Lake Windward Electroshock

Today the shock team was in Alpharetta, Georgia on the shores of Lake Windward. With a brilliant sunrise to illuminate a paved boat ramp the day was off to a good start. We were slightly concerned that water temperatures were warmer than last year.

big bass
Even with the warmer water we still got on some good fish.
The humble warmouth were plentiful around rock piles and rip rap.
We always encourage clients to get on the boat. During an electroshock you get one on one time with a senior biologist.
shell cracker
Shell cracker should not make up the backbone of the forage base but they are an essential part of the lake ecosystem.
Large catfish will compete with bass for forage. The Windward community has people that fish for catfish so we returned these giants.
big bass
Four years ago Lake Windward was full of 12 inch bass with low relative weights. After hundreds of bass being harvested, many loads of threadfin shad, and thousands of pounds crayfish the lake is producing more healthy fish.
spotted bass
With all the hard work the Windward community has been doing it is disheartening to see some bucket biologist stocked spotted bass from near by Lake Lanier. Spotted bass do not do well in smaller lakes and ponds.
All the good fish were tagged. The Windward Lake board will be provided with this data so they can keep records for themselves. AES also keeps the data so we can see how our management strategies are working.

After a quick data crunch the lake is still on the right path to producing quality bass. This lake is much larger than our normal client but fisheries management is still the same on a large body of water with the only exception being on a larger scale. We are booked up to Thanksgiving with only a few days left open. If you are interested in getting your lake shocked call the office so see if any dates are open.



Canton, Georgia Vertex Aeration Installation

Today’s blog is a quick recap of installing a single station Vertex aeration system. These systems offer incredible benefits to pond owners from decreasing fishy smells to reducing the chances of a fish kill. The systems are easy to install and take less than three hours to install. The only requirement is there needs to be a power source near the lake. If power source is an issue we offer a solar unit.

Today’s lake was about two acres in size so that’s why we only recommended a single aeration unit.
Josh doesn’t need any fancy tools to get the unit up and running.
Josh is seen here connecting the self weighted tubing to the main compressor unit.
Hose clamps and PVC cement are all we need to get the tubing connected.
The power source on this particular lake was a good ways away so we buried the tubing so it won’t be in danger of meeting the bush hog.
Josh is loaded and ready to deploy. When we send in proposals to Vertex Systems they create a custom lake map with locations to drop the units. We do not randomly drop units.

If you would like to improve your pond and safe guard your fisheries investments call the office to get talk with a biologist that will point you in the right direction.


Middle Georgia Habitat Enhancements

At AES we know money does not grow on trees. Clients come to us because we know how to use their money efficiently and wisely. Harvest and habitat are a client’s best tools to manage their lakes. Today’s job took us to Forsyth, Georgia to implement a artificial and natural habitat enhancement project. The client wanted to use MossBack artificial habitat kits while also taking advantage of shoreline trees. The shoreline trees were dropped then dragged out slightly so they were not an eye shore. The property owner wants to keep the aesthetics  while also helping out his bluegill population. Later this fall he will be getting several fish stockings so it was critical we create as much habitat for the future bluegill population.

Josh selecting which trees are to be cut.
Alders made up the bulk of what Josh was cutting.
Alder trees make great habitat because they are easy to cut and regrow in a few years so they can be cut again.
The Stihl making easy work of the alders.
Lashing the alders with rope and cinder block is the last step before we dragged them out.
Trees with green leaves hold more fish than trees with just a few branches remaining.
One of the bigger trees Josh dropped.
Once the naturals were done we moved on to artificial MossBack kits. These Reef kits were placed in five to seven feet of water to provide good structure for fishermen.
Loading these kits can be tricky. They are not heavy but awkward.
We always give clients GPS points but today the client requested decoys so he can see the habitat locations while on the water.
Deploying the units is the fun part. Place a 8x8x12 cinder block on the base to ensure the unit sits on the bottom evenly.

The team wrapped up just in time as the mid-day heat rolled in after an early start. Habitat projects are great chores to get done on your own property during winter and summer. It would be a shame to be lashing trees together in the spring while the biggest fish of the year are ripe to be caught. If you have questions about a habitat project coming up give the office a call and we can help you out.


Kentucky Electroshock Recap

Although it is still summer in the Southeast, AES was asked to shock several strip mine lakes in western Kentucky. These lakes can be difficult to shock due to their extreme depth and high conductivity.

It is typical that these lakes have sharp drop offs a few feet off the shoreline.
These lakes in particular had never been managed so their visibility readings were greater than 12 ft. This visibility reading tells us that the lake is not supporting many pounds of fish per acre.
High conductivity was a worry but the readings indicated perfect shocking conditions.
Carp are very common pond fish to shock but these are special because they are buffalo carp. Buffalo carp are prized by fishermen. 
Big Bass
As the visibly reading from earlier showed us the lake did not hold many pounds of fish but we still managed to shock a few.
Gar are a common trash fish that we encounter in swampy environments.
Besides gar we also shocked large bowfin that exceeded 30 inches.
To gain access to the otoliths Matt has to remove the head of the bass.The otoliths are tucked near the spinal cord on a fish. Matt will count the rings on the otoliths similar to the counting the rings on a tree to get an accurate age.
As with many lakes there was no boat ramp at this location. With some fancy foot work and four-wheel drive Matt manged to tuck the shock boat deep into some cattails.
Under performing bass are harvested but never wasted. The property owner is about to have a large fish fry.
At the end of a long day Matt had a good idea of what was happening underwater. The strip mine lakes had never been managed so they were bass heavy, had too many competitive species, and lacked proper amounts of forage. None of these issues are permanent. With time these ponds can be turned into great fisheries.

Shock season is just about to get rolling so if you are interested in getting your pond audited give the office a call so we will have time to make it out. Dates are booking quickly with Fall rolling in.

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.
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


Rockmart, Georgia MossBack Habitat Installation

At AES we shock lakes and ponds to get a snapshot of what’s happening underwater. Often times people assume we are after big fish and a photo op when we electrofish. In reality we want to harvest as much information and small bass as we can. Electricity isn’t bias so we shock aggressive fish as well as more docile fish. When anglers are fishing they will usually catch aggressive fish. Once we gather enough information we will make recommendations based on the client’s goals and budget. Today’s client gave us a budget to work with to improve habitat. We always give clients the best recommendations but understand budget is always a concern. We installed a variety of different MossBack kits today to improve habitat in different areas of the lake. For example a rootwad kit will be dropped in shallow water near bluegill spawning beds to give protection to newly hatched bluegill fry. In deeper water reef kits were deployed. Reef kits are not as dense as rootwads and are meant for bass to hang off. These deep water structures make for great places to fish around. No more random cast.

Today we constructed almost 30 MossBack habitats. Mossback kits are very easy to install. If the property owner has the time and resources we always encourage them to build and install themselves to save on cost. Each kit will usually take about 20 min to build. 
MossBack Habitats
The hardest part about deploying habitat is figuring out how to get back on the boat once the boat is fully loaded. The tightly packed habitats will test your flexibility.
MossBack Rootwad Kits
Another load ready to be deployed.
Lime barge
The boys coming back for more kits. The key today was to beat the rain. As we left the property the rumble of thunder was close.  

If you have a project in mind but aren’t sure where to start give the office a call!


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.

Tannic Acid in Ponds

If you’ve ever driven by a lake that has brown water resembling ice tea then you’ve seen a pond with tannic acid.  Most of the time tannic acid is just an aesthetic issue. However, sometimes it can be more serious. This client was about to stock 6,000 3-4″ bluegill before we checked his water quality. The water didn’t even hold 1 milligram worth of oxygen. This would have been a death sentence for the bluegill and an ill-spent $3,600.  To help reduce the tannins in the water and improve oxygen levels we applied aglime. Aglime contains high amounts of calcium which raises the pH levels and alkalinity.

Checking oxygen levels
Josh is checking the oxygen levels of the pond.
oxygen levels
Oxygen levels are still substandard. The percent saturation is about 15% at 1.21 milligrams per liter. Ideally we want the percent saturation around 100% and milligrams per liter at 6-8.
Duck Weed
In addition to high levels of tannins the pond also has a severe case of duck weed.
Boat ramps are great but we can always bob sled down a gentle red clay bank if need be .
Tractor loading barge
Getting loaded up with some aglime.
Loading lime
Keeping the barge still and dumping the load is a dance. Luckily there was no wind today to cause the boat to drift.
Dump truck
We weren’t the only ones dumping today. This is a new pond so getting rock and gravel dropped is key to keeping the dam healthy.
Lime barge
We nosed up into the brush as much as possible. These decomposing organics are what are causing the high levels of tannins.

With the aglime applied we will give it a few months to start changing the soil and water characteristics. Although this is not a good situation  it could have been much worse if fish were stocked. The owner isn’t on the property at all times so the fish would appear to go in healthy but by the time he was out next the buzzards would have cleaned everything up. If you ever face a tough situation with your fishery give AES a call. We have plenty of experience and creativity to solve problems.


Madison, Georgia Lake Liming

The summer time is prime time to do mid-season chores on your lake or pond. The fishing has slowed down and it’s down right miserable to be out past 11 am. Today we were in Madison, GA helping a long time customer. When this property owner came to us about five years ago his lake was so full of weeds a boat could barley navigate, the bulk of the bass were 8-12″, and the forage base was running on fumes. After several chemical applications and grass carp stockings the lake was cleared of vegetation. After many bass were harvested several loads of threadfin shad were stocked. This spring the lake was shocked to see how the lake was doing. To the utter surprise and delight of the owner his shad were thriving. He was planning on getting another load or two stocked but after our survey he realized no shad needed to be stocked. Situations like this show why an experienced professional is needed. Instead of the client spending money on something they already have they can now use that money for other forage.

40 tons of agriculture lime waiting to be spread. Property owners are often shocked when we recommend 4-6 tons/acre. Other lake management companies will recommend 1-2 tons/acre. The reason we recommend higher amounts is we don’t want property owners liming every year or every other year. We would rather property owners lime once every 3-5 years and use their budget for fish stocking or habitat enhancements.
Agricultural lime is usually a mysterious topic when we mention it to property owners. Lime is crushed limestone as you can see in the picture above. Lime is high in calcium which raises the pH and alkalinity of the soil. Georgia has incredibility poor soil which doesn’t allow pond and lakes to carry a lot of pounds of fish. When we fertilize we can triple the amount of fish a lake carries. 
This 85 hp tractor had a giant bucket so it made quick work of the pile. We always want tractors to be at least 20 hp and four wheel drive. Smaller tractors will struggle with the dense nature of lime. 
Nosing off the bank is made much easier when there is a good drop off. We have a few tricks up our sleeve to get out of tight spaces but a good bank slope is hard to beat.
Spreading 40 tons the easy way.

If you suspect your water quality is holding back your fishery call the office to see if we can help you out.

Vertex Solar Aeration Installation

In order to eliminate the stratification of the water column, prevent turnovers, and increase fish habitat, we recommend installing a bottom diffused aeration system. Bottom diffused aerations systems are designed to pump large volumes of air that pushes water from the pond bottom to the surface where it spreads out and contacts the atmosphere and becomes oxygenated. The pumping action is created by millions of tiny bubbles emitted by the diffuser that rise and entrain water with them.

This system will eliminate thermal stratification (eliminate the thermocline) and turnovers in the lake providing oxygen throughout the water column. The thermocline is the boundary between warmer surface water and cooler deep water. These areas do not usually mix naturally. The upper water column is oxygenated by contact with the atmosphere, phytoplankton and aquatic vegetation growth and supports aquatic life.

Traditional aeration systems need a power source located close to the pond. This is typically not an issue but every now and then a pond located well off the grid needs aeration such as today’s pond. It would be very expensive to get an outlet installed.

The installation process if very similar to a traditonal aeration system. The main difference is digging a 3ft hole that’s 18 in wide to anchor the solar panels in.

Josh is drilling holes near the bottom of the pile. Rebar will go through these poles. The rebar will prevent twisting of the solar panels in high wind conditions.
The dig.
Quickrete replaced red clay and gave the unit much more stability.
It’s important to keep every thing level to get maximum exposure to the sun.
The skeleton is complete. The next steep is to adjust the angle that the panels sit. Each season will require a different angle.
Vertex air compressor
Josh working on getting the air compressor up and running. The compressor is much smaller and quieter than most imagine. This unit in particular weighed about 20 lbs and could be carried by one person.
Each panel has a negative and positive wire that then will be joined to the compressor.
Each panel has its own positive and negative connection. To join these two a special connector married the two together so only one negative and positive wire were running to the compressor instead of four wires.
Once the wires were connected it was time to lay the aeration hose. The aeration hose is special because lead is infused into the hose making it self weighted. It’s important that the hose be weighted and on the bottom.
Since the pond is a new construction we aren’t able to get a boat in it to drop the diffuser station. New guy drew the short straw.
This is the complete solar station. Upon connecting all the wires the unit started up.
The end result is lots of stratification busting bubbles which is exactly what we want.

If you think your pond might need aeration give the office a call to get an answer.