Alpine lakes in the Snowy Range were recently stocked with trout thanks to a Wyoming Game and Fish Department helicopter.

It may sound extreme, but using a helicopter to reach the lakes has been the preferred stocking method since the 1970s. It makes for easier access to the lakes, as well as less stress and high survival rates for the fish.

The early morning hours are the best time for such an operation due to upward air currents, reduced wind activity and the ability to avoid afternoon thunderstorms.

The department says in a press release that stocking by helicopter doesn't hurt the fish, which are dropped from 50-100 feet above the water. Fish are released with a large amount of water from the storage tank, which absorbs the impact.

Helicopter stocking in the Snowy Range is done in even-numbered years. Given the helicopter's limited capacity, the department opts to stock small fingerlings in order to maximize the number of fish going into the lakes.

Here's what was recently stocked in the Medicine Bow National Forest, according to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department:

  • Albany South Twin Lake received 1,500 Bear River Cutthroat Trout;
  • South Gap Lake received 2,500 Bear River Cutthroat Trout and 2,500 Eagle Lake Rainbow Trout;
  • East Glacier Lake received 800 Bear River Cutthroat Trout;
  • Golden Lake received 500 Golden Trout;
  • Shelf Lake No. 1 received 300 Golden Trout;
  • Shelf Lake No. 2 received 700 Golden Trout;
  • Bear Lake received 2,000 Golden Trout.

Stocking is important in these lakes, since they lack suitable spawning habitat to sustain a fish population by natural reproduction.

Anglers have to hike to most of the alpine lakes in the Snowy Range, which are becoming increasingly popular with the public.