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Before thermal imaging, a pre-dawn fishing trip required a heavy-duty spotlight, local knowledge and a good bit of luck. I well remember running wider sections of Florida’s Intracoastal Waterway in the pitch darkness, using a handheld spotlight to search for markers and debris. Now navigating at night feels much safer when a thermal camera and an AIS receiver lead the way. For smaller-boat anglers, a handheld thermal camera and an AIS-equipped VHF can best fit the budget. Those operating and fishing larger vessels can install the most powerful systems. Some thermal cameras can even “see” temperature changes on the water’s surface, night or day, which can help locate fish.

—Chris Woodward executive editor, Sport Fishing