When my tournament partner and I practice for a bass tournament we practice leveraging electronics to catch bass consistently; spending quite a bit of time charting with downscan, sidescan, and map functions. After we hook up on a bass, we go back to the spot and look for what might have drawn the bass to the location. In almost every case we’re able to identify stumps, rock piles, logs, or other submerged cover providing some degree of protection or concealment. We then look hard at the chart (map), trying to pattern fish activity as a function of depth or structure. Studying these variables enables us to dial-in where the fish are holding, whether on a point, along a break, or at a certain depth. The combination of cover and contour study enables us to figure out the sweet spots within the area.
On a recent outing, the location we were fishing was approximately 50-75 meters long and maybe 25 meters wide. It was quite a way offshore, so the shoreline terrain gave no clue as to what lay beneath. Only after we started scanning the places where we got bites, were we able to put all of the pieces to the puzzle together. On this trip, the variables included a 5 to 8-foot depth, a fairly sharp break or depth change, and rock. Once we had these variables dialed in, our ‘spot’ shrank to a handful of areas being only one meter square. Hit those sweet spots and get bites; miss it and nothing.
Think about this for a minute. If an angler could shrink the size of the area likely to hold bass, how would this help the angler’s fish catching percentages? The efficiency alone is a huge benefit. Instead of fan casting along a 75-meter stretch of bank or channel ledge, now an angler can focus on a very narrow target. Ten casts along a 75 meter stretch will not give an angler a lot of coverage. However, ten casts at a one-meter-wide target pretty much covers it up.
None of us get all the time to practice we’d like to have. My partner and I have learned by using our electronics we can make the most of the precious few practice sessions we do get. As anglers get bites or catch bass, they are better disposed to understanding why by using onboard tools. It’s not laydowns on a special stretch of shoreline; its subtle indentations on the first break line a few feet off shore from the laydowns. It’s not rocky points; it’s stratified or layered rock on those points in ten to twelve feet, next to channel ledges. The trap we often fall into is associating a catch with what we see above the water. We trust our eyes. Let electronics be the eyes. Trust what electronics ‘see’ under the water.