This is the second article we're writing about the incredible program called Google Earth. Google Earth increases the chance of you finding fish, and gives you a way to share fishing spots with your friends, as well as, the community. To us, it's all about sharing, and trust us, the places you find and catch fish aren't a secret. You may have found your own secret 'honey-hole.' But, reality is that it is thirty other people's secret 'honey-hole' as well. Or better yet, you may have caught and released 22 snook the first day you found it, but 20 visits later you have come up empty handed. If you scout a new spot, or learn one from a guide, do not give it away on the internet; it's yours (or theirs) to keep to themselves. On the other hand if it's a specific piling on a major bridge accessible from shore, share it. Sharing helps our sport grow, and spreads pressure out over more places.
Fishy Spot Maps and TheOnlineFisherman.com Custom Icons
Our Google Earth Fishy Spot maps have always been one of the most popular features of our site. In this follow-up to our previous article about how to build your own maps, we're going to talk about downloading and using the custom icons we've built for our site. You're free to use them, as long as you mention our site and provide a link back to here. We're fine with sharing them with the world.
Once you've downloaded the file, it will be on your machine (probably in the Download folder, unless you've specified to save it somewhere different) and will be called “TOF_Google_Icons.zip”. Extract the contents however you would like. It's inside the folder that you will find the custom icons you're going to need to complete the instructions we've written here.
To create a new map, start the Google Earth program. If you don't have it, do a search on the internet and you will be taken there. Download the file and follow all the instructions you receive. It will ask you if it's OK that the program knows where you are. This is called “Location” information, and if you're not worried about the network in the movie Terminator (because that's just about what Google is now) trust them, and tell them where you are. They probably know already.
Using the Google Earth Placeholders for your Own Custom Maps
To go any further, we have to assume you're interested in creating your own Google Earth maps using the custom placeholders we created for that purpose. Let's take a look at how they're used. These screen shots were taken while I was creating a new map for the site called Bull Creek, which is located in Charlotte Harbor, Fl.
The first thing to do to use one of our custom icons is to begin creating a map. Start Google Earth, and turn off any maps that are already visible (like one of our Fishy Spot maps). In this screen capture, we dropped a regular (yellow pin) Google Earth placeholder on one of the two ramps to use, if you want to fish Bull Key in Charlotte Harbor. (You will find the yellow pin in the upper left top menu of Google Earth. Once you click on the yellow pin it will open up and look like the picture below. Only when this text box is open can the yellow pin be moved by dragging it with your mouse.) Ok, so we dropped and positioned the placeholder, gave it a name (in the text box), and then entered the text we wanted to have displayed when a reader clicked on the marker.
As soon as you drop the placeholder, you see a little YELLOW icon to the right of the “Name:” field. That's where you click to change the default icon to one of our cool TheOnlineFisherman.com placeholders.
Next comes the custom icon. If you look carefully to the right of the Name “Field” (an empty place to enter text) you will see a little graphic icon. It's a small version of the little yellow (Default) Google Earth pin icon.
Click the “Add Custom Icon” button, and you'll be asked to find the new icons you just downloaded and decompressed.
The screen that appears (they are called Dialog Boxes) will show you a collection of standard – or default – icons that come with Google Earth. You will want to use a new one – one from the TOF collection, so click the “Add Custom Icon” on the lower left of the dialog box you're looking at.
This dialog is asking you where the program should look to find the new custom icons you downloaded. Click the Browse button and you will be able to “point” the program to where they are located. It's likely they are located inside the Download folder, unless you put it somewhere like your Documents folder (which is where you should put it in our opinion).
Replacing the Yellow Pin with a Fish
Once you've clicked the “Browse” button, you will be asked where you put the un-stuffed, un-zipped, accessible custom icons we've created for our readers.
In this example, we use the standard TOF icon:
This is what the un-zipped folder will look like when you open it. You'll find all the species that anglers seek out here in the gulf waters of Florida.
The folder that was created on your hard drive when you un-zipped the file we supplied you is stocked full of cool icons. A good goal would be to hunt and land a bunch of them. Pick the fish you want, and click the Open button – or double click the icon you need. They're named things like SilverTrout and Snook_Marker, so you shouldn't have trouble finding the appropriate graphic for your own maps.
You can customize the closeup, or far-view, by using the “View” icon and clicking the “Snapshot current view” button.
After you've picked the icon you need (in this case we wanted to put a snook icon where we've caught snook on outgoing tides) and zoomed into the exact view you like, choose the “VIEW” tab (there are four “tabs) on the Google Earth placeholder dialog. When you're happy (you can move the dialog box around to improve your own view) click the “Snapshot current view” button at the bottom. This lets you create one view that's displayed when a person first views your map, and a specific close-up when they click a specific placeholder.
You can create as many (or as few) placeholders for your maps, each containing information specific to a species, a spot, or an entire area.
Hide or Show your Google Earth Fishy Spot Map
Whether or not you decide to share your maps is up to you. If you read the first article we wrote about using Google Earth to create Fishy Spot maps, and use this short article about how to use the custom icons we use to create the maps on our site, you can create your own maps and make them look as good as the ones we create.
Feel free to use our icons, but please give us credit, and provide links to our site.
To make things easier for you, you can copy and paste the sentence below to your placeholders when giving us credit for the icons. Have fun :)
Placeholders and Custom Icons Copyright © TheOnlineFisherman.com. All rights reserved.
Check out the Fishy Spot Map of Charlotte Harbor that was built in the making of this article:
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