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New to GPS


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I just got a GPS unit, and I think I can use it to mark points and find my way back to them. Is this basically all that I need to know? Or are there other functions I need to learn before hitting the lake?

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"Is that all I need to know" --- now that's a tough question. It would help to know what lake you're going to use it on.

Do not rely soley on your GPS for navigation. It can be a great help, but if you're on some canadian shield lake with lots of islands and bays and not many people around, you better have a good map and a compass and know how to use them too. Or if you're out in the middle of Mille Lacs in the middle of the night, you better know how to find your access point even without the GPS.

Some of the most basic gps functions are marking your access point and fishing locations and navigating between them. You can mark waypoints for your fishing locations after you find them on the water, or you can use maps or software programs to get the coordinates in your GPS before you ever get to the lake.

On bigger lakes with lots of islands and channels you may want to string several waypoints together and make a route.

I frequently use the speed function in my GPS, both for running fast with the big motor and especially for trolling cranks with the kicker motor.

I also use the Bearing and Course functions quite a bit. Bearing tells you the compass heading to get to your destination, and Course tells you the compass heading that you're currently on.

The Distance and Time of Arrival or Time Enroute functions can be interesting but for me are of little or no practical value.

If your GPS has a plotter, learn how to use it because it can be an invaluable tool for fishing, both for trolling and for live bait fishing over structure.

If your GPS has mapping capabilities there are many more things you can do with it.

Hopefully this gives you enough of the basics to get started. Hope this helps and good luck.

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I just bought one in April and have not figured it out completely, but they sure are fun. What did you get?

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There is a game called geocaching, which is a relatively fun way to learn how to use a GPS. Look into it. It is very easy to do, and will definitely teach you how to use the machine. If you can find a small ammo can filled with trinkets, hidden under a log in the woods near your home, you'll definitely find your car after being out on the water all day.

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Weezeemn, PerchJerker said it well. GPS has come a long way from the early days. Now GPS comes with WASS technology that is more accurate than ever. Plus many units now have mapping capabilities that give you a picture of were you are in relation to your surroundings. On my boat I have a mounted GPS mapping unit that runs MMC/SD chips, a backup handheld GPS, and a compass. I fish Big water often and never want to be lost out there.
I was on Mille Lacs a couple weeks ago and the fog was so thick you couldn't see more than 20 feet in front of you. Without GPS I would have never been able to find my way to my spots let alone get back to the launch.

I recommend you read as much as you can about it and become familiar with all of your features. Going to a GPS coordinate is only one of the many benifits GPS is capable of.

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Hopefully you unit has a video instruction tape you can buy to go with it. A couple hours playing with it while watching the video will really help.

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My advise to you is take a kid along with you and let them run it. ha! Mine are so much better at computer- electronic devices etc. than I am. Takes me longer to get the hang of them, but they are sure amazing tools.

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Thanks all. My first use of the unit, (a Garmin GPS 72; okay features, not much memory,) should be pretty easy. We'll be on Sand Lake, near Winnie and Bowstring, and I have the lake map. Not real big, no multiple islands and channels, but there are humps and points I'd like to be able to mark. In particular, there are a couple of L-shaped bars that could be productive if I can find my way to and around them. Multiple waypoints, create a route or whatever. I'm just looking forward to being able to find my way back to structure I've found.

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Hey weezeemn, I have a cabin near Sand Lake (a little north of Lake Jessee). Always wanted to fish Sand, just haven't made it over there yet.

When you find those humps and points, you don't have to instantly mark the top of them. Instead, use your motor and your electronics and try to find significant features like the tips and inside turns of those "L" shaped barspoints, or sharp breaks or big boulders, or other features on the structures. Try to put your waypoints right on top of those features.

If you want to troll a breakline you can use your gps to mark several spots along it - for instance, if you find a weedline at 15 feet and want to troll that, put several waypoints along it. Then connect them in a route, or even better, use your plotter if you have one (I don't know if your unit has a plotter or not, but they're awesome for trolling or for fishing over midlake humps).

One more idea, every time you catch a fish or especially a nice fish, mark a waypoint. Sometimes those waypoints will start to stack up on top of each other, which can really identify a good spot. This applies to trolling and to fishing midlake humps.

Hope this helps. Have a great trip.

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