Downstream Migrations of Juvenile Salmon and Other Fishes in the Upper Yukon River


  • Michael J. Bradford
  • Jake Duncan
  • Jean W. Jang



Yukon River, migration, chinook salmon, Oncorhynchus tshawytscha, chum salmon, Oncorhynchus keta, whitefish, Coregonus spp., Prosopium spp., inconnu, Stenodus leucichthys, arctic lamprey, Lampetra camtschatica, arctic grayling, Thymallus arcticus


The Yukon River is the fourth largest river in North America, yet the ecology of its fishes has not been well described. During the spring and summer of 2002– 04, we sampled the downstream migrations of fishes in the Yukon River mainstem near the Canada-U.S. border, using a rotary auger trap. Age-0 juvenile chinook salmon, Oncorhynchus tshawytscha, were the most common fish in the catch, and they peaked in abundance in mid-June. Smaller numbers of age-1 chinook salmon and age-0 chum salmon, O. keta, were caught earlier in the season. Over 80% of the remaining catch consisted of young-of-theyear Coregoninae (whitefish), presumably moving from natal areas to summer rearing habitats. Few adult whitefish were captured, probably because our sampling terminated before fall spawning migrations began. Both juveniles and adults were captured for six other winter or spring spawning species that we encountered. Our results indicate that the Yukon River mainstem is used extensively as a migration corridor. This reach of the mainstem has very high suspended sediment levels in summer; its significance as rearing habitat remains unknown. Further studies are required to delineate the extent of migrations and the population structure for the non-anadromous species.