Movements of adult Atlantic salmon in relation to a hydroelectric dam and fish ladder

A R D Gowans, J D Armstrong, I G Priede

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112 Citations (Scopus)


The movements of adult Atlantic salmon were recorded as they approached, entered and ascended the pool-and-orifice fish ladder at Pitlochry Dam, Scotland. Thirty-nine returning salmon were captured in the River Tummel by rod-and-line angling, radio-tagged and released near where they were caught. The subsequent movements of each fish were then monitored. An electronic fish counter collected additional data on movements of untagged fish past a fixed point in the ladder. Of the 39 fish that were radio-tagged, 29 individuals were recorded approaching and ascended the ladder. The remaining fish either did not approach the dam (three fish), approached the dam after detailed tracking had ended (two fish), were recaptured by anglers (three fish), or the radio tags failed (two fish). Salmon released earlier in the year delayed longer before first approaching the dam. Delays between first approaching the dam and ascent of the ladder were greater for fish that approached the dam earlier. Thr majority of salmon visited the ladder entrance more than once (maximum 10 visits) before ascending. Having entered, all but four salmon ascended the fish ladder successfully on their first attempt. The four individuals that failed to do so succeeded on their second attempt. The rate at which salmon ascended the ladder was related directly to temperature. The shortest ascent time of a radio-tagged salmon was 5.25 h. Movements of eight of 11 tagged fish through the ladder ceased with the onset of darkness but continued on the following morning. No radio-tagged fish entered the ladder at temperatures below 9 degrees C. Similarly, few untagged fish were recorded ascending the ladder by the electronic fish counter at water temperatures below 8.5 degrees C. Records from the fish counter indicated that 92% of upstream movements were made during daylight. (C) 1999 The Fisheries Society of the British Isles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)713-726
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Fish Biology
Publication statusPublished - 1999


  • Atlantic salmon
  • migration
  • fish pass
  • radio telemetry
  • hydroelectric


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