Several weeks ago, we wrote about Scott Martin’s stellar 2015 season, which led to him winning the FLW Tour Angler of the Year title. We were able to catch up with Scott while he was saltwater fishing in Florida to ask him what the key to his remarkable season was. Let’s see what he had to say.
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“When I look back at the 2015 FLW Tour season, I can look at how I finished at each tournament and can say that without Garmin Panoptix, I would not have won Angler of the Year. There are so many reasons why, and I’d like to share some of them with you.
What is Panoptix? Panoptix is a forward-shooting sonar that is rigged on the front of my trolling motor. Whichever direction my trolling motor is pointing, it’s shooting a traditional sonar beam out, with a live feed coming back to my chartplotter. It’s not a historical view, it’s 100% live. For example, when I put my trolling motor down and have Panoptix set to shoot 50 feet out, I have the ability to see brush piles, rock piles, fish, baitfish, and other structure in front of and around my boat, and make precise casts towards the target. Now why is that important?
First of all, if you can see the fish, you can cast right your lure right to them and it takes the guesswork out of wondering where these fish are.
Secondly, Panoptix allows you to see your bait in the water. If you scan out there and don’t see any bait or don’t see any fish, well then guess what, guys? There’s not anything there to catch! If I see the bait and they’re sitting in 20 feet of water, then maybe I know what depth I need to be targeting.
So how did Panoptix help me win Angler of the Year? To be honest with you, it helped me at every tournament and I wouldn’t have had the finishes I did without Panoptix.”
Let’s take a look back at several defining moments of Scott’s memorable 2015 season and how Panoptix played a key role in those events.
Lewis Smith Lake
“On day three, I caught a very key fish. A cold front came through and early in the morning I was fishing a deep spot where a few fish were starting to school up. I pulled up on that spot, stopped the boat and scanned around with Panoptix before I even made a cast. I see the bottom and a ledge, and then all of a sudden I see a blob on the screen. It’s a fish. It says that the fish is 50 feet out and 20 feet deep. I literally take the swimbait that’s in my hand and throw it out 60 feet and let it sink down. I watched my swimbait falling on the graph to 20 feet deep and start reeling it back through the water column, keeping my bait at 20 feet deep. I watched that fish on the screen come up to my swimbait and eat it. It was a 4 lb. 9 oz. spotted bass. That’s like the biggest spotted bass I’ve ever caught! That was the first fish I caught on day three, and when you think about that, a 4 ½ pound spotted bass helps quite a bit in AOY points because it helped my total weight at the end of the day tremendously and moved me up the leaderboard.”
“Lake Eufaula was a deep fishery and we were there during the hot time of the year and targeting brush piles in 20-30 feet of water. As I would idle around in my boat, I would use the Garmin SideVü, DownVü, and LakeVü HD Ultra maps, and drive around as I followed the contour lines. I didn’t know where those brush piles were, but I would literally follow the contour lines of the points and underwater ledges and have my SideVü shooting out 70 feet on each side of the boat and it would show me these brush piles. I just scrolled over to it on my unit and marked a waypoint, saved it as a brush pile and kept on going until I found the next one. Throughout three days of practice, I found about 50 really good brush piles that I thought I could catch fish out of.
So how did Panoptix help me in the tournament? On game day, I pull up and stop about 100 feet short of where the brush pile is on my screen, put the trolling motor down and turn Panoptix on. I point my trolling motor over to where I think the brush pile is, and sure enough, there it is. I see baitfish all around it and bass sitting in the brush pile. I can look at my screen and see that the brush pile is 80 feet away because the arrow on my trolling motor is pointed right at it. I take my 10-inch worm, fire it out there about 90 feet or so until it sinks to the bottom, drag it a few feet and all of a sudden I have a bite. It was so key to my success because I didn’t waste any time blind casting. Before I had Panoptix, I could pull up to a brush pile I had marked and it would still take me a few casts to actually find that brush pile. Before Panoptix, I might make a cast and miss the brush pile by about five feet and might do that several times before I actually make the right cast. With Panoptix, I’m in the brush pile on the first cast.
There’s absolutely no way I would have done as well as I did at Eufaula without Panoptix on the front of my boat.”
“Panoptix was very key at Lake Chickamauga, as I could see schools of fish on ledges in 20 feet of water. I knew that fish were there because I either found them at a previous tournament at Chickamauga or saw them in practice, and I would scan around and see 15 or 20 blobs on my screen marking fish, 30-50 feet out. I could then take my hair jig or crankbait, throw it right to the strike zone and reel it right down through the fish and catch them. As a matter of fact, my marshal on day three watched me use Panoptix all day. There were several times that I told him to watch me catch this Panoptix fish. As I took my drop shot and pitched it out 40 feet, I’d see the bait falling on my screen and catch the fish. My marshal had another brand of electronics on his boat, but was so impressed by Panoptix that he went home, bought Panoptix along with new Garmin units and loves it!
I have fished six FLW Tour events this season, plus the Toyota Texas Bass Classic and a tournament at Okeechobee. Out of those eight events, I have seven top-20 finishes, and Panoptix is the reason for that.
I’m lucky to have great equipment on my boat, whether it’s my Okuma rods, Evinrude outboard, or Ranger boat. Without all of those products, obviously I wouldn’t have won Angler of the Year, but when you can literally go back and say, ‘I would not have caught that fish without Panoptix,’ that’s impressive.”
Join us in wishing Scott good luck as he moves on to fish the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup at Lake Ouachita, where he won the event in 2011.
For more on Panoptix, please visit garmin.com/panoptix.
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