Earlier this summer footage of thousands of fish being dropped into aUtah lake by a plane generated quite a buzz on the internet. It’s a practice that The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources has been implementing since the 1950s in order to stock fish into mountain lakes that would otherwise be difficult to access.
Utah isn’t the only state to utilize the technique though.
Over the course of this summer, Colorado Parks and Wildlife dropped 275,000 fish into 240 different alpine lakes and the video footage from the most recent round of stocking is just awesome.
This was reportedly the second round of summer stockings, and pilots dropped almost 100,000 cutthroat trout into 73 different lakes on the western slope of Colorado’s Rocky Mountain range.
The pilots swoop low over the lakes and their flight speed slows to just 90 mph as the send the inch long trout hatchlings raining down into the water.
“We’re about 100 feet above the lake and as [the fish get dumped], they almost stop immediately as they come out of the airplane.
They have very little mass to them so they just kind of float down into the water.”
WATCH CPW wildlife pilot Larry Gepfert describe how 1-inch fish 'float down to the water' and survive aerial stocking at a 90%-plus rate. On this day he stocked 40,000 fish into 50 lakes in a few hours. High alpine lakes in So Colo are current focus. (2.2) https://t.co/gtmv83NtN5
While the sight of fish falling from the sky might be concerning, studies have shown that survival rates for fish stocked through this method are actually as high as 90% and it’s far more efficient than the alternative, which is loading the fish into milk jugs and packing them into the alpine lakes on horseback.
Most of the alpine lakes do not support aquatic ecosystems that would support natural trout reproduction, but through the stocking program these lakes can provide great fishing opportunities as and within the next two years the 1-inch long fish that were dropped into the lakes will be 10-inches long and readily catchable by anglers.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife will stock nearly 275,000 fish into 240 mountain lakes this 2021 summer.
Tag along on this mid-August day as cutthroat trout are getting a lift up to Colorado’s alpine lakes.