So you’re going to post your big catch online for all your buddies and drooling anglers out there to see! Used to be an easy call, but for most savvy anglers it’s now a tough decision.
What began as a way to share information among trusted sources evolved into the social media mess we see. Posts once seemed so innocent, but I’ve talked to many good anglers who have completely changed their minds about social media. Why?
First of all, many of these anglers are good guys who in the past were all too willing to share helpful knowledge. That is until others took advantage of that generosity. I’ve lost track of all the guys who told me that they had put faith in other supposedly reputable and trustworthy anglers while passing on their hard-won information – only to find out later that these guys not only used the information to catch their own fish (which they had permission to do) but then took the next step and blasted it themselves on social media. The kill shot was when the perpetrator went further and tried to leverage the “stolen” info into somehow becoming an online fishing authority. Bad form!
OK, I’ve had guys say that they share everything because they love to help others catch fish! Sounds good, but if it’s someone else’s info I don’t believe you have a right to share – unless the original source clearly says it’s OK! Period! In many cases, this private information gets spread to anglers who are not responsible and who will and often do abuse it. These are guys whom you would never have personally given the information to in the first place.
An older, wise angler once told me that if you were thinking of sharing your best stuff with someone, you need to ask yourself the question: “Has this angler earned the right and is he responsible enough to receive this critical, hard-won information I’m sharing? If not, don’t do it! You’ll save yourself because it cost him nothing, and he doesn’t appreciate what it took to get it.” I’ve made this mistake, too!
These abused anglers sadly tell me that their best spots are now infested with anglers from all over, eager to “get theirs!” Overfished areas, with trash everywhere! That tells you just how concerned these online predators are about the fishery. It’s just another spot to ravage before moving on.
This phenomenon has led many good anglers to do several things to protect themselves. First, many are not posting to social media, preferring to just text any potentially sensitive pictures only to their closest friends. Otherwise, unknown online anglers pop up trying to pump them for even more info! In addition, it turns those willing to share into targets the next time they’re on the water, where guys can spy you out and post your location and techniques in moments. They usually want one thing: to steal your information!
Many guys are now especially wary of anyone who is regularly posting pictures and will not share anything for fear it will get posted, too. Seems like the “wanna-be user” types among anglers are trying more than ever to siphon off all the information they can get from those who have worked for it! They just wait till the internet hounds smell out the next great spot, tell all their buddies, get there first and fish it till it collapses. It’s a battlefield.
Instead there is a movement toward small, tight online groups where getting in is accepted as a privilege! Invitations are extended to a few vetted anglers they trust. And trust is the gold standard.
I see an internet fishing culture of abuse that has grown into a cancer, but I also see a lot of pushback from good anglers! Integrity, taking responsibility for your actions and keeping your word are still the keys! Never give up!