March 18th, 2014
This Bug-Out Bag’s the Bomb!by David Rose April 2, 2014
Humminbird’s ICE 597ci HD Combo is a versatile year-round portable fishfinding/GPS system
My father was a salesman. Remembering back to my days of youth, there were many times it was a suitcase in one hand and van keys in the other, and out the door he’d go for several days on end. Today, as I fast-forward through my career as an outdoor writer and fishing guide, I realize much of how I go about fishing was gleaned from watching my dad.
Like packing light and efficiently, which I picked up watching him ready for his frequent stints on the road. As I travel to faraway places and cast baits into unfamiliar waters I realize I’ve internalized dad’s smart routines. Heck, even fishing close to home.
Minimizing rods, reels, totes and tackle to the essentials is key. But then there’s that one, most-important piece of catching-versus-going-fishless puzzle that gets overlooked by many – sonar.
That’s right, powerful sonar coupled with GPS high-definition mapping can be portable. Case in point, the Humminbird ICE 597ci HD Combo, which offers versatility in spades. http://www.humminbird.com/Products/ICE-597ci-HD-Combo/
Don’t let the word “ICE” fool you, as it’s a year-round fish-finding powerhouse. In fact, it’s the first portable sonar/GPS system I’ve owned that I insist on taking with me everywhere, on ice or open water, in any type of craft, all year long. It’s much like a survivalist’s bug-out bag – a carrier of essential tools ready for deployment at a moment’s notice.
High, low, anywhere you go
Adaptability and ruggedness are two features that are hard to find in any portable sonar/GPS unit; the former truly making it a one-unit-really-does-all, while the later makes it or breaks it – literally.
Over the past year alone, my 597ci HD Combo has been through countless extreme situations. From the handlebars of my quad, it’s endured sub-zero ambient air temperatures while directing me with GPS so far out on Great Lakes ice that land was no longer distinguishable from the horizon. It was also crammed into the tail section of a de Havilland Beaver float plane, and bounced around before and during landing, and was then used for a week straight in harsh weather to find fish and structure in the Arctic Watershed of Canada.
In short: It’s been through it all.
The beauty of this unit is it can be used while left in its protective carry case, as well removed from its Quick Disconnect Mount and snapped in place onto another like mount on any vessel in seconds. And the 597’s GPS antenna is located inside the component’s head, so there’s no additional wiring or mounting needed.
There are so many scenarios for fishing with the ICE 597ci HD Combo that it would fill an entire book to tell you. Here are just a few, which reveal that reveal the options are endless.
The unit translates perfectly to trips into the bush on uncharted lakes. With the addition of a Humminbird Dual-Beam Portable Transducer (http://www.humminbird.com/Products/XPT-9-20-T/) (needed for all open-water applications) you can attach the suction-cup-mounted device to just about any boat surface and use the 60-degree wide-beam signal for searching out structure, and then switch to the 20-degree narrow beam for pinpointing fish with precision. The unit also offers a wide and narrow cone split-screen view for viewing both at the same time.
For example, during my last fly-in trip to Canada, the 597 was an invaluable tool for locating walleyes, pike and perch that had moved off their usual underwater rocky-point roosts and were, instead, bunched up in tight schools in the deeper water of the lake’s main basin. And when the fish got picky and precise, boat speed became crucial when trolling. The GPS’s speed indicator—reading in increment to .10 of a mile per hour—helped us fine-tune our presentations. Actually, all its features were priceless, to say the least. I’m convinced we caught fish we wouldn’t have without it.
And then there’s the GPS functions, including the ability to save up to 2500 waypoints with a single push of a button, as well numerous trails and track points, which not only got me back to places previously found while fishing in the middle of no-man’s-land, but ensured my safe return to camp when the weather turned sour.
The unit also comes in handy when your fishing buddy insists you fish from within the gunwales of their boat rigged with inferior electronics. Just attach the portable transducer and, “Voila!”, the brilliant color screen is easy for all aboard to see, and more fish are caught than ever.
“Snap”, there it is
Adaptability is what puts any device to the head of its class. And in this case, the 597 is valedictorian.
By depressing the back of the 597’s mounting bracket, the device slides off the portable pack’s Quick Disconnect Mount and onto aonther one; this makes transferring the unit head to another vessel a “snap” as it slides on and locks in place with the transducer and power cord automatically connected.
This comes in handy when transferring the 597 to the bow of my boat, the sonar signal linked to the internal transducer of my Minn Kota Terrova electric motor. The unit is also the perfect fit for kayak anglers. There’s even an easy to install through-hull kayak transducer available.
And, yes, the ICE 597ci HD Combo is the perfect portable sonar for ice angling, too. Personally, I dig how the head pops into place onto the Quick Disconnect Mount attached to my ATV’s handlebars via a RAM AVT Mount. (http://www.humminbird.com/Products/RM-ATV/) And with a LakeMaster SD card filled with high-definition mapping in the 597’s card reader, I can drive right to and start drilling over the humps, holes and underwater points fish feed on. http://store.lakemap.com/category/581675/Digital_GPS_Map_Cards
And when I’m ready to fish, the device snaps right back into place in its handy cradle, and with the 9- and 20-degree duel-beam ice transducer in place (included with the combo), I can see every fish that swims by and exactly where my bait is in the water column.
Bug-out dad… er, bag
Whether my father knew it or not, his traveling salesman ways helped my fishing career; the key being able to travel light yet efficiently for fish-catching success.
And it’s as simple as grabbing that bug-out bag of powerful Humminbird portable electronics – the ICE 597ci HD Combo. It’s the most versatile year-round portable fishfinding/GPS system an angler can use. Just don’t forget the rods, reels, totes and tackle.
David A. Rose is a writer, photographer and fishing guide who lives in the Traverse City, Michigan, area. Visit his website at www.wildfishing.com for more information.