ABOVE LONESOME LAKE, N.H. - Some New Hampshire ponds and lakes are so remote, the only way anglers can get to them is by hiking for miles through the woods. But the fish? They arrive by helicopter.
Thanks to the state Fish and Game Department's aerial stocking program, there isplenty of fly fishing - and fish flying - in even the most secluded spots. In one day last week, more than 114,000 brook trout were dropped in 48 locations, from Lake Solitude in Newbury to Boundary Pond in Pittsburg, along the Canadian border.
"Back-country ponds are harder to get to, and because of that fact, these trout grow much larger," said fisheries biologist Don Miller. "And the wilderness setting is something a lot of people are really looking forward to, rather than just driving off the side of the road and fishing a roadside pond or stream."
The program's roots reach to the early 1900s, when officials filled heavy metal milk cans with brook trout and carried them in on foot. In 1947, the state switched to using a fixed-wing airplane to stock ponds with the "fingerlings". But given the difficulty of maneuvering an airplane in tight locations, that often was a hit-or-miss operation.
The department switched to a helicopter in 1974, and in the past few years added pontoons to the helicopter skids so it can land on the water.
Several other states have similar aerial fish stocking programs, including Utah and West Virginia. Officials say the practice boosts the trout population in places where natural spawning can be difficult and attracts anglers seeking the solitude of remote waters.