Ontario Fishing Network E-Magazine

Ontario Fishing Network

Volume 11,  Issue 12- December  2011

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In the Market For a Fish Finder?
By Justin Hoffman

Product News
David Chong Makes the Move to Charger Boats

Early Ice Pike Party
by Pete Maina

Smallmouth Bass Fishing
Facts of Fishing THE SHOW

Off the Dock
Coming of Age by Maureen Shelleau

Brennan Harbour Resort
Beautiful Canadian wilderness getaway, awesome fishing, quality boats, comfortable cabins, delicious food, friendly faces - Brennan Harbour Resort's the BEST place for your next holiday.

The Shewee
The revolutionary device that is changing women’s lives. 

Early Ice Pike n Pannies!
First ice opportunities almost always has me chasing panfish and pike on the lower parts of the St. Mary’s River system. By: Tyler Dunn

Keeping Current in the Walleye Game
by Gary Parsons and Keith Kavajecz

1939 Hudson Car ad.
You can sleep TWO in the trunk!

Late fall and Where's the Bay of Quinte Walleye?
By Lawrence Euteneier
Each fall king-sized Walleye are suppose to return to the Bay of Quint on Lake Ontario’s Northern shore.

Bass Fishing Lake Joseph
Delta Sherwood Resort, MUSKOKA ONTARIO
By Wil Wegman

Get North!
Stressed? need a vacation?  Visit Get North to find your Northern Ontario get-away!

Fishing Lodge Classifieds
Come fish your heart out at one of these many Lodges, Camps and Resorts.

Facts of Fishing

Northern Ontario Vacations

Ontario Campgrounds

Total Snowshoes

In the Market for a Fishfinder?
By Justin Hoffman

With so many options and technical lingo, choosing the perfect fishfinder can become a bit bewildering.

The game of fishing has embraced technology full-steam, turning the art of finding and catching fish into a modern-day science. Bells and whistles have replaced the "that spot looks good over there" mentality, with the fish finder leading the way in terms of functionality and definite angler advantage. These powerful tools allow a fisherman the resources to check depth, structure, fish locations, speed and temperature. Not only that, but marking productive waypoints and adding safety to your outing is a breeze with today’s GPS technology. Follow this guide and find out what the terms mean, and what a fish finder can ultimately do for you.

The Nitty Gritty
This past season was a first for me. I finally had high-quality sonars on the boat. Not only did this open my eyes to what is truly hidden under the surface of the water, but they also enabled me to increase my catch rates considerably. My Humminbird 597ci HD and 798ci HD SI worked flawlessly, and definitely made me regret all of the years I plied the water with inferior finders.

A sonar works by sending out an electronic impulse from the unit to the transducer. This impulse is transmitted into a sound wave by the transducer, at which point it is beamed through the water column. The sound wave will travel downward until it reaches the bottom structure - at this point it will be bounced back to the receiving unit. The sound wave will also "travel" through any objects found between the lake bottom and the surface of the water (fish or baitfish). When the signal is received, the unit will then make its interpretations, finally showcasing the results on the screen. These results will include depth of bottom, any vegetation or structure found and any fish or baitfish that were located under the boat at the time of the reading.

Power (Wattage)
The power of a sonar unit is described in Watts. The term "peak to peak" is used to describe the overall output power of the transmitter. When dealing with fish finders, the higher the wattage, the more efficient and powerful the overall unit will be. Low wattage will ultimately bring you slow readouts, meaning a delayed reaction for a reading of a spot you have already traveled over.

The bare minimum peak-to-peak power would be 1500 Watts, although 3000 plus Watts is certainly recommended for most anglers. One key point to remember - the shallower the water you fish, the less power you will need. For those that fish deep water (such as the Great Lakes) it is best to choose the most powerful unit that your wallet, or significant other, will allow.

The number of pixels that a fish finder screen is made up of is a very important step in deciphering the quality and performance of the unit. Simply put, a pixel is a dot. The display screen is made up of a series of many dots, which in turn produce the "picture" or read out. The more pixels present on a screen, the better the picture will appear. (As the pixel count goes down, the more "blocky" or less distinguishable the screen read out will appear.)
320 x 240 pixels would be the bare minimum in my books, but certainly move higher if you are able to. Both of my units feature 640 x 640. The bigger the numbers = improved viewing. You won't regret it in the long run.

A transducer is the part that sends out sound waves in order to see what is below the surface of the water. When dealing with transducers, the most important aspect is cone angle. In layman's terms, the cone refers to how wide of a beam is sent out from the bottom of your boat. (It starts out narrow at the transducer and widens as it gets deeper.) The wider the degree on the cone, the larger the view of what lies beneath you will receive. As you move deeper, the coverage will widen and vice versa. Keep in mind that as cone angles widen, sensitivity begins to diminish in very deep water.

Transducer cones can be purchased in ranges from 9-degrees upwards of 60-degrees, with most units falling somewhere between 16 and 20-degrees. In my mind, a cone of 20-degrees is a perfect starting point for anglers fishing a variety of water depths. Many dual cone models will come with 20 and 60 degrees.

Frequencies also come into play with transducers. Most will come with either 50, 192 or 200 kHz, all in direct relation to the cone angle. The higher the frequency, the better the unit will work in shallow water conditions.

Another interesting aspect of transducers is the ability to have more than one cone transmitting from the same starting point. In other words, the standard transducer will have a single beam. Moving up the scale, you can then progress to a dual beam, triple beam, side beam and so forth. What each of these does is cover more water - a very efficient option to have when scouring the lake for fish. Some models will come standard with these accessories, while others will be an upgrade. Again, cost will come into effect for these pricier, but significant advantages. Dual beams are far superior over single if your main playing area is relatively shallow water, as they will cover more of the water effectively.

Side Imaging
Side imaging technology is a revolutionary design that can now allow an angler to see what is to the side of the boat, all from a bird’s eye view on the screen. Available on select models, these amazingly clear, picture-like images will showcase every nook and cranny to the left and right of your craft (240 feet each!), saving you hours of spent time in comparison to working over the same area with a regular downward transducer beam.

This function will cut through murky water with ease, showing you rock piles, humps, and schooling fish you would never have known that were there. Used in conjunction with a GPS, waypointing productive looking structure directly on the screen has never been easier. For tournament anglers or serious fishermen, a side scan is a definite luxury that can up the catch quota, and learning curve, considerably.

Down Imaging / Structure Scan
Using the same technology as side imaging, down imaging “snapshots” are created with high-frequency sound waves emitted in razor thin slices, allowing the user to see a 2D view of timber, brush, rocks, and all other structure directly beneath the boat – all in stunning and photographic detail.

Another tool to accurately locate fish – and the structure they hide in.

Display Screens
Color displays can be found everywhere on the electronics market, and for good reason. Color will allow you a greater screen definition, making fish and structure literally “pop out” in different hues - this can often make for easier interpretation and indentification. I find color screens easier to see in bright light, and viewing them under dark or cloudy conditions makes them stand out positively brilliant. And new to the market are HD (high definition) screens. These realistic units give the same quality and “pow” that your HD TV does for your home, giving you as a buyer the best quality and highest realism that can be found. The maps look beyond life like! Yes, HD does come with a higher price tag, but, like I equate it to high speed internet and dial up, there’s just no comparison between the two models.

Black and white still have a place in the fishfinder market, but for the difference in price, I definitely suggest going at least the route of color. Saying that, black and white is better than nothing, so if that’s all your funds will allow at this time, then make the purchase.

Screen size is another aspect of your fishfinder that should be given some thought. Generally, the lower-end units are always smaller in stature. This works well if it is to be used as a secondary unit or backup, but for your main electronics, always go with the largest size you can afford. A bigger screen equates to a greater viewing surface, meaning structure, digital readouts (depths, temperature, etc,) and chart plotting will be easier to see and recognize. The quality will be much better, also. A five-inch screen is a great starting point to consider.

Temperature, Speed and Distance
Although standard on many units on the market, some lower-end fish finders will offer these add-ons as options. All have a place and time, and most are a personal choice in relation to your particular style of fishing. For those that primarily troll, the speed and distance feature will certainly improve your creel count. (You can tell the exact speed you were traveling when a fish strikes - important stuff for those looking to duplicate their catch.) The same goes for drift fishing, especially when your targeted species is picky about how fast they will chase down a bait.

Having a temperature gauge on board is extremely important in my books, for the sole fact of finding warmer water or helping you locate the preferred range for fish. This feature works wonders for me during early season crappie forays, especially when fish are up spawning in shallow water. It goes without saying that my temperature gauge helps me locate and key in on these fussy fish. Both options are mandatory in my eyes.

Portable or Fixed
Anglers have the option or purchasing a fish finder that will be affixed permanently to their craft, or one that can be taken in and out of the boat with ease.

For those that rent boats, ice fish or go on fly-in retreats, the portable option is one to look into. It can be used in a variety of situations, and the compact size and carrying case make travel a breeze. They will also perform as proficiently as the fixed models, with the only difference being their portability.

Fixed fish finders certainly get the nod for boat owners, as they can be mounted in the exact position they desire, with wires "hidden" underneath floor boards and bow. The transducer can also be attached to either the stern, trolling motor, or hull in order for it to be out of the way and securely held. (Portable units often use a suction cup for attachment purposes.)
There are even units made specifically for kayaks – for those anglers that have jumped on this eco-friendly way of fishing.

The GPS Option
GPS, or Global Positioning Systems, use satellites in the sky to pinpoint your exact location when out on the water. This feature allows you to mark productive spots (and come back to them time and time again), find your way back to shore in the case of an emergency and also map out co-ordinates for your home lake through the use of mapping software.

Most GPS fish finders are combo units, meaning they have both a depth sounder as well as a chartplotter. A chartplotter will showcase your location, superimposed over a map. This allows you to know your exact location at all times. Entering waypoints is as easy as pushing a button with these units, and this priceless function will allow you to mark fish, structure, launch ramps, or anything else you desire. Once saved, that information can be selected at any time, and those spots can be revisited, or avoided, during future visits. (This is an awesome feature for returning to that honey hole of a mid-lake hump!)

For those that do big water fishing or certainly tournament anglers, having GPS built into your fish finder will open up a new world of fishing fun and increased catch rates.

GPS can’t be discussed without a quick word on mapping software. Navionics rules the roost in this market, and their mapping chips give your sonar the ultimate in functionality. Chips are available that will show most lakes in Ontario – with varying degrees of topography detail depending on the package purchased.

As you can see, fish finders are an important addition to your fishing arsenal. I can guarantee that they will increase your catch rates, and in the world of angling, that's what each and every one of us strives for when out on the water. Have a great season and happy fish finder shopping!

Check out Justin’s Blog/Website at: www.JustinHoffmanOutdoors.com  


Editors & Publishers
T.J. & Monique Quesnel
The Ontario Fishing Network E-Magazine is published 12 times a year on or near the beginning of every month. Our magazine is geared to any angler who enjoys fishing of any type in the wonderfully diverse province of Ontario. Editorial Submissions: We welcome query letters, but assume no responsibility for unsolicited materials. Subscriptions: Subscriptions are FREE of charge and delivered via email.  You can subscribe HERE:  Privacy Policy: Unlike other publications We NEVER make our subscribers list (your email address) available to any other companies. Advertising: If you are interested in advertising please email us. Circulation - 13,000  email subscribers © 2011  Due North Marketing / Ontario Fishing Network / T.J. Quesnel. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any material without prior written permission strictly prohibited.