Aquatic Vegetation Management
Aquatic vegetation is found in most lakes and ponds and is beneficial to the natural ecosystem in moderate amounts. Vegetation is needed for food production and cover for fish. Aquatic plants produce oxygen, stabilize bottom sediment, protect the shoreline from wave erosion, and serve as a feeding and nesting habitat for waterfowl.
However, it can also become so abundant that it becomes unsightly, interferes with recreational use, and creates an unhealthy lake environment. ACI recommends treatment of vegetation when greater than 15-25% of the lake bottom and surface are covered, or if aquatic vegetation is causing aesthetic problems. ACI biologists utilize two primary controls for aquatic vegetation: biological and chemical.
One of the most inexpensive and effective controls for rooted vegetation in warmwater ponds is the grass carp. ACI biologists have found that high stocking rates of triploid (sterile) grass carp have been very effective at controlling problem vegetation on lakes and ponds that experience heavy aquatic vegetation problems. This fish feeds primarily on aquatic plants, and can eat two to three times its body weight each day. Since these grass carp are imported certified sterile, they cannot reproduce and overpopulate the lake. ACI biologists can adjust stocking rates to provide the desired amount of vegetation to control. Stocking rates vary from lake to lake and depend on a variety of factors such as lake size, water quality, amount and type of aquatic vegetation present, and size of fish to be stocked.
Typically, the most effective control of all types of aquatic vegetation is chemicals. Although no single all-purpose chemical exists to control all aquatic weeds, ACI biologists are thoroughly trained in proper plant identification, which is essential in selecting the best chemical for a specific vegetation problem. Because many of our clients grow trophy-sized fish in their lakes, our chemical applicators must carefully monitor water quality and adjust chemical application rates accordingly to avoid loss of any fish. Therefore, all of our biologists are licensed as certified applicators and go through rigorous testing on a regular basis.
Lake Electrofishing Surveys
Fish populations in lakes and ponds cannot be properly managed if they are not effectively sampled. Sampling allows us to make judgments about the whole population based on looking at only a portion of the whole. We collect valuable data such as length, weight, and age that provide us statistics on growth, survival, and recruitment which are essential in determining how a population is responding to its environment. Whether you have a recreational lake that provides great angling opportunities for friends and family, or if you have a trophy lake that continually provides a chance to catch the fish of a lifetime, surveys are an essential part of ensuring that your lake continues to produce up to your expectations.
Stream Electrofishing Survers
Streams are dynamic aquatic systems that are difficult to predict. Fish move frequently, use habitats differently, and can generally remain undetected. Most people think that they know a stream pretty thoroughly, but time and again, electrofishing surveys turn up surprising results. Backpack electrofishing is the most effective and efficient method to sample a stream. The electrical current pulls fish out of the even the best hiding places and undercut banks. We use electrofishing surveys to estimate species abundance, determine growth, recruitment, and health, and remove unwanted species. Monitoring stream fish populations helps us to determine stocking rates, fish health, and to determine if adequate habitat is available prior to a stream restoration.
Trophy Sport Fish Management
Everyone would like to catch the biggest fish of their life, and ACI’s management programs for trophy sport fish help make that happen. Whether its ensuring the best genetics, stocking optimal bait fish, providing supplemental feed, or adjusting the habitat to maximize growth, ACI’s biologists assess the current situation and make the necessary adjustments to help clients exceed their goals. We develop management plans specific to each lake which includes stocking recommendations, harvest requirements, feeding schedules, and other suggestions for providing optimal conditions for fish growth.
Maintaining the proper stocking rates is essential to overall lake health and angler satisfaction. Stocking recommendations are based on the goals of the owner, water volume, average length of fish desired, water quality parameters, and estimates of angling pressure and harvest. Current hatchery sources along with other certified disease free national sources are used to maintain stocking. Permits for fish importation are acquired through the appropriate State agencies. ACI orders and coordinates the stocking and ensures that fish numbers, fish size, and fish condition conform to ACI specifications.
Water Quality Monitoring
ACI believes that consistent monitoring is the key to proactively managing a lake. Specifically, monitoring select water quality parameters on a monthly basis throughout the warmer months allows us to maintain aquatic vegetation, algae, water clarity, and water color at levels that are consistent with your expectations. Regular monitoring allows us to track temperature and dissolved oxygen problems, including stratification, that could lead to summer and winter fish kills. Finally, the efficiency of aeration systems and aquatic vegetation treatments are maximized with an effective monitoring strategy. With our thorough plan of lake monitoring, ACI is able to forecast conditions that negatively impact both aesthetics and lake health and recommend strategies that improve both.