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  • Rob Baker

DIY Lowrance HDS-7 Maps

A second trip to Dummit Cove produced two more seatrout catches. My last three saltwater fishing trips have produced four seatrout and one redfish, with at least one catch per trip. That's a positive flippin' trend folks and a much needed change for the better! Every recent catch has come using plastic topwater chug lures or something similar.


“Soon after I embraced the sport of angling I became convinced that I should never be able to enjoy it if I had to rely on the cooperation of the fish.”

-Sparse Grey Hackle



 

Earlier this year I started a submerged vegetation mapping (sav-mapping) geophysical service through my company, and as a part of that purchased a Lowrance HDS Live 7-inch chartplotter with a 3-in-1 transducer.

Lowrance systems allow users to create their own maps using InsightMapCreator by Navico and upload them for use as a chart basemap. This concept is, at least in part, the basis for a commercial chart product called Florida Marine Tracks, although FMT offers a bit more than just satellite/aerial map imagery.


I wanted to create my own maps of places that I like to visit using the latest high resolution aerial photography, both as an aid to navigating but also to pick out locations to fish. The best part of doing it yourself is that it's free.

The most recent images from the Florida DOT website have resolutions of 0.25 to 0.5 feet per pixel. The details at extreme zoom levels are quite good. I'm also downloading high resolution county mosaics from the National Agriculture Imagery Program (NAIP) website. The FDOT imagery comes in small pieces, while the NAIP mosaics have entire counties stitched together. Amazingly, the Navico .AT5 file format for use in the chartplotter really compresses these GB-sized image files very nicely. My small Dummit Cove test project evolved from a 2 GB dataset to about 40 MB as an .AT5 image set.


The new images were a huge improvement over the standard Navico maps that come with a new system. The location I've been visiting in Dummit Cove is shown below using the Navico map, which has land mass in yellow and water in blue. The points used to the define the shoreline are few to say the least. They also appear to include the shallow sandy flats as part of the land.

FDOT image of Dummit Cove

The FDOT image above shows the same location of Dummit Cove, as seen in my professional GIS mapping software. I was able to convert this to a chart for my HDS-7 and use the basemap while navigating the area. The image below is a photo of my HDS-7 screen that shows the aerial basemap and the same tracklog.

My plan is to convert high resolution images of aerial photography and NOAA charts for the entirety of Mosquito Lagoon and selected parts of the Indian River Lagoon system, and then do the same for the Everglades National Park mangrove coast line. I'm planning a trip to the Everglades and Florida Bay to fish from my kayak next fall.


If anyone has a need for a custom map for their Lowrance of Simrad sonar system, let me know and I'll try to put something together for you.


“Most of the world is covered by water. A fisherman’s job is simple: Pick out the best parts.”

-Charles Waterman

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