Darin Freshour wiped away a handful of moisture that had already accumulated on his face before even climbing in the boat and begrudgingly asked the one question that obviously bade asking.“What are our prospects of even getting to the fish in all of this fog….. much less catching them?”

“Don’t worry about the fog,” I responded while trying to make out the concrete pillars under the Adam’s Bayou Bridge less than fifty feet ahead of us. “If we can get where we need to be quickly enough and a handful of birds will help us just a little, we will limit on trout before most folks even launch their boats.”

This was day three of exactly the same conditions and my only concern was that a few terns would not be on hand to help me pin point a big school of solid trout that had been hanging out on a shell bank on the ICW. The bite had only lasted about a half an hour each morning, but every fish was in that two to three pound range. Because easy limits of redfish had been a given, arriving on time and quickly locating the trout would be the difference maker in a good or great day on the water!

The most critical factor was getting there in time to take advantage of the all too brief feeding frenzy. I flipped the split-screen on my GPS back to full map display and zoomed in on the same trail I had been running all week. Darin watched for boat traffic while his partner kept an eye out for any new floating debris. I monitored the GPS as we eased up on plane and re-traced the trail to the desired destination.

After a slow, but steady boat ride, we heard the birds before we could even see them. I lowered the troll motor and eased within casting range of a pair of terns homesteading a thirty-yard stretch of shell. Darin launched a cast through the wall of fog as I scanned the surface for bait and immediately caught a three-pound trout. Those were the only two birds that we would see, but once again we were limited on trout before we ever even heard another boat motor.

While this is not an endorsement for leaving the dock earlier on your next trip, it does further validate the value of a GPS unit on your boat. Deservingly touted for its capability of putting you on the exact spot without visible reference points, if a GPS did nothing more than get you safely back home again it would be worth its weight in gold.

While you may find yourself uncomfortably close to the shore at times when navigating a confined area like the river or ICW without a GPS, you can still eventually get to a desired spot even in pea soup fog. The problem is that “eventually” may be well after the bite shuts down.

At the same time, if you need to make a long run across the open lake in the fog to fish a flat or the mouth of a bayou on the La. shoreline, you are relegated to wasting lots of gas running in circles or waiting for the fog to burn off. Both options are a waste of valuable fishing time.

While on the surface it sounds almost as dumb as a fast food establishment having to point out that hot coffee can burn you, I would be remiss in not reminding you that a GPS unit does not show anything above the surface on a pre-recorded trail that you have not previously marked.
 We are talking about everything from a floating timber that wasn’t there yesterday to a tugboat pushing barges. Even with a GPS, there is no substitute for an extra set of eyes!

The trails I have saved for running both the ICW and the river are marked for running as close to the middle of the channel as possible. That eliminates the possibility of having a permanent day marker or buoy located on the edge of the channel sneak up on me. Even when creeping along that can be an expensive collision.

If I was Mrs. Santa Claus I would casually ask Santa tonight if he had a GPS on his own sleigh. If not, it is still not too late for you and the elves to pick one up and take the burden off Rudolph this year. It will make locating all of those chimneys in the dark much easier and his safe return to the North Pole will be a piece of cake!

No gift under your Christmas tree is as valuable as the person that gave it to you. Karen and I wish each of you and your family the best of health and a very Merry Christmas!