WisBusiness: Contour Elite angles to revolutionize fishing software
By Connie Eibergen
Fishermen have historically relied heavily on luck, word-of-mouth and experience to decide on the best place to catch a fish. Maybe it's time to put the fishing rod in the hands of new technology.
Contour Elite proposes to revolutionize the way recreational fisherman search for and catch fish. The patent-pending software uses state-of-the-art mapping technology from Lakemaster, a Little Falls, Minn., mapping company. It uses proprietary algorithms and high-definition lake surveys to quickly search millions of data points and provide exact coordinates of fishing spots.
"Many industries have been transformed through the application of information and the advancement of information technology. Fishing is next, and Contour Elite is leading the way," said Dan Reed, inventor of Contour Elite, a product of Strategic Fishing Systems in Wisconsin.
There's an old saying that "90 percent of fish are found in 10 percent of the lake," and Contour Elite operates on the belief that old sayings are often true.
Based on each species' biological preferences at different times of the year, times of day or under certain weather conditions, fish will gravitate to areas of the lake that have particular features. Contour Elite takes all of that into account when searching for fish, and also searches according to species, depth ranges, aspect, type of structure and proximity to major types of lake structure.
Understanding and finding the lake features that are likely to attract fish on any given day is a major key for an angler to have a successful fishing trip. Contour Elite interprets millions of points automatically, across multiple factors, to pinpoint productive locations for people to fish.
Reed explained: "For example, if you were fishing in Lake Mendota, you could ask Contour Elite to show you all areas in the lake that are 10-12 feet deep, face Northeast, are on a flat slope, are within 50 yards of vegetation, and less than 30 yards from a drop off, and Contour Elite would search nearly 10 million geolocated records in seconds, highlighting those that matched your search. Alternatively, we've programmed some pre-set species searches that do even more of the work for you."
Strategic Fishing Systems is a self-funded Madison based company that specializes in the development of fishing-related Geographic Information Systems data and user-friendly mapping software. Reed, a finalist in the 2012 Wisconsin Governor's Business Plan contest, developed Contour Elite with a goal in mind to help recreational anglers catch more fish by providing them with cutting-edge technologies.
Reed came up with the idea for Contour Elite several years ago when he was on a fishing trip with co-workers in the northern Minnesota Boundary Waters.
"We were using a large paper map, covered in contour lines in every direction, and we thought there must be an easier way," Reed explained. "Shortly thereafter, we met the team from LakeMaster, who provide proprietary lake surveys for our product, at the Madison Fishing Expo, and we were off and running."
Priced at $149.99, Contour Elite competes against other software including free maps and other high definition maps which lack search functionality. Likely buyers are recreational anglers who may own a boat and who want to save time and resources while enhancing their fishing experience. Contour Elite is available online at http://www.plantocatch.com and is available at many big box retailers and distributors such as Johnson Outdoors.
"We've been on the market for about a year, with a great reception," Reed said. "When we present the product at fishing expos, people can't believe what they're seeing. It's a great feeling."
-- Eibergen is a student in the UW-Madison Department of Life Sciences Communication.