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Chalk Talk: Forward-facing sonar with Livesay

Chalk Talk: Forward-facing sonar with Livesay

(Editor's note: The following is the latest installment in a series of fishing tips presented by The Bass University. Check back each Friday for a new tip.)

Lake Fork expert Lee Livesay was a big fish hammer even when two-dimensional sonar was the only game in town, but as fishing pressure has increased and technology has advanced, he’s rolled with the changes to become even more deadly. That’s been evident in his short Elite Series career, which has already produced three wins and with an Open triumph.

When Humminbird 360 came out, he immediately implemented it, but the addition of MegaLive took his game to another level, allowing him to see not only where the fish were located, but how deep they were. “It’s a tool that’ll really show you where the fish are in the water column,” he explained.

While he’s not afraid to go without it, he doesn’t see any reason to do so.

“It’s just another tool,” he said. “It‘s a tool to use 24/7 where you’re fishing, whether it’s on a hard grass edge, a bridge pylon, sailboat mooring in a marina rock piles, brush piles. It’s changed the whole industry.”

He noted that images get a little bit smaller and less distinct the farther they are from the boat, but in his Bass University video he shows how deadly this technology can be on different types of cover. On seawalls, for example, not only can he pitch baits to individual bass, but he can easily make out other attractive features like drainage pipe. Then he can pattern the bass based on the depth they’re using. If they’re suspended, he might use a ChatterBait or jerkbait, while bottom-related bass demand a dropshot, jig or shaky-head.

It's especially useful on bridges that might hold multiple groups and multiple species of gamefish. “Some will be suspended, some will be down and it will help you as an angler.” It still often forces him to fish for them, to figure out their exact size, species and willingness to bite, but it cuts down the learning process. “You never know. That’s why you use your Humminbird Mega Live. You want to see what they are.”

Most importantly, it helps him break down water quickly and efficiently. “It’s almost like side-imaging for the front of your boat but in real time, but you can see forward as well.”

He’s constantly learning new ways to use it, and relying on it to dial in a pattern. At a St. Lawrence River tournament, he had a big bag on Day 2, but on Day 3 they seemed to have disappeared. “I kind of panicked,” he recalled, but he went to the next point up the river, one he’d never fished before, put the trolling motor on 10 and started looking. A mere 15 minutes later he found a big school, and in the last hour of the tournament put 21 pounds in the livewell.

If you want to see some of Livesay’s forward-facing sonar tactics, including how he uses it to see under docks, check out his full on-the-water video, available only by subscribing to The Bass University TV.

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