Tannic Acid in Ponds

If you’ve ever driven by a lake that has brown water resembling ice tea then you’ve seen a pond with tannic acid.  Most of the time tannic acid is just an aesthetic issue. However, sometimes it can be more serious. This client was about to stock 6,000 3-4″ bluegill before we checked his water quality. The water didn’t even hold 1 milligram worth of oxygen. This would have been a death sentence for the bluegill and an ill-spent $3,600.  To help reduce the tannins in the water and improve oxygen levels we applied aglime. Aglime contains high amounts of calcium which raises the pH levels and alkalinity.

Checking oxygen levels
Josh is checking the oxygen levels of the pond.
oxygen levels
Oxygen levels are still substandard. The percent saturation is about 15% at 1.21 milligrams per liter. Ideally we want the percent saturation around 100% and milligrams per liter at 6-8.
Duck Weed
In addition to high levels of tannins the pond also has a severe case of duck weed.
Boat ramps are great but we can always bob sled down a gentle red clay bank if need be .
Tractor loading barge
Getting loaded up with some aglime.
Loading lime
Keeping the barge still and dumping the load is a dance. Luckily there was no wind today to cause the boat to drift.
Dump truck
We weren’t the only ones dumping today. This is a new pond so getting rock and gravel dropped is key to keeping the dam healthy.
Lime barge
We nosed up into the brush as much as possible. These decomposing organics are what are causing the high levels of tannins.

With the aglime applied we will give it a few months to start changing the soil and water characteristics. Although this is not a good situation  it could have been much worse if fish were stocked. The owner isn’t on the property at all times so the fish would appear to go in healthy but by the time he was out next the buzzards would have cleaned everything up. If you ever face a tough situation with your fishery give AES a call. We have plenty of experience and creativity to solve problems.

 

Pond Survey Without Electricity?

99% of the time we can figure out a way to get our shock boats into a pond but there will be a few forever out of our reach. Using standard electrofishing techniques is the most comprehensive way to survey a pond. This will give us direction when it comes to fish stocking and other pond management tasks. Even without electricity we can use other techniques to get a good idea of what’s happening.  When ponds are in balance or out of balance there are certain things to look for. Ever heard a friend say they catch only huge bluegill and small bass? Feel safe to bet your week’s paycheck he has an out of balance pond. Ponds that are in balance will have many different sizes of bluegill along with healthy bass.

Angler surveys and seine netting are the most commonly used techniques we use to survey a pond without our shockboat. Any college graduate did a thousand seines before they received their hard earned diploma. Angler surveys are a fancy way of saying we get paid to fish. A rod and reel are the most common tools. AES has a select few employees that think they are sophisticated and insist on fly fishing. Once fish are seined or caught the same inventory procedure follows as if we were on the shock boat. Bass will be weighed and measured for length. Bluegill will be measured for length. Any other species of interest such as channel catfish or black crappie will be inventoried as well.

The fly snob has landed.
Boots and shorts always hook more fish.
Easy does it.
Curious crowd assembled.
This may look like a decent fish but there are some clues that it’s under performing. The tail is long and skinny. Bass have shoulders that they should carry down their entire length. Healthy bass will be broad and sturdy like a football. This fish is more torpedo like.
Deer hair popper was too good to pass up.
This is seining in all of it’s muddy, oozing sulfur gas glory. Not for the faint of heart but lots of good data comes from seine pulls.
Notice even in our seine pulls we are getting lots of bass fingerlings and few bluegill. This is only a small portion of our sample but we aren’t off to a hot start.
Big bluegill are another tip off that a fishery is out of balance. Obviously things like fish feeders will produce large bluegill but this fish came out of a metro Atlanta neighborhood pond with little management.
Tyler reiterating the messiness of seining. He rode in the bed on the way back to office. Company trucks are messy enough.

Although not electricity, a rod and reel can be revealing in the right hands. At AES we know budgets are fluid so an electrofishing survey may not be in the cards. However, we encourage property owners to fish and figure out their own waters. If owners are unsure send pictures and accurate measurements for AES to look at. We want to help everyone to the best of our ability achieve their goals.

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.

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.

Winter Chores

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.

Digital titration is the most accurate way to measure alkalinity. Want alkalinity to be at least 20 ppm.

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.

When liming we are liming the soil not the water so we drive around blasting lime off.

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.

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.

Ageing Bass

Ageing a bass is one of the best ways a biologist can gauge the health of a bass. In the Southeast we use the otolithes to determine age. In the North or where there are defined cold and warm seasons scales can be used to determine age. This is a quick guide on how otolithes are retrieved and aged.

Age of Bass
First step is to gain access to spinal region
Age and Growth Large Mouth Bass
Next Matt uses some precision tuned pliers to gently remove skin
Working space is prepped and ready for otolith removal.
Dating and Ageing Trophy Largemouth Bass
The otolithes are tucked in a nerve bundle along the spine.
Size and Age Bass
Each fish has two otolithes

 

Fish Ageing
Matt will split and sand the otoliths so that he can see through them. They are glued to a microscope slide so Matt can count the rings. This fish is five years old. It weighed 434 grams with a length of 13″. This is extremely poor growth.

Once age has been determined we can now implement strategies to improve the fishery.  Most lakes have never been managed so they are full of old, stunted bass. In most cases the best option is to drain the lake and start over. It is possible to get these bass healthy again but it may be too late. Bass have a lifespan of eight to ten years. If a bass is stunted at six years old then pouring $2,000 of bluegill in the lake is futile. During an electrosurvey we take otolith samples so call us today and get booked.

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.

One-year old smallmouth in Northern Illinois.
Toothy
Illinois stud
Greg’s arms were tired after this day in Vicksburg, MS.
All smiles in Southern Arkansas.
Electricity is not always required to survey.
Didn’t matter if it was a duck or bass for this lab.
Capt. Matt in Ohio with the apex predator…Flathead Catfish
Chilly morning smallie

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.

Pop Eye Disease

Did a little eye surgery today and removed these ocular nematodes from bluegill eyes.  They had Pop Eye disease. Only cure for Pop Eye disease is ridding the muck from your pond.  If you see Pop Eye disease in your pond, then contact us for an aeration quote.

 

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.