Kent Driscoll On Using the Garmin Panoptix Live Scope to Catch Crappie - Part 1
By Phillip Gentry
Anglers in general and crappie anglers in particular are always on the look out for that one thing, that one bait, rod, tactic or piece of gear that will help the angler catch fish better than anyone else. According to B’n’M pro staffer Kent Driscoll, that one thing is the new Garmin Panoptix Live Scope sonar system.
“This thing is a game changer,” said Driscoll. “The tournaments I’ve been fishing are all being won by boats equipped with these units. Single pole anglers are winning tournaments with them.”
Panoptix™ all-seeing sonar is unlike anything ever seen on the water. It gives anglers the ability to see all around the boat in real time and in three dimensions. Whether idling around graphing or fishing, Panoptix transducers are available in Forward and Down configurations with mounting styles to suit your fishing needs.
The Garmin sonar image combined with adjustable transducer mode gives almost live video image quality to the areas in front of and below the boat.
“I’ve been a big fan or side scan sonar for years and it’s still hard to beat for scouting new areas and finding structure that holds crappie, but once you have located something you want to check out, a brush pile or a stump field or just open water, there’s nothing like this,” said Driscoll.
According to the Garmin website, it’s easy to adjust the transducer mode to fit the angler’s desired fishing techniques. LiveScope Forward allows you to see remarkably clear images of structure and swimming fish around your boat and the LiveScope Down allows you to see directly below your boat. The view automatically updates on the compatible Garmin chart plotter. AHRS stabilization keeps the sonar view steady even in rough conditions.
Driscoll said he’s been using the Garmin 1042 XSV 10-inch unit and admits he still has much to learn about using it, but so far has been pretty amazed.
“This thing helps me determine so many details about what’s out in front of the boat. I can tell if it’s a crappie, bass, catfish or other fish like baitfish or something I don’t want to see like gar,” he said.
Driscoll said new advances in sonar are changing the way tournament anglers fish for crappie.
Much of this new information has changed a lot of his thinking about the way he approaches and actually fishes for crappie these days.
“I’ve learned so much about a fish that up until now I thought I knew a lot about,” he said. “It has even taught me a lot about the mood of the fish I’m looking for.”
Driscoll said his experience so far has saved him a lot of time in eliminating fishing spots that would show fish on other sonar units but were not crappie or not the size crappie he needed to catch if he was going to be competitive in a tournament.
“It makes you slow down tremendously,” he said. “It’s like bed fishing. I can pull up on a spot and immediately tell if it has crappie of the right size and if they are actively feeding by how they are orienting to structure or if they are dug down in the structure and I can actually watch the fish as it reacts to my bait. That helps me know if I need to change colors, styles or change baits altogether.”
He also said he’s learned a lot about how fish react to his presence and the water conditions around him.
Watching the fish from the brushpile to the hand and all points in between, via sonar.
“It’ll make you sick to watch how many big fish get spooked off a brush pile when I troll up to a spot the way I used to, even in muddy water where we used to think it was hard to spook fish. I mean they’re just gone,” he said. “You’ll also be surprised how many good fish are further away from that brush pile or stump and just hanging out in open water.”
Finally, Driscoll said the features of the unit allow the angler to zoom out in front of the boat and place a bait within the cone of the transducer and watch the bait and the fish.
“I tell you what convinced me to buy one of these, and yea, they’re kind of pricey, but we were ahead this year at a 2-day crappie tournament on Barnett and it rained overnight,” said Driscoll. “We went back the next day and our fish were gone, or so we thought. They had moved up so shallow in the water column we couldn’t see them. Other anglers that had the Panoptix units were fishing close by and they saw what the fish were doing and they caught fish. We went from first place to 30th. I got back home and bought one the next week.”
NEXT WEEK: Stay tuned for Part 2 of the interview with Kent Driscoll on crappie fishing tips using the Garmin Panoptix Live Scope and B’n’M poles to catch crappie.
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