So You Want To Buy A New Fish Finder?

So you want to buy a new fish finder


Whether you're going after Fall bass, Winter bass or getting ready for Spring, a good fish finder is a tool that every bass fisherman should consider seriously. Your fishfinder / depth finder is your eyes under the surface of the water.

Since marine electronics can be a sizable investment, you should make sure you don't spend more than you need to; and get a unit that fits your needs.

The fact is, most people who own a boat with a fish finder never learn to use it correctly. It's easy to find information on the internet on how to use a fish finder. The problem is, it's mostly geared to promote a particular brand or sales there of. And most give you nothing really useful. So this will be a 2 part post. Today I'm going to help you decide what unit would be best for you. Later I'm going to have another post on how to use a fish finder. There is a lot to learn on both these subjects; so get a cup of coffee and get ready to learn about fish finders.


Fish Finder Power

The power or wattage of a fish finder is most important for deeper water aplications. If you fish mostly visible cover in extremely shallow water (2 to 4 ft) and never fish deep water structure, you may only need something to tell you how deep the water is and show you whats on bottom . In this case most any cheap unit on the market will give you an accurate depth reading and will work just fine for you.

On the other hand If you fish deep water structure at all (deeper than 6ft) Your needs are going to be met best by a unit with at least 3000 watts peak to peak power. The more power the better readings / detail you will get.


Fish finder Pixel

Pixel as in power is also the more the better. The picture you get on the screen of your fish LCD is made up of individual pixels. Simply put the more pixels the unit has per vertical line, the more clear and distinguishable the readings will be. Pixels also play a huge role in giving you detailed readings are vital for distinguishing fish from other objects. If you fish deep water at all, a minimum of 640 vertical pixels is going to meet your needs best.


Fish Finder Transducers

Basically fish finders are under water sonar. The transducer is the component which mounts on or inside the boats hull. It sends down a signal which bounces off the bottom back to the transducer which sends the information back through the transducers cable to your screen translated into a picture of whats under the water. I Know, it's amazing isn't it?

As complicated as it may sound, transducers are fairly simple when it comes to choosing one. Most fish finders come with 1 basic, standard 20 degree cone angle transducer and a bracket which mounts the transducer to the outside Bottom of the boat. This transducer will work just fine.

Because it's Important and relates to learning to use your fish finder, (Which I'll be focusing on in the next post) I'm going to elaborate a little more on the transducer.

If you've read my blog in the past you know that I believe in keeping my tackle choices simple; and the same is true when it comes to electronics used for fishing. If you've been looking at electronics recently, you probably know that today's fish finders are very advanced and most include a wide variety of bells and whistles such as gps, side finder, and color view capabilities just to name a few.

All these features are great; but can make things very complicated for you if your just learning to use a fish finder. So I recommend starting with a good simple unit with adequate power, pixel and a standard 20 degree cone angle transducer. Unless you fish extremely shallow water as I mentioned above in this case it's fine to go with a wider cone angle transducer. You'll understand my reasoning for this when we get into learning to use your fish finder.


Fish Finder Brands

Before I talk about brands, just for the record, I am not affiliated with or sponsored by any of the companies that I may mention. Any recommendations or reviews I give are strictly based on my personal experience with the product.

There are lots of good fish finders on the market. And you don't have to spend your kids college fund or your own retirement to get a decent unit that will meet your needs.

Some of the best cheaper units that I've used are sold by Eagle Electronics. If you don't mind spending a little more for your fish finder Lowrance is the parent company of Eagle and makes what I believe to be the best. I've used Lowrance units on my own boat for 25 years. They have always been very dependable and I've never had any reason to change.

Another good brand that I've used on occasion is Garmin . I have lot's of friends who use Garmin consistently and I have not heard any complaints about their product. Hummingbird also makes a good fish finder. However it has been my experience that some of their cheaper units don't have a manual depth scale, which I consider a very important feature.

Whether you choose a bare bones cheaper unit or a top of the line with all the bells and whistles, there is one very important feature that your fish finder should have. That feature is a manual depth scale mode. This allows you to set the depth scale at the depths you desire and stops the scale (which is usually in automatic mode as the default setting on most units) from changing automatically. A constantly changing depth scale can become confusing; especially for an angler who is learning. Also the automatic depth scale setting takes away from the power of the unit and can sometimes cause distorted or false readings. I consider a manual depth scale mode feature to be a must on any LCD fish finder. I will also elaborate on this in the next post.

Hopefully what I've talked about so far will help those of you who have not gotten a fish finder yet choose one. For those who already have one, I'll be talking about learning to use a fish finder next time.

I know there are lots of questions you may have on this subject. Please feel free to use the comments to ask any questions you may have about fish finders.

Thanks for reading…… BRANCH

About the author: Tom is a freelance outdoor writer and full time Firefighter, Paramedic/Lieutenant in Georgia for the past 28 years.  He has been working and consulting in the Outdoor Industry for over 18 years and is currently creating and managing a pro fishing team, developing new products, promoting products through demonstrations, designing packaging, and he participates in different forums, radio & television shows.  Tom and his wife, Kim are volunteers with Operation One Voice. They live north of Atlanta near Braselton, GA with their lab “Jake”.

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Tracker Time: Regency 254 DL3

I remember hearing several years back that Arizona had the most boat-owners per capita in the United States. This is weird, because we live in a desert. But when you actually start to think about it, it makes sense. Arizona has several large lakes throughout the state and one can drive to Mexico or California for the ocean in hours. Also we have a lot of people from the Midwest that have moved here and brought their passions with them. So really it makes sense, but still weirds me out.

While writing up the blog about the sweet bow fishing boat last month, I couldn’t help notice another newer boat to our store. And honestly, no one can help not noticing this boat as it is probably the largest one we have ever had! I’m talking about the Regency 254 DL3. This thing is a pontoon boat like you have never seen before.

Regency is a newer name to our line of boats, but it is making quite the splash. It is our line of luxury pontoon boats. There are currently three different models, and the 254 DL3 sits right in the middle of them.

The 254 DL3 sits at 27.5 feet and can hold up to 15 people. Now immediately I am sure you brain gives you the visual of over a dozen people on a boat looking like cattle in a chute, but nothing could be farther than this. This boat has several spacious seating areas for you and your passengers. There are two lounges in the front. A L-shaped lounge in the middle. And in the back there is a huge sun lounge facing aft.

And speaking of what else in in the back, this baby has some serious giddy-up! Using the super powerful but also quiet Mercury Verado 200, the 254 DL3 can get up to 35 mph! That is the smallest model Verado though, so upgrading to the larger ones will get you going even faster. (The boat we have in-store can get up to 50 mph.) To help handle this power, the boat uses three pontoons instead of the normal two. This gives the boat better buoyancy, lift, speed and handling.

What really sets the 254 apart from other pontoon boats is the interior. For the captain this boat has an adjustable captain's chair, tilt power-assist steering, multifunction gauges, back-lit switch panels, depth finder and chart plotter. For the crew they can enjoy the built in sound system, starboard aft refreshment center (including on-demand freshwater sink and food-prep area), LED accent lighting located throughout the interior, ample storage for everyone's gear and more!

Of course with something like this, it is a bigger investment. You’ll want to take care of it, and we will help you with that! This boat comes with our 10+Life™ Warranty. That is a 10-year bow-to-stern warranty plus limited lifetime structural and deck warranty. It is also completely transferable to a second owner!

All of the features for the Regency 254 DL3 are available online, but really the best way to get the facts is by checking one out in person. Our Tracker Team will take care of you! The cool thing about our company is how it lets us share our passions with you. (Just let us know when the maiden voyage will be and if there’s room for one more!)


Previous Tracker Topics

Mako 17 Skiff

Grizzly Sportsman 1860 CC

Wildcat Special Edition


Lowrance New Elite 3X and X-4 Pro


Lowrance has a new product called the  Elite 3X and its hit Bass Pro Shops with a bang!  It’s their new price conscious color fish finder.  Lowrance will soon be consolidating the X4 and X4 Pro into the new design of the Elite 3X. It has the same price point as the Pro at $99, but adding color to the screen. 



The features include:

  • 3” LED-back-lit color display
  • Easy to read in sunlight
  • Broadband Sounder
  • Dual frequency at 83 or 200 kHz
  • Advanced Signal Processing
  • Quick release disconnect
  • Tilting swivel mounting bracket


The Elite 3X is a great fish finder for the fisherman that is just starting out.  With its easy to read and functionality, its hard to find one that compares.


The Lowrance X-4 Pro is a unit that Lowrance will soon be discontinuing.  The original price was $99.99 and has now dropped down to $69.99 at Bass Pro Shops! This is a great starter out unit because of its easy ability to read.  Most of our Tracker boats have come equipped with this unit.


The features of the X-4 Pro are:

  • 4” Super twist LCD display
  • 83/200 kHz dual search skimmer
  • Up to 120 degree angle
  • 1,500 peak power with depth to 1,000 ft
  • 4 Level gray scale
  • Fish ID
  • Sonar Alarms

Ginger J Bridges

Marine Lead

Sevierville, TN



Ice Holes!

With the changing of the seasons come long awaited outdoor opportunities. While many outdoor men and women are climbing into their tree stands to partake in the exhilarating sport of deer hunting, many die hard fishing folks have a hard time winterizing their boats with the thought of not climbing back into it until spring. Yet this is not the end for the fish loving folks, rather it is just the beginning to the ice fishing season and there are steps you can take right now to make this your best ice fishing season ever!

If your goal is to be the best there is on your favorite area lake, or to win one of the hundreds of ice fishing tournaments held across the country every year, now is a great time to start preparing. The following are proven techniques to increase your odds of being in the right spots long after the water is covered by a thick layer of ice. The first thing you want to do is get out on the water. With the hunting seasons upon us many of the waterways are seeing less and less boat traffic which makes the first and probably most important step much easier.

fish finder

Using some of today’s very advanced electronics, mapping out potential ice fishing hot spots becomes much easier. The first thing is to use is a fish finder with decent sensitivity and detail so you are able to tell the difference between schools of baitfish and underwater vegetation. I like the versatility of the Lowrance Elite-4 HDI.


It can do everything you should need it to for locating the best potential ice fishing hot spots. If you don't want to invest into new electronics, you can obtain lake contour maps and using your current fish finder combined with a handheld GPS, you can still map out these potential spots on the water.

The first thing I look for when hunting for my winning locations is the vegetation edges, I'm looking at the depths where the underwater vegetation ends on my fish finder. Once I find my target depth I then refer to my lake contour map, I'm looking at the areas where my target depth has the widest areas, while paying attention to the underwater points and inside bends where my target depth is sustained. What this usually means is there is a good chance there will be larger areas of underwater vegetation once there is ice covering everything.

Why am I looking for the vegetation? Well it's pretty simple; the vegetation offers cover as well as releases oxygen into the water, which attracts plankton, which in turn attracts baitfish, which attracts larger predatory fish species. The larger, feeding fish will often patrol the outer edges of this vegetation looking for their next meal.

It is very important you scout out your areas before plotting them on your GPS as your hotspots. First without taking your sonar over those spots you don't know for certain what is actually down there for cover, it may be a spot void of vital cover. Next you always want to have many different spots mapped out to give you more options once the ice season hits. There are many factors that will affect your success on the ice. For example after a long period of snow covered ice the vegetation begins to die, which in turn causes the fish to find other areas. Other areas to focus on are rock piles, submerged trees, points, rapid depth changes or any other areas that might provide cover for the smaller baitfish.

Another thing to keep in mind is pressure from other people. If the best looking spot on the lake is getting the most pressure it is most likely not going to produce as many fish as some other decent spots that are not getting the heavy pressure. One thing I've noticed from years of ice fishing is many people don't do their homework and have a tendency to copy off of others when the fishing is slow. What I mean by this is that many people who are unfamiliar with the body of water or ice fishing in general have a tendency to start drilling where there are old holes or sign that others have been fishing in that location. Which isn't the worst of ideas if they are very limited on time, however if this is your favorite spot or a highly pressured spot you will be very thankful you have many others mapped out in advance.

lake map


Another piece of advice is don't rely on others for your fishing success, what I'm pointing out is something I've noticed on bodies of water that host tournaments. Some of the more seasoned fisher people have experienced their gem of a spot they'd been trying to keep a secret all season is flooded with people the day of a tournament. So in preparation of this they have gone out in advance and drilled mock hot spots, which were just a group of holes in the ice made to look like someone was on a pile of fish. (Pretty clever), unless one of those spots happens to be your gem. What I'm getting at is if you do find a great spot that is producing fish and you plan on fishing it during a tournament keep the pressure down, don't drill up the area, rather keep it to one or none and try your best to save it for the time you need it to produce for you and your odds of "being in the money" at the end of the tournament will increase greatly.


ice pic

Once you've done your scouting and have gotten a good idea of the best potential spots to hit during the ice season, the next thing you want to do is get your equipment ready.

A few steps to take is change out the old line on your ice reels, check over your equipment to make sure nothing has been damaged while getting shuffled around in the garage all summer, change batteries in your electronics, sharpen hooks, get rid of rusty hooks, and make sure you have both of your favorite gloves as it is almost inevitable you will only have one the morning you head out on the water!

Here is an article that lists many good items to have in your ice fishing sled as you head out onto the ice.


How to Pick the Best Fish Finder

The sonar/fish finding technology has come a long way since our grandparents took us out on our first fishing trip when we were children. Before the “Down Scan” and “Side imaging” there were things like paper graphs, and simple depth sounders. Although these provided accurate information for the sonar user, they were very primitive in nature and cannot hold a candle to the latest technology available. The game has definitely changed, and the burning and most sought after answer is, “Who is the best when it comes to sonar/fish finder combos?

 I work with sonar and fish finding customers every day and this is beyond the most frequently asked question by all my customers. “Who is better, Lowrance, Humminbird, or Garmin?" many ask. And the answer is not a simple one, but very complexed and multi-sided. Each of these manufacturers has there pros, and cons; I shall elaborate.

Humminbird- run by “Johnson Outdoors”, this company controls a large chunk of the boating industry. They focus on simplicity, and have always been known as being “more user friendly”. While the menu options on these graphs are easier to navigate through, this also limits the control of the advanced user. Humminbird has also always been recognized for their superior customer service and support. It is also the cheapest way for an angler to get into “Side imaging”. While all these factors make Humminbird great for the entry level angler or weekend warrior, they lack several key functions that the competitors possess.


Lowrance- this Corporation in league with “Navico” and “Simrad” has been around a long time and for the most part has had the sonar market monopolized from the beginning. While they have had their negative aspects such as bad customer service and support, and harder to understand menu options, Lowrance has at least three major key features that set it aside from the competitors. The first is “Broadband Sonar”. This cleaner frequency offers more perfection in traditional sonar to the user. Along with this, Lowrance offers insight base mapping that gives the user a good general understanding of major lakes in the U.S. But most importantly, they offer the best bang for ones buck on entry level units, at least for the moment. With the new “Elite” series, all the functions of their high end units are available to everyone at the lowest price point available!

Garmin- While being the world’s leader in automotive and handheld GPS systems, Gamin has been the underdog of the fresh water sonar industry until lately. Unfortunately, there new technological advance will cost the user more than both “Humminbird” and “Lowrance” for similar features. Although, Garmin does comes out of the box with some of the most detailed mapping available in sonar technology. Their competitors rely on another mapping company to do there charts, although this is rapidly changing.

So again we ask the question, “What sonar manufacture is the best”? Although now from these brief examples the answer is not so black and white. There are many factors and features that set these units and manufactures apart, giving them their own positive and negative aspects. I have spent years comparing and contrasting these differences and have come to the conclusion that none are better or worse, just unequivalent and equal. And there is only one place that offers the knowledge and service any sonar user must have to be successful on the water. Your local “Bass Pro Shops” of course! So come on in and let us explain away the confusion of fish finders and help get one set up with exactly what the user needs. At Bass Pro Shops, we strive to outfit the sonar user with what best fits their application, and truly answer which sonar manufacturer is best, for the customer!


Kayak Trip: What to Prepare For

It was the night before our first Kayak trip of the season, I was excited re-spooling reels and getting lures tied on, also planning where to mount the GoPro, I got everything just the way I wanted it on my Acend D10T sit on top Kayak.

The setup

I had decided to get creative, using a standard milk crate, (you can get these at office supplies stores for less than $5); I attached two Bass Pro Shops Rod Holders to either side and a three rod holder to the back of the crate.

Rod Holders

It was the perfect size for my XPS cooler. Notice how this gives you multiple locations for rods and other accessories.


The following day March 11th we were forcasted to hit 70 degree weather in the afternoon. I had been itching to plan a trip ever since winter sat in.  So I planned a trip out with some fellow coworkers to explore the S. Yadkin River near my family's farm in Northern Rowan Co.


We started our adventure at the Green Star above and headed south to the red star. We used the Davie County South Yadkin Access along 601 hwy. We exited the river on my families farm, but if you wanted to recreate this journey you could exit at the Salisbury Pump Station Access just below where the South Yadkin and North Yadkin come together.

We planned to start early morning around 8:30, due to previous weather conditions we didn't get in the water until approximately 9:00am. The previous weather conditions were actually notable, two days prior we recieved three inches of rain in 2 hours. which had the water up considerably. The boat ramp or kayak launch and parking lot were in about 2-4 inches of mud; which slightly complicated our launch, which you will see in the video below.

Ready to Launch

My Ascend D10T is in the center, Nick and Jeremy's are the FS10 sit ins on either side.

Nicks FS10

Nick paddling his FS10 shortly after we launched. Nick's boat is the desert storm color.

Jeremys FS10

Jeremy paddling his FS10, notice his Ascend Dry Bag, Lowrance Elite 4 Depth Finder and custom GoPro Mount. His boat began life as a camo green, but with some personal touches it sports a great custom paint job that helps it blend into any wetland area. Kayaks are really easy to customize to the needs of any fisherman or women or kayak enthusiast.

We contiuned on down the river, learning quickly that the current was a little faster than we had expected, Jeremy's depthfinder was clocking us at 3-4 mph without paddling. Given the swell of the water and the increased current we found ourselves constantly trying to avoid floating trees and other debris in the water. If we had it to do again we would have waited a few more days before making the trip. Due to water conditions the fishing was less than desirable.

Later in the trip Jeremy lost a lure in a tree, since I have the D10T sit on top and its pretty stable, (I have fished standing up in this kayak numerous times) I made what would prove to be a bad decision, check out the following video chronicaling our launch and the river conditions prior to me taking the plunge.

Keep in mind that although this is a bad decision given the weather conditions we will use this as an example of what to do from a preperation standpoint.

  • Always pack a dry bag.
  • a change of clothes
  • towel
  • first aid kit
  • fire starting device

If it had been any cooler or if the weather hadn't been forcasted to warm to 70 degrees, I would have been in trouble. We were 2 miles in to a 7 mile paddle, and to make matters worse the current was so fast that going back to the launch point would have been all but impossible.

We floated further down the river until we came to a good place for me to stay in the yak, change clothes and continue our paddle. If it had been colder we would have been looking for a place to get out and build a fire. After going in the guys asked me on a scale of 1-10 how cold are you? I responded with about a 7. It took about a half hour before I stopped shivering and began to warm up with the mid day sun. Since this trip, I always inform customers of our Ascend Dry Bags and how they can come in handy. Also when conisdering the size of your bag, I suggest bigger is better, especially if you ever plan on a camping float trip.

Overall our trip was a pretty good one, the day progressed with little hiccups after the plunge. Just remember to be prepared, although this was a mistake on my part it could have easily been a log just under the water that couldn't be seen or some other factor that leads to a wet kayaker. Either way go prepared for the situation at hand, and the unlimited possibilities for your adventure.

~ Happy Fishing,

Matt Holland

Events and Promotions Coordinator

Your Adventure Starts Here!





Summerization- What does it do for you?

The weather is warming up and spring is in full swing. This can only mean one thing here in North Texas, the fish are jumping and the lakes are calling! Before you head to the lake to catch that record breaking bass or catch monster air off the wakes be sure to have your boat summerized by your Tracker Marine Boat Center.

During the process of the Gold Summerization the Power Pro Technicians will go over 7 list items to insure your boat is 100% water ready for this year’s season.

  1. Hook up all hoses and install drain plugs on Inboard/Outboard engines.

During the winterization process, all the drain plugs and hoses are removed to insure that any water in the engine and boat will drain completely. In order to get back out on the water the hoses and plugs are re-installed in your inboard engine.

  1. Add fuel system cleaner.

Fuel system cleaner in added to insure that the fuel left in the tank through the winter is clean and wont gum up the fuel filter or carburetor when you start up your inboard/outboard engine.

  1. Run and check all dash mounted accessories.

Power Pro technicians check all the dash mounted accessories, such as your fish finder, to make certain that you will be able to find the fish you’re looking to catch and the depths at which they live.

  1. Replace water pump impeller.

Impellers are replaced to make certain that your inboard/outboard engine won’t overheat through summer use. The impeller is an internal component inside the engine that feeds the engine with cool water keeping the engine cool and running smoothly.

  1. Load test batteries.

In order to make sure you don’t run out of juice on the lake, the batteries will be load tested for quality and longevity.

  1. Run out and check throttle and shift operations.

Power Pro technicians will check the throttle and shift operations to be sure they are fully operational so you won’t be left without any way to get back to the dock after a full day on the lake.

  1. 34 point inspection.

Power Pro technicians give a full inspection from trailer coupler to engine prop, ensuring that you are 100% safe and in good running order for this summer’s season.

Once your boat has been summarized by a Power Pro technician, you will have the peace of mind and comfort of knowing your summer season on the water will be full of fun and excitement without concern!


Prepare Your Boat for a Successful Spring

     A cool breeze hits the back of your neck as you slip off the trailer and into the water for the first time this spring.  Turning to your depth finder to check the temperature of the chilly water, you begin thinking of the possibilities the day, the month, the rest of spring, summer, and fall have in store for you.  Anticipation overwhelms you as you turn the key to crank your engine as you did a hundred times the year before.  All of the excitement and anticipation is washed away as the only response your key gives you is a click and the doom of having a dead battery.

     Getting the boat out for a new fishing season is always exciting.  Catching fish and relaxing on the water with friends and family is on the horizon.  There is always some prep work to be done before getting your boat to the water though.  I like to start by taking everything out of the boat and getting it aired out nicely from being stored all winter.  For a fisherman, it’s like hitting the reset button.  You can reorganize and eliminate equipment that is no longer necessary while finding a new home for any new gear you may have acquired.  Check your safety equipment like life vests and fire extinguisher.  Repair any problems that you had come up the previous year like broken switches, loose carpet, etc.  Once you are finished checking the interior, you can move on to the motor.

Stabile and Gear Lube for all of your engine protection needs.     Keeping your motor ready to go and getting it ready for spring is very important.  When you are on the water, it is your lifeline.  Take any extra step you can to keep from being stranded.  Trust me, it’s no fun sitting dead in the water with little hope of what to do.  The first thing that I do to prepare my motor for spring is add Sta-bil Ethanol Treatment to the gas.  I use this product year round and add extra when I put the boat up for the winter.  Sta-bil cleans the gas and protects your engine from moisture damage.  Not only does it protect the engine itself, but it also helps protect hoses and seals that can be ruined by too much exposure to the ethanol that is in gas.  During the fishing season, your motor will run noticeably better when you use this as well!  Take the time to change your lower unit lubrication.  It is a very simple process.  Find the two screws in the starboard side of your engine in the lower unit.  Loosen the top screw and place a catch pan under the other.  Remove the lower screw and let the oil drain out.  If it is reluctant to drain, open the top screw a little more.  If you do not have another gasket, make sure you don’t lose the one that you have.  Clean the end of the bottom screw while the oil is draining.  It has a magnetic end and likely has a few metal shavings on it.  Once your lower unit has drained, get a fresh quart of lower unit oil and a pump that attaches to the bottle and fill your lower unit from the bottom hole.  Once oil begins coming out of the top hole, tighten the top screw down and then quickly pull the pump out of the bottom hole and put the lower screw back in.  You now have fresh lubrication for your lower unit gears!

   You can’t talk about prepping a boat without talking about batteries.  Batteries are one thing that we know that we will have to replace at some point.  Rarely do you get past 3 years with any type of marine battery.  However, you can do some things to ensure that you get the maximum life out of them.  Make sure that you charge your batteries every trip and preferably leave them hooked up to a charger that maintains them while not in use.  Make sure that your batteries are secure inside their compartment.  Loose batteries in the back of a boat can make for a bad situation.  Look for corrosion on the posts and remove it if it is present.

Finally, you should inspect your trailer carefully.  Check your lights to make sure that they are working with no burnt out bulbs.  Ensure your tires are fully inflated and not showing too much or uneven wear.  Replace your old jack or crank if they are worn out.  Lastly, but very important, check your bearings on your trailer.  Make sure that they have plenty of grease and the covers are secure over the bearings.

Preparing your boat for a long fishing season might be quite a chore, but it will pay off when you are fishing rather than repairing a mid-season crisis during prime time.  Invest the time on your boat now before you get too involved in the fishing season to worry about “minor” inconveniences. 


Have Fun and Be Careful

-Brian Eickholtz

For more reading on springtime fishing and boating, check out this blog.


Use Crankbaits to Catch Pre Spawn Bass You Can Be Proud Of

Use Crankbaits to Catch Pre-Spawn Bass

When water temperatures range from about 40 to 55 degrees, bass will snatch a speeding shallow-running crankbait, yet ignore just about anything else retrieved at the same pace. These crankbaits let you quickly probe lots of water to locate largemouths that have moved from deep winter haunts to shallow pre spawn staging cover, including submerged wood, rocky banks, and early-season grass beds. This illustrated guide tells you how to choose the right shallow-running crankbait for each type of cover and how to make it irresistible to the spring lunkers lurking there. All you have to do is follow the instructions and keep the net handy.

SHALLOW WOOD COVER, especially if it's close to the deeper water of a creek channel or other drop off, is a prime place to find feasting pre spawn bass. Tie a fat-bodied craw-colored crank to 17- to 20-pound-test line and cast it to logs, stumps, and cypress knees. Run the crankbait along the length of downed trees, bumping it into limbs, branches, and roots. Be ready for a strike when the lure ricochets off the cover. If your crank hangs up, lower your rod to put some slack in the line; the lure should float toward the surface. Bass may need a little extra coaxing at this time of year, so make repeated casts to a promising piece of cover, particularly on its sunny side.

Pre spawn bass commonly stack up along natural rock or riprap banks. To catch them, position your boat over 8 to 10 feet of water along a rocky shore and cast a shallow-running crank with a wide, rounded bill at a 45-degree angle toward shore so it lands within inches of the bank. Then retrieve the bait at a slow to medium clip. Be sure to bounce it off the rocks and work it all the way back to the boat. The bass may hit anywhere from 3 to 10 feet deep. 

Concentrate on grass in the deeper ends of reservoirs where clearer, stabler water conditions tend to keep bass biting this month. Use a depth finder to locate submerged vegetation in the lower reaches of creek arms. Work the edges of the weed beds, as well as the stretches of thinner grass extending from them. The border between new green grass and dead grass can also be very productive; identify such spots by purposely snagging some growth with your bait so that you can inspect it.

Target vegetation that tops out between 4 and 7 feet beneath the surface. Work a slim-bodied crank deep enough to tick the grass, ripping the lure through to spark strikes.

COLOR: Throughout much of the country, pre spawn bass are keyed in to crayfish. Make sure your red, orange, and brown cranks are the first ones out of the box.


BILL: A short, square shape protects a bait's hooks from snags in woody cover. For a lure that will dive in to and deflect off of rocks and riprap, choose a wide, rounded bill that angles slightly downward from the nose of the bait. To rip through submerged grass, go with a narrow, rounded bill.

Bass Pro Shops® XPS® Square Bill Crankbaits

Body: Bass around stumps and blow-downs seem to prefer the wide-wobbling action of a fat body combined with a square bill. A medium-size body gives a medium wobble, best for bass in rocky cover. A tight-wobbling, thin body helps your bait maneuver quickly through the tops of weeds.

Bass Pro Shops® XPS® Lazer Eye™ The Egg

HOOKS: Sluggish early-spring bass can be light biters. Your crankbait should have premium, sharp, round-bend hooks to cut down on missed strikes. Replace inferior hooks if necessary, sharpen dull ones, and check the points often as you fish.

Mustad® UltraPoint™ KVD Elite Triple Grip® Treble Hook



Hicks, Mark. "Use Crankbaits to Catch Pre-Spawn Bass | Field & Stream." Field & Stream. Field & Stream, 28 Feb. 2006. Web. 10 Feb. 2014.


Chirp Sonar

    Today's depth finders have so much technology packed into a small unit that it can become overwhelming to understand exactly your unit is up to. We have things like basic sonar, down imaging, side imaging, 360 imaging, and now we have chirp. Chirp is the technology that is taking over the depth finder market. When compared to basic sonar, chirp proves to have a major advantage. By reviewing the details of this technology it will help explain why chirp is superior. It will also be beneficial to learn some of the units that are currently using this technology. The more you know and understand boat electronics, you will increase your ability to choose the electronics that best fit your needs.

   Basic sonar works though sound waves similar to how a bat navigates through the night. The transducer both sends and receives the signal for your unit to process and display. It will send a click sound down through the water and that sound will reflect off an object and ping back up to the transducer, and the unit will let you know the size and depth of the ping based on the return signal strength. This technology has been improved over the years but it still has its downsides. The transducer will send a longer ping down for deeper waters until it reaches something to bounce off of. The problem with this feature is that with long pings, you have the possibility of your readings blending together.

    Chirp is not the same technology as basic sonar. It sends a ping down just like typical sonar except it does not focus on a frequency at a time. Basic sonar usually sends down a ping at a specific frequency per ping. This is where chirp is different. The ping that chirp sends down consists of multiple frequencies, and the end result is a much higher detailed and accurate sonar reading. It is much more complex when it comes to processing multiple frequencies from a single ping, so units capable of chirp typically cost a little more than basic sonar units.

  Chirp is the latest in sonar technology and many units are starting to hit the market with chirp as a feature. The Raymarine Dragonfly is currently one of the hottest chirp units out with an affordable price tag. This unit offers both sonar and down imaging sonar with chirp technology. Combined with an easy interface and top notch Navionics mapping, the Dragonfly is a great place to start looking when researching chirp units.

   Chirp technology is an improvement to sonar that is here to stay. I believe that in the near future most, if not all, units will have this technology, because it is proven and already in implementation by the top sonar brands. If you are looking for a little more detail in your sonar, chirp is the way to go. If you have any questions or would like to know more about what units have chirp technology please visit a local Bass Pro marine department.

Ryan Wynn


Manteca Store 49


Snaggin' season


Photo from Tracker parts associate Jim


There's a lot of excitement in our store for the upcoming snagging season March 15- April 30. We have an entire display (near the deck) dedicated to the sport, stocked with everything you'll need to snag that big one including snagging combos for $59.97.

Tips and need-to-knows:

-You'll need a heavy rod and reel to snag those fish.

-Your line capacity should be at least 150 yards of 80lb line.

-It's easiest to snag from a boat, but it is possible without one.

-You'll need a 12 to 20oz bank weight at the end of the line. About 1ft up your line, use a treble hook, and tie another every 3ft up (depending on depth of water). Make sure if you're in Missouri you have no more than three hooks size 8/0 or 12/0.

-If you're on a boat, idle at a constant forward motion, letting out the line to the depth of the lake plus 50 yards (depending on the depth of the lake). You should feel the weight hitting the bottom. Lift your rod up and put it down, constantly working the rod.

-Once you hook into a fish, pull it up and reel him in.

-If you don't have a boat then use a heavy action casting style rod 10ft in lenth.

-Cast it, allow it to set, reel in tight while picking it up and setting it down, reeling in the slack. Continue casting and retrieving until you snag a fish.

-To make sure the fish you caught is in the legal limit, measure from the eye to the fork of the tail. If the fish is under the limit, return it to the water.

-The only lisence needed is your Missouri fishing lisence

-Use a fish finder to help. Ask an associate in our Marine department for more advice about which is the right one for you.

-Paddlefish are migratory so they're not always in the same spot, but once they reach the upper end in the Lake of the Ozarks later in the season, they'll pretty much stay there.

-The use of a gaf is allowed, and you'll probably need one.

- The best boat to use for snagging is a Tracker all-welded Grizzly Green 1448 to 2072 with no carpet- it can get messy.

-230lbs is the largest recorded Spoonbill, and the largest caught is 160lbs. It's like reeling in a human!

-For reports and more information, visit the Missouri Department of Conservation's website:


Preparing a Hotspot for Ice fishing Season

Now is the perfect time of the year to start preparing for the ice fishing season. The days are getting shorter, colder and before too long the ice will start to form over some of your favorite fishing holes.

frozen lake

Here are a few preparations you can make to help ensure your long months of ice fishing are some of the best you may have all year.

The first thing I like to do is to get out on the boat and do a little research. The things I’m looking for are different types of underwater structure. Wether it is submerged trees, rock piles, or just rapid changes in water depth, these are all different types of structure that baitfish will congregate around once the underwater vegetation becomes scarce.  

In order to find different types of structure I will typically get in a boat and simply start searching with a fish finder. The reason you want to do this before there is several inches of ice on the water is simply to cover more water much faster.  There are many great products on the market that help with this process and Bass Pro Shops has a wide variety of these devices to choose from.

The other vital tool I use for this process is a simple handheld gps devise like the Garmin eTrex 10.etrex gps

There is a wide variety of these type of GPS's available at The reason for the handheld devise is that it is compact and accurate, making it very easy to find your marked waypoints once you have ice that is safe enough to fish on.

If you are planning on ice fishing a body of water with little or no subsurface stracture to it, and it is a body of water where it is legal, I strongly recommend creating your own structure to fish over. One of the most common ways to do this is to create a brush pile, if you want make structure that will last of years and won't breakdown overtime I reccomend artificial structures like the "Honey Hole Tree"


These are wonderful structures to fish over because they promote aquatic growth throughout the summer months, but they also attract baitfish which in turn attract predatory fish, and the best thing about this type of structure is that it is much harder to get snagged on while fishing.

Please check out more Ice Fishing related topics at

























Junk Fishing 101

Junk Fishing 101

For each specific time of year there are generally one or two patterns that really shine. In those situations if you are not fishing one of those specific patterns or techniques than your fishing results and definitely tournament results will show it. The key seasons for dialed in patterns are the middle of spring, summer, and winter. At these times the weather although different from one another is generally stable for a period of time. But there is however the often dreaded transition time period where fish seem to be neither hear nor there. This can be extremely frustrating and can sometimes baffle even an experienced angler. While tough at times, it does offer a unique opportunity to do what many know as junk fishing. If you've ever heard the phrase," I through the kitchen sink at them", this is just that. The key times of year when junk fishing really comes into play is during the spawn to post spawn transition from spring to summer, as well as the summer to winter transition. During either transition period you better keep an open mind and don't leave any technique or lure un tested.

During these transition periods I will often have as many as 12 or more rods on the front deck of my boat all rigged with different baits. Fast moving, deep diving, shallow running, finesse fishing is a good way to look at what a junk fishing pattern is. Now it is extremely important to keep an open mind during this time period and to remember one consistent fact. While the fish are very spread out one pattern holds true, this pattern is, if you find the bait you will find the fish. During both of the major transition periods feeding is the one common thing that is on the fish's mind.

Having a wide variety of baits to choose from is important and one of the main ones that I like to start my day with is a topwater lure, that I can cover allot of water with before the sun gets up. Baits such as the Spro Dawg 100 and the Zera Spook, are great early morning and late evening choices that can put a couple big roaming fish in your boat. This bite can slow as the sun gets up but occasionally under the right conditions you can actually throw the topwater bait all day long covering as much water as possible. But that is not the case all the time so generally once the sun is up I will switch over to some sort of crankbait. My crankbait I choose depends on the size and type of baitfish I am seeing. So if you are fishing shallow cover in the spawn to post spawn season and you are seeing things such as an abundance of bluegill then I would definitely go with a bigger square bill style crankbait such as the Strike King 2.5 or a Spro Fat John. Now if you're fishing during the fall transition period then generally a smaller shad imitation lure will get you more bites such as the Spro Little John MD in a shad color. Now these techniques and many others will work great for targeting shallow roaming fish during either transition periods, but remember there are also fish that will be out in deep water at this same time and trying to catch them can be very rewarding as well.

So if I have tried the shallow water bite with limited success then I will often completely switch gears and begin to use my Lowrance electronics. I like to begin my search for deep transition fish by graphing around areas that are neither here nor there. Places such as secondary points leading in or out of spawning pockets or creeks as well as looking at deep river ledges that are close by to main river flats. Transitioning fish in the summer and the fall will use these in between places as stopping points to feed. They are generally relatively close to shallow and deep water. Fishing medium to deep diving crankbaits is sometimes a great way to trigger these fish into biting and if you find the right school of fish it is not uncommon to catch fish after fish on one specific piece of deep structure. Once you have a group of fish located that are feeding deep on baitfish you need to be ready to slow down if the fish seem to suddenly shut off, and work them thoroughly with carolina rigs or shaky head worms. Having this versatility will maximize the amount of deep transition fish you can catch on one spot. One thing to remember about the deeper transition fish is that they will often suspend, specifically in lakes that have and abundance of shad, or blue back herring in them. If you are seeing surface schooling activity or, large amounts of bait fish on your depth finder then there are a few baits that you need to have ready to catch these suspended fish. The first is an umbrella rig such as the Bass Pro Shops Flashy Times rigged with some sort of soft plastic swimbait. Other baits such as jerkbaits and spoons can also work very well on the suspended fish.

So keeping an open mind is really what junk fishing is all about. Many tournaments I have fished during transition periods I have caught fish on topwater early, shallow crankbaits mid morning, flipping cover mid afternoon, and targeting deep suspended fish later in the day. This fast pace multiple pattern type of fishing is not easy to master but if you have a wide variety of techniques in your angling arsenal then making the adjustments and switching things up throughout the day will become more and more natural to you. So get every rod you own and don't be afraid to throw the kitchen sink at them during the tricky but fun transition periods. I'll see you on the water!!!

Joey Nania











The Jerkbait, A Year Around Fish Catcher?

When trying to imitate a wounded shad their are very few presentations better than jerkbait fishing. Typically the jerkbait is thought of as a winter and early spring time bait, and while it does shine in that specific time period the jerkbait can cover a far wider range of seasons. Growing up in the Northwest jerkbait fishing was very limited and not as effective based on the fact that there are no shad. In much of the country however shad are the primary forage for bass throughout the year. While certain seasons are more effective that others this abundance of shad in many of our lakes and reservoirs makes the jerkbait a very effective technique no matter what the water temperature. While the technique doesn't change the style of jerkbait I prefer, and the way I work my bait does from season to season.

The peak season for jerkbait fishing in most anglers minds is late winter on through to early spring. With cold water temperatures a large amount of the shad population will die off. When this happens you will visibly notice shad slowly twitching around just below the surface. This is a dead giveaway that you need to have a jerkbait in your hand. There are two jerkbaits I will have tied on in this cold water situation, a Spro McStick, as well as a Smithwick Rogue. While the McStick suspends the original Smithwick will actually float slowly, rising when you pause it. The suspending quality of the McStick is what makes me choose it about 90% of the time. In cold water I will fish this bait extremely slow, giving the bait quick sharp twitches and then letting the bait sit for a long pause. During this pause is when a suspending bait works it's magic. Remember bass are cold blooded so when the water is cold their metabolism is slow making them weary about expending to much energy. The suspended bait offers an opportunity that is difficult for a cold hungry bass to resist, they can slowly move up towards the bait using very little energy and lightly attack the bait. In extreme cold conditions a pause of 30 seconds or longer is sometimes necessary. Keep an open mind and very your retrieve to figure out what they are keying in on from day to day. Also don't be afraid to alternate to the slow floating rogue, this slow float will sometimes trigger more aggressive fish into biting.

As the water warms and the annual spawn begins to happen the jerkbait bite, while you can still catch some fish on it, tends to slow down. It's the post spawn feeding period when I pick my jerkbait back up and start to hammer down on them again. What I look for is schools of bass that are aggressively feeding up on shad, in order to replenish their weakened bodies after a long spawn. While topwater baits such as Super Spooks and Bass Pro Shops XPS Professional Series Walkers work great for this situation, a jerkbait can also be very effective. I normally find my schools of bass near a spawning pocket or flat on some sort of secondary point or break line. The bass will stop at these points throughout the lake to feed up before heading out to the main channel. Often you will find these late spring fish suspended as well. I have had some great success working a deeper diving Spro McRip through fish suspended at around the ten foot depth range. For this style of jerkbait fishing I like to work my bait with a fast aggressive retrieve with short pauses throughout the cast. To get the bait to reach deeper suspended fish I will work it on a spinning rod with 8lb test Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon. This technique will continue to catch fish all throughout the summer so always keep ready to go if you see suspended fish on your depth finder.

As the summer ends and the water starts to cool my jerkbait is always on the front deck of my Nitro Z-8 boat. During the fall months is when the shad make their annual movement into shallow pockets and flats in the back of creeks. These feeding fish will hammer a suspending jerkbait worked around the cover they are holding on. Seawalls, points, flats, and docks, are all great key shallow water structures to focus on. A good thing about fall fishing is when you find one fish, it's normally not the only one in the area, so it is possible to hit a stretch where you catch multiple all very close to each other. As well as the fact that generally these fall fish are easy to pattern and find success doing the same thing in similar areas all up and down the lake or reservoir. Just look for the key ingredients, shallow water pockets and flats, an abundance of cover, an abundance of shad and then hold on tight, because when you put those factors together the predatory bass are almost guaranteed to be close by. I will generally rely on my McStick 110 just like in the late winter to early spring time period.

In my opinion for those of you blessed enough to live on a body of water that has a large shad population, some sort of jerkbait should always be readily available. The jerkbait can be a winning pattern in certain times of the year, especially in the late winter to early spring, but no matter what the season it's a bait that should be in your arsenal and will put more fish in your boat. For more blogs about how to add more tricks to your repertoire, check out my blog, Expand Your Fishing Arsenal. And if you ever have any questions you can go to my website,, and write me an email, I'd love to help in any way possible. I'll see you on the water!!!

Joey Nania










Fish Finder Scam - Buyer Beware

    A typical blog for the marine department of Bass Pro Shops consists of product reviews as well as useful boating tips. Today's topic will not be the typical review or tip, but instead, a warning. In today's world of internet sales and worldwide distribution, it has become part of our culture to go online to find great deals. This scenario typically plays in the advantage of the consumer.  Unfortunately that is not always the case. Many people look to Amazon or Ebay for online deals, while others venture further into the web to look for even greater deals. The problem with buying from a dealer without a good reputation, is that  you cannot be sure if the deal will be to your benefit until it is complete. To avoid issues such as defective or wrongly described items, most people will opt to purchase from a knowledgeable and reputable company such as Bass Pro. After reviewing  this blog, you might think twice before making any purchases from a dealer that offers deals that sound too good to be true.

    While helping a customer with RAM mounts for his boat, the gentleman mentioned to me that he is purchasing a new depth finder, but not from Bass Pro. I asked him why he did not want to purchase the unit from us, and he replied that he had found it much cheaper online. Knowing that the price of high end depth finders does not fluctuate very drastically, I warned him about some vendors selling units without transducers. He said that the unit he found online came with the transducer as well as the structure scan LSS-1, and that he checked all the part numbers to be sure. The unit he was talking about was a Lowrance HDS 7 bundle. I asked him what they were charging for the unit, and he explained to me that he would be ordering from a Chinese website and the total price including shipping would be $740. I thought the would be a great price that I could not compete with, and not be able to come close to matching. Most Lowrance units  sell for the exact same price, regardless of the vendor, so the gentleman getting such a great price  was a bit of a shock. I had to figure out how these units were being offered so cheap.

     I have some experience with online shopping and have purchased things online from around the world. In my list of sites, I have a few that are from China distributors. I decided to check these sites to see if I could find the same deal as the customer. After about ten minutes of searching, I found it. The website offers many Lowrance and Humminbird products at prices that no store could compete with. Many of the units were offered with the structure scan. Each posting had a picture of the unit as well  a full description including part numbers. The only thing that I could think of when I saw them , is that this is to good to be true.

   After a little research, I found out how this is a scam, and how it can easily be avoided.  The websites that offer cheap China products are typically selling knock offs of real products at a discounted rate, but a Lowrance depth finder with structure scan is not quite as easy to replicate as a Gucci handbag, so I was sure they were not going to send a fake depth finder to the customer. These websites are not designed as a typical online store, but closer to an online mall. Hundreds of foreign vendors register on the site so that they can all sell their goods through one big website. Each vendor has different products they offer, as well a score that corresponds to the vendors customer feedback. This is where you can spot the scam. When reviewing the vendors feedback, you can see their sales track record as well as comments and date of joining the website. For every vendor selling discounted depth finders, the corresponding vendor account had zero feedback and a join date within the last two months. This is the sign of a fake company selling a product they don't have, and once the money is received they close their vendor account and open another under a different company name. The customer never receives the unit.

     Everybody loves to save money, and shopping online is often a great way to do so. Unfortunately not all internet sites have integrity and cannot be trusted for high dollar items. Scammers are everywhere, and they want your money. If they can play off the fact that you want a discounted depth finder, they will be happy to take your money and send you nothing. These websites are operating as we speak, so the more information a consumer has, the better they will be able to handle these scam scenarios. I did not want to mention the site on the blog, because they do offer some products at great rates that are not a scam. Buyer beware, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Ryan Wynn


Manteca Store 49


Recognize a Pattern - Catch More Fish!

Successful anglers are great at observing!  The fisherperson who can put together a pattern of what is working and why, and duplicate it, will have a great advantage over other anglers.  That first fish caught, may not be by chance.  A pattern may be responsible for that success.  If so, the faster it is identified, the greater the success will be.  An angler who puts together a pattern to match a great day of fishing, will be able to duplicate that great day, when the same pattern occurs again, on another day.

How does an angler recognize a pattern?  What must an angler observe, and how does an angler put together an outline of the characteristics of a day, and form a pattern to remember for a similar day, on a future trip?  Observation is the key, and here are some of the characteristics which must be noted, when putting together a pattern:

First, sun light or moon light, and the intensity of that light (cloudy or clear sky), plus the angle of that light to the water, are factors that should be considered.  Is the next bank in shadow, like the one that just held keeper largemouth?  What is the angle of the sun to this bank, and, is it a similar angle to the bank just fished, the one that held the fish just caught?

Second, wind, current, and angle of the bottom fished, are important.  The sides of points, as they extend away from the shoreline, have angled bottom structure, and that angle can be the key to more fish.  What is that angle?  What direction was the wind coming from, on the bank where the big fish were caught (into or away from the bank, or parallel to the bank?  Were they pulling water (usually, this means generating power) when the fish were caught?  Are they still generating?  Bass stack up, particularly on main lake points, when current causes shad to school up.  The lure of plentiful and readily available food can result in a feeding frenzy!   Watch for the angle of the bottom where the fish hold, and make a note of where the fish are holding on the point.

Next, water depth, clarity, and temperature (surface) are important to establishing a pattern for success.  At what depth was that last fish caught, was the water murky, muddy, or clear, and what was the water surface temperature?  When choosing a lure color, depth and water clarity must are important, since different colors disappear at different depths.  Fish move to comfortable water temperatures, and their comfort has a lot to do with plentiful oxygen.  Check the finder on your boat, and mark the depth of the thermocline. 

Fronts, and the change in barometric pressure associated with them, are factors that must be considered.  Strong fronts can cause heavy fish feeding as they pass over the lake.  Make note of the change in barometric pressure, and remember how it related to the fish bite.  At what reading did the fish bite the best?

Finally, bass in particular are structure oriented ambushers.  Predators, they use the cover of stumps, timber, bushes, boulders, chunk rock, ledges, and any man-made obstacles, to aid the hunt.  What type of structure was there, when that fish almost pulled the rod and reel out of the boat and into the water? 

When you can answer some of the above questions, you are on your way to creating a pattern that will help you catch fish right then, and on subsequent trips, when you encounter similar circumstances.  Don’t wait!  Get out there!  Greater success is waiting for you right now!  I’ll see you on the lake!!!

Steve Fritz

Fishing Lead

White River Outpost

Bass Pro Shops

Branson, MO


Summertime Salmon Fishing

Tired of the summer time heat? Maybe it's time to take a road trip over Monarch Pass and head over to Blue Mesa Reservoir and hook up with one of my greatest friends and owner of Sport Fish Colorado, Robby Richardson.

This year the kokanee salmon have started schooling up early and if you have never experienced a thousand plus salmon below the boat all schooled up and whacking a jigging spoon in ninety plus feet of water it is an experience you will never forget and it will constantly be on your mind.

Robby has been a guide on Blue Mesa Reservoir in Gunnison,Colorado for many years and he is the absolute best at finding kokanee salmon schooled up on the fish finder and has the know how on triggering them into striking the lure. You will always know where he is at on the water when he is guiding,"just look for the crowd". I will never forget the first time Robby took my son Saje and I out for a day of salmon fishing. In my mind I thought "wow" everyone loves Robby and he is the nicest guy you will ever meet and he knows just about everyone out on the water today.

Turns out. I was right. Robby is the nicest guy you will ever meet. When Saje stuck the first salmon off a deep ledge I was excited and the school Robby found was huge. Ten feet stacked on the fish finder and all it took was one to strike to get the whole school to start whacking our jigging spoons. Just as quick the boats were all around us and everyone was getting in on the action. Fishing a lot of bass tournaments I found the encroaching crowd a bit disturbing and when we had to pull in our rods because other boats were bumping into Robby's boat I almost lost it.

I looked over at Robby and he had his smile and he was calm as could be. I said,"you look like this happens a lot" he just smiled and said this is salmon fishing here at Blue Mesa when they start schooling up. You just get used to it."No worries", Everyone was out just salmon fishing having a great time. They would ask how deep and someone would shout out the depth, what color was working and make sure you re-bait with white shoe peg corn or they wont hit it. This would go on until the school dispersed and then they would find another boat on a different school and it would become a salmon party again.

This was the craziest thing I have ever experienced on the water. I think about it, smile and laugh. It was a lot of fun.  Everyone got along and caught a bunch of salmon. Not your every day trip by no means but one you will never forget. Time to get out and hit the kokanee salmon at Blue Mesa. Look up my buddy Robby at and have him take you out. You won't be disappointed.

                                                        Best of Luck,

                                                                              Sam Heckman / Pro Staff

crowdfishfinderSaje with salmonlimit of salmon


Durasafe Electronic Locks

   Having a fun day on the water can be very rewarding. Being able to enjoy the toys you worked hard to get and spending time outdoors is a great feeling. Unfortunately that feeling can turn just the opposite in a matter of seconds. In this time of recession we are seeing more and more instances of thieves stealing anything, and that includes your boat electronics. It can happen when you are least expecting it. Some people will go into the gas station to pay for gas only to return and find that the boat has been compromised. Another common instance is when you are out camping near the lake, and wake up to find that a thief has made off with your fishing poles, life vests, and your $1,200 depth finder. The most common scenario for boat burglary is right in front of the house. Many people, regardless of how nice you neighborhood is, have learned the hard way that even your driveway is not safe from thieves. Boat covers and trailer locks help very little when the thief has seen that your boat has a depth finder. The best way to prevent thieves from stealing your electronics is to remove them and take them with you every where, every time. Unfortunately this is sometime not possible, and if you forget one time, that could be it. Fortunately, there is a fix for this problem. Durasafe has developed a group of products designed specifically for boat electronics.

      Nobody likes to be ripped off. When you wake up to go fishing and you find that your depth finder has been stolen, not only is your day on the water ruined, but you will be out of allot of money to replace your equipment. The hassle involved with filing a police report, insurance report, removing what's left of your old electronics, and then replacing them is horrible. It is best to take measures to prevent this from ever happening. Durasafe electronics locks are the best and easiest preventative measures that can be taken. Durasafe calls this product line E-locks. E-locks are small keyed locks that replace one side of the gimbal mount fastener. These make them perfect for nearly all high end depth finders.

   Many depth finder owners would enjoy the security from a gimbal mount lock, but to some it would be useless. Such is the case with anyone who has their unit mounted on a RAM mount. Although the gimbal mount would be nice, a thief could easily remove the unit by loosening your rRAM mount. Fortunately Durasafe has thought of this scenario and developed a very similar lock that is designed to lock your RAM mount.  While using one or the other could be effective, the best set up is to have both the gimbal and RAM mount locks. Durasafe does offer a product that includes both locks. The benefit of buying the set of locks together in the same package is that they will share a key.

    Durasafe E-locks are a safe and easy way to protect your boat electronics from thieves. The locks are small, so that makes them very convenient and not at all a hassle. Removing the lock is as simple as turning a key. This makes it possible to quickly remove your depth finder or secure your depth finder with minimal effort. When choosing a Durasafe E-lock make sure that you are purchasing one that is compatible with your unit. Durasafe E-lock is a universal lock that will fit nearly all gimbal mounted depth finders, but check the Durasafe comparability chart to be positive.

    Protecting yourself from thieves is never as easy as buying a lock and being done. Boat owners must take all precautions to avoid becoming a victim. Durasafe E-locks is one great precaution. Although they will not stop a thief from taken your vests or stereo, it will defiantly protect your depth finder. Perhaps just the sight of a Durasafe E-lock on your electronics would be enough to make the thief try another boat and move past yours. To find out more about Durasafe E-locks visit or come into to the Bass Pro.

Ryan Wynn


Store 49 Manteca


Deep Summer Cranking

Summer is here and while many fish still live in shallow water the majority of the fish population spend most of the summer months on deep water structure. A wise man once said while fishing the bank 90% of the fish are behind you. This statement is generally true, and while deep water fishing can be overwhelming and difficult to master, it can also be very rewarding.

When fishing the bank generally you are looking for individual fish catching one here and there. Now when fishing off shore you are searching for the honey hole, a spot or area holding sometimes hundreds of fish. Some keys to look for when searching for deep water fish are points, humps, ledges, rock piles, shell beds, or man made brush piles. Having a good depth finder and GPS unit is very important to mastering deep water fishing. When I am looking for a school of fish offshore I generally will use my GPS on my Lowrance HDS-8 Gen2 Fishfinder to study and locate where drop offs or humps are located. Once I've chosen a couple different places to look I will drive my boat over the hump or drop off, while using my fishfinder to look for brush piles or rock piles. While searching I always have my Bass Pro Shops Marker Buoy in my hand ready to drop it where I see structure that looks promising. This will give you a perfect reference point so you can properly work the structure. The final key to look for while searching is bait fish, if you don't see balls of bait near the bottom you are probably not going to get bit and should search for a different area.

So all of this preparation and searching takes place before an angler has even made a cast. Deep water fishing is really more like hunting, where the preparation and searching is just as important as making a good shot. Once your preparation is complete and you have found an area with all of the proper ingredients then it is time to go to work. There are many different ways to catch offshore fish once you have them located, such as a, carolina rig, football jig, or a texas rigged worm, but my very favorite is a deep diving crankbait. Crankbaits allow you to make relatively quick casts fanning around the area searching for the proper angle to trigger a strike. What I mean by proper angle is, every fish has a certain presentation or cast that will be the best for triggering it to strike, and this can very from day to day or week to week, so keep an open mind. With your marker buoy in place a circle the wagon technique is hard to beat. Simply begin on one side of the structure and work your way around the buoy throwing casts from many different directions and at many different angles. Once you have triggered a fish to bite always throw back with the exact same cast. More often then not you will find that one specific cast through an exact spot will get you bit over and over again.

When deep cranking I like to use a 7'9" TFO Gary's Tactical Series Rod accompanied by a Bass Pro Shops Pro Qualifier Baitcast Reel with a 5.2:1 gear ratio. This slower gear ratio will make cranking in big billed crankbaits easier as well as allowing your bait to reach deeper depths with still a good amount of line out. With high speed reels by the time your bait hits the bottom your bait will be half way back to the boat. The slow winch type reel is the way to go. The bait that I have the most confidence in is the SPRO Little John DD Crankbait. Others such as the Strike King 6XD Series and the Bomber Fat Free Shad will also catch fish, and sometimes the fish can be very picky changing which one they prefer from day to day. To make the baits achieve their maximum depth potential, long casts and light line are very important. Generally I will use 10lb or 12lb Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon. And don't forget the key to catching crankbait fish whether in shallow water or deep water is to make your bait hit the bottom and contact the cover.

Keep your bait down where the fish live and are feeding and find the proper angle, and then hold on tight. Deep water fish are generally big and healthy and i'd be willing to bet that the very biggest fish on your lake lives on deep structure in the summer months. Remember starting today May 28th and ending June 16th Bass Pro Shops Father's Day sale is going on. One of my favorite items on sale is the Bass Pro Shops Crankin Stick which is a perfect affordable rod to get started with crankbait fishing from deep water to shallow. This would also make a perfect gift for a fisherman looking to expand his arsenal and grow as an angler!

I'll see you on the water!

Joey Nania


Fishfinder Frenzy

Fishfinders have come a long way in recent years.  You don't have to have a boat in order to have a fishfinder.  Fishfinders come small to fit on your wrist, portable and mounted.  

If you spend a lot of time on a boat, you may want to consider a GPS unit that comes preloaded with maps of shoreline and inland water.  Some even have satellite images and real-time weather updates, as well as radar images.

You want to have a unit that is waterproof, has glare protection, and a unit where the image should be easily visable.

The Humminbird Smart Cast RF-35 is a wrist mounting fish finder.  It shows bottom contour, depth and water surface temp.  This is good in small bodies of water and  along banks.  It goes to 125' depth with a 75' range.  Great for a young fisherman just starting out.

When thinking of a fish finder consider different screen options.  Color and pixels add more detail to the display and makes it easier to understand.  Think about what size you want and where you will put it.  Will you mount it? 

The Bass Pro Shops associates in our Fishing Department can show you a wide variety of Fishfinders.  Here are two you just may want to consider.

Humminbird 798ciHD

Side Imaging sonar/Down Imaging

5" screen HD Color Display

50 channel GPS and WAAS

4000 watts

Depth 1500'

Switchfire Contour XC Map-covers 3000 US lakes, depth contour lines

Ethernet Networking - Ability to share sonar, GPS and way points between compatible units.


Humminbird 998C HD

8" color display

side/down imaging

duel beam plus with switchfire

depth 150'

dual SD cards

dualbeam PLUS depth 1500'

So, stop on by and take a look.  You won't be disappointed.


Robin Piedmonte

Events Coordinator