The summer time is prime time to do mid-season chores on your lake or pond. The fishing has slowed down and it’s down right miserable to be out past 11 am. Today we were in Madison, GA helping a long time customer. When this property owner came to us about five years ago his lake was so full of weeds a boat could barley navigate, the bulk of the bass were 8-12″, and the forage base was running on fumes. After several chemical applications and grass carp stockings the lake was cleared of vegetation. After many bass were harvested several loads of threadfin shad were stocked. This spring the lake was shocked to see how the lake was doing. To the utter surprise and delight of the owner his shad were thriving. He was planning on getting another load or two stocked but after our survey he realized no shad needed to be stocked. Situations like this show why an experienced professional is needed. Instead of the client spending money on something they already have they can now use that money for other forage.
If you suspect your water quality is holding back your fishery call the office to see if we can help you out.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
April 19th-20th East Georgia Electroshock Recap
Shock season is starting to wind down along with our spring rush. Week long road trips are now being replaced by short day trips to any clients that we were not able to get back in March and April. Fish stocking has become our main focus lately. However, that doesn’t mean we are done throwing some electricity in the water. Toward the end of the week the shock team headed to Tignall, Georgia near Lake Hartwell and Shady Dale, Georgia off Interstate 20. The bass are in their classic post-spawn feeding frenzy. After the spawn the fish are severely malnourished and the only way to recover is to eat. As a property owner it’s up to you to keep the bass happy. Stocking crayfish or some extra bluegill will help your fishery.
Fishing Tip- Just get out there. The fish are starting to form wolf packs and destroying anything in sight. If your lake has threadfin shad then find the bait balls. When shad are present in the lake the fish will not be on the banks chasing bluegill as much. Fishing around threadfin schools with top-water, flukes, and spinner-baits will do the trick. For lakes without threadfin fish any cover or structure. This time of year fish love to suspend in tree tops waiting for the food to swim by. Swimming a jig is a great technique to use on these fish. It looks like a bluegill or bait fish. It’s also subtler than a spinner-bait.
As we continue the march towards Summer it will become paramount to help your bass recover from the spawn. Spawning is very energetically expensive on fish. Starting in May we will stock crayfish. There are two great things that crayfish pose over other forms of forage we stock. First is they have the most protein of any forage. They pack more punch than rainbow trout. The second effects your bottom line. They are the cheapest of any forage. They range from $4.15/lb to $3.00/lb depending on quantities. We purchase from our Louisiana suppliers in the early summer before the demand increases for summer low country and crayfish boils. We don’t stock in winter because the mortality rate is extremely high with the harsh weather. Give the office a call before it’s too late to get your order in.
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.
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
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.
With spring rolling around we are more than ready to get fish in your pond and starting making memories.
Winter Fish Habitat Improvements
The holidays have wrapped up and the dread of taking Christmas decorations down has sunk in. Most of your decorations are headed back to the attic or for curbside pick up. Think twice before chunking that Christmas tree away.
When bluegill first hatch they are less than one inch long and extremely vulnerable to bass. To help them survive they need dense habitat to hide in. This is where your old Christmas tree comes into play. Christmas trees are phenomenal natural habitat to spruce up a pond that is lacking bluegill habitat. This blog is a quick guide to getting your trees in the water and protecting bluegill.
Bluegill habitat is not something to skimp on. I recommend clients get a few buddies together, take a trailer to Home Depot, and load up as many that safely fit on the trailer. The more cover that’s dropped will equal more bluegill this spring and summer. More bluegill means healthy bass. Bluegill reproduce multiple times throughout the warm months. If proper habitat is in place they will sustain their population which means pond owners don’t have to spend $2,000 in bluegill stockings every year. Bass harvest is also a serious consideration as well.
First part of getting ready is corralling all the needed supplies. A perk of having a few buddies is while everyone else is loading the trailer one can run into Home Depot to purchase the rope and cinder blocks. 8″x 8″x 16″ cinder block is a good size. Polypropylene rope is the preferred rope material. Cotton based rope will decompose quickly.
Once all supplies are ready cut about four feet of rope. Now thread the rope through the cinder block and main tree trunk. Tying in the middle is the safest bet but some tie to bottom so tree will stand up. When the tree becomes water logged it will lay on its side so it does not matter where it’s secured to. A few granny knots to tie rope off and it’s ready to be dropped.
Location is the most important part of the process. The quick and dirty whiteboard sketch shows what is right and what’s wrong. Lets start with correct positioning. All the trees have been dropped right on the edge of bluegill spawning sites. There are lots of trees surrounding spawning sites. It’s better to have a little too much gusto than be stingy. Now for the wrong way to drop. Trees have been dropped way too far from spawning sites. Bluegill fry will get ate in their journey from beds to cover. The trees have been dropped sparsely.
One note about using Christmas Trees or any natural materials is that they have a limited lifespan. As soon as natural materials hit water they start decomposing. One year is about what we expect to get out of a single tree so plan to make this a yearly tradition. At AES we sell artificial habitat. Unfortunately they are not free but they last forever which saves time. After all, time is the ultimate currency.
If you need guidance on dropping trees or curious about artificial habitat contact our office. Winter is a slower pace here so we will be able to quickly help you. Come spring we are extremely busy and schedules are tight.
Threadfin Shad Kill
As temperatures continue to plummet in the Southeast many lakes are reaching unheard of temperatures. Most fish will hunker down in the deepest portion of the lake and ride out the storm. However, some fish are more susceptible than others.
A key food source that becomes vulnerable in extreme cold is Threadfin shad. Around forty-five degrees is all threadfin can take before they start to die. They will search the depths trying to find suitable water. It’s common for threadfin to suspend in a certain portion of the water column. Whenever visible ice forms on the surface of the lake a shad kill becomes a real possibility. If your lake is small you can make a quick visible inspection to look for dead shad. If your lake is large you can also make a visual inspection but also be on the look out for seagulls or vultures picking off the dying shad.
If a shad kill is seen call our office and place your order for restocking. Shad stockings occur in April and early May. There is a limited amount of shad from suppliers so it’s critical to place your order early. Getting the lake electroshocked to inventory the shad population will show us how your population fared. Some luck out and have a partial kill while others loose the whole population.
Winter Pond Bass Fishing
So far in the Southeast this winter is stacking up to be a dozy. Atlanta has already had 8 inches of panic dropped on her and it’s not even New Years. Many pond owners take this same icy attitude toward their ponds this time of year. However winter pond fishing can be phenomenal if you have a solid game plan. The point of this article is to serve as a general approach to enjoying your pond in the cold months.
The first aspect of bass fishing in winter is all about timing. The days are shorter and colder. Bass know this and adjust their movements accordingly. There is no need to get up at the crack of dawn like we have to do in the summer months. The best times to fish are between 10am to 3pm. These will be the warmest parts of the day making sluggish bass a little less sluggish. An often overlooked time to fish in the winter is during rain or fronts. In Georgia it’s common for the weather to be 10 degrees warmer before and during a front. Pond temps in the high 40s will revieve runoff in the 60s. The warm runoff draws bass in like magnets. Fishing areas where runoff enters the pond will be key.
Tackle this time of year doesn’t have to be super fancy. A 6’6” to 7′ medium heavy bait casting set up will be good for jigs and heavier soft plastic rigs. A 7′ medium spinning rod will handle smaller soft plastics and drop shotting well.
On to baits and lures! I’m a minimalist at heart and don’t want to lug around four tackle boxes. I carry a small backpack with the essential baits and terminal tackle. Bass will hug the bottom this time of year. Some will suspend as well. Jigs are my favorite lure because you can do many things with them. Bouncing them slowly off the bottom mimicking crayfish is my go to technique. However during those rainy events with warm runoff swimming a jig is a good technique to try. Swimming a jig simply means slowly reeling in the jig similar to a spinner bait. Below are several jig and trailer combinations that are proven.
The next category of baits that do good in cold water are soft plastics. There are so many options on the soft plastic market today. Similar to jigs I like to keep stuff simple. With the water being cold I don’t fish plastics with lots of movement. I prefer smaller plastics that move very little so no curly tail worms or crazy twin tail trailers.
Hooks and weights are simple. A 1/0 to 3/0 hook is all you will need. A small built weight that weighs around 3/16oz is plenty for Texas rigging . So now you know what to fish and when to fish. The last piece of the puzzle is where to fish.
Most ponds are one to three acres so that means you can cover them very quickly and easily. The red “x’s” are winter time hot spots. Lets start at the dam. The corners of a dam are great fish holding locations because there is a change in bottom contour which allows bass to pin forage. The standpipe is a structure suspending bass will hold to. Most ponds have a few fallen trees. Fish the trees in deep water and pass on the shallow trees. The row of “x’s” is located on the western side of the lake. The western side will receive the most afternoon sun thus warming quickly. Lastly the inflow pipe will be worth fishing after a warm rain. The warm water draws fish in and also food from the watershed gets funneled into a small area.
Follow these simple tips to put more winter time bass on the end of your line!