For the first time in years, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife is using planes to drop fish into lakes for a process called stocking.
On August 12, CDFW posted the video titled “High Sierra Aerial Trout Planting 2022” on its YouTube page. The department said it was dropping rainbow trout into lakes in six counties. 26 lakes across Plumas, Sierra, Nevada, El Dorado, Amador and Alpine counties will be filled with thousands of fish.
In the video, Doug Langley, a fisheries officer with the American River Trout Hatchery, said the department is planting fish in these areas “for people who like to fish in remote lakes, which you can’t get to by vehicle. , to have a fishing opportunity that you don’t normally get.
This project is the first aerial planting in five years, according to the video. Spokesman Peter Tira told The Sacramento Bee that the department has been unable to use the planes so far due to shutdowns during COVID, plane problems, or planes being used in… other emergencies across the state.
Some of the “typical backcountry lakes” were historically fishless, Tira said.
In 2010, the department was sued by the Center for Biological Diversity for failing to properly analyze how to protect native species in areas where fish were planted by CDFW hatcheries. The lawsuit cited the decline of California’s native amphibians that need fishless high mountain lakes to survive.
Pre-stocking assessments are currently underway before the department introduces hatchery fish into these lakes.
“We don’t just put them anywhere. We’re making sure that these trout won’t present some kind of conflict,” Tira said.
These lakes are not the only waterways to be repopulated this summer.
Even more waterways across the state will be planted with catch-sized trout from CDFW hatcheries, according to the department’s fish planting schedule for 2022.
For years, CDFW hatcheries have had to deal with outbreaks caused by bacteria naturally present in hatcheries.
In October, the ministry announced that the Hot Creek Trout Hatchery was dealing with its second outbreak of the year. The hatchery was able to vaccinate uninfected fish so they could be planted. According to the press release, vaccinated fish can be caught and eaten without harm to anglers.
This year, two trout hatcheries in the eastern Sierra saw a drop in the amount of fish they could safely stock. In April, Fish Springs Hatchery lost all of its trout. About 550,000 fish have tested positive for the Lactococcal bacteria and had to be euthanized.
The most recent outbreak occurred at the Black Rock and Fish Springs hatcheries in June.