As many saltwater anglers know, birds follow fish. If you find birds, you have usually found fish. The problem is, the ocean is vast and we can only see a bird about one eighth of a mile away on a perfect day with good eyes. Now technology provides a huge advantage. Radar can increase your bird finding by over a hundred-fold! This dolphin was caught after spotting a single frigate bird from seven miles away! This was the first time we tried with the new radar! Here's how:
Once we are in dolphin-tuna territory, we ready the trolling spread. We have the baits rigged and ready to drop, but we keep them in the boat so we can cover the fishing area at top speed. On this boat, a custom-built 30' strike, we installed a 10kw raymarine radar with a 6 foot sweep. Looking on the E-120 screen, we put the radar in 10 mile range. You then turn the gain up until the screen is clouded with noise and slowly adjust back down 'till you see about half of that noise disappear. You are looking for a target that appears, disappears, and comes back again in close to the same spot. This is because the bird shows on radar while in the sky, and disappears when diving. Sometimes the target will move quite fast as the bird follows the fish's movement.
It usually doesn't take long, moving at 25knts in 10 mile range we cover a lot of water fast, and when the targets are confirmed we head them off at top speed. Once the bird (or birds) is visually spotted we deploy the trolling baits, dragging them across the bird's heading. Once we were directly under the lone frigate bird, I actually saw this dorado light up and blitz straight toward the prop and then zzzziiing! Fish on! That's me holding dinner on the left.
I recommend using at least a 10kw 6' open array radar to effectively hunt birds, and have installed many this size on center console boats as small as 29' with no problems or compromises. Less power or smaller antennas won't find single birds, and more power means you'll have to have a fast boat to catch up from farther away. Feel free to contact me for more info on how you can do this on your yacht.
We found this 47lb mahi using radar! Here's how.