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North Georgia Mountains Electroshock

Butting up to the Chattahoochee National Forest this lake is very unique because it has a source of cold, clean water year around. There’s a rumor among the old timers on the mountain that this lake use to be full of big brown trout. Our mission today was to determine if the fishery could still support trout. Unfortunately bass were introduced to the lake so any trout that come into the lake from the tributary are quickly ate.

A common theme among mountain lakes is very poor water quality. Today was no different. The conductivity was 16 uS/cm which is incredibly low. An average middle Georgia pond usually averages 60-90 uS/cm. The lake’s visibility was 13 ft while a normal Georgia lake is 18 in to 5 ft. These conditions made electroshocking very challenging. Fish can see us coming plus the water does not carry electricity well. Even in the tributary where the fish were boxed in all we could do was watch the fish dance in front of the boat.

Mountain Morning
It was a dreamy, mountain morning as we arrived. Temperatures were in the low 60s and almost chilly with our current heat wave.
Flooded jon boat
The dreaminess quickly came crashing down as a flooded jon boat blocked our launch path. We quickly learned that this lake has such a huge water shed that flooding is not a rarity but a norm after prolonged periods of rain. This flooded, slimy boat was just the tip of the iceberg.
Elelctrofishing was slow with the poor water quality. To spice things up this lake’s main tributary is a trout stream coming out of national forest. The tributary was large enough that we took our shock boat up it for a good ways. We saw some trout spook out from the deeper holes and one large shadow from an undercut bank that we suspect was a large brown trout.
This is the main tributary. It was perfect trout habitat with rocky cobble bottom and cold water temperatures.We are in the dog days of summer and the water was 68 degrees.
Rocky Bottom
Clean bottoms are critical to trouts survival. Trout build nest called redds in the stream bottom similar to a bass beds along a lake’s shoreline. They need a rocky bottom to fan out a bed. Streams with silt make it almost impossible for trout to spawn successfully.
River Runner
Josh is navigating the twist and turns of the tributary. Luckily Josh runs the Chattahoochee on the weekends so this is a breeze.
At the end of the shock this was all we had to show. Lots of small bluegill. A few bass were seen but the clear water allowed them to see us coming so they escaped our electricity with ease. The only reason we caught these bluegill was because we pinned them in a tree.
Remember the flooded jon boat? This is why it flooded. The mud-line in the trees is about 10-15ft into the trees. This volume of water shows us this lake could never be limed or fertilized due to the shear amount of water flow.

After a long investigation we determined that this lake has the capability to hold trout year around. We performed a dissolved oxygen profile to see if a thermocline has set up in the lake. To our surprise there was no thermocline thus allowing a suitable amount of oxygen throughout the water column. The water temperatures were 67 degrees at the surface and 63 degrees near the bottom. These are ideal conditions for trout. The main concern with trout in this lake is stocking them big enough so the bass can’t eat them. This fall we will stock the lake heavily with large brown trout and rainbow trout. Since the lake lacks fertility feeders will be set up to help supplement the trout’s diet.

New projects like this are what we love to do at AES. Although warm water fisheries are our main venture we have people qualified to assist in cold water fisheries.