Open Season Barra Sounding

While crowds firmly discuss what sounder is the best on the market there’s anglers simply wanting to know how to find barra or use the sonar.
Brand names aside, some units will find more barra and provide sharper images while others struggle to paint an idylic picture of what’s near the boat.

Open The Mind

In the barra world there’s significant advantage sitting within ‘fish knowledge’, being aware of barra habits. To this day people still say, “Shit, I didn’t think barra would be found out here!”
That alone halves the chances of many anglers finding schools of big barra because that isn’t how their brain visualises the animal.
If the mind doesn’t open to the ways of the animal not only is a sounder ever going to be steered toward big barra turf, but the images appearing will be dismissed or not recognised when the angler stumbles upon the mother load, and will definitely miss two lone 1200’s sitting in a 25ft hollow on the sand.

Out of 37 wild barra catches over 1200 and 1300mm by Masterclass anglers, the majority of those anglers have also completed ‘Beyond Sonar’, the online training package. These already skilled and proven anglers are looking for even just one extra piece of key information they may have overlooked, and that snippet can be the difference between identifying a monster or driving passed it, forever.

The worse the image quality the less chance they’ll be detected, yet if the angler is tuned to behaviour, fish size/range ratio, numbers and how they appear on screen they’re less likely to be missed.

Changing Mindset

Now this shouldn’t have to be written but the word ‘snags’ and ‘rock bars’ should be thrown out of a barra angler’s vocabulary because those words are limiting, off scent and have shaped many growing barra anglers in what I’d label as the wrong direction.
For every barra caught off a snag, there are bigger and more fish caught in open snag free water. If you want to really understand barra, Masterclass opens that door, but it needs to be mixed with sonar skill to bring it to life.

Come Feb 1st many anglers will drive past 1200mm wild barra and not detect their presence due to unsuitable sonar models, setting issues, or simply not having the skills to identify the fish among the bottom.

Train Your Eyes
A professional roo shooter spots ears and heads in long grass well before an untrained eye because he’s also looking well ahead, in fact the untrained eye may miss them all. But how do you compare the difference? Unless the roo shooter points out every roo to the untrained passenger that individual will never know what they missed.
Only when shown what to look for, where to look and how to look does one begin to find their groove. How many barra does the untrained eye drive passed, let alone how many are missed due to poor settings? An entire day’s catch can be overlooked, fish of a lifetime overlooked.

Think about a 100cm barra, they love to sit in hollows, depressions, sand whoops, undulations- any kind of dip or change in landscape shape where they find reprieve from the force of the tide. A hiding spot, so to speak.

Get To Know Portions

If you’re looking for your wife or friends in a crowd, chances are only a portion of a figure will be spotted. A hat, an arm, leg, skirt, outline or shape grabbing attention. Same with finding barra, a sliver of a barramundi’s back might be visible that is the fragment giveaway to a school of 20 good ones hiding among the bottom.
But would you have seen it unless shown, or found it on a mid level unit and to top it off, one with a dry, salty screen?
Hunters with sharp eyes point to so much wildlife, in fact they point but by the time a passenger looks it’s gone, and in honesty they too had just a microsecond to identify things.
Same with sounding, get good at it because it’s YOUR UNDERWATER EYES and doorway to reaching barra.

Too Much Range

One flaw commonly seen is SI range set too high. A good range sits around 15 to 25m each side for searching open water areas and around 15m per side when needing detail or looking within structure.
When set to 25m + per side the adjacent fish schools and bottom are sandwiched into the screen, compacted.

Image interpretation becomes more difficult as everything appears narrower as it’s always going to be displayed as a % of the range. The lower the range setting the bigger everything begins to look, the % ratio changes.

Scroll Speed Limitations
The next concerning issue are units where scroll speed cannot be changed or scroll speed that doesn’t move quickly. Slow scroll speeds compact images further and force anglers to a crawl, even then slow scroll speeds are limiting because the scene is again compacted.
Too much info, crammed on top of each other.
Finding a balance between scroll speed, boat speed and range setting is essential.

Don’t miss out on fish of a lifetime because your unaware how sonars work and where big barra hang out. Identifying and bypassing the disadvantages while working with the advantages puts anglers in the box seat.

Sonar Skills Online Course – available here.

Johnny Mitchell

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