When I was a kid I used to get Field and Stream Magazine. I basically considered it to be the bible of fishing magazines. I would read them front to back when they came, and then read them again sometimes. After a few years, I realized that the same themes were reappearing year after year depending on the season. "Go small for big trout" or "Use Crankbaits in the Fall". I read the articles again, but by the third or fourth installment, it just didn't give me the same motivation to go out and try the things I read in the magazine.
The Internet has put a new twist on information sharing in the fishing world. Suddenly I know people all around the state, the country, and even the world. Suddenly information on techniques and lakes is made available instantly and everyone is the beneficiary, not just the people who pay for the subscription and wait for the articles that were written 6 months ago to hit the presses. I couldn't put a number on it, but the amount of fishing information that is out there now vs. just 10 years ago is on the order of many magnitudes. Now everyone knows that crankbaits work good in the fall. Not only that, they know which baits work at which lakes, and they know about the newest baits right when they come out. Nothing will substitute for plain old experience, but a hot bait on the right setup can really kick start the learning curve.
So where does that leave us in 2003? I think it leaves us in an interesting place. I believe that we will see a world where more people are better at fishing than ever before. I think that we will also find a world where more people are educated about taking care of our fishing resources than ever before. Everywhere I look, in freshwater and in salt, I see more people practicing catch and release. More importantly, I see the best fisherman out there practicing catch and release and setting the bar high for everyone who is just learning how to fish. My hat is off to people like Larry Heron, Pete Wolf, Fish Chris, Aaron Martens, and all the people who lead by example in this regard. It's NO coincidence that lake records for largemouth bass are falling like leaves from a tree in the past few years! As long as we don't get greedy with the resource, as long as the fish are still in the lake, the effect of increased knowledge will be greatly lessened.
Another thing I want to talk about is how you can catch more and bigger fish than anyone else. I have a sure fire method and here it is. All you have to do is break the mold in the type of fishing that you do. I have watched this over and over again. The people who come into a type of fishing without preconceived ideas about what should and should not work. The people who kick Field and Fen to the curb and say, "I am going to figure it out on my own" ... those are the people who will catch the most and the biggest fish. Look at Pete Wolf using 3" big hammers to catch surf perch. No one ever said a swimbait was a perch lure. Look at Brian Long when he was using fastrac minnows to catch white sea bass. No one ever said a fastrac minnow was a seabass lure. Look at Jerry Rago eating the bass fishing world for lunch with his trolling techniques. Jerry has 15 bass over 10lbs this year, many of them on a lake that everyone else says is in a slump. Look at me with the 5" big hammer baits for largemouth. No one ever said to use saltwater swimbaits for bass. I have three bass over 10lbs this year on them. When you have decided that you want to catch the most and the biggest fish in whatever type of fishing you do, my advice is to stop listening to me, stop listening to the magazines and the videos, and start inventing what works for you! Be the person who makes the paradigm shift, and the fish will never know what hit them :)
With that, let's have some pictures, since the front page has been admittedly boring lately:
Brian Long came up with his own wacky jig setup and look what happened - 12lbs 2oz
Jerry Rago trolled a big huge swimbait and look what happened - 16.5lbs
I used a saltwater swimbait in freshwater and ..
you get the picture :)