Until the 1960s and ’70s, anglers usually spent as much time looking for fish as actually fishing for them. However, an increasingly impressive array of electronics began allowing anglers to become more efficient in their search for potential fish-holding spots.
The original flasher depthfinder introduced in the late ’50s allowed anglers to locate depth changes, interpret cover and even spot fish with previously unavailable efficiency. Even so, anglers generally tossed out a floating marker buoy to visually orient themselves to the structure before trying to fish it, particularly when fishing mid-lake spots far from visual shoreline references like houses, docks, flagpoles and such.
Then came Loran C, a triangulating positioning system based on radio frequencies. Next came GPS—the amazingly accurate Global Positioning System guided by satellites. Once navigation and on-screen hydrographic maps entered the fray, anglers gained the ability to drive directly to key mid-lake spots like points and humps, and immediately begin fishing. Plus, they could store these locations for return visits.
Even so, you still had to locate and catch the fish. Sonar technology often revealed “fishy” signals which required angler interpretation as to whether they were fish. The first positive proof became available with the advent of underwater cameras.
Recent electronics advancements like side, down an even 360-degree imaging have increased our abilities to not only interpret fish-holding structure, but to rapidly detect the presence of fish themselves. And once you know exactly where fish are, it provides invaluable clues for catching them.
But if it sounds like the fish no longer stand a chance against the technological onslaught, think again. Fish using open basins and coverless shallows are more easily spotted with electronics, while those located deep within cover—like largemouth bass—are often much more difficult to detect. Even if you can spot them, you still have to interpret their aggressiveness and mood, and figure out the best ways to catch them. And there are still no better tools for accomplishing that than experimentation, evaluation and fine-tuning presentations to match the location and mood of the fish.
In other words, technology can only take you so far. After that, it’s still up to you.