Technology and FishingTechnology and Fishing What type of electronics are available today, and do they help you catch fish? Find out inside!
By M. L. Anderson
Bass fishermen today have advantages that the old timers couldn’t even imagine. Incredibly fast boats, automatic trolling motors, side scanning and 3D depthfinders, underwater cameras, the HydroWave, GPS, social media and internet – all of these things can improve your fishing, but only if you are willing to keep an open mind and learn. If your goal is to make fishing a business, then learning to use all the tools available is especially important.
Kevin Finley is a fisherman, but he’s also a very successful business owner in Arizona. “Most fishermen are bad businessmen,” Finley says. “These days, you need to look outside the fishing world for help, and you need to remember that it isn’t ALL about catching fish. What companies want is someone who will promote their business.” One of Kevin’s major sponsors is MacMillan Stocks – makers of the best rifle stocks around. Most fishermen are also hunters, so it makes total sense to promote outdoor sports other than fishing. Promoting your sponsors means using every available social media outlet to plug your sponsors, even the small ones. If you’re still at the point where a sponsorship means that somebody just gives you free baits, then promote the heck out of those baits every chance you get.
Besides posting on social media, keep an eye out for local outdoor writers’ social media accounts on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Google+, etc. Initiate contact, and offer to take a writer out on the lake for a story and photos. Trust me, we need that. Personally, I’m always happy to have fishermen get in contact with me. Even if you live in a different state, you can still do a phone interview. Get your sponsors some ink – they love that. It’s basically free advertising. Offer to do seminars at local sporting goods stores, contact people who do radio shows and/or podcasts and introduce yourself. Have a concrete idea – call them up and say something like “I’m on a killer jerkbait bite on Lake Whatyamacallit right now, on specific types of banks. I’d love to come on your show and talk about it.”
Kevin does all of that, plus he constantly works at improving his fishing. We went out on Lake Pleasant in Arizona with Finley during the pre-spawn. Water temp was 57.9 degrees, and the fish were just moving up to spawn. He was throwing a KVD deep-running jerkbait in a brisk breeze and had a couple on right away. While he fished, he explained how much his Minn Kota Ultrex trolling motor helps him. “On a day like today with the wind, I can use the trolling motor to keep me at a certain depth, or I can have it keep me on a certain spot. That is so handy, especially if you break off. Before I had the Ultrex, I’d have to sit down and re-tie, and get blown off my spot, and then most likely by the time I got ready to go again, somebody else would have gotten on my spot while I was drifting away.” This kind of technology makes it much easier to fish in the wind. A lot of guys hide from the wind, but Finley says if you want to catch fish, you have to be right out in it.
Another incredible tool is the Humminbird 360. I had never seen one before, but when I did, I was really impressed. It takes just a few minutes to get the hang of what you are looking at, and once you realize what’s going on, you can see everything in the water all around your boat - out to 150 feet! It’s amazing. Finley says that at Sam Rayburn, he could see huge rocks at 19 feet, and was able to drag a Carolina rig right under those rocks on the concrete. It was an earthen dam: concrete, then huge rip rap to 19 feet. If you fished too close you’d get snag, and if you fished too deep they wouldn’t chase it. With the help of his 360, he caught 22 fish off that spot in two days. “Leaving an area that has fish on it is a mistake a lot of anglers make,” Kevin says, “You can go on down the bank and if you come back, you might find a lot more fish. Sometimes they follow the hooked one out, and it may take a few minutes for them to regroup.” You might be able to come back every half hour or so and catch a couple fish every time.
The Humminbird 360 allows him to go into a creek channel he’s never been in before and see everything in it, even if the water is dirty. With it, he can know in 20 minutes what it would have taken him five hours to find out by fishing it or going over it with a regular depthfinder. Twenty minutes and he’ll know every rock and tree in the cove. At Havasu, he saw a cage 100 feet ahead of the boat, threw a swimbait on it, and caught a 7-pounder. All of this costs money, of course. In addition to the cost of the technology, Kevin discovered that he also needs extra battery power.
Another tool for fishermen is the HydroWave. This gadget uses actual recorded sound patterns of baitfish, and plays them via a speaker on the trolling motor head. There are a lot of options, so you can match the sound to the main prey in the water you’re fishing. Some guys use it the whole time they are fishing, others just use it when they are drop-shotting or using some other vertical presentation. I’ve talked to guys who basically only use it to mask the sound of their trolling motor or the noise of their depthfinders. Everyone I know who has one thinks it helps in some way.
A depthfinder with GPS is another great tool. With one of these, you can get right back on your honey hole with no problem. I’ve seen Kevin find bass on his Humminbird, watch his lure go down in front of it, then see the bass take the lure – all on the depthfinder screen. It’s amazing, especially when you consider that when the sport of professional bass fishing began, a flasher was the most high-tech tool available.
Do you need all of this electronic gear and a $70,000 bass boat to compete? Of course not. But there’s no denying that making use of everything available will give you an edge. Even if you can’t afford all of it right now, promoting yourself and your sponsors is something you can do every day. Kevin does radio and TV shows, seminars, kids events, stories with writers, Facebook, Instagram – you name it. His name is out there. Yours could be too.
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