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Raft the river, ride the rails starting Saturday

The historic Eagle Cap Excursion Train and Winding Waters Rafting announce the opening of the River to Rails Expedition season.

The experience will include a raft trip down the roadless Wallowa River from Minam to Rondowa, the confluence with the Grande Ronde River, where rafters meet up with the Eagle Cap Excursion Train.

Rafters leave the water and climb aboard the train for a scenic ride back up the canyon to Minam.

Two Waters, Two Adventures

Morgan Lake and Yaquina Bay share little in common in terms of fishing opportunities.Morgan Lake has rainbow trout and catfish. Yaquina Bay has rockfish, crab, chinook salmon, perch and sturgeon fisheries.

Yaquina Bay is accessible year round. Morgan Lake, by contrast, is often covered by ice at least four months a year.

Anglers never need more than 15-pound test line at Morgan Lake but might need 80-pound test line to pull in Yaquina Bay sturgeon.

Chinook season set to open on Imnaha, Wallowa

IMNAHA GRANDEUR: The fishing season for spring chinook on the Imnaha River opens Saturday and ends July 12. Eighty percent of the salmon returning to the Imnaha will be hatchery fish, predict biologists. The ODFW projects that 5,000 adult spring chinook will be in the Imnaha River - The Observer/PHIL BULLOCK
Spring chinook salmon, unlike many steelhead, waste little time migrating upstream from the mouth of the Columbia River to Northeast Oregon.

On Saturday morning, anglers will waste little time getting to the banks of the Wallowa and Imnaha rivers.

Anglers will be flocking to the rivers for the opening of a one-month hatchery spring chinook fishing season.

Students raise steelhead fry, release them in Morgan Lake

Add a new fish to the list of those in Morgan Lake — steelhead.

A total of 198 tiny steelhead were released into Morgan Lake May 20 by students in Michelle Cregger’s sixth grade Nature’s Studies classes. The fish are fry about a half inch long.

Cregger’s students had been raising the steelhead for about six weeks after receiving 400 fertilized eggs from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Wallowa Hatchery.

Outdoors becomes classroom for 6th-graders

ELGIN — A new chapter was added to a cherished tradition at Elgin’s Stella Mayfield School recently.

The 26th edition of Stella Mayfield’s Outdoor School was conducted at the Blue Mountain 4-H Center. About 28 of the school’s sixth-graders attended.

It’s two nights and three days the sixth-graders will remember long after they have forgotten facts they learned in the classroom about history and English.

Head to the pool when summer heats up

Swimmers frolic on Memorial Day at the Forest Cove Warm Springs Pool in Cove. The Observer/DICK MASON
Summer is still 22 days away but occasional temperature spikes already have people thinking of places where they can cool off.

People seeking sites to chill need look no further than three public pool sites in Union County plus Lehman Hot Springs, 41 miles southwest of La Grande, and the Sam-O Swim (YMCA Pool) Center in Baker City.

Here is information about prices and hours...

Dove Tales

Local residents may not realize that aliens are lurking in their backyards. These creatures have big red eyes, a dome-shaped head, can hover in flight and come equipped with sharp claws. Even their name, Streptopelia decaocto, sounds like something you’d see on the roster at Area 51. Their language resembles the cooing of an adolescent sasquatch.

But, before you dial the Men in Black, I must confess this tongue and cheek introduction is a bit misleading. The Eurasian collared dove is, indeed, alien to our neighborhoods, but seems to be a fairly benign addition to the bird feeding station. And, so far, no dove to human abductions have been recorded.

Bull elk numbers rise in Wallowa County

Wallowa County’s bull elk population may be at a four-decade high.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists observed 1,371 bull elk in Wallowa County last month during their annual spring aerial count. The total is the most bull elk spotted during a Wallowa County count since at least 1969 when the annual spring survey was started, said Enterprise ODFW Biologist Pat Matthews.

The previous high was 1,349 elk spotted in 2007.

Mountain awakens after long winter’s nap

“Spring has sprung, the grass is rizz. I wonder where the flowers is?”

— Author unknown

Spring has truly sprung on Mount Emily and the wild flowers are beginning to show their faces. The mountain is awakening after its long winter’s nap and various outdoor activities are once again beginning to happen.

The areas adjacent to Owsley Canyon Road and above Igo Lane are designated for non-motorized use and will be the focus of this month’s column.

Morgan Lake Fishing Derby - 118 people take part in event

THE CAT’S MEOW: Colt Foltz of Boise landed this 1-pound, 8.8-ounce catfish at the Morgan Lake Fishing Derby Saturday. The fish was the heaviest one taken at the derby. Submitted photo
Catfish are bottom feeders, but landing one at Morgan Lake can take an angler to the top of the local fishing world.

Just ask Colt Foltz of Boise. The youth landed a 1-pound, 8.8-ounce catfish Saturday at the annual Morgan Lake Fishing Derby. Colt’s catch was the top one in his age 6 and younger category. The catfish also was the heaviest fish caught by any of the 118 people who took part in the derby.

Catfish have been in Morgan Lake for years but were never planted there by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Someone illegally released some into Morgan Lake years ago and the fish took root.

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