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YOUR TRANSDUCER MAY BE SET FOR HORIZONTAL MODE...MEANING FROM BANK TO BOAT, NOT DEPTH...CHECK THE TRANSDUCER TO MAKE SURE, IT IS AIMING DOWN, NOT OUT...OTHERWISE YOU'LL NEED TO CHECK YOUR MODE SETTINGS IN YOUR MENU.
YOU CAN ALSO DO A TEST ON YOUR TRANSDUCER, BY SCREWING IT ONTO A BROOM STICK ...ADJUST THE TRANSDUCER DOWN, CHECK YOUR SETTINGS ON THE SCREEN, THEN DO A SIDE TEST WITH THE TRANSDUCER TILTED SIDEWAYS TOWARDS THE BANK AND CHECK YOUR SCREEN!
THEY CAN BE TRICKY...AND ARE VERY SENSITIVE, BUT ONCE YOU FIGURE OUT, HOW YOU WANT TO USE IT, YOU'LL LOVE IT!
When my depth finder acted like this I found out it was the sender that had not done well over the winter and was giving me false readings especially when the boat was at speed. The sender and cable only cost around 30 or $40. The hard part was since I have a pontoon boat getting under the Pontoon and replacing the wire in the spring when the water was cold.
If the transducer is out of the water, you will not get a reading and see the flashing depth. You should hear and feel the clicking in the transducer when out of the water and working properly. Are you getting a temp reading when out of the water?
I think you need to level the transducer. You have it pointed way out in front of you so that when you're going fast it is able to bounce the signal off the bottom and it comes back to where the boat has traveled to. When you're going slow you're bouncing it out in front of you but it comes back up in front of you. Sorry but I can't find a picture of a Garmin transducer. Hope this helps.
Generally, that indicates air bubbles in the water under the transducer. If you have a transom-mount transducer, make sure the bottom surface is level or angled slightly down. If you have a thru-hull, make sure your bottom is fairly clean in that area.
A test bucket wont work, A 200 khz transducer will generally not work in anything less than 2' of water, due to surface clutter. If the transducer is working, you should hear it make a ticking sound.
When you got the 17000 foot reading was your range set to auto?
How is the transducer situated on the boat? Sometimes turbulence and bubbles from the hull can cause erroneous readings, including unrealistic depths, or no depth at all. Stop the boat and turn off the engin e and anything electrical to see if problem repeats itself. If it only crops up when the boat is moving then it is most likely the transducer location.