January 12, 2012


Outer Banks Angling: Technology’s huge
impact on when and where and how we fish

By ROB ALDERMAN


The world 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 commonplace.

Now you needed only to point and click to get the information you needed.

Just about the turn of the 21st century, the cell phone wars truly began.

Numerous companies were out to grab the ever growing cell phone user’s business.

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 hit-and-run anglers.

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 permits.

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 changing.

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 them.

(Rob 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 www.FishMilitia.com)



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