out those Dam Fish
safe in the knowledge that there are plenty of fish in our freshwater
lakes is not a guarantee of finding and catching them. While we
can readily see what is above the water there is no way of knowing
what is under the water. Depth sounders, echo sounders, fish finders,
call them what you like, are basically a sonar system that sends
out high frequency radio signals that hit the bottom and other
objects and bounce back to the unit which are then put on a screen.
They are a vital part of successful impoundment fishing. By using
these electronic aids, anglers can firstly know how deep the water
is and then look for suitable fish holding structure and finally
find fish themselves.
Many sounders have fish ID systems that will put fish symbols
on the screen to represent fish. While this makes the system easy
to use, many objects such as weed and thermoclines can show up
as fish or "phantoms". A far better way to find fish
is to turn the fish ID setting off and use raw sonar instead.
In raw sonar, fish will show up as arches or slashes on the screen
with schools of baitfish showing up as large balls, thus eliminating
the phantoms. (See picture)
Sounders are readily available at tackle stores and marine outlets.
They can cost as little as a couple of hundred dollars to over
a thousand dollars. A general rule of thumb is you get what you
pay for. One of the main things to look for in any sounder is
the vertical pixel (small dots that make up the screen) count.
The more pixels on the screen, the more detailed information can
be given. A high pixel count can mean the difference between finding
fish and not.
While the cost of a sounder may scare many away from purchasing
one, they are an investment that should last for many years with
a little care.