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  • Writer's pictureSteven Paul

The Right Fish Finder : TN Musky Fishing

Finding The Finder that works

With just a few kilobytes of computational power, the crew of Apollo 11 was able to make their spectacular landing on the moon, 238,900 miles from Earth; and yet, fishermen today can’t seem to find the targets right below their feet with modern overloaded equipment. Anglers, aided by split screen monitoring, down imaging, wide screen sonar, and detailed satellite mapping, seem to still have trouble boating their ever elusive prey. Most modern fishing vessels come preloaded to the hilt with the latest and greatest high-powered, jumbo-sized fish finders with all the bells and whistles that keep anglers shelling out hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars to keep up. And with the technology constantly improving, the learning curve can surpass even the most knowledgeable angler.

Despite the draw of graphics and widescreen, there are a few of us out here that remain dedicated to the basics, the simplest models that provide you the most important/basic information. Many guests that have been welcomed on my guide trips ask why my boat isn’t loaded to the gills with tech like some of the others out there. I always point out that I run two simple, but modern fish finders that are well relied upon for the most basic information: depths, water temperatures, and features; though most of my “fish finding” is done through seasonal patterning and forage movements. As I prefer the concepts of old school masters like Buck Perry who never had the luxury of modern electronics.

For sake of argument, one must align with the times and with all things technology based, it is important to find a middle ground, because the best results always come by finding a balance of new and old. Unfortunately sometimes technology finds a way of making the worst anglers worse and the great anglers better. Fish finders can only give us the data, which then must be interpreted. The question becomes how do you take this data and apply it to creating a more effective fishing strategy?

The most important pieces of information you can obtain from a fish finder are as follows: temperature, structure, depth, and GPS location. The water temperatures that a fish finder provides are a very thin slice of the ecosystem below. They provide you with the top surface temps which can be important to movements, but you may also need a submersible thermometer for a more well-rounded picture. All fish have preferred water temperatures that activate their daily patterning, whether you may find them near shorelines or in deeper striations will depend highly on their tolerance for temperature. For example, muskies prefer cooler temperatures below 75 degrees and are at risk of death when pulled from water with surface temperatures in the 80’s; while fish such as common carp are comfortable in water with surface temperatures well over 80 degrees and Want to add a caption to this image?

Fish finders are also very important for determining the bottom structure of your lake or river. Fish most obviously like areas where they can have access to cover. Fish finders can be great for narrowing large bodies of water into sections with weeds, deep holes, stumps, rock piles, etc. When attached to temperature, structure becomes a quick way of finding the best spot to park your boat. A nice surface temperature of 75 over a bed of deep weeds is a great place to find a large game fish. At this point the depth will come in to play. Depth is very important when associated with structure and temperature. The water temperature will help you locate the comfort zone of your prey while the depth and structure will help you find their favorite haunts. During the common feeding times in the early morning and evening, predatory fish will park in an area with good structure while awaiting a passing group of forage. Finding these spots definitely help increase the chances of netting a goliath.

Lastly, but still an important feature for your fish finder is your GSP locator. Learning how to use GPS locations can help you map bodies of water of any size and shape. Many modern finders come with the ability to leave pin drop locations so that you can find your way back to area that has been productive.

Though fish finders can be overwhelming and provide unimaginable amounts of data, it all comes down to interpretation. Larger fish finders are generally a waste of time if you don’t know what you’re looking at. Start with the basics, temperature, structure, depth and GPS, will help you become a more successful angler.

Steven Paul

Melton Hill Musky Fishing Charter

Melton Hill Musky Guide


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