I can remember being really mesmerized many years ago on a party boat where the captain could point out different species on his sonar based on the size if mark created by the wave hitting their swim bladders. He was dead on, too. We’d have a mess of bluefish under the boat, the suddenly he’d say, “Ut, oh. The guys are about to get covered up with dogfish” or “There’s a small blue shark down there.” This was pretty old technology, but fishfinders have come a long way in recent years and have gotten so accurate that I think they are borderline scary.
Case in point, the photo above. I snapped the shot in April on a friend’s boat. He had the finder so tweaked that it picked up our jigs streaking up and down. A few months ago, I went on a walleye trip where the captain had side-imaging sonar, which is the latest and greatest advance in this technology. The screen showed a perfectly crisp portrait of the river bed, and there, next to a boulder was a walleye plain as day. I cast to the boulder, and just like that the walleye disappeared as I fought it to the boat.
All this new technology is wonderful, but at the same time I know captains that still study old paper graph sonar charts to look for patterns around certain pieces of structure. Like many things in fishing, anglers did just fine without them. Considering that there are now portable fishfinders you wear on your wrist and the software to give fish no place to hide, I wonder how heavily you rely on it. Are you always itching to rig the bass boat with latest electronics, or are you like me in that your 1990 fishfinder finds the trophies just as well as the new stuff? – JC