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.

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.

Work Hard, Play Hard

Spring and early summer were busy months at AES. To keep fresh and ready for the fall busy season all of our employee’s enjoy some well earned vacation. Below are the highlights from one of our employee’s trip to the Western US.

The last best place.
Montana has a wet foot rule meaning fishermen can access private land as long as their feet stay wet while fishing.
Tight quarters fishing for spooky brook trout.
Brook trout this size play perfect on a 3 wt rod.
The brook trout get a little bigger in Montana than the Southern Appalachians.
This brook trout is closing in on two pounds.
Even in the summer the alpine environment stays cool.
Had to take a break from fishing with a trip to the Beartooth mountain range.
Smoke from California, Oregon, and Canada ruined some views. The haze is smoke.
Idaho
Everyone worries about bears out west. In these thick environments moose are the true threats.
Idaho cutthroat trout.
Can you guess why they call them cutthroat?
Fishing in Jurassic Park with these giant cedars and ferns.
The natives got a little rowdy.
Idaho bull trout.
Let her ride.
Brown trout are the name of the game in Montana.
Canyon critter.
The westslope cutthroat is one of the native trout species in Montana.
More Westslope cutties.
Brown trout dominate the rivers of southwest Montana.
Hungry for hoppers.
Cutthroat trout don’t often eat streamers but sometimes you get lucky.
This high alpine lake sits above 9,000 feet and was full of grayling.
Grayling grow slowly due to living in areas with a growing season of 3-5 months.
Badlands, South Dakota

 

How Do We Shock Small Lakes With Little To No Access?

The captain

With the Metro Atlanta are growing at a steady rate many ponds are becoming enclosed by apartments and homes. The bulk of our clients are located in rural areas where our biggest worry is avoiding a collision with the pasture bull. Occasionally we will be summoned to survey neighborhood ponds on behalf of the HOA. Working in highly populated areas brings a new set of rules. We must be conscious of Mr. Smith’s impeccable centipede lawn he’s been grooming for the past 20 years, septic lines, or property boundaries between two neighbors that don’t like each other.  Launching a twenty foot shock boat usually doesn’t go well in the above situations. For these instances we have a 10 ft boat we can carry a short distance.

Unlike our big shockboat our little boat has no pumps to fill our live well.
The front deck is tight on our little boat.
This certain lake has become choked with aquatic vegetation. The lake is located in the Metro Atlanta area. The area around it has become highly developed. Large amounts of silt have entered the lake decreasing depth. This decrease in depth has caused more sunlight to penetrate the water column. More sunlight equals more weeds.
Electroshocking Bass
Shocking in heavy weeds is extremely challenging. The fish roll out of the weeds but then instantly roll back into the weeds.
Electroshocking Bass
We call these HOA torpedoes. Often times neighborhood lakes suffer severe cases of mismanagement. Residents on the lake want to invest in the fishery while residents not directly on the lake see no need and would rather use the HOA budget for more aesthetic task. There is a simple and affordable solution. Harvest bass aggressively and drop natural habitat such as Christmas trees. The only cost is the price of cinder blocks and residents’ time.
Red breast are sunfish that live in creeks and rivers. They will come in from lakes and tributaries.
Redear Sunfish
Redear Sunfish or Shell Crackers are often confused with bluegill. Unlike bluegill they have a red/orange tab on their ear hence their name.
Black Crappie
This particular lake has become overrun with stunted crappie. Crappie will go through odd reproduction cycles so their numbers will be good one year and crazy the next. When the bulk of crappie are smaller than 12 inches it’s best to start aggressively harvesting.
Electroshock results
The final part of the survey is to weigh and measure the catch. This will give us a direction to get the lake back on track.

Now you know a few of our secrets to getting into those tight spaces. If you got a tough job give the office a call.

Summertime Fish Stockings

fish stockings

Many people think that we raise fish at our home office but the truth is we try to hold onto fish for the least amount of time as possible. Holding high densities of fish is a risky business. No only is oxygen a concern but high levels of nutrients result from eating feed. Ammonia and phosphorus levels can build up. These nutrients can fuel algae blooms. Algae blooms create lots of oxygen during the day but absorb oxygen at night. This can be a dicey situation. Along with oxygen issues there are predatory birds and otters.

This blog is a quick snapshot of us working some channel catfish up from our ponds.

We lure the catfish into our seine with feed. We turn the feeders off a day before harvest to make them feisty that morning.
A good pull requires patience and a little common sense.
Moving the fish from the seine to tanks is very important. This is where fish are likely to get roughed up. When fish are roughed up they develop sores. Sores are an invitation for infection.
These channel catfish were much larger than we usually have. He seined sixty catfish that weighed sixty-eight pounds for our client. The client has a smaller pond so these will be perfect.
Tyler holding one that ran a little above average. This particular client wanted larger catfish.
On a side note: Once catfish get this large they will compete with largemouth bass for forage. Keep in mind that if you want big bass it’s best to not stock catfish.

After an early morning the fish were delivered and stocked healthy. Keep up with our Facebook and Instagram page for updates on unique fish stocking opportunities.

Where did all my Big Bass go?

fish stocking bass

Most of our blog posts are a summery of what we’ve been up to at AES. People are surprised to learn that there are businesses that manage lakes and more specifically fisheries. Our job is to educate people so they have the knowledge going forth to make the most informed decisions. With things slowing down this post is going to be more information based and less what we’ve been up to.

Often times during an electrofishing survey the question comes up of what happened to all the bigger bass. Owners report lots of big bass 5lbs and bigger. All the sudden these stud bass are gone and they are catching small, stunted bass. It almost seems like a cruel magic trick but it’s actually science unfolding. A bass has a life expectancy of eight to thirteen years depending on environment. Many of these ponds were built brand new and stocked according to a customized AES stocking plan. We always stock forage first to allow for reproduction. Only after the forage base has had plenty of time to grow will we introduce bass. It’s important to note that these first bass fingerlings that are stocked will always be the best fish in the pond. We are introducing them into an environment with plenty of food and no competition. Usually around year ten in when owners notice the bigger bass are becoming fewer and harder to catch. The reason these fish are getting harder to catch is their numbers are decreasing from natural mortality. It may not happen all at once but it will happen eventually.

Inside these tubes are bass fingerlings that will be sent to the lab to be tested for genetic purity.
These bass are two years old. Notice the insane growth?
If proper management isn’t taken many lakes become full of skinny, unhealthy bass. The fish is so thin the sun almost shone through it.

There are three strains of bass fingerlings we stock. Each strain of bass has a different purpose to fit a client’s goals. Northern bass are very aggressive but don’t have the top end potential of a Florida strain bass. We recommend these to clients that want fast action and don’t mind if their bass top out around 8 lbs. Florida strain bass are the ones that you hear about breaking records. They are not as aggressive as Northerns but can grow to true trophy status. We would use these for clients wishing to grow large fish but at the same time not have lots of numbers or fast angling action. Lastly there is F1 strain. F1s are a cross between Florida and Northern bass. They are considered to have the best of both strains while still maintaining a happy median. F1s are the most common strain we stock.

 

Atlanta Athletic Club Electroshock Recap

electroshocking big bass

Many moons ago the 18th hole pond was legendary at the Atlanta Athletic Club. It was notorious for producing huge bass and lots of them. Unfortunately time has not been kind to her. Just as humans get some aches and pains as they age the pond began to show her age. This degradation is an all to common theme we see in our managed lakes. People see great results the first few years and assume the lake is clicking along. Often times they forget to keep managing the lake. Even when a lake is producing well bass still need to be harvested, habitat spiced up, and fertilizer applied etc.

Steeped in history the Atlanta Athletic Club is ranked in the top 10 of athletic clubs in the United states. The club was formed in 1898. Boosting two championship golf course among the many other amenities it comes as no surprise why the PGA host tournaments here.
Dave Copeland, an AES sales rep, netting the first big fish of the morning.
There are still a few legends swimming around in this lake.
We always like having kids on the boat. It’s one thing to read about science but seeing and touching it takes it to another level.
Capt. Matt always on the hunt for prop busters.
Dave is great at explaining lake metrics. At AES we take pride in being able to make science understandable to all. We know everyone isn’t as excited as us about bass recruitment variables and macroinvertebrates. 
These small 8-12″ will ruin a fishery. Too many mouths to feed and not enough forage. Lucas doing his part to get the AAC back on track.
Just as the early summer heat and humidity was rolling in we wrapped up shocking. Shocking in the heat is not our favorite. The warm water holds less oxygen thus stressing the fish more.

At the conclusion of the shock it became obvious that the lake has become out of balance over time. There were plenty of 5-7” bluegill but only a handful of 3-5″ bluegill. Those 8-12″ bass are becoming stunted because there isn’t enough 3-5” bluegill to keep fueling growth. The bigger bluegill are reproducing great but there is little habitat for the small bluegill to hide so the bass pick them off before they get any size. With a little time, money, and effort we are sure to get this lake back to her glory days.

If you talk about your lake’s glory days then give us a call to make it things right!

April 2nd-6th Electroshock Recap

electroshocking big bass

This was an interesting week for the shock team. They started the week in Metro Atlanta shocking the Piedmont Driving Club. This is a 140 acre lake chalk full of healthy bass. They have been a managed client for years and take our fisheries recommendations very seriously. They have a strict policy concerning bass and crappie harvest. The results speak for themselves as you will see.

Post-spawn bass that is still very healthy.
Inside her gut was a 12 inch crappie. Nature has no rules.
What’s left of the crappie.
Hard not to smile when the bass fishing is this good.
Hybrid striped bass will test your drag when they get this big!
Rough week?
Bass and chocolate milk….what a combination!
Trying to beat the cameraman to Instagram?!
Small boat shocks are reserved for lakes with poor access. This one fit the bill with the access road being tight, muddy, and bordered with cliffs.

Next week the shock team will be heading out to Louisiana, Arkansas, and Mississippi to finish off the spring shock season in the Southeast. People are always surprised that we travel this far. Georgia is our main area but we are more than capable to shock any pond in the lower 48.

 

Photo credit: Grant Bobo; [email protected]

March 12th-16th Electroshock Recap

Shock season is beginning to gain momentum even with the temperamental Georgia weather. This week the boys were everywhere from Aiken, South Carolina to Newnan, Georgia. Although every pond is different the one theme of this week was pre-spawn. The warm spell we experienced a few weeks ago got the fish in the mood but didn’t last long enough for most fish to finish business. The largest fish that were shocked came about ten to fifteen feet off the shore line. If you are fishing this week think staging areas. Save your bed fishing baits for another two weeks.

Capt. Matt looking for a place to launch. We don’t need a boat ramp just a gentle bank slope.
She was about five minutes from being post-spawn.
First generation bass will always be the best year class. They are surrounded by forage and have little competition.
Cutting it close.
Healthy bass look like footballs.
One day I’ll find a dog that likes me more than Capt. Matt.
Another benefit of getting us to shock your lake is you get to pick the brain of a seasoned biologist that has seen it all.
This big girl came out of a severely out of balanced fishery. This shows us as a biologist that at one time the lake was in balance and producing trophy fish.
Cold launch in Newnan, Georgia but at least we had ramp.
Busted a large number of pre-spawn fish in shallow flats.
On the road a lot this time of year but there are some things you can’t skimp on. Say no to hotel sludge(coffee)!
According to the owner this old mill pond has been around since the late 1880s. Can thank Georgia’s old agriculture industry for this gem.
Old mill ponds might look swampy and uninviting but they can produce.
Aging bass gives us insight into how fast the fish grow thus showing us the overall health of the fishery.
Aging some fish from the old mill pond.
The mill pond was so far south some of the bass had already spawned. These are baby bass fry.
Swampy ponds always hold some unusual fish we don’t see in North Georgia or the Metro Atlanta area. This is a chain pickerel.
The mighty bowfin is one of the oldest fish we run into. In low water conditions they can breath air. They will make a mess of your spinnerbait and compete with bass so it’s best to remove them.

 

 

 

March 8th Leslie, GA Electroshock Recap

Spring is shaping up to be a roller coaster in the South. February was borderline Caribbean like with humid, sticky afternoons and warm nights. March rolled in with a bitter cold sucker punch and stiff North winds.  This inconsistent weather has the fish confused. We were worried that some bass spawned in late February and missed our chance at shocking bass at their largest. Luckily the cold fronts that came in March knocked the bass back to deeper water. 

This week we shocked in the Albany, Georgia area. This particular pond was designed by AES about eleven years ago with the intent to grow trophy largemouth bass. Builders placed truck sized boulders in deep water to give bass refugee and MossBack habitat kits shallow to protect bluegill.  Texas Hunter fish feeders are placed throughout the lake to ensure the bluegill are well feed. Well feed bluegill have more energy to spawn and thus reducing your need for future fish stockings. Also if more bluegill are successfully spawning then bass have more forage which equals bigger bass.

Besides growing big bass this is also a functioning farm and hunting lodge. Mike, the property manager, is a busy man between quail hunts, bass management, and farming.
Capt. Matt holding up some big pre-spawn females. Fish on the left went 7.9 lb and right 9.2 lb
We measure in grams since it is more accurate.
Know she is a big girl when her eyes bulge.
Like any pond harvest is still important to keep the system in balance.

As the days get longer and days warm up fish will start their rituals. If you want to see your lake at its best give us a call. Once your bass spawn you will have to wait a whole year to see them in this condition. Spring is a great time to make memories on your lake.

Photo Credit: Grant Bobo; [email protected]