Out in it: Tech dominates fishing plans
June 19, 2020
Recently I got a text soliciting some advice about fishing a lake a couple of hours north of Cloquet. Within seconds I responded with a detailed map indicating the wind would blow at 20-plus mph around noon the next day, limiting fishable water. Minutes later I added a couple of screenshots of GPS-marked spots to try for walleyes.
It struck me that I rely on a whole toolbox of technology on my smartphone that was nonexistent just a few short years ago. Some are free, several cost money to download, and others have an annual subscription fee. To me, all are well worth the cost.
The wind is a driving force, oftentimes dictating where and how I fish. There are plenty of weather-related apps you can rely on, let your preference be your guide. For wind, I use the app Windfinder Pro. Not only does it give me an accurate prediction of wind direction, it also maps the wind. I can go to any lake in the United States and Canada and see an hour-by-hour map of wind direction and velocity, even days into the future. I often use the app to safely select a boat landing in calm water, along with windblown shorelines, rock piles and points that concentrate fish and my attention.
After I have the wind and weather dialed in, I turn my attention to locations. Two apps that I use in tandem are the Navionics Boating app and the Humminbird FishSmart app. The Navionics app provides detailed maps of most Minnesota lakes, including Lake Superior. I don’t currently own a Humminbird fish finder, but the FishSmart app allows me to purchase ultra-high-definition maps of bodies of water I fish often. They aren’t cheap, running $10 to $30, but they provide me with enough information to plan my trip from home long before the Lund rolls off the trailer. Both apps allow me to set GPS locations that I can easily transfer to my graph, shortening the time spent exploring the water, increasing my time fishing.
Once I have a run of locations picked, I turn to one of my most important digital tools: the Precision Trolling Data app. Not long ago, you would throw a crankbait far behind the boat and guess the depths it may be running. With the Precision app, just punch in the depth desired, and it calculates the amount of line you need to let out to reach that depth. Besides keeping your bait in the strike zone, the most important factor is being able to replicate your offering. If the fish are consistently biting a certain crank 120 feet back, set all your baits to 120 feet, and the guessing game is over.
There are many other pieces of technology I rely on. My eyes rarely leave my Lowrance fishfinder when I’m on the water. I’m constantly in information-gathering mode. If I can learn something from texting a friend, reading my fishfinder, utilizing the apps on my phone or even studying the behavior of sea birds — that’s where my attention is.
Father’s Day is fast approaching. Maybe spending a few bucks in the old app store would be a good idea. I’ve highlighted a couple of apps that make planning and executing my time on the water easier. When it comes to fishing, I’m pretty good at identifying things I need to spend more money on.
Bret Baker is an award-winning outdoors columnist and lifetime resident of Cloquet. Email him at [email protected] with fishing questions or story ideas.
Fishing on YouTube
View Bret Baker’s video on using apps to stay on the fish on the Legacy Angling YouTube page.