Good electronics make a difference

As we pulled up to the sunken island on Regina Bay at Sioux Narrows, memories from eleven years previous came rushing back. I was with friend Darrin Bohonis and he had invited me down with him from Winnipeg to fish springtime smallmouth bass. Now Darrin is an awesome angler, and he had won a tournament on this body of the fall previous so when he decided to start on this spot it was no surprise. Still, when I started to laugh he had no idea what was so funny. I explained to Darrin that it was here in 2001 that I filmed a “Complete Angler” show with friend Chris Bell for fall smallmouth. In three hours that October we had caught and released a number of jumbo smallmouth using a jigging spoon called the “Rattlin Snakie”. We had fished the east side of this big sunken island finding the fish relating to a sharp drop off .

Yours truly and Chris Bell

Wow, while things change, some still stay the same. Of course the fish had not moved from this popular winter home but the way we caught them sure had. While we used a aggressive lift and drop with a jigging spoon that fall, this time around we caught all our bass dead sticking a Berkley four inch power minnow on a 3/8 ounce jig. Darrin said the key was let the jig go to the bottom, then reel up half a turn and hold the bait steady. Sure enough, he had the first five bass doing exactly that. The rest of the day pretty much evened out on the fish catching but I found it ironic that the approach to catching this fish should be so dramatically different.

While we were fishing in the springtime, the pattern was pretty much the same, bass holding in fairly tight schools along the breakline in twenty feet of water.

Back in 2001 Chris Bell and I were fishing in a boat that had pretty basic electronics, a run of the mill Liquid Crystal. While fishing with Darrin, we had nothing but the best in electronics, no less than four top of the line Humminbird units with all the latest techonology. On the back two units, one had the Navionics chip for Lake of the Woods, the other the Lake Master chip with all the hydrographic contours outline in brilliant colours. What blew me away on the Lake Master program was the ability to highlight a depth range that we wanted to fish. Darrin had plugged in the 18-22 foot range this particular day, and every time this depth showed on the contour map it was a bright green. Now when he pulled up to a spot he would call up the side scanning feature on his left unit. He would then slowly troll with the big motor just off the edge of structure, checking to see how many fish he could mark on the side scanner. When he saw distinct stubby white dots that indicated bass, he would see how many fish he marked and if there was enough he would throw out a mark buoy. At least that hasn’t changed!
Darrin with a couple beauties!

It was amazing how accurate this scanning really was. We caught bass on everyone of those key fishing holding structures. On the first area we caught more than two dozen smallmouth and has the day progressed it continued to be fun battling early spring smallmouth.

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