Used to be that in order to get any type of a fishing report a fisherman would have to call (yes, actually use a phone) a local bait shop. This info was iffy at best since the bait shop owner wants to make money and he isn’t going to sell any bait if he says the fishing sucks. Of course there was always word of mouth, the old reliable “My cousin’s, uncle’s, brother twice removed from his friend’s aunt caught fish yesterday” report. We all know how well that works.
Today though we have an over abundant amount of information literally at our fingertips. Thanks to the internet, smart phones and savvy tech nerds we can now access a litany of on-line sources. Club web sites, message boards, forums, state reports and social media have completely changed getting an accurate fishing report. Some of it is good but also some of it is bad and when it’s bad it can really be garbage. The task now is to determine what a credible source is and what isn’t.
Let’s start with the bad; after all bashing something is a lot easier than giving a source credit, specifically message boards and forums.
There is more to social media than just Facebook and Twitter. The advent of the Public Forum has given people the opportunity to post just about anything their heart desires whether it is true or not. Political rants, bashing the local DNR and fishing regulations, criticizing other fisherman and questioning what someone caught is more the norm nowadays. I’m not saying they are all like this but there seems to be a growing number of haters out there. The reason is that a lot of people use these forums for more of a bragging page than anything else. Someone will come on and say he caught a limit of fish and when asked where he will respond with “I caught them on the Detroit River between Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie”. Gee, thanks for nothing. For those of you that don’t know that section of river is over 30 miles long. This kind of thing drives me nuts because the people that post these same vague reports are the same people that are constantly using this source to find and locate fish. Nothing like spreading the wealth. Years ago I quit one forum because someone accused me of posting his “secret” location on my club website and ruining the spot. He saw 3 (that’s right 3) boats on that section of the river the next time he went out and because of me I ruined everything for him. News Flash, that section of river is right next to a Senior Living Center that is full of spies. That’s right, spies who look upon that river all day long and tell their kids and grandkids when they see boats out in front of the building fishing. Second News Flash, fishermen have been catching fish on that part of the river for the last 100 years. Nothing new there, move along, try again, have a nice day.
Now I’m not saying the info posted is pure garbage but the reader has to sift through the report and pull the useful information. I’m not talking color, size or exact location. Those variables change daily if not hourly. The main thing I want to know is time. Just how long did it take to catch that limit? I learned this little tidbit many years ago. A friend of mine and I were heading out one evening when another boat was just pulling in. I asked how they did and one guy said we got a 3 man limit as he puffed out his chest. Another fisherman climbed out of the boat and stretched his back while he complained about being in the boat for 12 hours. That’s 12 hours for 18 fish or 1.5 fish per hour. That isn’t exactly tearing them up. After that evening I ask two questions from any report, how long and what time of day. I’ll figure everything else out for myself.
Now for the good and it is a pretty easy solution but one that seems to be lacking for a lot of fishermen. This one is so easy it’s stupid but for some it seems impossible.
Yep, that’s all there is to it. I’m not talking Facebook friend but people you actually talk to and fish the same areas you do. Once you build up a group of friends that fish like you do info comes free and easy. Creating this group is pretty easy too; all you have to do is help and give an honest report. Pay it forward as they say. For me this all started when I met a local fisherman called “Sparky”. He took me fishing on one condition; I would have to return the favor to someone else. Since that time I have given several seminars and helped many fishermen learn how to catch walleye on my beloved river. Some have bled me dry of info and then disappeared but there are others that have stuck around and they make it all worthwhile. I can call, text, e-mail or even yell across the river to any of these guys and they will tell me the where, when, how, why and on what’s that are working for them. Even during my tournament I have had people tell me what is working for them and I have done the same. With a group of close fishing buddies it’s all about everyone catching fish, not out doing everyone else (though winning my tournament would be nice).
I can never understand why some people want to be so secretive. I know of one old timer that will only fish at night so no one can see where he is fishing and another that purposely hides himself bringing in a fish from anyone who may be watching.
Really? Is that necessary?
We all started out the same way, not knowing anything and trying to figure out how to catch fish. A kind word and some constructive help goes a long way. A lot more than a turned up nosed and ignored questions. Granted we can’t change the world but at least we can make our little part of it better. It’s something to think about the next time someone asks how you did at the dock. You never know what it could lead too. I used to keep to myself a lot but thanks to giving a few seminars and helping people out I have standing invitations to fish on a dozen different boats for Walleye, Trout, Steelhead, Perch, Smallmouth Bass, Northern Pike and Muskie from Northern Lake Huron to the Western Basin of Lake Erie. All I have to do is call.
Never would have happened if I just said I caught fish between Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie.