Thursday, January 18, 2018

Using Side Scan to put more and better fish in the boat

Understanding the benefits of Side Scan can be invaluable to any fisherman whether looking for structure, fish or bait. Today I am going to show a couple of screen shots concentrating on locating and zoning in on fish exclusively. In these pics I am only showing a side scan screen shot without any maps or sonar screens.

 When you look at this screen shot the boat is currently at the top center of the page just under the 0. I am in a 100 foot scale which means I can see out to the right and left sides of the boat 100 feet. Everything below the boat is history, the distance behind the boat is relative to how fast I was going. I was going 3/4 mph in this shot so at the bottom of the page you are seeing what could have been as much as 80 to 100 yards behind me. Assuming the total distance from top to bottom is 100 yards you can see halfway through the pic [50 yards back] off to the right of the boat 70 to 100 feet are the beginnings of a school of Stripers. If I was on a larger scale I may have seen that school go out much further. Without side scan I would have never know that there were fish that close to me. What I do when I see this is touch my screen where the fish are and establish a waypoint which puts it on my map but also tells me the distance I need to go to get back to that spot. Off to the left of the boat between 60 to 100 feet is a dark blue area which is the channel. The reason it is dark is that it drops off deeper that the pings from the transducer traveling sideways can pick up. The pings are similar to shining a flashlight out to the side of the boat. Where the bottom drops off drastically the pings or light cannot pick it up because they travel in a straight line. In Striper fishing schools often use the channel as a highway but most often they keep a relative distance from it paralleling it. Here they are about 100 feet from it heading down the lake. Once I get over the school I try to determine which direction they are going keeping my boat about that far off the channel to stay on the school.  At the top of the page 25 feet to the left is a small school of Gizzards.

 In this shot at the bottom of the page I noticed fish off to the right of the boat continuing out to the channel. These showed up as small white dots with a few shadows in them. As I continued up the page more isolated small dots came into view on the left. Eventually I had them on both sides of the boat towards the top part of the page. These all were small Giz, white perch and immature Stripers. 

 Here I am around small Stripers but primarily on the left side of the boat. The darker marks beyond the fish are shadows of the individual larger fish in the group. When looking at this page remember the boat is at the 0 line. The dark blue is the water under the boat, here it is 32.2 feet deep. Then the lighter blue is the return from the bottom up towards the surface right and left of the boat.

 This screen shot shows me going over a couple Stripers that were only right under the boat off a few feet to the right. You can see their shadows further to the right of the fish.

 In this pic side scan is showing hard bottom [lighter and brighter blue] with softer bottoms [medium blue] interlaced over the bottom of the lake. Notice the fish are relating to the softer bottoms. By recognizing this I can focus on pattering schools and following them over the softer bottoms that particular day.

Many people say side scan doesn't do them any good in shallow water. In this screen shot I was on a 60 foot scale because I was working 10 foot flats. Off to the left of the boat I noticed a couple of fish [white lines] with shadows behind them. My second and third planner boards were hooked up when I snapped this shot. Side scan is also invaluable in locating bait in shallow water.

Hopefully you may have a better understanding of deciphering what you are seeing on your side scan. These pics were only of fish, side scan is awesome for locating structure as well. I will show how important side scan is in locating structure at a later date. I will be at the Fishing Expo this weekend in the electronics portion of the Greentop booth. Stop by if you have any questions about your unit or if you are interested in seeing this on your boat this year. Good electronics and understanding them can make your trips much more productive and rewarding.
Lowrance and Simrad

1 comment:

Rob said...

This is the post I've been waiting for. I would like to know what side scan looks like when up on plane. Thank you Jim!