Chad Grigsby is an accomplished bass tournament angler on the MLF Pro Circuit with several top ten finishes in professional bass tournaments including the FLW and BASS. According to Grigsby, forward facing sonar is completely changing the game when targeting bass over deeper water.
“How we are fishing hasn’t changed but forward-facing sonar like the Garmin Live Scope Plus is allowing us to put the bait in front of more fish and this increased efficiency is increasing the weights needed to win many tournaments where anglers are targeting fish offshore,” explains Grigsby.
Grigsby just returned from a Lake Champlain event in upstate New York where traditionally, about sixteen pounds of smallmouth a day would cash a check or put you in a pretty good position. Grigsby did exactly that and ended up in 80th place. Times are changing.
Grigsby notes that the fact that smallmouth often pull out over deeper flats come mid to late summer isn’t any new secret. Many of these locations might have some scattered boulders or rock but these fish are often roaming nonstop. Forward facing sonar is allowing anglers to cast at specific fish as these fish are on the move instead of blindly fishing locations. This increased efficiency is increasing what it takes to do well. “I don’t necessarily think that the fishery is that much better right now, but more anglers are just better at catching them now with this technology,” adds Grigsby.
Grigsby likes to use the Garmin Live Scope Plus for this specific application. Grigsby often sets his range out to ninety feet and actively looks for schools of moving bass. “The key is usually just getting within six to eight feet of a fish. Smallmouths aren’t necessarily hard to catch if you put a bait in front of them. The key is getting the bait in front of the fish,” stresses Grigsby.
In this deeper water that is over fourteen feet of water, Grigsby finds that the fish aren’t necessarily spooking from the boat but does note that for some reason, largemouth bass can sometimes be spookier in deeper water than smallmouths. The presentations also haven’t changed in that the classic drop shot, Ned Rig, tube, Neko Rig or even a Carolina Rig is what most anglers are using to target smallmouth over deeper water right now.
The big take away however that can influence how we fish these deeper bass locations with or without forward facing sonar is just how much these bass move. We might identify specific boulders or transitions. We might get enamored with a spot on the spot. As these fish move, no doubt that fish will set up on some of these sweet spots. The challenge is that these fish move so much that we waste an incredible amount of time as we fish or simply cast blindly. Even as we mark fish with traditional 2 D sonar, the fish can often be gone by the time we set up and fish. Imagine trying to fish big locations and make a cast in front of a fish or school of fish that is moving nonstop faster than the speed that you walk? If you make enough casts, you will land in front of a fish, but the forward-facing sonar enables you to basically stalk and sight fish at specific fish in much deeper water. This efficiency you would have when sight fishing in less than six feet of water is downright deadly when you can recreate the same efficiency in eighteen feet of water without the worry of spooking fish.
Grigsby points out however that the basics often still apply. Wind can make everything better in regard to your presentation looking better with less light penetration and disruption to hide or mask your presence. Because Grigsby is head hunting specific fish out to sixty feet or more from the boat, he often uses a ten-pound braid with an eight-pound fluorocarbon leader for making long precise casts and increasing the sensitivity and hook penetration at long distances.