Home Scouting

Laptop scouting can reveal often-overlooked features that cannot be seen from shore. Gather all of the information you can and apply it!

After crossing a bridge, I turned without hesitation onto an unmarked gravel road, chose the correct fork, parked confidently in a wide spot and hopped out, ready to put on my waders. I’d never been to the spot before, but I knew the trail to my left skirted a deep outside bend that would have been a tough place to get in the river and led to much easier entry point a few hundred feet upstream.

Having not fished that particular river, I’d peeked at Google Maps the night before to confirm driving directions. While there, I’d zoomed in tight and clicked from “map” to “satellite.” I mostly wanted to gauge the river’s character, so I’d have some idea about access up the stream and whether it was consistent in depth or alternated between shoals and pools.

That was when I noticed the prohibitive pool by the parking area, the upstream trail and most importantly the well-worn cut to what looked like shallow water. Paths are usually well-worn for good reason, so such a path reveals much about overall access.

I’m currently working on plans for a major Western trout trip with my 10-year-old son this summer (which I’ll write much more about in future blogs), so I’ve been spending a lot of time peering at online maps and satellite images.

It’s astounding how much a bird’s eye view reveals not only about how to access a waterway but about where flats and points run, what kind of cover extends from the banks, how far currents push into lakes at creek outlets and so much more. If it’s not your habit to peek at satellite maps before you visit new water, you’re missing out on a potentially excellent head start on the day.

Here’s how some other anglers use Google Earth to find likely fishing locations.

Check out my blog to keep up with fishing travels.

North American Fisherman Top Stories