Reef-fishing dilemma: Your fish finder marks large red targets near the bottom in 100 feet of water, but you also see mysterious sonar wisps at 50 feet that might be predators. Do you drop baits to the bottomfish and chance a cutoff on the way down?
Capt. Eric Davis is not a gambler. During a recent late-winter charter, the Vero Beach, Florida, guide trained his Garmin LiveScope XR live sonar on that 50-foot window. He could immediately tell that the wisps were barracuda—literally identifying the fishes’ shape and even their fins as they swam in the current.
“That’s the perfect way to illustrate what live sonar is: You’re not seeing a red blob; you see what the fish really are,” Davis says.
Davis has plenty of experience with Garmin’s live sonar and has both the brand-new LiveScope XR as well as LiveScope Plus on his Pathfinder 2400 Open. He uses the XR when prospecting in 100 to 200 feet of water and the Plus for shallow-water inshore fishing.
XR emits lower sonar frequencies capable of reaching out 350 feet in salt water, which gives offshore anglers the range to see fish swimming over deep reefs and wrecks and under weed lines, or even to see bluewater pelagics schooling around bait pods.
“LiveScope has done to sonar what GPS did to trolling motors,” Davis says. “I love the ability to drive over to a bait pod that’s on the surface, and before you even get to it, you can see if there are any predator fish underneath. It’s pretty cool to tell your clients to get ready for a bite because you can see something is coming up.”
Davis’ LiveScope XR transducer is wired through a Garmin GLS 10 black box, which is essentially a computer, and into his Garmin GPSMap 8616xsv helm display and his GPSMap 943 unit mounted up on his second station. The LiveScope XR system is compatible with a wide variety of GPSMap and EchoMap units as are Davis’ new Garmin Navionics Vision+ charts.
Vision+ and Garmin Navionics+ represent the final and ultimate marriage between Garmin and Navionics. The charts feature advanced autorouting, depth-range shading, a streamlined interface, combined coastal and inland content, a one-year subscription to daily chart updates, and more.
Vision+ delivers additional features such as aerial photography, 3D Fisheye View and high-resolution relief shading. “The detail is great with those charts,” Davis says. “The contour shading on the fishing charts is wonderful. You can see a pinnacle or a drop-off very easily.”
Better chart detail gives captains and anglers new locations to explore. LiveScope then shows them a real-time view of what’s below and around them. Davis mounted his LiveScope Plus transducer at the transom; his XR transducer—LVS62—is mounted on a pole, so he can move it anywhere on the boat. The sonar cone fans out vertically in a 20-by-135-degree arc.
Anglers who mount a LiveScope transducer on their trolling-motor shaft can manually tilt the elements for down or forward modes, or attach the included perspective mount for additional views. LiveScope XR costs $2,999.99. To add XR to an existing LiveScope system, the transducer can be purchased for $2,499.99.
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