In 2006, we collected larval Lost River sucker Deltistes luxatus (LRS), shortnose sucker Chasmistes brevirostris (SNS), and Klamath largescale sucker Catostomus snyderi (KLS) emigrating from spawning areas in the Williamson and Sprague Rivers. This work is part of a multi-year effort to characterize the relative abundance, drift timing, and length frequencies of larval suckers in this watershed prior to the removal of Chiloquin Dam on the lower Sprague River. Additional larval drift samples were collected from the Fremont Bridge on Lakeshore Drive on the south end of Upper Klamath Lake near its outlet to the Link River. Because of difficulties in distinguishing KLS larvae from SNS larvae, individuals identified as either of these two species were grouped together and reported as KLS-SNS in this report. We found that larval densities varied by site with the highest densities being collected at the most upstream site on the Sprague River at river kilometer (rkm) 108.0 near Beatty, Oregon (Beatty), and the most downstream sites near Chiloquin, Oregon; one site on the Sprague River at rkm 0.7 (Chiloquin) and the other site on the Williamson River at rkm 7.4 (Williamson). Larval catches were relatively small and sporadic at two other sites on the Sprague River located between Chiloquin and Beatty (Power Station at rkm 9.5 and Lone Pine at rkm 52.7) and one site on the Sycan River at rkm 4.7. Most larvae (79 percent) collected in 2006 were identified as LRS. More larvae and eggs were collected at Chiloquin than at any other site. The seasonal timing of larval drift varied by location; larvae generally were captured earlier at upstream sites than at downstream sites. Cumulative catch percentages of drifting larvae suggest that larval LRS emigrated earlier than KLS-SNS larvae at every site. Drift of LRS larvae at Beatty began 3 to 4 weeks earlier than at Chiloquin or Williamson. At Chiloquin, peak larval catches occurred 3 and 5 weeks after peak egg catches. The daily peak in larval drift at Chiloquin occurred approximately 1.5 to 2.0 hours after sunset. Nightly peak larval drift varied by location; larvae were captured earlier in the evening at sites closer to known spawning locations than sites farther away from these areas. The highest numerical catches of sucker-sized eggs were at Chiloquin indicating that this site is in close proximity to a spawning area. Numerical catches of older, more developed larval and juvenile suckers also were highest at Chiloquin. This may be due to the turbulent nature of this site, which could have swept larger fish into the drift. Proportional catches of older, more developed larval and juvenile suckers were highest at Sycan, Lone Pine, Power Station, and Fremont Bridge. This indicates these sites are located nearer to sucker nursery areas rather than spawning areas. Very few larval LRS were collected at Fremont Bridge at the south end of Upper Klamath Lake. Larval KLS-SNS densities at Fremont Bridge were the third highest of the seven sampling sites. Peak drift of larval KLS-SNS at Fremont Bridge occurred the week after peak drift of larval KLS-SNS at Williamson. Although inter-annual variation continues to appear in the larval drift data, our results continue to show consistent patterns of larval emigration in the drainage basin. In combination with data collected from the spawning movements and destinations of radio-tagged and PIT-tagged adult suckers, this larval drift data will provide a baseline standard by which to determine the effects of dam removal on the spawning distribution of endangered Klamath Basin suckers in the Sprague River.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Patterns of Larval Sucker Emigration from the Sprague and Lower Williamson Rivers of the Upper Klamath Basin, Oregon, Prior to the Removal of Chiloquin Dam - 2006 Annual Report