UTAH — Once a year, several planes fly low above some of Utah’s lakes and release hundreds of fish.
FOX 13 News tracked down the hatchery where thousands of fish are being raised to be dropped out of the bottom of a plane into remote lakes and streams.
“I got the idea to put the GoPro on the plane,” said Ted Hallows, who supervises the State Hatchery in Kamas. He feeds the baby fish until they are grown enough to be released into the wild.
“We’re in charge of coordinating the aerial stock statewide,” Hallows said.
From the Uintas to The La Sal, wildlife experts with the Division of Wildlife Resources make sure the lakes are filled with Utah’s native fish, and sometimes the only way to get there is by plane.
“In June and July we aerial stock tiger trout, a lot of brook trout, rainbow trout and splake and then in the fall we put cutthroat trout and arctic grayling in the lakes,” Hallows said.
The fish come out of a compartment at the bottom of the aircraft. Hundreds, sometimes up to a thousand, 3-inch fingerlings are set free, but they don’t always make it into the water alive.
“They kind of flutter down, so they don’t impact very hard, they flutter with the water and they do really well,” Hallows said.
While a small percentage of the fish die, anglers are happy to hear someone is keeping the state’s lakes stocked.
“I like the idea and concept of it,” Fisherman Nathan Thesing said.
“From a biologist standpoint, certain areas of the High Uintas, browns will obviously do well, cutties will do OK depending on the oxygen, overall I think, for recreational fishermen, it’s an awesome thing, because it’s almost Darwinian: you take the fish, whoever survives, survives and the other fish will find its way out,” Fisherman George Chao said.
The Division of Wildlife Resources only uses aerial stocking in hard to reach areas like the High Uintas. Depending on the fish species, some are stocked every year, and others every three years.