Top 5 Bass Fishing Apps | Social Media, Maps, Water Data & Weather Info
By: Jacob Knight
You would be silly to think that fishing is not a technology fueled sport. Beyond the advances from handlining to modern carbon and fiberglass rods, electronic devices have been improving our chances of locating fish since 1948. Back then, two Japanese brothers created a device to detect bubbles from fish using soundwaves. Fish finders have progressed so far now that you can see your lure and the fish going after it.
But what about the technology that pretty much everybody has access to and it doesn’t cost more than a house payment and require a boat? I’m thinking of our phones. The great thing about our phones is that we can get fairly up-to-date information in our hands to help us with fishing success. Let’s talk about the apps that make fishing access and knowledge easier to source using the thing that’s almost always in our pocket. Here’s my top pick of fishing apps and what they are best at doing.
“I’m new to doing XYZ in fishing and I need to find people that can help me learn.” GoWild has a fantastic community of outdoorsmen and women, especially anglers, ready to share knowledge and tips. I have never come across a more humble community that handles the newbs’ questions better than this one. Don’t feel stupid, we were all beginners once. You can see success other people have had, learn what gear and lures they are using, as well as ask them questions about how they do it. Asking about where their honey hole is will always be a touchy subject, but if you befriend somebody you may end up with an invite.
Google Maps, Google Earth, other mapping apps
I use mapping apps a lot when I am exploring or trying to find new water to fish, but this also applies to analyzing water you’ve been to before. Mapping apps have one drawback in that the satellite imagery can sometimes be out of date by a couple years, but I recommend checking more than one to see which one is most recent. You may see that in one app there is a shot of a bare cove on the lake from 2 years ago, but in another app with a newer image you can see that a couple trees fell into the water. The next thing that I look for on lakes specifically is where the feeder creeks are coming into the lakes, and being able to zoom in and out easily make this an added benefit. For rivers and streams, you can quickly identify where likely parking lots or access trails are in addition to every great bend in the water’s path. If you are taking some kind of boat out this makes finding put-ins and take-outs easier as well. Some mapping apps can show you property lines which I have found useful on rivers that go in and out of public park areas.
Water Data (various apps)
I live in Kentucky and fish water that is part of the Tennessee Valley Authority on a fairly regular basis, so I have the TVA app on my phone. If you plan on fishing tailwaters to major lakes, this app can literally save your life. I don’t mean in the sense of saving your fishing day, but tailwaters can become a very dangerous place to be if you are wading when the water is low and they start releasing water from the dam. If you are going to be accessing the tailwater from a boat, this can also give you an idea of when the river will be floatable and you won’t be stuck on a gravel bar in the middle of the river because it dropped on you when they shut off the flow from the dam. There are a handful of apps out there that use the USGS water level data if your local water management system doesn’t have their own app. Some are paid, so do some research on which one has the best data for where you will be fishing. I don’t fish a lot of saltwater, but this section also applies to tide information for nearshore and inshore anglers. Some places are just flat out not accessible during low tides and if you are already in the spot, you need to know when you need to get out. While it is not a native iOS or Android app, my go-to is Smart Fishing Tides run by the crew at Salt Strong. I usually save a bookmark on my phone’s home screen for the location I will be fishing, so that I can easily get right to it when I need to.
This app could very easily fit into the mapping section, but I think it is unique enough to stand alone. While I spend most of my fishing time focused on black bass species, I absolutely love to chase trout in rivers and streams. If you are a traveling trout angler or just want to explore some of the blue lines in your area, Trout Routes is great for helping you find new water. They have a really cool ranking system for the quality of the fishery you’re looking at and the river access mapping is the best I’ve seen. The worst part about the app is the subscription price, but that’s personal to me because I prefer to buy tackle and flies instead of subscription service. Their maps cover trout water in 23 states and they seem to be growing very quickly. They have many of the same features you’ve come to expect from a paid mapping app, like property lines and offline access. There was one trip I took to the North Georgia mountains a couple years ago where I could have really used Trout Routes and not the other hunting-focused, paid mapping app I was using. I found myself hiking a lot to try to find the optimal water. Trout Routes would have shown me exactly the areas I was looking for.
Dark Sky or other weather app
Sure, this could be the first app that we all check when we are planning a fishing trip, but I put it last for the reason that we all probably already utilize a weather app, so it’s kind of boring. The other thing to note, people seem pretty passionate about their weather app of choice, so use the one you like and it probably has all of the same valuable information I am going to mention. First question I try to answer is whether it is forecasted to rain or storm. This one is easy and helps me pack the appropriate rain gear and if it is going to storm, I know when I need to head for the truck. Next, I am checking the temperature to again help me plan the gear or layers that I am going to wear. Beyond the day of, when I am planning a trip I want to look at the forecast for the week to come and figure out if the temps will be stable for a few days around my fishing day. Bass seem to be sensitive to swings in temps, especially cold fronts, so if I can plan to get out when the temps stabilize for a few days I will. Temperature and humidity can also affect bug hatches, so if you are fly fishing it can help to know what part of the day will be in the optimal conditions for hatches. Cloud cover and wind data is always great to know because it can change the techniques that are best for the conditions and what you tie on first. Depending on the direction of the wind it can also dictate where you might want to fish if the food and baitfish are being pushed to certain parts of the lake or pond where fish might be likely to follow. My last point on the weather app is moon and sun data, I love fishing full moons. I’ve read books that say it doesn’t affect fish that much, but it’s what I have grown up doing and I’m not changing my love for a full moon! I do think it makes for excellent night fishing. As for the sun, I just need to know when it is rising so I can be on the water at the right time, nothing complicated there since it just helps me set my alarm.
Bonus: If you plan on keeping fish to eat, many states have fishing regs available via apps, Florida has a great one they’ve partnered with called Fish Rules. Before you keep a fish, make sure you’re legal.
If you are fishing and not using these apps or tools, you need to start. If you are disciplined enough to keep a notebook about what the weather is like when you’re successful or what parts of the water you fished with success, you can amplify the benefits of these tools. It’s no secret that GoWild is my favorite outdoors app, I help build the dang thing, but I honestly believe it’s the foundation for any angler to be with “their people.” Many people don’t go to the local tackle shop and hang out after trips like they used to, swapping stories of how the day went. GoWild is that local shop that you may be missing out on. We love all fish, even the dinks, so come share your angling experiences with us!