Rigging a Crappie Boat: Electronic Gadgets
HydroWave, Color C-Lector and Aqua-Vu Underwater Cameras
A friend of mine recently told me a story about his wise old grandmother. “I was looking at a new fangled fishing gadget that someone had put on the market and described it to my grandmother,” said my friend. “Her response was short and to the point. ‘Some things are made for fishing and some things are made for selling!”‘
With all the gadgets, thingamabobs and doohickeys available to crappie anglers these days it is a good idea to consider them with caution. The phrase “Trust but verify,” comes to mind. Finding another angler who has used a gadget with success would be a good place to start.
I began my search for some valuable gadgets with pro crappie angler Dan Dannenmueller Sr. Dan is a well know angler on the Crappie Masters tournament trail. His fishing partner, Garrett Steele, describes Dan as very willing to try new things, new techniques, and new products. “He wants to have all the necessary and available tools to help catch more crappie and he loves sharing and teaching others about what he has learned through his experience.”
The HydroWave concept is very appealing to anglers. It is an electronic device that uses an underwater speaker to emit the natural sounds of baitfish and predatory fish in a feeding frenzy. The sounds are a set of recordings that have been made from real live shad. The whole idea is to draw other fish into the frenzy. Crappie can both feel the vibrations and hear the sounds emitted from the HydroWave and think there are shad around. The crappie’s natural feeding instincts are to go get in on the feed.
“If I’m on the boat with Dan, and conditions require it, the HydoWave is turned on,” reported Steele. “He relies on it most when the bite gets tough.”
“Most people want to go out and think of it as a cure all and start using it immediately,” says Dannenmueller. “That is not the best way to use the HydroWave. Suppose you are in an area that you know holds a lot of fish. You have been catching them and then they quit. Now is the time to turn the HydroWave on and start it at its lowest level. Keep an eye on the sonar as you work the area. If you are seeing fish but they are not biting, turn the intensity up. Keep this process going until you get a bite.”
Dannenmueller gave an example of fishing over brush piles. “I have caught fish over brush piles and had them start going back inside the pile as the day goes on. I turn the HydroWave on and the shad come out to the sides of the brush piles. You can see them on sonar coming out. When the shad come out they pull the crappie out and you have a chance to catch them.”
You have to use the HydroWave properly according to Dannenmueller. “Be sure you are over the brush pile and the speakers are transmitting over those fish. Be sure it is a brush pile that holds crappie. When the crappies are not on top of the brush piles or on the sides you know they have gone inside or left. You gotta’ get them out of there, if they are there, and I have used the HydroWave to do just that.”
Another gadget that Dannenmueller uses is the Color C-Lector from Spike-It. Bruce McElroy, Vice President for Operations and Sales describes it as a tool anglers can use to know what color the fish can see best under different conditions.
“The Color-C-Lector is merely a light meter,” said McElroy. “Dr. Loren Hill, University of Oklahoma, did a study to determine what colors fish could see best under different conditions. He created a chart to identify the colors anglers should use at different depths in different water conditions. The chart is where the science is. It will make a big difference in your fishing.”
Pro angler Harold Neeley is a long time user of the Color-C-Lector. Neeley says it all starts once fish have been located with sonar. “The unit has a 50-foot cable that is marked each foot so you can determine the depth of your reading. When I locate fish on my sonar, I drop the color selector probe down to the appropriate depth and take a reading. Then I determine what color of water I am dealing with. The chart on the Color C-lector is broken down by stained, clear and muddy conditions.”
“The upper end is all dark,” said Neeley, “except for the chartreuse which is universally good in any clarity of water. Earlier in the morning you use your darker baits. As the sun rises you gradually make adjustments.” He explained that you don’t go from black to white, but gradually lighten your colors as indicated by the chart.
Making adjustments throughout the day is where the Color-C-Lector can help you be more productive. Modifications are necessary because one color does not normally catch fish all day long. “We start every fishing day using it,” explains Steele. “If we change areas and/or conditions change, we check the colors again.”
Noting the depth of fish on the sonar, anglers can take an hourly reading with the Color-C-Lector and match their baits to the most likely color to be seen by the fish. “There is no guarantee they will bite,” cautions Neeley, “but you can be sure they will see your bait.”
Aqua-Vu Underwater Camera
Sonar helps a lot, but what you see on an underwater camera is the real deal. Simply drop the camera down and you can see the type of structure, what kind of fish are on the structure and sometimes what kind of food they are eating so you can match the hatch.
Pro angler Tommy Skarlis considers his Aqua-Vu camera a time saver. “An Aqua-Vu underwater camera gives me the ability to identify what species of fish I am marking with side-vision or 2D sonar on my Raymarine units. This saves me time and effort and allows me to distinguish species and fish for crappies and not undesirable species. I can also look in places that a traditional sonar unit can’t, like high and far back areas of docks and otherwise un-viewable places.”
By eliminating unproductive areas anglers can concentrate more effort on the productive ones. If you see the fish there and you are not catching them you know to change colors, size or presentation until you find what they want that day.
Gadgets, thingamabobs and doohickeys are not cure-all, solve-all products. According to Dannenmueller you still have to use all your other known techniques for catching fish. “You need to have the right size and color bait, you need to be on the right side of the brush pile, you need to be at the right depth and all of that.” When electronic gadgets complement your style of fishing and help you catch more crappie they are a great investment in your fishing future.