Side Imaging Sonar Used To Find and Catch Big Barra

We’d sounded seven sections of the river, finding barra in all but one of those locations using side-imaging sonar and referencing the info with the typical 2D traditional sonar- to be more accurate. Some schools of barra were in the 80- 90 cm bracket, others held a few random larger fish, and some spots with smaller barra spread over a 100m section hiding among old lay down mangrove structures.

The school of 80 – 90 cm fish would be great to target as they sat low in hollows on the river floor, only about a quarter of them easily detected when viewed on the display screen, the others often missed by untrained eyes, yet the angler’s on board were keen on cracking a 120cm model so we simply drove away.

Individual ‘hard-to-spot’ big fish need your attention. A school like this circled in green is easy to see, but driving past 120cm barra and not seeing them, then leaving is a lost life opportunity and because the spot looked empty, you may never return.

Having barra knowledge is a huge advantage, but the modern side imaging unit on the console was a key player, but it only becomes a major asset if you know how to use one and accurately interpret images. I processed some Masterclass Seminar Strategies while on the water and decided to shift about 10 miles as the weather conditions in play would suit a different section of river where larger fish would congregate and soon feed. The clock is always ticking.

After two quiet passes of the spot my facial expressions remained neutral and the client who had been watching the screen commented, “None here hey?” By this point I’d not initially replied and he quickly asked again,”What now?” It hit me then that he’d missed the big fish tucked in close to the river bed and structure as they were sitting so low that no acoustic shadow was visible.

Trained eyes will spot the prize, even when partially hidden from view by structure or in a dead zone created by acoustic shadowing.

On the final return pass before anchoring the boat I pointed out the 120cm to 140cm class barra and counted them. 12 fish, seven or eight of them over 120cm. The penny dropped and the angler tuned in, same thing I experienced years ago after using side-image sonar for about 12 months- some things we don’t detect as we simply overlook them or aren’t aware what they really are at the time of our development.

There’d be hundreds of metre-plus barra and all kinds of species that won’t be displayed on sonar screens unless sonars are set up correctly, tuned appropriately and used effectively in search patterns, then of course the image needs to be interpreted. To gain success in the form of catches making it into the boat, there needs to be a level of fishing skill mastered also.

Think about these basics for a second,

Know Your Environment – become familiar with your local conditions, creeks and rivers, every inch.

Know Your Animal – Study the habits of your target species.

Know Your Gear – Understand your fishing gear (in this case sonar).

Know Yourself – A positive mental attitude is responsible for a lot of fishing success.

If any of these four basics are weak, they need to be strengthened as they all form part of the success equation. If you don’t know your animal, finding them will be difficult, good hunters know where their target animal will be in any weather condition or season.

If sonar skill is a weakness it can be sharpened or fast tracked, hence why the ‘Beyond Sonar’ training course was established to help anglers strengthen their fishing knowledge.

The boat was anchored and anglers started casting. The first fish to hit the deck was around 80cm, followed by 132cm, 70cm, 121 cm and 122cm. We left immediately, the job was done.

A number of skills combining had been responsible for the result. If you take the tiered approach to fishing making sure your base foundations are strong and well rooted it leaves less holes for failure or struggle.

Sonar played its part by allowing locations to be eliminated as they didn’t hold the class of fish we wanted, plus they provide pinpoint data on the exact position of the target, leaving boat positioning and fishing skill left to finish off the deal.

This is how I like to teach anglers, it’s HUNTING and we start from the ground up!

Click here to see the Online Sonar Training Course

Johnny Mitchell


Enter your email to view the content
I agree with the Terms & Conditions