Last Friday I attended the Doctor Sonar class that was to cover Lowrance, Huminbird Electronics and Navionics Mapping Chips and Apps.
The first thing Doctor Sonar aka Bruce "Doc" Sampson said to our group was "You'll have too much information at the end of the day". Yeah, he was right. I seldom take notes, but there is no way a person can retain all the information from this class without recording it or taking notes.
The goal of Doc's classes are to help us understand how we can make this technology work for us. After all, we spent the money on these units to help us catch more fish right?
Doc utilizes the latest in technology as well. If we had a question, we just spoke into a voice activated microphone and it was transmitted right into Doc's little hearing aid looking receiver. No matter where the student was in the room, Doc heard the question, repeated it and gave the answer.
The Power Point presentation started off with the basics to ensure we were all on the same page as far as understanding how the "2 D" sonar we are all use to worked.
Then it was on to figuring out what the heck all those different colors and marks were on the display. Now anyone can tell just by reading the owners manual that the color yellow is the most dense return, then red followed by blue.
What Doc does to help translate the colors in our brains is to show the display and the actual underwater video at the same time. Watching the bottom change from the blue (soft) bottom into a yellow (hard rock) bottom really help a person understand what your expensive electronics are showing the user.
Doc used the underwater video camera to show what bait fish, walleyes, suckers and sunfish look like on the sonar screen. Of course you'll still have to know the hang outs of these types of fish because your sonar will not label them for you. Confused? Here's one good example.
In looking at the sonar, there were some fish having a short fat arch in 45 feet of water suspended over a hard bottom. What species were they? Using the underwater camera, it became clear they were bluegills. So knowing how fish behave and where they like to hang out helps in making the ID off the sonar display. In the end making a good decision if I should spend the time to fish them.
Now I'm not trying to give a class here and couldn't anyway. The above chewed up the morning and spilled over into the afternoon.
At this point the Humminbird folks went over to one area and Johnny Candle covered off on the specifics of running the 'bird sonars with the SideScan technology.
I stayed to listen to Mark O'Neill go through Lowrance's StructureScan and DownScan along with how they work.
(Just a note, if you haven't looked at a StructureScan/DownScan sonar, do it! These are coming down in price all the time and they are HUGE in fish and structure finding!)
Mark covered off on way too much to touch on here, but I'll try to list a few.
*Basic functions and how to utilize the settings to optimize your unit for your kind of fishing.
*Organizing of waypoints and other waypoint tips/tricks.
*Trails and Routes - what are they and how to best use them.
*Why is backing up your info important to you and how to accomplish this quickly.
*What is Sirius In-Land Weather.
Then we moved on to Kirt Hedquist the expert on Navionics mapping chips and Mobile apps.
There is so much going on with these map chips and applications for smartphones and tablets it's unbelievable.
Beside the standard plug and play chips that have been around for years, you'll be able make your own map of waters that you fish. In other words, people that couldn't find contour map of the smallish lake they liked to fish or poor quality mapping on their favorite lake Navionics can help you with SonarCharts. You drive around the lake logging sonar to a blank chip, this info is then uploaded to Navionics and they will then update the cartography (depth contour lines) on these lakes. This new data is then downloaded to your existing qualifying Navionics chip thru the Freshest Data program. Next time your out fishing repeat the above process and Navionics will update your lake again.
What you'll end up with is a very detailed map of your lake! Heck, Doc had a hole on the St. Croix that's not on any commercial chip! Truly amazing technology that easily affordable to Joe Sixpack fisherman today.
There is no way I can cover the 8 hours of info Doc and team tried to pour into our heads here.
After spending a good chunk of change on today's sonar/gps units and using them for just over a year, it was well worth Doc's fee. I know there will be more fish in my boat this summer because of it.
If you're befuddled by your sonar or just want to get to know it better...check out the Doctor Sonar Classes. Doc will help you find fish faster.