Sunday, June 14, 2015

Northwoods Notes - 2015

Another June came and went, another Canadian fishing trip has ended. After over 30 years some experiences are expected and surprises will be dealt with accordingly. We have had our share of surprises.

Due to the northern latitude we never know what nature will throw at us when it comes to weather at this time of year so packing more than necessary is necessary. Mechanical breakdowns are the main concern especially on route to the destination. A blown tire or even worse a blown trailer bearing eats into valuable vacation time. We've dealt with those before so carrying extra bearings, grease and tools is a result of lessons learned.

The boat is 25 years old this year. Cleaning it after each use and storing it in the garage keeps it looking like new. The motors run, the trailer has little rust. Yearly maintenance buys peace of mind. While the boat may appear dated there is no reason to trade it in for another. It was paid for long ago. Keeping it updated with the latest equipment is a selective choice.

Electronics are always important when fishing. Knowing the depth and what is ahead and below in terms of sub surface structure is a great asset to staying safe and catching fish. While this boat has had two different sonar devices in 25 years possessing the latest technology is no guarantee of catching fish.

Our one challenge this year was learning how to operate this new sonar unit.

Earlier this year a Lowrance sonar device we have been looking at went on sale at BassPro. Last year the same device sold for over $600 and in Feburary they were offering the same unit for $300 in one of their pre-season "Doorbuster" ads. Half price. We jumped on it. I know enough about technology and getting a bargain on the (relatively) older models beats being on the bleeding edge.

The boat already had sonar unit that worked so another sonar purchase wasn't entirely necessary. This one was special, it had the GPS option. GPS on marine equipment may be old news but it is new to us. Without testing the Lowrance on local water it could prove to be the main challenge for this years trip. It was.

Using a physical printed chart this Canadian lake we fish once per year reveals a vast jigsaw puzzle of islands and submerged rock formations, some very capable of ripping the lower unit off most outboards not to mention the nasty gash that can sink most boats. To the inexperienced, Lake of the Woods can be an inviting, serene, peaceful but very dangerous place.

Printed charts indicate deeper main channels to navigate but once off the channel charts did not mark each and every submerged obstruction. Fish don't usually hang in main channels. We always erred on the side of caution when venturing off the beaten path. The best printed charts also fail to provide detailed contour mapping of the bottom. That's when we relied on the sonar signal.

In the past we always relied on teamwork. One of us watched the chart and directed our course to visual landmarks when navigating the water. With GPS the lake shows up in shades of blue with depth contours, submerged rock formations and land masses showing up clearly marked on the Lowrance screen. Land mass is in tan with no elevation contours. Once at a fishing spot the sonar provided us with our underwater set of eyes to locate spots holding fish.

The best part of using a GPS is the unit saves our trails so getting back to camp is much safer. With so many islands looking exactly the same it was easy to get lost or motor into risky water on previous trips. Not any more. GPS made it much safer to find the way home.

This Lowrance features two different bottom sounding views along with the GPS. With many page view options we may select one, two or three different views at a time.

We were blown away with this unit. It didn't take long to figure it out even with the many drop down menu choices and detailed preferences. Knowing programs such as Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop made it easier to navigate the options and set the preferences. Menus led to menus and even more menus. No big whupp.

Using GPS may be old news to many fishermen and we are late to the party. But we finally got there and it is worth every cent. This Lowrance added a new dimension to the trip and provided us with added safety to boot. Not to mention how fun it was to see much more when on the water than before.

Next up: The catch. A preview: It was a great trip.

1 comment:

Carl from Chicago said...

Sounds like a great trip! I'm sure we will be seeing pictures of fish too and likely they will be part of a ceviche at a Bears' game someday.