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.
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!
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 lack 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.