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Investigating passage of ESA-listed juvenile fall Chinook salmon at Lower Granite Dam during winter when the fish bypass system is not operated

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Abstract

During the winter of 2006-07, we radio and passive integrated transponder (PIT) tagged, and released 99 juvenile fall Chinook salmon to evaluate over-wintering behavior and dam passage in the lower Snake River, Washington. All fish were released 10 km upstream of Lower Granite Dam at Granite Point in early November, 2006. Fixed radio telemetry detection sites located in the forebay and tailrace areas of Lower Granite, Little Goose, Lower Monumental, Ice Harbor, Bonneville dams, and at Lyle, Washington were used to monitor fish movements and dam passage through early-May 2007. Of the 99 fish released during our study, 80 passed Lower Granite Dam and were detected at downstream detection sites, 37 passed Little Goose Dam, 41 passed Lower Monumental Dam, 31 passed Ice Harbor Dam, 18 passed Lyle, WA, and 13 passed Bonneville Dam. Of the fish that passed Lower Granite Dam in the fall, 63 fish did so during the extended bypass period from November 1 through December 16. Of these fish, 53 were also detected by the PIT-tag interrogation system. Fifteen of the fish that passed Lower Granite Dam in the fall continued to pass lower Snake River dams and exit the system by the end of January. The remaining fish either died, their tags failed, or they resided in Little Goose Reservoir until spring when relatively few continued their seaward migration. Passage of tagged fish past lower Snake River dams generally declined during the winter as temperatures decreased, but increased again in the spring as temperatures and flows increased. Fish residence times in reservoirs and forebays was lengthy during the winter (up to 160 d), and varied by reservoir and time of year. We observed no diel trends in fish passage. Very few fish were detected at PIT-tag interrogation sites in the spring compared to detection by radio telemetry detection sites indicating that fish may have passed via spill. We believe that passage of overwintering juvenile fall Chinook salmon during winter is due more to chance than directed downstream movement. Since the primary route of passage during the winter is through powerhouse turbines, the potential exists for increased mortality for over-wintering juvenile fall Chinook salmon in the Snake River. Our findings that some fish can pass undetected during the winter likely bias traditional smolt-to-adult return rate calculations that are typically used to measure the success of juvenile transportation studies.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype Other Government Series
Title Investigating passage of ESA-listed juvenile fall Chinook salmon at Lower Granite Dam during winter when the fish bypass system is not operated
Year Published 2007
Language English
Publisher Bonneville Power Administration
Contributing office(s) Western Fisheries Research Center
Description iv., 16 p.
Country United States
State Washington
Other Geospatial Lower Snake River