As a young angler growing up and even into most of my career as a tournament angler I never made the leap into the world of fishing electronics. I spent years fishing only what I could see without ever knowing exactly what I was paddling over. By using maps and search baits I was often times able to get a fuzzy picture of what was below and for quite some time that was good enough for me. The issue causing me to never diverge into the world of fishfinders surprisingly was not with my fishing performance. In fact I was fortunate enough to manage two consecutive Angler of the Year titles in my local tournament trail. That alone in my opinion can also attest to the fact that an angler can be competitive without any electronics. The reason it took me such a long time to buy a fishfinder was that I personally never felt the need or the urge to shell out a large amount of money for one.
I continued to somewhat disregard electronics up until the beginning of this year where I made the great decision of upgrading my main tournament kayak to the 2019 Coosa FD. I was in my garage admiring my new fishing machine and thinking about the new competitive edge the flex drive would give me when I came to a realization. I was looking at some big tournaments with stiff competition in the near future and I was going to need every advantage that I could get. In that random moment I decided that I was going to get a fancy new fishfinder to put on my fancy new Jackson Kayak. The next day, that’s what I set out and did.
I rigged up my new lowrance using a homemade transducer arm plus some miscellaneous mounts and set off to a nearby lake to figure out how everything works. Once I got all the settings dialed in it was like I was looking at a whole new lake. After a brief period of me pedaling around eyes glued to my screen I finally settled on, what I call, an offshore spot in about 20 feet of water and what I assumed to be bait suspended about 9 feet down. That day it was in the mid to low 40’s and the water temperature, thanks to my new fishfinder, was a cool 39 degrees. With all this in mind I sent a ned rig flying out over the water and I counted it down to the bait ball. As the bait fell I felt the shad bumping my line. Although this happens all the time for some people, the satisfaction was awesome being able to find a school of baitfish and actually be able to cast into it the first time using a graph.
The next trip out I came with some new tricks. The day before I went to the tackle shop and bought some blade baits. At this point I had never caught a single fish on a blade bait in my life. With the graph I quickly located a suspended ball of shad with some promising larger marks in the vicinity. I lined up my cast using the gps and sent the blade bait for a swim. The water was still frigid so I worked the bait painfully slow. I lifted it up only a foot or so and then let it flutter back down. While I was still practicing working the blade bait I felt a dull but heavy weight on the end of my line. I start to reel a little harder and feel the weak headshakes of a small fish. Sure enough it was a small half frozen bass! I was pretty excited. I kept casting into that school for another few minutes before I felt that familiar weight on my line. I netted the 16 inch fish without incident. One of the perks with cold water is that the fish won’t jump.
As I continued to fish around the cove that I was In I noticed that over in the shallow flat by the back of the cove there were large fish sitting right on the bottom. I knew they were likely carp or catfish but my curiosity got the best of me and I found myself over there slinging the blade bait. After a while with no bites I was about to give up when I saw a big mark on my graph. For whatever reason I dropped my bait straight down and watched it fall to the fish I felt a weight and fought up the fish I had just watched on my fish finder. That was an awesome experience and a nice fish that I would have never enjoyed without a fish finder. Through the rest of the winter I periodically went back to that lake and put my graph and blade bait to work. After a while I became very familiar with reading a graph and I even managed to land a few nice fish while I was at it. Finally getting a fish finder after fishing for years without one really opened up a lot of doors in terms of ways that I could now approach a lake. After owning one I personally believe that a fishfinder does belong on a kayak and that any angler that wants to better themselves should invest the time and money on a fishfinder and its operation.
Submitted by Aiden Darlington