Using Google Earth

Recently I began to explore the usefulness of Google Earth to find fishing spots. While I have just begun to investigate this tool I am so impressed that I want to share it as a worthwhile device for enhancing the search for new grouper holes.


Briefly, Google Earth shows the sea floor contours with varying degrees of detail depending on the region.

It also has the capability to import way points properly converted from GPS devices. It also has the ability to show sea conditions such as sea surface temperature. While temperature is not critical for finding bottom fish it can be useful if you troll in the area.


Downloading Google Earth:

To download Google Earth go to the following link: Google Earth.

Install this tool on your computer by following the instructions.


Configure Google Earth:

Once Google Earth is installed, go to the menu "Tools-options".

If your computer is powerful enough, use true color.

In the "Show Lat/Long" box, select "Degrees, Decimal Minutes" for the typical GPS format.

The rest of the default settings are fine.




Optional Stuff:

If you are interested in a very powerful sea surface temperature tool go to the Rutgers Google Earth files at the following link: temperature filesand download the gulfmexico.kmz file to your desktop. Then, in Google Earth, do "File-Open" and select the above kmz file. The result is daily updated sea surface temperatures shown on a Google Earth map.


To get the chlorophyll concentration on the Google Earth map go to the following link : chlorophylland download the file chl.kmz to your desktop. Then, in Google Earth, do "File-Open" and select the above kmz file. The result is daily updated chlorophyll concentrations shown on a Google Earth map.


Importing Your GPS way points:

If you have the capability of transferring way points from your GPS device to your computer you will be able to put them into Google Earth format and see them superimposed on the sea floor topology.


The first step to to convert your way points to a kmz file compatible with Google Earth. I use a free tool called GPS Babel. It can be downloaded at: GPS Babel. Once downloaded and installed, select the conversion utility for your GPS unit and convert your way points to a kmz file. Then, in Google Earth, do "File-Open" and select the above kmz file. The result is your way points shown on a Google Earth map.


Putting it all together:

Once you have installed Google Earth and overlaid your way points for grouper holes you will have a very powerful trip planning tool. As more and more productive holes are found you will be able to spot possible near-by spots where more fish may be resident. You will be able to plan your trips more efficiently as you will be able to minimize travel distances.


Google Earth has the capability to measure distances so you will be able to do more accurate fuel management.


The above tools are powerful and free so they are worth the effort to install and try.


Excellent Google Earth (.kmz) files:

Files containing information to be displayed in Google Earth have the extension ".kmz" (among others).

There are several sources of .kmz files useful for identifying "fishy" areas, in addition to the temperature and chlorophyll files described above. Some prime .kmz files are (click on the name to download):


Shipwrecks - SE US: information and locations of shipwrecks from Texas to Virginia

Coral - Hardbottom - SE US: coral and other hard bottom locations from Texas to Virginia

Bottom Type - SW FL: Locations of sand, gravel, rock, shell, mud and coral from Sarasota to Cape Romano

Artificial Reefs -Permitted -FL and Artificial Reefs -FL: reef locations and descriptions for Florida


These files have great information and are worth studying!