Colorado Parks and Wildlife conduct aerial fish stocking


Courtesy of Jason Clay/CPW.

RIFLE, Colo.– The Colorado Parks and Wildlife restocked alpine lakes with cutthroat troat on Monday, Aug. 16 and Tuesday, Aug. 17.

This marks the second round of what will be three summer aerial stocking rounds.

In years past, the only way to restock these high mountain lakes was to place fish into milk cans, placing them on horseback and riding them up into the mountains.

Josh Nehring, the assistant aquatics section manager for CPW, said, “Most of these remote high mountain lakes do not have the proper habitat and conditions to allow for natural reproduction. Over the course of just a couple of weeks, CPW stocks hundreds of lakes each year using this method.”

Watch this video published on Friday, Aug. 20 of this year’s aerial stocking efforts:

Over 95,000 cutthroat trout were stocked in 73 lakes by wildlife pilots Denise Corcoran, Larry Gepfert and Steve Waters.

The final stocking flights will happen in September where native cutthroat trout, golden trout and arctic grayling fish all reared at the Mount Shavano State Fish Hatchery will be dropped into the lakes.

The CPW will have stocked nearly 275,00 fish into 240 Coloradan lakes this summer.

Bryan John is the Mt. Shavano Hatchery Manager. He said that there’s a brief window of time in which the fish are at prime aerial stocking age.

“We get our eggs for the aerial stockings towards the end of June and they have to be out by October before they get too big. Our window is typically right after Labor Day weekend and from there we only have a couple of weeks before the winds get bad or the weather starts turning,” Johnson said.

After stocking is complete, the fish will take a year and a half or two years to grow to catchable size.

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