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Brent Bartman

Using My Fishfinder To Actually Find Fish

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So my over the past 4-6 months my goals have been focused on learning how to better locate bass using electronics. 

 

Basically being using a Chart of a lake I havent fished before or only practiced fished Find the areas where i think they will be and get out there and search using my electronics to find fish

 

 

SO I  upgraded to the Elite 5HDI with chartplotting and Sonar/DSI And I think i set my self backwards.

 

Before I would hit the lake with my Lowarance 4 Color sonar and used my knowledge of where the fish should be that time of year and turned on bottom track and turned sensitivity way down and power fished a searchbait/Junk Fished for bass. This was fine for the spring and fall. But for summer and winter it has hurt me deeply not being able to locate the fish in deep water.

 

 

6 months ago I upgraded to Elite 5x and using the maps/Sonar/DSI to find the points/humps/structure then find the bait and then find fish and then target the bass I had found. and I can honestly say I keep finding my self junk fishing with out using my electronics. I cant seem to find fish using electronics. I would be better off using a flasher.

 

I have watched all the videos and read all the articles and cant seem to get away from junk fishing to find fish. I feel to become a better tournament angler i need to be able to locate bass and target them around the lake using all availble resources not just as I pound banks hoping for a keeper. Any Suggestions. I have watched all the videos and read alot of articles and am lost in this department .

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Why do you turn the sensitivity way down? That will just about guarantee you will not see any fish. At the very least, leave the sensitivity on auto. 

 

 

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When every bass fisherman out there can find the same great looking structure , its hard to locate bass. In the lakes I frequent , the large arches on points , humps and flats are usually channel cats or huge shad. But the bass are there , because at night in the summer they will hit buzzbaits shallow on these spots . So you just have to put in the time and work hard , its not always easy .

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Why do you turn the sensitivity way down? That will just about guarantee you will not see any fish. At the very least, leave the sensitivity on auto. 

 

 

I dont anymore but when i started out with the basic elite4X I didnt care about anything but depth and rate of depth change. Basically I used it to find ledges and drops and used my jig or worm to find out what exactly was on bottom.

 

Now i have learned to read my SONAR and know what I am seeing and can pick apart things like grass and ledges and brush and laydowns and standing timber.

 

I keep my sensitivy where I can clearly see my thermocline if present usually around 65-75%

 

 But I cant figure out is how to find these sonar ARCs and DSI white blips that are fish are turn that into fish on my line

 

I see guys on youtube find bass in 60-100 feet of water and feed them a dropshot like it was nothing.

 

 I can find the thermocline and fish every point at that depth and get bite sure.

 

but to find schooling fish or suspended fish in open water I cant do that. I cant even find these bass in 20-35 feet of open water which is common to the lakes and resevoirs I fish. I havent caught a bass yet on a dropshot it open water that wasnt sight fishing. I grew up fishing florida lakes my whole life where the "deep" was 4-6ft and summer haunts were lilly pads and hydrailla mats. where a devilhorse and a rubber worm maybe a flipping jig made quick work of a 15 lb sack.

 

 

 

Sure I will see isolated schools of bait or random suspending fish. but using my electronics to basically locate a school and put 5 fish in the boat from a school in the middle of the lake I cant do. 

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You might look into hireing a guide for your boat. Sounds a little off but there a jack of all trades for hire. With no costs they be easy to hire, I haven't tried.

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After fishing Florida for 10 years, coming back to Indiana, I struggled vehemently. I really had to dig deep and study, I spent a lot of time with maps, and just motoring around finding and marking areas.. Eventually, it started to come together. It was a difficult transition. I really feel comfortable on larger res. now... After a few successful seasons, its much easier to fish and not have to search.. Fun fishing mostly, not touring the country stuff... So you can learn your area lakes and be successful year after year, once it's learned.. As far as video game fishing, my electronics are not that grand! Looks fun though...

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I fish mainly shallow, natural lakes and rarely mark fish on my electronics.  Cone angle and water depth will determine how much bottom you actually view and in water less than 20ft. deep and a 16 degree cone, you are viewing a very small section. Add to that the fact that you are disturbing their environment and you can figure on not marking many, if any, fish in shallower water. With the depths you're targeting you should be able to mark some fish. Leave your unit on auto until you become familiar with reading it. That is going to involve putting your rod down and watching it as you pass over known cover and structure.

I turn up the sensitivity on my units until I get a second echo,then remove the surface clutter. The bottom contours and composition are easy to identify

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Confidence.

 

The problem isn't that you can't read the sonar.  It's not that you can't fish.  It's not that you don't know where to look.

Your problem is that because you aren't confident in your skills of reading the sonar, and that you do not put confidence in the data given, you go back to your old ways.  You are given pieces of a puzzle.  Its just up to you to put them together.

It took me awhile to do the same thing.  If I didn't see fish on my graph, that was ok.  I still stopped and fished.  haha 

 

That type of fishing is fine for resident fish.  You will still pick up a few on a jig and worm that stick close to that area and feed in that area.

But when it comes to schooling fish, fish that roam and actively feed on shad, thats what you want to use your graph for when your searching for the "archs".  If there are no shad then there will be no bass FEEDING ON SHAD, point blank no ifs ands or buts about that.

 

But you could still catch a few holding to the bottom or the nice drop off that you find. Thats excellent!!  Use your graph and find more areas with the same type of drop off and fish them.  There is no reason to probe the point from 0-30ft when you consistently catch fish on multiple 12-15ft drops near deep water.  

 

I also started doing something the past few years that have helped me out a lot. 

SSSSSSSSSSSSSSS vs ---------------     

Imagine a boat graphing a point using the two different paths above.  One S'ing in and out from 6ft-18ft back from 18ft-6ft, and the other making a single pass at 12ft depth. 

As papajoe said above...you are already viewing a small portion of what is directly below the boat.  So, increase your viewing area.  You have more ability to see:

bottom hardness

active fish

shad

drop offs

brush piles

etc...

If none of them things are located in your quick straight pass at 12', then you would just want to move on.  But if you found any, all, or even a few in your S passes, you can start putting together a pattern.  Once you keep adding pieces together, eventually your puzzle will all be complete.    In a matter of hours you will know the fish are targetting bait balls, while suspended in 12-16ft off clay humps with deep water access.  But you have to single out certain things before you can develop and realize what is going on. 
Thats where the confidence in knowing and believing in what you are doing and what you are seeing comes in.

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You have to have enough discipline to put the rod down and get graphing experience.  That's not easy when you just want to catch fish.  As far as schooling fish, I regularly fish 55-60' deep in the late fall and winter for bass attacking shad schools near the bottom.  If you can't recognize what a shad school looks like, and just as importantly recognize what bass attacking that shad school look like, you will not be successful spoon jigging.  You need both the shad and active bass to succeed.  When you see it once on the sonar and catch bass after bass, you will always remember that sonar scenario and will look to repeat it.  It's a scenario where the sonar is critical - without it, you would never fish that spot that may be 20 ft in diameter in the middle of a large lake.

 

The same thing applies to other deep water situations.  Graph until you think you recognize a concentration of bass, then fish to confirm.  Graph until you are familiar with the lake and its bottom features and can identify bass sitting on the bottom, which can be difficult.  For shallower bass, I look for structure and cover features that SHOULD hold bass since I expect the boat and sonar to spook the fish away from the sonar.  In reservoirs in summertime, one good strategy is to find the thermocline and then explore depths where the thermocline intersects the bottom.  If I can find structure and cover at that depth, there's a good chance I'll find fish.

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Guys I really appriciate the help. I went out yesterday afternoon for about 5 hours and used a 1oz tungsten  jig weight with strait braid and using my electronics I basically found structure/cover and ran my weight around to "feel the bottom" and learn what my electronics were telling me. I wasnt fishing as much as I was verifying what my graph said. I am learning to tell the difference between different bottoms and bottom harderness. and look for brushpiles and laydowns. I will say I have learned to like my strait graph more than my DSI. it seems to tell me a more about the bottom.

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