How To Use Google Earth To Find Fish


Here’s something you won’t hear from me often. I know it’s cringy and immediately makes you think of the fishing version of the Sham-wow guy, but I’m going to say it. Game Changer. Right away you’re thinking I'm about to turn into a fishing salesman getting ready to pitch you the new lure that’s illegal in 14 states, banned in tournament competition, the pros secret I’m ready to tell kind of deal. Well, ole’ buddy, to me anyway, what we’re talking about in this blog is a game changer to help find fish. To put your mind at ease, it’s a free tool to help you find high percentage areas, eliminate low percentage areas, and uncover juicy spots that before would have been impossible for many anglers.

Quick Links:

1. Download Google Earth

2. Learn to Navigate 

3. Find the juice 

4. Find the hidden juice 

Google Earth Pro is a game changer. I feel like I need to wash my fishing soul with Purell for saying that, but it's flat out the truth. Studying aerial imaging gives anglers a huge advantage from the comfort of their own homes. In addition to studying aerial imaging to find structure and cover from above, anglers can also find hidden features on bodies of water using the rewind button that shows historical aerial photos. Not too long ago gathering the information you can get within a few minutes on Google Earth Pro took years sometimes even decades. Now you’re a download away from finding more fish.

Step 1: Download Google Earth Pro. I’m sure you sign something during the downloading process that gives them rights to do x,y,and z. As long as I’m not signing away the rights to my Pre-Rapala Wiggle Wart collection I’m okay with whatever as long as I get the birds eye view of my favorite lakes. This is a long winded way of saying read the fine print when signing up.

Step 2: Learn to Navigate to your favorite lake! The controls are on the upper right hand corner of your screen. I could attempt to walk you through the wonky controls, but it’s pretty self-explanatory. It’ll take you a bit to get used to it, but before too long you’ll be ale to navigate like a pro.

Step 3: Find the juice! I’m old school and still utilize paper contour maps, but they don’t tell the story like Google Earth does. The first thing I like to do is take an inventory of all visible structure and cover and add placemarks on it. The placemarks you’ll find on the toolbar above the map the icon is a little yellow thumbtack. Whenever I add the placemark I like to add a super short description. For example, I’ll say long skinny point or old hidden boat ramp. Some key areas I always mark:Untitled-1

  • Boat Ramps
  • Rip Rap
  • Inlets
  • Points

These are basic pieces of structure, but all hold fish and by looking at them from above after you’re done adding placemarks to structure and cover you’ll be able to easily identify high percentage areas to concentrate on.

After I go through and add placemarks to all the visible structure and start coming through the lake from above looking for cover. Some of the key pieces of cover I always add placemarks to are:

  • Fallen timber
  • Vegetation of any kind
  • Standing timber in the water
  • Brush piles

After adding placemarks to all the visible structure and cover from above you’ll have a better idea of areas to find fish! Areas with both structure and cover near each other or on top of each other you know you’re cooking with peanut oil.

Step 4: Find the hidden juice! On the tool bar you’ll see a clock with an arrow wrapping around it pointing backwards (I call it the rewind button). To me this is the most powerful feature on Google Earth Pro. By clicking that icon, you can cycle through historical photos of the body of water you’re studying. If you happen to be studying a body of water where the water level fluctuates at all you’re going to uncover a ton of hidden gems you might have been ignoring for decades!rewind

In the west we have reservoirs that fluctuate from flooding shorelines to drawn down hundreds of feet. Using the rewind button has uncovered some of my favorite fishing spots both on larger bodies of water and ponds. Not only does the rewind button uncover new structure it can also help you better understand areas you’ve been fishing for years. For example, I used to always wonder why one side of this particular hump always seem to hold more fish. After looking at the hump out of water using the rewind button, I could clearly see the scattered chunk rock that was on that side.

You never know what you’ll find hitting the rewind button, but some common areas I add placemarks to are:

  • Humps
  • Saddles
  • Brush Piles
  • Rock Piles

Google Earth Pro is a tool all anglers need in their angling toolbox! This blog outlines some of the basic functions and how they can help you find fish. In future installments we’ll look at how you can import those placemarks into your sonar units, and further study historical aerial images to find the spot within the spot!

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