With the mercury slowly creeping up many pond/lake owners will fill up their fish feeders after a long winter to discover they are not working. Texas Hunter fish feeders are incredibility hardy machines. We have been on lakes that flooded to discover the Texas Hunter fish feeders are still working. This blog is going to be a quick post on feeder maintenance.
What You Need
Getting To It
The first thing we do is test the feeder and make sure feed is coming out. If no feed is coming out then we check the battery charge or clogs in the hopper. Often times one of these two is the cause of a feeder not working. Motors do go out from time to time but they last years when taken care of. We have serviced feeders that have been underwater and the motors still work.
We hope you enjoyed this quick guide. We love Texas Hunter fish feeders but like anything they need some maintenance to get the most out of them.
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.
If you suspect your water quality is holding back your fishery call the office to see if we can help you out.
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.
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!
Spring is here and it is time to crank up your bluegill feeders!
To grow giant bluegill or improve bass growth feed your bluegill quality feed. Feeding the bluegill a supplemental fish food diet creates healthier higher reproducing fish thus creates more bass food. Feeding begins in March and continues through November in much of the southeast. How much should you be feeding? As a general rule of thumb, cast enough feed so its gone in 5 to 10 minutes. For bluegill they need at a minimum a 36% protein diet. We prefer the Aquamax 500 or 600 fish food with 41% protein level. DO NOT USE CHEAP CATFISH FOOD!
Feeding by hand is not as efficient as using an automatic fish feeder which can feed multiple times a day. Bluegill have a short intestinal tract and benefit from multiple feedings during the day. A feeding area is a great place for kids to learn to fish, because the action is always fast. Many people just enjoy watching the feeding frenzy that occurs and showing off your trophy bluegill to your friends.
Bluegill will not travel far to consume food so to maximize bluegill growth and production, setup multiple feeding sites.
Check out this link to read about our Bluegill Feeding Trials. This gives you more insight on why to use quality food for feeding. Our research showed that a more expensive food such as Aquamax 500 is actually cheaper for putting weight on bluegill.
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.
4th day of completely solid ice!
Take a look at what Joe stumbled upon at one of our managed lake sites today…
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.