Trout Stocking Options

Rainbow Trout

Rainbow TroutWith the cooler weather setting in this weekend it is time for trout stocking. Rainbow trout are super aggressive and easy to catch out with some effort.  Because of this you can stock your pond no matter where you are in Georgia and enjoy them for six months and even longer in north GA.  They  are cool weather fish is they provide fishing in cooler months when other fish are not as active. Rainbow trout survive temperatures up to 75°F.

If you want big bass there is not a better food source than trout.  Stock trout half the length of the target bass you want to grow. Rainbow trout have slender bodies and do not have hard spines in their fins making them very easy for largemouth bass to consume.

Do not forget to feed your trout a nutrient-dense high protein fish food like AquaMax™ 600. Trout will respond voraciously to a quality fish food and will grow extremely fast with this nutritionally complete, balanced diet. Many clients take trout from 3/4 lbs to over 3 lbs when they use this quality feed over the winter months. Plus, with the cost of rainbow trout fillets at $6-$8 per pound, not only is it more fun to go and catch your dinner, it is cheaper as well.

It is time to get on our trout list. Give us a call or send us an email today!

Lake Liming for New Lakes

georgia pond construction

New lakes are a beautiful thing. They are ripe for the imagination. Property owners can make humps and points to bounce a football jig off or sticking tree tops mid-lake that will one day result in a bass crushing a top water plug. However, till that point we have to do the small things that make those big dreams possible. One of the small things that results in big dividends is lake liming. Proper alkalinity also fertilization programs to be effective. Fertilized lakes can hold 300-400 lbs per acre of fish while unfertilized lakes hold 40-100 lbs per acre. Lime is a composed of basic compounds so it keeps pH cycle much more stable. Stability is king in nature.

Break in the Rain

Anyone living in the Southeast is probably wondering if our temperate deciduous forests is slowly becoming a rain forest with the amount of rain we are battling. After a few dry days we tip toed the lime barge across the virgin ground.

Georgia Lake Construction
New lakes in the North Georgia mountains are prime candidates for liming. There are a few veins of good soil in North Georgia but for the most part the soil is poor.
Georgia Lake Construction
Lots of standing timber and brush can compound water quality issues. We are big fans of adding dense cover for bluegill and offshore cover for bass when lakes are being constructed. However, there is too much of a good thing. Leaving too much brush can release tannic acid. High levels of tannic acid decrease oxygen levels.
georgia pond management
Fish will soon be stocked so Melissa is checking the water quality as a bench mark.

Today’s lake only needed fifty tons so it was a quick job. The tonnage was a little overkill but liming at high rates will last longer. Other companies will suggest one or two tons to the acre. It will appear cheaper at first. However the catch is it needs to be done every year so the company makes more money on application fees. At our tonnage rates we lime lakes every three to five years.

Summer

As we head into the summer this is the time we lime the bulk of our lakes. We also lime in the winter. We are booking up quickly for the month of June and July so get in contact the office if you would like your lake limed.

 

Stocking Trout in Augusta, Georgia

Rainbow Trout

Fort Gordon Army Base

Stocking trout is nothing new as  we stocked browns in the Soque River   not long ago but with this week’s polar vortex, water temps throughout the state are prime for trout stockings. Even in areas not normally known for supporting trout we can stock them with winter time water temperatures. Today’s dump was at Fort Gordon Army base located near Augusta, GA. January and February are prime times for stocking trout in Georgia. The end of January works well for Fort Gordon because they host a yearly trout rodeo for kids and their parents. The base has its own natural resources staff to manage all of the base’s fisheries and wildlife. Events like this promote outdoor involvement and make great opportunities for wildlife officers to interact with base residents.

rainbow trout
Steve Camp is head of all natural resources on the base.

 

The Set Up

Fort Gordon is covered up with lakes and ponds. Some are strictly managed for certain goals while others are simply meant to provide a good angling experience. Many of the lakes have been limed and are now fertilized. In addition to the lime and fertilization program, the bulk of the lakes have Texas Hunter fish feeders to supplement the bluegill in the warm months and trout in the colder months. Steve is working with a tight budget so every purchase has a purpose.

rainbow trout
Flicking the trout in the air so they hit the water with gusto is an industry trick to stocking trout. Steve has the wrist flick down to a science. Allowing the trout to hit the water breaks ups the Carbon Dioxide that builds in their gills while being hauled.
trout stocking in Georgia
Having more hands is always welcomed. This is one of Steve’s newest biologist. This is a good teaching moment to talk about cold water fish since trout stocking in Georgia doesn’t happen often.
rainbow trout
Since the bulk of these fish were for kids to catch we stocked larger trout. The average weight was about 1.5 lbs. Trout that size are sure to keep the kids busy and taste great that evening.

Community is the Why

As we were wrapping up the stocking Steve did some community education. Managing wildlife is Steve’s main job but interacting with the community is just as important if not  more important. Steve has a big personality so community members love talking with him. His passion for the outdoors is unmatched.

Fort Gordon is a diverse army base with many different sectors. Often times these sectors stay within their area during the work day then go home. Steve uses the outdoors to bring people together and meet other people. Steve’s passion for helping someone get their first buck or fish is the reason he does this job. Like many other high level mangers he’s spinning ten plates in the air but still makes time for the people.

With the threat of Atlanta afternoon traffic looming we made a quick exit off the base. Stocking trout in Augusta, GA shows that if you want trout you can get them. Many ponds in the state can support trout from November to April. Some ponds can even support trout into June. With the trout hatcheries running low on inventory now is the time for stocking trout in Georgia or you may loose the opportunity till next season.

 

Society of Lake Management Professionals Summit

Bob Lusk

Each year SLMP holds a summit to allow industry professionals an opportunity to discuss the latest in industry trends and new advancements. The summit was held in Memphis, Tennessee this year. Lake management is still a young industry. The industry started firing on all cylinders in the mid-1980s so there is plenty of room for growth. There were many topics discussed at the summit but the topics of cyanobacteria and trophy bass garnered the most attention.

Day One- Starting Things Off

It was only fitting to have Bob Lusk, the grandfather of the lake management industry, to start the conference off. Bob has been in the game since the late 70’s so he knows his stuff. Many of the industry standards we take for granted these days Bob learned the hard way.

Bob Lusk
SLMP attracts some big names and there’s no other name bigger than Bob Lusk in the lake management industry.

After a few talks on the first day the audience broke for some free time to talk with vendors. This is a prime time for companies to get to know their vendors. Often times in our line of work companies are just an email or phone call. It’s good to put a face to the email address.

Fish Food
Optimal fish food is a quality fish food company located in South Dakota. They are dedicated to making the best feed and constantly pushing the boundaries.
Air Max
Having one on one time with vendors is great for us to discuss concerns and questions we have.
cyanobacteria
Solitude Lake management has been heavily invested in cracking the cyanobacteria code as this issue becomes more common. They presented their findings and what they hope to do in the future.

Evening Social

After a long day of travel and talks it was fitting to have an evening out. A vendor generously provided appetizers, BBQ, and brews for the summit attendees. Socials are a great way for people to get to know each other. Pulled pork and Budweiser are the best ice breakers.  SLMP is all about exchanging ideas so events like this are critical to group cohesion.

Memphis night lift
Capt. Matt is usually on the shock boat in hot pursuit of bass and bluegill but tonight pulled pork was his quarry.
Ice Breaker
Outdoor Water Solutions was the sponsor for tonight’s social. As a perk of being president Greg got the first plate.
America
Lots of knowledge was exchanged as people get a feel for everyone. We might live in different parts of the country but we all have the similar problems that unite us.
SLMP
Bob Lusk and Dave Bealsey enjoying the evening.
Pulled Pork
The place to be.
Memphis BBQ
Pass the sauce.

Day Two

Day two was a mixture of presentations and round table discussions. SLMP has the round table discussions because they give vendors one on one time with clients. Vendors can also hear issues that clients have with products so they can give feedback to developers. This is the time of year that vendors unveil new products which is always exciting.

Tom handing the mic off to Wade. Wade had some exciting news as he has been developing an app so clients can record relative weights from their mobile device.
EPA
Trent gave a talk concerning EPA regulations and how they effect our industry.
big bass
Greg gave a detailed talk about growing trophy bass and the future of this aggressive management strategy entails.
Aeration
Outdoor Water Solution’s round table.
fish feeder
Texas Hunter feeders are our favorite feeders are the market. A five year warranty and world class customer service makes them a crowd favorite.
Dredge life
The dredging industry has a lot of mystery surrounding it so it’s good to have a sit down with them.
pond dye
Dyes are not our favorite but they do have a place in the lake management industry. The chemistry behind dye is fascinating to watch.
pond dye
It only took a tiny drop to turn the whole tube blue. Live demonstrations are great learning opportunities since this is what we will be doing in the field.
SLMP
All the SLMP attendees.
SLMP
SLMP summit Vendors.
SLMP
2018 SLMP Board Members

Wrapping Things Up

President
As the outgoing president Greg was honored for his dedicated service to the organization.
college scholarship
During the summit a silent auction was held to raise funds for the SLMP scholarship. The scholarship is awarded to outstanding students that in actively involved in the lake management world. The highest bidders were reveled during the dinner.
Texas hunter fish feeder
Texas Hunter feeders donated a complete feeder for the scholarship fund.
back ground
After a long week and many months of planning the summit came to an end. It was all smiles from the people that worked in the background to make sure everything went off perfectly.

It was an informative week but as all good things do it had come to an end. Next year’s Society Lake Management Professional Summit will be held in Florida. After the near Arctic conditions of Memphis a warm coastal breeze will be welcomed.

 

 

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.

 

 

Rockmart, Georgia MossBack Habitat Installation

At AES we shock lakes and ponds to get a snapshot of what’s happening underwater. Often times people assume we are after big fish and a photo op when we electrofish. In reality we want to harvest as much information and small bass as we can. Electricity isn’t bias so we shock aggressive fish as well as more docile fish. When anglers are fishing they will usually catch aggressive fish. Once we gather enough information we will make recommendations based on the client’s goals and budget. Today’s client gave us a budget to work with to improve habitat. We always give clients the best recommendations but understand budget is always a concern. We installed a variety of different MossBack kits today to improve habitat in different areas of the lake. For example a rootwad kit will be dropped in shallow water near bluegill spawning beds to give protection to newly hatched bluegill fry. In deeper water reef kits were deployed. Reef kits are not as dense as rootwads and are meant for bass to hang off. These deep water structures make for great places to fish around. No more random cast.

Today we constructed almost 30 MossBack habitats. Mossback kits are very easy to install. If the property owner has the time and resources we always encourage them to build and install themselves to save on cost. Each kit will usually take about 20 min to build. 
MossBack Habitats
The hardest part about deploying habitat is figuring out how to get back on the boat once the boat is fully loaded. The tightly packed habitats will test your flexibility.
MossBack Rootwad Kits
Another load ready to be deployed.
Lime barge
The boys coming back for more kits. The key today was to beat the rain. As we left the property the rumble of thunder was close.  

If you have a project in mind but aren’t sure where to start give the office a call!

 

Madison, Georgia Lake Liming

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.

40 tons of agriculture lime waiting to be spread. Property owners are often shocked when we recommend 4-6 tons/acre. Other lake management companies will recommend 1-2 tons/acre. The reason we recommend higher amounts is we don’t want property owners liming every year or every other year. We would rather property owners lime once every 3-5 years and use their budget for fish stocking or habitat enhancements.
Agricultural lime is usually a mysterious topic when we mention it to property owners. Lime is crushed limestone as you can see in the picture above. Lime is high in calcium which raises the pH and alkalinity of the soil. Georgia has incredibility poor soil which doesn’t allow pond and lakes to carry a lot of pounds of fish. When we fertilize we can triple the amount of fish a lake carries. 
This 85 hp tractor had a giant bucket so it made quick work of the pile. We always want tractors to be at least 20 hp and four wheel drive. Smaller tractors will struggle with the dense nature of lime. 
Nosing off the bank is made much easier when there is a good drop off. We have a few tricks up our sleeve to get out of tight spaces but a good bank slope is hard to beat.
Spreading 40 tons the easy way.

If you suspect your water quality is holding back your fishery call the office to see if we can help you out.

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!

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.

 

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.

Some spawned out girls looking to recover.
After bass spawn redear sunfish are next to go on bed. This one was easily over a pound!
Capt. Matt with a hand full. This pond is managed for trophy bluegill so our bass harvest rates are much lower in an effort to keep bluegill numbers low. We want low numbers so the few bluegill and redear that survive will grow very large due to lack of competition.
Redear sunfish or shell crackers grow larger than bluegill due to their diet. There diet consist primary of freshwater mussels which are high in protein. The have incredibly strong jaws that allow them to crack the mussel’s shell hence the name shell crackers.
Chubby-cheeked bluegill
Ran across our first chocolate colored dalmatian!
Capt. Matt doing some field surgery removing an ocular nematode.
Ocular nematode occur in older ponds with high amounts of decomposing organics.
This fish was acting strange in our holding tank. It was having a difficult time staying upright and gilling.
Capt. Matt took a look inside and found this. It took some work to get it out because it was lodged so deep. If there’s ever a reason to remove barbs from baits that you intend to target trophy bass with this is it.
Capt. Matt working hard to help her recover.
Worked with her for more than 10 minutes but she didn’t pull through. At least she did not go to waste. She’ll make some good fish tacos.

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.