Using Charts to Find fish

Advanced electronic chartplotters offer powerful fish-finding tools.
Ron Ballanti
Today's advanced electronic charts provide a wealth of information beyond what's required for basic navigation. By taking advantage of the latest mapping technology available for chartplotters and multifunction displays, anglers now have a powerful suite of tools right at their fingertips to help them catch more fish.
The latest C-MAP MAX-N+ 2015 cartography includes features such as high-resolution bathymetry, tides and currents and the ability to custom shade specific depth contours to help coastal and offshore anglers pinpoint hot spots.

With a variety of powerful chartplotters and multifunction displays (MFDs) available from manufacturers like Lowrance, Simrad, Raymarine, Garmin, SI-TEX, Standard Horizon and others, even smaller boats can harness advanced technology when pursuing game fish. Learning what this technology can do for you and putting in the time to use it gives anglers an advantage over the fish -- and other fishermen..
Using high-res charts played a key role in finding and catching this 76-pound bluefin tuna off the Southern California coast. Offshore "high spots" like the 209 Fathom Spot, where this tuna was recently caught, are well known for holding concentrations of sardines and anchovies. Floating kelp paddies will pile up along current breaks. Locating the paddies and bait is the key to success.
Always mark important events on your chartplotter. Mark where you got a jig strike, saw breaking fish or located kelp paddies. During the course of a fishing day, this will help you establish patterns and fine-tune your search in the most productive areas. By viewing this information over the high-res charts, you can also relate the proximity of these events to bottom contours -- for example, the seamount at the top of the photo -- and gain a better understanding of why these events happened where they did.
Fish like this California yellowtail are often caught under floating kelp paddies offshore. The detailed bottom contours found can help anglers search for paddies in the most likely areas, while marking the locations of productive paddies on the chart plotter can help show patterns that can lead to even more successful hunting.
The ability to custom shade specific depth contours -- shown in this example using MAX-N+ 2015 cartography -- can be a powerful tool for anglers. This makes it easy to focus fishing efforts on a particular depth range, ledge or drop-off, by clearly indicating where these areas are and where your boat is positioned relative to these areas.
Smart anglers recognize the importance of tides when it comes to where and when gamefish go on the bite. Having this information available on the chart plotter helps fishermen fine-tune their strategy both inshore and offshore.
Jeppesen Marine's Ken Cirillo used the tides and currents data in the electronic charts to locate this Cape Cod-area striped bass. The data helped him select the best spot to fish, as well as the optimal area to position the boat to intersect fish moving with the current.


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