Social media has become a major part of our lives in recent years. Anglers often use social media to connect with each other in ways that have been virtually impossible in the past. But some people believe that social media is ultimately bad for fishing and that our beloved sport is just one of many things that have been compromised by technology and internet culture. Is there any truth to this? Should we be concerned that social media is ruining fishing? Let’s weigh in.
Social Media Makes it Easier for Anglers to Connect
Social media makes it easy for anglers to connect with each other. Fishing is all about enjoying nature and spending time with friends and family. Social media helps enrich those experiences as fishing buddies use their networks to share their stories, photos, videos, and conversations online. And if they choose to share those experiences with a wider audience, it’s also much easier with social media. Their small group of fishing buddies can quickly expand to include other people in the same area or even in other parts of the world.
For anglers, social media provides a space where they can easily share tips and tricks on everything from the best fishing line to what fishing knot to use or how best to clean certain fish species after catching them. It’s quite common, as well, for newbies to post photos of their catch and ask the more experienced anglers to identify the species.
Many also like to give reviews on the best and worst fishing gear out there. Given that there’s so much on the market right now, these reviews can be extremely helpful for narrowing down one’s choices, especially for newbies.
For those who are into a specific type of fishing, like fly fishing or surf fishing, it helps them look for others who share the same passion.
Anglers can even drop pins on maps to show other anglers their favorite fishing spots. On the flip side, they can use the same maps to look for spots they might not know about otherwise.
For anglers who are trying to be more responsible and sustainable in their fishing, social media can also provide great resources on using gear made of recycled materials, practicing practices like catch and release fishing, or avoiding leaving trash on beaches.
The Ugly Side of Competitiveness
It’s no secret that we anglers can get quite competitive. We're always trying to outdo each other in terms of the weight of the fish we caught or the number of species we've seen.This competitive spirit is the main reason tournaments and contests exist in the first place and why they’re such a huge deal. But although some good-natured rivalry and fishing banter can be enjoyable and healthy, at times some anglers go overboard, like what happened in the recent "weights in fish" controversy.
Social media plays a huge part in this. Photos and videos of impressive catches tend to fuel insecurities. It’s not uncommon to see comments that cast doubt on whether the person who shared the monstrous catch is being entirely truthful (and sadly, on many occasions, they really aren’t). This is bad for fishing because if we feel like we're missing out on something or not doing enough, then it's easy to get distracted from our primary goal—to catch fish! It's also bad because feeling inadequate isn't fun; it makes us less likely to want to even go fishing in the first place!
Of course, this isn't anything new, as anglers are notorious for exaggerating the size of their catch or how hard and long they fought it. But social media greatly widens the audience that receives these stories (and photos and videos), and in many cases, it’s very easy to figure out whether the angler was lying or not.
And then there’s the unfortunate issue of clickbait. Some fishermen and women who want to be famous will flat out lie about what tips and tricks work and make up a story about how a certain strange lure brought them a massive catch.While it’s true that some unconventional lures do work, some of these videos deceive the audience just for clicks. It's really sad since many beginner anglers rely on social media to learn and instead get these fake tips.
The Bottom Line
It's true that social media can be a great way to connect with other anglers, share experiences, and find new spots. But it also has a downside, which is when it triggers insecurities so much that it leads us to dishonest and even illegal fishing practices. The important thing to remember is that social media is only as good as the person using it. It’s ultimately up to us as individual fishermen and fisherwomen how we choose to live our lives and how we use the tools that are available to us.