Category Archives: Fishing Tips

SAS Planet – Meters to Feet

In my last blog I showed you a software program I used on how I manage my waypoints and allows me to see where they are along with the contour lines on a lake map. But as you may have noticed the contour lines were listed in “Meters” instead of feet. But you are able to change it to feet if you prefer to use them instead. You will need to be a little computer savvy to make this change but you should be able to do it by following the following steps.

First thing is to make sure the SAS Planet program is closed. Now you will need to find the “Folder” where you installed the program.

Next, we need to “Open” the folder by double clicking on the folder. After you have the folder open you will now need to open the next folder. This will be labeled as “Maps” double click on this folder.

The next folder we need to open is the”_water”” folder. Move your mouse over the folder and double click to open the folder.


Then next folder that we need tot open is the “SAS.plus.maps” folder. Double click on this folder to open it.

Now we need to open the “navionics.layer.zmp” folder to make the changes required to change the meters to feet settings.


Now inside this folder you will find a file by the name of “GetUrlScript.txt” this is the text file we need to edit to change the program from “Meters” to “Feet”. Double click on the file and it will open in the Windows “Notepad” program. 

Look at the line I have high-lighted and you will see a red circle with a number “1” in it. To make the change all we have to do is change the “1” to a “2”.

After you edit the number all we need to do is “Save” the file. DO NOT rename the file or “Save As” or move the file! Just select “Save” and close the “Notepad” program. See photo below.

Now that you have made the change to that file, we need to do the same thing to three more files. Just repeat the same steps in the three following folders.

Navionics.SonarChart.layer.zmp

Navionics.Sonar.Chart.zm

Navionics.zmp

After you have edited all four files then you can open the SASPlanet program and you should see the depth contour lines are now in “Feet” and not “Meters”.

Hope you enjoy the SAS Planet program as I do in managing all your hundreds or thousands of waypoints.

Tightlines…. i

Down Imaging and Sonar – Where’s it at?

I seen a post on Facebook the other day about “Do You Really Use Your Depth Finder To Help You Catch Fish”? That is a really good question, as I have seen a buddy that I fished with that had a new Garmin Depth Finder on his boat but never turned it on while we were fishing. In his case I think it was all about having the “Newest Thing” on his boat. It’s the same as having Power Poles® on your boat but never put them down. If you’re going to pay out the money for the newest technology then you need to take the time to learn to use them. I personally have six units on my boat but actually only use three or four of them at a time. Two of the units were small in-dash depth finders that came with the boat.

One thing I had a hard time understanding when I first got my first depth finder an old “Super Sixty” flasher that I used to catch a lot of fish watching it. I could watch my jigging spoon go up and down as I lifted and lowered my rod and see the fish signals come to the spoon while watching the flasher. Now that we have the choices of Side Imaging, Down Imaging and Sonar all in the same units they have really become a big help in catching fish whether it be bass, crappie, bluegill or white bass.

As we ride around the lake or body of water you are fishing looking at things that pop up on the screen and wonder what they are. To learn this, we must both spend the time on the water learning our units and to actually know what they are that we’re looking for. Here is a screen shot of something on the bottom that my boat passed over. One what is it and second where is it in relation to the boat and where do I need to make my cast to make contact with the structure?

Okay take a look at the photo above and see if you can tell, first what is it, and second where is it and third where do I cast to so I can try and catch any fish that may be located in the structure. Just by looking at the photo above, I first thought it was directly under the boat which in this case part of it is but most is not. If it is under the boat where under the boat is it located? I would in the past make a cast straight behind the boat to try and make contact with the structure. Sometimes I would make contact with the structure but most of the time I did not. The one way we can tell that part of the structure is partially under the boat is the red coloring in the screen shot in the brush top. This red color tells me that the strongest signals are in the very center of the sonar cone. Take a look at the photo below to get a better understanding of what this means.

Now let’s take a look at the same piece of structure with our Down Image unit and see if we can see what it is and where it is.

Okay we can tell that it looks to be a brush top someone placed in the lake and there looks to be one fish on the right side of the brush top on the right at the edge of the screen. By looking at the fish and the shape it could possibly be a crappie as it is tall as it is long. But this is only a guess and we have no way of knowing unless we actually catch the fish.

Okay so now we know it is possibly a brush top but where is it. Well again since I thought I drove over the structure you’d think it is behind the boat. But again, it could be but also could not be under and behind the boat.

Now let’s see what the structure actually is and where it is in relationship to the boat. We can determine all this by using our Side Image unit. Not only will it tell us what it is but where it is located and where we need to make our cast to try and catch that fish that we are after.

Okay from the side image view we can tell that it is actually a brush top under the boat and also a bucket with what looks to be canes by seeing the shadows of the canes. And last a huge stump to the right of the boat about 20 feet to the right of the boat. By the way can you find the fish in this screen shot? Hint look for the shadows they give the fish away.

In this last screen shot I did with third party software available to you the angler you can see the location of the structure.

So, to get the best out of your new or current units you have to use the tools you have and learn to use them to help you catch more fish. After all this is the reason, we spent the hundreds of dollars if not thousands of dollars on the “Newest Thing” for our boats.

Tight lines……

Thermocline

Definition of thermocline

: the region in a thermally stratified body of water which separates warmer surface water from cold deep water and in which temperature decreases rapidly with depth.

The thermocline is formed on lakes with little to no current flow that allows the mixing of the top and bottom layers of the lake waters. Since cold air and water is heavier that warm or hot air or water the heavier sinks and the warmer rises. In the following three images you can clear see the thermocline. Summer and early fall is the times that the thermocline is most prevalent with the high air temperatures this time of the year.

Why knowing where the thermocline is important to you as a fisherman? Simple it will define the maximum depth you need to be fishing. The thermocline is void of life giving oxygen so the fish you are seeking can not live in the thermocline. During the summer and early fall, adjust your unit to see the thermocline. Scan the area you are planning to fish and look for the top of the thermocline. Let’s say the top is at 27 feet as in the images in this blog. Then the maximum depth you need to fish is no deeper that 27 feet. Look for a or drop-off, shell mound or hump that is shallower than 27 feet and fish there if you see fish on them with your down image units.

Finding the thermocline is easy with the new Side Image and Down Image sonar units, in my case I use the Humminbird Onix 10 SI and the Helix 12 Gen2 Mega Scan. You will need to learn to adjust the sensitivity and contrast settings. You can find settings on this blog just do a search in the search bar. There are a lot of YouTube videos on how to tune your units.

Hope you find this blog helpful in understanding the thermocline in your fishing.

Tight lines….

Canada 2018 Fishing Trip – Lac Seul

Danny Montgomery and I made a fishing trip to Ear Falls, Ontario to Lac Seul Lake in September 2018. We made the decision to make the long drive up from Alabama which was about 1600 miles since we drove out to Polk, Missouri to meet up with a couple of buddies.

We left Polk, Missouri on Friday morning September 14 heading north for the 2 day drive to Golden Eagle Resort in Ontario. We made the 795 mile drive to Virginia, Minnesota where we spent the night. The next morning we made our way to International Falls, Minnesota where we crossed the border into Ontario, Canada. (Not you will need your passport to cross the border). Also make sure you fill up with fuel on the American side of the border as the gas is about $5.00 per gallon in Canada!

Our next leg of the drive was from Fort Frances, Ontario to Ear Falls, Ontario. On one of the legs of the drive we drove on HWY 105 for about 90 miles and to let you know there were no gas stations, stores or even homes on this section of the road. There were also Moose Warning signs all along this section of road and they are a major road hazard especially at night. There were thirteen persons killed on this road last year that hit moose at night! Click on Thumbnails to enlarge the images.

(International Falls, Minnesota to Ear Falls, Ontario)

We finally made the drive to Ear Falls where we pulled into the local tackle store to purchase our Canadian fishing license. There were a couple of options on buy fishing licenses for our trip. One choice for the eight day trip which allowed you to have in possession is only 2 Walleye. The other option was a 4 Walleye in possession license. We opted for the 2 Walleye so our cost was $38.00.

On a note for the possession limit which we found very usual was the following. You are allowed to catch and keep two Walleye that were less than 17” and allowed you to keep only one of the two if it was over 22”. Anything else had to be released back into the lake. Once you decided to catch and keep a Walleye you had to kill it by knocking it in the head with a small ball bat that was provided in each boat.

Slot Box and ball bat this was a slot fish and had to be returned to the lake.

Now the confusing part of this catch and release is that you are only allowed two or four fish in possession depending on which license you purchased. If you purchased the two fish license that means you are only allowed to have two fish at any one time. For example if you go fishing today and catch two keeper size fish and carry them back to camp. If you fillet them and place them in your cooler to eat say maybe the next day, and then you have two fish in possession. So now if you go fishing tomorrow, you can not legally catch a Walleye, if you do and net it and the game warren checks you and you have that fish plus the two in the cooler back at camp he will write you a ticket for over the limit! They also have the authority to come into your camp and check your coolers, refrigerator etc. for any fish you might have in possession!

After purchasing our license we headed to Golden Eagle Resort which was about a mile from town. We got into the camp around 11:30 a.m. and were ready to head to the lake.

(Our cabin)
(Hand carved bench at the resort)

After we arrived at the resort we quickly unloaded the truck, we grabbed our tackle and headed out onto the lake for a few hours fishing.

(Boats at the pier photo)

The boats we were provided to use the 7 days we fished were Crestliner 18.5’ Kodiak’s with 50 horsepower Yamaha tiller steer engines. These were very comfortable boats to fish out of and took the rough water we experienced the last day very well. The boats did not have any trolling motors but did have small Humminbird depth finders on them which came into use finding the fish.

(Beautiful Lac Seul)

Man what a beautiful lake this was on our ride out of the camp onto this huge lake. I’ll give a little more detail on Lac Seul a little later in this article. As you .can see from the photos about the weather was perfect for our first day out on to Lac Seul. This would change over the next few days as a major cold front would be coming our way in a few days.

Kenny Reynolds’s and Glenn Roberts were leading us out onto the lake as they have been coming up to Canada for over 20 plus years. As Danny and I had never been to Canada we had no idea where to start fishing. Kenny carried us to a small island with a submerged rock reef that Danny and I started on. I tied on one of my custom painted 201 crankbaits in the HD Creek Chub patterns.

( BER Custom Painted 201 HD Creek Chub)

We pulled up to the rock pile and in just a matter of a few casts I hooked and landed a smallmouth close to 5 pounds. I could tell this was going to be a great fishing trip. Only problem was that I only had this one crankbait as Danny and I were told to pack “Lite” on tackle and to bring mostly jig-heads, grubs etc. stuff to fish for walleyes with. We would regret this as we did not have the tackle we needed to catch more smallmouth bass. Danny was throwing a Rapala CD-7 Countdown minnow and caught a few fish on this lure as well but again he only had one of these lures.

(Me with a nice Lac Seul smallmouth on day 1)

(Danny Montgomery with one of the doubles we caught)

On day tow of the trip the weather turned south on us and the high temperature for the day was a high of 47* and a northeast wind around 8 to 10 mph. The weather was a lot different from day one when the temperature was around 62* and no wind.

On day two Danny and I went back to the submerged rock reef we fished the day before and had fair results with the limited lure selection we had. We did manage a few smallmouth a few Northern Pike. We did not fish for walleye the second day as we were not sure how to catch them yet, but that was going to change the next day or so. We fished the same crankbaits as we did the day before along with a NED Rig and a 1/4 ounce black bucktail jig.

(Day 2 Fish)

Day three found the weather had again changed with a misty rain and a high of 46* and a low of 37* with a north westerly wind of around 4 – 6 mph. The lures we used on day three were as follows a Blue hair jig, black hair jig, Rapala CD-7 Countdown minnow, the NED Rig and a spinnerbait. We started to figure out the walleye fishing and on days four and five we really honed in on how to both find and catch them.

(Day 3 fish)

Day four and weather change for us with this one a warming front coming through. Weather for day four was a high of 57* and a low of 39* with no wind. On day four we finally figured out how to catch lots of fish with the lures we had with us. As you can see from the following photos we caught all three species we were after.

(Sunrise on day 4 from our porch)

Lures we used for smallmouth were Ned Rig’s, Strike King’s Red Eye Shad in Gold Black color a Strike King Jerkbait in Chrome Ayu a Strike King 1/4 ounce spinnerbait all chartreuse with chartreuse willow blades and for walleye we used 1/4 ounce lead-heads, pearl chart grubs tipped with a minnow.

Lures we used for smallmouth were Ned Rig’s, Strike King’s Red Eye Shad in Gold Black color a Strike King Jerkbait in Chrome Ayu a Strike King 1/4 ounce spinnerbait all chartreuse with chartreuse willow blades and for walleye we used 1/4 ounce lead-heads, pearl chart grubs tipped with a minnow.

(A couple lures we used on day 4)

(Rainbows on day 4)

(Danny with a big Northern Pike on day 4)

(Me with a keeper sized walleye on day 4)

(Me with another one of our doubles on smallmouth)

(Danny with another big smallmouth)

(Me with a good Northern Pike)

(Me with another day 4 smallmouth)

(Danny with the largest Northern Pike we caught on the trip)

Day five and another weather change for us weather with a high of 46* wind easterly 6 mph with gusts to 11 mph. Make sure you bring plenty of clothes as you never know what the weather will be doing from day to day. Also a good rain-suit both insulated and light weight rain-suit, gloved heavy and lightweight a toboggan and a good cap as well as sun-glasses and sunscreen or a gaiter.

Lures used on day 5 were for smallmouth a Steel Shad, Scrounger with a Strike King Caffeine Shad, Ned Rigs and spinnerbaits. For the walleye we used 1/4 ounce lead-heads rigged with a 3″ Pearl Chart and Pumpkinseed Grubs tipped with minnows.

(3″ Pearl chartreuse grub we used for the walleyes)

(The NED Rig we used for all three species we caught on Lac Seul)

(The Scrounger I used to catch the largest smallmouth on the trip)

(The Steel Shad we used to catch a lot of fish on)

(Some of the day 5 fish we caught)

The day 6 weather had a high of 46* with a northeasterly wind at 6 mph gusting to 12 mph. Lures we used today were the Scrounger, a 3.5” green pumpkin tube on an internal 3/16 ounce tube jig and lead-heads and grubs tipped with minnows and the Steel Shad.

(Ice on the boats this morning)

(A 22″ walleye I caught on day 6)

(Danny with a 23″ walleye on day 6)

(Danny with another big Lac Seul smallmouth)

(Loved catching those Lac Seul smallmouth)

Day seven was our last day and the weather was not good to us on our final day. The temperature high was 46* with the wind gusting to 20 mph which made the wind chill about 38* the last day. With the high winds we tried some of our regular places but could not fish them so we went into a protected bay and fished for Northern Pike with spinnerbaits.

(Danny holding up his last walleye he caught this trip)

(Waves crashing over one of the reefs we liked to fish)

(Danny bundled up the last day)

(The long cold slow rough ride back to camp day 7)

(The huge lake and boat taking a pounding on day 7 back to camp)

(Rough water 3 to 4 foot rollers)

(Danny hoping we make it back to camp)

(Finally the resort is in view on the last day)

(Golden Eagle Resort tackles room)

(Small one room cabins for rent)

We left heading back home around 4:45 a.m. Saturday morning with a blowing snow coming down. They had at least an inch accumulation of snow that morning after we left. Over all the trip was a very fun experience and not too expense this time of the year. I spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $1400 dollars for this trip which included fuel from Alabama, food, hotel room one night and the use of the resort, boat, bait and license. I will be going back hopefully next year.

Lac Seul is a large, crescent shaped reservoir in northwestern Ontario, Canada. It is approximately 150 miles long. It has a maximum (regulated) depth of 158 feet, with a surface elevation of 1150 feet above sea level. Its level is raised in the summer and then drawn down in the winter months to reach points of as low as 16 feet below the maximum level. It is the second largest body of water entirely within the province of Ontario. The lake consists of open bays, narrow channels, and islands. It is a relatively shallow lake with many rock shoals. This provides a good habitat for Walleye, Yellow Perch, Pickerel and Northern Pike as well as Smallmouth Bass.  Lac Seul is noted for offering some of the best fishing in Ontario. The water color we fished in had a visibility of about 20 to 28 inches.

Suggested Tackle:

I’d carry maybe two or three spinning reels with 6 to 10 pound monofilament or fluorocarbon line. I had one spinning reel that I used most of the time size 2500 spooled with 20 pound yellow braid with a 10 pound fluorocarbon leader. I’d take at least two bait casting rods one spooled with 15 to 20  pound monofilament for the Northern Pike and one with 10 to 12 pound monofilament for crankbaits.

Lures:

Anything that you normally use for smallmouth or even largemouth should work on Lac Seul for the smallmouth. I’d carry an assortment of shallow to medium crankbaits. Some would be 1.5 square bills, Bandit 200’s and 300’s in dark and shad colors. Another lure would be Rapala CD-5 and CD-6 Countdown minnows. Shad Rap’s and either Rattle-Traps or Strike King Red Eye Shad lipless lures. I’d carry a few spinnerbaits in 1/4 ounce to 1/2 ounce sizes in willow-leaf in solid chartreuse or yellow colors along with a black one. For top water I’d suggest some buzzbait’s and Whopper Ploppers should work if they are feeding real shallow.

We had good luck on Shakyheads with Zoom Magnum Trick works, NED Rigs with both the small TRD’s and the Magnum TRD’s in green pumpkin and brown orange colors and PBJ.  One of my favorite smallmouth lures there was the 1/4 ounce Scrounger with a=either a Zoom Fluke or a Strike King Caffeine Shad.

For walleye we used both 1/8 and 1/4 ounce leadhead jigs, black bucktail hair jigs, blue rug baits and 3” grubs in chartreuse, pearl chartreuse and pumpkinseed colors. Also a few were caught on a 3/4 ounce chrome jigging spoon.

So with that I’ll leave you with some photos of our trip.

(Another sunrise on Lac Seul)

(Lots of Bald Eagles)

(Walleye fillets – YUMMY)

(One of Lac Seul’s beautiful shorelines)

(Left to right, Glenn Roberts, Kenny Reynolds’s and Clint Perkins the Resort Owner)

(Sunrise on Lac Seul)

Albright Knot Jig

Do you fish braided line with a monofilament or fluorocarbon leader? The Albright Knot is one of the best for this but to me was a hard knot to tie. I made a simple jig for tying this knot that I keep in my boat. You can make your own jig or modify it anyway you want to but this one works great for me and is very simple to make. Here is a video of the jig and how I tie the Albright Knot.

Humminbird 455 kHz vs 800 kHz Settings

Here are two more screen shoots that i did from a recording from my Humminbird Onix 10 SI Cross Touch unit. As you can see from the first screen shot there is a school of bait fish and to the right there is a small top or stump. Can you spot the top and the possible fish in that area?

Humminbird unit down image set to 455 kHz settings.

Down image set to 800 kHz setting.

Now let’s look at another screen shoot from the same area but this time I have the 800 kHz settings instead of the 455 kHz. Can you see the treetop and or stumps from the first screenshot? As you can see there is a huge difference when you are looking for structure and fish while scanning with your down image unit.

Tight lines…..

Humminbird kHz Does it Matter?

If you own a Humminbird depth finder there are settings that allow you to change the kHz setting for your unit. So you may think does it really matter if I change these? I’m not going to get into the technical aspects of the inter workings of the setting I’m only going to show you three photos of why it matters when you are looking for fish. One thing is that these shots are from recordings taken with my Humminbird Onix 10 Touch SI and Humminbirds AutoChart Pro software. One thing to note is that the water depth under the boat is about 8 feet deep.

Here is a traditional shot of a tree and an old boat. The boat is to the extreme left and the tree is in the center of the shot. As you can see from the dark red colors this means it is a hard solid object. The setting is set to 200 kHz. From this shot you really can’t tell what the object is. If you can see at the very top of tall three shots this is very heavy current from water being released from the spillways at Pickwick Dam. They were actually spilling about 90,000 cfs. There are a few small fish that can be seen in this shot.

Here in the next shot I have the unit set to 455 kHz. With this setting the beam is set to wide and you can see farther out from what it straight under the boat. Again you can see the turbulence created from the current. Now you can see rocks and boulders laying on the bottom and a better view of the fish. The fish as you can tell are suspended and not on the bottom. There are a few very near the bottom and I think these are drum as I did catch a couple of them on a hair jig. The tree and the boat you can barely see them but you can make them out.

Now in the final shot I set the unit to 800 kHz for the down image settings. See how much clearer the old boat and the tree under the boat. Since the 800 kHz beam is much narrower you are able to see much more detail not only can you see the tree but the limbs on the tree. So all three settings have their place while you are fishing. To get the most out of your unit you have to play with the settings on your unit whether its an Onix or a core unit such as an old 597.

I hope this explains a little more about your unit and the settings and what it is capable of doing for you. I’ll post a  few more shots as I find the time to get out on the water.

Tight lines……

Humminbird – My Unit Not Saving Waypoints

I’ve seen on a couple of forums that Humminbird users can’t mark and save waypoints on their units. So I thought I’d do a blog on how to correct this problem, which is a simple solution to fix. Just follow the menu change in the following photos to fix this issue.

snapshot_2In this photo you can see that I have pressed the Mark button to create a waypoint on the map screen. The unit shows Successfully saved which in reality it would only save a snap shot of the screen but did not create a waypoint.

snapshot_6But when we press the Menu button once and scroll down to the waypoint, the unit did not create a waypoint. snapshot_3Now to verify that the waypoint was not created we can check this by doing the following. Press the Menu button twice select the Nav tab at the top.

snapshot_4Scroll down to the Waypoints, Routes, Tracks option and right arrow over to open this option.snapshot_5As you can see there is no waypoint in the list so it verifies that no waypoint was created.

snapshot_7Now let’s start over and make a few changes to the unit so it will be able to create a waypoint when the Mark button is pressed. Press the Menu button twice to go back to the main menu options screen. Scroll over to the Accessories tab at the top.

snapshot_8Scroll down to the Screen Snapshot option and you can see it is set to On this being set to On is the reason it will not allow you to save a waypoint on the unit.snapshot_9  Let’s make a change to the menu Screen Snapshot option screen and arrow to the right to change it from On to Off.snapshot_10Now let’s exit out of the Menu screen and go back to the Chart screen. Now when we press the Mark button to create a waypoint. Now you can see that the waypoint WP001 was created.

snapshot_11Now when we press the Menu button once we see that the Waypoint WP001 is now showing up in the options menu. If you scroll down to the waypoint and pres the Right arrow button we can Edit the waypoint, Goto the waypoint etc.

snapshot_13Now if we press the Menu button twice and go back to the Nav tab you will see that the waypoint WP001 was created and now showing up in the menu.

Good luck hope this helps you better learn the features on your Humminbird units.

Bluegill and Shellcracker Fishing

I had a chance to make a fishing trip a couple of weeks ago for bluegill and shellcrackers. Since I have not had a chance to do much fishing in the past few months because of an family medical issue I knew I’d have to take advantage of all my resources. In this case it was time of year, moon phase, electronics and talking to my fishing buddies. I had to work until about 4:00 p.m. so the time on the water was limited.

I launched my boat at the boat ramp turned on my Humminbird Onix side image and started scanning as I left the ramp area. About 30 yards from the ramp I found a bluegill bed and marked it with a waypoint. I figured I’d be able to fish this on the way back to the ramp if there were no other boats around. More on this later.

I ran down river a couple of miles and started scanning cuts and pockets that has gravel or sandy bottoms and I found what I was looking for. As you look at the photo image below you can clearly see all the beds off a point that was on a gravel bar.

PanfishBedsI pulled down current and dropped my anchor. The tackle I used was a 6′ medium action rod spooled with 4 pound Mr. Crappie Hi-Viz line. As for the lure it was a 1/32 or 1/16 ounce unpainted lead head rigged with a Big Bite Baits 1.5″ Panfish Minnow. the best colors were blue and silver and chartreuse brown but did not really matter. I caught 65 fish off this one bed, but I released everyone of them.

Here is a link to a short video I did on this fishing trip: Panfishing May 2015

As I returned to the ramp that I was going to fish the bed I found there I ran into a fishing buddy and told him about that bed. I showed him where it was and in doing so I made 7 cast and caught 5 bluegill off that bed before I loaded my boat up and headed home. Man does electronics make fishing a lot easier these days.