Mini-Grants: Lake Mapping

Summary report of NASA Mini-Grant Project, Lake Mapping

The Arizona 4-H Sportfishing Program was able to add a technology related aspect to our training and curriculum through the assistance of a NASA Mini-Grant. We added the topic of the importance of the underwater environment and how it relates to fish populations and fishing success. We had three objectives:

  • To teach individuals how to use technology to map the underwater environment.
  • To determine if the level of sophistication of the technological equipment is critical to the accuracy of the mapping.
  • To determine if this type of technology is valuable to fishers.

With the $400 award, the Arizona 4-H Sportfishing project purchased a ZT-60 Aqua-Vu underwater viewing system. Other funds were used to purchase a RF 30 Wrist mount Smartcast Fishfinder by Humminbird. We were able to supplement the program through donations of boat rentals, two different styles of fish finders, and a small fee from the participants.

Three training sessions were held from March 2004 to August 2004. Another training session is planned for November 2004 and Spring 2005. One training session was held at Silverbell Lake in Tucson, another at Fools Hollow Lake in Show Low and a third at Lynx Lake in Prescott. A total of 31 adults and youth participated in the three trainings.

Participants in the workshops learned how to use a GPS unit, how to use the different fish finder systems, how to use the Aqua-Vu camera, along with the sportfishing curriculum of tacklecrafting, angling skills, fish and aquatic ecology, tackle overview. A training team marked waypoints on the lakes, took underwater pictures of the waypoints, and a reading from a fish finder. These indicators were given to participant teams to locate and report back to the group. This proved difficult due to the accuracy of the GPS units and the murky water in two of the lakes. The participants could not correlate the waypoints to the underwater pictures. Wind also played a factor at Fools Hollow Lake. The participants could not keep the canoes on course and it became too risky for them to remain on the water. However, they still learned how to use the equipment and gained angling knowledge.

The Lynx lake experience was more productive using the Aqua-Vu camera as illustrated in one of the following pictures. Water clarity plays a significant factor when using this underwater system. The camera does have colored lights to aid visibility however many Arizona lakes are very murky.

In conclusion, we will be using the Aqua-Vu, GPS and fish finders in the future workshops to see if we can increase results. All tools aid the fisherman, however it was determined that using all the tools in the same session was overwhelming to the participant. This lake mapping addition to the sport fishing curriculum did lead to additional discussions about the factors that affect fish behavior and the participants did learn to use the tools. We do not have enough data to indicate that the tools helped increase fishing success.

The following is a pictorial summary of the project:

Lake Mapping 1
Success using the smart cast fish finder in Silverbell Lake.

Lake Mapping 2
A lesson learned about how tight to hold a trout.

Lake Mapping 3
The Aqua-Vu underwater viewing system in the bottom of a canoe. The camera is the weighted viewer with the fin attached to the back. This keeps the camera viewing straight. The viewer has a built in colored light to aid clarity in murky water.

Lake Mapping 4
The transducer from the SmartCast fish finder system. It sends back a graph picture to a wrist mounted display.

Lake Mapping 5
Youth and adults learning how to use GPS units.

Lake Mapping 6
Teams going out to find waypoints using GPS.

Lake Mapping 7
A trainer showing adults and youth how to use the Smart Cast fish finder.

Lake Mapping 8
The transducer is casted out on a separate fishing rod from the actual rod the person is using for fishing.

Lake Mapping 9
The transducer sends back information to the wrist mounted display. The trainer is showing this youth how to read the display.

Lake Mapping 10
The Aqua-Vu in action. The camera is in the water controlled by the user. The cone view finder keeps the sun off the picture display.

Lake Mapping 11
This is a picture taken with a digital camera mounted on the sun visor of the Aqua-Vu. Structure and temperature can be seen.

Lake Mapping 12
This is one of the donated fish finders. It is a portable Piranha 4 by Humminbird. It displays depth, temperature, fish and structure.