A  number of pelagic species are biting this month, and with Daylight Savings Time in full swing, anglers have more time on their fishing days. 

For the weekend angler, the question becomes, “Where to fish?” After all, it’s a big ocean, and the last thing anyone wants is to spend his or her time blindly looking and hoping to find fish. It’s worse when you don’t find fish, and that’s undoubtedly what has turned many an aspiring offshore anglers into guys with “For Sale” signs on their boats.

Fortunately, fishermen have more tools than ever to help find favorable fishing conditions. Aside from equipment like depth finders and weather tools, other sources are available from companies, government agencies, and universities that take the majority of guesswork out of finding the best places to fish.

These services compile data from different sources, including satellite technology, ocean-buoy information, weather statistics and other real-time data. They analyze it to find ocean current breaks, water temperature changes, color changes, shifts in clarity, presence of phytoplankton and bait concentrations and various other scientific information that give them their best chance at a successful outing.

This may sound like pie-in-the-sky stuff, but to anglers like Jeremy Burnham of Atlantic Bait and Tackle in Mount Pleasant, services like this are as good as gold. Burnham’s favorite fishing analysis service is Roffer’s; he won’t go offshore without purchasing one of their reports. 

“It’s not free, but it’s worth every penny,” he said. “When you’re looking at spending time to hunt for fish — or use your onboard equipment to find the right conditions for fish — plus using up gas doing the same thing, it makes all the sense in the world to purchase this information upfront. Then, we just load the boat and head to the most-likely spot based on our data from Roffer’s,” he said.

Burnham said when placing an order, you let Roffer’s know the general location and species you’re targeting. They do the rest, delivering a map along with descriptive text. 

“They are easy to understand, and it’s immediately clear where the hot spots are and how long they’ve been hot,” Burnham said. “One of the most-important things I look for is the current breaks. These are the areas that usually have a good temperature break, and that’s where baitfish concentrate, so the gamefish are there too.

“Another thing that makes Roffer’s worth the money is they provide updates while fishing, so if the conditions have changed since they e-mailed your report, you’ll know it while you’re on the water,” he said.

While Burnham spends more time offshore than the average angler, John Long of Columbia only goes offshore a few times a year. For him, these services are even more valuable. 

“With just a few days offshore, time is even more critical for me to have a solid plan when I leave the docks,” Long said. 

SeaView Fishing (www.seaviewfishing.com) is another similar service, and Hilton’s Realtime Navigator (www.realtimenavigator.com) is another. Like Roffer’s, these companies provide their services for a fee, and the price varies depending on a number of factors.

Anglers can also find free services from the NOAA (www.noaa.gov), the U.S. Navy (www.usno.navy.mil), the University of Texas (www.utexas.edu), and Rutgers University (www.marine.rutgers.edu). 

When it comes to choosing which service to use, Long said, “As most things in life, you get what you pay for. I’ve found that the free sites are pretty good for being free, but the maps are less detailed and not always as up-to-date as the pay services are. Plus, you have to sift through a lot of information and figure a good bit out on your own. You have to really know what you’re looking at and how that translates to finding the best fishing spots. 

“It is better than going out there blind, but it’s worth it for me to get a printout in hand that has all the information I need to set my GPS for the hot spots that have already been found for me. It saves time and effort, and saves fuel too, which saves money. It’s a service that I don’t mind paying for,” he said.