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June 08, 2012

Online Services for Anglers

Online fishing services aid anglers in studying their quarry

Satellites use radar to read sea-surface height, so altimetry data remains unaffected by overcast skies. Current speed and direction, thermoclines and subsurface-temperature information are calculated based on models from the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, Galston says.

In most cases, subscribers have access to accumulated oceanographic information packaged with various tools for planning a day on the water. Some companies sell access by region; others request a blanket fee. Terrafin and SeaStar Sport, for instance, offer a basic package for $99 a year. For $399 a year, Geoeye’s SeaStar Sport provides advanced customization.

Anglers learn to use the tools themselves with help from online instruction and FAQ, though some companies offer verbal or video tutorials. On the other hand, ROFFS provides in-depth analysis, drawing on years of comparative data and a broad range of information collected over time. Galston says Geoeye plans to deliver custom analyses starting this month.

“We’re looking at a variety of oceanographic data over [a period of] hours to days,” Roffer says. “We’re the only ones looking at history and how the current conditions formed.”

Roffer agrees that captains can learn to use the data, but “captains usually look at one small area. They can’t integrate what’s beyond their vision or beyond their radio,” he says.

ROFFS analysts also speak with a network of captains every day, and work with NASA and NOAA on significant research projects. A single ROFFS analysis costs $65; if you prepay for a package, the per-analysis fee drops to as low as $36.

ROFFS customers “run the full gamut, including charter captains,” Roffer says. “The typical client is chasing dolphin, tuna or billfish, but some people use it very successfully for king mackerel (in the South) and sharks (in the Northeast).”

Next Steps
In most cases, satellite-image resolution averages 1 kilometer per pixel, which, as Galston points out, doesn’t sound very high considering your television’s resolution. But consider that many satellites view the entire globe, and 1 kilometer makes sense. Yet it doesn’t allow users to drill down to minute GPS measurements between water-temperature breaks, color changes or altimetry edges.

Galston says Geoeye is exploring the technology to portray 6-meter-per-pixel resolution for ocean color. That’s tight enough to pick up weed lines. “At a certain point, you can get too much of a good thing, and all you get is sun glint — [the tighter resolution] doesn’t give you the big picture,” he says. “As you go up in resolution, you go down in the area each pass covers.”

Gammon says Terrafin expects to roll out a mobile app soon for phones and tablets; ROFFS and Hilton’s currently offer smart-device interfaces. Simrad Yachting confirmed that with its next software upgrade, ROFFS reports will be readable on Simrad NSS multifunction displays, using the PDF viewer.

I say, “Bring on that technology!”