NORWAY — Hundreds of young trout were released from an airplane into six remote ponds in Oxford County this week as part of the state’s annual fall stocking program.

In about three hours, hundreds of trout hatched last spring and the spring of 2014 were released from tanks under the airplane’s wings into North Pond and Abbott Pond in Sumner, Little Concord Pond in Woodstock, Speck Pond No. 2 in Norway, Trout Pond in Mason Township and Overset Pond in Greenwood.

“They swim the whole way down, headfirst,” said Tim Knedler, fish culture supervisor at the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife hatchery in New Gloucester, where they were raised. The fish are from 8 to 14 inches long, depending on their age.

Most of the 1.2 million fish the department hatches are sluiced into the water, but a small percentage are flown to remote water bodies or carried in backpacks and up mountains such as Mount Mt. Blue and Bigelow Mountain to be released. Others are brought in by all terrain vehicles or boats.

At the boat ramp on Pennesseewassee Lake on Monday, Knedler and colleague Ryan Stewart used five-gallon buckets scooped the fish from a truck tank and load them onto the plane.

Once in the air, the pilot pressed a trigger to open the tanks, or pods, which contain pumped-in oxygen to ensure the fish arrive healthy, Knedler said.

Many of the fish will survive, but 20 to 30 percent are eaten by loons, Mark Latti, spokesman for the MDIFW, said.

The typical annual brown trout production from the New Gloucester hatchery is 35,000 spring yearlings, 23,000 fall yearlings and 950 retired brood stock, according to the hatchery’s website. The fish are stocked in lakes, ponds, streams and rivers over the southern two-thirds of the state in the spring and fall.

A complete list of stocking sites is available at maine.gov/ifw/index.html.

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