This may be our favorite time of year. With kids back in school, our mid-week business slows down, which our crew takes full advantage of to fish and dive. All boats are blocked off one day each week to run a crew fun day. We do this, not only to decompress from a busy season but, also, to add new spots to our waypoint list. One thing all fishermen know is that you can never have too many waypoints.
We run our Raymarine Axiom Pro MFDs with sonar switched to the 200 kHz frequency. This helps us locate hard limestone bottom–like striking oil in sand for fishermen. The 200 kHz frequency has a better resolution than the low frequencies and does a better job penetrating the bottom to differentiate limestone from rock. You can see in this screen shot we took, while running at speed one day, the short hard returns from the normal sandy bottom. You can also see a little fish show above it, as well. We are able to freeze and rewind our sonar readings to accurately place waypoints exactly where the return occurred. Wherever you find hard bottom, quality fish will usually follow. Throughout the Spring and Summer, our captains stare at our bottom machine app placing waypoints at anything that looks interesting. We use crew days to explore these question marks, as we label them on our chart page. The only way to continue to be successful is by adding new spots to the playbook. This is the same advice we give our recreational boater friends who own their own boats.
Once on the spot in question, drop four or five lines down with different baits and run a drift or two. If you catch grunts or grouper, you know you have found something to further investigate. If you end up with sand perch, pin fish or tom tates, then delete it and move on to the next one. When we get a hit, we send a few divers down to take a good look, then map out how we may want to set up the boat when we come back and fish it with clients in the future. The nice thing about ledges and hard limestone patches in the Gulf is that they are rarely alone. When you find one, you can locate others by simply taking the time to troll the area staring at your bottom machine.
Waypoints come and go with the ever-shifting sands from storms and fronts. Combined with so many new boats being purchased during the pandemic, the pressure on our fishery is higher than in the past decade. To consistently be able to produce when you leave the dock, you need as many spots to fish as feasible, and this is the best way we have found to increase our waypoint list while indulging in our passions.