Contributed by Juan Veruete
I looked on as my buddy cranked down hard on yet another citation river smallmouth bass. I think at that point it was his third of the day. We had been enjoying a pre-frontal feeding frenzy of simply epic proportions. Needless to say we were trying hard not to notice the ominous black clouds that were stalking us far off in the distance. I knew that we couldn’t outrun it. What I didn’t know was how much time we had before we would need to seek shelter on the river bank or even if the storm was headed our way.
I quickly looked at my weather radar app and clearly saw that we were in the direct path of one heck of a thunder storm. We hadn’t heard thunder yet but I knew the storm was on our heels. We quickly made the decision to paddled for shore and locate a safe place to wait out the thunderstorm. Within minutes, the lightening and thunder hit. Had we waited much longer, or not had access to see the storm bearing down on us so quickly, we may have made the wrong decision and been caught in a shower of rain and lightening.
There are specific types of information that I rely on heavily while guiding and teaching kayak anglers on the mile wide Susquehanna River. Having access to real time information and data forecasts not only helps in planning a fishing trip but also can provide the information needed to make the the right calls while you’re on the water. Here are a five iphone applications that I use to make sound on the water decisions.
The accuweather app is an extremely feature rich free application that has an exceptional graphic interface which incorporates a ton of data in a “dashboard like” display; UV, current wind direction, temperature prediction graph, live precipitation predictions they call “MinuteCast” and much more. It also has a great time lapse radar display. Most of the weather data can be accessed on one screen making it really quick and easy to reference on the water.
NOAA Hi-def Radar (Free)
This quick and very simple time laps radar makes it easy to track incoming weather systems while on the water. It’s highly configurable allowing for number of map “layers” such as weather warning boxes, lightning strikes and even hurricanes. There is even an in app function to capture a screenshot and quickly send it via email, twitter, or facebook. My favorite yet simple feature is that it can pinpoint your location on the map quickly allowing you to reference your exact position as compared to incoming storms.
River data is one of the two applications that I use in planning my river fishing trips and also for tracking in real time river levels through the USGS stream flow gauges. Everyone knows that when the river gets a little “bump” in flow the fish feeding is activated making this application a “must have” tool. I like the quick and easy interface that gives you temperature, discharge in CFS, gauge height and a quick link to NOAA weather for the gauge location. Just save your favorite stream flow gauges in the applications favorites and your set!
Rivercast has a lot of the same functionality as the RiverData app with one important difference. Rivercast allows you to access “river level prediction” graphs that are maintained by USGS. These predictions are extremely important to planning a river kayak fishing trip. It will help you find the right water, predict when a rise might occur, and how high the river levels will likely rise. Like any prediction sometimes the USGS misses the mark so be aware but overall they tend to do pretty well. It’s a must have application in my book for this one particular feature.
WindAlert is an awesome app for monitoring real time wind directions, wind speed and gusts. It also provides wind forecasts so you can stay ahead of the game and plan your day of river fishing. Wind can be a kayak anglers worst enemy. Understanding the wind and it’s relationship to your flow can help you pick optimum sections of river to float and let you know when it’s time to duck into a cluster of islands to fish in more sheltered water.
Juan Veruete is an American Canoe Association certified kayak instructor and a licensed fishing guide in Pennsylvania. He conducts kayak fishing classes and guided trips on the Susquehanna and Juniata rivers through his business Kayak Fish PA, LLC.