As of early February, many anglers across this country have already begun their early season tournament preparation or are just beginning to prepare for the upcoming season. So many factors come into play when heading into a new season that…
As of early February, many anglers across this country have already begun their early season tournament preparation or are just beginning to prepare for the upcoming season. So many factors come into play when heading into a new season that will either help an angler be successful on the water, or leave him or her wondering what could have been done differently, or how they could have prepared better, for greater success. But where does one start. Try the internet.
My early season preparation begins on Google Earth (see www.earth.google.com). Google Earth is a FREE web-based, mapping and aerial photo site that offers the angler a plentitude of geographical and planning functions, when is comes to your preparation. In short, you can use Google Earth for documenting seasonal movements of fish, spawning locations, transitional stages as they relate to seasonal patterns, key target areas that have produced in the past, and plotting your favorite GPS waypoints. All of these basic functions can be added to current aerial photo maps provided by the service in which you can print and download images of these maps for your personal use, or add to websites and email your buddies with your favorite fishing locations, or not!
The research starts with opening the program and zooming into your favorite body of water. The high resolution maps allow you to scan areas overhead, and find the more suitable areas to fish that may not be as noticeable on the water. For instance, using the mapping system you can identify a long point or potential ledge/drop-off of a large bay or cove in which you know is a great early seasoning staging area for spawning fish. The benefit to using Google Earth is you can also identify the feeder creeks leading into that bay that may typically create a food/oxygen supply for that area with recently updated aerial photos.
With Google Earth you create a marker or point, in which you can document the point and/or feeder creek, record exact GPS locations in a number of coordinate systems, and jot down notes of the area relative to this one specific point. The file is saved to your computer, and every time you open Google Earth, this point will appear on your map to provide historical information that you can use in planning.
Further, you can save the image of the map with your markers or waypoints. Once you save the image you can add all sorts of information to your image like text, titles, more pictures, all of which can be used in further research and presentations.
For the areas I fish, mainly tidal rivers, you can even sometimes find low water marks and mark submerged structure, which is not normally visable during certain stages of the tide. With tidal rivers you can find large flat areas, and depending on the resolution the deeper darker holes.
I fished a team tournament last year and found a really good pre-spawn staging site off a really slow tapering point at the mouth of a shallow cove. The point was not far from the main river channel. I documented this point on Google Earth and have referred back to it a number of times late last year, and will do so plenty this year, you can believe that! In the marker, I documented what the structure/cover consisted of, the environmental conditions of which the bite was really on/off, and the baits that seemed to work the best under those conditions. When I go back to the area again this year, I will simply add more information as I find it and keep a running tally of my experiences in the area, for later usage. I have even downloaded the Google Earth feature and emailed the file to a select number of guys. All they have to do is open the file in Google Earth, and all of the specific information and notes that I have kept on this location is available for their use.
Other features that Google Earth provides includes measurement tools, so that you can measure distance traveled, line of sight used for marking features with landmarks, as well as road and highway information, lodging, and points of interest descriptions. Google Earth can be used world wide. A note to consider is that more rural areas may not include the highest resolution of images, but for the most part, the mapping and documentation tools will prove to be an asset when researching new lakes or rivers. The system may also provide useful in helping hunters read the lay of the land.
In closing, you can’t totally rely on just one source of information. There may be anglers who rely on their favorite lake maps which are detailed to say the very least. But a high quality aerial photo can provide so much more information to the tournament fisherman. Compound this with the ability to keep notes and share this information over the internet, and I guarantee will start finding more better ways to prepare yourself and save time on the water eliminating the needless hunt and peck techniques so many anglers waste countless hours on. Best of luck to you on your preparation and your upcoming tournament season
Dave Perrego (easternshore)
President, Eastern Shore Bassmasters of Delaware