Radio telemetry was used to evaluate the seasonal movement, activity level, and home range size of adult brown trout Salmo trutta in the Chattooga River watershed, one of the southernmost coldwater stream systems in the United States. In all, 27 adult brown trout (262-452 mm total length) were successfully monitored from 16 November 1995 to 15 December 1996. During the day, adult brown trout were consistently found in small, well-established home ranges of less than 270 m in stream length. However, 8 of a possible 18 study fish made spawning migrations during a 2-week period in November 1996. The daytime locations of individual fish were restricted to a single pool or riffle-pool combination, and fish were routinely found in the same location over multiple sampling periods. Maximum upstream movement during spawning was 7.65 km, indicating that brown trout in the Chattooga River have the ability to move long distances. Spawning brown trout returned to their prespawning locations within a few days after spawning. Brown trout maintained larger home ranges in winter than in other seasons. When spawning-related movement was deleted from the analysis, brown trout moved more on a weekly basis in fall than in summer. Brown trout were more active in fall and winter than in spring and summer. Apart from spawning migrations, displacement from established home ranges was not observed for any fish in the study. Although summer water temperatures reached and exceeded reported upper thermal-preference levels, brown trout did not move to thermal refuge areas in nearby tributaries during the stressful summer periods.
Additional publication details
Seasonal movement of brown trout in a southern appalachian river