Last month, two days after my own birthday, an invention that changed the way I fish turned 10 years old. It has surely changed more than just the way we fish; it has changed life for us all. In a world of technology where anything seems possible, it’s easy to overlook how something so widespread has changed the sport of fishing forever. A big part of fishing for us all is the mystery of the unknown. Whether that be what lurks in that dark, deep pool or what’s around the next bend of a new, unexplored body of water. This invention unshrouds a bit of the mystery making the unknown more obvious and the unexplored more accessible. It gives us a peek at the man behind the curtain. Any guesses what the invention I’m speaking of is? If you guess Google Earth, than you’re an exploration geek like me.
The invention of Google Earth was supposedly predicted in a 1998 speech by the then-US Vice-President Al Gore, who imagined a "Digital Earth", which would help causes such as environmental protection and international diplomacy. Three years later, the IT firm Keyhole launched a new program called "Earthviewer". It looked like Gore's vision, but its creators had a more simplistic idea. It was designed for home buyers to survey the area around potential homes
In 2003, the program brought major attention when news casts began using its application to show battlefronts during the war. Shortly thereafter, In-Q-Tel, a "non -profit" company funded by the CIA (37 million tax payer bones a year), invested in Keyhole, presuming Earthviewer could have intelligence applications. But when Google purchased all of Keyhole in 2004 for a cool 2.2 million, the owners had no idea the potential of their product.
Much of the imagery in Google Earth is commercially available data from US military satellites. So if you ever wondered why Google offered satellite images for free, they weren't free. You payed for them in your tax dollars via a CIA funded company (that's deep for a fishing blog right?). Although widely used and imagined for travelers to find directions, it allows not just fishermen but all outdoorsmen to survey terrain and water as they never have before. If you haven’t used it, and still can’t figure out the benefits, let me name a few;
Planning trips: Not only can you find close parking, view forestry service roads and check on elevations changes, you can also check mileage if you’re planning a canoe or kayak river trip.
Historical Data: Google earth lets you view images in areas as far back as the 1930’s. Yeah, mind blowing. Without it, I wouldn’t have known GA’s trophy bass lake (Ocmulgee PFA) is now better suited for a quail hunt. The dam had problems and it’s bone dry. Good thing I didn’t make a special trip.
I can say I haven’t visited new water since Google Earth inception in 2005 without viewing satellite images first. It’s truly revolutionized the way I explore and fish. Surely it’s done the same for others. And if you aren’t familiar with all of its features, it’s time you do some desktop exploring and see what new water and adventures you can find.