Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 21

Thread: Fish Finder utility for fresh water lake fishing

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Location
    Sykesville, MD
    Posts
    56

    Default Fish Finder utility for fresh water lake fishing

    I can see where a fish finder would be important for deep water fishing, but in a lake, how often is it really used? I recently watched a video in which the poster indicated that many times, kayak fishermen load their kayaks with all sorts of equipment that is rarely if ever used. He mentioned, that his FF was one of the pieces of equipment that he considered to be non-essential.

    I'll be mainly fishing in lakes and may spend quite a bit of time in shallow waters. If fish finders are good for lakes, are their models that work better in lake environments vs. moving water and/or deep water? Total fish finder newb here.

    Thanks,

    smithmal

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Pasadena, MD
    Posts
    2,605

    Default

    To be honest a fish finder is the least important piece of angling gear of I own and that’s because I predominantly fish shallow waters, even in the Bay and in other larger tidal waters.

    I have a fish finder on my Revo which is my “large water” boat. I use it in tidal rivers and in the Bay.

    I have none on my Ultimate which is my small water boat used in creeks, lakes and ponds.

    However, in fishing shallow water, usually 12 feet and under, and mostly shorelines where the water is only a few feet deep, I rarely see fish on my screen but I catch fish where I saw none. Conversely, in the Severn, I may see fish marks when I passing over 20 to 25 feet of water as I travel from one side of the river to the other, but I carry no tackle to reach them. I'm not going to sit there and vertically jig. I find that boring.

    For my style of fishing, the term fish finder is a misnomer. Instead of finding fish it shows me:

    1. Distance traveled
    2. Speed
    3. Time of day
    4. Depth
    5. Location via Trails and Waypoints

    Data points 1 through 3 are interesting but do nothing to help me catch fish. Data point 4 may help me catch fish by locating variations in the bottom that typically hold fish like a sudden change in depth. And if I’m trolling, trails and waypoints (Data point 5) help me to precisely repeat a recently successful path. But I don’t like to troll. Instead of precisely following a path where I caught a fish, I'm more likely to head to an interesting point of land or some other nearby structure that looks "fishy" to me.

    I think fish finders have a lot more utility for power boaters who travel great distances and fish in deeper waters. I suspect I’m in the minority here but frankly, I could get along very nicely without a fish finder in my kayak given my fishing preferences. There are times I think it’s more trouble than it’s worth to set up, power, and manipulate. But like most things in kayak fishing, you actually have to buy it and use it before you realize you don’t need it. I can add other things to that list too but that’s a topic for another thread.
    Last edited by Mark; 06-20-2017 at 11:18 PM.
    Mark

    Olive Hobie Revo 13
    Hidden Oak Native Ultimate 12

    Author: The Simple Joys of Kayak Fishing (Tips and Tales From an Old Guy in His Plastic Boat)
    Available on Amazon.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Catonsville, MD
    Posts
    103

    Default

    If you are primarily casting along shorelines in lakes and/or rivers to cover you can see, like docks, vegetation, woody debris, etc. then a fish finder is not an essential piece of gear. However, there are times when fish are deeper and finding underwater structure is useful. Bass could be holding deep in the winter, crappie may be on a submerged tree, or catfish may be in an underwater channel. A fish finder can help you identify structure away from the shore when the fish are not shallow and along the shoreline. Finding structure is far more important than being able to see fish on the fish finder. Also, many lakes stratify in the summer and it can be useful know where the thermocline is, and it can usually be seen on a fish finder.

    When trolling for stripers in the Bay, I find a fish finder almost a necessity. When trolling I am primarily targeting underwater structure that cannot be seen, such as drop offs and ledges. It is also helpful to see and keep track of the depths that you are catching fish. I assume if you were to target land-locked stripers, it would be just a useful.

    On top of all of that, I just like seeing whats going on below the surface. The more you know about a body of water you fish, to more effectively you can fish it. But if your goal is to simplify, you can certainly catch fish without one.
    Kevin

    2013 Wilderness Systems Ride 135

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Location
    Sykesville, MD
    Posts
    56

    Default

    Thanks for the responses. I think I'll hold off on a fish finder initially and see how it goes. However, this thread does give me a excellent idea for a new thread....

    smithmal

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    St Mary's County
    Posts
    730

    Default

    My first few outings in my kayak to St Mary's Lake I didn't have a fish finder. Like you I fished shoreline structure or would catch some fish in open water but no idea why. After I got my fish finder my catch rate has gone up 100% and I rarely see fish on it. It's all about locating ledges, channels and other deeper structure. I found one ledge in particular that people just pass right over because it's too close to tempting shore, yet it's produced way more fish for me than the shore ever will. Another section has an old creek channel that is two feet deeper than surrounding flats. If your not on it your not catching fish. I would highly recommend one for freshwater.
    Mike
    Pro Angler 14 "The Grand Wazoo"

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Location
    Sykesville, MD
    Posts
    56

    Default

    Mike,

    You make some really excellent points there. Is there a primer or video somewhere that provides really in depth instruction on how to read shoreline/underwater structures on fish finders as it relates to catching fish. My novice experience with fish finders is looking for dots on a screen and saying "there's the fish" and casting which usually leads to not catching any fish. Also, is there a fish finder you reccomend that functions well in communicating underwater structures to the user without "breaking the bank?"

    Thanks,

    smithmal

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Location
    Baltimore, MD
    Posts
    98

    Default

    I would check youtube for instructional videos. Basically, all you're looking for is changes in depth/pieces of structure, any structural abnormality can hold fish. Some examples include a steep dropoff into deeper water, a hole that's deeper than the surrounding area, a grass mat, rock pile, etc. I have the Garmin Striker 4, and the picture quality is great for $120, plus it gives you the ability to mark spots and routes if you find a good piece of structure that you'd like to return to. There are a few other depth finders in the $100 range that would work well too, it just comes down to personal preference.
    Joe

    2016 Vibe Sea Ghost 130

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Pasadena, MD
    Posts
    2,605

    Default

    One of the things about kayak fishing that limits the value of fish finders in my opinion is that basically we fish shallow water and most of us routinely fish familiar waters over a limited range.

    When I first got my unit it did indeed help me to recognize structural variations under the waters I regularly fished. In fact, it merely confirmed why I was I was catching fish in those areas before I got my fish finder! I certainly don’t need the finder now to return to those areas. And I cannot say that it has significantly helped me find new areas to fish in my accustomed waters.

    In my opinion, the best fish finders are right in front of our eyes but not attached to our gunnels.

    Some are supplied by nature: Working birds and the landscape itself, such as downed trees, points and coves.

    Manmade structure such as riprap, bridge pilings, docks, etc. provide breaks in the current and/or a literal grocery store for predatory fish to find food.

    Seams in the current, where fast water meets slower water -- a conveyor belt of food for feeding fish.

    Oyster bars, many conveniently marked with buoys by the DNR.

    Eddies.

    Shade.

    I think learning to recognize the possibilities of the above through experience will contribute to your catch totals perhaps more than gazing at the electronics you have mounted on you kayak. However, I do believe electronics can be invaluable in catching fish – channel 68 on a VHF radio. The radio chatter of your buddies on the water will give you real-time, infallible information of where the fish are and what they are biting.
    Mark

    Olive Hobie Revo 13
    Hidden Oak Native Ultimate 12

    Author: The Simple Joys of Kayak Fishing (Tips and Tales From an Old Guy in His Plastic Boat)
    Available on Amazon.com

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Location
    Sykesville, MD
    Posts
    56

    Default

    What's the deal with the lake maps that you can DL to your FF? Are they worth it.?

    smitmal

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Southern Maryland- Charles County
    Posts
    3,337

    Default

    I have found the side imaging feature of the Hummingbird 798 unit to be very helpful in shallow water- especially fishing flats with a surging tide washing across them..a shallow depression in a flat is "structure" that can hold big fish...casting to these depressions can be productive...and if you have "tuned" your unit to show 50 feet to each side you know just how far to cast...and that white streak you see on the screen in three FOW...that is a fish...
    Last edited by ronaultmtd; 06-23-2017 at 08:16 AM.
    "Lady Luck" 2016 Red Hibiscus Outback
    "Ugly Duckling" 2010 Olive Hobie Outback
    "Wet Dream" 2011 yellow Ocean Prowler 13

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •