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​Movement to refuge

  A. Question

  1. Is there evidence that trout will seek colder water upstream?

  2. If so, where is that colder water found?

    Nearby | Movement | Signal

A pair conferring about thermal relief?


  B. Research​

  1. Researchers used radio telemetry to study trout at Shavers Fork of the Cheat River in West Virginia.

  2. They found brook trout moved as much as 300-500 ft/day to colder water during summer conditions [1, 2].

  3. Visual counts and electro-fishing were used to study rainbow and brown trout in Wyoming.

  4. The researcher found the trout moved to upstream cool-water tributaries and main-stem areas [3].

  5. Radio telemetry was applied by researchers studying a Colorado cutthroat trout population in Milk Creek.

  6. It is a tributary of the Yampa River in northwest Colorado.

  7. They found that trout moved a median range of 3 mi and a median total of 3.7 mi seeking colder water [4].

  8. With implanted radio transmitters, researchers investigated trout movement in the Moose River.

  9. This is in the Adirondacks in New York.

  10. They found “large aggregations” of brook and rainbow trout at tributary confluences for thermal relief [5].

  11. That trout will move considerable distances seeking refuge clearly has documentation.

  C. Conclusion​

  1. This study shows that cold-water refuge is available in tributaries and upstream in the main stem.

  2. Are there signals in the main stem that trout may detect indicating where there is colder water?


  1. Petty, J. T., J. L. Hansbarger, B. M. Huntsman, “Brook Trout Movement in Response to Temperature, Flow, and Thermal Refugia within a Complex Appalachian Riverscape,” Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, vol. 141, pp 1060-1073, 2012.

  2. Hansbarger, J. L., J. T. Petty and P. M. Mazik, “Brook Trout Movement within a High-Elevation Watershed: Consequences for Watershed Restoration,” Proceedings from the Conference on the Ecology and Management of High-Elevation Forests in the Central and Southern Appalachian Mountains, GTR-NRS-P-64, 2009.

  3. Kaeding, L., “Summer Use of Coolwater Tributaries of a Geothermally Heated Stream by Rainbow and Brown Trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss and Salmo trutta,” Journal of American Midland Naturalist, vol. 135, p. 283, DO:10.2307/2426711, 1996.

  4. Hodge, B. W., K.D. Battige and K. B. Rogers, “Seasonal and Temperature-Related Movement of Colorado River Cutthroat Trout in a Low-Elevation, Rocky Mountain Stream,” Ecology and Evolution, vol. 7, pp 2346-2356, 2017.

  5. Baird, O. E. and C. C. Krueger, “Behavioral Thermoregulation of Brook and Rainbow Trout: Comparison of Summer Habitat Use in an Adirondack River, New York,” Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, vol. 132, pp 1194-1206, 2003.

    Nearby | Movement | Signal

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