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Does Technology Take the Sport Out of Fishing

Blog by: David Coulson , Colorado 1/17/2017
Sport fishing, the act of fishing for pleasure, not just capturing fish by any means, has been around for centuries. The use of a hook and line to catch fish dates back to 7000 BC, and there’s some evidence to suggest the use of flies dates at least back to the time of Christ.

While the makings of sport fishing have been around a long time, thanks to technology, today’s fishing is a far cry from what was practiced a century or two back. Rods, reels, lines, hooks, flies, lures and even many of the accessories used today are nothing like those used a hundred years ago, or even less. Today, changes in technology are quickly changing the face of fishing, to the point, there are times I wonder where’s the sport in some of it.

Drones seem to be the rage these days. Like them or not, I suspect they’re here to stay. The only question is, what uses will we allow? On Facebook I’ve seen posts of anglers using them to locate fish, such as carp, redfish and other species. While not actually catching the fish, remote aerial scouting somehow doesn’t quite seem like sporting to me.

A few others have taken it a step further and used drones not only to locate fish, but to deliver the lure/line to the fish. Even less sporting in my book. Then there’s the underwater drone that uses sonar and cameras to locate and show the angler fish underwater. Not interested.

Not sure why the underwater drone bothers me as anglers, including me, have been using sonar units for years as fishing aides. Some of today’s fish finders are truly spectacular pieces of technology, allowing anglers to view underwater features with incredible detail. Personally, while I use depth finders, I fall short on exploiting the technology as much as I could, generally being satisfied with depth and temperature readings. Occasionally, I mark bottom type, structure, cover and yes even fish now and then.

Another bit of technology many anglers use is underwater cameras. Drop them over the side and the angler has a fish’s view of the world. Ice fishers often put both depth finders and cameras to good use. I’ve seen anglers use both to monitor their lures/baits, watch fish come into them, see how the fish react, then adjust their presentations to entice strikes. In the hands of seasoned anglers, the results can be impressive.

GPS units are another technological advancement, coupled with built in maps, that has changed the way many fish, including me. This technology allows you to find your way around, but most importantly for me, to find my way back to the ramp. Furthermore, when you do catch fish, you can mark your spot, allowing you to return to the location time and again without having to rely on memory.

All aspects of modern fishing are infused with technological advances. Today’s rods are built with space age materials, allowing anglers to cast and detect strikes better than ever. There are a myriad of line options, including some of the super braids that offer extraordinary strength. Even fly lines have been engineered to the point of lines being sold for specific species. Even some baits have been created in laboratories to better entice fish.

Yet, for all our technological advances, fish can remain frustratingly difficult to catch. Just because we can locate fish, doesn’t mean they’ll cooperate and take our offerings. Still, I have to wonder if there isn’t a line we shouldn’t cross, a point where technology takes the sport out of fishing and it’s simply catching.

First published Jan 15, 2017 in the Fort Collins Coloradoan.
Blog content © David Coulson
Blog Comments
Hawaiian Punch, CO   1/17/2017 12:50:15 PM
Pop used to say "it takes all kind of horses to make a horse race" and yes,there is a line in the sand that I will not cross. That being said,back when I first got on the fishing seen there were only flashers and paper feed "sonar" and the old guy that taught me things says to me...."buy a flasher" I got a flasher and used it for 10 yrs.The old guy told me"use it to show you where not to fish" took me a while to learn that one .....that advice still holds true. I use my electronics to see where not to fish! If there ain't no fish....move on!
esoxrocks, CO   1/17/2017 1:16:07 PM
Absolutely...unless its the technology I want to which case its fine.
Tbubb, CO   1/17/2017 2:33:50 PM
I might ask if Golf-carts and Snow-machines take the 'sport' out of golf and ice-fishing, respectively. Do you have to drag your own sled? Hand auger Vs electric? I guess it comes down to what about fishing is the sport part? Your mileage may vary. Outfitters are going to do what they can to compete for customers, which is to say, anything cost-effective to assure hook-ups. So there is that, for sure.
RPG, CO   1/17/2017 2:46:44 PM
Does Technology Take the Sport Out of Fishing. No, makes it more interesting.
David Coulson (Flyrodn), CO   1/17/2017 2:51:21 PM
I don't have answers, as I use a lot of technology, but what got me thinking on this was drones, not only used to locate fish, but in some cases fish for them. Let's face it, air planes are not considered permissible for hunting, should they be for fishing, includes drones in my mind. Or remote controlled boats trolling lures, or . . . List is endless.
Hawaiian Punch, CO   1/17/2017 2:59:54 PM
U Tube is full of drone/fishing video's ...there's even a few bloopers where things don't go as planned....
FISHRANGLER, CO   1/17/2017 3:18:03 PM
You should see the new ROV underwater drones tech coming out from the CES show last week in Vegas. I've been fallowing this for a while. While I'm interested I have not preordered anything yet. Answering questions I have about the species I target really peaks my interest. Then having information on how to target them better then anyone else also interest me. The underwater tech that is coming out this year while very cool and will help some people its not for everyone and they are very pricey so I dont think it will become common place.
Dave Mauldin, TX   1/17/2017 3:21:32 PM
I've been working for ESPN helping film BassMaster events. One of the cameras we use in on a drone. Very interesting shots, if you watch BassMaster....How about using a drone to scout a new lake?
David Coulson (Flyrodn), CO   1/17/2017 3:28:01 PM
When monies involved, I'm sure many will do it, scout lakes with drones to the extent the rules allow. I use satellite images and maps, so I suppose some wouldn't see it as being much different. Personally, I'm not interested, as part of the pleasure I get fishing new water is the "discovery" aspect. There's no doubt in my mind that the line is different for every angler.
FISHRANGLER, CO   1/17/2017 3:28:41 PM
The top three are Deep Treckker this ROV has been available for a while and sells at about 4k. It has a claw that can grab or drop items. The OPEN trident drone sells for about 1400. the have a new one coming out this summer. The latest is the Powerray ROV which will be sold for about 2 or 3k and will ship in July The Powerray ROV actually is being target towards fisherman and has a holder for lures.
FISHRANGLER, CO   1/17/2017 3:38:11 PM
Now I personally think exploring is in my blood and seeing and doing something no one else has has done has me interested.
FISHRANGLER, CO   1/17/2017 3:54:41 PM
Getting to know what is happening beneath the surface is an exhilarating and educational adventure that everyone should discover. There are countless mysteries of marine life and ecosystems that need to be investigated, and it is through the advancement of fishing gear such as the Deep Trekker DTG2 ROV that will get the everyday person excited about being out on the water. I think it may even help to bring younger kids that are into gaming out of the house and use a fishing rod.
esoxrocks, CO   1/17/2017 4:15:49 PM
I friggin' hate drones buzzing overhead...IMO takes the "outdoors" out of the "outdoors" to see/hear that buzzing while I am fishing, hiking or just relaxing outside...all the while knowing that there is some geek looking down at us.Taking them into the water or using them to actually fish?...I think that would be over the line to me.
David Coulson (Flyrodn), CO   1/17/2017 4:28:36 PM
I'll agree that the idea of drones overhead while I'm fishing doesn't please me at all. Maybe the compromise for those cases would be open season, provide you have a small game license. Hell, that might cause me to buy one and carry a shotgun. Smile guys, that statement is meant as pure BS humor.
Salmon Slayer, CO   1/17/2017 4:37:12 PM
David, what gauge do you recommend?
David Coulson (Flyrodn), CO   1/17/2017 4:40:12 PM
3 inch magnum 12 gauge at a minimum. Might have to consider a 10 if that didn't do it. Not big enough to handle anything bigger. Suppose I'd have to settle for steel as someone might consider them foul. Pun intended.
FISHRANGLER, CO   1/17/2017 4:40:31 PM
Shotguns dont work well underwater though.
Kennywho, TX   1/17/2017 7:37:04 PM
There's even an new underwater drone that will take your line and lure and dangle it in from of a fish all the while videographing the action. I have a fish finder, but not sure what I'm looking at. I'll bet the fish will always be smarter than our technology.
WIN, CO   1/17/2017 8:22:48 PM
My husband and I have a back pack and rod and reel. We can be ready in a few minutes, only requirements is a fishing license and maybe a park pass. No boat permits ,licenses, insurance maintenance. No noisy gear. If I want to be technical I stay home and use my computer. Now drones are another subject but I am sure the Game and Fish will have laws about that . How about a simple little fishing day, no noise, no technical stuff. Enjoy the view, air and the quiet.
elkinthebag, CO   1/17/2017 10:02:19 PM
I think technology is frustrating most days. Even worse when you can see the fish see your lure or lures and still not get a bite. Or when you fish for a big mark on the sonar to catch a submerged peice of drift wood hours later. But some of the new imaging models paint a real clear pic of what is below. Would be sweet to look at some of the old bridges and house left under and flooded
JOHN_COSprings, CO   1/17/2017 11:03:36 PM
I have started using any and all technology, I can afford, to aid in my fishing, e.g. castable sonar, underwater camera's. Heck, if I could afford an underwater drone, i'd be driving it out there. My fishing time is limited, I prefer to maximize that time out on the banlside. Yet, having technology does not necessarily mean you will catch more fish. It's how you use it that counts. Blind reliance on technology could actually be a negative though. The angler from a boat has had a huge advantage for years, with their sonars and fish finders. I look forwards to more options becoming available for the shore based angler.
Neyet Stalker, CO   1/18/2017 9:31:48 AM
Nice article! Man has always looked for an easier path for results. Fascinated with new ideas and innovations. That's our nature! Personally for me the challenge is in the hunt. From shore! No boat, no electronics. One must fish each spot as IF it holds fish working it thoroughly never knowing but anticipating. Electronics give an angler a certain amount of confidence knowing where and how fish are relating to the water column. Whether they are active or inactive. Experience, effort, and perseverance have served me well!
ozzy, CO   1/18/2017 3:00:44 PM
I think what it comes down to for me is convenience. I am a busy, family guy and I dont have a lot of time for fishing. I love fishing. Ask anyone. But, with my limited time, my kayak and a fishfinder help compensate for the lack of time on the lake. I caught my PB cutbow at horsetooth because of my sonar. I found them hunkered down on a saturday outing with the family in the kayaks. Next day, I shot over to the same area with my buddy in his boat with no sonar and bag that lunker. The fishfinder has come in handy when nothing seems to be biting too. I can paddle around until I find some action and send my "go-to" lure down to see if I get a hit. It has worked out many times and kept me from skunking out a lot. If I wasnt catching fish, I wouldnt like it as much as I do. Is it a necessity-No. But, it can help make the most out of short outings when I dont have a lot of time. I would love to get a ROV camera and see what the bottom of these lakes look like for the heck of it. It fascinates me to see what is actually down there. Im not going to judge either. Ive seen many heavily outfitted boats out there and they are not catching anything. Ive be there myself.
MichaelP, CO   1/18/2017 3:27:16 PM
Using a fish finder is just that , a fish finder. Not a fish catcher. Using a Dupont lure on the other hand takes all the sport out of it. Albeit, there's a few times I'd like to let them have it.
johnski, CO   1/29/2017 6:52:31 PM
One thing about fishfinders. In my case, the Lowrance shows fish echoes and depth. But the real catch is that I now have a screen to amuse and draw my kids into icefishing. With kids so enamored with gadgets, the tech is one way to perhaps get more kids into fishing. Drones./..not for me either...but to each their own. Many of these same viewpoints could apply to archery as well.