The electrofishing team has been bouncing around middle and south Georgia for the first part of April. The team has been tackling many diverse fisheries from lakes less than two years old while others have run their course and need to be drained.
The spawn was very flat this year. There wasn’t much of a buildup. With the amount of rain and unusual temperatures the bass spawned when the conditions were right. Many of the fish we shocked had fresh sores and flat bellies indicating the spawn has already happened. Some lakes had schools of bass fry with males guarding the school.
This time of year we get lots of calls about algae growth. With the warming water algae is starting to grow again. There are some species of algae that grow in specific temperatures but die in warmer or colder temperatures.
Wrapping the Week Up
With a long week week of electrofishing coming to an end the team saved the best lakes for last.
After four days of electrofishing and being on the road the team heading back to Ball Ground. Electrofishing is all fun till the boat is hooked up and pointed home. The real work starts now with report writing. We are booked out till mid-May so if you have any interest in getting your lake shocked now is the time to get in contact with us.
Start of 2019 Electrofishing Season
The Start of 2019
With water temperatures creeping up to the magical 60 degree mark, the shock team has been on the move. The electrofishing team was recently in Cartersville, Georgia. The client being serviced has an unconventional goal of wanting to grow large Redear sunfish. Redear sunfish feed primarily on mussels so they become very large but the growth takes a while. As of now, no fish food company has figured out a food that Redear will consume.
The fish are staging in preparation for the spawn. All winter they have been in deep water seeking shelter from the weather. People ask us why we don’t perform lake audits year around and the reason comes back to the fish. In the winter and summer, fish seek deep water. Deep water is more stable than shallow water. Our electrofishing equipment has an effective range of 4-6ft so our catch rates wouldn’t be high. Summer time water temps can be stressful to fish while they are in the lake so shocking fish in the heat of the summer can be deadly.
As the weather continues to warm, keep up with the AES shock team this spring. Spring is when the largest bass are shocked.
Seneca, South Carolina Lake Liming
Trophy Bass Start in the Dirt
When you think of growing trophy bass, dirt isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. Bluegill, crawfish, shad and other forage grow big bass but have you thought about what grows a bass’s food?
All fish start out as fry and feed off their yoke sack. Once they are done with the yoke sack they move onto small aquatic insects. Lakes with poor soil don’t support as many aquatic insects. When we attempt to fertilize these lagging lakes our fertilizer has no affect because alkalinity levels are low. Luckily for lake owners there is an easy solution to get top notch dirt.
Liming your lake is an easy job assuming there is proper boat access and a good tractor operator. Liming food plots is a normal fall ritual for hunters, but liming lakes is mostly unknown. Unlike food plots, lakes only need to be limed once every 3-5 years with the rates we recommend. Lake liming ensures the fertilizer will be effective and produces an algae bloom.
In a few hours the pile of 24 tons was in the lake and working on the soil. We like to lime lakes in the cold months because lake owners won’t be losing growing season. We start fertilizing lakes once the water temps reach 60 degrees, so ideally our owners start fertilizing in April.
Lake Aeration in Jackson, Georgia
Aeration and lake liming are two lake improvements that generate the least amount of enthusiasm from clients. Unlike fishing stocking where there’s instant gratification of seeing 10,000 bluegill go into the lake, seeing 800 meters of weighted airline sink into the lake is a big let down. However, subtle improvements are the difference between phenomenal fisheries and mediocre ones.
Today’s job was an aeration installation in Jackson, GA. Aeration installations are simple to install but they take lots of prep work to make for a smooth day. Outdoor Water Solutions is the company we used for this client. They provided AES with a detailed project map of where each bottom diffuser is to be dropped as well as the amount of air line.
The Worst Case
This particular client has a lot invested in the fishery both in time and money. Aeration systems prevent summer fish kills among other things. They also help break up bottom muck, reduce foul odors, and limit the amount of biting insects. If your lake water resembled a bowl of pea soup last summer, an aeration system is something that should be seriously considered.
Below is a client that had four years worth of management invested in his lake. He sent us these horrific pictures of his lake one summer morning. This is why we aerate lakes.
The reason this lake experienced a fish kill was because the lake flipped. There was a period of cloudy rainy weather during the heat of the summer. Oxygen levels crashed and the fish had nothing to consume. Call the office this spring before it’s too late for your pond.
Texas Hunter Fish Feeder Maintenance
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.
Newnan, GA Fish Habitat Improvements
Lake Redwine Fish Habitat Improvement
Lake Redwine in Newnan, GA is a 300 acre lake surrounded by hundreds of homes. With such a large group of people living around the lake this can make management tricky.
AES has years of experience is striking a delicate balance with HOA/POAs. Lake Redwine is shocked every year to harvest bass and to check the health of the fishery. Recommendations are generated from the shock but, unfortunately with such huge acreage these recommendations can get expensive. This project is an example of when biologist and residents come together for a creative solution.
AES constructed a yearly plan to do small fish habitat improvements that fit into the budget while residents do their part collecting Christmas trees for fish habitat. This plan includes MossBack artificial fish habitat and Christmas trees as natural cover.
An Early and Cold Start
Natural vs. Artificial Fish Habitat
In the lake management world it has always been known that artificial habitat is the best. It last longer and there’s so many different configurations these days. There are configurations for deep water that will aide bass. There are also shallow water kits similar to what we used today. The main drawback to using artificial habitat is the cost. This is when natural habitat comes into play. Natural habitat in the form of Christmas and cedar trees make phenomenal bluegill habitat. The one down side to natural is decomposition. Trees will usually last one to two years then need to be refreshed.
MossBack habitat has been working closely with private pond owners and state agencies to study how mixing natural and artificial habitat in one unit. They have begun to notice that sites that have a natural habitat beside an artificial kit hold more fish than just a single kit or tree by themselves. They suspect the bass hold in the artificial cover then bust the bait fish out of the natural habitat. Although this research has just started this could have big implications for state agencies working under tight budgets.
Something is Better than Nothing
As we wrapped up today there was a great sense of accomplishment among the volunteers and AES staff. Redwine is such a huge lake that it’s almost impossible to cover every bluegill and shell cracker bedding location. Today’s job was a step in the right direction. Every year we chip away and get one Christmas tree closer to their goals.
Stocking Trout in Augusta, Georgia
Fort Gordon Army Base
Stocking trout is nothing new as we stocked browns in the Soque River not long ago but with this week’s polar vortex, water temps throughout the state are prime for trout stockings. Even in areas not normally known for supporting trout we can stock them with winter time water temperatures. Today’s dump was at Fort Gordon Army base located near Augusta, GA. January and February are prime times for stocking trout in Georgia. The end of January works well for Fort Gordon because they host a yearly trout rodeo for kids and their parents. The base has its own natural resources staff to manage all of the base’s fisheries and wildlife. Events like this promote outdoor involvement and make great opportunities for wildlife officers to interact with base residents.
The Set Up
Fort Gordon is covered up with lakes and ponds. Some are strictly managed for certain goals while others are simply meant to provide a good angling experience. Many of the lakes have been limed and are now fertilized. In addition to the lime and fertilization program, the bulk of the lakes have Texas Hunter fish feeders to supplement the bluegill in the warm months and trout in the colder months. Steve is working with a tight budget so every purchase has a purpose.
Community is the Why
Fort Gordon is a diverse army base with many different sectors. Often times these sectors stay within their area during the work day then go home. Steve uses the outdoors to bring people together and meet other people. Steve’s passion for helping someone get their first buck or fish is the reason he does this job. Like many other high level mangers he’s spinning ten plates in the air but still makes time for the people.
With the threat of Atlanta afternoon traffic looming we made a quick exit off the base. Stocking trout in Augusta, GA shows that if you want trout you can get them. Many ponds in the state can support trout from November to April. Some ponds can even support trout into June. With the trout hatcheries running low on inventory now is the time for stocking trout in Georgia or you may loose the opportunity till next season.
South Florida Electrofishing
South Florida Electrofishing Recap
Going south in the winter is a no brainer but it’s even better when we get the chance to shock some tropical species. AES makes the eighteen hour roundtrip every few years to check on this diverse fishery and make sure it’s performing well.
Starting the Day
Capt. Matt and Lee started the day with some freshwater mussel identification. Lee is the overseer of the ponds so he in actively involved in the management. All the ponds are located around the community golf course. With the constant hustle and bustle of the course we had to pick our times very carefully to not disrupt the waves of golfers.
Let the Electricity Loose!
The first lake was a typical lake we see back home with lots of smaller bass and little in the way of forage. We noticed the lake was very low for the time of year and Lee informed us they call the winter dry season in Florida. Lee said for thirty days straight in May they received one inch of rain a day but they haven’t gotten much since November. All the lakes are dependent on the water table and elevation to maintain full pool.
Since the fish where small Matt did some digging around to see if there were any parasites present and also pull otoliths to age fish. Matt noticed some nematodes but the load wasn’t anything abnormal.
As mentioned in the title we had the chance at shocking some unusual species and we got our first one. This fish is called a sleeper. They are in the same group as gobi hence the similar appearance. They live on the bottom and their brilliant camouflage makes them great predators. The pictures below shows the various angles of this fish. They are a competitive species for bass so we did remove all the ones we shocked.
After a quick lunch there were three lakes left to be shocked. Some of the lakes were rumored to have snook and tarpon in them. The St. Lucie River runs through the community so fishermen are known to catch fish from the river then transplant into the ponds. There are many factors that go into moving saltwater fish into freshwater ponds with questionable salinity levels so we were skeptical of catching any of these ghosts. When electrofishing in South Florida we always expect the unexpected.
Tilapia are phenomenal forage since they reproduce every 28 days. The tilapia in the 3-5″ size range are the perfect forage to fuel explosive growth.
As mentioned before some of the ponds were rumored to have saltwater species in them yet so far we had shocked four ponds with no luck so our chances were fading. Our South Florida electrofishing trip was looking like another bust when it came to catching some exotics. With some sharp eyes on the front deck and a little luck things changed.
We watched as our final Florida sunset for the trip fade into darkness. The shock team accomplished a lot during their time in Florida. These trips are what set AES apart from other pond management companies. AES is capable of managing many different fisheries as this South Florida electrofishing job demonstrated.
Brown Trout in Georgia’s Soque River
Growing big bass is Aquatic Environmental’s speciality but we can do more. This past week we stocked big brown trout in Georgia’s Soque river. The Soque is located in North Georgia near the city of Clarkesville. The river supports trout year around but during hot, dry summers the trout population can take a hit. There are good populations of Brown trout in Georgia but they are usually in remote mountain streams. Brown trout in Georgia can handle slightly warmer temperatures than Rainbow and Brook trout but temperatures over 70 are stressful to all trout. The residents on the river suspend fishing in the summer to protect the trout. This round of trout was a speciality order since large brown trout are difficult to source.
Where did these brown trout come from and what do they eat?
All of these fish came from a hatchery in North Carolina. They are trained to eat fish feed but after a few weeks they will start to take natural food. Natural food sources include stoneflies, caddis, and mayflies. Residents on the Soque use feeders to keep the fish well feed. We recommend high quality Aqua Max Purina fish food to keep the trout growing. Georgia streams aren’t known for supporting many pounds of natural food so supplemental feeding is important.
Aren’t stocked trout too easy to catch?
Freshly stocked trout are easier to catch but Brown trout in Georgia can be tricky. Brown trout prefer low light conditions not bright, sunny days. The Soque river sees its fair share of fishing pressure so these fish will wise up quickly. The addition of supplemental feeding also makes the trout trickier to nail down. With insect hatches and fish food the trout have lots of options.
We want to make your property stand out from the rest so call the office to get started! It doesn’t matter if it’s moving water or a 100 acre lake we can tackle anything.
Electrofishing in Orangeburg, South Carolina
Using Electricity to Catch Bass in Orangeburg
Many people might be surprised to know that in Orangeburg SC, just two miles from the interstate, resides one of the highest quality and unique fishing properties in the southeast. The Fish Farm was the personal retreat of the late Jim Copeland, one of the former co-owners of BASS, and his family. The Copeland family still owns and maintains the property, and they continue to utilize the services of Aquatic Environmental to manage the fishery. The focus of our most recent visit was to harvest bass via electrofishing. Electrofishing allows use to get a snap shot of the fishery. The collected data then gives us the information we need to insure all of the ponds remain in balance.
Big or Small this Property has it All
There are eight ponds on the property with the crown jewel being the 33 acre lake. This lake has been managed aggressively since the Copeland’s purchased the property in 2005. Through the years a vast array of forage species has been stocked in this lake. Threadfin and Gizzard shad have been stocked and are now successfully reproducing in the big lake. Large forage items provide a meal high in protein for large bass. Bass need a food source roughly one third of their body length so these large forage items are critical to keep big bass growing.
Strict Management Equals Phenomenal Results for the Orangeburg Property
Two of the ponds on the property are strictly forage ponds that are utilized to raise bluegill and shell cracker. They are stocked as food sources in other lakes as the need arises. On this trip, we removed bluegill and shellcrackers from the forage ponds, and stocked them in two other ponds. The Orangeburg area has great weather for growing forage so these ponds easily pay for themselves. The forage ponds have several Texas Hunter fish feeders on them. The Copeland’s use high protein fish food to keep the forage growing and multiplying.
Through the years the Copeland’s have stocked threadfin shad, gizzard shad, crawfish, trout, tilapia, golden shiners, and goldfish as forage. A diverse forage base will help grow and sustain bass like these. There are no shortage of big bass on this property. The Copeland family and many of their guests can attest to the sheer amount of trophy bass on the property.
The Copeland’s have now put the property up for sale and they are committed to the continual management of the fisheries with Aquatic Environmental Services until they find the right buyer.