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Back on the Water, SonarPhone at the Ready

Since I hadn't had my pontoon out all summer so far, I decided it was time for it to hit the water for the first time on a recent trip to Stockade Lake in the southern Hills. Though it can be a tough lake to find fish on this time of year, due to the warmer water and high concentration of weeds lake-wide, there's always a chance at pulling in a good sized large or smallmouth bass as well as pike.

Having realized I'd forgotten the trolling motor as I left town, I decided to fish in areas close to the launch area where I'd had success in the past finding bass. The one piece of equipment I did not forget was my SonarPhone T-Pod Sonar Bobber from Vexilar. Since using it last summer, it has helped me to know what depth and structures were below and has helped me to find and catch more fish because of it.

Using the Wi-Fi that is built into the bobber, that turns on when it hits the water (and therefore not draining the battery as much as Bluetooth does, as well as not using any data), my smartphone becomes my sonar.

I tied on Northland Tackle Reed Runner and Buzzard Buzzer Spinnerbaits as well as wacky rigs teamed up with Impulse Dipstick plastics on them trying to trigger reactionary bites. The spinnerbaits make great search lures and allow me to cover large amounts of an area trying to find aggressive fish, while the Dipsticks allow for a more finesse approach with their slow sinking characteristics.

A few small largemouths fell to the Buzzer in shallower water, but I was trying to find better quarry. Nearing a large rock wall formation, I noticed on my phone that there was a large weedy patch that had a sharp drop in depth right in front of it, going from 7' to 13' in a hurry.

I decided this was a good spot to try. Giving the Reed Runners a three count to drop in depth, closer to the top of the weeds before I reeled it up, I tried to get the lure as close to the weed edge as I could predict.

Being lower on the water in my pontoon, it can be difficult to judge where things are. On the second cast and retrieval, there was a hard hit and the fish was on! After a good amount of fighting, I managed to net what was a very nice largemouth. A few quick pictures and back into the lake it went. The rest of morning was uneventful, but catching a nice fish always make it worth the trip.

Without having the T-Pod to show me where the weed line and the depth drops were at, there's a good chance I wouldn't have been able to catch a nicer fish. This little piece of technology can help bridge the gap between those who don't have big boats and sonar and those that do.

It gives you real-time sonar readings, just like any boat sonar and all you need is the T-Pod, a smartphone, and the free SonarPhone app to run the program. It's the best and most cost-effective way to give a kayak, pontoon, or shore fishermen a look at what's around and below them without spending hundreds of dollars on a boat sonar. I highly recommend anyone with a small watercraft to look at them. It could make the difference between going home empty-handed or going home with some pictures of a nice fish and a story to tell.

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