Banks Angling: Technology’s huge
impact on when and where and how we fish
By ROB ALDERMAN
of communications has changed fishing forever by allowing a lot of
information to reach millions at lightning speed.
In the early days of fishing on the Outer Banks, locals and visitors
got their fishing reports from word of mouth -- from their neighbor,
the local tackle shop, or from just overhearing a conversation.
In time, the CB radio allowed anglers to keep connected in their
travels through the area. One angler could raise another and tell him
of some hot, current action or get info about other spots.
Yet, that still only allowed for a certain amount of people to get the
info at a rapid pace.
Then came the Internet and cell phones, and it all began to change.
The Internet posed little threat in the beginning, because few knew how
to use it or even owned a computer.
Cell phones were generally owned by doctors and lawyers in the
beginning, as they were the only ones that could afford to buy them or
pay the $8 a minute charge.
By the mid-‘90s, computers started to appear in more and more homes
because they were becoming a tool for young school children.
A few Outer Banks fishing websites began to appear at the same time,
but had yet to really grab the older generation’s attention.
By the end of the decade, the Internet had grown and so had the number
of fishing websites.
The computer timid found themselves finger fumbling their way around
the Internet and taking advantage of the more frequent updates and
easily obtainable information.
Having someone else set-up a timid angler’s favorites page became
Now you needed only to point and click to get the information you
Just about the turn of the 21st century, the cell phone wars truly
Numerous companies were out to grab the ever growing cell phone user’s
The price of cell phones and the accompanying usage plans got cheaper
and cheaper. This allowed for just about anyone to buy and utilize a
cell phone regularly.
Five people fishing all by themselves in the middle of a hot bite on
Cape Point could now see their number grow to 50 anglers within a half
hour, with just one on the spot phone call.
Fast forward ten years, and it’s the dawn of a whole new era--cell
phones and the Internet combined into one.
The smart phone has changed the playing field yet again.
Now you can check the weather and tides, look at a fishing report,
along with the accompanying photos, and call your buddies to tell them
about it all at one time.
When someone looks at me and asks if I heard about the new state record
fish, I simply reply by saying, “That’s so 37 seconds ago.”
Let’s look at websites like Facebook and Twitter, where a hardcore
angler, tackle shop, or charter boat captain can post pictures and
reports in real time.
I’ve literally stood up and walked out the door to catch the middle of
a fish blitz from pier or surf, because of things I’ve seen posted on
Facebook or Twitter only seconds before.
Anglers can program their cell phones to alert them when certain people
on either one of these websites make a post.
BOOM! We now have a whole new level of play -- a level of play that
more and more hate and love.
A lot of anglers are getting frustrated by the rapid spread of a fish
bite, while others use the information to race out and go fishing.
I think it’s a double-edge sword personally.
On one hand, you have the anglers who have put in hours, days, or weeks
searching out fish, only to be bombarded by a swarming crowd of
On the other hand, the economies that depend on the fishing industry
love these swarms that bring much needed dollars into their pockets.
There are many factors that account for the loss of anglers annually.
A busy life with kids, plays, and sports activities tops the charts,
along with loss of access and rising fees associated with licenses and
Maybe, the overwhelming info that is so rapidly and readily available
will help to turn this around.
If people feel like they have better odds of catching fish because of
the reports and pictures coming their way, then maybe they’ll keep
spending money and making a go of it when they feel the time is right.
We live in an ever-changing world. Love it or hate it, it will keep
I know many a person who constantly complains about the spread of
fishing news by cell phone and Internet and none of them would ever be
guilty of doing it themselves.
But, I can assure you, they are watching the Internet and their phones
are buzzing with updates, and they run out the door when they see what
they are looking for.
Sometimes, it’s just better to join them, rather than trying to fight
Alderman is the owner of the Hatteras Island Fishing Militia website
and is a kayak fishing guide. Rob has 10 years of fishing experience on
the Outer Banks, and is host of the “Outer Banks Angler” television
show. You can follow more of his extreme adventures or contact him at