On most lakes, you can usually find angler Garry Woodruff with a dropshot rod in his hand and his head looking down on the Lowrance Gen 3 Touch unit on the bow of his boat. If he isn’t fishing, then he is probably idling around looking at the side scan images for new places or locating fish. These techniques allowed him to win the New York TBF State Championship in 2015 and 2016 on the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario.
Garry says that “having down scan on the bow has enabled me to better determine good targets and see fish in weeds.” This happened during a FLW Costa tournament on Lake Champlain, where on the sonar screen it looked like a bunch of weeds but on the down scan image, a fish was revealed between two clumps of grass. He dropped on the fish and put it in the boat. That fish probably would not have been caught without having the proper transducer on the bow.
For the win in 2015, Garry was keying on bait balls in deep water and seeing large arches around them. When a bait ball was found then usually large smallmouth were around and able to be “video” fished by dropping the bait down to the arch on the Lowrance unit. And being able to recognize the size of the fish based on the sonar signal was invaluable to putting the right fish in the boat.
The win in 2016 was a little different, instead of tracking bait balls like in the 2015 tournament; he was using the side imaging to maintain a steady drift on productive humps. Having the Lowrance TotalScan transducer on the bow and the flexibility of having 4 windows shown (chart, sonar, down imaging, and side imaging), he was able to keep the right path while being able to track the bait and video fish when the arch appeared on the screen. In fact on day one, his co-angler for the day, Fred Chilluffo, asked about the StructureScan® 3D capabilities as he was considering getting one for his boat. So while giving a demo (after of course he has a good limit), Fred asked if those orange dots were fish, Garry confirmed it, and Fred proceeded to catch a nice fish and get it in the boat.
Utilizing the waypoint storage flexibility provided by his Lowrance units, he has all of his waypoints separated by lakes and regions. When he goes to a new lake, he will copy the waypoint file from his computer and load it into one of the units on the boat. Then when the other units are powered up, they will automatically get copied so all units now have the lake’s waypoints. When he gets back from the lake, we will copy the routes and trails onto a memory card and put them back on his computer for naming and sorting if needed. That way, he always has one or more backups of his waypoints and he can do map planning to analyze the new waypoints and plan for the next outing.
His Ranger Z-521C is configured with 2 Lowrance 12 Touch units (a Gen 3 and a Gen 2) on the console and 1 Gen3 12 on the bow. A Structure Scan 3d unit is utilized for side and down imaging at the console as well as providing the network hub for all of the units in the boat. On the bow, a TotalScan transducer is used that provides sonar, CHIRP, down and side scan. For secure mounting of the transducer in rough water, a Transducer Shield Saver mount is used with 4 band clamps to keep it secure.
Normal operation has the console setup with the left unit displaying a zoomed out map while the right unit is a split screen showing a zoomed in map on one side and sonar on the other. The right unit also displays relevant engine data from his Evinrude G2 motor which is connected through the NMEA-2000 bus to all of the units.
His old boat (Ranger Z-21), which was replaced in the summer of 2016, was configured with a Lowrance HDS Gen 2 Touch 12 and a LMS520C on the console with a Gen 2 Touch 12 on the bow. A StructureScan® HD unit provided the side and down scan as well as the Ethernet network. On the bow, a SpotlightScan™ transducer was used providing both sonar and down scan imaging. And the NMEA-2000 bus connected the units and his Evinrude engine together.
A Point-1 GPS Antenna is installed on the bow on a Bass Boat Technologies mount. The Point-1 has a built-in compass that has proven to be very valuable when trying to stay on a location or when drifting slowly. His units are set up so that the chart is in a heading up mode. Utilizing the built-in compass, the maps are always oriented based on the actual direction making it easier to accurately follow a direction. Without the Point-1, he would have to move the boat before getting the correct orientation. This saves a lot of time moving to a new waypoint or just maintaining position and heading to the current location.
All of the units are connected to both the Ethernet and NMEA-2000 networks on the boat. This configuration lets him share waypoints, engine data, and map data to all of the units. Also, one of the console units is connected to his home Wi-Fi network so that he can check for and obtain updates for all of the devices on his boat. And he has his Power-Poles Blades connected via Bluetooth the Gen 3 console unit.
Garry has been fishing with the NYTBF since the fall of 2014 and has made the state team in 2015 and 2016. He has been to two Divisionals and the new Semi-Final tournaments as well as the National TBF Championship. He has been fishing the FLW Costa Series as a professional for seven years and occasionally fishes a BFL or two. He is now on the Board of Directors for the NYTBF and serves as the Website Director.
He attended Virginia Tech and received degrees in both Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. This training has served well as background knowledge for getting most from the electronics while fishing.
He has helped many anglers over the years with solving problems and teaching how to use their marine electronics. This list includes touring professionals at all levels, professional installers, guides, Federation members, and recreational anglers. He regularly gets phone calls and emails from people needing help on such things as problems, transferring waypoints from various units, how-to operate their unit to do a specific function, and what units to buy. Garry has been seen in numerous hotel parking lots or before take-off to help out with a problem or two. He also provides a service for new boat owners to design their electronics and delivers the design and layout, part lists, and even detailed installation notes.
As a result of helping anglers over the years, he has put much of his knowledge into developing a program called SonarCards™ which is an Android based application to help with using Lowrance units. That way an angler can open up the program on his phone or tablet and get the exact steps needed to perform a function like saving waypoints on the their Lowrance units. There is also a set of troubleshooting cards and several tools such as a transducer cone angle to show how much of the bottom is being seen on the screen. SonarCards™ is available on the Google Play Store.
Garry stated that having the right electronics on his boat and knowing how to use it including interpreting the sonar data are some of the primary keys to winning. Without the technology and flexibility of his Lowrance units, he would have had a much harder time finding the right fish and then winning on lakes like Ontario and Champlain. And they are just as useful on the smaller lakes too. You can always learn something new by using your boat electronics to make you a better fisherman.
FLW provided the on the water picture that was taken on the St. Lawrence River in July of 2016.
SonarCards™ is a trademark of Double R Solutions. (Started and owned by Garry) More information can be found at: http://doublersolutions.com/fishing/sonarcards.htm
Lowrance Copyrights and Trademarks: StructureScan® HD, SpotlightScan™, StructureScan® 3D. More information on these items and all of Lowrance’s products can be found at: http://www.lowrance.com/en-US/
More information about the New York The Bass Federation or NYTBF can be found at: http://www.nytbf.org/
And you can find out more about Garry’s fishing at: https://www.facebook.com/GarryWoodruffFishing/
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