Fish finder on all sides of boat

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Catch the limit: A group getting back from a charter boat fishing excursion with Five Orr's Sport Fishing Charters at Pastrick Marina in East Chicago show off their terrific catch. The business uses the Humminbird 360 to find fish. | Supplied photo

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Charter boat captain Mike Orr is living his dream on the big lake.

From March to October his business — Five Orr’s Sport Fishing Charters — takes seasoned and amateur anglers out on Lake Michigan for a day of fun, searching for and bringing in the big catch.

“I provide the boat, tackle and experience and make sure they go out and have a good time,” Orr said.

Part of making sure his passengers have that good time is the art of knowing where to find the fish, a skill learned over a 40-year fishing career.

Today, though, Orr said he has some extra help to make finding fish more of a science than a knack — his Humminbird 360 Imaging fish finder. The state-of-the-art device provides a 360-degree view of what is under the boat and, more importantly, what is in front of it. That, he said, helps him find more productive fishing grounds and avoid areas of dead water where no fish are to be found.

“People are coming out and paying me to put them out on the fish,” Orr said.

The Humminbird 360 Imaging will help him do just that. It is the unique software used in the Cannon Humminbird that makes the fish finder so successful.

“They are the leaders,” Orr said.

Humminbird has had down imaging sonar for a while and introduced side imaging sonar about three years ago. Orr has used them successfully, upgrading to the latest technology when it becomes available. The 360 is different, he said, because it is more like X-ray vision, allowing the user to actually see underwater.

“It will show you in real time what that unit is actually reading underwater,” Orr said.

Ahead of the game

The 360 gives depths, the contour of the bottom and the difference between bait fish and their predators, the big fish Orr and his clients seek. It scans the front, back, port and starboard sides of the boat allowing him to determine in which direction he should head. Follow the bait fish, Orr said, and the big ones are not far away.

Part of what makes the unit work is how the transducers are mounted.

Traditionally side and down imaging units are mounted off the back of the boat and read straight down, giving about a 240-foot view of what is directly under and to the sides of the boat through sonar imaging. That means the data the units provide, while useful, is of what the boat has just passed.

With the Humminbird 360, anglers use what is essentially a Power Pole that drops the transducers below the lowest point of the boat to provide the 360-degree view. By providing an image of what is ahead, Orr is better able to direct the boat to fruitful fishing grounds.

According to the Humminbird website, the 360 Imaging allows users for the first time ever to see up to 150 feet in front of the boat, either in full 360 mode or by isolating the sweep area. With valuable intelligence on fish-holding structure and cover waiting up ahead, you can cast to productive areas without spooking fish.

At your command, the ultra-quiet 360 Imaging Transducer Deployment System drops below your boat’s hull and prop for an unobstructed, 360-degree view. The system operates silently — escaping the notice of nearby fish.

When the timing’s right, fishermen can deploy the 360 Imaging by using their Humminbird unit or the control buttons found on the Transducer Deployment System, according to the website.

The unit will work in any body of water as long as it is deep enough to clear the deployed transducers.

Worth the wait

Orr, who is sponsored by Humminbird and is a tester for its products, said the innovations were so significant, the company was extremely tight-lipped about the 360 before it was officially launched in February, the week before the Bassmaster Classic in Shreveport, La.

It was worth the wait.

“For me using it as a trolling charter boat captain, eliminating dead water has been phenomenal,” Orr said.

For more information on Five Orr’s Sports Fishing Charters, visit www.fiveorrscharters.com. For more information on the Humminbird 360 Imaging, visit www.humminbird.com/360imaging.