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Old 02-21-2020, 03:01 PM   #1
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Amazing radar trick for crab/lobster pots

OK, I'm going to feel dumb if almost everyone knows this, but I recently worked with a radar setting that let me get through 500-700 crab pots with phenomenal ease - at night! I was making a fair number of turns, but saw every single pot on the radar as a huge red blob and just eased on past them, usually between two of them at a time, with not a single hit. And, it was pitch dark. With a hand held spotlight we could see the pots, but not usually until they were alongside and maybe ten to fifteen feet away.



It was not me who "done it". It was a good friend who is very, very adept at going in and making settings to radar and all things electronic. We saved the profile as "Crab pots" under our Radar settings, so I can call it back up whenever I need it and he isn't around.


I don't know how many people would be interested in this, if any. If you are interested, let me know below, in open forum, and I will make sure I'm getting it to you just right after reviewing with my friend, and make it more public knowledge.


If I don't get people interested - well, it means I was the only one who didn't know. Doesn't surprise me.
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Old 02-21-2020, 03:12 PM   #2
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Um, ........yeah! Never enough learning going on for me.....
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Old 02-21-2020, 03:12 PM   #3
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I am always interested in learning something new. Most pots around here are just a styrofoam float, don’t know if my old radar would pick them up or not. Have seen birds and airplanes. Nice boat you have, by the way.
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Old 02-21-2020, 03:18 PM   #4
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On my 2013-ish Raymaine 4kw HD solid state unit I have a buoy setting. Work ok for that. I will try it on the next crab pot I see in the PNW. I don’t hold out much hope.
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Old 02-21-2020, 03:32 PM   #5
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I'm definitely interested! I can't fathom how my radar will be able to turn those tiny sticks into "huge red blobs". But then again, I'm still a radar neanderthal.
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Old 02-21-2020, 04:00 PM   #6
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I'm in for any info. I posted in the other thread.


Dungeness crab pots are ubiquitous in the Puget Sound in the summer months, both commercial & rec.
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Old 02-21-2020, 04:08 PM   #7
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I am interested! I don’t do night passages, but I do go out in fog....
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Old 02-21-2020, 04:26 PM   #8
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We are always interested. Couple questions, newer boat, so I assume you have a solid state radar? What brand and type? I can see pots with a newer Gen Simrad 4G, and now with a Furono NXT, but I couldn’t see them with an older gen Raymarine open array magnetron system. It may be more about your gear and it’s capability, then the settings.
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Old 02-21-2020, 04:41 PM   #9
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What chart plotter and radar unit are you using?

When I last tried to use my radar, before the season ended, it wasn't coming up. If it's dead this Spring I may have to start looking for a replacement...
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Old 02-21-2020, 05:11 PM   #10
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Yes, interested for sure
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Old 02-21-2020, 05:19 PM   #11
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In my experience with lobster buoys, they only show up when it's pretty near flat calm, and then only if they're wet. You sometimes can tweak until you see some of them, and every once in a while the stars align and you can see most of them. But of course there's always those few sitting just below the surface.
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Old 02-21-2020, 07:50 PM   #12
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I'm skeptical other than flat calm conditions. If they really show up as a big red blob, in Maine the screen would be solid red.
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Old 02-21-2020, 08:34 PM   #13
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Fishermen use line that floats and pots may have much more line on them than the depth. Fishermen rarely change the lines for different depths, so there could be lots of floating line near the buoy. Once the pot's been on the bottom for awhile, the line might stretch out depending on the sea conditions.
It's a good idea to miss the buoy by 100 yards or so.
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Old 02-21-2020, 08:34 PM   #14
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I have an email in to my electronics guru/friend/shipmate. Basically, the sea state was only 1-2 foot waves, and I do not expect I would have seen any beneath the surface. I don't know if I saw them all, but we did not hit any. I was not exaggerating when I say we passed through 500+ crabs pots, and it was kinda fun once we (I) had figured out how the pots were going to appear on the screen. It is a Garmin, about 3 years old. What I do remember, and I will be getting more info when Paul returns my email or calls, is we had to set the radar range for just 1/16th of a mile, with the second ring obviously then showing 1/8th mile, so the pots came up quickly, but since we were only cruising at 7 knots it was not a problem, although you had to keep your eyes checking the radar every few seconds. The pots TRULY appeared as very large, red blobs. I've been on the open ocean and cruise ships did not appear as large although, of course, I was not getting to within 1/16th of a mile of them. I also remember you get all the sea birds flying across the screen regularly, but they don't look anywhere like the pots. Navigating involved a lot of twisting and turning to go between pots. The pots were typically in strings of 6 or so and, also of course, you only needed to get between any two to cross the string, unless you were approaching the string head on, in which case you needed to pass through the first two and then possibly a couple more before you realized what was going on. The night was pitch black. There was some moon, but not much. We could see MOST of the pots when they were abeam on one side or the other and they were within a few feet. I'll post the parameters he fed into the radar when he gets back to me. He travels a lot, so maybe I'll send him a second email asking for a quick call or response within a day or two.
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Old 02-21-2020, 09:00 PM   #15
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“It's a good idea to miss the buoy by 100 yards or so.”
In Maine there could be 500 pots in a 100 yard zone.
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Old 02-21-2020, 09:11 PM   #16
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To clarify, I can only see them in near flat conditions and with the scale dialed in close, say 1/8 to 1/4 mile. I still think the type of radar you are using As I posted earlier is the key here.
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Old 02-21-2020, 09:18 PM   #17
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Definitely interested! Heading back up to down-east Maine this summer.
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Old 02-21-2020, 09:50 PM   #18
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We don't have lobster floats but do have prawn and crab floats and of course logging debris so I too would be interested.
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Old 02-21-2020, 11:58 PM   #19
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Put me on the "interested" list. Crab traps are a PIA in some areas of the Gulf. If you have the data would be nice to know the horizontal beam angle of your antenna. My boat puts her nose up pretty high depending on cruise speed - I'm working on an adjustable mount that will let me tilt the plane up or down a few deg for max response on the fly - mostly looking for river trash/logs/deadheads in the fog.
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Old 02-22-2020, 09:40 AM   #20
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If calm water, almost any radar later than 2010 vintage and the earlier Raymarine Pathfinders would show the pots (even smaller crab floats).

They would be a blob if the gain was turned all the way up on low range and the radar tilted down enough.

Make sure the other filters were turned off such as rain and sea clutter, etc.
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