Fishing Technology: Where to next?

In the early days, seafarers tied knots in a rope, put a weight on the end and dropped it over the side to measure the water’s depth. So was born the first depth sounder. Then the race began; sextants, time keeping pieces and theories that the world was in fact round, not flat.

Jump forward to today and the options to help keep us on the water safely and catching more fish are becoming overwhelming.

Technology is taking massive leaps forward at an incredible rate. Every year there are new electronic devices hitting the market, changing the way we look at our fishing for ever. The days of getting a fix from three points on the land to try and find that good fishing spot again, or timing a run and trying to keep a true heading on the compass are now a distant memory. Today we carry GPS in our pocket on a mobile phone, not to mention the devices we carry in the boat which have capabilities far beyond most people’s abilities.

When once thermal paper was the high tech sounder, colour LCD screens are now the norm. Sounders no longer just look down or to the sides, the new breed of sounders can take a 360 degree sweep around the boat. The user interface has also gone through a dramatic change with the advent of the new generation of touch screens.

Side scan image

Here is a school of salmon swimming along in front of a rock wall, spotted using side scan technology.

Structure scan image

This is a structure scan image looking down on a cluster of artificial reef modules shrouded in baitfish.

The definition and super high pixel counts of these screens are better than ever before and allow users to get a more detailed image of the terrain they are fishing. Linked up with side scan and the ability to pick things up 100 meters each side of the boat means that finding structure, fish and bait schools is now a simple task.

Additionally, you can now look at both sides of the boat, and if you wish, you can now do it in 3D while also viewing your normal sounder reading of the bottom and see precisely where you are on your GPS chart at the same time, on the same screen, on the same unit.

Now let’s take a look at some of the other electronics that can make our fishing more effective.

The electric motor is a revolutionary piece of equipment. Initially, the trend was slow to take off in Australia, but they eventually gathered momentum. Many believe that they are only for freshwater or for those guys fishing for bream in rivers however this is untrue. Models are now available with 60 inch shafts, 101 pounds of thrust and suitable for bow or transom mounting. They may not be suitable for every boat, but for many they would certainly be a great addition to help put more fish in the boat.

Minn Kota riptide

Minn Kota Riptide electric motor with iPilot wireless GPS trolling system.

The latest models have built in GPS which allows you to hold your exact position with the push of a button. Basically it is a virtual anchor. You can drift away from a spot, hit a button and the motor will take you back to the same spot. You can program in a couple of locations and the motor will take you from one spot to the next automatically.

Obviously these motors have their limitations in rougher weather and on bigger boats, but on calm days offshore they are an incredible fishing tool. The advantage of not dropping anchors in sensitive reef areas is also another obvious environmental factor. With this technology on board, 100 boats could fish an area and have less impact on the sea floor than a single dive boat dropping one anchor. Food for thought!

Moving along to tackle, there are the electric reels. Not only are they a boon for the deep droppers, they open up a new world to many, or bring back something that was lost for some. For the disabled or handicapped, being able to use these electric reels will give a lot of these individuals the ability to get out there and experience fishing again, or for the first time. Imagine being able to break away from your physical limitations, get out on the water and experience something that you never thought you could!

Another relatively new gadget hitting our shores from the USA is a device that emits different sounds of bait fish, shrimp, and predator fish eating bait fish. Essentially it is an underwater speaker system that broadcasts from your boat to draw other predator fish to where you are fishing. The fact that they mask the sound of the boat on the water is also very beneficial. There are two types available, freshwater and saltwater, both with six sounds each and from the one manufacturer. You can almost be certain that in coming years there will be new sounds coming out for differing species of fish and different times of the year, however the jury is still out about how effective these devices are.

With all the new technology on the market these days it’s a wonder what the future might hold! Perhaps one day we will buy lures that come with an SD card to plug into your Hydrowave to help increase the chances of catching fish with that particular lure. A bit further into the future and these things might just be built into every echo sounder’s transducer with a thousand sounds programmed into the sounder as well.

So what do you think will be the next new gadget?

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