Three Key Things Your Depth Sounder Does for You
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Three Key Things Your Depth Sounder Does for You

There was a time when I thought that depth sounders were cheating.  How could someone just attach this little mechanism onto their boat, be able to see the whole underwater world and still call it fair game?  This all changed when I broke down and purchased a Humminbird Fishin’ Buddy 120 (which I still use to this day!).

Why have I not upgraded? Because I don’t quite feel the need yet!  There are so many great sounders on the market now that undoubtedly offer much more than the one I am using, but as long as I have the following three things I feel I can execute accordingly from there.  The only three things (in my opinion) your sounder needs to do are, in order of importance, as follows:

Depth – This is an obvious one, as your depth sounder should be able to give you a fair reading of how much water you’re sitting in.  Sometimes you will be in the dead middle of the lake, but sitting on a shoal or sunken island that is only 17′ deep.  Other times, you will be right next to shore and sitting in over 20 feet of water.

If the screen looks like this and you are not getting bit, change flies until you find the one they want!

Water Temperature – Though you are only reading the surface temp, having the ability to get a water temperature reading will give you a slight idea of what is going on.  If I am on a lake during the springtime, with surface temps anywhere from 52 to 63 or so, I am expecting it to be go time!

Fish – Obviously being able to read what’s swimming below you is great!  Sometimes fish will be in 25 feet of water but suspending themselves 10 feet off of the bottom.  This is very typical when water begins to warm up and fish are seeking chironomid emergences is deeper water, and watch as the day progresses how fish will sometimes follow the hatch up the water column.

Anchored in 21, set at a mere 11 feet down!

Why did I put fish last on the list?  Typically if I am sitting overtop of hatching bugs, in a water temperature that I feel confident with, I am sure that I will have fish below me whether I mark them right away or not.  When you are sitting in shallower (12 feet or less) water, the radius that your sounder is covering is not necessarily all that large.  Don’t get discouraged if you’re not marking a pile of fish, a friend and I once landed over 60 fish in a chironomid frenzy and only had one fish on the sounder all day.

Best of luck in your fall Stillwater ventures, one of the most productive times of the season is upon us!

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