HARRISBURG Adventuresome anglers looking for new waters to explore know how time consuming and even frustrating it can sometimes be to come up with quality, comprehensive information on a given stream or lake.
Now, however, owners of a Garmin GPS have a new tool available to them that will put tons of fishing details right at their fingertips, making the search for angling nirvana easier than ever.
Ultimate Fishing Maps integrated fishing maps software, produced by Gogal Publishing Company of Warrington is GPS software that provides comprehensive information on more than 5,000 miles of stocked trout waters in Pennsylvania, as well as 2,000 miles of wild trout waters and 3,200 miles of bass fishing streams, rivers and lakes in the state.
In addition to offering turn-by-turn driving directions from any starting point, the software also allows a person to pull up information on boat ramps, public parking areas, types of fish available, seasons, creel and size limits and more – including walleye, muskie, pike and panfish information.
Released this year, Ultimate Fishing Maps for GPS is the brainchild of Mark Gogal, who printed a series of popular fishing maps in the 1990s, and his neighbor, Mark Burdack, an IT specialist who helped design the software.
"My feeling all along was it's really hard to find an easy place to go fishing, especially if you just want to go to a new place," Gogal said. "You almost have to be at a computer studying maps and all. With this you have it right with you."
With Ultimate Fishing Maps software, if a person is in an area for a vacation or business trip and wants to know what waters are nearby, the GPS can bring up all the options in the area, starting with the ones closest to his location.
The other way to explore is by typing in a specific city or town, which will prompt the GPS to display the waters found in and near that given locale.
In order to create the new GPS software, Gogal and Burdack spent more than a year searching the Internet and pouring through books to compile as much pertinent information as possible.
"I would say 99 percent of the work was done staring at computers, creating tables based on the actual regulations manual and then finally confirming all of the actual physical navigation points," Gogal said.
"We actually checked every one with satellite imagery and road imagery, and then we also typed the latitudes and longitudes into the Garmin unit to make sure that each location is valid and Garmin will get you there."
For Gogal, the launch of the new software marks a return to a business and passion he first started almost two decades ago.
In the early 1990s, after being reintroduced to fishing by a friend, he launched Gogal Publishing and produced several detailed road maps highlighting popular trout fishing waters in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
In 1996, however, Gogal lost his wife and business partner Carol to cancer, which prompted him to stop producing the maps. He credits his present wife, Nancy, for rekindling his interest in creating fishing maps and a casual conversation with Burdack in 2008 with providing the final inspiration he needed to jump back into the business whole-heartedly.
While the two men were talking at a neighborhood block party, Gogal pulled out his Garmin and mentioned that it would be great to have all types of fishing information available on a GPS. Burdack then went home and immediately started researching technologies and within two days was knocking on Gogal's doors.
"He said, 'I did a bunch of research and we can really do this. I'd be interested in doing this with you,'" Gogal said.
"And it was just the kick in the pants that I needed to say, 'Okay, here's someone else to work with, to have a partnership with again,' which is kind of what I had with my first wife."
As a complement to the GPS software, Gogal is also publishing his popular print maps again through a partnership with Franklin Maps. For 2011, there are three maps available focusing on eastern, central and western Pennsylvania.
Locally, Ultimate Fishing Maps GPS software and maps are available at Tom's Auto and Marine, Tamaqua, or can be ordered online at www.ultimatefishingmaps.com.
Anglers who purchase the product this year will also receive a free 2012 regulations update as part of the package, allowing them to download the new update when it's available.
"After that, we are doing an annual subscription service - it will be less than $20 a year - to always keep it up to date," Gogal said. "With a map, you get the big picture; with a GPS, you get a small picture."
While Gogal Publishing's initial GPS software and current print maps focus on Pennsylvania waters, he said plans are also underway to produce products highlighting the waters of other states, including neighboring New Jersey.