The amount of time radio-tagged juvenile spring chinook salmon Oncorhynchus tshawytscha and juvenile steelhead O. mykiss spent within a gatewell and the juvenile collection channel at McNary Dam, Columbia River, USA, was measured to determine the diel passage behavior and residence times within these portions of the juvenile bypass system. The median gatewell residence times were 8.9 h for juvenile chinook salmon and 3.2 h for steelhead. Juvenile spring chinook salmon spent 83% of their time in the 18-m-deep gatewell at depths of 9 m or less, and juvenile steelhead spent 96% of their time in the upper 11 m. Fish released during midday and those released in the evening generally exited the gatewell in the evening, indicating that fish entering the gatewell during daylight will have prolonged residence times. Median collection-channel residence times of juvenile chinook salmon were much shorter (2.3 min) than those of steelhead (28.0 min), most likely because of the greater size of the steelhead and the high water velocities within the channel (2.1 m/s). This and other studies indicate most juvenile salmonids enter gatewells of several Columbia and Snake river dams in the evening and pass into the collection channels quickly. However, this is not consistent with the natural in-river migration patterns of these species and represents a delay in dam passage.
Additional publication details
Residence times and diel passage distributions of radio-tagged juvenile spring chinook salmon and steelhead in a gatewell and fish collection channel of a Columbia River Dam