Between the Lines: Reading Contour Maps

Daniel C. Nielsen   Sunday, February 13, 2005 9:03 PM

If you are like most anglers who are lucky enough to get their hands on a contour map of their favorite lake, understanding what the contour maps are showing you can be confusing, especially when you are ready to hit the water and catch some fish. A contour map is not quite like a road map yet it is still easy to read, provided you know what you are looking for. You have to remember you are looking at a two-dimensional map (an overhead view if you will) that represents a three dimensional space.

I spent some time getting this tutorial together in an effort for the average angler to better understand what he/she is seeing. Hopefully, this will enable you to grasp the finite details and envision the "lay of the land" so to speak, beneath you. A few basics before we begin. The contour lines shown on any contour map are basically increments or intervals.

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