond will be closed to all fishing through Dec. 31, to prevent public exposure to rotenone.

PENDLAND LAKE: rainbow trout

Fall is one of the best times to fish this lake, as water temperatures drop fish go back on the feed. Fishing is good in this weedy but very productive lake. Fly fishing is one of the best ways to target trout in this lake, a small boat or float tube is recommended to get anglers to the open water.

ROULET POND: rainbow trout

Stocked with rainbow trout in the spring.


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

TAYLOR GREEN POND: hatchery rainbow trout

Taylor Green Pond has been stocked with 250 legal-sized rainbow trout. Some holdovers from last year are also available. 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 fishing 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.

UMATILLA RIVER: steelhead, salmon, trout

The steelhead and fall salmon season opened on Sept. 1, returns and catch will be slow until flows begin to increase in mid to late September.

The Upper Umatilla should be fair for catch-and-release fishing for rainbow trout.


Kinney Lake was treated with a pesticide on Oct. 5 to remove unwanted fishes.  Public access has been restricted to avoid exposure to rotenone.  Kinney Lake is closed to entry until all signage has been removed and is closed to fishing until Dec. 31. No fish will be in Kinney Lake until it’s restocked in spring of 2016.

Salt Creek, Honeymoon and McGraw were stocked this fall prior to rifle deer season and should produce good catch rates.

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

Trout fishing has slowed at Wallowa Lake. However, the pressure has dropped off with the end of the summer season. During the fall stocked trout have been in the lake long enough they start to learn to eat natural food. Try fishing with flies and other more natural baits. The lake has received additional rainbow trout stocking due to other area water bodies being too hot to receive fish. This means the lake has been heavily stocked with both legal-size and trophy trout.

Kokanee anglers have found some recent success, however the fish are still running on the small side. Biologists have received few reports on the kokanee fishery; however, late spring and early summer is usually best. Lend a hand to local biologist and report your kokanee fishing experience at ODFW Fishing Reports.

In 2014 the lake was stocked with tagged rainbow trout in an effort by ODFW to better understand the utilization of this fishery. Tagged fish have been caught at very high rates and over $2,700 in rewards have been paid. Some of these fish have likely held over from last year and are available to anglers. If you catch one of these tagged fish, please report the number, location, date, where in the lake the fish was caught and the size to the ODFW office in Enterprise or online.

WALLOWA RIVER: steelhead, mountain whitefish

Steelhead season is open on the Wallowa River, however fishing doesn’t normally pick up until later in the year and into the spring. Trout fishing has been good on the river with angers finding some nice fish. Fall caddis and mayfly hatches have been good and fish seem to be keying in on them.

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.


The pond has been stocked and fishing for rainbow trout should be good.

WILLOW CREEK RESERVOIR: crappie, bass and trout

Angling for crappie and bass has been fair; look for schools of crappie suspended offshore. Trout fishing has slowed with the warm water temperatures, but will improve as fall approaches.

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  Northeast Zone Hunting

Josh Schmalenberger

Josh Schmalenberger with his four-point buck he took after winning the special statewide deer tag.
– Photo by Josh Schmalenberger –



Know before you go!

There has been some wet weather and even snow, but hunters will face fire restrictions and some closures. Hunters need to know what those are before heading afield; check these resources for fire information: InciWeb, National Forest webpages, Oregon Dept Forestry

2015 Big Game Hunting Forecast

Cornet/Windy Ridge fire

The fire closure for Cornet/Windy Ridge fire was lifted September 28, on the Cornet/Windy Ridge Fire. Seasonal fire restrictions are in effect for the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest.

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.


The 39 road near Halfway is now open.

Hunters should find DEER around cool moist northern aspects with good forage nearby. The continuation of warm temperatures will limit animal activity to early morning and late evening. Remember to check the regulations for the area you will be hunting.

Cougars can be found throughout Baker County but hunters should target areas with high concentrations of deer and elk. Setting up on a fresh kill or using distress calls can all be productive techniques. Hunters are required to check in the hide of any cougar taken, with skull and proof of sex attached. Remember to pick up a 2015 tag.

Bear season opened August 1. Successful hunters, remember check-in of bear skull is mandatory; see the regulations for details. Biologists recommend propping the bear’s mouth open with a stick after harvest; it makes for easier tooth collection and measuring.

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.

Grouse season starts September 1. 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. Successful hunters are asked to place the tails and wings from harvested birds in the collection barrels.


The Canyon Creek Complex Fire: Conditions and closures are changing and hunters are encouraged to visit inciweb for updated fire information.

Controlled rifle deer opened Oct. 3. Deer populations appear to be increasing slightly and a good number of mature bucks were observed in last fall surveys. Hunters should look for areas of early seral forage, like old burns or wet meadows, as deer will key in on those areas in late summer.

Grouse season starts September 1 and grouse populations appear to be similar to last year. Blue grouse can be found on ridge tops like Nipple Butte, Aldrich Mountain or Vinegar Hill. Ruffed grouse can be found along riparian area like Murderers Creek or Camp Creek.

Cougar hunting remains open. Successful hunters should remember that check-in of the hide with skull and proof of sex attached is mandatory; see the regulations for details. Remember to pick up a 2015 tag.

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


Cougar hunting is open. Cougar are well distributed in our forested areas. Calling with distress calls or cougar vocalizations can be effective. 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.

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

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

Patrick Wheeler

Patrick Wheeler with his buck.
-Photo by Patrick Wheeler-


Rifle Deer hunters can expect dry conditions and high fire danger. Hunt mornings and evenings for the best chance of finding a buck. Buck numbers will be good in all units but low precipitation will keep them near moisture sources. Fawn survival was about average last spring so there are a good numbers of yearling bucks this fall. Remember to ask for permission before entering private lands.

Forest Grouse hunters can expect a productive season. Look for Ruffed grouse in creek bottoms and Blues above 5000 feet on open ridges. Both may be found near water sources early in the season.

Cougars are common in Union County. Focus on game rich areas with long ridgelines or saddles that cats typically travel. Setting up downwind of a deer or elk killed by a cougar can be productive. Nonresident hunters can include a cougar tag with others tags for only $14.50. All cougars taken must be checked in within 10 days of harvest; call for an appointment before check in. Remember to pick up a tag for 2015.

Black Bears are plentiful throughout the county. Look for sign around fruit trees and in canyon bottoms. Bears can be concentrated along creeks and rivers in the late summer. This year’s berry crop is not quite what 2014 was but should still make for good early season bear hunting in Union County. Huckle, Service and Hawthorn berries are all in full swing. Hunt in the early morning and evenings for the best chance of seeing bears. Bear skulls must be checked in within ten days of harvest, see regulations.

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.

Upland Birds are plentiful this fall in Union County.  Hunters will find excellent numbers of Pheasants and quail in the valley and foothills.  Look for birds near water sources. Expect warm dry conditions for opening weekend and bring plenty of dog water.

Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area

Glass Hill Unit is open to grouse and dove hunting. Vehicles, camping and fires are prohibited on the wildlife area.

The marsh opens to upland game bird and duck hunting on October 10. The lack of spring rain and warmer weather this year proved beneficial for pheasant and quail populations. Nest and brood rearing success were high and should provide a great hunting opportunity. 

The hot conditions and lack of spring rains caused much of the wetland to go dry this year. Waterfowl nest success was good but the lack of water did cause some mortality.  Recent fall precipitation events have allowed water levels to increase significantly and water conditions are looking good for the waterfowl opener. Most areas with water are holding good numbers of birds.
Note: some areas of the marsh still remain without water. Call for further information.

Note: all visitors including hunters must have in their possession a free daily permit to access the wildlife area. Permits and area maps/regulations are available at several self-check-in stations at entry points and parking lots. Wildlife hunters, viewers and anglers also need a parking permit to park on the wildlife area. Hunters receive a free parking permit with their hunting license. The $7 daily or $22 annual permit can be purchased online or at an ODFW office that sells licenses or at a license sales agent. Parking permits are to be displayed on the vehicle dash.


The public land north the FS 62 road and east of the Elk Flat Trailhead in the Wenaha Unit in Wallowa County is closed to public access due to the Grizzly Fire Umatilla NF closure – this includes and the eastern portion of the Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness. The fire is in the mop-up stages. Check InciWeb or the Forest Service website for the latest maps and information. 9/15/15

Notice: Hancock Timber lands in the Minam and Sled Springs units are currently closed to motor vehicles except on designated roads and no camping, wood cutting, or campfires are allowed due to fire precaution measures.

Deer: Rifle deer season opened on October 3rd. Buck hunters can expect only fair success as deer numbers are still below management objective and dry conditions will make stalking difficult. Hunters are reminded to check USFS regulations on camp/cook fires.

Bighorn Sheep: All 3 bighorn hunts have ended in Wallowa County with all 4 hunters harvesting mature rams. The largest ram scored 175 1/8.

Mountain Goat: Most of the mountain goat hunts have ended in Wallowa County with all 9 hunters harvesting goats. The largest billy scored 51 1/8 . There is one goat hunter still hunting and there will be 2 more hunters in October for the 2nd Hat Point goat season.

Blue Grouse
Blue Grouse
-Photo by Pat Matthews-

Forest Grouse: Hunters can expect to find blue grouse on ridge tops near wet spring areas. Numbers are still below long term averages, so hunters will need to work a little harder to find birds. Ruffed grouse numbers have been more stable and hunters should have good success hunting riparian areas.

Black Bear: Bear hunting is expected to be good early in the morning and late in the evening in draw bottoms and stream bottoms where bears are feeding on hawthorn, service berry, and elder berries.

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.

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 Northeast Zone Wildlife Viewing


Bighorn sheep can be seen in the Burnt River Canyon west of Durkee or along the Snake River Road south of Richland. Young lambs can be seen this time of year with ewes across most of the bigborn sheep range. The best viewing is in the early morning and late in the evening. Please remember to leave wildlife alone. It is crucial for their survival to keep human interactions to a minimum.

Bald and golden eagles can be seen along the Snake River. Take the Snake River Road between Richland and Huntington. 6/2/15.

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.

Bighhorn 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.

Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker
- Photo by Greg Gillson-


Pileated woodpeckers can be seen in the Bull Prairie area. Lewis woodpeckers can be spotted in southern end of the forest from Bull Prairie to Potamus creek. Mountain and western blue birds can be seen along the open areas of the forest. American goldfinches are a sight this time of year with their bright plumage.

Mule deer and elk can be seen with their fawns and calves, any area that has water is a good bet at dawn or dusk.

Big horn sheep can be seen from Potamus Point but it does take some luck and a lot of scanning to find them. Dawn and dusk are the best times to see them as they do not move in the heat of the day much.

Raptors can be seen with their recently fledged young in much of the forest. Red-tailed hawks, American kestrels, and golden eagles can all be seen in the Wheeler burn in the southwest end of the forest. Great grey owls can be seen in the swale creek area near the 21 road.

In the foothills of the District short owls can be seen at dusk, the irregular wing beat is a great identifier. Loggerheaded shrieks can be seen in those areas that have sage brush. Horned larks, grasshopper sparrows, and savanah sparrows can be seen in the grasslands in the northern part of the District. Swainson’s and red-tailed hawks can be seen in the sage and grasslands areas of the District.

The ospreys are still near the nest site at Willow Creek Reservoir. Kingfishers can be seen along Willow Creek in Heppner.

A wide array of birds is coming into the yards of the District. One can see Lazuli bunting, norther oriel, western kingbirds, house finch, brewers black birds, and barn swallows coming into feeders and sprinklers. 8/4/2015


Quality viewing opportunities can be obtained in the Columbia Basin during the early hours of daylight for fledglings of various species of passerines, raptors, waterfowl, shorebirds and upland game birds.

The Columbia Basin wildlife areas (Willow Creek, Coyote Springs, Irrigon, and Power City), State/County parks, Federal and Tribal areas/refuges along with public roads access throughout the county provide great public access to a multitude of habitats and associated mammalian and avian species. Numerous spring seeps, creeks, rivers and large reservoirs distributed throughout the county provide an abundance of habitat types composed of mixed agricultural lands, savanna and shrub steppe, upland grasslands, riparian and wooded corridors and complex wetlands.

Coyote Springs: On July 22,, a 165 acre grassland fire sparked by transmission lines consumed over 85 acres of the wildlife area. Currently there are no access restrictions but there has been significant upland habitat loss due to the fire. Staff will be working to conduct habitat restoration activities in the coming months.

Reptilian and amphibian species associated with these abundant habitats throughout the county can be seen amongst other species the Painted Turtle, Woodhouse and Western Toad in the wetland potholes of the Irrigon Wildlife Area.

The Umatilla National Forest, BLM and county roads provide good access to the Northern Front Range of the Blue Mountains. Heat has arrived and the perennial grass and forbs have begun to dry in the mid elevations.

Deer and Elk are moving to cooler microclimates distributed throughout the forest. Fawns and calves have been observed at heal and should be visible for viewing amongst these associated habitats. 8/4/2015

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 $7 daily or $22 annual permit can be purchased online or at an ODFW office that sells licenses or at a license sales agent. Learn more about ODFW’s Wildlife Area Parking Permit Program.

The Tule Lake unit, including the auto route, has been closed as of September 30. The Glass Hill unit is open to foot traffic and grouse hunting. 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.

A few shorebirds continue to use the shallows and mud flats left by the drying conditions. Western, least, solitary and semipalmated sandpiper, long-billed dowitcher, and other shorebirds have been observed recently.

Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets take advantage of fish trapped in drying ponds and may be found in relatively high numbers. Egrets can often be found perched in trees where they stand out in their bright white plumage.

Sandhill cranes are using harvested grain fields on private lands to feed on waste grain. They will stage in large numbers in these and other fields before making the long migration south. Please report any sandhill cranes wearing leg bands to the Ladd Marsh staff (541-963-4954). If possible, note the color and order of bands on each of the bird’s legs (e.g., pink above white on left leg; silver above black on right leg). The specific combination and order can identify individual birds.

Deer and elk may be visible in fields and meadows as they look for water and green forage. Take care not to approach them to avoid spooking them into roadways or other hazards. 9/1/15


Common raptors in the open areas of the county are red-tailed hawks and northern harriers, with occasional ferruginous and Swainson’s hawks also present. Look for bald eagles and ospreys perched in the larger trees along Wallowa Lake shore.

A good place to observe mule deer is along the Wallowa Lake highway between Joseph and the south end of Wallowa Lake. Drive slowly and watch along the moraine on the east side of the lake around dawn and dusk. Be careful to use the turnouts when stopping to watch these animals, as there will be other traffic on the road. White-tailed deer can be found throughout the Wallowa Valley on or near agricultural lands.

Many elk have returned to the Zumwalt Prairie now. Try driving the Zumwalt and Pine Creek Roads and looking carefully at ridge tops. Elk can also be observed regularly along the Lostine River Road 4-5 miles south of the town of Lostine, and along the Powwatka Ridge Road between 18 and 27 miles north of the town of Wallowa. All of 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.

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. 9/1/15.

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