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  • Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project (FERC No. 14241)

    Study of Fish Distribution and Abundance in the Middle and Lower Susitna River Study (Study 9.6)

    2013-2014 Winter Fish Study

    Technical Memorandum

    Prepared for

    Alaska Energy Authority

    Prepared by

    R2 Resource Consultants Inc. &

    LGL Alaska Research Associates, Inc.

    September 2014

  • TECHNICAL MEMORANDUM 2013-2014 WINTER FISH STUDY

    TABLE OF CONTENTS 1. Introduction ........................................................................................................................9 2. Study Objectives.................................................................................................................9 3. Study Area ........................................................................................................................10 4. Methods .............................................................................................................................10

    4.1. Study Site Selection .........................................................................................10

    4.1.1. Fish Habitat Associations and Abundance ................................... 10

    4.1.2. Sonar ............................................................................................. 11

    4.1.3. PIT Tag Arrays ............................................................................. 11

    4.2. Sampling Frequency ........................................................................................11

    4.3. Fish Sampling Techniques ...............................................................................11

    4.3.1. Electrofishing ................................................................................ 12

    4.3.2. Minnow Traps ............................................................................... 12

    4.3.3. Trotlines/Set Lines ........................................................................ 12

    4.3.4. Underwater Video ......................................................................... 13

    4.3.5. Sonar ............................................................................................. 13

    4.3.6. PIT Tag Arrays ............................................................................. 15

    4.3.7. Radio Telemetry ............................................................................ 15

    4.4. Methods to Accomplish Objective 1 ................................................................16

    4.5. Methods to Accomplish Objective 2 ................................................................17

    4.5.1. Radio Telemetry ............................................................................ 17

    4.5.2. PIT Tags ........................................................................................ 19

    4.6. Methods to Accomplish Objective 3 ................................................................19

    4.6.1. Emergence Timing of Pacific Salmon .......................................... 19

    4.6.2. Movement of Juvenile Anadromous Salmonids ........................... 19

    4.6.3. Juvenile Salmonid Diurnal Behavior by Season. .......................... 19

    4.7. Methods to Accomplish Objective 4 ................................................................20

    4.7.1. Seasonal Size Class ....................................................................... 20

    4.7.2. Growth .......................................................................................... 20

    4.7.3. Condition....................................................................................... 20

    4.8. Methods for Tissue Collection to Support the Fish Genetic Baseline Study (ISR Study 9.14). .............................................................................................21

    5. Results ...............................................................................................................................21

    Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project Alaska Energy Authority FERC Project No. 14241 Page i September 2014

  • TECHNICAL MEMORANDUM 2013-2014 WINTER FISH STUDY

    5.1. Objective 1: Overwintering habitat associations of juvenile anadromous salmonids, non-salmonid anadromous fishes and resident fishes. ...................22

    5.1.1. Chinook Salmon............................................................................ 22

    5.1.2. Chum Salmon................................................................................ 22

    5.1.3. Coho Salmon ................................................................................. 22

    5.1.4. Sockeye Salmon ............................................................................ 23

    5.1.5. Lamprey ........................................................................................ 24

    5.1.6. Sculpin .......................................................................................... 24

    5.2. Objective 2: Winter movements of juvenile salmonids and selected fish species such as Arctic grayling, burbot, Dolly Varden, lamprey, northern pike, rainbow trout, humpback whitefish, and round whitefish within select Focus Areas as Determined by Biotelemetry. ............................................................24

    5.2.1. Arctic Grayling ............................................................................. 24

    5.2.2. Burbot ........................................................................................... 25

    5.2.3. Dolly Varden ................................................................................. 26

    5.2.4. Lamprey ........................................................................................ 26

    5.2.5. Longnose Sucker ........................................................................... 26

    5.2.6. Northern Pike ................................................................................ 27

    5.2.7. Rainbow Trout .............................................................................. 27

    5.2.8. Humpback Whitefish .................................................................... 28

    5.2.9. Round Whitefish ........................................................................... 28

    5.2.10. Juvenile Salmonids ....................................................................... 28

    5.3. Objective 3: Early life history, timing, and movements of anadromous salmonids. ........................................................................................................28

    5.3.1. Emergence Timing of Pacific Salmon .......................................... 28

    5.3.2. Movement of Juvenile Anadromous Salmonids ........................... 29

    5.3.3. Juvenile Salmonid Diurnal Behavior by Season. .......................... 30

    5.4. Objective 4: Seasonal age class structure, growth, and condition of juvenile anadromous and resident fish by habitat type. .................................................31

    5.4.1. Seasonal Size Class ....................................................................... 31

    5.4.2. Growth .......................................................................................... 31

    5.4.3. Condition....................................................................................... 32

    6. Literature Cited ...............................................................................................................35 7. Tables ................................................................................................................................37

    Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project Alaska Energy Authority FERC Project No. 14241 Page ii September 2014

  • TECHNICAL MEMORANDUM 2013-2014 WINTER FISH STUDY

    8. Figures ...............................................................................................................................75

    LIST OF TABLES Table 4.3-1. Winter sampling locations and techniques, 2013-2014 (continued) ........................ 37

    Table 4.3-2. Hours used to define daily periods for analyzing sonar data from winter 2014 ...... 40

    Table 4.5-1. Radio-tagged Arctic grayling detected in the Lower and Middle River segments during the winter study period (November 2013-April 2014) grouped by release location. 41

    Table 4.5-2. Radio-tagged burbot detected in the Lower and Middle River segments during the winter study period (November 2013-April 2014) grouped by release location. ................. 42

    Table 4.5-3. Radio-tagged Dolly Varden detected in the Lower and Middle River segments during the winter study period (November 2013-April 2014) grouped by release location. 43

    Table 4.5-4. Radio-tagged longnose sucker detected in the Lower and Middle River segments during the winter study period (November 2013-April 2014) grouped by release location. 44

    Table 4.5-5. Radio-tagged northern pike detected in the Lower and Middle River segments during the winter study period (November 2013-April 2014) grouped by release location. 45

    Table 4.5-6. Radio-tagged rainbow trout detected in the Lower and Middle River segments during the winter study period (November 2013-April 2014) grouped by release location . 46

    Table 4.5-7. Radio-tagged round whitefish detected in the Lower and Middle River segments during the winter study period (November 2013-April 2014) grouped by release location. 48

    Table 4.5-8. Radio-tagged Arctic grayling detected in the Upper River segments during the winter study period (November 2013-April 2014) grouped by release location. ................. 49

    Table 4.5-9. Radio-tagged