Up Your Game

by: Dan Carns

There are a whole bunch of things that you can do to increase your catch rate while you’re fishing such as learning how to tie better knots, studying the tides and how they affect fish feeding behavior or getting better at using artificial baits. One thing that can dramatically change the way you fish is to add a fish finder to the mix. I’ve always been a fairly low-tech kind of kayak angler and I like the challenge of going to a place over and over again to really understand water depth and contour below the waterline. Using my paddle and bottom fishing gear to determine depth is really the only way to see the bottom but recently I’ve added a Garmin Striker 7SV to my arsenal and now I can see depth instantly.

All fish use water depth to their advantage. Depending on the time of year some species can only be found at certain depths while others will move in and out of deep to shallow water. Consider Spotted Trout as an example: you’ve just launched your kayak and the water is only about two feet deep, but you know you’ve caught quality fish like snook and redfish in this shallow water. There is nothing there today, so you continue on and suddenly you’re in 3-5 feet of water and the trout bite is on. These fish have a preferential zone for feeding and without a depth finder you must guess where they are. I love the challenge of spending time getting to know a place. Maybe it’s a brand-new location and your time is limited so having the ability to instantly read water depth can be a huge advantage.

It takes a little practice to be able to “read” what a fish looks like on a fish finder but once you’ve figured it out it’s like magic. I returned to a pond that I’ve fished for years and didn’t realize that there was a twenty-five-foot hole off the edge of this area that was always productive. As I came off the bank, this deep ledge appeared, I let a paddle tail bait slide off the edge into multiple fish signatures on the screen and caught the biggest largemouth bass I’d ever seen in this pond!

Once you’ve decided to add electronics to you kayak there is a crazy array of options. You can choose from a simple handheld unit with an external transducer to a side scan sonar with Live Scope with a hull mounted transducer. Most of us are going to fall somewhere in between for a reasonable amount of money. I like the Garmin Striker Vivid 7SV setup because it’s simple to use and gathers all the data I need plus mapping. Adding electronics to your kayak should result in higher catch rates! It’s a Wild World-Get Out There!