Checklist For Your Next Fishing Trip

Guest Post from Maire

A fishing trip is a great way to get outside where you can enjoy nature and even catch yourself some delicious fish. A fishing trip is even better when you have friends and family alongside you.

Whether you’re a seasoned fisherman or a beginner, having a checklist as you pack will ensure you bring everything you’ll need for your trip.

1. Fishing Gear

Start with your fishing license and double-check you have it before you leave. In addition, you’ll need your rods, reels, fishing line, tackle, hooks, sinkers and any other special equipment for the type of fish you’re looking to catch.

2. Outdoor Gear

Waterproof clothing is a must-have if you expect rain. Sunscreen will protect your skin from damage on a bright day and a canopy tent can make a comfortable shaded spot to sit and relax on your trip.

3. Safety Equipment

You’ll need a first aid kit, flashlight, whistle, maps of the area and a compass. It’s also useful to have a GPS unit, emergency phone and flares.

4. Fishing Accessories

Pack a knife for fileting your fish, a bucket or two to hold them all and a vest or box for keeping all of your stuff organized. Many people also like to have a camera to capture their catches.

5. Food And Personal Items

If you’ll be out for more than a few hours, you definitely need to bring food and beverages along. For a longer trip, you’ll also need a cooking stove. In addition, pack clothing, toiletries and bedding for an overnight trip.

6. Boating Gear

When you’re fishing on a boat, you’ll need life jackets and basic boating equipment. It’s always helpful to test a boat before a long trip, ensuring that its lights, motor and pumps are all operational.

Maybe it’s time for a new Humminbird Fishfinder

After gathering everything on your checklist, have a friend read over the list one last time before you go. You may have checked off an item that didn’t actually make it into one of your bags, which is no way to start your fishing trip.

Maire loves fishing for blue gill with her father, hiking and going to the dog park with Scottish Terrier, Pete.

Sight Fishing: Being Able To Spot Fish In The Water

I have a fishing buddy I like to refer to as Eagle Eye Paul. He could see things from such a distance away that at first we didn’t believe the things he said he saw, that we of course couldn’t see.

It didn’t take long before he had proved this over and over. He could even see fish in the water in place I couldn’t and I can usually spot fish. I wonder how many I have missed over the years.

Well for those of us who don’t have Paul’s eagle eye vision, like myself, other skills are required or perhaps skill along with technology.

There are a lot of clues in and around the water’s edge a fisher can use to determine how they will fish this particular spot. I have been fishing for 50 years and for many of those years it was pretty simple fishing gear so I had to use skill to do well.

When I am in water that is deeper than I can see or if I have Eagle Eye with me, I usually rely on a fish finder. It’s so much better than sticking your head in the water to see what’s down there. Casey has two Humminbird Fishfinder in his boat which is great because I get to see the structure as well even though we are on opposite ends of his boat.

The fact we don’t see any fish on the fish finder doesn’t mean they aren’t there. It usually means they just aren’t right there under the same path the boat is taking. That’s why I like to look for structure and fish the structure.

If the fishing is good and the fish finder doesn’t have a way to mark your spot then I like to line three spots on the shore so I can find my way back. I spent a lot of time on lakes with my canoe and portable Humminbird Fish Finder and loved locating new structure.

I’ve even looked at smaller fish finders for my float tube but I don’t go far from shore in the tube so I can’t really justify getting one. When the wind picks up I like being close to shore when float tubing.

But back to spotting fish in the water. Even though I can’t see into the water I can see what’s happening at the surface so I look for any activity that would indicate possible fish.

  1. Jumping fish, hey that’s a great indicator, although when Atlantic salmon fishing it doesn’t mean they are going to take anything you throw at them. I love chasing jumping fish.
  2. Jumping baitfish, are usually trying to escape being dinner. Give them something other than that bait fish to look at.
  3. Birds that eat fish are worth watching and not just because they are awesome to watch. They can lead you directly to a great day of fishing.
  4. Shoreline structure that extends into the water such as trees and points.
  5. Shorelines can indicate sudden drop-offs or points that extend into deeper water.

There are plenty of indicators that will help you find fish whether you’re fishing shorelines or off-shore. It just takes observing your surroundings but I have to admit I would rather take pictures of the scenery and use a Humminbird Fishfinder to locate the fish.

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The Garmin Water Proof Fish Finder Is On My Wish List

It’s most annoying when you have a fish finder that gets a bit of water in it. It doesn’t take much to fog up a display screen, not to mention other damage that could result from having water on the inside of your fish finder. I’m sure you’ve had a watch that water got into and remember how annoying it was when it fogged up.

As soon as the sun gets things warming up and hits your fish finder it will start to fog up the display screen. I was on a fly-in fishing trip to northern Quebec, out in the middle of no-where for a week when it fell in the water just as I was connecting it to the boat. Very frustrating, I grabbed it in less than a second. I don’t think it even fully submerged but it still took in some water making it almost useless for our fishing trip.

After the first two days I felt like tossing the friggin’ thing back into the water and leaving it there for the fish. Plus we were fishing lake trout and it’s not usually sight fishing. You need a fish finder for those trips.

Well that was about 20 some years ago and fish finders have come a long ways. I still check to see if a fish finder I’m checking out says it’s water proof. That’s the first thing I look for now, no more spoiled trips that cost a lot of money.

At the moment I don’t have a boat of my own but there may be one in our near future, as soon as my wife decides to retire so we can start traveling. There are a few brands I like in fish finders but today I’m looking at Garmin fish finders, water proof ones of course. Smile

I’m looking through Amazon for a Garmin fish finder because they often have some great deals on fish finders and other fishing related things.

The Garmin Fish Finder 400C 4-Inch Waterproof Fish-finder and Dual Frequency Transducer

My first fish finder was difficult to read but still allowed me to find so many more fish and places they hang out. Before that it was more a visual thing and I spent most of my time either fishing structure off the bank or trolling until I found structure. Usually meaning I would hang up on bottom. Today fish finders have come along way and show so much more detail.

The Garmin Fishfinder 400C is both affordable and has value for your investment like the great detail you get about the environment just below your feet.

Another feature I look for when checking out fish finders is how the fish display on the screen. How deep are they and what size are they? That the detail I’m looking for when looking at fish on the display.

The detail in the structure below my boat is important too. Are they weeds, fish, rocks what the heck is it down there? No problem for the Garmin fish finder.

When we are out fishing it can be important to know the water temperature like the Garmin 400C Fish Finder does to locate feeding fish. Knowing the depth and water temp can mean the difference between catching and just fishing.

Having a good fish finder like the Garmin fish finders helps you locate those active fish.

What a huge difference having a fish finder that has a colour display over those I’ve had in the past. So much more detailed information available on the display.

When we go out fishing for the day it’s for the day and evening, usually. We start while it’s still barely light and until it’s just about dark. That’s when the fish finder turns into a backlit display showing you what’s under your boat.

Getting back home is important to us as we love our families and fishing so we want to return home safe and ready for another day on the water.

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Why Use a Fish Finder?

fish finder
Image by rossferguson via Flickr

If you’re thinking about using a fish finder in the most effective ways, you have to look at it like a tool. Exactly like any tool, it requires understanding. Simply because this device is based on technology doesn’t mean that you cannot develop skills with it. While your favorite fishing hole may have been your best kept secret, you cannot deny that being able to glimpse below the water’s surface and catch a look at what’s going on isn’t useful.

A gut feeling is one way to find great fishing grounds. However it is nice to be able to validate your hunch with technology. If you ultimately learn how to use the device with the same precision as you use your rod and reel then you may very well never have a disappointing fishing trip again.

The sonar technology that these fish finders use is based on nature’s ability to detect objects in the water. It’s simply the electronic version of the echolocation utilized by whales and dolphins. Sound waves are scattered and the measured time frame in which it takes for those sound waves to bounce back creates the visuals right there for you to see.

When you find a good location for your fish finder you’ll want to make sure that you are mounting it in compliance with the instructions. Misaligning the equipment can result in incorrect readouts. Finding the ultimate sensitivity setting for the finder is an interesting trick. Most manuals come with recommendations, but in general you want the sensitivity settings to reflect the locale which you fish. If you are out on open deep waters you may find a higher sensitivity does the trick.

It might very well take you a little time to learn how to read your fish finder just right. It’s not unusual for logs or debris to be confused with one really big fish right below you. Once you get the hang of it you’ll find that those mistakes are minimal.

The incredible technology that has been added to fish finders is actually quite impressive. Weather alerts, GPS coordinates, and even the ability to distinguish fish species have made these little devices much more than a system to find fish.

You don’t have to follow old techniques in order to take pleasure in fishing. It might be useful to unite both the old traditions and new technologies. Utilizing a fish finder might even help you confirm that grandpa’s old fishing hole has loads of fish on every second Tuesday of the month.

If you want to increase your odds of catching fish, you should consider investing in a fish finder. But how do you know if the Humminbird SmartCast RF 15 portable fishfinder is better than the Humminbird 997c, for example? You need to read some fish finder reviews to help you decide on the right model for your needs.

Fishfinders on Review.

Cabin display of a fish finder sonar
Image via Wikipedia

You should know how a fish finder operates before making a choice.

Fishfinders use sonar technology to find fish-or any other solid object-under the surface of the water.  Sonar sound waves travel through the water.  As they travel further, the sound wave will increase in diameter, going from the point of initiation and fanning out into a cone-like shape.  The cone naturally becomes larger in deeper water because it continues to fan out from the point of origin.  As the sound wave hits a solid mass it will echo back to the transducer.  The time difference between when the sound bounces back from an object and it’s surrounding area determine the shape and size.    That shape will then appear on your fishfinder screen and you will be able to see a proximation of what the object looks like.

Your budget will likely be the next determining factor in your choice. Figure out how much you would really like to spend on a fish finder.   Then multiply that times two. That will give you a more realistic budget to work with.

Naturally, the budget isn’t the only consideration.  There are six other significant factors to help you to make the best choice for you.  Consider each of the following:


Each fishfinder is rated for a particular depth. The rating will indicate how far down the signal will return effective soundings based on the intensity of the signal. You should first realize that the ratings are for ideal conditions in clear fresh water unless stated otherwise. When fishing in salt or murky water the effective depth will be less than stated. Like everything else; the more power the higher the cost; so know that if you plan to fish really deep water you need to spend more.

A good rule of thumb and my recommendation is to purchase a fishfinder with a rating of 10% more than you plan to need.


You should check included accessories for your fishfinder diligently before you make your purchase.   Some do not come with a transducer and you will need to purchase one separately. That will make a difference in the overal price. The two types of transducers are single frequency and dual frequency. You may require one, the other or both depending on for what and where you are fishing.   Single frequency transducers work best in shallow coastal waters or inland lakes. A duel frequency transducer is recommended for deep sea and offshore fishing. A transducer with dual frequency gives you a higher frequency transducer for a smaller cone in deep water. As an example; a 50kHz frequency transducer could have a 4 degree cone to provide a good view of the bottom in deep water and 200kHz transducer with a 20 degree cone would provide a better view of the bottom in shallower water.   You need to purchase the correct transducer, because both will generate information on your screen, but you want the information to be accurate.

Installation of the unit must also be factored in here.   You need to know if you plan to mount the fishfinder on a single boat and leave it there or if you prefer the flexibility of being able to take it with you and use it on a friend’s boat, as well.   Also, you need to decide if you will mount it on the transom or go through the hull for optimum clarity.

Several companies make single frequency ducers.  Each of these units is best suited for use on a small boat.  They are intended for use on rivers, streams, or inland lakes.

A transom mount unit is usually easier and less expensive to install.   You can purchase transom mounts in both single frequency and dual frequency fishfinder models.   Transom mounts are best for use in water that will not be very disrupted by a boat moving fast.Clarity usually is affected once your boat reaches 10 knots.

Through hull transducers, on the other hand, are ideal for performance and clarity. However, this requires another hole in the bottom of the boat. But they are needed if you want clarity at high speeds.

My recommendation is to purchase a through-the-hull mounted transducer with dual frequency only if you are planning to fish in very deep waters-either fresh water or salt water.

Smaller boats fishing relatilely shallow water at slow speed can use a portable or transom mount.   The money you save will be better served by using it to fill up your boat’s gas tank!


As a rule, more power is always a good thing.   When comparing units that are equal in all other features, the cheaper unit will almost always have less power.   However, power is the key to accuracy and clarity because that is what determines the speed of the sonar echoes (bounced back sound waves) reaching your unit.

After finding all other factors equal I recommend buying the unit with the highest power rating.   In other words, consider units that have everything you want and then compare the power rating of all of those units to see which one has the highest power rating.


Consider this when looking at different options for the display.  Color screens are easier to view in bright sunlight. A clearer image will be produced with higher resolution.

We recommend you research several units in your price range then choose the one with the highest resolution and a color screen.  480×480 is ideal, but you don’t want to go any lower than 320×240.


Like more power being better, when it comes to display size, bigger is always better-if it fits where you want to put it!  So before you can really determine the ideal display size for you, you need to measure the area where you will install the display unit.   That will dictate the largest display screen you can purchase. Just like more power, a bigger screen will fetch a heftier price.   But display size isn’t absolutely everything. A few really good fish finders have a 4″ screen.


When reading the fish finders reviews be somewhat skeptical of exagerated claims of performance! There isn’t likely anyone who has actually owned and used all of the different model they write about. More than likely the writer works for a manufacturer or distributor.  It’s best to look for technical differences rather than praise of performance.   For instance, has a fishfinder review page that shows the specifications of all of the fishfinders produced by the industry brand name leaders so you can make real comparisons based on the actual features.   Make your decision based on your requirements and a solid understanding of the features you need, not someone who is getting paid to endorse a particular product.

New Lake? No Clues? My Fish Finder Sure Came In Handy.


Knowing the structure that lies beneath the waters that you fish in can be the difference between catching and just fishing.

I remember back when I was a kid I took an old bucket, cut the bottom out of it and glued a piece of glass into the bottom. It took me a while to get it water proof and it looked pretty ugly but guess what. It allowed me to see below the top of the water without sticking my head in the water. I was pretty proud of it and I could see my dad was impressed too.

Way back then I called structure ‘hiding places’. I even took my bucket with me when we went to the ranch where we kept our cattle all summer. They had a lake right in the middle of their property and only one other farm on the whole lake.

I was too young to take the boat out on my own but I would put on my life jacket and sit in the boat with my bucket over the side just watching all the life and activity beneath the boat.

Today I have become a little more suffisticated and use a Hummingbird fish finder. It saves me so much time on new waters. I was sold on fish finders when five of us went on a fly-in fishing trip to northern Quebec. I was the only one with a fish finder and we had three boats.

We had 7 days with an entire lake to ourselves. There was an island in center with a beautiful cottage but no one was there all week. It was a really remote location, accessable only by plane so I imagine it took some bucks to build that cottage.

We got settled in to our cabin had a bite to eat and then it was off to the boats. None of them knew I had a fish finder and of course they all wanted a crack at it but I said no way. I did say that each day I would switch fishing partners so they could all try it out.

Well every single day my boat caught more fish and bigger fish. We eliminated so much water and found other water that we might never have bothered with because the clues were all below the surface.

My partner and I out fished the others so much that they just started following us.

The fly-in fishing trip was my first so it is special but the quality of the fishing and accomodations were less than promised. I was the only one that practice total catch and release while the others wanted trophies. The fridge freezer quite working near the end of the week and they all lost their trophies while mine were still swimming around.

But honestly I would have slept in a tent and used canoes so we had it pretty easy for being so remote.

The happy memories would not have been so happy had I not brought my Hummingbird fish finder.The fact that I out fished the others with my fish finder proved to me that we would have been crying by the end of the week.

I don’t swear by Hummingbird, not at all. I am glad to have it and it works for me but I have never tried any other kind. I think just having one for those times you are fishing new waters is worth the investment.

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