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MikeOGNR

Fish Finder Questions?

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Okay every tournament angler and every angler basically now has a fish finder and i understand the concept of how it uses sonar to show bottom structure and such but my real questions are

1. How do i determine where to go with my fishfinder and how to tell what areas i should fish

2. shouldi get a depth map of the lake first off and how would i read this to determine where i should start fishing

3. what would i see when i spot fish on it and also how would i determine whether a spot is worth trying or not like if i see one fish arch go by shouldi try fishing for that fish

4. if a drop off comes up or some type of structue should i fish it nay way if i dont see any arches of some sort

5. how would i determine bait fish on my fish finder

6. on a depth map what would like drop offs shoals undercover structure and things look like so i coulf figure out where to go

Last i have an eagle cuda 300 portable fish finder it may not be high quality but i heard they were pretty good for 130 bucks also if there are any articles on this topic or other forum questions it would be aprreciated if u coulds post them here thanks

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Q1: Depends on your lake/river/time of year and patterns the fish are holding. I fish a lot of shallow water 4ft or less, my Side Scan is more of a toy than anything most of the time.

Q2 and Q6: Yes get a contour map of the lake to find starting points. On the map you will see lines with numbers on them. If you find where the lines are spread out you have a gradual fall in the depth, or it's a flat. If the lines are all crunched up and there's a bunch of them, that's a drop off. Take early summer patterns into considerations for now. The fish are transitioning from the beds and going to their summer haunts. With that being said find a point with a hump on the end of it next to a steep drop off, if you can and they exist. Use your finder to find bait or bass on the hump and fish it with your confidence baits. Some like crankbaits, some like big jigs or plastics, find something they want and go from there.

Q3 and Q4: Look for the arches. Now you can turn your fish ID on, however once you start getting the hang of your electronics you will find they perform better without the ID on. Look for the fish, a good thing about the electronics is they not only show where the fish are, but where they're not. Just keep in mind the image you're going to get is a cone directly under the transducer, whether it be in the stern on on the TM. So, if you find some structure you may want to give it some time because your sonar may have missed the fish.

Q5: Baitfish. You will see the bottom clearly, then suspended somewhere between the bottom and your deucer you will see a blob of 'something'. In no real shape, just whatever ball the school is in at the time. That's your baitfish. If you mark them, but no individual fish, fish it anyways. That's when you can guess that your sonar cone has missed the individual fish. Be aware of your surroundings, sometimes a tree branch will be suspended and you only catch the end of the laydown. It will look exactly the same as the baitfish.

In the attached picture (I know not your model, but it had the best screenshot for me to describe). You will see many fish with the 'arches' suspended above the cover on the bottom. In addition to that you will see a ball of bait slightly suspended off the bottom. Notice how it's not attached to anything like the structure is near it. The structure normally will look attached to the bottom. On the right of the screen about mid way up you see a random blob under a fish, that is more baitfish being harrassed by probably both fish above and below it. Notice the depth change from 54 ft to gradually shallower. That will be where the contour lines on the map seem evenly spaced, not scrunched together, but moderately close, depending on how many feet are covered by each contour line (that would be covered in the map legend on whatever map you buy).

I'm no expert but I hope this helps.

post-24354-0-24923200-1307457355_thumb.j

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Go to the Fishing Articles tab at the top of this board and then select Fishing Gear. There you will find some very interesting articles on using fish finders. Also, the Lowrance website has an excellent tutorial on fish finders.

http://www.lowrance.com/Support/Tips-and-Tutorials/Sonar-Tutorial/

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Q1: Depends on your lake/river/time of year and patterns the fish are holding. I fish a lot of shallow water 4ft or less, my Side Scan is more of a toy than anything most of the time.

Q2 and Q6: Yes get a contour map of the lake to find starting points. On the map you will see lines with numbers on them. If you find where the lines are spread out you have a gradual fall in the depth, or it's a flat. If the lines are all crunched up and there's a bunch of them, that's a drop off. Take early summer patterns into considerations for now. The fish are transitioning from the beds and going to their summer haunts. With that being said find a point with a hump on the end of it next to a steep drop off, if you can and they exist. Use your finder to find bait or bass on the hump and fish it with your confidence baits. Some like crankbaits, some like big jigs or plastics, find something they want and go from there.

Q3 and Q4: Look for the arches. Now you can turn your fish ID on, however once you start getting the hang of your electronics you will find they perform better without the ID on. Look for the fish, a good thing about the electronics is they not only show where the fish are, but where they're not. Just keep in mind the image you're going to get is a cone directly under the transducer, whether it be in the stern on on the TM. So, if you find some structure you may want to give it some time because your sonar may have missed the fish.

Q5: Baitfish. You will see the bottom clearly, then suspended somewhere between the bottom and your deucer you will see a blob of 'something'. In no real shape, just whatever ball the school is in at the time. That's your baitfish. If you mark them, but no individual fish, fish it anyways. That's when you can guess that your sonar cone has missed the individual fish. Be aware of your surroundings, sometimes a tree branch will be suspended and you only catch the end of the laydown. It will look exactly the same as the baitfish.

In the attached picture (I know not your model, but it had the best screenshot for me to describe). You will see many fish with the 'arches' suspended above the cover on the bottom. In addition to that you will see a ball of bait slightly suspended off the bottom. Notice how it's not attached to anything like the structure is near it. The structure normally will look attached to the bottom. On the right of the screen about mid way up you see a random blob under a fish, that is more baitfish being harrassed by probably both fish above and below it. Notice the depth change from 54 ft to gradually shallower. That will be where the contour lines on the map seem evenly spaced, not scrunched together, but moderately close, depending on how many feet are covered by each contour line (that would be covered in the map legend on whatever map you buy).

I'm no expert but I hope this helps.

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": Depends on your lake/river/time of year and patterns the fish are holding. I fish a lot of shallow water 4ft or less, my Side Scan is more of a toy than anything most of the time."

The imaging technology is a lot more useful in shallow water than regular sonar. You are not limited to the bottom coverage of the 2D sonar cone. You can "see" away from the boat to whatever the range is set for the side viewing.

I can't tell which mfg you have by the "Side Scan" name. Neither company has that as a title.

Lowance has Structure Scan and Humminbird has Side Imaging.

I use the Humminbird Side Imaging and it is my underwater eyes for sight fishing when fishing shallow (less than 10'). Most of the time I have the Side Imaging range set to about 50' while fishing. That gets me 100' of bottom coverage rather than just what is directly under the boat. If you are not using that technology while fishing you are missing out.

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By the way how do you guys take the images off of your finders and then put them on here?

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By the way how do you guys take the images off of your finders and then put them on here?

The Humminbird units with SD card slots will save screen snapshot directly to a SD card in .png format.

I convert the .png file to a .jpg file and then add them to a message via the "Attachments" then "Browse" part of a message window.

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As simple as it sounds, substituting the name Fish-Finder with "Depth Sounder" gives a cleaner grasp of the whole concept.

The depth sounder, water thermometer and GPS unit are all involved in "fish-finding", but looking directly for bass on the sonar unit

is usually a recipe for disappointment. It's not a bad idea to disable the 'Fish Icon' option then focus on interpreting the raw signals.

from your particular sounder. Four events are especially important:

Depth Increases

The more rapid the depth change, the better the holding site (gradient and range)

Depth Decreases

This is just the reverse of a depth increase, and here too, gradient and range determine the value of the slope.

Submerged Cover

On a natural lake this will usually be weed-beds (submersed vegetation), but on impoundments the underwater cover

might include stumps, standing timber, a blowdown, rockpile, sunken bridge and so on.

Suspended Fish

The first three events are fixed and repeatable, but fish in suspension are mobile.

Sonar can distinguish baitfish from game fish, but cannot identify species nor distinguish between feeding fish and sedentary fish.

Roger

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": Depends on your lake/river/time of year and patterns the fish are holding. I fish a lot of shallow water 4ft or less, my Side Scan is more of a toy than anything most of the time."

The imaging technology is a lot more useful in shallow water than regular sonar. You are not limited to the bottom coverage of the 2D sonar cone. You can "see" away from the boat to whatever the range is set for the side viewing.

I can't tell which mfg you have by the "Side Scan" name. Neither company has that as a title.

Lowance has Structure Scan and Humminbird has Side Imaging.

I use the Humminbird Side Imaging and it is my underwater eyes for sight fishing when fishing shallow (less than 10'). Most of the time I have the Side Imaging range set to about 50' while fishing. That gets me 100' of bottom coverage rather than just what is directly under the boat. If you are not using that technology while fishing you are missing out.

Wayne, REALLY?? I'm sorry I didn't use the proper nomenclature. I have dual HDS-7s with an LSS-1 Structure Scan Module, only linked to one unit thus far. Just gotta stop being a cheapo and get the other chord. And yes, I rarely use them in super shallow water unless I am trying to get an image of what the rest of a laydown looks like and if any fish are holding on it. Now when I go to deeper water like Gaston, Kerr, Chick or the Patomac then yes it is a valuable tool. Just not most of the time in the water I fish. Since when does proper nomenclature really mean that much when I'm just trying to lend a guy a hand? Not to mention I got it for that reason, but since I've owned it they've been holding in creeks where the average fish holding depth has been 1.5-2.5ft. Now that they are post spawn I will be using the hell out of it in 4-5ft water, as long as the milfoil mats aren't too thick. If that becomes the case, which it will in some areas, then I have some really expensive thermometers.

Don't try to be all high and mighty next time because of nomenclature.

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so really i shouldnt look for the fish alot i should just use it to identify weed beds drop offs stumps and floats and all other cover and fish those even if their arent any fish there. also anyone no where i can get free good contour maps and such or is their a book or a store where i can get some?

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Finding free contour maps is darn near impossible. However, they aren't all that expensive. Here's a link to fishing hotspots maps. On this page you should be able to find Champlain. If you back up some in it you will be able to choose whichever state you want, NH or VT and choose your body of water. Tight lines!

http://www.fishinghotspots.com/e1/pc/viewcategories.asp?idCategory=42&pageStyle=L

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where would u commonly find a place taht sells contour maps like would a hardware store sell them

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Wayne, REALLY?? I'm sorry I didn't use the proper nomenclature. I have dual HDS-7s with an LSS-1 Structure Scan Module, only linked to one unit thus far. Just gotta stop being a cheapo and get the other chord. And yes, I rarely use them in super shallow water unless I am trying to get an image of what the rest of a laydown looks like and if any fish are holding on it. Now when I go to deeper water like Gaston, Kerr, Chick or the Patomac then yes it is a valuable tool. Just not most of the time in the water I fish. Since when does proper nomenclature really mean that much when I'm just trying to lend a guy a hand? Not to mention I got it for that reason, but since I've owned it they've been holding in creeks where the average fish holding depth has been 1.5-2.5ft. Now that they are post spawn I will be using the hell out of it in 4-5ft water, as long as the milfoil mats aren't too thick. If that becomes the case, which it will in some areas, then I have some really expensive thermometers.

Don't try to be all high and mighty next time because of nomenclature.

The Side Imaging is being promoted by many as a valuable shallow water fishing tool and for use with a bow mount display and trolling motor mounted Side Imaging transducer. Not so much with the Structure Scan. That is why the correct trade name of the imaging technology is relevant.

When I fish the Potomac, my trolling motor is usually stirring up the bottom mud or sand. Knowing what is under the transducer is useless; knowing what is within casting distance is very relevant.

Maybe after this exchange you will use your equipment to its fullest extent.

Good luck and good fishing <*)))))<(

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where would u commonly find a place taht sells contour maps like would a hardware store sell them

A source would be a local tackle shop, marina on the body of water, some local Walmarts carry local lake maps, and any other local sporting goods stores.

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so really i shouldnt look for the fish i should just use it to identify weed beds drop offs stumps floats and all other cover and fish those even if their arent any fish there

So you really believe that your depth sounder will tell you if catchable bass are in casting distance?

In any fertile lake, fish will be marking practically anywhere you go, but that gives you no clue as to fish species

and no clue as to fish disposition (aggressive or sedentary). I can't remember the last time I actually seen a bass on the sonar

that I subsequently brought into the boat.

The best bottom contour map at your disposal is your depth sounder. It is real-world, and it is spot-on.

Once you establish waypoints based on bottom contour and cover, the presence of bass is a foregone conclusion.

Roger

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So you really believe that your depth sounder will tell you if catchable bass are in casting distance?

In any fertile lake, fish will be marking practically anywhere you go, but that gives you no clue as to fish species

and no clue as to fish disposition (aggressive or sedentary). I can't remember the last time I actually seen a bass on the sonar

that I subsequently brought into the boat.

The best bottom contour map at your disposal is your depth sounder. It is real-world, and it is spot-on.

Once you establish waypoints based on bottom contour and cover, the presence of bass is a foregone conclusion.

Roger

Roger, not only do I believe "that your depth sounder will tell you if catchable bass are in casting distance", my usual day of fising involves just that. I see bass with my electronics and then catch them. Their position on/near objects or baitfish schools and breaklines will indicate if they are catchable. About 1/2 of the bass I caught a couple of days ago were observed with the Imaging technology before casting to them. The rest were caught using the pattern that those fish represented. Basically I sight fish all year in all depths but my "eyes" is the sonar unit and I don't waste time fishing where there are no fish.

It is common practice to catch deep bass with vertical presentations while viewing them with regular 2D sonar. You can watch your lure being presented to the fish and watch them react.

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This is an example of how to determine if bass are catchable.

The thermocline is a breakline and if bass are at the junction of that and the lake bottom, the fish are active and feeding. Catching is just about a sure thing with the appropriate presentation. Those that are suspended away from the bottom and in or above the thermocline are not active/feeding and may or may not be catchable. I caught two bass from this group shown just under the temperature display on a Tx rigged worm.

RTS.jpg

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Wayne, I'm quite familiar with the tactics you outlined above (nice job btw). Back in my saltwater days, I did a lot of sonar work over shipwrecks using graph & stylus sounders (in the day of RDF). I will say this, if it works for you, don't change a thing.

I fish about 25 natural lakes in central Florida. Over the years I’ve accumulated numerous coordinates of proven holding sites. Few if any of my waypoints have been established by the sight of fish, which are mostly onsite GPS saves based on bottom contour (structure) and ambient cover. I find largemouth bass to be very residential homebodies. Year-after-year they stage in the same pre-spawn spots and spawn on the same bedding flats. During the summer season, they are always located at the holding sites I have stored in my Summer Itinerary, and the same holds true for my Winter Itinerary. By no means is that to imply that I always catch bass, BOY, wouldn't that be nice?. If a proven waypoint fails to produce, it’s not for lack of bass, but for lack of “catchable” bass at the moment. Returning to the same coordinates later in the day will often produce bass that have since switched to a feeding mode. Thanks to their consistent behavior, every bass we boat, in every lake we fish, has come from the same boring list of waypoints, year-after-year-after-year. In my particular case, the Atlantic Ocean has been the ultimate teaching grounds. Even when we sought highly nomadic species like tuna and bluefish, we consistently scored in the same handful of small localized hotspots, year-after-year. Fortunately, game fish and baitfish both gravitate to the same bottom contour and cover, nature's way of assuring that they cross paths. Running at high-throttle from waypoint-to-waypoint might appear like running-and-gunning, but it’s more like threading-a-needle where there are many needles far apart.

On a few occasions I knew positively that I caught the same fish I was watching on the sounder, because the fishing line was visible in the transducer cone. However, in the shallow lakes of Florida, you will rarely be fishing in the transducer cone. With the obvious exception of suspended bass, attempting to see bottom-oriented bass on the depth sounder, is cost ineffective on natural lakes, time deducted from actual fishing time. If you were to join me on a natural lake in Florida, I think you'd soon lose your interest in the sonar screen. Most of the day you’d be staring at tall, jagged weed-beds piled under the transducer. Tweak the Gain knob as you will, any trace of a lurking bass would be obliterated by the dense vegees. In fact, the bottom signal will be intermittently blocked by dense weed growth. Other than that, you would be casting into fields of lily pads far away from the transducer cone, where even side-imaging sonar would be badly compromised in that stalk jungle.

Roger

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Thanks Roger, I've only fished the Kissimmee Chain and Alligator Chain of lakes in your state. I fished Toho when the last drawdown was done to clean up the bottom--lots of shallow water then.

I've used the paper graph/stylus units also. I still have the Humminbird version, but the stylus belt is broken and no parts are available. My first sonar unit was a Shakesphere flasher that mounted on top of a 12V lantern battery, that was in the mid 1970's.

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Thanks Roger, I've only fished the Kissimmee Chain and Alligator Chain of lakes in your state. I fished Toho when the last drawdown was done to clean up the bottom--lots of shallow water then.

I've used the paper graph/stylus units also. I still have the Humminbird version, but the stylus belt is broken and no parts are available. My first sonar unit was a Shakesphere flasher that mounted on top of a 12V lantern battery, that was in the mid 1970's.

This is the kind of discussion I really enjoy, especially over a pitcher of Bud Lite :-)

Years ago, when I stepped up from RDF to Loran-C, I purchased a Texas Instruments "single readout" Loran.

It Never Failed..whenever I needed the latitude for positioning the boat, the longitude was being displayed, and vice versa.

The young fellows today will never know just how good they have it :-)

Roger

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Wayne,

Ok so what if I have no thermocline because of super shallow water. Max depth is about 8ft on a very large body of water (Back Bay in Virginia Beach 25,000 acres). I am told the deeper holes around duck blinds hold fish, but have yet to find any there. I circled a bunch of them today looking for anything interesting. I found some stuff, most of it was either submerged pilings and pieces of the conifers they use to camouflage the blind. I worked t-rigs, c-rigs and flipped the actual blinds themselves with nothing to show for it. Grant it the adage all fish hold cover, but not all cover holds fish is applicable, but should I be trying to find fish on the structure scan first, then fish it if I do and pass if I don't? We caught a lot of bass in the grass up by the bank, but they were all schoolies and I am sure the larger ladies are in the deepest stuff I can find. Thanks in advance.

Chaz

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Wayne,

Ok so what if I have no thermocline because of super shallow water. Max depth is about 8ft on a very large body of water (Back Bay in Virginia Beach 25,000 acres). I am told the deeper holes around duck blinds hold fish, but have yet to find any there. I circled a bunch of them today looking for anything interesting. I found some stuff, most of it was either submerged pilings and pieces of the conifers they use to camouflage the blind. I worked t-rigs, c-rigs and flipped the actual blinds themselves with nothing to show for it. Grant it the adage all fish hold cover, but not all cover holds fish is applicable, but should I be trying to find fish on the structure scan first, then fish it if I do and pass if I don't? We caught a lot of bass in the grass up by the bank, but they were all schoolies and I am sure the larger ladies are in the deepest stuff I can find. Thanks in advance.

Chaz

Its been many, many, many years since I fished Back Bay. I had heard the bass fishing has been improving in recent years. The bass there used to be weed oriented or open water baitfish school oriented. If hydrilla and/or milfoil is the weeds, the bass are probably under it and a Johnson spoon, frog, weightless worm on top should be your primary presentations unless at low tide when fishing the outside edges would be the pattern with Traps, spinnerbaits, etc.

For the open water schools, you need to be aware of your surroundings and notice any surface activity, move to it quickly and then keep up with them via your scanning electronics. I don't know how well the Structure Scan functions for surface to 5' depths and can't guess since Lowrance does not indicate the degree of coverage for the two frequencies. I use Side Imaging and that will show fish away from the transducer in less than 1' depths but not in thick weeds.

Don't assume the larger bass will be "deep" they will be were the food is.

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Last year I would get into the thickest grass I could find on a low tide in 3-4ft at the mouths of creeks and fish rage shads and toads. Had some of my best days fishing on the east coast doing that. Now I'm trying to expand on that pattern and get on some bigger fish. I think they are still relating to the milfoil though. I also started the day chasing breaking fish with a spook. That's always fun. And yes the bass are back. Those 80,000 fingerlings they stocked in '08 are starting to become keepers and are fat and healthy.

On thing to add to this. Were you planning on answering the question? I got a lot of gouge on Back Bay, but still have my same question.

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