R e d c h a s e r . c o m


Using The Web To Find Fish




w . w . w . r e d c h a s e r . c o m

Aerial photo's helped find the spot where Doug Pike

and Capt. Chuck Uzzle caught these reds.

Getting The Most Out Of Mapping Information .



One of the biggest dilemmas I was faced with when I began fly fishing, was where to fish. Sure the open water fishing in Calcasieu Lake was easy enough to figure out, there were plenty of other boats to follow, and plenty of maps available for this Southwest Louisiana hotspot. But I like to sneak away from the crowds and get into areas that haven't been disturbed by a boat in a while. I started buying the U.S. Geological Survey "7 minute maps" so named because they cover 7 minutes of a degree of longitude/latitude. While these maps were a help, the imagery on them was often quite old, and a dynamic marsh environment tends to change quickly, with some cuts and channels filling in, while still others are formed. 

I began searching for alternate sources of mapping data, and discovered much valuable mapping information on the internet. While there are many commercial sites available with mapping information, some as free samples, and some for sale I found the U.S.G.S. web site at http://mapping.usgs.gov/ , and Louisiana Coastal Photo Maps at http://www.lacoast.gov/maps/lacw2001/index.htm  to be most valuable.

The U.S.G.S. mapping page offers links to multiple mapping services, in several different formats, many available at no charge. Of the mapping services available the aerial photos available through Terra Server are of great help once you get used to the look of them. Terra Server also offers traditional topo maps all viewable and printable at no charge. Also available through the U.S.G.S. mapping page is topo zone. Topo Zone offers views of color topo maps in an updated format. When printing from any of these services, make sure you click the web page icon for a Printable or printer friendly version.   Here are some examples of what each of the different types of maps available from the U.S.G.S./ Terra Server link look like. These maps are all of the same area.

Terra Server topo, 8meter resolution

Terra Server aerial photo, 8 meter resolution

Terra Server aerial photo 2 meter resolution.

You will note that although the aerial photomaps are in black and white, they still show much more detail than the traditional topo map.  I have also found that most of the aerial maps are more current than the corresponding topo maps.  

For some reason, when you access Terra Server by way of the link on the http://mapping.usgs.gov web page, you are able to access information that you cannot reach, or would have to pay for by simply typing www.terraserver.com in your browser.  Using the link through the usgs site, I can zoom all the way down to 1 meter resolution, when I go directly to the TerraServer site, they require you to be a paid subscriber to get any closer than 4 meter resolution.  There are also times when I cannot even access the mapping information logging on to Terra Server directly, that I can reach it through the U.S.G.S. To access Terra Server through the U.S.G.S. site, when you reach the http://mapping.usgs.gov site, click on "View maps and aerial photo's on line".  You may then select the mapping service you wish to use.  

If you click on the link to terra server, a map of the world, with the U.S. in green will appear.  Click on the U.S. and a larger image of the U.S. will appear.  Click on the region of the country you are interested in and a still larger green image will appear.  Then, being as specific as you can, point and click on the spot on a specific state you want.  A black and white aerial photo image of the area will appear.  If you are a little disoriented as to where you are on the map, there is a selector box to the left of the map image, toggle it over to "Topo Map and then click the "-" minus sign to pan out.  This will help you get your bearing.  You can then zoom in on a particular spot by simply putting the cursor on it and clicking.  Once you know you are in the area you want, you can toggle back over to aerial photo for more detail.  Also, above the map image is a size selector.  If you click on large you will get a larger map screen and see more area at once.  It is easier to keep oriented this way. 

 Once you get used to the different shades of the black and white aerial photo image, you will be able to distinguish where deeper water may run through a shallow flat, or what areas have good flow of current.  It was just recently that I discovered Louisiana Coastal Photo Maps, but they are very impressive.  The color aerial photos they offer show great detail.  When you go to the Louisiana Coastal Photo Maps page, click on the section of the state you want, a picture of that section will come up with numbered points, click on the point closest to what you are interested in seeing.  If you are given a broad view, double click on a specific spot to zoom.  The images at Louisiana Coastal Photo Maps can also give you much information about depth, water movement and more.  All of these things can be very useful when scoping out area's to fish.  Be advised however that these maps don't distinguish public from private property; be considerate of landowners rights.




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