Fish attempting to move upstream through hydroelectric dams can be trapped and killed in turbines. Understanding fish movement patterns can provide useful insights for how to manage dam operations to minimize fish kill in turbines. We evaluated the movements of two migratory fish (Curimba-Prochilodus argenteus and Mandi-Pimelodus maculatus) using acoustic telemetry in the tailrace of Três Marias Dam (São Francisco River, Brazil) from 31 October 2011 to 16 February 2012. The majority of tagged fish left the tailrace in less than one week; however, some individuals returned, performing several visits to the tailrace. Mandi remained longer in the tailrace than Curimba. The number of visits was influenced by diel period, turbine and spillway discharge. Although the diel period was the only important contributor to the visits performed by Curimba, the movements of Mandi were significantly influenced by three factors. We found that whereas Curimba was predominantly diurnal, Mandi showed nocturnal habits. Additionally, visits of Mandi were significantly greater during higher turbine and spillway discharge. We discuss the implications of these results for understanding fish movements in the Três Marias Dam tailrace and their potential implications for adapting hydroelectric operations to minimize fish kills.