Another spring has wrapped up and with that comes crayfish stocking. This spring was odd and it even continued into our stockings. Past crayfish stockings are usually accompanied with Gatorade, 90 degree temps, and the dreaded swamp funk we get from releasing a couple thousand pounds of crayfish. The very first delivery went down in 46 degrees with the smart ones wearing pants and boots. Luckily it got warmer.
If it seems strange to be putting crayfish in your pond and not in your low country then keep reading. Bass are incredibly poor at converting food into body mass. Like we’ve said in the past that it takes 10 lbs of forage for bass to add 1 lb of body mass. That ratio makes this battle uphill for any lake owner that wants a quality fishery. We always want the bluegill to bass ratio to be in balance first. Once that has been dealt with we can get creative. Threadfin shad do great in fertile lakes that have plenty of open water. Rainbow trout keep the kids busy in the winter and the bass full going into the spawn. Goldfish are slow swimmers and great entertainment for the kids due to their high visibility. However, the king of additonal forage is crayfish. Stocking crayfish is the cheapest option for lake owners yet they have more protein per gram than rainbow trout. That’s a game changer.
Crayfish stocking has wrapped up for the year. If you missed the boat get in contact with our office as we are constructing the list for 2020.
***All photographs shot on Kodak Tri-X 100 ISO Black and White Film***
Late Season Electrofishing in East Georgia
Bass Harvest…..it never stops
The pond being electrofishing today has a common problem that not many property owners think about but something we see often. The lake was stocked a few years back and everything was great. Owners get caught up in the excitement of seeing bass, bluegill, shell cracker, and shad going into the pond. The real work starts a few months later. Among a new lake owners duties is bass harvest. The initial bass that are stocked in a new pond will be the best class ever.
If you own a lake less than ten years old your best bet is to harvest bass aggressively and add habitat. Shoreline trees are a great start as the are usually small and will fall directly into the water. Digest these two tips then make them happen on your home water.
Lake Liming for New Lakes
New lakes are a beautiful thing. They are ripe for the imagination. Property owners can make humps and points to bounce a football jig off or sticking tree tops mid-lake that will one day result in a bass crushing a top water plug. However, till that point we have to do the small things that make those big dreams possible. One of the small things that results in big dividends is lake liming. Proper alkalinity also fertilization programs to be effective. Fertilized lakes can hold 300-400 lbs per acre of fish while unfertilized lakes hold 40-100 lbs per acre. Lime is a composed of basic compounds so it keeps pH cycle much more stable. Stability is king in nature.
Break in the Rain
Anyone living in the Southeast is probably wondering if our temperate deciduous forests is slowly becoming a rain forest with the amount of rain we are battling. After a few dry days we tip toed the lime barge across the virgin ground.
Today’s lake only needed fifty tons so it was a quick job. The tonnage was a little overkill but liming at high rates will last longer. Other companies will suggest one or two tons to the acre. It will appear cheaper at first. However the catch is it needs to be done every year so the company makes more money on application fees. At our tonnage rates we lime lakes every three to five years.
As we head into the summer this is the time we lime the bulk of our lakes. We also lime in the winter. We are booking up quickly for the month of June and July so get in contact the office if you would like your lake limed.
South Alabama Aeration Installation for Cyanobacteria Prevention
With cyanobacteria becoming more and more wide spread we are taking preventive steps for our clients. Lake aeration is a great way to keep water from becoming stagnant.
Why is Cyanobacteria Bad?
Cyanobacteria grows in stagnate and nutrient-rich waters. Cyanobacteria produce toxins that affect people and pets. The most common and serious health effects are caused by drinking water containing the toxins or by ingestion during swimming or playing in contaminated water. Not all Cyanobacteria produce toxins but many do. Lakes near heavy agriculture are more vulnerable due to the amount of fertilizers used. South Florida has been the hot spot in the last few years with poor water management, heavy organic loading from agriculture, and development. With few treatment options prevention is the best treatment.
With days of rain in Georgia is was exciting to be installing a lake aeration system under sunshine and not worrying about getting a truck buried in mud. Today’s installation had two cabinets and twelve total bottom diffused aeration stations. With the heat of a Southern Alabama summer the lake owner wanted to protect his investment from Cyanobacteria and fish kills. He plans to push this fishery to the max with future lime application, fertilization program, and heavy fish stocking.
After a few thousand meters of tubing the team successfully installed all the units. The lake owner was very pleased knowing his investment is being protected. If you would like to protect your investment give the office a call. Don’t let a family member get sick be the reason you get your lake worked on.
Mid-April Electrofishing Recap
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.
Society of Lake Management Professionals Summit
Each year SLMP holds a summit to allow industry professionals an opportunity to discuss the latest in industry trends and new advancements. The summit was held in Memphis, Tennessee this year. Lake management is still a young industry. The industry started firing on all cylinders in the mid-1980s so there is plenty of room for growth. There were many topics discussed at the summit but the topics of cyanobacteria and trophy bass garnered the most attention.
Day One- Starting Things Off
It was only fitting to have Bob Lusk, the grandfather of the lake management industry, to start the conference off. Bob has been in the game since the late 70’s so he knows his stuff. Many of the industry standards we take for granted these days Bob learned the hard way.
After a few talks on the first day the audience broke for some free time to talk with vendors. This is a prime time for companies to get to know their vendors. Often times in our line of work companies are just an email or phone call. It’s good to put a face to the email address.
After a long day of travel and talks it was fitting to have an evening out. A vendor generously provided appetizers, BBQ, and brews for the summit attendees. Socials are a great way for people to get to know each other. Pulled pork and Budweiser are the best ice breakers. SLMP is all about exchanging ideas so events like this are critical to group cohesion.
Day two was a mixture of presentations and round table discussions. SLMP has the round table discussions because they give vendors one on one time with clients. Vendors can also hear issues that clients have with products so they can give feedback to developers. This is the time of year that vendors unveil new products which is always exciting.
Wrapping Things Up
It was an informative week but as all good things do it had come to an end. Next year’s Society Lake Management Professional Summit will be held in Florida. After the near Arctic conditions of Memphis a warm coastal breeze will be welcomed.
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.