Whitesburg KY

Gabby’s fishing fever

Understanding a fish finder

There are many things a fisherman can use to help in the search for and to catch more fish.

There are black lights that can be used at night while fishing with florescent line that will make the line look huge and easy to see. There are lake maps that will help you find key spots on a lake. And in recent years, the introduction of GPS units has enabled fishermen to mark fishing hot spots all over any lake and return to the exact spot time after time.

But there is one unit that has been around for many years and has changed and been updated several times but still does the same basic function, and that is help the fisherman find and locate fish. This unit is the fish finder.

The fish finder has been around for a long time and started out as a simple unit called a flasher. This was basically a sonar unit that sent pulses down toward the bottom and bounced off the bottom and cover or structure and came back to the sensor and showed a band of colors on the screen. The darker colors showed harder bottom and the lighter colors showed softer, muddier bottom. This gave the angler an idea of the area he was in.

As the years went on, the fish finder became much more complex with the use of high speed sensors or transducers as they are called. The fish finder became able to show amazing detail on the screen.

Units made by Hummingbird and Lowrance were on just about every fishing boat on the water. Every year the fish finder was improved and more and more technology was put into them.

Several years ago, side scanning technology was introduced. This allowed anglers to see what was under boat docks and weed beds and any type of cover the fish could hide under. Then in the past few years, the use of GPS in the newest high tech fish finders has allowed anglers to find and locate fishing hot spots and mark them and return to them at any time.

Fish finders can be used for several things other than just looking for fish. Most fish finders offer several options like water temperature, battery charge and condition, speed and water depth. All these thing are very important in putting together a fish-catching pattern.

Even with all the new high technology added in to the newest fish finders, there are a few things you need to understand to get the most use and to help you catch more fish. On most fish finder screens the screen will show the area around, under and, in some cases, to the side of your boat. The screen will show the fish in that area and also the cover and structure and the bait fish schools.

What a lot of anglers do not understand is that just because the screen shows a lot of fish up and down the screen, that does not mean that all these fish are actively feeding and are catchable. You just use this for a guideline. You need to stop and think what time of the year, water temperature, weather patterns, fish positions in and around the cover where the bait fish are located, water depth and the type of cover available.

This all may sound kind of intimidating to some anglers, but all this information put together can help you to make the right decision on the best fish-catching pattern. I will try to give you a basic example to give you a basic understanding of reading a fish finder screen and making a fishing decision.

Let’s say you are out in your boat in July. The weather is hot and the water temperatures are in the 75- to 80-degree range. The lake has speedboats and jet skiers all over the place, and you are just looking for a place out of the way some to bass or crappie fish.

You pull over to the mouth of a big hollow and look at your fish finder screen. It shows the water is 30 feet deep and a surface temperature of 78 degrees. You see fish symbols scattered all over the screen from just under the surface to holding close to cover in deeper water. You also see some bait fish around the cover and some above the cover in 20 to 25 feet of water.

OK, so now is when you look at this screen and use this information and the other things mentioned earlier to make your best choice on how to fish this spot. First off, the high surface temperatures will cause low oxygen levels and stress in the fish, making them move to deeper, cooler water. So that cuts the screen in half. The fish shown in the upper part of the screen in open water and away from cover are suspending and will not feed much. The fish that are buried deep in the cover are holding there because of things like fishing pressure or just all the action on the lake during the day.

The fish that are close to or above the cover and close to the bait fish schools are feeding and will be the most active fish. Fish for these fish with a moving bait like a deep diving crank bait or spinner bait. Or if you are fishing for the fish holding tight to the cover, use slower contact baits like a worm or jig.

Just do all this in steps and it will quickly become much easier to understand and make you a much better angler.

You can email me at gabbysfishingfever@yahoo.com.

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