As a tournament angler that travels all over the State of Florida and Louisiana fishing the Florida Pro Series and the IFA, I’m always on the search for something that will give me a competitive edge over the other anglers. In that search, I came across ISLA Mapping / Florida Marine Tracks (FMT). I have been using Isla Mapping for a few years now and it has provided tons of local navigation knowledge that would have taken years to achieve. It has also given me a competitive edge over others. When traveling to new and challenging areas that I’m less familiar with. I use ISLA Mapping to show the best routes and shortcuts as well as a scouting aid to find potential fishing areas outside of my local waters.
I find it very useful in unsafe and challenging conditions like heavy rain and fog when visibility is poor or at night. One example is in Steinhatchee, FL when heavy fog rolled in and stayed all day Isla Mapping allowed me to get back to the ramp safely. Not only did I find Isla Mapping extremely easy to use, but the colored tracks on the display make distinguishing between low tide and high tide tracks very easy! Even in my own home waters I find it useful to find faster and safer routes, to scout new areas, and to locate deep holes that may hold fish. I highly recommend Isla Mapping to all inshore boaters because as it allows running into places outside your comfort zone without worry or any engine or boat damage and it provides tons of detailed local knowledge.
I have been using the FMT Florida chip for a little over a year and am pleasantly surprised with the great improvement in navigation that the chip provides. I primarily operate in Everglades National Park and the navigation routes are spot on. The Everglades can be a challenging shallow water environment, especially in the winter with the extreme negative tides. It is always a challenge running where I like to fish but I am confident when running FMT navigating these difficult areas and FMT has never let me down. I also like the fact that, although the U.S. Coast Guard is removing their aids to navigation in the Park because they do not have funding to maintain them, that the FMT chip has added value because it will display where the markers were formerly located, helping me navigate in less than ideal conditions.
Recently, I found myself in the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge without a chart and I inserted my FMT chip and not only found navigation routes but also, with the imagery, I could locate grass flats and pot holes which opened up the trout and redfish habitat. Thus, the chip can provide information not only for navigation but can locate prime fishing hotspots.
I’ve used other navigation and fishing chips, but nothing compares to FMT.
I’ve been fishing out of Flamingo at Everglades National Park for more than 30 years and many of those were as a guide. I learned the place the hard way over a long time, burning lots of gas and exploring so many of the seemingly endless creeks or mangroves.
Based on my experience running with and without FMT, I have found that Florida Marine Tracks provides navigation insight that for decades was closely guarded information. Virtually all of the tracks that I ran and counted on for years are noted on the map and they enable me to run from the boat ramp to the gulf protected from the 20- to 25-knot winds that normally would keep anglers from going fishing. And I like the fact that the map has details that are important to me, such as easy-to-see tracks, accurate marker and post locations, shortcuts, and even on the water campsites “Chickees.” The average guy will tell you that navigating around S. FL shouldn’t be that hard to do with a good map/chart GPS. Well, I for one can tell you that I’ve run many different navigation plotters with different maps and they all show me running on dry land when I am really running in a channel or creek and if they have photos, they are really poor photos that I couldn’t begin to try to interpret for most navigating purposes.
No other mapping company has clear hi-res imagery like FMT and no other has taken the time to document navigation to such detail as FMT either. It is very helpful in poor visibility conditions such as if you happen to be running in heavy rain, at night, in dense fog, or before sun up. If you pay attention and use FMT properly, you can have confidence you will not run aground. And I like the fact that it helps protect the environment and also provides me some added insurance against the risk of losing a lower unit. Down here where I run, you can run over an island that was washed away years ago by natural erosion or by a hurricane and somehow FMT has incorporated all of that track insight. I think everyone running around the Everglades could benefit from a Florida Marine Tracks chip. The FMT chip has enabled me to run areas that are new to me with the same level of confidence as I have when I’m in my home waters of Everglades National Park. It includes routes for Florida Bay, Whitewater Bay, and the other Bays on the interior waterways of Everglades National Park. FMT provides the missing piece to the Florida Keys navigation puzzle that so many boaters have been seeking for years. I am glad it is now finally available.
I have had the distinct pleasure of working with Glenn on some of the track development, and the level of detail goes well beyond the expectations of even the most seasoned shallow water enthusiast. We have grounded the boats on more than one occasion in efforts to achieve a full understanding of the nuances of water depth, sandbars, channel markers, and to provide a safe passage to desired flats or channels where channel markers are supposed to be, but have long since deteriorated or moved over time.
It really provides an extremely high level of confidence in the tracks that are positioned in very dicey areas, where no sensible person would venture without excellent local knowledge of the waters. There are plenty of tracks that venture through winding channels, that if one looks 20 feet to either side of the boat, one realizes that the depth of water at dead low tide is about 4 inches. The tracks are so accurate that one can navigate at planing speeds through these very treacherous areas of The Keys with full confidence that if you are on the track, no matter the tide, a flats bay boat will navigate these very shallow waters in a safe manner.
Additionally, the tracks are so comprehensive, that the ability to set route options for destinations depending on tide, weather, or timing issues provides limitless options. There have been times when I have had to choose alternative routes based on weather conditions, and having a comprehensive menu of routes to choose from, makes one truly appreciate the system.
I bring this up, thinking back on a trip with Glenn to the Marquesas where a sudden very severe storm came up, producing 38-knot winds and torrential rain for hours. Having to navigate back to Summerland Key through the islands in the narrowest of channels at low tide to avoid the heavy weather waters, the FMT system gave a complete confidence booster and level of assurance that all would be well.
I can’t express enough how much detail is provided in the FMT system, providing nuances in the imagery which is unparalleled in any existing navigation software.
I have been using the FMT chip for 14 months now. I was introduced to this software down in The Keys during a Marquesas fishing trip. I can say since I’ve spent my hard-earned money on this product that there is no other product that I have ever seen that comes close to its detail of mapping and navigation aids.
With that said, during that outing to the Marquesas, we left from Summerland Key and drove oceanside down to Key West Harbor then out to the Marquesas a very long trip via boat. Since I was never there before, it was virgin territory to me. Seeing is believing what’s on the screen in front of you as you run. But as the day was winding down, we made our way back to Key West Harbor thinking we were heading back but we stopped to fish into the night for Tarpon. So here we were at 10 pm, pitch black and our only navigation was the FMT chip to get us back up to Summerland Key in pitch black under the stars. Since I have never done this before and the areas are extremely shallow along the way, we made our way back safely thru the narrows which doesn’t have much room for error even in the day time without hitting or running aground. That a true testament to how accurate these maps and tracks are.
I also fish over in the Ten Thousand Islands area for years and have not ventured into certain areas due to lack of knowledge. With the FMT chip I now have the confidence and am able to explore and fish a whole new world of the Everglades Park I never knew.
Do yourself a favor and purchase this product. It’s the best map investment you’ll ever make.
I’d like to give a shout out to you and your team for such a great job on your Florida Marine Track navigation chip.
We have been fishing the lower Keys out of Lower Sugarloaf Sound for the past several years. Each year we have been limited to predominately trips into the Atlantic along the well marked channels coming out into, and out of, Tarpon Creek. But as all Keys guides and a lot of recreational fisherman know, due to wind and weather conditions, some days it is a much safer and easier trip into the gulf. We have had some harrowing adventures more than once as we had no safe existing tracks or routes, and we were constantly having to slow down, change routes, stop, and sometimes even run out of water in the extremely skinny waters of the back country. Getting into Marvin, Snipe, the Contents or even Johnston Channel was a challenging, white knuckle ride at best, and walking, dragging and pushing the boat out at other times. So, this year with our new Navico B&G 12 touch, and your FMT chip, we navigated back there like we actually knew what we were doing. Pick the location you want to go to, follow an FMT track, and go right to that location, on plane, and safely. We spent less time getting to our spots and getting back and more time actually fishing.
We still watched the water depth and had to dodge the crab/lobster traps, but we learned to trust every track we chose to follow. Even in the “use caution” areas and running in 1′ of water, we had no issues.
Markers seem to be perfectly placed, and our 22′ Pathfinder 2200V with a jackplate and a 150 VMax never touched bottom. The photos are incredibly detailed and a great aid to navigating the endless mangroves and islands. Thanks again for a great product, and I highly recommend this incredible navigation chip, derived from years of personal exploration, to all boaters.
I have owned my FMT chip for about 8 months and I am completely impressed every time I use it. The quality of the imagery is in a different league from others I have used, and the precision of the navigational markers is amazing – especially in Everglades National Park, as they have all been moved and corrected (even the stakes are shown). FMT has allowed me access into areas I could never have gotten into any other way. A quick example – I was fishing a tiny creek near Boca Grande, and the water was very dark – so dark that you could not tell when you were in the channel or out of it – which was about 6 inches deep. The only way I navigated into it and out was by using the satellite imagery on the FMT chip – without it there would have been no way I possibly could have made it in.
The price is not inexpensive, but considering the amount of time that was put into it and the quality of what you are getting versus others – it is quite reasonably priced. If you ever want to fish other areas than those that you know well – it is an invaluable tool – there is really nothing quite like it.
I had two Garmin units that I liked over the last six years on my boats. This year, I’ve let Hell’s Bay Boatworks build my “dream skiff”: a custom Marquesa. I’ve spend months thinking about what’s the best setup for my new skiff. I’ve tested every GPS unit at Westmarine over and over until I decided to go with the Simrad GO7. I hated the built-in Simrad map but thought that I would be fine with the Navionics Platinum Plus card fishing from Tampa Bay to the Everglades. I found out pretty soon after testing the Platinum Plus card on the water that my iPhone with Google maps was better to navigate than the Navionics card.
In a lot of areas where I was running my boat, the Navionics card pictures were blurry and I did not really feel safe because the details and map info were way off in many areas! Bummer! I’m glad my fishing buddy told me about the Florida Marine Tracks cards. It is a game changer! I have finally found in FMT exactly what I wanted: perfect images on my Simrad unit and accurate tracks! It looks like Google Maps but with navigation tracks. It’s priceless to be able to navigate safely in areas on the water where you have never been before. I highly recommend getting a FMT card. My Simrad GPS unit only became as good after I added the FMT map and I’m very happy about my setup.