Bringing Fish into View
By Steve Chaconas
Bringing Fish into View
“Fishfinders” don’t find fish as much as they find locations where fish might live, however they require angler interpretation. Subsequent generations with computers interpret sonar signals and provide views beyond the boat bottom to hundreds of feet around the boat.
It’s been 5 years since Garmin electronics released their game-changing LiveScope technology. It provides a new view of underwater fish hangouts with more than just a spec, blob or arch. Fish shapes in motion, including their position on cover and the lure presented to them, are easily identified.
Improvements and tournament wins are making this a must-have for pros and weekend anglers alike. Many pros are covertly using LiveScope to avoid conflicts with other sponsors. Pros not crossing that line lamented at seasons’ end they need to find a way to come on board or fall behind the fishtronics curve.
How good is the new Garmin? Falcon Boat Mercury pro angler Troy Morrow was hanging in against top pros. But Garmin’s LiveScope turned his career around in the last 2 years when he helped to pioneer the new LiveScope system. There was a learning curve as these units are much more effective when making frequent tweaks.
Morrow, a quick study, demonstrated his prowess on the Potomac River in 2019. Fishing was tough for the pro field in a series of three events a week or so apart during the heat of the summer. While anglers targeted thick river grasses, Morrow relied on LiveScope to find and catch fish on rocks, docks and submerged wrecks. “I like to fish hard targets. That narrows down what to hit. Seeing cover, a broken post or stump, I don’t have to make 10 casts to find it.” Morrow sees underwater targets with LiveScope and with one cast, he’s in the strike zone, not just close, making each cast more effective. He says casting around cover makes fish more reluctant to bite, so dropping a bait in front a fish makes them strike. “If not in the right spot fish will swim to the bait and not eat it.” The best casts drop directly to the fish and only LiveScope makes that happen. First casts provide the best shot to get bites. Once he covered a spot, he left, but came back to allow them to refresh.
Approaching a dock, most anglers fish every piling or certain pilings based on tides or weather conditions. Not Morrow. Approaching a dock, he lowered Power Pole Shallow Water Anchors to look at each piling. Only then making a cast, certain every presentation went to a fish. Once a fish was caught, he kept the Power Poles down to fish that spot. Morrow noticed how fish reacted to his baits. Some came over, took a look and then left, indicating he needed to change his Zoom soft plastic bait, color or size. Now he was making changes for a reason, not just a gut reaction. LiveScope revealed additional less obvious targets on docks like wash outs or spots just out from the dock. He even identified schools of catfish to avoid.
Results speak for themselves, two top ten and a second place finish in what many consider to be the most challenging events in the country. The Bass Fishing League and the FLW Costas Series attract top national pros, regional pros and local hot sticks.
Morrow is one of the most knowledgeable in operating these systems and an expert installer. He says installation is the first step in getting the most out of these units, including wiring and battery source. Today he’s still learning, trying to stay ahead of the curve and spending hours to realize LiveScope’s full potential. “Now I’m using it in every aspect of bass fishing, fishing spots normally overlooked. Fish are always moving and a nothing bank can produce bonus fish.”
LiveScope has changed how Morrow fishes and practices. He locates fish and where specifically they’re relating to cover and type of cover. LiveScope also reveals how they react to baits, helping him to dial in lure presentation, cadence, and color. It must be working as Morrow recently won a Toyota Series on Lake Norman and back to back 2 day BFL events on Lake Hartwell.
Purists say surveilling fish with electronic devices doesn’t give fish much of a chance. No matter the relative advantage, fish are the final and largest variable. LiveScope is the vision of the future and it’s here now, coming soon to the rest of the industries’ fish finders.
Potomac River Bassing in February
Water is in the 40s. Slight warm up on hard cover during the heat of the day. Fish are still on drops in bays with less current.
Silver Buddy lures are the best bet on 10 pound test Gamma Edge fluorocarbon, burp the ½ ounce silver bait down drops without overworking. A Quantum Smoke casting reel on a medium action 7 foot rod is stiff enough to keep fish hooked.
Also working are small grubs in ¼ ounce ball head jigs. Tie these to 15 pound test Gamma torque braid with 8 pound test GAMMA Copoly leaders. Crawl along the bottom with frequent stops. Faster Quantum Smoke spinning reels can take up line quickly to make other casts.
Use the same line system for drop shot and split shot rigs. Small worms can be threaded on 1/0 Mustad Mega Bite hooks with 3/16 ounce Water Gremlin BullShot weights. Keep baits horizontal with slow movements and pauses.
Punisher hair jigs are also a good choice with small craws or chunks. Use the same line. Allow the jigs to sit so hair opens to create bites.
As water warms a slightly larger profile Mizmo tube with a ¼ ounce insert head from Mud Puppy Custom Baits are made with Mustad hooks and will penetrate with a load and pull set.
Author Capt. Steve Chaconas is Potomac bass fishing guide. Potomac River reports: nationalbass.com. Book trips/purchase gift certificates: info@NationalBass.com.