Shaye Baker started fishing with his dad in Alabama as soon as they could find a life jacket small enough to fit him. Competing with his father in local tournaments, Shaye quickly found a hunger for competitive bass fishing. He furthered his fishing career at Auburn University helping to establish the Auburn University Bass Fishing Club. While at Auburn, Shaye served as the President of the club and qualified to fish on the traveling team amassing six Top 5 finishes including two 3rd place finishes in consecutive FLW College Fishing National Championships. While beginning to dabble in the world of outdoor journalism, Shaye continued to fish semi-pro events finishing in the Top 5 in the Bassmaster Opens, FLW Costa Series and BFLs. Finding himself at a crossroads, Shaye chose to put down the rod and pick up the pen and camera to focus on his career in outdoor journalism. Shaye has had work featured in Bassmaster Magazine, FLW Outdoors Magazine, B.A.S.S.Times and the Japanese bass fishing magazine, Basser. Shaye has also had work featured on ESPN and Wired2Fish.com,FLWfishing.com and Bassmaster.com. While working with B.A.S.S., Shaye initiated and spearheaded their GoPro division which brought more video coverage to the fans than had ever been done before in competitive fishing. After his tenure with some of the best companies in the business, Shaye identified a need for competitive fishing where participation didn’t cost a fortune. By founding UPLOADED, the Online Fishing Series, Shaye established a free tournament series where anglers could film their fish catches and upload their videos to compete against other anglers for prizes.
We live in a tech-savvy world these days and that certainly doesn’t stop when we set out on the water. In fact, there’s more tech in bass fishing now than most other sports or hobbies like basketball, baseball, football, golf or hunting.
This fishing technology can be intimidating, but very beneficial if you take the time to learn to use it. In this piece we’re going to talk about some of the tech tools I’ve found most useful and some that I haven’t had the chance to use yet but look promising.
Fishing Technology: How Boat Mounted Electronics Help You Break Down the Water
This is a product that I’ve been really impressed with. I heard a lot of hype aboutLakeMaster charts being better from some of my close friends. The only drawback, LakeMaster is proprietary to Humminbird. So it will only work on their electronics. When I ordered my last boat, I went with Humminbird primarily for LakeMaster. And it didn’t disappoint.
As advertised, these charts had a lot more detail on some of my home lakes than did other charts I’ve used in the past. And the thing I really like about them, I can highlight certain depth ranges. If I start to develop a pattern and I’m getting bit mostly between 13 and 15 feet deep, I can highlight just that depth range. So then when I’m running around looking to expand the pattern, points and humps that I’ve blown right by in the past just jump right off the map at me. Very, very useful.
I must admit that I’ve never created my own charts, though I do find it quite interesting and worth mentioning. There are several option out there like Humminbird’s LakeMaster AutoChart and Lowrance’s Genesis program that allow you to go out and use your boat’s sonar to build a topographic map of your fishery.
Some of these systems even have networked communities where you can choose to share your data or view the maps that others share.
It’s really a pretty cool concept, just one I’ve never taken the time to utilize. Though I do believe there’s merit in doing so.
I have not used these new Lowrance LIVE units myself but there’s a lot of hype surrounding them right now. Really looking forward to hearing more about them in the coming months. Here are some of the bullet points that jumped out right away.
1. It appears that they are trying to develop something like Garmin’s Panoptix or moreover their LIVEscope that will be available on the units in 2019.
2. Lots of smartphone integration.
3. From the ability to allow notifications on your Lowrance screens to being able to screen share your smartphone onto your graph to watch sporting events, examine satellite images or use some of the other apps we’ve discussed in this piece through your Lowrance unit.You can view as many as 6 split screen panels now.
4. They’ve preloaded the units with Lowrance’s new C-Map charts and Genesis LIVE capabilities to create real time custom maps.
This is one I really don’t even want to talk about, kind of like the LakeMaster deal with Humminbird. But I’d be remiss to do an article on technology in bass fishing and not talk about these two tools.
I fully believe both of these bits of technology give me an extreme advantage on the water.
I’m not saying I win every time I fish a tournament because I obviously don’t. But the fault definitely doesn’t lie with my tools of technology.
A lot of buzz came along with Garmin’s unveiling of their Panoptix technology a few years ago. As a skeptic of what other anglers say, I didn’t put much stock in Panoptix at first. Because believe it or not some anglers will actually just blatantly lie about how good products are. Shocker, I know. I did read up on it right away, but it really just sounded too good to be true. And the images I was seeing with the articles were definitely too good to be true.
Let me tell you something right here and now, I’ve been made a believer.
A good friend of mine and fellow ANGLR Expert and videographer, Ben Nowak, has been using Panoptix since its introduction to catch monster smallmouth up north. On a phone call one day he was telling me all about how good Panoptix was, citing a particular day where he used it to pluck 29-pounds of smallmouth off isolated boulders. He said, “I could see the boulder, I could see the fish sitting over top of it. I’d pitch my dropshot out and watch it as it fail. I watched the fish eat it. It’s unbelievable.
”But I did believe it. Because I trust Ben. So we devised a plan to fish the Rat-L-Trap only tournament on Lake Guntersville together. He drove down from Michigan with his precious Panoptix in tow and we set out to find isolated clumps of hydrilla to rip a Rat-L-Trap threw. We idled a flat, marked a few clumps and he put me on the trolling motor to see for myself. I panned the transducer back and forth as I eased up to the first waypoint. I saw interference at about 80 feet. I then eased up to about 40 feet from the hydrilla clump, portrayed on the screen by an amorphous blob of yellow and red.
On my first cast I hit the hydrilla. I thought to myself, ‘well that’s pretty cool’.
On my second cast, I caught a 6-pounder. I exclaimed out loud this time, ‘This should be illegal!’
But it’s not. And since it’s not, you’re at a disadvantage if you don’t have it. Panoptix is legit. I got thePS22-TR transducer on my new boat and it is awesome. It’s expensive. I get that. But let me put it to you this way. Panoptix is as big of a leap in technology as no sonar at all to traditional 2D sonar. And as 2D sonar is to side imaging.
It’s the next step in the evolution of electronics and will most certainly be copied by all the other brands as soon as whatever patents or statute of limitations expire that are preventing it from happening right now.
Now Garmin has taken it even further with their newLIVEscope lineup, marrying the capabilities of Panoptix with the color palette and definition we associate with side scan and down imagining. I don’t have this transducer yet, again because of the only drawback, it’s expensive. But my buddy Nowak does and when I asked if I should upgrade he said, “I thought Panoptix was good…” Great. Here we go again.
Chapter 2 - Fishing Technology: Cameras and Filming to Record Your Catches!
Fishing Technology: Cameras and Filming to Record Your Catches!
PowerStick 53” from YOLOtek
If you’re interested in filming your fishing trips, thePowerStick 53” is a great product for you. Whether you’re a novice videographer looking for the easy way out or an expert with a GoPro looking for a continuous b-roll shot, this product has you covered.
Powering POV cameras has always been their pitfall.
Now with the PowerStick, your boat’s cranking battery continually chargers your POV camera through the anchor light port of your boat. I have used this product and was actually tasked to do some product testing of the PowerStick for YOLOtek early on.
Prior to the PowerStick, I would have a dash mounted camera with a cord running to the 12 volt port by my steering wheel for continuous power.
This served the purpose in a rudimentary way. But the angle was poor because the camera had to be mounted low to avoid being hit in my backcast. It also was useless if I had to leave the front deck to land a fish. The PowerStick offers a much better vantage point from the back deck. Pretty cool product to checkout if you fish from a boat and you’re interested in filming your trips. For more on the PowerStick 53”, clickhere.
There are a few shots from the PowerStick point of view in this video.
GoPros and other POV (Point Of View) Cameras
For starters, why would you want to film your fishing trips? It’s not pure narcism. Filming your fishing trips actually holds a lot of educational value, not only for others but for yourself as an angler. I’ve learned a lot by watching myself fish. You catch subtle things that you miss in the moment. I’ve paused to reach down and adjust my graph, unconsciously altering my presentation and triggering a strike. Sometimes I’ll get a bite and then get excited and fish much faster than I was when I first got bit.
There’s a lot to be learned from the unblinking eye of a POV camera.
I have used GoPro products now for six-and-a-half years or so. GoPro created the world of POV cameras and has been steadily raising the bar all along. There are lots of options out there now in the POV camera market but honestly I haven’t used many others, so I am a little biased. I actually haven’t used the latest Hero 6 or Hero 7 models either, and here’s why.
The hat cam is my favorite point of view to film with and to watch. You become your own cameraman with a hat cam. If a fish jumps, you instinctively look in that direction.
When the fight is on, your eyes are locked on the bass as it battles its way to the boat, and so is the hat cam.
The GoPro Hero Session series is the best option I’ve found for a hat cam. The Session is smaller than the standard GoPro which allows for a much more enjoyable hat cam experience than it’s bulkier counterpart. It’s also waterproof without a casing which is nice.
I primarily use the original Hero Session (generation 4 in the GoPro lineup) but they have been discontinued along with the Hero 5 Sessions as well. You can still buy the Hero 5 Session newhere and other places until GoPro depletes their stock but in time it appears that they will only be available on aftermarket sites like the original Session.
The good news for the bass fishing consumer is that the Session series is much cheaper than some of the other GoPro models.
I actually keep three of these cameras with me on the boat and I’ll rotate through them throughout the day. Their batteries will last about 2 hours and recharge in roughly the same amount of time. So I use one until it dies, swap the card over to another camera and place the previous one on charge, then repeat the process. The third camera serves as a backup incase one of the others don’t recharge quick enough to keep the rotation going.
Here’s a little hat cam action from the Session so that you can see why this point of view is so great.
Chapter 3 - Fishing Technology: Satellite and Topographic Imagery Change the Way we Plan our Trips!
Fishing Technology: Satellite and Topographic Imagery Change the Way we Plan our Trips!
One of the best and cheapest ways to take advantage of technology comes down to doing your homework. There are hundreds of sites and apps out there now with satellite imagery of lakes and rivers. The ANGLR app, which we’ll talk about more in a minute, even has a satellite layer incorporated into its mapping. Studying these images is extremely useful. Especially on lakes where you have winter pool drawdowns. You can scout an entire lake in a matter of minutes for brush. Granted, the images may be months or even years old, but most brush piles get replenished by their proprietors as they wither away. So it at least gives you a good place to start.
It’s also good to use multiple apps or sites as they have satellite images from different times. And remember the most recent image isn’t always best. If you’re looking for brush, an image from 9 months ago when the water was down may be more useful than an image from 3 months ago when the lake was full. Likewise if you’re looking for shallow backwaters, an older image of the lake full will be more helpful than a newer image in which the water level is low.Google Earth andBing Maps are both good, free options, but there are many more out there.
Similar to studying the satellite imagery, taking the time to look over topographic lines on theNavionics app can really maximize your time when you actually do get on the water. Navionics does offer a free trial but eventually the app will cost you a little. However, it’s worth it in my opinion. Having the ability to study topo like this harkens back to days of old where we’d have a paper map in hand all marked up before heading to a new body of water. The difference, you can have a whole public library worth of maps all in the palm of your hand.
Scout out creek channels, isolated humps, secondary points, any and all of it. And take it even a step further by cross referencing your topography map with your satellite imagery. If you find a stump field on Google Earth, you can check the same location on your Navionics app to see how close it is to deeper water. Feel like a creek has silted in and the channel has shifted? Cross reference and see for yourself. You still need to remember to fish with an open mind once you get on the water, but with the proper amount of homework, you’ll find patterns developing much quicker.
Chapter 4 - Fishing Technology: Apps and Digital Advancements Continue to Evolve the Way we Fish!
Fishing Technology: Apps and Digital Advancements Continue to Evolve the Way we Fish!
I’ve never been a good record keeper in any aspect of my life. I don’t enjoy it. It’s not for me. But when it comes to fishing, knowing what has and hasn’t worked in the past is definitely beneficial.
You should never fish straight memories, but keeping up with your fishing in a log to form a baseline is a smart idea.
And a log also makes sure that those ‘memories’ you might want to revisit on a fishing trip someday are accurate ones.
I’ve tried and failed at keeping fishing logs over the years. My earliest attempt was a 3-ring binder when I was 12 or so, my latest in the form of an 12-month running note in my iPhone. I recently made my first fishing trip using the ANGLR app and I was pretty impressed with the ease of it. And it actually was enjoyable.
The ANGLR app is free and is essentially a digital log book with all sorts of added features.
When you open ANGLR, there’s a map feature that records your GPS trail and allows you to drop waypoints when you catch fish or want to mark structure and cover. If you’re the type of angler that’s intimidated by technology, anyone could do that much and that within itself would be very beneficial.
But there’s so much more.
The waypoints can be edited in the moment or revisited later for edits. These waypoints are very customizable. You can enter weights, lengths, photos and notes about each fish catch and they also have preset waypoint options for brush, docks, rocks and a whole slough of other things you might want to make note of on a fishing trip.
There’s a tackle feature where you can digitally build and save some of your favorite gear that you can then quickly select in the moment to go along with each waypoint where you know exactly what you caught the fish on. There are also built-in features that monitor the weather conditions, water conditions, time of day, moon phase and more and all of those things are recorded at the exact moment each waypoint is created. It’s really pretty cool and I’m glad that I took the time to try it out.
A few of the things I was most impressed with on this initial trip:
1. Again, the ease of use and functionality. Very intuitive. 2. The app runs in the background throughout the trip, so I was worried it would kill my battery. There didn’t seem to be much drain at all, even on my iPhone which is notorious for a bad battery anyway. After a three-and-a-half hour trip my battery had dropped from 95% to 76%. And that was likely more to do with the fact that it was searching for service the whole time which leads to the next thing I was impressed with. 3. Even though I had literally zero service for about 3 hours of the trip, the GPS never skipped a beat on the map feature and I was able to record a continuous trail and drop waypoints accurately throughout the trip. Some of the features like the tackle box weren’t accessible until I regained service. But the most important thing is being able to drop waypoints on the trail in real time. Then you can go back at then end of the trip and do the rest if you want.
Their optional connected device, the Bullseye, allows you to record all sorts of information with the push of a button and without ever taking your phone out. That really makes this a no brainer.
It’s definitely a good idea to have a weather app on your phone when fishing or preparing for a fishing trip. It may seem a little like common sense to most of you, but weather apps are definitely an important piece of technology when it comes to bass fishing. You should always keep an eye on the wind and any rough weather because it will not only affect your fishing, but can be very dangerous.
The ANGLR app also features a weather forecast option so you can do this with the same app you record your trip with!
On larger lakes like Okeechobee or even Lake Martin here in Alabama, I’ll use the wind forecast to determine where I’m launching and fishing that day. This little bit of foresight eliminates a lot of wear and tear on your gear, your body and your mindset. I usually just use the Weather Channel app but there are hundreds of these apps out there now, some national and a lot more regional ones.
Lake Info Apps
These are awesome tech tools. For years, we’ve been able to call in and check the generation schedules and lake levels around Alabama. I’m assuming the same is the case for other states. But in recent years, theTennessee Valley Authority andAlabama Power have developed apps that have simplified the process immensely.
Now we can access realtime generation outputs and lake levels as well as generation schedules and lots of other information using our smartphones.
Current dictates so much when it comes to fishing some of these lakes in Alabama and I can use this app to determine when or even if I go to a lake by just pulling up the generation schedule. Granted, these schedules are subject to change at any minute so they come with a little frustration at times but by and large these are extremely helpful.
Digital Culling Systems
There are several of these out there now but one I have a little knowledge about is theCatch Commander. Like some of the other products in this piece, I have not personally used it. I still use the old cull beam and guess what my total is till I get back to the scales at the end of the day.
But I do see the value of having an accurate total weight of my bag in multi-day events. In a single day tournament, I’m not taking my foot off the pedal until I’ve caught as much weight as I possibly can.
That’s obvious. But on multi-day events, you have to manage your fish.
Outside of using these scales to cull, the ability to prevent a simple southern boy from mistaking a 16-pound bag of smallmouth for an 18-pound bag of smallmouth is extremely important in managing a group of fish. I found out the Catch Commander scale did just that for a close friend of mine when I saw him post about it on social media and I then asked him about it.
“Really accurate and error proof scale. Easy to use and cull out quickly. First time I ever weighed every fish throughout the day was at Champlain in the Open this year. It was accurate to within like 8 hundredths. Enabled me to leave my area early each day with confidence knowing what I had. Going to always use it from now on.” – Rich Howes
Chapter 5 - Fishing Technology: Technology for Your Boat That Changes the Game
Fishing Technology: Technology for Your Boat That Changes the Game
Shallow Water Anchors
I’ve usedPower-Poles for 8 years or so now. Because of their durability, I sometimes take for granted how much tech their is in them. But they’re really pretty smart. Their C-Monster operating system allows you to not only lower and raise your Poles with wireless remotes placed around the boat, but you can also choose to operate multiple Poles independently or simultaneously and adjust the speed of the Poles’ deployment with the push of a button.
They even offer a C-Monster app so that you can control your Power-Poles from your phone. Within the app you can adjust the sensitivity of your Poles, adjusting how much pressure is needed for their deployment to stop. This is beneficial when you move from a rocky bottom to a mucky bottom. And there are features within the app that will allow Power-Pole to help troubleshoot your system remotely in the event there is ever a problem.
Minn Kota Ultrex
My latest boat also has the Minn Kota Ultrex on it which is a piece of equipment oozing with technological advances. One press of the anchor button allows your trolling motor to maintain your boat’s position by GPS. I have found this to be amazingly convenient in conditions with heavy wind or current.
You can hook a fish and fight it to the back of the boat for however long you need to without missing a beat.
Sit down and retie. Heck, have a snack while you’re at it. All the while R2-D2 is up there just getting at it. It’s amazing.
One of the other advancements in the Ultrex, the pedal no longer uses a cable system to turn the head of the motor. It’s all electric. This lack of tension takes a little getting used to but you can say goodbye to the days of having cables break and then having to gut the trolling motor to insert a new cable. Huge leap forward.
Since the head doesn’t move unless the pedal moves, you can also now push the continuous button on your pedal, point the head wherever you want to go and step away while the trolling motor rigidly sets out on whatever course you put it on. If you tried to do this with the cable driven system, the resistance from the water would inevitably spin the motor either throwing you overboard or nearly doing so.
And there’s even a version of the Ultrex above the model I bought that links to your Humminbird unit and allows your trolling motor to take you to a selected waypoint or follow contour lines. Some really amazing stuff.
Jump Starters and Battery Packs
Jump starters and battery packs are also great pieces of tech to keep on the boat for several reasons. For the most obvious reason, a jump starter will get you out of a jam if you ever find both your cranking and trolling batteries depleted. And they’re no longer massive and cumbersome. Newer models like those offered by Weego are very portable and require little room to store. They also hold charges longer than previous versions.
Battery packs are also great if you like to film or just want to make sure your phone doesn’t run dead.
Most boats come equipped with a 12-volt or USB port nowadays. But even if you’re in a well-equipped boat in the rain, the portable battery packs are great to plug into a device and toss in a dry compartment. And if you’re in an older boat with no charging options, portable battery packs open up a whole lot of possibilities for a relatively low price. You can find these things for next to nothing online and in convenience stores these days.
With so much new technology diving into the fishing industry these days, it’s easy to get lost in the noise. As I stated for most of the technology I’ve talked about, I’ve either used it myself or heard great things from trustworthy people.
Don’t get left behind and stuck in the old ways, try some new technology and learn just how effectively you can change your game. Whether it directly helps you put more fish in the boat, or indirectly, each new advancement changes the way we can approach a body of water. These advancements help us locate fish faster, stay in that spot with ease, and film the whole thing to prove your fishing stories to your buddies!