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Fishing electronics

It’s obvious that technology has had an enormous impact on how we function these days and the same holds true in the world of fishing; more specifically I’m referring to the use of sonar and how it applies to the fishermen. When I started fishing in my high-school years, sonar was something that had military applications only and certainly not something that would be applicable for fishing. The use of portable sonar equipment has become almost a standard piece of equipment for most fishermen today, and that holds true for the ice-fishermen as well.

Simply put sonar helps locate where fish are in the water column but it also reveals the depth and type of structure beneath your location. Before electronics we “hard water walkers” would drill a hole in the ice and then attach a lead weight to a line and sound out the depth. After we determined the depth, we would set our tip-ups or jigging rods accordingly. We would start our fishing on or near the bottom and then over a period of time work our way up through the water column until we got some action. Of course, we had no way of knowing when or where fish would move in the water column, so a lot of time was usually spent trying to find the right depth. Generally speaking, starting your fishing near the bottom is probably a good choice since many fish are often located there, but fish do suspend and especially certain species.

These days when somebody asks me what they need to get started in ice-fishing the first thing I tell them is a rod-after all that’s what connects you to your ultimate target. The next item of importance is probably a sonar unit-that tells you where the fish are in the water column at any given time. When I start my ice-fishing for the day I usually drill two or three holes, and before I even rig my rod I drop my sonar unit in the hole; I want to know what is or isn’t down there right away. While fishing, I watch and feel my line very intently, but I’m just as intent watching the sonar screen. If I’m fishing six inches off the bottom in 18 feet of water and I see marks on the screen at nine feet, I’m moving my offering up to that depth in hopes of attracting a strike. If set up properly you can even see your own lures moving up and down the column as marks; match the marks, and you are in the right spot. Certain species like crappies will often suspend, and the sonar can put you on those suspended fish in a hurry; without it, they could pass by without you ever knowing.

Now, before you assume that the sonar is going to “catch” all the fish for you, remember-all the sonar does is tell you where the fish are at any given time; it does not tell you what species of fish is there. Many a time we will see fish (marks) on the screen and move our jigs to that location with absolutely no strikes to follow-it tells you fish are there; it doesn’t catch them. It’s still imperative that you have the right lures, bait, presentation, and skills to catch the fish.

After the rod and sonar then you can get the shelter, heater, power auger, tip-ups and a grill for cooking hamburgers.

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