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Kelt Reconditioning and Reproductive Success Evaluation Research: 2013 Annual Technical Report

Jan 1, 2014


The Kelt Reconditioning and Reproductive Success Evaluation Project is a research, monitoring, and evaluation (RM&E) category project funded through the Columbia Basin Fish Accords.   The project studies and evaluates two broad topics with respect to post-spawn steelhead, first it assesses reconditioning processes and strategies, and second, it measures reproductive success of artificially reconditioned kelt steelhead. It associates with RPAs 33 and 64 in the Federal Columbia River Power System Biological Opinion. This project focuses on reconditioning kelt stage steelhead and resolving artificial propagation critical uncertainties primarily through relative reproductive success studies. Collection of steelhead kelts occurred at the juvenile bypass facilities of Prosser and Lower Granite dams, with some additional collection also at Dworshak National Fish Hatchery. Experimental scale long-term kelt reconditioning survival data was compared from 3 locations including; the Okanogan, Snake, and Yakima rivers, where survival rates in long-term reconditioning was 8.2%, 51.8%, and 48.7% respectively. A total of 110 wild female B-run steelhead were collected at Lower Granite Dam from April to June and transported to Dworshak National Fish Hatchery for reconditioning. Fifty-seven of these fish survived reconditioning and were released downstream of Lower Granite Dam in October 2013. Additionally, 24 B-run kelt steelhead were retained for reconditioning after air spawning at Dworshak Hatchery. These fish were part of project that is developing localized broodstock for the South Fork Clearwater River. Following reconditioning 12 of these fish were released back into the South Fork Clearwater River. In total 69 wild B-run steelhead were reconditioned and released back into the Snake River system aimed at addressing RPA 33. From 2002 through 2011 we collected and transported 2,698 kelt steelhead from Lower Granite Dam to below Bonneville Dam of which 29 (0.01%) were detected returning upstream at Bonneville Dam. From 2005 through 2013, 669 kelt steelhead were PIT tagged and released in the Yakima River representing the control group and so far 21 (3.4%) fish were detected returning to Bonneville Dam. The genetic stock structure of Snake River Basin kelt steelhead was examined using 187 SNP markers extracted from emigrating fish collected at Lower Granite Dam. The kelt steelhead population composition at the Lower Granite Dam Juvenile Bypass Separator from 2009-2012 was Upper Salmon (0.39); Grande Ronde/ Lower Snake (Tied) (0.16); Middle Fork Salmon (0.09); and, Imnaha (0.06), reporting groups based on a sample size of 4,138. A portion of kelts in the long-term reconditioning at Prosser were used in feeding trial that compared an “orange” diet that was comprised of a mix of customized Bio-oregon brood pellets top coated with a mix of cyclopeeze and Alaskan fish oil versus the standard diet (customized Bio-oregon diet and krill). The orange diet median muscle lipid levels increased by 0.4% in 2013, and 0.6% in 2012. Emamectin benzoate (emamectin) testing continued as a possible alternative to ivermectin which had been used to reduce Salmincola, a genus of parasitic copepod that can inhibit oxygen uptake and gas exchange at the gill lamellae/water surface interface. Results demonstrated a dramatic reduction in mortality that was substantial and consistent between years: after 90 days, mortality in emamectin treated fish was 33.2% less than ivermectin treated fish in 2011, and 34.8% in 2012. We have determined that at least 4 of 11 reconditioned kelt steelhead have successfully produced offspring in Omak Creek and an additional 4 juveniles successfully assigned to reconditioned kelts in the Yakima River in 2012. This research project contributed three papers to published literature and 12 presentations at professional conferences in 2013.


Doug Hatch, Ryan Branstetter, Jeff Stephenson, Andrew Pierce, Andrew Matala, John Whiteaker, Robert Lessard, L. Caldwell, Scott Everett, Bill Bosch, Ronda Dasher, Joe Blodgett, David Fast, Rebecca Johnson, Neil Graham, Laura Jenkins, Tim Cavileer, Kali Turner, James Nagler, Micheal Fiander, Chris Federickson, Jim Gidlery, Chris Brun, Bobby Begay, and Jeremiah Newell


Hatch D., R. Branstetter, J. Stephenson, A. Pierce, A. Matala, J. Whiteaker, R. Lessard, L. Caldwell, S. Everett, B. Bosch, R. Dasher, J. Blodgett, D. Fast, R. Johnson, N. Graham, L. Jenkins, T. Cavileer, K. Turner, J. Nagler, M. Fiander, C. Federickson, J. Gidlery, C. Brun, B. Begay, J. Newell. Kelt Reconditioning and Reproductive Success Evaluation Research: 2013 Annual Technical Report 14-06, 1/1/2013-12/31/2013. Bonneville Power Administration Annual Report, Contract 2007-401-00. 144p.



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Inter-Agency Report