Burbot: Ecology, Management, and Culture

Seasonal Movement of Burbot in Relation to Temperature and Discharge in the Kootenai River, Idaho, USA and British Columbia, Canada

Vaughn L. Paragamian and Virginia D. Wakkinen

doi: https://doi.org/10.47886/9781888569988.ch4

Abstract.—Movements of 11 sonic tagged burbot Lota lota were examined in the Kootenai River, Idaho, USA and Kootenay River and Kootenay Lake, British Columbia, Canada through up to three spawning seasons. Our objectives were to determine seasonal movements, differences in behavior of individual burbot, and the role of temperature and discharge on prespawn movement. Burbot demonstrated multiple movement patterns: 3 burbot were very mobile, 3 appeared to be intermediate in activity, and 5 were sedentary in summer, while 2 of the 11 entered Kootenay Lake and returned to the river. Most burbot began in autumn what may have been prespawn migrations when river temperatures fell to a range of 3.0–4.9°C. Six burbot entered the Goat River during the spawning season, of which five showed a multiple-year pattern of fidelity, and four returned to an apparent home pool and then exhibited sedentary behavior until the following winter. Three of the 11 burbot demonstrated an apparent nonspawning or rest year, but this was thought to be habitat-related. Logistic regression analysis of three of the six fish entering the Goat River suggested their migration to be best correlated to decreasing temperature and discharge. If the logistic model were representative of the population, then predicted migrations of burbot to the Goat River during winter would have followed a consistent pattern in November preLibby Dam, while postLibby Dam showed migrations to be unpredictable. Results of this study suggest that burbot had multiple life history patterns and several spawning locations and that rehabilitation measures should promote cooler winter water temperatures less than 5°C and discharges less than 300 m3/s.