The other day I was in the coffee shop real early in the morning before a hunt. I was on my tablet looking at the weather and river information. A gentleman waiting for coffee said, “I have never seen that.” I asked what he was referring too. He replied, “You just look out of place, dressed for hunting and using a computer.”
Later that day I was talking to someone about the water flow on a river and the guy asked me how I knew what the flow was or what the predicted flow would be. I explained I used the streamflow data from the USGS. He said he had never heard of this before. This is not the first time I have had someone comment on how they did not know how to figure out the tide or river flow online.
The internet can be a very useful tool in gathering information. You just need to start looking. The words you type into a Google search are very important as to how quickly you can weed out the websites that do not have what you are looking for.
As an example, I use the USGS (U.S. Geological Survey) Stream flow website for real time information on river gauge height and CFS (Cubic Feet per Second). Now this website is not fun to navigate, but once you find the page you are looking for, you can add it to your favorites. For the USGS go to http://waterwatch.usgs.gov/new/. This is a good starting point.
Some website such as the USGS are difficult to navigate and some are easy. You just have to look around their website to find your information.
There are several websites that also have tide information. Most gather their information from NOAA (National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration) When I want tidal information I use NOAA, you just have to know where to look. Again, the NOAA website may not be fun to navigate, but when you find what you are looking for, it is a gold mine.
This is another useful site for Washington State streams and rivers not listed in with the USGS. https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/wrx/wrx/flows/station.asp?sta=25B060 You can find some interesting information here.
For hunting, hiking, and other stuff I need to check out a topo map for I use; http://www.digital-topo-maps.com There is a section for free topo maps, you can view and print. Of course Google Earth is a staple in planning.
Information sharing via social networking and forums are another great way to get information about an area, opportunity or internet resource you can use to your advantage. One example here in Washington State is www.gamefishin.com. Forums such as this can be a great help in learning more about what is going on and where.
The internet can be used to waste time or save time. You can save a great deal of time if you use it to plan your outings, whether hunting, fishing, camping or whatever you plan on doing outdoors.
Many of us now use smart phones, which are little computers. There are many apps that can help you as well. In essence these are mini versions of what you can find on the internet. For example, I used to use a Droid X and consistently used; Google Earth, River Flows, Predict Wind, and Tide App. All of these were free and River Flows has a widget for a small fee. I now use an I-Phone and have found even better apps for the outdoors. While I still use Google Earth and Predict Wind, there is an app called Fish head that wraps, tides, river flows, weather and more into one app. Of course I paid for the app, but this one is definitely worth it!
So get connected and find some information that will help you get outdoors. You can save time and be informed before you get out there.