I think fishing is still pretty much the same game it was back in the 1970s and ’80s on some levels, but it strikes me that it’s changed a lot on others. I particularly believe that dedicated, smart anglers working to polish their skills have more opportunities to improve quicker and more effectively than ever before. All without having to go through the traditional long-term learning curve most old-timers endured.
First of all, back in the ’70s and later, it was not easy to get solid angling information on a variety of levels – such as what were the best lures, how do you work them properly, what’s the best equipment to use, and just basic “how-to” information. It was still the wild West and most good fishermen kept the secrets they had mastered pretty much to themselves. Social media and self promotion hadn’t infected the sport too badly, so most guys had little reason to share their hard won gems of information!
Fast forward to now, when anglers will motor past you with trees of GoPros set to capture their latest catch for a Facebook cameo and YouTube posting! I’ve seen some anglers post YouTube videos that are so edited, formatted and musically enhanced, you would think that the 2-pound bass they landed is the winning fish at the Classic! Are they more concerned about their videography than their fishing? Possibly, it seems, but that’s the point of the whole thing for many today: how many “likes” can you get? Being old school, grumpy and somewhat technologically challenged, I still think it’s about the fish! OK, I admit it. I’ve done a few YouTubes, but just so those younger guys wouldn’t think one of the “old” guys can’t keep up. (You really believe that?) But I digress!
My point is that today’s up-and-coming angler has a virtual universe of specific proven information that he can tap into at any time. Bringing up a video of a deadly technique someone has taken years to perfect – and getting to the heart of what makes it work in just a few minutes – can provide a huge shortcut to success. In fact, this way of learning can be so powerful, it can make an angler willing to apply what he learns an expert almost virtually overnight. The learning curve can be short and efficient, and you didn’t have to go down all kinds of rabbit holes to finally distill the essence of the technique. Now you can take it from there and actually build upon another good angler’s work. It’s a tremendous advantage to be able to focus all of your energy on just doing the right things the right way and never wasting time doing something wrong. Efficiently being effective!
The electronic age not only leverages the fisherman’s learning curve, but it also can provide key info on new places to fish, the best tackle to use for special techniques, what to avoid, and all kinds of new lures. I’ve even learned some new techniques and ideas from videos by outstanding anglers from back East that have helped me here.
I believe that today’s savvy angler needs to be tied into the various pipelines of information – from weekly fishing reports, Internet reports, online chat rooms, teaching videos, Facebook postings and YouTube videos to name a few – just to keep up with the leading edge of fishing information. I’ve recently had kids as young as 12 get in my boat, look around, then correctly identify my equipment and how it works, all because they went on the Internet to learn! How far beyond the normal learning curve does that put them?
For eager to learn anglers, it’s never been better! Everything you need to improve rapidly, or learn to do well quickly, is all out there to be accessed. Funny, but I’m still amazed at how few anglers will tap into these resources, even if it is all at their fingertips! Which makes the point that it’s still the guys who are dedicated, persistent and willing to learn who are always the best anglers. That never changes. Never give up!