All he needed to do was jump-start a dead boat battery, and then we could cast off the lines and head out for the day of fishing we had planned. It should have been simple.

fishing without a fishfinder

Have you become over-dependent on your fishfinder?


“Red goes on negative, right?” he asked. Before I figured out that it was a serious question as opposed to a joke, a shower of sparks erupted from the bilge. When he looked up, his eyebrows were gone. But we weren't about to give up on eight hours of fishing that easily. I pulled the battery out of my truck, swapped it for the boat battery, and away we went. Unfortunately, when he tried to turn on the electronics they were dead as a doornail. My buddy’s electronics weren't properly wired with fuses, and the power surge had fried their little brains. If we were going to catch fish, we’d have to alter the plans a bit. Here are a few fishfinder-free tactics that helped us fill the cooler.

1. Traditional depth-finding: To locate a near-by drop-off, I clipped a 10-ounce weight on the end of my fishing line. Then I slowly bounced it along bottom until feeling the edge.

2. Cross-current trolling: Since we couldn’t monitor our trolling speed but we knew the approximate RPM setting from experience, we trolled cross-current. That eliminated the need to bump up or drop down speed as we turned against or with the current.

3. Mark the spot: When we started catching fish, we marked the spot with by dropping a float tethered to a weighted line. Before fishfinders and GPS were common everyone carried a float to mark spots, and you should still have one on board, just in case.