Fishing is deeply ingrained in Minnesota culture, and with roughly 10,000 lakes to choose from, Minnesotans are spoiled when it comes to fishing. However, these paradises don’t come easy. It takes collective help from anglers, community members, and state agencies to maintain and manage these world-renowned fishing destinations. Now, let’s get to the chopper!
For years, low-flying pilots in stripped-down airplanes built up one of the strongest trout fisheries in the country by dumping hundreds of thousands of fish into Minnesota lakes at about 100 mph.
Remarkably, when dropped from 100 feet in the air — high enough to keep the fish from skipping across the water — about 80% of the brookies, rainbows and brown trout prized by anglers would survive the fall, swimming away to repopulate dozens of Minnesota’s coldest, deepest and most remote lakes.
This fall, for the first time, nearly 100% of the trout stocked from the air survived.
That’s because Brad Maas, one of the DNR’s most experienced pilots, was able retrofit a helicopter with the water tanks holding the trout. By using the helicopter rather than the DNR’s airplanes, pilots were able to safely and gently drop the fish while hovering a few feet above the water.Greg Stanley of the Minnesota Star Tribune
Thank you to Brad Maas and anyone else involved in this impressive and innovative project. Being an environmental agency pilot is dangerous and often underappreciated work. Thank you to all the men and women out there, helping protect our public land!
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