Juvenile salmonid monitoring in the White Salmon River, Washington, post-Condit Dam removal, 2016

Open-File Report 2017-1070
Prepared in cooperation with Mid-Columbia Fisheries Enhancement Group
By:  and 



Condit Dam, at river kilometer 5.3 on the White Salmon River, Washington, was breached in 2011 and removed completely in 2012, allowing anadromous salmonids access to habitat that had been blocked for nearly 100 years. A multi-agency workgroup concluded that the preferred salmonid restoration alternative was natural recolonization with monitoring to assess efficacy, followed by a management evaluation 5 years after dam removal. Limited monitoring of salmon and steelhead spawning has occurred since 2011, but no monitoring of juveniles occurred until 2016. During 2016, we operated a rotary screw trap at river kilometer 2.3 (3 kilometers downstream of the former dam site) from late March through May and used backpack electrofishing during summer to assess juvenile salmonid distribution and abundance. The screw trap captured primarily steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss; smolts, parr, and fry) and coho salmon (O. kisutch; smolts and fry). We estimated the number of steelhead smolts at 3,851 (standard error = 1,454) and coho smolts at 1,093 (standard error = 412). In this document, we refer to O. mykiss caught at the screw trap as steelhead because they were actively migrating, but because we did not know migratory status of O. mykiss caught in electrofishing surveys, we simply refer to them as O. mykiss or steelhead/rainbow trout. Steelhead and coho smolts tagged with passive integrated transponder tags were subsequently detected downstream at Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River. Few Chinook salmon (O. tshawytscha) fry were captured, possibly as a result of trap location or effects of a December 2015 flood. Sampling in Mill, Buck, and Rattlesnake Creeks (all upstream of the former dam site) showed that juvenile coho were present in Mill and Buck Creeks, suggesting spawning had occurred there. We compared O. mykiss abundance data in sites on Buck and Rattlesnake Creeks to pre-dam removal data. During 2016, age-0 O. mykiss were more abundant in Buck Creek than in 2009 or 2010, though age-1 and older O. mykiss abundance was similar. In Rattlesnake Creek, age-0 O. mykiss abundance during 2016 slightly exceeded the mean abundance from 2001 through 2005, although age-1 and older O. mykiss abundance was lower than from 2001 through 2005. These sampling efforts also provided the opportunity to collect genetic samples to investigate parental and stock origin, although funding to analyze the samples was not part of this grant. Juvenile salmonid sampling efforts during 2016 have shown that natural spawning produced steelhead and coho smolts and that coho were colonizing some tributaries. The 2016 efforts also provided the first post-dam juvenile abundance estimates. We hope to continue monitoring to better understand abundance trends, distribution, and life history patterns of recolonizing salmonids in the White Salmon River to assess efficacy of natural recolonization and to inform management decisions.

Suggested Citation

Jezorek, I.G., and Hardiman, J.M., 2017, Juvenile salmonid monitoring in the White Salmon River, Washington, post-Condit Dam removal, 2016: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2017-1070, 34 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20171070.

ISSN: 2331-1258 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Description of Study Site
  • Study Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Acknowledgments
  • References Cited
  • Appendix A. Length Frequencies
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Juvenile salmonid monitoring in the White Salmon River, Washington, post-Condit Dam removal, 2016
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 2017-1070
DOI 10.3133/ofr20171070
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Western Fisheries Research Center
Description iv, 34 p.
Country United States
State Washington
Other Geospatial White Salmon River watershed
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details