Characteristics of the spawning migrations of brown trout, Salmo trutta L., and rainbow trout, S. gairdneri Richardson, in Great Lake, Tasmania

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Abstract

Upstream spawning migrations of mature brown trout, S. trutta, and rainbow trout, S. gairdneri, were studied in Liawenee Canal, Great Lake from 1949 to 1985. Brown trout migrations normally occurred from early April to mid-May and rainbow trout from late August to early November. In 1983, 16 425 brown trout and 1338 rainbow trout passed through a fixed upstream diversion trap. Brown trout spawning migrations occurred predominantly over the temperature range 6–10° C, while rainbow trout migrated predominantly over the range 5–11° C. Migrations peaked at water temperatures of 7.6°C (males) and 7.8°C (females) for brown trout, and 8.3°C (males) and 9.6°C (females) for rainbow trout. Rainbow trout migrations occurred at high flow conditions and were positively correlated with canal flow increases, while brown trout migrated under low canal flow. Mean length, weight and condition of rainbow trout of both sexes decreased significantly during migrations. Female brown trout decreased in weight and condition but not in length; male brown trout did not change in condition despite decreases in both length and weight during migrations. Overall sex ratio was 2:1 (female:male) for both species, with the relative proportion of male fish decreasing as migrations progressed. Age composition changed during migrations; dominant age classes were 3 < 4 < 5 + years for both species. Comparison of length, weight, condition and age revealed minor changes during the 37-year period 1949–1985.

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