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How to Interpret Sonar and MEGA Imaging on Your Fish Finder

September 10, 2019


[music] Have you ever looked at your fish finder and wondered, “What the heck is that down there?” Well today through a mix of technologies we’re going to take you on a little tour and show you some really cool things from above the water using a drone, from below the water using Scuba Pro equipment and on your fish finder. We’re going to tie it all together. There’s a real mental thing that needs to happen. When you understand your graph, you become a better angler instantly. And when you walk away, you’re going to get what your fish finder is telling you. You you know for years as anglers we had 2D Sonar and basically it shoots a sonar beam straight down below of the boat. The tough part about that is you really only get a small amount of bottom coverage – about a third of your depth. So if I’m in 30 feet of water, I can only see a 10-foot diameter circle. But some really smart person at Humminbird said, “I’m going to pioneer something different. I’m going to take that down imaging beam and I’m going to point it out to the side – to the left and to the right. So with Side Imaging, it allows you to cover water and find the structure in the fish at a much faster rate than you could conventionally just looking down. For instance, you can look out to the left-hand side 240 feet and to the right 240 feet for a total coverage of like 480 feet. The first thing I want to look at are rocks. Fish tend to hang around rocks there’s lots of food and we’re going to go over a boulder field. Now there’s a mix of pumpkin-sized boulders, orange-sized boulders and some great big things and I’m telling you what – when you get around a rock that big fish really love to hang around there. So we’re going to take the drone up we’re going to take a look from overhead but also show you what it looks like from under water. I’m coming up from big flat and you can see there’s really nothing there. Well fish liked to hang out by something. I got a ton of like basketball-sized boulders over here and there’s a really good sharp when you can see the edge on that one and look behind that rock there’s a shadow so when the sonar beam hits the face of that rock and bounces back we get a great return but on the backside there’s really no sonar so your unit actually paints in a shadow behind there. Sometimes when you’re looking at wood or even a rock you can see that something is there by the shadow and not even by the reflection. Take a look here there’s a big boulder field some really nice mixed-sized boulders in through here and then some really big ones. So fish love to find an ambush point and look at this one over here – you got a hard face, it’s really bright you get a really great return off the sonar there and again that shadow is back behind that big boulder showing you it’s really big and the sonar is not getting past there. Alright so I got a marker buoy on that big rock and I want to show you what it looks like on Side Imaging. We’ll show you what it looks like from the air. [music] You know when I look even – this is a fantastic place – mix of boulder sizes and there’s a tree off to the left-hand side. On the side imaging I get the detail – even the limbs off of that tree that’s been down. Fantastic place for fish to hang out. You got a hard bottom you have a tree and then you have a transition line right into a soft bottom. That is a place that is money. You know in lakes where they have smallmouth bass when you get on a rock that means their primary forage is crayfish. You’re gonna find smallmouth always around rocks when you find timber mixed in, it’s just the best of both worlds. It’s a fantastic fish holding piece of structure. So right here you can see there’s just kind of dark area it’s really just a look at the basin of the lake so it’s a real soft bottom but here is a perfect transition zone. That soft mud basin turns into rock right here So here’s what I want to do – I want to give you an up-close, personal look at this. I’m going to drop a waypoint on this transition right here. Mark that one – in fact there’s a nice isolated boulder right at the edge of that. And it marks so I got that waypoint. My friend Kyle right here – he’s got the scuba gear – he’s all Scuba Pro’d up. He’s going to take a dive down, I’m going to put this with this marker buoy right on that waypoint, and Kyle’s going to follow the string down and give you an up-close personal look of what a transition zone really looks like. Okay, so I’m just coming around I’m going to get right on top you can see my zoom level is at 20 feet I’m actually right on over that right now so I’m going to drop this buoy, give Kyle of visual, and this is going to really give you a good picture what fish are looking for when they move from one area to the other. There are times the year where fish really travel and this is exactly the kind of highway they follow. Kyle, you ready? Awesome – thumbs up. So Kyle’s going to dive the string right down there this will give you an up-close personal look of what this stuff really looks like in real life. Not just on your fish finder. Away you go. Hit it. [music] Okay so we’ve been looking at Side Imaging and seeing all the structure and the transition areas that that brings but I want to look straight down to the boat so I’m going to go to a quick button that shows me 2D conventional sonar and down imaging and looking at these side-by-side this is brilliant. On the bottom you’ve got just a little lump here and I don’t know if that’s a rock or if it’s fish tightly balled up but when I look at the down imaging, down imaging gives me great detail of what’s down there. I can see a boulder a boulder, a boulder, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven boulders that all look like that lump. And it’s just the way the beams are arranged. Sonar is just kind of a general beam and it does not give you the detail that down imaging does. Running those two screens side-by-side give you a great look and all the stuff that’s down there at the bottom. There’s some – look at that fantastic rocks sticking up and they’re going to come up on top of this rock reef but that is a fantastic look at the detail and a transition zone. Alright so we’re coming off this rock hump right where Kyle dove. Look at the hard top of rock and the great strong return there and it thins out a little bit and you can see it thins out and it darkens up here it’s a little softer bottom piece and there’s actually a fish hanging right out there in 26 feet of water. The beauty of looking at 2D sonar and down imaging at the same time: sonar will give you some really good general look at what the bottom is made of but the down imaging gives you incredible detail and it will show you every finger of a branch underneath the water but looking at those side by side will help you in your brain build a better picture of what’s going down below that’s a perfect view of hard bottom and rocks you really can’t see but I can see there’s a rock there I can see there’s rocks there and it just doesn’t quite give you the definition that’s really just because the physics of those two beams this one on a down imaging is kind of really thin as we go over this area we’ll put it back in here it gives you a really wide beam and so that everything that we pass over you’re kind of getting a pictorial history of everything we’ve the boats driven over. Right now the 2D sonar tells you the depth. It’ll give you a hint there’s a rock there but right there you can see the rock and plain detail and watch this you can see this transition zone on down imaging and 2D sonar. You can see the hard return and the hard return there kind of fade away and do the leak base and soft bottom. As an angler those are great places to follow along to drop waypoints and to find fish that are in transition. [music] So on my LakeMaster I got a series of humps here that go from hard to soft bottom and all kinds of stuff happening down there. I’m looking at the side imaging and I can actually see some weeds which I think are weeds. I see some boulders and I know what those look like no doubt. But I’m going to flip over through some technologies here to help me get a better idea what’s going on so I’m going to start with just conventional sonar. And man you can see what’s happening. It’s all right there and the hard red line is the bottom. And those look like weeds I’m not really sure this looks like bait fish but here’s a really good way to tell. If you flip over to down imaging it will give you an idea – oh, there you go – so right there you can see the individual stalks of each weed on this transition and then a whole school of bait fish right in the middle right where that little saddle is. It’s a great place for them to congregate and then it’s going to drop off here so you can see the bottom go down some more weeds some bait fish, a school of bait fish, and a school of baitfish. Now watch where my finger is I’m going to go back up to regular, conventional sonar and look where my finger was pointing. Those are one, two, three, four game fish. Man on this body of water that looks like a walleye if I ever seen one. Some lakes you know you’re going to see bass others spotted bass whatever your reservoir happens to have this one happens to have walleyes in there and I’d really like to have a bait on those fish right now but the first part to catch them is at least finding where they’re at and I think we’re really on the right tracks. Watch this – I’m going to come back over these reefs and we’ve kind of gone off and look at that I got to take a screenshot of that because that is delicious. Look at you get all of the individual weed stalks bait fish and they’re the game fish sitting right there in ambush pushing right up that hump. So you can see I’m right on the top of the top and look how much taller the weeds are. The light levels get down a lot easier to the shallow top of that and then it kind of gets a little shorter the weed growth is a little more just reserved as you go down the break there and what I’m really looking for are these clumps. Here is to come down there’s a little saddle there and then you got this just tight part of weeds that’s a fantastic place for fish to lie in ambush and that’s what it looks on your 2D sonar. And look at that – on side imaging too. So interesting piece – we’re shooting the beams out to the side and you can see just those light patches it almost looks like clouds on my screen. Those are all weed clumps and I know it’s weed clumps because I can see them standing up off the bottom we’re actually driving right over those weeds and look at that that was a school of fish right near that transition a rocks. This kind of place has everything a fish needs. It’s got cover, it’s got the right temperature, it’s got the right light levels, and most importantly, what fish want is food, and it’s got that in abundance. Check that out. Back to regular sonar. That is a fish marking there. That fish is chewing on that school of bait watch this on DI there’s that same fish and there’s that same school of bait. Just a big ball of bait and that one is just chasing them. This is a fantastic spot I cut this little saddle area and the walleye is on this lake really like to hard pack to the bottom in between the weeds so I’m going to put the boat back in gear that is a glorious piece of structure. And here’s how this shapes up. I’m going to go back and forth and you can just see a big blob of weeds there a little blob there but I’m going to come back here and get… See on on the down imaging I can see each individual stalk of weeds and then I can see individual dots – now those are fish. Watch this – see there’s a nice arch there a really nice return of a fish. So I keep my finger right there and that is the fish on down imaging. And that gives me a really good idea of what’s happening. As I flips from screen to screen, from 2D sonar to down imaging – there’s another fish there – but what I like about looking at those side-by-side is I can see small specks like lots of them in a cluster it looks like pan fish or bait fish but when you get those strong marks set apart that’s a game fish in there looking for food. You know Depth Highlight is critical when you’re looking for boat control and trying to figure out where the fish are – so I can adjust whatever depth I want to highlight here on the LakeMaster map and right now you can see it’s about 22-, 23-feet and I’ve got a couple feet highlighted either way but that is exactly where the fish are gathering. That gives me just an ability to weed out water and to know where the fish are and you can see every time we go over that green highlighted area there are weeds, there’s bait fish there’s game fish and kind of dialed up pretty good. I’m coming into another kind of part of this reef complex. It’s a little bit deeper than what I’ve got highlighted you can see that there but I think there’s some really good hard bottom that will top out your…watch I’ve come off of that reef I’m kind of in the saddle area it looks like it’s down to 30 feet – LakeMaster’s spot on – it says 29 right there – and I’m going to come back up now it’s coming up to 26 feet and already I see some action on the bottom that looks like fish. Man – two nice arches sitting there. Beautiful. Just looking to chew on that school of bait fish. I’m going to look at that in down imaging just a small school of bait fish and individual hard dots but when you flip back and forth the screens the the nature of the sonar beams paint what’s down there a little differently but if you look at them side by side down imaging always gives you the detail 2D sonar the coverage and will help you really understand what’s happening underneath the boat. Well I hope you enjoyed today’s combo show – the above and below water. We put that together so you get a better idea of what’s happening on your fish finder. You know finding the areas of transition finding areas there are different structure and flipping screens on your sonar really give you a better understanding what’s happening down below the boat will make you a better angler the next time you want to go find fish.

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