Steelhead Kelt Reconditioning and Reproductive Success: 2012 Annual Report
Post-spawn steelhead represent a portion of the population that have successfully survived through an entire life cycle culminating with spawning. Reconditioning these kelts may counter the negative selective forces against iteroparity associated with the hydrosystem, thereby helping to preserve the evolutionary legacy of the species. Kelt reconditioning starts with the introduction of feed, thereby enabling kelts to survive and rebuild energy reserves required for gonadal development and repeat spawning. Techniques used in kelt reconditioning were initially developed for Atlantic Salmon Salmo salar and Sea-Trout S. trutta. We are estimating survival and return rates of artificially reconditioned kelt steelhead subjected to various management treatments ranging from low to high intensity efforts. Although it is difficult to observe individual fish spawning in the wild and even more difficult to assess the viability and quality of gametes produced in the wild, we are conducting experiments (gamete/progeny viability and reproductive success) that will aid in determining the extent to which reconditioned kelts are contributing to subsequent generations. The overall success of kelt reconditioning, when in full production, can be assessed most accurately based on the number of individuals that successfully spawn in the wild following reconditioning and release.
Hatch, D.R., R. Branstetter, J. Stephenson, A. Pierce, A. Matala, and J. Newell. 2013. Steelhead kelt reconditioning and reproductive success: 2012 annual report. Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission Technical Report 13-10. Portland, OR. 342p.