Newnan, GA Fish Habitat Improvements

Christmas tree for fish habitat

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

MossBack Fish Habitat
Hauling a 22 foot work boat thru Atlanta is no fun so we make a point to leave Ball Ground around 5 am to get ahead of the traffic. Early starts are part of the game.
Boat Ramp
Always a good day when we have a boat ramp.
MossBack Habitat
Volunteers made the process go quickly and efficiently.
MossBack Habitat
We started off the morning with loading up MossBack rootwad habitat.
bluegill habitat
A few days earlier volunteers tied blocks to the trees so things would move quickly once we arrived.
Redwine Sunrise
It hovered around 24 degrees for the bulk of the morning so it was exciting to see the sun pop over the trees.
MossBack fish habitat
Our first drop of MossBack rootwads were all centered around known bluegill and shell cracker spawning areas. Chad is the head of fisheries on Lake Redwine so he was on the boat with us to direct us. Chad is a great voice for us when HOA and Lake committee meetings occur. He cares deeply about the lake and the fishing. 
MossBack Rootwad Fish Habitat
MossBack rootwads are dense habitat designed to give bluegill and other forage species cover. The limbs and tubes are roughed up. This rough surface promotes algae growth which serves as the base of the food chain.
MossBack Rootwad Kits
With the brick adapters the MossBack rootwads stand straight up making great bluegill habitat. These post aren’t very tall so they can be deployed in shallow water. When working from HOAs it’s critical to not have fish habitat breaking the water surface. It can be a navigation and swimming hazard if people aren’t paying attention.
bluegill habitat
Once we got done with the artificial habitat we started loading the Christmas trees.
bluegill habitat
We loaded close to fifty trees in addition to the MossBack rootwads.
Bluegill Habitat
The marina was the final area we dropped trees. A lot of residents like to fish off the marina docks.

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.

 

 

Bristol, TN Lake Improvements

This past spring Bass Pro Shops contacted us to do an electrofishing survey of their lake at the Bristol, TN store. Matt, our senior fisheries biologist, came up with a game plan to get the lake back on track. The lake was lacking cover and forage. The owner decided to go with feed trained bass due to their aggressive, fast growing nature. Habitat was also added to aide the forage that was being stocked.

Feed Trained Bass, Fish Stocking
Tyler unloading feed trained bass.
Bass Stocking, Fishery Improvements
Small mouths, thick shoulders
Fish Feeders, Purina Aquamax, Pond Management
Texas Avenger Big Mouth feeder being filled with Purina’s special Largemouth Bass feed
Feeding Largemouth Bass, Fish Feed
Close up of Purina’s Largemouth Bass feed nuggets

Feed trained bass will grow quickly as long as they are fed a proper diet. Purina started making large pellets to work with Texas Avenger Big Mouth feeders. They are the only feeders on the market currently that can shoot this feed. Each pellet packs 45% protein and 10% fat that will add quality size to fish.

Fish Habitat, Fishery Enhancements, Mossback
Lots of units built today
Mossback Habitats, Fishery Management
MossBack habitat units waiting to be deployed
Artificial Fish Habitats
MossBack’s signature textured pipe is superior to normal PVC
Habitat for Fish
MossBack even textures their limbs to encourage algae growth
Fishery Management, Fish Habitats
Dense cover is key to protect forage fish

MossBack’s units come with roughed up surfaces. When the surfaces are roughed up they grow algae much quicker than traditional, slick PVC pipe. Algae growth is important to the pond ecosystem because it forms the base of the food chain. Without it the whole food chain will suffer.

After putting in a long day the only thing left to do is wait. With proper planning and execution there is no such thing as a hopeless pond at Aquatic Environmental Services.

 

Vertex Aerators Also A Fish Habitat

vertex aeration systems

Vertex Aerators Also a Fish Habitat – 

We all know that Vertex aerators offer many benefits and here is another one, great fishvertex aeration systems habitats!

Check this out to see bass and forage jumping from the Vertex aeration system while on an electrofishing survey.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QbrxJas08Y4[/youtube]

Christmas Tree Fish Habitat

This post might make you think twice about throwing your Christmas Trees away next year!

We recently placed 450 Christmas Trees to enhance dense protective fish habitat at Lake Windward in Alpharetta, GA. Using bottom and side sonar imaging, we were able to locate 25 bluegill spawning beds throughout the lake. We strategically placed the Christmas tree habitats around these spawning areas.  Amazingly, we found bluegill spawning beds in water depths as deep as 12 feet. These were perfect areas for the habitats. Though Christmas tree habitats will not last forever and can be labor intensive to sink, they still provide ideal dense habitat for protecting small forage fish such as bluegill. Contact us about creating the perfect fish habitat for your pond or lake!

Christmas tree fish habitats
This is the sonar that was used to plot the Christmas tree habitats.
Christmas tree fish habitats
Loading up all of the Christmas tree habitats on the boat.
Christmas tree fish habitats
We were getting lost in all the Christmas trees!

 

Christmas tree fish habitats
Sinking on of the Christmas tree habitats

 

Winterize your lake or pond

With winter fast approaching, many of our managed lake see a dramatic change in weed density and water clarity.  Just like your Bermuda lawn, most aquatic weeds will turn brown and go dormant for the winter.  Most weeds will seem to be completely gone, but we know from experience that the roots and seeds are quietly biding their time until the sunlight increases and the water temperatures rise. And just like your lawn, treating the young shoots of the aquatic weeds is the easiest way to control them as opposed to letting the weeds become deeply rooted again.

Lake owners will also see the clarity of their lakes increase, sometimes dramatically, during the winter.  Why is that? As the water cools, the natural cycle of phytoplankton is halted, thus clearing the water or its summertime green or brownish color. With this cooling comes slower growth for all animals in the lake, as their bodies try to conserve energy through the winter.   As fishes metabolism slows, you should slow down the rate at which you provide supplemental feeding with your fish feeders to bluegill and/or catfish.

Fish feeders this time of year need to be set for a mid-afternoon feeding and shut down by the time the water temps are consistently in the low 50’s. Now if you feeding cool water fish such as trout, then keep them running.  Just keep in mind you want the fish to consume all of the food in around five minutes. Once turned off. Break down the components of the feeder and clean them well.  Apply lubrication to moving parts.  Thoroughly clean the solar panel.  Put your batteries on a load tester to make sure they are ready for next spring.  Never leave a feeder shutdown for the winter with food in it. Fish food sitting in a feeder that is shut down will lead to corrosion problems.

Winter is also the best time of the year to place fish habitat.  In our work, it is common to find lakes with a lack of protective cover.  This is critical to promote bluegill recruitment which will improve the growth rates of your largemouth bass. You can cut trees and sink them near spawning beds.   Next month, collect all the Christmas trees from your neighbors and sink them in less than 4 feet of water where small fish spend their time.  Also, increase fishing hot spots with placement of trees out in deeper water.

Old ponds that may have sediment buildup can use some dredging.  A silted in pond is not good habitat for spawning and may lead to a muddy lake.  It facilitates aquatic weed and algae growth. Dredging it out means draining the lake and there is no better time to drain the lake for the fish than when cool.

What else could I do this winter for my lake? If you experienced aquatic weeds in the warmer months, stocking grass carp this winter will give your lake a jump-start on the spring growth.

  • The best long-term control of the submersed weeds is stocking grass carp.
  • Grass carp are very effective in controlling submersed grasses and can eat up to 5 times their body weight in one day.

Installing a bottom diffused aeration system can prevent winter turnover fish kills and add beneficial oxygen to the water body.  Aeration systems have also been proven to reduce nutrient levels in the water, stunting weed growth.  Although not a aesthetically pleasing as a fountain, bottom diffused aeration adds more oxygen and actually takes less electricity to operate.

Just because winter is here and normal fishing slows down, you can add rainbow trout to your lake for added action in the winter months.  Trout are cold water fish and are very aggressive in the colder months, and are good tasting and easy to catch.  Supplemental feeding with a fish feeder is recommended for trout.

So don’t give your lake the cold shoulder this winter,  pick a project that will increase your enjoyment of the lake!