5 Chart Plotter Fishing Tips
One of the best tools coastal and offshore anglers can use to catch more fish might be literally staring them in the face. That is, the chart plotter portion of their boat’s multifunction navigation system.
Many sport fishermen use their charts to navigate from Point A to Point B, and their echo sounder to find fish ”” without benefitting from the true power of the two systems working together. And with today’s latest crop of advanced chart plotter/sounder combos and new-generation electronic charts, there are many ways savvy anglers can use this combined technology to get an edge over the fish ””and other fishermen.
Some strong examples of this latest technology can be found in the Lowrance and Simrad product line, together with new C-MAP MAX-N/MAX-N+ cartography developed exclusively for use with select MFDs in the Lowrance, Simrad and B&G family. Units like the Lowrance HDS Gen2 and Gen2 Touch family, Lowrance Elite 7 and Simrad NSS evo2 and NSO evo2 combine advanced charting/navigation features with powerful sounder capabilities, including HD Structure Scan and CHIRP (Compressed High Intensity Radar Pulse)-enabled broadband sounding for detailed, almost photo-like detail of fish and bottom structure.
These latest innovations from Lowrance and Simrad are packed with high-tech features; too many to detail here. We encourage anybody who’s outfitting a new boat or considering an upgrade to do some further research at www.lowrance.com or www.simrad-yachting.com to learn more.
For the purposes of this piece, we’ll focus on the availability of new C-MAP MAX-N/MAX-N+ charts and how anglers can use them in their everyday fishing.
High Resolution Bathymetric (HRB) Cartography – These charts for coastal and offshore waters can be a powerful tool for anglers, providing exclusive detail of canyons, ledges, pinnacles, depressions and other bottom contours that create “fishy” conditions. Even far offshore, these contours form upwellings and direct deep-sea currents, concentrating everything from baitfish to drifting kelp paddies. With these charts, you’ll always know what you’re over when you hook up, even beyond the operational limits of your sounder. By marking trolling hookups, kelps and bait schools on your plotter, you may see patterns (for example, kelps piling up over one side of a deep-sea ridge) that help you focus your efforts on productive zones.
Don’t Fear MPAs – California anglers are very familiar with these closed and/or restricted fishing zones, and they’ll likely become a reality for saltwater anglers in other states, too. MAX-N/MAX-N+ charts make it easy to see these areas and ”” most importantly ”” fish adjacent open waters with pinpoint accuracy and confidence. These coastal and island closures were set aside specifically for their structure and fish-rich habitat, still, most anglers steer far clear for fear of catching a big, fat citation by mistake. Knowing where you are on the chart plotter while metering for bottom structure maximizes your use of available waters, and can provide an opportunity to fish some of the best calico, lingcod, white seabass, yellowtail and rockfish waters.
Anchor and Drift With Precision – Whether you are setting up on a wreck or drifting over a shelf for halibut, proper boat positioning is the key to success. The ability to meter over structure (or drift a target area), then using your chart to graphically see your boat’s position will increase success and reduce trial-and-error. A short test-drift above structure will let you see the effects of wind and current and make it easy to set anchor correctly and put your baits in the strike zone. When drifting, you can track your boat’s movement in relation to the structure/target, and fine-tune your presentation on subsequent drifts.
Find Spots on the Fly – These Lowrance and Simrad sounders offer a “Trackback” feature that lets users scroll back through sounder readings. Say you’re looking for a known reef and you pass over an “unexpected” school of fish or promising wreck. These integrated systems make it easy to scroll back, drop a waypoint on that spot and use your charts and plotter to find it again.
Smart fishermen are always looking for new spots, and this technology makes it easy.
Always Be Learning – Every trip is an opportunity to learn new fish-rich areas, whether it’s a hard bottom shelf, a sand-to-rock transition zone or new, fish-laden rock pile. This is where a sounder, plotter and charts working together can teach some powerful lessons. As you use and gain understanding of the bottom detail in today’s MAX-N/MAX-N+ charts, you’ll narrow down new areas ”” even in your own “backyard” ”” to do some searching. For example, steep rocky island or coastal points often continue well away from the shoreline, resulting in both current breaks and high-relief structure. In addition, these underwater formations often shelve off large chunks of rock, resulting in scattered rock piles. Targeting such areas on your charts and using the scanning and/or CHIRP capabilities of these modern sounders can help you find new fish-holding spots not commonly known by other anglers.
These are just five examples of ways anglers can use charts and sounder together to find and catch more fish. And there are several great incentives on the table to entice anglers to dive in right now.
Through the end of the year, the purchase of any MAX-N/ MAX-N+ chart will include a voucher for a free HRB fishing chart (a $119 value) along with one year Premium Insight Genesis subscription (a $99 value), allowing boaters to create their own custom inland and coastal maps using their boat’s sonar readings. This adds up to more than $200 in freebies on the purchase of a Local or Wide MAX-N/MAX-N+ chart (retail $119 or $199 respectively).
In addition, the Bloodydecks community can take advantage of an exclusive offer through The GPS Store Inc., receiving an additional $20 discount off the purchase off the prices of MAX-N/MAX-N+ charts ”” along with all the other perks. This Bloodydecks discount expires October 15, so don’t wait if you want it all for your boat.