ArticleFishingOffshoreOffshore-How-To's

Virtual Fish Finding

Modern navigation and fish finding suites have come a long way, so much so that today’s multifunction displays coupled with the latest electronic charts from Nobeltec, C-Map and Navionics provide users with crisp, three-dimensional views of bottom topography. While the benefits of seeing the ocean floor in a lifelike 3D format are many, utilizing such technology is perhaps most beneficial for deep water bottom fishermen looking to save time and money by plugging in deep drop numbers long before deploying bait to likely depths.

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Photo: doughertyphotos.com

I’m sure I have said it before, but I would rather leave the inlet in my wake and point the bow straight for a sharp pinnacle or distinct depression well over the horizon than spend precious time investigating the area once on scene. Following my lead is especially important along the Gulf Coast where bottom fishermen traverse many miles of featureless ocean to reach fertile live bottom like the famed Middle Grounds. If you don’t already have a secret black book loaded with proven GPS coordinates, wouldn’t it be nice to have a couple dozen likely waypoints plugged in before you venture out into the unknown?

By spending the time to do this legwork in advance, my deep drop days are spent fishing and not searching.

Virtual fish finding is also vital when fishing distant Bahamian waters where visiting anglers only spend limited amounts of time. For newcomers, it’s not unheard of to head to a popular destination like West End, Grand Bahama, and have to spend an entire day getting dialed in. I head to a new area and we’re deep dropping on potential honey-holes in minutes…you do the math.

For me, confidence comes with having a series of ready-to-fish deep drop spots, plugged in at various depths and distances from port, as different species tend to prefer a particular depth of water. And once the spots are plugged in, they are stored in my list of waypoints forever. By utilizing the information that is available to me well in advance of any trip to any locale, I zero in on likely structure coupled with optimal bottom composition, which is also revealed on the latest electronic charts. Of course, once on scene I keep one eye glued to the sounder and quickly make minor adjustments by simply tapping the screen to add additional waypoints or by touching a waypoint and dragging it under my boat icon when the top of a pinnacle or start of a depression is identified on the sounder. After a little practice, the advantage of locating and plugging in likely spots long before tossing the dock lines will be crystal clear.

For helmsmen still using dated technology, imagine for a moment having the ability to identify gently sloping plateaus coupled with a muddy terrain where prized golden tilefish reside. Or how about putting your finger on high profile seamounts and cavernous ledges where queen snapper and mystic grouper prefer to feed, and doing it all right from the comfort of your own dock. The technology is here and the time to utilize it is now.

Understand that in order to capitalize on these benefits you need a multifunction display with 3D capabilities, so maybe this column will encourage you to take the plunge if an upgrade is something that you have been considering. While Raymarine, Simrad, Humminbrid and Garmin produce innovative technology with 3D capabilities, I’m a Furuno guy through and through and my latest NavNet TZtouch network provides intuitive features and fish-catching benefits I never thought possible.

By shifting into 3D mode with a two-finger swipe across the screen, I simply scroll to the area I want to fish and start exploring. By varying orientation with my fingertips I can investigate likely hills and holes from every angle. To take it a step further, I initiate Depth Overlay and instantly identify drastic depth changes where one color transitions to the next. One indication of a potential hot spot is a stretch of bottom where the contour lines are spaced very close together. This is the type of spot you want to inspect closely.

Once I’m convinced I’ve found pay dirt I create a waypoint by simply tapping on the screen directly on the leading edge of the spot. By spending the time to do this legwork in advance, my deep drop days are spent fishing and not searching. Not every single prediction pays off and ultimately ends up looking like what I thought it would, but by having a variety of potentially rewarding waypoints dialed in there is always somewhere to fish and something to catch. Of course, after fishing the area in real-time I come back and eliminate the duds and label the productive waypoints with additional data including specific icons for various fish species, best time of year, etc.

Descendants from the Loran-C age may believe using such state of the art technology is cheating and takes the fun out of fishing. I say you don’t know what you’re missing my friends…I’m having a ball! It’s 2015 and I encourage you to use every modern tool at your disposal to make each one of your fishing trips as safe and successful as possible.

How to Clean a Touch Screen MFD

With moisture, grime and other buildup, it’s inevitable that your touch screen MFD will need some cleaning. Turn off your device and utilize a gentle microfiber cloth, preferably the one supplied with your unit designed to pick up dirt and grime without scratching the screen. Wipe the display in small circles from the center out to the edges. Do not use abrasive paper towels or household glass cleaner. If you have stubborn grime that can’t be removed, lightly moisten the cloth with a splash of distilled water. Do not splash water directly on the screen. To wash the microfiber cloth, gently scrub in warm, soapy water, which opens the fibers and releases built up grime. Do not wipe the screen again until the microfiber cloth is thoroughly dry.

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