Tuesday, August 30, 2022

High Sierra Aerial Trout Planting 2022

For the first time in years, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife is using airplanes to drop fish into lakes for a process called fish stocking.

On August 12, the CDFW posted the video titled “High Sierra Aerial Trout Planting 2022” to its YouTube page. The department announced it has been 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 fish manager from the American River Trout Hatchery said the department is planting fish in these areas “for the people that like to fish remote lakes, that you can’t access by vehicles, 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 the department couldn’t use the planes until now because of shutdowns during COVID, plane issues, or that planes were being used in other emergencies across the state. 

Some of the “typically back country lakes” were historically fishless, said Tira. 

In 2010, the department was sued by the Center for Biological Diversity for not properly analyzing how to protect native species in the areas where fish were being planted by CDFW hatcheries. The lawsuit cited the decline of native California amphibians that need fishless, high mountain lakes for survival.

Pre-stocking evaluations are now being done before the department brings hatchery fish into these lakes.

“We don’t just put them anywhere. We make sure these trout won’t present some kind of conflict,” said Tira. 

These lakes aren’t the only waterways being restocked this summer. 

Even more waterways across the state will be planted with catchable-size trout from CDFW hatcheries, according to the department’s 2022 fish planting schedule.

For years, CDFW hatcheries have been dealing with outbreaks caused by naturally occurring bacteria within hatcheries. 

In October, the department announced the Hot Creek trout hatchery faced its second outbreak for the year. The hatchery was able to vaccinate uninfected fish so they could be planted. Vaccinated fish are safe for anglers to catch and eat, according to the press release. 

This year, two Eastern Sierra trout hatcheries saw a decline in the amount of fish they could safely plant. In April, the Fish Springs Hatchery lost all of its trout. Approximately 550,000 fish tested positive for the Lactococcus bacteria and had to be euthanized.

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