Is Livescope Cheating? Is It Hurting Fish Populations?

Anglers all over the country have been talking about Livescope over the past few years, and whether or not this revolutionary system is cheating the fishing industry (or the fish!)

Is Livescope Cheating?

Livescope technology is another tool at the disposal of anglers, to help them increase their chances of locating and catching a fish. Purist anglers will argue this is too much of an advantage, and that instead, you should rely on your senses and skill. Pro livescope users say that it’s simply another tool, and does not guarantee the fish will bite.

Where do you stand?

Is Livescope cheating? A poll showing 566% No, 36% Yes and 11% as indifferent (It's a tool).

The biggest argument livescope advocates say is that Livescope does not make the fish bite your bait or lure…instead, it just helps you not waste time fishing where there are not any fish.

In other words, it confirms the location of fish and allows you to dial in precisely where they’re located…but fish will be fish, and sometimes, they just don’t bite!

We’ve all seen the videos, and pictures of Livescope users sitting on top of a brush pile, pulling in crappie after crappie and loading the Livewell.

Or how about the Bass anglers precisely dropping their jig on a suspended bass in 25 feet of water.

…but is it really that easy?

Livescope technology does have a significant learning curve. Most anglers report that it takes 40-50 hours of dedicated use to learn the system, its settings, and functions. Yikes! That may be too much ‘tech’ for some of the old-timers like my dad.

In my opinion, Livescope is another fishing trend that is polarizing the industry, and most anglers fall into one side of the spectrum or the other. And that usually has to do with their values, fishing style, and personal preference.

Additionally, many anglers may find the high price is not worth it.

Who Is The Ideal Livescope User?

Take, for example, my father. He is 68 now and has been fishing his entire life. He can use a computer pretty decently, but don’t ask him for help with your PowerPoint or excel spreadsheet.

He’s old school. He likes quiet mornings on the lake, checking the weather, the barometer, and getting a feel for where the bait and fish are holding. He likes experimenting with different lures and doesn’t want to stare at a screen.

He’s not a livescope kind of guy- it just doesn’t flip his switch.

But jump ahead a few generations to the college graduate who is trying to make a name for himself on the bass, walleye or crappie circuits. He’s familiar with technology, and certainly not intimidated by it.

He loves new lures, fast boats, and fancy rods & reels. He’s competitive…or heck, maybe he is a part-time guide and relies on Livescope to save time and find fish for his clients. He is the ideal livescope user.

Is one type of angler better than the other? Is one cheating if the technology is available to either person?

I tend to think no, it’s not cheating. It’s just another tool and technology that appeals to certain demographics. Don’t abuse the resource, respect the fish and the pursuit.

Currently, Livescope and related live scan sonar technologies are legal in all 50 states.

Is Livescope Cheating?

Will Livescope Be Banned?

As of now, Livescope technology is not banned from use on recreational lakes or from any of the major bass or crappie tournaments.

But, I wouldn’t be surprised if this technology is banned or barred from use in certain areas or lakes in the future…

Don’t think it can happen?

Well, consider other technology or tools already banned. For example, the Alabama Rig or ‘A-rig’. This multi-hook fishing lure is already banned or regulated in many states. Most major bass tournaments ban the use of A-rigs too.

Other states limit the number of fishing poles one person can use at a time. Treble hooks are regulated, as are certain baits (did you know it’s illegal to fish with goldfish as live bait in over 20 states?)

The point is, if tournament organizers or fishing regulators determine that Livescope is having negative effects on fish populations or angler success, it could be up for debate.

Is that likely? In my opinion, no. There is a lot of commerce and marketing wrapped up in the fishing industry…and bass anglers are using livescope to win huge sums of money.

Is Livescope Technology Hurting Fish Populations?

On the surface, it may seem that livescope has the potential to hurt fish populations. After all, if it makes it easier to locate fish, and potentially catch them…than, more fish will be caught and kept, right?

Well, maybe.

Fisheries biologists and state agencies implement strict regulations on fish bag limits. Take crappie and bass, for example, two of the most popular fish targeted with livescope systems.

Every state has strict size and bag limits on how many bass or crappie can be kept, what slot-size they must be, and in some cases even seasons.

(Besides that, catch and release is extremely popular with bass fishing.)

A mess of Black Crappie caught on Livescope

So, theoretically speaking, as long as those fishing regulations are followed by ethical anglers, it shouldn’t matter, right? Those size and bag limits are put in place to allow for sustainable recreational harvest for generations to come.

Does Livescope Scare Fish?

Now that Livescope has been out a few years, the fishing community has chimed in on the negative effects, and some say it can scare away fish.

Unlike the older generation of sonar that sent out a single beam frequency, the Livescope sends out multiple frequencies, in rapid succession to provide clear, life-like pictures.

Many anglers claim this ‘burst’ of sonar can scare away fish, particularly fish in shallow water. Others have said, that’s not the sonar scaring fish, but instead, it’s the boat or its shadow.

Regardless, fish such as Largemouth Bass and Crappie are known to respond to and get conditioned to pressure.

Whether or not that is from Livescope, buzzing boat motors, or angler presence, it’s something to take into consideration…but only time will tell.

Final Thoughts

The next time you’re on the lake, at the marina or tackle shop, ask some fellow anglers their opinion on Livescope.

Chances are you will be met with a split jury: some all for it, and others saying it’s cheating.

But, if you are one of the anglers that are curious, and want to give it a try or learn more…Check out my article on Livescope, is it really worth the money?

I dive into the prices, pros, cons & equipment that is required to get started with this effective and polarizing technology.

Thanks for reading and good luck fishing!

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