My experience with using SST Charts.

Old 02-25-2011, 02:07 PM
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Post My experience with using SST Charts.

I am fairly new to posting, but I have seen a few questions on using sea surface temperature charts. I have been using SST charts now for over 17 years. I have used 3 of these companies that provide this very valuable satellite data. Although I have not had the chance to use all of the companies that are out there, I have had the opportunity to look at most of them through friends who are using or that have tried the different ones. I think there are about 9 or 10 out there, maybe more. The ones that I have used have been recommended to me by local charter boat captains and a few commercial guys. I know that these captains rely on these services to continually put fish in their boats for their clients, customers and owners.
Before I tell you about which companies I use, I’d like to share with you what I have learned by using these charts. In addition to reading up on as much as I could about this technology, I have been to a few seminars as well. The best one I ever attended was the one given by Captain Len Belcaro from the “Big Game Journal. It was held during one of the “Canyon Runner Seminars” in Atlantic City. He was very knowledgeable and really took the time to explain how fishing these eddies and breaks can really improve your game. His company “Offshore Satellite Service’s” is one of the oldest out there providing these charts.
This stuff is very interesting and it adds another dimension to your fishing experience. As I said earlier this is what I have learned (or is my opinion). If some of it is not a 100% correct, I apologize. I am just trying to share with you what I have learned.
I primarily fish from Ocean City, MD to Hatteras, NC. With fuel cost getting higher and higher, there is nothing more important than choosing the right direction to head each morning when we leave the inlet. To me, the little bit of money one of these services cost is the best investment I can make each season. I know the fishing report from the day before may be a better source of useful information, but I don’t know that we always get the whole truth.
One of the most important things to know about the companies providing these charts is that they all get their data from the same source. That source being the 4 or 5 NOAA satellites that make 1 or 2 passes over our area each day and a few other satellites that may make 1 or 2 passes over our area each week. The interesting part is that all of this information is taxpayer funded and FREE to everyone and is available on the internet.
Now I’m not saying that it is just as easy as logging on and getting the data, because it’s not and I’m not talking about the Rutgers’s site either. As a matter of fact, Rutgers gets their information from these same sources. The point I am making is that all of these companies are basically selling the exact same product. Think of it as bottled water. No matter which brand you buy, in the end it is still the same water. The difference is in the packaging, how they sell it to you and the price you pay. Some sell single shots, some 10-36 shot packages, some by regions and some unlimited access.
The next thing you must understand about all of these companies is that they are not in the business to guarantee that you will catch fish and they can’t. What they are doing is giving you the data you need to put you in the best possible area that will give you a chance to catch fish. Once you get to that area, it is up to you to try to locate the breaks and bait.
The next thing you will learn about these SST providers, or should I say will frustrate you about them, is the cloudy days. As much as you want to kick and scream, it is not their fault. The satellites that provide the data for sea surface temperatures and turbidity (water clarity) use infrared imaging. This type of equipment is highly affected by cloud cover. When it is cloudy for one company, it is cloudy for all of them.
It is very frustrating when you sit in your office all week long and the sun is shining, and then on Thursday afternoon, the clouds start rolling in for the weekend. You are not going to get an SST or turbidity shot for your Saturday trip, it is that simple.
Sometimes you may go 4-5 days or even longer without a good shot. Now some companies will use a technique called multi-merging to get around the cloudy days, but these multi merged charts are not always the best option. Multi-merging is where they take the best parts of multiple images from different satellite passes at different times of the day to try and create one good shot. At best, it is an educated guess.
On the bright side, some companies are now providing “altimetry data” and this is a plus when it is cloudy. The satellite instruments that provide this data use radar based imaging which is not affected by cloud cover. One captain who I talk to regularly swears that altimetry data the best information you can have.
Last, it is always good to know if the satellite shot you have was taken in the AM or PM. This information is important for a couple of reasons. First, fishing out of Ocean City we never really get to fish the actual gulf stream, but it’s the eddies that spin off of it that we do fish. This water is always moving. If your shot is over 10-12 hours old, the water may not be in the same spot. Secondly, the sun has a warming effect on the surface temps as the day goes on.
Speaking of these eddies, it is important to understand how they work and how they can create some incredible fishing opportunities. These eddies are created when there is an extreme bend or turn in the stream and these clockwise spinning bodies of water are pinched off from the stream and start drifting West. With any luck, these spinning bodies of water will be packed with life. They will continue to drift west until they hit the 100 fathom curve and then begin to drift south. This is when fishing can get really good.
To understand the dynamics of these eddies, think of the face of a clock. Imagine the face of a clock sliding up onto the edge of the 100 fathom line. At the top of the clock, the 100 fathom line would cross 1:00 and at the bottom of the clock the line would cross 6:00. Now think as the second hand as the clockwise eddie spinning. As the hand crosses 6:00 (the southern part of the 100 fathom line) it is pulling clean new gulf stream water and life up on the edge and as it passes 1:00, it is pulling the old dead water off the ledge. It is the area on the clock between 7:00 and 12:00 that the temperature breaks are the most productive. It is important to note, that the fish you are targeting could be on either side of this break. Just locate the bait. Sometimes it may take hours to locate the right area, but it is well worth it when you find it.
Well, I hope this helps someone out if they were thinking about adding a service like this to their fishing arsenal.
As for the companies that I have had a lot of experience with and the opportunity to use, they are Roffer’s, Offshore Satellite Services and SST Online. The customer service with all 3 has been extremely good and it is nice to be able to call and get additional information, especially around tournament time.
Roffer’s is the one that I have been using for the longest, especially around tournament time. They are the most expensive, but they do a great job with their analysis that comes along with their charts. They really seem to work overtime during the big tournaments and you can even call them from your boat for an update if you have a sat phone. To me, that’s awesome customer service. As for their prices, I think a single shot cost around $65.00. They also offer packages as well. (321) 723-5759
Offshore Satellites Services is another good company, not quite as pricy as Roffer’s, but up there for their unlimited packages. They have nice looking charts with loran lines and you can call them anytime also. I think their unlimited package is around $750.00, but you can buy a smaller 10 shot package for around $200.00. This company also prints the Big Game Journal which is one of the best out there. As I mentioned earlier, Capt. Len is very knowledgeable and gave a great seminar. If you ever have the chance to attend, it’ll be well worth your time. (732) 840-4900
Both Roffer’s and Offshore Satellite Services have been around for a long time, longer than anyone else I think. (20-25+years). I’m not sure who was first.
SST Online is another company that I really like. I have been subscribing to this site for the past 8 years. Hands down it is the best bang for your buck. They have the best looking and most detailed charts that I have seen. They also include loran lines which we still use a lot up here in the Northeast. Their charts have some really neat interactive features that allow you add waypoints and get distance and bearing between the waypoints. You also have the ability to move your cursor across the screen and get lat/long coordinates and water temp. My favorite feature is the movie loop in which you can create a moving shot of the water. You just put in the dates from previous shots (up to 30 days) and click start. Very helpful when it is sunny from Monday to Thursday, then it gets cloudy on the weekend.
In addition, they also provide turbidity and altimetry data. The turbidity (water clarity) has really been helpful to use when we are targeting bluefin tuna on the inshore lumps. I haven’t used the altimetry data a whole lot yet, but it is supposed to be the real deal.
What I liked about these guys in the beginning was that they were willing to give me a free password to try out their site for 10 days before I made my decision. The cost of their service is only $149.00 per year, but if you sign up early, you can get it for $129.00. If you can catch them at a boat show , you even get a better deal, $119.00 and a free t-shirt.
I think they have been in business for 15 year and were the first to offer an unlimited service with internet access. I just renewed my membership with them at the Ocean City Boat Show this past Friday and they had an iPad at their display with their charts on it. Wow, I was blown away. They told me that it would also be available for the iPhone 4 in 2 weeks and the Droid by summer.
All of this for no additional charge and it does everything their website does and more…. Incredible! (Oh, you do have to buy the .99 cent app for Apple store). What is cool about the apps is that you can download their charts via 3G or wi-fi before you go offshore and because both the iPad 3G and iPhone 4 have built in GPS receivers, you can then track your boat right on the charts. Although we have Sirius Satellite weather and their SST data on our boat, their SST data is pretty useless. It is not high definition data and most of their imagery appears to be some kind of multi-merged data to avoid the ever present cloud cover. I can’t wait to try out SST Online’s new real-time navigation feature this season and compare it to the Sirius data. SST Online claims their SST data has 3X the resolution and detail of Sirius and from my experience with both I would have to agree.
If you don’t currently have a service and are thinking about it, you may want to give these guys a call or check out their site. I’m sure they will give you a free password to check out their service. It is like test-driving that new car before you buy it. (888) 515-0274
I hope this helps, check them all out and choose the one that works best for you.
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Old 02-27-2011, 07:37 AM
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Great post
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Old 02-27-2011, 02:46 PM
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Your post reads like a roffers report.
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Old 02-28-2011, 05:41 AM
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Default New iPad

Thank you,
Well I finally broke down this weekend and bought the iPad. After seeing how the new sea surface temperature app worked on it, I had to get one. So it was off to Best Buy on Saturday. I also ordered the suction cup mount from "Ram Mount" The model number is RAM-B-166-AP8U. The cost of the mount is $50.79. I can't wait to use it offshore.

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Old 02-28-2011, 06:36 AM
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Want SST and Chlorophyll for GOM!
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Old 03-01-2011, 04:04 AM
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Default Gulf of Mexico

I looked on the SST Online site last night and it looks like their southern region covers some of your area. Give them a call, I'm sure they will give you a free password to check out the site.

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Old 03-01-2011, 09:13 AM
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Salefish thanks again for some great info. I have been working some crazy hours. I will email you tonight for that other info. Thanks

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Old 03-02-2011, 11:43 AM
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im sorry for being slow...but i can by an ipad and a app that will allow me to download a sat shot n overlay my postion on the chart and run to the temp break in real time? great read also! tx
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Old 03-02-2011, 03:58 PM
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Originally Posted by xyzzy View Post
Want SST and Chlorophyll for GOM!
There's a little more to it but THEY WORK. It's been dead on the few times I've been out of the east pass since signing on with Hilton's.
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Old 03-02-2011, 08:26 PM
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Salefish22 - great post - good info! Hope you enjoy the iPad app, it is really pretty neat. We tested it most of last summer and it works great.

Flying Bridge - with our new iPad app it really is as simple as installing our app on your iPad and taking your iPad with you offshore to plot your position in real-time right on our SST charts. Unlike other services, you don't have to buy any other apps or software and try to get them to work together. The only thing you must remember to do is to download the most current charts via a wi-fi or 3G cellular connection on your way to the boat or before you get too far offshore so they will be stored on your iPad and ready to use before you are out of wi-fi or 3G cellular range. Out of Ocean City, MD we can usually get a good connection up to about 7-10 miles off the beach. The GPS in the iPad 3G and the iPhone 4 work great offshore and don't require any cellular or wi-fi connection to plot your course - just like a chart plotter. The app is only $0.99 but you must be a member of our service to get the daily updated charts. If you are not a member the app works with charts that are updated every 7 to 10 days for demo purposes.

Let me know if you have any more questions and I will be happy to answer them for you. If you know anyone with an iPad who will let you download and try out the app PM me and I will give you a promo code to get the app for free from the iTunes store.

Thanks for your interest.


Last edited by; 03-03-2011 at 11:33 AM. is offline  
Old 03-03-2011, 11:06 AM
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this is a great read. i fish out of chincoteague va. and was wondering how the charts looked last summer. we had our worst tuna season in 2010 compared to the previous 8. the blue fin were here for a short time but we had nothing after that. with that being said i would like to know if your season was the same or if the paid sst charts made a difference. it seeme d that the water was very blended and without a break or eddy after june-september.

mike- i just left a message with your business(sstol) and hope to hear from you soon about service for the upcoming season.
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Old 03-03-2011, 11:30 AM
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Hi Tye - it was good to talk to you today and we look forward to welcoming you as a new member. As we discussed, last year it seemed we never got the temperature breaks we needed off the MD and VA coasts for good tuna fishing. The boys up north in the Hudson, Spencer and Toms area did great when that big eddy hung around for a while. Hopefully things will be better for us this year for the tuna. Of course, with all of the warm blended water around last year we we did get quite a billfish bite late in the summer!

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Old 03-04-2011, 08:26 AM
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Default Wreck Numbers

Hey Bunger79,
I wanted to ask you if you have seen any of Gary Gentiles's Dive Books. He has one 2 titled the "Shipwrecks of North Carolina". One is from Hatteras Inlet South and the other is from Oregon Inlet South. I have the Hatteras Inlet South. It has a lot of good info in it on the wrecks.

Also, there is a great dive site on the internet called JT's Dive Site. He know's the bottom off Hatteras as well as anybody. I think he runs out of Hatteras Landing. You might want to check that out also.

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Old 03-06-2011, 02:28 PM
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Default Also in Ocean City, MD

Hey sailfish22,

I live in Ocean City also an I am an SST Online user. Where do you live? I keep my boat in Fisherman's Marina. Where do you keep yours? I read your post an was curious to see if you tried the new Ipad app. I am thinking about updating my phone to the new Iphone but I am really curious about the Ipad.

Tight Lines,
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