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Influence of a guide net on the presence and behavior of fish near the selective water withdrawal structure in Lake Billy Chinook, Oregon, 2022

December 19, 2023

Imaging sonar was used to assess the influence of a fish guidance net, installed at the entrances to the selective water withdrawal (SWW) intake structure, in the forebay of Round Butte Dam, Oregon, on behavior, abundance, and timing of fish during the spring of 2022. The purposes of the SWW are (1) to direct surface currents in the forebay to attract and collect downriver migrating juvenile salmonid smolts (Chinook salmon [Oncorhynchus tshawytscha], sockeye salmon [O. nerka], and steelhead [O. mykiss]) from Lake Billy Chinook and (2) to enable operators of the SWW to withdraw water from surface and benthic elevations in the reservoir to manage downriver water temperatures. Part of the evaluation to determine how well the structure performs at collecting juvenile salmonids is (1) to regularly assess how fish are approaching the entrance, and (2) determine if operational flows and the installation of a guidance (lead) net near the SWW structure entrance can be optimized to increase the attraction of smolts present in the forebay of Lake Billy Chinook. The goal of this study was to provide data about the effects of the installation of a lead net on the movements and behaviors of juvenile salmonids near the entrance to the SWW to help inform decisions to improve downstream passage solutions.

Two imaging sonar units were deployed during the spring 2022 smolt out-migration period. One unit monitored fish movements near the south entrance and one unit monitored movements near the north entrance of the SWW, with the lead net between the two entrances. Both smolt and bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus)-size fish were regularly observed near the entrances, with greater abundances observed at night, corresponding with greater discharge through the SWW, as opposed to during the day when discharge was reduced. Smolt-size fish groups were primarily observed near the interior halves of each SWW entrance, and greater abundances of fish were observed at the south entrance. Increased counts of bull trout-size fish coincided with the increased abundances of smolt-size fish. Overall, the results indicate that (1) smolt-size fish were more abundant near the entrance of the SWW during periods of increased discharge, (2) bull trout-size fish were present at the SWW, and (3) a greater percentage of smolt-size fish were observed directed toward the entrances of the SWW during periods of increased discharge. The addition of the lead net may assist in orienting fish toward the entrances to the SWW.

Publication Year 2023
Title Influence of a guide net on the presence and behavior of fish near the selective water withdrawal structure in Lake Billy Chinook, Oregon, 2022
DOI 10.3133/ofr20231090
Authors Collin D. Smith, Tyson W. Hatton
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 2023-1090
Index ID ofr20231090
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Western Fisheries Research Center