By Steve Chaconas
New Toys, New Modifications
There’ve been many new devices to make bass fishing more effective and enjoyable. A few stand out. Many were met with resistance by fishing’s rank and file. “I don’t need that” or “I’ve always done it this way” or “Just wait to see if they really work” were common excuses for not embracing the new and disposing the old.
One of the first was the gas foot pedal. In early years of boating, a hand throttle was standard on every bass boat. Left hand on the steering wheel and the right on the throttle. Boaters operated their throttle by hand with one hand on the wheel. Along came the foot pedal, allowing complete boat control with both hands on the steering wheel. Better for boat handling and safer too.
About a decade ago, shallow water anchors were becoming available for bass boats This enabled remote control of two anchor spikes deployed into the lake bottom. Prior to these devices, anglers used trolling motors to keep boats in position. Along came Power Pole and anglers stayed put with the touch of a button, especially handy in current or windy conditions for fishing specific target fishing. Trolling motors wouldn’t be used, making it quieter near fish hangouts. Effective while fishing and for taking a break to change tackle or retie without losing boat position. In addition, these anchors made docking a piece of cake, allowing boats to be safely away from the dock to avoid damage.
Fishing electronics have truly changed fishing. “Seeing” underwater to find fish hangouts or fish themselves, these minicomputers with big screens eliminate unproductive fishing time. In the last few years, Garmin released the most innovative advancement since Humminbird released side imaging. LiveScope allows anglers to aim a transducer to see fish and the cover they hide in. A special transducer attached to the trolling motor can be aimed by moving the trolling motor. This was a game changer, allowing anglers to see fish and target the biggest fish around. Anglers with sponsorship deals with other manufacturers did not have these advantages. Some even dropped sponsors to jump on board with Garmin’s innovation. This year, manufacturers introduced their versions of Garmin’s LiveScope, forward scan, and it’s becoming widely accepted as a must-have for competitive anglers. However, one big disadvantage is using trolling motors while trying to aim the transducer, since they move in unison. It’s cumbersome to use forward scan with trolling motors especially with the trolling motor anchor feature called Spot Lock. The trolling motor does its job in deeper water, keeping the boat in position, but using the trolling motor to aim the transducer disengages Spot Lock and is not a seamless operation.
Angler innovations created the concept of adding separate poles, many homemade for a few dollars, mounted to the boat deck or gunnel to keep the transducer aiming independent from the trolling motor. However, these devices had to be deployed and retrieved. They also took up deck space and were not very stable. Enter RM Industries, specializing in fishing, marine and other outdoor-related products. A small but focused company with over 50 years experience in designing products and machine parts world-wide, RM has created Rite Hite gear to make forward scan more effective and easier to use. The Rite Hite Turret attaches to the trolling motor, but operates independently of the motor shaft, allowing anglers to use trolling motors while aiming the transducer with a small foot pedal. All the advantages of the pole add-on, but without the issues of having to aim by hand. The Rite Hite Turret, allowing fishing with both hands, is catching on with anglers who are catching more fish. It stows and deploys with the trolling motor to eliminate taking up deck space and drilling holes in the boat. Quiet and durable, it’s become the seamless answer for forward scan useability. The company has built quite the following, selling thousands. RM has also added other products to enhance and protect this technology. A cable protector saves the costly transducer. A removable kickstand stabilizes the Turret shaft during trailering and boat rides. Their recent addition of the Perspective mount is also innovative. Not only does it eliminate the factory mount offset, but also allows more horizontal adjustments, enabling more options according to different depths.
It won’t be long for manufacturers to realize they’ve missed the boat when it comes to forward scan electronics and start supplying their versions of these accessories to enable anglers to expand the use and effectiveness of this technology. For those waiting, they aren’t maximizing their substantial investment. Those who have the Turret are finally utilizing their gear to catch more fish.
Potomac River Bassing in September
Hit the mats. Grass beds are getting thicker now, and fish are in them. There are two solid techniques for getting them to come out.
Hollow bodied frogs are effective as they cover water. Gamma Torque braid in 50-60 pound test is a must! At least a 7 foot medium heavy to heavy rod and a fast casting-reel are required for effective hook sets and for winching fish out of thick grass. Also bend the hooks open just a bit for better hook ups. Cast over grass and twitch the frogs to entice bass to bust through the grass to eat them. Once the fish has the bait, do not count to ten! Set the hook straight up.
The other technique is a bit more tedious but very effective. Punching mats refers to a heavy tungsten weight, 1 ounce or more, pegged to a stout hook with a small plastic crawfish. These are pitched to either small openings or shaken to drop to the fish below the grass mats.
Either method produces big fish. But don’t forget to use swim jigs and bladed jigs on 16 pound test Gamma Edge fluorocarbon.
Author Capt. Steve Chaconas is Potomac bass fishing guide. Potomac River reports: nationalbass.com. Book trips/purchase gift certificates: info@NationalBass.com.