Alpharetta, Georgia Small Boat Electrofishing Recap

We are in the heat of shock season now with the cold nights and mild afternoons. Today’s lake was an HOA lake that we manage. Since it’s an HOA they have the goal of catching lots of 1-2 lb fish to keep residents happy along with large bluegill. This blog won’t be as educational as previous ones but more of an update of what we have been up to.

These were the typical sized bass we shocked during the survey.
Weighing bass on the little boat makes us appreciate the large working space of the main shock boat.
Seine hauls give us great amounts of data about bluegill and how well they are reproducing.
Can never see enough of these guys in a lake if you have any aspirations to grow bass.
Internal organs can tell us a lot about the environment a bass lives in. These organs were mute and dull. This bass was shocked in a lake with dissolved oxygen levels that ranged from 1.31 mg/l to 0.86 mg/l ie a harsh existence at best.
The biggest bass of the day!
Bullhead catfish come in from creeks to the lake and compete with bass for forage. As gross as they appear their numbers typically never get high due to bass predation.
Large redear sunfish are prized by pan fishermen for the good tasting met. Bass also prize them for the same reason.
Unfortunately, in this lake there was no intermediate bluegill just large and newly hatched bluegill.

Keep checking for updates about the shock season as the shock team is having very little office time so blog post may be far and few between.

G.B. Williams Electroshock Recap

Smyrna, Georgia is an upcoming city near Atlanta full of homes, apartments, and shopping centers. At one point in time it was rural farmland ripe with pasture, livestock, and ponds. G.B. Williams is a thriving example of old Smyrna with a large horse boarding stable and lake. The lake became famous in the early 2000’s when AES shocked large bass that later became published in the Marietta Daily Journal. G.B. Williams is actually a pay lake that anyone can fish for the right price. The secret to the lake’s success is gizzard shad and gizzard shad in the right size. The lake is full of 5-8″ gizzard shad which is the perfect size to grow big bass. The lake also supports a healthy population of bluegill and redear sunfish.

This is the standard size we shocked. The fish went about 16in and 2.5 lbs. Many people get hung up on a 10lb bass but this size bass supplies plenty of excitement. 
We know this fish has been caught before judging by the scars on its side. Remember to always wet hands before touching any fish. 
This fish was skinny but since this is a pay lake we let her to go to keep catch rates high.
Warmouth are a great catch for pan fishermen as well as good bass forage.
We normally remove bullhead catfish but customers like to catch them so we let this little guy ride.
We always tell people to harvest based off relative weights not size and this fish is why. It may be 18in but it’s relative weight was less than 75% indicating very poor health.
big bass
One of the final fish of the day was a stud. Notice the fish has a thick tail and carries its shoulders down to its tail. Healthy bass look like footballs ie they are short and thick. Never judge a bass’s health by its stomach size. If a skinny bass eats a big bluegill it will look “healthy.”

It’s not often we get to manage pay lakes but the AES shock team is a versatile bunch up for any challenge.

Rockmart, Georgia Electroshock

Shock season is coming into its own with the cool weather rolling into the Southeast. Previously the weather has been down right hot which means the bass are staying deep. Even under ideal circumstances our shock only goes to eight feet deep which is one reason we need the cool air to bring the fish out of their deep summer haunts.

Today’s lake is surrounded by cows and bison so shocking was tricky. The amount of free fertilizer running into the lake makes visibility low. We don’t want high visibility because it makes shocking more difficult and the lake will carry less pounds of fish but there can be too much of a good thing. Low visibility means it’s hard to see fish while shocking.
big bass
One of the better fish we shocked from the pond. Still a little skinny but this size fish is great fun to catch.
big bass
The recent stocking of gold fish is helping put some weight back on the fish. Summer stress can also cause fish to loose weight.
When we first shocked these black crappie we thought they were small hybrid striped bass because of their large size. If you catch 50 of these in a day that is a solid day of fishing.
Georgia Giant
This is the world famous Georgia Giant. The initial stocking produces the largest fish while later generations become watered down mutts. Georgia Giants are a cross between Redear Sunfish and Green Sunfish. Ponds with them will need to be drained and restocked every few years to keep the large sizes people expect.
Big bass
Capt. Matt with a handful of feed trained bass. Feed trained bass are Northern strain bass hence their aggressive behavior.
We use high protein Purina fish feed to keep the feed trained bass and bluegill growing. This feed has 45% protein compared to value brands with 33%.

Today was a grinder of a day but many lakes were shocked which gives us valuable data to make sure the lakes are staying on track. It only takes a few seasons for fisheries to becomes out of balance.

Duluth, Georgia Vertex Aeration Install

Recently a client came to us wanting a proper aeration in his pond. He has had issues with cheaper units burning themselves out in the past. As you will see later there is a reason he was worried about the longevity of his current system. We worked closely with Vertex Aeration systems to construct a custom aeration map that would best suite the pond.

The pond that was in question. Although small, pond is still at risk of turning over and causing a fish kill.

Prepping the Job Site

Josh hunting for the old aeration lines so proper ones can be installed.
Josh found the old aeration line. It was very small in diameter compared to the line we use which is another reason the unit was producing unsatisfactory results.
Finally dragged the unit out. There was a reason it was so hard to get the unit out with all those snags we had.
The backbone of the unit was an old sign.
After a little cleanup we discovered a Pepsi Cola crate made up the base with four aquarium airstones to produce air bubbles.
Snagged to the unit was a fully functioning fish rod and reel. It still castes like a champ.
Single units were used today instead of doubles like we usually use.
We housed the unit inside a landscape feature to keep the aesthetics of the property. Josh is trying to brush the fire ants off his arms which also call the feature home.

The Process of Installation

Since the units were only singles, the compressor is also downsized. Those plastics bags are padding to protect the unit during shipping. They are removed before the unit is powered up.
A small jon boat is all we need to deploy these units. One person drives while another person feeds tubing.
After some fine tuning the stations were working perfectly.

This was a quick job due to the size of the lake and small number of units. If you have a questionable aeration system give us a call to get your pond back on track.

Lake Windward Electroshock

Today the shock team was in Alpharetta, Georgia on the shores of Lake Windward. With a brilliant sunrise to illuminate a paved boat ramp the day was off to a good start. We were slightly concerned that water temperatures were warmer than last year.

big bass
Even with the warmer water we still got on some good fish.
The humble warmouth were plentiful around rock piles and rip rap.
We always encourage clients to get on the boat. During an electroshock you get one on one time with a senior biologist.
shell cracker
Shell cracker should not make up the backbone of the forage base but they are an essential part of the lake ecosystem.
catfish
Large catfish will compete with bass for forage. The Windward community has people that fish for catfish so we returned these giants.
big bass
Four years ago Lake Windward was full of 12 inch bass with low relative weights. After hundreds of bass being harvested, many loads of threadfin shad, and thousands of pounds crayfish the lake is producing more healthy fish.
spotted bass
With all the hard work the Windward community has been doing it is disheartening to see some bucket biologist stocked spotted bass from near by Lake Lanier. Spotted bass do not do well in smaller lakes and ponds.
All the good fish were tagged. The Windward Lake board will be provided with this data so they can keep records for themselves. AES also keeps the data so we can see how our management strategies are working.

After a quick data crunch the lake is still on the right path to producing quality bass. This lake is much larger than our normal client but fisheries management is still the same on a large body of water with the only exception being on a larger scale. We are booked up to Thanksgiving with only a few days left open. If you are interested in getting your lake shocked call the office so see if any dates are open.

 

 

Canton, Georgia Vertex Aeration Installation

Today’s blog is a quick recap of installing a single station Vertex aeration system. These systems offer incredible benefits to pond owners from decreasing fishy smells to reducing the chances of a fish kill. The systems are easy to install and take less than three hours to install. The only requirement is there needs to be a power source near the lake. If power source is an issue we offer a solar unit.

Today’s lake was about two acres in size so that’s why we only recommended a single aeration unit.
Josh doesn’t need any fancy tools to get the unit up and running.
Josh is seen here connecting the self weighted tubing to the main compressor unit.
Hose clamps and PVC cement are all we need to get the tubing connected.
The power source on this particular lake was a good ways away so we buried the tubing so it won’t be in danger of meeting the bush hog.
Josh is loaded and ready to deploy. When we send in proposals to Vertex Systems they create a custom lake map with locations to drop the units. We do not randomly drop units.

If you would like to improve your pond and safe guard your fisheries investments call the office to get talk with a biologist that will point you in the right direction.

 

Middle Georgia Habitat Enhancements

At AES we know money does not grow on trees. Clients come to us because we know how to use their money efficiently and wisely. Harvest and habitat are a client’s best tools to manage their lakes. Today’s job took us to Forsyth, Georgia to implement a artificial and natural habitat enhancement project. The client wanted to use MossBack artificial habitat kits while also taking advantage of shoreline trees. The shoreline trees were dropped then dragged out slightly so they were not an eye shore. The property owner wants to keep the aesthetics  while also helping out his bluegill population. Later this fall he will be getting several fish stockings so it was critical we create as much habitat for the future bluegill population.

Josh selecting which trees are to be cut.
Alders made up the bulk of what Josh was cutting.
Alder trees make great habitat because they are easy to cut and regrow in a few years so they can be cut again.
The Stihl making easy work of the alders.
Lashing the alders with rope and cinder block is the last step before we dragged them out.
Trees with green leaves hold more fish than trees with just a few branches remaining.
One of the bigger trees Josh dropped.
Once the naturals were done we moved on to artificial MossBack kits. These Reef kits were placed in five to seven feet of water to provide good structure for fishermen.
Loading these kits can be tricky. They are not heavy but awkward.
We always give clients GPS points but today the client requested decoys so he can see the habitat locations while on the water.
Deploying the units is the fun part. Place a 8x8x12 cinder block on the base to ensure the unit sits on the bottom evenly.

The team wrapped up just in time as the mid-day heat rolled in after an early start. Habitat projects are great chores to get done on your own property during winter and summer. It would be a shame to be lashing trees together in the spring while the biggest fish of the year are ripe to be caught. If you have questions about a habitat project coming up give the office a call and we can help you out.

 

Kentucky Electroshock Recap

Although it is still summer in the Southeast, AES was asked to shock several strip mine lakes in western Kentucky. These lakes can be difficult to shock due to their extreme depth and high conductivity.

It is typical that these lakes have sharp drop offs a few feet off the shoreline.
These lakes in particular had never been managed so their visibility readings were greater than 12 ft. This visibility reading tells us that the lake is not supporting many pounds of fish per acre.
High conductivity was a worry but the readings indicated perfect shocking conditions.
Carp are very common pond fish to shock but these are special because they are buffalo carp. Buffalo carp are prized by fishermen. 
Big Bass
As the visibly reading from earlier showed us the lake did not hold many pounds of fish but we still managed to shock a few.
Gar
Gar are a common trash fish that we encounter in swampy environments.
Besides gar we also shocked large bowfin that exceeded 30 inches.
To gain access to the otoliths Matt has to remove the head of the bass.The otoliths are tucked near the spinal cord on a fish. Matt will count the rings on the otoliths similar to the counting the rings on a tree to get an accurate age.
As with many lakes there was no boat ramp at this location. With some fancy foot work and four-wheel drive Matt manged to tuck the shock boat deep into some cattails.
Under performing bass are harvested but never wasted. The property owner is about to have a large fish fry.
At the end of a long day Matt had a good idea of what was happening underwater. The strip mine lakes had never been managed so they were bass heavy, had too many competitive species, and lacked proper amounts of forage. None of these issues are permanent. With time these ponds can be turned into great fisheries.

Shock season is just about to get rolling so if you are interested in getting your pond audited give the office a call so we will have time to make it out. Dates are booking quickly with Fall rolling in.

Work Hard, Play Hard

Spring and early summer were busy months at AES. To keep fresh and ready for the fall busy season all of our employee’s enjoy some well earned vacation. Below are the highlights from one of our employee’s trip to the Western US.

The last best place.
Montana has a wet foot rule meaning fishermen can access private land as long as their feet stay wet while fishing.
Tight quarters fishing for spooky brook trout.
Brook trout this size play perfect on a 3 wt rod.
The brook trout get a little bigger in Montana than the Southern Appalachians.
This brook trout is closing in on two pounds.
Even in the summer the alpine environment stays cool.
Had to take a break from fishing with a trip to the Beartooth mountain range.
Smoke from California, Oregon, and Canada ruined some views. The haze is smoke.
Idaho
Everyone worries about bears out west. In these thick environments moose are the true threats.
Idaho cutthroat trout.
Can you guess why they call them cutthroat?
Fishing in Jurassic Park with these giant cedars and ferns.
The natives got a little rowdy.
Idaho bull trout.
Let her ride.
Brown trout are the name of the game in Montana.
Canyon critter.
The westslope cutthroat is one of the native trout species in Montana.
More Westslope cutties.
Brown trout dominate the rivers of southwest Montana.
Hungry for hoppers.
Cutthroat trout don’t often eat streamers but sometimes you get lucky.
This high alpine lake sits above 9,000 feet and was full of grayling.
Grayling grow slowly due to living in areas with a growing season of 3-5 months.
Badlands, South Dakota

 

Rockmart, Georgia MossBack Habitat Installation

At AES we shock lakes and ponds to get a snapshot of what’s happening underwater. Often times people assume we are after big fish and a photo op when we electrofish. In reality we want to harvest as much information and small bass as we can. Electricity isn’t bias so we shock aggressive fish as well as more docile fish. When anglers are fishing they will usually catch aggressive fish. Once we gather enough information we will make recommendations based on the client’s goals and budget. Today’s client gave us a budget to work with to improve habitat. We always give clients the best recommendations but understand budget is always a concern. We installed a variety of different MossBack kits today to improve habitat in different areas of the lake. For example a rootwad kit will be dropped in shallow water near bluegill spawning beds to give protection to newly hatched bluegill fry. In deeper water reef kits were deployed. Reef kits are not as dense as rootwads and are meant for bass to hang off. These deep water structures make for great places to fish around. No more random cast.

Today we constructed almost 30 MossBack habitats. Mossback kits are very easy to install. If the property owner has the time and resources we always encourage them to build and install themselves to save on cost. Each kit will usually take about 20 min to build. 
MossBack Habitats
The hardest part about deploying habitat is figuring out how to get back on the boat once the boat is fully loaded. The tightly packed habitats will test your flexibility.
MossBack Rootwad Kits
Another load ready to be deployed.
Lime barge
The boys coming back for more kits. The key today was to beat the rain. As we left the property the rumble of thunder was close.  

If you have a project in mind but aren’t sure where to start give the office a call!