Technology has improved fishing on Lake Norman

GPS, sonar have taken guesswork out of the equation

10/26/2012 8:58 AM

10/26/2012 8:59 AM

Why has fishing on Lake Norman improved so dramatically in recent years? The reasons are many, but one of the most obvious is due to the advancements made in sonar and GPS technology.

Today’s boats are equipped with electronic packages that allow fishermen to return to a spot in total darkness, hold the boat over a fishing hole with the push of a button and actually see the fish strike the bait on one or more sonar screens. While some say that the use of electronics is cheating, successful anglers counter they are leveling the playing field.

Fishermen do not have to be wealthy to enjoy the benefits of modern fishing technology, but they need to be computer savvy. While nothing beats hands-on training and on-the-water experience, many learn from information provided by Google, YouTube and the use of online simulators.

How can sonar and GPS help improve fishing skills?

Sonar fish finders not only display depth and water temperatures but also identify bottom features, such as submerged rocks, brush and drop-offs. More importantly, a fish finder shows fish near the boat. Better units have the capability of detecting fish below and up to 360 degrees around the boat.

The GPS details your position on the water, shows the topography of the lake bottom, marks the spots you want to fish and allows for safe navigation in unfamiliar waters. When used in combination with sonar, fishermen can quickly position the boat over a likely spot, see visuals of the bottom and any fish in the area. If fish aren’t present, they can move on to the next fishing hole.

Trolling motors also come equipped with sonar transducers and built-in GPS units. An angler sitting in the front of the boat can see what is directly below the bow. This system is a must-have item for anglers who jig vertically or employ other bottom-fishing techniques. Trolling motors equipped with GPS can run a predetermined course while maintaining a constant speed, or they can stop and hold within 5 feet of a given spot.

While every angler will gain some advantages from electronic fishing aids, those targeting bass and crappie will find it easy to set up over bottom structure and brush piles, while perch and striper fishermen can position their lures at the depth their prey is suspended.

Hot spots of the week

Bass, bass and more bass: Spotted bass are shallow, deep and schooling on the surface. Multiple hook-ups are common when fishing with rigs. White perch are hitting spoons, minnows and worms in water to 30 feet deep. Crappie are on shallow brush and continue to bite best after dark.

Tips from Capt. Gus

Don’t have a GPS unit? Smartphone owners can buy topographic lake map applications from Navionics at a nominal charge.

Lake Norman’s lake level is about 3.9 feet below full pond and 2.9 feet below full on Mountain Island Lake. The surface-water temperature is in the low 70s in water not affected by power generation.

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