Acoustic telemetry was used to determine spring to summer (April–August) movement and habitat use of bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus) in Arrowrock Reservoir (hereafter “Arrowrock”), a highly regulated reservoir in the Boise River Basin of southwestern Idaho. Water management practices annually use about 86 percent of the reservoir water volume to satisfy downstream water demands. These practices might be limiting bull trout habitat and movement patterns. Bull trout are among the more thermally sensitive coldwater species in North America, and the species is listed as threatened throughout the contiguous United States under the Endangered Species Act. Biweekly water-temperature and dissolved-oxygen profiles were collected by the Bureau of Reclamation at three locations in Arrowrock to characterize habitat conditions for bull trout. Continuous streamflow and water temperature also were measured immediately upstream of the reservoir on the Middle and South Fork Boise Rivers, which influence habitat conditions in the riverine zones of the reservoir. In spring 2012, 18 bull trout ranging in total length from 306 to 630 millimeters were fitted with acoustic transmitters equipped with temperature and depth sensors. Mobile boat tracking and fixed receivers were used to detect released fish. Fish were tagged from March 28 to April 20 and were tracked through most of August. Most bull trout movements were detected in the Middle Fork Boise River arm of the reservoir. Fifteen individual fish were detected at least once after release. Water surface temperature at each fish detection location ranged from 6.0 to 16.2 degrees Celsius (°C) (mean=10.1°C), whereas bull trout body temperatures were colder, ranging from 4.4 to 11.6°C (mean=7.3°C). Bull trout were detected over deep-water habitat, ranging from 8.0 to 42.6 meters (m) (mean=18.1 m). Actual fish depths were shallower than total water depth, ranging from 0.0 to 24.5 m (mean=6.7 m). The last bull trout was detected in early June, suggesting that fish used little, if any, summertime habitat within the reservoir. Water-quality profile measurements indicated that temperature could limit bull trout use of the reservoir during warm, summer months that coincide with decreased water volume. Thermal refuge during this study appeared to be limited based on scarcity of water that was 15°C and cooler. From the first week of August through the latter part of September, little if any suitable habitat remained for bull trout, with most temperatures exceeding 15°C at all locations where water quality profiles were measured.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus) movement in relation to water temperature, season, and habitat features in Arrowrock Reservoir, Idaho, 2012