[Click through the images in the gallery above.]
Inshore is a fungible term. The mangrove shorelines of South Florida qualify; so do the rocky coasts of Maine and California. In the Northeast, inshore might be three miles off the coast, where it’s legal to chase stripers, or out to the edge of the shelf if you’re chasing bluefins.
Inshore fishing varies from inches of water to a dozen fathoms. Suffice it to say, anything not offshore is inshore. Hunting the shallows with paddle or pole, or fishing shallow reefs and wrecks, here’s a selection of tools to make your inshore pursuit more productive.
Flir’s thermal night-vision cameras have carved out a place on a growing number of fishing boats, and the First Mate II series brings portability to the power to see in the dark. Dressed in a rugged marinized suit, these units slip into a slicker pocket or a boat bag. Getting into position along a productive shoreline before sunup becomes a more efficient strategy — as does returning to the dock after the light has faded.
The handhelds are built on the same infrared-sensing cores as the bigger boat-mounted FLIR units, and there are four models available with varying levels of features. Especially notable on the latest version is InstAlert — image processing that highlights the strongest heat signatures, highlighting hazards or people in the water. Users also report success spotting bait schools on the surface in low-light situations. Starting at $1,999; flir.com
Sonar to Go
The echo 150 Portable Bundle guarantees you’ll never be without a fish finder. If you lack the space for a permanent installation, store your boat where you’re better off without tempting electronics aboard, or spend a lot of time on other people’s (marginally equipped) boats, this package lets you carry a complete fish-finder setup with you when you step aboard.
The package includes a Garmin echo 150 with dual beam (200/77 kHz) transducer in a protective carrying case with a rugged support arm and base. The case stows all the necessary components: a sealed AGM rechargeable battery with its own charger, transducer cable, suction-cup transducer mount and float.
If you already own a compatible 4- or 5-inch Garmin echo, echomap or GPSMAP, you can get the portability of it, sans sounder, for about a hundred bucks. $169.99; garmin.com
Raymarine’s new Dragonfly Sonar/GPS brings the power of CHIRP sonar within reach of every angler. It’s appealing to smaller-boat, inshore and nearshore fishermen. ClearPulse DownVision sonar uses CHIRP technology to transmit a wide-spectrum sonar signal providing near-photographic sonar images. Two CHIRP channels allow simultaneous views of fish-finding sonar and high-res DownVision imagery.
A built-in 50-channel GPS simplifies installation, and it comes loaded with your choice of Navionics chart bundles. The ultrabright, sunlight-viewable 5.7-inch display makes it a natural for open-boat installation.
“Because it’s CHIRP sonar, it produces a super photolike image of the bottom, and of fish,” says Raymarine’s Jim McGowan. “It’s ideal for the shallow-reef and wreck fisherman.” $649.99 (with transducer); raymarine.com