6 Sites to Get Fishing Charts or Marine Maps Online
Planning a trip or simply just cruising can be made much easier if you can find fishing charts and nautical charts online. There are plenty of offerings out there, but which one's are the best to use? Here are 6 of my favorite sites to get fishing charts and nautical charts online. The range of function among these sites is pretty astonishing to me. Some simply deliver a block of the requested information while others integrate a bit of social networking so you can choose the site that is right for you.
Not only do we have sites, but we've also got nautical chart apps! Everything has an app these days, though most of the time they aren't even worth the memory that they're stored on. I would vastly prefer to visit the site from my phone than be strong-armed into downloading yet another app that I'll never open so it isn't exactly a selling point for me. All that to say, I haven't tested the mobile app for any of these sites. I'm only attesting to the usefulness of the sites themselves.
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Bar-none the coolest and most comprehensive nautical chart that I've come across in my time online. It's completely free to use in your browser, though there is an option to buy its nautical chart app if desired. As I stated, I don't desire it. It isn't completely accurate and the site clearly states that it isn't to be used for navigation, but it gives me a decent idea of when I'm dealing with when paired with radar. This site tops the list because it is my favorite and it is completely free. Give it a try!
I've got a Garmin GPS in my car, so I suppose it'd only be a natural step to use it on my boat. Well, I'm not the type to celebrate brand loyalty so I stopped using Navionics in favor of navigational maps and fishing charts that load faster. Loading speed is a big issue when you're offshore away from cell phone towers and reception is spotty at best. Still, the information offered in this online nautical chart is very in-depth (no pun intended) and easy to read. There's no reason not to at least give it a chance considering that it's free and functional!
MarineWaypoints provides NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) charts that are searchable and viewable in your browser if you have Adobe Flash Player installed. This online nautical chart shows water depths, obstructions, aids to navigation, channels, shoreline, and more – hopefully, all the information mariners need to navigate safely. While the site is somewhat cumbersome to use, it has the backing and updates from the NOAA so these are definitely some of the best marine navigational maps that you can find online.
Now, this is an interesting idea that will appeal to social butterflies that are fond of mostly inland fishing. The idea is to glean information from fellow users about recent catches and nearby spots of interest such as bait shops or marinas. If you aren't fond of the social aspect, there is also plenty of information regarding the bottom structure provided by Fishing Hot Spots®. That's a nice thing considering that otherwise, you'd need to pay!
While this particular entry requires a nautical chart app download, it manages to get a mention simply because of the associations that it uses to compile its information. Reliable navigational charts sourced directly from Raster, Esri, NOAA, Topo, and OpenSeaMap. There is a social aspect to FishPoints as well if you're into that. Maybe you want to live-stream your latest catch to the group chat? Well, now you can. It even allows for offline map access if you download a given area beforehand.
FishTrack has more information than you can shake a stick at. Even if I can't get out to the boat, I feel like FishTrack keeps me at least somewhat connected to the water. "Oh no, is this another quasi-social media nautical chart app?" Indeed not, dear reader. FishTrack is the real deal with fishing charts, fishing reports, how-to articles, and even live fishing cams from all around the world! I wanted to end the list strong and FishTrack is definitely a great way to do just that. I highly encourage you to check out their nautical charts app and see all that is offered for yourself!
While all of these online nautical chart sites and nautical chart apps serve a somewhat similar purpose, the devil is always in the details. Good website design or quality app design is difficult to come by. The truth is that just one of these sites probably won't meet every need. I myself use both FishTrack and GPS Nautical Charts. The former for when I'm longing for the water, and the latter when I actually manage to get out there. I'm confident that you'll find something here that works for you.