No, I’m not talking about getting on the phone and asking for waypoints or hitting up the tackle shop for the latest hot bait. But instead, some of the tools we have at our disposal that will help put more fish in the boat without making a single cast. A little discipline to put down the fishing rod for a minute and really study the situation can pay dividends on both familiar and unfamiliar fisheries.
Quality aerial maps definitely give away some of the most obvious goods. Hidden nooks and crannies aren’t hard to find and you can really get a good look at obvious cover on a particular bank. Not to mention emergent vegetation, and often in clear water, submerged vegetation. It’s the first place I start on an unfamiliar body of water because you can gather some obvious clues about the place. It’s also great for finding hidden launch ramps on large bodies of water.
Luckily we’ve entered an age where paper maps aren’t really a thing to study anymore. Lakemaster Contour Elite is a great way to study right from a computer. I’ll also analyze maps in my boat using Lakemaster mapping in my Humminbird Electronics. This is the easiest way to place waypoints or markers on areas you want to remember to explore. Another option I utilize is Humminbird’s FishSmart app on my phone. I can download lake maps and also view aerial shots of the lake; one bonus with this is I can mark waypoints too.
I’d feel blind without my Humminbird Electronics; they provide so much critical information so quickly. A basic water temperature reading can mean the difference between catching them or not. I can cover water quickly, searching for structure, baitfish, and target species. Standard 2D sonar and down imaging provide a ton of information about what is directly below the boat while Side Imaging allows me to find productive water on each side of the boat. It can be hard to stare at your electronics when you feel like you should be casting. All it takes is to see something good on them and turn around and catch a bunch of fish. Once that lightbulb goes off it is easier to go searching with sonar.
When I really want the juicy details on an area, it’s time to deploy the FishSens SondeCAM. I can visually see bottom structure, fish species, and baitfish species/size. It really can give you an edge in finding how everything is oriented underwater and allows you to visualize how your bait is going through a spot. You’ll definitely be surprised at how things actually look compared to what you’ve always had in your head. It can make a huge difference when it comes to wasting time on a school of non-target species too.
Using these tools will help you be more prepared, dial the fish in quicker, and have the right information to be successful on the water.