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Post Posted: Sat Oct 04, 2014 3:31 am 
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I'm having a difficult time finding reefs off shore using my Garmin gps map 546s. I looked on their website, and they offer firmware upgrades, which I'm sure I could use, but nothing about updated points. Is there anything I can do? I spent like twenty minutes trying to find a reef in the water I saw on map Wednesday. Pretty frustrating. I'm still trying to figure out the best sonar settings to look for structure on the bottom. That's not going great either. I keep trying to learn how to hunt fish, but I'm at the point now, where I'm frustrated, and I feel like I have to be doing something blatantly wrong sAng_compy .

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Post Posted: Sat Oct 04, 2014 11:02 am 
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Hey Carl,
Definitely can be frustrating trying to find structure that you are sure is they're.Here's what I do,go to the spot on your Gps,which is more than likely off by as much as 100 ft,then do increasingly larger circles around the spot at a slow speed,4-5 mph un til your sounder shows the ledge.then when you find it mark it as a waypoint.It will be more accurate the next time you go back to that spot.

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Post Posted: Sat Oct 04, 2014 11:05 am 
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Good call Pete.
Waypoints will get you much closer.

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Post Posted: Sat Oct 04, 2014 12:16 pm 
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Sweet, thanks Pete. I'll give it a shot next week sometime. Now if I could only set it up to see Grouper, I'd be set!

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Post Posted: Sat Oct 04, 2014 2:17 pm 
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When you do find a ledge,fiddle with the sensitivity on the sounder,by increasing it just the right amount you should be able to see the fish echoes,the different fish show as different echoes because of their swim bladders,when you catch them you will know what that echo shape is,takes a lot of practice,I can get it to work,occasionally,check the web,lots of info out there on fish id

The fish show upas arches ,the light spot in them is caused by the swim bladders


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Post Posted: Sat Oct 04, 2014 3:03 pm 
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Carl,

I had a 546s before I moved on to my 740s and that is a solid unit. I have found that public GPS coordinates for the most part get you in the ballpark and as Pete suggested, you have to spend some time in that area to locate the structure. From my experience the 546 will do and excellent job in locating fish and seeing ledges. Another suggestion is that I always keep my sounder on and displayed when I am traveling offshore because you never know what you will see. I have found many items of interest as I travel to and from my fishing destinations. As for the grouper… Red Grouper will primarily be in and around structure and very plentiful on the hard bottom. Gags on the other hand also like structure but are more likely found on ledges. In both cases they tend to stay in holes and under ledges which would likely keep them off your sounder's view. If you don't already own one I would buy a Top Spot chart that will give some places to start and they also have bottom type notations that can be beneficial. I have taken a couple pics (below) of some of the numbers that are not to far from the Clearwater area. I live and fish off the South Pinellas and northern Manatee coast. If you have any questions feel free to PM me and I certainly would be willing to go out with you and help you out if you wanted. Just let me know.

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Post Posted: Sat Oct 04, 2014 5:31 pm 
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Bruce, I'd love to take you up on that. Either yours or mine, I just really need to watch someone hunt, so I can figure out to find good spots, and how to make the most of my sonar. How long before you have a day off during the week?

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Post Posted: Sun Oct 05, 2014 10:18 am 
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Carl, Pinellas county has a list online of the coordinates all the artificial reefs.

http://www.pinellascounty.org/reef/

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Post Posted: Sun Oct 05, 2014 12:21 pm 
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That is a great offer. You can't replicate experience, having him on your boat is awesome.

Awesome guys!

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Post Posted: Sun Oct 05, 2014 1:09 pm 
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Great! Thanks! Did you find the coordinates from that site were more accurate than the ones I find on the Garmin maps?

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Post Posted: Sun Oct 05, 2014 2:22 pm 
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Carl,

Unfortunately I work m-f and I'm a little short on vac time for the rest of the year. Took two weeks off this summer to spend with my kids so my remaining days will be needed need for the holidays. That being said, I live right on the water down by Oniell's marina / Maximo park so maybe we could get out one evening. From my place there are several reefs and other points of interest that are 30min or less by water. Weekends are always an option for me to. Send me a PM if you want to discuss/plan further. Thanks.

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Post Posted: Sun Oct 05, 2014 2:59 pm 
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Unfortunately I'm in the opposite boat. I only have one weekend day off a month, and the vacation time I have next I already have planned. Maybe the week day night thing one evening. It'll be a couple weeks though.

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Post Posted: Sun Oct 05, 2014 10:09 pm 
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Carl are there any marked reefs up in the bay, by marked I me with a sign or bouy, we have them down here so I'm sure you must also, go to one and look at your screen, it will teach you what hard bottom looks like and you can use that to find your own spots.

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Post Posted: Sun Oct 05, 2014 10:24 pm 
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Carl the way points that come on the built in charts will just get you in the neighborhood. If you look on that county web site you can find a pdf that lists each reef and maps of the sites. Even still you have to use your sonar to find the actual structure and of course be able to anchor over it so your anchor is not snagged in the reef! Try turning up the gain on your sonar until you see a "double bottom" than back it off until it just disappears.

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Post Posted: Mon Oct 06, 2014 3:05 pm 
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Carl,

The other tip/trick I have learned and was taught was to deploy a buoy over the structure you intend to fish. If you already do this then disregard. If not, I would suggest you invest in a good buoy that you can deploy over the exact spot you want to fish. There are several types out there but make certain whichever you choose deploys (sinks) fast and holds it position and will not pay out line freely in the wind and/or waves. . I am partial to Suremarker but there are others out there.

I locate the structure via my sonar and have a buddy deploy the buoy at my command marking the exact spot. This gives me a great visual reference on the water so I can properly set my anchor and let myself back. Between that and a good drift sock I am not sure whats more valuable.. Both are must haves for offshore fishing IMHO.

Tip: If you go the weighted marker route I always encase my 5lbs weight in a vented/capped 2.5 foot pvc tube with a stainless eye connected to the main line via 10 ft of 100lb mono leader. This protects the weight and line from chafing on the reef. I lost one marker (at night) due to a cut line from wave action.

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