Are you using GPS yet?

Boats, motors, rods, reels, and tackle have seen great technological advancements in recent years, all of which make is easier for anglers to enjoy success on the water.
But probably the single biggest advancement in technology has come from Global Positioning Systems (GPS) units that are becoming more popular every year.
These units help anglers and boaters with navigation, and are very effective at marking specific spots which anglers can return to quickly and easily.
I have used GPS for several years on the console of my boat for many purposes, including navigation, with the aid of uploaded mapping information and for recording specific routes and spots, known as waypoints.
With GPS technology, I can fish an offshore hump for walleyes, mark exactly where I caught the fish, and return to it the next time out and likely catch fish again.
There’s no more driving around in circles to try and find the hump, and no more lining up “the big tree off the point” and the “green boathouse” to find it.
When I run my boat on waters like Shoal Lake or Lake Despair that are not charted as well as Rainy Lake or Lake of the Woods, I can go slow through specific areas and record my routes if they are safe.
If I find navigational hazards like a rock or log, I can mark them so I can avoid hitting them on future trips.
I don’t hit these hazards on my initial “run” because I am going slow and watching the depth finder—another feature offered on most GPS units.
Nearly all GPS units these days have the ability to accept lake charts that can be uploaded from SD cards onto your machines. This data is the same as on the traditional paper charts that we all have used for years.
Only now, as I drive my boat along, the map is on my GPS screen and it moves as I do in the boat. This makes it easy to stay on track and go on the correct side of all the buoys.
It also aids anglers in finding new, potential fishing spots because much of the structure in the lake is shown on these maps. Boaters should keep traditional paper maps on board, however, in case the GPS unit goes down.
If there’s one thing that has made me a better angler in the past couple of years, it has been using GPS on the bow of my boat. At last year’s Kenora Bass International, for instance, Chris Savage and I won the tournament—and GPS played a key role in helping us catch fish every day.
We had located a small rock pile the size of a truck in the middle of a large weed bed. In the past, we would have had to drive around and search for this rock pile with our eyes, so we would have to get close to it to find it.
The problem was the rock pile was only in about four feet of water, so we usually would spook the fish off the rock when we got that close and therefore we wouldn’t catch any.
We were able to use the GPS on the bow of my boat to mark the rock pile and then during the tournament, we could approach it quietly and cast to it from a distance.
We caught big fish on this small spot every day.
GPS has a very important place in my boat!

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