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Impoundment of the Snake River, Washington, has resulted in high water temperatures and late seaward migration of juvenile fall chinook salmon during summer months. To determine if juvenile fall chinook salmon are exposed to temperatures higher than the upper incipient lethal, we tagged groups of fish with temperature-sensing radio tags and tracked them in Little Goose Reservoir on the Snake River during the summers of 1998 and 1999. Spatial and temporal patterns of the reservoir's thermal environment were described using a bathythermograph. Little Goose Reservoir was generally homothermic, and temperatures selected by fish were typically not significantly different from mean water temperatures. No areas of thermal refugia existed in Little Goose Reservoir. Thermal exposure was most influenced by fish residence time in the reservoir within each year and by temperature differences between years. Current augmentation of Snake River summer flows with cold-water releases from Dworshak Dam in Idaho reduces the thermal exposure of juvenile fall chinook salmon by lowering water temperatures up to 4??C and may therefore increase their survival. Continued flow augmentation using water from Dworshak Reservoir may be the only mechanism to meet the temperature standard for the lower Snake River.
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Thermal exposure of juvenile fall chinook salmon migrating through a lower Snake River Reservoir