UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Pickwick Lake

Today’s electronics: A fishing paradox

Today’s electronics: A fishing paradox
FLW Tour pro Tom Redington lands his quarry.

Today's fishing electronics are absolutely incredible. Like most of the pros, I have cutting-edge touch screen Lowrance units on my boat with displays that dwarf what was available 10 years ago. First came the GPS revolution, making navigation of new lakes much safer and returning to offshore hot spots much easier. Then came ever increasingly accurate topo maps, with 1-foot contours. Now, instead of spending hours finding a spot that looks good on a paper map, we can run directly to it at 70 mph and pull up right on it on our first time to a lake. About the same time, huge advances happened in sonar as well, with side imaging that looks like a satellite picture of the lake bottom on both sides of our boats, plus DownScan sonar that allows you to practically count the bass, crappie and individual shad in a thick tree. To say these units were game changers is a massive understatement.

I've guided on Lake Fork for 10 years and instructional sonar trips have long been the second-most requested trip (catching a 10-pounder, on a topwater, with it jumping five times on the way to the boat but not coming off is number one). With traditional sonar, most novice anglers were only slightly less confused by the end of the trip than when they started. Nowadays, most guys fully understand the images after an hour or two.

The fact that the new sonar units are so powerful has created a fishing paradox. The maps are so good and the displays are so easy to read that it seems like every angler on the lake can find the spots that were, until recently, the secrets of a few locals.

So where does this leave us? If you fish a crowded lake or in tournaments, it means that the obvious spots on the map will probably be found by lots of others, especially during the peak summertime offshore structure fishing season. The good news is that with a little time scouting, today's power Lowrance units allow you to discover subtle lunker hangouts that most others miss - spots that would have been nearly impossible to locate in years past.

With that in mind, here are a couple of new videos I did to help you interpret your sonar unit better.

The Basics: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14v1U98MeLs

Advanced: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PxAWd_6KW2s
For a more in-depth look, the following is a recent article I wrote, with tips for using your electronics to find bass in areas that other anglers miss.

"Not so obvious"

Boat docks, lily pads, and laydown trees all hold a lot of fish. Problem is, everyone on the lake knows it and those places get peppered by baits. In the past, offshore structure like points and creek channel bends were the best way to avoid the crowds; however, these days even a novice can turn on his Lowrance and drive right to previously hidden deep water hideouts. Obvious spots produce bass when the crowds are light. On weekends or during a tournament, you can bet that if a spot looks good to you, it looks good to a lot of others too. As a result, fish in easily recognizable places get a lot of pressure and often stop biting ... if you're even able to get on the spot amongst a crowd of other boats.

The holy grail of bass fishing, especially for tournament success or regular lunker catches, is finding something that most anglers overlook. As more anglers become proficient with new sonar and mapping technology, finding the unexploited becomes increasing difficult, yet the payoff is worth the hassle. The following are a few ideas on where to start your treasure hunt:

Barren spots on the map:

Does that big main-lake point with a channel swing on the side of it look good to you? Yeah, the last 3,000 guys on the lake thought so too. At the FLW Tour on Chickamauga this past summer, everyone knew it would be won on deep structure and that the lake was going to fish small with big crowds on key spots. I went into practice and pretty much eliminated any spot that looked remotely fishy on my map. Instead, I spent hours graphing around large expanses of seemingly flat, featureless bottoms. In most cases, the maps were correct. However, over the course of three days, I found some fish holding to spots in the middle of nowhere. While most of the field was fighting over the good-looking areas, I had three key spots all to myself and rode them to an eighth-place finish ... by fishing the worst looking water in the lake.

Micro structure & cover:

You don't need a 200-foot long point or a 10-foot channel drop-off to hold bass. Subtle contour changes or small pieces of cover regularly hold a school of fish, or at least a quick keeper. Today's graphs are an awesome search tool for this. On plane, I'm always keeping one eye on my Lowrance sonar screen, looking for any subtle humps, ditches or drops not marked on my map. Some of my all-time best fishing spots are humps that slowly rise less than 3 feet in nearly 30 feet of water, or 1-foot deep ditches running through 8-foot flats. If I see one, it's very easy to mark a quick waypoint and come back to investigate further. When I'm off plane, StructureScan clearly shows isolated rock piles, fallen trees, sunken boats, isolated grass clumps and tons of other cover that few others find. Often, you can make five or six casts to one of these spots and catch an active fish or two.

The "wrong water":

In the spring, you'll find almost every boat beating the bank. In the summer on legendary structure lakes, all the boats will be out on the ledges. When creeks get big runoff and turn muddy, most anglers flee the area. Whatever the time of year, not all of the bass are in the same area doing the same thing. Go against the grain, figure out the fish and you'll have virgin water the entire trip.

Bottom transitions:

Hard bottoms are consistent bass producing locations, especially in lakes with lots of soft, muddy bottoms. In this case, gravel, rock or shell beds hold big schools. In lakes with lots of rock and hard bottom, transitions from one type to another (such as gravel to clay or chunk rock to ledge rock) are bass magnets. The best spots aren't noticeable by looking at the shore, lest everyone will know the transition exists. These transitions are easy to spot when the lake is down, so make mental notes of where they are located for when the water comes back up to normal. Again, new sonar advances make finding these spots a lot easier. Use your StructureScan to find changes in bottom hardness (harder bottoms appear brighter and thicker, often producing a second bottom return or "double echo"), and you can actually see what size rocks are on the bottom in the side view. Having trouble setting up your graph and reading the Down and Side sonar? If so, check out my instructional videos here.

Vast grass mats:

Many anglers quickly find the areas of a lake that have grass. However, submerged aquatic vegetation like hydrilla, milfoil, cabbage and coontail grows irregularly and changes vastly from one year to the next. In large flats, grass beds can grow for dozens of acres, often making it feel like looking for a bigmouthed needle in an Everest-sized haystack. Most anglers fish a small stretch of the grass by wandering aimlessly, shrug their shoulders, and move on. It takes a lot of effort and skill to stay on the raggedy outside grass edge, often a high-percentage area. If the fish are actually up in the middle of the grass flat, it can take hours of fishing to stumble upon a good school through all the dead water. In this case, the grass bed is obvious, but finding the hidden jackpots takes a lot more persistence than most will invest.

The next time you're struggling to catch fish, keep in mind that you might have an "obvious" problem.
You can follow Tom Redington's fishing tips and updates at www.facebook.com/tomredingtonfishing and www.twitter.com/Tom_Redington. For fishing articles and videos, check out his website www.LakeForkGuideTrips.com.

Tags: tom-redington  blog 

Renewed Excitement for Super Tournaments

Renewed Excitement for Super Tournaments

Like everyone else, I had concerns about when we would be able to resume our 2020 season on the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit. Probably a bigger concern was what the rest of the season would look like. READ MORE »

Why I’m Excited to be Back with FLW

Why I’m Excited to be Back with FLW

This year has been an interesting one, to say the least. For the first time in my pro career, I’ve been home for much of the spring, and while it was great to fish local waters and get some projects done around the house, I’m ready to get back to fishing tournaments. READ MORE »

Big Changes for the Pro Circuit

Big Changes for the Pro Circuit

Recently announced changes to the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit have me extremely excited to get the season back under way. Specifically, a good number of the Major League Fishing anglers will be fishing the remaining three Pro Circuit Super Tournament events with increased payouts. This makes these truly the most lucrative five-fish-limit events in the country, with potentially half of the tournament field being paid $10,000 or more. READ MORE »

My Line-Thru Addiction

My Line-Thru Addiction

Pollen is in the air, on the water and covers my boat on a daily basis. When this happens, it means one thing to me – the bass are on the bed. Now, most people are all giddy about sight-fishing, but that’s not my deal. I can count on two hands how many fish I’ve caught truly sight-fishing. What comes to my mind during this time is swimbait fishing, but more specifically, one kind of swimbait in particular – a line-thru swimbait. READ MORE »

Making the Most of Quarantine

Making the Most of Quarantine

At the beginning of this year I was excited about the opportunity to fish the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit and the Bassmaster Elite Series. I was most excited about fishing the spawn in March and April on some of my favorite lakes. When the schedules for both circuits were first released I was feeling very confident about doing some sight-fishing on Santee Cooper, Eufaula and Lake Hartwell. READ MORE »

The Real Reason I love Spring

The Real Reason I love Spring

Fishing for a living is awesome, but when spring comes it can be tough. April is always a busy month for tournaments – and the fishing is usually fantastic – but I really love to turkey hunt and tournaments can put a damper on that. READ MORE »

A Silver Lining

A Silver Lining

From spending some quality time with my wife, Katie, and my dog, Doppler, to organizing my life and fun fishing, there are numerous ways that I have been able to take advantage of our current social responsibility to participate in “social distancing.” READ MORE »

Encouraging the Next Generation

Encouraging the Next Generation

Growing up in the city of Chicago, I didn’t have the outlet to the outdoors that a lot of our youth enjoy while growing up. It often takes hours to travel out of the city due to traffic, and there were no lakes within walking distance from my house. So it’s not like I could swing by the pond after school. READ MORE »

Picking out a New Favorite Rod

Picking out a New Favorite Rod

When selecting a new rod, I consider several elements: action, power, length and components.  Different rods will fit the role, depending on the type of lure, cover and fish species you are targeting. READ MORE »

Always Go Down Swinging

Always Go Down Swinging

Greg Bohannan's late father, Kenny, taught his sons to never take a third strike looking. "If you take the pitch and don't swing, you never give yourself a chance," he'd say. With that lesson in mind, Greg took his cuts at Lake Martin and gave himself a shot to win. Even though it didn't work out, he knows that at least he went down swinging. READ MORE »

How to Catch Your New PB

How to Catch Your New PB

Out of the five biggest fish I have caught in my life, four have come on a ChatterBait, including my personal best – a 9-pounder I caught this year on Sam Rayburn during the first Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event. READ MORE »

Why You Should Reel with Both Hands

Why You Should Reel with Both Hands

Without a doubt, during a tournament day I always get a question from my Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Marshal about why I have both left- and right-handed Abu Garcia baitcast reels. I get comments about the same thing from multiple social media followers if I post a picture that shows my reels. The remarks originally surprised me, but not any longer because of how frequently I see them. READ MORE »

Carrying Momentum into Florida

Carrying Momentum into Florida

Despite the solid start to the year, and the confidence that comes with overcoming adversity, Miles Burghoff knows very well how a good start to a season can either create positive momentum, or open the door to complacency, which often can result in a loss of motivation and focus. With the Harris Chain event kicking off this week, he's determined to keep that focus and motivation. READ MORE »

New Year, Same Feel

New Year, Same Feel

Ending 2019 on a bad note wasn’t how I pictured last season going. I was in contention to qualify for the FLW Cup going into the last FLW Tour event on Lake Champlain, but after coming in 97th at the finale I finished the season 51st in the Angler of the Year points and missed my chance for the Cup. Not going to lie, it stung a little bit and made for a LONG drive home, but it also made me hungry for 2020. READ MORE »

Vlog: Rayburn Recap, Practice to Pattern

Vlog: Rayburn Recap, Practice to Pattern

Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit pro Josh Douglas and his wife, Bri, created this baller recap video from Sam Rayburn and the first Pro Circuit event of 2020. In the video, which includes footage from practice and the tournament, Josh dishes on how he used his practice time to eventually uncover a productive trap pattern that helped him earn a 42nd-place finish, which is a big improvement on the 114th he posted at Rayburn in the 2019 FLW Tour event. READ MORE »

Why You Shouldn’t Second-Guess Your Gut

Why You Shouldn’t Second-Guess Your Gut

In tournament fishing, you can beat yourself up for days with the “what if” scenarios that cause you to second-guess your gut. Well, in this case, I guessed wrong. I finished the Lake Champlain event in 145th place. It knocked me all the way down to 60th in points and out of Cup contention. READ MORE »

More Fishing, More Focus in 2020

More Fishing, More Focus in 2020

People talk a lot about the offseason in professional bass fishing, but when you do this for a living you pretty quickly realize there really isn’t much of an offseason anymore. READ MORE »

New Challenges, New Opportunities

New Challenges, New Opportunities

Now with 2019 in the rear-view mirror, 2020 is in the crosshairs, and I look forward to the challenges ahead. With the rebranding of the Tour to the new FLW Pro Circuit, there are some great new opportunities that both fans and competitors will benefit from. READ MORE »

Why I Chose FLW

Why I Chose FLW

My name is Richard Dunham, but most people know me as Dicky D. I currently live in Palm Harbor Florida where I work for the Folsom Corporation, one of the largest fishing distributors in the country. In 2020 I am fishing as a boater in Southern Division of the FLW Series. READ MORE »

Prepping for the 2020 Fishing Season

Prepping for the 2020 Fishing Season

This is one of my favorite times of the year, the (not so) calm before the storm before the tournament season kicks off down south in January. READ MORE »