How To Use A Handheld GPS For Fishing

Whether you’re fishing in a kayak or a boat, it is a fact that you’ll see better results when you make use of the different technologies designed for fishing. There are various modern instruments available for fishermen and anglers, one of which is the GPS or Global Positioning System device. A GPS device is actually used in a variety of fields, from military to rescue operations and others. So how exactly does using handheld fishing GPS device help improve your chances of catching fish?

 Loading the Maps

When you power up your handheld GPS device, check if it already contains the essential maps of the fishing sites you intend to visit. Most (if not all) GPS devices have maps that are preloaded into them by the GPS device’s map provider. If not, you can connect to your GPS device to the computer and load the map from there.

The handheld GPS receivers offer different methods for being connected to the computer, depending on their specific models. Some models offer a USB option for facilitating the serial connections and transferring data. Other models can be connected through the serial ports. Check the manual provided by the GPS manufacturer company from which you bought the device. It should contain everything you need to know about connecting your device to the computer, loading the necessary maps, and many other information.

After the necessary data have been loaded onto your GPS device, disconnect the GPS from the computer. Double check that the necessary data are stored in the device’s memory.

Check Your Signal

Ready to head out to the open waters? Don’t get too excited just yet. Aside from checking your rods and reels and fishing safety kit, you’ll want to make sure that your GPS device is getting enough signal strength.

So at your launch site, turn on your GPS device and check the signal status. It should also show your actual location. If it doesn’t, you may want to wait a while until it properly loads and acquires a strong connection to satellites. Only then should you start paddling out. By the way, make sure that you bring enough batteries as well. The last thing you need is for the device to lose power while you’re out in the water.

Mark Your Launch Site

Another thing you should do before heading out is to mark your launch site. This is especially true if you’re fishing in an unfamiliar site. You definitely wouldn’t want to have any trouble finding your way back to shore, especially after you’ve got a ton of fish on board. There are quite a few things that can make it difficult for you to return to shore like bad weather, fading light and other factors. By marking your launch site, you can easily navigate to your starting point after you’re done catching fish.

Use the ‘Zoom’ Option

To make it easier for you to read your map, you need to zoom in on the display of the handheld GPS receiver. Some GPS device will show you the underwater terrain as well as the extent of the water surface which can be helpful if you want to avoid running ground in shallow fishing sites.

Turn on the ‘Breadcrumb’ Feature

Your handheld GPS receiver will record your positions as well as your travel route. This is possible with a special tracking feature called ‘breadcrumbs’. When you have turned the breadcrumbs feature ‘on’, the unit will start receiving data. This feature will mark your route using a line from the launch site to where you are presently or en route to wherever your fish finder might lead you. This feature will also help you in returning to the exact fishing spots later should you decide to make a stop.

Label the Waypoints

Label_the_Waypoints

One thing you can do with your GPS device is to mark the different fishing spots where you caught the most fish. Most modern GPS devices usually have a feature that allows you to do this like bookmark, waypoint, favorite, and others. Most GPS units will allow you to mark 500 or more waypoints, although it’s quite unlikely that you’ll be able to visit that many spots in one fishing trip.

In addition, most GPS units also have features such as icons, date, time, location latitude, longitude, and others. There are even GPS devices which allow you to enter comments, which can be useful if you want to take some notes like what type of fish you caught, bait you were using, water and weather conditions and any other relevant information. The comment feature is very useful for recording the depth of water depth as well as underwater features.

Work the Spot

When you find a great spot for fishing, be sure to mark the spot immediately on your GPS device. And instead of heading to a different location, continue working your fishing rod since there is a chance that you’ll catch another fish. Keep fishing in that location until you can’t catch any more fish. Then slowly work your way out from that spot, dipping your hooks along the way.

Mark Possible Fishing Sites

Aside from marking the areas where you caught a significant amount of fish, you can also use your GPS device to mark potential fishing sites. Maybe you saw another angler getting pulling tons of fish into his boat from a distance, but you couldn’t go there because he got there first. Mark those areas on your GPS device and make notes as to why you marked it so you can come back to them on your next fishing trip.

Store and Review the Essential Information

Before you head back to shore, check that all the necessary information pertaining to your fishing trip are recorded in the GPS device. Give your fishing trip a title and make notes about the weather, temperature of water, overall conditions, overall results, and any other useful information. This will give you a comprehensive record that will be of great benefit the next time you visit that area.

But if you see dark clouds coming or feel a sudden drop in temperature (you’re bound to feel it even when you’re wearing your favorite fishing jacket), save the review for when you’re back safely on shore.

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Using handheld fishing GPS units have quickly become a necessity for many fishermen and anglers in terms of increasing their catch and guiding them safely back to shore. Still, you’ll have to learn how to use it properly, otherwise it won’t help you achieve the results you desire.

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My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!