Online fishing reports are both a blessing and a curse. They’re a blessing because they allow you to get up-to-date intel on the latest bites and hottest baits, but they also a curse because they allow you to get patently false up-to-date intel on the latest bites and hottest baits. In fact, sometimes you’ll even see unfriendly anglers using social media and web reports to intentionally mislead their fellow fishermen. How to you separate the wheat from the chaff? Which internet reports are the best? And, how can you best use them to your advantage? Here’s the scoop.
- Beware of fishing reports from marinas with charters for hire. In fact, ignore them entirely. I've returned to the dock after horrid days of charter fishing, when the entire fleet caught a mere handful of fish, and then seen a marina report so inaccurate and enthusiastic it must have been written in a parallel universe. They’re just trying to draw in customers, plain and simple.
- Beware of reports from anglers that list both the catch and the location in the headline. Let’s face it: no fisherman is going to give away all of his info for nothing in return. A report title that reads “10 Yellowfin caught at the Hot Dog” is clearly meant to send as many people as possible to the Hot Dog—for reasons unknown to us, such as a hot bite 10 miles to the south. Although the location may not be specified, a headline that reads “Fun day of fishing offshore,” is more likely to include true and accurate information.
- Beware of reports from people who don’t own boats of their own, and were on charter boats. Captains and mates will often tell their parties they were at hotspot A when they were really at hotspot B, to prevent the good info from getting around. They assume a landlocked angler won’t know any better (they usually don’t) and as a result, the bad intel gets passed along to you.
- Look local. Reports from web sites that try to cover every corner of the globe will rarely impact your local area. Instead, find a niche site which caters to your specific bay or state. Some good examples are Tidalfish in the Chesapeake region, Bloodydecks in California, and The Bass Barn in New Jersey.
- Look for internet tools, aside from forums and chats. Sea surface temperature charts (check out the Cool Room for free charts and a tutorial on how to read them), tide tables, and turbidity charts are available online from a wide variety of sources, and are of great value when you plan your next fishing trip.
- Look for friends. Share some good intel with someone, and the chances are they’ll reciprocate in kind. Most of the forum sites have PMs or IMs, to facilitate this inter-angler communication.