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Fish Finders: Then and Now

This column first appeared in our June 2019 Issue Volume 18 Edition 4 of InTheBite The Professionals Sportfishing Magazine.

A lot has changed since I got into the business of fishing. Electronics have become the most important tool you can have on board your boat. When considering all of the abilities of modern electronics, I sometimes think of back in the day if we had a Loran and a Raytheon 735A fathometer, and a booster on our CB radio, we had it going on. The fathometer was a paper graph machine that scrolled and was marked by a stylus needle. The stylus drawing showed the contour of the bottom and any fish or bait as it scrolled. Actually, it was a pretty amazing machine at the time. Our Loran was operated using microwave towers that transmitted signals from shore, so your range was limited and bad weather decreased its accuracy. When we would take our boat to Mexico or the Bahamas, or other faraway places, you could forget it because our Loran was useless. It was all navigating by charts, parallel rules and dividers. Today that all changed. You can take a boat anywhere now and never be out of touch. You can even see at night! Our satellite systems and technology are pinpoint accurate. That brings me to the latest and greatest game changing fish finder the new Furuno Omni Scanner. This is a full color scanner. It scans 360 degrees in 0.54 seconds. Think about that! That is almost two full 360-degree scans per second. This scanner is a game changer when it comes to finding fish, bait, or structure. With this tool fishermen can actually identify the species of fish under the boat. They are able to mark and track a single fish, enabling the anglers to present a bait directly to the targeted fish. This scanner has become so popular here in the Northern Gulf that I know of at least a dozen boats that had them installed during the off season previously only a hand full of boats had them. The sonar takes the guess work out of the question, Is there any fish or bait or structure around the boat? It reads out several hundred yards from the boat. For instance, you might be heading south but you see something on your sonar screen that is 300 yards to the west. So, you go over there and you get covered up. The point is, you would never have made the turn to the west without the sonar. It is truly a game changer as far as finding and tracking fish. These scanners are expensive with a typical price tag of between 100k and 150k depending on the installation. But if you are throwing down 20k, 40k or 60k a weekend in tournaments, it a no brainer.  A lot of boats without the scanner are having second thoughts about betting against the sonar boats.  You cant hardly blame them. Also, there is nothing automatic about this machine. Like anything else, you have to learn how to use it. When using it properly you are constantly panning in and out, up and down your head is literally in the sonar all the time. It takes a lot of time to get dialed in on this machine. But once you do get it dialed in, you wont want to go fishing without it. Technology is an amazing thing. You need it now days to stay in the game.   That my two-minute warning. Fraz