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Forage Map Project

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Hey Gang!,

I'm working on a small project over the winter where I take lake information found on various state websites and plug it into a map. This includes average water clarity, vegetation type, bottom material, etc, etc.

I really want to add primary forage fish and maybe even primary crawfish type to the map to get a better sense of how everything relates. This doesn't have to be precise like the other information I'm gathering, but I'd like it to be exact as possible. 

Distribution and region maps aren't as detailed as they could be - unless I'm looking wrong. When distribution in mentioned, it's usually in general terms ("East Texas"). I could call parks and wildlife departments or fisheries managers and get the info, but that's a last resort action. 

Does anyone have really good resources for this stuff? Do you see an easier way of gathering the data?

Thank you!


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Any specific drainage/state/region you are trying to get this information for, or is this a national level type endeavor? Sounds national to me from the post above.


See if the following link is what you are after: U.S. Crayfish Distribution Maps


For minnow/forage species, you can get a lot of that through USGS website. For example, here is fathead minnow distribution



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Here in Florida we have numerous state and local governments who create bathymetric maps for many of our lakes and salt waters- inshore and offshore. They are usually created by state universities and county governments found in storm water depts. usually.


I download all the bathymetric maps and save them, and before going to a new lake I study the bathymetric maps, often carrying a copy with me- and for lakes I fish often- I will laminate the map in plastic, and just before going to the lake I will use google satellite image information to look down on the lake to see where cover and other structures are located and overlay that information on the bathymetric map and with this information I can usually eliminate about 75% of a lake and concentrate on certain areas.


It would be interesting to see your forage data added in... but I am not sure how consistent it would remain over a long time period as conditions in lakes changes over time and what might be a good place today for forage foods might not be a good place next year.


I think bathymetric maps are a great place to start...


I think Dave Douglas has an excellent website with great information about this type of thing:




The Steps and Procedures Before I Get on a Lake I Never Fished
When I consider a lake to be fished, I start with the bathymetric map to determine where the deep water is located in relation to the boat ramps. Then I use my GPS sonar unit to compare the software map with the printed map, noting differences and similarities.
Since I have learned that the deepest water areas of any lake are the ‘homes of the bass’ I note the underwater structures in the forms of bars, breaks, and flats along with the shortest distances from deepwater to shallow areas. I note the barriers within the lake that bass will not cross and if there are any creek beds, shoals, stump fields, or islands, all in relation to the primary deep water areas. Then I consult online map software such as Google Street View to give me the shoreline vegetation types in these areas. 
Since I have learned to think like a Largemouth Florida Bass due to Henshall’s “Book of the Black Bass”, and Perry’s book, “Spoonplugging”,I already know exactly what areas of the lake to fish first—I’ve eliminated 80% of the lake and know where the 20% of productive bass fishing areas are.
 Next, based on what I’ve learned from the maps and my bass migration knowledge, I plan the setup of my rods. I prepare a rod for trolling, two rods for casting, two rods for pitching and a rod for flipping. The reason for two rods for both casting and pitching is to better control the bait presentation in the form of depth and speed controls, in various environmental structures."

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Thanks T9

Yes, national, but I'm starting with Texas.

I'm familar with the USGS distribution maps. For some reason I lack confidence in them. Maybe it's because I'm expecting more uniform distribution. I'll have to explore further what their data actually represents. Of course just because a forage fish has a presence in an area doesn't make it the primary forage fish for bass. Starting with the USGS Maps I'll probably need a few more sources and piece together a clear picture.

The crawfish map is a good start, but only the rusty crawfish shows any detail - all the others are shown at a state level.

Thanks FFF,

Adding bathymetric data would be rad, but I'm working with Google maps and I don't believe there is data for that.



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Adding bathymetric data would be rad, but I'm working with Google maps and I don't believe there is data for that.



 It is available:




Contour Lake Map in Google Earth


The Mapping Network is proud to announce our custom lake mapping products can be fully integrated into Google Earth. 


I am still trying to get it to work with my google earth, but it seems that I will have to contact the mapping network and maybe purchase the plug in for google to get it to work. But they do have it, just not sure what hoops we have to go through to get it just yet... I am emailing the mapping network to find out.



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Adding bathymetric data would be rad, but I'm working with Google maps and I don't believe there is data for that.


100 bonus points for using the term "rad" in a fishing forum.

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