On-the-Water Sonar School, 14 Feb. 2013

That thumbs-up means “My sonar is a fine-tuned piece of fishing machinery!”.

I’ve been receiving an increasing number of calls lately from fellows who have purchased excellent sonar equipment, but who are having trouble getting the most out of it. In addition to trips totally dedicated to fishing, I also offer trips totally dedicated to sonar setup and interpretation, as well as trips that offer a combination of the two, all at my standard rates.

Such was today’s trip with Mr. Reese M. of Belton. Reese is a U.S. Navy veteran of the 1950’s and served as an electrician in the Seabee’s.

Some time ago he bought a Lowrance Elite 5x sonar unit, which is a great, feature-packed unit in a small package and with a good price. Trouble is, all the button-pushing and menu options were confusing. Reese said he’s more of a visual learner than a nose-in-the-book kind of guy, so, we dedicated today trip to getting his sonar fine tuned.

I started with the basics of transducer inspection, then powered up and went through all the common menus to give him the best chart views and sonar views the unit was capable of providing. Once everything was just right, we went riding looking for shad, timber, dropoffs, roadbeds, etc. so he could see what these things look like.

After I showed him all these things, it was his turn. We turned the unit off, and I threw different scenarios at him, allowing him to think through what button-pushes to use. He passed these pop-quizzes with flying colors.

Just as we were about to wrap up, an unusual but helpful event occurred (I call these blessings!). On a calm, bright, sunny late morning, about 5 terns began to feed about 200 yards from our location. We motored over there and found a school of small white bass feeding on shad in about 33 feet of water. This was the perfect opportunity to show all the unit could do. We stopped the boat dead still and I dropped a 3/4 oz. slab down to the fish near bottom. We watched the slab fall, watched it rise and fall, and then get struck by a white bass. We then watched that fish get reeled in, all on Reese’s sonar. We did this 3 times over before the school moved on.

By the time he rolled out of the parking lot, Reese was both confident and competent in the use of the sonar he’s spent his hard-earned money on. Thumbs-up!

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