Grand Lake, Oklahoma - Time is always of the essence during tournaments. Fish found throughout pre-fishing still might be there. Then again… maybe not.
There was an era when countless hours were exhausted casting into deep-water just to figure out whether the fish were in the area or had turned tail and absconded the scene. Not anymore, however, when using Humminbird Side Imaging and new 360.
Enter Tennessee Elite pro Ott DeFoe – Bassmaster’s 2011 Rookie of the Year, coming in 4th for Angler of the Year during that same time frame, as well an astonishing 2nd runner up for the esteemed title in 2012. The 27-year-old has been using Side Imaging, and will be using 360 in the future, to literally see firsthand whether he will be making a cast or moving on.
One fish two fish
“I first realized how crucial Side Imaging was in 2010, the only year I didn’t have it on my boat,” DeFoe says. “Immediately I noticed the amount of time I was spending fishing for bass that weren’t even there. And then I confirmed the importance of this technology in one single cast.”
It was in 2012 when DeFoe was pre-fishing his home waters of Douglas Lake, Tennessee, and came to a deep water area off a point that usually holds fish. “But I could see on Side Imaging there were no fish there, so I didn’t make a cast” he added. “And then I went around the corner and saw one single fish, made a cast to it and, Wham!, it whacked my bladebait. One fish. A single cast.” Defoe now understood the power of Side Imaging. A few feet down the rock-strewn bottom in deep-water and he spied another single fish. Three lobs later and that fish was in the boat, as well.”
“Nowadays, during tournaments with a deep-water bite, I find myself moving along at idle speed looking for fish while watching the screen of my Humminbird in Side Imaging mode more than I am casting,” DeFoe claims. “If I don’t see fish, I don’t cast. The technology’s that good. I’m covering more water and catching more fish because of it. Basically, if I’m in someone else’s boat without it, I feel like a golfer’s lost ball in high weeds.”
Look out below… and above
DeFoe’s probed the depths with Side Imaging for bass in water as deep as 70 feet-the technology working wonders in water fathoms deeper for fish that live lower yet.
But the majority of his deep water casts are made in water up to 40 feet, where he sets his sonar to search 100 feet to the sides for a better defined look at what lies below. If DeFoe finds heavy cover like a freshly-made crib or brush pile he’ll still make a few casts, just in case fish are tucked deep within its innards. But if cruising over open water with structure like rocks or slab wood, he’ll move on until he marks fish.
The Elite pro has also used Side Imaging to scan the upper reaches of the water column for schooling fish suspended over deep water flats, as well.”Humminbird’s new 360 is really going to open up this bite to anyone willing to use it,” he says.
Thank goodness for catch and release.
Although Ott Defoe’s career hasn’t been long in the making, he’s the rich cream that’s instantaneously risen to the top. And Humminbird Side Imaging has been there the majority of his professional time on the water. Seeing fish firsthand, casting to them and catching them has made a believer out of this phenomenal bass fisher. And it will for you, too.
About Johnson Outdoors, Inc.
Johnson Outdoors Marine Electronics, Inc. consists of the Humminbird, LakeMaster, Minn Kota and Cannon brands. Humminbird® is a leading innovator and manufacturer of fishfinders, fishfinder/GPS combo units, ice flashers and digital depth gauges. LakeMaster® is the premier brand of high-definition electronic fishing charts. Minn Kota® is the world’s leading manufacturer of electric trolling motors, as well as offers a complete line of shallow water anchors, battery chargers and marine accessories. Cannon® is the leader in controlled-depth fishing and includes a full line of downrigger products and accessories.