Just some food for thought for winter projects.
I am always surprised with the number fishermen that don't have radar installed on their boats on the bay. Yes it is an additional expense. However considering that most have so much many thousands of dollars already wrapped up in their boats, gear, trucks, other electronics etc., even entry-level radar can be added to most brands multi-function displays for just a tad more than grand. This includes Lowrance, Raymarine, Simrad, Garmin, and even Furuno. Heck even if you dont have a radar capable plotter you can even get a wireless stand-alone unit that uses your iPad as a screen for a tad over a grand from Furuno. SiTex offers some nice stand alone units fairly inexpensively too. I find fishermen will spend thousands updating an already functional fish finder or chart plotter to get the latest and greatest but will skip over one of the most valuable tools even on the bay.
First and foremost radar gives you eyes on the water, both in good visibility and poor. Whether you are leaving the dock early in the dark on opening day, getting caught in one of those fog banks brought on by an easterly wind, or even trying to traverse the channel edge trolling on a hazy day without getting run over by a commercial ship coming up the bay at close to 18kn, radar can help you see collision risks around you. Even on days when the visibility is good, I find it to be a useful tool in keeping an eye on the boats around me. A quick glance at a screen gives me a full 360 degree look to what is around me. Very useful on crowded days when I have my hands full retying rigs, dealing with fish on the boat, or something else.
Even though most of us fish the bay and have quick and easy access to our smart phones with weather apps, radar will pick up precipitation. Seeing rain storms coming across the bay instantly can help you and your crew prepare to get wet or even dodge some of the smaller rain bursts we get in late spring and summer.
Radar is also a very useful tool for fishing. Sure there are those big boats that run $6,000-$7,000 12kw radars that can find flocking birds miles away. However, even the entry-level radars can serve a good purpose for fisherman other than safety.
The first use is "spot mugging". Yes I said it, you can steal spots from other boaters. I will be the first to admit that this is how I got the numbers for the wreck off of Podickery Point. When I moved to the area years ago I kept noticing some local charter boat captains anchored in about the same area time after time. They frequently seemed to be netting fish too. One trip I picked them up on my radar and marked the area on the plotter to later go and look at the area with my fish finder. I know others who have done it offshore in order to grab a small snag or bottom change that is unmarked on any charts. Sometimes it is these small snags or bottom changes that are unmarked on charts that can produce the best.
Next is finding the fleet. Sure the smaller low kw radomes aren't true "bird finding" radars. However they do pick up boats well and can do so for miles. I find that this is particularly useful in the fall when the fish are actively schooled up feeding on bait. Fishermen themselves flock to the birds even when a lower power radar may not pick up the winged things. Yes, I, like most anglers, like to find my own bite or be the fish first to the fish and keep to myself or just the couple of friends whom I am working with to find fish. However there are those days when that doesn't happen. This means putting the radar on a longer range when trying to decide which way to run. Even with my high power stabilizing binoculars, there are days when the haze limits how far I can see. Radar is less limiting here. Radar may even pay for itself in fuel savings utilizing it this way. Of course it could have you spending more fuel if you see a fleet of boats beyond where you initially intended to run
(**Edit*** Added use:)
Another feature for the MARPA capable units is that you can track your friends throughout the day. I use this often while trolling and sometimes jigging just to keep tabs on friends and/or other boats I am working with to know where they are in relation to myself. This helps me know where a friend is when he calls and said he just had a rod or two go down so I can see the depth he is fishing or even where exactly the bite is. You can also keep tabs on a top producing charter boat that you know has been successful. You can try to mimic the patterns, depths, etc while giving plenty of space. You can see an example of this on the photo of my radar with the two targets circled and numbered.
The point of me sharing this is if you are considering some upgrades to your boat this year, radar should be a strong consideration. If you already have a functioning fish finder and plotter, I tell you that you aren't likely to mark fish that you didn't before with a new fish finder and the while the newer chart plotters may have some cool features, you aren't likely to be able to go new places. However by adding radar if you don't have it can not only give you an additional safety feature, it can help your fishing game too.
Here are some "fairly inexpensive" radars:
Work with multi-function displays
- Lowrance 3G- http://www.boemarine.com/lowrance-3g...e-map-1299-00/
- Garmin GMR 18HD - http://www.boemarine.com/garmin-gmr-...e-map-1199-99/ (I ran this radar for 4 years)
- Raymarine 4KW 18"HD- http://www.boemarine.com/raymarine-r...e-map-1699-99/
- Furuno DRS4DL - http://www.boemarine.com/furuno-drs4...ouch-tztouch2/
Stand alone units
- Furuno Wireless (works with iPad) - http://www.boemarine.com/furuno-1st-...ireless-radar/
- Furuno 1623 - http://www.boemarine.com/furuno-1623-lcd-radar/
- Sitex T-760 - http://www.boemarine.com/si-tex-t-76...7-touchscreen/
Below are some shots of my 4kw UHD Radome radar showing some different scenarios. Wish I had some shots from this past fall even picking up birds. I will try to remember to take some better photos this year.
Feel free to comment, add photos, etc..
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