The Future of Fishing
article by Kenny Covington
There they are, right there. Two of them on the left side of that stump.” The words made me stop fishing and turn around to look at the two guys crappie fishing within talking distance of me. They were standing on the front deck of their boat, jig poles in hand, staring at a television sized graph mounted on the front of their boat. They weren’t even fishing.
No sooner had they spoken the previous words, their crappie jigs hit the water and within seconds they both hooked up on nice sized white perch. Rarely while fishing a tournament, do I allow myself to get distracted by the goings on of another boat, competitor or otherwise. But this scene replayed itself out again a few minutes later and my curiosity got the best of me. I had to find out what was going on.
“What are ya’ll looking at?” I inquired as they both intently looked at the oversized graph.
“We are finding fish with our LiveScope” came the younger man’s reply. “If you don’t have one on your boat you can’t hardly compete in crappie tournaments. We just ease around and look for fish that we know we can catch, it takes all the guess work out of finding the fish. The guys that use LiveScope will beat you to death, especially if you don’t have one. It won’t be long and that will be the case in bass tournaments as well.”
Showing my age, I then asked, “What is LiveScope?”
For the next couple of minutes, the two anglers, who were in town fishing a national crappie tournament on the Ouachita River, gave me a guided tour of their electronics and how they worked. I was impressed with their knowledge and in awe of what technology was doing to my sport. In an instant, in my mind anyway, fishing had become a video game.
Back in the 1970s, when I started bass fishing, I remember playing with my dad’s old box flasher whenever he would let me run the trolling motor. He never used it but I was always curious as to how it worked. “I don’t need that thing to tell me how deep the water is”, he would say, “that’s what they make fishing rods for.” To further prove his point, he would stick his rod in the water to show me how deep the water was that we happen to be fishing. My how times have changed.
Then in the 1980s the first crystal graphs, or LCR’s as they were commonly known, were introduced. Then the paper graph came out, which was top of the line during that particular time. The top pros would use both units and some, like Arkansas fishing legend Larry Nixon, staying true to his roots, still used the box flasher. Fast forward forty years and we now have “spot lock” on our trolling motors, GPS installed into even the most basic of graphs, down imaging, side imaging and the list goes on and on.
By now you are probably asking yourself, “what is the point Kenny is trying to make?” Well, with all of the technological advancements, where does that take us in the sport of fishing? Where is the challenge? What are the drawbacks vs. the advantages? I have a lot of concerns, not just as a tournament angler but just as someone who loves the sport. Where does the technological landslide end?
It seems every week I am asked, “when are you going to break down and buy you a LiveScope unit?”
Each time I have the same response, “I’m not. I have made it this far in this sport without one, I will continue to fish the way I always have and at the end of the year see where I stand.” At first the LiveScope was more of a crappie fisherman’s dream, now slowly but surely, I am seeing my fellow competitors using it in our tournaments with success.
In some tournaments, I am not getting beat by a fisherman more than I am getting beat by a competitor’s ability to use their electronics. While to some that may sound like sour grapes, it’s more of an observation to where the sport is headed. What used to take years to figure out or learn from other fishermen, is now common knowledge due to the advancement of information and technology. I learned a long time ago, catching fish is easy, it is the finding and locating the fish that is hard. But as I stated earlier, finding fish, due to technological advances, isn’t near as hard as it used to be.
Side imaging allows the angler to see out both sides of his boat while he idles around potential fishing areas. This allows fishermen to pinpoint brush-piles, drop offs, or other cover or structures that in past years would go unnoticed and remain unfound. Down imaging, like side imaging, gives immediate imagery feedback of bottom contours, structure and cover in vivid detail that no one believed possible even twenty years ago. LiveScope not only allows you to see the fish you are trying to catch but you can also see the fish swimming to your bait and strike the lure. Garmin, Humminbird, Lowrance and a few other lesser-known companies, all have their hands in the technological fishing game. Video game fishing at its finest and it isn’t going away.
The advances in fish finders added to the younger generation of anglers equals a talented combination. These kids today have embraced technology, and in turn, technology has made them better anglers at much younger ages. They are sound, as well as open minded, with their techniques, they have a deep passion for the sport and they aren’t scared of competition. As I stand around tournament weigh-ins I can’t help but notice who the younger guys are simply by looking at the electronics on their boats. It seems the more graphs they have, the younger they are.
So where does that leave us old guys now? Well, I remain competitive by fishing my strengths while continually tweaking the things I do. I have always prided myself in staying ahead of the curve when it comes to techniques and new lures, so I’m still learning. I try to find new ideas and learn as much as I can on how to better incorporate them into my tournament techniques. They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks but this old dog is still smart enough to know how to survive.
Here is a good example that will put this article into context. Recently I fished a local circuit where the last event is a two-day tournament where each day is fished on a different lake. The angler who won the event used his Live Scope both bodies of water and won easily. I placed a distant 2nd fishing my shallow water techniques but I did win the circuits “Angler of the Year” award at the conclusion of the event. Technology may be winning more and more of the battles but, for now anyway, there are still old school ways to win the wars.
Well, it looks like we have run out of space and time again for another month. I do hope we were able to share a few insights into where this great sport is headed. I do believe change can be a good thing, but that doesn’t mean everyone has to change. Catch one for me! See you next month!