[dropcap]O[/dropcap]n the heels of the release of the latest and greatest new IPhone, I thought that I would share some of my favorite apps and websites. I am not, by any means, a techno junkie. Truthfully, at times, I struggle to make the best use of some of the latest additions to the electronic age. Not everyone can be like my friend Sam Root, the driving force behind www.saltyshores.com. This amazing hub of social media is also home of the best reviews anywhere on new equipment. You will find the most honest reviews on every aspect of the angling world, from the person that will spend $1,000 on a reel to those that want to find the most economical way to get on the water. Sam’s site is just one of the examples of something anyone can access. Which means even the most novice internet user, with just a bit of patience, will be able to incorporate a few of these great new techno tools into your fishing arsenal.
While I don’t really think apps and websites help me catch more fish once I am on the water, they definitely make me more prepared to maximize my time on the water. Just like trying new baits, adding some techie tools to your routine is hit and miss. While not every new lure you try is going to double your catch, the same is true of digital aids. You need to give them a little time and decide whether or not they will have a full time place in your techno tackle box. So, keeping in mind this is not Steve Jobs giving you advise, I hope you will still find my very simplistic approach to technology’s place in the world of fishing useful.
Not all websites have translated into apps, like Salty Shores, for example. With that in mind, I decided I would start off with the sites I visit when I turn on my PC in the morning. My first click is to www.noaa.gov. Just enter your zip code and you get the most complete forecast available anywhere. My two biggest concerns are always wind speed and direction, followed by thunderstorms in the area. I don’t mind rain but lightning is nothing to mess with so make sure you stay away from any areas under alert. Now that I know the weather, I double-check the forecasted tides. Remember that winds play a big part in the tides as well, so if there are winter gusts out of the north, you can expect the water to be much lower than predicted. If it is blowing hard from the south, you can expect a bit of flood tide. Again, keep in mind; these are electronic aids that can enhance your preparation. They are not going to replace your basic knowledge so make sure you are still looking at the big picture.
Finally, if I have time, I like to give Facebook a quick check to see if anyone has posted some good info that may influence my day’s expedition. Facebook has definitely become the number one way anglers communicate with each other. It’s also a great spot to find product reviews, fishing reports and excellent deals. Now remember not to get wrapped up in looking at fish photos on FB when your goal is to get out on the water. There will be time
for posting and chatting later. You may even find some new fishing buddies when you get involved but all in good time.
When it comes to Apps for your smart phone, the possibilities are limitless. If you do not mind spending a few dollars, the Navionics Marine & Lakes: USA is about as complete of a marine App as you could ever imagine. At $9.99, it is one of the more pricey Apps, but if you are serious about fishing and spend a ton of time on the water, the $10 spent could be a lifesaver. Personally, I am usually overly concerned with weather. I have been around too many summer lightning strikes to ever treat an approaching storm casually. The NOAA Hi-Def Radar provides you with state of the art on the water info for only $1.99. If you want quality weather for free try Weather Bug and My Radar. The great thing about the free Apps is that if you do not find yourself using them, they are simple to delete. If it is tide information you need, Real Tide for $1.99 is quite efficient and perfect once you have launched and are on the water. At no cost, there is Tide App that is serviceable in the pinch. My favorite Web site for beach snooking is Magic Seaweed. This is a surfing site, but the best I have found at forecasting beach conditions. Add a simple App like Flashlight to always ensure that you have a usable light and compass.
Have fun with all of the great new fishing tools we are offered. Search the App store and find your own gems. I am pretty sure if you include a few of these into your preparation, you will find yourself having more productive outings. Remember, if your phone is going to be around water, make sure that it is safe. There are several waterproof cases that do a great job. Personally, I use LifeProof to keep my phone dry coupled with the LifeJacket to make sure it floats. I learned that the float is key after losing a couple of waterproof cameras. If there are any websites or Apps that you would like to share, shoot me an email and we will share them with our readers in future CAM issues.
John “jd” Donohue is a member of Hobie Kayak’s Pro Staff and has been stalking fish in southeast Florida for more than a dozen years. He can be contacted at Hobiefishingteam@gmail.com.