Stocking trout is nothing new as we stocked browns in the Soque River not long ago but with this week’s polar vortex, water temps throughout the state are prime for trout stockings. Even in areas not normally known for supporting trout we can stock them with winter time water temperatures. Today’s dump was at Fort Gordon Army base located near Augusta, GA. January and February are prime times for stocking trout in Georgia. The end of January works well for Fort Gordon because they host a yearly trout rodeo for kids and their parents. The base has its own natural resources staff to manage all of the base’s fisheries and wildlife. Events like this promote outdoor involvement and make great opportunities for wildlife officers to interact with base residents.
The Set Up
Fort Gordon is covered up with lakes and ponds. Some are strictly managed for certain goals while others are simply meant to provide a good angling experience. Many of the lakes have been limed and are now fertilized. In addition to the lime and fertilization program, the bulk of the lakes have Texas Hunter fish feeders to supplement the bluegill in the warm months and trout in the colder months. Steve is working with a tight budget so every purchase has a purpose.
Community is the Why
Fort Gordon is a diverse army base with many different sectors. Often times these sectors stay within their area during the work day then go home. Steve uses the outdoors to bring people together and meet other people. Steve’s passion for helping someone get their first buck or fish is the reason he does this job. Like many other high level mangers he’s spinning ten plates in the air but still makes time for the people.
With the threat of Atlanta afternoon traffic looming we made a quick exit off the base. Stocking trout in Augusta, GA shows that if you want trout you can get them. Many ponds in the state can support trout from November to April. Some ponds can even support trout into June. With the trout hatcheries running low on inventory now is the time for stocking trout in Georgia or you may loose the opportunity till next season.
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.
Brown Trout in Georgia’s 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Stay tuned for more updates as the shock team continues to wrap up shock season and beat the cold weather.
Southeastern Electrofishing Road Trip Recap
The team was out all week covering over 1,200 miles with the shock boat. The team made its first stop outside of Mobile, Alabama.
This first stop use to be a catfish farm with multiple ponds on site. Upon arrival we stocked grass carp to help with weed growth. The ponds all have poor water quality and this has a trickle down effect on all aspects of the pond. Fertile water will have a deep green hue which is phytoplankton. Phytoplankton is the base of the food chain in all pond ecosystems. Ponds with healthy phytoplankton populations can hold 300-400 lbs of fish per acre while infertile ponds might hold 80 lbs of fish per acre. Luckily there is a simple solution of first liming the lake then applying pond fertilizer.
The next stop on the trip was outside of Vicksburg, Mississippi. As the cover photos shows we did very well. The owner enjoys fly fishing. In turn we manage the lake with slightly clear water so bass can see his flies and lots of 3-6 lb bass to keep angler success high.
Our final stop was Shreveport, Louisiana to several clients managing for trophy bass. All the ponds were recently constructed so they are in their prime. If you have trophy goals then that means spot on water quality, loads of forage, and aggressive bass harvest. The fish above are a testament to proper management. Visibility of water was 30″, plenty of dense habitat for forage, and loads of forage. Besides bluegill the owner has stocked threadfin shad, crawfish, and golden shiners. The water is fertile so the shad are doing excellent and crawfish are 90 cents per pound in Louisiana. To grow trophy bass it is critical to have multiple types of forage. Bluegill are the backbone of the forage base in the pond but they need other forage types to relieve predation pressure. When bass are evenly eating different types of forage no single forage will get hit too hard.
This road trip was one of the final big trips for the shock team. As the weather turns from cool to cold the bass sink back into the depths in preparation of the spawn.