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Waterfowl Migration Reports — Pacific

Avery Outdoors takes a look at Waterfowl migration reports.

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SEASON SUMMARY

Name:  Allen Riggs

Location:Elk, WA

Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season:Warmer weather this year, water levels in the river fluctuated over the season.

Winter Snow Summary:  Snow levels are far below average.

Season Water Conditions:Water levels in river went up and down as water levels were controlled at the dam; water temps were warmer than usual.

Overall Feeding Conditions:Birds are still feeding in fields as snow hasn’t affected feeding.

Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years:Duck numbers were relatively low. Usually we see tens of thousands of divers starting in December. This year, diving ducks never seemed to appear.

Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years:Canada goose numbers were about average.

Notable Duck Migrations:Migrations were sparse and numbers were low.

Notable Goose Migrations:Goose migrations were average.

Overall Hunting Report:Hunting this year was sporadic and different week-to-week. The first two weeks of the year were very good, then the birds wised up and hunting became a little more work. The migrations were slow this year, so we were hunting more local birds which are accustomed to local hunting tactics. Throughout the season, a few new birds would show up and then they would be gone and it would be a while before new birds came in. We usually see a big diver population in mid-December until the end of the year. This year, they did not show up. The hunting has been on a downward trend over the last few years, mostly because of fewer birds in the area. The one upside to hunting was the Canada goose populations. Canada geese migrated through in fairly average numbers and we did have some good goose hunts.


Name:  Kent Contreras     

Location:Newport, Washington

Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season: This year’s weather was warmer and we had less snow than previous few years. October and November were mild with very few below freezing days. Snowfall amounts were almost non-existent for the first months of our season. December showed us a sign of winter with snow flurries and some below zero temps. January was non-typical with warmer temps and very little snowfall. 

Winter Snow Summary:  Snowfall accumulations for the winter were lower than average. We had one storm in the valley that produced enough snow for us to plow – 5 inches.

Season Water Conditions: Water conditions remained steady for most of the season with freezing temps locking up most still backwaters by the middle of December.

Overall Feeding Conditions:Excellent feeding conditions for the first half of the season then conditions dropped to moderate as fields were frozen and dabbling back water froze over.

Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years:Beginning of the season we had above average numbers of puddle ducks, but by the middle of December the puddle duck numbers dropped. Divers never really came up for the year. Puddle duck numbers jumped at the end of the season.

Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years: Goose numbers mimicked puddle duck numbers – they were average for the beginning of the season but dropped mid-season then picked back up at the end.

Notable Duck Migrations:Weather pushed birds out of the area in mid-December and they didn’t recover until mid to late January. Diver migration into the area occurred around the end of December but not in the big numbers like we are used to.

Notable Goose Migrations: We didn’t see big numbers of geese until the end of the season. Pretty much just local birds for the first part of the season then occasional impulses of birds from Thanksgiving on about every two weeks.

Overall Hunting Report:This year started out with good numbers of ducks harvested. Green winged teal and pintail were also heavy in the area for the first part of the season. Puddle ducks were our main birds for the season and kept us busy all year but fluctuated in numbers as noted above. Mallards were the staple and other species seemed to be a surprise. Goose numbers remained steady for the season with an occasional influx of new birds to the area about twice a month. We saw a lot of lesser Canada geese and even a few snows and specks (virtually unheard of for this area). We must have had a few pushes of these birds from surrounding flyways or they just got mixed in with the bigger flocks of Canada’s. Overall, this year’s hunting season was good. Harvest counts show we were about 2/3rds of the numbers as averaged in years past.


Name:Chris Wakefield

Location:Woodland, Washington

Notable Weather Changes/Differences this season:  We had an extremely dry waterfowl season this year.  We had a lot of ponds that never even formed as well as rivers backwater pockets that stayed dry all year.

Winter Snow Summary:  We received less than 1 inch of snow total all year, but I spent a lot of time hunting and I live at sea level.

Season Water Conditions:  Water was below our normal levels due to the lack of rainfall.  In the last 10 years I can’t remember getting so little precipitation.

Overall Feeding Conditions:  In my area we had a lot of harvested wheat and corn fields the geese hit the entire season.  We had several seed grass fields that the cacklers wouldn’t stay out of.  They also went to a lot of old berry fields with large amounts of nut grass, mostly old strawberry crops.  The ducks only hit our area in the fields early on, and then they hit the private ponds and river back water. 

Duck numbers compared to previous years:  I saw many puddle ducks early on in the season, then a two week cold spell sent a lot of them packing. Divers came in early on our lower river and their numbers grew for weeks. They were in very thick this year.

Goose numbers compared to previous years:  Canada geese were seen in thicker bunches and more consistently this season than last year.  We even had small amounts of specks and a few huge flocks of snow geese, which we rarely see in these parts.

Notable Duck Migrations:  Early in the season it looked like it was going to be a great year, but a cold spell drove all the birds away.

Notable Goose Migrations:  Aside from last year’s low numbers of geese, this year was back to what we are used to seeing.

Overall Hunting Report:  If we did the homework, our hunting success rate was really high.  When it wasn’t done properly it was dismal at best.  We also traveled a lot this year to go where birds were.  It was a good year for my hunting buddies and me.  We harvested a lot of big geese and puddle ducks as well as divers the few times we went after them.


Name:Gene Carter

Location:Yuba City, CA

Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season: Very unseasonable all weather season. No rain or wind this past week

Winter Snow Summary:  No snow

Season Water Conditions: Below normal – Record low water numbers.

Overall Feeding Conditions: Good

Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years: About the same as last year.

Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years: More snow geese where I hunt this year and the specks are up as well.

Notable Duck Migrations:Pintail & shovelers, very few teal or wigeon this past week.

Notable Goose Migrations: Geese, both snows and specks are feeding on dry fields pretty solid now off the water.

Overall Hunting Report: Fair – The best hunting has been for specks and snows in the dry fields – layout blinds and very large spreads of decoys.


Name:Travis Lyle

Location:Fernley, NV

Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season:  Went from extreme cold to above normal for highs by the end of the season.  Most areas were frozen for about a month.

Winter Snow Summary:  The snow still hasn’t arrived and it’s not looking good for the foreseeable forecast.

Season Water Conditions:Water levels were one of the lowest it’s been in years.  Most areas had no water. 

Overall Feeding Conditions:What areas had water had feed.  Not too much corn in the valley this year, but enough natural feed to keep the birds that did show up around for a little while.

Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years:Numbers were low all year due to the lack of water.  The birds just never had too many places to go without someone being there waiting to hunt.

Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years:The being of the year didn’t have much.  The last 2 weeks of the season seemed to push a lot of snows and honkers into the area.

Notable Duck Migrations:Most of the birds passed us by do to the big freeze we got early this year.

Notable Goose Migrations:The geese have really come on the last 2 weeks.  With them making their way back to the wintering grounds.   We went from a 100+ to well over a few thousand. 

Overall Hunting Report:You had to find open water early or you were not even going to hunt.  Then had to hope you got there first.  With not many places to hunt and everybody wanting to hunt made for a challenging season.  It was frustrating to say the least.  Overall you learn more when things are tougher and can find little hidden spots you didn’t even know that were there.   You had to scout and scout hard.  Wasn’t going to work like the past were you could go out and shoot not matter where you sat. The birds didn’t stay long do to the freeze and pressure from hunters.  We can only hope that we get some kind of winter this year.  Already talk of most of the duck/goose hunting areas will be completely dry this coming season.  Let’s hope that does not happen.


Name:  Travis Rowlett

Location:Fallon, Nevada

Notable Weather Changes/Differences This Season:This was a very dry year.  There was only one storm that brought any moisture.  There were extreme high and low temperatures. December was record-breaking lows with January bringing in above average highs

Winter Snow Summary:  To this point it has been an extremely dry year.  Precipitation at record lows for this winter.  As of right now if the snow pack doesn’t increase our water conditions will be the worst ever.

Season Water Conditions:The worst water conditions in over 20 years.  Our lack of water combined with the hard freeze at the beginning of December moved out all the birds very early this year.

Overall Feeding Conditions:Due to low water the feeding conditions were very poor.

Duck Numbers Compared to Previous Years:Duck numbers were relatively low. The birds just passed us by.

Goose Numbers Compared to Previous Years:Canada goose numbers were very low this year with all the drought conditions.

Notable Duck Migrations:Migrations were sparse and numbers were low.

Notable Goose Migrations:Goose migrations were sporadic and numbers were low.

Overall Hunting Report:As expected hunting was very poor this year. There were a few bright spots during the hard freeze for those who were able to find the birds.


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