Q Asked: At Hawks Cay Resort, Florida Keys
Over the last 10 years, what development in marine electronics has been the biggest game-changer for you?
Capt. Tom Rowland, Key West, co-host of Saltwater Experience
"The ability to have updated weather on your boat. As a flats or inshore fisherman, you can see there's weather, but you can't tell if it's 400 yards thick or 20 miles thick. Having access to satellite weather on the water gives me the ability to determine whether we can run through it or head back to the dock."
Capt. Chris Trosset, Key West, Reel Fly Charters
I think side scan sonar has helped me a lot. It gives perspectives to see either side of the boat. It used to be we'd drive over a school of bait and say to our anglers, 'Drop straight down.' Now I might see bait off to the left side of the boat, and I can say, 'Throw on our left.'"
Capt. Scott Goodwin, Merritt Island, editor of Bloody Decks
"The thing I'm most envious of now is the Track Back feature on sonar. When I was chartering up and down the east coast of Florida, I can't tell you how many days we missed marks on sonar, because we were no longer right on the spot--we'd turn around and try to find it. With Track Back you can look back in time and drop a waypoint on the screen."
Charlie Brown, Marathon, Arlington Electric South
"LED lighting. I'd say that's number one. These lower emission lights reduce the draw on your batteries, plus produce impressive light. Many of these boats are fishing at night now with lights off the back. Overall, LED lighting has changed much of how you can rig your boat."
Capt. Robert Trosset, Key West, Finz Dive Center
"Side scan has been a big help for us on dive trips. We can search 600 feet to each side of the boat for new spots, and find fish. We're looking for coral heads and nice dropoffs on the reef. I'll use the Track Back function to drop a waypoint where we saw a spot, then flip the boat around, double check the spot, figure out the wind and current. Then we can move off a little ways and let our divers get ready, then come back and drop them off right on the spot."
Capt. Josh Ardis, Marathon, charterboat Final Final
"Handheld GPS has been a game-changer for me. It allows me to be able to go from this boat, to another boat, to another, and I'm not having to give my numbers or spots to another guy. When I get on someone's boat as a captain for the day, all electronics are off--and that includes cell phones, too--unfortunately, a lot of people try to take numbers."