My piece in last months edition of Hookpoint certainly seemed to provoke a passionate and opinionated response. You may recall how I visited the subject of disclosure when it comes to fishing locations and the likely reasons behind the concealment that is becoming all the more prevalent when it comes to bringing the capture of an impressive fish to the worlds attention through social media postings. In particular, the blurring out of backdrops that prevent the viewer from successfully identifying the location of capture together with the subsequent frustrations of those seeking a free lunch from the comfort of the sofa. In conclusion to this piece yet without truly solid evidence, I surmised that although there is undoubtedly logical reason for this train of thought, any angler is equally as entitled to reveal all if they so wish.
So just why might any given angler wish to share their good fortune? The obvious answer to this and the one that immediately comes in to my own mind is simply to help. It’s human nature for most of us to want to assist another who is struggling, whether that be day to day life occurrences such as helping an elderly neighbour bring their shopping in or giving directions to a passing driver, we humans are generally a helpful bunch when it comes to looking out for one another. Especially when the appreciation in response to your gesture is clear to see.
Although my own fishing over the years has sided in the land of concealment, it was only when I began my guiding business three years ago that I began to realise just how grateful another angler can be to receive even token pieces of information along the way. Yes, it is a business and that’s one thing that I have never attempted to conceal and anglers do pay for my knowledge, but it doesn’t prevent them from expressing their sheer appreciation when a plan comes together on the coast. Neither does it dull the sense of satisfaction that I personally glean from a successful guided trip. Because of this, I can definitely see both sides of the coin. Taking a new angler to a venue selected because of a certain tide or weather pattern ensures they have an excellent chance of catching whatever it is they seek and as this particular place has been selected off the back of many years of trial and error on my part, I feel entirely justified in charging for that privilege.
What I do find interesting is that only a tiny percentage of those anglers ever return to that venue alone, possibly because they lack confidence going forward, even if they are now in the possession of knowledge that had previously lead to a fruitful experience. I’ve yet to see a client return with a bus load of friends in tow either, let alone to then expose that venue, it’s potential and their further captures anywhere in the public eye. I’d like to think that this is because an element of respect is at play, though perhaps because they feel they have paid for the experience, they’re less likely to give a freebie away.
Over the last couple of years, I’ve come to recognise a certain scenario when it comes to anglers and whether or not they are in favour or against revealing where they fish. On the one hand there is a group of competent anglers who fish at a productive venue, for arguments sake, every Wednesday. They catch their fish and keep the results under their hats, perhaps at least until the end of the month (if they are in pursuit of specimen fish which they will enter on a monthly basis) or when the tides become unsuitable to fish at this particular location. They’ve yet to see anyone fishing on ‘their’ mark and wish to keep it that way.
Meanwhile, another group of enthusiastic yet inexperienced anglers have happened upon this place. They are family men, casual in their angling and only visit the place once a month on a Thursday owing to other commitments. The first group have no idea that the second group also fish there. The second group enjoy their fishing but are not particularly successful, that is until one Thursday, something goes right for a change and Jimmy pulls out a double figure cod. The two others in the group are leaping around the rocks like kids in the playground and are soon madly snapping away with phone cameras, the first of the pictures already uploaded to Facebook before the fish has even been dispatched. Zero thought really goes in to anything, the backdrop to the catch is there for all to see without any thought on the repercussions this might bring.
The following morning, the guys in the first group see the pictures on their newsfeed and quietly despair. Their efforts to keep the currently productive venue under wraps have been blown out of the water. The following weekend, it’s every man for himself as anglers line up along what was previously a quiet stretch of coast, all to chase this one fish. Group one had enjoyed many weeks of peaceful and productive fishing, but now, the cat is well and truly out of the bag as anglers clamber to get as close as possible to the exact location detailed in the many photos.
Just as anglers have different mindsets when it comes to rods and reels, it’s worth remembering that they also think differently when it comes to the fishing itself. So the question is, was it ever worth the efforts of the first group to conceal their good fortune?
I’d say it probably was on this Occassion, as not only did they get to quietly enjoy this place for some time before it was exposed, but casual anglers and Facebook catch scanners do appear to have short memories and in this particular instance, the cod season was all but done. It’s unlikely they will remember this time next year…. But then again?
Of course, the coast is free to all anglers to use as they so wish and no one has the particular rights to any fishing mark. You could almost liken this entire subject to a lottery win. Would you go public and risk everyone you have ever come in to contact with wanting a piece of your cake, or would you keep it to yourself and perhaps share with just a few close family and friends? I know what I would do.