This past spring, fishing guide Paul Gettys’ extensive knowledge of sonar technology was enlisted by enforcement officers with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources to try to locate a missing fisherman. After several days, his search turned up a car and remains of a different man — who had been missing for nearly 16 years — off the end of a boat ramp.  

Gettys said there was no telling how many boats had launched there and motored over the car without knowing what it was, but the advances in sonar technology over the past 10 years have been just short of miraculous.

“It’s like night and day,” said Gettys, who teaches groups of anglers how to use and read sonar. “I run three Lowrance Gen 3 HDS units with side-imaging, down-imaging and 3D scan. This system can look 350 feet on either side of the boat and up to 175 feet below the boat and provide near photo quality by putting together a three-dimensional picture of what’s under the water.”

Gettys said what he was doing in conjunction with enforcement officers was not too much different from what he and other anglers do to prepare for a major fishing tournament.  

“I can create a digital map that will show little small stuff like ditches or logs laying on the bottom, and I can even get enough detail to see what kind and size fish are around the boat,” he said. “Then, on tournament day I go back, get the rods out and start catching them.”