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.

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.

Home Depots are great locations to pick up extra trees. This Home Depot’s pile just north of Atlanta has been steadily growing since New Years Day.

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.

All the supplies you’ll need

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.

 

The good stuff
Secured to main trunk. Don’t loop rope through limps. They will break under weight of cinder block.
Knots don’t have to be pretty

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.

Basic Tackle

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.

I love jigs!

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.

Brown colored jigs excel in clear water situations
Black and blue is the classic jig color. Does great in dirty or clear water.

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.

If you don’t like jigs, soft plastic craws are a great alternative.
Worms should always be near the top. Notice all these have little to no movement. The colors are very translucent because often times the water in winter is very clear. Black should be saved for muddy water. Texas rig these to bounce off the bottom.
More crayfish imitations. The Sweet Beaver is a simple yet effective bait to have in your arsenal. Texas rig these to bounce off the bottom.
Senko is an all time favorite. Like shad colors such as pictured. However blacks and watermelons are also solid choices. Many people over fish these. Simply cast out and let slowly sink. Then lift your rod up slightly. The natural wobble these have do all the work for you.
Some ponds have threadfin shad in them. Threadfin are delicate and sensitive to extreme cold. They will die off if it gets to cold which is unfortunate due to their price. The one upside is bass key in on the dying shad and will gorge themselves. Flukes are great mimics. No weight required. A white trickworm can be useful to show them something they haven’t seen.
Basic rigging for all soft plastics. This keeps hook weedless since point is buried into the soft plastic.

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.

Yes it’s basic.

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!

 

Constructing Secchi Disks

 

 We are in the process of making Secchi disks. Secchi Disks are one of our best selling items and the best item to ensure the success of your pond’s fertilization program. If you don’t already have a Secchi Disk, visit our Shop at https://lakework.com/shop/secchi-disk-2/. We sell Secchi Disks for $33.00 including shipping.

Pond Fertilizer

Spring is fast approaching along with warmer water temperatures. Remember we begin fertilizing ponds once the water temperature reaches 60°F. It is critical to get a bloom established early in the spring. If fertilization efforts are delayed further into spring, there is a chance that aquatic vegetation will get a head start and limit fertilizer’s success.  Also, to maximize the potential of the fishery it is critical a bloom is established before fish begin reproducing. Having a strong bloom increases the survival of the newly hatched fish.  A side benefit of an early bloom is deterring submersed vegetation growth as well.

For the initial fertilizer application you need to use eight pounds of fertilizer per acre. Once a bloom is established drop to four pounds of fertilizer. Our fertilization rates are always based off of the visibility of the water which is measured with a secchi disk ( link here). Make sure to check the visibility every two weeks and apply fertilizer as needed based off of the visibility reading. To keep on top of fertilization program we offer yearly Fisheries Management Contracts.  Please contact to get a proposal for AES to tackle maintaining the fertility of your pond and other pond management services.

For a year supply of fertilizer typically requires 50 pounds, or two boxes, to get you through the growing season. Place you order before March 15th and receive discounted delivery if applicable.

Check out these links to our Fertilizer and Secchi Disk.

The fertilizer label
Fertilizer label

Threadfin Shad Survival

The start of 2014 rang in the coldest temperatures that in over a decade. For those with threadfin shad, the bitter cold could have led to the demise of your threadfin shad population. Threadfin shad are great bass forage but they die once the water temperatures reach the low 40’s especially if the water temperature stays too cold for too long. Ice may equal dead shad. However, just because some shad die off does not mean that the entire population died off. In deeper lakes, shad can survive by seeking out thermal refuges that provide warm enough water temperatures to get the shad through the cold winter.

The best key to determine how the shad fared through the winter is by conducting an electrofishing survey this spring. You can also look for schooling shad at the water surface in the evenings once the weather begins to warm.  If a majority of the threadfin shad population or the entire population was eliminated, shad can be re-stocked this spring. Remember that we only stock shad when they are ready to spawn which increases the establishment of the shad since they will spawn shortly after being stocked. Typically, our shad stockings occur in April through June. Because of timing the sooner we determine the status of the shad the better the chances of stocking this spring.

** Though thick ice in north GA leads to rare kids fun activities (with safety measures in place), this particular ponds was covered in thick ice for four days. If you experienced heavy ice cover similar to this, you threadfin shad population likely did not survive unless the pond has a high abundance of deep water; and yet their chances of survival are still limited in such a severe ice cover. Also, we don’t recommend walking on ice in the south due to thinness of ice.

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4th day of completely solid ice!

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Take a look at what Joe stumbled upon at one of our managed lake sites today…

Snake

Today, while vising one of our managed lake sites, Joe stumbled across this well-camouflaged snake. With its somewhat triangular-shaped head, most people would jump to the conclusion that it is a venomous snake.  But, in reality, it is a non-venomous water snake. While not poisonous, they are also quick to bite back hard if they feel any kind of danger from anyone. Their bite is strong enough to put you into a lot of pain. ‘Tis the season that these snakes start making appearances, so watch where you step…and if you don’t know what kind of snake you’re dealing with, it’s best to turn around and walk the other way.

Lake Mapping in Record Snow Event

Aquatic Environmental Services braved the record snow event and cold weather to map a nine acre lake in Rome, GA on January 12, 2011. After delaying the job for two days we had to finally suck it up and get the job done before our schedule for the entire month became backed-up. The lake we mapped is located at Castle Farms in Rome, GA. We have been providing fisheries management services on this lake for several years now and have constantly battled with submersed grasses in the lake. This lake has a lot of water with depths of three feet or less and “gin” clear water. This creates prime habitat for aquatic weed growth because the sunlight can penetrate down to the lake bottom which allows the weeds to grow.

This lake is managed for quality bass fishing and more importantly aesthetics. Castle Farms provides company meetings, weddings, etc. overlooking the lake so any weed growth in the lake needs to be eliminated. Since the herbicides were not getting the job done and the grass carp escaped the lake during a flood, we determined the best solution is to dredge the lake to increase water depths. Increasing the water depths will decrease the amount of sunlight that reaches the pond bottom which will in turn decrease the amount of weed growth. But to accurately determine how much sediment needed to be dredge to achieve the proper depths, we needed to create a bathymetric map.

Common uses for these maps include: sedimentation control, volume calculation, recreation maps, habitat and ecology management, watershed management and awesome fishing maps. For this particular project, we wanted to find how much sediment needed to be removed to achieve a depth of four feet.  With this data, we can the project the cost of dredging the lake instead of our client getting surprised with an enormous bill at the end of the dredging work.

Using a high end GPS unit connected to a depth finder, we are able to collect the data needed to create the bathymetric map. This system collects a GPS coordinate and water depth every second. To acquire the data needed to create the map, we simply drive around the lake while collecting data. In a lake with very little depth changes this is a very easy process but if the lake bottom has a lot of contours (ridges, channels, etc.)  we have to  make sure to collect enough data at these locations to accurately show theses changes on the map. Once all our data is collected, we send to our partner company The Mapping Network where they convert the data into the bathymetric map.

The pictures below show Castle Farms Lake. One shows the contour lines and the other is a 3-D representation of the lake.

Castle Farms 3D

Castle Farms Contour

Please contact Aquatic Environmental Services at 770-735-3523 or www.lakework.com if you are interested in lake mapping or any other fisheries management services.