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.