Well, I participate in internet fishing forums and write articles for fishing magazines so in the eyes of many I am emblematic of what they see as the decline of the fishery due to over-saturation of information in the media and on the net. Maybe because of that I’m not really entitled to an opinion on the subject but of course I do have one and here it is:
I think the people that believe there should be a more secretive attitude are probably right, at least to adegree. There is no question that the internet in particular has the power to bring a small out-of-the-way lake from obscurity to trafic-jam popularity in a very short period. I believe that we as professionals and those that choose to post fishing reports on the net have a new and important responsibility, not to be secretive perhaps but definitely to be very careful what we write for the public eye.
For example, a fishing article is just as entertaining if you write “a small lake in the Merrit area” as it is if you write “we fished at secret lake and here are the GPS coordinates and how to get there.” Sure it would be nice to share all hard-won information with everybody, we all like to be generous of spirit but the fact is, you aren’t talking to a few guys at the tackle-shop, you are talking to thousands of people all over the world and a good percentage of those people are going to be headed for that quiet little lake, especially if you were unwise enough to sensationalize that humble piece of water.
Go ahead and write whatever you like about the popular fishing spots everybody already knows about, if you write a story about the fantastic fishing at Roche Lake, or Tunkwa, or the Vedder River, nobody is going to be surprised or unhappy but if someone shows you one of their favorite unsung pieces of water and you broadcast that information you have not only compromised that spot, probably forever, but you have lost a friend.
Go ahead and write about great fishing you have experienced but use a little care about how you identify that water if is relatively unknown. People who really love to fish will find itanyway but by the time they do they will have fostered an understanding within themselves of what a rare thing a peaceful, quiet spot is and will be careful how far they spread that information.
As to people that won’t tell you what fly they are using or how deep they are going when you talk to them on a lake, well they are just silly people and I have no time for them. Really? You have to be the lake hero and be the only one catching fish? How does that improve the sport? It doesn’t, people need to lighten up in that regard.
Since the good old days fishers have always had a secretive attitude, where hard work has always prevailed for ones that put the effort out.
I believe secret places are secret for a reason. These days the Internet and Facebook are showing great numbers of people places that were never before accessible.
The problem is that some of these places could be destroyed with too much pressure while others could be helped. For example, when the authorities at present put a power project up in places that it could destroy.
As fishers that may know of these “secret” areas that will become adversely affected by “progress” such as this,we are the voice of the rivers and have to take the opportunity to speak out before something goes wrong.
This question is best answered in two sections.
First off I think it important to share strategies and techniques with as many people as possible.
I find if we all look back through our learning curves someone at some point made a big difference in our lives when it comes to fishing. Many anglers like myself actually find pleasure in sharing productive methods to catch more fish. If you find a fly that works and can share it with a friend or stranger it is a real gratifying feeling.
Now when it comes to giving up locations, this is where my answer changes quite dramatically. I feel one of the best parts of fishing is hunting for that next great cutthroat backwater or run on a river. To have a honey hole splattered all over the internet does noone any favors. It doesn’t make for better anglers it just makes people good at reading a map or following directions. There is no better feeling then finding fish that other people have overlooked. Always remember the hunt is half the battle.
Instead of answering this question directly I want to provide some background and context for the issue. Most of the freshwater fisheries, both lakes and rivers, are dispersed over a vast and diverse landscape; one rich with small, productive angling opportunities. There is a large pool of anglers who use any means possible to gain information about which fishing locations give them the best chance of success. We know that fishing quality can quickly become eroded once word is spread about a good opportunity because anglers respond to the information very quickly. The ability of anglers to respond quickly to good fishing opportunities has become even more prominent with the evolution of internet discussion forums and other electronic media. The end result is a shift towards “average fishing” as productive spots become over-subscribed. Some fisheries still perform better than others due to productivity factors, but overall quality is shifted to average due to angling pressure. Personally, I think remaining secretive about a lake or river that receives very little angling pressure and that produces quality fish is a good thing. This is particularly important for wild fisheries, as they can be extremely sensitive to over-harvest, and there are limited resources available for effective management and monitoring. The Freshwater Fisheries Society provides as much information as possible to anglers in regards to stocked lakes (which are designed to withstand angling pressure), including location, access, and the type and number of fish stocked. Our www.gofishbc.com website also provides tips for anglers to be more successful when they embark on their fishing trip, though the information we typically provide does not mention the quality of a specific fishery unless it is already well known. Anglers have to visit the lakes themselves to actually determine the size and density of the fish in a lake. It would be wonderful for the angling community if it could be a culture in which each angler could share his or her favourite spots, openly with the public. Unfortunately, in this day and age of prolific information dispersal, our fisheries can’t sustain such traffic if the expectation is to catch large fish (with the exception of a number of very productive stocked small lakes). Given that there are over 800 stocked small lake fisheries and countless wild angling opportunities it is important to spread the effort out to as many fisheries as possible.
I personally do not act as secretive as most, although I do understand it. I personally feel that every angler has the right to keep a few nuggets to themselves so to speak. With the growth and popularity of sport fishing, small creeks and lakes are easily overrun by increased angling pressure. However, I do feel that sharing information and pushing sport anglers to places that are threatened and or in need of conservation efforts can help put awareness on sensitive locations and create a bigger voice. To sum it up I feel that uniting anglers and sharing information without giving away all the hard earned secrets will benefit the sport fishery in the long run.