The trouble with writing an occasional fish story is, most readers won’t even agree on what kind of fish to catch, much less what to do with it afterward. (Eat that carp? or Let It Live to Bite Another Day?) Dig further into the nuances of our sport - for example whether or not to tell the unembellished truth - and you can shatter more friendships than a show of hands at a political rally.
I’m not absolutely sure what I think about folks who choose to share intimate details about exactly where and how a fish was caught, especially when another person may be naively expecting “the Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing But the Truth.” Seems like a religious question to me, best left to my minister brother. I do, however, feel compelled to share the limits of my own candor in a public forum. To me, the crucial question is, Just how frank and open should one be in a crowded room, social media, print media, or a popular website like this one?
The founding father of this nifty website of ours, Fish Explorer Executive Editor Matt Snider, says he came up with the basic premise “when I got my first boat and couldn't find a list of lakes showing where I could launch it. I wanted to fly fish for wipers and hunt tiger muskie, but couldn't find a map showing which lakes had them. And if I was going to travel hours to get to a lake, I had very few options if any to determine whether the lake was full enough to launch, or warm enough to find active fish.”
The end result of all that heavy thinking was the 2006 launch of Fish Explorer, and its core concept of mapping lakes, cross-referencing fish species and updating other anglers about current lake and stream conditions. Things like water level, water temperature and general conditions like visibility. It is an absolute jewel of a resource, at its best when advising you, before you waste time and gas, on time-sensitive conditions like fluctuating water levels or the approaching end of the ice fishing season on a given body of water.
Fair enough. In fact, thanks again, Matt!
Ask even me for water temperature, or current bait of choice, or how deep I caught fish, and you can pretty much count on a pretty honest answer. The trickier bit - and you see it on just about every social media group about fishing - comes when someone asks: “Where’s a good spot on West Murray Pond where I can catch a big crappie this time of year?” This is the angling equivalent of asking a homely guy exactly how they landed a first date with the prettiest girl in school, or what they accomplished on that date.
This subject would never come up in water-wealthy places like Florida or Minnesota, “The Land of 10,000 Lakes.” But I would argue that the public waters we share in Colorado are too tiny for that kind of candor with anyone but a spouse or maybe a favorite sister. I am annoyed by overly chatty apps like Fishbrain, for example, that seem to expect everyone to share GPS coordinates for a favorite bluegill spawning bed.
Here’s a better alternative: When asking for advice about a body of water, limit yourself to questions you might be willing to answer in front of an unseen, larger audience. Aim for the level of detail other Fish Explorer contributors share in a well-crafted Lake or Stream Update. Or ones like these: “Are there crappie in this lake?” “How deep were you fishing?” “Can you get in there with a belly boat?” If a new friend really wants to help, they might respond, ““Hey, drop me an e-mail.” Or, “I’m free Wednesday. Let’s go fishing.”
You can be circumspect and still be a good contributing citizen of the angling community. Matt Snider floods us with reliable information, in a reasonable, common sense fashion. And other Western angling legends like Chad LaChance, Dan Swanson and Bernie Keefe may not divulge their favorite fishing holes, but won’t hesitate to share information that can be applied with confidence to fishing trips anywhere. While I and my Loveland Fishing Club companions are not fishing saints like them, even we are living proof that not all fishermen are liars, all the time.
TOTALLY agree. Sadly, human nature dictates a little bragging, sometimes more than a little. My conditions reports lately have been more limited than in the past. I include pertinent information about the body of water, but not if what I'm catching or how I was fishing. General information, but useful if you know the basics of fishing. It can be VERY helpful if you know the body of water and know it's history. Most of us do enough fishing in this state that if I say "bugs were hatching" at 11 mile, that you need to be fishing with a certain lure or fly at a certain time of day. Joe Blow who just stumbled into our state or into the sport might not know that specifically what to use, but he'll know enough to go wet a line.
Unfortunately, we all want to brag about that trophy, or limit and that leads to hot spotting and overwhelmed eco systems. My biggest hope for this site is that it leads to more people going out there, doing the right things, and leaving the lakes as they found them or better. Between that, and bringing folks together to enjoy the outdoors this site could do great things!
Every year we get a new member that likes to call everyone out for not hot spotting waters and then proceeds to tell everyone where and how they're catching fish. Shortly after, you never see them on the forum. Figure they were either trolling or more likely found out the repercussions of such actions.
I both agree and disagree with you guys on this one. If someone is just spouting out about how they are such a great fisherman, usually it's not even reliable info, which in turn is sending people to the wrong place and using the wrong setup. For me I'd rather get honest responses that gives others a chance at catching and makes our community (Fish Explorer) a better place. Those few years I moved to Wyoming it was rare to even get any updates on any lakes and I soon realized how much I missed this group. In regards to giving up info, I just thinks it's rare to use yesterday's information today. For example, I have fished Blue Mesa 7 times in the past 4 plus weeks and not once has what we've been using or where we've been fishing been useful the next time we go. Sure we adjust as we go and sometime we adjust to an extreme different setup from what we used the previous trip, and completely move areas from trip to trip, but just because a pink tassie worked yesterday at 1.5mph trolled at 25 feet, odds are it won't work again the next time. It may be a small adjustment to a different color, speed or depth, but that is where the work (or skill) comes in.
So my take is this, Ask and I'll tell you, just understand if you aren't willing to put in the work and make the adjustments, well that's on you. If it helps you catch, well I'm glad I could help. Then again, maybe I'm just making up my tips to send you in the wrong direction! LOL