Technology-driven Fishing

By Chris McDonald

Technology is always evolving; it’s a product of the world we live in. The constantly changing world of technology is even evident in fishing. Fishing electronics have made monumental leaps and bounds over the last five to 10 years. We no longer use flashers on boats. Screen sizes have grown larger. We can now operate a GPS unit with the touch of a finger. Side imagining and Humminbird 360 imaging has allowed anglers to see large sections of bottom without ever moving. Tournament anglers for any species must stay on the cutting edge, but those who enjoy time on the water may find it a challenge.

With the introduction of smart phones and tablets, anglers have more challenges to stay current with ever-evolving technology. Being “old school,” I have a hard time transitioning into the digital age. The idea of having a cell phone with me while fishing seemed almost like a sin. However, the information you can bring with you on the water is invaluable. If you leave your doubts and reservations behind and bring technology on the boat, you might just be a better angler.

Types of fishing applications available

I want to share with you the technology that has changed my fishing. I will tell you what apps and programs I use to help me become a better angler. You may hesitate about bringing technology on your fishing trip but my hope is that by the end of this article you will at least allow technology to help you prepare before you go out on the water.

If you are a weather watcher who studies weather patterns, there are many more options than there used to be. Instead of having to watch the news or

the weather channel looking for the area you are planning to fish, anglers now have it at their fingertips. Smart phones give us access to apps that allow us to track weather, stay current and see the weather for states or cities we are not in with a push of a button. I use multiple weather apps on my phone. I am weather junky when it comes to fishing.

I watch the weather for days before a fishing trip. I like to know if cold fronts are pushing in or if there has been a high-pressure system leading up to my time on the water. I like to have different weather apps so I can compare the information. You will see slight variances between different weather organizations or apps. On both platforms IOS (Apple platform) and Android, you can find many weather apps that are free along with ones that can cost .99 cents to $5. I use Weather Bug and The Weather Channel apps the majority of the time. I have found they seem to have the best up-to-date information. They are both free and can be found in any app store.

Another great weather app, The Weather Call To Go app is a bit pricey but might save your life. It has a yearly fee of $11.95 or $17.95, depending on what version you get. This app will alert you if a weather system is headed your way. It will also alert you if there are lighting strikes within six miles of your current location. When on a big body of water it can be hard to know what is coming at you. This app will alert you when the weather is dangerous and will help give you time to get off the water before you are taken by surprise, you can find out more about the app and purchase it at: http://chrisjacksonfishing.com/weather- app.

Another useful app to have with you is the North American Fishing Club Knot Wars app. I don’t know about you but I can’t tell you how many times I have been on the water and wanted to tie a certain knot but forgot how. The Knot Wars apps will allow you to look up a knot from their database and then shows you how to tie the knot with an animated instruction guide.

The Knot Wars app is free and is worth the little space it may take up. There are 40 different knots you can get instructions on tying. There are other knot tying apps as well, but most will cost a dollar or more. I have looked at a few and found that the free Knot Wars app is just as good or better than some you will pay for.

If you like to log your fishing trips, there are many options for you on your PC, phone or tablet. There are many websites and apps dedicated to fishing logs. I have been using Fish Addix for a few years. It is basically a social media site for anglers that also allows them to log fishing trips, connect with other anglers and share pictures and videos. They also have an app for the IOS format so you can log your trips while you are on the water instead of waiting until you get home. There are other fishing log apps that range in price.

Digital Maps

Map study has been a part of my tournament and fishing prep for as long as I can remember. The paper topo maps we have come to know are becoming obsolete. The Navionics Lake Map app has changed the game when it comes to doing your prep work. Instead of having to linger over a map spread across your table you can now look at a lake map on your tablet or phone. The app is $14.99 and looks like the map you will see on your GPS unit. You can mark wave points, track tides and weather as well. You can take your tablet or phone with you and look over a map instead of pulling out a big paper one while on the boat and the wind won’t disrupt your navigation attempts.

Contour Elite is software designed with anglers in mind. This software is not cheap but is worth the money. Imagine, you are fishing a lake either while on the ice or in a boat; you have found the fish on a point that drops from three feet of water to 25 feet. You pattern the fish and find them on spots like this throughout the lake. Contour Elite allows you to plug in this information and it will find all of the spots just like it on that lake. You can save time and map out the areas you want to fish all on your computer or phone. The software is $149.99 and is geared towards ice fisherman but I have used it for summertime fishing with great success. The covered lakes are limited; I suggest you look over the website (strategicfishingsystems.com) so you can see if the lakes you fish are covered.

Google Earth is another advantage modern anglers have at their fingertips. Anglers can basically do a fly over of a lake and get a bird’s-eye view from the comfort of your couch. You have to download the program to your computer but it allows you to see the water from above. You can make out weed patches and other things you won’t see on a topo map. The software is free and after you have learned how to use it, it is pretty simple. I have found it really helps to scout new water and find access points into back areas you won’t find on a topo map. You can use Google Earth on computer, tablet and phone (Googleearth.com). The only downside is that the images are not always current.

Anglers who rebel against the tide of change will be left behind. If we embrace the changes in technology, we will benefit. Map studies have become easier, more streamlined. We no longer have to wait for a paper map of a lake we are planning to fish. We can use an app to look over the lake and find the contour lines we are looking for. Weather is only a push of a button away, along with how to tie that knot you just can’t figure out.

Not only do we have apps and programs at our beckon call, we have access to videos, product reviews and fishing articles as well. All that can be viewed wherever we go. Knowledge is waiting. We as anglers simply need to be open to technology. You can always check the latest articles on MidWestoutdoors.com no matter where you are.

Use this off-season to explore your phone, tablet and computer. Look into the apps I have talked about or find others you like. Take the time to understand technology and how it can improve your fishing. Who knows, if Amazon is allowed to use drones for deliveries in a few years, we might be able to order that bait that is smashing the fish and have it dropped off to us on our boat, in the middle of the lake, all from the deck of our boat using our phone or tablet. Until then, let’s just embrace the change so we can catch more fish.