better use of your GPS
By Barry Featheringill
anglers who have GPS are using them to mark spots while on the lake
for reference when they return at a later date. This is probably the
number one reason behind increased sales of satellite navigation
products to the angler.
want to take this to the next level to help you get the most out of
your GPS. Before we get technical let’s review some of the basics to
help with understanding what the terms ‘waypoint’, ‘route’,
and ‘track’ and how they can help you with your day on the lake.
The GPS unit (handheld or console mounted) have the ability to store
waypoints which are the latitude/longitude coordinates for a certain
spot. Waypoints are points that you can create or may have been
created by someone else with a GPS device. Information recorded
includes time and date which can be useful and allows you to designate
a custom symbol (i.e. brushpile, marina, fishing spot, etc) as well as
create a special name that you can designate for a specific lake.
primary thing about waypoints is that you can use them to navigate to
them. Simply by selecting the “Go To” feature of the GPS, the GPS
will tell you such things as how far away the waypoint is from your
current location along with telling you which direction to travel.
There are also other features that are helpful when “navigating” :
ETE (estimated time enroute) and or ETA (estimated time of arrival)
route is simply a group of waypoints listed in order of travel. These
are for the device to ‘navigate ’to.
as you can not go in a straight line from home to the lake in most
cases, when you create a route it is broken down into “legs’ which
is the line between waypoints. Therefore you need to create a waypoint
at each spot where it is important to change direction.
good feature about routes is that you can run them forward or reverse.
As in the case you are fishing a new area and you want to get back to
where you started if you created a route you have a route that you can
follow back to the ramp.
GPS device has the ability to save “tracks” showing where you have
been. Creating a track can be based on time interval or distance
traveled. This results in
a line (usually not straight) showing the actual path you traveled.
Many devices will allow you to save more than one track. (Note here
that in saving a track it will normally compress the data and some of
the detail maybe lost.)
can not navigate to tracks like you can a waypoint and they are only
visible on the map display of the device.
where to from here??
that we have covered the basics of the device let’s see how we can
get to that honey hole and have the boat positioned just right. In
doing this imagine that you are fishing vertically on a particular
structure and want to be directly on top.
all know that we can get close by visual means with landmarks, but to
really get right on top of the structure we can accomplish this with
either a route or a simple ‘go to’ waypoint. When you are
navigating to a waypoint the gps will display the distance and bearing
(direction) to the waypoint. This
will get you within a few feet of your destination.
the map display of the GPS you will be able to do much better at
getting on top of the structure. The map display feature is a
graphical presentation of your location in relation to your
there is a symbol representing the waypoint, a symbol representing
your position, and most likely a line that was created when you
initiated the ‘go to’ navigation.
in mind that when using the ‘map display’ you need to understand
the orientation of North on the display. There are normally three
options: Track up, North up, or Course up. Personally I prefer the
North up mainly but will on occasion use Track up. To me Course up is
up is probably the easiest to understand as it displays your location
as if showing where you
are headed. Simply put it is displaying the direction you are going.
up simply means that North is always at the top of your display. An
example would be if you are heading east the display would how you
moving from left to right.
you have a digital map of the lake on your unit it will show the
contour lines just like a paper map. The digital display will show
your position in relationship to contour lines. If you have marked a
brush pile that is at the top of a ledge you will be able to see where
the brush pile is with out having to make multiple passes over the
area and throw out a marker buoy.
GPS manufactures have an accessory set of maps that include lake maps
with a lot of detail. There are also a few websites that have digital
maps of lakes available. The one I’m most familiar with is outdoor
They will take the data you collect and create a digital map of the
area. Then with a program similar to oziexplorer (http://www.oziexplorer.com/)
a track or simply waypoints can be marked and uploaded to the GPS
you’re ready to hit the lake with the knowledge that with the help
of your GPS unit you will be able to go to that favorite fishing hole
and not have to spend time trying to find a particular spot that will
hopefully produce that lunker that will win the tournament or just
look good with a picture of you holding it.