No Sounder, No Worries: Fishing Without Technology

 

In these modern times just about everyone takes advantage of the advanced electronic devises we’re constantly surrounded with. From smart phones capable of doing just about anything, through to GPS units and sounders, commonly used for fishing. In this thought provoking article Jamie Robley discusses fishing with minimal use of technology.

While there are obvious benefits from such technology and many of us would find it hard to live without them, there’s still a lot to be said for old school skills that have been around for hundreds of years. In fact, it’s quite likely that we’ve come to rely on electronic technology so much that our minds are less inclined to tune into our natural surroundings. When you think about it, fishing is all about nature. While sophisticated gadgetry can seemingly work wonders, it can only do so much. A sounder may show depth, bottom structure, fish and a few other things, but it’s still up to the angler to work out the best plan of attack. The more aware or tuned into the natural world, including what’s below the water’s surface, the better our chances of angling success.
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Casting lures to bankside snags for wild river bass is largely about observation of the water and natural structure present, as well as casting accuracy and simple persistence. A sounder could be of some benefit, but not as much as honing your own observation skills and just keeping an eye out.

 

GOING SOLO

While sounders are virtually a must for offshore fishing and very helpful around large lakes or inland impoundments, there are also many instances where they’re not at all necessary. Some examples being casting surface lures over shallow flats or peppering bankside snags in small creeks for bream or bass. In such cases it’s largely about observation, stealth and casting accuracy – things that no electronic device can really help us with. So if you don’t have a sounder and don’t fish deep water, don’t worry. Here are some tips that will go a long way towards scoring more fish by using what are perhaps our most important fishing tools of all – our eyes and brain!
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Bridges are a prime form of structure for many different fish. Yes, a sounder could be beneficial here, but it’s also important to look at the current flow, eddies and any fishy activity close to those pylons.

 

OBVIOUS SURROUNDINGS

Upon arriving at a fishing spot, close to home and familiar or further afield, we quickly assess things like water colour, current flow, bankside structure and so on. One direction or a particular bay, point or feeder creek may look appealing and so that’s where we end up heading. However, it’s always worth taking time to think things over in a bit more detail. Taking into account, the desired target species and angling methods to be used, perhaps the tides or time of day could mean waiting a bit longer before hitting the water or heading towards one spot and then back to another when the tide or light levels are more suitable. A worst case scenario is getting stranded on a tidal flat because we neglected to read the tide charts and failed to notice shallows in the middle of the river. On the other hand, we may run into an awesome hot bite and have a great day. Most of the time our experience probably falls somewhere between these two extremes.
 Sinking vibe lures work well on a range of species in the fresh or salt. This bream was caught in four metres of water, as the author followed a prominent current line in a large coastal lake.

Sinking vibe lures work well on a range of species in the fresh or salt. This bream was caught in four metres of water, as the author followed a prominent current line in a large coastal lake.

STEEP HILL, DEEP WATER

Take a good look at the adjacent land and see how it falls towards the water. Very high, steep hills or cliffs may mean the water is quite deep very close in along the banks. Conversely, quite flat surroundings that gently slope into the water probably mean it remains shallow before gradually dropping away further out. In rivers, a sharp bend will most likely be quite deep on the inside and shallow on the opposite bank, which forms a point. Depending on the area and time of year, species like mulloway or bream could be more likely on the deeper side of the bend, whereas flathead or whiting may gravitate towards the shallower, pointy side.
Scanning the natural surroundings can give us an idea of what lies below the surface. If it’s quite hilly, with steep banks than chances are it may be similar under the water.

Scanning the natural surroundings can give us an idea of what lies below the surface. If it’s quite hilly, with steep banks than chances are it may be similar under the water.

Another river scenario is where a prominent point pokes out into the river. As current flows past, eddies are formed on one or both sides of the point and one side could be deeper than the other. Yes, a sounder would soon show if it’s deep or not, but so will a quick cast. The longer a bait or lure takes to sink, the deeper it is. In reality, the exact depth isn’t as important as the simple fact that it’s possibly deeper or shallower than the adjacent parts of the river. Observing such things is very simple and easy to do, but neglecting the obvious is also very easy to do. Sure, a sounder shows these things up, but our eyes can do it just as efficiently.
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If the shoreline is steep and rocky, then it’s quite likely things look the same down below.

 

SUBTLE SIGNS

Less conspicuous signs indicating depth or fish attracting features can also help us pinpoint and catch fish. A pair of polarised sunnies can be beneficial as they cut through glare, so weedbeds, rocks, holes or channels may be spotted dissecting shallower areas. The edges of such structure are nearly always reliable fish attractors, at one stage or another. Common favourites like bream and flathead are particularly attracted to edges. Sounders are good for finding deeper congregations of baitfish, but in reality, a lot of bait can be seen close to or right in the surface. Bait schools don’t always stand out unless they’re under attack from predators, but by keeping an eye on the water, bait isn’t that hard to spot. Naturally, where bait is present, larger fish are likely to be in the vicinity.
Flathead really love edges. This means where shallow flats fall away to deeper channels, along the edges of weedbeds, rocks and the shoreline itself. Most of these edges can easily be seen without the aid of a sounder.

Flathead really love edges. This means where shallow flats fall away to deeper channels, along the edges of weedbeds, rocks and the shoreline itself. Most of these edges can easily be seen without the aid of a sounder.

LOOK AT THE SURFACE

The water’s surface may also give away a few hints as to what’s going on below. If a breeze is blowing, even subtle current flow may be seen as the surface becomes more ruffled and tends to ‘stand up’, as wind pushes against the direction of the flow. So calmer looking streaks or patches may also be an indication of wind that’s blowing in the same direction as the current. Spotting current like this can be quite handy when fishing open lakes, lagoons or impoundments, as fish tend to gravitate towards current, rather than still water. This is where food gets pushed along and in some cases current coming from different parts of a waterway may converge in one small area. Floating weed, leaves, scum or bubbles also tends to gather in spots like this and it’s always worth a few casts.
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When casting surface lures over shallow flats, rocky shorelines or to fallen timber there really isn’t much need at all for a sounder. This is more of a visual style of fishing, where observation counts for a lot.

 

A WORD ON CURRENT

Current flow is much easier to see in tidal rivers or faster freshwater streams. Still though there will be calmer patches, eddies and upwellings, all giving us a clue as to what’s down below. Calm spots are usually shallower and just out of the main flow of the river, but some are also simply sheltered from the main flow by large obstructions. Eddies, which are generally house fish are mainly seen just behind or to the side of boulders, fallen timber or section of bank that cuts in. Upwellings mean there’s probably reef, some sort of pinnacle or a submerged log below, so it could be quite snaggy, but probably holds a few fish as well.
By reading natural signs it’s not too hard to find deep channels or holes, where fish like mulloway like to ambush their prey.

By reading natural signs it’s not too hard to find deep channels or holes, where fish like mulloway like to ambush their prey.

SIMPLE FISHING

While watching a sounder screen or tuning in and closely observing the natural surrounds can both help us locate fish or at least fishy looking habitat, nothing beats time and experience on the water. In the end, it’s the fish that actually let us know if what we’re doing is working or not. Of course, life’s commitments mean that it’s never possible to be out there fishing as much as we’d like. That’s where articles like this, as well as the plethora of other information available on the Kaydo website comes in handy. Gaining knowledge here is a way of filling in some gaps and fast tracking your skills, so when time does allow, we can get out there and be in with a good chance of success, with or without the aid of modern electronics!
 It’s always advantageous to be out on the water and fishing by sunrise. A general guideline when fishing in most waterways is that fish often hunt in the shallows around sunset or sunrise and retreat to deeper water through the middle of the day.

It’s always advantageous to be out on the water and fishing by sunrise. A general guideline when fishing in most waterways is that fish often hunt in the shallows around sunset or sunrise and retreat to deeper water through the middle of the day.

 
Jamie Robley

About Jamie Robley

Based on the New South Wales Central Coast, less than two hour’s drive north of Sydney, Jamie Robley started fishing around his local lakes at an early age. Bream, flathead and tailor were the main source of entertainment for a young Jamie but of course, like many other kids who’ve been bitten by the bug, he quickly became interested in other species and more advanced styles of fishing.

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