There are anglers like Simon Frost and Derek Strub, who are always looking at their electronics—and they have won lots of money doing that! However, there are also anglers that under utilize their electronics when on the water. Many anglers run to their first spot tournament morning and expect the fish to be on the last waypoint they saved during their practice period where they caught a five pounder. Unfortunately, that is not always the case, and then they scramble. The truth is that the fish are most likely still there, not on the exact coordinate but in the general area. Whether it is a shell bed on a reservoir or a rock pile on the Great Lakes fish will move around an area s their feeding habits change, and as anglers we have to be looking at our electronics to find the fish again!
In a recent trip to Lake Erie with Simon Frost, it did not take long until I learned something about the way Simon fishes. Every once in a while I would hear Simon say “marking” and then quickly reel in and drop down right under the trolling motor. This really emphasized the importance of ALWAYS paying attention to your electronics when on a lake where fish school up in groups. Since that outing with Simon, I completely changed the way I fished Lake Erie—I became a “video game fisherman”.
Dropping down on fish that you see beneath the boat on your electronics can be a great approach to offshore, deep-water fishing. There are three keys in my opinion to successful “video game fishing” and they are properly set-up electronics, and tackle, and the knowledge to understand what you are looking at on your graph.
The setup that I like to run on my front deck utilizes two Humminbird fish finders, a Helix 10 Sonar GPS that is set on Sonar Zoom view, and an Helix 10SI that is set on Side Imaging, Down Imaging, GPS split view. Doing so, I get to have a view of the entire water column, and a view closer to the bottom to help distinguish fish when relating tight to bottom. When I mark or catch fish I can retrace and follow the same track using my GPS. Often times you will find fish in specific areas more than once, and that is usually your spot on the spot. So how do you know you are dropping down on fish, and not structure that you think is fish? Well, that will take some time in learning your electronics, but as you can see from the illustrations, fish typically appear as streaks or hooks. I have found that arches are typically fish that are outside of your sonar cone, while fish that appear as horizontal lines, are directly below the boat. Having the ability to have a closer view of the bottom with the zoom, really takes guessing out of the equation.
Now you have located the fish, and know what you are looking for, its time to drop a bait down. There are several presentations that excel in this situation, and on the Great Lakes you cannot beat a jigging spoon in the spring and fall months, drop shot, or tube. I like a Jackall Crosstail Shad on the drop shot, with a relatively heavier weight than I would normally throw. Almost 90% of the time I will be throwing a 3/4oz weight, rarely do I go to the 1oz. In situations where the waves are causing my trolling motor to exit the water, I will go to the heavier of the two. The same general rule goes for the Bass Pro Shops Tender tube and XPS Tungsten Jigging Spoon. You want your bait to get to the bottom before the fish move too far from the boat. That is also the reason why you want to be using a lighter line. 6lb test fluorocarbon for the drop sot is a must, 5-8lb Power Pro for the tubes, and 20lb Power Pro on the jigging spoons. A lighter, smaller diameter line is critical, as it cuts through the water easier, allowing your bait to reach bottom quicker. The Power Pro braided line is a must for tubes and jigging spoons as it has an approximate equivalent mono rating of 1lb (5-8lb Power Pro) and 6lb (20lb Power Pro) respectively. When using baitcasting equipment, you want to make sure your spool tension and breaking system are set correctly to where the bait gets down quick, but you do not over run. Shimano’s new SVS breaking system on all Casitas, Citica, Curado K reels, Chronarch MGL, Metanium, Aldebaran, and Antares reels is a great advantage in fine tuning your rate of fall. Not having to open your side plate in between casts to adjust the breaking system is huge! Now with SVS you can simply fine-tune your presentation with a small turn of the dial.
You have to be quick, have your eyes glued to your Humminbird, and gear prepared, but when they bite, it’s worth it!