I recently had the chance to join in with Navionics, Savage Gear, Yo Zuri, Okuma, and Raymarine for a few days of fishing in the Everglades. We cast Savage plastics and Yo Zuri hard baits on Okuma rods and reels, and as expected, we caught fish. The surprise came from Navionics. Why would a chartography company want to participate in a back-country fishing gig? We soon found out.
Run back into the mangroves around here, take a look at your chartplotter, and you’ll discover that there’s virtually no data to work with. There are creeks and cuts between the zillions of islands, but which have serious channels and which are inch-deep sandbars waiting to chew on your propeller is pretty much a mystery. There’s simply so much water back there, no one’s ever bothered to chart it. Enter, the Navionics app.
Many of you have probably heard of or used it in the past. Basically, it allows you to turn your phone into a mini-chartplotter. Spend $15 on the US/Canada version, and all of Navionic’s charts are included. You can navigate right on-screen, and while I’d never suggest depending on a cell phone for navigation, it’s a great back-up to your main unit and is even better when you step aboard a friend’s boat and it turns out they don’t have a chartplotter. But now, it’s… different.
The boats we were on had MFD’s with WiFi enabled. This isn’t as big a deal as many people think, and can be added to most electronics systems for as little as a couple hundred dollars. Once active, it allows your phone, Navionics app running, to communicate with your chartplotter. It takes the depth and GPS position soundings—in real-time—and uses them to “paint” new bathymetrics on-screen as you drive your boat.
When we arrived at a promising-looking fishing spot and cast along the shoreline, after working it for a while we were able to see the different drop-offs, contours, and underwater features we’d passed over. In other words, we made our own digital chart of the area as we fished.
If you think about it, the potential here is huge. You can go to any lake, pond, or bay, fish it once, and go home with a bathymetric chart of it. Go back a month or a year later, and you’ll have a serious advantage when you start fishing. If you already have WiFi enabled on your boat, using this app is a no-brainer. And if you don’t… well, I don’t either. Yet.