In today's age of Internet forums, blogs, Vimeos and Youtubes, and Twitters, you might think that as a "digital native" I employ very modern methods of scoping out and scouting new water to fish. It is true that I do use some of the new tools to aid me in my search of new water to explore, but I still fall back on a number of tried and tested standbys.
If anything could be considered a secret shame of mine, it is maps. I love pouring over any map I have a chance to get my hands on. Cities, counties, provinces, countries, even mall maps where I am most out of my element. It doesn't matter what the map is of, I love them all. Maps are my first point of contact when scoping out new water, and the last aid in helping me to get there.
The first maps I can remember helping me, and they are still some of the best, are the ones found in the yearly Alberta Fishing Guide. The maps are not the most detailed, but they are leaps and bounds better than your standard AMA Road Map (best for Provincial Park campground locations). These maps highlight a number of smaller streams, thought not every one, and have a fairly god spread of oil and logging roads that pepper the west of the province. Coupled with the listings of game fish species found (more on this later), this is an invaluable resource to exploring new waters in Alberta.
|"New School" scouting techniques|
Digital Visual Mediums
Services like Google and Bing have revolutionized the way I scout fishing locations. Each provider has their own pros and cons (generally I like Google Maps and Earth), but both do generally the same thing. The biggest advantage to fishers is areal photography that can be detailed enough to show deeper pools, drop offs, and shoal areas in larger streams and lakes. Occasionally I will even take a virtual flight over promising areas too see things like local geography, relative stream or lake size, and a more realistic idea of what the good old paper maps portray.
Along with the areal shots, another feature of Google I love is the StreetView. If you do not know, Google has been driving around the world in a car with a 360° camera taking pictures all over roadways. Alberta is extensively documented. I find this feature valuable to check out promising looking unnamed creeks or parts of familiar streams I have not been to yet. I can drive 6 hours away and check out what the bridge access of a creek looks like in less time than it takes to make a cup of coffee. This method cannot be relied on. Not every road is photographed, and the quality of the photos depends on when they were taken in the year, and how long ago they were taken. A lot of California's roads were driven by Google in the winter, which means very low to no water in a number of creek beds, and much of the Eastern USA was done on more primitive cameras s the images are not as crisp.
Other Internet Methods
|The tool for the job|
|Nick doing some "recon" on a small Albertan stream|
So bust out the maps, scope out some locations online, call a few friends and scout out some new water this summer.