In 2019–2020, Florida’s saltwater recreational fishing industry contributed $9.2 billion to the state’s economy. When COVID-19 finally wanes, that industry is likely to revive, as are saltwater recreational fishing industries off ocean coasts around North America.
For a diversification-minded technology company like SiriusXM, recreational fishing offers a natural business supplement to its core listening audience.
For decades, offshore fishing vessels have relied on radio for vital information. Today SiriusXM Marine is able to provide these craft with a Fish Mapping data service to identify areas in the ocean where the fish are most likely to be biting.
As an example of its activities in this area, SiriusXM announced this spring that it is now transmitting its Fish Mapping service to Furuno’s NavNet TZtouch3 line of multi-function displays (MFDs) equipped with BBWX4 SiriusXM Satellite Weather receivers.
“Furuno’s strong product line has always helped anglers get on the fish and catch them,” said Dean Kurutz, Furuno USA’s senior VP of sales, marketing & product planning, in the announcement.
“Now, with the advanced data provided by Fish Mapping, captains will have the ability to locate ideal fishing grounds by targeting specific species and sea conditions, maximizing their time on the water and helping save time and fuel.”
SiriusXM’s business case is based on providing listeners with a unique broadcast selection of entertainment, music and information audio channels.
Its North American satellite footprint covers from the Atlantic to Pacific coasts and adjoining waters. This is why “SiriusXM has provided key weather information for offshore anglers well beyond the reach of cell or internet signals for many years,” according to Geoff Leech, senior director of SiriusXM Marine Services.
“This information has provided anglers with valuable situational awareness while they are exposed out on the water.”
Initially, this weather service was voice-only. But eventually, under the name of SiriusXM Marine Weather, it was expanded to include weather and ocean data to onboard navigation displays made by Furuno, Garmin, Raymarine and the Navico brands Simrad, Lowrance and B&G.
These full-color displays allow boat operators to “see” the weather around them overlaid on top of their electronic navigation charts. The move made sense: Boat operators were willing to pay to access this data, and SiriusXM had the satellite distribution network in place to provide it to them.
So how did an information service for boats end up providing offshore fishing recommendations?
“One feature of SiriusXM Marine Weather that anglers value is Sea Surface Temperature data,” Leech replied.
“The areas where ocean surface temperatures change are often where bait fish find nutrients to feed on, and in turn the pelagic species of game fish feed on these bait fish. Knowing that many of our customers were already offshore anglers led us to develop Fish Mapping so we could provide additional fishing information for these valued customers.”
The Fish Mapping service costs $99.99 a month and includes SiriusXM Marine’s Weather information. The service can be suspended at no charge for up to six months each year.
Fish Mapping works by identifying the qualities in areas of the ocean that influence the likelihood of finding desirable game fish such as marlin, tuna and wahoo, among others.
These ocean features include variations in sea surface height (upwellings of nutrients), surface/subsurface temperatures, “weed lines” — floating vegetation where fish congregate to find food and shelter, and where they are hunted by larger predator fish — and plankton concentrations.
At SiriusXM Marine Weather, “the data for our Fish Mapping service is provided by oceanographers from Maxar Technologies,” said Leech.
“Maxar is a satellite company that provides Google Earth imagery and other services including information to help find the best fishing conditions. The oceanographers at Maxar compile and analyze data from various sources and send it to SiriusXM to incorporate in our satellite feed for our Fish Mapping customers.”
This feed reaches boats up to 150 miles offshore. A SiriusXM receiver on the boat captures the signal, which is translated into images shown in large-screen format directly on the boat’s navigational display.
“Having onboard fishing-specific data showing the areas of the ocean where pelagic species of fish are most likely to congregate is seen as a true ‘game changer’ by offshore anglers,” Leech told Radio World.
“SiriusXM Marine Weather helps boaters stay away from dangerous weather so they can enjoy their time on the water, and Fish Mapping helps anglers find the best spots to fish, saving time and fuel.”
Finding that place where the fish are a-bitin’ is a constant question for fishing enthusiasts. SiriusXM’s Fish Mapping service harnesses science to answer this question, resulting in a lot of happy “fisherpeople,” if not happy fish.
“The ‘Fishing Recommendations’ are my favorite feature,” wrote Captain Greg Weaver of E-Fishing Sea Sport Fishing Charters in a testimonial sent to SiriusXM.
“In a recent trip, I headed out to the areas marked as recommended for wahoo. In addition to catching wahoo, I found that the area was productive with bait and I also caught tuna and marlin. Fish Mapping has already made a huge impact on where I take my charter customers.”
Dave Johnson, Mike Hatcher and Captain Tom Robinson of the fishing craft “Fixed Income” in Naples, Fla., told the company that after looking at SiriusXM’s Fish Mapping Fishing Recommendations feature on their Garmin plotter and seeing several recommended areas for wahoo, they aimed the Intrepid for one of the overlapping “fish bubble” areas about 80 miles offshore.
“We put two weighted wahoo flatlines out well behind the boat and two outriggers with skirts chugging over the wakes and trolled at 8.5 knots. We had our first wahoo on in minutes.”
Given its success in Fish Mapping, SiriusXM is understandably motivated to move into new areas beyond its core audio business.
“We are constantly exploring new and innovative services that would bring additional value to our existing and prospective subscribers,” said Geoff Leech.