Radar: Do You Really Need It?

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Without radar, fishing would have been impossible on this day.

Radar is one of those things most fishing boat owners would like to have, but don’t consider a necessity. And considering the expense, many take a pass. IMHO this is a major mistake – I’ll never have a boat (other than a small skiff or pond-hopper) that doesn’t have it. The obvious reason is safety. With radar you can “see” through fog and darkness, and it adds a level of collision-avoidance in reduced visibility that can’t be beat by any other system. But let’s set that aside for just one moment and focus on the fishing, because the bottom line is that you’ll catch more fish if you have radar aboard.

fishing in fog

Without radar, fishing would have been impossible on this day.

The picture above illustrates two points. First, if we didn’t have radar it would have been insane to even leave the dock. Visibility was 30 to 50 yards, and the fish were four or five miles from our departure point. On the way to our friend’s boat, I turned to my buddy and said “You realize that if he doesn’t have radar we’ll probably have to turn around and go back home, right?” He agreed, and we were both relieved when we arrived and saw the dome on his hard top. Second, in the pic you can make out gulls in the background. For weeks finding fish had meant finding those gulls. And without radar we wouldn’t have had a prayer. In this case, however, we pointed the bow for the weak patchy radar returns, and drove directly to the fish.

At other times I’ve used radar to find birds, particularly when the sun was low on the horizon and spotting them with binoculars became very difficult. I’ve also used radar to locate commercial floats (and the mahi-mahi swimming underneath of them) offshore. And still other times, a glimpse at the radar has told me where other boats had clustered up on a hot bite.

Should you get radar for enhanced safety? You bet. But, should you get radar because it’ll help you catch more fish? You bet, again.


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