How Does Utah Keep Its Mountain Lakes Stocked With Fish? By Blasting Them from a Plane
If you visit Utah's mountains and see fish raining from the sky, don't be alarmed: The aerial fish dumps are how the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources keeps its lakes stocked with trout. You can watch the process, called "extreme fish stocking," in the video below.
The Utah DWR posted this clip to its Twitter account on Tuesday, August 21. In it, water is shown streaming from the bottom of an aircraft, and many flailing fish along with it. The drop from the plane to the lake surface below is roughly 150 feet.
Fun fact: We stock many of Utah's high-mountain lakes from the air. The fish are tiny — anywhere from 1–3 inches long — which allows more than 95% of them to survive the fall. #Utah #TroutTuesday pic.twitter.com/kotDe91Zzw
— Utah DWR (@UtahDWR) August 21, 2018
Dropping a load of fish from such a height might seem inhumane, but the animals actually have an impressive survival rate. The Utah DWC writes on Twitter that between 95 and 99 percent of the fish involved in the restocking effort survive the journey to the lake. The trout are only one to three inches long, which means their terminal velocity isn't great enough to cause any real damage when they hit the water's surface. Though it looks traumatic, dumping the fish from the air is actually less stressful, and less deadly, for them than transporting them on the ground.
Aerial fish dumping is a common practice for states with high mountain lakes where hikers like to fish. Most high-elevation lakes in Utah stay below 65 degrees through the summer—a trout's ideal temperature for feeding.