Yes, aerial fish stocking is a thing, and it’s pretty dang cool.
How old were you when you went on your first plane ride? What about sky diving, ever done that?
These young fish, no longer than your finger, did both when they were dropped from a plane into high altitude lakes in Utah. Watch these awesome videos that Ted Hallows uploaded to YouTube to get a great view of the execution.
Now that’s how you improve backcountry fishing!
This publication from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources helps explain more of the process. Apparently, before planes were used, fish stocking in these mountain lakes was done with large milk cans and horses. What used to take days now takes a few hours.
This article from UtahFishFinder.com shares even more details. The species are typically rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, brook trout, tiger trout, splake and Artic grayling, and are between one and three inches long when stocked.
If you know anything about flying small planes, you’re aware that they are tricky to maneuver, especially over mountainous terrain. With expertly timed drop-ins and a well-planned course, one plane can stock up to seven lakes on one trip, and more than 40 total in one day.
And in case you’re wondering, the 50- to 150-foot drops don’t hurt the small fish. It’s been compared to a high diver landing in a deep pool of water.
Other states, including New Hampshire and West Virginia, conduct aerial stocking as well.