Sharing information about fishing is always a balance. A balance between 1) inspiring and informing people to get out and have a successful day on the water, and 2) sharing too much information and “burning” a fishing spot. This is a guide on how to successfully navigate the fishing world without spot burning.


What is “spot burning?”

Spot burning is the act of publicizing information that brings attention to specific fishing opportunities— usually resulting in excessive fishing pressure.

Why is spot burning bad?

As many of us know, being a successful angler is the result of many years of trial and error, researching, and a general collection of intellectual capital. It’s this knowledge that allows us to be successful on the water, and to eventually develop spots that you can continually count on to catch fish. 

When people spot burn they are bypassing this entire process. They are providing the general public with specific information about fishing spots that result in massive exposure to the resource.

Angler standing with Fishpond sling
Courtesy of @ericbraker

Social Media

Social media has been a blessing and a curse for the fishing world. On one hand, it provides a social network for anglers to connect with each other and to share experiences. On the other hand, social media has promoted the sharing of excessively specific information that leads to spot burning.

Geotagging

One way to improve your social media impact, and to decrease spot burning activity, is to monitor how you geotag your posts. The worst thing you can do is to be too specific with your tagging. For example, rather than geotagging a specific stream or local area, choose a more broad tag like a state or a region.

Some areas have even developed “Tag Responsible” geotagging options. For example, the “Tag Responsibly, Keep Jackson Hole Wild” is a popular geotag that allows Jackson Hole visitors to tag where they are without giving overly specific information about locations.  

Tag Responsibly, Keep Jackson Hole Wild
Courtesy of @andybrake

Background Context

Another way to avoid spot burning is to monitor what you include in the background of photos and videos. Do you want people to know the spot you fished, the tackle you used, the species you caught?… Different fishing scenarios warrant different degrees of secrecy. It’s up to you to be mindful of the information you include in the picture and whether or not this could lead to spot burning. 

What Can I share?

The main takeaway is to limit specificity when talking about your fishing experiences. It is okay to share methods and techniques, but you should refrain from sharing overly specific locations with the public.

Angler holding a Montana brown trout at night
Courtesy of @ericbraker

What do I do without spot burning?

Everyone struggles to figure out fishing spots and methods; yet, the struggle is what makes fishing so special. This sport is the constant pursuit of becoming more knowledgable of the environment you’re fishing in, and the species you’re pursuing. The satisfaction you receive when you carry out this process and figure out a fishery for yourself is incredibly rewarding.

With that being said, you are not alone. There are tons of tools and resources to help you achieve all of your fishing dreams in an ethical way. Fly shops and guides are one of the greatest resources. Visit a shop (and spend some money), and hire a guide for invaluable local knowledge. Additionally, check out reputable online fishing forums, spend some time on YouTube, and use Google Maps to navigate potential fishing spots.

And when you do figure it out, be careful with that information. You’ve worked hard for it.

Stay tuned for more installments of Fishing Etiquette!

Fly Fishing: Social Distancing in its Purest Form

 

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