Mark Grenovich talks sounders giving us some great tips no matter what brand you use.

Today’s Humminbird side imaging sounders are a wonderful tool that is easy for the average angler to use. I have been running a Humminbrd 898c for the past few seasons and while I definitely claim to be no technological guru, here a few hits and ideas to help you get the best out of your unit.

When you are making some serious adjustments to your sounder, or just getting used to the settings there are a couple of little things you can do to help. Pick a location you know well that has some solid discernible structure. That way you aren’t second guessing what you are seeing on the screen. If you also know what you are looking as you can adjust the settings until the picture starts to look like what you think it is. One local spot I always like to do this is the pass region of the Hopkins River.

It is a shallow rocky region that, when you can start to see the individual rocks and the “shadows” they cast nice and clearly, you know things are all good. Bridges, slipways and pier pylons also work well for this type of activity.

What is side imaging? It’s one of those things that when you are familiar with it, everything seems so obvious. It’s easy to forget that everyone isn’t in the same boat though and they just can’t seem to interpret what is in front of them. Here’s a screen shot that might help.

Sounder 2

You are the small blue boat shaped object at the top of the screen. The screen is showing were you have just travelled. The blue arrows signify the water column beneath the boat. The orange arrow is the bottom reading to the LHS of the boat, in this case a sandy featureless bottom. The red arrow is the bottom reading to the RHS of the boat where we can see a few interesting objects as indicated by the yellow arrows. One is a submerged fence the other is a school of fish indicated by the dots.

“What do fish look like?” is another thing frequently wondered. Most are familiar with the arches that fish appear as in traditional sonar. In side imaging it is a little different. Large fish can still show up as elongated lines that sometimes can almost can take on an arch appearance. Smaller fish show up as brighter dots or dashes. This image shows densely schooled fish.

Here is a shot containing a mix of smaller fish (bream ) with a couple of bigger fish (mulloway) both species were caught from this same school on this morning.

Sounder 5

Combining traditional sonar and side imaging can give you a great idea about what is going on under the boat. Here the traditional sonar shows clearly the depth at which the fish are holding whilst the Side imaging shows the school to be on the RHS of the boat.

Bait balls, whether you’re fishing a lake for trout or fish for pelagics like kings and tuna offshore, are important things to locate to help you find fish. Marking them on the GPS can be important if there isn’t much structure around.

However your Humminbird sounder is more than just a fish finder. A keen eye can pick up many things that aid an angler in their knowledge of a water way and finding fish. We always used to get fish next to a particular boat in the Mitchell. Side imaging suggests it perhaps not so much the boat but the rise in the river bed and the snag.

Sounder 8

Even though we do a lot of surface style fishing for many species from bream to tuna to kingfish the Humminbird GPS component can be a huge help in marking locations where you have seen or caught fish. In estuaries you can mark productive banks in a large system. Even in the open ocean it’s amazing how often a location you have seen or hooked up at previously can result in another encounter when you return to the mark you made.

Another good GPS feature is being able to mark your spots with different icons.  No guesses for wondering what we get here. You can even track your drop net down to check that it is landing on hard reefy bottom as indicated by the solid yellow return under to bottom contour.

Sounder 7

Using color palate 1, solid objects give a distinct yellow. This is handy for discerning a big school of pike or bait from a school of kingfish, and this was one big school of kingfish. Like wise the other image is of a small school of tuna. Even though the school is small the yellow in the fish sounding suggests fish of a decent size.

Hopefully this basic info and the screen shots above help you make the most out of you Humminbird sounder and catch more fish.

Mark Grenovich

About Mark Grenovich

Mark Gercovich is a school teacher who lives in the Sth West of Victoria at Warrnambool. He has been contributed to a wide variety of angling publications for almost 20 years. Despite being a successful bream tournament angler he enjoys a wide variety of fishing scenarios from fishing skinny water for big trout to chasing meter plus Kings on lures and live bait. Mark has also traveled extensively having fished in every state of Australia as well as Vanuatu.

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