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Behavior and survival of hatchery rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) in the upper Cowlitz River Basin, Washington, 2013 and 2017

August 30, 2021

A two-year study (2013 and 2017) was conducted to determine if annual releases of hatchery rainbow trout (resident Oncorhynchus mykiss) in the upper Cowlitz River Basin, Washington adversely affected anadromous fish in the basin. Rainbow trout tagged with radio transmitters were monitored after release to describe movement patterns, entrainment rates at Cowlitz Falls Dam, and survival. Additionally, trout that were radio-tagged in 2017 were monitored during spring 2018 to determine if any moved upstream and entered tributaries where winter steelhead (anadromous Oncorhynchus mykiss) spawning occurs. A total of 580 hatchery rainbow trout (122 in 2013 and 458 in 2017) were radio-tagged and released at three release sites: (1) Cowlitz Falls Campground on Cowlitz River Arm of Lake Scanewa river kilometer (rkm) 155, (2) Cispus River Arm of Lake Scanewa rkm 1, and (3) Day Use Park on Cowlitz River Arm of Lake Scanewa rkm 146. Most radio-tagged trout (70 percent) remained within 6.4 rkm of the release site but some fish moved at least 25.7 rkm from the release site. The predominant movement direction was downstream. More than twice as many fish released at Cowlitz Falls Campground in 2017 (compared to the other two release sites) remained in the Cowlitz River, where potential overlap with steelhead occurs. A total of 28.3 percent of the study fish were entrained at Cowlitz Falls Dam. Apparent survival (time until movement ceased) for most tagged trout was fewer than 100 days from release in both years and no fish were detected moving during the spring following their release. In summary, hatchery rainbow trout released upstream from Cowlitz Falls Dam seem to remain primarily in Lake Scanewa or entrained at Cowlitz Falls Dam with few fish surviving to winter months. We found no evidence of hatchery trout interacting with steelhead in spawning tributaries during spring months. These results suggest that trout stocking in the upper Cowlitz River Basin poses minimal threat to anadromous fish in the basin.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2021
Title Behavior and survival of hatchery rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) in the upper Cowlitz River Basin, Washington, 2013 and 2017
DOI 10.3133/ofr20211085
Authors Amy C. Hansen, Tobias J. Kock, Brian K. Ekstrom, Theresa L. Liedtke
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 2021-1085
Index ID ofr20211085
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Western Fisheries Research Center