After another grinder of a season the Spring 2019 electroshock season has come to a close or at least it appears. AES shocks around 100-120 lakes per year. Not many companies come close to us in terms of lakes shocked. The lake electroshocked in this blog is one of our favorite sets of lakes located outside of Orangeburg, South Carolina. With a storied history of producing giant bass we are always stoked to get out.
Getting Dialed In
When Managing a Lake it’s Important to Think Long Term
It has been a long season for the electrofishing team. With the amount of time spent on the road and water it now becomes time for report writing. The reports contain all the information to turn lakes around and improve them based on each clients request. Unlike many companies AES hand writes each electrofishing report. AES does not circulate cookie cutter reports. Each report has unique information and resources. One of the perks to this job is no two lakes are the same.
Late Season Electrofishing in East Georgia
Bass Harvest…..it never stops
The pond being electrofishing today has a common problem that not many property owners think about but something we see often. The lake was stocked a few years back and everything was great. Owners get caught up in the excitement of seeing bass, bluegill, shell cracker, and shad going into the pond. The real work starts a few months later. Among a new lake owners duties is bass harvest. The initial bass that are stocked in a new pond will be the best class ever.
If you own a lake less than ten years old your best bet is to harvest bass aggressively and add habitat. Shoreline trees are a great start as the are usually small and will fall directly into the water. Digest these two tips then make them happen on your home water.
Start of 2019 Electrofishing Season
The Start of 2019
With water temperatures creeping up to the magical 60 degree mark, the shock team has been on the move. The electrofishing team was recently in Cartersville, Georgia. The client being serviced has an unconventional goal of wanting to grow large Redear sunfish. Redear sunfish feed primarily on mussels so they become very large but the growth takes a while. As of now, no fish food company has figured out a food that Redear will consume.
The fish are staging in preparation for the spawn. All winter they have been in deep water seeking shelter from the weather. People ask us why we don’t perform lake audits year around and the reason comes back to the fish. In the winter and summer, fish seek deep water. Deep water is more stable than shallow water. Our electrofishing equipment has an effective range of 4-6ft so our catch rates wouldn’t be high. Summer time water temps can be stressful to fish while they are in the lake so shocking fish in the heat of the summer can be deadly.
As the weather continues to warm, keep up with the AES shock team this spring. Spring is when the largest bass are shocked.
Athens, Georgia Electrofishing
Athens, Georgia Electrofishing
Unseasonably warm weather by February standards had the shock team on the water recently. All the lakes were near the University of Georgia in Athens, GA. The first lake was an aging county watershed lake. Since the lake was designed to hold drinking water not trophy bass the fishery was is in terrible shape. County watershed lakes are typically barren bowls and today was no exception.
This was a tough shock but we still managed to get a few solid fish. The flooded grass provided great bluegill habitat so the bass followed. The larger bass were still hanging deep but some we shallow enough for us to shock them.
The second lake was similar to the first one except it was a built for fishing. It had produced several nice fish in the past but it’s approaching 12 years old so the original fish are dying off. This has resulted in lots of small,stunted fish since bass are rarely harvested.
Spring is the best time to shock the largest fish in your lake or pond. The big females that hang deep offshore for the majority of the year come shallow for a short window. Sometimes fish appear more healthy than they are due to females carrying extra weight. Fall is the best time to see the true state of a fishery. Electrofishing in Fall will show how well the fish recovered from the spawn and survive high water temps of the summer.
South Florida Electrofishing
South Florida Electrofishing Recap
Going south in the winter is a no brainer but it’s even better when we get the chance to shock some tropical species. AES makes the eighteen hour roundtrip every few years to check on this diverse fishery and make sure it’s performing well.
Starting the Day
Capt. Matt and Lee started the day with some freshwater mussel identification. Lee is the overseer of the ponds so he in actively involved in the management. All the ponds are located around the community golf course. With the constant hustle and bustle of the course we had to pick our times very carefully to not disrupt the waves of golfers.
Let the Electricity Loose!
The first lake was a typical lake we see back home with lots of smaller bass and little in the way of forage. We noticed the lake was very low for the time of year and Lee informed us they call the winter dry season in Florida. Lee said for thirty days straight in May they received one inch of rain a day but they haven’t gotten much since November. All the lakes are dependent on the water table and elevation to maintain full pool.
Since the fish where small Matt did some digging around to see if there were any parasites present and also pull otoliths to age fish. Matt noticed some nematodes but the load wasn’t anything abnormal.
As mentioned in the title we had the chance at shocking some unusual species and we got our first one. This fish is called a sleeper. They are in the same group as gobi hence the similar appearance. They live on the bottom and their brilliant camouflage makes them great predators. The pictures below shows the various angles of this fish. They are a competitive species for bass so we did remove all the ones we shocked.
After a quick lunch there were three lakes left to be shocked. Some of the lakes were rumored to have snook and tarpon in them. The St. Lucie River runs through the community so fishermen are known to catch fish from the river then transplant into the ponds. There are many factors that go into moving saltwater fish into freshwater ponds with questionable salinity levels so we were skeptical of catching any of these ghosts. When electrofishing in South Florida we always expect the unexpected.
Tilapia are phenomenal forage since they reproduce every 28 days. The tilapia in the 3-5″ size range are the perfect forage to fuel explosive growth.
As mentioned before some of the ponds were rumored to have saltwater species in them yet so far we had shocked four ponds with no luck so our chances were fading. Our South Florida electrofishing trip was looking like another bust when it came to catching some exotics. With some sharp eyes on the front deck and a little luck things changed.
We watched as our final Florida sunset for the trip fade into darkness. The shock team accomplished a lot during their time in Florida. These trips are what set AES apart from other pond management companies. AES is capable of managing many different fisheries as this South Florida electrofishing job demonstrated.
Electrofishing in Orangeburg, South Carolina
Using Electricity to Catch Bass in Orangeburg
Many people might be surprised to know that in Orangeburg SC, just two miles from the interstate, resides one of the highest quality and unique fishing properties in the southeast. The Fish Farm was the personal retreat of the late Jim Copeland, one of the former co-owners of BASS, and his family. The Copeland family still owns and maintains the property, and they continue to utilize the services of Aquatic Environmental to manage the fishery. The focus of our most recent visit was to harvest bass via electrofishing. Electrofishing allows use to get a snap shot of the fishery. The collected data then gives us the information we need to insure all of the ponds remain in balance.
Big or Small this Property has it All
There are eight ponds on the property with the crown jewel being the 33 acre lake. This lake has been managed aggressively since the Copeland’s purchased the property in 2005. Through the years a vast array of forage species has been stocked in this lake. Threadfin and Gizzard shad have been stocked and are now successfully reproducing in the big lake. Large forage items provide a meal high in protein for large bass. Bass need a food source roughly one third of their body length so these large forage items are critical to keep big bass growing.
Strict Management Equals Phenomenal Results for the Orangeburg Property
Two of the ponds on the property are strictly forage ponds that are utilized to raise bluegill and shell cracker. They are stocked as food sources in other lakes as the need arises. On this trip, we removed bluegill and shellcrackers from the forage ponds, and stocked them in two other ponds. The Orangeburg area has great weather for growing forage so these ponds easily pay for themselves. The forage ponds have several Texas Hunter fish feeders on them. The Copeland’s use high protein fish food to keep the forage growing and multiplying.
Through the years the Copeland’s have stocked threadfin shad, gizzard shad, crawfish, trout, tilapia, golden shiners, and goldfish as forage. A diverse forage base will help grow and sustain bass like these. There are no shortage of big bass on this property. The Copeland family and many of their guests can attest to the sheer amount of trophy bass on the property.
The Copeland’s have now put the property up for sale and they are committed to the continual management of the fisheries with Aquatic Environmental Services until they find the right buyer.
Macon, Georgia Electrofishing Recap
The shock team was recently down in middle Georgia near the beautiful city of Macon, Georgia. The lake was located in a private community that have the intention of bringing the lake back to its former glory.
This lake has lots of potential although right now it needs some work. Even with low alkalinity it still supports a thriving shad population which in turn is helping the bluegill and redear sunfish keep high numbers. The lake supports a good crappie population that is healthy. The threadfin shad keep the crappie well feed and there are anglers that actively fish for the crappie. It is not often we find healthy crappie populations since their reproduction cycles go up and down every year.
Stay tuned for more updates.
Blue Springs Country Club Electrofishing Summary
Blue Springs Country Club in Ringgold, Georgia
The shock team was in Northwest Georgia working at Blue Springs Country Club. The lake gets shocked once a year to make sure it continues to offer members great fishing. We manage Blue Springs as a quality fishery. We want to keep angler success high while still offering lots of healthy fish in the 3-6 lb range with the chance at a trophy. Blue Springs also offers anglers other options such as big bluegill and shell cracker. They utilize multiple fish feeders to keep the bluegill and shell cracker stay big.
Why do we shock lakes?
Today was short but lots of good data was collected. Blue Springs wanted to see how the relative weights were doing to determine if stocking Rainbow trout will be needed later this winter. At their core, shocks are not meant to be a big fish or shock and awe event. Big fish are nice but they are not our focus. We would rather shock and harvest 200 10 inch bass to make more room for more Blue Springs trophies. The downfall of many great lakes is lacking bass harvest. Too many mouths to feed will destroy any fishery.
Spring Shocks versus Fall Shocks
Spring is the time to shock bigger bass while fish in the Fall will typically be smaller. We like Fall shocks because the fishery shows its true self. Bass have recovered from the spawn and bluegill have had time to complete a few spawning cycles. The fish will have large bellies full of eggs which makes them look healthier than they really are. The fish at Blue Springs may look fatter in March but we need real data to direct our management strategy.
Kite, Georgia Electroshock Recap
Another quick update on the shock team. They were in east Georgia near the small town of Kite. This particular pond is in a very interesting situation. Earlier this summer the client had reported excellent catch rates along with healthy bass. Suddenly the bass got hard to catch mid-way through summer. They figured heat had pushed the fish deep. Then the unthinkable happened. The property owner discovered otter signs then saw a pair of otters late one night. He reported they only stayed for a few days but the damage was done. Otters will fill their bellies and even once full they will continue to hunt.
Stay tuned for more updates as the shock team continues to wrap up shock season and beat the cold weather.
Southeastern Electrofishing Road Trip Recap
The team was out all week covering over 1,200 miles with the shock boat. The team made its first stop outside of Mobile, Alabama.
This first stop use to be a catfish farm with multiple ponds on site. Upon arrival we stocked grass carp to help with weed growth. The ponds all have poor water quality and this has a trickle down effect on all aspects of the pond. Fertile water will have a deep green hue which is phytoplankton. Phytoplankton is the base of the food chain in all pond ecosystems. Ponds with healthy phytoplankton populations can hold 300-400 lbs of fish per acre while infertile ponds might hold 80 lbs of fish per acre. Luckily there is a simple solution of first liming the lake then applying pond fertilizer.
The next stop on the trip was outside of Vicksburg, Mississippi. As the cover photos shows we did very well. The owner enjoys fly fishing. In turn we manage the lake with slightly clear water so bass can see his flies and lots of 3-6 lb bass to keep angler success high.
Our final stop was Shreveport, Louisiana to several clients managing for trophy bass. All the ponds were recently constructed so they are in their prime. If you have trophy goals then that means spot on water quality, loads of forage, and aggressive bass harvest. The fish above are a testament to proper management. Visibility of water was 30″, plenty of dense habitat for forage, and loads of forage. Besides bluegill the owner has stocked threadfin shad, crawfish, and golden shiners. The water is fertile so the shad are doing excellent and crawfish are 90 cents per pound in Louisiana. To grow trophy bass it is critical to have multiple types of forage. Bluegill are the backbone of the forage base in the pond but they need other forage types to relieve predation pressure. When bass are evenly eating different types of forage no single forage will get hit too hard.
This road trip was one of the final big trips for the shock team. As the weather turns from cool to cold the bass sink back into the depths in preparation of the spawn.