San Francisco Estuary and Watershed Science
Movement and Apparent Survival of Acoustically Tagged Juvenile Late-Fall Run Chinook Salmon Released Upstream of Shasta Reservoir, California
- Author(s): Plumb, John
- Hansen, Amy
- Adams, Noah
- Evans, Scott
- Hannon, John
- et al.
Stakeholder interests have spurred the reintroduction of the critically endangered populations of Chinook Salmon to tributaries upstream of Shasta Dam, in northern California. We released two groups of acoustically tagged, juvenile hatchery, late-fall Chinook Salmon to determine how juvenile salmon would distribute and survive. We measured travel times to Shasta Dam, and the number of fish that moved between locations within Shasta Reservoir. We used mark-recapture methods to determine detection and apparent survival probabilities of the tagged fish as they traveled through five reaches of the Sacramento River from the McCloud River to San Francisco Bay (~590 km) over the two 3-month observation periods. After our first (February) release of 262 tagged fish, 182 fish (70%) were detected at least once at the dam, 41 (16%) were detected at least once downstream of Shasta Dam, and 3 (1%) traveled as far as San Francisco Bay. After the second (November) release of 355 tagged fish, only 4 (1%) were detected at Shasta Dam. No fish were detected below Shasta Dam, so we could not estimate survival for this second release group. The first release of fish was fortuitously exposed to exceptionally high river flows and dam discharges, which may have contributed to the more distant downstream migration and detection of these fish — though other factors such as season, diploid versus triploid, and fish maturation and size may have also contributed to release differences. The reported fish travel times as well as detection and survival rates are the first estimates of juvenile salmon emigration from locations above Shasta Dam in more than 70 years. This information should help inform resource managers about how best to assess juvenile winter-run Chinook Salmon and assist in their reintroduction to watersheds upstream of Shasta Dam.