With the expansion of the Internet, information—both good and bad—is more readily available than ever. But as a veteran outdoor writer, author, radio and television host, and lecturer, I encourage you to use common sense and some of your own filters when you decide to tap into the online fishing info network.
To begin with, let’s face it: there are many people who simply are never satisfied. For them, it is typically all about how many fish they killed, and not the experience of getting outdoors. They will often say, “I am about the catchin’, not the fishin’!” So it’s not surprising that much of their angling happiness is therefore predicated on the kill. Frequently, you will encounter this type of angler posting his self-proclaimed “expert opinion” on website chat rooms or bulletin boards, exercising his precious First Amendment right to free speech to relate to you what a lousy trip he had at a lake with a guide, deckhand, or boat captain.
Do bad encounters happen? Absolutely. But is the unlucky fisherman a “victim” of some malicious behavior on the part of a lake or a charter boat crew? Certainly not always. Take, for example, a large heavily stocked metropolitan trout lake I worked for years ago. We would run weekend tournaments and invariably the same small group of local experts won all the cash and prizes. They were “dialed in” on the bite: they had the right tackle, put in a lot of pre-fish time on the lake, and had a positive attitude that they would always get bit. In contrast, the recurrent complainers typically were using the wrong gear, put little pre-fish time on the water, and had a pretty negative attitude. At one point, some fishermen went online to claim the lake management was lying about the total pounds of trout stocked. This created such an uproar on the Internet that the lake marketing directors went out of their way to actually post the delivery invoices from the trout hatchery each week, not only outside their little tackle shop, but online as well.
Another angler once went “viral” by claiming that a San Diego charter boat captain short-hauled him and his group because the skipper brought the boat back to the dock hours earlier than usual. What the irate angler failed to mention was that the captain took them out to an area where they limited out on tuna in a matter of hours. The skipper was in a location where only tuna could be found (as the rest of the San Diego fleet discovered) but he was too far out off the tuna banks to turn the boat towards the Mexican mainland to round out the day where the boat could possibly catch in-shore species like calico bass or rock fish. So, not wanting to violate international fish treaties with Mexico by fishing in Mexican territorial waters, the skipper made the wise choice that once he filled his passengers with their Mexican limits of tuna, he turned the boat back to the dock.
My point is, be careful in taking at face value all the stuff you read on the fishing Internet sites. Disappointed anglers often to contribute to these sites but frequently there is a bigger story behind many of their gripes and complaints that simply is not being shared.
If you prefer to rely upon the web for fishing info, there are sites that are both reputable and accurate such as Fishhound and 976Tuna. You can also visit lakes or go down to the saltwater landings to talk to anglers who just got off the water and who are happy to relate their good experiences. Local tackle shops can also provide pretty good info at times since their business is predicated on having repeat customers come in to purchase more gear after a successful fishing trip.
Fishing and outdoor radio shows like my own 20-year running Radio Outdoor Expeditions also allow listeners to share their experiences—mostly good—with others in a fairly safe and respectable way. In addition, fishing clubs usually have talented guest fishermen who exchange anecdotes of their successful expeditions, along with speakers at retailer seminars and fishing workshops. Again, be prudent and use your own personal filters to decide the reliability of the fishing information you solicit.