Skip to main content
Log in

Survival of captured and relocated adult spring-run Chinook salmon Oncorhynchus tshawytscha in a Sacramento River tributary after cessation of migration

  • Published:
Environmental Biology of Fishes Aims and scope Submit manuscript


We studied the efficacy of the process for capture and upstream relocation of 26 adult spring-run Chinook salmon in Butte Creek, California in 2009. These fish had ceased volitional upstream migration prior to reaching their summer holding habitat. The purpose of the relocation was to move fish upstream of two water diversion dams and release them in a part of the stream from which they could presumably swim to cool summer holding habitat, then spawn in the fall. Fish were netted, transported by truck, given an esophageal radio tag/temperature tag, and released. Radio tagging proved to be a useful technique for determining the survival and movement of relocated fish and temperature tags provide useful information to determine thermal exposure and time of death. Twenty-three tags (88 %) were recovered, compared with a 10 % tag recovery rate for an earlier study using fin clips. Most tags were recovered within 3.5 km upstream and 1 km downstream of the release site. A single tag was recovered 6 km upstream. No fish were determined to have survived to spawn. Temperature tag data indicate that most of the salmon died within 2–6 days after the relocation operation. After preventative measures have been exhausted, future relocations efforts, in any setting, should consider (1) intervention as soon as fish cease volitional migration but before they are exposed to further deleterious conditions (2) monitoring environmental conditions to choose appropriate release sites (3) evaluation of disease transmission risk, and (4) handling practices that minimize potential stress due to air immersion and thermal shock.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4

Similar content being viewed by others


  • Berman CH, Quinn TP (1991) Behavioural thermoregulation and homing by spring Chinook salmon, Oncorhynchus tshawytscha (Walbum), in the Yakima River. J Fish Biol 39:301–312

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Brett JR (1952) Temperature tolerance in young Pacific salmon, genus Oncorhynchus. J Fish Res Board Can 9:265–323

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • SSCSRT (Shasta-Scott Coho Salmon Recovery Team) (2003) Shasta and Scott River pilot program for coho salmon recovery: with recommendations relating to agriculture and agricultural water use. Prepared for the California Department of Fish and Game, July 28, 2003. p 119

  • Crossin GT, Hinch SG, Farrell AP, Higgs DA, Lotto AG, Oakes JD, Healey MC (2008) Exposure to high water temperature influences the behavior, physiology, and survival of sockeye salmon during spawning migration. Can J Zool 86:127–140

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Daniel M, Gebhards J, Hill R (2003) Johnson Creek artificial propagation and enhancement project operations and maintenance program; Brood year 2000: Johnson Creek Chinook salmon supplementation. 2000-2002 Biennial Report, Project No. 199604300, BPA Report DOE/BP-00004393-6

  • R Development Core Team (2010) R: a language and environment for statistical computing. R oundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria. ISBN 3-900051-07-0, URL

  • Engle R, Skalicky J (2009) Capture, transport and reintroduction of Lower Columbia River fall Chinook salmon into the upper White Salmon River: a conservation measure in preparation for Condit Dam removal. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Columbia River Fisheries Program Office

  • Garman C, McReynolds T (2009) Butte and Big Chico Creeks spring-run Chinook salmon, Oncorhynchus tshawytscha life history Investigation 2007-2008. California Department of Fish and Game, Inland Fisheries Division, North Central Region

  • Goniea TM, Keefer ML, Bjornn TC, Peery CA, Bennett DH, Stuehrenberg LC (2006) Behavioral thermoregulation and slowed migration by adult fall Chinook salmon in response to high Columbia River water temperatures. Trans Am Fish Soc 135:408–419

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Good TP, Waples RS, Adams P (2005) Updated status of federally listed ESUs of West Coast salmon and steelhead. U.S. Dept. Commerce. NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFS-NWFSC-66, p 598

  • Hayhoe K, Cayan D, Field CB, Frumhoff PC, Maurer EP, Miller NL, Moser SC, Schneider SH, Cahill KN, Cleland EE, Dale L, Drapek R, Hanemann RM, Kalkstein LS, Lenihan J, Lunch CK, Neilson RP, Sheridan SC, Verville JH (2004) Emissions pathways, climate change, and impacts on California. Proc Nat Acad Sci 101:12422–12427

    Article  PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Holt RA, Sanders JE, Zin JL, Pilcher KS (1975) Relaxation of water temperature to Flexibacter columnaris infection in steelhead trout (Salmo gairdneri), coho (Oncorhynchus kisutch), and Chinook (O. tshawytscha) salmon. J Fish Res Board Can 32:1553–1559

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Keefer ML, Peery CA, Ringe RR, Bjornn TC (2004a) Regurgitation rates of intragastric radio transmitters by adult Chinook salmon and steelhead during upstream migration in the Columbia and snake rivers. N Am J Fish Manage 24:47–54

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Keefer ML, Peery CA, Jepson MA, Stuehrenberg lC (2004b) Upstream migration rates of radio-tagged adult Chinook salmon in riverine habitats of the Columbia River basin. J Fish Biol 65:1126–1141

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Keefer ML, Caudill CC, Peery CA, Lee SR (2008) Transporting juvenile salmonids around dams impairs adult migration. Ecol Appl 18:1888–1900

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Keefer ML, Talylor GA, Garletts DF, Gauthier GA, Pierce TM, Caudill CC (2010) Prespawn mortality in adult spring Chinook salmon outplanted above barrier dams. Ecol Freshw Fish 19:361–372

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lankford SE, Adams TE, Cech JJ Jr (2003) Time of day and water temperature modify the physiological stress response in green sturgeon, Acipenser medirostris. Comp Biochem Physiol A 135:291–302

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Lindley ST, Schick RS, Mora E, Adams PB, Anderson JJ, Greene S, Hanson C, May BP, McEwan DR, MacFarlane RB, Swanson C, Williams JG (2007) Framework for assessing viability of threatened and endangered Chinook salmon and steelhead in the Sacramento-San Joaquin basin. San Francisco Estuary and Watershed Science 5:1–26

    Google Scholar 

  • NMFS (National Marine Fisheries Service), California Department of Fish and Game, US Fish and Wildlife Service (2009) Interagency fish rescue strategy. Accessed 21 July 2009

  • Maurer EP, Stewart IT, Bonfils C, Duffy PB, Cayan D (2007) Detection, attribution, and sensitivity of trends toward earlier streamflow in the Sierra Nevada. J Geophys Res-Atmos 112(D11118):1–12

    Google Scholar 

  • McReynolds T, Garman C (2009) Butte Creek spring-run Chinook salmon, Oncorhynchus tshawytscha pre-spawn mortality evaluation 2009. California Department of Fish and Game, Inland Fisheries Division, North Central Region

  • Moyle PB (2002) Inland fishes of California. University of California Press

  • Naughton GP, Caudill CC, Keefer ML, Bjornn TC, Stuehrenberg LC, Peery CA (2005) Late-season mortality during migration of radio-tagged adult sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) in the Columbia River. Can J Fish Aquat Sci 62:30–47

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Newell JC, Quinn TP (2005) Behavioral thermoregulation by maturing adult sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) in a stratified lake prior to spawning. Can J Zoolog 83:1232–1239

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pincetich C, Bouley P, Steiner T (2009) Summary of relocation of stranded salmonids from isolated pools in the San Geronimo Creek sub-watershed, 2009. Accessed 28 Feb. 2011

  • Plumb JA (1999) Health maintenance and principal microbial diseases of cultured fishes. Iowa State University, Ames

    Google Scholar 

  • Quinn TP, Hodgson S, Peven C (1997) Temperature, flow, and the migration of adult sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) in the Columbia River. Can J Fish Aquat Sci 54:1349–1360

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ramstad KM, Woody CA (2003) Radio tag retention and tag-related mortality among adult sockeye salmon. N Am J Fish Manage 23:978–982

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ross K (2007) Temperature effects on Trinity River, California, adult spring-run Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) metabolism and survival. MS Thesis: Colorado State University

  • Shotts EB Jr, Starliper CE (1999) Flavobacterial diseases: columnaris disease, cold-water disease and bacterial gill disease. In: Woo PTK, Bruno DW (eds) Fish diseases and disorders, vol. 3. Viral, bacterial and fungal infections. I Publishing, New York, pp 559–576

    Google Scholar 

  • Strange JS (2010) Upper thermal limits to migration in adult Chinook salmon: evidence from the Klamath River basin. Trans Am Fish Soc 139:1091–1108

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Thompson LC, Escobar MI, Mosser CM, Purkey DR, Yates D, Moyle PB (2011) Water management adaptations to prevent loss of spring-run Chinook salmon in California under climate change. J Water Resour Plann Manage. doi:10.1061/(ASCE)WR.1943-5452.0000194

  • Thorstad EB, Økland F, Finstad B (2000) Effects of telemetry transmitters on swimming performance of adult Atlantic salmon. J Fish Biol 57:531–535

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ward PD, McReynolds TR, Garman CE (2004) Butte Creek spring-run Chinook salmon, Oncorhynchus tshawytscha pre-spawn mortality evaluation 2003. California Department of Fish and Game, Inland Fisheries Division, North Central Region, Administrative Report No. 2004-5

  • Warren DE, Matsumoto S, Roessig JM, Cech JJ Jr (2004) Cortisol response of green sturgeon to acid-infusion stress. Comp Biochem Physiol A 137:611–618

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Yoshiyama RM, Fisher FW, Moyle PB (1998) Historical abundance and decline of Chinook salmon in the Central Valley region of California. N Am J Fish Manage 18:487–521

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Yoshiyama RM, Gerstung ER, Fisher FW, Moyle PB (2001) Historical and present distribution of Chinook salmon in the Central Valley drainage of California. In: Brown RL (ed) Contributions to the biology of Central Valley salmonids, volume 1. Fish Bulletin 179. The Resources Agency, Department of Fish and Game, State of California, pp 71–176

  • Zimmerman BC, Duke BB (1995) Trapping and transportation of adult and juvenile salmon in the lower Umatilla River in northeast Oregon—Umatilla River Basin Trap and Haul Program October 1994–September 1995, Annual Progress Report, Report to Bonneville Power Administration, Contract No. 1989BP98636, Project No. 198802200, 50 electronic (BPA Report DOE/BP-98636-2)

Download references


We thank Allen Harthorn, Pamela Posey, Michael Smith, and Scott Gailey of Friends of Butte Creek for hosting stationary radio receivers on their properties, providing excellent local information, and a place to sleep after long days of tracking; Clint Garman and Tracy McReynolds from the CDFG Chico office for providing transportation, great information, and allowing us to go along on the summer carcass surveys; the Yurok Tribe Fisheries Program for supplying radio tags and stationary receivers; Howard Brown of NMFS and Joe Johnson of CDFG for giving us permission to radio tag the salmon; Jim Bundy of Pacific Gas and Electric for providing access to the remote upper reaches of the summer holding habitat; Avery Cook for assistance in fish tracking and receiver maintenance, and finally, to the large group of CDFG, NMFS, and USFWS personnel who worked on the relocation. We also thank two anonymous reviewers for their thoughtful and constructive comments on several earlier versions this paper. This study was funded in part by US Environmental Protection Agency STAR Grant RD-833017.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Christopher M. Mosser.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Mosser, C.M., Thompson, L.C. & Strange, J.S. Survival of captured and relocated adult spring-run Chinook salmon Oncorhynchus tshawytscha in a Sacramento River tributary after cessation of migration. Environ Biol Fish 96, 405–417 (2013).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: