Monitoring Fish Abundance and Behavior, Using Multi-Beam Acoustic Imaging Sonar, at a Selective Water Withdrawal Structure in Lake Billy Chinook, Deschutes River, Oregon, 2020

Open-File Report 2022-1038
Prepared in cooperation with Portland General Electric
By: , and 



Collection of juvenile salmonids at Round Butte Dam is a critical part of the effort to enhance populations of anadromous fish species in the upper Deschutes River because fish that are not collected at the dam may either incur increased mortality during dam passage or remain landlocked and lost to the anadromous fish population. Adaptive resolution imaging sonar systems were used to assess the behavior, abundance, and timing of fish at the entrance to the Selective Water Withdrawal (SWW) intake and fish collection structure located in the forebay of Round Butte Dam during the spring of 2020. The purpose of the SWW is to direct surface currents in the forebay to attract and collect downriver migrating juvenile salmonid smolts (Chinook salmon [Oncorhynchus tshawytscha], sockeye salmon [O. nerka], and steelhead [O. mykiss]) from Lake Billy Chinook and to enable operators of the SWW to withdraw water from surface and benthic elevations in the reservoir to manage downriver water temperatures. The objective of this study was to assess the abundance and behaviors of smolt-size fish (95–300 millimeters) observed near the SWW and to determine if the presence of bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus; >350 millimeters), the predominant predator of juvenile salmonids, influenced the behavior of downriver migrants.

Two imaging sonar units were deployed during the spring of 2020 smolt out-migration period. One unit monitored fish movements near the entrances and one unit monitored in one of the collection flumes of the SWW. The imaging sonar technology was informative for assessing abundance and spatial and temporal behaviors of smolt and bull trout-size fish. Smolt and bull trout-size fish were regularly observed near the entrance to and in the collection flume. Increased abundances were observed during the night, with corresponding increased discharge through the SWW, compared to during the day when discharge was reduced. Behavioral differences also were observed at different discharge rates, with smolt-size fish exhibiting more directed movement toward the collector during periods of increased discharge. Additionally, the presence of bull trout-size fish may have affected the behavior of smolt-size fish because a greater percentage of smolt-size fish were observed traveling away from the SWW when bull trout-size fish were present than when bull trout-size fish were absent. Increased counts of bull trout-size fish coincided with the increased abundances of smolt-size fish. Overall, the results indicate that smolt-size fish are more abundant near the entrance and in the flume of the SWW during periods of increased discharge, and bull trout-size fish were present at the SWW and may have affected smolt collection.

Suggested Citation

Smith, C.D., Hatton, T.W., and Adams, N.S., 2022, Monitoring fish abundance and behavior, using multi-beam acoustic imaging sonar, at a Selective Water Withdrawal structure in Lake Billy Chinook, Deschutes River, Oregon, 2020: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2022–1038, 31 p.,

ISSN: 2331-1258 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Methods
  • Results
  • References Cited
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Monitoring fish abundance and behavior, using multi-beam acoustic imaging sonar, at a Selective Water Withdrawal structure in Lake Billy Chinook, Deschutes River, Oregon, 2020
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 2022-1038
DOI 10.3133/ofr20221038
Year Published 2022
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Western Fisheries Research Center
Description viii, 31 p.
Country United States
State Oregon
Other Geospatial Lake Billy Chinook, Round Butte Dam
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details