Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 94, Issue 2, pp 363–375

Migration characteristics of hatchery and natural-origin Oncorhynchus mykiss from the lower Mokelumne River, California

  • S. Casey Del Real
  • Michelle Workman
  • Joseph Merz


The lower Mokelumne River (LMR), located in the California Central Valley, supports a population of natural-origin Oncorhynchus mykiss. In addition, the Mokelumne River Fish Hatchery (Hatchery) contributes hatchery produced O. mykiss to the system annually. We conducted a 3 year acoustic tagging study to evaluate the migratory characteristics of LMR hatchery and natural-origin O. mykiss to the Pacific Ocean. Specifically, we analyzed downstream movement and migration rates, routes, and success of acoustically tagged O. mykiss of hatchery and natural origin under variable release locations in non-tidal and tidal habitats. Results from our study suggest there are significant differences in the proportion of hatchery and natural O. mykiss that demonstrate downstream movement. Fish origin, size, and release location all had a significant effect on whether an individual demonstrated downstream movement. Mokelumne origin O. mykiss that initiated downstream movement utilized numerous migration routes throughout the Delta during their migration towards the Pacific Ocean. We identified four primary migration pathways from the lower Mokelumne River through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta while the Delta Cross Channel was closed. However, several other pathways were utilized. Origin had a significant effect on O. mykiss success in reaching key points in the Delta and through the Estuary. Fish size had a significant effect on whether an individual reached the marine environment. Of the 467 O. mykiss tagged, 34 successfully reached the Pacific Ocean (Golden Gate Bridge), and of these, 33 were hatchery-origin and 1 was natural-origin. A higher proportion of hatchery-origin fish (10% of tagged) migrated to the ocean compared to natural-origin fish (<1%). Our study provides valuable information on the differences between hatchery and natural-origin O. mykiss migration characteristics as well as unique insight into the migratory behavior of little studied non-Sacramento River origin salmonids.


Mokelumne River Oncorhynchus mykiss Acoustic telemetry Migratory behavior Hatchery release strategies 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Casey Del Real
    • 1
  • Michelle Workman
    • 2
  • Joseph Merz
    • 3
  1. 1.East Bay Municipal Utility DistrictLodiUSA
  2. 2.United States Fish and Wildlife ServiceStocktonUSA
  3. 3.Cramer Fish SciencesAuburnUSA

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