The Wyoming Game and Fish Department will use a helicopter to stock trout in 26 Cloud Peak Wilderness waters on the east side of the Bighorn Mountains this summer.
According to a media release from the G&F, these lakes will be stocked with Yellowstone cutthroat, splake (a cross between a lake trout and brook trout), or rainbow trout.
Because many wilderness lakes lack the physical habitat needed for trout reproduction, periodic stocking is necessary to maintain a quality wilderness fishing experience. Hatchery-reared fish will be transferred via helicopter to the remote high-country lakes that can’t be reached by vehicle. Hatchery trucks meet the helicopter in the early morning. The fish are transferred to special holding tanks on the helicopter and quickly lifted to their new alpine lake homes.
The stocking is generally completed in just a few hours, and it is anticipated the helicopter will travel to another coordination point for stocking lakes on the west side of the Bighorns.
According to Sheridan Regional Fisheries Supervisor Paul Mavrakis, "The stocking is done every two years in the Bighorns with individual lakes stocked on a 2 or 4-year rotation depending on the stocking needs and amount of angler use. Weather permitting, the 2012 stocking will take place Monday, July 30 or as soon as possible if bad weather causes delays.”
To get the required number of trout into the high elevation lakes, the fish stocked are small, generally just 2-4 inches. Mavrakis said that within 2-3 years the fish grow large enough to be of interest to anglers either to catch and release, or keep for the frying pan.
“While helicopter stocking is expensive,” Mavrakis said, “it is less costly than backpacking or stocking fish with a pack string. We believe the effort is worthwhile and appreciated by the many anglers who hike in for the unique experience associated with wilderness fishing.”
To learn more about wilderness rules and appropriate behavior while visiting wilderness areas go to the Bighorn National Forest’s website at