As a kid, when offshore fishing there was always calls over the VHF radio speaking of fish on some distant numbers. I was always cautioned against trusting radio reports, but it was not until I grew old enough to run my own boats that I realized why that was the case. Even if those “Radio Fish” were real, by the time you turned the boat around and got on the numbers, you would be fishing in a parking lot with a hundred of your closest friends, the dreaded “Radio Fishermen”.
Fast forward a few more years and enter the single biggest revelation fishing ever experienced: the internet. With the internet came the fishing message boards, social media groups and platforms and soon enough there were a multitude of modalities to share information, techniques, tactics, locales, all good things. The fishing community was closer than it ever had been before and fisheries were exposed to new tricks and methods they never would have encountered without the wonderful social tool that the internet had become.
Naturally fishermen wanted to brag about their catches, share the details, and with that was born the internet fish report. A new age version of the old “Radio Fish”. And as we all know, if there is “Internet Fish”, then the “Internet Fishermen” can’t be far behind!
While the issue didn’t change the offshore scene much, as they had already dealt with the radio fish phenom for years, internet fishing certainly changed the “landscape” (pardon the pun) of landbased fishing. Before the internet the only way fish reports were shared among landbased fishermen, for the most part, was word of mouth. And since most shark fishing guys hung out with the same groups, the information on what was happening at any given moment as far as the bite went, remained closely guarded. But now, with the internet and social media having such a profound effect, keeping fish secret is no small task! All it takes is one braggy showboat of an angler, one kid with a cell phone, or one tourist passing by to blow a “secret” bite wide open for the whole world to see.
Unlike offshore fishing, when literally the entire ocean is available, landbased fishing is often limited to certain locales. Whether because of issues of access, productive coastline, or other conditions, landbased fishing spots are not as numerous as they might have been in the past. This is where Internet Fishing becomes a problem.
Many landbased sharkers fish HARD. Not just a few hours a week, but countless hours on the sand at all hours of the day and night. For example, during peak Thresher Shark season here on the West Coast, it is not unusual for the Terra Firma Tackle team to be on the pier for 4-5 days straight for 18 hour shifts! This means that when a fish finally is caught, it was earned, with time, effort and consistency. The last thing an angler wants after finally landing a quality fish, is to arrive the next day hoping for a repeat performance, only to find his location swarmed with bands of, you guessed it, Internet Fishermen!
The Moral of the Story
This is not to say that information should be withheld complete. The dissemination of information through the community is what makes landbased fishing grow and advance as a sport! Sharing information is key and being open about the fishery is one of the best things one can do as an angler. We all need to share and grow as a group if the sport is to continue to change and evolve as it has so far. However, there are things that can be done to mitigate the blowback and preserve ones time on the water.
The 10 Internet Fishing Commandments!
- Thou Shalt Not Post a Fish Immediately!
This is the worst possible thing one can do to a bite, call in the cavalry...
Wait a day, maybe two, or better yet, wait until the bite dies down. Nobody needs to know you found biters the day you found them. Good fishermen remember bite windows, and everyone that should benefit will, even if you don’t post right away!
- Thou Shalt Not Post an Exact Location!
Nobody needs to know the GPS coordinates of where you caught that shark. Sure, a general area is helpful, but spoon feeding locations to all comers is asking for trouble.
- Thou Shalt Not Post Photos That Give Away Locations!
See above: Always take photos with the ocean in the background, this makes it harder to discern the exact place the photo was taken. If you post pictures of the scenery around the fishing, crop out landmarks or railings and walkways that might expose the spot. Even if you don’t care, someone else who fishes there might!
- Thou Shalt Not Tag the Wrong Location!
While you don’t need to give people the exact location, steering them in the wrong direction is cruel, and uncalled for. Just omit details, never fabricate them. Best case you send someone on a wild goose chase, worst case you give away someone else’s spot. Just don’t do it!
- Thou Shalt Not Be an Internet Fishermen!
This should go without saying, but it gets said anyway. Nobody likes a bite crasher. If you hear about a solid bite, do yourself a favor and stay away unless invited. Chances are it will be a zoo anyway, so just make a mental note of the conditions and time of year, and come back to it next time the stars align. Find your own fish people!
- Though Shall Always Say “Old Pic”!
Never forget to mention that a picture is old. Even if there are not any fish biting at the moment, a post of a nice shark or quality finfish is sure to bring the internet fishos out the second it hits the web! Unless you mention that it is from “a while back”. Just do it!
- Though Shalt Not Burn Another’s Bite!
If someone tells you about a fish, keep it to yourself until they release the info themselves. Don’t post other peoples fish and don’t invite other people into a bite you heard about.
- Though Shall Always Call Ahead!
If you are going to show up and fish someone else’s spot, reach out to the locals if you know them. Don’t randomly crash someone else’s known locale. You would want to know if someone was going to be fishing your beach, so return the favor.
- Thou Shalt Not Tell “That Guy”!
There’s one in every group. The guy that runs his mouth. You know who he is. Just don’t tell him. Period.
- Thou Shalt Not Be an Internet Fishermen!
Yes, it made the list twice! Just don’t be that guy. You’re better than that!
While the internet can be a great tool for anglers, it can also be misused and abused! Just be respectful of the time others put into the sport, and they’ll respect you back. Internet fishing isn’t cool, so don’t do it!