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So you’ve found a pile of fish using forward-facing sonar. How do you know whether or not they are your target species? Long-time guide and tournament angler Colt Anderson has spent a lot of time behind the wheel of his electronics and has come up with one distinct observation for determining walleye from smallmouth bass on forward-facing sonar.

Walleye and smallmouth often share the same habitats and forage, leading to frequent mingling. This can make it challenging to identify your target species. In a tournament, this challenge becomes even more crucial, as it can significantly impact how well you manage your time. Spending half the day chasing the wrong fish can be a costly mistake.

Anderson’s approach involves hitting the fish with a side profile on your forward-facing sonar beam. Once you’ve got them broadside, the natural shape of walleye can often appear as two separate marks or two fish stuck together, where one mark represents the walleye’s large head and the other represents the large tail. This outline is all the more apparent when walleye reach 24 inches and greater. So when you find those marks, you know those are tournament-winning caliber fish. Compare this to smallmouth bass, a football-shaped species that will appear to be a fat jellyfish shape on forward-facing sonar.

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