The 2022 version of the open water fishing season was an interesting one on several levels. Some of the events/developments of the fishing season were good, some not so good. One of the developments that has really caught on in the past few months is the ongoing popularization of forward-facing sonar (FFS). First, a little bit of history regarding sonar.
My first exposure to fish-finders, depth-finders, sonar, fish locators, whatever they were called, was a Lowrance Green Box. It was an amazing experience for a young, curious angler. Instead of just seeing the surface of the lake, we could now see what was on the bottom of the lake. By today’s standards it was a very antiquated look at the bottom of the lake, but back then it was groundbreaking. We could see how deep the water was directly below the boat, we could see gradual and abrupt changes in the bottom structure, and we could see where the bottom changed from sand to mud. Every now and then we even saw what we thought might be a fish. Remarkably interesting times, and truly an era of learning more about fish and fishing. Some people were worried that with this new technology, fish populations would be in jeopardy. Due to the efforts of fishery managers, they weren’t.
Later, paper graphs hit the market. They drew an outstanding picture of the bottom of the lake and showed the history of the path of the boat. An angler could see what they were going over and what they had gone over. And you could definitively see if fish were in the area. But the paper had to be changed often, and when the wind was blowing or it was raining, that was an inconvenience. Paper graphs weren’t around for exceptionally long.
The next technology was liquid crystal graphs. The early versions of LCG’s were crude by today’s standards, but a huge improvement in what we were accustomed to using. No paper changing and exceptionally good displays. I recall a day on Rainy Lake when I was just learning about LCG units. We would see on the screen in water 20 feet deep what we thought was a fish, then we would catch a fish. Those really were the fish that we were seeing! Another very interesting time and era of learning more about fish and fishing. Some people were again worried about the impact of this new technology, and again, the fisheries people prevented over-harvest.
A few years later, side-imaging came into play. This technology enabled an angler to see what was going on off to the side of the boat. More learning and more interesting discoveries about what goes on in the fish’s world.
Most recently, forward facing sonar entered the picture. It has really impacted the fishing world. It shows what is in front of the boat, and when mounted to do so, will show what is all around the boat. Fishing guide and expert angler Mike Frisch says that he has learned more about fish and fishing while using FFS this past summer than he did in the previous 10 years combined. Mike has the transducer of his FFS unit mounted to a Rite-Hite Turret mount that enables him to scan all around the boat. The Rite-Hite Turret is a slick deal. He says that when he sees a group of bass to the side or in front of his boat, he can put an Ocho Worm exactly where it needs to be, and much of the time he can see how the bass reacts. If they look but don’t eat, he knows that a different presentation is needed. And the folks in charge of our fisheries will make sure that this new technology doesn’t negatively affect fish populations.
The wonderful thing about fishing is that we make it whatever we want to make it. Some enjoy the technology, others, like me and the young anglers that I take fishing, sometimes enjoy dipping a jig along a dock with a Lew’s Bream Buster rod: A long rod with no reel and 6 feet of line tied to the tip of the rod. Extremely basic but highly effective. However you like to fish, there is a way for you to enjoy doing so.
– Bob Jensen of fishingthemidwest.com.