The Tech Edge

May 25, 2022 by Erik Speyer

Up-to-date navigation charts and hi-res data offer well-connected anglers an advantage.

It is no secret that fishermen are, well, secretive — and superstitious. So it should come as no surprise they will go to great lengths to guard their special spots. On a local fishing board, someone asked a captain for his insight into good spots to catch spiny lobster; he insinuated he would rather someone have relations with his wife than give that information away. Obviously, there is no replacement for experience, but beyond that, how can you get the edge on the competition?

The answer, without a doubt, is better data. The easiest way to get better data is by making sure you have updated chips in your plotter, but you can take that a step further by upgrading to chips that have better bathymetric data. Bathymetric charts will provide a high-resolution mapping of the seafloor. Some of the options provide such high detail that you can see the wreck or reef you are fishing down to the foot. Aside from high-resolution bathymetric charts, anglers in the modern era have access to real-time data to aid in the conquest of fish. A popular option is the Ocean-O data available on the Timzero platform. Heidi Leaman, East Coast sales manager for Nobletec, explained that adding high- resolution oceanographic data — such as seawater temperature, dissolved oxygen, multi-layer current, and phytoplankton — not typically found in other sportfishing weather surfaces, in addition to 1km sea surface temperature, altimetry and chlorophyll, “is a real game-changer.”

“The high-resolution oceanographic data available with this service is a key factor in targeted fishing for the optimal performance,” Leaman said. “Subscription to this service also unlocks a new Ocean-O WorkSpace that was designed and optimized to visualize, filter, and combine all the oceanographic data to find the best fishing spots.”

In addition to high-res oceanographic data, most fishermen want the latest weather reports. While cellphones allow you to stay connected when relatively close to shore, what do you do for connectivity when you are on a multi-day offshore trip?

Satellite internet has come a long way, both in terms of cost and the size of the necessary equipment. Christian Cordoba, maritime channel manager for Inmarsat, said that Fleet Xpress can be installed on vessels as small as 60 feet, with antennas capable of reaching speeds up to 16Mbps. That is enough data to download all the Ocean-O data you could possibly need, while leaving enough bandwidth available to stream the big game while waiting for your next bite.

“Our plans have the flexibility that allows users to suspend the service when they are not using the vessel for up to 6 months per year without extending the contract,” Cordoba added. “The customer can upgrade and downgrade speeds without changing the terms of the service.” That means you can increase your bandwidth for a big tournament, and slow things down when back at the dock.

Many fishermen enjoy the feeling of being off the grid, but for the angler who wants to stay connected with all the latest data, consider pairing a service like Ocean-O with the connectivity of FleetXpress. The only wrong way to fish is to stay at home.