Fishing Photography With Smartphones: 5 Top Tips

fishing photography

Smartphones are amazing tools. Although you can’t expect to get the same image quality as you get with a 4lb DSLR and loads of equipment and lenses, mobile phones fit in our pockets and we almost always have one on us. Read this guide to fishing photography to learn how to get great outdoors photos with your smartphone. Remember to use these techniques with 20Echo to improve your catch rate!

Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • The 3 elements of photography (and how you can use them to get better photos)
  • Recording data with your photographs to improve your catch rate
  • Great tips for better fishing photography results

I’ll put in a few examples to give you a better idea of what to look out for. So let’s get started and learn about digital outdoor photography the 20Echo way!

The 3 Elements Of Photography – The Basics

Apple, Hand, Iphone, Macro, Mobile Phone, Screen

There are 3 elements of photography that you should always keep in mind when shooting outdoor photography with a mobile device. These are:

  • Light 
  • Subject
  • Composition


At the end of the day, photography is all about capturing light (exposure). That means it’s really important to use light to your advantage for great outdoor photography. 

Light Direction

Whenever possible, try to have the sun at your back when taking a photo. For a selfie, you’ll want the sun to your front for the same effect. 

Typically at mid-day, this won’t make all that much difference, but taking a photo towards the sun in the morning or late afternoon will not record a whole lot of detail other than a silhouette. Silhouettes can look great, but they aren’t very useful for recording much detail in your subject.  

In low light conditions, like around sunrise and sunset, having the sunlight on the wrong side of you can work out OK if you’re using your flash, but in bright light, the flash just isn’t powerful enough. 

Night Photography – When To Use Flash

At night, you’re going to need some sort of light source, and again, you want to avoid shooting with the light behind the subject. When you’re in the outdoors and there is little light around, use the flash on your smartphone. 

You can keep your mobile phone set to auto flash mode, and the flash will automatically be used when it’s dark out. Another simple trick is to use the ‘always on’ mode. Push the lamp symbol in your camera’s settings to access this mode. In this setting, the flash turns on and stays on, giving you light to help compose the image and help the camera focus. 

The Subject

Posing With Your Catch

If you don’t plan to release your trophy catch, make sure to take photos while it’s still alive. This simply makes for a much better-looking photograph. For a really great photo, look at the camera, or look at the fish while being photographed. 

Grip your catch with both hands supporting the fish’s head and tail, with the fish held horizontally(landscape). Holding the fish out away from your body and close to the camera is a classic old fisherman’s trick to make your catch look bigger to the viewer. This angle works by making the fish look larger in proportion to your body behind it. 

This technique works great, but don’t overdo it. It’s easy to see when you go too far because your fingers will look way out of proportion with the rest of your body!

depth photography of man holding fish

Fish Portraits – Taking Close-ups

A close-up photo of your catch can really highlight the features of the animal and makes for a great wallpaper on your phone to remind you of the moment. To bring out the most in your subjects, make sure the fish is alive and wet when taking a close-up. Make it a priority to keep the fish out of the water for as short as possible if you’re going to release it.

Start by cleaning off any sand or dirt that might be sticking to your catch. Try to get the whole fish in the frame, and if possible, take your photo when the fish is holding up its fins. You’ll get the best results by focusing the camera on the eyes of the fish. One good bit of advice is to avoid using the camera’s zoom because this really lowers the image quality.


When taking a fishing photo, make sure that your smartphone camera has focused where you want it. In a picture of someone holding their catch, make sure the camera is focused clearly on the fish. Mobile phone cameras have manual and autofocus. In Autofocus mode you can tap on the screen where you want to focus for more control. 

Composition – Composing Better Photos

Portrait or landscape

For looking at images on your mobile phone, a portrait photo is definitely easier. Looking at landscape shots requires you to have your phone set to auto-rotate, and then to physically tilt the phone, which isn’t that bad, but can get a little annoying.

For looking at images on laptops, or when making actual hardcopy prints for your home or office, landscape is the winner. 

Using 20Echo To Record More Than Just Your Catch

They say a picture says a thousand words, well add 20Echo to your fishing photography and it’ll tell you even more! Now that you’re familiar with the 3 elements of photography, let me introduce you to the fourth: Data! 

For example, let’s take a look at the following photo: 

beach, sea, sand, ocean, wild, fish, smile, shark, fin, danger, crazy, teeth, killer, dangerous, predatory, expert, jaws, marine biologist, phd, boardsport

When photographing your catch with a smartphone, try to record any other useful info in the shot. In this picture, an angler holds a 15-20lb shark on the beach. Nice catch! But there’s more here that the thinking fisherman or fisherwoman can learn. If you take a closer look, you can see that:

  • There’s good water color inshore (great for sharks and rays)
  • There’s a weak side wash
  • The beach has a gentle slope with some sandbank formations
  • The sea is calm with not much swell
  • It’s a hot and sunny day

There are also things that you can’t see in this image, no matter how well you analyze it. And that’s where 20Echo comes in!

At 20Echo, we’ve designed our app to record all the information to the picture, so that anglers have a detailed record of where and when the fish was caught. This picture could tell us so much more, like:

  • Tide
  • Precise location
  • Atmospheric Pressure
  • Water temperature
  • Ocean Altimetry 
  • Water Depth
  • Current speed 
  • Current direction
  • Sunrise and sunset
  • Moonrise and moonset
  • Moon phase 
  • Chlorophyll level (water color)
  • Salinity level 
  • Pressure Gradient 
  • Wind Direction
  • Wind Speed 
  • Visibility 
  • Wave height 
  • Wave direction

Outdoor Photography When There’s No Catch

Let’s face it, you will have days when you do all the right things and still not catch anything to show for it. You can still find opportunities to shoot some great photos in these situations.

Take a look at this awesome shot for example: 

person fishing using black and silver fishing rod during daytime

Great lighting and beautiful scenery make this a great photo to share with your friends. Along with all the essential info recorded by 20echo, you can also instantly see the rod and reel you were using at the time, where your bait was, and the amount of water movement, etc. 

Taking photos of your shallow water fishing spots on a low or spring low tide is a great way to study the features there, so you can note where the fish are likely to hold when the tide comes in. 

Remember, fishing is always a learning curve. Taking photos on bad days makes sense as well because taking note of bad conditions is also key to learning. If the current’s running too strong or the water is too dirty for example, snap a picture and take a look at the other environmental parameters for the trip. You’ll probably be able to work out a pattern. 

Planning – Remember The Background

If you’ve spent countless hours on the water, honing your skills and finding the secret spots, you’d be pretty bummed to find a bunch of fishermen crowding you out after seeing the kind of results you’ve had. With 20Echo, you have the option of sharing your data, or not. 


Bone Fish, Fly Fishing, Bahama, Bone-Fish, Woman

In the scene above, we can see a couple of buildings. Landmarks in the background of your image can make it very easy for other people to find your spots. 

Always consider the background of your image. There may be distracting objects and shadows there that you don’t want in the shot. An overflowing trash can for example wouldn’t add much to a photo of yourself with the catch of a lifetime! 

Fishing Photography Safety

Stay aware while taking photos! The sea demands your attention and respect at all times, so make sure you’re not drifting towards trouble, and never turn your back to the sea on an exposed rocky shore. Remember, it only takes moments for things to go wrong out in the field.

Smartphones are expensive and often fragile gadgets. To make matters worse, not all of them are fully waterproof, and most importantly, they sink. 

Be careful to keep your phone over dry land when photographing, and avoid holding it out over the edge of the boat. Many smartphones have been lost this way. Dropping a smartphone on a hard surface can easily cause the screen to crack or shatter, so think about getting your phone a protective cover, especially when taking it out into the elements. 

5 Pro Fishing Photography Tips

After reading this guide, you’re well on your way to getting that perfect photo with your mobile device. Here’s an additional 5 easy tips for fishing photography to think about

  1. Be Cool

Take a deep breath and stay calm during all the action. It can be tough when you’re in a hurry to release a fish but a shaking hand can cause a blurry photo.

  1. Get Creative

Photography is a science and an art, but try not to get too bogged down in the technical stuff. Don’t be afraid to be creative and try different angles. Have fun!  

  1. Keep A Clean Lens

When you take your smartphone out of your pocket to take a photo, always check to see if the lens is clean. There’s a huge difference between a photo taken with a clean lens and one covered in dust or grease. Use a soft dry cloth to clean your lens and never your fingertips.

  1. Record Data You Can’t See

Try to record as much info in your fishing photography to help you learn from your successes (And failures). 20Echo makes learning easier than ever!

  1. Use Grid Lines
selective focus photography of person taking photo of seashore

Your smartphone has a ‘grid’ mode with 2 horizontal, and 2 vertical lines across the screen. Use this grid to compose your pictures using the rule of thirds. The grid can also be really helpful for the photographer, especially when out fishing from a kayak, or when you’re out on the sea and there’s some swell around. The grid will help you keep the phone level with the horizon.

Final Thoughts

Fish, Small, Holds, Boy, Young, Kids, Children, People

It is easier than ever to capture great fishing photos in the outdoors with modern smartphones. With the help of 20Echo, you can use your mobile device for so much more. 

Use the concepts and tips in this article to improve your photography the 20Echo way. So what are you waiting for? grab your smartphone, sign up and get shooting! Click Here to start your free trial!

How Water Temperature Affects Fish Activity

Do you know how water temperature affects fishing activity and feeding? In this guide by 20Echo, we cover the key concepts you need to know. 

Taking note of environmental parameters like water temperature and its effect on fish activity is the secret to success for the thinking fisherman and fisherwoman. Maximizing your catch rate is so important, especially when life’s commitments limit our time out on the water. This is where having a great tool like 20Echo in your ‘tackle box’ really comes into play. 

In this article, let’s take a closer look at the relationship between water temperature and fish activity. We are going to get just a little technical here and there, so strap yourselves in folks.

Fish Biology

To really understand how and why different water temperatures affect fish activity, we need to understand how the fish body works. Let’s take a quick look at some key concepts:

Fish Are Cold Blooded

The first thing to understand is that fish are cold-blooded (poikilothermic). This is a term many people have heard of, but what does it really mean? 

Basically, it means that a fish’s body temperature is determined by its surroundings. So while we can maintain a stable body heat despite a wide range of ambient temperatures, fish are at the mercy of their environment.  

As a general rule, fish activity increases with temperature, but only up to a point. To summarize:

  • Environmental temperature determines the body temperature of fish
  • Increased body temperature usually equates to increased activity 

Now that you understand this key concept, it’s time to consider the next most important factor that affects fish activity: 

Oxygen Levels Vary With Water Temperature

The more active you are, or the higher your metabolic rate is, and the more oxygen you’re going to need. That is why our breathing rate increases when we’re rushing to pack the rods into the truck. Fish need oxygen just like we do, and the oxygen they use is in gas form, mixed into the water.  

The problem with an increased oxygen demand in warmer water is the inverse relationship between available oxygen and water temperature. A simple elementary school experiment demonstrates this perfectly. 

Pour water into a glass and leave it on a warm sunny window sill. What happens? Air bubbles form on the glass and rise to the surface, leaving the water. Those gas bubbles contain the oxygen that fish need to breathe. 

The take-home message here is that there is a sweet spot between higher temperature and lower oxygen availability that favors higher fish activity levels. Different species of fish are adapted to live in different geographical areas with different water temperatures, so the actual numbers are relative of course.

What Is The Best Water Temperature For Fishing?

The best water temperature for fishing is right around the average temperature for your area at the current time of year.  It will be business as usual for the fish species in your area because they are perfectly adapted to live in these conditions. 

A gradual, steady change towards the temperature that creates the highest activity level of your specific target species can turn good fishing conditions into great fishing conditions. When this sort of temperature change coincides with other positive condition intersections, fish activity can be high.  

Now, this goes both ways folks. When the water cools off in winter, it is well known that the bite gets really slow for some species. Some fish species like Bluefish undergo seasonal migrations that keep them within their optimal temperature range. 

For those that stick around, a few days of warm weather and favorable winds can bring them out of their dormancy and really light a fire under their bellies. 

Fish that are suffering from decreased available oxygen levels in the height of summer can be energized by a gradual cooling of the water and start to feed more aggressively. 

Different Tactics For Different Temperatures

Now that we know why warmer, or cooler water can decrease fish activity levels, you’re probably wondering if it’s worth fishing when the water is cold. 

Sudden temperature fluctuations in either direction can dramatically depress fish activity and feeding. You’re probably better off servicing your reels or practicing some new knots if that is the case. 

If there’s been a gradual shift towards unfavorable temperatures, the fish will probably have moved towards areas with water of their preferred temperature, and your challenge is to find them to catch them. 

Sometimes after a gradual change in water temperature, even the most favorable water temperatures around are still outside of the fish’s optimal water temperature. That’s when you’re going to need to find the fish and factor in their decreased activity levels. The fish will most likely be holding somewhere and remaining pretty inactive. 

To entice them, use smaller baits and, when using lures, work them slower. The fish aren’t going to burn up precious energy chasing after a large prey item that they may not be able to digest. A well-presented, tasty morsel is a lot more likely to get the bite. 

Stay mobile and remember that different fish species have different preferred temperature ranges. That means targeting a specific species in poor conditions might be a mistake when the conditions are perfect for another type of fish. 

Find The Right Water, Find The Fish

Fortunately for us, fish are pretty mobile creatures, and changes in water temperature are not uniform across an area of water. That means fish can move around to stay within the most comfortable water temperatures they can find. 

It does happen where a sudden drastic water temperature change catches fish off guard. Sometimes, they aren’t able to escape a temperature inversion and end up going belly-up, but usually fish know what to do. 

Where Can Fish Find Warmer Water?

  • On sunny days, water will tend to warm up in shallow areas as there is less volume of water per area there and the sun is able to heat the water faster
  • Where the water is shallow enough for the sun to penetrate to the bottom, areas with darker substrates and rocky bottoms can absorb the suns energy and warm the surrounding water
  • The surface layer of any water body will heat up in sunny, calm conditions
  • Certain wind directions can push warm surface water in specific directions. This causes warmer water to collect up against the coastline and in bays

Where Can Fish Find Cooler Water?

  • Overnight, shallow water areas can cool off because of the lower volume of water to surface area ratio
  • Deeper water is generally cooler than shallow water, and the temperature remains more constant there
  • Surface water can cool off after a period of overcast weather
  • Certain wind directions can push warm surface water away from the shore. Cooler water from below then takes its place

How Do You Know The Water Temperature?

Knowing how the temperature of the water affects fish activity isn’t going to be much help without knowing what the actual temperature is. In the past, fishermen would simply ‘feel the sinker’ to know what the water felt like where they were fishing. 

Today, we can refine this a whole lot by making use of technology, forecasts, and measurements from thermal imagery. We can even measure the water temperature ourselves with a thermometer. 

The 20Echo Way

When you log a catch on 20Echo, all the environmental parameters associated with your time and location are logged and stored. What could be easier? This way, you can spend more time fishing and less time measuring.

Measuring Water Temperature

A truly accurate thermometer is a pretty expensive piece of equipment. Luckily, we need precision more than we need perfect accuracy. Achieving that precision means using the same thermometer, in the same way, every time. By doing this, we get the same degree of error and are reliably able to pick up trends. 

Purpose-made fishing thermometers are the best type to use. Some people even get away with using models designed for aquariums as well. Remember folks, recording the conditions on a poor fishing day is just as important as on a great day. 

Watch The Weather

If you don’t have regular access to the water, go ahead and keep an eye on online information sources. Start to learn how the weather affects the temperature of the water in your area. This is a great way to estimate and predict changes in water temperature from forecasts without actually measuring. 

Final Thoughts

It doesn’t matter how well you can work the topwater, if the fish are holding deep, you’re not going to get that bite. Even though a bad day’s fishing is better than a good day at the office, taking notes, and keeping records of the environmental conditions is the secret to consistent catches. This is where 20Echo really shines by maximizing your time on the water and helping you catch more fish. Developing this knowledge and working out activity patterns really makes all the difference.

Condition Intersections – Environmental Correlations for Feeding Patterns

We have built up hundreds of thousands of echoes now, finding tremendous environmental correlations that teach us to look at fishing differently. Our team calls these correlations condition intersections. I am also teaching my young boys the mechanics of fishing, so I am looking for maximum time impact to make us more efficient on the water. Children love catching, not fishing! We are looking for more trips to get out there, whack them, and get back!

I use 20echo to form incremental knowledge by focusing on the alignment of conditions at specific times, not just the overall macro outlook of one day or hour. Nobody wants to disappoint the family when we finally get a chance to go fishing. We need to find as many condition intersections as possible to spark a bite. This tactic is simple in theory.  Find enough condition intersections to ensure at least one happening every day of the year, always having the best time of day to fish. The first condition intersection we will highlight today is falling pressure and the  solunar rise and set.


Speckle Trout feed during a condition intersection.


Falling pressure January Speckled Trout.  12:05pm with moonrise at 11:51am

Since winter is on the way, I want to focus on falling pressure. I quickly notice that I almost always catch fish when the pressure is falling, no matter the time of year. When I slide the 20echo query bars around, I catch most of our falling pressure fish in the morning and evening. When the sun is coming up and going down, that is my first condition intersection.
Almost every falling pressure echo occurs within one hour of solunar rise and set.  Every kind of fish shows up at this condition intersection, trout to pelagics at all times of day or night. For my world, this is exciting and leads to one fact, NOT THEORY. When the pressure falls at the same time as the solunar rise and set, we catch more fish!  If you would like to do the same, give
20echo a try today!



Wahoo are often found at a condition intersection.

Falling pressure March Wahoo.  Caught at 8:15 am with the sunrise at 7:11 am and the moon set at 9:08 am