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Mike 12345

How do I know what my electronics are telling me?

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When looking at the depthfinder while fishing, I often wonder what fish *exactly* the electronics are picking up.  What I mean is, when you pick up echoes/fish on your screen, how the heck are you supposed to make appropriate decisions based on a sonar echo?  What if you are picking up a few carp or drum?  How are you supposed to determine whether you are looking at bass or not?  Seems sorta like stabs in the dark to me.  I guess at least you know something is there?

Any pointers are appreciated-

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I think you are right about not knowing what fish for the most part.  However, fish behavior can help out.  I know crappie tend to hang in schools so most of the time when I run over a cloud of fish I assume it to be crappie.  I have heard of guys with lots of experience with high dollar color graphs being able to distinguish individual fish based on subtle color differences.  Catching the fish is the only way to know for sure.

I mostly use my graph to locate cover and structure more so than targeting a fish.  But if I run over a suspicious fish I will throw whatever lure I have tied on at him.  

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With mine I tend to base it on a couple things. In some cases size. The huge ones in my lake are almost always Catfish.

Mid-sized will be bass or catfish(usually catfish). Smaller to almost mid-sized brim or white bass.

It is not 100% effective, more of a guideline than a rule. Course I have a $79 finder too so you would not exactly call mine state of the art. But it works for me. The bg things for me was to see the structure on the bottom more than the fish.

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I use my electronics to find deep smallies. I will look on the GPS and depending on the time of year I will look for humps, breaks, ect.. I will idle over the area circle staring at the screen looking for bait. As soon as I find bait I will drop the drop-shot down and see if there are any smallies holding with them. Or sometimes you will just see a couple of fish, then I will look at the length of them and look at how long they are inproportion to the depth, I like to find those 18-24 inch fish. Then drop it down and see what they are. If they are smallies then 9/10 then will eat it.

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If you set the unit up correctly you can even watch a spoon on your screen as you jig it up and down in front of an arc. If you can't, you need to adjust it until you can.

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If you set the unit up correctly you can even watch a spoon on your screen as you jig it up and down in front of an arc. If you can't, you need to adjust it until you can.

It's great when you see your bait and suspended fish fly down after it.

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The only 'foolproof' way to tell what the arches are is to catch whatever it is under the boat or drop an underwater camera down and take a look. Otherwise, you're really just guessing.

I'd rather see big pods of shad in a particular area than one or two fish on the screen.

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