Fish migrations through riverine systems can be energetically demanding, and the presence of fishways to facilitate upstream passage can add an additional energetic cost that may directly affect fitness. Successful fishway passage is a function of the ability of fish to select appropriate paths and swimming strategies that do not exceed their swimming capacity. Triaxial accelerometers were used to estimate the energetic expenditure of adult lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) swimming through a vertical slot fishway, to determine whether individual behaviour or path selection, resulting in differences in cumulative energy use, explain fishway passage success. Most individuals attempted to pass the fishway (n=30/44; 68%), although successful passage only occurred for a subset of those attempting (n=7/30; 23%). High-speed swimming was rarely observed during upstream passage through fishway basins, and was of short duration. Two turning basins delayed passage, subsequently resulting in a higher energetic cost. The rate at which energy was expended did not differ among successful and unsuccessful individuals, although successful sturgeon exhibited higher costs of transport (42.75 versus 25.85 J kg(-1) m(-1)). Energy expenditure metrics were not predictive of successful fishway passage, leading us to conclude that other endogenous or exogenous factors influence passage success. In a practical application of field measurements of energy expenditure, we demonstrate that fishway passage through a structure designed to facilitate migration does result in an energetic loss for lake sturgeon (3249-16,331 J kg(-1)), equivalent to individuals travelling 5.8-28.2 km in a lentic system.