The Wyoming Game and Fish stocks high alpine lakes three ways:  helicopter, horseback or backpack. We primarily stock by utilizing a helicopter. This is the process:

  • Fish are transferred from hatchery trucks to a fabricated cylinder tank, which is attached to the helicopter by a cable. 
  • The tank has eight individual cylinders that hold approximately 3-5 gallons of water and up to 20 pounds of fish per cylinder. Fish can range from 1 to 6 inches in length, but the average is 3 inches. Each cylinder may contain different species or sizes of fish depending on the lake to be stocked.
  • Oxygen is added to each cylinder to help reduce stress and ice is added to reduce the metabolic rate of the fish.  
  • Each cylinder has a door that opens at the bottom to release the fish as the helicopter maneuvers over the lake. The pilot has a control switch that can trigger several or each tank for precise stocking. 
  • To be sure the right lake is stocked, Game and Fish gives the pilot the lake’s GPS coordinates along with an aerial image.
Helicopter stocking generally takes place late July or early August each year in the early morning hours to take advantage of air currents and reduced wind activity as well as to avoid early afternoon thunderstorms.  Helicopter stocking is a safe way to stock fish; nearly all survive the drop. 

Watch a video of the process:

Kris Holmes
Fish Spawning Crew


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