Contour Elite unveils new program to help find and track fish

DETROIT -- You hear that anglers are tearing up the walleyes in 7 to 12 feet of water off points on Lake Putrid, but when you get there the next day, you're not sure where to start.

DETROIT -- You hear that anglers are tearing up the walleyes in 7 to 12 feet of water off points on Lake Putrid, but when you get there the next day, you're not sure where to start.

You could power up your GPS or pull out a lake chart and start searching for water of the right depth. But wouldn't it be nice to sit at a computer before you go, pull up a chart of good ol' Putrid and type in, "places with 7-12 feet of water," and maybe even add "within 20 yards of points," if you had managed to glean that extra information?

Or how about arriving at a lake you have never fished and being able to turn on your GPS and find where to look for smallmouth bass on spring afternoons?

That's what the people who make the Contour Elite lake maps from Strategic Fishing Systems say you can do with their new computer program.

"We're taking the (electronic) system to the next level," said Ryan Rist, who developed the new charts with partners Dan Reed and Brian Haymart. "You can search by water depth or time of year or species. And the 3-D view really lets you see what's under the water."


I've only seen the system on the Strategic Fishing Systems Web site ( ), but it looks awesome. The 3-D views of underwater channels, humps, ridges, holes and points look as real as the view on a side-scanning fishfinder.

Strategic Fishing Systems uses charts created by Lake Master, whose products are familiar to millions of anglers who use them in a fishfinder/GPS. What Strategic Fishing Systems provides is a powerful search engine that allows anglers to use several factors to locate places where fish might be.

Reed said: "If you're experienced with using electronics, you can use our system to locate points, tracks, lines, areas or any combination of features. But if you're finding fish at a given spot, you can say, 'Here's my spot. Find the other places in the lake that match it.' Or if you don't know anything about a lake, you can search for a specific species at a certain season with certain water conditions."

Anglers also can keep a lot of data such as where and when they caught fish on a lake or river and the prevailing conditions, then use that information on later trips.

For now, the Strategic Fishing Systems search engine is too big to be loaded on a chip that would work in a fishfinder. Anglers do their searches on a desktop or laptop computer before heading out to fish and download pertinent information such as waypoints and routes to their GPS or smartphone.

"That was what we designed it for, but now we're hearing that some people are taking laptops out on the boat with them so they can look up new information or look at the underwater 3-D views," Reed said.

Strategic Fishing Systems has a list price of $179 for each state (so far the Dakotas, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin).

Michigan charts include Lake St. Clair and the St. Clair and Detroit rivers. Reed said each state is being offered an ice-fishing special for $149, and he figures that may remain the price once it gets into stores.


NET RESULTS: I've done my share of dumb things while fishing, and probably more than most because I fish more than most people.

One of my dreams is to land a 30-pound carp, one that actually moves the numbers on a scale to 30, not one of the mythical 30-pounders people are always telling me they caught on doughballs when they were kids.

I had a beautiful carp that would have gone well over 30 to the shoreline in the Saginaw River last fall, but when I slipped the net under it, the fish thrashed, landed on the net rim and was so heavy it twisted the handle in my fingers.

By the time I got a solid grip again, the fish had flopped back into the river, rolled three times, spat the hook and was gone, leaving me dejected and morose for a week.

That wouldn't have happened if I'd been using the Leverage Landing Net, which not only collapses but is designed to give a solo fisherman the leverage needed to control and net fish with one hand.

The rear section of the handle is bent to form a pistol grip for the fingers, and there's a U-shaped brace at the end where the forearm fits to prevent the net from turning.

The Leverage nets start around $110. If you fish a lot, this would be a good investment, and it will also be at the Ultimate Fishing Show.

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