Another spring has wrapped up and with that comes crayfish stocking. This spring was odd and it even continued into our stockings. Past crayfish stockings are usually accompanied with Gatorade, 90 degree temps, and the dreaded swamp funk we get from releasing a couple thousand pounds of crayfish. The very first delivery went down in 46 degrees with the smart ones wearing pants and boots. Luckily it got warmer.
If it seems strange to be putting crayfish in your pond and not in your low country then keep reading. Bass are incredibly poor at converting food into body mass. Like we’ve said in the past that it takes 10 lbs of forage for bass to add 1 lb of body mass. That ratio makes this battle uphill for any lake owner that wants a quality fishery. We always want the bluegill to bass ratio to be in balance first. Once that has been dealt with we can get creative. Threadfin shad do great in fertile lakes that have plenty of open water. Rainbow trout keep the kids busy in the winter and the bass full going into the spawn. Goldfish are slow swimmers and great entertainment for the kids due to their high visibility. However, the king of additonal forage is crayfish. Stocking crayfish is the cheapest option for lake owners yet they have more protein per gram than rainbow trout. That’s a game changer.
Crayfish stocking has wrapped up for the year. If you missed the boat get in contact with our office as we are constructing the list for 2020.
***All photographs shot on Kodak Tri-X 100 ISO Black and White Film***
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ever wonder why the Midwestern United States grows such huge deer versus other parts of the lower 48? A little hint is good dirt grows big deer. The same concept applies for growing trophy bass. Unlike the Midwest, here in the Southeast we are not blessed with good dirt. Being famous for having red clay isn’t a huge source of pride for most lake owners. Luckily liming is an easy and effective way to improve water quality. Liming does a lot of good things for your pond such as raising alkalinity and reduce pH swings. High alkalinity will make fertilizer more effective and small pH swings will make the aquatic environment stable.
With deer food plots landowners typically apply one ton per acre every year. As lake managers we apply four to six tons per acre. This seems like overkill. That is exactly what we want because at this rate you only have to lime every three to five years. Some will luck out and be good for many years. Factors such as watershed size effect the rate. Also years with flooding will wash out lime quickly.
Liming a lake is a straight forward process. First we will get lime brought in and dumped near the shoreline. We will bring our lime barge to the lake. No boat ramp is needed. There just needs to be an area with clean bottom and good drop off. Of course we need plenty of room for the trailer and trucking company.
A front end loader is needed to load our barge. Typically one bucket is enough. We require the loader to be 4 wheel drive and at least 20hp. We’ve used small loaders and they will tip over or break due to lime’s density.
The final step is to blast the lime off. On our barge we have a 2in trash pump that produces 213 gallons per minute. With this flow rate we are typically able to move eight to ten tons of lime in a hour.
Typical lakes only need 24-50 tons so we can get your job done in an afternoon. Winter is the time to get this done so when it warms up you will be back to enjoying your lake. Call us now to get ahead of the spring rush.
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.
Fish Stocking Fun for Kids
Here at AES we love to introduce children to all aspects of fishery management from stocking of a forage base, to the importance of habitat and the thrill of catching a great fish. We made a delivery of bluegill to one of clients extra special for the neighborhood kids.
The children eagerly awaited as buckets of bluegill were loaded from the truck and then taken to the pond.
Once taken to the pond they all watched intently as the bluegill were released.
Another happy client!
Electrofishing Outside of the Southeast
Although the bulk of our business comes from Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina we are more than capable to survey lakes outside of our home range. With the number of years Greg has been in the pond management industry he has forged a reputation of building the finest fisheries so naturally word has spread. The shock team makes a road trip to Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi in late spring and another trip to Illinois in early summer. Shocking in Florida is an emerging area for us as well. There are many companies in Florida than manage vegetation but few provide fisheries services.
Even if you do not think you’re close to the home office give us a call. Many times we can complete fish population surveys on multiple ponds in an area to reduce the travel cost.