John Viar, (603) 744-5470 firstname.lastname@example.org
Don Miller, (603) 744-5470 email@example.com
July 19, 2006
2006 Aerial Stocking Complete
Remote Pond Aerial Stocking Supports Timeless Angler Pastime
CONCORD, N.H. -- The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department just finished its most unusual fish stocking of the year -- thousands of tiny trout delivered to remote ponds by air. These trout now provide a singular backcountry experience for the many New Hampshire anglers willing to trek through the woods in search of the perfect pond for a day of fishing. They cast their line in the shadow of spruce-covered peaks, with the silence of solitude echoing across the cool water. They have come to these remote locations to catch some of the heftiest and most vividly colored brook trout found in New Hampshire, but have they ever thought about how those fish get there? For many of those speckled squaretail gems, it is truly an "uplifting" experience!
New Hampshire's remote ponds were first stocked with brook trout "fingerlings" (approximately 2-3 inches, or the length of a finger, hence the term) in the early 1900s by backpacking with, of all things, large milk cans! In the 1950s, fixed-wing aircraft were used to "drop" trout into their new homes. But for the last three decades, the tool of choice has become the helicopter - a highly efficient and cost-effective way to supplement brook trout populations in limited-access backcountry ponds. "Instead of trying to get conservation officers, biologists, and hatchery staff together to stock remote ponds for what would take several weeks or more, with significant losses en route, we can cover most of the sites that are difficult to get to in one day with the helicopter - and ensure all trout make it to the pond safe and sound," says New Hampshire Fish and Game Fisheries Biologist John Viar.
The stocking day is carefully planned, with a series of helicopter and hatchery truck meeting spots throughout the state. "After the helicopter is loaded with trout, we can stock as many as 5-10 ponds in a matter of 15-30 minutes and then move on to meet another hatchery truck in another part of the state," says Viar. "The fact that we often are able to complete stocking in all 50 remote ponds in just one day is a testament to the efficiency and professionalism of all involved, from the hard-working hatchery personnel to the highly skilled pilot." The helicopter hovers just above the water's surface and the young brookies are dropped from the air into the pond below. On average, 150 fingerling brook trout per surface acre are stocked annually into New Hampshire's remote ponds. This year's aerial stocking took place in late June.
Stocking has played an important role in New Hampshire's fisheries management throughout the past century, especially in areas with high fishing pressure or where habitat limits sufficient natural reproduction to meet angler demand. "By stocking fingerling trout into remote ponds where there is generally light fishing pressure, they can reach considerable size," says Viar. "They grow from 2 to 3 inches to upwards of 12 to 18 inches, depending on the productivity of the particular pond. They are not technically wild trout, but what we would term 'naturalized' fish, with all the striking colors and vigor of a trout that has fed on natural prey items nearly its entire life."
Fishing, not hiking, was the original reason 19th-century adventurers wound their way through New Hampshire's White Mountains. Today, many outdoor enthusiasts take advantage of the opportunity to combine their fishing and hiking interests. Ponds are considered "remote" because they are only accessible on foot. Viar notes this does not mean they all require a long, strenuous hike to get there: "Some of the ponds are a short 10-20 minute walk from a road, while others can be 10 or more miles into the woods. There is a lot of variety and an option for everyone, regardless of your hiking abilities."
Many anglers prefer trout fishing in these isolated areas because of the solitary, natural experience, but this is not the only advantage. At some remote trout ponds you can combine fishing, hiking, backpacking and camping into a single trip. It is an exciting, rewarding, and challenging fishing experience for both rookie and veteran anglers that would not be possible without the continued aerial-stocking efforts of New Hampshire Fish and Game biologists and hatcheries.
Buy your fishing license online, anytime (click here for online license sales). Don't forget, the new one-day resident fishing license is only $10 ($15 for non-resident one day).
For more information and tips about trout fishing in New Hampshire's remote ponds, contact John Viar (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Don Miller (email@example.com) at New Hampshire Fish and Game's Region 2 Office in New Hampton -- (603) 744-5470.
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