There's no question that any information is better than none at all. But are fee-based forecasting services worth the cost? Shawn Mecchella thinks they are. This Florida kingfish pro competes in 12 tournaments each year and fun-fishes 35 days more. He took home Southern Kingfish Association angler of the year and national championship trophies in 2002 and 2008, along with the FLW top angler award in 2008.
"We've been getting an annual plan from Roffer's since 2002," he says. "With the fuel and time savings it provides, it's definitely reasonably priced. It's accurate and updated quicker and more often, and it's convenient to use. I count it as a pre-fish day, since it allows me to look at temperatures and pinpoint clean water beforehand. It saves time and makes the day more fun."
When you consider all the costs and preparation necessary to be successful in offshore fishing, that sounds like money well spent.
Coverage: Florida Atlantic Coast,central Gulf of Mexico
Cost: Free membership; $150 annually for premium access
Coverage: 10 national regions, nine international
Cost: Packages starting at $200
HotSpots Charts: www.sstcharts.com
Coverage: East Coast, Bahamas
Naval Oceanography Operations Command: www.usno.navy.mil
Coverage: Sea surface temperature charts, sea height analysis
NOAA Satellite & Information Service: www.osdpd.noaa.gov/ml/ocean/index.html
Coverage: Ocean color, sea surface temperatures, winds
Coverage: Gulf of Mexico, West Coast, Southeast
Cost: $89 annually
Roffer's Ocean Fishing Forecasting Service: www.roffs.com
Coverage: East Coast; Gulf of Mexico; Bahamas; Cabo San Lucas, Mexico; worldwide on demand
Cost: Individual analysis for $65; offshore plans starting at $720; $682 for kingfish
Rutgers Coastal Ocean Observation Lab: www.marine.rutgers.edu/mrs/sat_data/?product=sst
Coverage: East Coast, Bahamas, Gulf of Mexico
Coverage: West Coast, East Coast, Gulf of Mexico, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Bahamas
Cost: $99 for an annual membership