Recently, while readying the boat to run a charter, I experienced a frightening dilemma. When I pressed the power button on the GPS, nothing happened. I tried to diagnose the source of the problem, but did not succeed. I then faced the choice of cancelling the trip, though my customers and I already stood ready in the vessel, or venturing into the darkness and the treacherous waters of Baffin Bay without the aid of the device. I chose the latter, and soon realized how much I now rely on the data displayed on the GPS screen.
Normally, I leave Bird Island Basin and run the relatively shallow waters lying between the ICW and Padre Island on the way down south. I use a track line I've created specifically for the purpose, and running it proves relatively stress-free, since I placed it where it has hundreds of yards of safe water on both sides for many miles. Without the GPS, though, I had trouble seeing any reference points well enough to guarantee I wouldn't run aground on the sand bars extending off the west side of The Island, or onto the shallow spoil banks lying east of the ICW.
As luck would have it, thick mists made a dark night darker, and I couldn't see much of anything, even with the bright beam of a spotlight shining forward from the console of my craft. These facts forced me to do something I generally don't, run in the ICW, where I could maintain visual contact with the green, blinking lights lining its east side. I also slowed down from the pace I'd normally maintain, and made it to the mouth of Baffin without any mishaps.By then, the glimmers of early light allowed me to see the floating cabins and land masses which made navigating into the bay easier, in the old way.
Running around that day, I felt a twinge of fear wringing my stomach into a knot the whole way. Without a screen showing me all the obstructions I've marked over the years, I had to do things based on experience and blind faith. I also had to do them slower and with added caution, knowing a mistake could cost me a lower unit, or worse. I had not run around without a working GPS for over a decade. All of this made me realize the vital importance technological tools play in the life I lead today. Most modern anglers, in fact, rely heavily on GPS units and other technologies when making their forays onto the lakes, coastal waterways and open ocean.
Partly because of the discomfort of this experience, I decided to produce and promote a new product, one which outlines many of the best ways to implement modern technologies into the angling experience. In Achieving A Tech-Savvy Angler, I provide numerous ideas about ways to become more proficient using technologies of various kinds to enhance navigation safety and angling productivity. I've copied and pasted the introduction to the product here:
“For about a decade now, people all over the planet, from the richest to the poorest, have shared one thing in common. We all possess and use one of the most amazing devices ever invented—the smart phone. Nearly every human being walking the face of the earth today does so with a remarkably capable, miniature computer in hand. This truth has once and forever altered the social, political and other landscapes which comprise our complex, evolving world.
Smart phones perform many useful, even incredible functions, taking pictures and videos with clarity and definition exceeding all but the best cameras available only a short time ago, and allowing for multiple types of communication, using access to the internet and other technologies. Singularly, these devices can perform functions which would have required multiple devices in times past, and they do these things efficiently and with high quality.Because of their unique, profound capacities, these gadgets have made life better and easier.Some people rely on their phones more than others; all of us rely on them to some degree.
Only a fool would cling to the notion of the superiority of all the old ways of doing things. Snail mail moves much slower than email. Keeping track of old friends by sending them notes and calling them on a telephone attached to a wall worked cryptically compared to the seeming magic of Facebook. Finding restaurants by flipping through a phone book could not compare with the ease and efficiency of finding a place to eat using an app like Yelp. Similarly, a compass could help one travel in a known direction, but a modern GPS allows us to see exactly where we stand on the face of the globe at any given moment.
Most folks realize the potential benefits of dazzling new devices and technologies like the smart phone and all its apps and attempt to use them to positively influence their lives and livelihoods. Anglers, like other people with different priorities, can choose to use technology to enhance their efforts. Doing so makes perfect sense, requiring little more than a conscious choice. Taking advantage of current technologies and using them to make fishing safer and more productive proves quite easy in some ways.
Numerous tools, technologies and programs have the capability to help anglers navigate the waterways more safely and efficiently, and also to catch more fish. For the purposes of this document, I divide these things into two categories: those held in hand and used in the home or in everyday life, and those kept on the boat and used while on the water.
In the first category, I place the cell phone and the personal computer. As stated above, a smart phone is, in essence, a miniature version of a personal computer. But a computer has a bigger screen, allows for typing documents more easily, stores more data, and in the end, provides a better format and context for studying and learning. So, I advocate the use of both devices to enhance angling efforts, and will provide details related to the use of each in the chapters that follow. The cell phone becomes a bridge to the second group, since it travels with us everywhere we go.
In the second category, I place GPS units and their related devices, a hydraulic anchor and a trolling motor. All these tools offer an angler ways to fish more safely and productively.And that's the ultimate goal of this product, to help the consumer navigate and operate with greater peace of mind and to catch more fish!
The process works best when the person attempting to implement the concepts and strategies contained in this document and in the websites and other sources to which it provides links takes seriously the need for a multifaceted and disciplined approach. Only by breaking the process down into two major components can one expect to maximize results.These two components, research and implementation, both contribute mightily to the potential success of the endeavor.
Research works best when done in the home, in a quiet setting, far from hull slap, thunder clouds and the promise of the next bite. The cerebral acts of studying data, scrutinizing images, making plans, recording and reflecting on outcomes, all serve to increase knowledge, first and foremost of the anatomy of the waterways, but also of the impacts various natural elements exert on the attempt to catch fish.
Implementation must occur on the water, and ideally involves the intelligent execution of well-designed plans. Essentially, using technology to enhance angling safety and productivity means using all available resources to facilitate a maximum level of control over the elements within our command. At the highest level, implementation involves making adjustments, whether moving the wheel of the craft in attempt to maintain contact with a track line, finding a new place to fish when one doesn't produce a desired number of bites or altering a lure choice or presentation to account for a change in weather, tide movement or some other aspect of the fishing situation.
People who effectively adjust locations, choices and strategies do so because they accept a basic fact about life – changes aren't permanent, but change is. As a primary force, change provides an inescapably complex reality. In order to grow and improve, one must constantly adapt and evolve. Embracing new technologies and working to include them in the formulation and implementation of angling strategies can provide major assistance in the never-ending quest for consistency.”
By the time this issue of the magazine reaches the shelves, I expect to have Achieving A Tech-Savvy Angler finished and up for sale on the Captain Kev's Products page of CaptainKevBlogs.com. I will offer it as a digital file, since it aims to increase the user's effective utilization of the computer and other technological devices to aid angling efforts.Creating a paper book from the file makes little or no sense to me.In addition to chapters on using the personal computer, cell phone, Google Earth, GPS units and other Garmin devices, the product also includes a page which provides a long list of hyperlinks to sites useful for managing GPS data, downloading important programs and apps, monitoring weather and water-related information and many other things. Offering the document as a pdf will enable me to revise and make additions to it easily, as new products, technologies and ideas hit the market and my mind. Accordingly, I will encourage all who purchase it to check with me regularly for free updates.