The post‐spawning movements of migratory brown trout Salmo trutta L.
The post spawning behaviour of sea trout Salmo trutta was studied over a 2 year period in the river and estuary of the River Fowey, south‐west England. Forty‐five sea trout kelts were trapped immediately after spawning in December and intraperitoneally tagged with miniature acoustic transmitters. The subsequent emigration into coastal waters was monitored using acoustic receivers deployed throughout the river catchment. The levels of gill Na+K+ATPase activity in sea trout kelts sampled at the same time as the tagged fish were within the range of 2·5 to 4·5 μmol Pi per mg protein per h indicating that the post‐spawning fish were not physiologically adapted to salt water. The tagged kelts were resident in fresh water between 4 and 70 days before entering the estuary. Sixty two per cent of the tagged kelts subsequently migrated successfully into coastal waters, with a higher success rate for male fish (75%) than females (58%). There was a significant size related difference in the run‐timing of the kelts with the larger fish moving more quickly into coastal waters after spawning than smaller fish. Seaward migration within fresh water was predominantly nocturnal and generally occurred in conjunction with increasing river discharge and rising water temperature. Migration through the estuary continued to be predominantly nocturnal and occurred during an ebbing tide. Residency within the estuary varied amongst individuals although it was invariably short, with most fish moving out into coastal waters within one to two tidal cycles. Five tagged kelts returned from the coastal zone and re‐entered fresh water during April and June. Marine residence time varied between 89 and 145 days (mean 118 days) and the minimum estimated marine survival was c. 18%. One of these sea trout was subsequently recaptured after successfully spawning in the vicinity where it had been previously tagged demonstrating a degree of spawning site fidelity.
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