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Flood watch issued December 20, 2014

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Northeast zone fishing, hunting and wildlife viewing report

FISHING

Weekend fishing opportunities

• Fishing for holdover trout has been pretty good in Holliday Park, Cavender, Long Creek and Peach ponds.

• Surplus steelhead have been stocked in Marr Pond offering a great opportunity for young anglers to catch a big fish.

• Spring has arrived in the Hermiston area, McNary, Hatrock and Tatone ponds received the first trout stockings of the season this week, and should provide a good early season angling opportunity

If your favorite fishing spot is no longer listed

It’s probably because that river, lake or reservoir is closed for the season, inaccessible due to snow and bad roads, or offers limited fishing opportunities during the winter months. These waterbodies will re-appear in the Recreation Report when they re-open next spring, or when access and/or opportunity improves.

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 fishing map.

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.

BULL PRAIRIE RESERVOIR: trout

Access is now blocked by snow. Ice fishing only for both rainbow and eastern brook trout.

GRANDE RONDE RIVER: steelhead, trout, whitefish, bass

A large increase in flows on the Grande Ronde over the weekend will make steelhead angling difficult. These conditions will likely continue as runoff increases throughout the spring. Steelhead will make their final push into the Wallowa River and move toward the hatchery facilities through March to the close of the season on April 15.

Check river flows

HATROCK PONDS: trout

The ponds have been stocked and the fishing should be good for rainbow trout.

HOLLIDAY PARK POND: trout

Fish in the 12 to 14-inch size range are being caught and the weeds are gone. Will not be stocked until mid-April.

IMNAHA RIVER: steelhead, trout, whitefish

Imnaha river flows jumped over the weekend which will make angling more difficult but will also bring more fish up the system. Watch the gauge this week for flows to continue on the down trend which will improve angling conditions. Temperatures in the canyon can often be in the T-shirt range this time of year and can provide some fantastic days of fishing. Big Sheep Creek will offer some action as steelhead are arriving at the Little Sheep Cr. Hatchery facility. Steelhead are taking a variety of gear from various baits under a float or bounced on the bottom to swung flies. Nymphing small flies including glo-bugs and orange bead-head prince nymphs can be an effective method as well. The number of returning fish is lower than previous years but so is angling pressure. This year’s run is made up of a larger number of two-salt fish (larger fish) which may offer a better workout for your drag.

Fishing for whitefish remains open throughout the steelhead season below the mouth of Big Sheep Creek. Look for whitefish in deeper runs and holes, and target them using beaded nymphs. Bull trout are present this time of year and anglers are reminded to handle bull trout carefully and immediately release them.

Check Imnaha River flows.

JOHN DAY RIVER: steelhead

River flows got muddy over the weekend due to melting snow. When the water clears temperatures will still be cold so anglers will have the most success targeting the slow, deep pools using jigs or bait. Very few hatchery stray steelhead are available here and anglers are reminded to carefully release all wild fish.

Check John Day River flows.

LONG CREEK POND, CAVENDER POND: trout

Fish in the 12 to 14-inch size range are being caught at Cavender but Long

Creek is still covered in thin ice.

MAGONE LAKE: rainbow and brook trout

Access is now blocked by snow to passenger vehicles but may be accessed by snowmobile. Ice fishing should be fair for rainbow and brook trout.

MARR POND: surplus steelhead

Surplus steelhead have been stocked in Marr Pond offering a great opportunity for young anglers to catch a large fish. No harvest card is needed as these fish are considered trout when placed in lakes and ponds however, an angling license is still required. Try fishing with a bobber and bait hung mid water column or casting large spinners.

McKAY RESERVOIR: rainbow trout, yellow perch

Spring-like weather attracted lots of anglers over the weekend and fishing was fair for rainbow trout. Water levels are still quite low making for difficult fishing conditions. Anglers are reminded of the new bass regulation; 5 bass per day, with only 1 over 15 inches and only 1 may be a largemouth bass.

McNARY PONDS: trout

The ponds have been stocked and fishing should be good for rainbow trout.

MORGAN LAKE: trout, bullheads, bass

Closed to fishing until April 27.

OLIVE LAKE: rainbow and kokanee

Access is now blocked by snow to passenger vehicles but may be access by snowmobile. Ice fishing for rainbow is likely fair.

PEACH POND (Ladd Marsh): rainbow trout

The pond is ice-free. Fishing is good for 12-14 inch hold-over trout.

ROULET POND: rainbow trout

The pond is ice-free. No recent reports on fishing success.

ROWE CREEK RESERVOIR: rainbow trout

The water level is low. No recent fishing report.

TATONE POND: trout

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

TROUT FARM POND: rainbow and brook trout

Fishing for rainbow and brook trout is fair. The pond remains unfrozen during the winter due to warm spring flows. Snow may make access difficult.

UMATILLA RIVER: steelhead

Angling effort was light and catch rates improved for the week of March 11-17; anglers averaged 5.5 hours per steelhead caught. Steelhead return numbers to Threemile Dam showed a positive increase after last week’s warm weather; 581 have returned in March pushing the season total to 2,090. Water conditions are currently good.

Updated Threemile Dam fish counts can be accessed at http://www.dfw.state.or.us/fish/fish_counts/

WALLOWA LAKE: rainbow trout, kokanee, lake trout

Wallowa Lake is currently frozen. The ice is beginning to thaw and become weak. VENTURING OUT ONTO THE ICE IS NOT RECOMMENDED.

WALLOWA RIVER: steelhead, trout, whitefish

Flows on the Wallowa River are prime for angling success. Anglers reported catch rates at a respectable 10 hours a fish over the last week. Steelhead will make their final push toward the hatchery facilities through March to the close of the season on April 15. This year’s run consists of a higher percentage of two-salt fish and anglers are catching large fish ranging from 27 to 31 inches. Remember, nearly 60 percent of the fish are returning to Wallowa Hatchery so fish can be caught throughout the river; remember to ask permission before accessing private land. Steelhead are taking a variety of gear from various baits under a float or bounced on the bottom to swung flies. Recent angler reports suggest jigs with green and black have been successful. Nymphing small flies including glo-bugs and prince nymphs, and large copper john like flies can be effective as well.

WILLOW CREEK RESERVOIR: Trout

Trout angling should be fair throughout the winter.

NORTHEAST ZONE HUNTING

OPEN: COUGAR, COYOTE

Phillip W. Schneider and Elkhorn wildlife areas are currently closed to public access.

Mandatory Reporting

Thanks to all hunters who reported their 2012 tags on time. Hunters who did not report 2012 deer and elk tags on time will pay a $25 penalty fee when they purchase a 2014 hunting license. If your 2012 deer and elk hunts extend into 2013, you have until April 15, 2013 to report your hunt. More information on reporting http://www.dfw.state.or.us/resources/hunting/reporting/index.asp

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. ODFW needs hunters’ assistance to establish wolves’ presence in Oregon; please report any wolf sightings or wolf sign to La Grande office (541) 963-2138 or online.

Use the Oregon Hunting Map to see where to hunt.

BAKER COUNTY

Cougar - 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.

Coyote - 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.

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. Locating a fresh, naturally made kill has the best chance of success.

Coyote - By all indications 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 - 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 District and hunters should have good success calling. Remember to ask permission before hunting on private lands.

UNION COUNTY

Cougar - 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. You need to be extremely patient and wear camo when calling cougars as they come in slowly and use every bit of cover as they approach. Using remote calls will focus the cat’s attention away from your blind. Remote motion devices next to the remote call will increase your chances of harvest. Above all, DO NOT MOVE! - their eyesight is excellent. 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 coming in.

Coyote - Coyote numbers are good throughout the district. Try calling in early morning and late afternoon. Remember to ask for permission before hunting on private properties.

LADD MARSH WILDLIFE AREA

With the close of authorized hunting seasons on the area, Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area is closed to hunting and to all entry. This includes all portions of the wildlife area both west and east of Foothill Rd. The Glass Hill Unit will re-open April 1.

A parking permit is needed for Ladd Marsh. Hunters get the permit free with their purchase of an annual hunting license. Display on car dash. More information

WALLOWA COUNTY

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: Cougar numbers are strong 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.

NORTHEAST ZONE VIEWING

GRANT COUNTY

Bighorn sheep can be viewed along the South Fork of the John Day. Sandhill cranes can be seen and heard as they migrate through the valley in large flocks. Bald eagles can be seen near the John Day River. The Phillip Schneider wildlife remains closed to access to protect wintering deer and elk. 3/19/13.

BAKER COUNTY

Bighorn sheep and mule deer can be viewed along the Snake River road between Huntington and Richland. Keep your eyes open as Bald Eagles are also plentiful in the area. Bighorn sheep in the Burnt River are down low in the canyon along the riparian areas and can be viewed from the road.

MORROW, GILLIAM AND WHEELER COUNTIES

Rough-legged hawks can be seen throughout most of the north half of the District. Short-eared owl can be seen along the grasslands of the north end of the District. Our year-round resident raptors, red-tailed hawks, Northern harriers, and American kestrels are all easily found. Heppner’s merlin has been seen in the area as well. The remaining ravens are our resident population, the mobs have headed south. Prairie falcons can also be seen in the area, although much rarer to be found. Sharp-shinned hawks can be seen along the riparian areas of the north half of the District.

In the yards of the district, one can find the common winter song birds around the feeder. Dark-eyed juncos, song sparrows, house sparrows, white-crowned sparrows are all easily found. American gold finches and Rufus sided towhees can also be see in the Heppner area. A northern shrike was also seen in the Heppner area.

Golden eagles can be found along Lost Valley Creek and along the foothills. Bald eagles are starting to show up along the John Day River, try the segment from Spray to Dayville for best chance to see them.

Waterfowl are finally showing up in numbers along the Columbia Rivers. The most common to be seen are mallards, American widgeon and Canada geese. But northern shovelers, Coot, blue wing, green wing, and cinnamon teals, buffleheads, and common mergansers can also be found. Common and Pied-billed grebes can be seen along the Columbia as well. Great blue herons are found along all of our streams that support fish. There are two that can be found most days between Heppner and Lexington along Willow Creek.

With winter here our deer in the area are all down on the winter range. Take a drive down Willow or Hinton creek bottoms to see mule deer. One can also spot great grey owls in the forest as well. Try the Swale Creek area, there is usually one that can be found in that area. 01/15/13.

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.

Power City Wildlife Area between Hermiston and Umatilla on Highway 395 is also characterized by both wetland and upland habitat. Birding in the early hours will offer opportunity at a number of summering bird species typical of Columbia Basin habitats. 11/6/12.

See the ODFW Wildlife Viewing Map for locations of these ODFW Wildlife Areas.

Umatilla County Uplands

Uplands and forested riparian areas will have a number of wintering birds.

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. 12/3/12.

UNION COUNTY

Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area

Note: Wildlife viewers and anglers 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 Public Access Area and Auto Route are now OPEN. The Glass Hill Unit remains closed to public access; it will re-open April 1. Visitors are advised to carefully read posted signs and consult game bird regulations before entering the wildlife area.

Dogs are not permitted within the Wildlife Area, on or off leash except during authorized 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.

At least 150 Tundra Swans and 5 or more Trumpeter Swans are using the area and have been seen on the refuge below Foothill Rd and on the Tule Lake wetlands as well as other locations. Greater White-fronted geese and Snow Geese are using the area along with many Canada geese. Thousands of ducks of several species are present including Northern Pintail, Mallards, American Wigeon, Green-winged Teal, Gadwall and Northern Shoveler.

Northern shrike and American tree sparrows continue to be seen in a variety of locations within the wildlife area along with White-crowned Sparrows and Song Sparrows. Say’s Phoebe, Tree Swallow and both Western and Mountain Bluebirds have made their first appearances of the season.

Northern harrier, red-tailed hawk and bald and golden eagles have all been seen hunting over the wildlife area. American kestrels can be seen perched on wires along the roads.

Both Greater and Lesser Sandhill Cranes have arrived on the area. Numbers are relatively low but we should see large flocks of Lessers passing through soon. At least one of the pairs that nest on Ladd Marsh is back and has been seen, along with last year’s young, in meadows below Foothill Rd. 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.

Elk movements into the wildlife area from Glass Hill and Craig Mountain have slowed as they are not moving down every day. Wildlife viewers are asked to use caution and keep some distance from elk, especially when they attempt to cross a county road or highway. When motorists approach too closely, they often prevent the animals from crossing or split the herd.

For more information on access rules for Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area, please consult the Oregon Game Bird Regulations or call the wildlife area (541) 963-4954. 3/5/13.

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