The movements and dam passage of juvenile Chinook salmon implanted with acoustic transmitters and passive integrated transponder tags were studied at Cougar Reservoir and Dam, near Springfield, Oregon. The purpose of the study was to provide information to aid with decisions about potential alternatives for improving downstream passage conditions for juvenile salmonids in this flood-control reservoir. In 2011, a total of 411 hatchery fish and 26 wild fish were tagged and released during a 3-month period in the spring, and another 356 hatchery fish and 117 wild fish were released during a 3-month period in the fall. A series of 16 autonomous hydrophones throughout the reservoir and 12 hydrophones in a collective system near the dam outlet were used to determine general movements and dam passage of the fish over the life of the acoustic transmitter, which was expected to be about 3 months. Movements within the reservoir were directional, and it was common for fish to migrate repeatedly from the head of the reservoir downstream to the dam outlet and back to the head of the reservoir. Most fish were detected near the temperature control tower at least once. The median time from release near the head of the reservoir to detection within about 100 meters of the dam outlet at the temperature control tower was between 5.7 and 10.8 days, depending on season and fish origin. Dam passage events occurred over a wider range of dates in the spring and summer than in the fall and winter, but dam passage numbers were greatest during the fall and winter. A total of 10.5 percent (43 of 411) of the hatchery fish and 15.4 percent (4 of 26) of the wild fish released in the spring are assumed to have passed the dam, whereas a total of 25.3 percent (90 of 356) of the hatchery fish and 16.9 percent (30 of 117) of the wild fish released in the fall are assumed to have passed the dam. A small number of fish passed the dam after their transmitters had stopped working and were detected at passive integrated transponder detectors at various locations downstream of the dam, indicating some tagged fish passed the dam undetected. The rate of dam passage was affected by diel period, discharge, and reservoir elevation. Diel period was the most influential factor of those examined, with nighttime dam passage rates about 9 times greater than daytime rates, depending on the distance of fish from the dam outlet. Dam passage rates also were positively related to dam discharge, and negatively related to reservoir elevation. In the operational condition used as an example, fish approached the dam outlet at the temperature control tower from the south and east and, when most fish got near the tower, they were directly in front of it. In many cases, the results for wild and hatchery fish were similar, or the results suggested hatchery fish could be reasonable surrogates for wild fish. Hatchery-origin and wild-origin fish behaved similarly in the following ways: their general movements in the reservoir; the timing of their dam passage; and the effects of diel period, discharge, and elevation on their passage rates. Parasitic copepods were present on most wild fish examined, and the mortality of wild fish during capture, handling and tagging was much greater than that of hatchery fish. This suggests that the ability of wild fish to cope with stressors may be less than that of fish directly from the hatchery.
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Behavior and dam passage of juvenile Chinook salmon at Cougar Reservoir and Dam, Oregon, March 2011 - February 2012