CONCORD, N.H. — New Hampshire’s remote ponds are once again stocked with fish that were raised in hatcheries and then flown in via helicopter.
The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department finished its annual aerial stocking program last week. The department uses a helicopter to deliver upward of 100,000 brook trout fingerlings from its hatcheries to nearly 50 remote ponds from the Sunapee Region north to Pittsburg.
The program began in the early 1900s when officials hiked to the ponds with metal milk cans full of fish. In 1947, the state switched to dropping the fish from a fixed-wing airplane. By 1974, it began using a helicopter, and in in recent years, pontoon floats were added to the helicopter skids so it can land on the water instead of having to hover over it.
Officials said the practice boosts the trout population in places where natural spawning can be difficult and attracts anglers seeking the solitude of remote waters. In most areas, fish that were delivered last year will have reached five to six inches in length, with 2-year-olds reaching a foot or more. Some of remote ponds are designated as fly fishing only.
The program is funded with fishing license sales, federal sportfish restoration money and a grant from the Wildlife Heritage Foundation of New Hampshire.