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Matt Gedge

I bought a used Garmin GPSMAP 76Cx to use in my kayak so that I can find my way into and out of the marches, as I fly fish. It came with the old BlueChart MicroSD data card for the Mobile to Lake Charles area that is dated July, 2008.

Would I be wise to upgrade to the new BlueChart g2 chip? (The GPSMAP 76Cx is a compatible device ... at least for now.)

Best Mapping for your hand held Garmin
~ Captain Paul's response to: ~ Matt Gedge ~

The BlueChart G2 is Garmin’s latest chart type of mapping. It is surpassed by the G2 VISION which has ortho aerial photo maps as well as the latest marine charts. However both the old and the new BlueChart maps are based on NOAA Marine Charts.

These NOAA charts are the best in the world for depicting the locations of Aids To Navigation, NAVAIDS, such as Daylights, nuns, buoys, lights and markers along established, usually commercial waterways. They are certainly an essential tool when navigating the open sea waters and when entering and using the marked waterways as the US Coast Guard has established procedures for updating information on these NAVAIDS so that they are include in the latest chart revisions. But, it is these charts and the revisions that I question when using this mapping in the Louisiana marshes.

I have some currently issued charts dated 2010 and 2011of some areas in the southern Louisiana marsh that has features that shown on the charts that were not visible for the last 30 years. The NAVAIDS were updated but the actual topographically of the charts have not been updated. They simply do not show all of the bayous, creeks, lagoons, bays, lakes and canals that make up the myriad of features in the Louisiana marshes. The 1:80,000 scale of most of the charts simply does not offer the details that are needed to fish the marshes.

I am a firm believer that although they were designed to show land features, USGS Topographical maps offer more detail of the land and wager features that make up our marshes.

So what is a body to do?

I suggest that you first consider Garmin’s latest topographical mapping program they call TOPO U.S. 24K.

This program is available in a variety of format cards including the MicroSD format and as a download. It is sold by Garmin by regions. The TOPO U.S. 24k ~ Southeast covers Includes topographic coverage of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Florida and sells from Garmin for $99.00.

These topographic type maps have contour rings as well as names for most of the features in the area of coverage. They do not cover offshore areas as they are based on USGS “Quad” or “Topo” coverage which does not have land maps for such offshore features. Generally they cover a position that is about 3 to 5 miles from the shoreline depending how the layout of the shoreline is at that point.

I believe that they are ideal for inshore marsh fishing. They show the land and water features and are in a detail that depicts the actual topography as it is actually viewed.

Of course you must realize that the Louisiana marsh is a living estuary that is constantly changing with storms, sediments and even other prevailing weather conditions. These latest conditions may not always be included in any map that you find other than an up to date, real time, satellite image.

Even though these topo type maps may not show all of the current features, they show where land WAS. A body of water that appears as all open water may only shallow depth water. But the topo map will show where the water was once located. These maps let you navigate and find the deeper water that may have fishing opportunities.

Go to a stocking Garmin dealer and ask to see their new BlueChart and US TOPO 24K mapping programs. Pick out several areas that you may fish and configure the map to see that area. Then zoom in to a very detailed setting and compare the two types of mapping.

I will send you an email that has photos of the three different types of mapping I have referred to for your perusal. Look them over and then visit the Garmin dealer.

~ Captain Paul ~