Eastman, Georgia Electrofishing Recap

The shock team has been loading the boat down in the past few days with healthy largemouth bass. Fall is in the air and bass can sense it.

Many seasoned bass fishermen know shad migrate to the backs of coves in the Fall. Not only is this true but it is a phenomenal tactic to use when electrofishing. The shock had been going slower than we expected with the history of the fishery. However, this all changed in 12 minutes. Capt. Matt found multiple schools of threadfin shad with large numbers of bass thrashing the surface in pursuit.  In total 63 bass were netted and shocking only ceased due to the live well overflowing with bass. Once the live well was emptied we noticed the large amounts of thrashing broke the welds on the live well and bent the sheet metal out. 
Full tanks today.
Capt. Matt checked the internals of a bass that was harvested. The liver was a bright red which indicates good health. No parasites were seen on the stomach.
This particular client has an old mill pond on the same property that he wanted shocked. The pond dates back several hundred years. It was built using oxen cart and surrounded by old cypress trees. It was already an ox bow lake due to its close proximity to the Ocmulgee river but the owners completed the dam to fuel a grit mill. 
Ponds like this are known to grow monster bass because they usually have competitive species that keep bass numbers low. This pond was no different. It had chain pickeral and alligator gar that came in from the river. The Ocmuglee river is on the other side of the dam so every 5 to 10 years the river breaches the dam. With that rush of water comes a new wave of fish. According to the owner a 5 ft alligator gar was in the pond for a while.
The small building to the right is what remains of the mill.
The owner graciously let us stay on the property in the deer camp.
The main lodge is full of Southern history and looks the part with Spanish moss covering old live oaks.
The work on the water may be done but there are still reports to be written. Capt. Matt staying up late to get reports out. With the amount of travel it is a luxury to not be writing reports in a truck.

Stay tuned for more updates as the shock team continues into the fall!

Alpharetta, Georgia Small Boat Electrofishing Recap

We are in the heat of shock season now with the cold nights and mild afternoons. Today’s lake was an HOA lake that we manage. Since it’s an HOA they have the goal of catching lots of 1-2 lb fish to keep residents happy along with large bluegill. This blog won’t be as educational as previous ones but more of an update of what we have been up to.

These were the typical sized bass we shocked during the survey.
Weighing bass on the little boat makes us appreciate the large working space of the main shock boat.
Seine hauls give us great amounts of data about bluegill and how well they are reproducing.
Can never see enough of these guys in a lake if you have any aspirations to grow bass.
Internal organs can tell us a lot about the environment a bass lives in. These organs were mute and dull. This bass was shocked in a lake with dissolved oxygen levels that ranged from 1.31 mg/l to 0.86 mg/l ie a harsh existence at best.
The biggest bass of the day!
Bullhead catfish come in from creeks to the lake and compete with bass for forage. As gross as they appear their numbers typically never get high due to bass predation.
Large redear sunfish are prized by pan fishermen for the good tasting met. Bass also prize them for the same reason.
Unfortunately, in this lake there was no intermediate bluegill just large and newly hatched bluegill.

Keep checking for updates about the shock season as the shock team is having very little office time so blog post may be far and few between.

G.B. Williams Electroshock Recap

Smyrna, Georgia is an upcoming city near Atlanta full of homes, apartments, and shopping centers. At one point in time it was rural farmland ripe with pasture, livestock, and ponds. G.B. Williams is a thriving example of old Smyrna with a large horse boarding stable and lake. The lake became famous in the early 2000’s when AES shocked large bass that later became published in the Marietta Daily Journal. G.B. Williams is actually a pay lake that anyone can fish for the right price. The secret to the lake’s success is gizzard shad and gizzard shad in the right size. The lake is full of 5-8″ gizzard shad which is the perfect size to grow big bass. The lake also supports a healthy population of bluegill and redear sunfish.

This is the standard size we shocked. The fish went about 16in and 2.5 lbs. Many people get hung up on a 10lb bass but this size bass supplies plenty of excitement. 
We know this fish has been caught before judging by the scars on its side. Remember to always wet hands before touching any fish. 
This fish was skinny but since this is a pay lake we let her to go to keep catch rates high.
Warmouth are a great catch for pan fishermen as well as good bass forage.
We normally remove bullhead catfish but customers like to catch them so we let this little guy ride.
We always tell people to harvest based off relative weights not size and this fish is why. It may be 18in but it’s relative weight was less than 75% indicating very poor health.
big bass
One of the final fish of the day was a stud. Notice the fish has a thick tail and carries its shoulders down to its tail. Healthy bass look like footballs ie they are short and thick. Never judge a bass’s health by its stomach size. If a skinny bass eats a big bluegill it will look “healthy.”

It’s not often we get to manage pay lakes but the AES shock team is a versatile bunch up for any challenge.

Rockmart, Georgia Electroshock

Shock season is coming into its own with the cool weather rolling into the Southeast. Previously the weather has been down right hot which means the bass are staying deep. Even under ideal circumstances our shock only goes to eight feet deep which is one reason we need the cool air to bring the fish out of their deep summer haunts.

Today’s lake is surrounded by cows and bison so shocking was tricky. The amount of free fertilizer running into the lake makes visibility low. We don’t want high visibility because it makes shocking more difficult and the lake will carry less pounds of fish but there can be too much of a good thing. Low visibility means it’s hard to see fish while shocking.
big bass
One of the better fish we shocked from the pond. Still a little skinny but this size fish is great fun to catch.
big bass
The recent stocking of gold fish is helping put some weight back on the fish. Summer stress can also cause fish to loose weight.
When we first shocked these black crappie we thought they were small hybrid striped bass because of their large size. If you catch 50 of these in a day that is a solid day of fishing.
Georgia Giant
This is the world famous Georgia Giant. The initial stocking produces the largest fish while later generations become watered down mutts. Georgia Giants are a cross between Redear Sunfish and Green Sunfish. Ponds with them will need to be drained and restocked every few years to keep the large sizes people expect.
Big bass
Capt. Matt with a handful of feed trained bass. Feed trained bass are Northern strain bass hence their aggressive behavior.
We use high protein Purina fish feed to keep the feed trained bass and bluegill growing. This feed has 45% protein compared to value brands with 33%.

Today was a grinder of a day but many lakes were shocked which gives us valuable data to make sure the lakes are staying on track. It only takes a few seasons for fisheries to becomes out of balance.

Lake Windward Electroshock

Today the shock team was in Alpharetta, Georgia on the shores of Lake Windward. With a brilliant sunrise to illuminate a paved boat ramp the day was off to a good start. We were slightly concerned that water temperatures were warmer than last year.

big bass
Even with the warmer water we still got on some good fish.
The humble warmouth were plentiful around rock piles and rip rap.
We always encourage clients to get on the boat. During an electroshock you get one on one time with a senior biologist.
shell cracker
Shell cracker should not make up the backbone of the forage base but they are an essential part of the lake ecosystem.
catfish
Large catfish will compete with bass for forage. The Windward community has people that fish for catfish so we returned these giants.
big bass
Four years ago Lake Windward was full of 12 inch bass with low relative weights. After hundreds of bass being harvested, many loads of threadfin shad, and thousands of pounds crayfish the lake is producing more healthy fish.
spotted bass
With all the hard work the Windward community has been doing it is disheartening to see some bucket biologist stocked spotted bass from near by Lake Lanier. Spotted bass do not do well in smaller lakes and ponds.
All the good fish were tagged. The Windward Lake board will be provided with this data so they can keep records for themselves. AES also keeps the data so we can see how our management strategies are working.

After a quick data crunch the lake is still on the right path to producing quality bass. This lake is much larger than our normal client but fisheries management is still the same on a large body of water with the only exception being on a larger scale. We are booked up to Thanksgiving with only a few days left open. If you are interested in getting your lake shocked call the office so see if any dates are open.

 

 

Kentucky Electroshock Recap

Although it is still summer in the Southeast, AES was asked to shock several strip mine lakes in western Kentucky. These lakes can be difficult to shock due to their extreme depth and high conductivity.

It is typical that these lakes have sharp drop offs a few feet off the shoreline.
These lakes in particular had never been managed so their visibility readings were greater than 12 ft. This visibility reading tells us that the lake is not supporting many pounds of fish per acre.
High conductivity was a worry but the readings indicated perfect shocking conditions.
Carp are very common pond fish to shock but these are special because they are buffalo carp. Buffalo carp are prized by fishermen. 
Big Bass
As the visibly reading from earlier showed us the lake did not hold many pounds of fish but we still managed to shock a few.
Gar
Gar are a common trash fish that we encounter in swampy environments.
Besides gar we also shocked large bowfin that exceeded 30 inches.
To gain access to the otoliths Matt has to remove the head of the bass.The otoliths are tucked near the spinal cord on a fish. Matt will count the rings on the otoliths similar to the counting the rings on a tree to get an accurate age.
As with many lakes there was no boat ramp at this location. With some fancy foot work and four-wheel drive Matt manged to tuck the shock boat deep into some cattails.
Under performing bass are harvested but never wasted. The property owner is about to have a large fish fry.
At the end of a long day Matt had a good idea of what was happening underwater. The strip mine lakes had never been managed so they were bass heavy, had too many competitive species, and lacked proper amounts of forage. None of these issues are permanent. With time these ponds can be turned into great fisheries.

Shock season is just about to get rolling so if you are interested in getting your pond audited give the office a call so we will have time to make it out. Dates are booking quickly with Fall rolling in.

North Georgia Mountains Electroshock

Butting up to the Chattahoochee National Forest this lake is very unique because it has a source of cold, clean water year around. There’s a rumor among the old timers on the mountain that this lake use to be full of big brown trout. Our mission today was to determine if the fishery could still support trout. Unfortunately bass were introduced to the lake so any trout that come into the lake from the tributary are quickly ate.

A common theme among mountain lakes is very poor water quality. Today was no different. The conductivity was 16 uS/cm which is incredibly low. An average middle Georgia pond usually averages 60-90 uS/cm. The lake’s visibility was 13 ft while a normal Georgia lake is 18 in to 5 ft. These conditions made electroshocking very challenging. Fish can see us coming plus the water does not carry electricity well. Even in the tributary where the fish were boxed in all we could do was watch the fish dance in front of the boat.

Mountain Morning
It was a dreamy, mountain morning as we arrived. Temperatures were in the low 60s and almost chilly with our current heat wave.
Flooded jon boat
The dreaminess quickly came crashing down as a flooded jon boat blocked our launch path. We quickly learned that this lake has such a huge water shed that flooding is not a rarity but a norm after prolonged periods of rain. This flooded, slimy boat was just the tip of the iceberg.
Elelctrofishing was slow with the poor water quality. To spice things up this lake’s main tributary is a trout stream coming out of national forest. The tributary was large enough that we took our shock boat up it for a good ways. We saw some trout spook out from the deeper holes and one large shadow from an undercut bank that we suspect was a large brown trout.
This is the main tributary. It was perfect trout habitat with rocky cobble bottom and cold water temperatures.We are in the dog days of summer and the water was 68 degrees.
Rocky Bottom
Clean bottoms are critical to trouts survival. Trout build nest called redds in the stream bottom similar to a bass beds along a lake’s shoreline. They need a rocky bottom to fan out a bed. Streams with silt make it almost impossible for trout to spawn successfully.
River Runner
Josh is navigating the twist and turns of the tributary. Luckily Josh runs the Chattahoochee on the weekends so this is a breeze.
At the end of the shock this was all we had to show. Lots of small bluegill. A few bass were seen but the clear water allowed them to see us coming so they escaped our electricity with ease. The only reason we caught these bluegill was because we pinned them in a tree.
Remember the flooded jon boat? This is why it flooded. The mud-line in the trees is about 10-15ft into the trees. This volume of water shows us this lake could never be limed or fertilized due to the shear amount of water flow.

After a long investigation we determined that this lake has the capability to hold trout year around. We performed a dissolved oxygen profile to see if a thermocline has set up in the lake. To our surprise there was no thermocline thus allowing a suitable amount of oxygen throughout the water column. The water temperatures were 67 degrees at the surface and 63 degrees near the bottom. These are ideal conditions for trout. The main concern with trout in this lake is stocking them big enough so the bass can’t eat them. This fall we will stock the lake heavily with large brown trout and rainbow trout. Since the lake lacks fertility feeders will be set up to help supplement the trout’s diet.

New projects like this are what we love to do at AES. Although warm water fisheries are our main venture we have people qualified to assist in cold water fisheries.

How Do We Shock Small Lakes With Little To No Access?

The captain

With the Metro Atlanta are growing at a steady rate many ponds are becoming enclosed by apartments and homes. The bulk of our clients are located in rural areas where our biggest worry is avoiding a collision with the pasture bull. Occasionally we will be summoned to survey neighborhood ponds on behalf of the HOA. Working in highly populated areas brings a new set of rules. We must be conscious of Mr. Smith’s impeccable centipede lawn he’s been grooming for the past 20 years, septic lines, or property boundaries between two neighbors that don’t like each other.  Launching a twenty foot shock boat usually doesn’t go well in the above situations. For these instances we have a 10 ft boat we can carry a short distance.

Unlike our big shockboat our little boat has no pumps to fill our live well.
The front deck is tight on our little boat.
This certain lake has become choked with aquatic vegetation. The lake is located in the Metro Atlanta area. The area around it has become highly developed. Large amounts of silt have entered the lake decreasing depth. This decrease in depth has caused more sunlight to penetrate the water column. More sunlight equals more weeds.
Electroshocking Bass
Shocking in heavy weeds is extremely challenging. The fish roll out of the weeds but then instantly roll back into the weeds.
Electroshocking Bass
We call these HOA torpedoes. Often times neighborhood lakes suffer severe cases of mismanagement. Residents on the lake want to invest in the fishery while residents not directly on the lake see no need and would rather use the HOA budget for more aesthetic task. There is a simple and affordable solution. Harvest bass aggressively and drop natural habitat such as Christmas trees. The only cost is the price of cinder blocks and residents’ time.
Red breast are sunfish that live in creeks and rivers. They will come in from lakes and tributaries.
Redear Sunfish
Redear Sunfish or Shell Crackers are often confused with bluegill. Unlike bluegill they have a red/orange tab on their ear hence their name.
Black Crappie
This particular lake has become overrun with stunted crappie. Crappie will go through odd reproduction cycles so their numbers will be good one year and crazy the next. When the bulk of crappie are smaller than 12 inches it’s best to start aggressively harvesting.
Electroshock results
The final part of the survey is to weigh and measure the catch. This will give us a direction to get the lake back on track.

Now you know a few of our secrets to getting into those tight spaces. If you got a tough job give the office a call.

Pond Survey Without Electricity?

99% of the time we can figure out a way to get our shock boats into a pond but there will be a few forever out of our reach. Using standard electrofishing techniques is the most comprehensive way to survey a pond. This will give us direction when it comes to fish stocking and other pond management tasks. Even without electricity we can use other techniques to get a good idea of what’s happening.  When ponds are in balance or out of balance there are certain things to look for. Ever heard a friend say they catch only huge bluegill and small bass? Feel safe to bet your week’s paycheck he has an out of balance pond. Ponds that are in balance will have many different sizes of bluegill along with healthy bass.

Angler surveys and seine netting are the most commonly used techniques we use to survey a pond without our shockboat. Any college graduate did a thousand seines before they received their hard earned diploma. Angler surveys are a fancy way of saying we get paid to fish. A rod and reel are the most common tools. AES has a select few employees that think they are sophisticated and insist on fly fishing. Once fish are seined or caught the same inventory procedure follows as if we were on the shock boat. Bass will be weighed and measured for length. Bluegill will be measured for length. Any other species of interest such as channel catfish or black crappie will be inventoried as well.

The fly snob has landed.
Boots and shorts always hook more fish.
Easy does it.
Curious crowd assembled.
This may look like a decent fish but there are some clues that it’s under performing. The tail is long and skinny. Bass have shoulders that they should carry down their entire length. Healthy bass will be broad and sturdy like a football. This fish is more torpedo like.
Deer hair popper was too good to pass up.
This is seining in all of it’s muddy, oozing sulfur gas glory. Not for the faint of heart but lots of good data comes from seine pulls.
Notice even in our seine pulls we are getting lots of bass fingerlings and few bluegill. This is only a small portion of our sample but we aren’t off to a hot start.
Big bluegill are another tip off that a fishery is out of balance. Obviously things like fish feeders will produce large bluegill but this fish came out of a metro Atlanta neighborhood pond with little management.
Tyler reiterating the messiness of seining. He rode in the bed on the way back to office. Company trucks are messy enough.

Although not electricity, a rod and reel can be revealing in the right hands. At AES we know budgets are fluid so an electrofishing survey may not be in the cards. However, we encourage property owners to fish and figure out their own waters. If owners are unsure send pictures and accurate measurements for AES to look at. We want to help everyone to the best of our ability achieve their goals.

Forsyth, Georgia ElectroShock Recap

electroshocking big bass

Weather finally started acting like late spring and all of the solar powered AES employees are over joyed. Bring the pull over and coffee for morning shocks then break out the Sun Bum and straw hat for the afternoon jobs. It looks like the heat has set in for good so that means shock season is operating on limited time. We are still shocking some good fish but, we are much more cautious with the fish. As water temps become warmer the water holds less oxygen hence why there are no trout streams in South Georgia. When we shock fish we put them in a live well. We are constantly adding fresh water and pumping out soiled water but there is a certain carrying capacity we reach. This time of year we are always watching the fish in the tank to make sure the client does not loose any fish.

Water had almost twelve feet of visibility so shocking was an uphill battle. Luckily Capt. Matt had a good tech netting.
Don’t let the rush of catching the big one make you forgot about letting her recover.
Once you get your pictures do not just throw her back in. Give her a few back and forth motions to push water over her gills.
She rode off just fine.
These are a pair of three year old pure Florida strain bass. They do not have the aggressive nature of a F1 or Northern Strain bass but they have a higher top end potential. If you hear about bass over ten pounds it probably has a good amount of Florida genetics.
Crayfish season is getting close!

After a few lakes in the Forsyth area we headed a ways out on hwy 41 in Crawford County, Georgia. This client has us shock every few years to make sure their habitat efforts and harvest are still going in the right direction. We love their pond because there goals are for a quality bass fishery. We shocked tons of healthy three pound fish. The fish are stacking up around sixteen or seventeen inches so the next step is stocking gizzard shad. It’s always a privilege to work with clients that take our management suggestions seriously.

Luckily for John’s son the big girl was still a little stunned so she didn’t put up a fight for pictures.
Greg trying to measure a rowdy one.
Working fish quickly in the heat is critical. Dissolved oxygen levels drop rapidly in our holding tank.
Even with the tight timing accuracy is still important.
Aerial view of the metrics.
Healthy bass of thick shoulders as Greg is describing here. They also have short and stubby tails. Unhealthy fish have bodies that resemble a torpedo.
Healthy post-spawn fish.
This lake was full of quality fish like this. Can’t wait to see how the fish will do with the addition of gizzard shad.
New family portrait?
Good feeding with high protein Purina food can make one pound bluegill a reality.
Got the sunfish grandslam today!
A lot of people would have harvested this fish based on length. However, we want clients to harvest bass off relative weights which are much more accurate than eyeballs. Even small fish can be healthy.
She wasn’t having any of it.
With lots of coaxing dad convinced her to get this close.
Always good to see big shiners like this in lakes. There were not many in this lake but something is better than nothing.
Even the dogs were ready to go home after the past two days.

If you missed out this spring we will be back shocking this fall. Call the office to guarantee your spot.