Tag Archives: sonar

Kayak Fishing without Sonar?

The technology advancements in fishing have evolved into a realm that has us virtually playing a video game on the water at times.  Sonar units can easily find structure and fish for you as you paddle or pedal your favorite waters.  Maps and water temperature are also vital and the sonar unit can guide you virtually anywhere in the world without the use of the stars above. The color graphics are incredible and with the newer side image models you can easily spot structure or fish to either side of you while fishing.  Purchasing some more elite models can double the value of your kayak in a hurry!  Powering them is easy with a small 12 volt battery and there are even newer lithium batteries that are super light easing the load as you move on the water.  We know the advantages and ultimately they help us find fish.   

For years I fished from a kayak with no sonar. For many years there were no units that were compatible with mounting on a kayak. Then companies created products which could easily mount on our boats. Without sonar I learned to read the water from my small plastic boat using my lures and line to determine the depth and structure below.  Sometimes even my paddle served as the depth gauge of how deep the water was below me.  It was easy to figure out rocks, timber, brush, grass, by using different lures to “feel” for these objects without the “eyes” of sonar.   

This past couple weeks my sonar went down which spawned this writing and made me think about how I fish without the screen in front of me.  First, it was the battery that went on the blink.  Then the screen on my sonar unit decided to retire.  I was fishing at Sam Rayburn Lake in Texas and was fishing in a KBF tournament.  I went in “blind” as they say and felt my way around using a chatter bait, Neko rig, deep crank bait, and jig. Each has it’s own purpose for me when retrieving them through the water. The chatter bait might pick up some grass, the deep crank bait can tell me if the bottom is hard or soft and the jig can be dragged over submerged tree limbs that can hold fish underneath.  I still had great success catching fish and a feeling of great satisfaction that day.

Without sonar I have found myself observing clues to where the baitfish might be and structure that might hold big fish.  Clues such as a few shad busting the surface gave me signs of larger fish below.  A bird diving into the water and coming out with a baitfish was a great clue.  Using my natural senses to observe my surroundings helped me zero in on the fish.  To me, this is the most fun and figuring out a pattern after I’ve determined my surroundings makes it even more fun.  There is one way to improve your fishing prowess and that is turning off the sonar for a couple trips and trying this method.  You might be amazed at what you have missed previously!   You can still be successful fishing and if you are tournament fishing you will be more focused on your surroundings which may get you a nice limit.  I was forced to do this the past couple weeks without sonar.  I still competed very well and found the fishing more exciting!  I witnessed some incredible sights and other animals near the shoreline. Does this mean I won’t use sonar? Of course not!  I’m still going to either get this unit fixed or purchase another as sonar is a great resource while understanding the science of fishing.  It does shorten the time spent looking for structure, bait fish, and the fish we are attempting to catch.  At the same time, leaving it at home to hone my fishing instincts is a great way to stimulate the mind and a feeling of accomplishment.  So, why don’t you give it a try!  You never know what you might see in our incredible outdoors.