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Mike Frisch: Find the fish

a depthfinder screen shot shows a school of walleyes relating to an underwater hump. Today's electronics are critical to helping find and catch walleyes and other fish species too. (Submitted image from Mike Frisch)

A wide range of topics can be discussed when it comes to offering suggestions for more fishing success.

Using the right lure size and color is obviously important, as is presenting it on an appropriate rod and reel combination. Presenting baits at a speed the fish will eat is another important factor. However, before any of these come into play, the most important factor is the need to locate fish. If your bait isn't around fish, all the other ingredients don't matter.

That's why the number one thing that separates the consistently successful angler from the rest is often his or her ability to locate fish. Here's where today's electronics are so important.

Not that long ago, we would mark fishing spots using shoreline reference points. One of my best bass fishing spots could be found, for example, by heading "straight out from the biggest tree" and watching the depthfinder until the 6-foot water depth on the flat started to drop off to deeper water.

I know now that spot is the very tip of a weedy underwater point. With today's GPS and mapping combination I can, in fact, see the water depths in my favorite lakes in one-foot increments. This allows me to easily locate points, turns, humps, and any other underwater feature that might hold fish.

Not that many years ago I had to motor around a lake and try to draw in my head a picture of what was below. Now that picture is right there on my GPS screen.

Not only do today's electronics shine for showing charts and maps of the underwater world, but the sonar capabilities are simply amazing too. We used to be able to "see" what was directly below the transducer mounted on the back of the boat, or maybe from a transducer mounted off a bow mount trolling motor.

Today, we can see what's below the boat in different views, what's off the boat's sides, and now even have 3D imaging. All these views allow us to really find fish, but they are also extremely useful in identifying fish-holding structures like weeds, rocks, and other things fish relate to.

What does all this mean for anglers? It means that the best way to increase your angling skills today is probably by using one of the newer multi-function display units. The good news is that the electronics market is very competitive and so while the technological advances go up, the prices come down.

Manufacturers also realize that "ease of use" is essential to today's angler and so a few hours spent in "learning mode" is all it takes to get started successfully using the unit.

With lots of competition out there, anglers have lots of electronics options. I use Raymarine products for two simple reasons. One, the units are extremely dependable and, two, the company's wide spectrum CHIRP technology sends and receives lots of signals that ultimately end up doing a great job of showing me structure and fish!

Having modern fish-finding sonar and GPS units and learning how to use that technology just might be the most important factors in fishing today.

As always, good luck on the water and remember to include a youngster in your next outdoors adventure!

Mike Frisch is a western Minnesota fishing guide and co-host of the popular Fishing the Midwest TV series. Visit www.fishingthemidwest.com or follow Fishing the Midwest on Facebook for more "fishy" stuff.

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