Is Technology in Fishing Overrated?

Four captains discuss the impact of modern electronics

Q: Do you feel technology in fishing is overrated?

modern marine electronics and fishing.
Four captains discuss modern electronicsCourtesy

Capt. Bill Diamond

Neenah
Fort Lauderdale, Florida

modern marine electronics and fishing.
Capt. Bill DiamondCourtesy Bill Diamond

We had a lot less stuff when I first got started, and I still think a lot of the older guys can outfish everyone else with just a bottom machine and a compass. And sometimes people rely too much on having the latest technology. You still need to fish where the fish are, get the bites and hook what you see, and it takes teamwork and coordination between the captain, angler and mate. There’s no substitute for experience. We’re not piloting the space shuttle — we’re going fishing.

Capt. Chris Starrs

Sails Call
Iztapa, Guatemala

modern marine electronics and fishing.
Capt. Chris StarrsCourtesy Chris Starrs

Technology has ­certainly contributed to much of our success. I think I speak for a lot of captains when I say that a good chart plotter, a quality VHF radio, and a satellite-imagery map are our bread and butter. What was once a blindfolded roll of the dice is now more of a calculated gamble — even a certainty that you can find fish. Being able to process the daily chlorophyll and sea-surface-temperature maps to make the right choice, while still relying on information from other captains to help you work an area, is how you catch an insane amount of billfish.

Capt. Gerard "Frothy" De Silva

Hard Play
Tobago, West Indies

modern marine electronics and fishing.
Capt. Gerard “Frothy” De SilvaCourtesy Frothy De Silva

I have some basics in which I truly trust: My fish finder to locate bait, temperature breaks and to see the bottom structure, and my chart plotter to work around structure. I usually visit a few websites for updates on the latest weather forecast and sea-surface-temperature charts as well as to get details on tide and moon phase. However, I must admit that my success is mostly based on pure instinct and adjusting to the conditions that I encounter during the day offshore. While I believe modern technology can help us in many ways, I also think trusting your instincts, knowledge and experience, and being aware of your surroundings are just as important.

Capt. Jay Kavanagh

Bite Me
Hatteras, North Carolina

modern marine electronics and fishing.
Capt. Jay KavanaghCourtesy Jay Kavanagh

No, I don’t think ­technology is overrated: I take full advantage of every bit of information I can get my hands on regarding the water- and weather-forecast conditions. I am fortunate to fish with some of the best captains in the world, many of whom are very instinctual and who have been fishing long before much of today’s technology existed. I am constantly amazed by how in tune they are with their instincts. But I am not a very instinctual fisherman, so I rely more on technology. As an owner/operator charter fisherman, I don’t have an unlimited budget, so I rely on stuff that’s in the public domain.