WATCH: Utah Division of Wildlife Stocks Fish By Plane in Nearly 200 Lakes Inaccessible by Land

by Jon D. B.

“Did you know that we stock fish in Utah by AIRPLANE?!” asks the Utah Division of Wildlife. We did not, Utah, but oh – is it a sight.

Citing the state’s wildlife division, The New York Times is ecstatic to see such a tremendously odd thing take place. Why shouldn’t they be? In the Utah footage, literal hundreds of fish are dumped from a speeding plane at least 50-feet over the water’s surface. And here I am thinking that my throwing a catch & release back into the lake may shock the fish because my grandfather told me so.

As is the case with nature, however, animals are far more hardy than we give them credit for on the whole. It is our constant tampering with their environments and very survival that makes them seem fragile. This plane-dumping practice, for instance, would not be necessary had these inaccessible bodies of water not been fished dry. But here we are in 2021 dumping dozens upon dozens of freshies via a mechanical flying machine into their ancient habitat below.

Flying Fish, Anyone?

“The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources said that last week it used planes to stock fish in about 200 lakes that are inaccessible by vehicle,” The Times states plainly in their Wednesday tweet. “The division said it has aerial-stocked fish since the 1950s and that they have a high survival rate.”

A high survival rate? Is such a thing the case? Or are a decent enough portion of the fish surviving to spawn in an already barren body of water? That’s not it, either. This restocking is done for recreational purposes, with species that don’t procreate naturally in Utah waters being added to keep fishermen busy and spending.

No matter the case, “The aerial dumping is done to repopulate species that recreational anglers fish in high-elevation lakes that are not easily accessible by vehicle,” explains The Times via Faith Jolley. Jolley is a spokeswoman for the wildlife division in Utah, who we see in action above. Specifically, this account took place a few days ago on July 6 in Boulder Mountain. In the time since, the footage has amassed well over 1 million views on social media.

Utah Division of Wildlife Says Survival Rate for Air-Dumped Fish is ’95 Percent’

“Did you know that we stock fish in Utah by AIRPLANE?!” the wildlife division originally asks of their footage. Surely, no member of the Utah Division of Wildlife will be surprised by the amount of “no, we did not”s they receive in reply.

The state’s wildlife division says the survival rate for air-dumping fish is 95%. And that’s 95% of around 35,000 fish per flight. It’s enough to restock roughly 50 lakes per day, they add.

“Planes are just the most efficient way to provide fish for anglers,” clarifies one of Utah’s regional aquatic managers, Chris Penne, for The Times.

Apparently, the incredible (or insane, depending on if you’re a human or a fish) practice has been a regular one for a good seven decades. As early as 1956, Utah began dumping live fish from planes to restock. Before this, it was up to a horse & buggy system carrying metal milk cans of fish and water.

What a time to be alive.