By Maine DIFW Fisheries Biologist Jason Seiders
We’ve all seen it, and some of us are guilty of it. Someone catches a big fish and they can’t wait to share it with their friends. A nice photo of a happy, smiling angler holding a big fish. Maybe a caption saying “The fishing is great on (choose a name) Pond!” The following weekend, that angler will be greeted by scores of anglers seeking that same fish!
Some anglers have become a bit wary of the social media pitfalls. Several anglers will post without naming the water, or they’ll “black-out” the background of the photo to hide any shoreline that may give away their location. That works, sometimes. Savvy anglers can often figure out the water just by the species being presented, or by the profile of the angler themselves (their location).
Social media has changed the way people obtain information about everything, including hot fishing locations. Our biologists have realized its power, and we use it to promote new fishing opportunities. We became aware of this phenomenon during some recent winter surveys. We promoted a pond that was previously known for slower fishing, and touted a new landlocked salmon program. The increase in use was astounding. To our surprise, we saw so many anglers that we accounted for almost every salmon that we stocked!
That was a good thing. The purpose of that program was to create fishing opportunities. The short term increased angler use surrounding social media rarely puts populations in jeopardy. Angler posts on social media can also give our fisheries biologists a look into whether our management programs are working, and if people are utilizing all the opportunities that we try to provide.
Remember though, keeping a fish out of water for extended periods of time for that perfect picture can cause stress and lead to mortality even if that fish appears to swim away unharmed.
And if you are sharing pictures of the one that didn’t get away, keep in mind that folks are always looking for a hot new fishing spot, and depending on your photo, you may end up sharing more than just a picture!