Thousands of Fish Airdropped into Bighorn Mountains
Written by Andrew-Rossi on September 3, 2020
The Cody Field Office of Wyoming Game and Fish spent July restocking several mountainous lakes and ponds on the west slope of the Bighorn Mountains.
21 thousand Yellowstone cutthroat trout and other native fish were stocked in over a dozen ponds on the slope.
Cutthroats were stocked in East Marion Lake, Emerald Lake, Lake Elsie, Lily Lake, Little Poacher Lake, Lost Lake, Lost Twin Lakes # 1 and # 2, Maybelle Lodge Lake, and Poacher Lake. Golden trout were planted in Gunboat Lake, Lower Pouch Lake and Upper Pouch Lake.
Splake (a hybrid of male brook trout and female lake trout) were stocked in Lower Medicine Lodge Lake, and tiger trout in Cliff and Granite Lakes.
But how does one stock a high-country lake? Air drops, of course. The fish were loaded into eight cylindrical tanks attached to a helicopter. The tanks can hold 25 pounds of fish and eight gallons of iced water. Once the pilot is hovering about 10 feet over the fish’s intended destination, they flip a switch and all the tanks open, dropping the fish into the water. It seems absurd, but its simultaneously one of the most efficient ways to stock the lakes and is safer and less stressful for the fish.
Why go through all this trouble? Only a small portion of Wyoming’s wilderness lakes are stocked by Game and Fish officials, as they can maintain reproducing populations of native fish and stocking is unnecessary. These high-altitude lakes are not capable of maintaining reproducing populations but are still popular spots for anglers.
Stocking these high-country lakes keeps everyone happy – fish and anglers alike.