Social media has a place in fishing.

It wasn’t that long ago we couldn’t even fathom the internet craze called social media. But in today’s world it has changed our society and the way we communicate. One of the greatest impacts of social media, especially Facebook, has been in the outdoor industry. Because of it, fishing is changing at the speed of light.

Back in the day, if you wanted fishing reports you either read them in the paper weeks later, visited area bait shops or personally talked with other anglers. In most cases, by the time we received the useful information it was weeks old and inaccurate. Tips and techniques no longer take weeks or months to filter down the ranks. They now trickle down in minutes.

Fishermen are social in nature and love to tell their stories of success. And now with the click of a mouse they can not only relay accounts of heavy stringers and stuffed livewells but also post pictures proving it. One of the best features of social media is the information can be sent in real time. Catch a fish, snap a picture, push a button and boom, it’s there for everyone to see.

Fishermen are also secretive. So unsuspecting anglers sometimes give away their special honey hole unintentionally. I couldn’t help but “smh” when a photo came across the screen of a guy holding a pair of slab crappies. I could tell by the background exactly where he was. So did someone else. “Good job,” the post read, “I know that spot and plan on hitting it first thing in the morning.” I’m sure the guy with the crappies wanted to show the fish, not his exact location.

Fishing companies have also capitalized on social media and use it as a viable marketing tool. In past years if a hot bait emerged it took months for anglers to hear about it. Now it takes seconds. When a company shows a huge bass, or any fish for that matter, with their new lure hanging from its lips, sales skyrocket. Marketing to the masses is critical and these companies know that.

I also believe better products are coming out because of the trend in social media where word can be spread to everyone with a simple click of a button, especially if a company produces a product that is subpar. Word travels fast and negative reviews stack up like dollar bills in a topless bar. And of course the opposite is also true. Good products and reviews move just as fast as the negative ones.

Fishing guides also benefit from mass communication. Most have daily posts showing clients with stringers of fish. Now people can track their success, complete with contact information, pricing and available dates. Fishing now has its very own business culture, thanks to the web.

YouTube videos have also had a major impact on everything including fishing. It has provided many anglers with tips and techniques on almost every lure made. Sometimes these videos can provide some small tweak that can mean the difference between going home skunked or loaded with fish.

But there is a negative side as well. There are some who intentionally spread misinformation and worse, enjoy doing it. There have been people who post pictures from previous years leading you to believe they are current. I have also heard of those who post fictitious fish pictures and tactics, intentionally trying to mislead those who read their posts. They take pictures from the opposite end of the lake with a lure hanging from the fish’s mouth that was not the bait they were actually using.

It also gives those who let jealousy or greed degrade the posts of others. “You actually kept those small fish,” someone posted publicly. As long as legal, who are we to condemn or judge someone for keeping a few fish, regardless of size No matter the forum there will always be a few who like fueling the flames of hate.

I think another detriment to social media is it can provide undue stress. For example, you spend a day on a particular lake and come home with little to show. You check out social media and begin seeing pictures of people who fished the same lake on the same day holding limits of fish. Other people figured out the correct pattern or found a better spot but you couldn’t. Your mood changes in the blink of an eye and you begin thinking about your self-perceived inadequacies. You go from enjoying a day on the water to feeling incompetent.

Never put undue pressure on yourself to catch fish just because of someone else’s picture!

There is no doubt social media has changed both recreational and professional fishing. And whether you like it or not it’s here to stay. And just like everything else, do not believe everything you see or read.