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It’s raining fish in Utah’s high-elevation lakes. Here’s why

The Utah Division of Wildlife resources says it stocks about 200 high mountain lakes with fish every summer by plane

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Utah is suffering from drought and record temperatures this year, but that hasn’t stopped an annual summer weather occurrence from happening high above Utah’s mountain lakes — fish raining from the sky.

But this phenomenon of precipitating fish isn’t caused by a wacky system of clouds, but from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources’ aerially fish stocking program, where thousands of fish are flown and dropped by plane to about 200 of Utah’s high-elevation lakes, according to a Utah DWR Facebook post.

“If you see flying fish at Utah’s remote waters, don’t be alarmed. We stock high-elevation lakes aerially each summer,” Utah DWR wrote in a video of fish stocking they uploaded to YouTube earlier this month. “Because the fish are small and released along with water, they easily survive their aerial drop without injury.”

The airborne fish are only 1-3 inches long and “flutter down slowly” to the remote lakes, according to Utah DWR’s Facebook post. “Post-stocking netting surveys show that survival of aerial-stocked fish is incredibly high.”

In the YouTube video, countless, small fish can been seen dropping out of the belly of a single-engine airplane over picturesque lakes. It looks likes the fish are being used to bomb the mountaintops. The airplane, according to Utah DWR can drop 35,000 fish in one flight.

Utah wildlife managers have have been stocking fish in the Beehive State’s lakes for decades, and in the early days of these operations, the fish were carried to mountain lakes in metal milk cans on horseback, wrote Utah regional cutthroat biologist Matt McKell.

“By the 1950s, small airplanes became the preferred method for stocking fish into backcountry lakes, which is actually still the case today,” McKell wrote. And to get to even more remote locations, the biologist said he’s even used a trash bag-lined backpack to hike live fish to Utah’s hardest to reach bodies of water.