Global Positioning Systems: How important are they when catfishing?

Global Positioning Systems: How important are they when catfishing? Will a GPS help me catch more catfish?

Catfishermen have always found their honey holes prior to the GPS technology. using the ole trial and error plus many days spent on the water is how it was done.
When the GPS was available and affordable to the general public, it defiantly made catfishing less time consuming and more productive.

For me, it is an essential tool that helps me in many ways. As soon as I launch my boat I will turn my depth finder on, which also has GPS capabilities.

I utilize this unit for various situations throughout the day. The GPS and mapping chip installed allows me view, mark and navigate and utilize several aspects of the unit for safe and successful trip.

What would I use a GPS for when fishing for catfish?

1. Mapping – most lakes or impoundments are very well defined in the contour of the bottom, allowing you to locate key spots that could hold catfish, such as under water points, ditches and depression along with old creek channels and more. Rivers however are not as defined in the contour of the bottom but more defined on the navigational channels. This will help pin point where you can safely run and help in locating key spots along the channel that will hold catfish. If you are fishing new water and are not sure of where to run, having real time mapping capability can help. The ability to zoom in on detail and look for contours, shallow water hazards and structure is a huge benefit. Also mapping allows me to mark certain waypoints along the contour or channels when im searching for catfish.

2. Marking locations – I use the GPS to mark certain locations when I’m searching for catfish. I do mark single locations like a brush piles or structure of some sort with a waypoint however I will also mark several locations in an area that intend to drift.

And as i begin to drift fish, I will so to say, connect the dots, drifting from one way point to the next. staying on the channel edge or drop. For an example: on the river I will find the main channel and most of the time it will be well defined with a significant drop of 4 foot or more.

I will then begin to zigzag back and forth over the channel as I work my way up or down river, marking a waypoint about every 100 foot as it drops off in the channel. Soon will have up to 10-15 waypoint marks along the defined channel edge and ill start back at the beginning and drift my waypoints, following my marks and connecting the dots until I’ve reached the end.

3. Navigation – I fish a lot of new water throughout the United States fishing the various catfishing tournament trails and rely on my GPS for navigation. Knowing where to run safely makes me more efficient and gives me a piece of mind that I won’t run up on underwater island or shallow flats and other underwater hazards. The navigational mapping can also be helpful at night or in foggy conditions on new water or filimlar water.

4. Database – My GPS saves all my data that I have input into it, so it also serves as a fishing log. You can name your waypoints on your depth finder as you make them to jog your memory about certain spots when you’re in the area. Download your saved waypoints to your computer and analyze or edit them from your PC. This can help find patterns and make game plans for future trips.

Is GPS something that I need to have to be successful?

No, like I said, anglers have been catching fish for ever without the use of a GPS with just a little basic knowledge of where to look. However the GPS can save some time and take the guess work out of the equation. And when you combine some good basic knowledge with the GPS, this will make you more successful.


  1. 123dhogue says:

    Hello Steve, question, when you hook a fish while drifting do you anchor or just bring in the fish while drifting. Thx Devlyn.

  2. Steve Douglas says:

    just keep drift while i reel it in

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