fishdrop

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources drops fish out of an airplane and into a remote lake.


Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET

In the olden days, wildlife officials used to load fish into large metal milk cans, tie the jugs to horses and pack them off to restock remote lakes. These days, it’s all about the aerial fish drop.

A July video from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is attracting attention — for good reason. It shows an airplane with a bellyful of fish dropping the aquatic creatures out into the air so they land in mountain lakes that aren’t conveniently located near roads.

The video gives a behind-the-scenes look at a wildlife management practice that’s been used in Utah since the 1950s. 

“Because the fish are small and released along with water, they easily survive their aerial drop without injury,” said DWR, noting the delivery is “quicker and less stressful for the fish” than other methods.

Admittedly, the view is spectacular as the fish are released in a slo-mo cloud of water, their little tails flapping as they fall through the air. Another part of the video shows the airplane dropping fish into multiple lakes. The scenery is lovely and the soundtrack suitably epic.

Fish stocking is serious business in Utah, where recreational fishing is popular for locals and tourists. Last year, DWR stocked 8.2 million fish — ranging from trout to catfish to bass — throughout the state. 

Most waterways are stocked via truck, but DWR has also carried fish into distant areas by dirt bike and hiking with fish-filled backpacks. You can see why an airplane would seem like the easy way to do it. Perhaps this will inspire a new pop culture phrase: “Drop it like it’s an airplane load of fish.” Or maybe not.