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Adult Sockeye Salmon Responses to Transplanting Upstream of an Impassable Dam

Sep 23, 2021


The Yakama Nation manages a program for reintroducing Sockeye Salmon Oncorhynchus nerka upstream of Cle Elum Dam in the Yakima River basin. The program involves transplanting of a mix of adult Sockeye Salmon from two middle Columbia River donor stocks, Lake Wenatchee (WEN) and Osoyoos Lake (OSO), with the goal of establishing a self-sustaining population in the basin. In 2017, a subset of the transplanted population was radio-tagged and monitored to assess stock-specific responses to transplanting, including downstream entrainment at Cle Elum Dam (“fallback”) and prespawn mortality. Tagged fish were active during the first two weeks after release: some fish moved upstream into the Cle Elum River and then returned to the reservoir; other fish moved downstream and passed Cle Elum Dam. Movement within the study area diminished during August but increased in September when fish began migrating up the Cle Elum River for spawning. A greater proportion of WEN fish (76.3%) were detected entering the river compared to OSO fish (53.9%). The hazard ratio from a multistate analysis of fish behavior indicated that WEN fish were nine times more likely to enter the river than OSO fish. The WEN fish also initiated upstream movement three weeks earlier than OSO fish. We found that 27.0% of all tagged fish were lost to the spawning population through fallback (20.7%) and prespawn mortality (6.3%). Fallback and pre-spawn mortality occurred for a greater percentage of OSO fish (26.9% and 7.7%) than WEN fish (15.3% and 5.1%) but these differences were not statistically different. These results provide foundational information from the early phase of a reintroduction effort. Continued monitoring will be required as Sockeye Salmon evolve to conditions upstream of Cle Elum Dam, and results from these efforts will provide valuable insights for this reintroduction effort and others in river systems with similar characteristics.


Tobias Kock, Scott Evans, Brian Saluskin, Andrew Matala, Richard Visser, Mark Johnston, Peter Galbreath, and Adam Pope


Kock, T.J., S.D. Evans, B.P. Saluskin, A.P. Matala, R. Visser, M.V. Johnston, P.F. Galbreath, and A.C. Pope. 2021. Adult Sockeye Salmon responses to transplanting upstream of an impassable dam. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 41(6):1640-1651. Online at



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Journal Article