Now that the ice fishing is finally into full swing across the ice belt, it is time to break down one of the keys to any successful fishing trip. Of all the equipment an angler can use to his advantage, perhaps the most important tool in the arsenal is a map of the lake. In years gone by, this meant busting out an old and antiquated paper map and studying all the structure a lake might have in order to find the best fishing grounds. The problem was, most of those maps were based on surveys done in the 1930’s.
In this modern era of lake maps, imagine this, they have an app for that. The app version of Navionics is great for several reasons; you can study the lake anywhere, for people who walk to their favorite fishing spot, their phone becomes their handheld GPS device, and when you disembark from your snowmobile or ATV, you can walk right up to the structure you want to target. A year ago though, I was looking for something different, the perfect “chip”, which is really a memory card, for using with my boat’s GPS unit, while traveling across the ice.
I am a researcher when it comes to buying fishing equipment, and when the fishing centers around tournaments, I check out websites and even call the different companies direct to get answers for my questions. Not only would my new chip need to cover walleye tournaments around my home state of Michigan, but it would have to travel with me across the ice belt. From Michigan to Minnesota and every state in between, I was looking for my best options.
When I narrowed down my choices, I even made another round of phone calls. Navionics actually remembered my previous call, and their customer service representative walked me through my final choice. The Navionics + chip was my very best option for my wants. Instead of buying several regional cards, this chip allows me to zero in on a lake I am going to fish, download that information from their website to the SD card, and then move to a new area, and get that information as well. Whether I am fishing the championship on Mille Lacs Lake in Minnesota, or my home waters of Lake Erie, my bases are covered.
Now, here is the kicker, this is not a one and done purchase. Throughout the first year after buying the Navionics + card, I can go back to the website and refresh my data. This means I can get the latest information available for my selections and get even more details that have been added to the data base since I bought the card. Not only that, if one of the tournament circuits adds a new lake to the upcoming schedule, that information is also available for me to download to the chip. Prime example happened for me last October when I was gearing up to fish a tournament on the Saginaw River, the tourney boundaries had been extended, and I was able to get that new information and be ready to fish with total confidence in the details on my lake, or in this case, river map.
Not done though, Navionics gives another option for this card. I can extend my ability to add more information for another year. If I get an invite to ice fish in Nebraska, on Devils Lake, or in New England, I simply go back to the website, and add more lakes to the SD card, while it is also giving me an update on the freshest data available for the lakes already on the chip!
As they say, there is an app for that. Well, when it comes to fishing and mounting my GPS, it turns out there is a RAM mount for that. Depending on the conditions of the lake, I can either mount it to the Arctic Cat sled, my ATV or back on the boat when the ice goes away. Three different mounts, same arm, same base, and my GPS/Nav+ combination is ready to go, no matter which platform I am fishing from.
If you are serious about your fishing, summer or winter, I have to say that the Navionics + chip was my best option, and know it work out for you, as well. The apps are great, but the phones are a little hard to read while going 30-50 mph across a lake. When you put them together though, you have the best of both worlds.