Annual Lily Lake fish-stocking has something brand new

Ceiridwen Robbins
Alberta Environment & Parks

Have you ever wondered how Alberta Environment and Parks stocks Lily Lake with fish? This is how!

The fish are raised at one of four provincial fish hatcheries. The most recent batch of fish for Lily Lake included tiger trout and brook trout raised by the Cold Lake Fish Hatchery. It’s the first time the tiger trout has been stocked in the lake.

The fish are loaded into aerated tanks on a flatbed truck and travel by road from the hatchery to the recipient lake. But Lily Lake isn’t accessible by road, so the final leg of their trip is by helicopter! They are loaded into big white plastic buckets and then onto a helicopter on top of Marten Mountain. The helicopter then flies them down to Lily Lake, where an Alberta Forestry Heli-tack crew member with ‘hover exit’ training pours them out of the buckets into the lake while the helicopter pilot keeps the chopper hovering just above the water!

The fish take a few minutes to acclimatize to their new surroundings, but before too long they start jumping and exploring their new home. This is where they will spend the rest of their lives. We were lucky enough to see some of them swim by the docks at Lily Lake after the helicopter had left.

A brook trout poses for a photo before being released at Lily Lake. This was taken just a few days before the re-stocking operation at the lake, which introduced the brookie’s hybrid cousin, the tiger trout into the lake. Lily is one of around 240 lakes stocked with trout in Alberta. Parker Lake, south of Slave Lake, is another in this region. According to the Alberta Outdoor Forum, tiger trout have only been approved for stocking in Alberta since 2015.
Photo courtesy Crystal Thompson

In they go!

Young brook and tiger trout are dropped into Lily Lake. It’s the first year for the tiger trout, a cross between a brown trout and a brook trout.
Photo courtesy C. Robbins, Alberta Environment & Parks

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