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.

 

 

Southeastern Electrofishing Road Trip Recap

The team was out all week covering over 1,200 miles with the shock boat. The team made its first stop outside of Mobile, Alabama.

big bass
Margaret calls this bass Ted because he has been caught so many times they are on that kind of personal level.

This first stop use to be a catfish farm with multiple ponds on site. Upon arrival we stocked grass carp to help with weed growth. The ponds all have poor water quality and this has a trickle down effect on all aspects of the pond. Fertile water will have a deep green hue which is phytoplankton. Phytoplankton is the base of the food chain in all pond ecosystems. Ponds with healthy phytoplankton populations can hold 300-400 lbs of fish per acre while infertile ponds might hold 80 lbs of fish per acre. Luckily there is a simple solution of first liming the lake then applying pond fertilizer.

The changing cypress trees in Vicksburg, MS gave our oaks and maples of the mountains a good run for their money when it came to Fall colors.

The next stop on the trip was outside of Vicksburg, Mississippi. As the cover photos shows we did very well. The owner enjoys fly fishing. In turn we manage the lake with slightly clear water so bass can see his flies and lots of 3-6 lb bass to keep angler success high.

Big Bass
We always say healthy fish should look like footballs but these fish looked like overinflated footballs. These bass are pure Florida strain so we anticipate the phenomenal growth to continue.
Big Bass
If you are noticing big difference between these two fish you are correct. The fish are both roughly the same length but not the same relative weight. The fish on the left had a relative weight well over a 100%. The fish on the right is about 90% relative weight. The reason it is lacking is because it was just recently transferred from another pond containing pure Florida strain bass that were underperforming.

Our final stop was Shreveport, Louisiana to several clients managing for trophy bass. All the ponds were recently constructed so they are in their prime. If you have trophy goals then that means spot on water quality, loads of forage, and aggressive bass harvest. The fish above are a testament to proper management. Visibility of water was 30″, plenty of dense habitat for forage, and loads of forage. Besides bluegill the owner has stocked threadfin shad, crawfish, and golden shiners. The water is fertile so the shad are doing excellent and crawfish are 90 cents per pound in Louisiana. To grow trophy bass it is critical to have multiple types of forage. Bluegill are the backbone of the forage base in the pond but they need other forage types to relieve predation pressure. When bass are evenly eating different types of forage no single forage will get hit too hard.

This road trip was one of the final big trips for the shock team. As the weather turns from cool to cold the bass sink back into the depths in preparation of the spawn.