Helping hand-held device
Korey Kirschenmann just wanted a better way to find fishing spots quicker. "I was tired of paper lake maps, wondering 'How do I find this spot?' " he said. "You'd drive your boat around for an hour - or hours - to find a certain spot and then you...
Korey Kirschenmann just wanted a better way to find fishing spots quicker.
"I was tired of paper lake maps, wondering 'How do I find this spot?' " he said. "You'd drive your boat around for an hour - or hours - to find a certain spot and then you still weren't certain if you were really on the spot. I wanted to do something to optimize my time on the water."
Thus was the beginning six years ago of Lake Trax and Lake Trax Pro, computer software written by Kirschenmann that allows fishermen to input coordinates on their global positioning systems before going to a lake.
An angler, for example, could scan a Lake Trax map of North Dakota's Devils Lake on a computer and see an underwater hump that looked like it might be productive for walleyes. The angler could click on that spot to learn its GPS coordinates, then transfer that information to his boat's GPS unit. Instead of having to search for the hump after arriving at Devils Lake, the angler could drive directly to it using his GPS.
Lake Trax Pro takes the technology a step further, allowing anglers to download lake contour maps to their GPS units.
It's not unique technology. GPS giant Lowrance offers similar features with its products. But Lake Trax Pro can be downloaded to most compatible Garmin and Magellan units.
And Kirschenmann figures he's filling a niche by offering maps of Fargo-Moorhead area lakes. Lake Trax and Lake Trax Pro includes Devils Lake, a package of 15 popular northwest Minnesota lakes, a package of Jamestown, N.D.-area lakes and a package of 120 other North Dakota lakes. He gets lake map information from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.
Kirschenmann also offers custom mapping if a customer wants a lake that is not included on one of his compact discs or GPS chips.
A employee of Microsoft in Fargo for 13 years and a self-described "techno-geek," Kirschenmann first mixed his computer skills with a passion for fishing when he wanted to make the most of his rare time on the water.
So in 1999 he integrated lake maps with GPS to help him find good spots on his favorite Minnesota lake. Kirschenmann used his work to mark waypoints on his GPS before going to the lake. He could also print the maps to take with him. Plus, Kirschenmann's software allowed him to measure the distance between two points on a map, letting him know how big of an area he planned to fish.
After fishing, Kirschenmann would load information from his GPS to his computer so he could establish patterns of exactly where he caught walleyes.
"I gave the stuff I was using to a couple of buddies, and then a couple of more buddies and the comment I always got back was 'This should be a commercial product,'" Kirschenmann said.
In 2001, he launched Lake Trax with the popular 15 northwest Minnesota lakes. Requests led to Kirschenmann adding Devils Lake. Lake Trax was the first GPS map of the big lake, he said.
Three years later, Kirschenmann added Lake Trax Pro. Lake Trax products are available at local Scheels stores. It is also available at Kirschenmann's Web site www.laketrax.com and a regional outdoors Web site www.fishingbuddy.com . The product has picked up the endorsement of Devils Lake guide Jason Mitchell. Kirschenmann said anglers without a lot of computer experience shouldn't be intimidated by Lake Trax.
"You don't have to be a rocket scientist to use it," he said. "It's incredibly powerful in what it can do for you and the product is technical. But I've designed it in a way that you don't have to be computer savvy to use it."
West Fargo fisherman Gary Hasse uses both Lake Trax and Lake Trax Pro, the latter which is loaded onto the GPS in his boat.
"It is very accurate from what I've seen," Hasse said. "It will get you to the spots. It's not going to tell you if there's fish there, you have to use your own skills and fishing knowledge to do that. But at least it will get you in the right spot."
Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike McFeely at (701) 241-5580