Aerial Fish Stocking
YouTube: Wyoming Game and Fish Department

How Wyoming Air Drops Trout to Stock Remote Mountain Lakes

Using a helicopter is the most efficient way to stock mountain lakes.

For many western states, there are some great small waters for trout far up in the mountains. Places that are perfect for anglers to have backcountry wilderness adventures. There is just one problem for wildlife agencies. If they want to stock these lakes with a fresh batch of trout, there is no easy way to do it.

The traditional methods of driving a stocking truck out to the location will not work in places that may only be accessible via an old mountain logging road or a narrow foot trail. Fortunately, there is a solution, and it involves helicopters.

This footage, taken by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department demonstrates how they will sometimes use a chopper to do aerial stocking in alpine lakes. It may seem strange, but it is the fastest and least stressful way to transport these fish from a hatchery to their new home and create new angling opportunities for sportsmen and women.

This type of fish stocking technique has been practiced since at least the 1960s by many state wildlife agencies. Because most of the fish are small, they do not fall very fast and will almost float down to the water much like a leaf from a tree does. Many of these agencies have done their homework. Studies have shown most of the fish will survive the trip and the drop.

While Wyoming uses helicopters, some states opt for other aircraft. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources uses small, single passenger airplanes with tanks holding approximately 100 pounds of waters to stock up to 35,000 fish at once.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department stocks about five million fish into waters across the Equality State every season. Approximately 70,000 of those fish were dropped via the helicopter method in 2017.

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