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Fishway entrance gate experiments with adult American Shad

November 15, 2019

The goal of this multiyear study was to examine how changes to an upstream fishway entrance impacted the passage rate of adult American shad (Alosa sapidissima). We evaluated a total of nine treatment conditions that consisted of three fishway entrance gate types and three submergence depths (i.e., the water surface elevation of the tailwater relative to the height of the gate crest). Approximately 2,000 wild, actively migrating shad participated in one of the 64 total trials (6–8 trials per treatment) that were conducted for this experiment. The three fishway entrance gate types were the vertical gate (the most common entrance gate type used in fishways), the overshot gate (less common in fishways), and the reversed overshot gate (novel to fishways). The submergence depths ranged from 30.5 to 91.4 cm above the gate crest. Increases to the submergence depth were shown to be the most influential predictor variable of passage time, followed by gate type and river temperature. The reversed overshot and overshot gates outperformed the vertical gate with the best performance occurring for the newly introduced reversed overshot gate type. The results of this study provide guidance on methods to improve fishway attraction and entry rates to numerous state and federal resource agencies and the hydropower industry.