Not all brush piles are created equal, says FLW College Fishing Southeastern Conference tournament champion Isaac Nesbitt. Neither are the humps and points they’re sunk on. By mapping those areas with Insight Genesis, he discovered subtle sweet spots that produced the winning fish for him and his Clemson University teammate Ross Burns May 30th on Georgia’s Lake Hartwell.
“One of those places we mapped in practice with Insight Genesis put three extra fish in the boat — one of them our biggest of the day,” says Nesbitt, whose win on Hartwell earned him and his teammate the first Map & Win! contingency prize awarded in Lowrance’s Insight Genesis College Cup program.
College Cup is a year-long contest in which collegiate anglers can win thousands of dollars’ worth of Lowrance HDS Gen-2 Touch units by logging sonar data used to create custom fishing maps with one-foot contours, a vegetation-map layer and a bottom-hardness map. Map & Win! is a new contingency-prize program that awards a Lowrance HDS-12 Gen2 sonar/GPS unit to any College Cup-registered team that wins an FLW or B.A.S.S. college fishing tournament after mapping 100 acres or more of the tournament waters with Insight Genesis.
Insight Genesis, GoFree’s innovative custom-mapping tool, helps anglers catch more fish faster in several ways: offering them free downloads of community-sourced contour charts from Insight Genesis Social Map; enabling them to create their own custom contour maps of un-mapped bodies of water; and helping them discover and dissect potential tournament-winning spot-on-the-spot areas that don’t show up on some existing off-the-shelf or app-based contour maps. GoFree is the newest brand from Navico, parent company of Lowrance, Simrad and B&G. Insight Genesis maps are exclusive to sonar/GPS units made by those three brands. (Article continues below video player)
Mapping while graphing
While Nesbitt idled around Lake Hartwell in practice looking at his Lowrance sonar/GPS unit for brush piles holding schools of bass and bait — a process tournament anglers refer to as “graphing” — he was simultaneously recording the sonar data his transducer was sending to his Lowrance GPS/sonar unit’s screen. All Lowrance HDS and Elite sonar/GPS units can record sonar — no additional hardware is needed, but for an inexpensive SD or micro-SD card of any brand.
After coming off the water each practice day, Nesbitt uploaded his sonar recordings — called “sonar logs” — to the Insight Genesis website. The upload process is similar to, and as easy as, uploading a photo to Facebook. After his sonar logs had uploaded (it takes an hour or so — long enough to get dinner in the interim), Nesbitt could view custom maps, with one-foot contours, of all the spots he graphed during practice. Those one-of-a-kind maps showed him subtle, but important, details about the structure around the brush piles that were holding fish — details that do not exist on any other maps Nesbitt has seen of Lake Hartwell, a reservoir he has been fishing regularly for years.
“Other maps aren’t usually perfect, especially with the humps on a lake,” he says. “So you might know humps are there, but a lot of times, a hump on those other maps will just look like a circle — but that’s not really what the hump looks like.”
But because Insight Genesis creates custom maps from sonar signals sent out exactly in the places you idle over and/or fish, Nesbitt explains, your Insight Genesis maps will show, with pinpoint precision, the “key points and breaks of humps,” which hold more and bigger fish.
“I can guarantee, without a doubt, our biggest fish came off a tree on a steep break that we wouldn’t have known was there if we hadn’t mapped the areas around our brush piles in practice,” he says. “That’s where you catch those 4- and 5-pounders.”
Mapping while fishing and practicing for tournaments is second nature for Nesbitt, who in the last two years has already won three Lowrance HDS Gen2 units in College Cup mapping contests. Because recording a sonar log requires you to push merely three buttons on your Lowrance unit, Nesbitt is surprised that more college anglers aren’t cashing in.
To qualify for the Map & Win! contingency award in the Lake Hartwell tournament, Nesbitt needed only record and upload 100 acres of sonar data from his practice period. “A hundred acres is a drop in the bucket,” he says. “You can do a hundred acres in a day, just fishing around.”
Already this year, Nesbitt has recorded 1,849 acres of sonar data on Lake Hartwell. Last year, he recorded 5,008 acres on the fishery, which was home to the 2015 Bassmaster Classic. His acres of sonar data was aggregated with sonar data recorded by other community-minded anglers to create a master map of Lake Hartwell. (That map is available for free download through the Insight Genesis Social Map).
Bassmaster pro Jacob Powroznik used an Insight Genesis Social Map chart of Lake Hartwell to his advantage in the 2015 Classic, placing 5th. Suffice to say, he’s now a fan of Insight Genesis mapping. (See video below)
“I consider it cheating, it’s that good,” Powroznik told fishing media from around the world in a press conference following the 2015 Classic. “It actually shows you so much detail. It shows you the drains and everything you’re trying to fish. In pre-practice, I was catching about 50 or 60 fish a day out of those drains, every time I’d find one.” (article continues below video)
If it weren’t for a weather-related late start that prevented Powroznik from getting on the morning bite on the tournament’s first day, his Genesis map might have helped him to a Classic victory. Interviewed backstage before he weighed in, he said “Insight Genesis helped me make the top couple three in the Bassmaster Classic, or maybe have a chance to win.”
“You can ride around and see there’s a good drop right here, here’s where the deep water meets the bank, or is underneath docks,” Powroznik said. “Check Insight Genesis out. I promise you, it will help you be a more successful fisherman.”
Although Nesbitt, who lives near Lake Hartwell, has marked 300-plus man-made brush and cane piles in the last couple years, not all of them are productive at all times. After taking into account seasonal-pattern trends, he was able to use his custom Insight Genesis maps to determine which brush/cane piles would be best based on conditions during the tournament. It turned out that the winning fish were positioned in and around brush/cane piles located near the edges of steep breaks, or drop-offs, on humps or points.
“The bass are chasing herring now and they’ll sit and hide in brush piles and cane piles until those herring blow over, and then they go up and get them,” he says.
That’s why Nesbitt and Burns threw topwater baits all day to the top of their best humps and points and worked them out past the drop-offs. “The bottom in these spots will slowly drop, slowly drop and then boom, it’s 20, 30, 40 feet deep,” Nesbitt explains. “That edge is very, very important. The fish use it to funnel up to points, to funnel up to humps, to funnel up bait to the surface to get it trapped.”
Nesbitt’s Insight Genesis map allowed him to perfectly position his boat in deeper water surrounding these areas and make identical casts to the sweet spots on them.
“It gives you an advantage to be able to see where you should put your boat so you can make the exact right cast over and over and over again,” he explains. “The fish are looking up and usually if you make the cast enough times, they’ll come up and get the bait.”
Understanding the blueback herring’s impact on the feeding habits of Hartwell’s bass population helped Nesbitt and Burns confidently commit to throwing topwaters all day over the spots Nesbitt found with Insight Genesis. That decision resulted in victory — the first for a Clemson University team.
“The blueback herring just completely changes bass fishing in a lot of ways,” Nesbittt explains. “Most guys have a hard time throwing a topwater for 8 hours in seemingly the middle of nowhere. If they’re throwing at a bank, guys can kind of do it. But if you’re throwing it at what looks like nothing — which we do a lot — the hardest thing is just sticking to the discipline. But we grew up on herring lakes, so it’s easy for us to go out and throw topwaters for 8 hours and a million casts. That’s what we’ll do for the next five months.”
FLW College Fishing
The FLW College Fishing Southeastern Conference tournament on Hartwell was hosted by the Hart County Chamber of Commerce and was the third and final regular-season qualifying tournament. Complete results can be found at FLWFishing.com. The next event for the Southeastern Conference anglers is the Conference Championship, which is scheduled for September 26-27 at Pickwick Lake in Florence, Alabama.
FLW College Fishing teams compete in qualifying tournaments in one of five conferences – Central, Northern, Southern, Southeastern and Western. The top fifteen teams from each regular-season tournament will qualify for one of five Conference Championship tournaments. The top ten teams from each of the five Conference Championship tournaments will advance to the 2016 FLW College Fishing National Championship.
College Fishing is free to enter. All participants must be registered, full-time students at a college, university or community college and members of a fishing club recognized by their college or university.