Is Hot Spotting Really A Bad Thing?

I read this article last night before bed. I wasn't actively seeking places to fish, rather it was the first article served up on the Blue Ridge Outdoors website when I visited.


Articles such as this aren't all that uncommon, whether it be in physical or digital print media. The titles are catchy, and as an angler, who doesn't want to find out where the fish are at? However, every time I see one referenced by a 3rd party, it's typically in scorn. The reactions are somewhere along the lines of...

"How dare you publicly expose these streams/creeks/rivers/ponds..."

"Too many people are going to come and ruin the fishing..."

"There goes the neighborhood..."

Once upon a time, I saw a comment on Facebook that said something to the effect of, "Every time an angler posts the location of a fishing hole, a baby dies." Now that was clearly in jest for effect, but it also reflected the general disdain some anglers have toward revealing where they fish, or the act of "hot spotting."

I suppose you could look at the reactions above in one of two ways. One, somebody who doesn't want to share their secret water with others out of fear of having too many people ruin their fishing experience. These are my fish, not yours! Or two, perhaps something nobler, someone who is concerned that the fragile fishery in question can't realistically support increased angling pressure.

On the flip side, the typical counter-arguments tend to be more in regard to public domain. Some argue that nobody should really feel the need to keep public waters a secret and for the long term benefit of those fisheries, it's better for more people to know about them so the odds are increased that they can be protected from any number of outside threats.

Both seem like valid points of view.

Here on Troutrageous!, I've made a somewhat conscious effort not to give out the names of really secret waters, or waters that friends have taken me to in confidence. You'll notice some of those posts carry the label, "Not Secret Water," as opposed to the stream's name. 

However, if water is well known to locals, is an established fishery, or easily located by using fishing resources on state fish & wildlife websites, then I have no problem using the name when I write about an outing. My escapades to Valley Creek are a perfect example of that. 


I'm also not a huge fan of photoshopping out stream features or landmarks from my photos, although that's another thing that's done quite frequently online to hide the identity of a productive waterway or honey hole. Heck, with GPS-enabled smartphones, the act of geotagging a Facebook or Instagram photo could even be considered a no-no.

I guess you could say I'm somewhat middle of the road then. I'm not going to hide where I fish, but then again, I'm not going out of my way to reveal the identity of those areas that I think need protecting.

I'm curious as to what your thoughts might be on the matter. As social media (and the archiving of digital information) becomes more and more prevalent, what are our roles as "creators" of fishing content? Should articles like the one published on Blue Ridge Outdoors be considered over the line when it comes to angling ethics? If so, what or where is the line? 

I know there's no answer everyone will likely agree on, however, exercises in thought provocation are always interesting. You may have one opinion heading in, but sometimes it only takes one well-phrased argument to get you thinking differently.

Comments

  1. As a fisherman who tells where i go, what I catch, and what I use, I believe I'm in deep Poop. On the other hand I can mention that I'm going to the "Secret Lake" and everybody knows where it's at. I guess it all depends on whether you care about other peoples opinion or you want to help others catch fish. To each their own.

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    1. Utlimately, I think I agree, to each their own.

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  2. This is an interesting post for sure. Questions that arise are common topic in fish friendly areas. Actually, I can see taking a stance on both sides.......... However, overthinking the whole process of fishing somehow takes away the true pleasures one can get from their time outdoors and on the water. After all, fishing is no secret! Just enjoy the opportunity you have been blessed with.

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    Replies
    1. I don't think this is something to stress over, not in the slightest. Fishing is too much fun to get caught up in the nonsense.

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  3. I actually view keeping spots a secret a little selfish. I don't believe in secret flies, either. If someone shares a secret spot with me, or if it's a tiny water that really can't take the pressure, I'll keep it to myself. However, I'm happy do share my information with others if they ask. The shared information is invaluable to anglers like me who cannot afford guides and don't have access to a lot of private waters. It can be hard to find publicly accessible water, especially for cold water fisheries, and these articles give me great intel when traveling. Honestly, I often end up not fishing the specific waters mentioned, but use them as starting points of what to look for an which watersheds are good in a region.

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    Replies
    1. As an angler who travels quite a bit I like that point of view a lot.

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  4. Since all the waters I now fish are well known here and even outside Colorado, I don't have much to hide. But there was a time when there were certain small fragile waters that I used to fish that I would not mention. Of course, twenty years later, it's hard to imagine that the hoards have not found them by now.

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  5. Among friendsb hotspotting is encouraged.
    But it's my general policy to keep genuine fish magnets to myself.
    Maybe it's a submerged hump, an out of the way spot, or sunken tree. Whatever the specifics, I usually let my friends in on it.
    Of course, good friends keep it among friends.

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    Replies
    1. That is key, good friends are the kind of fishing buddies we all need to keep close.

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  6. I pretty much hide the names of most places I fish now. The internet has ruined a lot of good fishing locations. Forums are the worst. One person posts a fishing report and you can guarantee a line of cars at that location the following weekend. I feel part of fly fishing is sharing what you've learned and even helping out your fellow fisherman but so many people have used this good intention for evil and not good.

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    Replies
    1. It's interesting, I've never personally witnessed the phenomenon you describe, but could see it happening. I suppose I wouldn't necessarily mind the added angling pressure, it's the litter, etc... that can come with it that really turns me off.

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    2. I get what you're saying but if you start fishing 50-60 days per year you'll see what I'm talking about. If you fish casually once a month you'd probably never notice it.

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  7. This kind of thing happens. Media exposure is out there. Not much you can do. I have taken some time to scout out new water. Just to get away from the crowded "favorite" rivers that boast 10,000 fish per mi. Sure, I fish those from time to time. But, give me a far away place with quality fish and I'm a happy girl. I personally keep my finds pretty quiet. And if people share their fishing spot with me, I am a loyal receiver. I'm pretty lucky in that regard where I have trustworthy friends and I want to be the same. There is plenty of water, any way you look at it. And I'm still waiting for a blogger friend of mine from Florida to find his way back West. = )

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  8. I stopped providing information other than pictures a long time ago. Only the closest of friends or immediate family are in the loop and then only grudgingly. Have had too many spots hammered. Figure it out for yourself. When I invest the time, money and effort to find a good spot, it is a secret. Just like mushroom hunting or anything else like that. My own brother spot burned me shortly after I took him to great spot I had been fishing for years. I felt like sharing and apparently he did too after dragging his buddies over there with kayaks repeatedly. Fool me once, blah, blah, blah

    ReplyDelete

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