South Florida Electrofishing

Tarpon

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.

golf cart goofing
Discussing access points for each pond so Matt knows what to expect before we launch.
Boat launch
With the low water levels launching the shock boat was going to require precise execution. Luck was on our side with the shorelines being mostly hard packed sand. We would have never made it in Georgia with the soft red clay.
Biggly Home
All the homes have easy access to the lake so it’s important for the lakes to have high angler success.
GOlf Cart
Chasing the sun and Barrel as he raced away on his cart. No matter how hard Matt tried to keep up with him he always pulled away.

 

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.

Fresh Water Mussels
Matt and Lee did some digging looking for freshwater mussels. According to Lee the pond recently became very populated with mussels. We suspect wading birds brought them in.
freshwater mussels
The harvest!

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.

florida bass fishing
The first lake of the day. Notice the low water level. This became a trend throughout the day. We suspect this may hurt recruitment of the fish judging by the electrofishing results.

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.

Bass Dissection
Due to Florida being so far south some of the fish sampled were obviously staging for the spawn. The eggs of this female were almost fully developed.
Bass Dissection
Matt explaining some details to Lee. It’s very insightful to look at the inners of a bass. Colors tell us a lot about a bass’s life.
Shrimp and Bluegill Bass Forage.
Matt found the reason for the bass’s for growth. Small bluegill and grass shrimp will never grow trophy bass.
Grass Shrimp
Matt cracked into another small bass and got the same results as before. The three grass shrimp were the only contents in this fish’s stomach.
Grass Shrimp as Bass Forage
Grass shrimp aren’t common in Georgia. They are good forage for small bass to consume while growing but they should not be a larger bass’s main food source.

The Sleeper

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.

Sleeper Fish
Matt takes note of the spin count on the fins. Spin counts are used to identify the specific species.
Sleeper Fish
The Sleeper has a small mouth but it still has a solid set of teeth.
Sleeper Fish
It has a slender body to wedge it’s self into good ambush spots.

Familiar Faces

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.

Florida Lake
This is the first lake we shocked after lunch. It was rumored to have large snook so we were on high alert.
Largemouth Bass
Got into some quality bass after our lunch time intermission.
Largemouth Bass
Florida has strict fish stocking regulations so all these bass are pure Florida strain.
Tilapia
This is a baby tilapia. This was the first pond that had quality bass and we know why. This is the perfect sized tilapia.
tilapia
These are adult tilapia.

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.

Surprises

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.

florida tarpon
One of the perks of electrofishing in South Florida is everything is connected to the ocean.
tarpon
Matt can check this one off his bucket list.
tarpon removal
The tarpon was an unwanted visitor since this pond in particular is managed for trophy bass.
tarpon
Off to the St. Lucie River!
Snook
In addition to the tarpon we also shocked several snook. Nothing large but very cool fish we don’t see often.
Snook Fishing
Snook use their lateral line similar to largemouth bass. It helps with orientation and prey detection.
Armored Catfish
Of the least exciting species we shocked were armored catfish.
Armored Catfish
They are incredibility hard hence their name and their mouths resemble sucker mouths. The locals say if they are cooked inside their shell they taste like lobster.
sunsets
Final Florida sunset

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

brown trout in 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.

Big Brown Trout
These brown trout were so big they didn’t fit in the buckets.
Brown trout in Soque river
Stocking is easy when all you have to do is park the truck and walk down a few stairs!
Brown Trout stocking
The resident releasing his fish!
Big Brown Trout
These are trophy sized Brown trout in Georgia.
brown trout
These are hatchery fish  yet they have gorgeous colors. Wild brown trout in Georgia are known for their bright orange and red spots.
big brown trout in georgia
When we mean big browns we mean business.

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.

Fly Fishing in North Georgia
Some lucky anglers!

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.

Electrofishing
The dam was reinforced with crushed bricks but the brick also makes great fish habitat. A good number of bait fish were shocked off the bricks.
Big Bass
Dave Copeland in the heat of bass harvest. Dave is quick on the sticks today even with the unseasonably cool temperatures for the Orangeburg area.
Big Bass
The fishery is managed very strictly so fish that many people would consider a good fish are harvested to ensure bigger fish continue to grow. We want lots of forage and low numbers of bass to keep bass growing.

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. 

Big Bass with Gizzard Shad
A large gizzard shad provides a great deal of calories to keep growth steady.

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. 

Big Bass
Big Orangeburg bass aren’t hard to find!
Big Bass
Lots of bass in the 18 inch size class abound in the lake.
Good Communication with Property Owner
Clients that work with AES are guaranteed time with experienced fisheries biologist. After a long day of traveling and shocking Capt. Matt takes time to discuss the fishery with the property manager. Knowledge is power.

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. 

 

 

Electricity for Bass Harvest?

Ask any pond owner what their favorite bait is and you’ll get a different answer for each lake. Throw in the hundreds of different colors lure manufactures make and the water get even more muddy. At AES we all enjoy a good jig bite in the dead of winter or a massive topwater strike in early summer but our preferred way to harvest bass is using electricity.

Electricity is the Best Way to Harvest Bass

Electricity has several advantages over classic rod and reel but the main reason we use it is because the success rate is high.  Electrofishing is the most advanced and accurate way to inventory a pond. Todays post will be taking you the viewer along with the AES shock crew as they help a property owner harvest bass. AES has been shocking this lake for three years but the owner recently approved five shocks this season to remove bass since he can’t be on the lake every weekend.

The Process of Bass Harvest

Big Bass
These small bass are the reason we are here. The lake is over crowded with them and they have such high numbers that they are suppressing the bluegill population. The bass are stacking up around 14 inches since there isn’t the proper sized bluegill for them to consume. The pond has plenty of large bluegill and newly hatched bluegill. However it is lacking 3-5 inch bluegill which is why the bass are not growing properly.
bass harvest
All the underperforming bass are taken out of the pond. We did release a few healthy bass as the lake is slowly starting to improve.
Big Bass
To our surprise and excitement we shocked this gorgeous fish. She was hanging deep off the dam. This proves that even in ponds that are over crowded with bass there will be a few that sneak by with the proper forage to grow large. This fish is big enough to eat smaller bass so she will keep growing.
hybrid striped bass
The owner will be thrilled to know he still has hybrid striped bass still swimming around. The lake no longer supports threadfin shad but hybrids also eat fish food. Since this client is under a management contract so we fill his feeders once a month with high protein Purina fish food. The high protein content is key to these fishes growth and health.
channel catfish
Unfortunately we are still shocking the occasional channel catfish during our bass harvest. We have put a big dent in their population and the abundant bass population have kept reproduction down. Channel catfish don’t guard their young once hatched so bass will make quick work of them.
big bluegill
We were shocking today to harvest bass we could not pass on this giant bluegill. It easily surpassed a pound in weight. This a direct result of high protein Purina fish food.

The shock to harvest bass was very successful. We harvested almost 70 lbs of bass. There are still plenty of bass to be harvested but we made a solid dent.

Macon, Georgia Electrofishing Recap

The shock team was recently down in middle Georgia near the beautiful city of Macon, Georgia. The lake was located in a private community that have the intention of bringing the lake back to its former glory.

Upon arrival the recent hurricane has dropped a tree right on the boat ramp. Luckily the client was a hands on person that welcomed the rocky start to the morning.
We managed to shock a few decent fish.

This lake has lots of potential although right now it needs some work. Even with low alkalinity it still supports a thriving shad population which in turn is helping the bluegill and redear sunfish keep high numbers. The lake supports a good crappie population that is healthy. The threadfin shad keep the crappie well feed and there are anglers that actively fish for the crappie. It is not often we find healthy crappie populations since their reproduction cycles go up and down every year.

Stay tuned for more updates.

Blue Springs Country Club Electrofishing Summary

Blue Springs Country Club in Ringgold, Georgia

The shock team was in Northwest Georgia working at Blue Springs Country Club. The lake gets shocked once a year to make sure it continues to offer members great fishing. We manage Blue Springs as a quality fishery. We want to keep angler success high while still offering lots of healthy fish in the 3-6 lb range with the chance at a trophy. Blue Springs also offers anglers other options such as big bluegill and shell cracker. They utilize multiple fish feeders to keep the bluegill and shell cracker stay big.

Big Bass in Blue Springs Country Club
Two of the better fish we caught. These fish were shocked off submerged structure. Offshore habitat is critical to keeping angler success high. Bass love to have ambush points. Blue Springs has been adding new fish habitat every year to keep things fresh. Natural habitat breaks down quickly so it’s important to renew every year. 

Why do we shock lakes?

Today was short but lots of good data was collected. Blue Springs wanted to see how the relative weights were doing to determine if stocking Rainbow trout will be needed later this winter. At their core, shocks are not meant to be a big fish or shock and awe event. Big fish are nice but they are not our focus. We would rather shock and harvest 200 10 inch bass to make more room for more Blue Springs trophies. The downfall of many great lakes is lacking bass harvest. Too many mouths to feed will destroy any fishery.

Spring Shocks versus Fall Shocks

Spring is the time to shock bigger bass while fish in the Fall will typically be smaller. We like Fall shocks because the fishery shows its true self. Bass have recovered from the spawn and bluegill have had time to complete a few spawning cycles. The fish will have large bellies full of eggs which makes them look healthier than they really are. The fish at Blue Springs may look fatter in March but we need real data to direct our management strategy.

Kite, Georgia Electroshock Recap

Another quick update on the shock team. They were in east Georgia near the small town of Kite. This particular pond is in a very interesting situation. Earlier this summer the client had reported excellent catch rates along with healthy bass. Suddenly the bass got hard to catch mid-way through summer. They figured heat had pushed the fish deep. Then the unthinkable happened. The property owner discovered otter signs then saw a pair of otters late one night. He reported they only stayed for a few days but the damage was done. Otters will fill their bellies and even once full they will continue to hunt.

Thought we had the state record bull head catfish.
Since the otter took out a large percentage of the bass the bass that do remain are fat and healthy. They are surrounded by bluegill, threadfin shad, and golden shiners.
Similar to golden shiners the common roach is a frequent resident of swampy areas in the Southeast.
Although most fish were healthy some were also very skinny. Capt. Matt had hunch something wasn’t right so he cut some fish open. This bass has a large amount of parasites on its stomach that are sucking nutrients from its stomach. The parasites are called nematodes. It is common for fish to make some parasites but not this many. This is a reason why the fish are skinny.

Stay tuned for more updates as the shock team continues to wrap up shock season and beat the cold weather.

 

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.