It’s a well known fact that if you want to catch fish you need to know how to find them, and in order to find the fish, you need to locate the birds - the undisputed masters of fish finding technology. What is less clear is exactly how to go about targeting birds with radar, a tool normally reserved for collision avoidance. This issue of Waypoints will remove some of the mystery surrounding the subject.
The first thing to think of when considering bird-tracking radar is antenna beamwidth. Remember that the narrower the beamwidth, the greater target discrimination you will have. For this reason, dome antennas are not as adept at tracking birds as a comparable open array antenna. As the length of the antenna radiator increases, beamwidth becomes narrower, so a larger antenna will invariably offer better target discrimination.
Experience and practice will make you a bird-finding machine, but to get there you need to start with the basics. For the novice, it is best to practice these techniques on a clear day with calm seas. It is easiest to first visually locate a flock of birds that you want to target.
To target the birds, set the radar to a mid- or long-range. Next, increase the Gain control until you see noise on the display. This will appear as a blanket of small specks. You will need to leave the Gain turned all the way up, thus setting the receiver for maximum sensitivity in order to detect birds. Resist the temptation to turn up the AC/Sea or AC/Rain to drop out the noise. Flocks of birds may look like dense, recurring noise rather than a solid target, but you should be able to see them clearly. This is what you will be looking for when you don’t have a visual cue as to where the birds are feeding.
If your radar is capable of operating in True Motion, do so. You will be stabilizing the display, and you will be able to tell if the flock is travelling in a straight line looking for bait pods or if they have found their target school andare feeding.
When operating in Head Up or True Motion, be sure to turn on your target trail function and set it for long trails to help track travelling flocks.
Practice these techniques and soon you will be scouting your fishing spots just like the pros. Furuno is pleased to offer highly detailed fishing charts for the most popular fishing locations on the U.S. East Coast, West Coast and Gulf of Mexico. These charts show incredible bathymetric contour detail that can make the difference when it comes to locating more fish. The best part is these fishing charts are FREE!
To start using the fishing charts, you will need to have downloaded and installed the latest software revision. You will see a new menu item under Charts when you turn the RotoKey. You can now select from Raster, Vector and Fishing charts.