May 17th Crayfish Stockings

The bass spawn is a far memory for most bass anglers as the South is switching gears into summer. However as biologist we are constantly thinking bass and big bass at that. If you’ve been out fishing in the last month you’ve probably caught some beat up fish. These beat up fish are recovering from spawning. To release eggs from the female the male bass will ram the female. To start the healing process bass will gorge themselves. The post-spawn feeding frenzy is real and crayfish are the perfect snack!

We get our crayfish overnighted from Louisiana so they are fresh.
The man of the hour. Keeping good notes on which bag went wear is key.
This year we are moving an estimated 30,000 lbs.
Crayfish are ready to be released into the lake. With all the rain we have had this year a quad is a good option as the access roads become rutted.
Releasing the crays is as easy as wading into the water and cutting the top.
We spread a sack in different areas instead of dumping in one place.
You always have a few runners!
Lone survivor on top of all his buddies.

Crayfish pack more protein than any other forage item we stock and they are the cheapest. We still have a few runs left if you want to grab a few sacks!

Ellijay, Georgia Cold Water Stream Evaluation

At AES many of our clients are busy business professionals that are looking to escape the daily grind. Whether it be bringing back their grandfather’s farm pond they grew up fishing or building one from scratch we can service all their needs. However, from time to time we are called to the mountains to aide a different type of client.

Anyone that lives in Metro Atlanta knows that the North Georgia mountains are the place to be. While the mountains may not have many ponds and lakes they are loaded with a network of streams. Some are cold enough to support trout while others get slightly warmer and support species like Redeye bass.

The buyer of this property is interested in possibly stocking trout in this creek. All streams in Gilmer County, Georgia are classified as trout streams even if they are only marginal waters. As a biologist my job was to evaluate this stream for it’s potential to support trout. For a stream to support trout their are a few criteria that must be met. Temperature, habitat, and water quality are the most important aspects to determine if a stream can support trout.

A healthy watershed is critical to a trout streams survival. These ferns are not only pleasing to the eye but also keep soil intact. Riparian erosion releases silt into streams. Silt gets in trout’s gills, reduces reproduction success, and muddies the water. All of those things are not good for trout. 
A variety of habitat is required for trout. They need deep holes to rest in and riffle/runs to feed in.
These are the tools of the trade to check the metrics. Higher elevations are needed to support trout. Higher elevations will stay cooler in the heat of the summer.

To check the water quality there is a system called the Shannon Index. The Shannon Index uses aquatic insects to assess how much pollution is in a stream. All the insects we collected today are pollution intolerant. This indicates good water quality. If we found insects like crane flies and blackfly larva this would suggest that water quality is not the best it could be.

This is a small black stonefly nymph.
The king of the aquatic insects, Golden stonflies!
An adult stonefly. We know it’s an adult because it has wings.
This is a clinger mayfly. Another great source of food for trout.
This is actually a cased caddis not a tiny pile of rocks. Cased caddis build their homes using materials from the creek bottom. These guys are the original tiny house builders!
Whole colony of cased caddis on the bottom of this rock.
Taylor, the fearless realtor/guide for the day. We got some extra walking in because the beavers dammed up a road.
Many people would not consider beaver dams to be pretty but they have their own beauty. They also provide great duck habitat. Unfortunately for trout purposes they slow water down which warms the water up.
This picture is above the beaver dam complex. The stream is back to its original self of running cold and clean.

The end result is the client will start out with a put and take fishery. This means we will stock trout in late October and tell the client to harvest trout starting late May. We also gave the option to let the trout stay and see how they handle the summer heat. We recommended the client halt fishing when water temperatures exceed 74 degrees since those warm temperatures are stressful to trout.

As the mountains become developed we look forward to serving a different demographic of clients. If you have stream on your property and wondering what’s in it give us a call.

Smyrna, Georgia Fish Removal

Just like humans, lakes age and need maintenance to keep performing at their best. When we survey a lake we also inspect the dam and outlet system. Often times most just need some brush removal or grass plantings to reduce erosion. However, there are times when major repairs need to be completed and the lake must be fully drained.

A small neighborhood community in Smyrna, GA contacted our office to aid in a fish removal. The lake was constructed in the 1960’s according to some of the older community members. The current seawall had fallen into disrepair thus not protecting the shoreline from wave action. The seawall is up for repairs very soon so they started draining the lake.

The contractor that was completing the repairs had to reduce the lake levels by more than 80% to reach compactable soil. With such a drastic water draw down there would most certainly be a fish a kill. With new homes being built on the lake, the mess and stench from a fish kill would not be good PR for the community.

The lake had to be drained down to concentrate the fish as well as aid in the seawall repairs. The more concentrated the fish are the higher our harvest rates will be.
Surveying the metrics of the situation.
Made friends with the dozer operator and he cleared us a path to get boat as close to lake as possible.
Some of the heavy machine operators told us they fished the lake earlier with no luck. Luckily we fish with electricity.

It’s critical to move the fish quickly from our holding tanks to fish truck. The water is already low in dissolved oxygen so the fish are extremely stressed.

This pond had a very sandy bottom which is very unusual. Most fish removals are mucky messes that require chest waders.
Jon and Matt dumping the harvested fish into the fish truck.
Jon is our head fish stocking manager. All the fish we shocked he inventoried so we knew how many and how much we took out from the lake.
All the bass were measured for length and weight just like we would do on an electrofishing survey.
On the right is Richard, head project manager, checking on the bass and bluegill after shocking.
Bluegill and small crappie made up the bulk of our catch.
Shocking perch is something that does not happen often in Georgia. The Fort Gordon Army base is the only other place in Georgia we have seen perch.
Decent bass for a pond that has gone unmanaged for 80 years.
Even in our tiny tanks the bass will not pass up a chance to eat.
This was the average size bluegill we shocked. Seeing lots of bluegill this size shows us this is a bass heavy environment. In a well managed pond we should see different sizes of bluegill.
A big redear sunfish ended the day on a high note.

Fish removals are not our typical job here at AES but we are an adaptable company. We saved thousands of fish that will be stocked in ponds for people to enjoy. If these fish were left in the pond there would be thousands of dead fish left floating and stinking up the community. Besides being an eye sore fish kills can pose a health hazard. Decomposing fish in stagnant water could make family pets sick if they drink from it. We all have adventurous little kids that love to touch everything and those hands eventually go in their mouth. If your community ever has this situation give our office a call.

 

March 26th-30th Electroshock Recap

This week the shock team was along I-20 in the Greensboro, GA area. Fish are spawning or a few days from spawning. The team is just riding the wave now and enjoying seeing some of the top fisheries in Georgia at peak times.They were sampling a mixture of ponds managed for trophy bass as well as quality bass. Many people think these are synonymous but there are slight differences. Trophy bass lakes will typically have lower bass numbers but have copious amounts of forage. A bass needs 8-10 lbs of forage to put on a single pound of body weight. A quality bass fishery is managed to produce numbers of healthy 2-5 lb bass with the chance of catching the occasional trophy. Both still need to be intensely managed to reach their goals. Bass harvest is the Achilles for most property owners. Harvesting 4oo lbs of bass is no small chore but that’s where the shock team comes in.

A few pounds makes a big difference in nature.
We are starting to do mouth swaps to test bass genetics. We use to take a small fin clip but swabbing is much quicker and does no harm to the fish.
This is a 12in bass with a 5in bluegill stuck in its throat. The bluegill was removed and swam away fine.
This is a prime example of what a quality bass fishery can produce. Not a wall hanger but you’d be hard pressed to find someone that wouldn’t want to catch this quality of bass.
Older brother can’t be out done. This bass was on its way to dropping eggs before we shocked her.
Reed giving her plenty of recovery time.
She started to move her tail fluidly which tells us she’s ready to go.
Striped bass don’t do well in ponds but hybrid striped bass do. They need threadfin shad and fish food to reach their full potential. They will test any anglers skill set along with their drag.
If quality bass fishing is a goal then make sure catfish don’t get to 12 lbs.
These one pound bluegill will keep the kids grinning for a while.
Feed trained bass (left) vs. native bass (right)

As you can see this was a great week for the team. Next week the boys will be shocking 100+ acre lakes with a few small boat shocks to keep things fresh. With the bulk of our spring clients shocked this is a great time to get in contact with the office if you’ve been putting off lake improvements. We will not be as busy so we can tackle projects quickly.

 

Photo Credit: Grant Bobo; [email protected]

March 19th-23rd Electroshock Recap

Another great week is in the books for the shock team. Erratic weather continues to plague the Southeast but the fish are still making their migration towards the shallows. Luckily the nighttime temperatures are not dropping drastically so the water temps are not moving much. This week our average water temperature was about 54 degrees which is great for shocking pre-spawn fish. However, farther south we are shocking some post-spawn fish. We can blame the 80 degree February blast for that.

Weekly fishing tip- Stay off the bank. Fish are pre-staging about 15 feet off shoreline. Work spots with brush, tree tops, or rock. Rolling some big females that are holding tight to cover. Smaller males are cruising the shoreline or preparing beds. Keep it simple lure wise. Texas rigged soft plastics or smaller jigs are the best. Floating worms like the Zoom trick worm in bubble gum or merthiolate are great pre-spawn colors. Bright colors traditionally do best before the spawn when fish are aggressive.

Started the week with a small fish run. Hatcheries routinely run out of bluegill so we don’t hesitate at the opportunity.
Capt. Matt looking for a good launch spot while trying to stay warm. The cold blast mixed with high winds made it a brutal week.
Full bellies that just need some more warm weather.
Bass harvest is the most important management tool property owners have to produce quality bass.
Any bass that are under performing or trash fish are removed from a fishery. Although these bass look good, every property owner has different goals so harvest is dependent on goals.
She was over 19″ but not healthy. Sometimes you have to harvest bigger fish. Notice the big head and long body?
Capt. Matt with a net full of trouble makers

This coming up week we will be shocking along I-20 in East Georgia and far Northwest Georgia. The weather still looks crazy with a brisk start then a huge mid-week warm up. We hope this warm up will be the trend but March is the most volatile month in weather as we are finding out.

Yearly Lake Management Services

As many lake owners know keeping up with your lake is a full time job. It’s easy to get behind. Life happens and we understand that. Unless you have a dedicated caretaker it can be a daunting task. There are so many things that a property manager needs to be aware of. Feeders need to be filled, water fertilized, and outlets kept clean among other things. Throw in otters, nuisance wildlife, and your head will start spinning. Fortunately here at AES we offer full lake management services.  Property owners can sign yearly contracts. We can manage your lake very intensely with visits every two weeks or just check on them once a month to make sure everything is working as it should. We fill feeders using only the highest quality Purina feed and dump the most water-soluble fertilizer to increase phytoplankton. Time is the most valuable asset we have as humans. We would rather get pictures of you and your family enjoying your pond than hearing about the seventh Black Widow you found servicing your feeders. 

Photo Credit: Grant Bobo

Middle Georgia MossBack Habitat Install

The calendar doesn’t agree but it’s spring in Georgia. This means ponds are starting to come back to life. Whether it’s fish stocking or electroshocking we are getting busy at AES. When we shock lakes each report comes with custom recommendations from our senior biologist. Habitat is usually a key component. Why stock thousands of dollars of bluegill and golden shiners in a pond without cover? They will just get ate as soon as they hit the water.

Today’s ponds were the final phase of habitat installation. To ease budget concerns we will break up habitat projects over two to four years. Doing it over a long period of time allows the pond owner to give us feedback. Sometimes in year three the owner might want to add a Texas Hunter fish feeder and want to drop some MossBack rootwad kits near the feeder.

It’s been a month long rain storm here in Georgia. Today was no different.
The taller units are MossBack safe haven kits. They are great for dense offshore cover. The smaller kits are MossBack rootwads. They are our bread and butter units. Small, well priced units that protect bluegill like no other.
Blue skies put a smile on the Captain’s face
Units are easy to deploy.
Slide them off and mark on GPS…easy stuff.
You know it’s spring in the South when you run the back roads and come out covered.

 

If your pond or lake is lacking cover and full of small bass give us a call. We love to work with concerned property owners. Budget shouldn’t be the reason you and your family/friends are not enjoying your pond.  We know how to bring the most value to you.

First Shock of 2018-Duluth, GA

If you’ve been outside recently you’ve noticed the days are getting longer, Sandhill Cranes are flying high, and buds are starting to pop. This also means it’s time for Big Ugly (an affectionate name for our shock-boat) to start purring and sending some electricity underwater.

Anyone in Atlanta has probably taken notice of this gloomy, rainy weather pattern we are stuck in. For the vitamin D lovers it’s a struggle but there is an upside. Morning lows have been in 60’s and highs in the 70’s. This means water temperatures are on the rise which gets the bass thinking about spawning. If you want to see bass at their heaviest and healthiest spring is the time.

We have been managing this fishery for over two years. It was the classic bass crowded fishery. The lake was full of small, stunted bass which are no fun for the owner. The owner bought into our vision and has followed through on our management suggestions. Give us a call today if you want to turn your pond around and start making memories.

Fish Truck V2.0

Running fish is the backbone of AES. Everything we do whether it’s electroshock or habitat enhancement leads up to getting fish in the water. Many people think we raise fish at our Ball Ground, Georgia office. Other than some trout fingerlings or holding some catfish for a few days we do very little. Georgia soil is very poor hence our water quality is poor. The bulk of our fish come from Arkansas hatcheries where they have the proper water quality. Once we have enough orders a semi-truck from Arkansas rolls ups and each truck loads up with their orders. After ten faithful years our current fish delivery truck was starting to show her age.

Saltwater and metal don’t mix
Few wrecks later and about six inches of mud
Matt doing the tedious workings
Rewiring the agitators. Agitators are key to breaking up carbon dioxide so more fish can be hauled.
Finished Product
Going with a 5500 sized truck allowed us to add some extra tanks

With spring rolling around we are more than ready to get fish in your pond and starting making memories.

Newnan, Georgia Lake Enhancement

Here at AES we are big fans of artificial habitat. Last forever and when it goes off the edge of the boat you are done with it. The one drawback is it is very expensive. Recently we have been working with a good amount of HOAs. Improving a community lake will increase property values even for those not living directly on the lake. Unfortunately many communities have tight budgets. However that is not an issue at AES. We are here to create the best fishery with the given materials.

This lake is on the rebound after being managed poorly for over a decade. Funds for next year have been set aside to help the fishery but community members still wanted to help the fishery now. Christmas trees were collected throughout the neighborhood around New Years to be dropped as fish habitat. To save cost the community did all the prep work themselves. We simply showed up with our work barge and dropped the trees in pre-selected locations.

Boat ramps…a luxury in our line of work!
Prepped and ready to be dumped
Simple but effective
Community support is key to getting these efforts accomplished

Barge is ready to go
Proper location is critical.
Bluegill spawn in 3-5ft of water so don’t dump too deep.
Last drop of the day

With all the prep work this was a short day with a lot accomplished. There were plenty of people here to help load. Getting community members involved is important for these efforts. When more people are educated about their waters they will start to care more. Not many people will complain about getting tired of catching big bass. No matter your budget give AES a call and we will get you on the right plan.