Patent Lawyers Gone Fishin'

Lawsuits are rising among makers of gear that help anglers locate fish
Photograph by Steven Russell Smith/Alamy

Piloting his 20-foot BassCat over the murky Potomac River on a sunny July afternoon, Rick Kortlang is on the watch for game fish. Rather than endlessly scanning the water’s surface, the 58-year-old retiree from Springfield, Va., keeps his eyes fixed on one of his two fishfinders, electronic gadgets that use global positioning technology, sonar, and video-game-like displays to give him sweeping views of the river bottom. Soon, he points out a line of rock visible on one device, with what he says are probably catfish swimming around. In shallower water, he sees a patch of baitfish, making it a good bet that coveted largemouth bass lurk nearby. Forget intuition or the secret locations of fishing holes passed down from father to son. For today’s serious angler, Kortlang says, “it’s all about the toys.”

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