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From GPS to depthfinders, few secrets remaining in freshwater fishing

Posted on June 28, 2013

Tim LesmeisterI was wondering if the smallmouth bass had moved out of their spawning areas and into the main basin in Chequamegon Bay on Lake Superior. So I brought up my favorite search engine and with just a few mouse clicks I knew exactly what the fish were doing and what lure was performing. Such is the magic of the web. There is little to guess at when it comes to fishing.

Is this a good thing? Should we be able to have all the information at our fingertips that we need to go out and catch fish on a given body of water?

I used to operate a live-radio broadcast with Rob Drieslein on a Twin Cities station and each week we announced a GPS coordinate from one of the local guides or fishing pros. We would tell all listening the name of the lake, what the structure consisted of, what species to target and what to use to catch them. Most listeners loved this information, but there were a few that thought we were giving up too much information. They thought anglers should have to work hard for their fish and figure out the variables on their own.

Me on the other hand. I just want people to be able to go out and have fun and catch fish. I believe that a vast majority of anglers have a hard time finding fish and that’s why you see so many boats in one spot on a lake. Someone sees a boat get out the net and haul in a fish and they move closer hoping to cash in on the potential of fishing there. Soon others join the party and you have the notorious “this must be the spot because there are so many other boats here” situation occurring.

I remember when this map came out with GPS coordinates on one of our big walleye lakes in Minnesota. The guides on the lake went berserk. It was making it too easy on the average angler who should get up to speed and learn things the hard way. This map was going to end the world as we know it according to the guides.

Then there is the map chips. I use Navionics and Lakemaster chips in my GPS units depending on which body of water I’m fishing. I can pull right up to that spot-on-the-spot every time without having to motor around with one eye on my sonar and never knowing for sure if I’m on the spot; which is how we used to find good fishing structure.

The legislature tried to ban underwater cameras in my home state because they thought this gadget was going to give the angler an edge.

As it turns out not much has changed in the world of fishing except anglers have more technology to learn and they are more confused now than ever. All those web sites, maps, sonar chips and cameras might make it a more efficient process to locate fish, but you still have to catch them and that will always be the one variable we have no control over. The mood of the fish we seek.