By: Ramie Colson
Like many other professional bass anglers, especially those who frequent Kentucky and Barkley Lakes, I relied on other marine electronics to scan the ledges and bars for structure and active schools of bass. This was until 2015 when I made the switch to Garmin. Nowadays with everyone running some form of side imaging and down imaging on their boats, it was evident that I needed to find something else to help set my electronics apart. When I saw the incredible quality and technology that Garmin has to offer, it was a no brainer to make the switch!
The switch is one I have no regrets about, as Garmin Panoptix technology played an integral role in me claiming the runner-up spot in the 2015 Forest Wood Cup. I amassed a total weight of 47 lb 13 oz for 18 bass over the 4-day event, and fell just under four pounds shy of claiming the title. Going into the Cup I knew the event was going to be a tough one, so I stuck to my strengths of fishing a Zoom Ol’ Monster worm very slow around brush piles. What gave me a huge leg up on my competitors is that Panoptix allowed me to locate and find every possible brush pile in the creek I was fishing. If I saw it on Panoptix, it was a one-cast deal to hit it every time.
In 2016, the FLW Tour will be making stops at Lake Hartwell, Beaver Lake, Pickwick Lake, Kentucky Lake, along with the Forest Wood Cup on Wheeler Lake. I feel all of these events play into my strengths of fishing offshore structure, meaning I’ll be leaning heavily on my four Garmin GPSMAP 7600XSV series chartplotter/sonar combo units with a Panoptix Forward transducer. With only three practice days for each event, my time on the water is extremely valuable and it seems to fly by, which is why the SideVü plays such an integral role in me locating that “needle in a haystack” structure that the winning school of bass will be holding on.
With the increased fishing pressure on ledge bass during the summer months, being able to quickly locate and decipher active schools of bass is paramount. The Garmin DownVü picture will aid anglers when idling over schools of bass to quickly see the quality of bass in that school. There is no doubt that DownVü is an incredible tool, but as the summer goes on, the more and more those schools get idled over, the tougher they are to catch. This is why Panoptix is such a valuable tool, as I can stay off of the ledge and still see the school I’m casting to. Panoptix will play a major role in the June event on Kentucky Lake.
I’m hoping that with my prior knowledge, skill set and the Garmin technology, that I’ll be in contention when any event is being held on the Tennessee River, including the site of the 2016 Forest Wood Cup, Wheeler Lake. Hopefully I can build upon the success I had in 2015, have a solid 2016 season, and qualify to fish the Cup for the fifth time and make another run at the title!