Close

Login

Logging In
Invalid username or password.
Incorrect Login. Please try again.

not a member?

Signing up could earn you gear and it helps to keep offensive content off of our site.

June 08, 2012

Online Services for Anglers

Online fishing services aid anglers in studying their quarry

The more I write about marine electronics, the more often I hear the question: Isn’t all that technology unfair to the fish? But I think that paints too simple a picture of recreational angling.

Not only must we know where to find fish, we also must predict when and what they will bite. And we must prepare our gear and ourselves properly for battle.

All things considered, I’d say anglers remain disadvantaged. But that’s not for lack of trying, particularly when it comes to online oceanographic services that provide sophisticated satellite data beyond sea-surface-temperature maps.

“If time is important, and with fuel getting more expensive, anglers are more or less realizing they need help,” says Mitch Roffer, a biological oceanographer who started his Roffer’s Ocean Fishing Forecasting Service (www.roffs.com) 25 years ago.

ROFFS and other companies provide a wide range of online and offline information for a variety of prices. Choosing the service that’s right for you depends on timing, need and experience.

Public and Private
In the late 1990s, when Jeff Gammon started Terrafin (www.terrafin.com) and when Geoeye’s predecessor began the SeaStar service for commercial fishermen, government sources produced primarily sea-surface-temperature data, Gammon says. But as commercial satellites — such as Geoeye’s Orbview-2 — launched, the oceans came alive for anglers. Today’s services also offer chlorophyll (plankton) data, water color and current maps, and altimetry (sea-surface height) readings.

“Altimetry is used more in the Gulf and Southeast,” Gammon says. “The satellite is able to measure the difference in centimeters in different bodies of water. What it represents is areas of upwelling and downwelling.”

This spring, Geoeye unveiled its new SeaStar Sport service (www.seastarsport.com) for the recreational market. “We’ve taken the tools that we feel separate us from the pack and delivered those up to recreational fishermen on the Web,” says Matt Galston, senior sales representative for Geoeye, which is also a defense contractor.

When you review the various fishing-service websites — whether those mentioned above or others such as Hilton’s (www.hiltonsoffshore.com), SeaView Fishing (www.seaviewfishing.com), HotSpots Charts (www.sstcharts.com) or FishTrack (www.fishtrack.com) — several common themes emerge. That’s because much of the basic data is available from the federal government. In some cases, that data can also be found completely free of charge online.

However, the additional locations and data (purchased or procured from private companies or other countries), data presentation and timeliness, the algorithms that make it more accurate, and the availability and degree of analysis set each company apart.

Learning Curve
One main issue all the companies battle is the presence of clouds. Satellite infrared cameras and sensors don’t see through clouds. To combat that, users can opt to review composite imagery made from multiple satellite passes.

For sea-surface-temperature readings, that means numerous passes per day by several different satellites. But for chlorophyll data, that means combining once-daily passes from a period of several days. “There’s only one usable satellite that gives chlorophyll data,” Gammon says. “That’s usually more-dicey information.”