I am no tournament angler, but I have fished with tournament anglers, and I have on occasion been in the back of the boat for tournaments like the WCF at Taylorsville, and the KBF championship. I know that they plan as much of their day as is possible and time their day to coincide with as many patterns as possible as well as the weigh in time.
They use many tools to do this. Maps, logs, personal observance, and friends fishing the lake the week before the tournament. They can not do is to determine every possible pattern or the weather changes that can turn their plans into a live well full of nothing but water.
I have found a partial answer to this problem. At least I think I have. It is a mapping system that can be transported in a Lap Top for emergency use or that you can print out pre tournament map sections of. Why would this be of interest? Well I hope I can do this system justice.
Topo - Logs Lake Maps powered by Lake Hot Spots Maps
Analysis of the program:
I found it to be extremely easy to use and easy to learn. The easiest way to learn how to use the program is to go to the Help section on the tool bar and read the Overview. This gives you the basic information that you need to get started. From that point any time you get into trouble all you have to do is go to the help section. I got stumped a couple of times but each time I went to the help section, it was like the darn thing was reading my mind.
The ability to make the map tell you where specific types of cover are, and to make seasonal movements more profound, over the life of the program, makes it a must have for even the regular angler. By logging each trip, the seasons, the structure you fished you can begin to pattern the lake, and the movements of the fish. If nothing else, the maps are extremely helpful and of great use in finding your old fishing hot spots. Crappie Fishermen can now mark their GPS in coordination with the mapping GPS to find those darn crappie hides that they are setting out in the middle of nowhere.
The only feature that I found to be of any hindrance was the lake level lines. I would like to be able to reset the level and still find depths that I am looking for without a reset. That is a very small discomfort considering the other tools that this program gives you. It may also be beyond current technology to redraw the map as the lines were determined by old topographic maps. A drop or rise could put some lines in totally different places.
I would rate this program ><////:> ><////:> ><////:> out of 3 fish.
Description of the system:
The Map starts out as a very small image. You then take the cursor and click on the magnifying glass. You then click on a section of the map and draw the cursor over an area creating a box. In the box appears a zoomed image with all kinds of information. Everything from lay downs to stickups, docks, roadbeds, and you can even enter your own structure points, and personal fishing hot spots.
What makes this mapping system different is the fact that you not only can see all of this, but you can then choose to see only what you want Lets say you find a pattern of bass hitting carolina rigged worms along an old road bed early in the spring. They are hitting the baits in about 5 to 10 feet of water. All you want to know at that point is, where is another place like that on the lake right? All you have to do is go to the tool bar at the top of the page and go to the L on the toolbar. Click on this and you will get a Legend Window. The window contains all of the markers that are on the map. You then go to the bottom of the window and click HIDE ALL. This will turn all of the EYES (part of the systems way of telling you what options are turned on) on the screen from black to gray. Then you go to the eyes and pick submerged bridges and submerged roads. Then you go to the contour button on the same window and click on hide all. Go up to the 10 foot mark or if there is a 5 and 10 foot contour you click on the eye for those depths and it turns black. Go to the bottom of the window and click OK. You then call up the section of the map you want to look at and guess what? Yep all you have is a contour line for the 10 foot line and a dotted line where the roadbeds in the lake are Where the 2 run together you will most likely find fish right?
You can go one step further and change the contour line color so that you can see 2 or 3 different depths without having to figure it out by counting lines. If the lake is 3 feet high you can even adjust the lake to show that. Go to the options menu and click on it. A drop down menu appears and you set the level to a number above or below summer pool on the Corps of Engineers lakes. This then changes all of your contour lines from their original numbers to their current numbers In other words if you previously fish a spot and it was 10 feet deep and the lake is down 3 feet the contour line now shows up at the 7 foot level.
This is just one feature. There is a log where you can enter every single fish you ever caught on a lake. You can mark every single feature you find, and put a marker on the map exactly where you find it You see the map also has an automatic GPS system. When you turn it on by clicking on the GPS button it tells you the exact location of the cursor as it scrolls across the lake. Take your own GPS unit along, and you can put a marker in the exact spot by coordinating the 2 readings. Or just make a note of the reading using the log for later marking on the computer map.
There is a zoom out and a zoom in feature, a map dragging feature that allows you to move the map around without losing the perspective you have displayed. One of the better features for Tournament Anglers is the distance measurement device. You got an hour to fish, you need to run up the lake but you dont know the mileage or the travel time. Here we go again . Topo Log to the rescue. Simply go to the DS button. Click on the point you are at. Drag the cursor to the point you want to travel to, staying in the lake, by clicking in sections as you go, creating a turning point. Click on the place you want to go to and you have the travel distance TO the spot. Then you do the same thing from that point to the weigh in. Voila you now know how far you have to travel.
It is too far you say? Well go back to the map enter in the information you want, to fish a similar place and BINGO you got a place that is similar to your original goal and you can fish it instead and make the weigh in ..
You say I DONT HAVE A LAPTOP, d a r n . No, you have another option. Simply sit down at your nice personal computer and analyze the lake ahead of time. As you do that you can print out maps with various options including GPS numbers, types of structure, distance lines (Put them out in the middle of the lake for easy reference) and print them out. You even have a print preview page that shows you what the page will look like, after it is printed. I would recommend getting a binder and some plastic pages to protect the maps. This way you can pull them out of the plastic to make notes that you can then take home and post to your map for later use.
I could spend another 5 pages describing the options of the log that I found truly amazing. However I dont want to spoil your fun at discovering the many ways you can edit your log to fit your own personal fishing habits. Let me just say that the options are so many that I could write a book on the subject.
Easy to use, Easy to learn, and Totally Relevant to improving fishing success.
If you are interested in this product, you can find their web site at http://www.topo-log.com. Currently the company has maps of lakes in the following states, Arkansas, California, Kentucky, Missouri, Texas, Virginia, Oklahoma and North Carolina. They also have a Toll free number at 1-877-867-6564 . Topo-Log uses FHS maps for their computer displays.