We’re two days away from the start of the 2016 Bassmaster Classic on Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees in northeast Oklahoma, and because I live in nearby Park Hill and have had some tournament success on that lake in the past, a lot of people are picking me as the favorite.
Well, the truth is, I haven’t fished Grand Lake nearly as much in the past seven or eight years because I’ve been traveling around the country on the Bassmaster Elite Series and FLW Tour. Grand is my “home lake”, but I’m not a regular on that lake anymore.
One other thing to keep in mind: because of the amount of rain we’ve had this winter, the conditions on Grand are going to be different March 4-6 than they’ve ever been. That means that the 54 other Classic competitors and I will have to do some “relearning” on the fly when we show up for practice, and I feel like I have a distinct advantage there with my Garmin electronics.
Garmin surveyed Grand Lake in 2015 as part of the LakeVü HD Ultra cards, and when Garmin puts survey boats on a lake to scan it, they don’t leave a square inch of it un-surveyed. LakeVü HD Ultra gives you MaxDef, which are the lakes that Garmin surveyed, HD (1-foot) contours, High Resolution Relief and shallow-water shading, 3D MarinerEye and FishEye views, surface and side scan photos … it’s the most complete underwater “picture” you can possibly develop of a lake.
There are voids in other mapping software, but LakeVü HD Ultra covers everything you could possibly want to know about what a lake looks like underwater. The detail and accuracy are amazing.
When I scanned Grand Lake before it went off-limits in December, I found a bunch of stuff I didn’t even know was there. Now granted, some of that new stuff was in open water and that might not come into play in early March, but I can tell you for sure that I found some things on that lake in December that I never knew existed.
I’ve forgotten a lot of little detail stuff about Grand Lake – that’s just what happens when you’re not fishing a lake every other week like I did 10 years ago. I have a whole bunch of spots and general areas where I know fish should be, but I just can’t remember what my exact “line” was 10 years ago, when I fished the lake all the time.
Panoptix will let me go to a 100-yard stretch of bank that I remember from 10 years back, and really key in on the two, maybe three specific little areas where I know I’ve caught fish in years past. The Panoptix LiveVü Forward transducer on my trolling motor will allow me to scan each individual break and tell me exactly how I want to fish that break without ever having to idle over it.
Just looking at my GPSMAP 7610xsv on my front deck, I’ll be able to figure out the depth that fish are relating to on a break, and I’ll have a detailed picture in my head of how I want to fish that area. Heck, I might even find some things I didn’t know existed. There might be a new piece of structure in one of my old haunts that a crappie angler put in the lake, and I’ll be able to see that better thanks to Panoptix.
If I can put an extra fish or two in the livewell every day at the Classic by paying attention to what my electronics are telling me, that’ll be extremely valuable to me.
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Photos courtesy of Joel Shangle