Ontario Fishing Network E-Magazine

Ontario Fishing Network

Volume 11,  Issue 3 - Mar. 2011




Ice More Fish by Understanding Sonar
By Tim Allard

Profile – Lawrence Euteneier!

Summer Muskies Pt 2/6
by Pete Maina

Facts of Fishing
WEBCUT - Crankbaits

Off the Dock
Red Hot! by Phil Harrison and Maureen Shelleau

Moose Horn Lodge
Comfort and fishing in Gowganda, Ontario

Product Showcase
Teal Paddles

Spring Steelhead – A Newbie’s Gear Guide
By: Tyler Dunn

Time for a River Walleye Bite!
by Gary Parsons and Keith Kavajecz

2011 Bass Pro Spring Fishing Classic

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

French River Fishing

Ontario Campgrounds

Lake Simcoe Fishing

Tim AllardIce More Fish by Understanding Sonar
By Tim Allard*

One of the easiest ways to increase your ice fishing success is using a portable sonar unit, often called a fish-finder. A sonar displays depth, your lure and if fish are beneath you. Yet, how much intel you gather depends on your understanding of the unit's operation, your ability to manipulate its settings, and how you interpret the display. Whether you're a beginner, a sonar savant, or somewhere in between, the following operation tips will help you catch more fish and avoid some common mistakes.

Don't Get Fooled by Weeds
Fishing weeds with a flasher under the ice is an acquired skill. To inexperienced users weeds can accidentally be interpreted as fish signals. One rule to follow is to look for movement. Weed signals don't move up and down much but will sometimes flicker, especially if there’s current. Of course, you're never 100% sure until you jig the signals whether it's vegetation or fish. Most flashers also have a low-power mode for shallow water. It reduces the transducer's output so plant signals aren't displayed as strong, resulting in a less cluttered screen.

Vegetation is easy to distinguish on a scrolling graph display. It will look like weeds on the sonar screen, copying its underwater profile, whether thin and sparse or thick like bushes. Any fish that are inhabiting the vegetation will appear as a horizontal line running through the greenery.

Vexilar Chart

Hard Versus Soft Bottom
Differentiating between bottom types is another important talent and can help you hone-in on prime fish habitat. Walleye and lake trout will often ambush smaller fish against hard-bottom structures, like humps and points. Soft-bottom spots appeal to perch, crappie and sunfish that dine on the invertebrates inhabiting this spongy zone. Transitions between hard and soft bottom areas concentrate fish too, so comparing readings between different holes is important.

When it comes to flashers a hard bottom causes a thin, strong signal because rock reflects a powerful signal back to the transducer. A soft bottom is displayed as a thicker band. This is because the sound beam penetrates into the sticky bottom and returns a deeper reading, although it also absorbs some of the sound energy and therefore the lower sections of a soft bottom are displayed as weak signals.

Scrolling chart displays show bottom the same way as open water. A thick line means a hard bottom, and a soft bottom’s a thin line.

Rising Fish?
Sonars often display interested fish as "rising" from a deep water to your lure. It’s common for fish to swim up to grab a bait when you’re jigging it well off bottom. When this happens an up-swimming fish is displayed as a strong signal the entire time.

However, weak signals that grow stronger mean another thing entirely. This is caused when a fish moves in from the outside of the sonar cone towards its center, which is often the case with suspending species like crappie. A weak fish signal displayed 2 feet below your bait may actually be close to the same depth as your lure, but 2 feet off to the side. In this instance, as the fish approaches your bait and the centre of the cone, the signal grows stronger and the fish appears to swim up. For this reason, jig above fish signals to reduce the chances of unintentionally positioning the bait beneath the fish.

For similar reasons, flickers in the bottom signal or its trailing edge on a flasher could be fish on the edges of the cone angle near bottom, says Tom Zenanko, Sales and Marketing Manager with Vexilar, Inc. Remember, unlike a moving boat, which results in a constantly changing display, ice fishing is stationary, so flickers or colour changes on bottom shouldn’t be taken lightly - walleye and perch anglers take note.

Ice Fishing

Crank Gain to See Suspenders
A trick to get more information about what’s below is increasing the gain when fishing suspenders, like perch and crappie. This tactic relates to how a sonar displays fish on the edges of a sonar cone. Turning up the gain will enhance the data shown from the fringe of the electronic’s area of coverage. Increasing gain allows you to see a fish that might be on the periphery of the sonar cone but who’s signal is too weak to be displayed on a low gain setting.
Improving your sonar understanding makes you a more effective angler. Ultimately, time on the ice and fishing different scenarios is what counts, but heeding the above tips puts you ahead of others not tuned into the power of portable sonar.

*Tim Allard of Ottawa, Ontario is a hard-water expert and author-photographer of the newly released book, Ice Fishing: The Ultimate Guide. For information visit: www.helipress.com/product/ice-fishing-138.cfm

Editors & Publishers
T.J. & Monique Quesnel
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