Monthly Archives: June 2014

Old Wheeler Canal and Lock

A good friend Bo McAdams send me this photo of part of the old Muscle Shoals, government lock #1 and part of the canal he recently found on Wheeler Lake with his Humminbird 997 Side Image unit. I enhanced the photo with the added text showing the old structures and fish that are near the canal. These locks and canals were built in the last 1800’s and early 1900’s for river travel over the dangerous Muscle Shoals in the Tennessee River in north Alabama.

Thanks Bo for sharing.

Lock #1

Lock #1

Wheeler Lake canal

Wheeler Lake canal

Wheeler Lake canal

Wheeler Lake canal

Product Review – Storm Wild Eye Swim Shad – Suspending

I had a chance to try out the Storm WildEye Swim Shad this morning. I did not catch any fish as I was fishing off a shallow water pier trying to see how this lure worked. The rate of fall on the the larger lure was about 8″ to 12″ per second. The lure swims with the nose down and looks like it would work great as a suspending lure. The lure casts great and I could feel the tail wobbling as I retrieved the lure back in. The two models I tried were the 6″ one model and the 4″ three eights model. I’ll report later after i get to actually fish these lures more.

Storm Wild Eye Shiner

Storm Wild Eye Shiner

Storm Wild Eye Shiner

Storm Wild Eye Shiner

Do I Really Need a Depth Finder / Fish Finder?

I get asked all the time at the sporting goods store I work at about depth finders and or fish finders. At the store we sell a variety of different brands and models of the units from the cheap $100 units up the high end $3000 plus units. So do I really need one of these for my boat and for my fishing trips?

Usually the first thing I ask my customers is, “What type of fishing do you do”? What I’m trying to do is determine what unit they may need for the type of fishing they will be doing. In asking this one question I can determine if they will be fishing for crappie, catfish or bass fishing. Then I ask my next question “Do you fish the banks or off shore?”. This question will let me know if they just need a depth finder to determine the depth along the shore line, in shallow water or deep water.

Stumps with fish - Sonar versus  Side Image

Stumps with fish – Sonar versus Side Image

After I get the answer from my customer I will start to explain in my opinion what unit the customer may need. If they are going be fishing along the bank just fishing shore line cover such as piers, fallen trees, rocks or other cover on the banks then they will not need a unit in the high dollar range. They would only need a depth finder to show them the depth of the water directly under their boat. If they move into shallow bays or coves it will let them know if the water is too shallow for their boat. As they move from one fishing spot to the other they can use the depth finder to make sure they don’t run aground in water too shallow for their boat.

Soft bottom - Dark, Soft Bottom -Bright

Soft bottom – Dark, Hard Bottom -Bright Green and Red

Now if the answer I get back from my customer that they “crappie fish” I’ll then start showing them the upper end units with “Down Imaging” and “Side Imaging” capabilities. With these units they will be able to slowly scan the water out both sides of their boat. By doing this they can look for bottom hardness changes (mud, muck, rock, gravel or shell-beds, etc.) by looking at these changes this determine where the crappie will be fanning out their nests for the egg laying process. Fish do not like or live on mud or muck (decayed matter) they prefer hard bottoms such as rock, gravel or shell-beds. They can also scan the surrounding area for stumps, tree-tops, man-made brush piles, stake-beds to name a few cover options.

If I get back that they will be cat-fishing then I may suggest that they purchase a “Down Image” unit only. In most cases they will be fishing deep to very deep water for catfish. With the “Down Image” units they will get a very clear image of the bottom under their boat and out to the sides when looking for the fish they are after. These fish hold close to the bottom and are usually much larger than the other fish species and are easy to see. By slowing idling around in the deeper holes on the lake they can look for these large fish and know where to drop their baits in hopes of catching these fish.

Down Image - School of suspending crappie.

Down Image – School of suspending crappie.

And finally if I get back that they are going to be off shore bass fishing such as the well known ledge fishing, then I will recommend they purchase the upper end “Down and side Image” units. With the higher end as well as higher priced units they will be getting larger screens, more powerful processors, higher pixel count screens, different mapping options and recording settings on their units. With these units my customer will be able to take advantage of all the bells and whistles of the high end units. With these larger screens you will get more pixels per inch which means a much clearer image on the screen. You can pick out smaller objects out to the side which can in some units reach out to hundreds of feet out both sides of your boat. With higher pixel counts you can get image separation of down to 2.5” on some units. This allows you to see fish holding closer to cover such as tree tops, stumps, piers, bridge pilings to name a few.

Sunken tree with my Side Image unit.

Sunken tree with my Side Image unit.

So as you can see, there are a lot of options out there when choosing a depth finder / fish finders. So I hope you understand a few of the reasons I will be asking you “What will you be using the unit for?” I’ll be adding more articles with tweaks, reading and image interpretation in later articles.

Tight lines….

Scott Kelly – 14.06 Hawg

Check out this photo of a 14.06 Largemouth sent to me by Scot Kelly. Scot said the fish was 29″ long and 33″ in girth. It was caught in a private lake in Tennessee. Scot said there were even larger bass in the lake.

Scot Kelly - 14.06 largemouth!

Scot Kelly – 14.06 largemouth!