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Zach Erkkila, software developer for ProNav Marine, spends a good deal of his free time chasing bass, walleye, and pike in Northern Michigan. In addition to boat fishing on hot summer days, Zach also enjoys fishing on hard water. As Zach knows, finding fish can be tough any time of year, but it can become increasingly difficult in the winter. A plummeting thermometer limits mobility and encourages hunkering down, rather than braving frigid temperatures to drill holes. Although there truly isn’t a substitute for keeping active and staying on fish, Zach finds that today’s technology does a good job of helping to find productive areas faster, move around less and catch more fish.

During the open water season, Zach uses the ProNav Angler GPS Autopilot system on his boat. He finds the tool to be tremendously helpful in providing hands-free fishing while trolling and jigging, but he is aware that this autopilot motor control doesn’t do much for him once the water has turned hard. However, he has found a way to make use of the ProNav system during the cold winter months, commenting that “The ProNav Angler mobile application is a phenomenal example of a technology that can help you fish, even after the boat has been put in storage.” During the summer months, he uses the ProNav Angler app to collect as much data as possible, marking fish, underwater structures, and other points of interest on the live map view. Once winter hits, he and his fishing partners can look at their map, filled in with the previously recorded information, and make educated guesses about where to drill their winter fishing holes.

Recently, Zach and his fishing buddies targeted early ice walleye on Portage Lake. Portage Lake is a large body of water that they fished often during the summer and is a notoriously challenging system that has been fished by professional anglers on the tournament trail. Early in the open water season it proved difficult to locate good numbers of fish. They spent many days on the water trolling countless miles and eliminating lots of water before getting on to a good pattern of where the walleye were holding. Zach said “This is the beauty of summer fishing–warm weather and easy mobility in a boat give you the opportunity to cover some serious water and find fish.” Over the course of the summer, they collected data on where they were catching fish and started targeting the areas that were most productive. With late season success and armed with the data they had collected, they travelled onto first ice confident that they would be able to get on top of the fish quickly.

As anticipated, using the data that they collected during the summer proved to be successful. Zach recalled “No sooner did we get our second tip-up down the hole when the first flag flew up, and we knew we were in for an awesome day of fishing!” Prior to using the advanced GPS and data collection system provided free with the ProNav mobile application, Zach and his fishing partners had no way to get back on key structure that held fish late into the fall, which ultimately allowed them to find and stay on the fish. By simply pressing one button on the ProNav mobile application, Zach quickly marks productive locations and fish caught. “This feature was the true distinction between a successful, fun day of catching fish and one of trudging around on the ice drilling hole-after-hole.” After his success on Portage Lake, Zach knows that hard water fishing “can be made easier” with the ProNav system.