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Another of my favorite sources besides Iovino's book is some videos on DVD from Doc Samson at http://www.hightechfishing.com I have the last 3 videos, and look forward to the next which will be underwater camera views keyed to sonar screen shots with descriptions. Doc is not a great speaker, just a plain spoken tournament angler (retired medical doctor) that knows his stuff. On that website are several free lessons about sonar and GPS. You need Iovino's book to learn about finesse fishing, especially in deep western reservoirs.

Jim
 

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thank you guys for the usueful info. :thumbup01:
I plan on getting Dons book the first chance I get. Ive got a nice unit now but its useless if i dont know how to use it to its fullest capacity.
 

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20 second waypoint: When you punch WPT on the head unit face it begins taking GPS positions. Most folks close it in a second or two. A drop-down message allows some options. One is "Average Positions". I select that and let it take a number of positions. The best average position is calculated using the strongest satellite signals. That gets accuracy way closer than the usual 3 meters. 30 seconds often gets within 5 feet of actual position. You can test that by setting up over a land survey monument, calling a state or city surveyor office for the coordinates of it. A 20 second waypoint is close enough. If it's windy it's a little hard to hold the boat in one position long enough for a 20 second averaged position, so I take whatever I can before moving off target.

While taking the positions take time to punch in a peculiar name for the spot. You have to scroll through the alphabet and numbers 0-9 for each character. Use the arrow keys to move to the next character. I plan on writing up an article about this, but for now I recommend making up a naming system. I might name a waypoint "06smr30". That stands for 6' depth during spawn on March 30. Other bass seasons would be p for pre spawn, ps for post spawn, s for summer, f for fall, w for winter. All waypoints made on lake Ouachita are kept in a computer folder named Lake Ouachita. Later I can cut out some waypoint files pertaining to the spawn season only and load only those into the boat unit.

I have many routes named and stored also. One is a night route just for navigating quickly from one end of the lake to the other, dodging hazard areas. There are sub routes coming off that one that will take me directly to ramps or marinas. There are several milk run routes based on bass season. Each route links favorite waypoints. I like to remove all waypoints and routes from the head unit and only load what I need for the period.

Jim
 

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We just had my retirement party at 3:30 until a while ago. I'm taking my time going out on patrol. That's right now. See ya'll later (again).

Jim
 

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BrittSC said:
Jim, please help my ignorance. What is a 20 second way point?

Thanks
Britt
Thats oldtimers talk for 2nd way point. When you are moving along at walking speed (slow) and you pass over something of interest, the signal return is already behind the boat, a history of where you were a few seconds ago. You mark a way point and turn around and pass back over that same interesting signal display (without running over your first marker) and mark a second way point. The actual exact target is between the 2 way points.
When we say 20 degree cone angle, think of a tall witches hat, pointed at the tip top and larger diameter at the hat rim where the head is. The 20 degree cone is a pin point size at the transducer where the signal originates and get larger in diameter the further the signal travels, about 1 foot in diameter for each 3 feet of water depth. If the bottom is 20 feet deep the diameter of the sonar cone is a little less than 7 feet in diameter. If the bass are suspended in 15 feet of water the sonar signal returns everything within a 5 foot diameter, the deeper the water gets and the deeper the signal returns, the larger the diameter the targets are in. It's like looking at the face of a clock, in the center where the hands are attached would be the center of the sonar signal. If the clock had a 5 foot diameter face the sonar signal will show all the numbers on the outside edges from 12 o'clock, 3 o'clock, 6 o'clock and 9 o'clock as targets within cone as if they where at the center. Targets on the outside edge of signal cone diameter, with a digital sonar, look the same on the display screen as targets in the center. This can be important when trying to find individual fish, you see the signal represent a fish and the fish could be anywhere within the signal return diameter area. You are in the area and need to fish to determine exactly where the fish are.
Tom
 

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So Tom, are you saying that if I am trolling around an area and see something interesting on my sonar that I want to mark with a Waypoint I should make 1 way point and then turn around to go over t he mark again and make a second way point and chances are what I actually was trying to mark will lay between those two waypoints?


And Jim, are you saying that the longer we give the system to generate the waypoint, the more accurate it will be in the long run?
 

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On the first question, the answer is no. In both shots the fish could end up in the edge of the cone and still not where you think it is, or the fish could move away before you circle back. The idea is to get back to the first sighting as close as reasonable. If the fish is still there it's image will likely be inside the cone on the second pass and you will be close enough to it. I don't like messing around too much, passing over the same fish more than once. I'd rather mark the outer perimeter of where I think it or a school is. What Tom was describing is outlining a school area. You would have to approach a single fish from maybe 8 directions to figure out whether some or all the shots got the target in the cone's center. There still would be no guarantee the fish/school isn't moving along while doing that. What he wrote about is a valuable lesson in determining whether more than one fish is present, how wide and long a suspended school is.

There is a way to know how close you have a fish to the center of the cone, where the most accurate position would be had. When fish are on the cone's edge they don't make good arches. They might have a long tail and a hump with a stubby tail the other end of the fish arch. Sometimes they make a slant like this /. If both ends of the arch are equally long and you have a strong mid hump, it's closer to the center of the cone, maybe directly under the transducer.

A longer time taking repeated coordinates, while in position averaging mode, will first create a cluster of waypoints around the target, then the software averages them into one. That takes out really bad coordinates too far away from the averaged point. A momentary poor satellite signal or dropped satellite can cause very bad coordinates, the main reason for letting it average many points. All that is assuming you are able to hold the boat over a target seen on sonar. Keep in mind the target might be in in the edge of the cone, so learn to evaluate fish arch quality.

Jim
 

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There is a lot of talk about seeing fish and fish arches on the screen, but should we pay that much attention to them or should we be more concerned with structure and bottom content. I guess I learned somewhere, some time ago, not to pay the fish, on the screen, any attention at all. Am I wrong for thinking that way and should I start to give the arches the respect they deserve?
 

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An alternative to finding fish on that structure/cover by studying the sonar screen is to use an Aqua View :grin:

Why fish a spot with no signs of fish there? I at least must see a ball of baitfish, then assume bass might be there because of a combination of habitat features plus forage. Seeing fish arches is icing on the cake.

Jim
 

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The first high quality sonar units were paper graphs like Lowrance X15. The fish were banana shaped arcs. With the gray line feature you could determine the airbladder size of a fish, the grey color return signal and where the fish was in the signal cone by the shape of the arc. Arcs that were symmetrical with a grey center and equal tapered ends met the fish was in the center of the sign. Arcs with only a tail or head end that looked like commas instead of bananas, met the fish was at the edges of the cone. Arcs that were not arcs but straight lines without grey lines met the fish was moving thru the cone quickly. Bait that was tightly bunched looked like a cloud with a grey center. It is impossible to tell carp from bass looking at a arc on the sonar screen, however you can tell the difference between fast moving fish with little air bladders like trout form bass from the grey line returns. Today the color sonar units have incorporated the grey color as red for example. Therefor arcs with red have large airbladders that indicate bass or carp for example, similar to the old paper graph. I look for red signal returns to indicate fish with air bladders within the cover or structure signal returns.
Tom
 

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I learned a ton on this from Jim's earlier post in electronics. Between that and what has been posted in this thread, I personally feel more confident in using my sonar. Another "hats off" to all the guys who post instructional info here :clap:
 

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We're all too happy to spread the information around here. Glad it makes sense to you.

Knowing all you can about how various species of fish behave helps sort out sonar information. There's a trick that sometimes separates a carp from a bass. Carp tend to keep on the move, covering large routes. They like to travel, looking for fish eggs and other stuff bass don't bother with. Staying out of typical carp hunting grounds helps. Since bass tend to be lazier, if a nice red humped arch shows up and stays put, it's more likely a bass. If you see evidence of a fish rising unrealistically from deep water and you have trout there, it's probably a trout that can gulp air out, unlike a bass. I've been on western lakes that when stopped we saw a line rising to us that resembles what a torpedo might look like, aimed right at the boat, coming straight up or at a sharp angle much faster than an air bubble can rise.

So. another hint for determining how to fish the fish you see on sonar is to stop right over an arch. Remember you can only see a fish arch with the boat moving at troll speed. If it turns into a growing line, it's on the move. Sometimes bass chasing bream will draw out pretzel shapes, moving in and out of the sound cone, re-entering from different angles. You can only see that with the boat stationary. So if you decide the fish are chasing and very active, you have clues as to what type of lure to use and about what depth. if the lines stay about 8-12 feet down then you would choose a lure designed to get down there (8-12') and stay in that zone.

If when stopping the arch turns to nothing but maybe a dark spot the bass is probably inactive. If you saw the arch on the bottom and don't have a line indicating the bass scrammed off, fish it with a bottom hugging lure like a jig or long-billed crankbait that will get that deep. If you run over the fish again to try seeing the arch you are likely to spook it. Spot the arch, move off a distance, then fish it. I think it's much better to assume it's still around where the sonar picked it up unless you see the lines drawing. If the line draws and disappears, the bass has left. If the lines keep drawing the bass are under you chasing and oblivious to your presence.

Jim
 

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Just a few notes on sonar returns that look like fish, we call arches "marks'. When you are looking at your sonar surveying the area, we call this "metering".
Where I fish active bass tend to hold within a few feet of structure or cover, unless feeding on suspended shad schools. For example if I'm metering a major point and mark some fish, how do I know they are bass? First thing I did in the marina before leaving was to meter and determine what depth bass or bait were holding there. If the marks are close to the structure, in this scenario the point structure, at the same depth as in the marina, the probability that the marks are active bass is very high. I know what depth they are using and where they are in reference to the point. The next step is to fish that point.
Depending on several factors you may or may not meter marks. If the depth is less than 15 feet for example, the sonar foot print is less than a 5 foot wide path as you move along slowly, so the chances of driving over active bass is low. You will meter the stationary targets like cover and structure plus larger marks like bait fish schools. If you see interesting sonar returns at the proper depth that indicate bass should be in the area, stop and fish, even if you didn't meter any marks.
Tom
 

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Setting up your transducer may not seem too important , however it is critical to know where the signal foot print is in relationship to your position in the boat.
Transom mounted or through hall transducers should be mounted on a flat surface that is level to the water surface and free from air bubbles. If the transducer is mounted on an angled surface, it will point off to one side. Think of holding a spot light on a target, than slightly angling the light to one side and the spot moves, leaving the first lite area dark. If you believe the sonar area is directly under the boat and the transducer is pointed off to one side, you may miss interprate the sonar returns. This is very important in deeper water or metering sharp drop offs or points. Same thing is true for trolling motors, the transducer should be parallel and perpendicular to the trolling motor shaft. If you angle the trolling motor shaft forward, the sonar return will also point forward at a angle and the sonar return will be in front of your bow position. So it is important to keep the trolling motor shaft at 90 degrees from the water so the transducer will be level and the sonar signals under the bow position, not forward, backward or off to one side or the other, when using your sonar in deep water. It is also important to keep the transducer cable in back of the transducer to prevent bubbles from entering the sonar signals. If the cable is in front of the transducer, bubbles tend to stream across the transducer face and shown as false signal returns or bait fish.
Tom
 

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Jim or Tom,I have an Eagle 480 mounted on the bow, I'm trying to learn how to dropshot deep water. I assume this is a pure vertical presentation, I'm having trouble seeing my bait falling or sitting on the bottom. My question is,do I need a different unit? Is my unit adjustable enough to do this? I'm working with chart speed & more sensitivity, but I'm just not happy with the results. HELP!!
Rodney
 

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The Eagle 480 is a B&W 480 X 480 pixel unit and should have enough power to adjust the gain to reflect a signal off the weight. You need to set the unit on manual and I'm not familiar with the Eagle to tell you how to do that, although it is a Lowrance unit basically. So go to your menu and enable both the manual sensitivity and depth range settings. Set the sensitivity to 90% and the lower depth range to 5 feet below the bottom depth you are fishing and the upper range to 20 feet above the lower depth setting; ie the bottom is at 30 feet the lower setting is 35 feet the upper setting is 15 feet, this would be the zone you expect to see drop shot fish activity. Now tie on the structure spoon and lower it to the bottom under the transducer and rip it off the bottom and let it flutter back down. You should see a zig zag line created by the spoon. If not increase the sensitivity (gain) to 95% or until you start to see background clutter and repeat the spoon lift until you can see the zig zag spoon line, Now this is the setting that should work for your drop shot rig, so lower it to the bottom under the transducer and you should be able to see it drop through the 20 foot zone. If this doesn't work, reduce the lower and upper limit to a 15 foot zone.
Now that yon have your unit set and know you can see the drop shot weight. The next step is go meter some fish that are on or near the bottom on structure. Make the depth range settings needed and try dropping directly onto the targets. I use a buoy off about 20 feet to one side to use as a reference to stay on top of the bass. Good luck and let us know how this works for you.
Tom
 
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